North Korea is believed to be preparing to launch another ballistic missile in retaliation for an upcoming joint naval drill by the US and South Korea, it emerged today.
The US Navy said on Friday that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier will lead the drill in the coming week, as another show of force against dictator Kim Jong-un’s ongoing nuclear and weapons programme.
A riled Pyongyang immediately renewed its threat to fire missiles at the US Pacific territory of Guam, warning that “reckless moves” by the US would compel it to take action.
North Korea first threatened Guam in August after US President Donald Trump warned the pariah regime would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen”. Kim backed down temporarily but said he would watch for US provocation. Tensions have only escalated since.
A fresh missile test may also be on the cards. The Donga Ilbo daily, citing a government source, reported on Saturday that satellite images showed ballistic missiles mounted on launchers being transported out of hangars near Pyongyang and in the North Pyongan Province.
The source said US military officials believe the move could indicate preparation for a test launch of a missile comparable to the Hwasong-14 inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) or Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM).
Another probability could be the testing of the new Hwasong-13 ICBM (solid engine) that has a longer maximum range than the Hwasong-14.
Initially, it was expected that North Korea would carry out a provocative test last Tuesday, to mark the anniversary of its ruling party’s foundation.
However, speculation is now rising that the deployment of the US carrier strike group and nuclear-powered submarine to the Korean Peninsula may provide a fresh trigger for action.
“The North may carry out a simultaneous launch of ICBM and IRBM within a few days, in protest against the US’s show of military might,” a source told the Donga Ilbo.
The USS Ronald Reagan will conduct the ten-day joint drills in waters east and west of South Korea. Starting on Monday, the exercise will check the allies “communications interoperability and partnership,” the US Navy’s 7th fleet said in a statement.
As many as 40 navy vessels, including the Aegis destroyer and attack helicopters, will be deployed.
Meanwhile, the USS Michigan, an 18,000-metric ton submarine, which arrived in the South Korean port of Busan on Friday, is also expected to join the exercise.
Although Washington and Seoul insist that regular joint drills are defensive in nature, North Korea considers them to be rehearsals for an invasion and has lashed out with weapons tests in the past.
The deployment comes at a time of heightened tension between the US and North Korea, with both President Trump and Kim Jong-un trading regular insults.
“The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the trigger for taking the toughest countermeasure,” said a North Korean foreign ministry official, reported by state-run news agency KCNA on Friday. (The Telegraph)
Britain is reportedly preparing for the possibility of war breaking out with North Korea as concerns rise that another provocative missile test could trigger a military response by the US.
North Korea is being closely watched amid fears it could launch another long-range missile test on Tuesday to mark the anniversary of the founding of its ruling party.
Bellicose rhetoric from Donald Trump has heightened tensions in the region in recent months, prompting British officials to draw up military plans for a response to a break out of hostilities, it was reported.
Among the plans disclosed by the Daily Mail is the deployment of the Navy’s newest aircraft carrier, HMS Queen Elizabeth, before it has undergone flight trials.
“We have plenty of ships to send… the Type-45 destroyers, the Type-23 frigates. Britain’s new aircraft carrier could be pressed into service early if things turn south,” a senior Whitehall source told the newspaper
HMS Queen Elizabeth, which arrived at its home in Portsmouth in August after extensive sea trials, is not due to enter service until 2020.
The possible move to deploy it ahead of schedule drew comparisons with the start of the Falklands War.
“In the Falklands, we had to react to an event and HMS Illustrious was accelerated to respond,” a Navy source told the Mail.
“This was a reaction to protect British territory, however. In this case [North Korea], the UK would be part of a united global coalition. We would see what support we could give.”
The US president hinted on Saturday at taking military action against Kim Jong-un’s regime, saying “only one thing will work” in dealing with the country.
Presidents and their administrations have been talking to North Korea for 25 years, agreements made and massive amounts of money paid……
The president has previously said the United States would “totally destroy” North Korea if necessary to protect itself and its allies from Pyongyang’s nuclear threats.
Sir Michael Fallon, the Defence Secretary, said last week that the UK should increase its military spending in the face of growing threats from states such as North Korea.
Last month, Sir Michael told the BBC that Britain was at risk from Pyongyang’’s long-range nuclear missile programme.
