No More Nuclear Tests warns U.S., S. Korea, and Japan: Unparalleled response if N.K. crosses that line

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 warned of ‘unparalleled’ response from US, Japan, South Korea if it launches a 7th nuclear test
  • The warning comes not only after Pyongyang conducted a series of unannounced missile tests earlier this month, including a ballistic missile launched over Japan, but as the U.S. and its Asian allies fear it could be planning nuclear bomb testing for the first time since 2017, according to Reuters.
  • “We agreed that an unparalleled scale of response would be necessary if North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test,” South Korean First Vice Foreign Minister Cho Hyun-dong reportedly told a news conference in Tokyo

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North Korea may suspend nuclear talks with ‘gangster-like’ U.S.: diplomat

FILE PHOTO: Hyon Song Wol, head of the North Korean Samjiyon art troupe takes a photo of Vice Minister of Foreign Affairs Choe Son-Hui (C) ahead of the welcoming ceremony of North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un (not pictured) at the Presidential Palace in Hanoi, Vietnam March 1, 2019. Luong Thai Linh/Pool via REUTERS

By Joyce Lee and Josh Smith

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea is considering suspending talks with the United States and may rethink a ban on missile and nuclear tests unless Washington makes concessions, a senior diplomat said on Friday, according to news reports from the North’s capital.

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in Washington the United States wished to continue talks with North Korea and had “every expectation” that its leader, Kim Jong Un, would stick to pledges not to resume nuclear and missile testing.

North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui blamed top U.S. officials for the breakdown of last month’s summit in Hanoi between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump, Russia’s TASS news agency and the Associated Press reported.

“We have no intention to yield to the U.S. demands (at the Hanoi summit) in any form, nor are we willing to engage in negotiations of this kind,” TASS quoted Choe as telling reporters in the North Korean capital.

Choe said Pompeo and national security adviser John Bolton “created the atmosphere of hostility and mistrust and, therefore, obstructed the constructive effort for negotiations between the supreme leaders of North Korea and the United States”, TASS quoted Choe as saying.

Kim is set to make an official announcement soon on his position on the denuclearization talks with the United States and the North’s further actions, TASS added, citing Choe.

Choe said Washington threw away a golden opportunity at the summit and warned that Kim might rethink a moratorium on missile launches and nuclear tests, the AP reported.

“I want to make it clear that the gangster-like stand of the U.S. will eventually put the situation in danger,” AP quoted Choe as saying.

But, she added: “Personal relations between the two supreme leaders are still good and the chemistry is mysteriously wonderful.”

Bolton told reporters outside the White House that he had seen the statement from the North Korean official and that “I think that’s inaccurate.” He said he had spoken to his South Korean counterpart but wanted to consult with other U.S. officials before responding further.


Pompeo told reporters it was not the first time he had been called “gangster-like” by North Korea. “And following that we continued to have very professional conversations … I have every expectation we will be able to continue to do that,” he said.

Pompeo said he had seen Choe’s remarks, and she had left open the possibility that negotiations would continue.

“It’s the administration’s desire that we continue to have conversations around this,” Pompeo said. “As the president said when he was in Hanoi, the offer that they made simply didn’t rise to the level that was acceptable, given what they were asking for in exchange.”

Kim had committed multiple times to Trump in Hanoi that he would not to resume nuclear or missile testing, Pompeo said. “That’s Chairman Kim’s word. We have every expectation he will live up to that commitment.”

South Korea, which has an ambitious agenda of engagement with North Korea that is dependent on Pyongyang and Washington resolving at least some of their differences, said it was too early to tell what Choe’s comments might mean.

“We cannot judge the current situation based solely on Vice Minister Choe Son Hui’s statements. We are watching the situation closely. In any situation, our government will endeavor for the restart of North Korea-U.S. negotiations,” South Korea’s presidential Blue House said in a statement.

Choe’s comments echoed the North’s usual rhetoric at tense points in its dealings with Washington. North Korea expert Joshua Pollack said North Korea may be delivering an ultimatum.

