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Thread: Final Countdown - North Korea

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    Default Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korea Issues Threats in Final Countdown to Rocket Launch
    By Kurt Achin
    Seoul
    02 April 2009

    N. Korean soldier standing guard is pictured from Dora Observation Post in Paju, near border village of Panmunjom, S. Korea, 02 Apr 2009
    North Korea has dramatically sharpened its rhetoric towards South Korea and Japan, in what are believed to be the final days before it launches a long-range rocket. The United States and its allies may have only limited options in responding to the launch.

    Major South Korean media outlets quote unnamed government officials as saying North Korea has mobilized jet fighters to guard the site of a rocket launch expected in the days ahead.

    At the same time, Pyongyang sharpened its rhetoric regarding the launch. A statement from the North's official Korean Central News Agency warns "if hostile forces make any slight move to intercept" the planned launch, the North's military will retaliate with force.

    Last month, North Korea informed international agencies it would be launching a satellite for space research, sometime between this coming Saturday and next Wednesday. South Korea, Japan and the United States say the test is a disguised push to advance the North's ballistic missile technology.

    The trajectory of the rocket is expected to pass over Japan. Tokyo says it will shoot down the rocket, if it seems like it will threaten Japanese territory. The North Korean news agency says Pyongyang would respond to such an action by "mercilessly dealing deadly blows," not only at Japan's anti-missile facilities but at "other major targets" as well.

    Mike Chinoy, a senior fellow at the Pacific Council on International Relations, says North Korea knows the United States and its partners have limited options to deal with the launch.

    "There's no downside, from the North Korean point of view, in trying this," he said.

    The American position and that of its its regional partners is that the launch will violate a United Nations prohibition on North Korean ballistic missile tests, passed after the North tested a nuclear weapon. However, by skillfully packaging the launch as a space research mission, North Korea may have made the launch less offensive to two of its historical allies with veto power at the U.N. Security Council.

    "They know, in the end, there's no appetite for meaningful sanctions on the part of the Chinese and the Russians. Without the Chinese and the Russians, any calls by Japan, South Korea, or the U.S. aren't going to go very far," said Chinoy.

    Chinoy says the challenge for President Obama is to come up with a response to the launch that appears resolute, but does not damage the possibility of diplomatically engaging North Korea about its nuclear weapons.

    "If the United States, after this launch, decides to move back toward negotiation - which I think is a sensible and logical thing to do - the optics are going to look very much like the North coerced Washington into coming back to the table, after its display of muscle flexing," said Chinoy.

    On the sidelines of the G20 economic summit in London, President Obama is meeting with Asian leaders about a possible response to the launch.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    N. Korea Ratchets Up Threats as It Readies Missile for Launch

    By Blaine Harden
    Washington Post Foreign Service
    Thursday, April 2, 2009; 11:29 AM

    TOKYO, April 2 -- Amid reports that it is fueling a missile for launch as soon as this weekend, North Korea escalated threats on Thursday against a worried neighbor, warning it would attack "major targets" in Japan if Tokyo shoots the missile down.

    North Korea has shifted MIG-23 fighter jets to its east coast, near the missile launch site, according to South Korean media reports.

    In London for the G-20 summit, President Obama criticized the launch on Wednesday as a "provocative act" that would violate a U.N. resolution and trigger a response from the U.N. Security Council. The leaders of Japan and South Korea agreed in London that the launch, if it occurs, should be addressed by the Security Council.

    The three countries have dispatched ships with anti-missile systems to monitor the launch, which they describe as a test of a long-range ballistic missile that could fly as far as the western United States. North Korea is trying to miniaturize nuclear warheads to fit atop its growing arsenal of missiles, U.S. intelligence officials have said.
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    North Korea says the missile is part of a peaceful research effort to put a communications satellite into orbit.

    Based on satellite photographs, experts say the missile appears to be carrying a satellite payload. No country has said it would try to shoot it down, unless it poses a threat.

    But North Korea, judging from its near-daily warnings of retaliation and war, is growing increasingly agitated -- at U.S. surveillance flights, foreign ship movements and threats of U.N. sanctions.

    In what it called an "important report," North Korea's official news agency said Thursday that "Japanese reactionaries, the sworn enemy of the Korean people, are perpetrating the most evil doings over North Korea's projected satellite launch for peaceful purposes."

    Last week Japan ordered land- and sea-based anti-missile systems to destroy debris from the North's missile, if it fails in flight and falls on Japan. The announced flight trajectory of the missile takes it high over northern Japan, but the likelihood of anything dropping from the sky and hitting the country is quite remote, Japanese officials say.

    North Korea, though, says Japan is being reckless. In its warning on Thursday, it said that if Japan intercepts the missile, "the Korean People's Army will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets."

    North Korea has about 200 mid-range Nodong missiles that are capable of striking nearly every part of Japan, according to the Defense Ministry in Tokyo.

    Citing U.S. military officials, CNN said Wednesday that North Korea has begun to pump fuel into the missile, a process that means it could be launched within three or four days. Officials in Japan and South Korea would not confirm the report.

    Among the many threats that it has issued in recent days, North Korea has said it would walk away from talks with the United States and four other countries over ending its nuclear program if its missile launch is criticized in the U.N. Security Council.

    Although it is one of the poorest countries in Asia, North Korea has made itself into the "greatest supplier of missiles, missile components and related technologies" in the developing world, according to a 2008 report for the U.S. Army War College's Strategic Studies Institute.

    It has sold missiles to Iran, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt, Libya and Yemen -- and received hundreds of millions of dollars, according to the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif.

    North Korea warned Monday that it will interpret as a "declaration of war" any move by South Korea to join the U.S.-led Proliferation Security Initiative, a multi-nation effort begun during the Bush administration to intercept shipments of nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction by countries such as North Korea.

    The warning might backfire. South Korean government officials said Thursday they were leaning toward joining the anti-proliferation group. For nearly six years, South Korea has declined a U.S. invitation to participate.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    N. Korea Is Said to Be Fueling Rocket

    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/03/wo...html?ref=world
    By CHOE SANG-HUN
    Published: April 2, 2009


    SEOUL: As North Korea prepares to launch as early as Saturday what it calls a rocket carrying a communications satellite but what Washington calls an intercontinental ballistic missile, the world is watching. And watching, for now, seems about all it can do.

    On Thursday, as CNN reported that North Korea had begun fueling the rocket — a strong indication that the launch would come off as scheduled, between Saturday and Wednesday — President Obama and his South Korean counterpart, Lee Myung-bak, agreed on the need for a “stern, united” international response.

    But with two American journalists detained and facing criminal indictment in Pyongyang, the United States all but ruled out the possibility of shooting down the rocket — an action that if successful, could provoke Pyongyang into quitting already sputtering nuclear disarmament talks and if not, would embarrass the Pentagon.

    Japan dispatched interceptor missiles to the coast facing the North. But like the United States, it admits that it can intercept only if the rocket fails and tumbles toward its territory.

    “We will surely win,” the North Korean leader, Kim Jong-il, said during his recent birthday party, according to the March 28 edition of Rodong Sinmun, Pyongyang’s main state-run newspaper. Rodong then explained Kim’s tactic: “If our sworn enemies come at us with a dagger, he brandishes a sword. If they train a rifle at us, he responds with a cannon.”

    Among North Korea watchers, Mr. Kim’s tactic is known as “brinkmanship.” It is a term they often use to explain politics behind the North’s rocket launch and its detention and impending indictment of Laura Ling and Euna Lee, both reporters of San Francisco-based Current TV, who were arrested by North Korean soldiers at the border with China on March 17.

    The collapse of the Communist block in the early 1990s left North Korea with few friends. Since then, North Korea, a dictatorship armed to the teeth but unable to feed its own people without foreign aid, has specialized in provoking the international community for survival.

    Whenever it failed to get concessions in negotiations or there were changes of governments abroad, the North raised tensions, wrangling an invitation to talks and extracting fresh aid while never giving up its trump card, its nuclear weapons program.

    That is what it did when it withdrew from the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty in 1993 and began stockpiling plutonium; when it held an American for three months for illegally crossing its border from China in 1996; when it tested its first ballistic missile over Japan in 1998; when its warships clashed with the South Korean navy in 1999 and 2002; or when it tested its first nuclear device in 2006.

    These movements forced reluctant governments in Washington and Seoul to the negotiating table for talks that often resulted in more aid to North Korea. In return, North Korea agreed to work toward ending its nuclear program — a promise it quickly stalled or reversed. It had to, experts say, because the nuclear card is its only major bargaining chip.

    North Korea was forced to recalibrate its strategy again after President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative, came to power in Seoul a year ago, ending a decade of no-strings-attached largess from the South. Meanwhile, Barack Obama took office in Washington in January, giving Mr. Kim a reason to grab Washington’s attention anew.

