CHINA BOAST: U.S. MARINES WOULD BE LIKE ‘MARCHING BAND’ IN ALL OUT FIGHT

Photo by: LCpl Thomas DeMelo Wissler

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By Miles Yu | The Washington Times

A casual remark by a U.S. general during a breakfast has made China mad, really mad, and Beijing’s response is far less than civil and humble.

On April 11, Marine Corps Lt. Gen. John Wissler, commander of the 18,000 Marines in Okinawa, Japan, told reporters at a Washington breakfast meeting that the Marines in the Pacific would quickly retake the Senkaku island group and return it to Japan if China were to invade it.

The statement was nothing new, as U.S. officials from the president on down repeatedly have told the Chinese that the United States would fulfill its defense treaty obligations to help Japan militarily in any conflict with China over the islands.

What apparently incensed the Chinese was what Gen. Wissler said next: “You wouldn’t maybe even necessarily have to put somebody on that island until you had eliminated the threat, so to speak.”

The Chinese military is supremely confident of its invincibility in the Pacific and is taking Gen. Wissler’s remark as a great insult.

The first return salvos were fired by the Communist Party-owned and operated newspaper Global Times.

“These U.S. warships roaming around here [in the East China Sea] are slowly being considered by us Chinese as our moving targets right in front of our eyes, and the [U.S.] bases in Okinawa as a whole are also no longer a big deal [to us],” said the newspaper in an April 15 editorial.

“When facing China, these U.S. soldiers are really not worth anything,” the Global Times said. “If China and the U.S. were to start an all-out fight, these American Marines would be more like a marching band, charging with others, but with their musical instruments in hands.”

Wissler seems still living in the 20th century. In the new century, he and his comrades in arms should see their own reflections in the water with which they use to wash their own feet,” said the Global Times.

NATIONAL SECURITY, REDEFINED

Beijing recently issued its broadest definition of “national security” — including virtually all aspects of the communist state’s daily routine and giving new meaning to China as a “national security state.”

Billed as the “National Security Path with Chinese Characteristics,” the new definition was announced by Supreme Leader Xi Jinping on April 15 at the first plenary meeting of the newly created, all-powerful National Security Commission.

It is significantly different from other conventional definitions of “national security” around the world in its comprehensive coverage and its dual emphasis on external and internal security.

To begin with, Mr. Xi listed 11 “security” areas in which China’s new national organization will operate and oversee — politics, territories, military, economy, culture, community, science and technology, information, ecology, natural resources and nuclear.

At the top of this security behemoth sits Mr. Xi as chairman of the National Security Commission — a position renders him the world leader with the most institutionalized and centralized powers.

In addition to being China’s national security czar, Mr. Xi is chief of the only real political party in China, president of the world’s most-populous nation, and commander-in-chief of the world’s largest military, while holding additional positions in charge of China’s foreign affairs and economic reforms.

PEPE ESCOBAR: CHINA/RUSSIA ‘DEAL OF THE DECADE’ AND EUROPE’S SECRET U.S. DEAL BLUES

While the West weighs up putting more spanners in the works with sanctions, Russia and China are getting on with business. The two are looking at a deal that could see gas pumped into the world’s most-populated nation for the next 3 decades. Asia Times correspondent Pepe Escobar told RT that Beijing’s stance on the global political arena is bearing fruit.

CHINA’S GROWTH SLOWS TO 7.4 PERCENT IN FIRST QUARTER


BEIJING (AP) — China’s economic growth slowed further in the latest quarter but appeared strong enough to satisfy Chinese leaders who are trying to put the country on a more sustainable path without politically dangerous job losses.

The world’s second-largest economy grew 7.4 percent from a year earlier in the January-March quarter, down from the previous quarter’s 7.7 percent, government data showed Wednesday. It matched a mini-slump in late 2012 for the weakest growth since the 2008-09 global crisis.

Beijing is trying to guide China’s economy toward growth based on domestic consumption instead of trade and investment following the past decade’s explosive expansion. The top economic official, Premier Li Keqiang, last week ruled out new stimulus and said leaders will focus on “sustainable and healthy development.”

“Chinese growth held up better than expected last quarter and there are signs that downwards pressure on growth has eased somewhat,” said analyst Julian Evans-Pritchard of Capital Economics in a report.

Retail sales and factory output were weaker than in the previous quarter but improved in March. On a quarter-to-quarter basis, economic growth from January to March slowed to 1.4 percent from the previous period’s 1.8 percent.

The data reflect official efforts to shift emphasis from investment-intensive industry to services such as restaurants and retailing that generate more jobs.

Credit growth slowed in March and the expansion of China’s overall money supply rose at its slowest rate since 1997. Housing sales in the first quarter declined 5.7 percent from a year earlier.

“The continued slowdown in money and credit growth is likely to keep exerting relentless downward pressure on China’s economic growth,” said Societe Generale economist Wei Yao in a report. “Without re-acceleration of debt growth, the economy is unlikely to stabilize for another quarter at least.”

Stock markets in Asia and Europe were mostly higher, shrugging off the Chinese figures because growth didn’t slow as much as forecast by analysts.

The latest economic growth is below the official annual target of 7.5 percent announced last month. But Chinese leaders appear willing to miss that target so long as the economy creates enough jobs to avoid potential unrest. In a sign of concern about employment, they launched a mini-stimulus in March of higher spending on building railways and low-cost housing.

“Policymakers appear comfortable with the current pace of growth,” said Pritchard. “The policy response to today’s numbers is likely to be muted.”

Some analysts said that with inflation relatively subdued at 2.4 percent in March, the central bank might respond by easing monetary policy and inject extra money into credit markets.

Domestic consumption is rising but more slowly than Beijing wants. In October, the government said consumption accounted for 55 percent of growth and investment for most of the rest. A government spokesman, Sheng Laiyun, said Wednesday the ratio for the latest quarter still was being calculated.

The quarterly expansion matched the third quarter of 2012, when growth tumbled after global demand for China’s exports weakened unexpectedly while the government was tightening lending and investment controls to cool surging inflation.

The past decade’s rapid growth, which peaked at 14.2 percent in 2007, was driven by an export boom and spending on factories, apartment towers and other assets. But that model is losing its ability to drive growth. It also left China with badly polluted air and water.

Chinese leaders have promised sweeping changes to make the economy more competitive and efficient, including opening more industries to private and foreign competitors.

They have issued a steady drumbeat of minor changes in recent months such as making it easier to register a business but more basic change such as in the state-controlled banking system is politically fraught and could take years.

So far this month, Chinese leaders have approved a tax cut for small businesses and agreed to create a railway development fund to receive 200 to 300 billion yuan ($35-50 billion) per year.

Last year’s economic growth of 7.7 percent was the strongest of any major economy but tied 2012 for China’s slowest expansion since the 1990s.

Weaker growth could have global repercussions, hurting Asian economies and others such as Australia and Brazil for which China is the leading market for iron ore, other commodities and industrial components.

Chinese imports suffered an unexpectedly sharp contraction of 11.3 percent in March in a sign of weak demand for raw materials in manufacturing and construction.

 

LAVROV IN CHINA: STRATEGIC PARTNERSHIP, GAS, NUCLEAR, WAR DANGER

Xi Jinping Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with China's President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on April 15, 2014 in Beijing, China.  Lavrov is on a one-day visit to China.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov (L) shakes hands with China’s President Xi Jinping at the Great Hall of the People on April 15, 2014 in Beijing, China. Lavrov is on a one-day visit to China.

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Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov is in China for discussions in preparation for President Putin’s visit next month. In an interview before meeting with his counterpart, Wang Yi, and President Xi Jinping, Lavrov told China Daily that the “Sino-Russia strategic partnership has reached an unprecedented height.”

CHINA’S PRESIDENT XI URGES GREATER MILITARY USE OF SPACE

China's President Xi attends a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico

China’s President Xi Jinping attends a news conference at Los Pinos Presidential Palace in Mexico City June 4, 2013. REUTERS/Edgard Garrido

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BEIJING (Reuters) – Chinese President Xi Jinping urged the air force to adopt an integrated air and space defence capability, in what state media on Tuesday called a response to the increasing military use of space by the United States and others.

While Beijing insists its space program is for peaceful purposes, a Pentagon report last year highlighted China’s increasing space capabilities and said Beijing was pursuing a variety of activities aimed at preventing its adversaries from using space-based assets during a crisis.

Fears of a space arms race with the United States and other powers mounted after China blew up one of its own weather satellites with a ground-based missile in January 2007.

A detailed analysis of satellite imagery published in March provided additional evidence that a Chinese rocket launch in May 2013, billed as a research mission, was actually a test of a new anti-satellite weapon.

Visiting air force headquarters in Beijing, Xi, who is also head of the military, told officers “to speed up air and space integration and sharpen their offensive and defensive capabilities”, Xinhua news agency said late on Monday.

It gave no details of how China expects to do this.

China has to pay more attention to its defensive capabilities in space, the official China Daily said on Tuesday.

“The idea of combining air and space capability is not new to the Chinese air force, as a host of experts have underscored the importance of space,” it said.

Wang Ya’nan, deputy editor-in-chief of Aerospace Knowledge magazine in Beijing, said Xi’s call for integrated air and space capability is to answer the need of the times.

“The United States has paid considerable attention and resources to the integration of capabilities in both air and space, and other powers have also moved progressively toward space militarization,” Wang Ya’nan was quoted as saying.

“Though China has stated that it sticks to the peaceful use of space, we must make sure that we have the ability to cope with others’ operations in space.”

The United States was the first country to develop anti-satellite weapons in the 1950s, but currently has no known weapons dedicated to that mission.

China has been increasingly ambitious in developing its space programs for military, commercial and scientific purposes. Xi has said he wants China to establish itself as a space superpower.

But it is still playing catch-up to established space superpowers the United States and Russia. China’s Jade Rabbit moon rover has been beset by technical difficulties since landing to great domestic fanfare in mid-December.

KOREA AND THE “AXIS OF EVIL”

By Brian S. Willson | Global Research

North Korea lost thirty percent of its population as a result of US led bombings in the 1950s. US military sources confirm that 20 percent of North Korea’s  population was killed off over a three period of intensive bombings:

“After destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, [General] LeMay remarked,“Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”  It is now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.”

During The Second World War the United Kingdom lost 0.94% of its population, France lost 1.35%, China lost 1.89% and the US lost 0.32%. During the Korean war, North Korea lost 30 % of its population.

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These figures of civilian deaths in North Korea should also be compared to those compiled for Iraq  by the Lancet Study (John Hopkins School of Public Health). The Lancet study estimates a total of 655,000 Iraqi civilian deaths, following the US led invasion (March 2003- June 2006).

Michel Chossudovsky,  Global Research, April 14,  2014 


The demonization of North Korea by the United States government continues unrelentlessly.  Former president George W. Bush used his first State of the Union address on January 29, 2002 to brand North Korea,  along with former allies Iran and Iraq, as “the world’s most dangerous regimes” who now form a perennial threatening “axis of evil.” Unbeknown to the public, because it was intended to have remained a secret, was the fact that this former president presented a “Nuclear Posture Review” report to Congress only three weeks earlier, on January 8, which ordered the Pentagon to prepare contingency plans for use of nuclear weapons. The first designated targets for nuclear attack were his newly identified members of the “axis of evil,” along with four other nations – Syria, Libya, Russia, and China. That this is nothing short of a policy of ultimate terror remains unaddressed in the U.S. media.

That Koreans are deeply concerned is an understatement. However, they understand the context in which their “evil” is being portrayed, not an altogether new threat leveled at them. However, the dangerous escalation of policy rhetoric following the 9-11 tragedy now boldly warns the world of virtual total war. Former vice-president Richard Cheney declared that the U.S. was now considering military actions against forty to fifty nations, and that the war “may never end” and “become a permanent part of the way we live.”  The Pentagon declared that the widening gap between the “Haves” and “Have-nots” poses a serious challenge to the U.S., requiring a doctrine of “full spectrum dominance.” Thus, the U.S. demands the total capacity to conquer every place and its inhabitants in and around the world, from deep underground bunkers, including those in North Korea and Iraq, through land, sea, and air, to outer space. All options for achieving global and spatial hegemony are now on the table. Already, the U.S. military is deployed in 100 different countries.  Total war, permanent war.

Addiction to use of terror by the United States is nothing new. The civilization was founded and has been sustained by use of terror as a primary policy. For example, in 1779, General George Washington ordered destruction of the “merciless Indian savages” of upstate New York, instructing his generals to “chastise” them with “terror.” The generals dutifully carried out these orders. In 1866, General William T. Sherman ordered “extermination” with vindictive earnestness of the Sioux. They were virtually exterminated. Secretary of War Elihu Root (1899-1904) under President’s McKinley and Theodore Roosevelt, justified the ruthless U.S. military conduct in the Philippines that savagely killed a half-million citizens by citing “precedents of the highest authority:” Washington’s and Sherman’s earlier orders.

War against nations around the world is not new either. The U.S., over its history, has militarily intervened over 400 times, covertly thousands of times, in over one hundred nations.  Virtually all these interventions have been lawless. It has bombed at least eighteen nations since it dropped atomic bombs on Japan in 1945. It has used chemical warfare against Southeast Asia, and has provided chemical warfare agents for use by other nations such as Iraq. It has used biological warfare against China, North Korea, and Cuba. The Koreans are quite aware of this history. Most Americans are not. But now the U.S. has declared a unilateral terrorist war on the whole world.

Two of the interventions in the nineteenth century were inflicted against Korea, the first in 1866. The second, larger one, in 1871, witnessed the landing of over 700 marines and sailors on Kanghwa beach on the west side of Korea seeking to establish the first phases of colonization. Destroying several forts while inflicting over 600 casualties on the defending Korean natives, the U.S. withdrew realizing that in order to assure hegemonic success, a much larger, permanent military presence would be necessary. The North Korean people regularly remark about this U.S. invasion, even though most in South Korea do not know of it due to historic censorship. Most in the U.S. don’t know about it either, for similar reasons, even though in all of the nineteenth century this was the largest U.S. military force to land on foreign soil outside of Mexico and Canada until the Spanish American War in 1898.

I believe it’s important for Americans to place themselves in the position of people living in targeted countries. That North Korea, a nation of 24 million people, i.e., one-twentieth the population of the U.S., many of them poor, a land slightly larger in area than the U.S. state of Pennsylvania, continues to be one of the most demonized nations and least understood, totally perplexes the Korean people. It’s worthwhile to seek an understanding of their perspective.

I recently visited Korea and talked with a number of her citizens. I traveled 900 miles through six of North Korea’s nine provinces, as well as spending time in Pyongyang, the capital, and several other cities. I talked with dozens of people from all walks of life. Though times have been hard for North Koreans, especially in the 1990s, they long ago proudly rebuilt all of their dozens of cities, thousands of villages, and hundreds of dykes and dams destroyed during the war.

U.S. interference into the sovereign life of Korea immediately upon the 1945 surrender of the hated Japanese, who had occupied the Korean Peninsula for forty years, is one of the major crimes of the Twentieth Century, from which the Korean people have never recovered. (SEE “United States Government War Crimes,” Spring 2002 – issue # 1 of Global Outlook). From a North Korean’s perspective they (1) have vigorously opposed the unlawful and egregious division of their country from day one to the present, (2) were blamed for starting the Korean War which in fact had been a struggle between a minority of wealthy Koreans supporting continued colonization in collaboration with the U.S. and those majority Koreans who opposed it, (3) proudly and courageously held the U.S. and its U.N. allies to a stalemate during the war and (4) have been tragically and unfairly considered a hostile nation ever since. They have not forgotten the forty years of Japanese occupation that preceded the U.S. imposed division and subsequent occupation that continues in the South. They deeply yearn for reunification of their historically unified culture.

Everyone I talked with, dozens and dozens of people, lost one if not many more family members during the war, especially from the continuous bombing, much of it incendiary and napalm, deliberately dropped on virtually every space in the country. “Every means of communication, every installation, factory, city, and village” was ordered bombed by General Douglas MacArthur in the fall of 1950. It never stopped until the day of the armistice on July 27, 1953. The pained memories of people are still obvious, and their anger at “America” is often expressed, though they were very welcoming and gracious to me. Ten million Korean families remain permanently separated from each other due to the military patrolled and fenced dividing line spanning 150 miles across the entire Peninsula.

Let me make it very clear here for western readers. North Korea was totally destroyed during the Korean War by General MacArthur’s air campaign with Strategic Air Command head General Curtis LeMay who had proudly conducted the earlier March 10 – August 15, 1945 continuous incendiary bombings of Japan that destroyed 63 major cities and murdered a million citizens. (The deadly Atomic bombings actually killed far fewer people.) Eight years later, after destroying North Korea’s 78 cities and thousands of her villages, and killing countless numbers of her civilians, LeMay remarked, “Over a period of three years or so we killed off – what – twenty percent of the population.”  It’s now believed that the population north of the imposed 38th Parallel lost nearly a third its population of 8 – 9 million people during the 37-month long “hot” war, 1950 – 1953, perhaps an unprecedented percentage of mortality suffered by one nation due to the belligerance of another.

Virtually every person wanted to know what I thought of Bush’s recent accusation of North Korea as part of an “axis of evil.” Each of the three governments comprising Bush’s “axis of evil” of course immediately condemned the remarks, North Korea being no exception. I shared with them my own outrage and fears, and they seemed relieved to know that not all Americans are so cruel and bellicose. As with people in so many other nations with whom the U.S. has treated with hostility, they simply cannot understand why the U.S. is so obsessed with them.

Koreans were relieved to learn that a recent poll indicated eighty percent of South Koreans were against the U.S. belligerant stance against their northern neighbors. The North Korean government described Bush as a “typical rogue and a kingpin of terrorism” as he was visiting the South in February 2002, only three weeks after presenting his threatening State of the Union address.  It was also encouraging that the two Koreas resumed quiet diplomatic talks in March just as the U.S. and South Korea were once again conducting their regular, large-scale, joint military exercises so enraging to the North, and to an increasing number of people in the South among the growing reunification movement there.

In the English-language newspaper, The Pyongyang Times, (February 23, 2002) there were articles entitled “US Is Empire of the Devil,” “Korea Will Never Be a Threat to the US,” and “Bush’s Remarks Stand Condemned.” Quite frankly, all three of these articles relate a truth about the U.S. that would draw a consensus from many quarters around the world.

While in the country, we listened to Bush’s March 14 Voice of America (VOA) radio chastisement of North Korea. First, he stated that the North’s 200,000 prisoner population was proof of terrible repression. Though I had no way of knowing the number of prisoners in the North, any more than Bush did, I do know that the United States has 2 million prisoners which is similar in per-capita detention rate to that of North Korea if the 200,000 figure is accurate. Furthermore, the U.S. has a minimum of 3 million persons, mostly minority and poor, under state supervision of parole and probation. The U.S. sweeps its class and race problems into prison.

Second, Bush declared that half the population was considered unreliable and, as a result, received less monthly food rations. The Koreans are a proud people living in a Confucian tradition, having rebuilt their nation from total destruction during the Korean war. I did not notice any obvious display of dissent. That some Koreans are desperate due to lack of food, water, and heat, especially in some rural areas, does not necessarily translate into dissent, though some are seeking relief by travel to neighboring countries.

Third, Bush claimed that Koreans who listen to foreign radio are targeted for execution. Together we regularly listened to U.S.VOA radio broadcasts and they freely discussed the content of the broadcasts without fear of reprisals.

Fourth, Bush condemned the DPRK for spending too much on its military, causing food shortages for the people.  It must be remembered that it was the U.S. that unilaterally divided Korea following the Japanese surrender in August 1945, and subsequently ruled with a military occupation government in the south, overseeing the elimination of virtually the entire popular movement of (majority) opposition to U.S. occupation, murdering hundreds of thousands of people. The consequent Korean civil war that openly raged in 1948-1950 was completely ignored when the U.S. defined the beginning of the Korean War in 1950. The U.S. remains at war with the DPRK, never having signed a peace treaty with her. The war has left a deep scar in the Korean character with a memory that is regularly provoked by continued belligerance directed at the DPRK. The U.S. regularly holds joint military exercises with South Korean military forces aimed at the DPRK. The U.S. retains 37,000 military troops at 100 installations south of the 38th parallel. The U.S. has its largest Asian bombing range where it practices bombing five days a week, fifty-two weeks a year, despite opposition from many South Koreans. And now Bush has identified North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” targeted for nuclear attack. This is no remote idea to North Koreans. The U.S. possesses nuclear weapons on ships and planes in the Pacific region surrounding North Korea. Virtually every nation in this perilous position would be concerned about their defense.

Fifth, Bush accused the DPRK of selling weapons to other nations. That is like the pot calling the kettle black. The U.S. is by far the largest manufacturer of conventional, nuclear, chemical, and biological weapons in the world. It is also the largest seller of these weapons, and has used conventional (against dozens of nations), biological (Cuba, China, Korea, perhaps others), chemical (Southeast Asia), and nuclear (Japan, and threatened to use them on at least 20 other occasions) weapons. In addition it has armed other nations with these weapons of mass destruction, including Iraq, one of those countries now identified as part of the “axis of evil.” In the year 2000, international arms sales were nearly $37 billion, with the U.S. being directly responsible for just over half of those sales. South Korea was the third largest buyer of weapons from the United States with $3.2 worth of military hardware.  In January 2002, South Korea was seriously contemplating purchasing an additional $3.2 billion worth of 40 F-X fighter jets from U.S. arms giant Boeing.

At the conclusion of the VOA radio broadcast, Koreans and I looked at each other in disbelief. But we also knew that we were in solidarity with each other as part of the human family. When I said goodbye to my new friends we embraced knowing that we live in a single world made up of a rich diversity of ideas and species. We know that we are going to live or die together, and hope that the arrogant and dangerous rhetoric and militarism of the United States will soon end so we can all live in peace. However, for that to happen, there will need to be a dramatic awakening among the people and a corresponding expression of massive nonviolent opposition that will make such threatening behavior impossible to carry out.

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HISTORY WARS IN NORTHEAST ASIA

The United States Helped Spark the Battles. Now It Must Help End Them

By Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel C. Sneider | Foreign Affairs

April 11, 2014

From territorial disputes in the East China Sea to heated propaganda wars across the region, peace in northeast Asia seems increasingly tenuous. At the heart of rising tensions are unresolved historical issues related to World War II, which drive a wedge between the United States’ two main allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, and fuel a revived rivalry between Japan and China. As the main victor in World War II, the United States has some responsibility for these disputes. It constructed the postwar regional order and has been largely content since then to view the matter as settled, even though issues of territory, compensation, and historical justice were left unresolved. During the Cold War, when the region’s main players were cut off from each other, the United States’ approach worked well. But as the region democratizes and grows increasingly integrated, long-buried issues are coming to the surface. As U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Japan and South Korea this month, it is time for the United States to tackle wartime history in Asia head on.NORTHEAST ASIA

American officials were confronted by the uncomfortable realities of wartime issues last year, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, without warning, made an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including some who had been convicted and executed as Class-A war criminals. The Japanese leader certainly understood that his decision would irk China and South Korea, which see such visits as signals of Tokyo’s embrace of an unapologetic view of Japan’s wartime aggression. What was even more troubling was that the visit came only a few weeks after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apparently received assurances from Abe that Tokyo would avoid any such provocations. Biden subsequently encouraged South Korean President Park Geun-hye to sit down with the Japanese leader, although Park questioned whether he could be trusted to hold his historical revisionism in check — a concern that was clearly justified.

Japan and South Korea have made repeated efforts over the past two decades to resolve their wartime history issues, but progress has always proved short-lived. South Korean officials now openly plead for the United States to step in. That would be anathema to Japan, which fears being isolated. Obama managed to convene a brief meeting of the Japanese and South Korean leaders recently at the nuclear safety summit in Europe, but the agenda focused solely on North Korea. For its part, the United States simply urges restraint and dialogue, consistently refusing to intervene directly into disputes over the wartime past. American diplomats understandably argue that the subject is a minefield and that any U.S. involvement will be viewed with suspicion in China, Japan, and South Korea alike.

Even so, China’s bid for regional domination makes it nearly impossible for the United States to continue to stay out of the fray; Beijing has already started to position itself as sympathetic to South Korean fears about Japan and has embarked on a global propaganda campaign against Japanese “militarism,” pointing with undisguised glee at any evidence of Japanese nostalgia for its wartime past.  By taking a leading role in dealing with the wartime past, the United States could make it difficult for Beijing to use it for political gain.

