Category: DPRK
“We’ll talk” to North Korea, says Mike Pence
| February 11, 2018 | 8:30 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK | No comments

“We’ll talk” to North Korea, says Mike Pence
In an apparent shift, Vice President says U.S. open to talks that don’t start about denuclearization

February 12th, 2018

The United States is prepared to talk to North Korea without preconditions, U.S. Vice President Mike Pence said in comments published on Sunday evening.

The statement appears to represent a significant shift in the U.S. position on North Korea – which has until now been that Pyongyang would have to agree to talking about complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization.

Describing the altered policy as “maximum pressure and engagement at the same time,” the Vice President stressed, however, that an ongoing campaign of sanctions would continue. The previous policy was simply called “maximum pressure and engagement”.

“The point is, no pressure comes off until they are actually doing something that the alliance believes represents a meaningful step toward denuclearization,” Pence told the Washington Post on Air Force Two.

“So the maximum pressure campaign is going to continue and intensify. But if you want to talk, we’ll talk.”

When asked what Pyongyang could do to relieve some of the sanctions, the Vice President said “I don’t know… That’s why you have to have talks.”

Relaying his conversations with South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the Vice President said he has been assured that North Korea would not receive any “economic or diplomatic benefits” in exchange for dialogue.

Any economic concessions to the North would be reliant on steps towards denuclearization – a pledge which, Pence said, meant the U.S. would be prepared to support DPRK-ROK engagement in the future.

One specialist said that while dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington was welcome, it was difficult to see North Korea making any concessions on its nuclear program in the near future.

“We will have to see what happens,” Daniel Pinkston, a North Korea watcher at Troy University, told NK News. “There are reasons and incentives for both sides to talk in order to avoid misperceptions and miscalculations that could trigger conflict that otherwise is avoidable.”

“The long-term objective must be denuclearization, as stated in the Rogin article. Whether that goal is achievable is partially dependent upon North Korea modifying or abandoning the KWP’s ideology and at least part of the DPRK state identity.”

This is not the first time U.S. officials have in recent months suggested that Washington would be open to talks with the North without preconditions, however.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in December said the U.S. was willing to talk to North Korea “without precondition,” while stipulating that any dialogue would need to take place following a “period of calm.”

“It’s not realistic to say we are only going to talk if you come to the table ready to give up your program,” Tillerson told the Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum in Washington DC.

The White House later appeared to  distance itself from the Secretary of State’s comments, with a spokesperson insisting “the President’s views on North Korea have not changed.”

An op-ed in North Korea’s largest newspaper would days later, too, reject Tillerson’s comments.

But Pence’s comments come just a day after a North Korean delegation in the South delivered a message from DPRK leader Kim Jong Un to President Moon Jae-in inviting him to Pyongyang.

If the talks go ahead, they will be first between DPRK and ROK leaders in over a decade – but may exacerbate fears that North Korea is attempting to drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States.

The Blue House on Saturday said Moon wanted the two Koreas to “create the environment first for that (the visit) to be able to happen.”

Saturday saw Pence – who took great pains to avoid contact with the North Korean delegation while in the South – insist that there was “no daylight” between Seoul and Washington on DPRK policy.

Ahead of the Olympic Opening ceremony last week Pence also promised that the U.S. would soon unveil the “toughest and most aggressive round of economic sanctions on North Korea ever,” though did not offer further details.

Featured image: Vice President Mike Pence’s Facebook

“Vancouver Group Summit”: Escalating imperialist threats of sanctions & war

“Vancouver Group Summit”: Escalating imperialist threats of sanctions & war

The so-called “Vancouver Group” Summit on January 16 will bring together the 14 countries which waged war against Korea in 1950, plus South Korea and Japan – invited by US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Canada’s Foreign Minister Chrystia Freeland, allegedly to seek “a diplomatic solution to the Korean crisis.” The Communist Party of Canada condemns this reunion of warmakers as a further step towards new imperialist military aggression against the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

The North American media has portrayed the Vancouver Group Summit as a “reasonable alternative” to Donald Trump’s threat to annihilate the entire population of the DPRK. Such a US attack would be the most shocking war crime in history, violating every international law which bans military aggression against other countries. It would mean the deaths of millions of people across the region, and could easily spark a nuclear exchange threatening the entire planet. Trump’s latest boasts about his “bigger nuclear button” are a warning that the possibility of such a devastating catastrophe is quite real.