    Since last year, the North has called Mr. Lee a “traitor” and his aides “pro-American flunkies” and “malicious confrontational maniacs.” It has cut off dialogue with Seoul and stalled six-nation nuclear disarmament talks. A month ago, it began assembling what Washington believes is its Taepodong-2 missile at a launching pad on its northeast coast.

    Then an unexpected bonanza for the Pyongyang regime rolled in the persons of Ms. Ling and Ms. Lee. The regime is now preparing to put them on trial on charges of “hostile acts” against the Communist state, a crime punishable by up to 10 years of hard labor in one of the North’s notorious prison camps.

    “The journalists considerably weakened their government’s leverage against the North,” said Kim Tae-woo, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for Defense Analysis in Seoul.

    All in all, Washington has few good options, experts said.

    “North Korea has little to lose in this game,” said Kim Yong-hyun, a North Korea specialist at Dongguk University in Seoul. “It’s a repeating pattern: Once again, North Korea’s brinkmanship is working.”

    Washington says that the launch is a provocative test of a ballistic missile with the potential of carrying a warhead to the western coast of the United States, and that it violates a United Nations resolution that bans the North from all such tests. But an American effort to punish the North at the Security Council will bog down in a haggling with China, the closest the North has to an ally, over whether the North is entitled to launch a satellite, analysts said.

    Any such move by the United States, North Korea warns, will also compel it to quit six-party talks on ending its nuclear weapons program — Washington’s top goal in dealing with Pyongyang.

    South Korea, too, has few ways to pressure Pyongyang, except perhaps reducing $1.8 billion worth of annual trade, the second largest volume of trade the isolated country has after China. But the South is perpetually divided between those who want to discipline the Pyongyang regime and those who fear such a tactic would only worsen the North’s isolation and add to the deprivation of their relatives still living there.

    Tokyo has made the fate of a dozen Japanese kidnapped by North Korea an overriding priority in dealing with the North. Although popular, that policy has seriously curtailed Tokyo’s flexibility to engage the North in the nuclear and missile disputes.

    Mr. Kim is said to have suffered a stroke last August. By confronting the United States and Japan, he wants to enhance his credentials as a military leader as he seeks to get himself re-elected by his rubber-stamp parliament, which convenes next Thursday, analysts said.

    The two American journalists provide Pyongyang with convenient leverage to attract a high-level envoy from Washington following the rocket launch. But for now, the North will focus on the successful launching of the rocket, which will give the necessary lift to Mr. Kim’s domestic reputation.

    “If the launch does take place, the best outcome for the international community is simply for it to fail,” said Daniel Pinkton, an analyst with International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based policy group.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Crisis Control Readied in Japan Ahead of North Korea Rocket Launch

    Thursday, April 02, 2009

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,512136,00.html



    AP

    Mar. 31: South Korean soldiers take part in joint military exercises with the U.S. in preparation for a North Korean rocket launch.








    AKITA, Japan — Crisis control officials opened an emergency center in northern Japan on Thursday to prepare for the launch of a North Korean rocket expected to fly over Japanese territory.

    Gov. Sukeshiro Terata, who heads the crisis control headquarters in Akita Prefecture (state), urged officials and residents to stay calm. He said the possibility of a launch failure that would send debris or fragments falling toward Japan was "one in a million."


    Click to view photos | Satellite image of the launch area


    "We believe a flying object from North Korea is unlikely to land in our territory. Yet, we must be prepared just in case," Terata said.


    Pyongyang has said it will launch a communications satellite into orbit between Saturday and Wednesday, and that it will pass over Akita and Iwate. Regional powers suspect the North is using the launch to test long-range ballistic missile technology.
    Last week, Defense Minister Yasukazu Hamada ordered the deployment of interceptor missiles for the first time to protect the nation from falling debris if the launch goes awry.


    FAST FACTS: A Glance at North Korea's Missile Arsenal.

    Members of the crisis control headquarters said they have done everything they can to prepare.

    By late Wednesday, all 25 towns and villages in Akita had finished installing a computer-based hot line connecting them to the prime minister's office. They will hold a joint drill later Thursday, along with towns in nearby Iwate prefecture (state), crisis management official Makoto Sasaki said.

    Officials said police and rescue workers are on standby, while teachers have been instructed to keep radios and televisions on at all times starting Saturday to monitor any announcement or unexpected event during school activities. Many Japanese schools have classes or sports activities on weekends.
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    About 30 officials will be on duty at the emergency headquarters this weekend.

    North Korea has notified international organizations that the multistage rocket is expected to drop its first stage into the Sea of Japan about 80 miles off the western coast of Akita before passing over Japan's airspace to the Pacific.

    Click to read the Korean War Armistice Agreement.

    Sasaki asked residents to continue their daily activities as usual, but urged them to closely monitor media reports and quickly take refuge inside buildings in the case of an emergency.

    Batteries of PAC-3 land-to-air missile interceptors were sent to a coastal army base in Akita. A pair of destroyers armed with ship-to-air SM-3 interceptors are already in northern waters off the coast of Akita.

    The Defense Ministry also has also deployed the missile interceptors in and around Tokyo to protect the country's capital.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korea launch underscores demand for space data
    Thu Apr 2, 2009 8:14am BST

    http://uk.reuters.com/article/usTopN...5311H020090402

    By Andrea Shalal-Esa

    COLORADO SPRINGS, Colorado (Reuters) - U.S. officials, poised to closely monitor North Korea's planned launch of a communications satellite, this week underscored the need for improved data about what is going on in space.

    Military officials said the United States needed to beef up its "space situational awareness," or ability to monitor satellites and debris floating around in space, but they gave few details on any spending plans.

    Boeing Co and other U.S. defense contractors are anxiously awaiting the release of the Obama administration's fiscal 2010 budget, probably in early May, to see how much funding it will include for space programs.

    "We must find better ways to learn what's in space," Navy Vice Admiral Carl Mauney, deputy commander of U.S. Strategic Command, told the Space Foundation's National Space Symposium.

    He said improving the military's space surveillance capability was one of his top priorities, and advocates an expansion of the country's current capabilities.

    The effort would require more collaboration among government agencies, industry and foreign countries, he said, as well as international guidelines for satellite operators.

    U.S. concerns about the safety of its satellites and the International Space Station escalated after the February collision of a dead Russian communications satellite and a U.S. commercial communications satellite owned by Iridium, as well as China's use of a missile to destroy one of its own defunct satellites in 2007, Mauney said.

    He also mentioned the close pass of some space debris by the International Space Station last month and said ensuring the safety of human spaceflight was the command's top priority when tracking possible collisions in space.

    The United States already operates surveillance satellites in space, and can use ground-based equipment and other satellites to track missile launches.

    BOEING SURVEILLANCE SATELLITE

    But the growing number of satellites and countries that can launch them, including Iran, have heightened demand for better monitoring of the vast reaches of space.

    The Pentagon's budget request last fall included an increase in funds for space programs, mainly to address the increased surveillance needs, said a senior defense official, who was not authorized to speak on the record.

    Top Pentagon officials have already briefed military commanders on the fiscal 2010 budget proposal and should turn over their plans to the White House soon, said the official.

    Boeing Co is working on the Space-Based Surveillance System (SBSS) satellite program, and said it expects to launch the one satellite already ordered around mid-year.

    A launch had been expected in March or April, but the date has slipped while Orbital Sciences Corp investigates the failed launch of its Taurus XL rocket in February.

    Boeing said it is ready to build more satellites for the U.S. military and says the satellite has "tremendous capacity" to do even more than intended.

    The Air Force initially had plans to order four SBSS satellites, but officials say they are still documenting the military requirements.

    The cost of the first SBSS satellite, built by Boeing and its partner Ball Aerospace, including launch costs, ground systems and maintenance through 2011, is around $800 million, according to Air Force officials.

    Mauney said U.S. Strategic Command would use its existing sensors to monitor the expected launch of a North Korean communications satellite between April 4 and 8. Washington and its allies see the plan as a disguised missile test.

    (Reporting by Andrea Shalal-Esa; editing by Todd Eastham)
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    No U.S. Plans to Stop Korea on Missile Test
    http://www.nytimes.com/2009/03/31/wo...a/31korea.html

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    By THOM SHANKER and CHOE SANG-HUN
    Published: March 30, 2009

    WASHINGTON — The United States has no plans for military action to pre-empt the launching of a long-range missile by North Korea and would act only if the missile or its parts appeared to be headed toward American territory, Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday.

    South Korea also opposes military any military response to North Korea’s impending rocket launch, the South Korean president, Lee Myung-bak, said in an interview published Sunday.

