"Skimming???" With all respect it was a tiny three sentence response! I can understand a defense of "skimming" when there are chunks of text - but not this one! Why would anyone take the trouble to reply to a 4-liner without even reading the first two? That I certainly don't get!
United Nations bans key North Korea exports over missile tests
by Michelle Nichols, Reuters
August 6, 2017
UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - The United Nations Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on North Korea on Saturday that could slash by a third the Asian state's $3 billion annual export revenue over its two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.
The U.S.-drafted resolution bans North Korean exports of coal, iron, iron ore, lead, lead ore and seafood. It also prohibits countries from increasing the current numbers of North Korean laborers working abroad, bans new joint ventures with North Korea and any new investment in current joint ventures.
"We should not fool ourselves into thinking we have solved the problem. Not even close. The North Korean threat has not left us, it is rapidly growing more dangerous," U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley told the council.
"Further action is required. The United States is taking and will continue to take prudent defensive measures to protect ourselves and our allies," she said. Washington would continue annual joint military exercises with South Korea, Haley said.
North Korea has accused the United States and South Korea of escalating tensions by conducting military drills.
China and Russia slammed U.S. deployment of the THAAD anti-missile defense system in South Korea. China's U.N. Ambassador Liu Jieyi called for a halt to the deployment and for any equipment in place to be dismantled.
Liu also urged North Korea to "cease taking actions that might further escalate tensions."
U.S. President Donald Trump hailed the vote in a Twitter message on Saturday evening.
"The United Nations Security Council just voted 15-0 to sanction North Korea. China and Russia voted with us. Very big financial impact!" Trump wrote.
Trump "appreciates China's and Russia's cooperation in securing passage" of the resolution, the White House said in a later statement. The U.S. president "will continue to work with allies and partners to increase diplomatic and economic pressure on North Korea to ends its threatening and destabilizing behavior," it said.
I'm seeing even more handwriting on the wall. The rhetoric keeps escalating, but it's difficult to determine just how far this will go before threats ratchet up to military action.
I truly believe some sort of military strike is going to happen sooner or later, especially if the USA is convinced it can protect South Korea from North Korean attacks. With the kind of escalation going on, if military action is inevitable and is really going to happen, I hope it happens before North Korea has operational nuclear strike capability - assuming they don't already have it.
I don't foresee either side backing down and I see no signs of cooler heads prevailing. The latest rhetoric certainly doesn't make the possibility of military action any less likely.
I don't see many diplomatic options as still feasible. North Korea is calling Trump's bluff. Is Trump bluffing? I don't see Trump as the type to bluff on this kind of situation. ________________________________________________________________________
Trump threatens North Korea after US assesses they have miniaturized a nuclear warhead
By Jim Sciutto, Barbara Starr and Zachary Cohen, CNN
August 9, 2017
Washington (CNN) - President Donald Trump issued an extraordinary ultimatum to North Korea on Tuesday warning Pyongyang not to make any more threats against the United States or they will "face fire and fury like the world has never seen," during a photo op at the Trump National Golf Club in Bedminster, New Jersey.
"North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen... he has been very threatening beyond a normal state. They will be met with fire, fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before," he said.
Trump's harsh words come as US intelligence analysts have assessed that North Korea has produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead, according to multiple sources familiar with the analysis of North Korea's missile and nuclear program.
It is not believed that the capability has been tested, according to the sources.
This is not a consensus view from the entire intelligence community, one US official said. The Washington Post, which was first to publish details, reported that it was the analysis of the Defense Intelligence Agency.
The US official familiar with the analysis of North Korea's missile and nuclear program says, in reference to North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un's boasts about the program, "we have to take him at his word and we need to be prepared to deal with it."
This official said the 'assessment" is continuing to be refined and updated as more intelligence is collected.
That language echoes comments made by Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US Pacific Command (PACOM), during a June speech in Australia.
"I know there's some debate about the miniaturization advancements made by Pyongyang. But PACOM must be prepared to fight tonight, so I take him at his word. I must assume his claims are true -- I know his aspirations certainly are," he said.
The officials all note that the evidence shows North Korea is making progress and the question is more about when not if North Korea is capable of launching a nuclear capable missile.
