North Korea weekend update (two bogans get drunk, bump chests outside pub)

Actually the bit in brackets is my observations on the weekend locally here in Australia, but seems relevant The weekend re North Korea: NKK foreign minister speech at the UN (Saturday):

Actually the bit in brackets is my observations on the weekend locally here in Australia, but seems relevant The weekend re North Korea: NKK foreign minister speech at the UN (Saturday):

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Russia’s Lavrov on why the US won’t attack North Korea

Lavrov says the US knows North Korea has nuclear weapons Russian foreign minister Lavrov at the United Nations on Friday called the war of words between the US and North Korea as a “kindergarden fight between children” and said a softer approach was needed.

Lavrov says the US knows North Korea has nuclear weapons Russian foreign minister Lavrov at the United Nations on Friday called the war of words between the US and North Korea as a "kindergarden fight between children" and said a softer approach was needed.

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North Korea Owes New York City $156,000 in Unpaid Parking Tickets, Report Says

The world may be focused on Kim Jong “Rocket Man” Un's nuclear missile program, but a new report shows that North Korea is a rogue nation in more ways than one—its U.N. diplomatic mission in New York City has apparently managed to rack up $156,000 in unpaid parking tickets, according to NBC New York.
The staggering 1,300 (and counting) parking violations stretch all the way back to the 1990s, and the six-figure balance reportedly hasn't been touched. Even considering the city's byzantine parking laws, tallying up that much debt with what appears to be a tiny fleet of minivans takes a pretty wanton disregard for no parking signs. (No word on whether the whole thing is a slow-burn plan to bankrupt New York.)
NBC New York's investigative reporters tracked down a member of North Korea's U.N. mission, who disputed the figures by pointing to a 2002 agreement between New York City and the U.S. State Department that allows the city to pull diplomatic vehicles off the r..

The world may be focused on Kim Jong "Rocket Man" Un's nuclear missile program, but a new report shows that North Korea is a rogue nation in more ways than one—its U.N. diplomatic mission in New York City has apparently managed to rack up $156,000 in unpaid parking tickets, according to NBC New York.

The staggering 1,300 (and counting) parking violations stretch all the way back to the 1990s, and the six-figure balance reportedly hasn't been touched. Even considering the city's byzantine parking laws, tallying up that much debt with what appears to be a tiny fleet of minivans takes a pretty wanton disregard for no parking signs. (No word on whether the whole thing is a slow-burn plan to bankrupt New York.)

NBC New York's investigative reporters tracked down a member of North Korea's U.N. mission, who disputed the figures by pointing to a 2002 agreement between New York City and the U.S. State Department that allows the city to pull diplomatic vehicles off the road over three or more unpaid tickets. But while the majority of the country's parking fines were incurred prior to 2002, that doesn't mean the debt is absolved, city officials told NBC New York.It's not clear why later violations hadn't resulted in plates being pulled.

It's not the world's most pressing issue—and North Korea is far from the only country with a giant unpaid NYC parking ticket balance—but it's also a bit of a slap in the face for average New Yorkers who aren't developing nuclear weapons and still have to follow the city's parking laws to a T.

"Trump needs to do something about that since he’s complaining about everything else,” said Sioban Huggins, a driver in Brooklyn, as she paid her own parking fine.

The State Department issued a statement to NBC New York saying they take traffic violations seriously, but admitting there are other considerations at work in deciding whether punish a diplomatic driver.

"This is a responsibility that we take very seriously, meaning we ensure that, irrespective to an individuals’ entitlement to immunity, there are consequences when a foreign mission member fails to comply with U.S. motor vehicle laws," the statement said. "With this said, it is important for police to treat foreign diplomatic and consular personnel with respect. It is not an exaggeration to say that police handing of incidents in this country could have a direct effect on the treatment of US diplomatic and consular personnel serving abroad."

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How We Got to North Korea’s Pacific Nuclear Test Threat and What Comes Next

An ever escalating war of words between the United States and Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian regime in North Korea has reached an entirely new level since President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the Hermit Kingdom in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It seems all but guaranteed that the rhetoric will lead to new North Korean provocations, but what's unprecedented and potentially game-changing is that they could potentially include a full demonstration of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile, or at least an above-ground nuclear weapon test, either which in turn would similarly demand some form of American response.
This latest escalation in tensions between the U.S. government and North Korean officials began on Sept. 19, 2017, when Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time with fiery remarks, lashing out at not only North Korea, but also Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other critics of American foreign policy more broadly. He vowed to..

