North Korea on Friday accused the U.S. Central Intelligence Agency and South Korea’s intelligence service of a plot to attack its “supreme leadership” with a bio-chemical weapon and said such a “pipe-dream” could never succeed. Tension on the Korean peninsula has been high for weeks, driven by concern that North Korea might conduct its sixth nuclear test or test-launch another ballistic missile in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions.
South Korea on Monday ruled out any future negotiation over who should pay for a US advanced missile defense system to be deployed here, but left open the possibility that the Trump administration might use the issue as leverage against Seoul during the allies’ defense-sharing negotiations scheduled to take place next year. Citing the Status of Forces Agreement and a classified separate agreement with US Forces in Korea, the Defense Ministry stressed that the allies had agreed that the US would pay for the deployment and operation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Missile Defense system, with Seoul providing land and supporting infrastructure.
U.S. President Donald Trump said he wants South Korea to pay for the US$1 billion deployment of the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery, a missile defense system the allies are currently fielding here, he said in an interview with Reuters reported on Friday. Trump also said he will “renegotiate or terminate” the U.S. free trade agreement with South Korea. Trump’s remarks were reported after key elements of THAAD, the high-profile X-band radar and mobile launchers, were delivered to the host site in the southern Seongju county on Wednesday as the deployment gathered pace.
The US Forces Korea on Wednesday brought launchers, a radar and other key parts of its advanced missilen defense system to its deployment site, in a surprise move to accelerate the process ahead of a presidential election here amid heightened tension on the peninsula. Some 20 trailers carrying key components of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system arrived at the site at dawn in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province. Although covered by plastic boxes and wrapping, they were believed to include a radar, launchers, interceptors, a fire control and communications unit, a power generator and a cooler.
South Korea’s March imports from Iran more than doubled from a year ago to a record of 18.54 million barrels, or 597,935 barrels per day (bpd), data from state-run Korea National Oil Corp (KNOC). For the JanuaryMarch period of 2017, Iran seized the No.2 spot with shipments of 46.73 million barrels, also more than double from the same period last year and the highest on record for a quarter. In the first quarter of 2016, Iran was South Korea’s fifth-biggest oil supplier behind Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Kuwait and Qatar, according to KNOC data. This year’s surge in Iranian crude supply came after Tehran was exempted from production cuts led by the Organization of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) to clear a global glut. Iran’s jump to the No.2 spot is also due to solid condensate demand from South Korean refiners such as SK Energy and Hyundai Oilbank. Saudi Arabia held onto its spot as South Korea’s top oil supplier for both March and the full quarter. Shipments from Saudi Arabia rose 10.8 percent in March from a year ago to nearly 26 million barrels, or 838,387 bpd, from 23.46 million barrels last year. In the first quarter, the world’s top oil exporter shipped 77.12 million barrels of crude to South Korea, up 4.4 percent from about 74 million barrels in the same period of 2016, according to the data. Overall, South Korea’s March imports increased 11.7 percent from a year ago to 95.9 million barrels, or 3.09 million bpd, the data showed. The world’s fifth-largest crude importer brought in 278.18 million barrels of crude in the first three months of 2017, up 4.9 percent from 265.3 million barrels last year.
Secretary General of Asian Productivity Organization (APO) Santi Kanoktanaporn announced here on Monday that plans are underway to turn Tehran into productivity hub. APO is a regional and inter-governmental organization which was founded in 1961 by participation of eight countries of China, India, Japan, Nepal, Pakistan, South Korea, Philippines and Thailand and now has 19 members. Aim of APO is to participate in economic-social development of member-states and improve life quality for their people through promotion of productivity with reciprocal cooperation morale among the member-states. Membership in APO is permitted for all Asia-Pacific states which are members of the UN–ESCAP. The 59th meeting of APO board of governors kicked off and it will last three days in Tehran. Sustainable productivity is the main subject of this meeting in Tehran.
North Korea launched a missile from its east coast Wednesday but it appeared to have exploded in mid-air shortly after liftoff, according to officials in South Korea and the United States. The launch attempt came as South Korea and the U.S. are conducting the annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises mobilizing a set of U.S. strategic assets including the Nimitz-class supercarrier USS Carl Vinson and the nuclear-powered submarine USS Columbus as well as B-1B strategic bombers. “North Korea launched one missile from an area near an air base in Wonsan this morning, but it is presumed to have failed”, the Ministry of National Defense said, adding that it was “not fired normally”.
The warm words from Chinese President Xi Jinping on Sunday, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson ended his first trip to Asia since taking office with an agreement to work together with China on North Korea and putting aside trickier issues. China has been irritated at being repeatedly told by Washington to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and the US decision to base an advanced missile defence system in South Korea.
Police said Tuesday they are investigating 16 people for their violent acts during rallies after the Constitutional Court’s ouster of former leader Park Geun-hye. The National Police Agency (NPA) said they are looking into 21 cases that took place during rallies Friday and Saturday, after the court’s ruling was delivered. One of the suspects is a 65-year-old Park supporter, identified only by his last name Jeong, who allegedly took control of a police bus and rammed it into other buses Friday. A 72-year-old participant, surnamed Kim, was injured by a heavy speaker that fell from one of the buses and died later that day. Jeong has been formally arrested by police.
Mayor of this central Iranian city says that a new chapter has been opened in relations between Isfahan and Gwangju, the sixth largest city in South Korea. On the sidelines of the ceremony, the Silk Road cultural festival was held here that Isfahan mayor described it as a reminiscent of historical ties between Iran and South Korea. The Silk Road or Silk Route is an ancient network of trade routes that were central to cultural interaction through regions of Asia connecting the West and East.