SORRY I’M NOT SORRY

The oft-stated notion that the United States has no responsibility for history issues is a convenient myth. The United States made several key decisions right after the war that laid the groundwork for the current dispute. These range from its decision to put aside the issue of the emperor’s responsibility to its efforts to rehabilitate nationalist conservatives — including Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, the wartime minister in charge of Japan’s military industry — to counter Japan’s leftward drift, all of which undermined efforts within Japan to make a clear break with the past. Meanwhile, the territorial issues that plague Japan’s relations with its neighbors — from the dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to the Kurile islands disputes with Russia — are all results of American decisions in the postwar settlement. The 1965 normalization treaty between Japan and Korea, which was brokered by Washington, pressed the Koreans to put compensation for Japanese colonial rule and for forced mobilizations of Koreans for the war effort aside after Japan balked. Such decisions made sense in the context of the Cold War because of the imperatives of the struggle against the Soviet and Chinese Communists. But they don’t anymore, and it is incumbent on the Untied States to help the region reconcile its past once and for all.

An in-depth look at the formation of wartime historical memory, conducted as part of our Divided Memories and Reconciliation project, shows that narratives about the past cannot and will not be easily changed. Indeed, the younger generations, which have no memory of the horrors of war, hold on to the stories even tighter. Still, there are some ways to at least reduce tensions over the wartime past.

The most urgent issue is compensation for individual victims of the system of forced labor that Japan used during the war, including the women from across Asia whom it coerced into sexual servitude. The government of Japan, with the support of the United States, has long insisted that the issue of compensation was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and by subsequent agreements normalizing relations with China and South Korea. But some legal scholars, including in Japan, argue that the settlement between states does not bar individuals from seeking compensation. In fact, California enacted legislation in 1999 that allowed victims of the Holocaust and of the German and Japanese forced-labor systems to seek such redress from private corporations that exploited them, but the law was overturned.

Compensation for the so-called comfort women, who were forced to serve in Japanese military brothels, is an urgent issue, but it would be better for Japan to finally deal with the broader problem of forced labor. It could follow the model of the German Fund for the Future, or, as it is formally known, the foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future, which was formed in 2000. The 5.2 billion euro ($7.15 billion) fund is jointly maintained by the German government and the German private corporations that used forced labor during the war. In cooperation with international partner organizations, it has compensated more than 1.66 million survivors in almost 100 countries. It also offers research and education programs.

Of course, the momentum for such an initiative must come from Japan and the Japanese parliament, as the German initiative did in Germany. But the process can be encouraged and aided by the United States, which was directly involved alongside the German government in designing the fund and in negotiating its terms with Poles, Czechs, Jewish groups, and others seeking compensation. Unlike in the case of Japan, the U.S. government did not actively oppose suits filed in U.S. courts against German firms seeking compensation. Today, the United States could formally change its legal interpretation of the San Francisco Treaty to allow individuals to seek compensation, including from private corporations, and ask the involved nations to assure Japan that they fully accept the new fund as a final settlement of all issues of compensation.

Public apologies must come next. Many in Japan believe that their country has already offered apologies, but that the victims, particularly in China and South Korea, simply refuse to accept them, preferring instead to keep the fires of the war alive. Official Japanese apologies, however, are constantly undermined by some Japanese political leaders’ outright denial of wartime responsibility. And Tokyo has made little effort to reach out to the broader public with public gestures of real contrition. Compare, for example, Japanese Socialist Prime Minister Murayama’s limited statement on the war in 1995, when a Japanese premier formally and specifically apologized, for the first time, for Japanese “aggression and colonial rule,” to German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s decision to kneel in apology before the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during a visit to Poland in 1970. A photo of that moment lingers on as an expression of German contrition, but nothing comparable exists from Japan. Worse, Japanese conservatives continue to assail the Murayama statement.

It is not hard to imagine how powerful it would be if a Japanese prime minister bowed his head at the museum commemorating the Nanjing massacre or met the surviving Korean comfort women in Seoul. The cases of Germany and Japan are by no means completely parallel, not least in the distinctive nature of the Holocaust, but also in the way the Cold War impelled Germany to reconcile with its wartime foes, such as France and Britain, whereas as the Cold War separated Japan from its principal Asian victim, China. But Japan can take some lessons from Germany’s ongoing willingness to embrace the need for apology and self-examination. Here, Washington has the opportunity to offer its own leadership in confronting the United States’ wartime past; it is time for an American president to throw aside political caution and go to Hiroshima or Nagasaki to offer his or her own reflections on the horrible human costs of the decision to drop atomic weapons on Japan. The United States would not only set an example — without doing so, it would be hard to justify American intervention on wartime history issues.

Finally, the education of the next generation must not be overlooked. Again, Europe provides a useful example. Germany and France, through a long process of discussion and exchange, created a joint textbook commission whose work on the history of World War II is used in classrooms today. The two countries also created a youth office to sponsor mass exchanges, with some eight million participating in programs over the last half century. These were decisions that the Germans made on their own, in the context of the need to create postwar European community.

Japan has formed a history commission with China and with South Korea. These two efforts failed to achieve their goal of creating a common history because they could not entirely bridge their differences over the past. But they did establish the groundwork for future commissions and create extensive networks of historians with experience in such exchanges. Our own comparative study of high school history textbooks in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States yielded a curriculum unit that could be used in all those countries. The involvement of American scholars and educators in history dialogues among China, Japan, and South Korea could aid this effort.

WAR HISTORY COMES HOME

The United States might worry that its efforts in the region won’t be effective, or that the United States will become the next target of all the countries in the region. To soothe these fears, it is worth looking back to the United States’ role in promoting reconciliation during the Northern Ireland peace process. The negotiation leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and backed by the White House in close consultation with the British and Irish governments, as well as with parties on the ground. In the initial stage of negotiations, the British resented the United States’ presence. But the rocky start soon gave way to cooperation, the results of which endure today.

In both Northern Ireland and postwar Germany, the United States’ decision to intervene rested on powerful domestic political considerations. The role of Irish-Americans and the Jewish community in American life undoubtedly encouraged Washington to take on the considerable risks of getting involved. The same thing is increasingly happening for Asian wartime history issues. The Chinese-American and Korean-American communities are highly organized and motivated when it comes to history issues. They have brought them very much into play domestically, as evidenced most recently by the erection of monuments to Korean comfort women in towns in New Jersey and southern California.

At home and abroad, the United States can no longer escape wartime history battles. For decades, Americans have tended to believe that the passage of time would heal all war wounds. But it hasn’t. Popular nationalism, fed in part by unfiltered dialogue online, is gaining strength across the region. The advent of democracy in China, which may not be far off, is likely only to complicate the situation as happened in South Korea. And so, the United States must be prepared to act, with the understanding that the diplomacy will be delicate and difficult but that there are compelling reasons and ample precedent for the United States to push its allies and partners to reconcile.

Only if it takes up the charge will the United States ensure success in its role as the guardian of peace and security in East Asia.

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JAPAN EASES WEAPONS EXPORT RESTRICTIONS, CHINA REACTS WITH ALARM

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April 1, 2014

For the first time in nearly half a century, Japan is reducing restrictions on its weapons exports.

The major reform of its arms transfer policy comes as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe seeks to strengthen ties with allies and bolster the domestic defence industry.

Announcing the overhaul, Japan’s Foreign Minister, Fumio Kishida said: “The new export principle draws on what the previous rules sought to achieve, but allows for the movement of non-lethal arms in accordance with the current security environment.”

China has reacted with alarm describing Japan’s action as “endangering” the whole region.

“Japan’s policy in military security concerns the region’s stability, environment and strategic stability, and the direction of Japan’s national development. We are paying great attention to this,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said at a daily news briefing.

“We request that the Japanese side learn lessons from history, earnestly respond to regional countries’ strong concerns about the relevant issue… and do more to benefit the region’s peaceful development,” he added.

Japan’s defence budget slipped over the 10 year period up to 2012, raising concerns that some of the smaller and less diversified arms makers might be forced out of business.

The new export policy alone will unlikely help Japanese defence companies establish a big presence overseas, although some high-performance Japanese components, such diesel engines for ships, stand out among potential competitors.

Sino-Japanese ties have been strained of late due to a territorial dispute over a group of East China Sea islets.

Shinzo Abe’s visit in December to Tokyo’s Yasukuni Shrine was also seen by many critics as a symbol of Japan’s wartime aggression.

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JAPAN NEEDS ITS OWN MILITARY MIGHT

by ARTHUR WALDRON

With China’s unmistakable climb toward the status of great military power, along with Beijing’s unnerving but demonstrated willingness to use that power for purposes of territorial expansion, Japan faces two sets of national security problems. These problems can no longer be brushed aside, as they have been for decades.

The first set of problems are short-term, precipitated by China’s new policy of aggressively pursuing its claim to the Senkaku Islands (which it calls Diaoyudao). Some say the Chinese are motivated by possible energy deposits in the region, but my own view is that they are putting long-term strategy first.

At present China’s growing navy has no good access to the Pacific Ocean, except through waters either controlled by or near to Japan. Were China able to seize the Senkaku Islands and base forces there, it would militarily dominate the surrounding area, and sail its fleet easily through the substantial gap that separates southern Okinawa from Miyako Island.

Such a Chinese military ability would threaten if not nullify Japan’s control over the island chain that terminates at Yonaguni, about 110km from Taiwan, while threatening Okinawa itself.

China’s need for a reliable gateway to the Pacific is the reason that the waters north of Miyako have become a regular focus of Chinese military activity. It is also the reason that Captain James Fannell, a senior U.S. naval intelligence officer, has warned that China is training for a “short, sharp war” with Japan to seize the Senkakus — and perhaps more.

Such a possibility may seem inconceivable, but Fannell is almost certainly correct. The current Chinese operational approach is one of quick military operations to secure small pieces of territory, as from Vietnam and the Philippines. This approach is dangerous and irresponsible, as it can escalate to major war. It is, however, a fact.

In response Tokyo is doing two things. First, they are modestly increasing their own military forces to the point where it is hoped they will be sufficient to deny China the ability to capture any Japanese territory. This would be done not by fighting a general war with China, but rather by narrowly focused anti-access and area denial tactics. Second, Tokyo is counting on the United States as an ally to provide forces Japan lacks.

As an American, I admire the great intelligence with which the Japanese military response has been designed: It is limited, in no sense provocative and, in the short term at least, has a high probability of success.

I am less confident in the American alliance. As I have argued elsewhere, a close reading of declassified materials from the time when President Richard Nixon began rapprochement with China suggests that, at that time at least, the American administration was considering a future in which Beijing would be Washington’s chief interlocutor in Asia, with Japan’s position undefined.

Washington has a security treaty with Japan, which it has honored completely so far. Nevertheless, those in the American capital who see China as more important than Japan are growing in influence. In case of real military conflict between China and Japan, I fear that Washington would seek a middle-of-the-road, compromising position. This would mean not wholeheartedly aiding Tokyo but rather pressuring it for a compromise with China. In the case of the Senkakus, perhaps giving them up.

Commentator Patrick J. Buchanan has already taken such a position. America’s one-sided condemnation of the Japanese prime minister’s visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, unbalanced by any mention of China’s inflammatory rhetoric and state-sponsored anti-Japanese demonstrations, is another signal of a potentially wobbly American position.

What conclusion do we draw? It is simple. Even today, Japan must possess, on its own, the military power to defend all of its territory, regardless of what the United States does.

Down the road

Suppose, however, that the limited tactics described above can secure Japanese territory for now — and for that matter, that of other Asian countries China threatens. That brings us to the second question, which is how long such an approach can be effective.

The most likely answer is for around 10 years, during which time China will continue its military build-up, eventually reaching a position where it can overwhelm such defenses. As for American military strength during these 10 years, its trend will be steadily downward.

Even today we can manage, at most, one war at a given time. That means that if China moved against Japan or another neighbor at a time when Washington was embroiled, for example, in the Middle East, little or no American aid would be forthcoming, for our military assets would be overwhelmingly deployed elsewhere.

Ideally the 10 years I have postulated before China reaches a position of military superiority should be used to avert conflict. This cannot be done by concessions, which will only encourage Beijing’s ambitions. Conceivably negotiations and the signing of trustworthy treaties could accomplish the task. I am, however, skeptical.

In 10 years’ time China will possess a massive arsenal of both conventional and nuclear weapons. Since World War II, Japan and other allies in the region have depended upon American power and extended deterrence for their ultimate security. That means relying upon an American promise to use its own nuclear weapons on behalf of someone else at a time when the U.S. is wide-open to nuclear retaliation. My personal view is that this promise will never be kept: No American president would ever fire nuclear weapons except in retaliation for an attack on our homeland.

My view is shared by two of our oldest allies, who know us best, namely Britain and France. Neither trusts the U.S. to defend them in case of nuclear attack, so each maintains its own minimal nuclear deterrent. Britain has three Vanguard-class nuclear submarines, each carrying missiles with thermonuclear warheads. One of these submarines is always under way, undetectable at sea, able to administer a devastating blow to anyone who attacks Britain. France maintains a comparable force. This deterrent renders each of these countries immune to attack.

It must be clearly understood that an anti-missile system, of which Japan’s is perhaps the world’s most advanced, cannot deliver anything comparable to the security Britain and France guarantee themselves. Defensive systems do not work well enough to stop a nuclear attack. Any system can be “saturated” — that is, confronted by more targets than can be handled. Furthermore, modifying missiles to defeat defense is far easier than is adjusting defense to meet new threats.

These facts, against the background of a hostile China that is developing major conventional and nuclear capabilities, present Japan with problems it is not accustomed to considering, of considerable political sensitivity, but real and inescapable.

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http://asia.nikkei.com/var/site_cache/storage/images/node_43/node_51/2014/201403/20140320/20140320_jieitai/522498-1-eng-GB/20140320_jieitai_medium.jpg

Japan’s military response to China has been effective, but a nuclear deterrent is needed to guarantee long-term security. © Kyodo

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The answer, while difficult, is very clear. China is threatening; U.S. extended deterrence is a myth; missile defense measures alone are not adequate. If Japan wishes to be safe, it must use the years ahead to develop an all-around independent military capacity, including the sort of minimal nuclear deterrent that Britain, France and other countries possess.

Without that, it is conceivable that Japan will face, at some point, a conflict with a larger, nuclear capable aggressor, at a time when it has no countervailing power of its own, nor reliable ally. For Japan, that would be the worst nightmare.

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JAPAN INDICATES U.S. COULD BRING NUCLEAR WEAPONS INTO ITS TERRITORY IN CASE OF EMERGENCY

RT

February 18, 2014

Tokyo suggested that it would allow the US to bring nuclear weapons into Japanese territory in the event of a serious threat to its security.

Japan's decision obviously comes in the wake of tensions with China.

 

Japan’s decision obviously comes in the wake of tensions with China.

In a briefing with lawmakers, Japanese Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida outlined conditions that would lead Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government to make exceptions to Japan’s longstanding posture against possessing, producing, or allowing nuclear weapons within the nation’s borders, Kyodo News reported.

Kishida said the Abe administration adheres to the policy of its predecessor: Whether or not Japan would “adamantly observe the (non-nuclear) principles despite threats to people’s safety depends on the decision of the administration in power.”

“The future cannot be determined in advance,” Kishida said, echoing comments by former Foreign Minister Katsuya Okada of the current opposition Democratic Party of Japan. In 2010, Okada disclosed that Japan and the US had agreements during the Cold War era in which Tokyo would allow the US to bring nuclear-armed submarines into Japanese ports in an apparent violation of the non-nuclear policy. The agreement expired in the early 1990s, upon the end of the Cold War.

Abe said last month it was a “mistake” that previous administrations led by his Liberal Democratic Party avoided acknowledging secret US-Japan pacts that had been declassified in the United States.

Kishida’s comments come amid heightened tensions between Japan and China thanks to a heated territory dispute in the Pacific. Last week, US Secretary of State John Kerry met with Kishida to stress that the US will support Japan in the conflict.

Late last year, China declared a portion of the East China Sea between Taiwan and Japan to fall within its exclusive economic zone, infuriating Japanese officials who had long considered that region to be within their control. In an almost immediate response, the US mobilized in the region and sent surveillance craft and B-52 bombers over the air defense zone in defiance of China’s wishes.

The two countries have further clashed in their respective claims to a small group of islands, known as Senkaku in Japan and Diaoyu in China.

“I… underscored that the United States remains as committed as ever to upholding our treaty obligations with our Japanese allies,” Reuters quoted Kerry as saying, referencing the Treaty of Mutual Cooperation and Security between both nations signed in 1960.

“The United States neither recognizes nor accepts China’s declared East China Sea [Air Defense Identification Zone] and the United States has no intention of changing how we conduct operations in the region,” he added, according to the Associated Press. “We are deeply committed to maintaining the prosperity and the stability in the Asia-Pacific. And that won’t be possible without respect for international law, including freedom of navigation and overflight.”

The US has numerous military bases in Japan and across the region, and would be obligated to provide military assistance under the mutual cooperation treaty should China launch a strike in an attempt to strengthen their hold on the disputed territory.

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REPORT: JAPAN SECRETLY DEVELOPING NUCLEAR WEAPONS

Tokyo begins arms build-up in response to East China Sea tension

Paul Joseph Watson
Infowars.com
February 18, 2014

Image: Japan Maritime Self-Defense Force sailors (Wikimedia Commons).
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Asia Weekly, a Hong Kong-based news outlet, is reporting that Japan is secretly developing a nuclear weapons program in response to increasing hostilities with China over the East China Sea dispute.

According to the report, paraphrased by the Want China Times, “With the capability to build at least 2,000 nuclear warheads, Japan has recently demanded the United States return 300 kilograms of plutonium. A Japanese military analyst told Yazhou Zhoukan that Washington has paid close attention to the potential development of nuclear weapons in Japan.”

Asia Weekly, known as Yazhou Zhoukan, is a popular Chinese-language platform with a 20 year publishing history.

The article notes that Mitsubishi, Hitachi and Toshiba all possess expertise in the area of nuclear energy and along with 200 other small companies could all be called upon to kickstart a nuclear weapons program. Japan already has over 40 tonnes of plutonium in its possession.

Influential voices like Major General Yoshiaki Yano of the Japan Ground Self-Defense Force are also calling on Tokyo to adjust its nuclear policy.

The story arrives hot on the heels of reports that China is extremely concerned about Japan’s initial resistance at handing back weapons-grade plutonium to the United States which was bought back in the 1960′s for research purposes but has the potential to be turned into 50 nuclear bombs.

Earlier this year, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe announced that within the next six years Japan would revise its pacifist constitution, which limits its military activities to self-defense.

Tensions over China’s declaration of an air defense zone over the disputed Senkaku Islands have continued to simmer, with three Chinese ships sailing through the region on Monday in another show of aggression.

A deluge of aggressive rhetoric has emerged out of official Communist Party organs in recent months directed against the United States, including discussion about China’s ability to attack U.S. military bases in the Western Pacific, as well as a lengthy editorial which appeared in Chinese state media explaining how the Chinese military’s current reformation process was part of a move by President Xi Jinping to prepare the People’s Liberation Army for war.

Last month, Chinese state media reported that Beijing’s new hypersonic missile vehicle is primarily designed to target U.S. aircraft carriers. Last year, China reportedly sunk a mock U.S. aircraft carrier utilizing the DF-21D anti-ship missile, dubbed the “carrier killer,” during a wargame which took place in the Gobi Desert.

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JAPAN SETS SIGHTS ON STRENGTHENING SOUTH CHINA SEA SURVEILLANCE

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By Jonathan Soble in Tokyo | The Financial Times
April 18, 2014

For years, the sole armed force protecting Japan’s westernmost inhabited territory – the sleepy island of Yonaguni, population 1,500 – has been two police officers.

That will soon change: a new military radar base is to be completed on the island in two years’ time, guarded by 100 members of Japan’s Self-Defense Forces, a development that has divided islanders while underscoring Tokyo’s increasingly tough-minded security policy.

On Saturday, Itsuki Onodera, defence minister, will travel to the island, which lies 2,000 miles southwest of Tokyo and a stone’s throw from Taiwan, to break ground on the base. When it is completed in 2016, its radar will give Japan a clearer view of Chinese ship and aircraft movements in the South China Sea, including around islands whose ownership is disputed by Tokyo and Beijing.

“We are determined to protect Yonaguni, which is part of the precious territory of Japan,” Mr Onodera told reporters this week, saying the SDF deployment belonged to a broader effort to “strengthen surveillance of the southwestern region”.

That effort has been under way for several years, as Japanese military planners shift their focus away from their cold war adversary Russia – just off Japan’s far north – to China, which has been rapidly modernising its military and challenging Japanese control of the disputed islands, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Daioyu in China.

But the shift has accelerated under Shinzo Abe, the hard-talking conservative who became Japan’s prime minister at the end of 2012. Mr Abe is pushing for a more active role for Japan’s military, whose activities have been tightly constrained since the end of the second world war.

Since taking office, Mr Abe has reversed a decade-long contraction in Japanese defence spending, lifted a longstanding ban on arms exports and launched a controversial review of Japan’s defence-only military posture. He would like to broaden the definition of defence to include so-called collective self-defence, meaning Japanese forces could fight outside Japan to protect allies such as the US.

Past governments have deemed such force projection to be against Japan’s pacifist constitution.

On Yonaguni, reaction to the island’s new role on Japan’s defensive front line has been mixed. Some local leaders, including the mayor, Shukichi Hokama, have been lobbying for an SDF base for years, hoping it would bring economic benefits to an area where the population is in decline and incomes are significantly below the Japanese average.

Talks on the planned base dragged on for months over Mr Hokama’s insistence that the national government pay Yonaguni a Y1bn ($10m) “co-operation fee”. The mayor ultimately dropped that demand, but in return Tokyo will pay tens of millions of yen a year for land leases and other concessions.

Even with such enticements the island’s municipal council split 3-2 over allowing the base to be built, and last year Mr Hokama was only narrowly re-elected as mayor, defeating an anti-base opponent by fewer than 50 votes.

Some islanders fear the SDF installation will make them a target in any conflict with China. “Fighting occurs where military bases exist,” Takashi Mikura, an 83-year-old farmer, told the Japan Times. About 250 residents gathered to protest the groundbreaking this week.

Opponents question whether militarisation will bring economic advantages. Yonaguni is part of the prefecture of Okinawa, whose larger islands are home to the largest concentration of US forces in Japan and which has long been Japan’s poorest region. Rather than becoming a tool to seal Japan’s borders, they argue, the island should court tourism from nearby Taiwan and China.

“Cross-border exchanges had been growing,” Ryuku Shimpo, a local newspaper, wrote in a critical editorial last month. “But since the government got behind the base plan they have been frozen.”

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JAPAN EXPANDS ARMY FOOTPRINT FOR FIRST TIME IN 40 YEARS, RISKS ANGERING CHINA

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JAPANESEGROUNDFORCEJapanese soldiers of Ground Self-Defense Force during a training exercise

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By Nobuhiro Kubo
April 19, 2014

YONAGUNI, Japan (Reuters) – Japan began its first military expansion at the western end of its island chain in more than 40 years on Saturday, breaking ground on a radar station on a tropical island off Taiwan.

The move risks angering China, locked in a dispute with Japan over nearby islands which they both claim.

Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, who attended a ceremony on Yonaguni island to mark the start of construction, suggested the military presence could be enlarged to other islands in the seas southwest of Japan’s main islands.

“This is the first deployment since the U.S. returned Okinawa (1972) and calls for us to be more on guard are growing,” Onodera told reporters. “I want to build an operation able to properly defend islands that are part of Japan’s territory.”

The military radar station on Yonaguni, part of a longstanding plan to improve defense and surveillance, gives Japan a lookout just 150 km (93 miles) from the Japanese-held islands claimed by China.

Building the base could extend Japanese monitoring to the Chinese mainland and track Chinese ships and aircraft circling the disputed crags, called the Senkaku by Japan and the Diaoyu by China.

CHINA THREAT

The 30 sq km (11 sq mile) Yonanguni is home to 1,500 people and known for strong rice liquor, cattle, sugar cane and scuba diving. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s decision to put troops there shows Japan’s concerns about the vulnerability of its thousands of islands and the perceived threat from China.

The new base “should give Japan the ability to expand surveillance to near the Chinese mainland,” said Heigo Sato, a professor at Takushoku University and a former researcher at the Defense Ministry’s National Institute for Defense Studies.

“It will allow early warning of missiles and supplement the monitoring of Chinese military movements.”

