Wednesday, March 22, 2017

British PM Addresses Nation After Terror Attack, N Korea Has No Fear Of U.S. Sanctions - Will Pursue Nuclear Arms

British PM Addresses Nation After Deadly London Terror Attack

Addressing the people of Britain following the terror attack that left at least five people dead and 40 injured, UK Prime Minister Theresa May called the attack an attempted assault on Parliament's noble principles, but promised the city and the government would not be cowed by terrorists.

​The attack took place Wednesday outside of Parliament when a large vehicle plowed through pedestrians on Westminster Bridge before crashing into the railing. The attacker then exited the vehicle and made his way towards Parliament stabbing an armed police officer to death. He was later shot and killed by police, who are treating the incident as a terror attack.
May said the location of the attack "was no accident," as the British Parliament represents, "democracy, freedom, human rights and the rule of law … That is why it is a target for those who reject those values."

She added that the people of London, "will all move forward together, never giving in to terror and never allowing the voices of hate and evil to drive us apart."
The Prime Minister announced that parliament will meet as planned Thursday despite the attack, stating that the governing body as well as London, "will move forward, never giving in to terror."
The UK's threat level for international terrorism was already listed at severe, meaning an attack is "highly likely." May said this would not change.

North Korea has nothing to fear from any U.S. move to broaden sanctions aimed at cutting it off from the global financial system and will pursue "acceleration" of its nuclear and missile programs, a North Korean envoy told Reuters on Tuesday.
This includes developing a "pre-emptive first strike capability" and an inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM), said Choe Myong Nam, deputy ambassador at the North Korean mission to the United Nations in Geneva.
Reuters, quoting a senior U.S. official in Washington, reported on Monday that the Trump administration is considering sweeping sanctions as part of a broad review of measures to counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threat.

On Monday, Arab media reported that Israeli Air Force jets struck another Hezbollah weapons convoy snaking its way to Lebanon from Syria. Israel refused to comment on the report but if accurate, it would represent the third Israeli strike against targets in Syria in as many days.
Less than 24 hours earlier, an Israeli drone liquidated Yasser al-Sayed, while he was driving along the Damascus- Quneitra road near the town of Khan Arnaba. Lebanese media reported that he was a Syrian air defense commander. Other Arab media reported that he was a pro-Assad militia commander who was coordinating planned attacks against Israel with the Iranian Revolutionary Guard Corps. Hezbollah of course, claimed he was a civilian. 
Israel remained silent on the circumstances of al-Sayed’s death but has in the past bluntly informed its enemies, including Assad, Iran and Hezbollah that it would not remain idle in the face of threats emanating from Syria and elsewhere and would act when necessary to preserve its security interests.  

When it comes to warfare, military doctrine and technology, Israel has always been at the cutting edge. In 1967 it provided the world with the modern-day equivalent of Shock and Awe. In 1973, its armored corps provided NATO with the operational know-how to defeat the threat of Soviet Sagger anti-tank guided missiles (ATGM). In 1982, it shocked the Soviets by deploying new weapons and tactics that rendered Soviet air-defenses and aircraft near obsolete and in 2012 and then again in 2014, it dazzled the world with its marvelous Iron Dome anti-rocket system. 
Israel’s flurry of military activity against Hezbollah and Iranian interests in Syria conveys a clear message that it will not tolerate the transfer of sophisticated weapons to Hezbollah. It will also not permit Hezbollah or Iran to establish military bases near the Golan Heights that threaten Israel. The liquidation of Yasser al-Sayed, Samir KuntarJihad Mughniyeh, Gen. Mohammad Ali Allahdadi and a laundry list of others at the hand of Israel, underscores this fact. Moreover, the strike against Iranian targets at T4 near Palmyra demonstrates that the IRGC and their Shia mercenaries are not immune from attack even when hiding behind Russian skirts.  

The Trump administration reportedly demanded that Israel halt all construction in isolated West Bank settlements and put curbs on new building inside the major settlement blocs, under the terms of an agreement currently being negotiated with the Netanyahu government over settlement construction.

During his visit to the region last week, US President Donald Trump’s Special Envoy for International Negotiations Jason Greenblatt held a pair of lengthy discussions with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, in part to reach an understanding on new settlement construction.

According to several Hebrew media reports Wednesday, Greenblatt set out terms under which the US would not oppose the construction of new homes in Jewish neighborhoods over the pre-1967 lines in East Jerusalem, and would accept an agreed number of new homes each year inside the major settlement blocs, while no new homes would be built in isolated settlements. Building in the blocs would be within an agreed annual quota, Greenblatt proposed, according to Channel 2.

Israel “was surprised” by the stringency of the demands, and rejected them, the report said.
Netanyahu rejected the terms, Haaretz reported, in part due to opposition from coalition members to a public declaration of any type of settlement freeze. Right-wing members of his Likud party, as well as from the pro-settlement Jewish Home party, were adamantly opposed to any freeze, Haaretz added.

Over two years ago, when North Korea hacked email accounts at Sony Pictures, including of people I knew, to prevent the debut of a movie the NORKS disliked, I realized their leaders were not quite the harmless cartoon or animatronic characters popular at our cinemas. These days they're posting to YouTube with videos of their own showing their not insignificant forces taking out a U.S. aircraft carrier and blasting off ICBMs capable, sooner than later, of reaching, well, those same Sony Pictures Studios in Culver City, not to mention a fair portion of the western USA.

Is it time for us to take them seriously?  I would say so -- and so would, evidently, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, who would not close off the idea of a preemptive strike on North Korea should their nuclear ambitions get out of hand.  Tillerson had been visiting Japan, South Korea, and China primarily to discuss those ambitions.

While our media and minds are turned to healthcare debates, seemingly mythological ties with Russia, and other endless forms of internal backbiting, North Korea is not-so-quietly emerging as the issue -- and the most dangerous phenomenon -- of our time.  All others may soon find positions on the proverbial back burner.  Or, if not on the back burner, on side burners, as we discover more links between the more advanced NORKS, the Iranians, and various terror groups who may already be clients of their technology.

MeanwhileThe New York Times has an interesting timeline of the North Koreans' increasing bellicosity, including this February when Kim Jong-un's half-brother was assassinated in Kuala Lumpur, a surprising technical feat of its own achieved in full view at an international airport.  This is the same Mr. Kim -- chairman of the Workers' Party of North Korea -- who vowed earlier this month to reduce the U.S. to "ashes"  via nuclear strikes if Donald Trump fires "even a single bullet" into North Korea.

Should we do such a thing?  Obviously, there are miles to go before we get there, but something is very clear -- namely, the policies of the Clinton-Bush-Obama administrations toward North Korea -- all virtually the same State Department talk-talk -- have failed utterly.  Nothing they did has even remotely altered the behavior and ambitions of the NORKS.  And the Chinese, who are perpetually cited as the ones who must "do something," have clearly done little as well. But it remains to be seen if even they can.

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