All day Saturday, South Korea braced for a possible new missile test by North Korea as the provocative northern neighbor marked its founding anniversary, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test rattled global financial markets and further escalated tensions in the region. Throughout the week, South Korean officials warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of U.N. sanctions and to further provoke the US. As Reuters reports, Pyongyang marks its founding anniversary each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware. Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.
Ultimately, September 9 came and went, and North Korea did nothing, perhaps signalling its eagerness to de-escalate. Or perhaps not, and Kim is simply looking to surprise his adversaries with the ICBM launch date. Experts have said the rogue, isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something Trump has vowed to prevent.
Celebrating its founding anniversary, a front-page editorial of the Saturday edition of North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun said the country should make “more high-tech Juche weapons to continuously bring about big historical events such as a miraculous victory of July 28.”. The July date refers to the intercontinental ballistic missile test (Juche is North Korea’s homegrown ideology of self-reliance that is a mix of Marxism and extreme nationalism preached by state founder Kim Il Sung, the current leader’s grandfather).
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Meanwhile, South Korean nuclear experts, checking for contamination, said on Friday they had found minute traces of radioactive xenon gas but that it was too early to link it to Sunday’s explosion. The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said it had been conducting tests on land, air and water samples since shortly after the North Korean nuclear test on Sunday. There was no chance the xenon “will have an impact on South Korea’s territory or population”, the agency said.
What is more concerning, however, is a Friday report on NBC, according to which Trump is readying a package of diplomatic and military moves against North Korea, including cyberattacks and increased surveillance and intelligence operations, after the nation’s sixth and largest nuclear test.
Trump’s top national security advisers walked him through a range of options over lunch in the White House on Sunday, just hours after North Korea’s latest test, officials said.
According to NBC, Trump is also seriously considering adopting diplomatically risky sanctions on Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang and upgrading missile defense systems in the region, administration officials said. In addition, the administration is not ruling out moving tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea should Seoul request them, a White House official said, though many consider such a move a nonstarter. It would break with nearly three decades of U.S. policy of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
U.S. officials have also made the case to China that if Beijing doesn’t take stronger steps against North Korea, such as cutting off oil exports, South Korea and Japan are likely to pursue their own nuclear weapons programs and the U.S. won’t stop them, the official said. “It’s more a message for China than North Korea,” the official said.
The U.S. has adopted sanctions aimed at Chinese entities that conduct business with North Korea, but has so far held back on broadly targeting China’s banking system. China has told U.S. officials it would protest such a move diplomatically and retaliate, according to the senior administration official.
So what happened on Sunday? According to NBC, Trump’s national security advisers presented him with U.S. military options, including pre-emptive strikes, and nuclear capabilities should America be called on to abide by its treaty obligations in the region, White House and defense officials said.
The president’s advisers have made the case, however, that military strikes on North Korea could have serious repercussions, senior defense officials said, and the most glaring among these is that China has told administration officials that if the U.S. strikes North Korea first, Beijing would back Pyongyang, a senior military official told NBC.
This is not the first time China has warned the US not to escalate: on August 11, Beijing, through the state-owned media, cautioned the US president on Friday that it would intervene (militarily) on North Korea’s behalf if the US and South Korea launch a preemptive strike to “overthrow the North Korean regime,” according to a statement in the influential state-run newspaper Global Times.
“If the U.S. and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so,” it said.
At the same time, the Chinese regime made it clear that its preferred outcome would be a continuation of the status quo, warning Kim Jong Un, or perhaps Trump, that it would “remain neutral if North Korea were to strike first.”
As we said almost one month ago:
“not surprisingly, analysts have compared the standoff between the two nuclear powers (the North is a recent, if untested, member of this club) to a modern day Cuban Missile crisis. “This situation is beginning to develop into this generation’s Cuban Missile crisis moment,” ING’s chief Asia economist Robert Carnell said in a research note. “While the U.S. president insists on ramping up the war of words, there is a decreasing chance of any diplomatic solution.“
Since then, the potential risks, mutual threats and near-hostilities have grown exponentially. China – which is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92% of two-way trade last year, and also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime – has only dug in deeper, explaining repeatedly that it wants a peaceful de-escalation and that it would not side with the US in case of a military conflict.