But the Tillerson-Freeland “good cop-bad cop” scenario is not a path away from war. Rather, it is a cover for the ongoing imperialist strategy to bring the people of the DPRK to their knees, by escalating economic and diplomatic sanctions with the aim of forcing their government to end to its nuclear programme. Both approaches are based on the premise that the US has the right to “punish” any country which refuses to accept the dictates of imperialism. Both Trump’s threats of mass murder, and the Tillerson-Freeland strategy, include the continued presence of tens of thousands of US troops at bases and vessels in and around the Korean peninsula, and regular war exercises to remind the DPRK that a new imperialist aggression could be launched at any moment.

The US is the only country to have ever used nuclear weapons in war, and possesses the largest nuclear weapons arsenal in the world. The US continues to develop and promote nuclear weapons technology and is poised to spend an additional $1 trillion on its nuclear arsenal, through its current Nuclear Posture Review. The DPRK, on the other hand, was almost totally destroyed and impoverished by the “Korean War” waged by the US and its allies, a war which artificially divided the peninsula along the 1953 ceasefire demarcation line – for the crime of defending itself against threats of foreign invasion and coup d’état. While the US and NATO maintain a policy of “first use” for nuclear weapons, the DPRK committed to no first use in 2016.

We demand: the US must end its provocations, withdraw its massive military forces in South Korea and east Asia, sign a peace agreement, and allow reunification to proceed on the Korean Peninsula according to the right of the Korean people to self-determination and sovereignty free of external threats and provocations. This remains the only road to long-term peace and security.

As the Vancouver Group Summit nears, we call on the labour and democratic movements, and the peace movement in the first place, to say NO to sanctions and war against the DPRK – and YES to peace, peaceful coexistence, mutual security and to global nuclear disarmament, beginning with the arsenals of the United States and NATO.

Central Executive Committee, Communist Party of Canada

Trump says he’ll talk with Kim Jong Un
| January 6, 2018 | 11:37 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK | No comments

Trump says he’ll talk with Kim Jong Un

2018-01-07 09:49 GMT+8

Updated 2018-01-07 10:27 GMT+8

Ahead of face-to-face talks in the demilitarized zone on the Korean Peninsula on Tuesday, there is a clear push to ease tensions and make some progress.

US President Donald Trump said on Saturday he is ready to talk with the leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) after the news that DPRK and the Republic of Korea (ROK) will meet this week.

Asked by a reporter whether he would engage in a phone conversation with Kim Jong Un, Trump responded, “Sure, I always believe in talking,” at Camp David, where he was meeting with Republican congressional leaders and Cabinet members to discuss legislative strategy in the new year.

Trump claimed the talks are a result of his tough policy on the DPRK. He also expressed hopes that the talks could lead to a possible breakthrough in a recent standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.

“He knows I’m not messing around,” said Trump of the DPRK leader. “I’m not messing around, not even a little bit, not even one-percent. He understands that. At the same time, if we can come up with a very peaceful and good solution. If something can happen and something can come out of these talks, that would be a great thing for all of humanity.”

The rare talks between Pyongyang and Seoul, the first in more than two years, will focus on the Winter Olympic Games, due to be held in the ROK next month. The talks this week will take place in the truce village of Panmunjom, inside the demilitarized zone separating the two countries.

Preliminary inter-Korean talks are yielding a measure of progress, with Pyongyang signaling its intent to take part in a specific Winter Games event.

Flags with the emblems of the 2018 PyeongChang Winter Olympics Games flutter in PyeongChang, ROK. /AP Photo

China has also welcomed the news of the meeting.

“We hope that all relevant parties on the Korean peninsula issue will seize upon the opportunity of the Winter Olympics to meet each other halfway, return to the correct path of peacefully solving problems through dialogue and consultation,” said Geng Shuang, a spokesman for the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

The talks come in the middle of a nuclear showdown between the DPRK and the US. Tensions have escalated over recent months over DPRK’s testing of ballistic missiles. Yet, the meeting and news that Seoul and the US will suspend their planned military exercises during the winter games has provided the first glimpse of a possible easing of tensions.

The DPRK’s representative to the International Olympic Committee told Japanese media his country was likely to compete in February’s games. Two figure skaters are the only athletes from the DPRK who are known to have qualified. The same representative, however, didn’t rule out the possibility of others participating in the Games.