Japan does not specify an exact enemy when discussing its defense strategy but it makes no secret it perceives China generally as a threat as it becomes an Asian power that could one day rival Japan’s ally in the region, the United States.

Japan, in its National Defense Programme Guidelines issued in December, expressed “great concern” over China’s military buildup and “attempts to change the status quo by coercion” in the sea and air.

China’s decision last year to establish an air-defence identification zone in the East China Sea, including the skies above the disputed Senkaku/Diaoyu islets, further rattled Tokyo.

Japanese and Chinese navy and coastguard ships have played cat-and-mouse around the uninhabited islands since Japan nationalized the territory in 2012. Japanese warplanes scrambled against Chinese planes a record 415 times in the year through to March, the Defence Ministry said last week.

Tapping concern about China, Abe raised military spending last fiscal year for the first time in 11 years to help bolster Japan’s capability to fight for islands with a new marine unit, more longer-range aircraft, amphibious assault vehicles and helicopter carriers. Japan’s thousands of islands give it nearly 30,000 km (18,600 miles) of coastline to defend.

MIXED FEELINGS

Onodera’s groundbreaking ceremony on Yonaguni took place s four days before President Barack Obama lands in Tokyo for a summit with Abe, the first state visit by a U.S. president in 18 years.

The United States, which under its security pact with Tokyo has pledged to defend Japanese territory, has warned China about taking any action over the disputed islets, but has not formally recognized Japan’s claim of sovereignty over the territory.

Many of the islanders on nearby Yonaguni are looking forward to hosting the radar base and the 100 troops who will man it because of the economic boost it will bring.

Others on the island, however, fear becoming a target should Japan end up in a fight.

“Opinion is split down the middle,” Tetsuo Funamichi, the head of the Japan Agricultural Association’s local branch, told Reuters. “It’s good for the economy if they come, but some people worry that we could be attacked in an emergency.”

Onodera was also greeted on Saturday by about 50 protesters who tried to block him from entering the construction site.

“Becoming a target is frightening, they won’t talk to us about it, we haven’t discussed it,” a protestor, who declined to be identified said.

Takenori Komine, who works in an island government office, said it was a risk worth taking if it meant reviving an outpost of Japan that has been in decline since a brief postwar boom.

At that time, U.S.-occupied Yonaguni’s proximity to Taiwan made it an entry point into Japan for smuggled food and clothing from Hong Kong. Since the end of World War Two, the island’s population has withered by some 90 percent. Average income of about $22,500 a year is a fifth below the national average.

“We are hopeful that the arrival of the young troops will bolster local consumption,” Komine said.

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JAPAN TO INTERCEPT ANY NORTH KOREA MISSILE DEEMED A THREAT

By Nobuhiro Kubo
April 5, 2014

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan will strike any North Korean ballistic missile that threatens to hit Japan in the coming weeks after Pyongyang recently fired medium-range missiles, a government source said on Saturday.

Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera issued the order, which took effect on Thursday and runs through April 25, the day that marks the founding of North Korea’s army, the source told Reuters on condition of anonymity.

Following the order, meant “to prepare for any additional missile launches,” a destroyer was dispatched to the Sea of Japan and will fire if North Korea launches a missile that Tokyo deems in danger of striking or falling on Japanese territory, the source said.

Tensions have been building between North Korea and its neighbors since Pyongyang – in an apparent show of defiance – fired two Rodong missiles on March 26, just as the leaders of Japan, South Korea and the United States were sitting down to discuss containing the North Korean nuclear threat.

That first firing in four years of mid-range missiles that can hit Japan followed a series of short-range rocket launches over the past two months. The Rodong ballistic missiles fell into the sea after flying 650 km (400 miles), short of a maximum range thought to be some 1,300 km, Japan said.

Since then, North Korea has rattled sabres by firing artillery rounds into South Korean waters, prompting the South to fire back; South Korea has test-fired a new ballistic missile with a range of 500 km; and Pyongyang has threatened an unspecified “new form” of nuclear test.

At the same time, Japan and North Korea resumed talks – suspended since Pyongyang test-launched a long-range missile more than a year ago – over the North’s nuclear and missile programs, as well as the fate of Japanese abducted in the 1970s and 1980s to help train North Korean spies.

Onodera has avoided publicly announcing the new missile-intercept order so as not to put a chill on those talks, Japanese media said.

He also did not deploy Patriot missile batteries that would be the last line of Defense against incoming warheads, the source told Reuters.

Japanese Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan are equipped with advanced radar equipment able to track multiple targets and carry missiles designed to take out targets at the edge of space.

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JAPAN GIVES GREEN LIGHT TO SHOOT DOWN NORTH KOREAN MISSILES

By John Watanabe

April 8, 2014

In a provocative move that will further inflame the already unstable situation in East Asia, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera last Thursday ordered the military to destroy any North Korean ballistic missiles deemed a threat to Japan. The order is in force until April 25.

Over recent weeks, North Korea has test-fired a number of rockets, including two medium-range ballistic missiles late last month. Just over a week ago, an artillery exchange took place between North and South Korea, and tensions flared again on the peninsula, which is just one of a number of flashpoints that could trigger a catastrophic war in Asia.

While the US, and its allies Japan and South Korea, regularly denounce North Korea’s actions as dangerous or provocative, the main responsibility for the tensions lies with Washington. The US is currently holding major annual military exercises with South Korea, known as “Key Resolve” and “Foal Eagle,” which began in February and continue until April 18.

Whenever North Korea responds to such provocative manoeuvres off its coast, the US exploits it to dramatically escalate the situation. This was the case a year ago when the same joint exercises provoked bellicose but empty threats from Pyongyang, and the US answered by deploying nuclear capable B-52 and B-2 bombers to the Korean peninsula.

Further underscoring the reckless nature of the latest order by Onodera, reports have emerged that the Japanese side was told in advance by North Korean officials of their intent to conduct artillery and missile drills on the eastern side of the Korean peninsula by April 17. The drills were in direct response to major US-South Korean military exercises.

According to yesterday’s Mainichi Shimbun, North Korean officials told their Chinese counterparts on March 31, the last day of recent bilateral talks in Beijing, that they had informed Tokyo in order to “minimise the negative impact of its drills on Japan-North Korea talks.” Unnamed Japanese government sources told Mainichi that North Korean “diplomatic officials are requiring the military to use short-range missiles… suggesting that North Korea had taken Japan’s position into consideration.”

Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s right-wing administration, no doubt after consulting Washington, has chosen to exploit the missile launches to ratchet up regional tensions. Three days after receiving the information on the possible missile launching, Onodera dispatched the Aegis destroyer Kirishima to the Sea of Japan, with orders to shoot down any North Korean missile that could hit Japan.

According to Reuters: “Japanese Aegis destroyers in the Sea of Japan are equipped with advanced radar equipment able to track multiple targets and carry missiles designed to take out targets at the edge of space.” Japan currently has four Aegis-equipped destroyers, with another two undergoing renovation and expected to be operational soon. According to the latest 10-year National Defense Guidelines and the increased defense budget unveiled in December, two additional Aegis destroyers will be purchased from the US at about $2 billion a piece.

The US Navy has five of its own Aegis destroyers based in Japan. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, disingenuously citing North Korea’s actions, promised on the weekend to deploy two more such ships by 2017. “These steps will greatly enhance our ability to defend both Japan and the US homeland from North Korea’s ballistic missile threats,” Hagel stated at a joint news conference with Onodera on Sunday in Tokyo.

Writing in Diplomatic Courier last August, Joshua Archer of the US Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) admitted that “regional powers will view the new Aegis-equipped destroyers as a part of the US missile defense infrastructure as much as they will perceive them to be Japanese.” He added that “the Chinese government will view the expansion of Japan’s Aegis-equipped fleet as a countermeasure to its own missiles.”

Archer’s comments highlight the fact that the US and Japan are hypocritically using the current North Korean missile launches—which were provoked by the US and of which Japan was politely informed beforehand—as a pretext to accelerate the re-militarisation of Japan, whose real target is not North Korea’s rudimentary missile program, but China and Russia.

The US is actively encouraging an aggressive military posture by Japan as part of Washington’s “pivot to Asia,” a comprehensive effort aimed at militarily, diplomatically and economically isolating and undermining China.

During his visit to Tokyo, Hagel emphasized the US support for Abe’s agenda. He declared: “The United States welcomes Japan’s efforts to play a more proactive role, contributing to global and regional peace and stability, including re-examining the interpretation of its Constitution relating to the right of collective self-defense.”

Abe’s government is seeking to change the longstanding interpretation of the constitution, according to which Japan is only allowed to act militarily in strict self-defense. It wants to legitimise the formation of military alliances to justify the deployment of Japanese military forces overseas under the guise of “collective self-defense.”

According to the Asahi Shimbun on April 4, the Abe administration has cited a crisis on the Korean peninsula as a case where war could be fought alongside the US, under the banner of “collective self-defense.” It is also seeking to form alliances with South East Asian countries to counter China in the South China Sea, as well as secure crucial sea lanes such as the Strait of Hormuz near Iran, through which some 80 percent of Japanese crude oil imports pass.

As with other imperialist powers, the militaristic foreign policy of Abe is closely connected to its domestic policies. Empty North Korean posturing plays right into Abe’s hands in helping him justify a booming defense budget amid savage social spending cuts and tax increases. It also provides a much-needed safety valve for defusing class tensions along reactionary lines, by focusing them on a fabricated foreign foe and diverting social discontent away from the real class enemy at home.

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CHUCK HAGEL SAYS U.S. WILL SEND TWO BALLISTIC MISSILE DESTROYERS TO JAPAN

US defence secretary says destroyers are to counter the North Korean threat, and says China must respect its neighbours

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Chuck Hagel and Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera

US secretary of defence Chuck Hagel and Japanese defence minister Itsunori Onodera participate in a joint news conference. Photograph: Alex Wong/AP
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Associated Press | theguardian.com
April 6, 2014

The US defence secretary, Chuck Hagel, delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations on Sunday, announcing that the US would send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China must better respect its neighbours.

In unusually forceful remarks about China, Hagel drew a direct line between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the continuing territorial disputes between China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

“I think we’re seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect and intimidation and coercion in Europe today with what the Russians have done with Ukraine,” Hagel told reporters after a meeting with the Japanese defence minister, Itsunori Onodera.

“We must be very careful and we must be very clear, all nations of the world, that in the 21st century this will not stand, you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe.”

Hagel, who will travel to China later this week, called the Asian nation a “great power” and said: “With this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power.”

He said he would talk to the Chinese about having respect for their neighbours, and said: “Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict. All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small.”

Still, he said he looked forward to having an honest, straightforward dialogue with the Chinese to talk about ways the two nations and their militaries could work better together.

The announcement of the deployments of additional destroyers to Japan came as tensions with North Korea spiked again, with Pyongyang continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests.

In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion.

North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters in late March in the most recent flare-up.

Standing alongside Onodera at the defence ministry, Hagel said they had discussed the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said the two ships’ deployment was in response to North Korea’s “pattern of provocative and destabilising actions” that he said violated UN resolutions, and would provide more protection to the US from those threats.

On Friday, North Korea accused the US of being “hell-bent on regime change” and warned that any manoeuvres with that intention would be viewed as a “red line” that would result in counter measures. Pyongyang’s deputy UN ambassador, Ri Tong Il, said his government “made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test”, but refused to provide details.

The two additional ships would bring the total to seven US ballistic missile defence warships in Japan, and it continues US efforts to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific.

The ships serve as both defensive and offensive weapons. They carry sophisticated systems that can track missile launches, and their SM-3 missiles can zero in on and take out short- to medium-range missiles that might be fired at US or allied nations. They can also carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be launched from sea and hit high-value targets or enemy weapons systems from afar, without risking pilots or aircraft.

Hagel is on a 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific, and spent three days in Hawaii meeting south-east Asian defence ministers, talking about efforts to improve defence and humanitarian assistance co-operation. Japan is his second stop, where he said he wanted to assure Japanese leaders that the US was strongly committed to protecting their country’s security.

Japan and China have been engaged in a long, bitter dispute over remote islands in the East China Sea. The US has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islands’ sovereignty, but it recognises Japan’s administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defence treaty.

Onodera said he and Hagel talked about the islands, known as Senkaku by Japan and Diayou by China, and the concerns about any changes to the status quo there.

Hagel said the US wanted the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the US would honour its treaty commitments.

The ships are just the latest move in America’s effort to beef up Japan’s defences. Last October, the US and Japan agreed to broad plans to expand their defence alliance, including the decision to position a second early-warning radar there by the end of this year. There is one in northern Japan, and the second one would be designed to provide better missile defence coverage in the event of a North Korean attack.

The US will begin sending long-range Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan this month for rotational deployments. They are intended to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands.

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U.S. SENDING TWO WARSHIPS TO JAPAN TO COUNTER NORTH KOREA

By LOLITA C. BALDOR

TOKYO (AP) – U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel delivered a two-pronged warning to Asia Pacific nations Sunday, announcing that the U.S. will send two additional ballistic missile destroyers to Japan to counter the North Korean threat, and saying China must better respect its neighbors.

In unusually forceful remarks about China, Hagel drew a direct line between Russia’s takeover of Ukraine’s Crimea region and the ongoing territorial disputes between China, Japan and others over remote islands in the East China Sea.

“I think we’re seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect and intimidation and coercion in Europe today with what the Russians have done with Ukraine,” Hagel told reporters after a meeting with Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera. “We must be very careful and we must be very clear, all nations of the world, that in the 21st century this will not stand, you cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or large nations in Europe.”

Hagel, who will travel to China later this week, called the Asian nation a “great power,” and added, “with this power comes new and wider responsibilities as to how you use that power, how you employ that military power.”

He said he will talk to the Chinese about having respect for their neighbors, and said, “coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict. All nations, all people deserve respect no matter how large or how small.”

Still, he said he looks forward to having an honest, straightforward dialogue with the Chinese to talk about ways the two nations and their militaries can work better together.

The announcement of the deployments of additional destroyers to Japan came as tensions with North Korea spiked again, with Pyongyang continuing to threaten additional missile and nuclear tests.

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Japanese Maritime Defense Force’s Aegis cruisers Myoko (L) and Kongo (R) leave the Sasebo naval base in Nagasaki prefecture on December 6, 2012 (AFP Photo/)

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In recent weeks the North has conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. North Korea says the exercises are rehearsals for invasion.

North and South Korea also fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters in late March in the most recent flare-up.

Standing alongside Onodera at the defense ministry, Hagel said they discussed the threat posed by Pyongyang. He said the two ships are in response to North Korea’s “pattern of provocative and destabilizing actions” that violate U.N. resolutions and also will provide more protection to the U.S. from those threats.

On Friday, North Korea accused the U.S. of being “hell-bent on regime change” and warned that any maneuvers with that intention will be viewed as a “red line” that will result in countermeasures. Pyongyang’s deputy U.N. ambassador, Ri Tong Il, also said his government “made it very clear we will carry out a new form of nuclear test” but refused to provide details.

The two additional ships would bring the total to seven U.S. ballistic missile defense warships in Japan, and it continues U.S. efforts to increase its focus on the Asia Pacific.

The ships serve as both defensive and offensive weapons. They carry sophisticated systems that can track missile launches, and their SM-3 missiles can zero in on and take out short- to medium-range missiles that might be fired at U.S. or allied nations. They can also carry Tomahawk cruise missiles, which can be launched from sea and hit high-value targets or enemy weapons systems from afar, without risking pilots or aircraft.

Hagel is on a 10-day trip across the Asia Pacific, and just spent three days in Hawaii meeting with Southeast Asian defense ministers, talking about efforts to improve defense and humanitarian assistance cooperation. Japan is his second stop, where he said he wants to assure Japanese leaders that the U.S. is strongly committed to protecting their country’s security.

Japan and China have been engaged in a long, bitter dispute over remote islands in the East China Sea. The U.S. has said it takes no side on the question of the disputed islands’ sovereignty, but it recognizes Japan’s administration of them and has responsibilities to protect Japanese territory under a mutual defense treaty.

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Disputed claims in the South China Sea

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Onodera said he and Hagel talked about the islands, known as Senkaku by Japan and Diayou by China, and the concerns about any changes to the status quo there.

Hagel said the U.S. wants the countries in the region to resolve the disputes peacefully. But he added that the United States would honor its treaty commitments.

The ships are just the latest move in America’s effort to beef up Japan’s defenses. Last October, the U.S. and Japan agreed to broad plans to expand their defense alliance, including the decision to position a second early warning radar there by the end of this year. There is one in northern Japan and the second one would be designed to provide better missile defense coverage in the event of a North Korean attack.

The U.S. will begin sending long-range Global Hawk surveillance drones to Japan this month for rotational deployments. They are intended to help step up surveillance around the Senkaku islands.

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U.S., IN NOD TO TOKYO, TO SEND MORE SHIPS TO JAPAN, PRODS CHINA

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U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera at the end of their joint news conference in Tokyo
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R) shakes hands with his Japanese counterpart Itsunori Onodera at the end of their joint news conference at the Defense Ministry in Tokyo April 6, 2014. The United States will deploy two additional destroyers equipped with missile defense systems to Japan by 2017, in a move Hagel said on Sunday was a response in part to North Korean missile launches that have alarmed the region. REUTERS/Issei Kato (JAPAN – Tags: POLITICS MILITARY)
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By Phil Stewart and Nobuhiro Kubo
April 6, 2014

TOKYO (Reuters) – The United States moved on Sunday to reassure Tokyo over its mounting security concerns, saying it would send more missile defense ships to Japan following North Korean launches and use a high level trip to warn China against abusing its “great power.”

Japan has watched with alarm in recent weeks as North Korea carried out a series of missile launches, including firing two medium-range missiles capable of hitting the U.S. ally.

Tokyo has also voiced growing anxiety over China’s military buildup and increasingly assertive behavior in a territorial dispute over East China Sea islands.

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel announced that two Navy destroyers equipped with missile defense systems would be deployed to Japan by 2017. It was a response, he said, to provocations from the North, which has also threatened to carry out a “new form” of nuclear test.

The announcement followed other steps taken by the Pentagon to bolster its military posture in Japan, including an October decision to position a second X-band missile defense radar there. That radar is expected to be operational this year.

“These steps will greatly enhance our ability to defend both Japan and the U.S. homeland from North Korean ballistic missile threats,” Hagel told reporters at Japan’s defense ministry.

Narushige Michishita, associate professor and security expert at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies, said the moves were “part of the U.S. attempt to bolster reassurances vis-à-vis Japan.”

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U.S. Defense Secretary Hagel speaks as Japan's Defense Minister Onodera listens during their meeting in Tokyo
U.S. Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (L) speaks as Japan’s Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (3rd R) listens during their meeting at the defense ministry in Tokyo April 6, 2014. REUTERS/Eugene Hoshiko/Pool
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It also fits within the context of broader American efforts to bolster its military presence in the region, part of a strategic “rebalance” or “pivot” toward Asia that President Barack Obama will emphasize during his trip this month to Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines.

“GREAT POWER”

As Washington pivots, China has been ramping up military spending, building new submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles and testing emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air — technologies the Pentagon says appear designed to counter U.S. military capabilities.

China is also becoming more assertive in territorial disputes, including last year declaring an air defense identification zone covering disputed, Japanese-administered islands in the East China Sea.

Hagel, who leaves for Beijing on Monday, called China a great power, but used unusually strong language about how nations should wield such power, saying they must not resort to coercion or intimidation. That, he warned, could trigger conflict.

“Great powers have great responsibilities. And China is a great power,” Hagel said, adding he wanted to talk with China about its use of military power and encourage transparency.

In remarks almost certainly meant to reassure Japan, a treaty ally that the United States has pledged to defend, Hagel pointed to the example of Russia’s annexation of Crimea as the kind of action that would not be tolerated.

“You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific, or in large nations in Europe,” he said.

Japan has drawn parallels between Russia’s actions in Crimea and what it sees as China’s challenge to the status quo in the East China Sea.

Hagel hosted talks last week with Southeast Asian defense ministers in Hawaii, where he also warned of growing U.S. concern about territorial disputes in the South China Sea.

The U.S. State Department has accused China’s coastguard of harassing Philippine vessels and called its attempt a week ago to block a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed atoll, provocative and destabilizing.

“Something else … that I will be talking with the Chinese about is respect for their neighbors. Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict,” he said.

“All nations, all people deserve respect.”

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U.S. DEFENSE CHIEF WARNS CHINA, DRAWING PARALLEL WITH CRIMEA

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US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel (R) reviews honor guards accompanied by Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera (L) at the Japanese Ministry of Defense headquarters in Tokyo on April 6, 2014 (AFP Photo/Alex Wong)
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By Dan De Luce
Tokyo (AFP) – Pentagon chief Chuck Hagel on Sunday warned China against unilateral action to resolve territorial disputes with its neighbours, drawing a parallel with Russia’s incursion in Ukraine as he announced two more warships would be sent to Japan.

Seeking to reassure Washington’s longtime ally Japan, Hagel’s remarks and promise of more missile defence ships came as Tokyo faces a tense row with Beijing over islands in the East China Sea.

“All nations deserve respect, no matter how large or how small,” Hagel said during a visit to Tokyo.

“I think we’re seeing some clear evidence of a lack of respect, and coercion and intimidation with … what the Russians have done in Ukraine,” he told a news conference with his Japanese counterpart, Itsunori Onodera.

Countries had to speak up and reject such a blatant violation of international law, said Hagel, referring to Russia’s annexation of Ukraine’s Crimean peninsula.

And in a veiled reference to China and its territorial arguments with Asian neighbours, Hagel said smaller countries had the same sovereign rights as larger states.

“You cannot go around and redefine boundaries, violate territorial integrity and sovereignty of nations by force, coercion and intimidation — whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific, or large nations in Europe,” Hagel said.

“So I want to talk to our Chinese friends about this,” said the defence secretary, who departs for Beijing on Monday.

- US takes tougher line -

His comments underscored a tougher line by the US government on China’s approach to territorial claims in the South China Sea and the East China Sea, after some Southeast Asian countries accused Beijing of intimidatory tactics.

As “a great power,” China has “great responsibilities,” Hagel said.

A topic Hagel plans to raise with the Chinese this week is “respect for their neighbours,” he said.

“Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing. It leads only to conflict,” he said.

In Tokyo, Hagel unveiled plans to send two more Aegis missile defence warships to Japan by 2017, citing “Pyongyang’s pattern of provocative and destabilising actions.”

The US ships would join five missile defence vessels already stationed in the area, and were part of an American strategic “rebalance” to the Asia-Pacific, officials said.

Japan has deployed its own Aegis missile defence ship to the Sea of Japan (East Sea) in recent days, after North Korea last month test fired two medium-range ballistic missiles.

Tokyo has reportedly ordered its forces to destroy any North Korean ballistic missiles that pass through its airspace.

Hagel’s announcement follows the deployment of a second early warning US radar to Japan, P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft and plans to bring unmanned Global Hawk drones to the country.

Although Hagel said the US ships were being sent to help counter the threat posed by North Korea, the move also carried symbolic weight amid Japan’s tense stand-off with China over islets in the East China Sea.

Hagel reiterated that Washington stood by its mutual defence treaty with Japan, saying it applied to the disputed islands in the East China Sea, where Beijing and Tokyo are locked in a bitter argument.

“We take seriously American’s treaty commitments, and we strongly oppose any unilateral coercive action that seeks to undermine Japan’s administrative control,” Hagel said.

The Pentagon chief, who is due to fly to China Monday for a three-day visit, called for “a peaceful resolution” of the disagreement and said “America has no stronger ally or better friend in this region than Japan.”

Tokyo scrambled military aircraft last month after three Chinese planes flew near Japanese airspace, the latest confrontation in the East China Sea dispute.

The islands are administered by Japan, which calls them Senkaku Islands, but are referred to as the Diaoyu Islands by China.

Chinese ships and planes have been seen off the disputed islands numerous times since Japan nationalised them in September 2012, sometimes within the 12 nautical-mile territorial zone.

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BEIJING BRISTLES AT HAGEL WARNING ON CHINESE MARITIME CLAIMS

By Charles Clover in Beijing | The Financial Times
April 8, 2014

The US and China traded tough words over Beijing’s increasingly assertive stance on maritime claims during a visit to Beijing by US defence secretary Chuck Hagel.

Speaking to the top brass of China’s Peoples Liberation Arm on Tuesday, Mr Hagel reiterated US objections to China’s self-declared air defence identification zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea which Beijing put in place in November last year.

