Rumors of war are a daily occurrence now aren't they? Ever stopped to notice?
The Air Force sent 14 Super Hercules military planes to western Tokyo Monday in a sign of loyalty to Japan amid growing tensions and threats of war in the Pacific with China and North Korea. Air Force officials called the C-130J planes its “meanest, toughest, most tactical machine,” Stars and Stripes reported.
The planes were delivered in a ceremony at Yokota Air Base complete with a crowd of airmen, family members and Japanese guests. U.S. Forces Japan and 5th Air Force commander Lt. Gen. Jerry P. Martinez said during the event that the plane’s signaled Washington’s “ever, ever, ever strong commitment” to Japan.
“Today the United States of America delivered its premier, meanest, toughest, most tactical machine in the world, the J model,” he said. “When you look around the world at the threats that exist in this region, our friends in Japan, they need to know that the United States sends its best … we have the premier tactical airlifter now on Japanese soil.”
Defense and global security leaders have closely been watching simmering conflicts in Asia, where North Korea continues to test its nuclear weapons capabilities, and China has warily eyed the new administration of President Donald Trump, who has threatened to start a trade war with Beijing. China has been at the center of other conflicts, as well, such as building military bases in the disputed South China Sea claimed by various nations and sending warships to the East China Sea claimed by Japan. China has also questioned South Korea over its new anti-ballistic missile system. Seoul and Tokyo are both close allies of the U.S.
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.
Both China and Russia lodged protests against the deployment: "We think the US-South Korean decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system has seriously threatened China's security interest. For the region, it will also break the strategic balance. So it's completely understandable to see countries in the region firmly oppose this decision," Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said. "China and other countries have to address our own legitimate security concerns and take necessary measures to safeguard our security interest."
"Deployment of US missile defense systems in South Korea clearly goes beyond the tasks of deterring 'the North Korean threat,'" Russian Deputy Defense Minister Anatoly Antonov said in October, according to Russian state-run Tass news agency.
However, it was North Korea which as expected, was the most vocal, and tried to shift blame away from its recent launch of 4 ballistic missiles and redirect attention to the joint US-South Korean drills taking place. As Reuters reports, North Korea faced a chorus of condemnation on Tuesday for its latest ballistic missile tests but declared that ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military exercises were aimed at conducting a "pre-emptive nuclear attack" against Pyongyang.
Ju Yong Choi, a North Korean diplomat, told the U.N.-sponsored Conference on Disarmament in Geneva that the"massive, unprecedented" joint drills were "a major cause of escalation of tension that might turn into actual war".
Robert Wood, U.S. Disarmament Ambassador, retorted that North Korea was a "a pariah, an outlier" that has violated multiple U.N. Security Council resolutions and international law by conducting ballistic missile and nuclear tests.
With the US now ready to fire anti-missile weapons on a moment's notice out of North Korea, many are concerned that the next launch by North Korea's irrational ruler may promptly escalate the region to a state of conventional war.
Nuclear-armed North Korea said Tuesday its missile launches were training for a strike on US bases in Japan, as global condemnation of the regime swelled
Three of the four missiles fired Monday came down provocatively close to US ally Japan, in waters that are part of its exclusive economic zone, representing a challenge to US President Donald Trump.
In separate phone calls, Trump -- whose rhetoric on the campaign trail had raised doubts about the issue -- reaffirmed Washington's "ironclad commitment" to Japan and South Korea.
The US will demonstrate to Pyongyang that there were "very dire consequences" for its actions, the White House said in a statement.
The United Nations Security Council scheduled an emergency meeting for Wednesday after a request by Washington and Tokyo to discuss additional measures following the launch.
Under UN resolutions, Pyongyang is barred from any use of ballistic missile technology, and the US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, said on Twitter that the world "won't allow" North Korea to continue on its "destructive path".
But six sets of UN sanctions since its first nuclear test in 2006 have failed to halt its drive for what it insists are defensive weapons.
Kim Jong-Un gave the order for the drill to start, the North's official Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.
"Feasting his eyes on the trails of ballistic rockets", he praised the Hwasong artillery unit that carried it out, it said.
"The four ballistic rockets launched simultaneously are so accurate that they look like acrobatic flying corps in formation, he said," the agency added, referring to Kim.
The military units involved are "tasked to strike the bases of the US imperialist aggressor forces in Japan in contingency", KCNA said.
The Korean version of the KCNA report said the North's missile launch demonstrated its readiness to "wipe out" enemy forces with a "merciless nuclear strike".
Last month, following a series of seemingly random tweets by Wikileaks, we reported that starting on February 4th, each day Wikileaks began sending out a series of cryptic question Tweets teasing the world about “Vault 7”. The questions were framed in Who, What, When, Where, Why, and How format (but not in that order). Each came with an image “clue”.
Here they are in chronological order starting with the earliest.
...after a flurry of appearances over a month ago, the topic of "Vault 7" faded away from the Wikileaks twitter account, until Monday evening, when in a tweet around 7:30pm, Wikileaks announced that it had released an encrypted 'torrent' file, just over 500 MB in size and which can be downloaded now at the following URL, will be made accessible for everyone tomorrow at 9am ET when Wikileaks releases the passphrase.
Why unveil the contents of "Vault 7", which some have speculated is a form of an insurance policy for Julian Assange? It may have something to do with Saturday's report that Guillermo Lasso, the frontrunner in Ecuador's presidential election, whose runoff round will take place on April 2, has warned that he will ask "Assange to leave our [London] embassy." Or it could be something totally different.
For now, there is no indication what is contained on the released torrent, although we are confident that many will have it downloaded and looking forward to tomorrow's 9am release of the password to unlock the contents of the mysterious file.
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