North and South Korea agree to hold border talks

Seoul, January 05: In a breakthrough for the two nations, North Korea and South Korea will be holding high-level official talks on Tuesday, January 09. The announcement came hours after the United States postponed its military exercise with South Korea scheduled during the Winter Olympics.

According to the South Korean Ministry of Unification, North Korea sent a message on the morning of January 05 expressing its consent to meet at a border truce village of Panmunjom, reports Associated Press. These talks will be focusing on cooperation at the Olympics, as well as on improving overall ties between the two Koreas. The delegates of the two nations are yet to be confirmed.

North Korean leader, Kim Jong-un, had opened the way for talks during his New Year speech, expressing his willingness to ease military tensions between the divided peninsula, reports The New York Times. However, he remained steadfast on the issue of nuclear weapons, saying he has a “nuclear button” on his desk to fire atomic weapons at the United States.

U.S. President Donald Trump and his South Korean counterpart, Moon Jae-in announced the postponement of the annual military exercise, Foal Eagle, on Thursday. This exercise often involves more than 30,000 American and 200,000 South Korean troops, as well as air, ground and naval operations, reports Washington Post.

The 2018 Winter Olympic Games will be held in Pyeongchang from 09 to 25 February 2018.

Sources – Associated Press ,Reuters

Trump,South Korea say no to military trials during Winter Olympics

The Pentagon has released a statement saying that the US President, Donald Trump has reached a decision to delay the joint military trials that were to be held, until after the Winter Olympics. The Winter Olympics are to begin in Pyeongchang on the 9th of February.
According to the Pentagon spokesperson Colonel Rob Manning, Trump consulted with South Korean President Moon Jae-In to arrive at this decision as concerns over North Korea escalated.
The set of military exercises Foal Eagle are held during the months of February and April, especially to test the skill and preparation of armies of both countries.
The step was taken in light of claims made by Nikki Haley, US Ambassador to the UN, that North Korea was testing nuclear weapons again. This is a direct violation of the UN commendations. The South Korean President, Mr. Moon had promised a more open policy with North Korea since his election campaign last year. His aim had been to broker peace using economic cooperation.
The UN spokesperson, Ms. Haley has announced explicitly that the US will not entertain any conversation with North Korea unless they put a ban on all nuclear testing.
Sources – Reuters, The Hindu

US, Japan, South Korea start missile tracking exercises

The United States, Japan and South Korea have started joint missile tracking exercises as tensions with North Korea continue to increase over North Korea’s rapidly emerging weapons programs.

The two day drills kicked off on Monday and will conclude on December 12. It comes less than two weeks after North Korea launched its most advanced missile on 28th November.

According to Itsunori Onodera, Japan’s Defence Minister, the drills are being held in waters off the coast of Japan.

Japan’s Maritime self-Defence force said that this exercise is the sixth drill aimed in tracking and sharing information on ballistic missiles between the three nations. Two US ships along with each from two Asian countries are taking part in the drill. Both South Korea and Japan have security alliances with the United States.

The United States has frequently asked China and other countries to cut diplomatic and trade ties with North Korea as an international effort to squeeze Pyongyang’s illegal cash flows that could fund its weapons programs.

South Korea on Sunday said that it will impose a new unilateral sanctions on 20 institutions and a dozen individuals in North Korea that will prevent illegal funds flowing to North Korea.

Sources: The Hindu, The Japan Times 

Samsung acquires permit to test self-driving cars in CA

Four months after i-Phone maker and rival Apple Inc. secured permit to test self-driving cars, Samsung electronics joined the league in California on Thursday. The Samsung group sought permission from the South Korean authorities to test self-driving cars that have the company’s manufactured sensors and software systems.

The South Korean officials have confirmed that the car is being developed using a self-driving algorithm that enables it to safely drive in even adverse weather conditions. The website of California Department of Motor vehicle displayed Samsung’s name in the list along with a dozen other companies with similar permit.

