Friday, April 14, 2017

U.S. May Launch Preemptive Strike On N Korea Ahead Of Nuclear Test, U.S. May Send Ground Troops To Syria,




US May Launch Preemptive Strike On North Korea Ahead Of Nuclear Test




With just two days to go until North Korea's "Day of the Sun" celebrations, when as reported yesterday it may conduct its 6th nuclear test at the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site, NBC reports citing multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials that in the latest stepwise escalation, the U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that Kim Jong-Un's nation North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test. Note: North Korea does not even have to carry out the text: mere conviction on the side of the US that it would, is sufficient. 
As first reported yesterday, North Korea warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend. According to multiple sources, the U.S. intelligence community has reported with "moderate confidence" that North Korea is preparing for its sixth underground nuclear test, though the U.S. is also in the dark regarding the specific timing.
The launch of a preemptive attack would naturally threatens a counterattack by Kim: the U.S. is thus "worried" that its strikes could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor. "The leadership in North Korea has shown absolutely no sign or interest in diplomacy or dialogue with any of the countries involved in this issue," said Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies.
Meanwhile, intelligence officials have told NBC News that the U.S. Navy has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site. Additionally, American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Korea should it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area.

"By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the US is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war," said North Korea's statement, which actually sounded quite rational and measured.
Futhermore, virtually everyone knows that Kim's threats are those of a paper tiger: North Korea is not believed to have a deliverable long-range nuclear weapon, according to U.S. experts, nor does it yet possess an intercontinental missile. Which begs the question: why is the US getting involved in yet another regime change operation half way around the world?
South Korea's top diplomat said today that the U.S. would consult with Seoul before taking any serious measures, or at least he hoped: "U.S. officials, mindful of such concerns here, repeatedly reaffirmed that (the U.S.) will closely discuss with South Korea its North Korea-related measures," foreign minister Yun Byung told a special parliamentary meeting. "In fact, the U.S. is working to reassure us that it will not, just in case that we might hold such concerns."
Of course, if the U.S. does not "closely discuss" any pre-strike plans, then... oops.
In any case, a new war may break out as soon as this weekend: "Two things are coming together this weekend," said retired Adm. James Stavridis, former commander of NATO and an NBC analyst. "One is the distinct possibility of a sixth North Korean nuclear weapons detonation and the other is an American carrier strike group, a great deal of firepower headed right at the Korean Peninsula."

The U.S. is aware that simply preparing an attack, even if it will only be launched if there is an "imminent" North Korean action, increases the danger of provoking a large conflict, multiple sources told NBC News. 

"It's high stakes," a senior intelligence official directly involved in the planning told NBC News. "We are trying to communicate our level of concern and the existence of many military options to dissuade the North first." 

"It's a feat that we've never achieved before but there is a new sense of resolve here," the official said, referring to the White House.









The U.S. is prepared to launch a preemptive strike with conventional weapons against North Korea should officials become convinced that North Korea is about to follow through with a nuclear weapons test, multiple senior U.S. intelligence officials told NBC News. 
North Korea has warned that a "big event" is near, and U.S. officials say signs point to a nuclear test that could come as early as this weekend.
The intelligence officials told NBC News that the U.S. has positioned two destroyers capable of shooting Tomahawk cruise missiles in the region, one just 300 miles from the North Korean nuclear test site. 
American heavy bombers are also positioned in Guam to attack North Koreashould it be necessary, and earlier this week, the Pentagon announced that the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier strike group was being diverted to the area. 
The U.S. strike could include missiles and bombs, cyber and special operations on the ground. 
The danger of such an attack by the U.S. is that it could provoke the volatile and unpredictable North Korean regime to launch its own blistering attack on its southern neighbor.

On Wednesday, North Korea said it would "hit the U.S. first" with a nuclear weapon should there be any signs of U.S. strikes. 
On Thursday, North Korea warned of a "merciless retaliatory strike" should the U.S. take any action.

"By relentlessly bringing in a number of strategic nuclear assets to the Korean peninsula, the U.S. is gravely threatening the peace and safety and driving the situation to the brink of a nuclear war," said North Korea's statement. 








North Korea may already be capable of launching chemical weapons, Japan has warned.
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said he feared Kim Jong-un 'has a capability' to fire missiles tipped with sarin - the same deadly gas used to kill 87 Syrian civilians in a horrifying gas attack last week.
That atrocity prompted the US to launch a surprise wave of missiles on one of dictator Bashar al-Assad's airbases. 
Abe told a parliamentary session: 'There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.'
A Washington-based think tank that monitors North Korea, 38 North, said satellite images taken on Wednesday showed continued activity around the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site on the east coast that showed it was ready for a new test.
South Korean officials said on Thursday there were no new signs to indicate a North Korean nuclear test was more likely, although they also said the North has maintained a state of readiness to conduct such a test at any time. 
Around 200 foreign journalists gathered in Pyongyang for North Korea's biggest national day, the 'Day of the Sun', were taken to what was billed by officials as a 'big and important event' early on Thursday.

It turned out to be the opening of a new street in the centre of the capital, attended by Kim.


North Korea marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of state founder Kim Il Sung on Saturday. In 2012, it tried but failed to launch a long-range rocket carrying a satellite to mark the date and tested a newly developed intermediate-range missile last year.









Satellite photography reportedly shows that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site for another detonation, probably timed to coincide with celebrations of national founder Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday this weekend.

