Don’t look now, but the birthday of Kim Jong-un’s grandfather, Kim Il-Sung, is right around the corner, on Monday, with absurd celebrations and marathons and magic horses all weekend. But nothing would do more poetic justice to North Korea’s warped version of history and its “unacceptable” war-mongering rhetoric than to drown one of its oldest enemies in a sea of nuclear flames. Which absurdity will win out?
“North Korea warned Japan Friday that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula if it continues to maintain its hostile posture,” reports South Korea’s Yonhap News Agency this morning in America, by way of a report from the DPRK’s state-run Korean Central News Agency. That’s pretty scary, especially since things had been calming down for a few days there — and especially considering the Pentagon can’t even make up its mind about what, exactly, Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities look like right now. But there’s sort of a loophole in today’s news. Notice how the warning reads: “if it” — as in Japan — “continues to maintain its hostile posture.” What the North Korean propaganda machine appears to be referring to is Tuesday’s action out of Japan, when it set up a slew of interceptor missiles in Tokyo as a precaution against North Korea’s declarations of war. And there have been plenty of precautionary measures from around the globe of late after what Secretary of State John Kerry on Friday called “unacceptable” rhetoric from the all too excitable Kim dynasty.
But there is a deeper, more immediate layer of trouble: By the time Sunday afternoon strikes in the U.S., so will the 101st birthday of Kim Il-Sung, the autocrat who formalized the dynasty’s way of rule in the 1960s and ’70s and who, according to the history of North Korea, was responsible for single-handedly defeating the Japanese. Just yesterday KCNA, the state-run news agency, pumped out a story about a painting of Kim Il-Sung’s white horse, which supposedly saved his life by spotting that North Korea’s Supreme Leader was on fire.
That sort of gives you an impression of how ridiculous — and ridiculously important — this occasion will be in Pyongyang. For showing off. For history. For might. And some experts have long voiced legitimate fears that the Kim might actually do something to mark that occasion, such as sending — or threatening to send — a medium-range missile into the territory of the grandfather of absurdity’s favorite enemy.
So what’s giving peace a chance? Well, mostly that North Korea has an actual history of making threats it never fulfills. But, at least for planning purposes, nuclear provocations might get in the way of North Korea’s big national marathon Sunday to celebrate Kim Il-Sung. “Despite warnings of pre-emptive nuclear strikes and imminent war, ahead of the marathon state TV showed a calm scene in Pyongyang yesterday, with North Koreans holding open air dances in preparation for their April 15 national holiday,” reported NK News, which adds, “Held every year on the streets of North Korea’s capital city, the Mangyongdae Prize International Marathon will take place this Sunday as part of a broader multiple-day sports tournament held to commemorate the April 15 birthday of North Korea’s founding leader, Kim Il Sung.” There’s no way all that open-air dancing would be all for naught, right?
North Korea’s threat against Japan also comes as U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry spoke in Seoul on Friday. He offered, as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel and United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon did yesterday, some very practical analysis that North Korea probably doesn’t want to hear — a lot of which revolved around not backing down (via the BBC):
The rhetoric that we’re hearing from North Korea is simply unacceptable – by any standard – and I am here to make it clear today on behalf of President Obama and the citizens of the United States and our bilateral security agreement, that the United States will, if needed, defend our allies and defend ourselves. source – Atlantic Wire
What Will The Mad Man of North Korea Do?
NORTH Korea has completed preparations for a mid-range missile launch tomorrow from its east coast, officials in Seoul have revealed – just hours after foreigners living in South Korea were warned to quit the country.
Boxes were seen being loaded onto a large lorry parked outside the pariah state’s embassy – an ordinary home in Ealing, west London.Seoul revealed today that foreign nationals in South Korea were told by the North to evacuate in case of a “merciless” war.
“We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war,” said the KCNA news agency, citing its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. “The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermo-nuclear war,” said the statement.
“Once a war is ignited on the peninsula, it will be an all-out war, a merciless, sacred, retaliatory war waged by the DPRK (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea),” it went on to say.