    The descriptions by Mr. Gates and Mr. Lee of a calibrated military response were the most definitive to date as the international community, led by the United States, Japan and South Korea, pursues diplomatic action to press North Korea not to proceed with the launching of a Taepodong-2 intercontinental ballistic missile.

    Amid rising tensions surrounding the expected launch, North Korea on Monday detained a South Korean worker on charges of plotting against the Communist government. The worker was captured at Gaeseong, a North Korean border town where the two Koreas run a joint industrial park.

    An independent security think-tank released satellite images on Sunday that it said confirmed the presence of the Taepondong-2 missile on the North’s Musudan-ri launch pad. The content of the photos, analyzed by the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, had not yet been confirmed by the Defense Department by Monday, but they echoed South Korean news reports last week that said the missile had been put in place.

    North Korean officials have said the launching, expected to take place between April 4 and 8, is designed solely to push a satellite into orbit. Although the peaceful, commercial and scientific use of space is protected under international law, a United Nations Security Council resolution specifically bars North Korea from testing missiles and nuclear devices.

    Mr. Gates said on “Fox News Sunday,” “I don’t know anyone at a senior level in the American government who does not believe this technology is intended as a mask for the development of an intercontinental ballistic missile.”

    Even so, Mr. Gates said the United States had no plans to take military action to halt the launching or to shoot down the missile in flight — with one exception.

    “If we had an aberrant missile, one that was headed for Hawaii, that looked like it was headed for Hawaii or something like that, we might consider it,” Mr. Gates said.

    One of America’s closest allies in the region, Japan, has authorized its military to shoot down any debris from the rocket that might fall toward its territory, and has joined the United States and South Korea in saying the launching is a cover for testing technology for a long-range missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.

    Japan deployed two Aegis vessels to waters off its west coast at the weekend, with an order to prepare to shoot down any debris that could fall on Japanese territory if the rocket launch fails. South Korea is also dispatching an Aegis-equipped Sejong the Great destroyer off the east coast.

    Dave Palmer, a spokesman for the American military in Seoul, declined to unveil the missions for two Aegis radar-equipped destroyers — USS John S. McCain and USS Chafee — which were seen docked over the weekend in Busan, a South Korean port. Rear Admiral Chae Hong-pil of the South Korean navy told foreign media reporters last week that the American vessels would move into the sea between Japan and Korea to monitor the North Korean launch.

    Mr. Lee, in an interview published Sunday on the Financial Times Web site, said that while Seoul had no position on Japan’s stated intention to shoot down debris, military action in response to the launch would not be appropriate. “What I do oppose is to militarily respond to these kind of actions because it is also not in their interest to test-fire anything,” he said, referring to North Korea’s plans.

    All three countries have demanded that North Korea cancel the launching but have conceded there is little they can do to force acceptable behavior on the isolated government in Pyongyang, beyond threatening even more sanctions. American officials acknowledge that the launching would be the first major test for Mr. Obama in dealing with North Korea’s ambitions to field long-range missiles and nuclear weapons.

    The worker detained by the North on Monday faces charges of "denouncing the North’s political system and corrupting North Korean female workers in a plot to persuade them to defect to the South," a spokesman from South Korea’s Unification Ministry said, citing a notice from the North.

    Two American journalists captured March 17 are still also being held by the North. Analysts said the detentions appeared to be attempts by the North to increase leverage in diplomatic negotiations with Seoul and Washington.

    Mr. Gates’s comments came as senior administration officials, led by President Obama, took to the Sunday talk shows to describe the strategy unveiled Friday to focus American counterterrorism efforts in Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    In battling terrorists in Afghanistan and Pakistan, the president, appearing on the CBS program “Face the Nation,” said the United States would respect Pakistani sovereignty but reserved the right to strike at important terrorist targets, after consultations with the government in Islamabad.

    “If we have a high-value target within our sights,” Mr. Obama said, “after consulting with Pakistan, we’re going after them.”

    But he stressed that those attacks would not be with American ground forces, implying that he was referring to continued strikes from the air.

    The American commander in the region, Gen. David H. Petraeus, appeared on CNN’s “State of the Union” and explained that “there is no intention for us to be conducting operations in there, certainly on the ground, and there is every intention by the Pakistani military and their other forces to conduct those operations.”

    Richard C. Holbrooke, the president’s top adviser on Afghanistan and Pakistan, said on CNN that success required overcoming tensions between Washington and Islamabad, and he cited what senior Pakistani officials have labeled “the trust deficit.”

    But since the Afghanistan-Pakistan strategy will require months to be put into effect, the prospect of a long-range North Korean missile launching as early as this week generated a more immediate national security risk.

    Sharon Otterman contributed reporting from New York.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Transcript: FT interview with Lee Myung-bak

    http://www.ft.com/cms/s/0/b199dc66-1...nclick_check=1

    Published: March 29 2009 17:51 | Last updated: March 29 2009 17:51

    FT: If we could start with North Korea which is something the whole world is interested in or anxious about. The North Koreans have said they going to launch a missile or satellite, depending on what one believes. The Japanese are now saying they are prepared to shoot it down. Do you support the Japanese position? Should the West show strength or would it be provocative to shoot down what Kim Jong-il says is a satellite?

    LMB: First of all, I think all countries in the world have agreed it is not in anyone’s interest to test-fire a missile, or whatever its is. All members of the six-party talks, including China and Russia are of the same mind. However, there are some people who say this may be a space launch vehicle. If North Korea did not have a desire of acquiring nuclear weapons, then I think North Korea’s stated intention of launching a space launch vehicle would cause no qualms but the truth of the matter is North Korea does have a desire to develop nuclear weapons so this does precisely make it a very serious concern for them to acquire the technology to deliver nuclear weapons. As for your question about Japan’s publicly stated intention to shoot it down, I don’t know the specifics, but I think the Japanese are rightly concerned because this object will travel inevitably through their airspace and will have the possibility of falling into their territorial waters. So, I those terms I think the Japanese government has it as their intention and responsibility to protect their own citizens and that is one of the reasons why they have stated an intention to shoot down anything that flies out of Korea.

    Whether they will do so when it travels through their own airspace we do not know. As for specifics and as to whether we support that or not, no country should say we support it or not because this is a decision made by Japanese government with the sole purpose of protecting its own citizens, which is one of their primary responsibilities. I don’t think it’s appropriate for us to say whether we support or reject it either way. What I do oppose is to militarily respond to these kind of actions because it is also not in their interest to test-fire anything. In the short-term it might be beneficial for negotiating conditions, but in the long –term it won’t be in their interest.

    FT: If Japan fired and missed, which is always possible because technology is not an exact science , would that not send a terrible message to North Korea that actually the west, South Korea the US, Japan, do not have the capability of cancelling out North Korea’s technology. Have you not been talking to the Japanese about that danger, which would reflect on South Korea?

    LMB: Yes, well, that is a very valid point but as I said the decision on the part of Japanese government to publicly state that they intend to shoot down anything that comes out of North Korea, that is their prerogative and their decision to make. To my knowledge, we have not been discussing this with the Japanese and I don’t think the US government has been discussing this with the Japanese in detail but I am sure and confident that the Japanese government will be making their decision taking into consideration all the points including the one you mentioned and making a very careful strategic decision.

    FT: Why has it come to this? A few years ago there was quite a lot of optimism that the six-party talks were working, that North Korea was being engaged, that it agreed to freeze Yongbyon, that progress was being made, but this has all begun to fall apart. This may be an excuse, but in part the North Koreans may blame your government for being cold, antagonist. One could say that this a reaction to that, demanding attention from the international community because you are refusing to give it attention. Would it not be better to engage, if not the sunshine policy, then more active engagement, are you confident your policy is correct?

    LMB: Fundamentally, I believe we have been seeing some impasse in the negotiations with North Korea in terms of nuclear-weapon developments and the verification protocol. However, I do not believe there is a direct relationship between that and the inter-Korean relationship. In the process of agreeing to some sort of verification mechanism there were a lot of demands or positions regarding excluding North Korea from remaining on remaining parts of six-party talks. So they put forward their recommendations on what they wanted from North Korea and there were differences and discrepancies that we could not come to agreement on in terms of the verification protocol and that was one of the reasons why are seeing the current impasse. However, I do not believe there is any direct relationship with the tension between the two Koreas and the North Korean nuclear programme. You mentioned the sunshine policy in place for the last 10 years.

    I can say there were of course some positive outcomes as a result of the sunshine policy. We cannot deny that in terms of us providing North Koreans citizens with certain assistance and in calling for reconciliation and peaceful co-existence between the two Koreas. However, a majority of Korean people look at the situation now and what do we have? What we have is North Korea still pursuing path to a nuclear weapon state. So the majority of people’s trust in North Korea has gone down considerably. And so, I would have to say our administration has a very pragmatic and realistic approach when dealing with the North Koreans.

