Tension Mounts On Korean Peninsula •US Tests China’s Sincerity •North Korea Warns Against Pre-emptive Strike

By on April 15, 2017

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North Korea Military Parade
North Korea Military Parade

North Korea, this Saturday, marks the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the founder of the Hermit Kingdom's Kim regime.

And as expected, North Korea’s weapons of war rolled through Pyongyang streets and it promised “nuclear justice” in response to any atomic attack as leader Kim Jong-Un mounted a spectacular show of strength.

North Korea has reiterated that Pyongyang would not scale down its weapons programme but would go ahead and conduct a nuclear test whenever the country's leader Kim Jong-un orders it. The reclusive nation's vice foreign minister also added that it would not stay silent in the event of a pre-emptive strike by the US.

Tensions are high in the Korean peninsula with North Korean observers fearing that Pyongyang is preparing to conduct another nuclear detonation soon. The rogue regime, which often resorts to belligerent rhetoric, is also infuriated by the presence of the massive strike group of the US Navy.

Speaking to the Associated Press news agency in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol said the current situation in the Korean peninsula is a "vicious cycle" but blamed it on his adversaries, the US and South Korea.

When asked about reports suggesting that the US could mount pre-emptive strikes on North Korea's key positions including missile and nuclear sites, Han said Pyongyang would not "keep its hands crossed" if that happens.

"(US President Donald) Trump is always making provocations with his aggressive words. .... It's not the DPRK (Democratic People's Republic of Korea) but the US and Trump that makes trouble," Han said.

The minister's comments coincide with multiple reports that have emerged indicating Washington is prepared to launch strikes on the North if it attempts to press on with more provocative acts.

Concerns are growing in the region as the North has announced that it is preparing for a major occasion, possibly hinting that it could carry out another nuclear detonation to mark a series of anniversaries in the country. If the country pushes ahead with a nuclear test, this would be North Korea's sixth such detonation defying an array of international regulations.

Already, U.S. Air Force officials made it clear to North Korea they were not messing around, launching a surprise military exercise with full combat air power in Japan last Wednesday.

The jets in the arsenal of the 18th Wing, which conducted the exercise, include HH-60 Pave Hawks, F-15 Eagles, E-3 Sentries and KC-135 Stratotankers. Military officials call it the Air Force's largest combat-ready wing.

As the two sides flex their muscles in a lopsided contest, it's China — North Korea's biggest economic and political backer — that may hold the keys to deescalating the conflict.

"Military force cannot resolve the issue," Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told Reuters in Beijing.

At a recent press conference, US President Donald Trump suggested that he'd pressured China into cutting off support for North Korea and to force the rogue regime to denuclearize.

China is responsible for a whopping 85% of North Korea's external trade and supplying a similar amount of its energy imports, but Beijing has never fully used this to get the Kim regime to drop its arms program.

Now, as the US increasingly talks of using military force against North Korea, China has finally signaled a new willingness to act.

China has urged North Korea's opponents not to do anything rash, Reuters reported, despite signs the rogue nation soon may conduct a sixth nuclear test. 

Satellite imagery showed activity at North Korea's Punggye-ri testing site, a sign the secretive regime could be preparing for another nuclear test, analysts from the U.S. research institute 38 North wrote.

President Trump has, lately, voiced confidence Chinese President Xi Jinping would help him control North Korea's mounting threat.

"I think he wants to help us with North Korea," Trump said of Xi, crediting China in a White House news conference with taking a "big step" by turning back boats of coal that North Korea sells to its northern neighbor. North Korea conducts some 90 percent of its trade with China.

The United States has been urging Beijing to use its economic leverage with North Korea, which conducted two underground nuclear explosions and two dozen missile tests last year. It is moving closer to developing a nuclear-tipped missile that could threaten the U.S. mainland, analysts have said.

Many experts believe that at its current pace of testing, North Korea could reach that potentially game-changing milestone within a few years — under Trump's watch as president. Despite reports that Washington is considering military action if the North goes ahead with another nuclear test, Han did not rule out the possibility of a test in the near future.

The North conducted two such tests last year alone. The first was of what it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb and the second was its most powerful ever. 

The annual U.S.-South Korea military exercises have consistently infuriated the North, which views them as rehearsals for an invasion. Washington and Seoul deny that, but reports that exercises have included "decapitation strikes" aimed at the North's leadership have fanned Pyongyang's anger.

Washington has been silent as tensions climb to historic highs between the US and its allies and North Korea, on rumors of massive movements of Chinese troops near North Korea's border keep surfacing.

China is believed to have moved about 150,000 strong troop to North Korea.

A Pentagon official told Business Insider that the US had heard the reports but had "not seen anything to corroborate it."

But Chinese troops are always stationed in the northeast near North Korea, and Yun Sun, a senior associate with the East Asia Program at the Stimson Center, told Business Insider that "Chinese troop movements happen often along that border" when North Korean nuclear and missile provocations seem imminent.

"When North Korea acts up with some sort of provocation, the Chinese in the past have moved their troops to reinforce their deployments in the northeast for military preparedness," Yun said.

"On the other hand," Yun said, "I think it does signal that the Chinese are concerned about a potential escalation, or even potential conflict" between the US and North Korea, as North Korea plans a nuclear test and the USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier pulls up to Korea's coast.

This footage purporting to show a massive movement of Chinese forces has surfaced online, further stoking the rumors.

There is also the claim that the team of Navy SEALS behind the death of Osama bin Laden are allegedly plotting to remove Kim Jong-un from power.

According to the US Ministry of National Defense, they are due to take part in drills to ‘incapacitate’ the North Korean leader.

The exercises will take place in South Korea and it is in preparation in case conflict breaks out on the Korean Peninsula.

Source cattnews

Posted 15/04/2017 11:08:17 AM

 

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