© Wong Maye-E/AP Photo In this Oct. 10, 2015, file photo, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers remarks at a military parade in Pyongyang, North Korea.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea fired a short-range projectile from an area near its eastern coast on Tuesday, South Korean officials said, in what appears to be another weapons test seen as a response to ongoing military drills between Washington and Seoul.
The projectile was fired near the North Korean port city of Wonsan and flew about 200 kilometers (125 miles) before crashing into land northeast of the launch site, South Korean military officials said.
It was unclear whether the projectile was a ballistic missile or an artillery shell, said a Joint Chiefs of Staff official who didn’t want to be identified, citing office rules. It was too early to tell whether North Korea used a land target to test the accuracy and range of its weapons or experienced problems after planning a launch into the sea, said an official from Seoul’s Defense Ministry, who also didn’t want to be named because of department rules.
North Korea has fired a slew of short-range missiles and artillery shells into the sea and has threatened nuclear strikes on Washington and Seoul since the start on March 7 of the annual springtime war games between the United States and South Korea.
North Korea also launched a medium-range ballistic missile into waters off its east coast for the first time since 2014 and touted a new artillery system it says could turn the South Korean capital of Seoul into a “sea of flames.” Experts say the North’s new artillery launchers can fire 300-millimeter shells up to 200 kilometers (125 miles), theoretically reaching Seoul and its surrounding metropolitan area, where nearly half of the 50 million South Koreans live.
North Korea routinely tests short-range missiles and artillery systems but tends to do more launches in times of tension with the outside world. It condemns the annual military drills between Washington and Seoul as a rehearsal for an invasion. Tensions are particularly high this year because the drills are the largest ever and follow a recent North Korean nuclear test and a long-range rocket launch. Washington and Seoul say the drills are defensive in nature and they have no plans to invade North Korea.
North Korea fires short-range projectiles into sea amid tension over nuclear ambitions
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea fired five short-range projectiles into the sea off its east coast on Monday, South Korea’s military said, amid heightened tension over the isolated country’s nuclear and rocket programs.
The unidentified projectiles were launched from south of the city of Hamhung and flew about 200 km (120 miles), landing in waters east of North Korea, South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement.
On Friday, North Korea fired two mid-range ballistic missiles into the sea in defiance of tough new U.N. and U.S. sanctions slapped on the country following nuclear and rocket tests earlier this year.
“North Korea should refrain from all provocative actions, including missile launches, which are in clear violation of U.N. resolutions,” Sung Kim, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, told reporters in Seoul when asked about Monday’s firing.
In recent weeks, North Korea has stepped up its bellicose rhetoric, threatening pre-emptive nuclear strikes against Washington and Seoul and firing short-range missiles and artillery into the sea.
The North protests annual ongoing joint U.S.-South Korea military drills.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said last week that the country would soon test a nuclear warhead and ballistic missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads in what would be a direct violation of U.N. resolutions that have the backing of Pyongyang’s chief ally, China.
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said China was “deeply concerned” about the situation on the Korean peninsula.
“We hope North Korea does not do anything to contravene U.N. Security Council resolutions. We also hope all sides can remain calm and exercise restraint and avoid doing anything to exacerbate confrontation or tensions,” she told a daily news briefing.
(Reporting by Ju-min Park and James Pearson; Additional reporting by Ben Blanchard in Beijing; Editing by Nick Macfie and Tony Munroe)
By KJ Kwon, Barbara Starr and Jim Sciutto, CNN
Updated 2034 GMT (0434 HKT) March 18, 2016
(CNN)North Korea has launched two ballistic missiles off the west coast of the Korean peninsula, the South Korean military and U.S. defense officials said Friday.
The South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff said that one ballistic missile flew a distance of 800 kilometers overland toward the sea off the country’s east coast, while a second projectile, assumed to be a missile, was detected by radar but disappeared at an altitude of about 17 kilometers.
U.S. official confirmed the launch, with a U.S. defense official telling CNN that it tracked two ballistic missiles.
The launch came around 5:55 a.m. local time, near Sukchon county, South Pyongan province, the Joint Chiefs of Staff said.
22 Hours Ago
Such tests would be in defiant violation of United Nations sanctions that were recently strengthened with the backing of China, North Korea‘s chief ally.
Kim made the comments as he supervised a successful simulated test of atmospheric re-entry of a ballistic missile that measured the “thermodynamic structural stability of newly developed heat-resisting materials”, KCNA said.
