North Korea

North Korea Says Nuclear War Is Inevitable

“North Korea says a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula has become a matter of when, not if, as it continued to lash out at a massive joint military exercise between the United States and South Korea involving hundreds of advanced warplanes,” the AP reports.

“In comments attributed to an unnamed Foreign Ministry spokesman, North Korea also claimed high-ranked U.S. officials, including CIA Director Mike Pompeo, have further confirmed American intent for war with a series of ‘bellicose remarks.'”

North Korea Says Trump Should Die

“North Korea gave its version of a diplomatic verdict Wednesday on President Trump’s recent trip to Asia: He’s a coward who deserves to die,” USA Today reports.

“Pyongyang’s state media slammed Trump for insulting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un while on a five country tour of Asia. It said the American president, who Kim has feuded with for months, deserves the death penalty.”

Mattis Says Threat of Nuclear Attack Accelerating

“In remarks in Seoul with South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at his side, Mattis accused the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs — and vowed to defeat any attack,” the AP reports.

“Mattis said North Korea engages in ‘outlaw’ behavior and that the U.S. will never accept a nuclear North. He added that regardless of what the North might try, it is overmatched by the firepower and cohesiveness of the decades-old U.S.-South Korean alliance.”

Diplomatic Efforts with North Korea Break Down

NBC News: “Diplomatic efforts between the United States and North Korea are in peril with Pyongyang shunning talks in response to President Trump’s increased public attacks on Kim Jong Un.”

“Joseph Yun, a top American diplomat to North Korea, has been warning of the breakdown in meetings on Capitol Hill and seeking help to persuade the administration to prioritize diplomacy over the heated rhetoric that appears to be pushing the two nuclear powers closer toward conflict.”

North Korea Is a Cyberpower Too

New York Times: “Their track record is mixed, but North Korea’s army of more than 6,000 hackers is undeniably persistent, and undeniably improving, according to American and British security officials who have traced these attacks and others back to the North. Amid all the attention on Pyongyang’s progress in developing a nuclear weapon capable of striking the continental United States, the North Koreans have also quietly developed a cyberprogram that is stealing hundreds of millions of dollars and proving capable of unleashing global havoc.”

“Unlike its weapons tests, which have led to international sanctions, the North’s cyberstrikes have faced almost no pushback or punishment, even as the regime is already using its hacking capabilities for actual attacks against its adversaries in the West. And just as Western analysts once scoffed at the potential of the North’s nuclear program, so did experts dismiss its cyberpotential — only to now acknowledge that hacking is an almost perfect weapon for a Pyongyang that is isolated and has little to lose.”

Five Days In North Korea

Nicholas Kristof just returned from North Korea:

On just the first day of a war between the United States and North Korea, according to a Stanford University assessment, one million people could be killed.

Yet after my five-day visit to North Korea with three New York Times colleagues, such a nuclear war seems terrifyingly imaginable. In the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, it was clear that President Trump’s threat to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea had backfired and is being exploited by Kim Jong-un for his own propaganda and military mobilization.

The country has seized on Trump’s words to reinforce its official narrative that its nuclear arsenal is defensive, meant to protect Koreans from bullying American imperialists. And North Korean officials use Trump’s bombast as an excuse for their own.

Trump Undercuts Tillerson on North Korea

“President Trump signaled Sunday that he does not believe that attempts at direct communications with North Korea are worth the effort despite escalating tensions between Washington and Pyongyang,” the Washington Post reports.

“A day after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson suggested that the United States maintains ‘lines of communications’ with Kim Jong Un’s regime, Trump wrote on Twitter that Tillerson is ‘wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man’ — his nickname for Kim.”

Tillerson Says U.S. Is Talking to North Korea

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged in Beijing on Saturday that the Trump administration is in “direct contact” with North Korea over its recent escalation of missile and nuclear tests, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Said Tillerson: “We’re not in a dark situation, a blackout. We have a couple, three channels open to Pyongyang. We can talk to them, we do talk to them.”

“The acknowledgment suggests a potential deescalation after months of bellicose rhetoric on both sides, as well as repeated, provocative intercontinental ballistic missile tests and a nuclear test by North Korea.”

North Korea Asks Republicans for Help on Trump

“North Korean government officials have been quietly trying to arrange talks with Republican-linked analysts in Washington, in an apparent attempt to make sense of President Trump and his confusing messages to Kim Jong Un’s regime,” the Washington Post reports.

“The outreach began before the current eruption of threats between the two leaders but will probably become only more urgent as Trump and Kim have descended into name-calling that, many analysts worry, sharply increases the chances of potentially catastrophic misunderstandings.”

Said one Republican: “Their number one concern is Trump. They can’t figure him out.”

North Korea Says the U.S. Has Declared War

“North Korea’s foreign minister asserted that the pariah state has the right to defend itself by shooting down U.S. planes, even if they are not in the country’s airspace,” the Washington Post reports.

Said Ri Yong Ho: “The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country.”

He added: “Since the United States declared war on our country, we will have every right to make countermeasures, including the right to shoot down United States strategic bombers even when they are not inside the airspace border of our country.”

On Saturday, President Trump tweeted about North Korea saying “they won’t be around much longer!”

Is Trump All Talk on North Korea?

New York Times: “Mr. Trump’s willingness to casually threaten to annihilate a nuclear-armed foe was yet another reminder of the steep risks inherent in his brute-force approach to diplomacy. His strengths as a politician — the ability to appeal in a visceral way to the impulses of ordinary citizens — are a difficult fit for the meticulous calculations that his own advisers concede are crucial in dealing with Pyongyang.”

“The disconnect has led to a deep uncertainty about whether Mr. Trump is all talk or actually intends to act. The ambiguity could be strategic, part of an effort to intimidate Mr. Kim and keep him guessing. Or it could reflect a rash impulse by a leader with little foreign policy experience to vent his anger and stoke his supporters’ enthusiasm.”

North Korea Says Attack on U.S. Is ‘Inevitable’

“North Korea’s foreign minister says that it is inevitable that missiles from his country will hit the United States after the American military flew bombers further north of the demilitarised zone than any American military plane in the 21st century, and after a week in which Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un exchanged personal insults,” the Independent reports.

Advisors Warned Trump Not to Personally Attack Kim

“Senior aides to President Trump repeatedly warned him not to deliver a personal attack on North Korea’s leader at the United Nations this week, saying insulting the young despot in such a prominent venue could irreparably escalate tensions and shut off any chance for negotiations to defuse the nuclear crisis,” the Los Angeles Times reports.

“Trump’s derisive description of Kim Jong Un as ‘Rocket Man on a suicide mission’ and his threat to ‘totally destroy’ North Korea were not in a speech draft that several senior officials reviewed and vetted Monday.”

“Some of Trump’s top aides, including national security advisor H.R. McMaster, had argued for months against making the attacks on North Korea’s leader personal, warning it could backfire. But Trump felt compelled to take a harder line.”