    We are not antagonistic, we are not inflexible when it come to the North Koreans. When we talks about normalising relations between the two Koreas, it must be based on mutual trust and genuine dialogue. These are the two preconditions that are a must if we are talking about normalisation, so that is why my administration has always been open and ready to have dialogue with the North Koreans. When it comes to humanitarian aid, regardless of other factors, it has always been our consistent position that we are ready and willing with such assistance.

    FT: I was going to ask something that you’ve kind of answered, but provocatively if you like. If the sunshine policy has failed, why not go the other way? Why not, especially if the North Koreans fire a missile, why not close down Kaesong for example? Or turn the pressure up some other way. Clearly North Korea needs foreign currency which is becoming harder to get. You could perhaps go in the other direction or is that something you would rule out?

    LMB: Our ultimate objective is to convince North Korea to fully give up their nuclear weapons and also usher in an era where the two Koreas will be able to coexist. So that that is our ultimate objective. For us to go the other way, taking a harder stance, I don’t that would necessarily be helpful in achieving this ultimate objective. You mentioned closing the Kaesong complex. I think that going to such an extreme measure will not be beneficial. We are not considering such as measure at this point because the Kaesong Industrial Complex is one conduit for us to keep that window of dialogue open. However if North Korea continues to take such extreme positions, actions we will have to tailor our response and reactions.

    FT: Can I just step back a little bit? I want to continue with North Korea for one more question at least but when the rest of the world looks at North Korea it wonders what the endgame is, what will finally happen? You talk about mutual coexistence, this is a country that the previous American administration categorised as part of an axis of evil. Obama is obviously slightly different in his tone but nonetheless the rest of the world looks at Kim Jong-il and thinks he looks older, he’s had health problems, frankly he might die. And then what might happen? Might China’s influence, might China take over North Korea, might there be unification, might millions of North Koreans flee in to South Korea, China. In other words, what is the endgame, the plan for if this all goes horribly wrong or is the plan to keep North Korea like it is now for 10, 20, 40, 50 years? Or is there a bigger endgame plan?

    LMB: The endgame is peaceful reunification of the Korean peninsula. That has never changed and that will remain our objective. However, having said that, I do not foresee peaceful reunification happening in the near future. I think it will take some time to achieve peaceful reunification. And that is why in the meantime our objective is to remain in peaceful co-existence, that is our objective between the two Koreas, to maintain the peace that we have. In case something happens in North Korea, that may lead to reunification. But I must disagree that any country would take over North Korea in case something happens. I do not see that as a possibility or something that we would want to see. And so, like I said, when something happens we will of course co-operate closely with our ally the United States as well as China and other neighbouring countries like Russia and Japan. They will all take part in co-operating the dialogue in the event of any eventuality so it if anything happens, it won’t go any way we don’t want it to go. It can be an opportunity to talk about peaceful reunification. Right now, I don’t think we can talk with any detail or specificity about what is likely to happen, we do not know but are confident all countries will co-operate to come to a logical solution. So there can be many, many types of scenarios for what the government can do and one of our responsibilities is to prepare ourselves for any contingency and that is what we are doing.

    FT: Are there really contingency plans prepared with US, China locked in a drawer somewhere for various scenarios? I suppose the fear is that crisis erupts, Kim Jong-il dies tomorrow, there’s a revolt in the armed forces in North Korea tomorrow , that China, South Korea, America might have different ideas of how to respond so we’d like to know there’s already an agreement in place.

    LMB: When I say scenarios, that includes the scenario you talk about of course. We are always prepared for contingencies.

    FT: Under all of those plans, if something explosive or implosive happens in North Korea, if it’s famine or a power shortage, could reunification could ever be the response or would South Korea always want a separate North Korean, closed-off mini republic within the greater Korean borders?

    LMB: Well, before I answer, let me just preface by saying that North Korea has said it intends to test fire a missile or whatever it is in April. All countries are out there trying to convince them diplomatically not to go down that path and for me to answer a question on what we will do if North Korea collapses, I think will unnecessarily provoke the North Koreans. They might decide not to go ahead with the test firing but they may be provoked into actually test firing so I think that question, timing wise, may be a little delicate. Nevertheless it’s a very good question. Of course many Korean people all have their different opinions on what we should be doing and so forth as in other countries but I would just like to repeat that our ultimate objective is peaceful unification, that is the mission.

    FT: The recent perception abroad was that Korea, of the big Asian economies, was among that is was among the weaker ones. Its financial sector was overleveraged with the household sector highly indebted. Korea is the country that looks most like the US. Is Korea out of danger now?

    LMB: Fortunately, when Korea was struck by the 1997/8 financial crisis, that was a good opportunity for us to engage in fundamental reforms and strengthen our financial structure. As a result, our financial regulatory structure and regime have been very much strengthened. We have put in place many rules and regulations, for instance, putting a cap on excessive borrowing. So there are mechanisms that have been put in place as a result of our efforts to overcome the 1997/8 financial crisis. I could say that there are two main pillars of differences between Korea and the US in terms of regulatory control and lending practices.

    Following the 1997 financial crisis, we’ve managed to consolidate the various supervising bodies which oversee all financial activities whereas in the US there are many different bodies having responsibility for different aspects of the financial sector. When it comes to lending and borrowing practices, Korean banks do not have problems like US sub-prime loans. Following the 1997 financial crisis, we adopted a loan-to-value rule, which effectively says a person who wishes to borrow money in order to buy a house, he or she cannot borrow more than 50 per cent of the worth of the house he or she wants to buy. The debt-to-income rule has also been in place, following the Asian financial crisis, which prohibits anyone from borrowing more than 40 per cent of his or her yearly income for the property he or she wants to purchase. These rules allow a very low rate of default in terms of borrowing practices.

    FT: As the economy gets worse, some of the smaller companies may go bankrupt, increasing non-performing loans, which could pose a danger to the banking system. How is the government planning to pump in money?

    LMB: It is right that our export market has shrunk. But if you look at trade statistics, we saw a 30 per cent drop in January exports. In February, that slightly improved to 20 per cent and in March we saw a 17 per cent decrease in exports. And during the same period, our imports have also gone down. As a result, we had about $3.7bn of trade surplus. Yes, it is true that all companies and all economies around the world are going through a lot of difficulties and the exports market has shrunk as a total. But what is good for Koreans is that our companies have diversified their markets for their exports and their products. We have markets all over the world and the products we exports have become much more diversified. So quite contrary to our initial projections, our export market is quickly stabilising. When you consider economic difficulties around the world and what other countries are going through, the Korean export sector is doing relatively well. Non-performing loans from SMEs could increase so we have set aside about $15bn to recapitalise banks and about $30bn to clear NPLs.

    FT: How do you plan to channel the money that banks get from the recapitalisation fund to SMEs?

    LMB: We have a very special mechanism you cannot find anywhere else, which is a credit guarantee fund. What this fund effectively does is that the government will guarantee the credits for banks so when the banks lend to SMEs, they are not diverting the risks. In fact, the government will guarantee the credits as well as the loans. So for this purpose alone, we have set aside $50bn this year. Through this mechanism, we can induce more lending to SMEs.

    FT: Do you think that there should be more consolidation in the banking sector to increase their competitiveness?

    LMB: If we look back, in the 1997/8 Asian financial crisis, there was a government-led initiative to bring together some of the banks. If you look at the Korean economy at that time, there was a point where we just had to liquidate some the unhealthy banks. But right now, the situation is fundamentally different. There is no need for the government to take any lead in bringing or merging banks together. However, if the banks themselves think that that is necessary for their competitiveness, because the small size does not allow them to have global competitiveness, if they think it is in their interests to merge with each other, that’s fine. But we are not considering a government-led initiative at this point.

    FT: You mentioned that Korean exports have held up relatively well. Is that because the won has depreciated a lot? Is that something you welcome or feel comfortable with?

    LMB: Despite the downturn of the global economy, Korean exports are doing quite well, unexpectedly, because of their technological competitiveness. The government has no power to do anything with the exchange rates. However, the value of the won is going through a lot of adjustment. And we can’t say anything about the right kind of exchange rates that is the most beneficial for our economy. But coming back to the quality of our products, Korean products have the technological advantage and the competitive edge that they did not have in the past. That is why Korean exports are doing well despite the global economic downturn.

    FT: You are one of the biggest holders of dollar reserves. Chinese authorities suggested their nervousness about the US dollar and treasuries. There was a proposal that the world should move towards a global unit of the reserve currency other than the dollar. Do you support the proposal or are you still comfortable with the US dollar?

