North Korea state media warns of nuclear strike if provoked as U.S. warships approach

UNTV News   •   April 11, 2017   •   3388


South Korea’s acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn releases a statement to the nation at the Government complex, in Seoul, South Korea, March 10, 2017. Lee Sang-hak/Yonhap via REUTERS/Files

North Korean state media on Tuesday warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of a U.S. pre-emptive strike as a U.S. Navy strike group led by a nuclear-powered aircraft steamed towards the western Pacific.

Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.

North Korea’s official Rodong Sinmun newspaper said the country was prepared to respond to any aggression by the United States.

“Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. invasionary bases not only in South Korea and the Pacific operation theatre but also in the U.S. mainland,” it said.

South Korean acting President Hwang Kyo-ahn warned of “greater provocations” by North Korea and ordered the military to intensify monitoring and to ensure close communication with the United States.

“It is possible the North may wage greater provocations such as a nuclear test timed with various anniversaries including the Supreme People’s Assembly,” said Hwang, acting leader since former president Park Geun-hye was removed amid a graft scandal.

The North convened a Supreme People’s Assembly session on Tuesday, one of its twice-yearly sessions in which major appointments are announced and national policy goals are formally approved.

But South Korean officials took pains to quell talk in social media of an impending security crisis or outbreak of war.

“We’d like to ask precaution so as not to get blinded by exaggerated assessment about the security situation on the Korean peninsula,” Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-kyun said.

Saturday is the 105th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, the country’s founding father and grandfather of current ruler, Kim Jong Un.

A military parade is expected in the North’s capital, Pyongyang, to mark the day. North Korea often also marks important anniversaries with tests of its nuclear or missile capabilities in breach of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad sent a message of congratulations to mark the event, lambasting “big powers” for their “expansionist” policy.

“The friendly two countries are celebrating this anniversary and, at the same time, conducting a war against big powers’ wild ambition to subject all countries to their expansionist and dominationist policy and deprive them of their rights to self-determination,” Russian news agency Tass quote the message as saying.

The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by its KCNA news agency, said the U.S. navy strike group’s approach showed America’s “reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase”.

“We never beg for peace but we will take the toughest counteraction against the provocateurs in order to defend ourselves by powerful force of arms and keep to the road chosen by ourselves,” an unidentified ministry spokesman said.

North Korea and the rich, democratic South are technically still at war because their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North regularly threatens to destroy the South and its main ally, the United States.

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Delegates from around the North have been arriving in Pyongyang ahead of the assembly session. They visited statues of previous leaders Kim Il Sung and his son, Kim Jong Il, state media reported.

North Korea is emerging as one of the most pressing foreign policy problems facing the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump. It has conducted five nuclear tests, two of them last year, and is working to develop nuclear-tipped missiles that can reach the United States.

The Trump administration is reviewing its policy towards North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes, but U.S. officials said non-military action appears to be at the top of the list if any action were to be taken.

Russia’s foreign ministry, in a statement ahead of a visit by U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, said it was concerned about many aspects of U.S. foreign policy, and particularly concerned about North Korea.

“We are really worried about what Washington has in mind for North Korea after it hinted at the possibility of a unilateral military scenario,” a statement said.

“It’s important to understand how that would tally with collective obligations on de-nuclearising the Korean peninsula, something that is underpinned in U.N. Security Council resolutions.”

Russia slammed U.S. cruise missile strikes on a Syrian air base on Friday, calling them an illegal attack on a sovereign state.

The U.S. Navy strike group Carl Vinson was diverted from planned port calls to Australia and would move towards the western Pacific Ocean near the Korean peninsula as a show of force, a U.S. official told Reuters over the weekend.

U.S. officials said it would still take the strike group more than a week to arrive near the Korean peninsula.

Trump and his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, met in Florida last week and Trump pressed Xi to do more to curb North Korea’s nuclear programme.

China and South Korea agreed on Monday to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea if it carried out nuclear or long-range missile tests, a senior official in Seoul said.

On Tuesday, a fleet of North Korean cargo ships was heading home to the port of Nampo, the majority of it fully laden, after China ordered its trading companies to return coal from the isolated state to curb coal traffic, sources with direct knowledge of the trade said.

The order was given on April 7, just as Trump and Xi were set for the summit where the two agreed the North Korean nuclear advances had reached a “very serious stage”, Tillerson said.

Following repeated missile tests that drew international criticism, China banned all imports of North Korean coal on Feb. 26, cutting off the country’s most important export product.

As well as the anniversary of Kim Il Sung’s birth, there are several other North Korean anniversaries in April that could be opportunities for weapon tests, South Korean officials have said.