“They’re putting down a marker, saying which way things are headed if nothing changes,” Pollack, of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, California, said.

Joel Wit of the 38 North think tank said North Korea was likely toughening its negotiating position after the collapse of the Hanoi summit. “It is likely to gauge the U.S. reaction in the days ahead before making a decision to launch a rocket,” he said.

The second Trump-Kim summit broke down over differences about U.S. demands for Pyongyang to denuclearize and North Korea’s demand for dramatic relief from international sanctions imposed for its nuclear and missile tests, which it pursued for years in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Choe had said after the Hanoi talks that Kim might lose his commitment to pursue a deal with the United States after seeing it reject a request to lift some sanctions in return for the North destroying its main known nuclear complex.

In Beijing, Premier Li Keqiang urged patience and further dialogue between North Korea and the United States.

Earlier on Friday, a spokeswoman for South Korea’s Ministry of Unification told a press briefing that the weekly inter-Korean meeting scheduled at a liaison office in Kaesong, North Korea, had been canceled after the North Koreans said they would not be sending senior officials.

The spokeswoman said the ministry had not confirmed why the North Korean officials decided not to attend.

(Reporting by Joyce Lee and Josh Smith; Additional reporting by Choonsik Yoo, Ju-min Park, Joori Roh and Doina Chiacu, David Brunnstrom and Susan Heavey in Washington; Writing by Jack Kim; Editing by Clarence Fernandez, Nick Macfie and Jeffrey Benkoe)

EU to ban business ties with Pyongyang over nuclear tests

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un inspects the January 18 General Machine Plant in Pyongyang, North Korea in this undated photo released by North Korea's Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) on August 10, 2016. KCNA/via REUTERS ATTENTION EDITORS - THIS PICTURE WAS PROVIDED BY A THIRD PARTY. NO THIRD PARTY SALES. SOUTH KOREA OUT. NO COMMERCIAL OR EDITORIAL SALES IN SOUTH KOREA.

By Robin Emmott

BRUSSELS (Reuters) – The European Union is set to agree on Monday to ban business ties with North Korea, part of a new package of sanctions to isolate Pyongyang over its nuclear and missile programs.

The practical impact of the moves is likely to be mostly symbolic: Brussels will impose an oil embargo and a ban on EU investment, but it sells no crude to North Korea and European companies have no substantial investments there.

North Korean workers in the EU, of which Brussels estimates there are about 400 mainly in Poland, will face a lower limit on the amount for money they can send home and their work visas will not be renewed once they expire.

The measures to be agreed by EU foreign ministers in Luxembourg go further than the latest round of multi-lateral sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

“The North Koreans appear to be uninterested in having the EU get involved as a peace mediator,” said an EU diplomat. “The North Koreans want direct talks with the United States, but President (Donald) Trump has ruled that out,” the diplomat said.

The sanctions will add three more top North Korean officials and six businesses to a blacklist banning them from travel to the EU and freezing their assets. That will take the total of those sanctioned by the EU to 41 individuals and 10 companies, a senior EU official said. Separately, U.N. sanctions target 63 people and 53 companies and institutions.

“We have in place everything that we possibly could do to try to get the DPRK to change their behavior,” the EU official said, using North Korea’s official name of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

Although the EU does not export crude to North Korea, its aim is to push other countries to ban oil exports, either unilaterally or at the United Nations. The U.N. Security Council last month capped North Korean imports of crude oil, but China and Russia resisted an outright ban.

Diplomats said that if Pyongyang launches more missiles, the EU could consider imposing sanctions on non-EU firms doing business with Pyongyang, as the United States has done.

However, such “secondary sanctions” need clear evidence to avoid legal challenges and the bloc is reluctant to anger China, a top trading partner, by targeting Chinese people and firms.

(Reporting by Robin Emmott; editing by Peter Graff)

Trump says U.S. not ‘putting up with’ North Korea’s actions

Trump says U.S. not 'putting up with' North Korea's actions

By Jeff Mason and Michael Martina

WASHINGTON/BEIJING (Reuters) – President Donald Trump warned on Wednesday that the United States would no longer tolerate North Korea’s actions but said the use of military force against Pyongyang will not be his “first choice.”