The zone, which requires foreign aircraft flying over it to declare themselves, is not a territorial claim per se, but clearly intended to buttress China’s claim to the Senkaku islands, known as Diaoyu in Chinese.

An ADIZ has no basis in international law but many countries, including the US and UK, have established them for security reasons.

“Every nation has a right to establish an air defence zone, but not a right to do it unilaterally with no collaboration, no consultation,” Mr Hagel said. “That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to, and eventually get to, dangerous conflict.”

While the position did not deviate from previously stated US objections, China nonetheless bristled at these and other comments made by Mr Hagel before his arrival.

‘’The Chinese people, including myself, are dissatisfied with such remarks,’’ Fan Changlong, vice-chairman of China’s Central Military Commission, told Mr Hagel during their meeting in Beijing, the state-run news agency Xinhua said, referring to statements the US defence secretary had made in Tokyo on Sunday.

While in Japan, Mr Hagel had called on China to be more transparent, to use its ‘’great power’’ responsibly and to pay heed to neighbouring countries’ concerns about its increasingly assertive territorial claims.

‘’Coercion, intimidation is a very deadly thing that leads only to conflict,’’ Mr Hagel said at a press conference with his Japanese counterpart.

‘’All nations, all people, deserve respect no matter how large or how small,’’ Mr Hagel said. ‘’I think we’re seeing clear evidence of a lack of respect, along with intimidation and coercion in Europe today in what the Russians have done in Ukraine.’’

The US has asked China to clarify the so-called “nine dash line”, a demarcation on Chinese maps that Beijing uses to justify its claim to most of the South China Sea. As in the East China Sea, China’s territorial claims overlap with those of other countries, including Vietnam and the Philippines.

The state visit by Mr Hagel had a distinctly maritime theme, and featured the first visit by a US official to China’s new aircraft carrier, the Liaoning, which lasted two hours, and was described by Rear Admiral John Kirby, the Pentagon’s spokesman, as “a harbinger of other opportunities to improve our military-to-military dialogue and transparency”.

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U.S. WARNS CHINA NOT TO USE FORCE IN MARITIME DISPUTES

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chinasea-

By Demetri Sevastopulo in Hong Kong | The Financial Times

April 4, 2014

The Obama administration has warned Beijing not to use force or coercive tactics to pursue its territorial claims in Asia, saying that sanctions placed on Russia for annexing Crimea should have a “chilling effect” on any such plans in China.

Daniel Russel, the top east Asia official at the state department, on Thursday said China’s neighbours, particularly in southeast Asia, had heightened concerns about the “possibility of China increasingly threatening force or other forms of coercion to advance their territorial interests” following Russia’s actions in Crimea.

“The tolerance in the region for steps by China that appear to presage a more muscular approach has gone down, as their alarm over Russian action and annexation of Crimea has increased,” Mr Russel told a Senate committee.

He said China was “thinking hard” about the international response to Russia’s move partly because of its economic linkages with the US and its neighbours.

“The prospect of the kind of incremental retaliatory steps that are gradually being imposed on Russia in terms of its banks, in terms of cronies and other areas should have a chilling effect on anyone in China who might contemplate the Crimea annexation as a model,” said Mr Russel.

China is embroiled in multiple territorial disputes with its neighbours, particularly with the Philippines over contested waters in the South China Sea, and with Japan over disputed islands in the East China Sea. Last week, Beijing reacted angrily when Manila pushed ahead with an international arbitration case over the dispute.

Mr Russel said Manila’s decision to forge ahead with the UN Convention on the Law of the Sea case was “perhaps the approximate reason why the Chinese are expressing their anger and discontent on the sea through what to us appear to be intimidating steps”.

His comments come just weeks before President Barack Obama is expected to travel to Asia, with stops in the Philippines, South Korea and Japan. As China expands its naval capabilities in the Pacific, the US is trying to convince its allies in the region that its “pivot” to Asia has teeth, amid regional concerns that Washington has delivered more rhetoric than action.

In recent months, the US appears to have taken a more aggressive rhetorical stance over disputes in the South China Sea. In congressional testimony, Mr Russel voiced more support for the Philippines case than the Obama administration has done in the past.

He also asked China to clarify the “nine-dash line”, a demarcation on Chinese maps that Beijing uses to justify its claim to almost the entire South China Sea, and which is central to the Unclos tribunal.

China has refused to participate in the arbitration, saying that the dispute over the South China Sea is not covered by Unclos because of an exception that was included when China ratified the treaty.

In the latest example of South China Sea tensions, Chinese coastguard ships have tried to block Philippine vessels from resupplying a second world war vessel called the Sierra Madre. The boat was grounded in 1999 on the Second Thomas Shoal in the Spratly Islands but is still manned by a few Philippine military personnel.

Following a successful attempt by China to block a supply mission earlier in March, the Philippines on Monday managed to outmanoeuvre the Chinese coastguard and deliver supplies to the Sierra Madre.

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ASIA SEEKS OBAMA’S ASSURANCE IN TERRITORIAL DISPUTES


APRIL 19, 2014

WASHINGTON (AP) — As President Barack Obama travels through Asia this coming week, he will confront a region that’s warily watching the crisis in Ukraine through the prism of its own territorial tensions with China.

Each of the four countries on Obama’s itinerary – Japan, South Korea, Malaysia and the Philippines – has a dispute with Beijing over islands in the South and East China Seas. Their leaders will be weighing Obama’s willingness to support them if those conflicts boil over.

“What we can say after seeing what happened to Ukraine is that using force to change the status quo is not acceptable,” said Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose country is in one of the fiercest disputes with China.

Administration officials, including Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, have taken a tougher line on the territorial issues in recent weeks, sternly warning China against the use of military force and noting that the U.S. has treaty obligations to defend Japan in particular. But in an attempt to maintain good relations with China, the U.S. has not formally taken sides on the question of which countries should control which islands.

Analysts say there are concerns that China could be emboldened by the relative ease with which Russia annexed the Crimean Peninsula from Ukraine over U.S. objections, as well as the very real possibility that Moscow could take more land. Moreover, some in Asia question Obama’s ability to follow through on his security pledges in light of his decision last summer to pull back on plans for a military strike against Syria.

“The heavyweights in the region got very scared by the Syrian decision,” said Douglas Paal, a longtime U.S. diplomat in Asia who now is vice president of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. “They’ve never seen anything like that. They’ve always counted on strong executives bringing the Congress along or going around the Congress to make sure that our security guarantees will be honored.”

Obama’s advisers say they see little evidence thus far that China has been encouraged by Russia’s incursions into Ukraine. Instead, they say Beijing appears to be viewing with concern the Kremlin’s attempts to sway pro-Russian populations in areas of Ukraine, given China’s own restive minority populations in border regions.

U.S. officials also have tried to keep China from supporting Russia’s moves in Ukraine by appealing to Beijing’s well-known and vehement opposition to outside intervention in other nations’ domestic affairs. Officials say they plan to emphasize that stance when they discuss Asia’s territorial disputes with regional leaders this week.

“We have been talking with them about the importance of a strong international front to uphold principles that they and we all hold dear, the sovereignty and territorial integrity of nations, the need for peaceful resolution of disputes,” said Susan Rice, Obama’s national security adviser. “And we will continue to have that discussion throughout each of the stops on our trip.”

Obama’s eight-day Asia swing is a makeup for a visit he canceled last fall because of the U.S. government shutdown. Leaving Washington on Tuesday, he will stop briefly in Oso, Wash., where mudslides killed dozens of people. He will arrive Wednesday in Japan.

Obama’s advisers say there are no plans to scrap the trip if the situation in Ukraine worsens. But the president may have to make decisions while traveling about imposing more penalties against Russia if a deal to ease the crisis collapses.

The U.S., Russia, Ukraine and the European Union signed an agreement Thursday. But already, the prospects of it holding appear slim, with pro-Russian insurgents in eastern Ukraine refusing to leave the government buildings they occupy in nearly a dozen cities.

Russia’s foreign ministry on Saturday said it would offer strong help to Ukraine, but that responsibility for reducing tensions rested with Ukrainians, not outsiders.

Compared with Russia’s actions in Ukraine, China has been relatively restrained in its territorial ambitions. But tensions spiked last fall when Beijing declared an air defense zone over a large part of the East China Sea, including the disputed islands controlled by Japan and a maritime rock claimed by both China and South Korea. China’s coast guard also has blocked Filipino ships in the South China Sea in recent weeks.

China claims virtually the entire South China Sea. Nansha is the Chinese name for the Spratlys, a chain of resource-rich islands, islets and reefs claimed partly or wholly by China, the Philippines, Malaysia and other southeast Asian nations.

Former Philippine national security adviser Roilo Golez said he expects to Beijing to avoid Russian-style moves on any of the disputed territories, in large part because China is surrounded by American allies from the East China Sea to the Strait of Malacca and may have to deal with the U.S. military in the region if it undertakes a major act of aggression.

“It would be a folly on the part of China to do anything drastic, to do a Crimea,” Golez said.

 

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GANG OF THREE?

Why Obama Must Bring Seoul and Tokyo Together

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Barack Obama meets with Park Geun-hye and Shinzo Abe in The Hague, March 2014.

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When U.S. President Barack Obama touches down in Asia later this month for a long-overdue trip, he will have a daunting challenge ahead of him. At the granular level, he will try to speed progress on various trade negotiations and security pacts. At the strategic level, he will aim to reassure U.S. allies and partners that Washington remains committed to its pivot east. The trip, however, is about much more than treaties and reassurance. It is primarily meant to signal U.S. resolve in the face of those who would forcibly alter the current regional order, namely, China and North Korea.

The first leg of the trip will include stops in Japan and South Korea, and one of Obama’s biggest challenges will be to bring Washington’s two major regional allies closer together. Washington has already made some laudable progress on this front, organizing a trilateral summit in The Hague last month that brought together Obama, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, and South Korean President Park Geun-hye. Photographs of Abe and Park, smiling and shaking hands, represented a major departure from their usually frigid exchanges. Although some observers heralded the meeting as a breakthrough, others took a more critical view, arguing that Abe and Park were simply responding to intense U.S. pressure.

The reality probably lies closer to the latter interpretation, but the meeting did bring about some tangible progress. For one, it presented a united front toward an increasingly volatile Kim Jong Un regime and triggered a new round of high-level consultations aimed at deterring Pyongyang. The meeting also provided an important public relations victory for all three countries, generating political capital that can be spent on future diplomatic initiatives. Abe even introduced himself to Park in Korean — a positive sign of Japan’s sincerity in repairing ties.

But this progress remains tenuous. The past year has seen little respite from the constant sniping and bitterness that has long characterized Japan-Korea relations. South Korea protests Japan’s resurgent nationalism and its lack of contrition for the crimes Japan committed during its colonization of Korea in the first half of the twentieth century. Tokyo, meanwhile, complains of “Korea fatigue,” noting that its repeated apologies and efforts to repair relations have met with sharp elbows and harsh rhetoric from Seoul.

This mutual frustration has resulted in a series of diplomatic barbs from both sides, including Abe’s opaque remarks about revising the so-called Kono Statement, which admits Japan’s guilt in coercing “comfort women” in Korea. Abe further stoked the fire by visiting the controversial Yasukuni shrine last December. For her part, Park has railed against Japanese nationalism and said publicly that a meeting with Abe would be “pointless.” Seoul has also prodded Tokyo through controversial judicial decisions demanding that Japanese companies compensate South Korean citizens for conscripting their labor during the colonial period. In response, Japan has argued that these issues were legally resolved with the signing of the Japan-Korea treaty, which normalized ties in 1965.

So far, of course, the feuding has not approached anything resembling Tokyo’s standoff with Beijing in the East China Sea. Japan and Korea continue to manage their territorial dispute over the Liancourt Rocks, a group of islets claimed by both Seoul and Tokyo, using formal diplomatic channels. And the relationship has also not yet reached the point where both sides are on a complete public diplomacy offensive, as with China’s approach to discrediting the Abe government overseas.

Even before the summit, the Obama administration had seemingly abandoned any hope of playing mediator on more sensitive issues, such as the rifts over “comfort women” or the Liancourt Rocks. Although improved ties between Tokyo and Seoul remain a long-term goal, Washington has essentially tailored its foreign policy to focus narrowly on mutual security issues rather than a broader rapprochement.

Washington seems most immediately concerned about its ability to work with both allies to stave off provocations from North Korea. But it should not neglect the deeper and longer-term issues that go beyond deterring Pyongyang. For example, tensions between Japan and Korea have opened the door to stronger ties between Seoul and Beijing. This reinvigorated relationship was on full display when Park made a landmark four-day trip to China last spring, while snubbing Abe’s request for a meeting. Abe’s stance on Japanese history, combined with other factors such as Beijing’s disenchantment with North Korea, has also pushed South Korea closer to China. Meanwhile, China has taken a harder stance against Japan, as Seoul has done little to resist Beijing’s provocations in the East China Sea.

Perhaps most troubling is South Korea’s concern that Tokyo’s security and defense reforms signal a resurgent militarism. Seoul has openly questioned Japan’s move to reinterpret its right to collective self-defense and its reversal of a decades-long ban on exporting weapons. Seoul’s criticism is not only baseless but could also create a significant rift with Washington, which sees such reforms as essential to modernizing its alliance with Tokyo. The United States, in other words, cannot afford to watch such sparring from afar.

That is not to say that the Obama administration should attempt to play the role of referee in such complicated and long-standing disputes. As Sheila Smith, a senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, recently wrote, the best approach is to continue working as a facilitator rather than a mediator. The Hague summit exemplifies this strategy, as it spurred Seoul and Tokyo to make measurable progress without ineffectively forcing détente on either side.

A more comprehensive rapprochement between Japan and South Korea will require a sustained effort on the part of Washington, but also a light touch. In the coming months, it will be vital for both sides to recognize that incremental change is better than no change at all. Even worse than the current status quo would be a deterioration of current relations, which could disrupt existing areas of cooperation, especially trade. Indeed, there have already been signs that important economic arrangements — such as the trilateral free-trade agreement with China — could get stuck in the mud. And although a bilateral summit between Park and Abe might still be a ways off, it is important to remember that Park is currently in a rare position to take some political risks. As the experts Karl Friedhoff and Kang Chungku noted last fall in a report published by South Korea’s Asan Institute, “While the time to spend that political capital may not be now, it should not be significantly delayed. When President Park’s approval ratings begin to decline — as they have for every president — engagement with Japan will be a more difficult sell.”

Japan and South Korea also need to cooperate on other important security matters. In this vein, the two countries should look to collaborate on less sensitive issues. They could benefit from conducting joint counter-piracy exercises outside of the region, for example, since both nations have key interests in the Horn of Africa. The South Korean and Japanese parliaments already cooperate on a host of issues, including trade and the treatment of ethnic Koreans in Japan, through existing inter-parliamentary groups. And most urgent, Tokyo and Seoul need to cooperate when it comes to dealing with the Kim regime and engage in joint contingency planning for its possible collapse.

During his visit, Obama should push Abe and Park to explore all of these avenues. They offer the best hope of prodding both sides to overcome their historical demons — and of strengthening the regional order as it comes under further threat.

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KIM JONG-UN HAS TOLD HIS MILITARY CHIEFS TO PREPARE FOR WAR WITH SOUTH KOREA IN 2015, CLAIMS SEOUL MEDIA

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  • Newspaper reports that he has ordered army to remain ‘combat ready’
  • Protesters gathered in Seoul shortly after news of missile launch
  • North Korea fired two missiles off the coast of the peninsula on Wednesday
  • Protests during rare three-way summit of South Korea, Japan and U.S.
  • Missiles fired at the same time as leaders sat down for meet in The Hague

By Sara Malm and Amanda Williams | Daily Mail

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un has told his military chiefs to prepare for war against the South in 2015, it has been claimed.

According to South Korea’s largest daily newspaper, a source has revealed that the dictator plans to invade and has ordered the army to remain ‘combat-ready’.

The source told the Chosun Ilbo: ‘Armed confrontation could take place on the Korean peninsula in 2015,’ IBT reports.

They added: ‘Since he came to power in late 2011, Kim Jong-un has often said his aim is reunification “through force” and that he would personally drive a tank and advance into Seoul.’

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North Korea test-launched two Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea off Korean peninsula's east coast on Wednesday morning, according to South Korea's defence ministry

North Korea test-launched two Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea off Korean peninsula’s east coast on Wednesday morning, according to South Korea’s defence ministry

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While the Chosun Ilbo paper is well respected and informed, South Korean reports are often over sensationalised.

It comes as South Koreans gathered in the capital of Seoul today to protest against the North firing nuclear missiles off the Korean coast.

Kim Jong-Un’s army test-launched two Nodong medium-range ballistic missiles into the sea off the peninsula’s east coast, according to South Korea’s defence ministry. 

The North Korean missiles were set off into the sea shortly after 5.30pm GMT on Tuesday, just as the leaders of its rivals Japan and South Korea sat down to a meeting with U.S. president Barack Obama.

The firing off the missiles also coincided  with the fourth anniversary of the sinking of the South Korean navy ship the Cheonan, for which Seoul blames North Korea.

The Cheonan was sunk in the Yellow Sea near the inter-Korean maritime border, leaving 46 people dead or missing and presumed dead.

A South Korean official said the missiles fell into the sea after flying 400 miles, well short of their maximum range – thought to be some 1,300 km (800 miles).

South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok called the launches ‘a clear violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions and a grave provocation against South Korea and the international community’.

In what appeared to be a show of defiance, North Korea fired the two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea at 2:35 a.m. Japan and Korea time, 5.35pm GMT, both Tokyo and Seoul said.

That was precisely when Abe and South Korean President Park Geun-hye were sitting down with Obama in The Hague for their first meeting since Abe took office in December 2012.

Washington hopes the three-way summit will improve relations between Seoul and Tokyo, which are clouded by the legacy of Japan’s 1910-1945 colonial rule of the Korean peninsula and Seoul’s concerns that Prime Minister Shinzo Abe wants to rewrite Japan’s wartime past with a less apologetic tone.

Getting together: South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, attends a three-way summit with Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands, yesterday

Getting together: South Korean President Park Geun-hye, left, attends a three-way summit with Barack Obama and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at the U.S. Embassy in The Hague, Netherlands

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The United States wants to strengthen the allies’ combined response to regional concerns such as North Korea’s banned weapons programmes and China’s growing assertiveness in disputed waters.

Park, Abe and Obama, who met on the sidelines of a nuclear security summit in the Hague, emphasised the need to work together on containing the North Korean nuclear threat.

‘Over the last five years, close coordination between our three countries succeeded in changing the game with North Korea: our trilateral cooperation has sent a strong signal to Pyongyang that its provocations and threats will be met with a unified response,’ said Obama, who will visit Japan and South Korea next month.

In an apparent attempt to break the ice with Park, Abe addressed the South Korean leader in Korean at the start of the talks, saying he was ‘very happy to be able to meet’ her.

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JOEL SKOUSEN: NORTH KOREA WILL BE THE TRIGGER FOR WORLD WAR III

Published on Jan 31, 2014

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KOREAN SHELLING JUST FOR SHOW

By Joel Skousen | World Affairs Brief

April 4, 2014

North Korea started lobbing artillery shells into disputed waters in South Korea, and the South Koreans returned fire—into the water as well. Nearby island residents went into shelters but no deaths occurred. The AP had this report:

 The exchange of fire into the Yellow Sea followed Pyongyang’s sudden announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the Koreas’ disputed maritime boundary. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean but rarely discloses those plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.

I got a flurry of emails from concerned subscribers about whether or not this was the predicted trigger event for WWIII. It was not. As I’ve said before, these kinds of provocations happen once or twice a year with North Korea. They keep their military all hyped up with a fever pitch of war propaganda and they have to let them shoot off some rounds every now and then to keep them believing that war is imminent.

This tactic does make it difficult to tell when NK is serious about attacking, and that’s another reason why they do it. But in my opinion, the real strike will involve NK opening fire on Seoul with all of its 20,000 artillery tubes. Nothing short of a massive attack will signal the real start of war.

Meanwhile, the US has finally released South Korea from the distance/range restrictions on missile systems so that the South can finally target military targets in the North, clear up to the China border. The US had previously limited So. Korean missiles to a range of 300 miles as a concession to North Korea’s disarmament pretenses—which they always violate.

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SOUTH KOREA EXTENDING BALLISTIC MISSILE RANGE TO COUNTER NORTH KOREA’S THREAT

April 4, 2014

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea has test-fired a new ballistic missile with a range of 500 km (310 miles) and will try to extend the range to 800 km so it can strike any site in North Korea, its defense ministry said on Friday, days after Pyongyang fired a mid-range missile.

The new missiles are intended to counter the threat from North Korea’s missile and nuclear programs, ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said, but the move is likely to rattle the North, hit with U.N. sanctions for its own missile tests.

South Korea adopted a voluntary ban on developing ballistic missiles with a range of more than 300 km, under an agreement with the United States, but the allies agreed in 2012 to allow the South to develop 800 km-range missiles.

“We test-fired it, and we succeeded,” Kim told a briefing, when asked if the military had recently conducted a 500-km missile test. “And we’re going to make 800-km missiles.”

The new missiles will be used to strike the North’s weapons and military installations in the furthest part of the country from anywhere in the South if needed, he added.

The two Koreas are technically still at war, since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce, rather than an armistice.

North Korea last week fired a mid-range ballistic Rodong missile that fell into the sea off its east coast after flying about 650 km and short of its maximum range, thought to be about 1,300 km, and enough to hit much of Japan.

North Korea this week fired more than 500 rounds of artillery into the sea off its west coast near a disputed maritime border in the latest sabre-rattling under its young leader Kim Jong Un, who has vowed to build nuclear weapons.

More than 100 rounds landed in the waters of the South, prompting it to fire back more than 300 rounds into the North’s waters.

South Korea is also investigating two drones that crashed near its border with the North which it believes were flown by Pyongyang. One was recovered with evidence of having flown directly over the South’s presidential palace.

North Korea’s state media said last year that leader Kim Jong Un had supervised a drill of “super-precision” drone attacks on a simulated South Korean target.

Although the North has one of the world’s largest standing armies, much of its equipment consists of antiquated Soviet-era designs. It has focused resources on developing nuclear and long-range missile programs.

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SOUTH KOREA AND U.S. HOLD JOINT MILITARY DRILL

Published on Apr 11, 2014

Troops from South Korea and the United States hold a joint live-fire exercise as a part of their annual military drill. Rough cut. (No reporter narration)
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NORTH AND SOUTH KOREA EXCHANGE FIRE ACROSS MARITIME BORDER

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Its military activities are always a source of tension.

But an exercise on Monday ordered by North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has ended in an exchange of artillery fire with South Korea.

The South says it returned fire after North Korean shells crossed the disputed western maritime border and landed in its territorial waters. South Korean islanders living nearby fled to bomb shelters.

Pyongyang had notified Seoul that drills were imminent and warned shipping to avoid the area.

The border, drawn up at the end of the Korean War, is not recognised by the North and there have been deadly clashes in the past.

A South Korean navy ship was sunk four years ago near the area of the latest infringement. An international team of investigators said it was torpedoed by the North, but Pyongyang denied the charge.

Months later the North bombarded a village on a South Korean island in the same area, killing four people.

Amid annual, joint military exercises between South Korea and American forces, Pyongyang has been flexing its military muscle in recent weeks to demonstrate its anger.

The North claims the drills are a rehearsal for an invasion.

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NORTH, SOUTH KOREA TRADE ARTILLERY ROUNDS INTO THE SEA

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By Jack Kim

March 31, 2014

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired more than 100 artillery rounds into South Korean waters as part of a drill on Monday, prompting the South to fire back, officials in Seoul said, but the exercise appeared to be more sabre-rattling from Pyongyang rather than the start of a military standoff.

The North had flagged its intentions to conduct the exercise in response to U.N. condemnation of last week’s missile launches by Pyongyang and against what it says are threatening military drills in the South by U.S. forces.

North Korea also accused the South of “gangster-like” behaviour at the weekend by “abducting” one of its fishing boats and threatened to retaliate. The South said it had sent the boat back after it drifted into its waters.

More than 100 North Korean shells out of 500 or so fired landed in South Korean waters, prompting marines from the South to fire back with more than 300 rounds into the North’s waters, defence officials in Seoul said.

Seoul also scrambled F-15s on its side of the maritime border, they said.

“We believe the North’s maritime firing is a planned provocation and an attempt to test our military’s determination to defend the Northern Limit Line and to get an upper hand in South-North relations,” South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said.

