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Trump, Kim Shake Hands To Commence Momentous Summit In Singapore

 SINGAPORE (AP) — President Donald Trump says that his one-on-one meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un was “very, very good” and that the two have an “excellent relationship.”

Trump and Kim met for about 40 minutes Tuesday one-on-one, joined only by interpreters.

Trump made the comments as he and Kim walked together along balcony as they headed to a larger meeting with aides.

Trump was flanked in the larger meeting by chief of staff John Kelly, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton. They sat across the table from Kim and his team.

President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong Un kicked off a momentous summit Tuesday that could determine historic peace or raise the spectre of a growing nuclear threat, with Trump declaring they would have a “great discussion” and Kim said they had overcome obstacles to get to this point.

U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un before their expanded bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump shakes hands with North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un before their expanded bilateral meeting at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. REUTERS/Jonathan Ernst

Standing on a red carpet in front of a row of alternating U.S. and North Korean flags, the leaders shook hands warmly at a Singapore island resort, creating an indelible image of the two unorthodox leaders. They then moved into a one-on-one meeting, joined only by their interpreters.

“We are going to have a great discussion and I think tremendous success. We will be tremendously successful,” Trump said.

Speaking through an interpreter, Kim said: “It wasn’t easy for us to come here. There was a past that grabbed our ankles and wrong prejudices and practices that at times covered our eyes and ears. We overcame all that and we are here now.”

Trump and Kim planned to meet with their interpreters for most of an hour before aides join the discussion and talks continue over a working lunch. But even before they met, Trump announced plans to leave Singapore early, raising questions about whether his aspirations for an ambitious outcome had been scaled back.

U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY © Reuters U.S. President Donald Trump meets North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at the Capella Hotel on Sentosa island in Singapore June 12, 2018. Kevin Lim/The Straits Times via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS – THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY

 

The first meeting of a sitting U.S. president and a North Korean leader was the product of dizzying weeks of negotiations over logistics and policy.

Up early in Singapore, Trump tweeted with cautious optimism: “Meetings between staffs and representatives are going well and quickly … but in the end, that doesn’t matter. We will all know soon whether or not a real deal, unlike those of the past, can happen!”

In the run-up to the talks, Trump had hopefully predicted the two men might strike a nuclear deal or forge a formal end to the Korean War in the course of a single meeting or over several days. But on the eve of the summit, the White House unexpectedly announced Trump would depart Singapore by Tuesday evening, meaning his time with Kim would be fairly brief. And Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sought to keep expectations for the summit in check.

“We are hopeful this summit will have set the conditions for future successful talks,” Pompeo said, describing a far more modest goal than Trump had outlined days earlier.

 

The sudden change in schedule added to a dizzying few days of foreign policy activity for Trump, who shocked U.S. allies over the weekend when he used a meeting of the Group of Seven industrialized economies in Canada to alienate America’s closest friends in the West. Lashing out over trade practices, Trump lobbed insults at his G-7 host, Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau. Trump left the summit early, and as he flew to Singapore, he tweeted that he was yanking the U.S. out of the group’s traditional closing statement.

As for Singapore, the White House said Trump was leaving early because negotiations had moved “more quickly than expected,” but gave no details about any possible progress in preliminary talks. On the day before the meeting, weeks of preparation appeared to pick up in pace, with U.S. and North Korean officials meeting throughout Monday at a Singapore hotel.

The president planned to stop in Guam and Hawaii on the way back to Washington.

Trump spoke only briefly in public on Monday, forecasting a “nice” outcome. Kim spent the day mostly out of view — until he left his hotel for a late-night tour of Singapore sights, including the Flower Dome at Gardens by the Bay, billed as the world’s biggest glass greenhouse.

As Trump and Singapore’s Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong sat down for a working lunch at the Istana house, the president sounded optimistic, telling Lee, “We’ve got a very interesting meeting, in particular, tomorrow, and I think things can work out very nicely.” Trump had earlier tweeted about “excitement in the air!”