US President Donald Trump and Russia’s President Vladimir Putin talk as they make their way to take the “family photo” during the APEC leaders’ meeting in the central Vietnamese city of Danang, Nov. 11, 2017. /AFP Photo

Trump also responded to reporter’s question regarding the special counsel’s investigation of Russian meddling in the 2016 US election, saying that “everything I’ve done is 100 percent proper” and he insisted that his campaign didn’t collude with Moscow or commit any crime.

His team has been “open” with special counsel Robert Mueller and “done nothing wrong,” Trump told reporters.

He bemoaned the unrelenting focus on alleged Russia ties, saying the probe is “very, very bad for our country. It’s making our country look foolish and this is a country that I don’t want looking foolish, and it’s not going to look foolish as long as I’m here.”

(CGTN’s Toby Muse contributed to this story.)

Tens of thousands of US citizens may die if Korean conflict breaks out – Russian Security Council
| December 26, 2017 | 8:14 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK | No comments

Tens of thousands of US citizens may die if Korean conflict breaks out – Russian Security Council

Tens of thousands of US citizens may die if Korean conflict breaks out – Russian Security Council
A full-scale military action on the Korean peninsula would kill tens of thousands of Americans living in South Korea, the head of Russia’s Security Council warned.

The US is well aware that a possible attack on North Korea would inflict heavy casualties on 250,000 Americans residing in the South, Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of Russia’s Security Council, told Russian media on Tuesday.

“If large-scale hostilities break out on the Korean peninsula, tens of thousands of US citizens will die,” Patrushev stressed. He added such an outcome is known as “unacceptable casualties in every country’s military language.”

The security official reiterated that North Korea’s artillery and rocket launch sites are positioned just 50 kilometers from Seoul, a vibrant metropolis accommodating some 10 million people.

In the meantime, Washington bears responsibility for contributing to “a vicious circle” of tension on the peninsula. “Today, the US makes aggressive [and] provocative statements against the [North Korean] leadership and the entire North Korean people, and conducts large-scale aerial and naval drills together with South Korea,” Patrushev said.

For its part, Pyongyang responds with new ballistic missile launches and equally harsh statements. “This vicious circle is to be broken by political and diplomatic means only,” Patrushev added. Moscow and Beijing, he stressed, are now pushing for a comprehensive roadmap that includes North Korea halting its missile and nuclear tests, and the US ceasing its military drills on the peninsula.

Moscow believes that Washington, while ostensibly advocating a peace plan, is utilizing the North Korean nuclear issue to contain Russia and China and militarize the Asia-Pacific, the Security Council head stated.

“Washington is very consistent in its plans to deploy elements of its global missile defense system in the region,” Patrushev said. “We can’t rule out that raising tensions around North Korea benefits the United States’ strategic goals.”

US Ready to Talk With North Korea ‘Without Preconditions’ – Secretary of State
| December 12, 2017 | 8:35 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK | No comments
In this Aug. 10, 2017, file photo, a man watches a television screen showing U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un during a news program at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea.

US Ready to Talk With North Korea ‘Without Preconditions’ – Secretary of State

© AP Photo/ Ahn Young-joon

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The US is ready to begin negotiations and work on a roadmap with North Korea without preconditions, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday.

“We are ready to talk any time North Korea would like to talk. And we are ready to have a first meeting without preconditions. Let’s just meet,” Tillerson said on Tuesday at an 2017 Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum meeting in Washington. “And then we can begin lay out a road map of what we might be willing to work towards.”

The statement would seem to represent a change of approach for the US, which had demanded that Pyongyang halt its nuclear program before any negotiations could occur.

“We need DPRK [North Korea] to come to the table for talks. We are ready to talk any time they’d like to talk,” Tillerson said. “But they have to come to the table with the view that they do want to make a different choice. Let’s just meet and let’s talk about the weather if you want. We can talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table.”

“Then we can begin to lay out a map, a road map, of what we might be willing to work towards,” Tillerson said, suggesting that initial contacts could revolve around establishing ground rules for any formal negotiations.

‘Without preconditions’ shouldn’t be taken as carte blanche, however, Tillerson noted. “It’s going to be tough to talk if in the middle of our talks you decide to test another device. I think they clearly understand that if we are going to talk, we have to have a period of quiet,” he said. North Korea has conducted 23 missile tests since February and tested a nuclear device in September.

