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North Korea

Since King Jong Un was named supremem leader of North Korea after his father’s death on Dec. 28, 2011, Jong Un has stepped up his rhetoric surrounding longstanding animosities with South Korea and the United States.

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SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) – North Korea on Monday fired more projectiles into the sea off its east coast, South Korean officials said, urging Pyongyang to refrain from “tension-creating acts.”

But Pyongyang described the launches as a “regular military exercise.”

The South Korean Defense Ministry still needs to analyze exactly what the North has been firing for the past three days, said Choi Yong-su, an official in the ministry representative’s office.

They could be short-range missiles or a new kind of large-caliber artillery rocket, the ministry said.

northkoreanThe North fired three projectiles into waters off its east coast Saturday and a fourth Sunday. It fired two more Monday, Choi said.

The short-range launches haven’t so far caused major concern in Seoul or Washington. North Korea last fired this kind of projectile as recently as March, South Korea said.

Accusations of escalation

The office of South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Monday that the North “should not engage in tension-creating acts,” Yonhap reported.

A government statement carried Monday by the North’s state-run Korean Central News Agency described the activities over the weekend as “rocket launching drills.” It said the South’s reaction to them was “another unpardonable challenge.”

“Their description of the drills as a factor of escalating the tension on the peninsula and in the region reminds one of a thief crying, ‘Stop the thief!’ ” the statement said.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

North Korea raises missile launcher(CNN) — North Korea upped the temperature on its neighbors on Monday, warning in a new threat that it would not give any advance notice before attacking South Korea.

“Our retaliatory action will start without any notice from now,” Pyongyang said in a statement carried by its official news agency, KCNA.

North Korea said it was responding to what it called insults from the “puppet authorities” in the South, claiming that there had been a rally against North Korea in Seoul.

It called the rally a “monstrous criminal act.”

The renewed threats came as North Koreans celebrated the birthday of their country’s founder, Kim Il Sung, who launched the Korean War.

Earlier Monday, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry urged the regime in Pyongyang to ditch its nuclear program and put a lid on its fiery rhetoric if it wants to hold talks.

“The United States has made clear many times what the conditions are for our entering talks and they haven’t changed,” Kerry said during an interview with CNN’s Jill Dougherty in Tokyo.

“The conditions have to be met where the North has to move towards denuclearization, indicate a seriousness in doing so by reducing these threats, stop the testing, and indicate it’s actually prepared to negotiate,” he said.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

(CNN) — The United States will talk to North Korea, but only if the country gets serious about negotiating the end of its nuclear weapons program, Secretary of State John Kerry said after arriving Friday in Seoul for talks with U.S. ally South Korea.

“North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power,” he said.

His trip to South Korea — part of an Asian swing that also includes North Korean ally China — comes a day after a Pentagon intelligence assessment surfaced suggesting the country may have developed the ability to fire a nuclear-tipped missile at its foes.

Disclosed first by a congressman at a hearing Thursday and then confirmed to CNN by the Defense Department, the Defense Intelligence Agency assessment is the clearest acknowledgment yet by the United States about potential advances in North Korea’s nuclear program.

North Korea: We’ll launch a missile tomorrow

Despite weeks of bellicose rhetoric from Pyongyang threatening nuclear attacks on the United States, South Korea and their allies, U.S. officials have characterized the North’s saber rattling as largely bluster.

U.S. officials think North Korea could test-launch a mobile ballistic missile at any time in what would be seen by the international community as a highly provocative move.

But a senior administration official said there’s no indication that any such missiles have been armed with nuclear material.

Still, the defense agency said it has “moderate confidence” that North Korea could fit a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile and fire it. But agency analysts think such a missile’s reliability would be low — an apparent reference to its accuracy.

(CNN) — A study just completed by the U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency says North Korea may have nuclear weapons that could be delivered by ballistic missiles, a congressman said Thursday.

The revelation came from Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., during a House Armed Services Committee hearing.

“Quoting from the unclassified portion, which I believe has not yet been made public, they say, quote, ‘DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivering by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low,’” Lamborn told Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, who was testifying before the committee.

Lamborn asked Dempsey whether he agreed with the assessment. Dempsey appeared to be caught off-guard.

“Well, I haven’t seen it,” Dempsey replied. “And you said it’s not publicly released, so I — I choose not to comment on it.”

North Korea’s missile capabilities

U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon later told CNN’s Wolf Blitzer, “We do not have any independent information to verify” the DIA study’s assessment.

Is North Korea serious about military action? Or is it just testing the world?

For the complete CNN story, go here.

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Republican leaders in Congress received a dire warning on Tuesday from former Vice President Dick Cheney on the ongoing crisis in North Korea.

“We’re in deep doo doo,” Cheney told lawmakers, according to a GOP leadership aide.

Cheney added that the current North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is unpredictable and doesn’t share the United States worldview.

Meanwhile, the Obama administration believes it is likely North Korea may test-fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time, based on the most recent intelligence showing Pyongyang probably has completed launch preparations, a U.S. official said Tuesday.

The administration believes a test launch could happen without North Korea issuing a standard notice to commercial aviation and maritime shipping warning them to stay away from the missile’s path, according to the official, who declined to be named because of the sensitivity of the information.

He cautioned most of the information comes from satellite imagery, so it’s impossible to reach a definitive conclusion because the United States has no means to gather information on the ground.

“We hope they issue a notification, but at this point we don’t expect it. We are working on the assumption they won’t,”  the official said.

