N Korean nuclear strike could cause chaos in US

U.S. says Russian ship suspected of illicit North Korea trade | Reuters
The US has named a Russian ship as a suspect in the (contrary to sanctions), provision of fuel to the DPRK, along with others. Reuter’s reported in February on two witnesses who said the ship supplied a N Korean vessel at sea on four occasions:
The U.S. government has named a Russian ship on a list of vessels suspected of providing fuel to Pyongyang, a month after Reuters reported the same ship violated sanctions by carrying out a clandestine transfer to a North Korean tanker.

The Treasury Department, which oversees U.S. sanctions, included the Russian vessel, the Tantal, on a new list of “vessels believed to have engaged in ship-to-ship transfers with North Korean tankers.”
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Grey Fox

*Russian Troll*
They havent got the gear to reach the US surely?

My ICBM programs more advanced than theirs.
I dont know about your ICBM program, but compare the number of unsuccessful launches in DPRK with ones in Russia and USA. Very-very low level rate of it, really. I can see two possible explanations - 1) North Koreas are much more clever than Southen ones. 2) One of Hi-Tech states (South Korea, USA, Russia, China or somebody else) help them. In both cases their actual level can be much higher than you think.
I dont know about your ICBM program, but compare the number of unsuccessful launches in DPRK with ones in Russia and USA. Very-very low level rate of it, really. I can see two possible explanations - 1) North Koreas are much more clever than Southen ones. 2) One of Hi-Tech states (South Korea, USA, Russia, China or somebody else) help them. In both cases their actual level can be much higher than you think.
You're replying to a post from 2013. Things have moved on somewhat since then.
Further to my previous post saying that North Koreans had stopped showing up at the inter-Korean liaison office, they have apparently reversed that and half are now turning up at the office again. It is not clear at this time what all this has actually meant.
Seoul says some North Korean officials back at liaison office | CBC News
South Korea said some North Korean officials returned to an inter-Korean liaison office on Monday, three days after the North abruptly withdrew its entire staff citing unspecified instructions from "higher-level authorities."
It wasn't immediately clear why North Korea sent some workers back to the office or whether it would restore a full staff.
Seoul's Unification Ministry, which deals with inter-Korean affairs, said in a statement that four to five North Korean officials showed up for work Monday at the liaison office in the North Korean border town of Kaesong and told South Korean officials they came to work their usual shifts.
Last month the North Korean embassy in Spain was raided by a mysterious group who claim to wish to overthrow the government of North Korea. They tied up the embassy staff, allegedly tortured them, and made off with computer hard drives and secret documents.
North Korea calls raid on Madrid embassy 'grave terrorist attack' | CBC News

North Korea are demanding an investigation into it, calling it a "grave terrorist attack" and a violation of international law.
North Korea said Sunday it wants an investigation into a raid on its embassy in Spain last month, calling it a "grave terrorist attack" and an act of extortion that violates international law.
The Spanish are apparently doing some sort of investigation, but the details are still under wraps.
Details have begun trickling out about the raid after a Spanish judge lifted a secrecy order last week and said an investigation of what happened on Feb. 22 uncovered evidence that "a criminal organization" shackled and gagged embassy staff before escaping with computer hard drives and documents. (...)

Spain has issued at least two international arrest warrants for members of the group.
The Americans identified the group as "Cheollima Civil Defence".
A U.S. official said the group is named Cheollima Civil Defence (also, Free Joseon), a little-known organization that recently called for international solidarity in the fight against North Korea's government.
The BBC have more information on them. The Spanish say they were armed with machetes, knives, and metal bars. The information taken was then handed over to the US.
Who was behind North Korean embassy raid?
According to a Spanish High Court document, the group entered the building on 22 February armed with machetes, knives, metal bars and cable ties and left with two computers, hard drives, USB pen drives and a mobile phone - items said to have been handed to the FBI.
The group apparently has a web site and a Youtube channel. I'm not about to visit either.