Referring to Kim Jong Un, the official said this report needs to be taken seriously as "we've seen him moving forward" on the program with no indication he is turning back.
US military commanders have long planned on the assumption that North Korea has a warhead and Pyongyang claimed to be able to miniaturize nuclear weapons in 2015.
In 2014, then-commander of US Forces Korea Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti said he believed that they had the capability to miniaturize a warhead. "I believe they have the capability to have miniaturized a device at this point, and they have the technology to potentially actually deliver what they say they have," Scaparrotti said at the time.
The Washington Post first reported details of the assessment on Tuesday just hours after North Korea threatened 'physical action' in response to punitive sanctions unanimously passed by the United Nations Security Council over the weekend.
CNN has previously reported that US intelligence estimates Pyongyang may have the capacity to deliver a nuclear weapon to the US mainland by early next year and its missile program showed significant progress during two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July.
"Assuming everything is true, including that intelligence assessment both existing and everything being accurate, there are still important unknowns," Republican Rep. Lee Zeldin told CNN's Wolf Blitzer, noting that questions still linger about whether a possible North Korean warhead could survive re-entry from the earth's upper atmosphere.
However, Zeldin also said that reporting of the development "increases the urgency of the time sensitivity" of efforts being taken by the US and its international partners to address North Korea's missile and nuclear programs diplomatically.
Earlier on Tuesday, President Trump was quick to highlight his administration's success in leading the UN Security Council to unanimously pass sanctions on North Korea.
"After many years of failure,countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea. We must be tough & decisive!" Trump wrote in a tweet on Tuesday morning.
But reports that North Korea has taken another big step forward in realizing its nuclear ambitions will likely only escalate an already tense situation after the latest chapter of rhetorical chest-thumping.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley called newly approved sanctions on North Korea "a gut punch" and warned of possible military action should the regime continue its aggressive actions.
Those military options include launching a "preventative war" against North Korea, according to White House national security adviser H.R. McMaster.
"If they had nuclear weapons that can threaten the United States, it's intolerable from the President's perspective. Of course, we have to provide all options to do that, and that includes a military option," McMaster said in an interview with MSNBC on Saturday.
Potential for miscalculation
Asked to expand on Trump's comments about North Korea on Tuesday, White House senior counselor Kellyanne Conway described the remarks as "strong and obvious."
Trump's fiery rhetoric, however, plays into a long-standing North Korean narrative that the nation is under the imminent threat of invasion by the United States.
For decades, the North Korean regime has told its citizens that the United States is preparing for another war on the Korean Peninsula.
While nearly all historians say the north invaded the south, North Korea tells it citizens that the Americans actually started the war.
Regular military exercises between the US and South Korea enrage Pyongyang and are conveyed to citizens as further 'proof' of an American dress rehearsal for the next invasion.
It is this narrative that the regime uses to justify the economic hardship and isolation that North Korean citizens have endured, in part due to their nation's ballistic missile and nuclear tests. Citizens are told they have to "tighten their belts" to protect their national sovereignty.
While both the US and North Korea have frequently used strong rhetoric as a strategic messaging tool, analysts warn that verbal escalations pose the risk of causing a catastrophic miscalculation.
"Complicating this delicate game is that we have two inexperienced, impulsive presidents in control of these massive military machines," Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund, a global security foundation, told CNN on Monday.
"It's one thing to make a mistake intentionally, its another thing to stumble into a conflict, to make a move that you think is going to signal something to your opponent that triggers exactly the opposite," he added.
"So either one -- Kim Jong Un or Donald Trump -- could miscalculate and let loose a war unlike anything we have seen since World War II."
Is diplomacy still an option?
The risks of a military strike or all out conflict with North Korea are well documented and US Defense Secretary James Mattis has consistently said he favors finding a diplomatic solution -- warning earlier this year that military action could result in tragedy "on an unbelievable scale."
North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho said over the weekend that Pyongyang "will, under no circumstances, put the nukes and ballistic rockets on the negotiating table," and would "teach the US a severe lesson" if it used military force against North Korea.
But while that precondition appears to remain a non-starter for North Korea, Deputy Secretary of State John Sullivan told reporters on Tuesday that the US has made clear it will not talk to North Korea until it commits to stopping its missile and nuclear tests.