An ever escalating war of words between the United States and Kim Jong-un’s totalitarian regime in North Korea has reached an entirely new level since President Donald Trump threatened to “totally destroy” the Hermit Kingdom in a speech to the United Nations General Assembly. It seems all but guaranteed that the rhetoric will lead to new North Korean provocations, but what's unprecedented and potentially game-changing is that they could potentially include a full demonstration of a nuclear-armed ballistic missile, or at least an above-ground nuclear weapon test, either which in turn would similarly demand some form of American response.

This latest escalation in tensions between the U.S. government and North Korean officials began on Sept. 19, 2017, when Trump addressed the United Nations General Assembly for the first time with fiery remarks, lashing out at not only North Korea, but also Iran, Cuba, Venezuela, and other critics of American foreign policy more broadly. He vowed to put the United States interests first in all matters and encouraged the other assembled leaders to do the same. But he reserved some of the most incendiary comments for Kim, who he has now nicknamed “Rocket Man,” and his regime.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if it is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he declared. “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime. The United States is ready, willing and able, but hopefully this will not be necessary.”

This particular statement drew “audible gasps” from some of the world leaders in attendance, according to The Associated Press. The North Korean delegation had already walked out in protest before Trump even began speaking.

Since then, the Trump Administration has defended the decision to make this threat in such a public forum. The same was true after the president’s now infamous “fire and fury” comments in August 2017.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders took to Twitter afterwards to claim the comments were not a departure from established foreign policy norms, citing a 2016 comment by President Barack Obama, where he acknowledged the U.S. military’s ability to destroy North Korea. She left out that Obama had added a caveat immediately after making this statement that the humanitarian costs would be enormous and that a massive attack could only put American ally South Korea at grave risk.

“The president's rhetoric as completely appropriate because what is even more dangerous is if there's a lack of clarity,” National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster told CNN on Sept. 21, 2017. “[Kim Jong-un] is someone who has compromised everything for his nation in the pursuit of these capabilities. He is disadvantaging his own people every day by investing in what is a suicide mission.”

There had been some indication that the administration’s rhetoric would continue to trend toward more threats in the days leading up Trump’s U.N. speech, as well. U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said she had “no problem kicking it to [Secretary of Defense] General Mattis” on North Korea during a press conference on Sept. 15, 2017.

Trump’s “fire and fury” statement “was not an empty threat,” Haley told CNN on Sept. 17, 2017, before doubling down on her previous statements. “Where North Korea is being irresponsible and reckless, we were being responsible by trying to use every diplomatic possibility that we could possibly do. … I said yesterday, I’m perfectly happy kicking this over to General Mattis because he has plenty of military options.”

The string of threats, especially Nikki Haley's comments, suggest the United states and its allies could easily handle the increasingly worrisome situation with military force if it runs out of other options. This of course is entirely untrue and major conflict with North Korea would be devastating for all the involved parties.

Not surprisingly, this has not prompted a change in the behavior of the North Korean regime or Premier Kim. As we at The War Zone have noted for months, these statements feed into the country’s existing paranoid and propaganda that the United States and its allies are actively looking to destroy it and forcefully eliminate its government.

It has only appeared to give North Korea more of a reason to continue to develop advanced ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons to achieve some relative parity with the United States in order, if nothing else, to preserve the regime’s very existence. Kim said as much himself in a televised rebuttal on Sept. 21, 2017.

“His [Trump’s] remarks which described the U.S. option through straightforward expression of his will have convinced me, rather than frightening or stopping me, that the path I chose is correct and that it is the one I have to follow to the last,” the North Korean dictator stated. “We will consider with seriousness exercise of a corresponding, highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history.”

Trump continued the cycle on Sept. 22, 2017, as part of a series of Tweets on various topics. “Kim Jong Un of North Korea, who is obviously a madman who doesn't mind starving or killing his people, will be tested like never before!” he posted on the social media site.

If his remarks in front of the United Nations seemed likely to generate a North Korean response, the Tweet sounded closer to a direct challenge. Given Kim's immediate response to Trump's threat of total destruction, it seems he will have little room but to make a provocative move in response to this new "test."

