North Korea successfully tests intercontinental ballistic missile 

North Korea on July 4 claimed it had successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile which is capable of hitting the mainland United States.

According to a Reuters report, the launch was ordered and supervised by leader Kim Jong Un according to North Korea’s state media. The rocket covered a trajectory of 933 km (580 miles) reaching an altitude of 2,802 km over a flight time of 39 minutes.

The launch came days before leaders from the Group of 20 nations were due to discuss steps to rein in North Korea’s weapons program, which it has pursued in defiance of U.N. Security Council sanctions.

North Korea’s state media said,” The test launch was conducted at the sharpest angle possible and did not have any negative effect on neighboring countries.”

According to the Washington Post, Donald Trump, U.S. President, took to Twitter: “North Korea has just launched another missile. Does this guy have anything better to do with his life?” referring to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Shinzo Abe, Prime Minister of Japan said he would ask the presidents of China and Russia to play more constructive roles in efforts to stop Pyongyang’s arms program.

The New York Times reported, North Korea has been trying to build a reliable intermediate-range ballistic missile, which would be able to reach American military bases in the Pacific.

Missile experts say North Korea may still be years away from mastering the technologies needed to build such a missile.

Source links : Reuters, The New York Times, Washington Post

 

 

North Korean detained Otto Warmbier dies days after release

Otto Warmbier, the 22-year old American student who was detained by North Korean for 17 months died at a Cincinnati Hospital, reported CNN. Warmbier was released from North Korea last week after he was arrested in 2016. He was visiting North Korea for a five-day sightseeing when he was arrested for allegedly trying to steal an item with a propaganda slogan, according to North Korean media.

The family in a statement after Otto’s death said, “Unfortunately, the awful torturous mistreatment our son received at the hands of the North Koreans ensured that no other outcome was possible beyond the sad one we experienced today.”

Last Thursday, the physicians at the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Warmbier was died, said that he showed no signs of understanding languages or surroundings and had made no “purposeful movements or behaviours”.

Otto Warmbier was released by North Korea on humanitarian grounds after the U.S. State Department’s special envoy traveled to Pyongyang, reported Reuters.

The US President Donald Trump condemned Otto’s death and issued a statement saying, “The brutality of the North Korean regime as we mourn its latest victim.”

Trump drew a lot of flak in May when he said that he would be “honored” to meet with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. In an interview with Bloomberg news he said, “If it would be appropriate for me to meet with him, I would absolutely, I would be honored to do it… If it’s under the, again, under the right circumstances. But I would do that.”

Rex Tillerson, the Secretary of State also offered his condolence and said that Otto’s parents have entered a time of grief which no parents should ever know. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations said Otto’s death “touches the American heart like no other.”

Sources : Reuters, CNN

Malaysia declares North Korea Ambassador “persona non grata”

Three weeks after the murder of the estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, Malaysia has asked the North Korean ambassador to leave the country within 48 hours. The diplomatic blow to Ambassador Kang Chol came from the Malaysian foreign ministry, after he failed to provide an apology over his comments regarding Malaysian authorities’ murder investigation of Kim Jong-nam.

Kim Jong-nam was murdered by North Korean agents with a toxic nerve agent at Kuala Lumpur’s airport and Kang Chol had commented that Malaysia’s investigation could not be trusted. He said Malaysia was “colluding with outside forces” in an obscure reference to South Korea. US and South Korean officials have said Kim Jong-nam was killed by North Korean agents with the deadly VX, a nerve agent classed as a weapon of mass destruction.

According to the Indian Express, a statement from the Malaysian foreign ministry read, “The expulsion of the DPRK (North Korea) Ambassador is… an indication of the government’s concern that Malaysia may have been used for illegal activities”. Malaysia’s Foreign Minister Anifah Haji Aman said “Malaysia will react strongly against any insults made against it or any attempt to tarnish its reputation”.

Pyongyang refuses to acknowledge the dead man’s identity and claims that Malaysia is hand in glove with its enemies, even when two suspects – Indonesian woman Siti Aisyah and Vietnamese woman Doan Thi Huong remain in Malaysian police custody. Malaysia, in response, has imposed visa travel for North Koreans, effective March 6, 2017, in a complete departure from the visa-free travel enjoyed earlier.

Sources: 1] Free Malaysia Today

North Korea’s ‘biggest’ Nuclear test ever met with global disapproval

North Korea has confirmed the successful execution of its fifth nuclear test, and has publicly confirmed their ability to mass produce standardised nuclear warheads that can be mounted on strategic ballistic rockets. The test is another flagrant violation of five sets of sanctions imposed upon North Korea by the UN since 2006, which was when North Korea carried out its first illegitimate nuclear test.