In Washington, the White House called North Korea’s actions “dangerous and provocative” and said the country’s threats and provocations only isolate it further.

“We remain steadfast in our commitment (to) the defence of our allies and remain in close coordination with both the Republic of Korea and Japan,” White House National Security Council spokesman Jonathan Lalley said.

The Northern Limit Line, a maritime border that wraps itself around a part of the North’s coastline, has been the scene of frequent clashes and in 2010, four people were killed when North Korea shelled the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong.

“It’s up to the two militaries either to recognise or reject their own claimed line, and challenge the other’s. This goes back and forth, so this is probably another episode of that,” said Daniel Pinkston of the International Crisis Group.

Earlier in 2010, a South Korean naval vessel was sunk close to the line by what an international commission said was a North Korean torpedo, although the North denies involvement.

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US marines participate in a U.S.-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang

The two Koreas traded hundreds of rounds of live artillery fire across their disputed maritime border on Monday, forcing South Korean islanders to take shelter a day after the North drove up tensions by threatening a new nuclear test. Picture: REUTERS

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The line was drawn up at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War and North Korea does not recognise it. The two sides are still technically at war as the conflict ended in a mere truce, not a treaty.

The residents of Baengnyeong island, one of the remote islands close to the firing area, were evacuated to bomb shelters as a precaution, a government official said by telephone.

North Korea has ratcheted up its rhetoric in recent weeks and conducted a series of missile launches, mostly short range, in response to what it sees as the threat posed by a series of joint U.S.-South Korean military drills that are held annually.

The current drill called Foal Eagle ends on April 18.

“At a time that South Korea and the United States are conducting military exercises using sophisticated equipment, the North is unlikely to be reckless enough to do anything that will lead to a sharp worsening of the situation,” said Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul.

“There is an element of trying to show displeasure at the South Korea-U.S. drills and to pressure the South, but it doesn’t seem the North wants this to blow up into something bigger.”

China, which hosted several rounds of now-defunct multilateral talks aimed at ending the North’s nuclear weapons programme, nevertheless said it was concerned at the exchange of fire and called for restraint from both sides.

“The temperature is rising at present on the Korean peninsula, and this worries us,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei said in Beijing.

He added that China was also concerned by the North’s threat to carry out more nuclear tests.

North Korea threatened nuclear strikes against the South and the United States last year after the United Nations tightened sanctions against it for conducting its third nuclear test.

Financial markets in South Korea were unmoved by the latest developments, with the stock market’s benchmark KOSPI turning higher from early losses to finish up 0.2 percent and the won extending gains to end onshore trade up 0.4 percent against the dollar.

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NORTH KOREA FIRES ARTILLERY INTO SOUTH KOREA’S WATERS, SOUTH FIRES BACK AS TENSION MOUNTS ON PENINSULA

SEOUL, South Korea – North and South Korea fired hundreds of artillery shells into each other’s waters Monday, a flare-up of animosity between the rivals that forced residents of five front-line South Korean islands to evacuate to shelters, South Korean officials said.

The South Korean artillery fire came after shells from a North Korean live-fire drill fell south of the Koreas’ disputed western sea boundary, an official with South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said. No shells from either side were fired at any land or military installations, said the official, who provided no other details and spoke on condition of anonymity because of office rules.

The exchange of fire followed Pyongyang’s earlier, unusual announcement that it would conduct live-fire drills in seven areas north of the poorly marked Yellow Sea boundary between the countries. North Korea routinely test-fires artillery and missiles into the ocean, but it’s rare for the country to disclose training plans in advance. The announcement was seen as an expression of Pyongyang’s frustration at making little progress in its recent push to win outside aid.

CBS News’ Seth Doane reported that about 100 North Korean shells reportedly crossed over the border line, landing in South Korean waters. Seoul responded by firing about 300 shells toward the North’s sea territory, but it was unclear how many of them landed in the North’s waters.

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US Marines leave an amphibious assault vehicle

Monday’s exchange was relatively mild in the history of animosity and violence between the Koreas, but there is worry in Seoul that an increasingly dissatisfied North Korea could repeat the near-daily barrage of war rhetoric it carried out last spring Picture: AFP/GETTY

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Monday’s incident appeared to be relatively mild in the long history of animosity and violence between the Koreas, but there is worry in Seoul that increasing North Korean dissatisfaction could prompt a repeat of the weeks-long barrage of near-daily war rhetoric last spring that saw tensions soar as Pyongyang threatened nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul following international condemnation of its third nuclear test.

In addition to sending residents of five front-line South Korean islands to shelters, Lee Han-seok, an official with Ongjin county, which governs the islands, also said that ferry service linking the islands to the mainland was stopped.

Kang Myeong-sung, speaking from a shelter on Yeonpyeong island, which is in sight of North Korean territory, said he hadn’t seen any fighter jets but heard the boom of artillery fire. In 2010, North Korean artillery killed four South Koreans on Yeonpyeong. Pyongyang said it was responding to earlier South Korean drills in disputed waters.

The North in recent weeks has increased threatening rhetoric and conducted a series of rocket and ballistic missile launches that are considered acts of protest against annual ongoing springtime military exercises by Seoul and Washington. The North calls the South Korea-U.S. drills a rehearsal for invasion; the allies say they’re routine and defensive.

The western sea boundary has been the scene of several bloody naval skirmishes between the Koreas in recent years, including the 2010 artillery attack on Yeonpyeong by the North.

“The boneheads appear to have completely forgotten the fact that Yeonpyeong island was smashed by our military’s bolt of lightning a few years ago,” a North Korean military official, Yun Jong Bum, said Monday, according to the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.

Pyongyang also threatened Sunday to conduct a fourth nuclear test at some point, though Seoul says there are no signs of an imminent detonation. Wee Yong-sub, a deputy spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, said the North Korean warning about the live-fire drills Monday was a “hostile” attempt to heighten tension on the Korean Peninsula.

The North has gradually dialed down its threats since last year’s tirade and has sought improved ties with South Korea in what foreign analysts say is an attempt to lure international investment and aid. There has been no major breakthrough in the North’s reported push to win outside aid, however, with Washington and Seoul calling on the North to first take disarmament steps to prove its sincerity about improving ties, analysts say.

Recent threats are an expression of anger and frustration over what the North sees as little improvement in progress in its ties with South Korea and the U.S., said Lim Eul Chul, a North Korea expert at South Korea’s Kyungnam University. Lim said the North might conduct a fourth nuclear test and launch other provocations to try to wrest the outside concessions it wants.

The Korean Peninsula remains in a technical state of war because the 1950-53 Korean War ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty. About 28,500 American troops are deployed in South Korea to deter potential aggression from North Korea.

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HAGEL WARNS NORTH KOREA’S “PROVOCATIVE ACTIONS” MUST STOP

Published on Mar 31, 2014

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel warns North Korea that their “provocative actions” must stop, after firing more than 100 artillery rounds into South Korean waters. Rough Cut (no reporter narration).

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NORTH KOREA TELLS WORLD ‘WAIT AND SEE’ ON NEW NUCLEAR TEST

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un addresses commanding officers of the combined units of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) in this undated photo released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) in Pyongyang April 2, 2014. REUTERS/KCNA
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By Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) – North Korea said on Friday that the world would have to “wait and see” when asked for details of “a new form” of nuclear test it threatened to carry out after the United Nations Security Council condemned Pyongyang’s recent ballistic missile launch.

North Korea fired two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles into the sea on March 26. Its first firing in four years of mid-range missiles that can hit Japan followed a series of short-range rocket launches over the past two months.

Members of the Security Council on March 27 condemned the move as a violation of U.N. resolutions and that it would continue discussions on an “appropriate response.

North Korea (DPRK) reacted on Sunday with a threat to conduct what it called “a new form of nuclear test.

“The DPRK made it very clear, we will carry out a new form of nuclear test. But I recommend you to wait and see what it is,” North Korea’s Deputy U.N. Ambassador Ri Tong Il said on Friday during the normally reclusive state’s third U.N. news conference this year.

Ballistic missile launches are banned under U.N. Security Council resolutions adopted in response to North Korea’s multiple nuclear tests and rocket firings. The council expanded its existing sanctions after Pyongyang’s February 2013 atomic test, its third nuclear detonation since 2006.

The Security Council’s sanctions on Pyongyang target the country’s missile and nuclear programs and attempt to punish North Korea’s reclusive leadership through a ban on the export of luxury goods to the country.

Ri accused the United States of being “hell bent on regime change” in North Korea by blaming its leaders for human rights violations. He also said Washington was blocking a bid for the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula by ignoring North Korean proposals, so it can maintain military presence in the region.

U.S. ‘GOING AROUND CRAZY’

“The U.S. is hell bent on eliminating the DPRK politically, isolating DPRK economically and annihilating the DPRK militarily,” Ri told reporters. “There is a great question mark why the U.S. is hell bent on increasing the tension, ignoring the DPRK proposals, very important for peace and security.”

A U.S. diplomat said that Washington had long made clear that it was open to improved relations with North Korea if Pyongyang lived up to its international obligations.

“North Korea’s nuclear programs will not make the country more secure. The only way for North Korea to achieve the security and prosperity it seeks is by complying with its international obligations and commitments,” the diplomat said.

Nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Monterey Institute of International Studies in the United States, said North Korea’s reference to a new form of nuclear test could mean simultaneous detonation of two or more devices as part of a program of more intense testing expected over the next few years.

Lewis said he thought it unlikely North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would move for the moment from underground to atmospheric testing – something he might do to demonstrate an ability to deploy nuclear armed missiles or artillery – for fear of inflaming Chinese public opinion.

“He’s only likely to do that … if he no longer cares what Beijing thinks,” Lewis said. “Still, it is useful to remember that Kim Jong Un has a number of other unpleasant provocations from which he might choose.”

While North Korea has detonated several nuclear devices, analysts have expressed doubt that it currently has the technical capability to reliably mount a nuclear warhead on a missile.

Senior officials of the United States, Japan and South Korea will meet in Washington on Monday to seek ways to persuade North Korea to give up its atomic weapons program. The discussions precede a visit to Asia by Obama from April 22, which will include stops in both South Korea and Japan, where the North Korea issue will be high on the agenda.

U.N. rights investigators said in February that North Korean security chiefs and possibly Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un himself should be tried for ordering systematic torture, starvation and killings, saying the crimes were “strikingly similar” to those committed in World War Two.

“There is no human rights situation existing in the DPRK,” Ri said. “The DPRK has the best social system in the world, it is based on one family as a country, fully united around our leadership, the people and the party.”

“The U.S. is behaving as if it is a human rights judge while it should be subjected to the International Criminal Court more than anybody else. They made a lot of crimes,” he said, citing U.S. wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Ri criticized military drills by the United States and South Korea, called Foal Eagle and due to end on April 18. North Korea has traditionally called for the joint exercises to be called off, seeing them as a prelude to invasion.

“The U.S. is now going around crazy with these joint military drills without caring about peace and security on the Korean peninsula,” Ri said.

The annual drills have been conducted for decades without a major incident. The United States and South Korea stress that the exercises are purely defensive and aimed at testing readiness against any possible North Korean aggression.

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NORTH KOREA THREATENS NUCLEAR TEST, MORE ROCKET LAUNCHES IN WAKE OF TIGHTENED SANCTIONS

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This picture taken by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on Dec. 12, 2012, shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un celebrating with staffs from the satellite control center during the launch of the Unha-3 rocket, carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3, at the general satellite control and command center in Pyongyang. AFP/AFP/Getty Images

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SEOUL — North Korea on Thursday threatened to carry out a nuclear test as part of an “all-out action” against the United States, which it called the “main player” behind recently tightened international sanctions.In a statement published by Pyongyang’s state news agency and attributed to the National Defense Commission, the supreme military policymaking body, North Korea said Washington’s policy toward it had entered “a new dangerous phase.”

Although an underground nuclear test would not directly threaten the United States, it would raise the stakes for the Obama administration, which has been unable to curtail the North’s weapons program despite sanctions and short-lived attempts at dialogue.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said the North’s threats are “needlessly provocative.”

“We judge North Korea by its actions,” Carney told reporters at his daily briefing. “Provocative acts like this are significant violations.”

Intelligence experts in Seoul and Washington have speculated for months that the secretive police state is preparing to conduct its third nuclear test, based on satellite photos showing activity at the North’s test site. Pyongyang’s state news agency also has made several opaque references about bolstering the nation’s “nuclear deterrent.”

The statement Thursday was the clearest sign yet of the North’s intentions, though it did not say when the threatened nuclear test might be carried out. The statement also had an unusually explicit focus on the United States, which Pyongyang described as “the sworn enemy of the Korean people.”

North Korea said it would retaliate against the United States with “force, not with words, as it regards jungle law as the rule of its survival.” As part of this show of force, it also pledged to launch long-range rockets, similar to the one it sent into orbit last month, which prompted the toughened U.N. Security Council sanctions.

“They have been hinting at [a nuclear test], I suppose, for some time,” said Glyn Davies, the Obama administration’s envoy for North Korea policy, who was in Seoul on Thursday. “We think that that would be a mistake, obviously. We call on North Korea, as does the entire international community, not to engage in any further provocations.”

North Korea has spent decades as East Asia’s chief provocateur — developing weapons, launching rockets, making and breaking denuclearization deals, threatening all-out war — and analysts admit that its rhetoric can often feel repetitive. But the country, the analysts say, is indeed becoming more dangerous.

The rocket that Pyongyang sent into orbit Dec. 12, according to South Korean analysis, was made largely with indigenous components and could be capable of reaching the United States. Although North Korea has not shown the ability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon enough to mount on a rocket, some security analysts say the country could hone such technology within several years. Scientists say nuclear tests are essential for any country that wants to miniaturize its nuclear devices.

If the country conducts another nuclear test, it would lend new clues about its weapons material. North Korea’s first two nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, used plutonium, and the country — though it has idled its plutonium program — still has about 24 to 48 kilograms on hand, enough for four to eight bombs, according to Siegfried Hecker, a former director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory.

The next test could use leftovers from that stash, or it could use a new material: highly enriched uranium. In 2010, North Korean officials unveiled a 2,000-centrifuge uranium enrichment plant to a small team of foreign visitors that included Hecker. The North Koreans said their new program was for peaceful purposes only; that is, they planned to produce low-enriched, not high-enriched (or weapons-grade), uranium.

Many intelligence experts, though, speculate that North Korea is doing otherwise and has additional, clandestine uranium facilities throughout the country. A report last year from the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security, acknowledging the many unknowns, said the North could have enough weapons-grade uranium for up to 11 nuclear weapons.

North Korea has not conducted a nuclear test under supreme leader Kim Jong Eun, who inherited power when his father, Kim Jong Il, died in December 2011. In state propaganda, the younger Kim is depicted as a smiling man of the people, but in practice, he has doubled down on the strange brand of family-run brinkmanship — all while maintaining the surveillance networks and the labor camps in which about 200,000 North Koreans are imprisoned.

“Kim Jong Eun seems to have concluded it is advantageous to be armed with nuclear weapons” to show off national strength, said Kim Heung-kyu, a professor of politics and diplomacy at Sungshin Women’s University in Seoul.

After North Korea’s statement Thursday, China urged calm from all involved parties, a familiar talking point from Pyongyang’s chief economic partner. Another nuclear test would present a particular challenge for new Chinese leader Xi Jinping and his lieutenants, who are torn between supporting a key ally and maintaining international credibility.

In the latest Security Council deliberations, China agreed to support a resolution tightening sanctions against the North. Resolution 2087 also condemned the North’s Dec. 12 rocket launch and reasserted that the North not proceed with further launches or nuclear tests. The latest sanctions also take aim at key figures and trading corporations involved in North Korea’s space program, freezing assets and attempting to stop the trade of weapons technology.

Resolution 2087 also promises “significant action in the event of a further [North Korean] launch or nuclear test.”

Zhu Feng, a professor of international relations at Peking University in Beijing, said China is likely to support another round of sanctions if the North conducts a third nuclear test.

“China has no option but to support the U.N.,” Zhu said. “Under such a situation, Kim Jong Eun should make serious considerations about the consequences. Anther nuclear test by North Korea could heighten the unrest in Northeast Asia.”

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U.S., ALLIES WARN NORTH KOREA AMID REACTOR FEARS

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The combination of these three file satellite images taken, from left, March 20, June 24 and Aug. 6, 2012, by GeoEye-1 satellite, and released by IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, shows development of a building construction at Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center in North Korea. Analyst Allison Puccioni at IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly said in a statement on Aug. 21, 2012 the image taken by the satellite Aug. 6 showed a dome had been hoisted atop the reactor building. She says it may take several more years for the facility to be brought into full operation. The Aug. 6 photo was taken from the almost opposite direction compared to the two others. North Korean scientists have mastered domestic production of essential components for the gas centrifuges needed to build uranium-based nuclear bombs, apparently shutting down one of the few ways outsiders could monitor secretive atomic work, according to evidence gathered by two American experts, The Associated Press reports Monday, Sept. 23, 2013. (AP Photo/GeoEye and IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, File)

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By Shaun Tandon
April 7, 2014
Washington (AFP) – The United States and its allies warned North Korea against provocations as researchers reported potential radiation risks due to problems at the regime’s main nuclear complex.

The United States, South Korea and Japan, meeting in Washington after a new period of tension, condemned North Korea’s recent ballistic missile tests and called again for an end to the regime’s nuclear weapons program.

The three nations “urged the DPRK to refrain from further threatening actions,” said a US statement, referring to the North by its official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

South Korea has been on guard after North Korea’s young leader Kim Jong-Un warned last week of a “very grave” situation on the divided peninsula as he accused Seoul and Washington of trampling peace gestures through joint exercises.

In recent weeks, North Korea has test-fired medium-range ballistic missiles capable of hitting Japan, conducted a live-fire drill along its disputed border with South Korea and apparently flew three rudimentary drones over the border to peer at Seoul’s military facilities.

- Fears for reactor -

A US think tank, reviewing recent satellite images, said Monday that North Korea’s main Yongbyon nuclear site appeared to have suffered water supply problems due to heavy rain and floods last summer.

An unstable supply could pose radiation risks, especially at North Korea’s first light water reactor, which is near completion, according to the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University.

The regime does not have experience operating the light water reactor and “the rapid loss of water used to cool the reactor could result in a serious safety problem,” analyst Nick Hansen wrote on the institute’s blog, 38 North.

North Korea has more experience with its restarted plutonium production reactor at Yongbyon but its “lack of airtight containment could lead to the escape of some radioactivity even in small accidents.”

The published analysis comes after South Korean President Park Geun-Hye warned that Yongbyon could witness a Chernobyl-style disaster, one of a series of comments that enraged North Korea, whose official media accused her of speaking “nonsense gibberish.”

The 38 North analysis downplayed the risks of a Chernobyl-scale disaster, saying Yongbyon was smaller than the Soviet-built station in Ukraine where a 1986 accident killed 30 people in an explosion and another 2,500 afterward in related illnesses.

“However, a radioactive release into the atmosphere or river would cause an expanded local area of contamination,” the analysis said.

“Also, Pyongyang’s likely lack of transparency could create a regional crisis, panicking the public in surrounding countries and raising tensions with governments anxious for further information.”

North Korea knocked down a vital cooling tower in 2008 as part of a US-backed six-nation disarmament agreement. It has more recently vowed to boost its nuclear “deterrent” and conduct a “new” type of test in response to what the regime describes as US hostility.

- Concern on rights -

The US pointman on North Korea, Glyn Davies, held the talks with his counterparts Junichi Ihara of Japan and Hwang Joon-Kook of South Korea.

The three also pledged to focus on the “deplorable” human rights situation in North Korea after a UN commission said that Kim’s regime was carrying out violations unprecedented in the modern world.

The three-way talks mark the latest return to diplomacy between South Korea and Japan, whose own relations are tense due to disputes related to wartime history.

US President Barack Obama recently held a breakthrough three-way meeting with Park and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on the sidelines of a summit in The Netherlands.

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DEPARTMENT OF HOMELAND SECURITY STUDY: NORTH KOREA CAPABLE OF EMP ATTACK ON UNITED STATES

Long-suppressed report concludes communist nation can deliver on threats

by F. Michael Maloof | World Net Daily
April 10, 2014

WASHINGTON – A long-suppressed report prepared by the Department of Homeland Security for the Defense Department concludes that North Korea could deliver on its threats to destroy the United States with a nuclear electromagnetic pulse attack.

The report remains blocked from release to the American public.

However, a copy obtained by Peter Vincent Pry from sources within DHS finds North Korea could use its Unha-3 space launch vehicle to deliver a nuclear warhead as a satellite over the South Pole to attack the U.S. from the south.

Pry, executive director of the congressional advisory Task Force on National and Homeland Security, pointed out that the U.S. “has no early warning radars or interceptors” to stop a missile from the south.

Pry also was the staff director to the congressionally mandated EMP commission, which concluded that the damage from either a natural or man-made EMP event on the nation’s unprotected electrical grid would have a cascading impact on life-sustaining critical infrastructures as well as electronic components and automated control systems.

Along with the electrical grid system, the critical infrastructures include telecommunications, banking, finance, petroleum and natural gas pipelines, transportation, food and water delivery, emergency services and space systems.

DHS conducted the study after the spring 2013 nuclear crisis with North Korea in which the communist government’s leadership threatened a “preemptive” nuclear strike on the U.S. and then released videos depicting a nuclear attack on Washington.

Pry said North Korea successfully practiced the EMP attack scenario three months before the crisis.

During the crisis, he said, North Korea issued a general mobilization order to its “nuclear forces” that included “space forces.”

“The North Koreans are seeing what they can get away with,” Pry said. “It shows that Pyongyang is planning something big against the U.S.”

Vulnerable backside

In its suppressed study, DHS said that if North Korea attempted to deploy the Unha-3 space launch vehicle or the Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile, the Defense Department should destroy the missile on its pad before launch.

At the time, however, President Obama and the White House “repeatedly asserted that North Korea did not yet have the capacity to attack the United States or U.S. allies with nuclear missiles.”

Separately, former U.S. Ambassador Henry Cooper, who was the first director of the Strategic Defense Initiative under then-President George H.W. Bush, said that North Korea generally tests its missiles by launching toward the South Pole.

He said, however, that the U.S. does not have its missile defense system oriented toward an attack from a southern polar missile launch attack on the U.S. Instead, all missile defenses are positioned for an attack from the north.

In addition, he said, the U.S. lacks adequate missile defenses against an attack on the East Coast.

Cooper has called for the deployment of existing Navy Aegis missile defense systems, both on ship and on land.

He said the Aegis system is capable of intercepting a nuclear weapon approximately 150 miles above the Earth, the height at which a high-altitude nuclear EMP attack would be most effective.

Nationwide disaster

In its December 2012 test, North Korea was able to launch a satellite, Cooper and Pry told WND, that could have been a nuclear weapon capable of orbiting the Earth and detonating on command over the United States or anywhere else.

In his interview with WND, Pry said Pyongyang in April 2013 had launched a satellite that was tracked orbiting over the U.S., first in the middle of country and then over the eastern most populated corridor between Boston and Washington.

Pry said that if the satellite were a nuclear weapon exploded above the middle of the U.S., the EMP effect on the vulnerable grid system would have been nationwide.

In its numerous underground nuclear tests, North Korea has been testing low-kiloton nuclear weapons that Pry said was a “super EMP” device designed to emit a large number of gamma rays, a form of electromagnetic energy.

Devious intent

In an interview with WND, Pry said the revelations in the suppressed DHS report are only the latest indications of North Korean intentions aimed at a possible nuclear EMP attack on the U.S.

He said the prospect is the latest in a series of recent North Korean actions.

Pry referred to the revelation of a Soviet-era nuclear-capable ground-to-air SA-2 missile that was discovered on a North Korean ship detained in the Panama Canal in July 2013 after leaving Cuba, only 90 miles from U.S. shores.

U.S. intelligence believes the missile was headed back to North Korea for refurbishment.

Cuba is assessed to have some 100 of the ground-to-air missiles ostensibly designed to knock out aircraft. However, Pry said that armed with a nuclear weapon and exploded over the East Coast, one or two of the SA-2s being launched over the East Coast would knock out the Eastern grid, which services some 70 percent of the U.S. population.

At the time of the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, the SA-2s were not an issue of contention for elimination from the island. Instead, the focus was on the ground-to-ground missiles the Soviet Union then removed. However, the SA-2s remain in Cuba to this day.

Revelation of a Cuban SA-2 on a North Korean ship also brought into focus the increasingly close military ties Pyongyang is developing with Havana.