His comment appeared to be in line with classified briefings to Congress in which Trump’s top national security aides – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Dan Coats, the director of national intelligence – stressed the search for a diplomatic solution to the crisis, lawmakers said.

A senior administration official, meanwhile, said that the White House has set aside for now consideration of exiting a free trade pact with South Korea, a move being contemplated by Trump that could have complicated relations with Seoul.

In a flurry of phone calls with world leaders days after North Korea’s sixth and most powerful nuclear test, Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping committed to “take further action with the goal of achieving the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the White House said.

“President Xi would like to do something. We’ll see whether or not he can do it. But we will not be putting up with what’s happening in North Korea,” Trump told reporters, though he offered no specifics.

“I believe that President Xi agrees with me 100 percent,” he added.

Asked whether he was considering a military response to North Korea, Trump said: “Certainly, that’s not our first choice, but we will see what happens.”

Xi, who has been under pressure from Trump to do more to help curb North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, told the U.S. president during their 45-minute call that the North Korean issue must be resolved through “dialogue and consultation.”

The focus on negotiations by China, North Korea’s main trading partner, contrasted with Trump’s assertions over the last few days that now was not the time for talks with North Korea while pressing instead for increased international pressure on Pyongyang.

The United States and South Korea have asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions on North Korea after its nuclear test on Sunday that Pyongyang said was an advanced hydrogen bomb.

Late on Wednesday, U.S. Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin indicated that if the U.N. Security Council fails to approve sufficiently strong measures, Trump could authorize him to impose sanctions on any country or entity that trades with North Korea.

“We believe that we need to economically cut off North Korea,” Mnuchin told reporters aboard Air Force One as it flew back from North Dakota, where Trump gave a speech on tax reform. “I have an executive order prepared. It’s ready to go to the president. It will authorize me to . . . put sanctions on anybody that does trade with North Korea.”

Mnuchin said that Trump would consider the order “at the appropriate time once he gives the U.N. time to act.”

He provided no further details, including whether Trump would consider slapping sanctions on China, North Korea’s largest trade partner.

Russian President Vladimir Putin insisted on Wednesday that resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis was impossible with sanctions and pressure alone.

Putin met South Korea’s Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of an economic summit in the eastern Russian city of Vladivostok amid mounting international concern that their neighbor plans more weapons tests, including possibly a long-range missile launch before a weekend anniversary.

Putin echoed other world leaders in denouncing North Korea’s latest nuclear bomb test on Sunday, saying Russia did not recognize its nuclear status.

“Pyongyang’s missile and nuclear program is a crude violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, undermines the non-proliferation regime and creates a threat to the security of northeastern Asia,” Putin said at a news conference.

“At the same time, it is clear that it is impossible to resolve the problem of the Korean peninsula only by sanctions and pressure,” he said.

No headway could be made without political and diplomatic tools, Putin said.


Moon, who took office this year advocating a policy of pursuing engagement with North Korea, has come under increasing pressure to take a harder line.

He has asked the United Nations to consider tough new sanctions after North Korea’s latest nuclear test.

The United States wants the Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban the country’s exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean laborers abroad and subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.

Diplomats say the U.N. Security Council could also consider barring the country’s airline.

“I ask Russia to actively cooperate as this time it is inevitable that North Korea’s oil supply should be cut at the least,” Moon told Putin, according to a readout from a South Korean official.

Putin said North Korea would not give up its nuclear program no matter how tough the sanctions.

“We too, are against North Korea developing its nuclear capabilities and condemn it, but it is worrying cutting the oil pipeline will harm the regular people, like in hospitals,” Putin said, according to the South Korean presidential official.

Russia’s exports of crude oil to North Korea were tiny at about 40,000 tonnes a year, Putin said. By comparison, China provides it with about 520,000 tonnes of crude a year, according to industry sources.

Last year, China shipped just over 96,000 tonnes of gasoline and almost 45,000 tonnes of diesel to North Korea, where it is used across the economy, from fishermen and farmers to truckers and the military.