It was a striking about-face from less than a year ago when Trump was threatening “fire and fury” against Kim, who in turn scorned the American president as a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard.” As it happens, the North Korean and the American share a tendency to act unpredictably on the world stage.

Beyond the impact on both leaders’ political fortunes, the summit could shape the fate of countless people — the citizens of impoverished North Korea, the tens of millions living in the shadow of the North’s nuclear threat, and millions more worldwide. Or, it could amount to little more than a much-photographed handshake.

Still, the sense of anticipation was great in Singapore, with people lining spotless streets holding cellphones high as Trump headed to meet Lee.

U.S. and North Korean officials huddled throughout Monday at the Ritz-Carlton hotel ahead of the sit-down aimed at resolving a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. Delegates were outlining specific goals for what the leaders should try to accomplish and multiple scenarios for resolving key issues, a senior U.S official said, adding that the meetings were also an icebreaker of sorts, allowing the teams to get better acquainted after decades of minimal contact between their nations.

President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci) © AP President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, Tuesday, June 12, 2018, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

 

Trump’s early exit will be his second from a summit in just a few days.

As he was trying to build a bridge with Kim, he was smashing longtime alliances with Western allies with his abrasive performance at the G-7. After his premature departure from Quebec, he continued to tweet angrily at Trudeau from Singapore, saying Monday, “Fair Trade is now to be called Fool Trade if it is not Reciprocal.”

Trump advisers cast his actions as a show of strength before the Kim meeting.

Alluding to the North’s concerns that giving up its nuclear weapons could surrender its primary deterrent to forced regime change, Pompeo told reporters that the U.S. was prepared to take action to provide North Korea with “sufficient certainty” that denuclearization “is not something that ends badly for them.”

He would not say whether that included the possibility of withdrawing U.S. troops from the Korean Peninsula, but said the context of the discussions was “radically different than ever before.”

“I can only say this,” Pompeo said. “We are prepared to take what will be security assurances that are different, unique than America’s been willing to provide previously.”

The North has faced crippling diplomatic and economic sanctions as it has the advanced development of its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. Pompeo held firm to Trump’s position that sanctions will remain in place until North Korea denuclearizes — and said they would even increase if diplomatic discussions did not progress positively.

Experts believe the North is close to being able to target the entire U.S. mainland with its nuclear-armed missiles, and while there’s deep scepticism that Kim will quickly give up those hard-won nukes, there’s also some hope that diplomacy can replace the animosity between the U.S. and the North.

While advisers say Trump has been reviewing briefing materials, the president insists his gut instincts will matter most when he gets in the room with Kim. He told reporters he thinks he will know almost immediately whether a deal can be made, saying: “I will know, just my touch, my feelings. That’s what I do.”

(AP)

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North Korea Nucleaar Tests ‘Leading To Deformed Babies, Turning Province Into Wasteland’

Samuel Osborne

 North Korea’s  nuclear test site has been turned into a wasteland where babies are born with defects, defectors have reported
Defectors from Kilju county, where the Punggye-ri underground nuclear test facility is located, have said 80 per cent of trees that are planted die and underground wells have run dry.

The witness accounts come from a group of 21 defectors who used to live in the region who were interviewed by the Research Association of Vision of North Korea, according to the South Korean Chosun

Ilbo newspaper.

a group of people posing for the camera                  © Provided by Independent Print Limited

One defector said people in the region are worried about contamination from radiation.

“I heard from a relative in Kilju that deformed babies were born in hospitals there,” another said.

Another former resident, referring to the regime’s most recent nuclear test, said: “I spoke on the phone with family members I left behind there and they told me that all of the underground wells dried up after the sixth nuclear test.”

The defectors, which include one person who claimed to have experienced two nuclear tests in October 2006 and May 2009, said locals were not warned in advance.

Kim Jong-un                   © Getty Kim Jong-un  

“Only family members of soldiers were evacuated to underground shafts,” they said. “Ordinary people were completely unaware of the tests.”

Other sources said residents from Kilju have been banned from making hospital appointments in the capital, Pyongyang, since the most recent nuclear test.