After Kim’s own televised address, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho had already said the North Korean response could include detonating a hydrogen bomb in or over the Pacific Ocean. Earlier in September 2017, North Korea tested what experts believe to be a working thermonuclear device.

The country has also tested a new intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-14, twice, in addition to firing two more intermediate range Hwasong-12s sailing dangerously over Japan into the Pacific. Either of these missiles could potentially carry a nuclear weapon.

If the North Koreans did go this route, it would be an unprecedented and risky provocation that would fundamentally change the calculus of the crisis. The Chinese conducted the last atmospheric nuclear weapons test in 1980, but at the relative safety of the remote Lop Nor test site, which is well within their borders. Neither China nor North Korea are signatories to the 1963 Partial Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which bans signatories from setting off nuclear devices above ground, under water, or in space. China did sign, but not ratify the 1996 Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, which prohibits any tests whatsoever, while North Korea did not sign that agreement.

North Korea lacks the space for this sort of above ground testing within its territory and would have to send a fully operational missile flying over Japan to reach an open expanse in the Pacific. Not only would this limit the ability of North Korean engineers and scientists to observe and gain valuable data about the test, a failure of the missile at any point during this journey could be catastrophic.

Another option would be to fire the missile from a ship or a submarine, or to simply detonate a device on a floating platform out in the Pacific Ocean. However, this would open the mission up to interdiction on the high seas by American or other foreign powers, who might be able to seize the device, stop the test, and gain valuable insight into the state of North Korea's most advanced weapons.

In the future, North Korea may simply need to conduct nuclear weapons tests outside of its own borders since the Punggye-ri underground test site may simply not be able to survive the strain of more powerful thermonuclear designs. The nuclear test earlier in September 2017 appeared to cause the tunnel containing the device to collapse, highlighting the limits of underground testing.

Even if the atmospheric test went as intended, it could be difficult to be entirely sure there would be no inadvertent casualties and the resulting fallout could easily fall on civilian mariners or populated areas. The crew of a Japanese fishing boat, the Daigo Fukuryū Maru, infamously suffered dangerous radiation exposure after the U.S. military’s Castle Bravo hydrogen bomb test at Bikini Atoll in 1954. One of the sailors died.

It could also be hard for the United States and its allies to necessarily tell that if any new missile launches ares test and not a first strike, too. The U.S. military has only ever conducted one of these so-called “end-to-end” nuclear tests demonstrating the full capabilities of a live ballistic missile for exactly this reason.

In 1962, the U.S. Navy fired an armed Polaris submarine launched ballistic missile in a test nicknamed Frigate Bird, part of the larger Operation Dominic. Many experts have already dubbed the potential North Korean launch “Juche Bird,” a blend of the American nickname with Juche, the name North Korea’s core, military-first ideology.

It could be a risk Kim is willing to accept in the face of what appear to be consistently growing threats from the Trump administration. It is also possible he could seek to first demonstrate the full range of the Hwasong-14, proving his regime has the ability to strike the U.S. mainland. North Korea’s last missile test, involving a Hwasong-12, confirmed the weapon has at least the range, if not necessarily the accuracy, to strike the U.S. Pacific Ocean territory of Guam, a threat Kim has made repeatedly.

In addition, it is possible that North Korea could seek other avenues to respond Trump’s rhetoric, including increasing its smuggling and other illicit efforts or stepping up cooperation with other American opponents, chiefly Iran. There are already a number of likely connections between North Korean and Iranian ballistic missile and nuclear weapons programs and the regime in Pyongyang could see proliferating its advance military technology as a means to further challenge the U.S. government.

This could add another dimension to separate threats from the Trump administration to end the deal with Iran over its existing controversial nuclear program, known formally as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). Underscoring this potential issue, on Sept. 22, 2017, Iran publicly displayed its Khorramshahr medium range ballistic missile for the first time, showing a number of similarities to North Korea’s now well proven Musudan design.

And despite Nikki Haley’s and H.R. McMaster’s insistence that there are available military options to respond to these growing provocations, as well as Trump’s vague threats, any direct action would be fraught with its own dangers. One of the most likely courses of action, shooting down the missile, carries significant risks as the impact of the interceptor could trigger the device or the radioactive debris could fall over populated areas.