One of the known members is someone based in the US. According to the Spanish he was the ringleader of the raid on the Madrid embassy.
One member of the group has been named as Adrian Hong Chang, a human rights activist based in the US who co-founded the refugee aid agency Liberty in North Korea.

He was said in court documents to have been the ringleader of the Madrid embassy raid.
The Spanish press report that the group has links to the American CIA.
Spanish daily newspaper El País also reports that two members of the group have links with the US Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). The CIA declined to comment to the BBC.
The Malaysians have reduced the charges against the remaining suspect in the death of Kim Jong-nam, half brother to Kim Jong-un, from murder to "voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon".
Vietnamese woman pleads guilty to lesser charge in killing of Kim Jong-un's brother | CBC News
The murder charge that Huong had faced carried the death penalty if she was convicted. Huong nodded Monday as a translator read the new charge to her: voluntarily causing injury with a dangerous weapon, VX nerve agent.
She was then sentenced to 3 years and 4 months in prison, including time spent in jail awaiting trial. With time off for good behaviour this means she will be out in the first week of May.
High Court Judge Azmi Ariffin sentenced Huong to three years and four months in prison from the day she was arrested on Feb. 15, 2017. Huong's lawyer, Hisyam Teh Poh Teik, said his client is expected to be freed by the first week of May, after a one-third reduction in her sentence for good behaviour.
Charges against the second woman were dropped earlier (see above posts on this).

The defence cases had revolved around the prosecution not being able to adequately prove that the two women knew that the substance they applied to Kim Jong-nam was a deadly poison, which likely explains the dropping of murder charges.

The North Koreans allegedly in the incident have not been apprehended.
South Korea is considering sending a "special envoy" to North Korea to help get the nuclear and peace talks going again.
Moon's national security adviser, Chung Eui-yong, told lawmakers on Thursday that his government is also considering sending a special envoy to North Korea. He didn't elaborate.
South Korean president Moon is scheduled to visit Washington next week to discuss diplomacy with US president Trump.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who facilitated U.S.-North Korean talks last year, is scheduled to travel to Washington next week to discuss the nuclear diplomacy with Trump.
President Moon of South Korea has said he is ready for another north-south meeting.
"Whenever North Korea is ready, we hope that the South and North could sit down together and hold concrete and practical discussions on ways to achieve progress that goes beyond what was accomplished in the two summits between North Korea and the United States," Moon said in a meeting with senior aides.
North Korea's Kim said on Friday that he is willing to meet with US president Trump again, but said he wants any deal to be negotiated before the end of the year.
In a speech delivered to North Korea's rubber-stamp parliament on Friday, Kim said he is open to a third summit with Trump but set an end-of-year deadline for Washington to offer mutually acceptable terms for an agreement.
Kim has blamed the lack of progress so far on the US making unilateral demands without offering North Korea anything in return.
Kim blamed the collapse of his second summit with Trump on what he described as Washington's unilateral demands. He said the North's economy would preserve through heavy U.S.-led sanctions imposed over its nuclear weapons program and that he "wouldn't "obsess over summitry with the United States out of thirst for sanctions relief."
Trump, Pompeo brush aside Kim's deadline for nuclear talks flexibility - Reuters
It appears Pompeo and Trump have dismissed Tubby IIIs imposed deadline of the end of the year. They say they're still moving forward diplomatically, but need to see the outcome of denuclearisation move forward:
Asked about Kim’s statement last week that he was only interested in meeting Trump again if the United States came with the right attitude, Pompeo told reporters that the president was “determined to move forward diplomatically.”

But Pompeo said Kim had made a commitment to denuclearise and “we collectively need to see that outcome move forward.”

“Our teams are working with the North Koreans ... to chart a path forward so that we can get there. He said he wanted it done by the end of the year. I’d love to see that done sooner.”
Trump appears happy to have a third summit and says he has a 'very good relationship' with Tubby III.He also seems to think it is moving along with the current freeze on testing nukes and missiles. Obviously, the tests are contrary to UN Resolutions:
In a speech on Monday in Burnsville, Minnesota, Trump nevertheless maintained an upbeat tone on North Korea, saying the issue was “moving along” with Pyongyang sticking to a freeze in nuclear and missile testing in place since 2017.