“Declaring that a nuclear warhead explosion test and a test-fire of several kinds of ballistic rockets able to carry nuclear warheads will be conducted in a short time to further enhance the reliance of nuclear attack capability, he (Kim) instructed the relevant section to make prearrangement for them to the last detail,” the agency said.
South Korea’s defense ministry said there were no indications of activities at the North’s nuclear test site or its long-range rocket station, but that North Korea continues to maintain readiness to conduct nuclear tests.
The North’s report comes amid heightened tension on the Korean peninsula as South Korean and U.S. troops stage annual military exercises that Seoul has described as the largest ever.
In the apparent re-entry simulation, the official newspaper of North Korea’s ruling Workers’ Party carried pictures on Tuesday of a dome-shaped object placed under what appeared to be a rocket engine and being blasted with flaming exhaust. In separate images, Kim observed the object described by KCNA as a warhead tip.
The North has issued belligerent statements almost daily since coming under a new U.N. resolution adopted this month to tighten sanctions against it after a nuclear test in January and the launch of a long-range rocket last month.
In 1962, the United States launched a ballistic missile with a live warhead in what was known as the Frigate Bird test. China conducted a similar test in 1966.
“What would be terrible is if the DPRK (North Korea) re-enacted Operation Frigate Bird or the fourth Chinese nuclear test and did a two-in-one,” said Jeffrey Lewis of the California-based Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
South Korea‘s defense ministry said after the North’s report that it still does not believe the North has acquired missile re-entry technology, which should include the ability to guide the rocket after it re-enters the atmosphere.
U.S. and South Korean experts have said the general consensus was that North Korea had not yet successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on an intercontinental ballistic missile.
More crucially, the consensus is that there have been no tests to prove it has mastered the re-entry technology needed to bring a payload back into the atmosphere.
The North also says the satellites it has launched into orbit are functioning successfully, although that has not been verified independently.
North Korea rejects criticism of its nuclear and missile programs, even from old ally China, saying it has a sovereign right to defend itself from threats and to run a space program putting satellites into orbit.
The new U.N. Security Council resolution sharply expanded existing sanctions by requiring member states to inspect all cargo to and from North Korea and banning the North’s trade of coal when it is seen as funding its arms program.
The foreign ministers of South Korea and China discussed the new sanctions against North Korea by telephone late on Monday and agreed it was important to implement them “in a complete and comprehensive manner”, China said on Tuesday.
The order came after Kim monitored the successful lab-test of the warhead re-entry technology required for a nuclear strike on the US mainland, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.Kim’s comments were the latest in a series of daily statements and warnings by Pyongyang, talking up the North’s nuclear strike capabilities and threatening attacks on Seoul and Washington.
The main focus of the threats have been ongoing, large-scale military exercises by South Korea and the United States that Pyongyang has condemned as rehearsals for invasion.
In order to boost the reliability of the nation’s nuclear deterrent still further, Kim said a nuclear warhead explosion test and test firings of “several kinds” of ballistic rockets would be carried out “in a short time”.
The warning came days after state media released photos of Kim posing with what was claimed to be a miniaturised nuclear warhead capable of fitting on a ballistic missile.
Kim had said last week that the North was planning to conduct new tests to gauge the “destructive power” of the new, miniaturised warheads.
While North Korea is known to have a small stockpile of nuclear weapons, its ability to deliver them accurately to a chosen target on the tip of a ballistic missile has been a subject of heated debate.
– Re-entry test –
There are numerous question marks over the North’s weapons delivery systems, with many experts believing it is still years from developing a working inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could strike the continental United States.
Others have doubted whether any miniaturised device the North has designed so far would be robust enough to survive the shock, vibration and temperature change associated with ballistic flight.
Using “newly developed heat-resisting material” the warhead was subjected to thermal flows five times hotter than those associated with ICBM flight
Tensions have been rising on the Korean peninsula ever since the North conducted its fourth underground nuclear test on January 6, followed by a long-range rocket launch a month later.
The UN Security Council responded by adopting a resolution earlier this month laying out the toughest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang to date over its nuclear weapons programme.
Although there are reasons to believe that the regime is exaggerating their technical and militant capabilities, the constant warnings and threats are not to be taken lightly. Kim’s anger is boiling over due to nations interfering in his own county’s ambitions.
The Washington Post relays the words of DPRK Today, a state-run outlet, reporting as to their leader’s intentions and capabilities in comparison to other nations with nuclear capabilities.
