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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Preston North End 0-0 Millwall – 23-Sep-2017 : Match Report

Preston extend unbeaten run to six games after Millwall stalemate
High-flying Preston were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Millwall at Deepdale in a game of few clear-cut chances.
The draw extends Preston's unbeaten run to six Sky Bet Championship games and they were the side who came closest to breaking the deadlock, with opportunities wasted either side of half-time.
Millwall, seeking their first away win at this level in 12 attempts dating back to February 2015, had the first chance after 13 minutes as George Saville's shot was parried by Chris Maxwell before Steve Morison blazed over from 12 yards.
Preston have lots of pace to allow them to threaten on the counter-attack and showed that three minutes later as Tom Barkhuizen cut into the area from the right and his low shot was tipped wide of the far post by Jordan Archer.
The first half was punctuated by a number of fouls from both sides which broke up any pattern of the game.
Preston threatened with a couple of set-pie..

Preston extend unbeaten run to six games after Millwall stalemate
High-flying Preston were held to a frustrating 0-0 draw by Millwall at Deepdale in a game of few clear-cut chances.
The draw extends Preston's unbeaten run to six Sky Bet Championship games and they were the side who came closest to breaking the deadlock, with opportunities wasted either side of half-time.
Millwall, seeking their first away win at this level in 12 attempts dating back to February 2015, had the first chance after 13 minutes as George Saville's shot was parried by Chris Maxwell before Steve Morison blazed over from 12 yards.
Preston have lots of pace to allow them to threaten on the counter-attack and showed that three minutes later as Tom Barkhuizen cut into the area from the right and his low shot was tipped wide of the far post by Jordan Archer.
The first half was punctuated by a number of fouls from both sides which broke up any pattern of the game.
Preston threatened with a couple of set-pieces after 25 minutes, the second of which broke to Daniel Johnson 15 yards out, though he skied his volley high into the Millwall fans.
On the stroke of half-time, Johnson slipped a pass through for Sean Maguire inside the area but he sliced the ball into the side-netting from eight yards.
The best move of the match came from the hosts after 53 minutes when Johnson slid Barkhuizen in behind and his low cross found Josh Harrop with an open goal, but the forward could not get enough contact as he lunged at the ball from three yards out.
Preston were the side threatening though and they had another opportunity a minute later as the ball dropped to full-back Darnell Fisher 20 yards out, but he hit the effort well over the bar.
Archer was forced into one of the few saves in the match after 66 minutes when Barkhuizen crossed from the left and Maguire got a glancing header on target but it was straight at the Millwall keeper from 12 yards.
Millwall had not looked like breaching the Championship's tightest defence, but they had an opportunity to do so on 75 minutes. Ben Davies gifted possession away and Jed Wallace was able to chip the ball through to Saville, who could only poke over the bar from eight yards.
Preston pushed for the win late on, but Millwall held firm and are now unbeaten in three Championship games.

Source: PA

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Iran’s New Ballistic Missile Looks a Lot Like a Modified North Korean One

Shortly after revealing the new Khorramshahr medium range ballistic missile to the public for the first time, Iran released a never before seen video showing a successful test of the weapon, but did not give a date or place for the footage. The new development will undoubtedly have an impact on whether U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration decide to scrap a deal with Iran over its controversial nuclear program, but it also underscores long-standing concerns that the Iranian authorities have been working with the North Koreans and other allies to skirt their international obligations.
Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), a military-political organization that commands immense influence on the country’s domestic and foreign policy, unveiled the Khorramshahr during a military parade on Sept. 22, 2017 as part of the country’s annual Sacred Defense Week. The events commemorate the country’s bloody war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988.
The city of Khorramshahr ..

Shortly after revealing the new Khorramshahr medium range ballistic missile to the public for the first time, Iran released a never before seen video showing a successful test of the weapon, but did not give a date or place for the footage. The new development will undoubtedly have an impact on whether U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration decide to scrap a deal with Iran over its controversial nuclear program, but it also underscores long-standing concerns that the Iranian authorities have been working with the North Koreans and other allies to skirt their international obligations.

Iran’s powerful Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC), a military-political organization that commands immense influence on the country’s domestic and foreign policy, unveiled the Khorramshahr during a military parade on Sept. 22, 2017 as part of the country’s annual Sacred Defense Week. The events commemorate the country’s bloody war with Iraq between 1980 and 1988.

