sexta-feira, 14 de abril de 2017
North Korea parades military might and warns US amid nuclear test fears / China urges North Korea and US to step back from brink of war
North Korea’s vice foreign minister blames the US for causing problems on the Korean Peninsula on Friday. In an interview with the Associated Press in Pyongyang, Vice Minister Han Song Ryol also said Washington was becoming “more vicious and more aggressive” since President Donald Trump took power. Tensions are deepening as the US has sent an aircraft carrier to waters off the peninsula and is conducting its biggest-ever joint military exercises with South Korea
North Korea parades military might and warns US amid nuclear test fears
As thousands of soldiers mass at Kim Il-sung square, Pyongyang tells US to end its dangerous ‘military hysteria’
Justin McCurry in Tokyo and Tom Phillips in Beijing
Saturday 15 April 2017 05.44 BST First published on Saturday 15 April 2017 03.53 BST
North Korea has held a vast military parade to celebrate the birth of its founding father, Kim Il-sung, and warned that it was prepared to take the “toughest” action unless the US ended its “military hysteria”, as speculation grows that the regime is preparing to conduct a nuclear test.
On a sunny Saturday morning in the capital, Pyongyang, military vehicles and tens of thousands of soldiers filled Kim Il-sung square as a band played rousing military music, the instruments falling silent for oaths of loyalty to the country’s leader, Kim Jong-un.
Experts said the array of military hardware included what appeared to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) being carried along the streets on a huge truck.
Yonhap quoted South Korean military officials as saying they had not seen the missile before and that it appeared to be a new type of ICBM.
North Korean state television showed what appeared to be several KN-08 and KN-14 missiles. Although they have yet to be tested, analysts say the missiles could one day be capable of hitting targets as far away as the continental United States.
Also on show for the first time were Pukkuksong submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBM), which have a range of over 1,000km (600 miles).
Experts said the display of multiple SLBMs indicated that North Korea was closer to being able to launch submarine-based missiles, which are harder to detect. “It suggests a commitment to this programme,” said Joshua Pollack, editor of the Washington-based Nonproliferation Review. “Multiple SLBMs seems like a declaration of intent to advance the programme”.
A senior North Korean official used the parade to accuse the US of “creating a war situation” with the recent dispatch of warships to the region.
“We will respond to an all-out war with an all-out war and a nuclear war with our style of a nuclear attack,” Choe Ryong-hae, who is rumoured to be the second-most powerful politician in North Korea, said during the parade.
Kim, dressed in a black suit and white shirt, and flanked by senior military and Workers’ party officials, applauded and occasionally smiled as he watched the tributes to his grandfather, who was born 105 years ago today.
But the so-called Day of the Sun was clouded in uncertainty as the world waited to see if Kim Jong-un, the country’s third-generation ruler, would provoke a potential regional crisis with what would be North Korea’s sixth nuclear test in just over a decade, or a test launch of an ICBM.
As the USS aircraft carrier Carl Vinson and its strike group sailed towards the peninsula in a show of force, North Korea’s official KCNA news agency, citing a spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army, warned of “merciless” retaliation against any US provocation.
Donald Trump’s decision to send an “armada” of warships to waters off the tense peninsula, coupled with recent US strikes in Syria and Afghanistan, were proof that Washington had chosen the path of “open threat and blackmail”, KCNA said.
“Our toughest counteraction against the US and its vassal forces will be taken in such a merciless manner as not to allow the aggressors to survive,” it added.
It said the Trump administration’s “serious military hysteria” has reached a “dangerous phase that can no longer be overlooked”.
It added: “Under the prevailing grave situation, the United States has to come to its senses and make a proper option for the solution of the problem.”
As the parade unfolded in Pyongyang, China’s state-run media warned that the US president was mistaken if he believed that piling military pressure on North Korea would resolve the regime’s nuclear and ballistic missile programmes.
The Global Times said Trump’s decision to drop the “mother of all bombs” on Afghanistan was clearly “a new gimmick in US military deterrence” designed to intimidate Kim Jong-un.
“North Korea must have felt the shock wave travelling all the way from Afghanistan,” the Communist party-controlled newspaper said in an editorial.
However, the Global Times, which sometimes reflects government views, said the use of such a “vicious weapon” was in fact likely to make Pyongyang even more determined to upgrade its own arsenal. “[Trump] has demonstrated a certain level of obsession and pride toward US military prowess,” it said, adding, that the US president “may go down in history as the ‘war president’”.
As North Korea’s only ally and biggest trading partner, China has come under unprecedented pressure in recent days to use its influence to persuade Kim not to risk conflict with a nuclear test or ballistic missile launch.
On Friday, China again called for talks to defuse the crisis. “We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, told reporters in Beijing.
Speaking to Russia’s foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, on Friday night, Wang said steps were needed to prevent “war and chaos” on the Korean peninsula.
US officials have said the policy of “strategic patience” pursued by the Obama administration has ended, after years of diplomatic pressure and international sanctions failed to slow North Korea’s progress towards developing nuclear missiles capable of striking the US mainland – a milestone some experts believe is only years away.
In echoes of the bellicose rhetoric that reverberated around the Korean peninsula during its last major crisis in the spring of 2013, KCNA said North Korea would respond in kind to any perceived US military provocation.
Referring to the country by its official title, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, it warned: “The army and people of the DPRK will as ever courageously counter those who encroach upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK and will always mercilessly ravage all provocative options of the US with Korean-style toughest counteraction.”
Agencies contributed to this report
China urges North Korea and US to step back from brink of war
Chinese foreign minister Wang Yi says the region faced a precarious situation in which conflict could break out at any moment
Justin McCurry in Tokyo, Tom Phillips in Beijing and Julian Borger in Washington
Friday 14 April 2017 15.38 BST First published on Friday 14 April 2017 05.37 BST
China has urged the US and North Korea to step back from the brink of a potentially catastrophic conflict after Pyongyang warned it would not “keep its arms crossed” in the event of a pre-emptive strike.
