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Tue, 25th April 2017

Anirudh Sethi Report

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Archives of “nuclear weapon” Tag

North Korea says ready to strike US aircraft carrier

North Korea said on Sunday it was ready to sink a U.S. aircraft carrier to demonstrate its military might, as two Japanese navy ships joined a U.S. carrier group for exercises in the western Pacific.

US President Donald Trump ordered the USS Carl Vinson carrier strike group to sail to waters off the Korean peninsula in response to rising tension over the North’s nuclear and missile tests, and its threats to attack the United States and its Asian allies.

The United States has not specified where the carrier strike group is as it approaches the area. U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said on Saturday it would arrive “within days” but gave no other details.

North Korea remained defiant.

“Our revolutionary forces are combat-ready to sink a US nuclear powered aircraft carrier with a single strike,” the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, said in a commentary.

The paper likened the aircraft carrier to a “gross animal” and said a strike on it would be “an actual example to show our military’s force”.

The commentary was carried on page three of the newspaper, after a two-page feature about leader Kim Jong Un inspecting a pig farm.

North Korea will mark the 85th anniversary of the foundation of its Korean People’s Army on Tuesday.

It has in the past marked important anniversaries with tests of its weapons.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

It has also carried out a series of ballistic missile tests in defiance of United Nations sanctions.

North Korea’s growing nuclear and missile threat is perhaps the most serious security challenge confronting Trump.

He has vowed to prevent the North from being able to hit the United States with a nuclear missile and has said all options are on the table, including a military strike.

N Korea Ready to Respond to US Threat, Win in Confrontation – Foreign Ministry

A man watches a TV news program showing an image that North Korea's Rodong Sinmun newspaper reports of a ground test of a new type of high-thrust rocket engineNorth Korea is a “peaceful state” but it is determined to respond to the US threat with pre-emptive strikes and other methods, North Korean Foreign Ministry officials said on Saturday.

“North Korea is a peaceful socialist state, but it is not afraid of war and does not try to avoid it… North Korea has a strong desire to go to the bitter end, if the United States intends to continue its confrontation policy. The North Korean army has clearly indicated that its countermeasures will include sudden pre-emptive strikes and other methods,” the representatives of the ministry said in a statement, as quoted by the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

According to the statement, Pyongyang would respond with “nuclear strikes on nuclear war” and would definitely win in this confrontation.

North Korea carried out a number of missile launches and nuclear tests, with one of the latest constituting a launch of a ballistic missile from Sinpo, South Hamgyong province, in the direction of the Sea of Japan on April 5 and a missile test on Sunday which was unsuccessful, according to South Korean defense officials. The launches are considered to be in violation with the UN Security Council resolution.

In response to the tensions in the region, the United States sent a naval group led by US aircraft carrier Carl Vinson to the Korean Peninsula. On April 14, US media reported that US President Donald Trump might order a strike against North Korea should Pyongyang decide to carry out another nuclear weapon test.

Risk Of “Accidental” Nuclear War Growing, UN Research Group Says

The warning comes as the Pentagon begins an extensive review of its nuclear arsenal.

On Sept., 26, 1983, shortly after midnight, the Soviet Oko nuclear early warning system detected five missiles launched from the United States and headed toward Moscow. Stanislav Petrov, a young lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Force, was the duty in the Serpukhov-15 bunker that housed the Oko command center. Petrov was the man in charge of alerting the soviets about a nuclear attack, which would trigger a retaliatory strike. He determined that the Oko had likely malfunctioned and the alarm was false. The Americans would not start World War III with a quintet of missiles (risking total annihilation.) It was a daring judgment call. He was, of course, right. As the U.S. prepares to undertake a new nuclear posture review to determine the future direction of the nation’s nuclear weapons, a report from a United Nations research institute warns that the risks of a catastrophic error — like the one that took place that early morning in 1983 — are growing, not shrinking. Next time, there may be no Lt. Col. Petrov in place to avoid a catastrophe.

On Monday, the U.S. Defense Department commenced a new, massive study into its nuclear weapons arsenal, looking at how weapons are kept, how the U.S. would use them in war and whether they present an intimidating enough threat to other countries not to attack us. The review was mandated by President Trump in a Jan 27, memo.

 The Pentagon is scheduled to complete the review by the end of the year, an essential step as the military seeks to modernize different aspects of its nuclear deterrent. But a new report from the United Nations Institute for Disarmament Research, or UNIDR, argues that as the modern battlefield becomes more technologically complex, crowded with more sensors, satellites, drones, and interconnected networks, the risks of another nuclear accident are on the rise.

“A greater reliance on automated systems can lead to misplaced confidence while introducing new points of vulnerability,” says the report. Those new points of vulnerability include so-called “hidden interactions.” That means a sensor or computer program misinterpreting some bit of data and possibly presenting false information in a way that could cause an accident.

The 1987 incident provides a good case in point. Oko satellites mistook a very unusual sunspot on top of a high altitude cloud as a missile strike, hence the false alarm.

Take those satellites, combine them with sensors on drones and data from other sources as well, including new, perhaps unproven technologies to detect missile launches and the picture becomes much more crowded and murky.

Pentagon Considers Shooting Down North Korea Missile Tests

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.

Former Soviet Leader Gorbachev: ‘All the Indications of a Cold War Are There’

Presentation of Gorbachev in Life bookGorbachev says the current situation on the international arena is showing all signs of a new Cold War and an ongoing arms race.