The city of Khorramshahr features heavily in Iran’s historical accounting of that conflict, as it was the site of the war’s first battle and remained under Iraqi control until 1982. The liberation marked a turning point in Iran’s favor and the new missile’s moniker is almost certainly a symbolic reference.

Brigadier General Amir Ali Hajizadeh, a senior commander from the IRGC’s Aerospace Division told reporters that the missile had a range of approximately 1,250 miles and could carry multiple warheads, suggesting it had a so-called multiple independently targetable reentry vehicle (MIRV) configuration and could strike more than one target at a time. “As it was observed, the missile has become smaller in size and more tactical and it will be operational in the near future," he added.

The missile on parade had a single, solid nose cone, making it impossible to verify the multiple warhead claims. The video footage did not show any evidence of this feature, either. If the range figure is accurate, Khorramshahr could carry a warhead or warheads anywhere in the Middle East, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, as well as hit targets in parts of Eastern Europe, East Africa, and Central Asia.

“We will promote our defensive and military power as much as we deem necessary,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech before the procession. “We seek no one’s permission to defend our land.”

Rouhani’s remarks and the display of the missile itself, seem to be a response, at least in part, to fiery rhetoric from President Trump, who criticized Iran’s government during his first ever speech in front of the United Nations General Assembly and has slammed the deal over Iran’s controversial nuclear program. The Trump administration says that Iranian ballistic missile development and tests go against the spirit of that agreement.

“We cannot let a murderous regime continue these destabilizing activities while building dangerous missiles, and we cannot abide by an agreement if it provides cover for the eventual construction of a nuclear program,” Trump said in front of other world leaders and international diplomats at the United Nations on Sept. 19, 2017. “The Iran Deal was one of the worst and most one-sided transactions the United States has ever entered into. Frankly, that deal is an embarrassment to the United States, and I don’t think you’ve heard the last of it – believe me.”

The Iran Deal, formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), does not technically cover ballistic missiles. United Nations Security Council resolutions, though, do prohibit Iran from developing such weapons, but only insofar as they can be used to deliver nuclear weapons.

Needless to say, the demonstration of the Khorramshahr has added a certain weight to calls in the United States to pull out of or otherwise reconsider the future of the JCPOA. Critics of pulling out of the arrangement say that it could only hasten Iran’s development of both newer and more advanced ballistic missiles, as well as a nuclear weapon.

However, Khorramshahr may prompt additional concerns that Iran may already be working along both of these lines with help from North Korea and other allies. Observers were quick to point out that the missile shares a number of similarities, especially in its apparent engine configuration, with the North Korean BM-25 Musudan, also known as the Hwasong-10.

Iran claims that the new missile is an entirely domestic effort, but it makes similar statements about almost every weapon system it unveils, even those that are clearly derived from foreign designs. Its existing Shahab-3 medium range ballistic missiles are a known derivative of North Korea’s earlier Hwasong-7.

In July 2016, Fox News reported that Iran had unsuccessfully tested a Musudan, citing a number of unnamed sources. This came one month after the North Korea’s first successful launch of the type.

Then, in January 2017, Fox News said that more anonymous sources had told them the Iranians had test fired a new, then unknown missile, with the name Khorramshahr. It reportedly flew approximately 600 miles with an unknown apogee before exploding. According to Reuters, a U.S. military official said this was the same type Iran had tested in July 2016. It is very possible that the video shown during the opening of Sacred Defense Week 2017 was from this test.

Separately, in July 2017, Iran formally opened the Imam Khomeini Space Center near Semnan with the launch of a Simorgh space launch vehicle, which the United States and other critics say is simply a cover for work on an intercontinental ballistic missile. This launch occurred the same a month as North Korea’s first demonstration of the Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile.

We cannot say conclusively that Iran and North Korea are actively working together on ballistic missile developments, but the timelines and past precedents heavily point to continued cooperation on advanced weapons. Though the Khorramshahr is liquid fueled, it is possible that this engagement could lead to improved solid fuel designs, which troops can set up and fire faster, similar to North Korea’s Pukguksong series.

“Iranian solid-propellant programs are also progressing,” the 2017 NASIC report noted. Iran already has a solid fuel weapon with the same estimated range as the Khorramshahr, the Sejjil.