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What happens next? Well, on one hand, after today’s lack of launch, there is hope that things will indeed de-escalate. A headline that just hit from Yonhap may accelerate this:
- SOUTH KOREA SEES NO SIGNS OF IMMINENT ADDITIONAL PROVOCATIONS BY NORTH KOREA THAT COULD LEAD TO ANOTHER MISSILE OR NUCLEAR TEST: YONHAP
On the other hand, what the US does next may be a sufficient provocation to force Kim to lob another ICBM. Earlier today, Reuters reported that the USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier left its home port in Japan for a routine autumn patrol of the Western Pacific, a Navy spokeswoman said. That area included “waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula.” North Korea vehemently objects to military exercises on or near the peninsula, and China and Russia have suggested the United States and South Korea halt their exercises to lower tension.
Another imminent escalation is due on Monday.
That’s when the United States told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said last Monday that she intended to call for a vote on Sept. 11 and then the United States circulated a draft resolution to the 15-member council on Wednesday.
The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad, and to subject Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
It was not immediately clear how North Korean allies China and Russia would vote, but a senior U.S. official on Friday night expressed scepticism that either nation would accept anything more stringent than a ban on imports of North Korean textiles. Chinese officials have privately expressed fears that imposing an oil embargo could risk triggering massive instability in its neighbor.
Meanwhile, tensions are also growing between China and South Korea. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy the U.S. THAAD anti-missile system, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China. Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and key suppliers slid on Friday on worries over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments. Recently Hyundai auto sales in China have crashed as local suppliers and potential customers have shied away from the company due to nationalistic prerogatives. The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumor”.
The good news, for markets, is that this Saturday’s widely anticipated ICBM launch from North Korea did not take place; the bad news is that said launch was at best delayed, and if and when it comes, the US will have to choose: do nothing again, and appears increasingly weak on the global diplomatic arena, or retaliate, and risk dragging China into the conflict, potentially precipitating the appearance of mushroom clouds around the globe.
Paul Craig Roberts Rages At Americans “Laughing All The Way To Armageddon”
Authored by Paul Craig Roberts,
The United States shows the world such a ridiculous face that the world laughs at us.
The latest spin on “Russia stole the election” is that Russia used Facebook to influence the election. The NPR women yesterday were breathless about it.
We have been subjected to ten months of propaganda about Trump/Putin election interference and still not a scrap of evidence. It is past time to ask an unasked question:
If there were evidence, what is the big deal? All sorts of interest groups try to influence election outcomes including foreign governments.
Why is it OK for Israel to influence US elections but not for Russia to do so?
Why do you think the armament industry, the energy industry, agribusiness, Wall Street and the banks, pharmaceutical companies, etc., etc., supply the huge sum of money to finance election campaigns if their intent is not to influence the election?
Why do editorial boards write editorials endorsing one candidate and damning another if they are not influencing the election?
What is the difference between influencing the election and influencing the government?
Washington is full of lobbyists of all descriptions, including lobbyists for foreign governments, working round the clock to influence the US government. It is safe to say that the least represented in the government are the citizens themselves who don’t have any lobbyists working for them.
The orchestrated hysteria over “Russian influence” is even more absurd considering the reason Russia allegedly interfered in the election. Russia favored Trump because he was the peace candidate who promised to reduce the high tensions with Russia created by the Obama regime and its neocon nazis—Hillary Clinton, Victoria Nuland, Susan Rice, and Samantha Power. What’s wrong with Russia preferring a peace candidate over a war candidate? The American people themselves preferred the peace candidate. So Russia agreed with the electorate.
Those who don’t agree with the electorate are the warmongers—the military/security complex and the neocon nazis. These are democracy’s enemies who are trying to overturn the choice of the American people. It is not Russia that disrespects the choice of the American people; it is the utterly corrupt Democratic National Committee and its divisive Identity Politics, the military/security complex, and the presstitute media who are undermining democracy.