He said the launch could be “imminent,” but also cautioned that the United States “simply doesn’t know.”

Imagery has been impeded by bad weather, which means there is less than perfect knowledge about what is happening on the ground. But based on what the United States has seen, the belief is that the missiles have received their liquid fuel and are ready for launch.

After any launch, U.S. satellites and radars in the region would be able to calculate the trajectory of missiles within minutes and quickly conclude whether they are on a test path headed for open ocean or potentially headed for land areas such as Japan.

 (CNN) — The top U.S. commander in the Pacific called repeated North Korean violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions forbidding the “building and testing” of long-range ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons “a clear and direct threat to U.S. national security and regional peace and stability.”

“A major conflict in Korea could have unpredictable, long term, and far reaching impacts due to the central location of the Korean peninsula in Northeast Asia and the vital importance of Northeast Asian trade to the global economy,” said Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command.

The admiral spoke at a Senate Armed Services hearing Tuesday and submitted testimony to the committee.

north korea nuclear test

Courtesy Yonhap/Los Angeles Times

He said he’s confident that the United States would be able to help defend U.S. forces and its friends. Asked if the United States is prepared for a fight, if that day ever comes, Locklear said, “We’re ready.” He also acknowledged the importance of China’s role in reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

The hearing came as North Korea issued its latest dispatch of ominous rhetoric Tuesday, telling foreigners in South Korea they should take steps to protect themselves in the event of a conflict on the Korean Peninsula.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

BEIJING — In a sign of China’s exasperation with its rogue ally, North Korea, newly installed Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday condemned nations that throw the “world into chaos.”

Without mentioning North Korea by name, Xi told delegates at an international forum in Boao, southern Hainan province: “No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains.’’

Xi advised turning “our global village into a big stage for common development, rather than an arena where gladiators fight each other.’’

The warning came as South Korean intelligence warned of an imminent missile launch from North Korea’s East Coast. North Korea has moved an intermediate-range missile into position for what is most likely a routine test but could possibly target U.S. interests in Guam. The South Korean newspaper Joongang Daily also quoted unidentified South Korean government sources as saying the North might be preparing another nuclear test.

northkoreanAdding to the urgency, a Japanese official was quoted Monday as saying that Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera had ordered armed forces to shoot down any North Korean missile that comes near its territory.

Pyongyang has been trying to whip up an atmosphere of hysteria for weeks. Its propagandists have issued daily apocalyptic warnings of a coming war, and it has said its nuclear weapons are “treasures” that will never be bargained away. Foreign embassies based in Pyongyang have been advised to evacuate their personnel by Wednesday, although most governments have declined, seeing the warning as another inflammatory tactic.

For more on this LA Times story, click here.

N. Korea holds party plenary meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang. South Korea’s president told its military to respond powerfully to North Korean provocations, amid heightened tensions on the peninsula. (Photo: KCNA)

SEOUL, South Korea – South Korea’s government said Sunday that it believes North Korea may test a missile about April 10, citing as an indicator Pyongyang’s push for workers to leave the Kaesong Industrial Complex by then.

Seoul “is on military readiness posture,” South Korea’s Blue House spokeswoman Kim Haeng said in a briefing. She said national security chief Kim Jang-soo also based the assessment on North Korea’s hint to foreign diplomats in Pyongyang to send personnel out of the country.

The Blue House is the office and residence of South Korea’s president, similar to the White House in the United States.

“As of now, nothing out of the ordinary has been detected,” she said on Kim’s behalf. “If limited war is to break out, North Korea should bear in mind that it will receive damages many times over.”

In the rising tide of its anger, North Korea’s communist government days ago banned the entry of new workers and trucks into Kaesong, which is on its side of the militarily fortified border with the south.

Personnel and supplies are running out in the shared manufacturing zone, causing 13 companies to cease production, the South Korean Ministry of Unification said in a statement Sunday.

There are 518 people left in Kaesong, with 39 planning to exit Monday.

For more on this CNN story, click here.

 

SEOUL, South Korea (CNN) — North Korea stirred up fresh unease in Northeast Asia early Thursday, threatening attacks by a “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear force and warning, “The moment of explosion is approaching fast.”

The new threat came after the North Koreans locked South Korean workers out of a joint factory complex and announced plans to restart a nuclear reactor it shut down five years ago.

Meanwhile, the United States announced it was sending ballistic missile defenses to Guam, a Pacific territory that’s home to U.S. naval and air bases.

“The moment of explosion is approaching fast. No one can say a war will break out in Korea or not and whether it will break out today or tomorrow,” North Korea’s state news agency KCNA declared in its latest broadside. “The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK’s sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic.”

DPRK is short for Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the official name for North Korea.

The fiery North Korean rhetoric, fueled by recent U.N. sanctions over its latest nuclear test, has created a tense atmosphere on the Korean Peninsula just as the United States and South Korea are engaged in joint military exercises in South Korean territory.

U.S. will not accept North Korea as a ‘nuclear state,’ Kerry says

N. Korea holds party plenary meeting

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un speaks during a plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the Workers’ Party of Korea in Pyongyang. South Korea’s president told its military to respond powerfully to North Korean provocations, amid heightened tensions on the peninsula. (Photo: KCNA)

Pyongyang’s threat last month of a possible pre-emptive nuclear strike on the United States and South Korea caused particular alarm, despite heavy skepticism from analysts and U.S. officials that the North Korean military is anywhere near capable of carrying out such an attack.

For the complete CNN story, go here.

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