A U.N. Security Council statement condemning North Korea’s latest attempted missile launch was obstructed Wednesday following Russian objections to its tough stance.
The statement would have demanded an immediate end to violations of Security Council resolutions sanctioning the North’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs and underscored the “vital importance” of Pyongyang “immediately showing sincere commitment to denuclearization.”
Russia objected to the removal of language promoting a settlement “through dialogue,” according to diplomatic sources.
North Korea’s failed test of a ballistic missile Sunday came the day after a major military parade in celebration of the birth anniversary of the country’s founder, Kim Il Sung. The missile exploded shortly after launch.
A previous Security Council statement, released two days after Pyongyang’s April 4 missile test launch, noted the commitment of council members to “a peaceful, diplomatic and political solution to the situation and welcomed efforts by council members, as well as other states, to facilitate a peaceful and comprehensive solution through dialogue.”
The current statement was drafted by the U.S. — which is presiding over the council for the month of April — and takes a stronger position than previous council statements.
According to a report by Korea JoongAng Daily, China appears to be preparing measures in case North Korea tests a nuclear device or performs another provocation, including possibly suspending oil to the regime, and adds that relations between Beijing and Pyongyang appear frostier than ever before.
Additionally, the Korea publication references the Chinese-language Boxun News, which cites a Beijing source, according to whom Chinese President Xi Jinping attempted to send Wu Dawei, China’s special representative for Korean Peninsula affairs, to Pyongyang after his summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, but North Korean leader Kim Jong-un allegedly rejected Wu’s visit.
Boxun adds that it was unclear if North Korea did not conduct a sixth nuclear test last Saturday because of Beijing’s warning not to do so, however it adds that according to “analysts” there’s a high likelihood of a provocation on the 85th anniversary of the founding of the North Korean People’s Army next Tuesday and the days leading up to the South Korean presidential election on May 9.
Citing its Chinese source, Boxun said that “China believes there is the “highest possibility” of a nuclear test on April 25, but “does not leave out the possibility it might take action in early May.”
One assumes the Carl Vinson, wherever it may be in the world currently, will eventually make it to North Korea by then.
Meanwhile, South Korean officials cited by JoongAng Daily confirmed that Wu, China’s top nuclear envoy, during a visit to Seoul last week said he proposed to visit Pyongyang in person to persuade the North to refrain from further provocations but he was spurned.
Just when a few hours had passed without any escalation around the Korean Peninsula, The Guardian reports that the US military is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang according to two sources briefed on the plans.
As the USS Carl Vinson heads towards the peninsula, along with two oither carriers, the Pentagon is looking for ways short of war to pressure North Korea into denuclearization, particularly if Pyongyang goes forward with an anticipated sixth nuclear test.
The option, which defense secretary James Mattis has briefed to Congress, has, as The Guardian reports, yet to mature into a decision by the military to intercept a tested missile. One US official said the prospective shoot-down strategy would be aimed at occurring after a nuclear test, with the objective being to signal Pyongyang that the US can impose military consequences for a transgression Donald Trump has said is unacceptable. But experts and former officials said shooting down a North Korean missile during a test risks an escalation that Washington may not be able to control, one that risks war on the Korean peninsula and potentially devastating consequences to allies South Korea and Japan.
In its first official comments on Sunday morning’s failed missile launch, South Korea said the latest North Korean provocation threatens the entire world, and warned of a punitive action if it leads to further actions such as a nuclear test or a long-range missile launch.
“North Korea showing a variety of offensive missiles at yesterday’s military parade and daring to fire a ballistic missile today is a show of force that threatens the whole world,” South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “We have to warn again that if this leads to a strategic provocation of a nuclear or ICBM test, the North will face strong punitive measures that it will find hard to endure.”
Shortly after the failed test, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence touched down in South Korea Sunday for his first visit in a five-leg trip to the Asia-Pacific region, being the highest-level official from the Donald Trump administration yet to arrive here amid escalating tensions with the North. The arrival marked Pence’s first-ever visit to the South, and was nine hours after North Korea conducted its fifth ballistic missile test this year earlier in the morning, though it ended in failure.
Pence arrived at the Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi, at 3:30 p.m. but has yet to make any public remarks. A joint statement between him and Prime Minister Hwang Kyo-ahn, who concurrently serves as acting president, is expected to come this afternoon after the two leaders discuss North Korean issues at Hwang’s office in central Seoul.
“This morning’s provocation from the North is just the latest reminder of the risks each one of you face every day,” Pence told a fellowship of U.S. soldiers and Koreans at a dinner in Seoul.
A NORTH Korean missile “blew up almost immediately” on its test launch on Sunday, the US Pacific Command said, hours before US Vice President Mike Pence was due in the South for talks on the North’s increasingly defiant arms program.
The failed launch from the east coast came a day after North Korea held a military parade in its capital, marking the birth anniversary of the state founder, in which what appeared to be new long-range ballistic missiles were on display.
Pence is due in Seoul at the start of a 10-day trip to Asia in what his aides said was a sign of the US commitment to its ally in the face of rising tension over North Korea.
A US nuclear-powered aircraft carrier strike group is also heading for the region
The North has warned of a nuclear strike against the United States if provoked. It has said it has developed and would launch a missile that can strike the mainland United States but officials and experts believe it is some time away from mastering the necessary technology.
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s statements on North Korea took on a sharper edge this week, indicating the government’s level of preoccupation with the issue and possibly reflecting the seriousness of U.S. President Donald Trump.