    LMB: Because of the current economic crisis, it is undeniable that the US dollar has had some cuts and bruises. But, for the time being, I don’t think there is any other currency that can replace the US dollar as the base currency. However, perhaps for a supplementary role, we can use the euro, the Japanese yen, or the Chinese renminbi. However, this question will continuously be raised among stakeholders because the Chinese economy continues to grow and the eurozone is extremely large as an economic block. The future status of the US dollar is going to very much depend on how the US administration is going to fare in terms of overcoming this economic crisis. It really depends on how the US recovers from the current crisis.

    FT: Korea’s economic and political reforms have got stuck in the National Assembly, the majority is there. Why not vote through the legislation now?

    LMB: If any one were to look at Korean domestic politics they would say that outwardly we are faced with a whole host of problems, but if you just dig a little deeper you will notice that even the Korean opposition party, when you present them with a variety of reform measures, they do understand the need for it and they do support it, so quite the contrary to some of the outward concerns I think that Korean domestic politics is not in as serious situation as many people believe. If you look briefly at modern Korean political history my administration was launched following 10 years of a progressive government, that government 10 years ago, changed hands following decades of a different political ideology. So if you look at recent Korean political history, you can understand the behaviour of the current opposition because the last two times they were able to win power by a very very small margin of victory. However, during my presidential elections if you just look at the numbers you can tell that it was the largest margin of victory in modern Korean political history.

    You can tell by that fact alone that the opposition party is in a state of shock and some of the ways they are behaving in the National Assembly is one way for them to come to grips with reality and engage in perhaps opposition for opposition sake. But like I say, they do understand the need for reform and the Korean people during such times of economic hardship will not condone or accept the opposition party opposing for opposing’s sake and the opposition party I believe knows that and they will come around and co-operate in moving the country forward. Up until the beginning of this year we saw a lot of deadlock in the National Assembly but I think this is about to change and for any healthy and mature democracy everything must go through the voting process and that is going to take place in the National Assembly.

    FT: But if the democratic process is working, why the need for consensus with the opposition minority? Just have the vote.

    LMB: Most importantly, the Korean people have begun to realise the need to go through the democratic process. In the past, we have had military dictatorships and during military dictatorships opposition was a political tradition for a handful of politicians to oppose and that tradition was the norm. You saw that a lot with a certain number of politicians really standing up against military dictatorship, and I think that practice still kind of lingers where you oppose those who are in power. However, nowadays Korea is in a completely different political environment in all aspects. We are mature democracy, elections are held. But the Korean political system is still mired in the past. My administration is trying to convince the politicians to make decisions on economic considerations or to make Korea into a more globalised player and to escape from this very domestic political decision making-process.

    FT: G20. South Korea was instrumental in calling for efforts against protectionism in November. But there are signs of protectionism rising everywhere, does that worry you?

    LMB: When the leaders met in Washington in November for the first G20 meeting, I did make a proposal that we must resist protectionism. However, following the Washington summit, I think we have encountered a lot of difficulties in the financial sector as well because we thought the financial sector would achieve some level of stability but that’s not the case. We are still faced with some level of financial instability, and we have to resolve that issue as well on top of the trade protectionism. The WTO recently released a report and that report clearly shows that there are many countries that are clearly engaging in some sort of protectionist measures. What I intend to propose when I attend the G20 meeting in London is that we resist not only trade protectionism but also all forms of protectionism, including financial protectionism. And not just in words but we must follow it up in action. And so I intend to propose that we roll back all the protectionist measures and policies that have been put in place to the level that we saw when the Washington summit was convened last November. And secondly, I intend to propose that once again we reaffirm that we oppose all forms of protectionism including financial protectionism. As a concrete and actionable follow-up I intend to propose that the World Trade Organisation that it reports on quarterly or a regular basis to all the member states of the practices of certain countries and, if they engage in protectionist measures, to release the names and have some actionable measures so we can encourage countries not to engage in interventionist measures.

    FT: Are there any egregious examples?

    LMB: Well, I don’t think it is appropriate for me to name any names.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korea reportedly fueling rocket
    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,5707578.story
    Associated Press

    8:11 AM PDT, April 2, 2009

    WASHINGTON -- U.S. Defense officials say North Korea has begun fueling a rocket for its controversial launch of a satellite.

    And a senior intelligence official told The Associated Press that Pyongyang remained on track for a projected Saturday launch.

    Senior defense officials said today that intelligence was unclear on where preparations stood, but by late morning confirmed that fueling and other activities to get ready for the launch were indeed under way.

    All officials spoke on condition of anonymity to discuss intelligence issues.

    U.S. intelligence is closely watching launch preparations and is comparing them to the steps taken in advance of North Korea's 2006 launch of a Taeopong 2 missile.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    N. Korea deploys jets to protect rocket
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/...3501238673715/

    PYONGYANG, North Korea, April 2 (UPI) -- North Korea has deployed fighter jets to guard against attempts to intercept its rocket when it launches within days, South Korean officials said Thursday.

    Along with the deployment came a warning that North Korea will "mercilessly deal deadly blows" against anyone trying to interfere with the launch of what Pyongyang says is a communications satellite, South Korean news agency Yonhap reported. Western leaders believe the launch is a test-firing of North Korea's missile technology. The launch is scheduled sometime between Saturday and Wednesday.

    "We are closely monitoring the movement of the jets," a South Korean air force commander told Yonhap. He didn't disclose how many or when the MiG-23s were deployed near the Musudan-ri launch site on North Korea's coast.

    North Korea's official news agency repeated warnings that the country would attack Japan's weapons if Japan attempts to intercepts the satellite, China's state-run news agency Xinhua reported. Japan ordered its military to intercept debris of the rocket in case the firing failed and fell in Japanese territory.

    Japan, South Korea and the United States deployed destroyers to the East Sea, stressing they didn't plan to intercept the rocket unless populations are threatened.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    S.Korea, US vow response to N.Korea missile launch
    http://www.google.com/hostednews/afp...WAwOOojFgqwk_Q

    5 hours ago

    LONDON (AFP) — US President Barack Obama and South Korean counterpart Lee Myung-Bak on Thursday promised a firm and "stern" response to any North Korean rocket launch after a fresh fiery outburst from Pyongyang.

    Lee and Obama met on the sidelines of the G20 economic crisis summit in London, after North Korea raised the stakes in Northeast Asia by saying it would attack "major targets" in Japan if Tokyo tried to shoot down the rocket.

    "The presidents said the international community needs to take stern, unified action against North Korea if the North fires a long-range rocket," a South Korean official told AFP on condition of anonymity.

    Obama and Lee agreed to "closely cooperate" on the case, the official added.

    An Obama administration official said any launch would see the United States seek to "firmly" respond at the United Nations, adding "there is no daylight" between Seoul and Washington on the issue.

    Another official said "considerable" efforts had been made by other members of the six-party talks process to convince North Korea to step back from the brink of launching the rocket.

    The forum involves, China, Japan, South Korea, Russia, the United States and North Korea itself.

    North Korea's apparent plans to launch a satellite rocket have triggered an international security alert and rapidly raised tensions in northeast Asia.

    The North has begun fuelling its rocket in a sign it could launch as early as this weekend, CNN quoted a senior US military official as saying.

    US officials declined to discuss the state of North Korean preparations, citing a desire to avoid sensitive intelligence matters.

    Obama ignored a shouted question about the apparently impending rocket launch as he met Lee at the cavernous conference centre in East London which is hosting the summit.

    The US president invited Lee to visit him for their first White House talks in Washington on June 16, an official said, adding that the president praised Lee for his restraint in dealing with North Korean "abuse".

    The two leaders also talked about the stalled US-South Korea free trade pact which Obama has argued is badly flawed and needs to be negotiated.

    Obama said there were difficulties with the pact on both sides, but said he was willing to work with Seoul on the agreement even if a resolution would take time, one of the US officials said.

    The US president lauded South Korea as "one of America?s closest allies and greatest friends.

    "We are very interested in discussing the economic crisis which is at the top of the G20 meeting," the US president said before his talks with Lee, the latest in a string of get-to-know-you-talks with world leaders.

    "But obviously we also have a great range of issues to discuss, on defence, on peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, on the outstanding contributions that Korea has made with respect to the Afghanistan situation and their global role and global leadership on issues like climate change."

    The United States, Japan and South Korea say North Korea is using the supposed satellite launch as pretext for testing its intercontinental missile, the Taepodong-2.

    Obama also thanked South Korea for medical assistance it had provided in Afghanistan, and the US official said he was gratified at Seoul's response to his new strategy for Afghanistan and Pakistan.

    Earlier, North Korea's military threatened to attack "major targets" in Japan if Tokyo tries to shoot down the satellite it intends to launch as soon as this weekend.