"We are not going to negotiate our way to the negotiating table," Sullivan said, noting that the view of his boss, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has not changed since he took his first trip earlier this year Tokyo, Seoul and Beijing.
"When he talks about being willing to talk to the North Koreans and reassure them their peace and prosperity is best served by being engaged with us and having a denuclearized North Korean peninsula, it's on the assumption that the North Koreans stop their missile tests and stop their nuke tests and stop their development of nuclear weapons. So there is no deviation from those conditions," Sullivan said.
"We are not going to come to the table until the North Koreans have committed to that," he added.
North Korea was estimated to have between 13 and 30 nuclear weapons at the end of 2016, according to the Institute for Science and International Security -- noting that North Korea keeps secret the number of nuclear weapons that it has built, and there is little, if any, reliable public information about this value.
Gaybutton wrote:I truly believe some sort of military strike is going to happen sooner or later
I hope that those who believe this is what will happen are now selling all their stocks and mutual funds and getting their assets into gold and a safe haven currency like the Swiss franc. For any form of military action will see stock markets around the world crashing like we haven't seen for a very long time and currencies falling as in the Asian Economic Crisis 20 years ago.
fountainhall wrote:For any form of military action will see stock markets around the world crashing
Apparently that has already started. _____________________________________
Lawmakers slam Trump's promise to unleash 'fire and fury' on North Korea
By DAKSHAYANI SHANKAR and DYLAN WELLS
Aug 8, 2017
Following President Donald Trump's warning to North Korea on Tuesday that the U.S. would unleash "fire and fury" upon the rogue nation if its threats of nuclear warfare continue, lawmakers from both sides of the aisle slammed the president's comments as incendiary and inappropriate.
“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States,” Trump said during an opioid crisis briefing in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. [North Korean leader Kim Jong-un] has been very threatening beyond a normal state and as I said they will be met with fire and fury and frankly power the likes of which this world has never seen before.”
Trump’s fiery proclamation saw an immediate effect on Wall Street, with the Dow ending its 9-day streak of record closes as investors fled from Trump’s response, according to NASDAQ.
"Trump's response was aggressive and that's why the market turned lower," Ken Polcari, director of the NYSE floor at O’Neil Securities, said in a statement Tuesday.
Trump’s anger towards North Korea and its leader came as the Washington Post first reported that the Defense Intelligence Agency’s July 28 report noted that North Korea had produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery.
The president’s announcement was met with a largely critical response.
During an interview with Phoenix radio station KTAR News 92.3 Tuesday afternoon, Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, spoke out against Trump’s statements. “I take the exception to the president’s comments.” he said. "You got to be sure that you can do what you say you’re going to do.”
“It's not terrible what he said but it's kind of classic Trump in that he overstates things,” McCain added. “In other words, the old walk softly but carry a big stick, Teddy Roosevelt's saying, which I think is something, should've applied because all it's going to do is bring us closer to a serious confrontation. The great leaders that I've seen, they don't threaten until they're ready to act.”
When questioned what he would do about North Korea, McCain said his first step would be to “talk to the Chinese.”
Despite recent missile tests, McCain said “I think the rotund ruler in Pyongyang is crazy, but he’s not ready to go to the brink." When asked to rank the threat of North Korea on a scale of one to ten, McCain placed the threat at a “six” or possibly a “seven.”
Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-California, called Trump’s “fire and fury” comment “bombastic movements” and said, “The United States must quickly engage North Korea in a high-level dialogue without any preconditions.” She also added that she hoped Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was discussing the possibility of reopening talks with the U.S.’s Asian partners during his current trip to Asia. “In my view,” Feinstein stated, “diplomacy is the only sound path forward.”
Feinstein’s comment echoed those of Sen. Mazie Hirono, D-Hawaii, on August 4 when she said the “diplomatic route” was the best route forward” for the U.S. as a “regime change can’t be expected” on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
Ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Maryland, said Trump’s comments act as proof that “he lacks the temperament and judgement to deal with the serious crisis the United States confronts” in a statement. Cardin added that people shouldn’t be tempted to hope that North Korea’s “nuclear program can be destroyed with a single antiseptic surgical strike.”
Sen. Brian Schatz, D-Hawaii, jabbed Trump softly in his first response tweet saying, “This is unwise.”
