North Korea steps it up by parading new Hypersonic Nuke

Revelations 6:3-4 “when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • KIM GOES HYPER Kim Jong-un parades ‘hypersonic nukes that can hit US bases in MINUTES’ and vows to build arsenal at ‘fastest pace’
  • It comes as Pyongyang has stepped up weapons tests and displays of military power amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States and an incoming conservative administration in South Korea.
  • “The nuclear forces of our Republic should be fully prepared to fulfil their responsible mission and put their unique deterrent in motion at any time,” Kim told the parade, according to state news agency KCNA.
  • The fundamental mission of the North’s nuclear force is to “deter war,” but its use “can never be confined to the single mission,” he added.
  • “If any forces try to violate the fundamental interests of our state, our nuclear forces will have to decisively accomplish its unexpected second mission,” Kim said.

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Evidence Pointing to North Korea Preparing for Another Nuclear Test

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • Responding quickly to Pyongyang’s launch of the projectile into the East Sea, President Moon Jae-in accused the North’s leader Kim Jong-un of breaking the promise of a self-imposed moratorium on ICBM testing.
  • Many regard it as a potential prelude to the recalcitrant Kim regime’s push for another nuclear test, a “red line” drawn by South Korea and the United States.
  • All evidence points to the fact that North Korea has not abandoned the site and that the site is in caretaker status,” Joseph Bermudez, senior fellow at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) reportedly said, citing satellite photos of such activities as vehicle movements around the facilities.

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U.S. Intelligence Community warned of N.K. escalating ICBM capability

Revelations 6:3-4 “ when he opened the second seal, I heard the second living creature say, “Come!” 4 And out came another horse, bright red. Its rider was permitted to take peace from the earth, so that people should slay one another, and he was given a great sword.

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea plans ‘monster’ missile launch by April
  • North Korea has been using satellite subterfuge to test parts of a so-called “monster” missile, analysts say, as it gears up for a sanctions-shattering launch ahead of a key domestic anniversary.
  • Pyongyang has conducted a record nine weapons tests so far this year
  • Experts see as an effort to work through a laundry list of strategic weapons set out by leader Kim Jong Un.
  • North Korea has been observing a self-imposed moratorium on testing long range and nuclear weapons, but with talks stalled and sanctions still in place, it seems close to tearing it up.
  • “I think the moratorium is as good as over. We should expect to see a return to ICBM testing,” said US-based security analyst Ankit Panda.

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Flanked by missiles, North Korea’s Kim says U.S. and South Korea threaten peace

By Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) -Standing beside North Korea’s largest missiles, leader Kim Jong Un said his country’s weapons development is necessary in the face of hostile policies from the United States and a military buildup in South Korea, state media said on Tuesday.

Pyongyang was only increasing its military in self-defense and not to start a war, Kim said in a speech at the Defense Development Exhibition on Monday, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency reported.

Kim made his remarks standing next to a variety of weapons, including the country’s intercontinental ballistic missiles, the ruling party newspaper Rodong Sinmun showed. Among them was the Hwasong-16, North Korea’s largest ICBM, unveiled at a military parade in October 2020 but not yet test-fired.

“We are not discussing war with anyone, but rather to prevent war itself and to literally increase war deterrence for the protection of national sovereignty,” Kim said.

State television footage showed a smiling Kim clapping as shirtless soldiers use their hands to smash bricks placed on colleagues’ chests, as others cut chains wrapped around their bodies in a show of strength.

Kim also saluted jets leaving colored trails during an air show, while strolling through missiles on display.

A spokesperson for South Korea’s defense ministry said South Korean and U.S. intelligence agencies were analyzing the equipment displayed.

A spokesperson for the U.S. State Department reiterated that the U.S. goal was the complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula, but that Washington “harbors no hostile intent” towards North Korea and is prepared to meet with it without preconditions for “serious and sustained diplomacy”.