    "If Japan recklessly 'intercepts' the DPRK's (North's) satellite for peaceful purposes, the KPA will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets," said a statement from the Korean People's Army (KPA).
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korea missile shows sign of satellite payload
    Wed Apr 1, 2009 2:54am BST
    http://uk.reuters.com/article/UKNews...52U80F20090401

    By David Morgan

    WASHINGTON (Reuters) - The missile North Korea is expected to launch as soon as this weekend appears to have a bulb-shaped nose cone consistent with a satellite payload, rather than a warhead, U.S. defence officials said on Tuesday.

    A commercial satellite image of the Musudan-ri missile test site showed a Taepodong-2 missile with a bulb-shaped payload cover, said the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity.

    The image was posted March 29 on the Web site of the Institute for Science and International Security, or ISIS, a Washington-based group devoted to informing the public on security issues including nuclear weapons.

    The bulb shape is similar to the current nose cone standard for military and commercial satellite launches, concluded officials including analysts at the U.S. Air Force's National Air and Space Intelligence Centre in Dayton, Ohio.

    The same design is used by the United States, Russia, China and the European Space Agency, the analysts said.

    North Korea said it will launch a satellite into space April 4-8 and issued a notice to mariners about potentially hazardous conditions in the North Pacific between 3 a.m. and 8 a.m. British time each day beginning on Saturday.

    One official said the bulb shape gives credence to North Korea's contention that it intends to launch a satellite. The nose of a missile with a warhead design would be more likely to be cone-shaped.

    North Korea is under mounting international pressure over the launch plan because neighbouring countries and the United States view it as the test of a ballistic missile capable of reaching Hawaii. A Taepodong-2 test in 2006 failed.
    The United States, Japan and South Korea are deploying missile-interceptor ships in the area.

    "They probably are launching a satellite. But the issue is that the steps they're going through to do that run parallel to them being able to have other capabilities," senior ISIS analyst Paul Brannan said.

    Brannan said he did not believe the image on the ISIS Web site showed definitively that the missile carries a bulb-shaped payload cover but suggested defence analysts could be comparing it to classified images of far greater clarity.

    "The significance of the photo is that it's the first time you could really see the missile itself. Leading up to then, you couldn't see it," Brannan said. "The fact you can see it so clearly on one photo versus the past ones indicated to us that they'd probably been shrouding it."

    U.S. defence officials said a successful satellite launch, expected as early as late Saturday morning in Korea, would bolster Pyongyang's ballistic missile program.

    "It would mean they can use multistage boosters to get a payload to a certain point. That's half way to bringing a re-entry vehicle back into the atmosphere," said one official.

    Proliferation experts believe the North does not have the technology to miniaturize a nuclear device for a warhead, but might be able to place a biological or dirty bomb in a conventional warhead.

    Pyongyang's only nuclear test in 2006 was seen as a partial success.

    (Editing by Patricia Zengerle)
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    U.S. destroyers move from South Korean port

    http://www.latimes.com/news/nationwo...,7072293.story

    They are repositioned as the North Korean government prepares to launch a rocket, which it says is only intended to carry a satellite. The U.S. says it has no plans to intercept the rocket.

    By Greg Miller
    March 31, 2009

    Reporting from Washington -- Two U.S. Navy destroyers, including one that is capable of intercepting missiles, were moved out of a South Korean port Monday amid expectations that North Korea may launch a rocket over the Pacific Ocean by the end of the week.

    The repositioning of the ships marked the latest in a series of military and diplomatic maneuvers between Washington and the government in Pyongyang, although U.S. officials have said there is no plan to strike the North Korean rocket.



    *
    U.S. official challenges North Korea's satellite claim
    *
    Neighbors angry about North Korea's satellite launch plans

    The pending launch has emerged as an early foreign policy test of the Obama administration, which hopes to restart talks to convince North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons program.

    North Korea insists that the launch is intended only to put a civilian satellite into space. But U.S. officials say Pyongyang's real goal is to test intercontinental ballistic missile technology that could someday be used to carry a warhead and possibly reach the U.S. coastline.

    Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said Sunday that the United States would not fire on the rocket unless it appeared to be headed for U.S. territory.

    "If we had an aberrant missile, one that was headed for Hawaii . . . we might consider it," Gates said in a television interview on Fox News. "But I don't think we have any plans to do anything like that at this point."

    Lt. Matt Galan, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, confirmed that the destroyers McCain and Chafee both left port in Busan, South Korea, on Monday, but he declined to discuss their mission or destination. Galan said only that the McCain was armed with missile-tracking and interception capability.

    Japan has also indicated that it would be prepared to fire on the North Korean rocket if it appeared that debris might land on its soil.

    Recent satellite imagery shows that North Korea has finished assembling the rocket, a Taepodong 2, on a launch pad on the country's eastern coastline. Pyongyang has said it intends to launch the rocket between April 4 and 8.

    U.S. and other Western analysts fear that North Korea's leaders may be pursuing the ability to mount a nuclear warhead atop such a missile.

    Gates said the U.S. believed that "that's their long-term intent," but he noted that he was skeptical they would be able to do so yet. He also said he did not believe that North Korea's missile was able to reach Alaska or the West Coast.

    North Korea experts have described the launch as an effort by Pyongyang to recapture Washington's attention at a time when the Obama administration is focused on the global economic crisis and the war in Afghanistan.

    Stalled negotiations between North Korea and other nations center on providing North Korea with badly needed food and fuel supplies in exchange for steps toward dismantling its nuclear weapons program.

    Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has warned that North Korea would face consequences if it carried out the launch, which U.S. officials say would violate a United Nations ban. But it is not clear what diplomatic steps the U.S. is prepared to take. U.S. officials met with representatives from South Korea and Japan to discuss the matter Friday.

    greg.miller@latimes.com
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Pyongyang threatens to shoot down U.S. spy planes

    AIA dailyLead | 04/02/2009

    North Korea believes Boeing-built RC-135 surveillance aircraft are spying on its launch preparations for a purported communications satellite, and Pyongyang is threatening to "mercilessly shoot down" any U.S. plane in its airspace. Outside observers believe North Korea is using the launch to test long-range missile technology in violation of UN restrictions. FoxNews.com (04/01)


    http://www.smartbrief.com/news/aia/s...9-D68C617573EF



    N. Korea 'Will Mercilessly Shoot Down' U.S. Spy Planes

    http://www.foxnews.com/story/0,2933,511965,00.html
    SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea accused the United States of spying on the site of an impending rocket launch and threatened Wednesday to shoot down any U.S. planes that intrude into its airspace.

    North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit on a multistage rocket between April 4 and 8. The U.S., South Korea and Japan think the reclusive country is using the launch to test long-range missile technology, and they warn Pyongyang would face sanctions under a U.N. Security Council resolution banning the country from ballistic activity.


    Pyongyang's state radio accused U.S. RC-135 surveillance aircraft of spying on the launch site on its northeast coast, according to South Korea's Unification Ministry, which is in charge of monitoring the North.


    "If the brigandish U.S. imperialists dare to infiltrate spy planes into our airspace to interfere with our peaceful satellite launch preparations, our revolutionary armed forces will mercilessly shoot them down," the ministry quoted the radio as saying.


    It was unclear what capability the North Korea has to shoot down the high-flying Boeing RC-135, which can reach altitudes of nearly 10 miles (15 kilometers) high. The threat came a day after the North claimed the U.S. and South Korea conducted about 190 spy flights over its territory in March, including over the sea off the launch site.
    The U.S. military in South Korea declined to comment on the spying allegations or the North's threat.


    British Prime Minister Gordon Brown said at a summit Tuesday with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak in London that Pyongyang's launch would breach the U.N. resolution and pledged to respond in step with Seoul, Lee's office said.


    Lee, in London for the G-20 summit, told Brown it is important for the international community to show a concerted response to the North's move, his office said. Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso also urged united action.



    In the Netherlands, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned the North would face "consequences" in the Security Council in the event of a launch.
    She also strongly backed Japan's plans to shoot down any incoming North Korean rocket debris, saying the country "has every right to protect and defend its territory from what is clearly a missile launch."


    Japan has deployed battleships and Patriot missile interceptors off its northern coast to shoot down any wayward rocket parts that the North has said might fall over the area.


    Tokyo has said it is only protecting its territory and has no intention of trying to shoot down the rocket itself, but North Korea said it is not convinced and accused Japan of inciting militarism at home to justify developing a nuclear weapons program of its own.
    If Japan tries to intercept the satellite, the North's army "will consider this as the start of Japan's war of re-invasion ... and mercilessly destroy all its interceptor means and citadels with the most powerful military means," the North's official Korean Central News Agency said Tuesday.


    Click to read the Korean War Armistice Agreement.


    The International Crisis Group, a Brussels-based think tank that provides detailed analysis about North Korea — said in a report that the country is believed to have "assembled and deployed nuclear warheads" recently for its medium-range Rodong missiles, which are capable of striking Japan.