After the U.S. fired missiles on a Syrian airbase late last week, Abe responded cautiously, saying Japan “supports” Washington’s determination and “we understand” the U.S. acted to keep the situation from deteriorating. On Sunday, after a phone conversation with Trump, Abe appeared to relax at a concert, not showing any particular strain.
But this week, he turned up the heat. On Wednesday, Abe said that should “various unforeseen circumstances” arise, Japan would ask the U.S. to help rescue Japanese whom North Korea abducted in decades past. He warned on Thursday that the North may have the capability to deliver missiles tipped with chemical weapons, including sarin nerve gas.
The switch came after Trump’s Tuesday tweet saying that if China does not decide to help with North Korea, the U.S. “will solve the problem without them!” Abe’s sudden change in tone caused foreign diplomats in Tokyo to wonder if the prime minister, the only world leader to have played a round of golf with Trump, knew something nobody else did.
North Korea could either carry out new ballistic missile launches or conduct nuclear tests shortly in commemoration of its public holiday, Russian Ambassador to North Korea Alexander Matsegora told Sputnik.
“If you carefully read the North Korean press, then there is no need to even guess. They themselves openly say that ‘we will mark the upcoming glorious anniversary with significant events,’ in the plural at that,” Matsegora said.
North Korea celebrates the 105th anniversary of its founder Kim Il Sung’s birth on April 15, Saturday.
“We can well imagine what events these will be. Some believe that the choice is only in two possible events: either new tests or a missile launch,” Matsegora said.
The ambassador added that, the US aircraft carrier group dispatched toward North Korea is a provocation that did not contribute to de-escalation on the Korean Peninsula.
“Of course, annual US exercises this year are particularly provocative,” Matsegora said. “Taking into account the fact that the US is bringing up an airborne strike group here, this does not work toward calming the situation.”
The Russian envoy stressed that the US drills “are really working out a plan to seize Pyongyang, destroy the leadership of the country, approach the Russian and Chinese border, establish administrative control over the provinces of North Korea.”
One day after NBC reported that the National Security Council had presented Trump with three options vis-a-vis North Korea, namely i) put American nukes in South Korea , ii) kill Kim Jong-un or iii) use the CIA to infiltrate North Korea to sabotage or take out key infrastructure, a US carrier group has departed Singapore and is headed for North Korea.
According to Reuters, a U.S. Navy strike group will be moving toward the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula, a U.S. official told Reuters on Saturday, as concerns grow about North Korea’s advancing weapons program. The strike group, called Carl Vinson, includes an aircraft carrier and will make its way from Singapore toward the Korean peninsula.
The move of the USS Carl Vinson “is in response to recent North Korean provocations”, an official told CNN. “We feel the increased presence is necessary,” the official said, citing North Korea’s worrisome behavior.”
Harry Harris, the commander of U.S. Pacific Command, directed the USS Carl Vinson strike group to sail north to the Western Pacific after departing Singapore on Saturday, Pacific Command announced.
The Vinson strike group will operate in the Western Pacific rather than executing previously planned port visits to Australia, Pacific Command said. The group will remain under the operational control of the Third Fleet.
This year North Korean officials, including leader Kim Jong Un, have repeatedly indicated an intercontinental ballistic missile test or something similar could be coming, possibly as soon as April 15, the 105th birthday of North Korea’s founding president and celebrated annually as “the Day of the Sun.”
On the same day as Kim Jong Un threatens the US with “first-strike’ nuclear ICBM and unveils propaganda showing the destruction of American forces, AP reports U.S. military officials expect another North Korean missile launch in the next several days.
Earlier today a Pyongyang envoy stated that North Korea will pursue “acceleration” of its nuclear and missile programs. This includes developing a “pre-emptive first strike capability” and an inter-continental ballistic missile, according to Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the DPRK (North Korean) mission to the United Nations in Geneva.
The latest development follows a previous report also from Reuters, in which it said the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile threat. “I think this is stemming from the visit by the Secretary of State (Rex Tillerson) to Japan, South Korea and China…We of course are not afraid of any act like that,” Choe told Reuters.
“Even prohibition of the international transactions system, the global financial system, this kind of thing is part of their system that will not frighten us or make any difference.” He called existing sanctions “heinous and inhumane”.
Yesterday’s snap deployment of the US THAAD anti-missile system in South Korea has led to significant reverberations among the region, with not only North Korea, but also Russia and China slamming the move.
As reported last night, various equipment including 2 launch pads for U.S. missile defense system known as THAAD arrived in South Korea on Monday and will continue to be brought in, Yonhap News said.”Continued provocative actions by North Korea, to include yesterday’s launch of multiple missiles, only confirm the prudence of our alliance decision last year to deploy THAAD to South Korea,” Adm. Harry Harris, commander, US Pacific Command, said in a news release.
US Secretary of Defense James Mattis and South Korean Defense Secretary Han Min-koo spoke over the phone last week and agreed that THAAD should be deployed “ASAP.”
White House Press Secretary Sean Spicer signaled the deployment Monday when he told reporters that the United States is “taking steps to enhance our ability to defend against North Korea’s ballistic missiles, such as through the deployment of a THAAD battery to South Korea.” U.S. defense officials confirmed to NBC News on Monday night that that meant delivery was already under way — not that the United States was simply restating its previous promises to send the system to South Korea sometime in the future.