Officials are reportedly attempting to contain leaks from the area by arresting anyone caught bording trains from Kilju with samples of soil, water or leaves, and sending them to prison camps.   (The Independent)

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Meet The Millennial Women Behind North Korea’s Kim Jong Un |RN

Anna Fifield
a group of people standing in front of a building: An undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, in Pyongyang.© Uncredited/AP An undated photo released by the Korean Central News Agency shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and his wife, Ri Sol Ju, in Pyongyang.  

When Kim Jong Un visited the newly renovated Pyongyang Cosmetics Factory in North Korea this month, smiling broadly as he admired the lotions and potions and their fancy packaging, he was accompanied by two women. They were on the sidelines, but they were there.

One, in a stylish black suit with a floral pattern, a clutch purse under her arm, was Kim’s wife of seven years, Ri Sol Ju. She stood beside her husband as he checked on the production process, according to photos published Sunday.

The other, dressed in the functional black outfit of a Communist Party apparatchik and carrying a notebook, was his younger sister, Kim Yo Jong.

Kim Yo Jong

Each has a job to do in Kim Jong Un’s North Korea — one to be glamorous and aspirational, the other to represent the importance of hard work — and each offers clues about the running of the opaque regime.

“His wife enables Kim Jong Un to present a softer side of himself. They are a modern, young, virile couple on the go,” said Jung H. Pak, a former Korea analyst at the CIA who is now at the Brookings Institution. “This new generation of North Koreans growing up in a nuclear North Korea now associates being assertive with being glamorous. I think it inspires hope.”

Kim’s sister, who is about 30, is one of his closest aides. This month, he elevated her to the powerful political bureau of the ruling Workers’ Party, moving her closer to the center of the leadership.

“She’s supporting him. You know she’s not a leader in her own right,” Pak said.

Women soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade  © AP Women soldiers march across Kim Il Sung Square during a military parade

Women’s status in North Korea varies widely. Under communism, women are more integrated into the workforce than in neighboring South Korea. And it’s the women who are earning most of the money in North Korea these days.

While their husbands show up for duty at dilapidated state factories or farms to earn pitiful wages, married women go to the burgeoning markets to sell everything from homemade rice cakes to imported rice cookers, often making many times what their husbands earn.

But in other ways, the hierarchical Confucian ideals that have endured for centuries on the Korean Peninsula are still very much in place, with women viewed as second-class citizens whose primary purpose is to raise the next generation of soldiers.

The concept of motherhood is strong in North Korea, with the state often referred to in propaganda as the all-encompassing, caring “motherland.” Kim Jong Il, the second leader of North Korea and father of the current ruler, had a signature song called “No Motherland Without You.”

Almost all of the women who are elevated to senior positions in North Korea get there through family relations — such as Choe Son Hui, the regime’s top interlocutor with the United States. She’s the daughter of a former prime minister and is thought to have a direct line to Kim.

The most famous woman in North Korea is Kim Jong Suk, who was the wife of founding president Kim Il Sung and mother of Kim Jong Il. She is revered as an anti-imperialist fighter.

Kim Jong Il never appeared in public with any of his five consorts, but since his son became the country’s leader in 2011, the regime has started to idolize Ko Yong Hui, Kim Jong Il’s second wife and Kim Jong Un’s mother.

Kim Jong Il’s sister, Kim Kyong Hui, was also prominent in the Workers’ Party, serving in a raft of influential positions and previously occupying the Politburo seat that her niece, Kim Yo Jong, now holds. She and her husband groomed Kim Yo Jong for the role she would play, said Michael Madden, who writes the North Korea Leadership Watch website.

But she hasn’t been seen in public since Kim Jong Un had her husband — his uncle — executed in 2013 for apparently building up too much of his own power.

Kim Yo Jong first appeared in public at her father’s funeral, at the end of 2011, and is now clearly in charge of promoting her brother’s image, he said.

She runs the Workers’ Party propaganda and agitation department — a position that led the U.S. Treasury Department to sanction her by name this year — and has been seen organizing papers and logistics at several marquee events, including a military parade.