But Tillerson is, apparently, espousing a less demanding position. In August, he told reporters, “We don’t think having a dialogue where the North Koreans come to the table assuming they’re going to maintain their nuclear weapons is productive.”

The secretary of state’s comments come a few days after the UN envoy to North Korea, Jeffrey Feltman, returned from visiting Pyongyang. Feltman is expected to brief the UN Security Council on his trip later on Tuesday.

US President Donald Trump has repeatedly expressed skepticism regarding negotiating with North Korea. Washington and Pyongyang haven’t sat down for formal negotiations since 2009.

One of the most important talks between Washington and Pyongyang occurred in 1994 when former US President Jimmy Carter visited Pyongyang to negotiate a deal with Kim II-sung, the grandfather of current North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Carter’s trip halted the first North Korean crisis and helped pave the way for the 1994 Agreed Framework, in which Pyongyang agreed to freeze operation and construction of nuclear reactors believed to be part of a secret nuclear weapons program in exchange for two proliferation-resistant nuclear power reactors. The agreement also stated that the US would supply North Korea with fuel oil until the reactors were constructed.

At the Atlantic Council-Korea Foundation Forum, Tillerson also revealed that the US and China have discussed how they would secure nuclear weapons in North Korea if the country suffered some kind of “instability.”

“We also have had conversations about in the event that something happened, could happen internal to North Korea — might be nothing that we from the outside initiate — that if that unleashed some instability, the most important thing to us would be securing those nuclear weapons they’ve already developed,” he commented. “We’ve had conversations with the Chinese about how that might be done.”

Last week, a Cathay Pacific flight crew announced that they saw North Korea’s latest missile test last Wednesday as they were flying over Japan.

Analysts agree that the latest test, of an intercontinental ballistic missile, shows that North Korea has improved its potential range, but doubts remain as to the country’s actual missile power. A Manila Times report speculates that a light dummy warhead was used for the test; a missile carrying a significantly heavier nuclear warhead would most likely not have been able to travel as far. In addition, analysts are skeptical that Pyongyang has mastered the technology needed to shield the warhead from extreme temperatures and stresses as the missile barrels back to Earth.

On Tuesday, armed forces from the US, Japan and South Korea combined to conduct an air power drill intended to assess their combat capabilities.

The operation took place in the East China Sea and consisted of Japanese F-15 fighters participating in joint exercises with US B1-B bombers, F-35 joint strike fighters and F-18 multirole jets, Reuters reported.

“The drill was meant to bolster joint operations and raise combat skills,” Japan’s Air Self Defense Force said in a statement.

The trilateral air drill is one of the largest in a series of drills to pressure North Korea to denuclearize and comes after a two-day exercise where the same nations launched missile-detecting operations.

US STRATCOM Head Ready to Resist Possible Illegal Order to Use Nuclear Weapons
| November 18, 2017 | 8:37 pm | Donald Trump, DPRK, struggle against nuclear war | No comments
a giant nuclear-equipped USAF B-52 bomber lifts off from the snow covered RAF Fairford runway in Gloucestershire, England, en route to the Gulf

US STRATCOM Head Ready to Resist Possible Illegal Order to Use Nuclear Weapons

© AFP 2017/ Gerald Penny

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Air Force Gen. John Hyten, commander of the US Strategic Command (STRATCOM) said on Saturday he was ready to disobey a possible presidential unlawful order to use nuclear weapons.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — Air Force Gen. John Hyten said at the Halifax International Security Forum in Canada that the law of armed conflict set a number of criteria to determine legality of a military action such as necessity, distinction, proportionality, unnecessary suffering and others.

“I provide advice to the president, he will tell me what to do… And if it’s illegal, guess what’s going to happen? I’m going to say, ‘Mr. President, that’s illegal.’ And guess what he’s going to do? He’s going to say, ‘What would be legal?’ And we’ll come up [with] options, with a mix of capabilities to respond to whatever the situation is, and that’s the way it works. It’s not that complicated,” Hyten said, as quoted by the CBS News broadcaster.

“If you execute an unlawful order, you will go to jail. You could go to jail for the rest of your life,” he added.