“The United States has a vital interest in deterring the DPRK, defending against its provocations or uses of force, and in limiting the reach of its most dangerous weapons programs, and above all keeping the American people and our allies safe,” the spokesperson added, using the initials for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Pyongyang has said it is not interested in talks as long as Washington maintains policies such as sanctions and military activities in South Korea.

Washington’s assertions that it holds no hostile feelings toward North Korea were hard to believe in the face of its continued “wrong judgements and actions”, Kim said, without elaborating.

The two Koreas have been in an accelerating arms race, with both sides testing increasingly advanced short-range ballistic missiles and other hardware.

South Korea recently test fired its first submarine-launched ballistic missile, plans to build aircraft carriers and has bought American-made F-35 stealth fighters.

North Korea has pushed ahead with its missile program, and analysts say it has begun a major expansion of its main nuclear reactor, used to produce fuel for nuclear bombs.

South Korea’s national security adviser, Suh Hoon, was expected to meet his American counterpart, Jake Sullivan, in Washington on Tuesday to discuss North Korea.

Suh told reporters on Monday he planned to discuss South Korean President Moon Jae-in’s proposal for a formal end to the 1950-1953 Korean War and for possible easing of sanctions on North Korea, Yonhap news agency reported.

Last week the two Koreas restored their hotlines that North Korea severed months ago, with Pyongyang urging Seoul to step up efforts to improve relations after criticizing what it called double standards over weapons development.

Kim said Seoul’s “unrestricted and dangerous” efforts to strengthen its military were “destroying the military balance in the Korean peninsula and increasing military instability and danger”.

“Under the absurd pretext of suppressing our threats, South Korea has openly expressed its desire to gain an edge over us in military power on various occasions,” he added.

(Reporting by Sangmi Cha and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Minwoo Park in Seoul and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Stephen Coates and Nick Macfie)

North Korea warns U.S. misinterpreting signals risks disappointment

By Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) -The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un warned the United States on Tuesday not to seek comfort in comments by her brother as this would end in disappointment, while a U.S. envoy met South Korea’s president aiming to revive talks with North Korea.

Kim Yo Jong, who is also a senior official in North Korea’s ruling party, released a statement in state media saying the United States appeared to be interpreting signals from North Korea in the “wrong way.”

She was responding to U.S. national security adviser Jake Sullivan, who on Sunday said he saw as an “interesting signal” a recent speech by Kim Jong Un on preparing for both confrontation and diplomacy with the United States.

“It seems that the U.S. may interpret the situation in such a way as to seek a comfort for itself,” she said in the statement, carried by the North’s KCNA state news agency.

“The expectation, which they chose to harbor the wrong way, would plunge them into a greater disappointment.”

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has been an intractable problem for Washington for years and in trying to change that, President Joe Biden’s administration conducted a review of policy and said it would seek “calibrated and practical” ways to persuade Pyongyang to denuclearize.

The U.S. special representative for North Korea, Sung Kim, has been visiting South Korea to meet senior officials, including President Moon Jae-in.

Moon told the U.S. envoy he would do his best to get inter-Korean and U.S.-North Korea relations back on track and expressed hopes for progress toward denuclearization and peace on the Korean peninsula, his spokeswoman Park Kyung-mee said.

Sung Kim reaffirmed Biden’s support for meaningful inter-Korean dialogue and engagement and said he would “do his best for resumption of U.S.-North Korea talks”, Park said.

On Monday, Sung Kim said he was willing to meet the North Koreans “anywhere, anytime without preconditions” and that he looks forward to a “positive response soon.”

A U.S. official in Washington told Reuters the United States was aware of Kim Yo Jong’s comments and added: “Ultimately, we hope (North Korea) will respond positively to our outreach.

“We will continue to wait to see if these comments are followed up with any more direct communications about a potential path forward.”

The official, who did not want to be otherwise identified, said U.S. policy was not aimed at hostility, but “at solutions and ultimately achieving the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

“The United States is prepared to engage in diplomacy towards that ultimate objective, while working on practical measures that can help make progress along the way.”

