ALERT The Winds of War Blow in Korea and The Far East

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Aircraft Spots


Last night RC-135S Cobra Ball 62-4128 arrived into Kadena AB, Okinawa with RC-135S 61-2662 already deployed there. No signs of 61-2662 heading back to Offutt any time soon. Wondering if this a beef up in flights in anticipation for North Korea’s “Christmas Gift”?


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CBS Evening News

NEW: U.S. intelligence says a North Korean short-range missile test or rocket engine test could come at any time, but a long-range missile test – although possible – is not expected until after the first of the year,
3:39 PM · Dec 20, 2019·Sprinklr


CBS Evening News



Replying to
MORE: Some websites which track N. Korea using commercial satellite photos have noted activity at Sohae launch facility, used in past to launch satellites, but US intel is not seeing any preparations for launch & says it could be winter training cycle,



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US eyes North Korea for possible ‘Christmas gift’ missile test

By Susan Edelman
December 21, 2019 | 1:27pm

The US is keeping a close watch on North Korea for signs of a possible missile launch or nuclear test conducted as a “Christmas gift.”

The North Koreans warned of a launch or test in early December, saying the Trump administration was running out of time to salvage nuclear negotiations, and it was up to the US to choose what “Christmas gift ” it gets from the North, the Associated Press reported.

A significant launch could put an end to North Korea’s self-imposed moratorium on missile tests and raise tensions in the region. It would also deliver a major blow to one of the Trump administration’s major foreign policy initiatives: a negotiation with North Korea to eliminate its nuclear weapons and missiles.

Earlier this month, North Korea conducted an engine test it described as “crucial,” and experts believe it may have involved an engine for a space-launch vehicle or long-range missile.

“North Korea has been advancing. It has been building new capabilities,” said Anthony Wier, a former State Department official who tracks nuclear disarmament for the Friends Committee on National Legislation. “As long as that continues, they gain new capabilities to try new missiles to threaten us and our allies in new ways.”

see also


How Trump can stop Kim Jong-un from launching a 'Christmas gift'

President Trump tweeted Friday that he had discussed North Korea with China’s President Xi Jinping.

Defense Secretary Mark Esper downplayed speculation of a missile test around Christmas.

“I’ve been watching the Korean Peninsula for a quarter-century now. I’m familiar with their tactics, with their bluster,” he said. “We need to get serious and sit down and have discussions about a political agreement that denuclearizes the peninsula. That is the best way forward and arguably the only way forward if we’re going to do something constructive.”


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Intel Air & Sea and ELINT News liked
Global: MilitaryInfo
What can the US do if NK conducts another nuke or ICBM test?
  • Sanctions.
  • Strategic bomber flights.
  • Re-activate US/SK exercises.
  • US carrier exercies.
  • Cyber Warfare.
  • (Aegis) SM-3 interceptions



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From Why Trump is Winding Up Tensions with North Korea
After 18 months of on-off diplomacy with North Korea, the Trump administration seems determined now to jettison the fragile talk about peace, reverting to its earlier campaign of “maximum pressure” and hostility. It’s a retrograde move risking a disastrous war.

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In a visit to China this week, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Chinese leader Xi Jinping both urged for greater momentum in the diplomatic process with North Korea, saying that renewed tensions benefit no-one. The two leaders may need to revise that assertion. Tensions greatly benefit someone – Washington.

Why Trump is winding up tensions again with Pyongyang appears to involve a two-fold calculation. It gives Washington greater leverage to extort more money from South Korea for the presence of US military forces on its territory; secondly, the Trump administration can use the tensions as cover for increasing its regional forces aimed at confronting China.

In recent weeks, the rhetoric has deteriorated sharply between Washington and Pyongyang. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has resumed references to Trump being a senile “dotard”, while the US president earlier this month at the NATO summit near London dusted off his old disparaging name for Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, calling him “rocket man”.

On December 7 and 15, North Korea tested rocket engines at its Sohae satellite launching site which are believed to be preparation for the imminent test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). North Korea unilaterally halted ICBM test-launches in April 2018 as a gesture for diplomacy with the US. Its last launch was on July 4, 2017, when Pyongyang mockingly called it a “gift” for America’s Independence Day.

Earlier this month, Pyongyang said it was preparing a “Christmas gift” for Washington. That was taken as referring to resumption of ICBM test launches. However, Pyongyang said it was up to the US to decide which gift it would deliver.

On the engine testing, Trump said he was “watching closely” on what North Korea did next, warning that he was prepared to use military force against Pyongyang and that Kim Jong-un had “everything to lose”.

The turning away from diplomacy may seem odd. Trump first met Kim in June 2018 in Singapore at a breakthrough summit, the first time a sitting US president met with a North Korean leader. There were two more summits, in Hanoi in February 2019, and at the Demilitarized Zone on the Korean border in June 2019. The latter occasion was a splendid photo-opportunity for Trump, being the first American president to have stepped on North Korean soil.

During this diplomatic embrace, Trump has lavished Kim with praise and thanked him for “beautiful letters”. Back in September 2017 when hostile rhetoric was flying both ways, Trump told the UN general assembly he would “totally destroy” North Korea if it threatened the US. How fickle are the ways of Trump.

