All day Saturday, South Korea braced for a possible new missile test by North Korea as the provocative northern neighbor marked its founding anniversary, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test rattled global financial markets and further escalated tensions in the region.
Throughout the week, South Korean officials warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of U.N. sanctions and to further provoke the US. As Reuters reports, Pyongyang marks its founding anniversary each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware. Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.
Ultimately, September 9 came and went, and North Korea did nothing, perhaps signalling its eagerness to de-escalate. Or perhaps not, and Kim is simply looking to surprise his adversaries with the ICBM launch date. Experts have said the rogue, isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something Trump has vowed to prevent.
Celebrating its founding anniversary, a front-page editorial of the Saturday edition of North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said the country should make “more high-tech Juche weapons to continuously bring about big historical events such as a miraculous victory of July 28.”. The July date refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile test (Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather).
U.S. officials have also made the case to China that if Beijing doesn't take stronger steps against North Korea, such as cutting off oil exports, South Korea and Japan are likely to pursue their own nuclear weapons programs and the U.S. won't stop them, the official said. "It's more a message for China than North Korea," the official said.
The U.S. has adopted sanctions aimed at Chinese entities that conduct business with North Korea, but has so far held back on broadly targeting China's banking system. China has told U.S. officials it would protest such a move diplomatically and retaliate, according to the senior administration official.
So what happened on Sunday? According to NBC, Trump's national security advisers presented him with U.S. military options, including pre-emptive strikes, and nuclear capabilities should America be called on to abide by its treaty obligations in the region, White House and defense officials said.
The president's advisers have made the case, however, that military strikes on North Korea could have serious repercussions, senior defense officials said, and the most glaring among these is that China has told administration officials that if the U.S. strikes North Korea first, Beijing would back Pyongyang, a senior military official told NBC.
This is not the first time China has warned the US not to escalate: on August 11, Beijing, through the state-owned media, cautioned the US president on Friday that it would intervene (militarily) on North Korea’s behalf if the US and South Korea launch a preemptive strike to “overthrow the North Korean regime,” according to a statement in the influential state-run newspaper Global Times.
"If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so," it said.
"not surprisingly, analysts have compared the standoff between the two nuclear powers (the North is a recent, if untested, member of this club) to a modern day Cuban Missile crisis. "This situation is beginning to develop into this generation's Cuban Missile crisis moment," ING's chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note. "While the U.S. president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution."
Since then, the potential risks, mutual threats and near-hostilities have grown exponentially. China - which is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92% of two-way trade last year, and also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime - has only dug in deeper, explaining repeatedly that it wants a peaceful de-escalation and that it would not side with the US in case of a military conflict.
Another imminent escalation is due on Monday.
That's when the United States told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last Monday that she intended to call for a vote on Sept. 11 and then the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday.
Meanwhile, tensions are also growing between China and South Korea. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China. Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and key suppliers slid on Friday on worries over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments. Recently Hyundai auto sales in China have crashed as local suppliers and potential customers have shied away from the company due to nationalistic prerogatives. The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumor”.
The good news, for markets, is that this Saturday's widely anticipated ICBM launch from North Korea did not take place; the bad news is that said launch was at best delayed, and if and when it comes, the US will have to choose: do nothing again, and appears increasingly weak on the global diplomatic arena, or retaliate, and risk dragging China into the conflict, potentially precipitating the appearance of mushroom clouds around the globe.
The ImageSat Company of Israel, which operates the Eros-B satellite, publishes satellite images of North Korea from recent months, exposing North Korea's ongoing preparations for conventional war
Air Force bases that feature fighter jet hangars hidden inside mountains; secret tunnels; underground hangars; anti-aircraft batteries; workshops for the production of aircraft spare parts; and more. The ImageSat Company of Israel, which operates the Eros-B satellite, publishes satellite images of North Korea from recent months, exposing North Korea's ongoing preparations for conventional war.
The images include a visual coverage of airports where dozens of fighter jets are parked. They also show preparations made by North Korea's air-defense forces, as well as changes at the Yongbyon nuclear site.
There is no doubt that alongside the missile tests, the nuclear tests and the unveiling of the nuclear and hydrogen warheads, the North Korean leadership is also preparing for war. If one should break out, it is possible that we shall witness a joint American, South Korean and Japanese invasion of Pyongyang.
Amid a host of fresh criminal accusations against the Assad government in Syria, the Syrian Arab Army (SAA) is making significant gains against ISIS’ last major stronghold in the country, paving the way for the group’s inevitable fall.
As the Guardian reported, Syrian state media is applauding the military’s recent advance, which broke a years-long ISIS siege on the government enclave of Deir ez-Zor, an oil-rich part of Syria.