    But its Seoul-based expert, Daniel Pinkston, said it is unclear if it has mastered the technology necessary to miniaturize the warheads and put them on Rodong missiles, which have a range of 620 to 930 miles (1,000 to 1,500 kilometers).


    The group called for a "calm, coordinated" response to the launch, saying overreaction could jeopardize six-nation talks aimed at ridding the North of nuclear weapons programs. Pyongyang has threatened to quit the negotiations if its "peaceful" space program is taken up by the Security Council.


    Kim Tae-woo, a missile expert at Seoul's state-run Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said a recent commercial image shows a round-shaped top at the North's rocket, possibly suggesting it could be a satellite as Pyongyang claims. But he stressed the object could be designed to disguise a missile test.


    "It was not shaped like a warhead," Kim said. "But the North can put anything atop the rocket for a missile test as long as it weighs the same as a warhead."


    Two U.S. destroyers are believed to have departed from South Korea to monitor the rocket launch. South Korea is also dispatching its Aegis-equipped destroyer, according to a Seoul military official who asked not to be named, citing department policy.


    Adding to the complexity of the situation, the North announced Tuesday it will indict and try two American journalists accused of crossing the border illegally from China on March 17 and engaging in "hostile acts."
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Japan to call UN meet if NKorea launches rocket


    (AFP)

    2 April 2009
    http://www.khaleejtimes.com/DisplayA...=international


    UNITED NATIONS - Japan will call for an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council if North Korea goes ahead with its planned rocket launch, its ambassador to the UN said Thursday.
    “Japan will request an urgent meeting of the Security Council to discuss this issue,” Ambassador Yukio Takasu told reporters. “This could take place this coming weekend.”
    He said after a closed-door meeting of the 15-member council that his US and French colleagues strongly supported his proposal.
    North Korea says it intends to launch a communications satellite between April 4-8. But South Korea, the United States and Japan see the exercise as a cover for a long-range missile test.
    They say a launch for any reason would breach a UN Security Council resolution passed after the North’s missile and nuclear tests in 2006, which bans it from engaging in any missile-related activities.
    The Stalinist state has begun fuelling its rocket in a sign it could be in the final stages of a launch as early as this weekend, CNN quoted a senior US military official as saying. There was no immediate confirmation.
    Takasu said intense diplomatic efforts were under way to persuade the North Koreans not to proceed with the launch.
    He added that there was a very clear understanding within the council that a North Korean launch “affects not only Japan’s security but peace and the non-proliferation regime.”
    Takasu would not say whether Tokyo would press for new sanctions against Pyongyang.
    “The council should respond firmly, clearly,” he noted. “But how this would be formulated is something still we have been working on, including the possibility of a resolution.”
    North Korea has meanwhile warned that any UN sanctions would cause the breakdown of six-party nuclear disarmament talks.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korean regime acting up again

    April 2, 2009
    http://www.htrnews.com/article/20090402/MAN06/904020416

    Some experts have likened North Korea to a petulant child who demands constant attention and acts up when he doesn't get it. The difference is that North Korea has nuclear weapons, a record of erratic behavior and an eccentric leader. When North Korea acts up, attention must be paid.
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    Ostensibly, North Korea aims to launch an experimental communications satellite soon. That sounds harmless enough, but given the regime's history of deception, other countries can't take such assurances at face value. Experts agree, moreover, that the same technology needed to put a satellite into orbit can be used to fire long-range offensive missiles. Some intelligence sources suspect North Korea may be testing a missile capable of reaching Alaska. Worse, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il reportedly suffered a stroke recently and may be ailing, meaning the country might be in the middle of a succession crisis.

    Maybe this is what Vice President Joe Biden meant when he said that President Barack Obama would be tested early on by a crisis overseas. Certainly, North Korea has not been at the top of this administration's foreign policy agenda, but now Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton has been forced to issue a warning to that country, and U.S. military leaders have expressed confidence that they could shoot the missile down if ordered to do so.

    It is hard to see what North Korea gains by all this. A provocative act would strengthen hard-liners who want to see the United States take a more aggressive posture against the regime. The unfortunate result would be to imperil gains made by the six-party talks initiated with the support of former President George W. Bush.

    For the United States and other parties in those talks, mainly China, South Korea and Japan, that principally means the containment of plutonium development and disabling the North Korean reactor in Yongbon. North Korea, in turn, loses the prospect of ever getting what it really wants — normalization of relations, economic aid, security assurances, a formal peace treaty to end the Korean war.

    If North Korea goes ahead with this unwise decision, the issue must once again be taken to the U.N. Security Council, which could issue sanctions because the test violates a Council resolution. North Korea claims that any sanctions would only strengthen its resolve to go its own way regardless of the international community.

    Obama has nothing to lose by promising some type of high-level dialogue if North Korea desists. Confrontation with the regime has not been a fruitful tactic in the past and doesn't seem a good idea now. Sometimes constant attention is what it takes to prevent outbursts of bad behavior.

    The Miami Herald
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Jitters over Pyongyang missile plan




    Conservative protesters march as they hold mock North Korean missiles (L and 2nd L) and mock Patriot missiles during an anti-North Korea rally denouncing the North's planned rocket launch in Seoul, April 2, 2009. REUTERS



    Posted Thursday, April 2 2009 at 18:49

    UNITED NATIONS, Thursday

    Related Stories



    Japan will call an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council to discuss a possible response if North Korea launches a long-range rocket in the coming days, Japan’s UN envoy said today.



    Mr Yukio Takasu, speaking after a closed door council meeting on other issues, said he brought the issue up inside the council chambers. He added that an emergency session on North Korea could take place this weekend if the rocket is fired.



    North Korea has begun fuelling a long-range rocket and could launch it by the weekend, CNN said, with the US and others threatening punishment for a move they say violates UN resolutions.



    Pyongyang has said it will send a satellite into orbit between April 4-8, but the US, South Korea and Japan say the launch is a disguised test of the long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to carry a warhead to US territory.



    Senior US military officials quoted by broadcaster CNN on Wednesday said the fuelling indicates the rocket could be ready to launch by the weekend.



    A US official said after a meeting between President Barack Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak on the sidelines of the G20 in London, it looked like North Korea would proceed with the launch, but Washington was trying to persuade Pyongyang to stop.



    Change their minds


    The two leaders agreed the launch will violate Security Council resolutions, the unnamed senior US official said.



    “We have been making maximum efforts to try to dissuade them and still hope that they may change their minds,” the official said. Japan has sent missile-intercepting ships along the rocket’s flight path, which takes it over the Asian economic power, and said it could shoot down any debris such as falling booster stages, that threatens to strike its territory. (Reuters)
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Sanctions will be sought if rocket fired
    http://www.upi.com/Top_News/2009/04/...2051238680840/

    LONDON, April 2 (UPI) -- U.S. President Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak agreed to seek penalties against North Korea if it goes through with a planned rocket launch.

    Obama and Lee "agreed on the need for a joint reaction by the international community, such as referring North Korea to the U.N. Security Council, if the North fires a long-range missile," Lee Dong-kwan, a spokesman for South Korea's presidential office, said Thursday.

    Lee and Obama met ahead of the Group of 20 economic summit in London.

    Obama said the United States was developing a proposal for a Security Council resolution that would impose sanctions against North Korea if the test-firing occurs, the South Korea's Yonhap News Agency reported.

    North Korea said it will launch a communications satellite between Saturday and Wednesday, but Western countries said they believe the launch is a missile test.

    Under a 2006 U.N. Security Council resolution, North Korea is barred from any missile-related activities.

    Obama said he and Lee "have a great range of issues to discuss -- defense and peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula. ... Korea is one of America's closest allies and greatest friends."

    The two leaders agreed to meet in Washington in June, the White House said. Obama accepted Lee's invitation to visit Seoul as well.

    The two leaders also agreed to work closely to stimulate their economies and build consensus on international regulatory and supervisory system reforms, the White House said.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    North Korea threatens to retaliate
    April 2, 2009, 7:22pm
    http://mb.com.ph/articles/201205/nor...tens-retaliate

    SEOUL, South Korea (AP, AFP) – North Korea's military has threatened immediate retaliation if "even the slightest effort'' is made to intercept a rocket that it plans to launch in the next few days.

    The North's official Korean Central News Agency quoted the military as specifically mentioning Japan, the United States and South Korea. It threatened Japan with a ``thunderbolt of fire'' if it interfered with the launch.

    The Thursday statement told the United States to withdraw its armed forces in what appeared to be a reference to American warships that have reportedly set sail to monitor the launch from international waters.

    The North says it is sending a communications satellite into orbit but regional powers suspect the launch will test long-range missile technology.