Pry said that an EMP attack on the U.S. would not have to originate from North Korea but could be a missile, such as the SA-2, launched from a freighter off the U.S. East or Gulf Coasts. At that point, there would be no missile defense capable of halting such an event.

With a missile launched from a freighter, it could be difficult to identify who is responsible for an attack.

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90 PERCENT OF ALL AMERICANS WILL DIE WITHIN 12-18 MONTHS AFTER AN ELECTROMAGNETIC PULSE ATTACK

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GOVERNMENT AGENCY: IF NINE SUBSTATIONS ARE DESTROYED, THE POWER GRID COULD BE DOWN FOR 18 MONTHS

by Michael Snyder | Economic Collapse

March 19, 2014

What would you do if the Internet or the power grid went down for over a year?  Our key infrastructure, including the Internet and the power grid, is far more vulnerable than most people would dare to imagine.

Image: Power Grid (Wiki Commons).

These days, most people simply take for granted that the lights will always be on and that the Internet will always function properly.  But what if all that changed someday in the blink of an eye?  According to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, all it would take to plunge the entire nation into darkness for more than a year would be to knock out a transformer manufacturer and just 9 of our 55,000 electrical substations on a really hot summer day.  The reality of the matter is that our power grid is in desperate need of updating, and there is very little or no physical security at most of these substations.  If terrorists, or saboteurs, or special operations forces wanted to take down our power grid, it would not be very difficult.  And as you will read about later in this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.

When I read the following statement from the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission’s latest report, I was absolutely floored…

“Destroy nine interconnection substations and a transformer manufacturer and the entire United States grid would be down for at least 18 months, probably longer.”

Wow.

What would you do without power for 18 months?

FERC studied what it would take to collapse the entire electrical grid from coast to coast.  What they found was quite unsettling

In its modeling, FERC studied what would happen if various combinations of substations were crippled in the three electrical systems that serve the contiguous U.S. The agency concluded the systems could go darkif as few as nine locations were knocked out: four in the East, three in the West and two in Texas, people with knowledge of the analysis said.

The actual number of locations that would have to be knocked out to spawn a massive blackout would vary depending on available generation resources, energy demand, which is highest on hot days, and other factors, experts said. Because it is difficult to build new transmission routes, existing big substations are becoming more crucial to handling electricity.

So what would life look like without any power for a long period of time?  The following list comes from one of my previous articles

-There would be no heat for your home.

-Water would no longer be pumped into most homes.

-Your computer would not work.

-There would be no Internet.

-Your phones would not work.

-There would be no television.

-There would be no radio.

-ATM machines would be shut down.

-There would be no banking.

-Your debit cards and credit cards would not work.

-Without electricity, gas stations would not be functioning.

-Most people would be unable to do their jobs without electricity and employment would collapse.

-Commerce would be brought to a standstill.

-Hospitals would not be able to function.

-You would quickly start running out of medicine.

-All refrigeration would shut down and frozen foods in our homes and supermarkets would start to go bad.

If you want to get an idea of how quickly society would descend into chaos, just watch the documentary “American Blackout” some time.  It will chill you to your bones.

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The truth is that we live in an unprecedented time.  We have become extremely dependent on technology, and that technology could be stripped away from us in an instant.

Right now, our power grid is exceedingly vulnerable, and all the experts know this, but very little is being done to actually protect it

“The power grid, built over many decades in a benign environment, now faces a range of threats it was never designed to survive,” said Paul Stockton, a former assistant secretary of defense and president of risk-assessment firm Cloud Peak Analytics. “That’s got to be the focus going forward.”

If a group of agents working for a foreign government or a terrorist organization wanted to bring us to our knees, they could do it.

In fact, there have actually been recent attacks on some of our power stations.  Here is just one example

The Wall Street Journal’s Rebecca Smith reports that a former Federal Energy Regulatory Commission chairman is acknowledging for the first time that a group of snipers shot up a Silicon Valley substation for 19 minutes last year, knocking out 17 transformers before slipping away into the night.

The attack was “the most significant incident of domestic terrorism involving the grid that has ever occurred” in the U.S., Jon Wellinghoff, who was chairman of the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission at the time, told Smith.

Have you heard about that attack before now?

Most Americans have not.

But it should have been big news.

At the scene, authorities found “more than 100 fingerprint-free shell casings“, and little piles of rocks “that appeared to have been left by an advance scout to tell the attackers where to get the best shots.”

So what happens someday when the bad guys decide to conduct a coordinated attack against our power grid with heavy weapons?

It could happen.

In addition, as I mentioned at the top of this article, the Internet is extremely vulnerable as well.

For example, did you know that authorities are so freaked out about the security of the Internet that they have given “the keys to the Internet” to a very small group of individuals that meet four times per year?

It’s true.  The following is from a recent story posted by the Guardian

The keyholders have been meeting four times a year, twice on the east coast of the US and twice here on the west, since 2010. Gaining access to their inner sanctum isn’t easy, but last month I was invited along to watch the ceremony and meet some of the keyholders – a select group of security experts from around the world. All have long backgrounds in internet security and work for various international institutions. They were chosen for their geographical spread as well as their experience – no one country is allowed to have too many keyholders. They travel to the ceremony at their own, or their employer’s, expense.

What these men and women control is the system at the heart of the web: the domain name system, or DNS. This is the internet’s version of a telephone directory – a series of registers linking web addresses to a series of numbers, called IP addresses. Without these addresses, you would need to know a long sequence of numbers for every site you wanted to visit. To get to the Guardian, for instance, you’d have to enter “77.91.251.10″ instead of theguardian.com.

If the system that controls those IP addresses gets hijacked or damaged, we would definitely need someone to press the “reset button” on the Internet.

Sadly, the hackers always seem to be several steps ahead of the authorities.  In fact, according to one recent report, breaches of U.S. government computer networks go undetected 40 percent of the time

A new report by Sen. Tom Coburn (R., Okla.) detailswidespread cybersecurity breaches in the federal government, despite billions in spending to secure the nation’s most sensitive information.

The report, released on Tuesday, found thatapproximately 40 percent of breaches go undetected, and highlighted “serious vulnerabilities in the government’s efforts to protect its own civilian computers and networks.”

“In the past few years, we have seen significant breaches in cybersecurity which could affect critical U.S. infrastructure,” the report said. “Data on the nation’s weakest dams, including those which could kill Americans if they failed, were stolen by a malicious intruder. Nuclear plants’ confidential cybersecurity plans have been left unprotected. Blueprints for the technology undergirding the New York Stock Exchange were exposed to hackers.”

Yikes.

And things are not much better when it comes to cybersecurity in the private sector either.  According to Symantec, there was a 42 percent increase in cyberattacks against businesses in the United States last year.  And according to a recent report in the Telegraph, our major banks are being hit with cyberattacks “every minute of every day”…

Every minute, of every hour, of every day, a major financial institution is under attack.

Threats range from teenagers in their bedrooms engaging in adolescent “hacktivism”, to sophisticated criminal gangs and state-sponsored terrorists attempting everything from extortion to industrial espionage. Though the details of these crimes remain scant, cyber security experts are clear that behind-the-scenes online attacks have already had far reaching consequences for banks and the financial markets.

For much more on all of this, please see my previous article entitled “Big Banks Are Being Hit With Cyberattacks ‘Every Minute Of Every Day’“.

Up until now, attacks on our infrastructure have not caused any significant interruptions in our lifestyles.

But at some point that will change.

Are you prepared for that to happen?

We live at a time when our world is becoming increasingly unstable.  In the years ahead it is quite likely that we will see massive economic problems, major natural disasters, serious terror attacks and war.  Any one of those could cause substantial disruptions in the way that we live.

At this point, even NASA is warning that “civilization could collapse”…

A new study sponsored by Nasa’s Goddard Space Flight Center has highlighted the prospect that global industrial civilisation could collapse in coming decades due to unsustainable resource exploitation and increasingly unequal wealth distribution.

Noting that warnings of ‘collapse’ are often seen to be fringe or controversial, the study attempts to make sense of compelling historical data showing that “the process of rise-and-collapse is actually a recurrent cycle found throughout history.” Cases of severe civilisational disruption due to “precipitous collapse – often lasting centuries – have been quite common.”

So let us hope for the best.

But let us also prepare for the worst.

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RELATED POST: HOW THE U.S. POWER GRID IS LIKE A BIG PILE OF SAND

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NORTH KOREA’S ATROCITIES: WHAT IS THE WORLD GOING TO DO?  NOT MUCH.

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A picture released by the North Korean Central News Agency in October 2013 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as he is welcomed by a group of soldiers picked to participate in a military art festival in Pyongyang. (KCNA / EPA)

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By Paul Whitefield | Los Angeles Times

February 17, 2014

Sometimes — as with North Korea and its despot of the moment, Kim Jong Un — I hate to admit it, but I miss the good/bad old days when we could just threaten to bomb someone back into the Stone Age to solve problems.

The U.N. Commission of Inquiry on Human Rights in North Korea released a 400-page report Monday detailing just how bad things are there; here’s the laundry list:

“These crimes against humanity entail extermination, murder, enslavement, torture, imprisonment, rape, forced abortions and other sexual violence, persecution on political, religious, racial and gender grounds, the forcible transfer of populations, the enforced disappearance of persons and the inhumane act of knowingly causing prolonged starvation.”

Which pretty much says it all, though, as Julie Makinen reported for The Times, the report further noted: “the ‘gravity, scale and nature of the violations’ in the totalitarian state over several decades do not have ‘any parallel in the contemporary world.’ ”

Then reality set in:

Makinen’s story goes on to quote the chairman of the panel established by the U.N. Human Rights Council, retired Australian chief justice Michael Kirby, who said the findings reminded him of the extensive horrors committed by Nazi Germany and other Axis powers and fully revealed only at the end of World War II.

“I hope the international community will be moved by the detail” in the report, Kirby said. “Too many times in this building, there are reports and no action.”

Now, the phrase “never again” is often used when referring to the Holocaust. Never again will the world stand by and allow the systemic slaughter of people: That’s the promise. But, of course, it’s mostly just that: a promise. Rwanda and Sudan are prominent examples. North Korea too, obviously.

So what should the world do? What can the world do? Must we accept that in North Korea, basic freedoms — even such a simple thing as the right not to starve — are denied most people?

You already know the answer: Yes.

Diplomacy can’t fix North Korea’s problems. And we are not going to attack North Korea. And even if we did, as we saw in Iraq and Afghanistan, once we’ve broken it, we own it. And we don’t want to own North Korea’s problems.

So, “too many times in this building, there are reports and no action”? Yep, that about covers it.

Someday, North Korea will change. Someday, things will get better there. But it won’t be soon enough for millions of people. And it won’t be because of this U.N. report.

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IS NORTH KOREA THE MOST EVIL NATION ON THE ENTIRE PLANET?

Michael Snyder
The Truth
March 6, 2014

There are a lot of evil nations in the world today, but it is fairly easy to make a case that North Korea is the worst of them all.  Some of the things that you are about to read about in this article are absolutely horrifying.  In fact, if you have a weak stomach you might not want to read this article at all.

Image: North Korean Soldier (YouTube).
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In North Korea, public executions, rape and torture are all just part of the lifestyle.  In fact, according to the Daily Mail there were “between 40 to 80 public mass executions in North Korea in 2013.”  Some of the things that got people publicly executed in North Korea during 2013 included “watching unsanctioned South Korean TV shows and being found in possession of a Bible“.  And as you will read about below, other Christians have had it even worse than that in the past.  In one instance, little children were hanged in front of their parents, and then their parents were crushed to death with a steamroller.  So no, I am not exaggerating when I describe North Korea as an “evil nation”.

The new “leader” of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, even executed his ex-girlfriend and his own uncle.  And he publicly executed a whole bunch of people for “inappropriate mourning” after the death of his father Kim Jong Il.

In case you are curious, you can find video of “appropriate mourning” right here.

Now, we have learned that North Korea is about to execute 33 more people for working with a South Korea Baptist missionary

Thirty-three North Koreans face execution after being charged with attempting to overthrow the repressive regime of Kim Jong-un.

The Koreans have landed themselves in hot water after it emerged they had worked with South Korean Baptist missionary Kim Jung-wook and received money to set up 500 underground churches. It is understood they will be put to death in a cell at the State Security Department.

So why aren’t Barack Obama and the U.S. State Department screaming bloody murder about this?

If those 33 individuals were from one of Obama’s “favored groups”, it would be headline news.

But whenever Christians are in trouble, the Obama administration seems to be eerily quiet.

Please pray for those dear brothers and sisters.  They are going to need it.

Of course not all Christians are put to death in North Korea.  Much more commonly, they are sent to gulags for the rest of their lives where they are beaten, tortured and raped before they finally die

He revealed detainees were forced to dig their own graves and were then killed with hammer blows to their necks.

The former guard said he also witnessed prison officers strangling detainees and then beating them to death with wooden sticks.

Prison officials frequently raped women inmates who were then killed, he said.

“After a night of ‘servicing’ the officials, the women had to die because the secret could not get out. This happens at most of the political prison camps,” he told Amnesty.

You can view some incredible drawings of what goes on inside the gulags of North Korea that were actually drawn by a survivor of those camps right here.

You see, the truth is that only one “religion” is permitted in North Korea.  Most people don’t realize this, but North Koreans must worship their “eternal president” Kim Il Sung every single day

“The best wall on every house in North Korea must have well-cared-for photos of Kim Il Sung and Kim Jong Il,” explains Seoul USA CEO Eric Foley. “At every meal, families look up at the picture and pray, ‘Thank you, Father Kim Il Sung, for this food.’”

While most Americans view the hermit kingdom as an atheist nation, Foley says in reality it is perhaps the most religious nation on earth because 100 percent of its citizens are required to worship Kim Il Sung. North Korea is the world’s only “necrocacy”—ruled forever by its deceased eternal president.

Isn’t that sick?

If you try to fight the system, it could cost you everything.

Would you be willing to risk everything to stand up for what you believe?

As I mentioned above, some of those that have dared to worship the God that created all things have had to watch their own children hanged right in front of their eyes.  The following story originally comes from the Voice of the Martyrs

The young brown-eyed girl looked up at her mother. What would she decide?

Earlier that morning, the young girl’s mother, their pastor, and twenty-six others in her North Korean village of GokSan were bound and taken before a screaming crowd of Communists.

One of the guards ordered Pastor Kim and the other Christians, “Deny Christ, or you will die.” The words chilled her. How could they ask her to deny Jesus? She knew in her heart he was real. They all quietly refused.

Then the Communist guard shouted directly at the adult Christians, “Deny Christ, or we will hang your children.” The young girl looked up at her mother. She gripped her and knowing how much her mom loved her. her mother then leaned down. With confidence and peace she whispered, “Today, my love, I will see you in heaven.”

All of the children were hanged.

The remaining believers were then brought out onto the pavement and forced to lie down in front of a huge steamroller. The Communists gave them one last chance. “Deny this Jesus or you will be crushed.” The Christians had already given up their children; there was no turning back.

As the driver started the heavy piece of equipment, the singing from the villagers started softly. “More love, O Christ, to thee, more love to thee.”

Yes, North Korea is truly an evil nation.

You can watch an absolutely incredible National Geographic documentary about what life is like inside North Korea on YouTube right here:

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If you have never seen this particular documentary before, it is definitely worth the time that it takes to watch it.

Sadly, life in the United States is slowly but surely becoming a little bit more like life in North Korea with each passing day.

If you think that things could never get quite so bad here, you should be made aware that the North Korean constitution also guarantees freedom of speech and freedom of the press just like our constitution does.

Of course we are not like North Korea yet, but we are on the path there.  It is way too easy to allow our liberties and our freedoms to slip away from us, and once they are gone they will be nearly impossible to get back.

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DON’T BE FOOLED: NORTH KOREA IS GETTING READY TO PROVOKE

All signs suggest that North Korea is laying the groundwork to begin a new round of provocations.

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By Zachary Keck | The Diplomat
February 13, 2014

North Korea appears to be laying the groundwork to begin a new round of provocations, which could very well take the form of a missile and/or nuclear test.

Despite its deliberate (and successful, in the U.S. at least) attempts to portray itself as an irrational actor, North Korea’s provocations usually follow a well-worn playbook. This begins with North Korea mounting a charm offensive that is aimed primarily at South Korean audiences. The purpose of this charm offensive is to create hope that Pyongyang could be turning over a new leaf. Amid this charm offensive, North Korea quietly demands that South Korea and/or the United States do something that Pyongyang knows full well they won’t do. When they predictably fail to meet the demand, Pyongyang insists that it is being provoked, and uses this supposed provocation to justify its brazen actions. This allows North Korea to blame its own actions on South Korea and the U.S., which can be convincing to some audiences in China, South Korea, and even the West.

North Korea has carefully put all these pieces into place over the past few weeks. First, it has launched a huge charm offensive containing more carrots than usual. For example, it has agreed to hold the first family reunions in years between Koreans living on opposite sides of the 38th Parallel. The reunions are scheduled to occur for five days starting on February 20. Important constituent groups in South Korea place a great deal of importance on these reunions, and would be extremely disappointed if they were called off.

Secondly, earlier this month an inter-Korean committee discussing the Kaesong Industrial Complex (KIC) reached an agreement to allow some internet connectivity in the business park in North Korea. It will be the first time any internet has been allowed at KIC in a decade. In announcing the agreement, a Ministry of Unification spokesperson said, “Officials and employees in the North’s border city will be able to use most of the online services now available in South Korea.” The prospect of having the internet at KIC is attractive to the many South Korean businesses that operate there, as well as to those hoping that North Korea will gradually open up to the outside world.

Thirdly, as my colleague Ankit reported, North and South Korean officials held two rounds of talks at the border town of Panmunjom on Wednesday. The talks were held at North Korea’s request. South Korean officials said they were “pleasantly surprised” (in the words of the BBC) to receive the North’s invitation. South Korea’s delegation was led by Deputy National Security Adviser Kim Kyou-hyun, making these the most senior-level talks the two Koreas have held since 2007. Before the meeting began, NSA Kim declared, “This is an opportunity to open a new era of the Korean peninsula. I would like to attend the meeting with ‘open attitude and mind’ to study the opportunity.”

There have also been some less noticed overtures made to Japan and the United States. For example, Kyodo News Agency has reported that Japan and North Korea held talks last month in Vietnam. Tokyo immediately denied the reports, with a Shinzo Abe spokesperson saying that Japan cut off official talks with North Korea after it launched a missile over Japan in 2012. That being said, last May North Korea’s state media announced what was supposed to be a secret trip to Pyongyang by a close Shinzo Abe aide. There have also been reports that the same aide met with North Korean officials last October in northwest China. Thus, the Abe administration’s denial of the meeting in Vietnam last month cannot be taken at face value.

North Korea has been stingier toward the U.S. during this current charm offensive. That being said, it did raise expectations that it might be amenable to releasing the American-Korean prisoner Kenneth Bae, before once again shooting down that possibility. Moreover, Donald Gregg, the former U.S. ambassador to South Korea, is currently leading a delegation to North Korea for talks with government officials. Gregg’s trip came at the invitation of North Korea’s Foreign Ministry.

If all this seems too good to be true, that’s because it almost certainly is. Since at least as far back as the middle of January, North Korea has been quietly demanding that South Korea and the U.S. cancel their annual military exercise, Foal Eagle, which will begin on February 24 and run through April. This demand has grown progressively louder as the exercise’s start date nears, and North Korea has threatened to withdraw from the planned family reunions if the military exercise takes place.

As North Korea well knows, there is virtually no possibility that the U.S. and the ROK will agree to call off the exercise, which is precisely the reason it has made the demand. At most, the allies might agree to forgo some parts of the drill that the North sees as most provocative. Even then, they would only do so quietly with no formal announcement.

Pyongyang and Seoul plan to continue discussions ostensibly aimed at finding a compromise that allows for the family reunions to move forward. These are likely to be futile as North Korea almost certainly doesn’t want to find common ground, but rather wants to use the Foal Eagle exercise to blame Seoul for a breakdown in relations.

It’s possible that it may be content with stopping there. However, given how much effort it has put into the charm offensive in recent weeks, North Korea likely has a larger goal in mind. The best case scenario is that the charm offensive has been a ruse to woo China. Chinese-North Korean relations have continued to deteriorate in recent months, with some of the discord playing itself out in public. Beijing consistently urges all parties on the Peninsula to take measures that improve peace and stability, and North Korea may hope its charm offensive — along with blaming the breakdown on South Korea and the U.S. — will put it back in China’s good graces.

The more troubling scenario is that the charm offensive has been laying the groundwork for another round of provocations. If so, there have been a number of signs that suggest that it will take the form of a missile test, likely to be followed closely by the country’s fourth nuclear test. Last week Johns Hopkins University’s 38 North said satellite imagery showed that upgrades to a launching pad were nearing completion, and when finished would enable the site to launch larger rockets.

Then, on Monday, ROK Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin told the National Assembly that North Korea had finished preparations for a fourth nuclear test, while adding that there were no signs that one was imminent. Still, North Korea’s nuclear tests are almost always preceded by a missile test, which North Korea disingenuously portrays as part of a peaceful space program. It then uses the international community’s “hostile” response to its space exploration to justify a nuclear test.

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JOEL SKOUSEN’S RED DAWN WARNING TO AMERICA

Published on Nov 10, 2013

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THREATS BOTH REAL AND VISIBLE

by Joel Skousen | World Affairs Brief

December 27, 2013

As we review 2013 we see several grim threats to our liberties and safety that are looming so large even those with a minimum of discernment are waking up and growing uneasy even as conspiring men feign reform or pretend to ignore the issues. At home the US government has every intention of continuing warrantless spying, the Obamacare rollout and unending debt increases despite growing public disapproval and claims of reform. Abroad, foreign intervention is increasing while the great threats of China and Russia are emerging as real and visible but which our government has no intention of countering. Worse, we can no longer depend on our elected representatives to stop any of this. It’s time to prepare in earnest for the inevitable demise of liberty even if it may not be imminent. When it does come in the next decade, it will be swift and relentless. There will be no turning back.

Both Democrats and the compromised Republican leadership have no intention of putting up any real resistance to the slow and agonizing loss of American Liberty. Their half-hearted opposition to spying, the PATRIOT ACT, and the new NDAA signed into law this week is an assent by silence to the slow erosion of liberty and constitutional protections that continues unabated.

For example, support for Obamacare has plummeted across every spectrum of the public, even among people eager for government handouts. Polls sponsored by pro-government media, like CNN, put support in the mid-30 percentile, which should be sending shock waves through the Democrats in Congress. Instead, it’s full speed ahead with implementation.

Republican House Speaker John Boehner has no intention of bringing up repeal legislation again. Neither does he intend to stop deficit spending nor hold the line on the debt limit. Instead he trotted out conservative Paul Ryan to convince Republicans that the latest budget compromise is “the best we can get.” Ryan is turning out to be one of Boehner’s “useful idiots,” to quote Lenin.

These are all crucial high-profile battles that the Republicans purposely sabotaged and lost. The political capital is spent and the waters of reform are poisoned forever so that even as public support for repeal grows, they have an excuse “not to go there” again. And, Boehner and his lackeys are preparing to sell us out on amnesty as well. That’s coming up early next year.

The courts will also continue their relentless permissiveness of government illegal acts under the guise of protecting us from terror and defending state secrets. I’m not optimistic about the temporary setback for NSA spying that one judge timidly opined was “likely” unconstitutional. The Supreme Court will reluctantly find in favor of “limited” government spying as they have in the past.

Part and parcel of this finding is the government’s continual downplaying of the degree to which it surveils worldwide communications. The spy agencies only admit to collecting “metadata” when we all know they are recording content as well—with which they analyze, sort and build future action lists targeting dissidents and political resistors worldwide. This is only peripherally involved with fighting terror which, like drugs, the government promotes as much as it counters.

Spying, indefinite detention without due process, secret prisons, torture, illegal black operations and the militarization of local police forces is all part of the world government police state they intend to force upon us as soon as the next war justifies such a massive disavowal of constitutional limits and the liberty that is inherent in national and state sovereignty.

As part of this, the push for continual “free trade” agreements with Asian and European nations will continue. While I don’t expect them to be able to fully implement the New World Order with its required taxation and police powers via these preparatory agreements, they certainly are a stepping stone towards getting people accustomed to increased international regulation and control (dubbed “cooperation”).