‘CLEVER MOVE’

In a sign seen in South Korea as a positive U.S. gesture, the allies discussed scrapping a joint “working group” that analysts say Seoul has seen as an irritant in relations.

Sung Kim and his South Korean counterpart Noh Kyu-duk agreed to “look into terminating the working group,” while reinforcing coordination at other levels, South Korea’s Foreign Ministry said.

The working group was set up in 2018 to help coordinate approaches to North Korea on issues such as denuclearization talks, humanitarian aid, sanctions enforcement and inter-Korean relations, amid a flurry of diplomatic engagement with Pyongyang at that time.

The Moon administration has made building ties with North Korea a top priority and a former aide to Moon told parliament last year the working group was seen as an obstacle to that.

“From a South Korean perspective, this was basically a mechanism for the U.S. to block inter-Korean projects during the Trump years,” said Ramon Pacheco Pardo, a Korea expert at King’s College London.

“It would be a clever political move for the Biden administration to end the group since consultation between Washington and Seoul will take place anyway.”

North Korea has rebuffed U.S. entreaties for diplomacy since Biden took over from Donald Trump, who had three summits with Kim, but failed to persuade him to give up his nuclear weapons.

(Reporting by Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Hyonhee Shin and Sangmi Cha in Seoul and David Brunnstrom in Washington; Editing by Michael Perry, Robert Birsel and Howard Goller)

Biden does not intend to meet with North Korea’s Kim

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – U.S. President Joe Biden does not intend to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, the White House said on Monday.

Asked if Biden’s diplomatic approach to North Korea would include “sitting with President Kim Jong Un” as former President Donald Trump had done, White House press secretary Jen Psaki said, “I think his approach would be quite different and that is not his intention,” she said.

North Korea launched a new type of tactical short-range ballistic missile last week, prompting Washington to request a gathering of the U.N. Security Council’s (UNSC) sanctions committee, which then criticized the test.

Biden on Thursday said the United States remained open to diplomacy with North Korea despite the tests, but warned there would be responses if North Korea escalates matters.

North Korea on Saturday said the Biden administration had taken a wrong first step and revealed “deep-seated hostility” by criticizing what it called a self-defensive missile test.

Trump had three high-profile meetings with Kim, and exchanged a series of letters, but relations later grew frosty, and the nuclear-armed state said it would not engage further unless the United States dropped its hostile policies.

(Reporting by Jeff Mason; writing by Andrea Shalal; editing by Chris Reese and Marguerita Choy)

Analysis: South Korea sees hope and threat in mixed message from North’s Kim

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korean officials have seized on conciliatory comments by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on the weekend as a sign that tension could be easing but also worry the huge number of rockets he showcased is evidence that peace may be elusive.

Kim sent mixed signals as he addressed an unprecedented night-time military parade early on Saturday, wishing the neighboring Koreas would “hold hands” again after the novel coronavirus pandemic is over.

While much of the world was captivated by the appearance of a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), officials in South Korea were far more concerned by the display of new multiple launch rocket systems (MLRS) and fast, maneuverable short-range missiles that would be ideal for striking targets in the South.

“The parade revealed not only an advanced ICBM but also MLRS that pose a direct threat to South Korea,” said South Korean opposition leader Kim Chong-in.

“They’ve not changed, their threats have grown even bigger.”

South Korean ruling party leader and former prime minister Lee Nak-yon said he took hope from Kim’s overture to the South as a “positive sign” but worried about what the display of new weapons said about North Korea’s intentions.

“North Korea showed advanced weapons including a new ICBM, which indicated it has not abandoned its resolve to develop weapons of mass destruction, and those weapons can threaten peace on the Korean peninsula,” Lee told a party meeting.

November’s U.S. election is compounding the uncertainty especially as the tone of ties between the two Koreas is often set by the state of North Korea’s relations with its old enemy the United States.

When a landmark summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 brought an unprecedented easing of tension between those two countries, North Korea’s dealings with South Korea also saw a remarkable thaw.