Trump and British Prime Minister Theresa May agreed in a telephone call on Tuesday that China must do more to persuade North Korea to cease its missile tests, a spokesman for May said.


Sanctions have done little to stop North Korea boosting its nuclear and missile capacity as it faces off with Trump, who has vowed to stop it from being able to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear weapon.

China and Russia have advocated a “freeze for freeze” plan, where the United States and South Korea stop major military exercises in exchange for North Korea halting its weapons programs, but neither side is willing to budge.

North Korea says it needs to develop its weapons to defend itself against what it sees as U.S. aggression.

South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.

China objects to both the military drills and the deployment in South Korea of an advanced U.S. missile defense system that has a radar that can see deep into Chinese territory.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said the four remaining batteries of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system would be deployed on a golf course in the south of the country on Thursday. Two THAAD batteries have already been installed.

For a graphic on nuclear North Korea, click:

(Additional reporting by Denis Pinchuk in VLADIVOSTOK, Soyoung Kim in SEOUL, Stephanie Nebehay in GENEVA, William Mallard and Kaori Kaneko in TOKYO, Christian Shepherd and Michael Martina in BEIJING, and Jonathan Landay and Jim Oliphant in WASHINGTON; Writing by Matt Spetalnick and Lincoln Feast; Editing by James Dalgleish)

Japan defense review warns of enhanced North Korea threats

Japan's Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera attends a news conference at Defence Ministry in Tokyo, Japan August 8, 2017. REUTERS/Issei Kato

By Kiyoshi Takenaka

TOKYO (Reuters) – Japan warned on Tuesday against the acute threat posed by North Korea’s weapons programs as Pyongyang’s continued series of missile and nuclear tests, in defiance of U.N. sanctions, brings technological progress to the reclusive state.

Japan released its annual Defence White Paper after North Korea fired two intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) last month on lofted trajectories to land off Japan’s west coast.

“It is conceivable that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program has already considerably advanced and it is possible that North Korea has already achieved the miniaturization of nuclear weapons and has acquired nuclear warheads,” the Defence Ministry said.

“Since last year, when it forcibly implemented two nuclear tests and more than 20 ballistic missile launches, the security threats have entered a new stage,” it added in the 563-page document.

North Korea’s latest ICBM test showed Pyongyang may now be able to reach most of the continental United States, two U.S. officials have told Reuters.

The growing threat has prompted Japanese municipalities to hold evacuation drills in case of a possible missile attack, and boosted demand for nuclear shelters.

Missiles launched on a lofted trajectory were difficult to intercept, the defense ministry said.

With North Korea pressing ahead with missile tests, a group of ruling party lawmakers led by Itsunori Onodera, who became defense minister on Thursday, urged Prime Minister Shinzo Abe in March to consider acquiring the capability to hit enemy bases.

If realized, that would be a drastic change in Japan’s defense posture. Tokyo has so far avoided taking the controversial and costly step of acquiring bombers or cruise missiles with the range to strike other countries.

“North Korea’s missiles represent a deepening threat. That, along with China’s continued threatening behavior in the East China Sea and South China Sea, is a major concern for Japan,” Onodera told a news briefing in Tokyo.

The ministry said the number of Japan’s jet scrambles against Chinese aircraft hit a record in the year to March 2017. The first confirmed advancement of China’s aircraft carrier to the Pacific also came in December 2016.

“There is a possibility that their naval activities, as well as air force activities, will pick up pace in the Sea of Japan from now on,” the ministry said.

“We need to keep a close eye on the Chinese naval force’s activity,” it added.

Tokyo’s ties with Beijing have long been plagued by a territorial dispute over a group of tiny, uninhabited East China Sea islets and the legacy of Japan’s wartime aggression.

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi dismissed the white paper, telling state television in Manila, which he visited for a regional security meeting, that Japan was “playing the same old tune”.