The report of activity at Punggye-ri comes from monitoring group 38 North, which said the site was “primed and ready” after detecting the movement of vehicles and personnel. The sort of activity they described seems consistent with preparation, rather than a frenzy of activity that would indicate an imminent detonation.
38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez, who has a good track record of predicting Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, told CNN the activity noted over the past six weeks is “suggestive of the final preparations of a test.” In particular, 38 North analysts thought the end of excavation and water pumping at the site were indicators that it could be put to use soon.

Japan added another reason for concern, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a session of his parliament, “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.”
Sarin is the nerve agent suspected of deployment in the chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was allegedly killed with a different chemical weapon, VX, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February.
Interestingly, China’s Communist Party organ, the Global Times, published an editorialcalling on North Korea to suspend its nuclear activities, coupled with a promise that China will “actively work to protect the security of a denuclearised North Korean nation and regime.”








It appears that Mike Cernovich, who earlier this week wrote that Trump's national security advisor, Gen. H.R.McMaster, was planning on sending as many as 150,000 troops to Syria, may have been right again. According to Bloomberg commentator Eli Lake, who has now made a habit of confirming Cernovich "conspiracy theories" (he did so previously with the Susan Rice scoop), Trump may be on the verge of escalating the proxy war in Syria by sending anywhere between 10,000 and 50,000 troops on the ground, and - if Cernovich is indeed correct - as much as three times more. 
Per Lake, after U-turning on attacking Syria last week and on a variety of economic policies yesterday, the Donald Trump's "biggest foreign policy surprise may be yet to come." Specifically, he says that McMaster, has been quietly pressing his colleagues to question the underlying assumptions of a draft war plan against the Islamic State that would maintain only a light U.S. ground troop presence in Syria." McMaster's critics inside the administration say he wants to send tens of thousands of ground troops to the Euphrates River Valley. His supporters insist he is only trying to facilitate a better interagency process to develop Trump's new strategy to defeat the self-described caliphate that controls territory in Iraq and Syria."

To be sure, there have been ground troops, typically special forces, in Syria since 2014, when Barack Obama famously flipflopped on his own promise of "no more boots on the ground", first in Iraq and then the broader region.  However, the U.S. presence on the ground has been much smaller and quieter than more traditional military campaigns, particularly for Syria. As Lae puts it, "It's the difference between boots on the ground and slippers on the ground."
Well, the boots are coming, even if that means Trump gets to flip on yet another promise: Trump told Fox Business this week that that would not be his approach to fighting the Syrian regime: "We're not going into Syria," he said. 
According to Gen. McMaster "we are", and it's only a matter of time.

As Lake explains, McMaster himself has found resistance to a more robust ground troop presence in Syria. In two meetings since the end of February of Trump's national security cabinet, known as the principals' committee, Trump's top advisers have failed to reach consensus on the Islamic State strategy. The White House and administration officials say Secretary of Defense James Mattis, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joseph Dunford and General Joseph Votel, who is in charge of U.S. Central Command, oppose sending more conventional forces into Syria. 
An interesting aside: according to a Lake source, Stephen Bannon had "derided" McMaster to his colleagues as trying to start a new Iraq War. Bannon's opposition to yet another US conflict - one which would have the clear goal of replacing the Assad regime - may explain why the former Breitbart head is on his way out.


Keane told Lake he favored a plan to begin a military operation along the Euphrates River Valley. "A better option is to start the operation in the southeast along the Euphrates River Valley, establish a U.S. base of operations, work with our Sunni Arab coalition partners, who have made repeated offers to help us against the regime and also ISIS. We have turned those down during the Obama administration." 
That particular plan would require an initial force of 10,000 troops
Keane added that U.S. conventional forces would be the anchor of that initial push, which he said would most likely require around 10,000 U.S. conventional forces, with an expectation that Arab allies in the region would provide more troops to the U.S.-led effort.
With time, however, the number will grow dramatically:
White House and administration officials familiar with the current debate tell me there is no consensus on how many troops to send to Syria and Iraq. Two sources told me one plan would envision sending up to 50,000 troops. Blogger and conspiracy theorist Mike Cernovich wrote on April 9 that McMaster wanted 150,000 ground troops for Syria, but U.S. officials I spoke with said that number was wildly inflated and no such plan has been under consideration. 










In his first interview following the chemical attacks in Syria, Syrian President Bashar Assad said that his government was neither involved in the attacks and did not have chemical weapons to attack with.  He called the accusations against his government "100 percent fabrication."
Assad told Agence France Presse, in an interview, that he gave "no order to make any attack" and said, "even if we had [chemical weapons], we wouldn't use them."
“There was no order to make any attack. We don’t have any chemical weapons. We gave up our arsenal a few years ago,” he said.
"Our impression is that the West, mainly the United States, is hand-in-glove with the terrorists," he added.  "They fabricated the whole story in order to have a pretext for the attack."
"Definitely, 100 percent for us, it's fabrication," he said.

He even questioned whether an attack occurred at all, something that some of America's representatives have also questioned.
Russian President Vladimir Putin called the chemical attack a "false flag" and claimed that more were to come.  He blamed the attack on Islamic State jihadis.

Borrowing a line from President Donald Trump, Assad said, “You have a lot of fake videos now. We don’t know whether those dead children were killed in Khan Sheikhun. Were they dead at all?”

Assad then added that he would allow an investigation into the attack "when we make sure that unbiased countries will participate in this delegation in order to make sure that they won't use it for politicized purposes."

The important question that I and many others have asked is, how in the world would a chemical attack benefit Assad?  What does he stand to gain?  Absolutely nothing.







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