DPRK

Report: North Korea border guards do not carry bullets

Members of North Korea’s military and secret police have begun to receive distributions of live ammunition, and border guards do not retain bullets while on duty, according to a Japanese press report. The Asahi Shimbun reported Thursday non-border personnel were given supplies following joint U.S.-South Korea drills that began Monday near the peninsula. The newspaper was quoting a source in North Korea who spoke on the condition of anonymity. North Korean border guards and front-line deployment units are banned from carrying live ammunition, because of fear of accidents at the heavily fortified demilitarized zone, according to the report, an indication North Korea is as wary of provoking an unwanted conflict at the border as much as the South and U.S. forces on the peninsula. Live ammunition was instead delivered to Pyongyang’s national security agents and other personnel away from the border. On Tuesday, North Korea warned the United States after it was confirmed the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan was to reach areas near the reclusive country. “Extensive strategic assets are gathering in waters surrounding South Korea. This is a sign the United States, pushed into a corner, owing to our rapid nuclear power escalation, is engaging in combative actions,” KCNA stated. U.S., South Korean and Japanese officials are prepared for North Korea to launch its next missile, a provocation that would again raise tensions.

North Korean workers prep seafood going to US stores, restaurants

The workers wake up each morning on metal bunk beds in fluorescent-lit Chinese dormitories, North Koreans outsourced by their government to process seafood that ends up in American stores and homes. Privacy is forbidden. They cannot leave their compounds without permission. They must take the few steps to the factories in pairs or groups, with North Korean minders ensuring no one strays. They have no access to telephones or email. And they are paid a fraction of their salaries, while the rest — as much as 70 percent — is taken by North Korea’s government. This means Americans buying salmon for dinner at Walmart or ALDI may inadvertently have subsidized the North Korean government as it builds its nuclear weapons program, an AP investigation has found. Their purchases may also have supported what the United States calls “modern day slavery” — even if the jobs are highly coveted by North Koreans. At a time when North Korea faces sanctions on many exports, the government is sending tens of thousands of workers worldwide, bringing in revenue estimated at anywhere from $200 million to $500 million a year. That could account for a sizable portion of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile programs, which South Korea says have cost more than $1 billion. While the presence of North Korean workers overseas has been documented, the AP investigation reveals for the first time that some products they make go to the United States, which is now a federal crime. AP also tracked the products made by North Korean workers to Canada, Germany and elsewhere in the European Union. Besides seafood, AP found North Korean laborers making wood flooring and sewing garments in factories in Hunchun. Those industries also export to the U.S. from Hunchun, but AP did not track specific shipments except for seafood. American companies are not allowed to import products made by North Korean workers anywhere in the world, under a law signed by President Donald Trump in early August. Importers or company officials could face criminal charges for using North Korean workers or materially benefiting from their work, according to the law. Every Western company involved that responded to AP’s requests for comment said forced labor and potential support for North Korea’s weapons program were unacceptable in their supply chains. Many said they were going to investigate, and some said they had already cut off ties with suppliers. John Connelly, president of the National Fisheries Institute, the largest seafood trade association in the U.S., said his group was urging all of its companies to immediately re-examine their supply chains “to ensure that wages go to the workers, and are not siphoned off to support a dangerous dictator.” “While we understand that hiring North Korean workers may be legal in China,” said Connelly, “we are deeply concerned that any seafood companies could be inadvertently propping up the despotic regime.” In response to the investigation, Senate leaders said Wednesday that the U.S. needs to keep products made by North Koreans out of the United States and get China to refuse to hire North Korean workers.