Earlier this week, the US Senate Foreign Relations Committee raised the issue of whether incumbent President Donald Trump should retain an authority to order a nuclear strike. The Senate focused on the problem after Trump’s harsh remarks about North Korea, which included the promise to to unleash “fire and fury” and to “totally destroy” the country if necessary.

US military leaders would reject illegal order for nuclear strike, senators told

US military leaders would reject illegal order for nuclear strike, senators told

As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders’

Robert Kehler, right, addresses the Senate foreign relations committee.

Robert Kehler, right, addresses the Senate foreign relations committee. Photograph: Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP

As senators raise concerns about ‘unstable’ Donald Trump’s decision-making, former commander says military is ‘not obligated to follow illegal orders.

US military commanders would refuse a presidential order to carry out a nuclear first strike that they thought was illegal, senators were told on Tuesday.

Bob Corker, the Republican chairman of the chamber’s foreign relations committee, has expressed fears that the president is taking the country “on the path to world war III”.

Separately CNN reported on Tuesday that a “Nato partner country” had raised concerns about Trump’s command of the US nuclear launch system, under which the president alone can order a launch.

Opening the hearing, Corker – who has recently been engaged in bitter exchanges with Trump over his fitness for office – noted that “the president has the sole authority to give that order, whether we are responding to a nuclear attack or not”.

“Once that order is given and verified, there is no way to revoke it,” the Tennessee senator said. “To be clear, I would not support changes that would reduce our deterrence of adversaries or reassurance of our allies. But I would like to explore, as our predecessors in the House did 41 years ago, the realities of this system.”

Chris Murphy, Democratic senator from Connecticut, said: “We are concerned that the president of the United States is so unstable, is so volatile, has a decision-making process that is so quixotic, that he might order a nuclear weapons strike that is wildly out of step with US national security interests.”

Retired Gen Robert Kehler, commander of US Strategic Command (StratCom) from 2011 to 2013, told the Senate committee that he would have refused to carry out a nuclear first strike on presidential orders if he believed it did not meet the requirements of proportionality and necessity under the law of armed conflict.

“I would have said: I’m not ready to proceed,” Kehler said.

“Then what happens?” he was asked.

“I don’t know,” he replied. “Fortunately, these are all hypothetical scenarios. There is the human factor in our system. There is a human element to this.

“It would be a very interesting constitutional situation, I believe. The military is obligated to follow legal orders but is not obligated to follow illegal orders,” Kehler said, adding that he always made sure he had legal advisers at hand when he was at Strategic Command.

Ed Markey, a Democratic senator from Massachusetts who is sponsoring legislation that would limit the president’s authority to launch a first nuclear strike, said he was not reassured by Kehler’s arguments.

“I don’t have confidence that a military chain of command would reject an order by the president to launch nuclear weapons in a preventative nuclear war situation,” Markey told the Guardian after Tuesday’s hearing.

“I think that would be abdicating the responsibility of the US Congress to a group of generals who in many instances would have been appointed by the commander-in-chief, Donald Trump. That’s a very thin reed on which to have the fate of the planet being dependent.”

The president and his top officials have said repeatedly that North Korea would not be allowed to threaten the US with nuclear weapons, but as Pyongyang has persisted with its nuclear and missile tests, it has been unclear what the administration would do to stop the regime.

In August, the national security adviser, HR McMaster, raised the prospect of a “preventative war”, but many observers of the Korean standoff said any conflict was highly likely to quickly escalate into a nuclear exchange.

Under the US constitution, only Congress has the power to declare war, but the president, as commander-in-chief of the armed forces, has the authority to respond to an actual or imminent threat. Much of the Senate committee hearing was taken up by discussion of what constituted an imminent threat and who could make that determination.

Peter Feaver, a politics professor at Duke University and a specialist on presidential war powers, said: “I would say distinguish between scenarios where the military wake up the president versus scenarios where the presidents wake up the military.”

Feaver added: “In the context where the president is waking up the military in an extreme funk, saying ‘I’m angry and I want something done’, he would require a lot of people cooperating with him to make the strike happen. And they would be asking the questions that would slow down that process.”

Arms control experts however, expressed doubt that lawyers would always be involved in the decision.

“The system is designed entirely for speed, not deliberation,” said Stephen Young, a senior analyst at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“Certainly in the case of responding to an incoming attack, the lawyers are not involved. It is not clear it would be any different for a nuclear first strike, despite Gen Kehler’s statements.”