What’s happened is the initial promises of engagement have gone nowhere, indicating the superficiality of Trump’s diplomacy. It seems clear now that the US president was only interested in public relations gimmickry, boasting to the American public that he had reined in North Korea’s nuclear activities.

When Trump met Kim for the third time in June 2019, they reportedly vowed to resume negotiations on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. North Korea had up until recently stuck to its commitment to halt ICBM testing. However, for that, Pyongyang expected reciprocation from the US side on the issue of sanctions relief, at least a partial lifting of sanctions. Kim gave Trump a deadline by the end of this year to make some concession on sanctions.

Russia and China last week proposed an easing of UN sanctions on North Korea. But Washington rebuffed that proposal, categorically saying it was a “premature” move, and that North Korea must first make irreversible steps towards complete decommissioning of its nuclear arsenal. The high-handed attitude is hardly conducive to progress.

The lack of diplomatic reciprocation from Washington over the past six months has led Pyongyang to angrily repudiate further talks. It has hit out at what it calls Trump’s renewed demeaning name-calling of Kim. There is also a palpable sense of frustration on North Korea’s part for having been used as a prop for Trump’s electioneering.

The fact that Washington has adopted an intransigent position with regard to sanctions would indicate that it never was serious about pursuing meaningful diplomacy with Pyongyang.

Admittedly, Trump did cancel large-scale US war games conducted with South Korea as a gesture towards North Korea, which views these exercises as provocative rehearsals for war. This was an easy concession to make by Trump who no doubt primarily saw the cessation of military drills as a cost-cutting opportunity for the US.

Significantly, this month US special forces along with South Korean counterparts conducted a “decapitation” exercise in which they simulated a commando raid to capture a foreign target. Furthermore, the operation was given unusual public media attention.

As the Yonhap news agency reported: “A YouTube video by the Defense Flash News shows more details of the operation, with service personnel throwing a smoke bomb, raiding an office inside the building, shooting at enemy soldiers over the course, and a fighter jet flying over the building… It is unusual for the US military to make public such materials… according to officials.”

The Trump administration appears to have run out of further use for the diplomatic track with North Korea. The PR value has been milked. The policy shift is now back to hostility. The instability that generates is beneficial for Washington in two ways.

Trump is currently trying to get South Korea to boost its financial contribution towards maintaining US forces on its territory. Trump wants Seoul to cough up an eye-watering five-fold increase in payments “for US protection” to an annual $5 billion bill. South Korea is understandably reluctant to fork out such a massive whack from its fiscal budget. Talks on the matter are stalemated, but expected to resume in January.

If US relations with North Korea were progressing through diplomacy then the lowered tensions on the peninsula would obviously not benefit Washington’s demand on South Korea for more “protection money”. Therefore, it pays Washington to ramp up the hostilities and the dangers of war as a lever for emptying Seoul’s coffers.

The other bigger strategic issue shaping US intentions with North Korea is of course Washington’s longer-term collision course with China. US officials and defense planning documents have repeatedly targeted China as the main geopolitical adversary. American forces in South Korea comprising 28,500 troops, nuclear-capable bombers, warships and its anti-missile Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system are not about protecting South Korea from North Korea. They are really about encircling China (and Russia). Washington hardly wants to scale back its military assets on the Korea Peninsula. It is driven by the strategic desire to expand them.

In media comments earlier this month, Pentagon chief Mark Esper made a curious slip-up when referring to withdrawing US troops from Afghanistan. He said they would be redeployed in Asia to confront China.

Esper said: “I would like to go down to a lower number [in Afghanistan] because I want to either bring those troops home, so they can refit and retrain for other missions or/and be redeployed to the Indo-Pacific to face off our greatest challenge in terms of the great power competition that’s vis-a-vis China.”

The logic of war profits and strategic conflict with China mean that Trump and the Washington establishment do not want to find a peaceful resolution with North Korea. Hence a return to the hostile wind-up of tensions.

From Why Trump is Winding Up Tensions with North Korea

Posted for fair use


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Well bah!

Christmas Doge (BLT|13-2)



US Air Force RC-135 Cobra Ball (ballistic missile detection platform) departed Kadena AB at 0215z for the Sea of Japan via

Christmas Doge (BLT|13-2)



The US is essentially keeping 24/7 Cobra Ball surveillance on North Korea. It's obvious they're still prepared and expecting something, despite the fact that Christmas is over for the US. Remember, not all Christmas gifts come on Christmas day.


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I recall recently reading that DJT might be letting Norks go this far unchallenged as they have in this last lil dust up. The thought was it could be being allowed in order to bring some additional torque force to the negotiations between US and South Korea around the issue below....i dunno, I just make coffee and sweep floors...j

William Gallo

"The two sides are likely to agree on a 10 to 20 percent hike in South Korea's contribution and a hefty sweetener in arms purchases from the US."…
3:54 AM · Dec 26, 2019·Twitter for Android

The U.S. and Korea narrowed differences significantly in the latest round of defense cost-sharing talks as the U.S. stepped back from demands for an exorbitant five-fold hike in Korea's contribution, sources said Wednesday.
But Washington is still demanding an expanded contribution from Seoul, which already pays more proportionally than any other U.S. ally for keeping 28,500 American troops here.