Perhaps more importantly to the viability of America’s still largely unproven ballistic missile defense shield, if the intercepting weapon misses or otherwise fails to achieve the desired effect, it would expose a serious vulnerability to not just North Korea, but the rest of the world. On top of that, the United States would need to make sure its defenses are positioned in such a way as to have a good chance at scoring a hit.

In particular, systems that engage the missile as it comes falling back down to earth, such as the Terminal High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system, have a very narrow window to achieve a “kill.” Furthermore, this means that personnel manning the interceptors would likely be in the direct path the incoming weapon, and if it was fully armed, a nuclear test.

There is very little room for failure in any of these scenarios. Even if the shoot down were to go smoothly, it is possible that it could trigger a larger and immensely destructive conflict on the Korean Peninsula or throughout East Asia. The War Zone’s Tyler Rogoway has highlighted these various issues previously in a deep dive into the United States’ available options in responding to North Korea’s continued provocations.

Though he continues to stress that diplomacy should be the first choice to de-escalating the tensions, Secretary of Defense Mattis has indicated that the U.S. military may have other weapons or systems to attack the Kim regime without putting South Korea or Japan at risk. “Yes, there are [military options], but I will not go into details,” Mattis told reporters on Sept. 19, 2017.

“Yes, I don't want to go into that,” he added when asked if these plans involved so-called “kinetic” action, usually a term for lethal force. It’s hard to see how a direct strike, no matter how limited, would not provoke a North Korean retaliation that would be devastating at least to South Korea.

North Korea has made it clear in the past that it is willing to kill South Koreans if it feels provoked. Under the leadership of Kim Jong-un’s father, Kim Jong Il, in March 2010, the reclusive regime sunk a South Korean patrol boat, the ROKS Cheonan, killing all the sailors on board. Eight months later, North Korean troops shelled the island of Yeonpyeong, killing two South Korean Marines and another two South Korean civilians, as well as wounding nearly 20 more people.

It is possible that Mattis simply meant kinetic as in direct action, but was referring to the use of electronic warfare or cyber attacks to cripple the North Korean military’s communications and command and control infrastructure or knock out power to key ballistic missile and nuclear sites. The Untied States reportedly planned to unleash a broad cyber offensive against state-operated infrastructure in Iran if the JCPOA fell through. There could easily be a similar plan in place toward North Korea.

All of these options still come with their own risks, though, and there’s still no indication that they would convince Kim to change course. If the North Korean regime’s primary goal is its own survival, it is perfectly rational for them to continue to demonstrate their resolve to respond in kind to American threats.

And despite his comments, Trump's first step, on Sept. 21, 2017, was to sign a new executive order penalizing any individual or business doing business with North Korea. This follows a trend of steady sanctions against actors and firms outside of North Korea that the United States accuses of enabling the reclusive country's government.

Trump and other members of his administration repeatedly question Kim’s mental stability, but as we at The War Zone have noted before, he clearly has a coherent plan. We’re still not sure that U.S. government has developed a thought-out strategy to dissuade him from his chosen path.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

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Trump and South Korea’s Moon agree to enhanced deployment of assets

Statement from the White House – Trump and Moon agreed yesterday to enhanced deployment of US strategic assets in and around South Korea on a rotational basis

Statement from the White House – Trump and Moon agreed yesterday to enhanced deployment of US strategic assets in and around South Korea on a rotational basis

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It would be “game-changer” if North Korea exploded H-bomb over Pacific – US official

US official cited by Reuters – North Korean threat to test H-bomb over Pacific could be “bluster” but US must take it seriously despite questions about Pyongyang's capabilities

US official cited by Reuters – North Korean threat to test H-bomb over Pacific could be "bluster" but US must take it seriously despite questions about Pyongyang's capabilities

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Gold Hovers Near $1300 Amid U.S.-North Korea Tensions

Gold Hovers Near $1300 Amid U.S.-North Korea Tensions Gold futures inched higher Friday morning, trimming steep losses from earlier in the week as traders continued to assess the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement.
On Wednesday, Yesterday, the Federal Reserve maintained their so-called 'dot plot' of rate projections for this year and next, strongly hinting at a December rate hike.
Also, the Fed said it will begin shrinking its bloated $4.5 trillion portfolio in October by allowing $10 billion in bonds to mature without replacing them.
Dec. gold was up $4 at $1299 an ounce, with the precious metal supported by its safe haven appeal and the war of words between Kim and Trump is heating up.
The flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index for the September will be issued at 9.45 am ET. The economist are looking for consensus of 54.9, down from 56.0 a month ago.
Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations for September will be published at 10.00 am..