 

North Korea has been known to use nationally important dates for displays of their military strength. September 9 is North Korea’s National Day, on which it celebrates the founding of the nation as it is currently known. Seismic activity on Friday morning near North Korea’s Punggye-ri underground nuclear testing site tipped off seismologists, who registered a 5.3 magnitude seismic event.

 

Early estimates placed the explosive yield of the blast at 10 kilotonnes, which was enough for the nuclear test to be their largest nuclear test. However, later estimates say that the yield was closer to 20 kilotonnes, which would make it significantly more destructive than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945. The President of South Korea Park Geun-hye has condemned the test, and called it an act of self-destruction criticizing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for his ‘maniacal recklessness.’ The test was also protested by Japan, and the United States of America warned Pyongyang of ‘serious consequences.’

 

Kim Jong-un’s actions may have severe repercussions such as further and tougher sanctions imposed on North Korea, which may limit the import of several important products like fuel into the country, causing severe damage to its already faltering economy.

 

North Korea executes Vice Premier: South Korea

On Wednesday, North Korea has executed its vice premier for education and rebuked two high-ranking officials according to South Korea. If this is true it would mark a new series of measures by Kim Jong Un to discipline top aides. Analysts say that  it has been done in order to tighten Kim’s grip on power. “Vice premier for education Kim Yong-Jin was executed,” Seoul’s Unification Ministry spokesman Jeong Joon-Hee said during a regular briefing. The 63-year-old vice premier was accused of being an anti-revolutionary element and executed by a firing squad last month, the ministry official said, citing information obtained from several unspecified sources.

Kim Yong Jin was promoted as vice premier in 2012 after serving as an education minister. South Korean President Park Geun-Hye had last week stated that,  “The North is walking on an extreme path to maintain regime security and its elite are increasingly betraying the regime and defecting.”

However, at the moment no signs of instability are being seen in the authoritarian North Korean government as Kim Jong Un regularly interacts with state-controlled media and tours throughout the country.

Read more at: Reuters 

North Korea confirms the test-firing of ballistic missiles

North Korea confirmed on Wednesday that the three ballistic missiles it tested a day earlier were mock nuclear-missile attacks carried out as part of a simulated pre-emptive attack on ports and airfields in South Korea, reported WSJ.
Test-firing of the missiles was in gross violation of the resolutions as North Korea is prohibited from developing ballistic missile technology as per UN resolutions. The test firing could be seen as a resentful reaction to the deployment of US missile defence system in South Korea under which around 30,000 American troops were posted in South Korea.
The three missiles were launched from Hwangju. One flew 500 kilometers (311 miles) and the other 600 kilometers (373 miles) before it crashed into the sea off the country’s East coast, as per a South Korean military statement, which said that the third missile’s trajectory was still being examined.
Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which is North Korea’s official news agency, reported that the exercise was supervised by Kim Jong Un himself.
“The drill was conducted by limiting the firing range under the simulated conditions of making preemptive strikes at ports and airfields in the operational theatre in South Korea where the US imperialists nuclear war hardware is to be hurled,” stated KCNA.
 UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said that the test was ‘deeply troubling’ and undermined efforts to reduce tension on the Korean peninsula, as reported in The Tehelka.

US, other nations condemn North Korean launch of Kwangmyongsong-4

North Korea has launched a long-range rocket today carrying a satellite, just weeks after a nuclear bomb test. Neighbouring countries and Washington has denounced the launch as a missile test, calling it defiance to U.N. sanctions.

A North Korean state TV announced that a satellite has been placed successfully in orbit. The rocket was fired from a base in the north-west and passed over Japan’s southern Okinawa islands.

Japan, South Korea and the US have requested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council later on Sunday. Although North Korea insists its space programme is purely scientific in nature, other nations like US, South Korea and China claims that the rocket launches are aimed at increasing an inter-continental ballistic missile with potential of striking the US.

North Korea aggravated international criticism earlier this year with their fourth nuclear bomb test on January 6. South Korean analysts had speculated the launch ahead of 16 February, the birthday of the late North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il.

In a statement, the North Korean National Aerospace Development Administration claimed that the said earth observation satellite Kwangmyongsong-4 had entered its orbit about 10 minutes after taking off from the Sohae space centre in North Phyongan province.