"The two sides began narrowing their differences and moved toward a smaller increase in defense cost-sharing," a diplomatic source said.
The final agreement is not expected until February, two months past the expiry of the current agreement.

The American negotiators took into account the views of several senior U.S. lawmakers that a $5 billion bill would be excessive. Instead, the two sides are likely to agree on a 10 to 20 percent hike in South Korea's contribution and a hefty sweetener in arms purchases from the U.S., other sources said.
The U.S. Senate earlier this month ratified the 2020 National Defense Authorization Act, requiring American troop levels to remain at present levels. That decision, which was signed by U.S. President Donald Trump, played a major role in Washington lowering its cost-sharing demand. A government official said, "We plan to meet in January to discuss further details."
Read this


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hmm...this is why we copy n paste, and, I wonder if things like this "accidental" reporting can rise to level of false flag?..

Vipin Narang



Deleting all tweets on this North Korean missile test false alarm.

Vipin Narang



Everyone is so keyed up for it. Apologies to all for not waiting for confirmation from an official source. The dangers of social media missile twitter, early (mis)reports can spread fast.

Vipin Narang


Something smelled off initially because normally we get a launch alert and then wait for splashdown notice. It seemed odd that we would just get a 2000 km *east* of Hokkaido story with no prior notification. I should’ve been more skeptical and I apologize for not doing better.


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sounds utterly plausible to me, but, I am gullible...

Global: MilitaryInfo


NHK accidentally sent out a training alert.
Quote Tweet

Jesse Johnson クリスマス版

· 8m
Asahi reporting NHK mistakenly sent draft of alert used in training for North Korean missile launch. CC: @jeongminnkim View:

10:31 AM · Dec 26, 2019·Twitter Web App





Replying to
Merry Christmas!


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The stories I am reading are saying our intel doesn't know why Kim hasn't launched and it is leaving intel baffled. So basically no one knows why Kim hasn't launched or if he even will.


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U.S. operates at least 22 reconnaissance planes over Korean Peninsula

Posted December. 27, 2019 07:53,
Updated December. 27, 2019 07:53
The U.S. is not relaxing its surveillance even after the “Christmas gift” deadline threatened by North Korea is passed. The country is carpet-bombing the Korean Peninsula with its reconnaissance resources.

The U.S. deployed its five main reconnaissance planes, such as E-8C Joint STARS, at once to the Korean Peninsula on Wednesday, which was followed by three more reconnaissance aircraft on Thursday to detect any new signs of North Korean provocations involving intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

According to the Aircraft Spots, a combat aircraft tracking website, first Joint STARS and later two RC-135S Cobra Balls flew from the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to the Korean Peninsula from early morning until afternoon on Thursday. In particular, Cobra Balls, which can track the trajectories of missiles and warheads, flew to the East Sea back to back. “The U.S. is keeping an eye on the submarines and SLBM base located in Wonsan, Gangwon Province and Sinpo, Hamgyong Province 24 hours a day,” said a South Korean military source. This implies the U.S.’ forecast that North Korea is more likely to launch SLBMs than ICBMs, which will remain as the last resort.

The amount of reconnaissance resources poured in by the U.S. following the “Christmas gift” threat of North Korea is believed to be unprecedented by both military and non-military experts. The U.S. deployed at least 22 reconnaissance planes of seven different models to the Korean Peninsula since Lee Tae Sung, the vice minister of the North’s foreign ministry in charge of the U.S. affairs, said “What the Christmas gift will be depends on the U.S.’ decision.”

“Almost all reconnaissance aircraft deployed to Northeast Asia are used to surveil North Korea,” said a military source. Given that 22 reconnaissance planes are the number intentionally released by the U.S. military through the Aircraft Spots, etc. to put pressure on North Korea, the actual figure including confidential reconnaissance activities must be higher.

Sang-Ho Yun
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Silent night: Christmas day in Korea wraps up with no DPRK missile testing
December 25, 2019​

The lack of test, despite DPRK's "Christmas gift" warning, comes amid slow pace on set up of the December plenum
Jeongmin Kim December 25, 2019

Image: KCNA
Christmas day came and went on the Korean peninsula with no special weapons testing as of midnight KST, despite the North having warned about an unspecified “Christmas gift” that the U.S. could expect in early December.
In addition, party daily Rodong Sinmun, cabinet newspaper Minju Choson, and the Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) all remained absent of statements directly condemning the U.S., though some indirect complaints on the topic of sanctions could be found.
The absence of reported actions the U.S. would likely describe as provocative follows the DPRK foreign ministry’s December 3 statement, which led some observers to suggest a long-range missile test could be in the works.
“Now…it is entirely up to the U.S. what Christmas gift it will select to get,” North Korea’s vice foreign minister Ri Thae Song warned while complaining that Washington failed to provide sufficient compensation for good-faith measures over the past 18 months.