He again stressed his “very good relationship” with Kim “who just said the other day he looks forward to more talks.”

“Talk is OK. Talk is OK,” Trump said adding that he did not want the process to move fast. “It doesn’t have to move fast. Right now it’s moving along just perfectly. And we have a good relationship, the sanctions are on ... there’s a lot of constructive things going on.”

On Saturday, Trump said a third summit with Kim “would be good in that we fully understand where we each stand.”
After the meeting with RoK President Moon, Trump says the sanctions will remain:
At a meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in in Washington last Thursday, Trump expressed a willingness for a third summit with Kim but said Washington would leave sanctions in place.
However, the rhetoric from the DPRK seems to be changing somewhat, with the sanctions being described as trying to put out a fire with oil. Presumably, they're working then:
On Friday, Kim accused Washington of escalating hostility “despite its suggestion for settling the issue through dialogue” and called the U.S. policy of sanctions and pressure “as foolish and dangerous an act as trying to put out fire with oil.”

Last month, a senior North Korean official warned that Kim might rethink the test freeze unless Washington makes concessions such as easing sanctions.
E2A: U.S. diplomat for North Korea to discuss denuclearisation with Russia - Reuters
Beigun is off to Russia to discuss DPRK denuclearisation:
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun will visit Moscow this week to discuss Pyongyang’s denuclearisation, the U.S. State Department said in a statement on Tuesday.

Biegun will meet with Russian officials in Moscow on Wednesday and Thursday, the department said.
North Korea have announced the testing of a "new-type tactical guided weapon".
North Korea has test-fired a "new-type tactical guided weapon," its state media announced Thursday, a move that could be an attempt to register the country's displeasure with deadlocked nuclear talks with the United States without causing those coveted negotiations to collapse.
It is not clear what this weapon is, but it is apparently not a long range ballistic missile.
The recent activity, however, is likely not a banned ballistic missile test, which would jeopardize diplomatic talks meant to provide the North with concessions in return for disarmament.
One of the persons mentioned in the announcement has some connection with artillery.
One of the lower-level officials mentioned in the North's report on the test — Pak Jong Chon — is known as an artillery official.
The impression given in the story is that the North Koreans are making an announcement that is intended to show their displeasure while not actually doing anything too provocative.

If it is some sort of guided projectile, then such a weapon would take years to develop, so this represents something that has been in the works for a long time. So, the testing itself is not significant, just the choice to make an announcement of it.
North Korea calls for Pompeo to be dropped from talks; tests tactical weapon - Reuters
Tubby III appears to have a sad on with Pompeo. It may relate to Pompeo calling Tubby III a tyrant earlier in the week before a Congressional hearing:
KCNA quoted Kwon, who is in charge of U.S. affairs, as saying the Vietnam summit, the second between the two leaders, showed that talks could go wrong “whenever Pompeo pokes his nose in”.

“I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,” Kwon said.

“Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the United States, I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but other person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.”
But he's still happy with Trump:
Kwon also said the two leaders were on good terms, even as he castigated Pompeo for “fabricated” stories as part of a “publicity stunt”. He did not elaborate.