“Kim Yo Jong is always in the background, kind of lurking in behind her brother somewhere. She’s not important in her own right, but she’s part of this dynastic rule,” Brookings’ Pak said.

In North Korea, blood is definitely thicker than water. The Kim family has retained power for more than seven decades by relying on the loyalty of an inner circle and claiming a kind of heaven-ordained birthright.

North Korean men and women participate in a mass dance© AP North Korean men and women participate in a mass dance Kim’s wife comes from this inner circle of loyal cadres.

Ri, who is thought to be a few years younger than her 33-year-old husband, is from an elite family that has helped keep the Kims in power. Ri Pyong Chol, a former top air force general who is always at Kim’s side during missile launches, is either her grandfather or great-uncle, ­Madden said.

She is reported to have been a singer with the Unhasu Orchestra, part of the regime’s propaganda efforts, and to have traveled to South Korea in 2005 as a member of a cheering team at an athletic competition.

Kim and Ri Sol Ju are thought to have been set up by Kim’s aunt and now-executed uncle, and to have married in 2009 or 2010 with Kim Jong Il’s blessing. They are thought to have two or three children, although only one birth has been confirmed — by basketball player Dennis Rodman.

The former Chicago Bulls player held the baby, a girl called Ju Ae, during a visit to North Korea in 2013. “I held their baby Ju Ae and spoke with Ms. Ri, as well. He’s a good dad and has a beautiful family,” Rodman told reporters after the visit.

When Ri is seen in public, playing the role of devoted wife, she is often wearing chic Chanel-type suits and was once spotted with a Christian Dior purse — or at least a knockoff.

<p> North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has as been the source of much international scrutiny.</p><p> Lately, he's been in the news because of his regime's <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/north-korea-nuke-nuclear-strike-us-2017-1?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=msn-slideshow&utm_campaign=bodyurl"> growing nuclear weapons capabilities</a> and the case of American student Otto Warmbier, <a href="http://www.businessinsider.com/otto-warmbier-death-cause?utm_source=msn.com&utm_medium=referral&utm_content=msn-slideshow&utm_campaign=bodyurl">who died just days after he was released from a DPRK prison</a>.</p><p> Information about life inside "Hermit Kingdom" is somewhat scarce, as are details about the daily routine of the country's self-styled "Supreme Leader."</p><p> However, some information has slipped through.</p><p> In 2016, North Korea scored a 28.6 on the <a href="http://www.ifpri.org/topic/global-hunger-index">Global Hunger Index</a>, meaning that the situation in the country is in "serious" trouble - an "extremely alarming" food situation would be denoted by a score of over 50. <a href="http://www1.wfp.org/countries/democratic-peoples-republic-korea"> The World Food Programme has reported</a> that 70% of the country's 25.1 million population is "food insecure" and chronic malnutrition is endemic.</p><p> One thing is clear to see: Kim Jong Un's life of private islands, imported liquor, and wealth is worlds apart from the lives of the people he rules. </p>

In today’s North Korea, the Kim family is supposed to represent a new kind of socialist ideal: a modern country that has style and nuclear weapons.

But that ideal could pose problems for the regime.

“It raises expectations,” Pak said. “If you’re an ordinary North Korean and you’re constantly toiling but your expectations are not met, you can’t live this consumerist dream.”         (The Washington Post)

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North Korea: Trump Says He Is Prepared To Take ‘Devastating’ Military Action To End Tensions

Clark Mindock

 Donald Trump says that the US is ready with a “military option” to end the escalating crisis with North Korea that would be devastating for Pyongyang.

“We are totally prepared for the second option, not a preferred option,” Mr Trump said at a White House news conference alongside Spain’s prime minister. “But if we take that option, it will be devastating, I can tell you that, devastating for North Korea. That’s called the military option. If we have to take it, we will.”