“Our hydrogen bomb is much bigger than the one developed by the Soviet Union. If this H-bomb were to be mounted on an inter-continental ballistic missile and fall on Manhattan in New York City, all the people there would be killed immediately and the city would burn down to ashes.”
The report was apparently citing the research and data collected by scientist Cho Hyong Il on the direction of Kim. It is a strange manner for the regime to communicate their latest threat, seeing as this specific state-run website has also focused on the farming of rabbits and school backpack manufacturing.
Although tensions between North Korea and other nations, including the United States, have run high continually, the latest string of threats began back in January, as the Post reminds.
“Kim in January ordered North Korea’s fourth nuclear test and claimed that it was ahydrogen bomb, not a simple atomic one. But most experts are skeptical of the claim, saying the seismic waves caused by the blast were similar to those caused by the North’s three previous tests. Then in February, Kim oversaw the launch of what North Korea said was a rocket that put a satellite into orbit but that is widely considered part of a long-range ballistic missile program.”
It’s been reported that North Korea has made up ground and advances in their nuclear capabilities and the distance which they are able to reach with their missiles. It’s predicted that the nation is now able to reach the west coast of the United States.
Although experts on the subject of weaponry and warheads were skeptical when Kim offered up a view to the world of a miniaturized warhead, mainly about it’s appearance, saying that it just doesn’t look right, Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey, indicated that it should not be dismissed as being what Kim insists it is.
“It does not look like US devices, to be sure, but it is hard to know if aspects of the model are truly implausible or simply that North Korean nuclear weapons look different than their Soviet and American cousins,” Lewis wrote in an analysis for 38 North, a website devoted to North Korea. “The size, however, is consistent with my expectations for North Korea.”
Sanctions have been called for in response to the Pyongyang regime and their increasingly hostile activity. Time reminds of these sanctions being ordered.
“North Korea, under the rule of Kim Jong-un, last week threatened nuclear strikes on the U.S. and South Korea and was hit with more sanctions after a nuclear test and rocket launch this year.”
The sanctions have been ordered at the same time annual spring drills between the U.S. and South Korean military are taking place. Kim views these drills as antagonist actions and a “rehearsal for invasion.” This has led to Kim ordering exercises to be practiced by his own military that involve “decapitation strikes” on leaders and destruction of nuclear and missile sites.The South Korean defense ministry urged North Korea to halt its threats in a statement.
The vessel had reportedly been operating off the North Korean coast during the week when it disappeared.
A South Korean defence ministry said Seoul was investigating the reports. Pentagon officials declined to comment on the matter.
The US military had been observing the submarine off the North’s eastern coast, CNN said, citing three US officials familiar with the incident.
American spy satellites, aircraft and ships had been watching as the North Korean navy searched for the missing sub, the report said.
The US was unsure if the missing vessel is adrift or whether it has sunk, CNN reported, but officials believe it suffered a failure during an exercise.
“The speculation is that it sank,” an unidentified US official was quoted as telling USNI News.
“The North Koreans have not made an attempt to indicate there is something wrong or that they require help or some type of assistance.”
North Korea’s navy operates a fleet of 70 submarines, most of them being old diesel models capable of little more than coastal defence and limited offensive capabilities.
In August 2015 Seoul said said 70% of the North’s total submarine fleet – or around 50 vessels – had left their bases and disappeared from the South’s military radar, sparking alarm.
The incident comes as tensions were further heightened on the Korean peninsula by a fresh threat from Pyongyang.
The official KCNA news agency, citing a statement from military chiefs, warned of a “pre-emptive retaliatory strike at the enemy groups” involved in the joint US-South Korean drill.
Responding to the statement, South Korea’s defence ministry urged Pyongyang to stop making threats or further provocations, according to Yonhap news agency.
With Agence France-Presse
Published March 11, 2016
Reuters, citing North Korea’s official news agency (KCNA), reported Friday that Kim also watched a ballistic missile test take place.
The KCNA report did not say when the test happened, but it was most likely referring to the country firing two rockets into the sea on Thursday as a response to South Korea’s latest round of sanctions.
“Dear comrade Kim Jong Un said work… must be strengthened to improve nuclear attack capability and issued combat tasks to continue nuclear explosion tests to assess the power of newly developed nuclear warheads,” KCNA reported.
When asked about the comments, South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-hee described them as “rash and thoughtless behavior by someone who has no idea how the world works,” according to Reuters.