But relations on the peninsula have been tense since a second summit between Kim and Trump collapsed last year, and they took another blow last month when North Korean troops shot dead a South Korean fisheries official detained at sea.

‘CROCODILE TEARS’

Shin Beom-chul, a senior fellow at the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy in Seoul, said despite Kim’s conciliatory comments towards South Korea, his main message on Saturday was aimed at the United States.

“By showing a new ICBM, the North suggested they can test it any time if things don’t go well after the election. Inter-Korean ties don’t count to them,” Shin said.

The South Korean government said Kim’s speech would foster better ties but it urged North Korea to stick to agreements preventing armed clashes and accept a request for a joint investigation into the shooting of the fisheries official.

South Korean opposition leader Kim derided a teary display by Kim as he spoke of the sacrifices made by North Korea’s armed forces.

“It was appalling to see him shed crocodile tears after shooting our citizen to death,” he said.

Former South Korean nuclear negotiator Chun Yung-woo, pointing to North Korea’s extensive testing of MLRS and short-range missiles over the past year, while sticking to a moratorium on ICBM testing, said South Korea must not get carried away by hope for peace.

“All the media attention is on North Korea’s new strategic weapons but the most serious threat to our security is solid-fuel, short-range tactical missiles and MLRS that they’ve been madly testing over the past year,” Chun said.

“North Korea showed how it has focused on developing its capability to attack the South while our people have been absorbed in a peace campaign,” he said.

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Editing by Josh Smith, Robert Birsel)

North Korea accuses U.S. of hurting its image with cyber threat warning

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea accused the United States of smear tactics on Friday after Washington renewed accusations last month that Pyongyang was responsible for malicious cyber attacks.

It was the latest in a series of exchanges underscoring the friction between the two countries after denuclearization talks launched by U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un stalled late last year.

“We want to make it clear that our country has nothing to do with the so-called ‘cyber threat’ that the U.S. is talking about,” North Korea’s Foreign Ministry said in the statement.

It said Washington was trying to use the allegations as leverage, along with the issues of nuclear missiles and human rights as well as accusations of terrorism funding and money laundering. The aim was to “smear our country’s image and create a way to shake us up”, it said.

The U.S. State Department, Treasury, and Department of Homeland Security Issues, along with the FBI, issued a new warning last month about the threat of North Korean hackers, calling particular attention to financial services.

North Korea is alleged to be behind an ambitious, years-long campaign of digital theft, including siphoning cash from ATMs, stealing from major banks, extorting computer users worldwide, and hijacking digital currency exchanges.

Since 2006, the country has been subject to U.N. sanctions that have been strengthened by the Security Council over the years in a bid to cut off funding for Pyongyang’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs.

This week, the U.S. Justice Department accused the country’s state-owned bank of evading U.S. sanctions laws and said it had charged 28 North Korean and five Chinese citizens in its latest crackdown on alleged sanctions violations.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee; editing by Philippa Fletcher)

North Korea’s Kim, in first appearance in weeks, vows to bolster nuclear ‘deterrence’

By Hyonhee Shin

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un hosted a meeting to discuss the country’s nuclear capabilities, state media said on Sunday, marking his first appearance in three weeks after a previous absence sparked global speculation about his health.

Ruling Workers’ Party officials wore face masks to greet Kim as he entered the meeting of the party’s powerful Central Military Commission, state television showed, but no one including Kim was seen wearing a mask during the meeting.

Amid stalled denuclearization talks with the United States, the meeting discussed measures to bolster North Korea’s armed forces and “reliably contain the persistent big or small military threats from the hostile forces,” state news agency KCNA said.

The meeting discussed “increasing the nuclear war deterrence of the country and putting the strategic armed forces on a high alert operation,” adopting “crucial measures for considerably increasing the firepower strike ability of the artillery pieces,” it said.

Kim has made an unusually small number of outings in the past two months, with his absence from a key anniversary prompting speculation about his condition, as Pyongyang has stepped up measures against the COVID-19 pandemic.