Quiet over the peninsula was also coupled with a break in precedence surrounding the pace that North Korea’s much anticipated extraordinary December Plenary would be held.
It remains possible, however, that it could have taken place on Wednesday, with outcomes scheduled to come out via state media in the early evening of Christmas day in North America.
The international news section of the December 25 edition of Rodong Sinmuncarried articles on Iran and Lebanon condemning the U.S. (marked in blue). The party daily also carried an article on China, Egypt, and India’s achievements in satellite launching technology, referring to developments in space-related technology as “an international move” (marked in red). | Photo: Rodong Sinmun
Meanwhile, U.S. President Donald Trump on December 24 (ET) said the “Christmas gift” expected from Pyongyang may be “a beautiful vase as opposed to a missile test,” appearing to brush off the possibility of a DPRK missile test on December 25.
Nevertheless, increased U.S. efforts to monitor DPRK airspace were observed ahead of Christmas day KST, an air traffic monitoring service said, suggesting the military was taking the ‘Christmas threat’ seriously.
According to Aircraft Spots – a military aircraft tracker on Twitter – several reconnaissance assets were spotted flying in or near South Korean airspace overnight: an RQ-4 Global Hawk, E-8C JSTARS (Joint Surveillance Target Attack Radar System), RC-135W Rivet Joint, and RC-135S Cobra Ball.

Aircraft Spots said Wednesday that the increased surveillance observed on early Wednesday was “quite unusual,” adding, “I haven’t seen activity like this since 2017.”
However, NK News could not verify the accuracy of the service’s claims or its data.
Chad O’Carroll, the CEO of NK News’ parent company Korea Risk Group, said it was unlikely any so-called “major provocations” by North Korea would take place in the short-term.
“Instead, we’ll see a strongly worded Plenum outcome and New Year’s speech which will show the DPRK take a hardline anti-American position… but nothing else, for now,” he said, adding that Pyongyang will likely keep the “ICBM tests, satellite launches or nuclear tests as potential leverage to use at a later date” – depending on how Washington responds to the North.

Nevertheless, there remains a small possibility the North will go ahead with a test of some sort in the early hours, to chime with Christmas on the East Coast, he said.
Edited by Chad O’Carroll
Featured image: KCNA
Posted for fair use


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#BREAKING: US National Security Advisor O’Brien says if North Korea’s Kim takes threatened action, US will be disappointed and will respond appropriately Says Trump has no illusions that North Korea situation is dangerous and concerning - via
’s “This Week”- Reuters


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Nathan J Hunt



White House again indicates that it could look to options outside diplomatic path if DPRK went ahead with long range missile test.
Quote Tweet

AFP news agency

· 8h
The White House said Sunday it would consider "other tools" beyond personal diplomacy if North Korea went ahead with a threatened "Christmas gift" that could reignite global tensions over its nuclear program White House warns N. Korea over 'Christmas gift' threat


Veteran Member
Talked to daughter today and I mentioned that Christmas is over so we don't have to worry and she responded by reminding me that Kim gave us until the New Year to remove the sanctions. She seems to think we still should be alert. Anyway this is all we mentioned of the situation.


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Talked to daughter today and I mentioned that Christmas is over so we don't have to worry and she responded by reminding me that Kim gave us until the New Year to remove the sanctions. She seems to think we still should be alert. Anyway this is all we mentioned of the situation.
I know you can't help but worry a bit about your baby girl, but looks like at least this incident is fading into the sunset. Thanks so much for the update on her perspective and experience!


Veteran Member

North Korea's Kim says world to see 'new strategic weapon' in the near future: KCNA

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday vowed to continue developing his country’s nuclear deterrent and introduce a “new strategic weapon” in the near future, state media KCNA said, after the United States missed a year-end deadline for a restart of denuclearization talks.

While accusing Washington of making “gangster-like demands,” Kim said at a key ruling Workers’ Party meeting that the scope of the nuclear deterrent will depend on the United States’ future attitude, leaving the door for dialogue open.


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North Korea's Kim says world to see 'new strategic weapon' in the near future: KCNA

SEOUL (Reuters) - North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday vowed to continue developing his country’s nuclear deterrent and introduce a “new strategic weapon” in the near future, state media KCNA said, after the United States missed a year-end deadline for a restart of denuclearization talks.

While accusing Washington of making “gangster-like demands,” Kim said at a key ruling Workers’ Party meeting that the scope of the nuclear deterrent will depend on the United States’ future attitude, leaving the door for dialogue open.
Posted for fair use.....

North Korea leader promises look at new weapon soon
By Tong-hyung Kiman
hour ago

In this Monday, Dec. 30, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un speaks during a Workers’ Party meeting in Pyongyang, North Korea. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has accused the Trump administration of dragging its feet in nuclear negotiations and warned that his country will soon show a new strategic weapon to the world as its bolsters its nuclear deterrent in face of “gangster-like” U.S. sanctions and pressure.

The North’s state media said Wednesday that Kim made the comments during a four-day ruling party conference held through Tuesday in the capital Pyongyang, where he declared that the North will never give up its security for economic benefits in the face of what he described as increasing U.S. hostility and nuclear threats.

Kim’s comments came after a monthslong standoff between Washington and Pyongyang over disagreements involving disarmament steps and the removal of sanctions imposed on the North.
“He said that we will never allow the impudent U.S. to abuse the DPRK-U.S. dialogue for meeting its sordid aim but will shift to a shocking actual action to make it pay for the pains sustained by our people so far and for the development so far restrained,” the Korean Central News Agency said, referring to the North by its formal name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Kim added that “if the U.S. persists in its hostile policy toward the DPRK, there will never be the denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and the DPRK will steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons for the security of the state until the U.S. rolls back its hostile policy,” according to the agency.