“The US is fully entitled to defend its own territory, to defend its bases and to look after its people, but this involves us, London is closer to North Korea and its missiles than Los Angeles,” he said. (Telegraph)
And after more than a decade flying unchallenged over Afghanistan and Iraq, most American pilots won’t have much experience evading a North Korean anti-aircraft missile, increasing the likelihood they’d get shot down.
Their unguided gravity bombs would be notoriously inaccurate, increasing the probability they’d miss their targets and cause collateral damage. Meanwhile, it could take as long as a year before stocks of smart bombs and missiles could be replenished, prolonging the fighting.
In such a scenario, North Korea could be expected to unleash artillery and missile barrages against Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The city and its suburbs have a population of 25 million.
Seoul lies only 35 miles south of the demilitarized zone separating the two Koreas, according to retired Lieutenant Colonel Daniel L. Davis, a military analyst with Defense Priorities, a think tank in the Washington, D.C., area that focuses on national security issues. According to some estimates, the death toll from such a war could reach 1 million, assuming neither side escalates the conflict and uses nuclear weapons.
Pentagon planners must wrestle with this scenario as President Donald Trump continues to trade threats and personal insults with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un over Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.
Many U.S. officials fear this sparring could lead to an otherwise avoidable war. On Sunday, Trump appeared to undercut Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s latest effort to reach out directly to North Korea to defuse the situation, tweeting that Tillerson was “wasting his time” negotiating with North Korea and again mocking Kim, calling him “Little Rocket Man.”
During a visit to Beijing on Saturday, Tillerson disclosed that the Trump administration was in direct contact with North Korea. “We can talk to them,” he told reporters. “We do talk to them.” Asked if China, a close ally of North Korea, was acting as the intermediary for these communications, Tillerson said, “We have our own channels.”
Later, State Department spokeswoman Heather Nauert issued a statement saying, “North Korean officials have shown no indication that they are interested in or ready for talks regarding denuclearization.”
In September, after the North tested what it said was a hydrogen bomb and missiles that could reach the U.S., Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, calling Kim “Little Rocket Man” for the first time.
Pyongyang responded by calling Trump a “mentally deranged dotard,” an outdated term for a senile old fool, and threatened to test another hydrogen bomb over the Pacific Ocean, which would spread radioactivity into the air. The North also said it had the right to shoot down U.S. warplanes in international airspace.
This is not the first time the U.S. has come to the brink of war with North Korea. In 1994, on the orders of President Bill Clinton, the U.S. military drew up plans to send cruise missiles and stealth bombers to take out a small nuclear reactor at Yongbyon to prevent North Korea from recovering spent fuel and enriching it to weapons-grade uranium.
Although the Pentagon was convinced such an attack could destroy the Yongbyon reactor with little risk of spreading radiation, Clinton ultimately rejected the military option, believing an attack would spark an all-out war. Instead, he opted to seek tougher United Nations sanctions against Pyongyang.
Today, with Trump kneecapping Tillerson’s diplomatic efforts, the threat of war seems more urgent. In September, Defense Secretary James Mattis urged Pyongyang to stop its nuclear and ballistic missile testing. He also warned the U.S. would destroy North Korea if it launched a nuclear attack on the U.S. or its allies. “We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so,” Mattis said.
Presumably, he was referring to the various way the U.S. could respond with its own nuclear weapons. But the Pentagon also has military options that fall short of such apocalyptic scenarios. In the event of a conventional North Korean missile attack on America’s regional allies, the Pentagon is considering using missile defence batteries in South Korea, Japan and aboard U.S. Navy ships, although experts have questioned their effectiveness against North Korea’s high-flying missiles.
U.S. intelligence agencies are also exploring ways to use cyberweapons to sabotage Pyongyang’s nuclear program, much as the U.S. and Israel reportedly used the Stuxnet virus to set back the Iranian one in 2010.
If U.S. intelligence detects preparations for an atmospheric nuclear test, another option would be an airstrike against the country’s missile-launching sites. Such an attack would involve the use precision-guided munitions—the laser-, radar-, thermal- and GPS-guided smart bombs and missiles that have become the weapons of choice for the U.S. military because of their accuracy.
But the Pentagon is struggling with a shortage of these weapons partly because of the accelerated pace of their use in the air campaign against the Islamic State group in Iraq and Syria. U.S. officials won’t comment on the record about how the munitions shortage would affect the Air Force’s ability to carry out any air war against North Korea. But others, speaking anonymously to discuss such sensitive issues, say if such a conflict erupted, the impact of the shortage soon would become evident. “We would likely very quickly exhaust stockpiles of all different kinds of precision-guided munitions and slip back into the use of dumb gravity bombs,” a congressional expert on munitions says.