However, he proceeded to advise that the “Ambassador to South Korea, Secretary for East Asia Affairs and Secretary for Asian Pacific Security Affairs” be sent to the Senate “now” to figure out the rising tensions. In a third tweet, Schatz stressed that “professionals” were needed to guide the North Korea situation, especially given the “wars in the Middle East.”
Schatz’ worry comes on the heels of Hawaii’s Emergency Management Agency’s release of guidelines to survive nuclear detonation on July 25.
Guam’s U.S. delegate, Madeleine Z. Bordallo voiced out Tuesday evening that Trump “must work in partnership” with the international community to “de-escalate the growing tensions” in the region and also “show steady leadership” as the recent United Nation sanctions against North Korea are carried out.
Bordallo also dispelled rumors that North Korea was “seriously considering” a plan to target Guam--a U.S. territory off the coast of Japan and Philippines -- noting that Guam “remains safe.”
“I am confident in the ability of U.S. defenses to protect our island and allies in the region.”
Rep. Ted Lieu, D-California, tweeted that Trump’s statement was “reckless” and that “we need de-escalation, not a miscalculation.”
Rep. Ruben Gallego, D-Arizona, took issue with the president's remarks, and his administration's failure so far to nominate an ambassador to South Korea.
"@POTUS's warning that North Korean threats will be answered by 'fire & fury' is irresponsible & alarming," Gallego wrote. "Instead of threats & over-the-top rhetoric, we need to pursue a smart, long-term strategy to address these growing threats ... Among the steps we should immediately consider are further economic sanctions aimed at those who continue to trade w/ North Korea."
Gallego wrote in a subsequent tweet, "It's also outrageous that Trump has barely lifted a finger to nominate an Ambassador to S. Korea or fill State Dept. diplomatic positions."
Dan Pfeiffer, former senior adviser to former President Barack Obama for communications, tweeted multiple times about Trump’s statements. “Don’t gloss over the fact that Trump threatened what can only be interpreted as a nuclear attack on North Korea if Kim Jong-un taunts him,” he wrote.
In another tweet, Pfeiffer added that he wanted to know if new chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, or National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster knew what Trump was going to say about North Korea.
In his latest Tweet, Pfeiffer also spun a Game of Thrones reference in, joking that Trump could possibly be impersonating Daenerys Targaryen’s father, the Mad King who burnt alive anyone suspected of plotting against him.
Tommy Vietor, former National Security Council spokesman for Obama spoke to the fear reverberating across Twitter of Trump sounding like the North Korean leader. “The President of the United States shouldn’t sound like Kim Jong Un. It antagonizes everyone while accomplishing nothing.”
Former special assistant to Obama for arms control at the National Security Council, Jon Wolfsthal, called Trump’s statement “perhaps the most irresponsible statement [he] have ever seen come from a sitting President.”
President of the Council on Foreign Relations, Richard Haass said in a tweet that Asia “has been stable for decades,” but that “that could be ending” with the North Korea threat.
Singer Cher loaded her tweet with a emoji of the world, fire and a nuclear explosion to complement her warning that this was a “redline” and that it would “now cause fear around the world.”
Despite the large amount of criticism the announcement received, the chairman of Students for Trump, Ryan Fournier defended Trump’s statement. Fournier tweeted that “President Trump is standing up for the United States,” adding that “North Korea better sit back down.”
My crystal ball!! But I think it is pure common sense. Markets don't like instability. Assume the USA attacks North Korea. As every general, former Ambassador and others have been saying on tv and all the news media, the Kim tyrants have been planning for this for decades. As soon as they detect an attack or immediately after the first missiles have struck, they will launch an armada of embedded missiles against Seoul. I have not heard any military expert state that this is unavoidable. So you add up with at best a partial destruction of Seoul and the death of an untold number of its 10 million citizens. And that's before you count the massive number of casualties in the North. Those missiles would reach Seoul in minutes. After all, we're talking of a distance of less than 60 kms.
And what might be launched towards Japan? Greater Tokyo has a packed population of more than 37 million. Two of the world's major economies could be critically immobilised until long after the end of the conflict. Even just the prospect of such lengthy disruption would surely send markets tumbling.