I believe it is time to change the subject. The important question is who is it that is trying so hard to convince Americans that Russian influence prevails over us?
Do the idiots pushing this line realize how impotent this makes an alleged “superpower” look. How can we be the hegemonic power that the Zionist neocons say we are when Russia can decide who is the president of the United States?
The US has a massive spy state that even intercepts the private cell phone conversations of the Chancellor of Germany, but his massive spy organization is unable to produce one scrap of evidence that the Russians conspired with Trump to steal the presidential election from Hillary. When will the imbeciles realize that when they make charges for which no evidence can be produced they make the United States look silly, foolish, incompetent, stupid beyond all belief?
Countries are supposed to be scared of America’s threat that “we will bomb you into the stone age,” but the President of Russia laughs at us. Putin recently described the complete absence of any competence in Washington:
“It is difficult to talk to people who confuse Austria and Australia. But there is nothing we can do about this; this is the level of political culture among the American establishment.
As for the American people, America is truly a great nation if the Americans can put up with so many politically uncivilized people in their government.”
These words from Putin were devastating, because the world understands that they are accurate.
Consider the idiot Nikki Haley, appointed by Trump in a fit of mindlessness as US Ambassador to the United Nations.
This stupid person is forever shaking her fist at the Russians while mouthing yet another improbable accusation. She might want to read Mario Puzo’s book, The Godfather. Everyone knows the movie, but if memory serves somewhere in the book Puzo reflects on the practice of the irate American motorist who shakes a fist and gives the bird to other drivers. What if the driver receiving the insult is a Mafia capo? Does the idiot shaking his fist know who he is accosting? No. Does the moron know that the result might be a brutal beating or death? No.
Does the imbecile Nikki Haley understand what can be the result of her inability to control herself? No. Every knowledgeable person I know wonders if Trump appointed the imbecile Nikki Haley US ambassador to the world for the purpose of infuriating the Russians.
Ask Napoleon and the German Wehrmacht the consequence of infuriating the Russians.
After 16 years the US “superpower” has been unable to defeat a few thousand lightly armed Taliban, who have no air force, no Panzer divisions, no worldwide intelligence service, and the crazed US government in Washington is courting war with Russia and China and North Korea and Iran.
The American people are clearly out to lunch in their insouciance. Americans are fighting among themselves over “civil war” statues, while “their’ government invites nuclear armageddon.
The United States has an ambassador to the world who shows no signs of intelligence, who behaves as if she is Mike Tyson or Bruce Lee to the 5th power, and who is the total antithesis of a diplomat. What does this tell about the United States?
It reveals that the US is in the Roman collapse stage when the emperor appoints horses to the Senate.
The United States has a horse, an uncivilized horse, as its diplomat to the world. The Congress and executive branch are also full of horses and horse excrement. The US government is completely devoid of intelligence. There is no sign of intelligence anywhere in the U.S. government. Of or morality. As Hugo Chavez said: Satan is there; you can smell the sulphur.
America is a joke with nuclear weapons, the prime danger to life on earth.
How can this danger be corralled?
The American people would have to realize that they are being led to their deaths by the Zionist neocon nazis who, together with the military/security complex and Wall Street, control US foreign policy, by the complicity of Europe and Great Britain desperate to retain their CIA subsidies, and by the harlots that comprise the Western media.
Are Americans capable of comprehending this? Only a few have escaped The Matrix.
The consequence is that America is being locked into conflict with Russia and China. There is no possibility whatsoever of Washington invading either country, much less both, so war would be nuclear.
Do the American people want Washington to bring us this result? If not, why are the American people sitting there sucking their thumbs, doing nothing? Why are Europe and Great Britain sitting there permitting the unfolding of nuclear armageddon? Who murdered the peace movement?
The World and the American people need desperately to rein in the warmonger United States, or the world will cease to exist.
An International Court To Preserve Life On Earth needs to be assembled. The US government and the war interests it serves need to be indicted and prosecuted and disarmed before their evil destroys life on earth.