Asked if Pacific commanders would run through their smart bomb and missile stocks in less than a week, this expert adds: “It wouldn’t surprise me at all, because, first, we shifted a lot of our PGM [precision-guided munition] stocks to places where we’re actively dropping them right now, and second, there’s just not that many. And all of a sudden, you’re going to find yourself without that stuff.” Several other analysts agree with this assessment.
Not everyone, however, thinks a smart bomb shortage is imminent. A recently retired senior Air Force officer, who also spoke on the condition of anonymity to address the smart bomb shortage, questions whether Pacific commanders would run out of the munitions in only a week. “I don’t know whether that’s true or not,” the retired officer says. “We have the capability to move weapons from where they are to where we need them.”
But in recent public appearances, Air Force Secretary Heather Wilson has been speaking out with growing urgency about the shortage of smart bombs and missiles. In Iraq and Syria, U.S. warplanes are now running through 100 to 200 of these munitions every day, Wilson told a Washington defence conference on September 27. “But we are not replacing those weapons at the same rate,” she said.
To maintain the pace of the strikes, the Pentagon has been forced to draw smart bombs and missiles from other regional commands around the globe, leaving their stockpiles depleted. Since the air campaign against ISIS began in August 2014, U.S. warplanes have used more than 54,000 smart bombs and missiles. “When it comes to [smart] munitions,” said Wilson, a former Air Force officer who has served in Congress, “we are stretched.”
The military has seen this problem coming for a while. In its 2018 budget request, the Pentagon proposed doubling production of Lockheed Martin’s Hellfire missile, from about 1,500 in 2017 to 3,600 in 2018, and boosting production of the Boeing and Raytheon versions of the Small Diameter Bomb, from 4,500 in 2017 to more than 7,300 in 2018. The 250-pound bombs, which use variations of the laser, radar, GPS and infrared systems to guide them to their targets, are commonly used against ISIS.
The main reason for the smart bomb shortage, Wilson said, is the dysfunction of Congress. Over the past few years, lawmakers have been paralyzed by partisan bickering and unable to pass a budget. Instead, Congress has signed off on a series of temporary spending measures that have frozen government funding at lower levels. The latest was a continuing resolution Trump signed on September 8 that funds the Pentagon for the first three months of fiscal 2018, which started on October 1, at 2017 levels.
What defence firms need, Wilson argued, is a budget certainty to make the investments needed to boost production. Still, assuming a budget is in place, a 2016 Pentagon report says defence industries would need at least a year to ramp up munitions production to alleviate the shortage.
If Trump’s latest tweets are any indication, however, he appears ready to escalate the confrontation with North Korea. Even if his top commanders and diplomats would prefer more time—and prudence. (Source: Newsweek)
LVMPD warned people, not to Livestream or share tactical positions of officers on the scene which may put them in danger following the shooting.
The mayor of Las Vegas, Carolyn Goodman, tweeted her thanks to emergency crews who raced to the area, writing: “Pray for Las Vegas.
“Thank you to all our first responders out there now.”
The Mandalay Bay, meanwhile, posted: “Our thoughts & prayers are with the victims of last night’s tragic events.
“We’re grateful for the immediate actions of our first responders.”
Were there other shootings in the area?
As panic broke out at the music festival, there were rumours of other shootings in the area. However, police have since said these reports were false.Shortly after the incident, officers told people to stay clear of the Luxor resort after a ‘black Audi with wires sticking out’ was spotted.
There were also reports of shots being fired at the Hakkasan nightclub, while the Bellagio was evacuated amid reports of a gunman with a rifle.
Cops later confirmed claims of other shootings were not true.
A gunman on the 32nd floor of a Las Vegas Strip casino opened fire at an outdoor music festival, killing at least 50 people — including two off-duty police officers — and wounding 200, officials said early Monday.
Country music star Jason Aldean was performing when the shots began ringing out Sunday night at the Route 91 Harvest Festival.
Thousands fled as bursts of gunfire could be heard for more than five minutes, Yazzie said.
Jose Baggett, 31, a Las Vegas resident, said he and a friend were in the lobby of the Luxor hotel-casino — directly north of the festival — when people began running. He said people were crying and as he and his friend walked away, they encountered police checkpoints where officers were carrying shotguns and assault rifles.