The remarks come as the communist country has repeatedly said it will turn Seoul and Washington into a “sea of fire” and launch pre-emptive nuclear attacks against its enemies.
South Korean forces have been on high alert for an imminent missile launch by the communist nation, which was seen moving two Musudan missiles to its east coast last week and mounting them on mobile launchers.
Speculation had been building that North Korea could carry out a missile test as early as this week after dictator Kim Jong-un warned he could not “guarantee the safety of foreigners” after April 10. source – Express UK
North Korea tells foreigners to ‘get out’
All government embassies have been instructed to evacuate staff from Pyongyang after dictator Kim Jong-un warned he could not ‘guarantee the safety of foreigners.’ The rogue communist state issued a deadline of April 10 to every government that is represented in North Korea in a dramatic new escalation of the nuclear crisis.
Today the British Foreign Office confirmed it had been told its staff were at risk while Russia said it was in ‘close contact with the U.S, China and South Korea’ about airlifting workers out. Advice for tourists is set to change after North Korea moved a second missile to its east coast, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.
About two dozen countries have embassies in North Korea – the U.S. doesn’t currently have diplomatic relations with North Korea and the State Department told MailOnline it doesn’t have a figure on the number of Americans who may be in the country.
U.S. citizens in the country are likely to include adventure seeking tourists and some defectors and prisoners who remained following the end of the Korean War in the 1950s. Sweden acts as the protecting power of U.S. interests in North Korea for consular matters.
The range of the missile is unknown – yesterday the rogue state moved a missile with a range of 3,000km (1,800m) to the same area which is within firing distance of Japan – and claimed it would be ‘merciless’ against its enemies.
Both missiles have been loaded on to mobile launchers and hidden in special underground facilities, according to a government official. ‘The North is apparently intent on firing the missiles without prior warning,’ he added.
Today South Korea deployed two warships with missile-defence systems, reports say, a day after the North apparently moved a missile to its east coast. Military officials said the two warships would be deployed on the east and west coasts.
Russia’s foreign minister says Moscow doesn’t understand why North Korea has suggested that Moscow and other countries close their embassies in Pyongyang, and he says he’s concerned about the high tensions on the Korean peninsula.
Minister Sergey Lavrov was quoted Friday during a visit to Uzbekistan as saying that Russia is in touch with China, the United States, Japan and South Korea – all members of a dormant talks process with North Korea – to try to figure out the motivation.
‘We are very perturbed about the supercharged tensions, which for now are verbal. We want to understand the causes of this proposal,’ Lavrov said, according to the Russian state news agency RIA-Novosti. source – Daily Mail UK
SEOUL — The North Korean army said Thursday it had final approval to launch “merciless” military strikes on the United States, involving the possible use of “cutting-edge” nuclear weapons.
In a statement published by the official KCNA news agency, the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) said it was formally informing Washington that reckless US threats would be “smashed by… cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means”.
“The merciless operation of (our) revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified,” the statement said. “The US had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation,” it added.
North Korea had threatened a “pre-emptive” nuclear strike against the United States a month ago, and last week the supreme army command ordered its strategic rocket units to combat status for strikes on the US mainland and US bases in Guam and Hawaii.
“The moment of explosion is approaching fast,” Thursday’s statement said, adding that a war could break out on the Korean peninsula “today or tomorrow”.
“In view of this situation, the KPA General Staff in charge of all operations will take powerful practical military counteractions in succession,” it said.
Despite a successful long-range rocket launch in December, most experts believe North Korea is years from developing a genuine inter-continental ballistic missile that could strike the mainland United States.
Hawaii and Guam would also be outside the range of its medium-range missiles, which would be capable, however, of striking US bases in South Korea and Japan.
The army statement said responsibility for the current crisis “entirely rests” with the United States, citing the participation of nuclear-capable US B-52s and B-2 stealth bombers in ongoing joint military drills with South Korea.
“Never has the whole Korean peninsula been exposed to such danger of a nuclear war as today,” it added. source – Google
The Department of Defence said it would deploy the ballistic Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (THAAD) in the coming weeks. Pyongyang has threatened to target South Korea and the US in recent weeks.