North Korea says it has no confirmed cases of the new coronavirus, but South Korea’s intelligence agency has said it cannot rule out that the North has had an outbreak. [L4N2CO0OL]

U.S.-led negotiations aimed at dismantling North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have made little progress since late last year, especially after a global battle on the virus began.

The Chinese government’s top diplomat, Wang Yi, expressed hope on Sunday that the United States and North Korea could resume meaningful dialogue as soon as possible, “and not squander away the hard-earned results of (previous) engagement.”

North Korea’s pledge to boost its nuclear capabilities coincides with news reports that the United States might conduct its first full-fledged nuclear test since 1992, noted Leif-Eric Easley, who teaches international studies at Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul.

“The intention in Washington for pondering such a move may be to pressure Russia and China to improve arms-control commitments and enforcement,” Easley said. “But not only might this tack encourage more nuclear risk-taking by those countries, but it could also provide Pyongyang an excuse for its next provocation.”

(Reporting by Hyonhee Shin; Additional reporting by Yew Lun Tian in Beijing; Editing by Jonathan Oatis, Richard Chang and William Mallard)

Ignorance, fear, whispers: North Korean defectors say contacts in the dark about Kim

By Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha

SEOUL (Reuters) – Defectors from North Korea say many of their relatives and contacts were unaware of the international speculation over leader Kim Jong Un’s health or were unwilling to discuss the issue in clandestine calls made from the South.

Two defectors told Reuters their relatives in North Korea did not know that Kim has been missing from public view for almost two weeks, said they didn’t want to discuss the issue, or abruptly hung up when the supreme leader was mentioned.

Kim’s health is a state secret in insular North Korea and speculation about him or his family can invite swift retribution.

Another defector said some people in the North have nevertheless been privately talking of Kim’s whereabouts after he failed to appear at a key state holiday on April 15, but only in very closed circles.

Kim’s absence from public ceremonies on the birth anniversary of his grandfather and founder of the country, Kim Il Sung, was unprecedented. That has led to days of speculation in the international community over his health and whether the nuclear-capable state was headed toward instability.

“I talked to my sister and my niece this morning and they had no clue about these reports and rumours about Kim Jong Un’s health,” Lee Soon-hee, 59, told Reuters on Monday. “When I told them, they were so cautious about discussing it. North Koreans have a very limited knowledge of these things.”

Lee defected to the South in 2009.

South Korean officials say they have not detected any “unusual movements” in North Korea, and one foreign resident living in Pyongyang told Reuters that life appeared to be going on as usual.

The South Korean minister in charge of North Korean affairs said on Tuesday fear of catching the coronavirus could have kept Kim away from the April 15 state ceremonies.

Kim Heung-kwang, who defected to South Korea in 2004 and now runs an academic group that researches North Korea, said he spoke to two contacts in North Korea about the speculation.

One, a government official, said that he had been wondering about Kim Jong Un’s lack of public appearances and had noticed an increase in calls from security officials to stay focused on internal policies, Kim Heung-kwang told Reuters.

Another person was not aware of the reports and warned him “not to be fooled by such lies,” Kim said.

Lim Hee-joo, a defector who runs a restaurant in Seoul, said almost no one in North Korea had any idea about Kim Jong Un’s health or whereabouts.

“Not even the people in the central party,” she said. “They are so scared that they don’t even think of looking into it or think about it, to begin with, as they fear they might get arrested.”

North Koreans are keenly aware they could face punishment for discussing the Kim family in any way except to shower them with glowing praise, said Sokeel Park, of Liberty in North Korea, a group that works with defectors.

“That doesn’t mean people don’t take that risk, some people do,” Park said. “But it’s still a super sensitive issue.”

“It’s a little like the pope not showing up for Christmas.” he said of Kim’s absence from the April 15 celebrations.

(Reporting by Josh Smith and Sangmi Cha; Editing by Raju Gopalakrishnan)