‘Trump’s stance toward North Korea goes from one extreme to another’

The US is trying to use its influence to make a problem that has been around for 60 years and to provoke a reaction from North Korea before the possible return to the 'Sunshine Policy', says Daniel McAdams, executive director at Ron Paul Institute.

China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang has urged the US and North Korea to “remain calm and exercise restraint.” He also called the situation between the two countries "highly complex" and sensitive.

This comes as tension continues to flare between the two with seemingly empty threats and shows of strength being traded.

RT spoke with executive director at the Ron Paul Institute, Daniel McAdams who suggests the motives behind the posturing are hard to comprehend which is perhaps the desired effect. 

“The fact of the matter is that there have been a couple of tests in recent weeks that the US has made with intercontinental ballistic missiles. You can’t help but suspect that there is a message involved in these tests,” he told RT.

In his opinion, “President [Trump] has gone from one extreme to the other saying ‘something very bad may happen soon’ to ‘why not have Kim Jong-Un come over to the White House and have a talk’. Maybe the intent is to keep North Korea off guard. Maybe it is to have them think that Washington also has strange and unstable leader - it is hard to tell.”

McAdams continued saying that the US is trying “to use intimidation. It is also trying to get China do its bidding.”

He further claims “China has limited influence over North Korea. There is an enormous amount of downside to both China and Russia if the North Korean government implodes, if society implodes, if the economy further implodes.”

“But I do think the US government is trying to use its influence, is trying to for some reason to make a problem that has been in existence for some 60 years plus. All of a sudden now it is an urgent problem that needs to be immediately addressed. I think this is a created crisis in Washington DC and it makes very little sense,” he said.

According to McAdams, “the US military exercises along with Japan and South Korea are meant to send a signal to North Korea as well.”

In his opinion, America’s joint military exercises with Japan and South Korea are meant to send a signal to Pyongyang.

“They have a very strong effect, as the US would feel if hostile neighbors would conduct military exercises in our backyard, we would feel intimidated. I think there is also an element of South Korean politics involved as well,” McAdams said, adding that South Korea is in a sort of a lame duck period ahead of the presidential election on May 9.

“The next presidential election is set to favor Moon Jae-in who has taken a much more nuanced approach to US foreign policy. He has explicitly warned the US not to get involved South Korea’s democracy and elections. He may be a tougher nut for Washington to crack,” he added.

McAdams suggested that “may explain why Washington in this interim is putting in the THAAD missiles, is accelerating the military presence, is moving ships closer to North Korea trying to perhaps provoke a reaction before things may have to cool down and back down, perhaps even return to the Sunshine Policy which wasn’t all that bad.”

The statements, views and opinions expressed in this column are solely those of the author and do not necessarily represent those of RT.

 

‘Vicious plot’: Pyongyang claims CIA planning biochem attack against Kim Jong-un

A terrorist cell supported by the CIA and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service is plotting to kill North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a “biochemical” attack, Pyongyang has claimed.

The cell has “infiltrated” North Korea but the Ministry of State Security will “ferret out and mercilessly destroy to the last one the terrorists of the US CIA,” the ministry said, as cited by the state’s KCNA news agency.

Pyongyang identified one of the people involved in the “vicious plot” as “Kim,” a timber worker who was allegedly bribed by the CIA while working in Russia in June 2014.

 
A man chants slogans during an anti-North Korea rally in central Seoul, South Korea, February 11, 2016. © Kim Hong-Ji

Kim was said to have received over $20,000 from South Korean agents on two occasions and reportedly planned to attack the North Korean leadership during a public event in Pyongyang. The cell allegedly planned to use an unspecified poison.

“[The intelligence agents] told him that assassination by use of biochemical substances including radioactive substance and nano poisonous substance is the best method that does not require access to the target, their lethal results will appear after six or twelve months,” the report said.