The President proceeded to say that North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho – who said over the weekend that it was “inevitable” that North Korean rockets would hit the US mainland – was acting “very badly, saying things that should never be said.”                       (The Independent)

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North Korean Kim Says He Will ‘Tame The Mentally Retarded U.S. Dotard With Fire’ |RN

David Nakamura, Anne Gearan
NEW YORK — President Trump on Thursday announced new financial sanctions targeting North Korea as his administration seeks to build international support for more aggressively confronting the rogue nation, whose escalating nuclear and ballistic missile capabilities have reached what U.S. officials consider a crisis point.

The new penalties seek to leverage the dominance of the U.S. financial system by forcing nations, foreign companies and individuals to choose whether to do business with the United States or the comparatively tiny economy of North Korea. U.S. officials acknowledged that like other sanctions, these may not deter North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s drive to threaten the United States with a nuclear weapon, but is aimed at slowing him down.

Kim on Thursday reacted angrily to Trump’s remarks and actions this week, calling the president a “mentally deranged U.S. dotard” and Trump’s earlier speech at the U.N. “unprecedented rude nonsense.” Kim said that he was now thinking hard about how to respond.

U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 19, 2017.© (Xinhua/Li Muzi via Getty Images) U.S. President Donald Trump addresses the General Debate of the 72nd session of the United Nations General Assembly at the UN headquarters in New York, Sept. 19, 2017.  

“I will make the man holding the prerogative of the supreme command in the U.S. pay dearly for his speech,” Kim said in a statement released by the official Korean Central News Agency, which also published a photo of the North Korean leader sitting at his desk holding a piece of paper.

“I am now thinking hard about what response he could have expected when he allowed such eccentric words to trip off his tongue. Whatever Trump might have expected, he will face results beyond his expectation,” Kim said, saying that he would “tame” Trump “with fire.”

Trump’s executive order grants the Treasury Department additional authority that Trump said would help cut off international trade and financing that Kim’s dictatorship uses to support its banned weapons programs.

“North Korea’s nuclear program is a grave threat to peace and security in our world, and it is unacceptable that others financially support this criminal, rogue regime,” Trump said in brief public remarks during a meeting with the leaders of South Korea and Japan to discuss strategy to confront Pyongyang.

He added that the United States continues to seek a “complete denuclearization of North Korea.”

Significantly, Trump also said that Chinese President Xi Jinping had ordered Chinese banks to cease conducting business with North Korean entities. Trump praised Xi, calling the move “very bold” and “somewhat unexpected.”

China is North Korea’s chief ally and economic lifeline. Some 90 percent of North Korean economic activity involves China, and Chinese entities are the main avenue for North Korea’s very limited financial transactions in the global economy. China is also suspected of turning a blind eye to some of the smuggling and sanctions-busting operations that have allowed Pyongyang to rapidly develop sophisticated long-range missiles despite international prohibitions on parts and technology.

 All U.N. sanctions have to be acceptable to China, which holds veto power. China’s recent willingness to punish its fellow communist state signals strong disapproval of North Korea’s international provocations, but China and fellow U.N. Security Council member Russia have also opposed some of the toughest economic measures that could be applied, such as banking restrictions that would affect Chinese and other financial institutions.“We continue to call on all responsible nations to enforce and implement sanctions,” Trump said.

Trump’s announcement came as he has sought to rally international support for confronting Pyongyang during four days of meetings here at the U.N. General Assembly. In a speech to the world body Tuesday, Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the North if necessary and referred derisively to Kim as “Rocket Man.” But the president and his aides have emphasized that they are continuing to do what they can to put economic and diplomatic pressure on North Korea to avoid a military conflict.

“We don’t want war,” U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters. “At the same time, we’re not going to run scared. If for any reason North Korea attacks the United States or our allies, we’re going to respond.

The new executive order signals the U.S. willingness to take a more aggressive approach to cutting off world trade with North Korea, even if other countries such as China aren’t willing partners in sanctions because it would allow the United States to economically punish businesses anywhere in the world.

The executive order “opens the door for the U.S. to unilaterally enforce a trade embargo against North Korea,” said Joseph DeThomas, a former State Department official who focused on North Korea and Iran and is now a professor of international affairs at Pennsylvania State University. “It gives us the power to play that game if we wish to.”