Kwon said Pompeo had made “reckless remarks hurting the dignity of our supreme leadership”, apparently referring to him agreeing to the characterisation of Kim as a “tyrant” at a U.S. Congressional hearing last week.
North Korea's Kim will apparently be visiting Russia in a few weeks, and meeting with president Putin. www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-kim-russia-1.5103239?cmp=rss
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un will visit Russia later this month, the Kremlin said Thursday, in a meeting that offers President Vladimir Putin an opportunity to emerge as a broker in the long-running nuclear standoff and raise Russia's profile in regional affairs.
The Kremlin said in a brief statement Thursday that Kim will visit Russia "in the second half of April" on Putin's invitation, but gave no further details.
Speculation is that the two may meet in Vladivostok, before or after Putin's upcoming visit to China.
Putin is set to visit China later this month, and some media speculated that he could meet with Kim during a stopover in Vladivostok, the far eastern port city near the border with North Korea.
For years Russia has talked about trans-Korea railways, natural gas pipelines and electric transmission lines to better access the South Korean market but tensions between the two Koreas have thus far prevented these plans from going forward.
For many years, Moscow has touted the prospects of a trans-Korean railway, natural gas pipeline and power lines — ambitious projects that would allow Russia to significantly increase its regional clout. No visible progress has been made.
North Korea in turn is interested in Russian investment in mining, industrial, and infrastructure projects in North Korea.
Russia is interested in gaining broader access to North Korea's mineral resources, including rare metals. Pyongyang needs Russia's electricity supplies and wants to attract Russian investment to modernize the obsolescent Soviet-built industrial plants, railways and other infrastructure.
The persistent attraction of a dystopian failed state to some members of the Forum raise questions on some peoples idea of what is worth the attention they seem to lavish upon strange subjects.

But then again I suppose we all have our secret fetishes.
North Korea slams Bolton's 'dim-sighted' call for sign of denuclearization - Reuters
Further to the report above and Tubby III being upset by the comments of Pompeo, they’re now upset by Bolton’s comments on ‘denuclearisation’.

Bolton said in an interview with Bloomberg that before there’s a third summit there needs to be ‘..a real indication from North Korea that they’ve made the strategic decision to give up nuclear weapons’:
Bolton, national security adviser of the White House, in an interview with Bloomberg, showed above himself by saying such a nonsense,” North Korean Vice Foreign Minister Choe Son Hui told reporters when asked about his recent comments, the Korean Central News Agency said on Saturday.

“Bolton’s remarks make me wonder whether they sprang out of incomprehension of the intentions of the top leaders of the DPRK and the U.S. or whether he was just trying to talk with a certain sense of humor for his part, with its own deviation,” she said, referring to the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, North Korea’s official name.
“All things considered, his word has no charm in it and he looks dim-sighted to me.”

Obviously the sanctions come from the unanimous UNSC Resolutions which are intended to stop the DPRK’s production and testing of nuclear weapons and ballistic missile tests. It’s interesting (for me at least) to see what happened after Tubby III made his first statement on denuclearisation, who he visited and the statements made after the initial one

China, U.S. agree on aim of 'complete, irreversible' Korean denuclearisation - Reuters
Just as a memory jogger from June 2017:
“Both sides reaffirm that they will strive for the complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” a consensus document released by the official Xinhua news agency said.
North, South Korea agree to goal of 'complete denuclearization' of Korean peninsula - Reuters
April 2018:
The leaders of North and South Korea signed a declaration on Friday agreeing to work for the “complete denuclearization of the Korean peninsula”.

At their first summit in more than a decade, the two sides announced they would seek an agreement to establish “permanent” and “solid” peace on the peninsula.
The declaration included promises to pursue military arms reduction, cease “hostile acts,” turn their fortified border into a “peace zone,” and seek multilateral talks with other countries, such as the United States.
Further to the previous post on the meeting in Vladivostok between Putin and Kim, Putin has appeared to have made sympathetic noises but avoided giving Kim any new commitments of real substance.
Russian President Vladimir Putin sat down for talks Thursday with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, saying the summit should help plan joint efforts to resolve a standoff over Pyongyang's nuclear program.
Speaking at the start of the talks at a university on the Russky Island across a bridge from Vladivostok, Putin voiced confidence that Kim's visit will "help better understand what should be done to settle the situation on the Korean Peninsula, what we can do together, what Russia can do to support the positive processes going on now."
The Russians of course, being North Korea's direct neighbours, are not any more keen on Pyongyang having nuclear weapons than anyone else is.
Like the U.S., Russia has strongly opposed Pyongyang's nuclear bid. Putin has welcomed Trump's meetings with Kim, but urged the U.S. to do more to assuage Pyongyang's security concerns.
An analyst commenting on the situation said that Moscow will encourage North Korea to continue the talks, but that expecting North Korea to give up their only means of survival without some solid security guarantees in return is unrealistic.
Dmitri Trenin, the director of the Carnegie Moscow Center, said that Putin will likely encourage Kim to continue constructive talks with the U.S., reflecting Russia's own worry about the North's nuclear and missile programs. "Russia can't be expected to side with North Korea and, let's say, support the North Koreans all the way in the Security Council where Russia is a veto wielding member and where all sanctions imposed on North Korea require Russia's approval," he said.