There is no denying that the pace of attacks against our liberty has picked up speed. This has led to a growing number of fellow commentators on the constitutional Right sounding the alarm about imminent collapse of the dollar and the economy as the catalyst for unmasking martial law and the implementation of tyranny.

I continue to caution people against this superficial analysis, often fomented by government misinformation sources inside the movement feeding disinformation to promoters like Lindsay Williams and others. Pastor Williams may well be sincere in his desire to save the country, but he continues to be deceived by his “insider sources” who have fed him bad tips for the past two years. He’s got a 100% failure rate and yet persists with the same claims, slightly more intense each time around. For a review of my analysis of why the PTB won’t crash the dollar or the economy see this link for the June 29, 2012 edition of the WAB in the archives.

I repeat for the benefit of my new subscribers that no one can be an insider feeding information to the liberty movement (they don’t want to get out) and not be discovered in this age of total surveillance. That includes the so-called “anonymous and confidential” government sources talking to mainstream “investigative” reporters. They are all known to government and every reporter’s phone is tapped constantly. When government takes reporters to court to force them to reveal their sources it is just a cover to keep the public believing in journalistic integrity.

We know what happens to real whistleblowers who reveal the illegal acts of government. They are exposed, maligned and persecuted incessantly. So any “leaker” who is allowed to keep leaking to those on our side every week or month is either not really an insider or is a disinformation expert being allowed to leak by government for manipulation purposes. Some, like the so-called “DHS insider” who talks to the Intel Hub regularly, are just patsies, in my opinion, that think they’ve been given insider access but who really are just being used to deliver disinformation to keep false conspiracies alive.

One of the main tactics of this disinformation about imminent threats is, I believe, to eventually discredit the prepper movement, 99% of which is motivated by these constant claims of imminent economic collapse. Most preppers have spouses or relatives that aren’t completely on board with their claims and consider them “paranoid” and “nuts.” Preppers who continue to regale them with the imminent collapse stories will find themselves embarrassed and increasingly unable to convince their friends and loved ones of even more serious preparations as the real threats get closer.

It isn’t that the economic collapse crowd is wrong about the dire state of our economy and the latest bubble the FED has created. It’s only that they don’t fully understand conspiracy and the larger agenda of the PTB who manipulate the economy. The conspirators have much more to gain by keeping things afloat with artificial stimulus than by letting it collapse. They control the regulatory powers as well and are able to cover up many Ponzi schemes, or at least keep them contained by denying that default ever occurs—as they did in the Greek bond haircuts forced upon investors.

With all of the fast moving events of the past year, you probably won’t be surprised that I am continually asked by subscribers if my estimate of timing has changed or moved up, especially in light of this year’s display of Chinese naval growth and aggressive behavior in the Far East. For the answer, we have to look at the potential for war, which is by far the most likely trigger for change in the world, even economic change.

A foreign attack allows our leaders to evade the blame for the dire situation and it gives them the excuse to take on dictatorial powers, restructure the money system and empower globalist solutions. In an economic collapse without war, they take the full blame, especially when all the FED watchers would know the day the PTB pulled the plug on the economy by cutting new monetary creation to zero. Ever since 2008, they have shown no inclination of pulling the plug on the economy or the dollar. It’s not a blameless rationale for martial law. They have also kept the real rate of inflation below 10%, and as long as they continue to do so, the hyperinflation threat bandied about so often won’t happen.

Here is my current feeling on the timing of war:

1. First, I have to continually remind my listeners that I’ve never given a timetable for when WWIII is going to start. I’ve concentrated on how much time I feel remains before Russia and China are ready to strike. They aren’t the same thing and don’t necessarily coincide. Even if I think they are ready, it still doesn’t mean they will strike. It could still take longer depending on the political climate at the time and whether or not an appropriate excuse has been engendered to justify war. As you all know, historically these excuses are almost always provoked by one side or the other.

2. I’ve said since the beginning of this decade that Russia and China are at least 8-10 years from having sufficient air, missile and naval forces to take on the West. We’re now 6-8 years away from that estimate where “we still have time to prepare.” I still feel confident that Russia and China won’t be ready until at least the beginning years of the next decade. In last week’s brief, I covered the fact that most of their major weapons systems aren’t scheduled to come on line until 2020-2024, so that’s still 8-10 years from now.

3. The following is very important: It is not true that Russia and China are totally unprepared until that magic time they reach optimal readiness. While it is improbable, there is nothing to say they won’t decide to strike earlier, at a lesser state of preparedness. No one is ever totally prepared for war—it’s a matter of high confidence in success, and also a matter of the right timing. As Russia and China get closer to full preparedness, the chance increases that they could grab a political opportunity to strike prior to their planned timetable if they thought they had a good enough opening—one that overcame the disadvantage of moving sooner rather than later. The US could also provoke a crisis that gave them an opportunity to strike that “they couldn’t resist.”

So, while I’m still fairly confident in my feeling that we still have several years to prepare, as we get closer to the next decade and they get closer to being ready, the chances of an early surprise attack increases as they approach full readiness. I don’t think the time will be much shorter but you need to be aware of the possibility. It’s one of the reasons why you don’t want to put off necessary preparations just because you might have more time than previously thought. Don’t try to cut it too close. With that said, let me outline some of the signs that war may be approaching sooner rather than later. I will be watching for these as well in the WAB.

First, it’s important to keep in mind that the mainstream media will increasingly concentrate on China as the problem, not Russia—even though they are both in a temporary alliance to take down the West. One will not go ahead without the other, but for some reason the word has gone out to planners to downplay the Russian threat.

I surmise that the reason Russia is being protected is that Russia provides the continual rationale for more disarmament. It is ironic (if not hypocritical) that the West will dramatize the Chinese threat more than the Russian threat but no overtures or expectations of disarmament will ever be made to China. The West has never even approached China with demands for a disarmament pact and doesn’t appear likely to do so in the future. –Not that China would ever entertain one.

The fact that the US keeps seeking disarmament pacts with the Russians in spite of continual missile manufacturing and cheating on all disarmament treaties is strong evidence that the US is trying to use disarmament to weaken our nuclear deterrence, NOT make the world safe from nuclear weapons. Evading any demands for the Chinese to disarm is even more evidence that the US overtures to Russia on disarmament have nothing to do with “making the world safe from nuclear weapons.”

So, when outlining the signs of war, keep in mind that there are two enemies and either one or both may be engaged in setting the stage for war. Both are already involved in significant and steady rearmament. That isn’t going to change, and they are starting early enough that the West won’t be able to detect a significant uptick in production later on as a sign of war.

Don’t look for Russia or China to necessarily engage in the normal massing of forces at some border as Hitler did. They will use a ballistic missile first strike with a preliminary EMP attack as a means of temporarily paralyzing US and NATO forces as the electrical grid gets taken down. This will be followed by nuclear strikes against ground targets. Once the US military is taken down they figure they can blackmail the rest of the West into submission and amass the necessary invasion/occupation forces while the West is struggling to reorganize after a nuclear strike.

Watch for these provocations that indicate war is getting nearer:

Russia: Russia will continue to contest any additional moves by former satellite states like Ukraine and Georgia moving to closer to EU integration. The latest move by Russia to bribe and threaten Ukraine from making a trade deal with the EU is, I believe, a permanent and hardened position. It won’t be reversed. Despite continued Ukrainian protests, the opposition is controlled and divided and will never be able to overthrow the pro-Moscow direction of the government. Democracy is only a sham in most of the post-Soviet states. Controlled parties on both the Left and Right keep marching inevitably toward more concessions toward Russian hegemony—especially in light of the grip Russia has on the flow of natural gas to Europe and Eastern Europe.

Remember too that the controlled opposition and continued protests also serve Russia’s purposes since she can use them when they turn violent to justify sending in Russian troops to “protect” the millions of ethnic Russians placed in each of these satellite states.

That said, I don’t expect Russia to start getting aggressive with the post-Soviet states until after the US signs another disarmament agreement with Russia. Expect feelers to be put out in 2014 for a typically one sided agreement to be signed before Obama leaves office. This is one of those things, like socialized medicine, that they do while Democrats are in the White House.

China: China has already started to increase provocations with the West in the disputed ADIZ air defense zone claimed by China in the East China Sea, as well as the Chinese naval harassment of US surveillance ships in the South China Sea in international waters. Expect those provocations to continue. China knows that by increasing the overall levels of East-West hostilities, it becomes increasingly difficult for the West to tell when China expects to go to war.

North Korea: Nothing is more telling about this tactic of “obscuration through hundreds of feints” than North Korea’s regular provocations and small military attacks on South Korea over the years. North Korea is China’s puppet state and is the one most likely to provide China and Russia with the trigger event they need for WWIII. As I have explained before, a sudden invasion/artillery attack by NK on South Korea almost guarantees a tactical nuclear response by the US since the North has such overwhelming forces just across the border from Seoul, the SK capitol. If the US uses tactical nukes to contain the onslaught, China could easily use this “first use” to launch it’s planned first strike on US military targets.

Threats against the South happen almost every month and vary in intensity. Just this week, as the UK Daily Mail reported, North Korea warned the West that “war could break out without notice” as Kim Jong-Un tells troops to get combat ready.

The warning came a day after reports that satellite images appeared to show North Korea has started producing fuel rods for its nuclear reactor. The U.S. and South Korea had been wary of possible threats from the North, where tensions have been high since the execution of Kim’s uncle and mentor. The latest saber rattling came as Kim visited his troops on Christmas Eve, according to Al Jazeera.

‘He instructed the unit to put utmost spurs on rounding off its combat readiness … always bearing in mind that a war breaks out without any prior notice,’ reports from state media said. Tens of thousands of troops pledged their loyalty to Kim last week at a parade to mark the anniversary of the death of his father, and former leader.

Satellite images seen by the Johns Hopkins University appeared to show facilities at the North’s scientific research center could be used to make fuel rods for the plutonium reactor. ‘The identification of these facilities indicates a more wide-ranging, extensive effort by North Korea to modernize and restart the Yongbyon complex dating back to 2009 than previously understood,’ the report said. North Korea’s reactor was put back into service earlier this year, after a six-year break.

North Korea’s nasty habit of threatening war and putting troops on alert is a regular occurrence, and so is NK’s breaking of agreements to limit its nuclear weapons productions. Taken in isolation, none of these minor provocations mean war is imminent. But what it does do—very effectively—is make it very hard to tell when they are serious about an attack.

One of the great dangers of NK saber rattling and keeping their enlisted and junior officers hyped up for war is that sometimes the trigger actually gets pulled, as it did when the NK artillery forces shelled Yeonpyeong Island in 2010, killing four South Koreans. They were lucky the US and SK are in such a permissive mood or there might have been a war.

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russia attacks america red dawn

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THE GATHERING RED STORM

by Terresa Monroe-Hamilton

January 30, 2013

It’s difficult to not look at world events these days and feel as though we are sitting on a ticking time bomb. Things are heating up even more and the clock is now at about 30 seconds to midnight.

One wonders where all this will lead… Well, if the current course is kept, straight into hell, probably. That is by design and has been planned on for a very long time.

From Trevor Loudon:

If it comes to war, one joint Russia/China plan is for Russia to nuke the hell out of the continental United States. After Obama has finished decimating what is left of the US nuclear arsenal of course. The Russians will then invade Alaska and parts of Canada, but not the lower ’48. China will then invade across the Pacific. They will lose millions of troublesome young men, but they eventually get a foothold. Then their allies in Latin America will invade across the Mexican border… and the Red Dawn will break.

You can count North Korea in that mix as well. It has always been the plan of the Russians to use Iran as a proxy army to take control of the Middle East and the energy resources at play. But would any of them really come after the US?

The answer to that question is a definitive ‘yes.’ Being separated from most of our enemies by an ocean gives us the illusion of safety, but that should have been shattered after 9-11. However, America’s apathy runs deep these days and most people fell back to sleep or into an encompassing lethargy when a would-be dictator started trashing the Constitution and our God given rights. While we tear ourselves apart as a nation, our enemies are salivating, awaiting the right opportunity to strike.

I contend that Obama is setting us up for just such an attack. And as Trevor Loudon astutely points out, it will most likely come from several enemies at once. With a depleted nuclear arsenal and a massively weakened military, the hour is drawing nigh that an attack will be forthcoming. Think about it… if you were our powerful enemies, what would you do? You would attack of course when your enemy is at their weakest financially and militarily – like right about now. Consider this scenario:

  • North Korea launches 2 or 3 EMPs over the United States with no warning, or so little that we have no time to take evasive measures.
  • Russia invades Alaska and parts of Canada.
  • China launches an attack via the Pacific Ocean with millions of soldiers. The sheer numbers alone would overwhelm our current defenses.
  • Iran, Venezuela and Cuba attack from the South. With a fully open border and with no guard there whatsoever, hordes of terrorists would slash their way through with absolutely no pity or remorse for the bloody trail of bodies left behind.

Now consider if these all happen at once. Not possible, you say?  Both Russia and China have been busy building their military forces up, while the United States has been scaling radically down in that arena. Iran now has nuclear capability as does North Korea. Aside from the energy resources in the Middle East, what would be the biggest prize ever? Bringing down America, invading her and conquering a once free nation. All our enemies need to do is team up, pillage and plunder, then divide the spoils of war. See Sun Tzu. It would be the ultimate redistribution of wealth.

If that is not enough to haunt your dreams, consider this… What if Progressives made deals for themselves with our enemies while betraying our closest ally? For land, resources, slaves, security, power… No? Then tell me why we are being so cozy with the Chinese, or the Muslim Brotherhood, or the Russians for that matter. With Obama’s reelection, he can be much more flexible. Why is Obama deliberately bankrupting our nation? And why is money massively being withdrawn from our banks? It seems to me that Obama and the Communists are really close in their goals for this country. Just this last week, CPUSA was cheering Obama on gun restrictions.

Remember, Communism as articulated in the various Communist documents, asserts that nobody owns anything – that the group owns everything. But because in practice that doesn’t work, an elite self-appointed class takes control and endeavors to enforce the ideals of Communism on the proletariat. Thus, implementing in practice a form of fascism, nominally called “Communism.” The Muslim creeds implement an unabashed fascism from the beginning. So our enemies all have fascism in common. Even those regimes that are nominally Communist, wind up implementing fascism because completely decentralized control doesn’t work when there is no ownership. You see, our enemies have a lot in common ideology wise and they all want the United States’ land and resources.

So, while our Progressives have been calling for the end of the Constitution, the Chinese have been busy buying up billions in real estate here in the US. They are now buying up our utilities and natural resources as well. They are buying up major companies such as battery makers as well. This is just Communist foreplay. The problem with the US is that we are an instant gratification society. Long range planning for us is what’s for dinner tonight. Long range planning for our enemies is the demise and conquest of America.

We hear very little in the media about what is facing us militarily. Even Pravda sees more clearly what is going on in the States than many Americans do. As the gathering red storm advances on America, will we react in time to save ourselves?

When the EMPs and nuclear weapons begin to fly, it will be a little too late to rally the troops to our defense.

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RUSSIA AND CHINA PREPARE FOR THE DAY WHEN THEY WILL NUKE THE UNITED STATES

By Michael Snyder

November 7, 2013

While Barack Obama is busy gutting the U.S. nuclear arsenal, Russia and China are rapidly preparing for the day when they will nuke the United States.  To most Americans, it sounds very strange to hear that Russia and China are concerned about nuclear war.  After all, isn’t the Cold War over?  Isn’t that what politicians from both major political parties keep telling us?  Unfortunately, the truth is that Russia and China both consider the United States to be their number one geopolitical threat, and both nations have been systematically strengthening and updating their strategic forces.  At the end of last month, Russia held a large-scale military drill that involved the launch of four nuclear missiles, and the Chinese government released a major report for the public which included maps showing what would happen to major U.S. cities in the event of a nuclear attack by Chinese submarines.  Obama may blindly believe that wishful thinking and unilateral disarmament will keep the United States safe, but Russia and China are taking a much different path.  Both of them believe that a military conflict with the United States in the future is quite likely, and they are rapidly preparing for that eventuality.

The major nuclear drill conducted by Russia at the end of last month made headlines all over the planet…

Russian strategic forces carried out a large-scale surprise military drill on Wednesday, launching four nuclear missiles that were closely monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies, U.S. officials said.

The drill began around 9:00 am ET and included the test launch of two land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and two submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

But this was far from an isolated incident.  In fact, it has been reported that Russian missile forces will hold more than 200 drills during the second half of 2013.

Things have very much changed in Russia since the end of the Cold War era.  Back then, Russia did not have a lot of money to put into the military.  But now Russian President Vladimir Putin is working very hard to strengthen and modernize Russian nuclear forces…

Russia is developing several new missiles, including a weapon U.S. intelligence agencies have assessed as a covert intermediate-range nuclear missile called the RS-26 that is being developed and tested in apparent violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty.

The Russian government has denied the RS-26 violates the INF treaty and claims it is a new ICBM, which some arms compliance experts say is a violation of the 2010 New START treaty.

Russia is also developing a new submarine-launched ballistic missile and a new class of missile submarines.

The missile submarines are of particular concern.  Russia has introduced a new “near silent” nuclear submarine which is far quieter than anything the U.S. currently has…

The Borey Class submarine, dubbed Vladimir Monomakh, has a next generation nuclear reactor, can dive deeper than 1,200 feet, and carries up to 20 nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM).

Each of these “Bulava” ICBM’s can carry ten detachable MIRV warheads, what they call “re-entry vehicles,” capable of delivering 150 kiloton yields per warhead

These subs have the capability of approaching the coastline of the United States without us ever even knowing that they were there.

Most Americans do not realize this.

Most Americans also do not realize that Russia has more spies inside the United States today than it did at any point during the Cold War.

Russia is more of a threat to the United States today than it ever has been before, but the American people are completely and totally oblivious to this.

Meanwhile, China is publicly bragging about what their nuclear submarines could do to us.

Late last month, the Chinese government released a report which included maps which showed the projected results of a nuclear strike on major U.S. cities.  This report was heavily covered by government-controlled media outlets in China such as China Central TV, the People’s Daily, the Global Times, the PLA Daily and China Youth Daily.

The following are a couple of excerpts from that report…

“If we launch our DF-31A ICBMs over the North Pole, we can easily destroy a whole list of metropolises on the East Coast and the New England region of the U.S., including Annapolis, Philadelphia, New York, Boston, Portland, Baltimore, and Norfolk, whose population account accounts for about one eighth of America’s total residents.”

—–

“Because the Midwest states of the U.S. are sparsely populated, in order to increase the lethality, [our] nuclear attacks should mainly target the key cities on the West Coast of the United States, such as Seattle, Los Angles, San Francisco, and San Diego.”

In recent years, China has been working hard to develop a new generation of inter-continental and submarine-launched nuclear missiles.  The following is from a recent article posted on the Washington Free Beacon

China is rapidly expanding its nuclear forces with new missiles, submarines, and warheads. At least one of the warheads is based on warhead designs stolen from U.S. nuclear weapons laboratories in the 1990s, U.S. officials have said.

The submarine-launched missiles that they have been developing are of particular concern.  The following is from a recent article posted on Investors.com

China’s sub fleet is reportedly the world’s second-largest, with about 70 vessels. About 10 are nuclear-powered, and four or more of those are nuclear ballistic submarines.

In 2010, the Type 094 Jin class entered the service. It is capable of launching 12 to 16 JL-2 missiles with a range of about 8,700 miles, covering much of the continental U.S. with single or multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle warheads.

Do you remember a few years ago when a Chinese submarine fired a test missile from just off the west coast of the United States?

The U.S. Navy did not even know that the sub was there.  If that missile had been fired directly at Los Angeles, it would have been incinerated long before the U.S. government could ever have responded.

Are you starting to get the picture?

In response, the Obama administration will not even comment on this latest Chinese report…

The Obama administration declined to comment on Sunday on provocative state-run Chinese media reports outlining Beijing’s nuclear war plans, including land-based and submarine-launched missile strikes on U.S. cities that would kill up to 12 million people.

State Department spokeswoman Marie Harf and Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith would not respond when asked about the highly unusual Chinese reports published Oct. 28 in numerous major Communist Party-controlled television and newspaper outlets.

The Chinese reports included maps showing nuclear strikes on Los Angeles and the Pacific Northwest, along with the resulting radiation plumes stretching thousands of miles across the western United States.

You see, the truth is that talking about what China is doing does not fit in with the Obama administration’s “progressive agenda”.  Obama has been systematically disarming America, and most Americans do not even realize that it has been happening.

Most Americans just continue to believe that we still have a very robust strategic nuclear deterrent.

Unfortunately, that is no longer the case.

Back in 1967, the U.S. military had more than 31,000 strategic nuclear warheads.

Since that time, the U.S. strategic nuclear arsenal has been reduced by about 95 percent,

The START Treaty that Obama agreed to back in 2010 will limit both the United States and Russia to a maximum of 1,550 deployed strategic nuclear warheads.

But that is not nearly enough of a reduction for Obama.

Back in June, he declared that “after a comprehensive review” he has decided that the United States can reduce the number of our deployed nuclear warheads by another one-third…

After a comprehensive review, I’ve determined that we can ensure the security of America and our allies, and maintain a strong and credible strategic deterrent, while reducing our deployed strategic nuclear weapons by up to one-third.  And I intend to seek negotiated cuts with Russia to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures.

That would leave us with around 1,000 warheads.

And thanks to the various treaties that we have signed, Russia will know where most of those warheads are located.

So this makes a scenario in which Russia and China collectively conduct a first strike against the United States much more conceivable.  If Russia or China knows exactly where our warheads are, it would be very easy to take most of them out in less than 10 minutes with a submarine-based first strike.

Of course most Americans never even think about such things anymore, and our politicians certainly are not talking about them.

But Russia and China are thinking about these things, and they are rapidly preparing for the day when war comes and they choose to nuke us before we nuke them.

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CHINA, RUSSIA INCREASE WAR PREPARATIONS IN RESPONSE TO UNITED STATES WAR THREAT

November 3rd, 2013

Both China and Russia, in their own ways, have been engaged in upgrading both their conventional and strategic nuclear forces to be ready for war as a component of their resistance to the Anglo-American Imperium. Nor are the two countries conducting their preparations in isolation from each other, as the meeting between Russian president Vladimir Putin and Vice Chairman of China’s Central Military Commission Xu Qiliang on Oct. 31 underscores. Putin indicated, according to Xinhua, that military cooperation plays a pivotal role in the strategic partnership between Russia and China, and he expressed the hope that the two defense ministries could improve their coordination to further bilateral ties in the future. Xu replied that the China-Russia strategic cooperation has entered a new phase because of the efforts of both countries. Xu added that China is willing to deepen the military exchange and expand cooperation with Russia to boost bilateral ties to a new high.

The week began with China, for the first time, going public about its strategic nuclear missile submarines on Oct. 28, when a slew of articles began appearing in the Chinese media. The People’s Daily [1], on Oct. 31, quoted Chinese military expert Yin Zhuo characterizing China’s strategic missile forces as components of a “counter attack strategy.” That is, “Only when our opponents use nuclear weapons to attack us, will we use nuclear weapons to counterattack them.” While China, like Russia and the U.S., operates a nuclear triad, the strategic missile submarines are considered the most important leg, because their chances of survival should a conflict break out, is in the realm of 85 to 90%, compared to no more than 50% to as little as 5% from the land-based missile and bomber forces.

The Chinese were also clear as to whom they are deterring, as a Global Times [2] article on Oct. 28 made the point. A Chinese nuclear attack on the U.S. would mainly target population centers. Submarine-launched missiles fired from the Pacific would mainly be aimed at West Coast cities, while the land-based DF-31 ICBMs, fired over the North Pole would mainly be aimed at major East Coast cities. The message in such statements is clear.

The Russians, meanwhile, have been conducting their own preparations as well. This week, President Putin ordered a no-notice snap exercise of the strategic missile and submarine forces combined with an air and missile defense exercise on the Kapustin Yar testing range. Two ICBMs and two submarine-launched missiles were live-fired, as were about 15 S-300 and S-400 air defense missiles, during the exercise, which was overseen by President Putin, himself. Putin has ordered at least four such no-notice snap drills, this year, and both he and Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu have indicated that there will be more. The purpose of the drills is to test the war readiness of Russian forces.

While the strategic forces exercise was going on, two TU-160 nuclear bombers have been operating in South America. They arrived in Venezuela on Oct. 28, after a 13-hour flight from their base in the Volga region. On Oct. 30, they landed in Nicaragua. “The crews are now resting and preparing for new missions. They are scheduled to carry out several patrols over the region,” Commander of the Russian Long-Range Aviation, Lt. Gen. Anatoly Zhikharev, reported at a Defense Ministry meeting on Oct. 31.