U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon called on Pyongyang a day earlier to “cease destabilizing acts.”
On Thursday, North Korea also “liquidated” South Korean assets at the closed joint factory park in the North Korean border town of Daesong and at a scrapped tourism resort at Diamond Mountain.
In a continuation of bellicose rhetoric that has spiked in recent weeks, a statement from the North’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said North Korea will also impose “lethal” military, political and economic blows on the South Korean government to accelerate its “pitiable demise.”
South Korea’s government called the statement a “provocative act” and warned the North not to damage any South Korean assets.
The missiles fired by North Korea on Thursday flew about 310 miles before falling into the ocean off the country’s east coast, according to Seoul’s Defense Ministry. They were believed to be Scud-type missiles, ministry spokesman Moon Sang Gyun said.
Such missile firings by the North are not uncommon when animosity rises. North Korea hates the annual military drills staged by Seoul and Washington, calling them preparations for an invasion. The allies say the drills, which this year are described as the biggest ever, are defensive and routine. North Korea warned at the start of the drills Monday of pre-emptive nuclear strikes.
On Wednesday, North Korea printed photos in official media of a purported mock-up of part of a nuclear warhead, with Kim repeating a claim that his country has developed miniaturized atomic bombs that can be placed on missiles.
Information from secretive, authoritarian North Korea is often impossible to confirm, and the country’s state media have a history of photo manipulation. But it was the first time the North has publicly displayed its purported nuclear designs, though it remains unclear whether the country has functioning warheads of that size or is simply trying to develop one.
South Korea’s Defense Ministry on Wednesday disputed the North’s claim that it possesses miniaturized warheads. The U.S. Department of Defense also said this week that it had no evidence that North Korea had succeeded in miniaturizing a warhead, Reuters reports.
The United States said Wednesday it has dispatched three B-2 stealth bombers capable of launching nuclear as well as conventional weapons to the Asia-Pacific region. The U.S. Strategic Command said the bombers will conduct training with the Australian military during their deployment, which amounts to a show of force at a time of mounting tensions with North Korea.
North Korea’s Kim says country has miniaturized nuclear warhead
Tuesday, March 8, 2016 JACK KIM FOR REUTERS
By Jack Kim
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said the country has miniaturized nuclear warheads to be mounted on ballistic missiles and ordered improvements in the power and precision of its arsenal, its state media reported on Wednesday.
Kim has called for his military to be prepared to mount pre-emptive attacks against the United States and South Korea and stand ready to use nuclear weapons, stepping up belligerent rhetoric after coming under new U.N. and bilateral sanctions.
U.S. and South Korean troops began large-scale military drills this week, which the North calls “nuclear war moves” and threatened to respond with an all-out offensive.
Kim’s comments released on Wednesday were his first direct mention of the claim, previously made repeatedly in state media, to have successfully miniaturized a nuclear warhead to be mounted on a ballistic missile, which is widely questioned.
“The nuclear warheads have been standardized to be fit for ballistic missiles by miniaturizing them,” KCNA quoted him as saying as he inspected the work of nuclear workers, adding “this can be called true nuclear deterrent.”
“He stressed the importance of building ever more powerful, precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and their delivery means,” KCNA said.
Kim also inspected the nuclear warheads designed for thermo-nuclear reaction, KCNA said, referring to a hydrogen bomb that the country claimed to have tested in January.
North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6 claiming to have set off a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which was disputed by many experts and the governments of South Korea and the United States. The blast detected from the test was simply too small to back up the claim, experts said at the time.
The U.N. Security Council imposed harsh new sanctions on the isolated state last week for the nuclear test. It launched a long-range rocket in February drawing international criticism and sanctions from its rival, South Korea.
On Tuesday South Korea announced further measures aimed at isolating the North by blacklisting individuals and entities that it said were linked to Pyongyang’s weapons program.m
China also stepped up pressure on the North by barring one of the 31 ships on its transport ministry’s blacklist.
But a U.N. panel set up to monitor sanctions under an earlier Security Council resolution adopted in 2009 said in a report released on Tuesday that it had “serious questions about the efficacy of the current United Nations sanctions regime.”
North Korea has been “effective in evading sanctions” by continuing to engage in banned trade, “facilitated by the low level of implementation of Security Council resolutions by Member States,” the Panel of Experts said.
“The reasons are diverse, but include lack of political will, inadequate enabling legislation, lack of understanding of the resolutions and low prioritization,” it said, referring to the incomplete enforcement of sanctions.