We also know, thanks to a Freedom of Information Act request, that STRATCOM’s J321 Industrial Systems Analyst had been looking into someone’s solid fuel rocket motor development between July and December 2016. The briefing slide in question is so heavily redacted that it’s difficult to make out the exact objectives or targets of the analysis, but does mention earlier studies done on behalf of U.S. Pacific Command.

The added fear, of course, would be that if the two are working on missiles, then they could just as easily be sharing information on nuclear weapons. There has long been a concern that Iran could easily afford to halt its domestic nuclear program because it had either already completed all the necessary research or could continue it elsewhere away from the prying eyes of international inspectors.

The appearance of ballistic missile-related facilities in Syria that look similar to those Iran adds weight to the possibility that the government in Tehran has reached out to allies to help shield various advanced weapons programs for scrutiny, to support parallel developments in those countries, or both. Iran has been very open about proliferating various artillery rocket and short-range ballistic missile technology, such as the Zulfiqar missiles it fired at ISIS terrorists in June 2017, both to states like Syria and non-state actors like the Lebanese militant group Hezbollah.

“Taking a definitive stand against Trump is only the beginning of the path,” General Mohammad Ali Jafari, head of the IRGC, said after hearing Trump's comments, according to the organization's official Sepah News outlet. “What is strategically important is that America witnesses more painful responses in the actions, behavior and decisions that Iran takes in the coming months.”

Since Iran insists it is not building any nuclear weapons, it says its ballistic missile work does not fall under the terms of these resolutions. The United States has challenged this interpretation, saying that there is limited utility in long-range ballistic missiles with conventional payloads and that it makes little sense to spend the time and energy on their development without nuclear warheads.

“The facts are that Iran is operating under the agreements the we signed up for under the JCPOA,” U.S. Air Force General John Hyten, head of U.S. Strategic Command, said during a talk at the Hudson Institute event. “But at the same time they are rapidly, rapidly deploying and developing a whole series of ballistic missiles and testing ballistic missiles at all ranges that provide significant concerns to not just the United States, but our allies.”

According to an unclassified 2017 report from the U.S. Air Force’s National Air and Space Intelligence Center (NASIC), of the countries presently the United States know are working on new medium and intermediate range ballistic missiles, only Iran has not tested a nuclear device. “Iran has ambitious ballistic missile and space launch development programs and continues to attempt to increase the lethality of its ballistic missile force,” the analysts added.

These concerns are hardly new, of course. Since Iran Deal came into effect in 2015, there have been more than 10 reported Iranian missile tests.

“The United States is deeply concerned about Iran’s recent ballistic missile launches, which are provocative and destabilizing,” then U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Samantha Power said in March 2016 after a series of launches. “We condemn such threats against another U.N. member state and one of our closest allies,” she added in response to Iranian remarks that the tests were meant as a clear warning to Israel.

Still, the appearance of the Khorramshahr is likely to unsettle Iran’s regional opponents, including Israel and Saudi Arabia, which are both already in the process of expanding their ballistic missile defenses. On Sept. 18, 2017, the U.S. military announced it would set up its first ever formal base in Israel, which appeared to be an expansion of existing missile defense cooperation.

Israel is also increasingly worried about Hezbollah’s capabilities as the group receives more Iranian and Syrian support to continue operations against rebels fighting the government of dictator Bashar Al Assad in Syria. On Sept. 22, 2017, Israeli aircraft attacked a site the group controlled near the airport in Damascus, the latest intervention in that country by the Israeli Air Force.

Earlier in September 2017, Israel also struck the Syrian Scientific Studies and Researchers Center. Those most reporting focused on this organization’s work on Syria’s chemical weapons program, it is also linked to ballistic missile work.

It seems very possible that we could see a flurry of ballistic missile developments in Iran and among its allies in the near future. It also will be interesting to see if new Iran announcements continue to come soon after similar displays in North Korea.

Note: Many news outlets reported the launch shown in the video the Iranians released during Sacred Defense Week 2017 as new, but it remains unclear whether or not this was the case. In their English language reporting, Iranian media outlets did not frame this as a new test, suggesting that it could have been footage of the January 2017 launch. As of Sept. 23, 2017, neither the Pentagon nor the U.S. State Department had released a statement about any new launch, either. Regardless, it was a clear demonstration that the missile has flown successfully on at least one occasion.

Contact the author: jtrevithickpr@gmail.com

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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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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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