“There were armoured personnel vehicles, SWAT vehicles, ambulances, and at least a half-mile of police cars,” Baggett said.
The United States (U.S.) yesterday urged Nigeria to look beyond a military option in resolving internal conflicts.
The appeal was made under the auspices of the United States Institute of Peace (USIP) in Washington DC when the agency convened a gathering of U.S. officials, diplomats and Nigerian leaders.
The conference focused on “Peace in Nigeria: How to build it, and America’s role” and explored possible options beyond military operations. The symposium agreed on the need for the Nigerian government to strengthen the responsiveness of state institutions, address grievances and perceptions “before they become reality and improve accountability and transparency.”
Thomas Hushek, Acting Assistant Secretary, Bureau of Conflict and Stabilization Operations, U.S. Department of State, in his concluding remarks said “durable peace” in Nigeria “will require a painstaking dialogue.”
Apart from the 15-year Boko Haram issue in the Northeast, Nigeria’s military is grappling with widespread conflicts within the country’s borders, the most current being the second phase of its “Operation Python Dance” in the Southeast that has put soldiers in direct confrontation with the self-determinist Indigenous People of Biafra (IPOB). Military authorities have also proscribed IPOB and declared it a terrorist organisation following which they announced imminent operations in South-West and South-South regions — a decision that has drawn the ire of civil society groups and human rights activists.
Re-echoing General Martin-Luther Agwai’s introductory remarks on the centrality of the country to potential peace in Africa, Hushek describes Nigeria as a very critical U.S. partner on the continent but added that the President Muhammadu Buhari government must in its pursuit of peace first identify the options that citizens want to be implemented.
The country is warming up to charged elections in two years and the U.S. assistant secretary believes the “2019 election will be critical to Nigeria’s continued prosperity and stability.
“Achieving stability or building political peace is a political endeavour,” he said, just as he explained that responsiveness to people’s needs would “build trust and encourage durable peace.”
General Agwai, former Nigerian Chief of Army Staff and former commander of the combined United Nations-African Union peacekeeping force in Darfur, Sudan is one of the members of the Nigeria Senior Working Group that participated in the conference on peace in Nigeria. In his opening remarks, Agwai described himself as a simple old soldier humbled by the presence of the State Department and the U.S. and “privileged to stand and talk to learned people across the world about what we are doing.”
His submissions on peace in Nigeria equating peace in Africa kicked off the first panel discussion involving Pauline Baker, President Emeritus of the Fund for Peace and Senior Advisor, Creative Associates International as moderator; Yau, Yunusa Zakari, Director, Centre for Information Technology and Development, Kano, Dr. Jibrin Ibrahim, Senior Fellow, Centre for Democracy and Development – West Africa; and Ambassador Fatima Balla, former Nigerian diplomat, civil servant, and politician.
While declaring the discussion open, Baker made specific reference to agitations in the South-East and urged discussants to be informal. “We tend to look at the outside without looking at the inside,” she remarked, adding that it would be important to think about the fact that Biafra agitation still thrives many years after.
The conference agreed that “Nigeria under President Buhari has made military gains against the extremist fighters of Boko Haram” but observed that Nigeria’s varied conflicts have kept more than two million people displaced and weakened stability in the Lake Chad Basin and the Sahel region. “Peace and security will not be achieved purely through armed force,” the USIP said.
It further noted that peaceful Nigeria is vital to long-term U.S. interests as well as to a reduction in the world’s refugee crisis, and to the stability of Niger, Chad, Cameroon and other nations of the Sahel.
“Fortunately, President Buhari’s election in 2015 marked an advance for democracy as the country’s first peaceful transition of power to an opposition candidate. U.S. policy has supported his government’s campaign to push back Boko Haram.
The conference also built on what the organisers said was months of USIP-coordinated dialogues among the governors of northern states and civic leaders, including diplomats, retired civil servants, and scholars. “These dialogues join government officials and civil society in shaping more inclusive policies that can help prevent violent conflicts.”
The highlight of the event was a conversation among three of Nigeria’s most noted figures—Cardinal John Onaiyekan; Dr. Usman Bugaje, a senior advisor to the Sultan of Sokoto; and Dr. Oby Ezekwesili, a former vice president for Africa at the World Bank, a former Nigerian cabinet minister, and co-founder of the anti-corruption group Transparency International and the Bring Back Our Girls Movement.