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HISTORY WARS IN NORTHEAST ASIA

The United States Helped Spark the Battles. Now It Must Help End Them

By Gi-Wook Shin and Daniel C. Sneider | Foreign Affairs

From territorial disputes in the East China Sea to heated propaganda wars across the region, peace in northeast Asia seems increasingly tenuous. At the heart of rising tensions are unresolved historical issues related to World War II, which drive a wedge between the United States’ two main allies in the region, Japan and South Korea, and fuel a revived rivalry between Japan and China. As the main victor in World War II, the United States has some responsibility for these disputes. It constructed the postwar regional order and has been largely content since then to view the matter as settled, even though issues of territory, compensation, and historical justice were left unresolved. During the Cold War, when the region’s main players were cut off from each other, the United States’ approach worked well. But as the region democratizes and grows increasingly integrated, long-buried issues are coming to the surface. As U.S. President Barack Obama heads to Japan and South Korea this month, it is time for the United States to tackle wartime history in Asia head on.NORTHEAST ASIA

American officials were confronted by the uncomfortable realities of wartime issues last year, when Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, without warning, made an official visit to the Yasukuni Shrine, which honors Japan’s war dead, including some who had been convicted and executed as Class-A war criminals. The Japanese leader certainly understood that his decision would irk China and South Korea, which see such visits as signals of Tokyo’s embrace of an unapologetic view of Japan’s wartime aggression. What was even more troubling was that the visit came only a few weeks after U.S. Vice President Joe Biden apparently received assurances from Abe that Tokyo would avoid any such provocations. Biden subsequently encouraged South Korean President Park Geun-hye to sit down with the Japanese leader, although Park questioned whether he could be trusted to hold his historical revisionism in check — a concern that was clearly justified.

Japan and South Korea have made repeated efforts over the past two decades to resolve their wartime history issues, but progress has always proved short-lived. South Korean officials now openly plead for the United States to step in. That would be anathema to Japan, which fears being isolated. Obama managed to convene a brief meeting of the Japanese and South Korean leaders recently at the nuclear safety summit in Europe, but the agenda focused solely on North Korea. For its part, the United States simply urges restraint and dialogue, consistently refusing to intervene directly into disputes over the wartime past. American diplomats understandably argue that the subject is a minefield and that any U.S. involvement will be viewed with suspicion in China, Japan, and South Korea alike.

Even so, China’s bid for regional domination makes it nearly impossible for the United States to continue to stay out of the fray; Beijing has already started to position itself as sympathetic to South Korean fears about Japan and has embarked on a global propaganda campaign against Japanese “militarism,” pointing with undisguised glee at any evidence of Japanese nostalgia for its wartime past.  By taking a leading role in dealing with the wartime past, the United States could make it difficult for Beijing to use it for political gain.

SORRY I’M NOT SORRY

The oft-stated notion that the United States has no responsibility for history issues is a convenient myth. The United States made several key decisions right after the war that laid the groundwork for the current dispute. These range from its decision to put aside the issue of the emperor’s responsibility to its efforts to rehabilitate nationalist conservatives — including Abe’s grandfather, Nobusuke Kishi, the wartime minister in charge of Japan’s military industry — to counter Japan’s leftward drift, all of which undermined efforts within Japan to make a clear break with the past. Meanwhile, the territorial issues that plague Japan’s relations with its neighbors — from the dispute with China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu Islands to the Kurile islands disputes with Russia — are all results of American decisions in the postwar settlement. The 1965 normalization treaty between Japan and Korea, which was brokered by Washington, pressed the Koreans to put compensation for Japanese colonial rule and for forced mobilizations of Koreans for the war effort aside after Japan balked. Such decisions made sense in the context of the Cold War because of the imperatives of the struggle against the Soviet and Chinese Communists. But they don’t anymore, and it is incumbent on the Untied States to help the region reconcile its past once and for all.

An in-depth look at the formation of wartime historical memory, conducted as part of our Divided Memories and Reconciliation project, shows that narratives about the past cannot and will not be easily changed. Indeed, the younger generations, which have no memory of the horrors of war, hold on to the stories even tighter. Still, there are some ways to at least reduce tensions over the wartime past.

The most urgent issue is compensation for individual victims of the system of forced labor that Japan used during the war, including the women from across Asia whom it coerced into sexual servitude. The government of Japan, with the support of the United States, has long insisted that the issue of compensation was settled by the 1951 San Francisco Peace Treaty and by subsequent agreements normalizing relations with China and South Korea. But some legal scholars, including in Japan, argue that the settlement between states does not bar individuals from seeking compensation. In fact, California enacted legislation in 1999 that allowed victims of the Holocaust and of the German and Japanese forced-labor systems to seek such redress from private corporations that exploited them, but the law was overturned.

Compensation for the so-called comfort women, who were forced to serve in Japanese military brothels, is an urgent issue, but it would be better for Japan to finally deal with the broader problem of forced labor. It could follow the model of the German Fund for the Future, or, as it is formally known, the foundation for Remembrance, Responsibility, and Future, which was formed in 2000. The 5.2 billion euro ($7.15 billion) fund is jointly maintained by the German government and the German private corporations that used forced labor during the war. In cooperation with international partner organizations, it has compensated more than 1.66 million survivors in almost 100 countries. It also offers research and education programs.

Of course, the momentum for such an initiative must come from Japan and the Japanese parliament, as the German initiative did in Germany. But the process can be encouraged and aided by the United States, which was directly involved alongside the German government in designing the fund and in negotiating its terms with Poles, Czechs, Jewish groups, and others seeking compensation. Unlike in the case of Japan, the U.S. government did not actively oppose suits filed in U.S. courts against German firms seeking compensation. Today, the United States could formally change its legal interpretation of the San Francisco Treaty to allow individuals to seek compensation, including from private corporations, and ask the involved nations to assure Japan that they fully accept the new fund as a final settlement of all issues of compensation.

Public apologies must come next. Many in Japan believe that their country has already offered apologies, but that the victims, particularly in China and South Korea, simply refuse to accept them, preferring instead to keep the fires of the war alive. Official Japanese apologies, however, are constantly undermined by some Japanese political leaders’ outright denial of wartime responsibility. And Tokyo has made little effort to reach out to the broader public with public gestures of real contrition. Compare, for example, Japanese Socialist Prime Minister Murayama’s limited statement on the war in 1995, when a Japanese premier formally and specifically apologized, for the first time, for Japanese “aggression and colonial rule,” to German Chancellor Willy Brandt’s decision to kneel in apology before the memorial to the Warsaw Uprising during a visit to Poland in 1970. A photo of that moment lingers on as an expression of German contrition, but nothing comparable exists from Japan. Worse, Japanese conservatives continue to assail the Murayama statement.

It is not hard to imagine how powerful it would be if a Japanese prime minister bowed his head at the museum commemorating the Nanjing massacre or met the surviving Korean comfort women in Seoul. The cases of Germany and Japan are by no means completely parallel, not least in the distinctive nature of the Holocaust, but also in the way the Cold War impelled Germany to reconcile with its wartime foes, such as France and Britain, whereas as the Cold War separated Japan from its principal Asian victim, China. But Japan can take some lessons from Germany’s ongoing willingness to embrace the need for apology and self-examination. Here, Washington has the opportunity to offer its own leadership in confronting the United States’ wartime past; it is time for an American president to throw aside political caution and go to Hiroshima or Nagasaki to offer his or her own reflections on the horrible human costs of the decision to drop atomic weapons on Japan. The United States would not only set an example — without doing so, it would be hard to justify American intervention on wartime history issues.

Finally, the education of the next generation must not be overlooked. Again, Europe provides a useful example. Germany and France, through a long process of discussion and exchange, created a joint textbook commission whose work on the history of World War II is used in classrooms today. The two countries also created a youth office to sponsor mass exchanges, with some eight million participating in programs over the last half century. These were decisions that the Germans made on their own, in the context of the need to create postwar European community.

Japan has formed a history commission with China and with South Korea. These two efforts failed to achieve their goal of creating a common history because they could not entirely bridge their differences over the past. But they did establish the groundwork for future commissions and create extensive networks of historians with experience in such exchanges. Our own comparative study of high school history textbooks in Japan, China, Taiwan, South Korea, and the United States yielded a curriculum unit that could be used in all those countries. The involvement of American scholars and educators in history dialogues among China, Japan, and South Korea could aid this effort.

WAR HISTORY COMES HOME

The United States might worry that its efforts in the region won’t be effective, or that the United States will become the next target of all the countries in the region. To soothe these fears, it is worth looking back to the United States’ role in promoting reconciliation during the Northern Ireland peace process. The negotiation leading to the 1998 Good Friday Agreement was headed by former U.S. Senator George Mitchell and backed by the White House in close consultation with the British and Irish governments, as well as with parties on the ground. In the initial stage of negotiations, the British resented the United States’ presence. But the rocky start soon gave way to cooperation, the results of which endure today.

In both Northern Ireland and postwar Germany, the United States’ decision to intervene rested on powerful domestic political considerations. The role of Irish-Americans and the Jewish community in American life undoubtedly encouraged Washington to take on the considerable risks of getting involved. The same thing is increasingly happening for Asian wartime history issues. The Chinese-American and Korean-American communities are highly organized and motivated when it comes to history issues. They have brought them very much into play domestically, as evidenced most recently by the erection of monuments to Korean comfort women in towns in New Jersey and southern California.

At home and abroad, the United States can no longer escape wartime history battles. For decades, Americans have tended to believe that the passage of time would heal all war wounds. But it hasn’t. Popular nationalism, fed in part by unfiltered dialogue online, is gaining strength across the region. The advent of democracy in China, which may not be far off, is likely only to complicate the situation as happened in South Korea. And so, the United States must be prepared to act, with the understanding that the diplomacy will be delicate and difficult but that there are compelling reasons and ample precedent for the United States to push its allies and partners to reconcile.

Only if it takes up the charge will the United States ensure success in its role as the guardian of peace and security in East Asia.

CHINA CALLS ON U.S. TO RESTRAIN JAPAN AS TENSION SIMMERS

By Phil Stewart

BEIJING (Reuters) – Tensions between China and the United States were on full display on Tuesday as Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel faced questions in Beijing about America’s position in bitter territorial disputes with regional U.S. allies.

Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan, standing side-by-side with Hagel, called on the United States to restrain ally Japan and chided another U.S. ally, the Philippines.

Then, Hagel was sharply questioned by Chinese officers at the National Defense University. One of them told Hagel he was concerned that the United States was stirring up trouble in the East and South China Sea because it feared someday “China will be too big a challenge for the United States to cope with.”

“Therefore you are using such issues … to make trouble to hamper (China’s) development,” the officer said.

Hagel assured the audience that America had no interest in trying to “contain China” and that it took no position in such disputes. But he also cautioned repeatedly during the day that the United States would stand by its allies.

“We have mutual self defense treaties with each of those two countries,” Hagel said, referring to Japan and the Philippines. “And we are fully committed to those treaty obligations.”

The questioning came just a day after Hagel toured China’s sole aircraft carrier, in a rare opening by Beijing to a potent symbol of its military ambitions. Chinese Defense Minister Chang called Hagel, the top civilian at the Pentagon, the first foreign military official to be allowed on board the Liaoning.

Chang and Hagel spoke positively about improving military ties and announced steps to deepen them. But the effort could do little to mask long-standing tension over a range of issues, from cyber spying and U.S. arms sales to Taiwan to China’s military buildup itself.

At a seminar in New York, China’s ambassador to the United States Cui Tiankai said Washington needed to think hard about the purpose of its military presence in Asia and whether its political agenda and those of its Asian allies were the same.

He spoke of the need to move away from “outdated alliances” and warned against any attempt to create an Asian version of the NATO Western military alliance to contain China.

“If your mission there is to contain some other country, then you are back in the Cold War again, maybe,” he said. If your intention is to establish an Asian NATO, then we are back in the Cold War-era again. This is something that will serve nobody’s interest, it’s quite clear.”

Beyond developing an aircraft carrier program, China’s People’s Liberation Army is building submarines, surface ships and anti-ship ballistic missiles, and has tested emerging technology aimed at destroying missiles in mid-air.

“RISK OF MISCALCULATION”

That expansion carries risks as Chinese forces come into greater contact with U.S. forces the Pacific, Hagel said.

“As the PLA modernizes its capabilities and expands its presence in Asia and beyond, American and Chinese forces will be drawn into closer proximity – which increases the risk of an incident, an accident, or a miscalculation,” Hagel said in a speech at the National Defense University.

“But this reality also presents new opportunities for cooperation.”

The risks of a mishap were highlighted in December when the American guided missile cruiser USS Cowpens had to take evasive action in the South China Sea to avoid hitting a Chinese warship operating in support of the Liaoning.

China’s military modernization has also been accompanied by a more assertive posture in its territorial disputes.

China claims 90 percent of the 3.5 million sq km (1.35 million sq mile) South China Sea, where the Philippines, along with other countries, stake claims. China has a separate dispute with Japan in the East China Sea over uninhabited islets that are administered by Japan.

Chang asked the United States to “keep (Japan) within bounds and not to be permissive and supportive”, and railed against the government of Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who Hagel met in Tokyo last weekend.

“It is Japan who is being provocative against China,” Chang told a news conference after talks with Hagel.

“If you come to the conclusion that China is going to resort to force against Japan, that is wrong … we will not take the initiative to stir up troubles.”

Chang called the Philippines a nation “disguising itself as a victim” and renewed its opposition to Manila’s pursuit of international arbitration in its territorial dispute.

Hagel, who met the defense minister from the Philippines last week, said he raised U.S. concerns in Beijing over the tension in the South and East China Sea.

He cautioned that no countries should resort to “intimidation, coercion, or aggression to advance their claims.”

The U.S. State Department has accused China’s coastguard of harassment of Philippine vessels and called an attempt to block a Philippine resupply mission to the Second Thomas Shoal, a disputed atoll, provocative and destabilizing.

Also speaking at the New York seminar, former U.S. Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who led the U.S. effort to engage with Communist China in the 1970s, compared the rivalries in Asia, particularly between China and Japan, and the latent threat of the use of force, to 19th Century Europe.

“I would give both of them the same advice – to be extremely restrained and not to permit that situation to develop into a military confrontation,” he said, referring to the leaders of Japan and China.

“We as Americans, being allied with Japan, but in partnership of some kind with China; we should not be put in a position to chose. We should make clear to both sides that we will be sympathetic and helpful, but we are strongly opposed to a military confrontation, which really would have huge consequences in the region.”

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CHINA WARNS IT CANNOT BE CONTAINED AS U.S. DEFENSE SECRETARY VISITS

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says he wants to create a framework to ‘manage competition.’

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Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, accompanied by Chinese Minister of Defense Chang Wanquan reviews honor guards during a welcome ceremony at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters prior to their meeting in Beijing, Tuesday, April 8, 2014.  (Alex Wong/AP)

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By Ariel Zirulnick | The Christian Science Monitor

The timing was part of the message: The day after China brought US Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel on board its first aircraft carrier as the first foreign visitor, its defense minister warned that no one, not even the United States, could contain its military ambitions.

“With the latest developments in China, it can never be contained,” Gen. Chang Wanquan said, according to Bloomberg Businessweek. The US is “a country of worldwide influence, and the Pacific Ocean is huge enough to hold both China and the US for common development and also huge enough to hold the other Asia-Pacific countries.”

Mr. Hagel hopes to create a framework to “manage competition” between the US and China, and to reassure other countries in the region who fear being trampled by China – and might take action to send a message to Beijing.

The US-China relationship has been strained by cyberattacks and territorial disputes with US allies in the South and East China seas. But with the US taking steps to maintain its influence in the region – the so-called “pivot to Asia” – increased communication and cooperation will be key.

The joint press conference between Gen. Chang and Hagel was tense, The Wall Street Journal reports:

Gen. Chang castigated Japan for stirring up trouble in the East China Sea and accused the Philippines of illegally occupying islands in the South China Sea. He blasted U.S. arms sales to Taiwan and urged America to take a more measured approach to regional disputes.

In turn, Mr. Hagel criticized China for unilaterally establishing an air-defense zone over disputed islands in the East China Sea without conferring with its competitors in the region.

“That adds to tensions, misunderstandings and could eventually add to and eventually get to a dangerous conflict,” said Mr. Hagel, who wagged his finger as he emphasized his concerns.

Both Japan and the Philippines are US allies. Hagel visited Japan before heading to China, where he sought to reassure Japan that the US would continue to stand by it, The New York Times reports.

“I will be talking with the Chinese about its respect for their neighbors,” he said, as he chided China and urged the country to use its “great power” in a responsible way. “You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or in large nations in Europe,” he said.

Last year, China set off an international uproar when it announced the creation of an “air defense identification zone” and said it would require all aircraft entering the zone to identify themselves. The zone includes the airspace over the disputed East China Sea islands known as Senkaku in Japan and Diayu in China.

In support of Japan, which rejected the creation of the zone, the US has been flying planes through unannounced ever since.

China has also opted to exclude Japan from the international fleet review at the Western Pacific Naval Symposium, which brings together all the countries that border the Pacific. As participating countries parade their most impressive ships and military hardware, Japan will be nowhere to be seen – and neither will the US.

In a show of support, the Pentagon said that the US will attend the symposium, but will not participate in the review unless Japan can, The New York Times reports. “It is so totally high school,” a senior American defense official said, referring to Japan’s exclusion. “We were, like, ‘Really? You’re going to do that?’ ”

China has consistently cast Japan as the provocateur, implying that China’s actions are responses to moves by Tokyo.

“Japan is making provocative comments on China, and China is exercising restraint to the maximum,” Chang said, according to Bloomberg. “If you conclude China is going to resort to force against Japan that’s wrong. On the Chinese side we’ll not take initiatives to stir up troubles but we aren’t afraid of any provocation.”

In a commentary, Chinese news agency Xinhua praised Hagel’s statement that the US “pivot to Asia” was not veiling a “contain China” strategy, but said the US had not been acting in friendship lately.

As the new defense secretary, Hagel has to be informed of some basic facts.

The establishment of ADIZ is a normal move, which conforms to the UN Charter and is aimed to ensure stability, while the escalating tension, in the first place, was ignited by Tokyo’s illegal “nationalization” of China’s Diaoyu Islands in 2012.

Since then, the nationalist government led by Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe launched a political campaign — peaked by his visit to the controversial Yasukuni Shrine — to challenge China’s bottom line.

In fact, the growing assertiveness of Japan could be partly attributed to the United States. Irresponsible remarks by some U.S. politicians have emboldened the rightist forces in Tokyo.

In this regard, Hagel’s stay in China is expected to offer a rare opportunity for the United States to clarify its “pivot to Asia” policy and assure its China friend of its intention, so as to strengthen mutual trust and understanding across the Pacific.

Indeed, Hagel underscored the US desire to continue to foster better Chinese-US relations, Time reports.

Despite the surfacing of adversarial statements between the two parties at times, the defense bosses also confirmed that cooperation between Beijing and Washington was vital.

“The China-U.S. relationship is essential to peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region in the 21st century,” said Hagel.

U.S. DEFENCE SECRETARY CLASHES WITH CHINESE COUNTERPART

HAGEL

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, left, and Chinese Defense Minister Chang Wanquan shake hands at the end of a joint news conference at the Chinese Defense Ministry headquarters in Beijing, China on April 8. The defense chiefs of China and the U.S. faced off Tuesday over Beijing’s escalating territorial disputes in the region, as Hagel, wagging his finger, said China doesn’t have the right to unilaterally establish an air defense zone over disputed islands with no consultation. (AP Photo)

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By Peter Symonds

In a joint press conference in Beijing yesterday, US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel and Chinese Defence Minister Chang Wanquan traded barbed comments over territorial disputes in the South China and East China Seas. The public display of hostility is another warning of the dangerous tensions that the Obama administration’s “pivot to Asia” has provoked throughout the region.

Hagel set the stage for the verbal clash with Chang earlier in the week, when in Tokyo he compared China’s territorial claims in nearby waters to Russia’s annexation of Crimea. “You cannot go around the world and redefine boundaries and violate territorial integrity and the sovereignty of nations by force, coercion or intimidation, whether it’s in small islands in the Pacific or in large nations in Europe,” he said.

In both Europe and the Pacific, however, it has been Washington’s provocative actions that have inflamed tensions. In Ukraine, the US engineered a fascist-led coup in Kiev that prompted Russia to annex Crimea where its Black Sea fleet is based. In the Asia-Pacific, US has backed allies such as Japan and the Philippines to take a far more assertive stance over their territorial claims against China.

In Beijing, Hagel repeated Washington’s standard line that “the United States takes no position on individual claims” in the disputes between Japan and China over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands. Clearly, however, the US does support the “boundaries” and “territorial integrity” as defined by Japan and the Philippines, against any attempt by China to assert its claims.

Moreover, as Hagel made absolutely clear, the US is prepared to back its allies with military force. He told the press conference: “The Philippines and Japan are long-time allies of the United States… We have mutual self-defence treaties with each of those countries.” Then, wagging his finger, Hagel added that the US was “fully committed to those treaty obligations”—that is, to go to war against China if need be.

Hagel also publicly criticised China for declaring an air defence identification zone (ADIZ) in the East China Sea last November “unilaterally, with no collaboration, no consultation.” In response, the Pentagon immediately challenged China’s ADIZ by flying nuclear-capable B-52 bombers into the airspace without prior notification. The potential for a US air clash with China put the entire region on a knife-edge.

Hagel, however, blamed China for “tensions, misunderstandings… [that] could eventually add to, and eventually get to, dangerous conflict.” Such accusations against Beijing are being exploited by the US to justify its “rebalance”, or build-up of military forces throughout Asia aimed at encircling China. While in Japan, Hagel announced the dispatch of two more Aegis destroyers equipped with anti-ballistic missiles systems to Japanese bases.

Chinese defence minister Chang insisted: “It is Japan who is being provocative. If you come to the conclusion that China is going to resort to force against Japan, that is wrong… We will not take the initiative to stir up troubles.” He called for the resolution of the island disputes through negotiation, but added that China had “indisputable sovereignty” of the Senkaku/Diaoyu islets. “On this issue, we will make no compromise, no concession—not even a tiny violation is allowed… We are prepared at any time to cope with any type of threats and challenges,” he warned.

Hagel pressed Chang on other issues, calling on China to do more to rein in North Korea. He also appealed for the Chinese military to be more open about its cyber warfare capabilities. “More transparency will strengthen China-US relations,” Hagel said. “Greater openness about cyber reduces the risk that misunderstanding and misperception could lead to miscalculation.”

Hagel’s remarks are utterly cynical. Former NSA contractor Edward Snowden has exposed the massive electronic spying operations of the US military and intelligence agencies throughout the world that particularly target China. Washington claims that the Chinese military has been involved in economic espionage, yet last month the New York Times reported that the US intelligence agencies had hacked into the networks of the Chinese telecommunications giant, Huawei.

The New York Times has also reported that the Pentagon, several months ago, had briefed Chinese military officials on its cyber warfare capabilities. The US is planning to triple the number of cyber warfare specialists to 6,000 by the end of 2016. During his comments yesterday, Hagel made clear that the purpose of the US briefing—undoubtedly very limited in scope—was to solicit a Chinese briefing. In response, Chang declared that China’s cyber activities “will not pose a threat to others.”

Hagel had billed his visit to Beijing as an attempt to improve defence relations between the two countries. On Monday, he became the first foreign official to be given a tour of China’s first aircraft carrier, the Liaoning. The constant US calls for greater Chinese transparency about its defence capacities, have nothing to do with easing tensions. Rather while the US closely guards its military secrets, it is seeking to gauge the capacities of China as precisely as possible.

The Washington Post caught the mood of the Hagel-Chang press conference—“icy body language and barbs telegraphed a relationship utterly devoid of warmth and very much saddled with suspicion.”

The tensions were also evident when Hagel addressed the National Defence University later yesterday. He was challenged by one officer who accused the US of stirring up trouble in the East China and South China Seas because it feared someday that “China will be too big a challenge for the United States to cope with.” He continued: “Therefore you are using such issues… to make trouble to hamper [China’s] development.”

Hagel lamely responded, by declaring that “the American rebalance to Asia Pacific is not to contain China.” He will have convinced no one in the audience. The whole purpose of Hagel’s trip to the region—in advance of Obama’s tour later this month—is to reinforce the message that the US military build-up in the region against China will continue.

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