“[A North] Korean-style anti-terrorist attack will be commenced from this moment to sweep away the intelligence and plot-breeding organizations of the US imperialists and the puppet clique,” the ministry statement warned.

The report did not provide any evidence of the alleged plot.

An assassination of Kim Jong-un and other senior government officials in Pyongyang is reportedly part of Seoul’s contingency plans for a possible major military confrontation between the two Koreas. The US is said to be lending its expertise to the plan.

READ MORE: Pyongyang angers Seoul with simulated raid on S. Korea’s presidential palace

The North Korean military has trained for a commando raid on the South Korean presidential palace, the Blue House. Such an attack would be the second, after the infamous 1968 siege of the residence.

The accusations from Pyongyang come amid a period of high tension in the region, as the Trump administration appears to be stepping up the pressure in response to the latest missile tests by North Korea.

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US successfully launches second Minuteman III ballistic missile in 7 days (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

An unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has been launched from a US Air Force base in California just seven days after the first launch.

The three-stage ICBM blasted off from Vandenberg Air Force Base at 07:02GMT Wednesday. It travelled around 4,200 miles to a test range near the Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands.

GT-222GM Minuteman III Launch

The test of the Minuteman III missile follows a similar launch on April 26 from North Vandenberg Air Force Base. The move comes amid rapidly growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, although the mission was planned “over the past 10 months,” according to the 30th Space Wing, which conducted the test.

The Minuteman III tests are aimed “to validate and verify the effectiveness, readiness and accuracy of the weapon system” according to Air Force Global Strike Command.

“These ICBM test launches verify the accuracy and reliability of the weapon system, providing valuable data to ensure a safe, secure and effective nuclear deterrent,” the 30th Space Wing stated.

READ MORE: US launches Minuteman III ICBM to show ‘nuclear capabilities’ amid N. Korea tensions

The US military denied that the previous operational test had anything to do with tensions with North Korea. A spokeswoman for the Air Force Global Strike Command stated that the missions are carried out regularly and are planned in advance, according to the Washington Examiner. 

One of the tests of the same ICBM was previously described as a signal for the US enemies.

“The Simulated Electronic Launch of a Minuteman III ICBM is a signal to the American people, our allies, and our adversaries that our ICBM capability is safe, secure, lethal and ready,” the 625th Strategic Operations Squadron commander, Lt. Col. Deane Konowicz, said in a statement following a successful simulated electronic firing on April 11.

The Minuteman III nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile is one of the pillars of the US air-land-sea triad, which also includes the Ohio-class submarine and the B-52 strategic bomber.

The ICBM was initially deployed in 1970 and its useful lifespan ends in 13 years. Over the next 30 years Washington is planning to spend $1 trillion on a massive modernization program for the weapons.

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N. Korea vows to bolster its nuclear arsenal ‘at maximum speed’

North Korea has promised to bolster its nuclear arsenal “at the maximum pace,” while blaming America for bringing the region to a brink of a nuclear war with “aggressive” joint US-S. Korea drills.

On Monday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry branded the US “the chieftain of aggression and war, and harasser of peace who is escalating tension.”

 
© RT

While the confrontation “between the DPRK and the US has lasted for more than half a century… the US aggression hysteria has never reached such a height and the situation on the Korean peninsula has never inched close to the brink of nuclear war as in the period of the recent drills,” a spokesman for the country’s Foreign Ministry said, as quoted by official North Korean news agency KCNA.

“Now that the US is kicking up the overall racket for sanctions and pressure against the DPRK, pursuant to its new DPRK policy called ‘maximum pressure and engagement,’ the DPRK will speed up at the maximum pace the measure for bolstering its nuclear deterrence,” the statement reads.

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry praised its country’s “powerful nuclear force,” which said is the only thing preventing the US from committing “the same brigandish aggression act in Korea as what it committed against other countries.” Meanwhile, the North’s two most recent missile tests ended in failure, according to the US and South Korean militaries, which track such activities.