Trenin emphasized that Moscow is skeptical that the North could be persuaded to fully abandon its nuclear weapons, considering it a "mission impossible."
"North Korea will not give up the only guarantee of the survival of the North Korean state and its regime," Trenin said.
The rest of the story is mainly a repeat of previously reported background information.
Like the U.S., Russia has strongly opposed Pyongyang's nuclear bid. Putin has welcomed Trump's meetings with Kim, but urged the U.S. to do more to assuage Pyongyang's security concerns.
Russians don't do irony, do they...

(cf Crimea, Ukraine & nuclear weapons).
Russia offers passports to east Ukraine, president-elect decries 'aggressor state' - Reuters
Rather than holding out the hand of friendship, looking at doing a deal, particularly on the captured sailors, Putin has decided to make it easier for those Ukrainians in the 'self declared independent' eastern regions of Donetsk and Luhansk to apply for Russian citizenship. Clearly this makes it easier (if needed) to have the excuse that they are 'rescuing Soviet Russian citizens':
“We have no desire to create problems for the new Ukrainian leadership, but to tolerate a situation in which people living in the territory of Donetsk and Luhansk republic are generally deprived of any civil rights, this is already crossing the line from the point of view of human rights,” Putin said.

Ukraine Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin denounced the move on Twitter as a “continuation of aggression and interference in our internal affairs”, urging Ukrainians living under occupation not to apply for Russian passports.

Ukraine said it had informed the United Nations about Russia’s move and also asked the EU to take “prompt and decisive” action.
E2A:Putin - nothing wrong with us giving passports to east Ukraine residents - Reuters
Of course, he sees nothing wrong with this, saying the same applies to Poland, Romania and Hungary granting citizenship to their ethnic kin outside their borders, and sees no reason why Russia could not do the same. It may have slipped his mind that there's a war with 13,000 dead and some lebensraum ongoing:
“It caused a negative reaction. That’s strange,” Putin said.

“How are Russians in Ukraine worse than Romanians, Poles or Hungarians? I don’t see anything unusual here.”
The EU are unhappy with Putin's decision:
The European Union condemned Russia’s move on Thursday, calling it another attack by Moscow on Ukraine’s sovereignty.

“The timing ... shows Russia’s intention to further destabilise Ukraine and to exacerbate the conflict,” the spokesperson for the EU’s foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini said in a statement.
He has also said he looks forward to Zelenskiy implementing Minsk 2 and 'cooperating' to 'normalise the situation':
“If those coming to power in Kiev find the strength to implement the Minsk agreements, we will do all we can to cooperate and we will do everything to normalise the situation in south-eastern Ukraine,” Putin said.
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North Korea turns to diplomats after Kim sidelines point man in nuclear talks - Reuters
One of the 'casualties' of the Hanoi failure appears to be Kim Yong Chol , the former General and spymaster wasn't on the trip to meet Putin:
“The summit damaged the North’s long-held principle that its leader never makes an error, so they have to shift the blame,” said Kim Hyun-wook, a professor at the Korea National Diplomatic Academy in Seoul.

“This may not mean an immediate shift in their U.S. strategy, but the diplomats will likely take the initiative to contain the fallout from Hanoi and promote diplomacy with various countries.”
He appears to have been replaced by Ri Yong Ho and his deputy Choe Son Hui who were both on the Putin visit:
“Whether or not he understood the issues, he kept a tight grip on the negotiations. It seemed like: ‘Over my dead body I’m going to let Ri Yong Ho take over,’” the source said, referring to the North’s foreign minister.