Gold Hovers Near $1300 Amid U.S.-North Korea Tensions

gold hovers near $1300 amid u.s.-north korea tensions

Gold futures inched higher Friday morning, trimming steep losses from earlier in the week as traders continued to assess the Federal Reserve's interest rate announcement.

On Wednesday, Yesterday, the Federal Reserve maintained their so-called 'dot plot' of rate projections for this year and next, strongly hinting at a December rate hike.

Also, the Fed said it will begin shrinking its bloated $4.5 trillion portfolio in October by allowing $10 billion in bonds to mature without replacing them.

Dec. gold was up $4 at $1299 an ounce, with the precious metal supported by its safe haven appeal and the war of words between Kim and Trump is heating up.

The flash Composite Purchasing Managers' Index for the September will be issued at 9.45 am ET. The economist are looking for consensus of 54.9, down from 56.0 a month ago.

Atlanta Fed Business Inflation Expectations for September will be published at 10.00 am ET. The prior month business inflation expectations were up 1.9 percent.

Kansas City Federal Reserve Bank President Esther George will deliver the keynote address at the "Global Oil Supply & Demand: Prospects for Greater Balance" Conference in Oklahoma City, with audience Q&A at 9.30 am ET.

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Tillerson says US will continue diplomatic efforts on North Korea but military options remain open

US Secretary of State up to the mic 22 Sept – US relationship with Russia very strained – US trying to identify areas to work with Russia but serious differences remain All very fractious out there right now. Let's see what the week-end brings apart from the New Zealand and German elections.

US Secretary of State up to the mic 22 Sept – US relationship with Russia very strained – US trying to identify areas to work with Russia but serious differences remain All very fractious out there right now. Let's see what the week-end brings apart from the New Zealand and German elections.

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Prime News: Gold Climbs Amid North Korea Concerns

Gold Climbs Amid North Korea Concerns Gold prices rose from a four-week low on Friday as recent tensions between the United States and North Korea caused investors to turn to the safe-haven asset.
Spot gold climbed 0.2 percent at $1,293.70 per ounce, after hitting its lowest since Aug. 25 at $1,287.61 in the session earlier.
U.S. gold futures for December delivery rose 0.1 percent at $1,296.60 per ounce.
The dollar eased against the yen and versus a basket of six major currencies.
U.S. President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions against North Korea and Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong Un promised to proceed with its nuclear and missile programmes and said it would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the United States.
Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, increased 0.73 percent to 852.24 tonnes on Thursday from 846.03 tonnes the previous day.
ICE Benchmark Administration, a unit of Inter..

Gold Climbs Amid North Korea Concerns

Gold Climbs Amid North Korea Concerns

Gold prices rose from a four-week low on Friday as recent tensions between the United States and North Korea caused investors to turn to the safe-haven asset.

Spot gold climbed 0.2 percent at $1,293.70 per ounce, after hitting its lowest since Aug. 25 at $1,287.61 in the session earlier.

U.S. gold futures for December delivery rose 0.1 percent at $1,296.60 per ounce.

The dollar eased against the yen and versus a basket of six major currencies.

U.S. President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions against North Korea and Pyongyang's leader Kim Jong Un promised to proceed with its nuclear and missile programmes and said it would consider the "highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history" against the United States.

Holdings of SPDR Gold Trust, the world's biggest gold-backed exchange-traded fund, increased 0.73 percent to 852.24 tonnes on Thursday from 846.03 tonnes the previous day.

ICE Benchmark Administration, a unit of Intercontinental Exchange (ICE), will take over as operator of London's silver benchmark on Oct. 2, according to the bourse.

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More on North Korea H-bomb test (in the Pacific) threat

I posted this earlier: South Korean media warn of North Korea H-bomb test in Pacific This now from Yonhap, a little more detail: North Korea may conduct the most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean in its possible “highest-level” actions against the United States, the North's top diplomat said Thursday

I posted this earlier: South Korean media warn of North Korea H-bomb test in Pacific This now from Yonhap, a little more detail: North Korea may conduct the most powerful test of a hydrogen bomb in the Pacific Ocean in its possible "highest-level" actions against the United States, the North's top diplomat said Thursday

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