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.
North Korea reiterated its vow to launch “full-out war” with nuclear weapons on Saturday as an American naval strike carrier was set to arrive off the tense Korean peninsula in a matter of days. Tensions between the United States and the North have soared in recent weeks as a series of North Korean missile tests have wrought ever-more bellicose warnings from President Donald Trump’s administration about curtailing its nuclear weapons programme.
Iranian Defense Minister Brigadier General Hossein Dehqan warned the US not to be after warmongering in the Korean Peninsula and the Middle East, stressing that any such resort to the military action by Washington would only harm the US. “He (the US defense secretary) and the US leaders would be better off if they go after resolving their country’s domestic problems and avoid creating a new crisis and igniting the flames of war in Korea and the Middle-East”, General Dehqan said in reaction to US Defense Secretary James Mattis’s recent remarks against Iran. He advised Mattis to study the history of the US wars and crimes in the world in the past decades and find the root causes of Washington allegations against others. General Dehqan reminded Mattis that the era of gun crimes and allegations against others has ended, adding that such remarks are only an attempt in vain to reverse the stands of the accused with the plaintiff in the eyes of the public. On a visit to South Korea this week, the US vice-president, Mike Pence, warned Pyongyang against testing Trump’s “resolve”, and declared an end to Obama’s “strategic patience” policy. But North Korea’s deputy foreign minister, Han Song-Ryol, said that Pyongyang would continue to test missiles “on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis”. All-out war would ensue if the US took military action, he said.
China has urged all relevant parties to refrain from doing anything that escalates tensions on the Korean Peninsula. China’s Foreign Ministry spokesperson Hua Chunying said this at a daily briefing on Monday while talking about the latest situation in the region. China is closely following the situation on the peninsula, Hua said, adding “under the current situation, all parties concerned should exercise restraint and not do anything that escalates tensions in the region”.
The USS Carl Vinson-led aircraft carrier strike group has been sent to waters in the Western Pacific near the Korean Peninsula, the U.S. Navy’s Pacific Command and media reports said Sunday ahead of the anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founder. Pacific Command chief Adm. Harry Harris directed the Carl Vinson strike group to sail north and report to the waters after departing Singapore on Saturday. Media reports quoted anonymous U.S. officials as saying the move was in response to recent North Korean provocations.
The Chinese government has urged all parties in the Korean Peninsula to stay calm and return to dialogue amid a tense atmosphere in the region, Premier Li Keqiang said in Beijing on Wednesday. “A tense atmosphere has escalated recently in the Korean Peninsula and the Northeast Asia region. Such an atmosphere is likely to lead to conflicts, which will damage all parties in the region”, Li said in a media briefing after the closing ceremony of the annual meeting of the National People’s Congress.
SEOUL–In response to the heightened threat from North Korea, the United States and South Korea will conduct large-scale joint military exercises for the second consecutive year this spring, rather than biennially. The decision comes in the face of a combative North Korea, which has been engaged in nuclear and missile development programs, several U.S. and South Korean military sources said on Feb. 25. The joint military drills have been held annually in the spring to coordinate their operations, including dispatch of U.S. troops for reinforcements. In even-numbered years, landing operations, a key component of the joint drill, have been conducted on a large-scale basis, while they have been run on a smaller basis in odd-numbered years.
North Korea fired a ballistic missile into waters off its east coast on sunday, the first provocation since the inauguration of U.S. President Donald Trump, according to South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). The JCS said the missile was believed to be an ungraded version of the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), considering its speed. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, who is currently visiting the U.S., condemned the North’s missile launch in a hurriedly arranged joint news conference with Trump hours after the surprise provocation. Trump said he fully sides with Shinzo Abe in condemnation of the North, but fell short of disclosing how he would react to the North’s provocations.
A new report from the United Nations human rights wing calls attention to more than 60 years of separation between families on the Korean peninsula, and urges action in order to alleviate the suffering of families. “The emotional, psychological, social, and economic toll of involuntary separation persists to this day, as people continue to search for the truth and for contact with their loved ones,” said UN High Commissioner for Human Rights Zeid Ra’ad Al Hussein.