Ri and his deputy, Choe Son Hui, are seen to be taking over the vacuum left by Kim Yong Chol, flanking the leader as he met Putin on Thursday.
The 'best scenario for the DPRK' pushed by Tubby III in his meeting appears to have come from Kim Yong Chol. According to some, this is a positive outcome for any future negotiations:
Cheong Seong-chang, a senior fellow at South Korea’s Sejong Institute, said the demands Kim made of Trump in Hanoi had the hallmarks of the “best scenario” strategy advocated by hawks like Kim Yong Chol.

“But it turned out to be a scenario that the United States could never accept,” Cheong said. “Kim Jong Un cutting his reliance on Kim Yong Chol is a positive sign for the negotiations.”
Luckily for Choe, she apparently gets on well with Tubby III, knowing him since he was a small boy and she also is said to have a good rapport with his sister:
“Now she’s the real spokeswoman for Kim Jong Un,” Thae told a forum hosted by the Asan Institute of Policy Studies on Wednesday in Seoul. “How can Choe read his mind? Because she has access.”

A diplomatic source also said Choe appears to have built rapport with Kim Yo Jong, Kim’s sister who is also a senior party official, which contributed to her recent promotion.

“We have to remember that (Foreign Minister) Ri and Choe are not only North Korea’s best people for the job of dealing with the U.S.,” said Michael Madden, a North Korea leadership expert at the U.S.-based Stimson Center.

“But they both have known the leader since he was a small boy so there is a dynamic of their wanting to see Kim Jong Un thrive and succeed.”
North Korean leader warns of return to tension; Trump thanks Putin - Reuters
Having said all of the above, it appears the January deadline has been reiterated:
The North Korean leader has said he would wait until the end of the year for the United States to be more flexible.

“The situation on the Korean peninsula and the region is now at a standstill and has reached a critical point where it may return to its original state as the U.S. took a unilateral attitude in bad faith at the recent second DPRK-U.S. summit talks,” North Korea’s KCNA reported Kim as saying
Some think the sanctions are actually working though, albeit the comment about complying with the Resolutions should be noted:
William Hagerty, the U.S. ambassador to Japan, told a Washington think-tank that Kim’s contact with Russia and China was part of an effort to seek relief from international sanctions.

“The fact you see Kim Jong Un meeting with Vladimir Putin underscores the fact that the sanctions are working and the sanctions are putting extreme economic pressure on the North Korean regime,” Hagerty said.

“What we see is an outreach to try to find a way to deal with it. There is a much simpler way to deal with it and that is to denuclearise,” he said.

He said it was important the international community enforced U.N. sanctions against North Korea that were imposed because of its nuclear and missile programmes.
Putin was invited to N Korea and accepted. No date is known. S Korea know the channels for dialogue remain open and it may be that after this latest bout of diplomacy, another meeting may take place between the US and N Korea:
“North Korea seems to be trying to expand its negotiating position with the U.S.,” said South Korea’s ambassador to the United States, Cho Yoon-je, according to the Yonhap news agency.

“The U.S. continues to send a message to North Korea through channels at every level that it is open to dialogue ... The expectation seems to be that the North may respond once the Chairman Kim Jong Un’s diplomatic schedule is completed.”
Malaysia has freed the second woman accused in the murder of Kim Jong-nam, the half brother of North Korea's leader. www.cbc.ca/news/world/malaysia-frees-vietnamese-woman-accused-killing-north-korea-1.5121108?cmp=rss
A Vietnamese woman who spent more than two years in a Malaysian prison on suspicion of killing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un's half brother was freed on Friday, a court translator said.
The Vietnamese woman is currently in immigration custody where she will remain until she is put on a flight to Hanoi.
Huong was taken into immigration custody immediately after her release from prison and will remain there before boarding a flight to Hanoi, the Vietnamese capital.
The other woman, from Indonesia, was released in March.

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