    The Korean People's Army (KPA) general staff, in what it called an important announcement, said ''if hostile forces take any slight move to intercept the DPRK's (Democratic People’s Republic of Korea or North Korea) satellite for peaceful purposes, the KPA will make a prompt just retaliatory strike at it.''

    The statement accused ''Japanese reactionaries, the sworn enemy of the Korean people,'' of stirring up trouble over the launch.

    ''If Japan recklessly 'intercepts' the DPRK's satellite for peaceful purposes, the KPA will mercilessly deal deadly blows not only at the already deployed intercepting means but at major targets,'' the military said.

    Its statement on the official Korean Central News Agency told the United States ''to immediately withdraw its already deployed armed forces if it does not wish to be hurt by the above-said strike.'' The military also called on South Korea not to disturb the launch, which it termed the pride of the nation, ''while currying favor with their US and Japanese masters.''

    The communist state has announced it will send up a communications satellite between April 4 and 8 as part of a peaceful space program.

    The United States and its Asian allies say this is a pretext to test a Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, which could in theory reach Alaska or Hawaii, in violation of UN resolutions.

    Japan has deployed anti-missile systems to try to bring down the rocket should it start falling toward Japanese territory. The United States says it does not intend to try an intercept.

    Japan has dispatched three Aegis destroyers, two of them fitted with ballistic missile interceptors, to waters around its islands, as well as Patriot guided-missile units to select locations in the country.

    The US has positioned an unspecified number of Aegis-class warships in the area and media reports say South Korea has sent an Aegis destroyer.

    The North has previously warned that any interception will mean war. Meanwhile, South Korea's president sought yesterday to galvanize support from world leaders to pursue Security Council punishment for North Korea if it proceeds with a rocket launch that is suspected to be a cover for a missile test.

    In one-on-one meetings in London on the eve of the G-20 summit, President Lee Myung-bak stressed the need for a "united response" among world leaders after Pyongyang carries out what it has said will be a satellite launch some time from Saturday to Wednesday.

    As world leaders prepared a response to the launch, CNN television reported that the North's own preparations were continuing. The network said on its Web site that Pyongyang has begun fueling the rocket, citing an unidentified senior United States military official. South Korea's Defense Ministry said it was aware of the report but declined to comment.
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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    NORTH KOREA VOWS 'THUNDERBOLT OF FIRE' AGAINST US WARSHIPS

    Posted: 10:14 am
    April 2, 2009

    North Korea threatened today to "launch a thunderbolt of fire" if the "slightest effort" is made by the US to intercept a long-range rocket it plans to launch this weekend, according to a report.

    President Obama, who is attending the G-20 summit in London, warned the rocket launch would be a "provocative act" that would generate a UN Security Council response.

    But North Korea's military shrugged at Obama's words and threatened those who opposed the launch with a "thunderbolt of fire," according to a report by the Korean Central News Agency.

    In a reference to US warships that have set sail to monitor the launch, the report said North Korea claims the Americans "should immediately withdraw armed forces deployed if it does not want to receive damage."

    Senior US military official said Pyongyang has started to fuel the rocket - a move that indicates final preparations for the launch.

    The missile can be fired about four days after fueling begins, officials said.

    South Korea's Yonhap news agency quoted unidentified officials as saying the North had moved a squadron of MiG-23 fighter jets to a base near the launch site in what appeared to be a response to Japan's deployment.

    The launch would be the first big challenge for Obama in dealing with the North Koreans, whose efforts to build a nuclear arsenal have long plagued ties with Washington.

    Officials in Pyongyang have said they plan to send a satellite into orbit sometime over the weekend, but the United States, South Korea and Japan claim the launch is a disguised test of the long-range Taepodong-2 missile, which is designed to carry a warhead to US territory.

    The US, Japan and South Korea all oppose the launch of the Taepodong-2, which exploded shortly into its only test flight in July 2006.

    Japanese Prime Minister Taro Aso said the launch "undermines the peace and stability not only of Northeast Asia, including Japan, but also of the international community."

    UN Security Council resolutions reached after the Taepodong-2 test nearly three years ago bars the country from ballistic missile testing.

    With Post Wire Services

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    Default Re: Final Countdown - North Korea

    Obama, South Korea vow 'stern' response on planned North Korean rocket launch

    THE ASSOCIATED PRESS
    Thursday, April 2nd 2009, 6:55 AM

    LONDON — President Barack Obama and his South Korean counterpart agreed Thursday on the need for a "stern, united" international response if North Korea goes ahead with a planned rocket launch, as Obama juggled that intensifying crisis thousands of miles away and an global effort to fix the sagging economy.

    Obama and South Korean President Lee Myung-bak met on the sidelines of a 20-nation summit on the economic crisis, spending the bulk of their time on the latest flare-up with the North, already in international crosshairs over its nuclear weapons program. The two leaders convened before joining their peers in session aimed at broad, coordinated responses to help the economy recover.

    North Korea says it will send a communications satellite into orbit on a multistage rocket sometime from Saturday to Wednesday, but the U.S., South Korea and Japan call the plan a cover for testing long-range missile technology and a potential violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution banning ballistic activity by North Korea. Obama told Chinese President Hu Jintao on Wednesday that the U.S. would consider the launch provocative and that the U.S. would seek punishment at the United Nations in response.

    After the Obama-Lee meeting, the South Korean presidential office issued a statement saying that the two leaders had agreed to keep working on a verifiable dismantling of North Korea's nuclear programs.

    The statement added that the two agreed on the need "for a stern, united response from the international community" and to work together to make that happen.

    Senior White House officials confirmed that description of the meeting.

    As the meeting was getting underway, Obama said in front of reporters that South Korea is one of "America's closest allies and greatest friends" and he lauded Lee's leadership. Obama said the two would discuss a range of issues, including defense and "peace and stability in the Korean Peninsula."

    A senior Obama aide said that Obama's very friendly and complementary remarks toward Lee in public were meant as a display of his personal support for Lee's handling of the North Korean issue. Lee has sought to drum up support from world leaders, including while in London, for punishing its neighbor if the launch goes forward and has been vilified in the North for his efforts.

    CNN television said on its Web site that Pyongyang has started to fuel the rocket. The report, citing an unidentified senior U.S. military official, said the move indicates final preparations for the launch. Experts say the missile can be fired about three to four days after fueling begins. The Obama officials, speaking on condition of anonymity to more fully describe the private talks, would not comment on intelligence related to the rocket.


    But they said, without elaborating, that the U.S. and Japanese militaries have been consulting closely. Japan is preparing to intercept any debris and regional powers have begun to deploy ships to monitor the launch. U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates has said that the U.S. has no interception plans.

    The North has countered with its own warnings against any interception efforts — or even efforts to monitor the launch. It says its armed forces are at a high level of combat-readiness.

    The leaders also discussed a free trade agreement between the two countries, the official said.

    South Korea and the U.S. agreed in 2007 under former President George W. Bush to a free trade deal that would slash tariffs and other barriers to trade. The countries' legislatures, however, failed to ratify the deal as their farmers and labor groups opposed it, and Obama has hinted he might seek to renegotiate it.

    Obama told Lee that he understood there were difficulties with the deal on both sides, but that he wants to "make progress" on it, the officials said.

    The G-20 summit brings together the world's richest and developing economies. Leaders hope to approve language vowing tough, coordinated rules for financial markets, plus efforts to spark global recovery, while avoiding costly trade disputes. Obama and fellow leaders worked in their half-day of sessions Thursday — all conducted behind closed doors at the massive ExCel Centre on the outskirts of London to clear up divisions over how far to go with tougher financial regulation.

    Making his first splash abroad as president, Obama says the summit will reflect "enormous consensus" on how to grapple with the world's gravest economic crisis since World War II.

    Obama, his helicopter grounded by the fog, arrived by car at the facility. The summit's host, British Prime Minister Gordon Brown, gave Obama another warm greeting following their upbeat visit and news conference Wednesday.

    Police in London said more than 80 people were arrested in sometimes violent clashes with protesters who vandalized property in the city's financial district ahead of the summit.

    Obama also has meetings on the summit sidelines with Indian Prime Minister Manmohan Singh and Saudi Arabia's King Abdullah. He will likely reassure Singh about plans to boost aid to India's rival, Pakistan. With the Saudi leader, oil prices and Mideast peace efforts are on the agenda, with perhaps a delicate question about the king's recent shake-up in succession plans.

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    "Your grandchildren will live under communism."
    “You Americans are so gullible.
    No, you won’t accept
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    outright, but we’ll keep feeding you small doses of
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    until you’ll finally wake up and find you already have communism.

    To view links or images in signatures your post count must be 15 or greater. You currently have 0 posts.
    ."
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    until you’ll
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