The company which is mainly into manufacturing of electronic equipment such as Television, washing machines and cell-phones told Reuters that the procurement of the permit for this is to facilitate ‘smarter and safer’ transportation.

Samsung’s foray into the United States’ self-driving car market will be a huge step after the company’s  $8 billion purchase of car audio maker Harman International Industries. Other rivals in the market include Waymo, a division of Google parent Alphabet Inc besides Apple Inc.

In the early 1990s, Samsung had tried its hand in the automobile business but huge losses incurred due to Asian financial crisis forced the company to hand over its business to Renault.



Clearing its intention, North Korea tests short-range missiles in Far East

Pyongyang set its intentions straight by launching several short-range missiles off its missile test site at Kittaeryong, on the east coast of North Korea into the sea. The U.S. military’s Pacific Command at Haiti reported within a span of 20 minutes, it had detected three short-range ballistic missiles. Although initially, the Pacific Command had said two of the missiles had failed in flight, it later revised its statement saying two missiles flew about 250 km in a north-easterly direction. According to the Washington Post, “We are working with our interagency partners on a more detailed assessment and we will provide a public update if warranted,” Cmdr. Dave Benham, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Command.

This act is widely seen as North Korea’s protest at the annual joint military drills conducted by South Korea and the United States which the former considers as preparation of war. On July 28, North Korea had tested an intercontinental ballistic missile designed to fly 10,000 km targeting some parts of US. This led to rising tension and exchange of heated words as US President Donald Trump warned North Korean leader Kim Jong Un of fire and fury if he threatened the United States.

Sources – Wasington Post, Reuters 

North Korea claims to successfully launch test launch first ICBM missile

A defiant North Korea claims to have tested its first Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM)- code named Hwasong 14 which it claims has the ability to hit targets across the globe.The referred missile was claimed to cover an altitude of 2802 kms and covered a distance of  933 kms in 39 minutes before landing close to the sea of Japan during it”s testing.An ICBM missile operates within the range of 5000-10000 kilometers and has the capability to carry a nuclear warhead.Although many skeptics will doubt about the nuclear warhead, re-entry vehicle and other proofs of working guidance of the missile, the fact that North Korea has actually managed to showcase its technological ability in launching an ICBM adds credibility to the nation.
Expectedly the close neighbours along with U.S.and Russia have strongly condemned the test. While South Korea has called for action by UN Security Council, Japan has stressed for an alliance with South Korea and U.S. to put pressure on Pyongyang. Russia and China have asked North Korea to suspend its tests and also asked the alliance of U.S and South Korea to stop it’s military exercise plans.The launch which took place on 4th July, which incidentally is American Independence Day gives North Korea a chance to hit peripheral areas of U.S. Although a full front coverage of U.S is still far away the launch proves that.
North Korea had made progress despite a hard call on itself by global superpowers.
News Sources- BBC, ANI

South Korea alleges North Korean drone as a ‘Grave provocation’

South Korea confirmed on, 21st June, 2017 that the drone discovered in early June on a mountain near the Demilitarised Zone border is a North Korean drone surveillance. According to the reports by Reuters, this violates the Korean War truce. Seoul describes this act as a ‘grave provocation’ and is demanding a probe into the matter by the United Nations.

The drone was equipped with a camera and aerial photographs of a U.S. anti-missile defence system. The contents of the camera analysed by the military revealed a 64-gigabyte memory chip that had been spying on the missile defence system known as the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD). Seoul condemns this spying mission by Kim Jong-un and threatens to retaliate by using their strong military force.

Military officials stated that the drone was launched in the Kumgang-gun area on May 2 and started photographing a few kilometres north of the southeastern county of Seongju. The defence ministry found resemblances between this latest drone and another North Korean drone discovered in 2014 on Baengnyeong Island, near the inter-Korean maritime border.

Sources: Reuters, Daily Mail