In the past, Chinese officials have objected to suggestions that the United States could punish foreign companies trading with North Korea, but there are signs that China and the United States are becoming more agreeable on North Korea.

“The positive comments about China when [Trump] made the announcement indicates that there’s some good cooperation rather than confrontation,” DeThomas said.

DeThomas warned, however, that even if sanctions are adopted and enforced, the way ahead will be difficult, because North Korea may feel it has little choice, given the president’s bellicosity at the United Nations, but to proceed with its weapons program despite the pain of an embargo“If we stick with sanctions, it’s going to be a long ugly haul with lots of humanitarian costs,” DeThomas said.

“If we stick with sanctions, it’s going to be a long ugly haul with lots of humanitarian costs,” DeThomas said.A White House fact sheet said that under the executive order,

A White House fact sheet said that under the executive order, airplanes or ships that have visited North Korea will be banned for 180 days from visiting the United States, a move to crack down on illicit trade.

“This significantly expands Treasury’s authority to target those who enable this regime … wherever they are located,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said.

U.S. officials say there is still time and room for diplomacy if North Korea shows that talking could be productive. Other countries, including China and Russia, are pressing Washington to make a greater effort toward talks and an eventual bargain that could buy Kim out of his weapons without toppling his regime.

The shape of a possible deal has been evident for years, but Kim has raised the stakes, and perhaps the price, with his rapid development toward the capability to launch a nuclear-equipped intercontinental ballistic missile at U.S. territory.

Asked why North Korea might entertain such an international deal when Trump appears poised to undermine a similar one with Iran, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said a North Korea deal would be designed very differently.

“While the threat is the same — it’s nuclear weapons — the issues surrounding North Korea are very different than the issues surrounding Iran,” Tillerson said Wednesday. “Iran is a large nation, 60 million people; North Korea is a smaller nation, the hermit kingdom, living in isolation. Very different set of circumstances that would be the context and also the contours of an agreement with North Korea, many aspects of which don’t apply between the two.”

In recent weeks, the Security Council has approved two rounds of economic sanctions but also left room for further penalties. For example, the sanctions put limits on the nation’s oil imports but did not impose a full embargo, as the United States has suggested it supports. The Trump administration has signalled it also wants a full ban on the practice of sending North Korean workers abroad for payments that largely go to the government in Pyongyang.

“We are witnessing a very dangerous confrontation spiral,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said in a speech to the United Nations, filling in for President Vladimir Putin, who skipped the forum. “We resolutely condemn the nuclear missile adventures of Pyongyang in violation of Security Council resolutions. But military hysteria is not just an impasse; it’s disaster … There is no alternative to political and diplomatic ways of settling the nuclear situation on the Korean Peninsula.”

Mnuchin emphasized that “this action is in no way specifically directed at China,” and he said he called Chinese officials to inform them ahead of the U.S. announcement.

Mnuchin also said the unilateral U.S. action is not a rejection of separate Security Council sanctions and the international diplomacy they require. Similar to unilateral U.S. sanctions on Iran applied during the Obama administration, the new U.S. restrictions seek to leverage the power of the U.S. financial system.

“Foreign financial institutions are now on notice that going forward, they can choose to do business with the United States or with North Korea, but not both,” Mnuchin said.

Sitting down with South Korean President Moon Jae-in before the trilateral discussion with Japan, Trump said the nations are “making a lot of progress.”

Moon praised Trump’s speech to the United Nations, saying through a translator that “North Korea has continued to make provocations and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.”

The Security Council had also applied tough new export penalties in August, and Tillerson said Wednesday that there are signs those restrictions are having an economic effect.

“We have some indications that there are beginning to appear evidence of fuel shortages,” Tillerson said in a briefing for reporters. “And look, we knew that these sanctions were going to take some time to be felt because we knew the North Koreans … had basically stockpiled a lot of inventory early in the year when they saw the new administration coming in, in anticipation of things perhaps changing. So I think what we’re seeing is a combined effect of these inventories are now being exhausted and the supply coming in has been reduced.”