“The language of politicians and the top-level military personnel is becoming increasingly militant. Military doctrines are formulated increasingly harshly. The mass media pick up on all of this and add fuel to the fire. The relationship between the big powers continues to worsen. This creates the impression that the world is preparing for a war. So all the indications of a Cold War are there,” Gorbachev told the German Bild newspaper on Friday.

He pointed out that while in the second half of the 1980s, the USSR and the United States reached a number of important agreements and started reducing their nuclear arsenals, the situation changed after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, with Russia’s once devoted allies now standing in opposition to Moscow, and imposing anti-Russia sanctions.

Gorbachev stressed that an arms race is already underway.

“It is not merely imminent. In some places, it is already in full swing. Troops are being moved into Europe, including heavy equipment such as tanks and armoured cars. It was not so long ago that NATO troops and Russian troops were stationed quite far away from each other. They now stand nose-to-nose,” the former Soviet leader told Bild.

Last week, Gorbachev said at a meeting with lawmakers of Germany’s Social Democratic Party (SPD) in Moscow that there was a need to return to the idea of a “common European home.”

China Warns North Korea Situation Has Hit “Tipping Point”, Threatens “Never Before Seen” Measures

After warnings yesterday, and on the heels of a “very good call” with President Trump, China has escalated its threats to North Korea over its nuclear tests. In another Global Times op-ed, China warns “if the North makes another provocative move this month, the Chinese society will be willing to adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before…”

Yesterday’s editorial in the military-focused Global Times tabloid, owned and operated by the Communist Party’s People’s Daily newspaper, said that North Korea’s nuclear activities must not jeopardize northeastern China, and that if the North impacts China with its illicit nuclear tests through either “nuclear leakage or pollution”, then China will respond with force.

 “China has a bottom line that it will protect at all costs, that is, the security and stability of northeast China… If the bottom line is touched, China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back. By that time, it is not an issue of discussion whether China acquiesces in the US’ blows, but the Chinese People’s Liberation Army (PLA) will launch attacks to DPRK nuclear facilities on its own.”

This, as the editorial puts it, is the “bottom line” for China; should it be crossed China will employ all means available including the military means to strike back,” warned the editorial.

US Sends Aircraft Carrier Toward North Korea “In Response to Recent Provocations”

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.”

N.Korea’s Kim Jong Un says engine test is ‘new birth’ of rocket industry

North Korea has conducted a test of a new high-thrust engine at its Tongchang-ri rocket launch station and leader Kim Jong Un said the successful test was “a new birth” of its rocket industry, the reclusive North’s official media said on Sunday.

The engine would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite launch capability, KCNA said, indicating the test was of a new type of rocket engine for long-range missiles.

 The United States and China pledged to work together to get the North to take “a different course” and move away from its weapons programmes after U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson met his Chinese counterpart on Saturday.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, and is believed by experts and government officials to be working to develop nuclear-warhead missiles that could reach the United States.

Kim Jong Un has said North Korea is close to a test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

IMF Paris office targeted in suspected letter bomb attack

One person has been injured in a suspected letter bomb attack at the International Monetary Fund’s office in Paris.

A spokesperson for the police said an envelope sent to the building exploded and injured one person on Thursday. Several people were also evacuated from the building as a precaution.

It comes a day after an explosive package was found at the offices of Germany’s finance minister, Wolfgang Schäuble. Berlin police said on Wednesday the package contained an “explosive mix” that was designed to cause “severe injuries”. A Greek militant group claimed responsibility for the parcel bomb.

I have been informed about the explosion in the IMF’s Paris office, which caused injuries to one of our staff.

I have been in touch with the office, and my compassion goes to the colleagues there. I condemn this cowardly act of violence and reaffirm the IMF’s resolve to continue our work in line with our mandate.

We are working closely with the French authorities to investigate this incident and ensure the safety of our staff.

France is already on high alert after a series of terror attacks in recent years, including the November 2015 assaults that left 130 people dead and a truck attack in Nice in July that killed more than 80 people.

North Korea Warns US-South Korea “Maneuvers” Are “Driving [World] Towards Nuclear Disaster”

Update: North Korea warned Monday that U.S.-South Korean military exercises, which it called “the most undisguised nuclear war maneuvers,” are driving the Korean Peninsula and northeast Asia toward “nuclear disaster.” The North Korean ambassador to the United Nations, Ja Song Nam, said in a letter to the U.N. Security Council that the U.S. is using nuclear-propelled aircraft carriers, nuclear submarines, nuclear strategic bombers and stealth fighters in the joint exercises that began Wednesday. “It may go over to an actual war,” Ja warned of the military drills, “and, consequently, the situation on the Korean Peninsula is again inching to the brink of a nuclear war.” 

“Involved in the drill were Hwasong artillery units of the KPA Strategic Force tasked to strike the bases of the U.S. imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency,” the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

 “In the hearts of artillerymen … there was burning desire to mercilessly retaliate against the warmongers going ahead with their joint war exercises,” KCNA said.

 “He (Kim) ordered the KPA Strategic Force to keep highly alert as required by the grim situation in which an actual war may break out any time, and get fully ready to promptly move, take positions and strike so that it can open fire to annihilate the enemies.”

The letter was sent a few hours after North Korea fired four banned ballistic missiles. Ja said the main reason North Korea is equipping itself “with nuclear attack capabilities” and strengthening its nuclear deterrent forces is in self-defense against what he called the U.S. “extreme anti-DPRK hostile policy and nuclear threats and blackmails as well as maneuvers to enforce its nuclear weapons.”

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