Trump’s financial strategy persuades China to put screws to North Korea

President Trump persuaded China to freeze all financial transactions with North Korea and ordered a new round of U.S. sanctions Thursday, closing out his first U.N. General Assembly with a major diplomatic victory in his efforts to curb Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs short of war. In a carefully choreographed strategy deployed from the shadow of the United Nations headquarters in New York, Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin called the head of China’s central bank very early Thursday to alert him that Mr. Trump was preparing an executive order to sanction any financial institutions doing business with North Korea. He asked for the cooperation of China, the main source of North Korea’s cash. Hours later, the People’s Bank of China announced it was directing all other banks in China to halt financial transactions with North Korea. Soon afterward, Mr. Trump signed an executive order in a meeting with the presidents of South Korea and Japan, expanding the Treasury Department’s ability to freeze the assets of banks or individuals doing business with Pyongyang. Mr. Trump praised China’s action, saying with uncharacteristic understatement that it was “somewhat unexpected.” “For much too long, North Korea has been allowed to abuse the international financial system to facilitate funding for its nuclear weapons and missile programs,” Mr. Trump said. “Tolerance for this disgraceful practice must end now.” Mr. Trump’s tightening of the screws culminated his weeklong effort to marshal more international pressure on North Korea. The expanded and coordinated sanctions were announced two days after Mr. Trump alarmed many at the General Assembly by warning that the U.S. was prepared to “totally destroy” North Korea if it attacked the U.S. or its allies. South Korean President Moon Jae-in praised Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis, saying through a translator, “North Korea has continued to make provocations, and this is extremely deplorable and this has angered both me and our people, but the U.S. has responded firmly and in a very good way.” White House National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said Mr. Trump is taking the steps to try to resolve the crisis “short of war.” A senior administration official said the White House wants China and North Korea to understand that “this is different than anything in the last quarter century.” “We’re not negotiating for the right to negotiate, which is all the ‘strategic patience’ was all about,” the official said. “We’re going to try and have discussions so that we’ll reach a point where we agree to have negotiations. And we’ve made it clear that they need to step forward and be prepared to abandon the ballistic missile program and dismantle the nuclear weapons program. That’s where negotiations and discussions begin.” The official added, “We think China’s going to need to walk with them on that because of the outsized role that China plays in their economy, their long historic relationship, dating all the way back to the Korean War.” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un described Mr. Trump early Friday in Asia as “mentally deranged,” according to Reuters. He said North Korea would consider the “highest level of hard-line countermeasure in history” against the U.S. in response to Mr. Trump’s threat to “totally destroy” the North. Some analysts said Mr. Trump’s thinly veiled threat of sanctions against Chinese banks, his lobbying of Chinese President Xi Jinping and even perhaps his threat of nuclear war appear to be working, at least for now. “U.S. pressure is having an effect,” said Bill Bishop, a China analyst and publisher of the Sinocism newsletter. “If the U.S. decides to ratchet up secondary sanctions another notch, expect sanctions and/or penalties against a large [People’s Republic of China] bank like China Merchants, but not one of the big four.” Michael C. Desch, director of the International Security Center at Notre Dame University, said China was likely responding to the threat of war as much as any other incentive. “My sense is that it is not sanctions and the U.N. but rather China’s fear that the North Korea situation is spiraling out of control that is leading Beijing to take these steps,” he said. “The last thing China wants is a war on its border that, at a minimum, could remove a key buffer between it and an American ally and at a maximum could result in a thermonuclear war right next door.” Sen. Ben Sasse, Nebraska Republican and a member of the Senate Committee on Banking, Housing and Urban Affairs, said the administration’s sanctions “are aimed squarely at North Korea’s despot but also remind China that it has a strong interest in preventing a nuclear arms race in Asia.”

Those are but a few of the things that China is worried about.  They don’t want to see a reunified Korea….under southern rule.  They don’t want an American ally that border’s China.  They also don’t don’t want to deal with the thousands and thousands of North Korean refugees flooding their border if a military (even conventional) war breaks out.  China like order; not chaos.  That would be more chaos than they’d care to deal with.  Those are just a few of the incentives they have to work with Trump.  And it wasn’t that hard, really.  It just took a little leadership from someone who isn’t afraid to upset the apple cart.  Trump isn’t a natural politician.  He is just someone who wants to see result; to see progress.  And, he doesn’t take no for an answer.  Nor does he care whose tender feelings he hurts.  In other words, he’s a business-man, and a leader.  Imagine that!

U.S. Jets Drop Bombs in ‘Show of Force’ Against North Korea

U.S. jets, along with aircraft from Japan and South Korea, dropped live ammunition in the Korean Peninsula as part of a show of force against North Korea Sunday in response to North Korea’s missile launch over Japan last week. The Pentagon announced that two U.S. B-1B bombers from Guam and four Marine Corps F-35B fighters from Iwakuni, Japan, joined fighters from Japan and South Korea in flying across the Korean Peninsula and practicing attacks on the Pilsung Range training area in South Korea, including the use of live weapons. The move comes amid increasing aggression from North Korea. While the show of force was triggered by last week’s launch, it also comes on the back of a hydrogen bomb test by North Korea this month, as well as another missile launch over Japan last month. The U.N. Security Council has imposed two rounds of sanctions on the regime, cutting off as much as 90 percent of the regime’s exports and limiting its imports of oil. However, that appears to have failed to affect North Korea’s escalation of its weapons program. President Trump is scheduled to address the United Nations General Assembly Tuesday and is expected to call for the international community to keep its focus on North Korea in his remarks. He has made repeated warnings to the regime and last week said that, while sanctions were a good step, they were “nothing compared to what ultimately will have to happen.”