There is no sign, however, that economic penalties are having any effect on the behaviour of the Kim regime and its calculation that nuclear tests and other provocations will ensure its protection or raise the price of any eventual settlement with the United States and other nations.

Trump said the United States had been working on the North Korea problem for 25 years, but he asserted that previous administrations had “done nothing, which is why we are in the problem we are in today.”

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North Korea’s Display Of New Missiles Is Worrying-Analysts

Anna Fifield

 

TOKYO — North Korea put on a huge military spectacle Saturday to celebrate its founder’s birthday, parading its series of new and technologically advanced missiles in front of Kim Jong Un, and in a defiant show of force in front of the world.

North Korea did not, however, carry out another nuclear test or ballistic missile launch, against widespread speculation that it would seek to celebrate Kim Il Sung’s 105th birthday with a bang.

April 15 is the most important day in the North Korean calendar, and Kim Jong Un has celebrated his grandfather’s birthday with great fanfare as a way to boost his own legitimacy as the successor to the communist dynasty.

North Korea presented two of its newest model missiles at the parade in Kim Il Sung Square on Saturday, including the submarine-launched ballistic type it successfully fired last year and the land-based version it launched last month.

“And there were a lot of them,” said Melissa Hanham, an expert at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in California. “The signal that they’re trying to send is that they are moving ahead with solid-fuel missiles.”

North Korea has been working on solid fuel — which, unlike liquid fuel, can be preloaded into missiles — as a way to fire missiles quickly to avoid prior detection by satellites.

Analysts were working to identify all the missiles that were shown off on Saturday, many of which appeared to have new paint jobs or be variants of known missiles.

One of the missiles looked similar to the KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea had included in previous parades. This missile has a theoretical range of about 7,500 miles, which is enough to reach all of the United States from North Korea, said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Nonproliferation Review.

It also put two ICBM canisters, which protect solid-fueled missiles from the effects of the environment, on the trucks that had carried the ICBMs previously. One may have been a KN-14, another missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, although it has a slightly shorter range.

The trucks that carried the missile canisters were Chinese ones that have been exported to North Korea’s Forestry Ministry but have shown up in military parades like this one.

Saturday’s display was worrying, Hanham said.

“They have an indigenous tank system now, so they have more launchers, and they have solid fuel, which means they can launch a lot more of these things in quick succession without having to refuel,” she said.

The overall message to the world was that North Korea was pressing ahead with its missiles and making technological progress.

The parade took place amid stern warnings from the outside world and mounting fears about some kind of military action in the region. China has been particularly vocal in warning both sides to remain calm.

The United States has sent an aircraft carrier strike group to the Korean Peninsula region, and President Trump has repeatedly tweeted that if China will not use its leverage to rein in North Korea, the United States will act.

Vice President Pence arrives in Seoul on Sunday on the first leg of an Asia tour, and he will underscore Washington’s strong alliances with South Korea and Japan and its determination to stop North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

Trump administration officials describe the situation as more dangerous than in the past, because of the progress North Korea has made in its nuclear weapon and missile programs and because of the hostility on both sides. But U.S. officials said no decision has been made about how to respond to any new test — nuclear or ballistic — by North Korea.

A North Korean navy truck carries the 'Pukkuksong' submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country's founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15, 2017.© REUTERS/Damir Sagolj A North Korean navy truck carries the ‘Pukkuksong’ submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) during a military parade marking the 105th birth anniversary of country’s founding father, Kim Il Sung in Pyongyang, April 15…

 

While officials do not rule out other actions, they also stress their desire to ensure that the situation does not escalate out of control. Pentagon officials denied recent media reports that the Trump administration is ready to launch a preemptive strike if North Korea appears to be about to conduct a nuclear test.

North Korea has a habit of fueling tensions to increase the rewards it might extract from the outside world if it desists. Previously, the North has agreed to return to denuclearization talks in return for aid or the easing of sanctions.

But with his approach, Trump is tearing up the old playbook of how to deal with North Korea, analysts said.