However, Kim showed no clear indication of abandoning negotiations with the United States entirely or restarting tests of nuclear bombs and intercontinental ballistic missiles he had suspended under a self-imposed moratorium in 2018.

He did issue a warning that there would be no grounds for the North to get “unilaterally bound” to the moratorium any longer, criticizing the United States for continuing its joint military exercises with rival South Korea and also providing the South with advanced weaponry.

“In the past two years alone when the DPRK took preemptive and crucial measures of halting its nuclear test and ICBM test-fire and shutting down the nuclear-test ground for building confidence between the DPRK and the U.S., the U.S., far from responding to the former with appropriate measures, conducted tens of big and small joint military drills which its president personally promised to stop and threatened the former militarily through the shipment of ultra-modern warfare equipment into (South Korea),” the KCNA quoted Kim as saying.

Some experts say North Korea, which has always been sensitive about electoral changes in U.S. government, will avoid engaging in serious negotiations for a deal with Washington in coming months as it watches how Trump’s impending impeachment trial over his dealings with Ukraine affects U.S. presidential elections in November.

Kim and President Donald Trump have met three times since June 2018, but negotiations have faltered since the collapse of their second summit last February in Vietnam, where the Americans rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.

Kim’s speech followed months of intensified testing activity and belligerent statements issued by various North Korean officials, raising concerns that he was reverting to confrontation and preparing to do something provocative if Washington doesn’t back down and relieve sanctions.

The North announced in December that it performed two “crucial” tests at its long-range rocket launch site that would further strengthen its nuclear deterrent, prompting speculation that it was developing an ICBM or planning a satellite launch that would provide an opportunity to advance its missile technologies.

North Korea also last year ended a 17-month pause in ballistic activity by testing a slew of solid-fuel weapons that potentially expanded its capabilities to strike targets in South Korea and Japan, including U.S. military bases there. It also threatened to lift a self-imposed moratorium on the testing of nuclear bombs and ICBMs.


Veteran Member
I know you can't help but worry a bit about your baby girl, but looks like at least this incident is fading into the sunset. Thanks so much for the update on her perspective and experience!
Thanks Jward for your thoughts. My baby girl just had her retirement approved. She'll separate on her birthday next summer at 25 years as an intel officer and 6 deployments to war zones. I'm just counting down until she's a civilian and am so thankful to God for taking care of her in harms way.


passin' thru
I can only imagine. Thank you, and all the mommas and poppas, who let us borrow their babies. Unfortunately, we don't treat that gift with any where near the awe and gratitude it deserves...

I said a lil prayer of Thanksgiving and protection for her too. Thank you!


Veteran Member

Experts: Killing of Iranian Commander Sends Message to North Korea
By Christy Lee
January 03, 2020 11:09 PM

WASHINGTON - U.S. efforts to deal with Iran in the coming days could divert its attention from Pyongyang, meanwhile the killing of Iran’s top military general by the U.S. could prompt North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to reassess how willing the U.S. is to use force, experts said.

“North Korea may get put on the back burner,” said Robert Manning, a senior fellow at the Atlantic Council, as the Trump administration becomes occupied with possible Iranian retaliations in the Middle East.

The U.S. killed Gen. Qassem Soleimani Friday with an airstrike at the Baghdad airport. Soleimani was the commander of Iran's Quds Force of the Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps and the chief strategist of Iran’s military influence in the Middle East and the architect of major operations of Iranian forces over the past two decades.

President Donald Trump authorized the attack amid rising tensions between Washington and Tehran. Soleimani “killed or badly wounded thousands of Americans over an extended period of time, and was plotting to kill many more” Trump said via Twitter Friday.
The U.S. and Iran have been competing to exert influence in the Middle East and tension between the two has been growing over Iran’s nuclear program and U.S. withdrawal from a landmark 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.
On Friday, Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei called for retaliations against the United States. Soleimani’s death is expected to have an effect across the region.
US attention
Iran could take the U.S.’s attention away from North Korea as Pyongyang seeks to raise tensions on the Korean Peninsula, said David Maxwell, a former U.S. Special Forces colonel who served on the Combined Forces Command of the U.S and South Korea.
“Kim is not going to be happy with all the attention focused on Iran when he was trying to execute a large-scale information and influence campaign against the U.S. and the international community to get sanctions lifted,” he said.

This week, Kim vowed to “actively push forward the project for developing strategic weapons.” North Korea’s aim to develop weapons is believed to be for escalating threats on the Korean Peninsula to increase leverage over the U.S. to extract sanctions relief.

North Korea has been demanding that the U.S. lift sanctions since Kim met with Trump at their Hanoi Summit last February. The summit broke down when Trump rejected Kim’s proposal for partial denuclearization in exchange for sanctions relief.

While the talks remained stalled, North Korea has conducted 13 missile tests since May in an effort to pressure the U.S. to lift sanctions.

Change of thinking
Experts said the U.S. killing of the Iranian general could change North Korea’s thinking about the U.S. ability to use force.

“The attack tells adversaries like North Korea to reassess [its] assumptions about U.S. actions moving up the escalatory ladder,” said Ken Gause, director of the adversary analytics program at CNA.