The state’s warlike rhetoric follows new UN sanctions and joint military drills by the US and South Korea. The THAAD system includes a truck-mounted launcher, interceptor missiles, and AN/TPY-2 tracking radar, together with an integrated fire control system.
The Pentagon said in a statement the missile system would be moved to Guam as a “precautionary move to strengthen our regional defence posture against the North Korean regional ballistic missile threat”.
“The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and stands ready to defend US territory, our allies, and our national interests,” the statement added.
In recent weeks, North Korea has mentioned military bases in the US territory of Guam and the US state of Hawaii as possible targets.
“Some of the actions they’ve taken over the last few weeks, present a real and clear danger,” said US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel, in his first major speech on Wednesday since taking up his post.
He added that Pyongyang had also threatened the interests of South Korea and Japan
The North has apparently been angered by UN sanctions imposed after a recent nuclear test. Pyongyang has escalated its warlike rhetoric amid the current round of US-South Korea military drills.
The US has recently made a series of high-profile flights of stealth fighters and nuclear-capable B-52 bombers over South Korea.
Officials have also confirmed that the USS John McCain, an Aegis-class destroyer capable of intercepting missiles, has been positioned off the Korean peninsula.
A second destroyer, the USS Decatur, has been sent to the region. source – BBC UK
The U.S. Navy is shifting a guided-missile destroyer in the Pacific to waters off the Korean peninsula in the wake of ongoing rhetoric from North Korea, U.S. defense officials said.
The USS McCain is capable of intercepting and destroying a missile, should North Korea decide to fire one off, the officials said.
Still, U.S. defense officials insist that there is nothing to indicate that North Korea is on the verge of another launch.
The White House on Monday said the United States hasn’t seen large-scale movements from North Korean military forces in the aftermath of harsh rhetoric from the reclusive government. source – NBC News
North Korea Says Ready To Attack US Mainland
North Korea’s leader has told rocket units to be on standby for an attack on US bases, according to state media. The country’s KCNA news agency said Kim Jong-Un had signed off on the order to train sights on American bases in South Korea and the Pacific after a midnight meeting with top generals.
The move was followed by reports of increased activity at North Korea’s mid to long-range missile sites, according to South Korea’s Yonhap news agency. It comes after two American stealth bombers flew over South Korea in a show of force to Pyongyang, following an escalation of rhetoric from the North’s young leader.
Both China and Russia have appealed for calm
Moscow said the heightened military activity was slipping into a “vicious cycle” that could get out of control, implicitly criticising the US bomber flights. Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov suggested that North Korea should also cool down, calling on “all sides not to flex their military muscle” and avoid the danger of a belligerent response.
China’s foreign ministry spokesman Hong Lei said: “We call on all relevant parties to make joint efforts to turn around the tense situation. Peace and stability on the Korean peninsula as well as Northeast Asia serves the common interest.”
The two nuclear-capable B-2 planes flew a 13,000-mile round trip from an air base in Missouri, dropping a dummy bomb on a target range in the South.
The planes were taking part in a joint South Korea-US military exercise that has inflamed tensions with Pyongyang, which earlier this month threatened to unleash an “all-out war” backed by nuclear weapons.
“This …. demonstrates the United States’ ability to conduct long range, precision strikes quickly and at will,” the US military said in a statement.
“The B-2 bomber is an important element of America’s enduring and robust extended deterrence capability in the Asia-Pacific region.”
KCNA reported that Mr Kim had “judged the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists in view of the prevailing situation”.
The agency said: “He finally signed the plan on technical preparations of strategic rockets of the KPA, ordering them to be on standby for fire so that they may strike any time the US mainland, its military bases in the operational theatres in the Pacific, including Hawaii and Guam, and those in South Korea.”
Following their leader’s call to arms, thousands of North Koreans turned out for a mass rally in the main square in the capital. Chanting “Death to the US imperialists” and “Sweep away the US aggressors,” soldiers and students marched through Kim Il-Sung Square during the 90-minute rally.
The US has denied its military exercise was provocative but said it was “committed to a pathway to peace” and “prepared to deal with any eventuality” in the region. source – Sky