“This approach to North Korea is relatively new,” said James Kim of the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul. “The approach in the past has been very calculated.”

That has gone out the window with talk about military options, he said. “We always knew all these options were there, but no one was bold enough to go down that path. It’s a new approach.”

Right now, Trump has some cards to play, said Kim of the Asan Institute.

“He might say: ‘If you want one less battleship in the region, what are you going to give me?’ ” he said — a reversal of the usual situation, in which North Korea asks what it can get from its adversaries in return for changing its behavior.  (The Washington Post)

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Malaysia Arrests North Korean In Kim Jong-Nam Killing

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Malaysian police said Saturday they had arrested a North Korean man over the assassination of Kim Jong-Un’s brother, as relations between Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur nosedived in a battle for his body.

A 46-year-old was arrested on Friday evening with documents that identified him as North Korean citizen Ri Jong Chol, a police statement said, making him the first person from the North to be detained over the case.

Kim Jong-Nam died after an unidentified liquid was sprayed in his face at Kuala Lumpur international airport on Monday, in an attack Seoul says was carried out by female agents on the orders of Pyongyang.

Local officers have already arrested a woman with a Vietnamese passport and a Malaysian man, as well as an Indonesian woman who foreign police said could have got involved in the murder thinking it was a reality TV prank.

Jong-Nam’s body has been held in a Kuala Lumpur morgue since an autopsy on Wednesday, the results of which could take up to two weeks to come through, Malaysia’s health minister told AFP.

After Malaysia ignored demands to return the remains, Pyongyang accused Kuala Lumpur of conspiring with its enemies and said it would reject whatever results came from the post-mortem.

“The Malaysian side forced the post-mortem without our permission and witnessing. We will categorically reject the result of the post-mortem conducted unilaterally excluding our attendance,” the North Korean ambassador told reporters gathered outside the morgue on Friday.

Ambassador Kang Chol’s comments were the first official remarks from the country since the killing, while North Korean state media has remained silent on the murder.

The ambassador said he had met Malaysian police, demanding the release of the body without success, according to an English-language transcript of his speech.

“They are colluding with the hostile forces towards us who are desperate to harm us of malice,” the transcript said, suggesting South Korea was trying to defame the North in a bid to distract from a corruption scandal at home.

Malaysia’s top health official told AFP Saturday that the government was “not bothered” by the complaint and that Pyongyang would have to wait as long as it took for the autopsy report to be published.

“Normally it will take about two weeks to find out what was the cause of death…Until we find something conclusive we will not be able to release the report,” S. Subramaniam said.

– A ‘TV show prank’ –

Pyongyang and Kuala Lumpur had enjoyed warm ties until the assassination, with a reciprocal visa-free deal for visitors — an unusual proposition for the reclusive North.

Before the arrest of the North Korean, detectives had detained a 25-year-old Indonesian woman named Siti Aishah and her Malaysian boyfriend, along with a woman carrying a Vietnamese passport that identified her as Doan Thi Huong, 28.

Indonesian Police Chief Tito Karnavian said he had information from Malaysia that Aishah was tricked into thinking she was simply taking part in pranks for a TV show like “Just For Laughs”.

“Probably she was just used — she did not realise it was an assassination attempt,” he was quoted as saying in local media.

The drama erupted on Monday morning as Jong-Nam prepared to board a plane to Macau. Malaysian police say the 45-year-old was jumped by two women who squirted a liquid in his face.

Jong-Nam told staff he was suffering from a headache and was taken to the airport clinic grimacing in pain, according to Malaysian media citing CCTV footage from the airport.

He was once thought to be the natural successor to his father, but on Kim Jong-Il’s death in 2011 the succession went to Kim Jong-Un, who was born to the former leader’s third wife.

Reports of purges and executions have emerged from the current regime as Jong-Un tries to strengthen his grip on power in the face of international pressure over nuclear and missile programmes.

South Korea has cited a “standing order” from Jong-Un to kill his sibling and a failed assassination bid in 2012 after he criticised the regime.

AFP

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