(Reporting by Kiyoshi Takenaka; Additional reporting by Tim Kelly, and Ben Blanchard in BEIJING; Editing by Paul Tait and Clarence Fernandez)

North Korea engine test may be prelude to partial ICBM flight

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un watched the ground jet test of a Korean-style high-thrust engine newly developed by the Academy of the National Defence Science in this undated picture provided by KCNA in Pyongyang on March 19, 2017.

By Ju-min Park

SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea has likely mastered the technology to power the different stages of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and may show it off soon, analysts say, but it is likely still a long way from being able to hit the mainland United States.

North Korean state media announced its latest rocket-engine test on Sunday, saying it would help North Korea achieve world-class satellite-launch capability, indicating a new type of rocket engine that could be compatible with an ICBM.

The test showed “meaningful” progress, a spokesman for South Korea’s Defence Ministry said on Monday, with the firing of a main engine and four auxiliary engines as part of the development of a new rocket booster.

Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis declined to give a specific assessment of the test but said it was “consistent with the pattern we’ve seen by North Korea to continue to develop their ballistic missile program.”

The North Korean announcement came as U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson was in Beijing at the end of his first visit to Asia for talks dominated by concern about North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

South Korean Defense Ministry spokesman Lee Jin-woo said the test showed progress in engine function, but added that further analysis was needed to show the exact thrust produced and possible uses for the engine.

North Korea’s state media released pictures of the high-thrust engine test overseen by leader Kim Jong Un, and said he had called it “a new birth” of the country’s rocket industry.

Experts say space rockets and long-range missiles involve fundamentally identical technologies, but with different configurations for trajectory and velocity for the stages.


Kim Dong-yub of Seoul’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies said he believed North Korea had carried out “a comprehensive test for the first-stage rocket for an ICBM.”

“It appears that North Korea has worked out much of its development of the first-stage rocket booster,” he said.

Joshua Pollack, of Washington’s Nonproliferation Review, said four steering nozzles had also been seen in older, long-range rockets North Korea used to launch objects into space in 2012 and 2016. But he said the main engine was quite different from anything seen previously and appeared roughly the right diameter to serve as either the first or second stage of an ICBM.

U.S. aerospace expert John Schilling, a contributor to the 38 North North Korea monitoring website, said the motor appeared too big for any ICBM North Korea has been known to be working on, but would be a good fit for the second stage of a new space rocket it is planning – or for a yet-unknown ICBM design.

Kim said North Korea had not yet mastered the re-entry technology needed for an ICBM, so still had work to do before it was able to hit the United States. It might though soon be able to demonstrate that it had perfected an ICBM system’s booster rocket stage.

“What could be next is they would make a new type of ICBM with this new engine system and launch it, but not the entire stages, but to make only the first stage, fly about 400 km and drop. They are not going to show it all at once.”

A U.S. administration official declined to give a specific technical assessment of the test but said it showed North Korea was “150 percent” committed to its weapons programs.

“This is one more indication that they are going to act in a way that is counterproductive,” he said.

North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests and a series of missile launches in defiance of U.N. resolutions, and experts and Western officials believe it is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said this year the country was close to test-launching an ICBM, prompting U.S. President Donald Trump to tweet: “It won’t happen!”

Last week, Tillerson issued the Trump administration’s starkest warning yet to North Korea, saying a military response would be “on the table” if it took action to threaten South Korean and U.S. forces.

Trump told reporters on Sunday he held meetings on North Korea over the weekend and said Kim was “acting very, very badly.”

China said on Monday the situation with North Korea was at a new crossroads with two scenarios – a deterioration to war or a diplomatic solution.

“Any chance for dialogue must be seized, as long as there’s hope,” Foreign Minister Wang Yi said in Beijing.

(Additional reporting by James Pearson in Seoul and David Brunnstrom, Matt Spetalnick and Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Jack Kim and James Dalgleish)

Fore! South Korea golf course may get anti-missile battery


By Ju-min Park and Hyunjoo Jin

SEOUL (Reuters) – South Korea’s military aims to deploy an advanced U.S. missile defense unit on a golf course, a defense ministry official said on Friday, after it had to scrap its initial site for the battery in the face of opposition from residents.

Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high this year, beginning with North Korea’s fourth nuclear test in January, which was followed by a satellite launch, a string of tests of various missiles, and its fifth and largest nuclear test this month.

In July, South Korea agreed with the United States that a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) anti-missile unit would be deployed in the Seongju region, southeast of the capital, Seoul, to defend the country.

But residents of the melon-farming area protested over worries about the safety of the system’s powerful radar and the likelihood it would be a target for North Korea, which warned of retaliation, if war broke out.

The plan to deploy the system has also angered China, which worries that the THAAD’s powerful radar would compromise its security.

The new site for the missile battery would be a golf course at the high-end Lotte Skyhill Seongju Country Club, the South Korean ministry official said told Reuters, confirming media reports.

The club is owned by the Lotte Group conglomerate and had been considered as an alternative due to its high altitude and accessibility for military vehicles, the defense official said.

It was not clear how the military would acquire the property, reportedly worth about 100 billion won ($90.54 million).

“We will positively consider the deployment of THAAD at the golf course considering the grave situation regarding national security,” Kim Byung-wook, an official at the club, told Reuters by phone.

He said the company had received a notice from the defense ministry about the plan on Thursday.

The United States said this week that it would speed up deployment of the system given the pace of North Korea’s missile tests, and it would be stationed in South Korea “as soon as possible”.

The United States and South Korea have said THAAD does not threaten China’s security or target any country other than North Korea.

In Beijing, Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang said deployment of the system should be stopped, and again promised unspecified countermeasures.

“The United States’ deployment of THAAD in South Korea cannot resolve the relevant parties’ security concerns,” he told a daily news briefing.

The military analyzed three possible locations for the system and found the golf course to be the most feasible, the defense official said, as the other two would require additional engineering which would delay the deployment.

The official declined to be identified as he was not authorized to speak to media.

(Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, and Michael Martina in Beijing; Editing by Tony Munroe, Robert Birsel)

Steely will seen behind Kim’s push for North Korea weapons that work

North Korean leader watching missile test

By Jack Kim

SEOUL (Reuters) – Images in March of a smiling Kim Jong Un inspecting a silver sphere, purported to be a miniaturized nuclear warhead but likened in the media to a disco ball, burnished the North Korean leader’s international image as deluded and reckless.

But on Wednesday, the man Hollywood and others love to mock proved skeptics wrong with what looks like the successful launch of a ballistic missile that reached an altitude of 1,000 km and got over half way to Japan’s main island of Honshu.

Experts said the launch, which came after five failed tests including one earlier on Wednesday, marked progress in North Korea’s weapons program, and underlined Kim’s steely determination as well as his patience with scientists involved.

The quick succession of flight tests of the Musudan missile, which began in April, also resembles methods used in the early stages of missile development by super powers decades ago, when sophisticated simulation equipment was not available to substitute actual tests.

“This rate of attempts is not too different from what the U.S. was doing in the Cold War,” Jonathan McDowell of the Harvard Smithsonian Center for Astrophysics said. “It’s of course very different from what the USA is doing these days.

“It may reflect the fact that North Korea has less capabilities in computer analysis, so it’s easier for them to just launch another missile than to run a computer simulation.”

Reclusive North Korea’s state propaganda has painted Kim as a demanding but generous and understanding leader willing to forgive the failures of its scientists.

That contrasts with his reputation overseas as ruthless and impulsive, after he executed his own uncle, replaced his defense chief five times and defied the world with two nuclear tests.

“Humans grow by eating food and science flourishes amidst failures,” North Korea’s state-run newspaper Rodong Sinmun quoted Kim as telling scientists who knelt before him after a failed rocket launch in April 2012.

The dispatch was issued after an eventual successful launch in December that year.

The comments were echoed in a later state publication that described Kim patiently encouraging scientists distraught by failure.

“On receiving the report of the failure, Kim Jong Un said that failure was commonplace,” a 2012 book summarizing a year of the young leader’s activities said, referring to a failed long-range rocket launch earlier that year.