The new comments come as the US is mulling the possibility of renegotiating the cost of stationing its THAAD anti-missile systems in South Korea, for which Washington is currently footing the bill.

US-South Korea relations were overshadowed by comments President Donald Trump made during an exclusive interview with Reuters last week, when he suggested that South Korea should pick up the $1 billion tab for the THAAD deployment that has greatly contributed to the current escalation in tensions on the Korean peninsula.

READ MORE: ‘Destabilizing factor’: Russia urges US, S. Korea to reconsider THAAD anti-missiles deployment

“I informed South Korea it would be appropriate if they paid. It’s a billion-dollar system,” said Trump.

“It’s phenomenal, shoots missiles right out of the sky,” he added.

 
A Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptor (R) is seen in Seongju, South Korea, April 26, 2017 ©  Lee Jong-hyeon

While Trump’s suggestion is in line with his electoral promises to make US allies pay for Washington’s protection, it met with firm rejection in South Korea, which flatly denied there was any possibility it would pay for the system.

South Korean media then reported that US National Security Advisor H.R. McMaster had called his counterpart, Kim Kwan-jin, allegedly to assure him that the US would fork out for the THAAD system. However, McMaster denied “contradicting the president” when speaking on Fox News Sunday.

“The last thing I would ever do is contradict the president of the United States, you know? And that’s not what it was. In fact, what I told our South Korean counterpart is, until any renegotiation, that the deal is in place. We’ll adhere to our word,” McMaster said.

This new comment caused another round of harsh blowback from South Korea, as the country’s Defense Ministry insisted that the THAAD deal won’t be renegotiated, as it is part of the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA), which regulates the stationing of the US’ whole military contingent in the South.

“The issue of funding for THAAD is part of an agreement reached between South Korea and the United States, and is stipulated in the agreement on the status of US forces in South Korea,” Minister of National Defense Moon Sang-gyun said, as quoted by Yonhap news agency.

“Our view is that it can’t be an issue for renegotiation,” he added.

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‘Riskier than striking Syria’: Beijing warns US against attacking North Korea

China has warned the US against using military force against North Korea, after a surprise redeployment of an aircraft carrier group. Washington’s regional allies said they expect it to consult with them before any action.

Tension is mounting in the region as US President Donald Trump said he would solve the “North Korean problem” with or without China’s help. The warning came amid the diversion of the aircraft carrier group ‘USS Carl Vinson’ to the Korean Peninsula and a week after Trump ordered the US Navy to fire a barrage of 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airbase as punishment for an alleged chemical attack in Idlib province.

 
FILE PHOTO: The aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. © U.S. Navy Photo

Responding to US belligerence, Beijing called against using force against Pyongyang.

“Military force cannot resolve the issue,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing. “Amid challenge there is opportunity. Amid tensions we will also find a kind of opportunity to return to talks.”

An editorial in the influential newspaper Global Times, which is published by the Chinese Communist Party’ People’s Daily, said the situation on the Korean Peninsula could not be compared to that of Syria.

“Taking military actions against North Korea is much more risky than launching a missile strike on Syria. Pyongyang is able to deal a heavy blow to South Korea. Regardless of Pyongyang's nuclear capability, a radiological dispersal device, or a ‘dirty bomb,’ if thrown on the South, will cause nuclear pollution, which will be unbearable to this US ally,” the newspaper warned.

The paper said Washington needs to accept the reality that it “has no power to put global affairs in order at the moment” and work with other leading world powers on the Korean situation through the UN Security Council, a body that the US has shun by the unilateral attack against Syria.

US allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, have both asked Washington to consult with them before taking military action against Pyongyang. Both countries station thousands of US troops on their territories.

The escalation comes as North Korea prepares to celebrate the birthday of its late leader Kim Il-sung on Saturday, which is a state holiday called ‘Day of the Sun’. Pyongyang has a record of timing demonstrations of military strength to the date, as many observers say it might to so this year to test Trump’s resolve.