“Trump, more so than previous presidents,” he added, “is not averse to doing decapitation strikes and focused assassinations.”

U.S. Defense Secretary Mark Esper Thursday said the U.S. could use a military option on North Korea if necessary.
“We think the best path forward, with regard to North Korea, is a political agreement that denuclearizes the peninsula,” Esper said in an interview with Fox News. “But that said, we remain, from a military perspective, ready to fight tonight, as need be.”

The Pentagon recently released a photo of U.S. and South Korean special forces conducting drills simulating raids on North Korean facilities aimed at taking out its top officials.

“It will be interesting to speculate if [Kim] thinks something like this [the U.S. killing of the Iranian general] could happen to him or if his paranoia would lead him to think that Trump is somehow sending him a message,” Maxwell said.

“We should look for [North Korea’s] responses in the coming days,” he added.

This story was originated on VOA’s Korean Service.


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At mass rally, North Koreans pledge support for country’s new “offensive” line

Officials promise "heavy blow" to DPRK's enemies in the wake of last week's plenary meeting
Oliver Hotham January 5, 2020

Thousands of North Koreans gathered in central Pyongyang on Sunday, the country’s state media reported, in a major rally in which citizens were reported to have offered their support to the country’s new more offensive line towards the U.S.

In a dispatch released Sunday, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) said that top officials and Pyongyang residents had hailed decisions handed down by leader Kim Jong Un at last week’s ruling party plenum and promised to work towards “bringing about prosperity on the strength of self-reliance and self-sustenance.”

Premier Kim Ryong Hae and deputies Kim Tok Hun and Kim Il Chol, it continued, oversaw speeches by local economic officials, including Kim Nung O, chairman of the Pyongyang City Committee of the ruling Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) and Kim Chol Ho, head of department of Kim Chaek University of Technology.

The rally — which NK News has learned saw thousands of citizens take to the streets and the local cellphone network temporarily switched off — was the first of its kind in North Korea this year.

It follows the end of the WPK’s 4th Plenary Meeting of its 7th Central Committee last week, at which Kim Jong Un declared a new declared a policy shift towards strategic weapons development and warned of belt-tightening ahead.

Speakers at Sunday’s rally, state media reported Sunday, said that report “reflects the firm faith and will of the peerlessly great man to break through head-on all the barriers to our advance and pave the wide avenue to the victory of the revolutionary cause of Juche.”

“His report also serves as a militant banner mirroring the offensive spirit and stamina of Paektu, they said,” it continued.

They were also reported to have “keenly grasped… the iron truth that the path led by the Supreme Leader is the path to victory and glory.”

“There are no difficulties and fortresses insurmountable when they struggle in the offensive spirit by holding fast to science and technology and the spirit of self-reliance as the treasured sword of prosperity.”
Thousands were reported to have gathered in Pyongyang on Sunday | Photo: KCNA
And with Kim Jong Un having last week admitted that, with DPRK-U.S. diplomacy stalled, sanctions relief for the country remains unlikely for the time being, economic officials on Sunday urged the country to “develop new technology, new products and new materials of worldwide competitive edge.”

They also called on North Koreans to “consolidate the foundation and might of the self-supporting national economy and thus contribute to solving scientific and technological problems arising in developing the economy and improving the standard of people’s living.”

“They emphasized that they would bring about a rich harvest year after year to upset the hostile forces keen on the moves to put sanctions on the DPRK to stifle it and thus deal a heavy blow at the enemies.”

Mass rallies in the North Korean capital are often held in support of government policies, with any mass demonstration in opposition to the state unthinkable and illegal. Attendance for many was likely compulsory.

DPRK authorities annually host a “Pyongyang mass rally” event within the first few days of January, at which citizens are typically reported – as in this 2019 example – to “resolve to thoroughly implement the important tasks Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un set forth in his New Year Address.”
Top officials, including premier Kim Tok Hun (center-left), Kim Jae Ryong (center), and Kim Il Chol (Center-right), were in attendance | Photo: KCNA

The North Korean leader did not issue a new year’s address this year, however, with last week’s plenary orders now potentially serving as a substitute for that undelivered speech.

The wake of last week’s plenum has seen the U.S. insist that it remains open to a deal with North Korea, with other top officials also stressing that Washington remains prepared for any escalation of tensions.

Speaking in an interview on Fox News last week, Secretary of Defense Mark Esper said the U.S. remains “ready to fight tonight” in Korea if necessary.

North Korea has appeared, at least in part, to be moving towards resurrecting its previous parallel development policy, or “byungjin” line, with Kim last week having pledged to “steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons” alongside the economy.
Edited by James Fretwell


Veteran Member
There's a lot of guessing in this article.

North Korea's 'new strategic weapon' could be MIRV, report says
Elizabeth Shim
North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is under scrutiny following messages from Pyongyang regarding a new strategic weapon. File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

North Korea's Sohae Satellite Launching Station is under scrutiny following messages from Pyongyang regarding a "new strategic weapon." File Photo by Jeon Heon-kyun/EPA-EFE

Jan. 7 (UPI) -- North Korean advancements in the development of multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicles cannot be ruled out, according to a South Korea parliamentary committee.