“What was important was to find out the cause of the failure as soon as possible and make a successful launch,” it quoted Kim as saying.


Michael Madden, an expert on political leadership in the North who has contributed to the Washington-based 38 North think-tank, said rumors of technicians behind failures being shot or purged were “nonsense”.

“One thing to note is that people don’t get shot behind failures,” said Madden, who edits North Korea Leadership Watch. “They get shot because they lie in their reporting or refuse to accept responsibility.”

Wednesday’s second launch ended a recent run of unsuccessful attempts to test the Musudan missile, which is designed to fly more than 3,000 km (1,800 miles) and could theoretically reach all of Japan and the U.S. territory of Guam.

While failure is potentially embarrassing for Kim, the failed Musudan tests have not been reported in the North’s tightly controlled state media, meaning that most North Koreans are in the dark about the program.

“There’s no great political risk to Kim Jong Un’s status or reputation, because only a tiny percentage of the population even knows about the tests,” Madden said.

Instead, Wednesday’s second missile launch in a day and the failures which preceded it may in fact demonstrate Kim’s determination to make the technology work, said Yang Uk, a senior researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum.

“They must have been working extremely hard and to a given time frame in order to make it work,” said Yang, who is also a policy adviser to the South Korean military.

Like the rest of North Korea’s opaque leadership, the state’s nuclear and missile programs are shrouded in secrecy, and deception and misinformation have long been an important part of propaganda aimed at maximizing the benefit for leaders.

It boasted in March of having successfully tested an engine for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and mastered the re-entry technology for a warhead to fit on such a missile, assertions discredited by South Korea and the United States.

Experts said the more likely course of weapons development for the North was to perfect a shorter-range missile that can mount and deliver a nuclear warhead, which would pose a direct threat to the United States with the capability to hit Guam.

Jeffrey Lewis, of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies, said that with continued testing, the North will eventually develop a reliable Musudan that can threaten the United States.

“Failures are a part of testing. The North Koreans will, sooner or later, fix the problems with the Musudan.”

(Additional reporting by James Pearson and Ju-min Park; Editing by Mike Collett-White)

Obama slaps new sanctions on North Korea after tests

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – President Barack Obama imposed sweeping new sanctions on North Korea on Wednesday intended to further isolate the country’s leadership after recent actions by Pyongyang that have been seen by Washington and its allies as provocative.

The executive order freezes any property of the North Korean government in the United States and prohibits exportation of goods from the United States to North Korea.

It also allows the U.S. government to blacklist any individuals, whether or not they are U.S. citizens, who deal with major sectors of North Korea’s economy. Experts said the measures vastly expanded the U.S. blockade against Pyongyang.

North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6, and a Feb. 7 rocket launch that the United States and its allies said employed banned ballistic missile technology. Pyongyang said it was a peaceful satellite launch.

“The U.S. and the global community will not tolerate North Korea’s illicit nuclear and ballistic missile activities, and we will continue to impose costs on North Korea until it comes into compliance with its international obligations,” White House spokesman Josh Earnest said.

Despite decades of tensions, the United States has not had a comprehensive trade ban against North Korea of the kind enacted against Myanmar and Iran. Americans were allowed to make limited sales to North Korea, although in practice such trade was tiny.

U.S. officials had believed a blanket trade ban would be ineffective without a stronger commitment from China, North Korea’s largest trading partner. But with China signing on to new U.N. sanctions earlier this month, that obstacle has been removed, experts said.

“North Korean sanctions are finally getting serious,” said Peter Harrell, a former senior State Department official who worked on sanctions.

The new sanctions threaten to ban from the global financial system anyone, even Europeans and Asians, who does business with broad swaths of Pyongyang’s economy, including its financial, mining and transportation sectors.

The so-called secondary sanctions will compel banks to freeze the assets of anyone who breaks the blockade, potentially squeezing out North Korea’s business ties in China and Myanmar.

“It’s going to be very hard for North Korea to move money anywhere in the world,” said Harrell, now with the Center for a New American Security.

(Additional reporting by Jeff Mason; Editing by James Dalgleish and Peter Cooney)