“The Syrian Arab army this afternoon broke the siege on Deir ez-Zor city after its advancing forces arrived from the western province to Brigade 137,” the Sana state news agency said, as reported by the Guardian.
“This great achievement is a strategic shift in the war on terror and confirms the ability of the Syrian Arab army and its allies,” the army command was also quoted as saying.
The SAA is achieving this victory without the help of the United States, and the Guardian notes that Russia is providing Syrian troops with airpower. As Anti-Media reported on August 22, 2017, the SAA was closing in on this region to try to beat the U.S. military to the punch; the U.S. would have rather given this territory to the U.S.-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). Russia’s military presence and bombardment of the area complicates this issue greatly for the U.S.
The mainstream media has been fairly silent on these recent developments even though they could signal the demise of ISIS as a territorial entity and pave the way for thousands more Syrian refugees to return to their homes. Thankfully, regional commentators have helped keep the story up-to-date and confirmed what many of us have been predicting for some time now.
There is still much work to be done in terms of liberating the area from ISIS, but as the Guardian noted, Syrian analyst Aron Lund says the SAA’s recent success on its own would be “one of the most symbolic victories in its six-year war.”
The most disturbing part of this particular narrative is the fact that, as the Guardian explained:
“Civilians gathered on either side of the road connecting the base to neighbourhoods of the city to welcome the arriving troops.” [emphasis added]
Essentially, a western-media outlet has confirmed that the Syrian people held hostage by ISIS welcomed the prospect of being liberated by the SAA. This is the same group of people that western media have insisted are committing a host of human rights abuses and must be completely dismantled and overthrown.
Not only is the SAA the most engaged entity combatting ISIS, but the SAA and its associated forces are also clearly some of the more effective forces targeting ISIS. The SAA is the only legitimate body that should be liberating Syrian territory from ISIS given the U.S. has no legal justification to conduct military operations in the war-torn country.
Even though the downfall of ISIS is something one would expect western media to celebrate, when the campaign is being spearheaded by a secular government, the corporate media generally finds this is not a story worth covering. If the U.S. and its radical allies, on the other hand, were the ones achieving this victory (illegally, one might add), the media might view this issue somewhat differently.
John Bolton: EMP Threat Is One Reason ‘We’ve Got to Consider the Military Option Against North Korea First’
Marlow asked for Bolton’s opinion of the electromagnetic pulse attack threat from North Korea, a permutation of nuclear terrorism about which analysts such as Frank Gaffney of the Center for Security Policy, another frequent Breitbart News Radio guest, long warned.
“It absolutely is a threat,” Bolton replied. “A high-altitude nuclear detonation that could bring down a substantial part of the electrical grid of the United States, at least in particular geographic regions, would have a huge impact on us.”
“It’s one of the things people have said, ‘Well, North Korea doesn’t have the range in its missiles, it doesn’t have the thermonuclear capacity, it doesn’t have the reentry vehicle, and it doesn’t have the guidance systems. EMP, you don’t need really precise guidance systems. If you just detonate something, let’s say, over the West Coast of the United States, the EMP effects could be significant,” he explained.
“It ties into the strategic question of what happens if North Korea fires a nuclear weapon at the United States. People have said, ‘Look, North Korea is never going to commit suicide. They would never do that.’ Well, what if the attack is not obliterating Los Angeles? What if it’s an EMP attack, where actual destruction on the ground from the blast itself is minimal, maybe no casualties at all, but the knock-on effects of impairing the electrical grid could be very substantial? What do you do then?” he asked.
Bolton said there was no good answer to that question, which is “why we’ve got to consider the military option against North Korea first.”
“It’s why I wrote about Franklin Roosevelt’s famous statement made in a fireside chat on September the 11th, 1941 – 60 years to the day before our 9/11 – when he said, ‘When you see a rattlesnake poised to strike, you do not wait until it has struck before you crush it,’” Bolton recalled.
“Let me make one other point if I could, coming back to the nuclear stuff: Yesterday was the tenth anniversary of Israel destroying a nuclear reactor being built in Syria,” Bolton observed. “Being built by whom? Being built by North Koreans. Why did the North Koreans build a nuclear reactor in Syria? Was it because of their close cultural and historical relationship? Of course not. It was because somebody, quite likely Iran, was trying to hide their illicit activities where they thought nobody was looking.”
“This is the sort of thing that people don’t like to talk about, the connection between Iran and North Korea, but I believe it’s real, and I believe that Israel – which has twice in its history destroyed nuclear projects in hostile states, that one in Syria and in Iraq in 1981 – has shown that if everything else fails, preemptive military force is required to defend your people from nuclear extortion,” he contended.
“It’s terrible that we may be at the last ditch here and that our options are limited, but if you believe that the fundamental duty of the President of the United States is to protect Americans, that option has to be on the table,” said Bolton.
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