The North is seen ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, with movements detected by satellite at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site. —  By Ju-min Park | SEOUL

(Additional reporting by Idrees Ali in Washington; Editing by Jack Kim, Robert Birsel and Nick Macfie)

Joe Biden takes presidential oath, says ‘Democracy has prevailed’

Marje Pelayo   •   January 21, 2021

Joseph Robinette Biden Jr. simply known as Joe Biden took his oath of office as the 46th president of the United States of America (USA) on a sunny day on Wednesday (January 20) at the Capitol Building in a ceremony that broke tradition.

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, Biden discouraged his supporters from attending the ceremony and opted to be with the company of thousands of National Guards to keep the peace and order following an assault on the Capitol Building on January 6.

For the first time since John Quincy in 1869, the outgoing commander-in-chief Donald Trump snubbed the ceremony as he still refused to accept his election defeat.

After Trump’s tumultuous four years, Biden implied that finally, democracy has been restored in the US.

“America has been tested anew, and America has risen to the challenge.” he said.

“We’ve learned again that democracy is precious. Democracy is fragile. And at this hour, my friends, democracy has prevailed,” he added.

Biden did not mention his predecessor but referred to the incident at the Capitol perpetrated by Trump supporters two weeks ago. Biden said he will not let any attempt “to stop the work of our democracy” to triumph.

Moving forward, the new US president called for unity among Americans in facing the challenges ahead, especially the impact of the current pandemic which he called “dark winter”.

“In the work ahead of us, we’re going to need each other. We need all our strength to persevere through this dark winter,” Biden said.

“We’re entering what may be the toughest and deadliest period of the virus. We must set aside politics and finally face this pandemic as one nation,” he added.

Biden promised to be a president for all Americans saying “every disagreement doesn’t have to be a cause for total war.”

“To all those who did not support us, let me say this: Hear me out as we move forward. Take a measure of me and my heart. If you still disagree, so be it. That’s democracy. That’s America. The right to dissent peaceably within the guardrails of our republic is perhaps our nation’s greatest strength,” he said addressing his critics.

“Yet hear me clearly, disagreement must not lead to disunion. And I pledge this to you, I will be a president for all Americans. All Americans,” he vowed, calling for a stop on the war of colors referring to the conflicts between the Democrats and the Republicans.

Towards the end of his speech, President Biden called on US citizens to be more open and keep the value of humility as a new administration begins under his command.

“We can do this if we open our souls instead of hardening our hearts. If we show a little tolerance and humility… because here’s this thing about life: There’s no accounting for what fate will deal you,” he said.

Duterte looking forward to closely working with Biden – Palace

Robie de Guzman   •   November 9, 2020

(L-R) Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte and US President-elect Joe Biden

MANILA, Philippines –  President Rodrigo Duterte said he is “looking forward to closely working” with Joseph Biden as he congratulated the latter for winning the United States presidential elections.

“On behalf of the Filipino nation, President Rodrigo Roa Duterte wishes to extend his warm congratulations to former Vice President Joseph “Joe” Biden on his election as the new President of the United States of America,” Presidential Spokesperson Harry Roque said in a statement.

“We look forward to working closely with the new administration of President-elect Biden anchored on mutual respect, mutual benefit, and shared commitment to democracy, freedom and the rule of law,” he added.

Roque also said that the Philippines is committed to further strengthening its ties with the US under Biden’s administration.

“The Philippines and the United States have long-standing bilateral relations and we are committed to further enhancing the relations with the United States under the Biden administration,” he said.

“Congratulations and we wish him all the best,” he added.

Democrat Biden became the 46th President of the United States after he defeated Republican Donald Trump, according to US media on Sunday.

Biden becomes 46th US president after Pennsylvania win

Maris Federez   •   November 8, 2020

Former Vice President Joe Biden of the Democratic party has won Pennsylvania, surpassing the needed 270 electoral votes to take the White House and become the 46th president of the United States.

Biden on Saturday’s election results released the following statement as president-elect:

“I am honored and humbled by the trust the American people have placed in me and in Vice President-elect Harris. In the face of unprecedented obstacles, a record number of Americans voted. Proving once again, that democracy beats deep in the heart of America. With the campaign over, it’s time to put the anger and the harsh rhetoric behind us and come together as a nation. It’s time for America to unite. And to heal. We are the United States of America. And there’s nothing we can’t do, if we do it together.”

As reported by the Associated Press (AP), Biden also won Arizona, Wisconsin and Michigan as he heads to the presidency, “flipping states that President Donald Trump won in 2016.”

Trump needed the Pennsylvania win to stay in power. 

Biden’s win came after days of uncertainty as the processing of some ballots was delayed when election officials sorted through a surge of mail-in votes.

Trump is the first incumbent president to lose reelection since Republican George H.W. Bush in 1992, the AP said.

The 77-year-old Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and sought to contrast his working-class roots with the affluent Trump’s by casting the race as “Scranton versus Park Avenue.” —/mbmf

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