Lee Eun-jae, a lawmaker with the main opposition Liberty Korea Party and a member of the National Assembly's Intelligence Committee, suggested the "new strategic weapon" North Korean leader Kim Jong Un mentioned in a recent statement could be a reference to a MIRV, News 1 reported Tuesday.

"We asked intelligence authorities whether the new strategic weapon was a MIRV, and they said the possibility 'cannot be ruled out'," Lee said, according to the report.

In a MIRV, the main rocket motor, or booster, pushes a "bus" into a ballistic fight path. Using on-board rocket motors and a computerized inertial guidance system, the bus moves along the flight path, during which it delivers a re-entry vehicle containing a warhead to a target. It then maneuvers to a different trajectory to release another warhead. As many 14 warheads can be released

Multiple warheads can be launched, and the projectile is difficult to intercept because sometimes "fake warheads" are mixed in with deadly weapons, the report says.

Lee also said North Korea is "constantly upgrading" its intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities.

Concerns grew in late 2019 North Korea could test an ICBM at Sohae Satellite Launching Station after the regime tested what may have been a large liquid-propellant rocket engine in early December.

Vann H. Van Diepen, an analyst writing for 38 North, has said North Korea could pursue less technically demanding MRVs, or multiple re-entry vehicles, before trying MIRVs.

North Korea may be taking note of increased wariness in the South.

Pyongyang propaganda service Meari said Tuesday South Korean politicians and authorities are "reeling from persecution complex" and are paranoiacs for talking up North Korea provocations.

Meari called South Koreans "sinful" for their cautious approach to North Korea's weapons development and condemned Seoul for maintaining a 24-hour watch over the latest developments.


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No. 2 US general says North Korea building new missiles 'as fast as anybody on the planet'
Zachary Cohen
By Zachary Cohen, CNN

Updated 5:20 PM ET, Fri January 17, 2020

North Korea indicates it could resume nuclear testing 02:02
Washington (CNN)North Korea is "building new missiles, new capabilities, new weapons as fast as anybody on the planet," and learning from its mistakes as it makes advances in its missile programs, the No. 2 general at the Pentagon said Friday.
Air Force Gen. John Hyten, the vice-chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, made the comments as talks between Washington and Pyongyang over North Korea's nuclear program have stalled and Kim Jong Un has signaled he may be ready to test more missiles that could be capable of hitting the United States.
"If you want to go fast in the missile business you need to test fast, fly fast and learn fast. Look at Space X in this country. There were some pretty spectacular failures. Did they stop? No," Hyten said while speaking at the Center for Strategic & International Studies in Washington.
South Korea's Moon says door not closed on talks with North Korea
South Korea's Moon says door not closed on talks with North Korea

"That is what North Korea has been doing and North Korea has been building new missiles, new capabilities, new weapons as fast as anybody on the planet with the 115th most powerful economy in the world. Speed itself is efficiency," he added.

The Trump administration has reached out to North Korea to resume diplomatic negotiations after the two countries broke off talks in October, White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien told Axios over the weekend.
"We've reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October," O'Brien told the news outlet.
He added, "We've been letting them know, through various channels, that we would like to get those (negotiations) back on track and to implement Chairman Kim's commitment" to denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula."
Those comments came after North Korea's leader, earlier this month, said that there "will never" be denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula if the US "persists in its hostile policy towards" the hermit nation, according to the country's state news agency.

At a meeting of ruling party officials, Kim also said his country's long term security will be guaranteed by staying on constant alert and relying on "the powerful nuclear deterrent capable of containing the nuclear threats from the US," according to the Korean Central News Agency.
KCNA released the report at the end of "The 5th Plenary Meeting of the 7th Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea." In the plenary, Kim said "the DPRK will steadily develop necessary and prerequisite strategic weapons for the security of the state until the US rolls back its hostile policy towards the DPRK and lasting and durable peace-keeping mechanism is built."

In an indication that North Korea could soon resume nuclear weapon testing, Kim said his country should no longer feel bound by its self-imposed halt on nuclear weapons and long-range missile testing. He also announced that "the world will witness a new strategic weapon" in the near future, KCNA reported.
White House tells North Korea they want to resume negotiations, national security adviser says
White House tells North Korea they want to resume negotiations, national security adviser says

Still, President Donald Trump has told reporters he remains optimistic about the future of diplomacy and touted his relationship with Kim.
"He likes me, I like him, we get along," he said. "He did sign an agreement talking about denuclearization. ... I think he's a man of his word, so we're going to find out," Trump said earlier this month.
Kim's latest threat came as American officials were closely monitoring North Korea following its promise in December to deliver a "Christmas gift" to the US.

The specific language -- North Korea referred to its first successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch in 2017 as a "gift" -- sparked speculation that Pyongyang could do something equally provocative, though the holiday came and went without any weapons test.
CNN's Barbara Starr, Jamie Crawford and Devan Cole contributed reporting



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Kingston Reif (@KingstonAReif) Tweeted:
That seems..high.

