Saturday, October 14, 2017

Satellite Reveals N Korea Preparing Ballistic Missile Launch

Satellite Footage Shows North Korea Preparing Ballistic Missile Launch Ahead Of US Naval Drills

Echoing a report from earlier this week, when on Wednesday the Seoul-based Asia Business Daily reported that North Korea is preparing to fire multiple short-range rockets around the opening of the Chinese Communist Party’s twice-a-decade congress on Oct. 18 - arguably the year's most important geopolitical event - on Saturday the South Korean press claimed that "North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch a ballistic missile ahead of an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea", according to a government source. 
The Donga Ilbo daily said satellite pictures show ballistic missiles mounted on "transporter erector vehicles" and being moved out of hangars near Pyongyang and in the North Phyongan Province. US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory, the newspaper said.

A defence ministry spokesman declined to comment on the report, saying: "we don't comment on any matters of military intelligence" but added that "we are keeping a close watch over the North."
Quoted by AFP, Donga Ilbo said that US and South Korean military officials suspect the North might be preparing to launch missiles capable of reaching US territory, and that this could be the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile, whose range could extend to Alaska, or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range missiles which Pyongyang threatened to fire towards the US Pacific territory of Guam in Augus . Another possibility is that the North might be preparing to test a new Hwasong-13 ICBM, it added, that has a longer maximum range than the other two missiles and could potentially reach the US West Coast.

On Friday, the US navy said that a US aircraft carrier will lead a joint naval drill between the US and South Korea in the coming week. The drills, led by the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier, are scheduled to begin on Monday in waters east and west of South Korea. The 10-day exercise, which will include the USS Stethem and USS Mustin Arleigh Burke-class guided missile destroyers, will check the allies’ “communications, interoperability and partnership,” the United States Navy’s 7th Fleet said in a statement.

When US President Donald Trump outlined his new strategy to counter Iran in a major policy speech Friday, he said that his views were formed “after extensive consultations with our allies,” but he could really only have been talking about Israel and some Gulf states.
Most of America’s allies — most notably France, Germany, Britain — and other world powers vehemently condemned the president’s change of tack, which included a direct threat to terminate the Iran nuclear agreement if it is not significantly modified.
Only Saudi Arabia, the United Arab EmiratesBahrain and, of course, Israel welcomed Washington’s new confrontational course on Iran.
And while it was no secret that the Gulf states shared Jerusalem’s ferocious opposition to the 2015 pact, which was intended to roll back Iran’s nuclear program in exchange for sanctions relief, it was Israel’s leader who most vocally and most persistently attacked it from any possible stage.
In formulating his new Iran strategy, Trump clearly took a page or two out of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s playbook.
The president’s main demands — improved enforcement of the deal in the present, preventing it from expiring in the future, and killing it if this can’t be done; plus additional sanctions to punish Tehran for its missile programs and other aggressive behavior — are virtually indistinguishable from those the Israeli leader presented just a few weeks ago at the United Nations.
“President Trump has just created an opportunity to fix this bad deal, to roll back Iran’s aggression and to confront its criminal support of terrorism,” Netanyahu said on Friday evening, in a pre-recorded statement based on a briefing he had received ahead of Trump’s speech, before the start of the Shabbat, from US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

Israel’s policy regarding the nuclear deal, Netanyahu declared one day after talks with Trump at a bilateral meeting in New York, is very simple: “Change it or cancel it, fix it or nix it.”

The prime minister elaborated: “Nixing the deal means restoring massive pressure on Iran, including crippling sanctions, until Iran fully dismantles its nuclear weapons capability. Fixing the deal requires many things, among them inspecting military and any other site that is suspect, and penalizing Iran for every violation.”

In addition to dealing with the nuclear threat, the prime minister went on: “We must also stop Iran’s development of ballistic missiles and roll back its growing aggression in the region.”

None of that is immediately clear.
What can be said with some degree of certainty is that Netanyahu and Trump are totally aligned when it comes to Iran. Both leaders loathe the nuclear deal but are ready to let it survive if enforcement is improved and, crucially, if the restrictions on Iran are never lifted.
They also have identical demands regarding the need to ratchet up pressure to confront Iran’s non-nuclear aggression in the region.
Trump may not have aligned with Israel’s government as much as Netanyahu would have liked on Israeli-Palestinian peace efforts, the settlement enterprise and moving the US embassy from Tel Aviv to Jerusalem. But on Iran at least, the two seem to be in total lockstep.

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