A Washington-based think tank, 38 North, claimed on Wednesday that satellite images of the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site indicated an imminent new test. South Korean officials disagreed, saying no new activities were evident, but added that a sixth test may be conducted at any time.

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Lavrov: US antimissile deployment in Asia-Pacific ‘disproportionate’ to Pyongyang threat

South Korea’s decision to deploy the THAAD antimissile system from the US is disproportionate to the threat posed by North Korea, which was voiced as justification by both Seoul and Washington, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said.

“We have drawn attention to the serious risks posed by the deployment of the US global antiballistic missile system in Asia-Pacific,” Lavrov said after meeting his Japanese counterpart Fumio Kishida in Moscow. The two ministers met alongside their respective military colleagues, Russian Defense Minister Sergey Shoigu and Japanese Defense Minister Tomomi Inada.

 
Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) interceptors arrive at Osan Air Base in Pyeongtaek, South Korea © USFK

“We have voiced our assessments, according to which, if one wants to deal with threats posed by DPRK, the creation of such ABM system as well as pumping weapons into the region are a response far from proportionate,” Lavrov said.

He added that both Moscow and Tokyo condemn Pyongyang’s violation of resolutions of the UN Security Council restricting its missile and nuclear development. Russia believes that international sanctions imposed against North Korea for defying the council “should not be perceived as an instrument of punishment, but rather a stimulus for steering the situation back into political and negotiations track.”

South Korea decided to deploy the THAAD system, due to be fully operational by August, saying it was necessary to protect from a possible missile attack by North Korea. The deployment angered China, which believes that the American system compromises its national security. Beijing is reportedly retaliating against Seoul with a round of economic measures, hitting Korean tourism and export to China.

Russia has similar concerns over the US deployment of ABM shield in Eastern Europe. Washington claims the system is needed to protect European NATO members from an attack by Iran and has brushed aside criticism from Moscow.

 

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N. Korea threatens ‘merciless’ strikes as US, S. Korea & Japan hold joint drills

North Korea has warned that it will launch “merciless” strikes if the US strike group that arrived for two days of trilateral drills with South Korea and Japan infringes on Pyongyang’s “sovereignty and dignity.”

© US Army

“If they infringe on the DPRK’s [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s] sovereignty and dignity even a bit, its army will launch merciless ultra-precision strikes from ground, air, sea, and underwater,” said the North’s state news agency, KCNA, as cited by Reuters.

Pyongyang pointed out that “many enemy carrier-based aircraft flew along a course near territorial air and waters of the DPRK to stage drills of dropping bombs and making surprise attacks on the ground targets of its army.”

North Korea has been steadily pounding the South and the US with strong rhetoric. KCNA reported on Monday that “if even a single shell is fired into the territory in which the sovereignty of the DPRK is exercised, the bases of aggression and provocation will be reduced to such debris that no living thing can be found.”

“The US should properly understand that its slightest misjudgment about the DPRK will lead it to final doom,” the agency added.

The latest statement comes as, on Tuesday, US, Japanese, and South Korean Navy forces kicked off joint two-day drills to the east of the Korean peninsula and north of Japan with the participation of Arleigh Burke-class guided-missile destroyer USS Curtis Wilbur (DDG 54) , South Korean Sejong the Great (DDG- 991), and Japanese Kirishima (DDG-174) missile destroyers.

The exercises are being billed as “promoting communications, interoperability, and partnership in the 7th Fleet area of operations.”

“The exercise will employ tactical data link systems to trade communications, intelligence and other data among the ships in the exercise. It will allow participants to enhance tactical capabilities, increase self-defense, strengthen partnerships, and improved situational awareness,” the US navy said in a statement.

Pyongyang launched four missiles to show their discontent with the war games on March 5.

Tensions with the North were also exacerbated when America’s ambassador to the UN said that the US’ new administration is reviewing its Korea strategy, stressing that “all options are on the table.

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