VCJCS Gen. Hyten: "I have 100% confidence..I don't say 100% very often..I have 100% confidence in those [U.S. missile defense] capabilities against North Korea..[T]hey're gonna work against North Korea god forbid if we ever have to" A Conversation with General John Hyten, Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff View:


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Nearly half of N. Korean party vice chairmen replaced in recent convention
10:49 January 19, 2020

SEOUL, Jan 19 (Yonhap) -- Ri Su-yong, former North Korean foreign minister and vice chairman of the ruling party's Central Committee, and four others seem to have been replaced in a recent plenary party meeting, according to a North Korean report on Sunday.
On Jan. 1, North Korea announced a major party personnel reshuffle, disclosing the results of a four-day plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the ruling Workers' Party.

But the list of those who were dismissed in the reshuffle was not released at that time.
Details of the recent party reconfiguration came to light with North Korea's disclosure Saturday of the membership of the 70-strong committee established for the funeral ceremony for one of the country's independence fighters and national heroes.
According to the list, five of the party's central committee's 12 vice chairmen, including Ri, did not make it on the roll, indicating that they no longer retain their seats.
In addition to Ri, Pak Kwang-ho, party vice chairman and director of the party's propaganda and agitation department, as well as Kim Phyong-hae, Thae Jong-su and An Jong-su, were replaced.
This photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Jan. 1, 2020, shows a photo session during the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the North Korean ruling Workers' Party the previous day. [For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution] (Yonhap)
zoom in/out
This photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Jan. 1, 2020, shows a scene from the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the North Korean ruling Workers' Party the previous day. [For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution] (Yonhap)
zoom in/out
This photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on Jan. 1, 2020, shows a photo session during the plenary meeting of the Central Committee of the North Korean ruling Workers' Party the previous day. [For Use Only in the Republic of Korea. No Redistribution] (Yonhap)
1 of 2hide caption
The fate of Ri and the four others was brought into question after they did not appear at a photo session of the four-day party meeting that ended on the last day of 2019.
According to the results of the party meeting, the 85-year-old Ri is believed to have been succeeded by former North Korean Ambassador to Russia Kim Hyong-jun, who was recently promoted to the seat of party vice chairman.
Having also been promoted to vice chairmanship, Ri Pyong-chol, who spearheaded North Korea's recent arms development, and Ri Il-hwan have taken over the roles of Thae and Pak, respectively.
An official at the South Korean Ministry of Unification said more information will be needed to confirm the reshuffle results.
"Not all high-ranking party officials were included on the list of the latest funeral committee," the South Korean official said.
Meanwhile, a U.S. media report suggested the recent replacement of North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho.
Citing officials in Pyongyang, NK News reported in a story carried on Saturday that the foreign minister has been replaced, although it remains unclear who succeeded him.
The foreign minister was also absent from the photo session of the recent party meeting, sparking speculation about his whereabouts.



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TUE JAN 21, 2020 / 8:12 PM GMT
North Korea abandons nuclear freeze pledge, blames "brutal" U.S. sanctions
Stephanie Nebehay

GENEVA (Reuters) - North Korea said on Tuesday it was no longer bound by commitments to halt nuclear and missile testing, blaming the United States' failure to meet a year-end deadline for nuclear talks and "brutal and inhumane" U.S. sanctions.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un set an end-December deadline for denuclearisation talks with the United States and White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said at the time the United States had opened channels of communication.

O'Brien said then he hoped Kim would follow through on denuclearisation commitments he made at summits with U.S. President Donald Trump.

Ju Yong Chol, a counsellor at North Korea's mission to the U.N. in Geneva, said that over the past two years, his country had halted nuclear tests and test firing of inter-continental ballistic missiles "in order to build confidence with the United States".

But the United States had responded by conducting dozens of joint military exercises with South Korea on the divided peninsula and by imposing sanctions, he said.

"As it became clear now that the U.S. remains unchanged in its ambition to block the development of the DPRK and stifle its political system, we found no reason to be unilaterally bound any longer by the commitment that the other party fails to honour," Ju told the U.N.-backed Conference on Disarmament.

Speaking as the envoy from the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK), North Korea's official name, Ju accused the United States of applying "the most brutal and inhumane sanctions".

"If the U.S. persists in such hostile policy towards the DPRK there will never be the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula," he said.

"If the United States tries to enforce unilateral demands and persists in imposing sanctions, North Korea may be compelled to seek a new path."

U.S. military commanders said any new path could include the testing of a long-range missile, which North Korea has suspended since 2017, along with nuclear warhead tests.


U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood voiced concern at Pyongyang's remarks and said Washington hoped the North would return to the negotiating table.

"What we hope is that they will do the right thing and come back to the table and try to work out an arrangement where by we can fulfil that pledge that was made by President Trump and Chairman Kim to denuclearise," he said.


Vesna Batistic Kos, permanent representative of Croatia to the U.N. Office at Geneva speaking on behalf of the European Union, also called on North Korea to stick to the talks.
Pyongyang, slapped with multiple Security Council resolutions and sanctions, has rejected unilateral disarmament and given no indication that it is willing to go beyond statements of broad support for the concept of universal denuclearisation.
North Korea has said in previous, failed talks that it could consider giving up its arsenal if the United States provided security guarantees by removing its troops from South Korea and withdrew its so-called nuclear umbrella of deterrence from South Korea and Japan.
Impoverished North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.
The North regularly used to threaten to destroy the South's main ally, the United States, before rapprochement began after the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea.

(Reporting by Stephanie Nebehay; Editing by Jon Boyle and Nick Macfie)
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