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NUKEWARS
S Korea, US conduct military drills despite Pyongyang threats
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) April 30, 2017


Japan warship to escort US supply vessel in Pacific: media
Tokyo (AFP) April 30, 2017 - Japan will dispatch its biggest warship since World War II to protect a US supply ship, as tensions mount in the region over North Korea, media reports said on Sunday.

The helicopter carrier Izumo will leave the mother port of Yokosuka, south of Tokyo, on Monday and join the US supply ship to escort it further into the western Pacific, the leading Asahi Shimbun daily and Jiji Press reported citing unnamed government sources.

It will be the first deployment -- outside of troop exercises --to protect the US fleet after Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expanded the country's military capabilities in 2015, though they remain restricted under Japan's pacifist constitution.

The US supply ship is expected to support America's naval fleet in the Pacific, possibly including the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, which remains on high alert over North Korea's ballistic missile firings, the reports said.

Japanese naval officials declined to comment on the reports.

Earlier this week, the US carrier had joint drills with Japan's naval forces.

The Carl Vinson arrived in the Sea of Japan and kicked off a joint drill with the South Korean navy on Saturday, hours after North Korea launched a ballistic missile in apparent defiance of the US.

North Korea's state media has said the North's military is capable of sinking the US aircraft carrier with a single strike.

The latest missile launch, which South Korea said was a failure, ratchets up tensions on the Korean peninsula, with Washington and Pyongyang locked in an ever-tighter spiral of threat, counter-threat and escalating military preparedness.

US President Donald Trump, who has warned of a "major conflict" with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un's regime, said the latest test was a pointed snub to China -- the North's main ally and economic lifeline.

"North Korea disrespected the wishes of China & its highly respected President when it launched, though unsuccessfully, a missile today. Bad!" Trump tweeted.

South Korea and the United States wrapped up their annual large-scale military drills on Sunday, but continued a separate joint naval exercise that has triggered dire threats from nuclear-armed North Korea.

Tensions on the Korean peninsula have been running sky-high for weeks, with signs that the North might be preparing a long-range missile launch or a sixth nuclear test -- and with Washington refusing to rule out a military strike in response.

The massive "Foal Eagle" drill, which the defence ministry in Seoul said was ending as scheduled on Sunday, involved around 20,000 South Korean and 10,000 US troops.

Another annual joint exercise known as "Key Resolve" ended last month.

Both play out scenarios for a conflict with North Korea, but Seoul and Washington insist they are purely defensive in nature, despite Pyongyang's claims that they are provocative rehearsals for invasion.

Their conclusion normally signals a period of relative calm in North-South tensions, but this year the situation looks set to remain highly volatile.

US President Donald Trump has warned of a possible "major conflict" while Pyongyang has carried out a series of failed missile tests, including one on Saturday, and a massive live-fire military exercise.

The South Korean defence ministry confirmed Sunday that a joint naval drill with a US strike group, led by the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, was still ongoing in the Sea of Japan (East Sea).

The exercise, aimed at verifying the allies' capability to track and intercept enemy ballistic missiles, is expected to continue until sometime next week.

Through state media, North Korea has threatened to attack the Carl Vinson, and a state-sponsored website on Sunday also warned of a possible strike against a US nuclear-powered submarine despatched to the area.

China is "putting pressure" on its ally North Korea to curb its weapons programmes, Trump told the CBS television network's "Face the Nation" programme.

If North Korea carries out another nuclear test "I would not be happy," he said.

"And I can tell you also, I don't believe that the president of China, who is a very respected man, will be happy either," Trump said in excerpts of the interview released Saturday.

Asked if "not happy" signified "military action," Trump answered: "I don't know. I mean, we'll see."

- 'Catastrophic consequences' -

Pyongyang's show of defiance included a failed missile test on Saturday that came just hours after US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson warned the UN Security Council of "catastrophic consequences" if the international community -- most notably China -- failed to pressure the North into abandoning its weapons programme.

Military options for dealing with the North were still "on the table", Tillerson said.

China has repeatedly pushed back at the idea that it alone holds the solution to curbing the North's nuclear ambitions, and warned that any use of US force would only lead to "bigger disasters".

Pope Francis this weekend called for negotiations to resolve tensions over North Korea.

"There are plenty of mediators in the world who are putting themselves forward. Norway, for example which is ready to help," he said.

The tensions have also triggered some friction between Seoul and Washington, with Trump suggesting in a recent interview that the South should pay for the $1.0-billion dollar THAAD anti-missile system that the US is deploying on its ally's territory.

But on Sunday South Korea said US National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster had spoken by phone with his counterpart in Seoul and both sides had reaffirmed that Washington would bear the cost of the THAAD deployment, as initially agreed.

Trump's interview remarks "were made in a general context, reflecting the American public's hopes for (defense) cost sharing," McMaster was quoted as saying by the South's presidential office.

The two countries have had a security alliance since the 1950-53 Korean war, and more than 28,000 US troops are stationed in the South.

Beijing has been infuriated by the THAAD deployment, which it says upsets the regional security balance.

NUKEWARS
US vows to force N.Korea back to nuclear talks
Washington (AFP) April 27, 2017
The United States pledged Wednesday to step up sanctions to force North Korea to resume dialogue over its nuclear program, but said it was not looking to bring Kim Jong-Un's regime to its knees. After briefing senators at the White House, top US officials said President Donald Trump also aimed to pursue diplomatic measures with allies and regional partners. "We are engaging responsible m ... read more

Related Links
Learn about nuclear weapons doctrine and defense at SpaceWar.com
Learn about missile defense at SpaceWar.com
All about missiles at SpaceWar.com
Learn about the Superpowers of the 21st Century at SpaceWar.com


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