Tensions between the United States and North Korea are now so high that war is “a real possibility” that Britain must prepare for, a respected defence think tank has warned.
Such a conflict would result in “hundreds of thousands” of casualties, severely disrupt the global economy, and have profound implications for the political and diplomatic landscape of East Asia, the report for the Royal United Services Institute said.
US bombers accompanied by fighter jets flew off the east coast of North Korea on September 23, in a show of force
“This report is not saying that war is likely. But the probability of war is an uncomfortably real prospect,” said Professor Malcolm Chalmers, who authored the report.
Tensions between North Korea and the US have escalated over the past year as Pyongyang pursues a nuclear weapons programme that it says is intended to achieve a “balance of power” with the US and deter an American-led regime change operation of the kind that toppled Saddam Hussein in Iraq and Muammar Gaddafi in Libya.
A series of missile and nuclear tests this year have left US officials concerned that Pyongyang is closer than previously thought to develop a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting America.
Donald Trump, the US president, has threatened to use military force to halt Kim Jong-un’s weapons programme.
Other senior US officials have made clear that Washington would not accept a North Korean nuclear deterrent similar to that possessed by Russia or China and that all options, including military force, would be considered to prevent it.
On Thursday, China ordered all North Korean businesses and ventures operating on its territory to close within 120 days, after the United Nations imposed fresh sanctions against Pyongyang.
China is North Korea’s main trading partner and North Korean firms operating there provide the country with a crucial source of foreign currency.
Adam Smith, a former staffer on Barack Obama’s National Security Council, warned Thursday that the US had “reached the end of its diplomatic tether” and that this round of sanctions may be the last.
“We can only hope, then, that the economic ramifications for North Korea of these sanctions will be sufficient enough to help avoid an otherwise globally destabilising conflict,” he wrote in the Daily Telegraph.
Professor Chalmers said he believed a “deterrent relationship” between the US and North Korea remained the most likely outcome of the crisis, despite the rhetoric.
But he warned war could erupt as the result of a limited preemptive US attack aimed at disrupting Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme, or a North Korean attack on South Korea, Japan, or the US.
Either scenario would likely escalate to a full-scale war culminating in a US invasion of North Korea, accompanied by a massive cyber and air campaign to destroy and disrupt communications and command and control, the report says.
What analysts believe may be a North Korean Hwasong 12 missile was seen during a military parade in Pyongyang in April
North Korea would likely launch a barrage of artillery and tactical missiles in the direction of Seoul, the South Korean capital, resulting in high civilian casualties.
Technologically superior US and South Korean forces would probably defeat North Korea’s “million men” army in pitched battle, and North’s generals would likely resort to partisan-style “asymmetric” tactics and possibly use nuclear weapons to counter that imbalance of power, the report says.
Professor Chalmers called on the British government to urge the US against considering a preventive first strike against North Korea and to consult with regional allies, including South Korea, Japan, and Australia, about how best to handle the crisis.
The warning came as North Korea escalated a war of words with the US by calling Donald Trump an “old lunatic.” In a statement, North Korea’s foreign ministry accused Mr Trump of “slander” and exploiting the memory of the dead after he said an American student who died after being held in North Korea for over a year had been tortured.
Otto Warmbier, who was arrested and imprisoned for stealing a propaganda poster while visiting the North as a tourist in January 2016, died in June this year days after he was released from custody and sent home in a mysterious coma.
Warmbier’s parents said in a television interview on Wednesday that their son was returned to the US blind, deaf, and that it looked like “someone had taken a pair of pliers and rearranged his bottom teeth”.
University of Virginia student Otto Warmbier died after more than a year in North Korean custody
Mr Trump tweeted afterwards: “Otto was tortured beyond belief by North Korea.”
North Korea has denied torturing Mr Warmbier and said it provided him with medical care.
“The fact that the old lunatic Trump and his riff-raff slandered the sacred dignity of our supreme leadership, using bogus data full of falsehood and fabrications, only serves to redouble the surging hatred of our army and people towards the U.S.,” the ministry said in a statement issued by the KCNA news agency yesterday.
An Ohio coroner on Wednesday said her office was unable to determine what caused the brain damage that led to Warmbier’s death, other than it stemmed from oxygen deprivation more than a year before his death.
“Could that have been torture at the time? We don’t know,” Dr Lakshmi Sammarco said.