North Korea’s capital is a ghost town amid nuclear testing

Is anybody home, Pyongyang? The North Korean capital looks positively post-apocalyptic in aerial footage that emerged this week. Aram Pan, 41, a Singaporean pilot, took the video for a project called DPRK360, meant to show the hermit kingdom “from a different perspective.” Despite being the largest city in North Korea, with a population of about 2.58 million, Pyongyang appears to be deserted. The footage has emerged as global tensions continue to rise amid diminutive despot Kim Jong Un’s nuclear tests. On Sunday, the rogue regime detonated what it said was a hydrogen bomb — the country’s sixth and most powerful blast, which triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake. In April, Russian news outlet Pravda Report claimed Kim had ordered the evacuation of Pyongyang, the UK’s Express reported. Over 600,000 residents were evacuated as tensions flared between the US and the hermit nation.

Haley says North Korea is ‘begging for war,’ calls for strongest possible UN sanctions

U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Monday asked the body’s Security Council to impose the strongest possible sanctions against North Korea in response to the rogue nation’s most recent nuclear test, saying “the time for half measures … is over.” Haley spoke at U.N. headquarters in New York a day after North Korea claimed to have conducted an underground test on a hydrogen bomb. It was the country’s sixth such test, following five previous ones on a nuclear warhead and recent launches of inter-continental missiles to land such weapons on foreign soil. The United States is calling for a U.N. vote on sanctions as early as next week. “We cannot kick this can down the road any longer,” Halley also said at the special U.N. meeting, convened after the weapon test overnight Saturday. “Enough is enough. War is never something the United States wants. … But our country’s patience is not unlimited.” Her statements follow President Trump a day earlier condemned the test in the strongest terms. “North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success,” Trump said in one of several tweets Sunday. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said later in the day, in a White House meeting on the matter, that any threats by North Korea to the United State or its allies will be met with an “effective and overwhelming” military response. North Korea is “begging for war,” Haley also said Sunday. “The time for half measures by the Security Council is over.” And like Trump and other top administration officials, she also said the U.S. intends to impose economic sanctions on countries that do business with North Korea.

Ambassador Nikki Haley (R) is doing great work at the UN and on behalf of America’s interests!  Excellent work Nikki!!   🙂

Bolton: ‘Only Diplomatic Option Left Is to End the Regime in N Korea By Effectively Having the South Take It Over’

On this weekend’s broadcast of Fox News Channel’s “Sunday Morning Futures,” former U.N. ambassador John Bolton argued the only remaining diplomatic solution to the nuclear threat from North Korea was through the unification of the Korean peninsula, which he argued means letting South Korea take over North Korea. “The only diplomatic option left is to end the North Korean regime by effectively having the South take it over,” Bolton said. “Sunday Morning Futures” fill-in host Trish Regan protested and said it wasn’t “really diplomatic.” “Well, that is their problem, not ours,” Bolton replied. “Because anybody who thinks more diplomacy with North Korea, more sanctions, whether against North Korea, or an effort to apply sanctions against China, is just giving North Korea more time to increase its nuclear arsenal, increase its ballistic missile capability, increase the accuracy of its guidance systems and put us, South Korea, and Japan in more jeopardy.” “We have fooled around with North Korea for 25 years, and fooling around some more is just going to make matters worse,” he added.

Agreed!!  Putting off dealing with N. Korea, which is all we’ve done for over a quarter century, will only make it worse.  It’s like putting off getting those impacted wisdom teeth pulled.  At some point we’ll have to end this nonsense with N. Korea.  And, it’d be better to have someone like Trump at the helm, who has actual executive experience and a first rate team of advisors and generals on his team, then some  limp-wristed, metro-sexual, “community organizer” like Obama. A confrontation with the DPRK is inevitable.  It’s not a matter of if.  It’s a matter of when.