Speaking in Beijing on Friday, the Chinese foreign minister, Wang Yi, told reporters the region faced a “precarious situation” in which “one has the feeling that a conflict could break out at any moment”.
He made his plea before an anticipated sixth North Korean nuclear test on Saturday to mark the birth of the country’s founder, Kim Il-sung.
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not to let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Wang said, according to Xinhua, China’s official news agency.
“If a war occurs, the result is a situation in which everybody loses and there can be no winner. It is not the one who espouses harsher rhetoric or raises a bigger fist that will win.”
North Korea’s vice-foreign minister, Han Song-ryol, earlier warned it would not “keep its arms crossed” in the event of a pre-emptive US strike and would conduct a nuclear test when it saw fit.
Han told the Associated Press in an interview in Pyongyang that Donald Trump’s “aggressive” tweets aimed at the regime were “causing trouble”, adding that the mounting crisis on the peninsula was locked in a “vicious cycle”.
Experts believe Pyongyang could defy Trump by carrying out a missile launch or nuclear test to coincide with the so-called Day of the Sun on 15 April, commemorating the birth of the country’s founder. Satellite imagery has revealed signs of preparations for a possible nuclear test in a new tunnel complex at the Punggye-ri military site.
Scores of foreign reporters have been allowed into Pyongyang to cover celebrations to mark the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth, but they have not been granted access to military-related areas. Some North Korea specialists played down expectations of a test, however, saying the regime was more likely to use the military parade in Pyongyang to showcase a new long-range missile it is developing.
The US vice president, Mike Pence, is due to fly to South Korea on Sunday, in what the White House said was a show of support for its regional ally. Aides said there were contingency plans for trip in case North Korea carries out a nuclear test.
On Thursday evening, NBC News cited intelligence officials as saying the US could carry out a pre-emptive conventional strike if it got intelligence that the North Koreans were about to test, but that was strongly denied by Pentagon officials.
However, administration officials repeated on Friday that military options were under active consideration in the search for containing Kim Jong-un’s nuclear aspirations.
Speaking in advance of Pence’s trip, a senior official said: “We’ve got some military options already being assessed, but we’ll work that as we sit down in discussions with General Brooks, the commander there on Peninsula.”
“[Kim] continues to develop this program,” the official said. “He continues to launch missiles into the Sea of Japan. So with that regime it’s not a matter of “if,” it’s “when.” So we’re well prepared to counter that.”
Writing in the Global Times, a Communist party-controlled tabloid, one Chinese scholar urged Trump against carrying out a Syria-style bombing campaign against North Korea. “North Korea is not Syria. It may have the ability to strike South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons,” said Li Jiacheng, a fellow at Liaoning University in north-eastern China.
“If the US makes a pre-emptive strike on North Korea, Pyongyang will attack South Korea, Japan and the US forces stationed in the two countries,” Li warned. “What’s more, the war will not be a blitz but a protracted one, which will require a lot of energy from the countries involved.”
“In the current situation, [the] possibility is still low that the US will initiate a war on the peninsula,” Li added. “However, because of Trump’s unpredictability, it is difficult to predict his policy toward the region.”
On Thursday, Trump, who has previously accused Beijing of failing to rein in its North Korean ally, said he believed China was prepared to act. “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the US, with its allies, will!” he wrote on Twitter.
However, despite signs of warming ties between the US and China, experts doubt the relationship is sufficiently sturdy for definitive collaboration on North Korea.
Steven Weber, an international relations specialist from the University of California, Berkeley, said: “If you want regime change in North Korea then you have got to have a plan for how to manage that on the other side of the collapse – and that requires a long-term collaborative relationship between the Americans and the Chinese to make sure that whatever happens, and however that reconstruction emerges, is acceptable to both sides.”
“I don’t think we are anywhere near a place right now where either side trusts the other to a depth that you believe that you could sustain and maintain that kind of relationship for that long a period of time.”
The rise in tensions came ahead of the arrival in South Korea on Sunday of the US vice-president, Mike Pence, who will also visit Japan, Washington’s other key ally in the region, early next week.
Previewing Pence’s trip, a White House foreign policy adviser said: “We’re going to consult with the Republic of Korea on North Korea’s efforts to advance its ballistic missile and its nuclear programme.”
Seoul and Tokyo are considered at greatest risk of a North Korean counterattack in the event of a pre-emptive strike by the US. On Thursday, Japan’s prime minister, Shinzo Abe, warned that North Korea may be capable of attacking the country with a missile loaded with sarin nerve gas – the same substance used in a deadly attack on the Tokyo subway by a Japanese doomsday cult in 1995.
North Korea appears to have resumed the use of cold war scare tactics with the radio broadcast of indecipherable code that could be used to communicate with its spies in the South. Radio broadcasts containing a combination of mysterious random numbers were picked up in South Korea on Friday, according to Yonhap news agency.
Some experts in South Korea said the use of radio broadcasts – a common means of issuing orders to agents during the cold war – was outmoded and could instead be intended to raise tensions. The state-run Pyongyang Radio began broadcasting the messages early on Friday, with an announcer reading out a series of numbers and page numbers.
The radio announcer referred to the numbers as “review works in elementary information technology lessons of the remote education university for No 27 expedition agents”, according to Yonhap.
North Korea ended broadcasts of encrypted numbers after tensions with South Korea eased following a historic inter-Korea summit in 2000. Their resumption last June is seen as a reflection of how far relations have deteriorated.
Yonhap said Pyongyang Radio had made 32 such broadcasts since June last year, most recently last weekend. With agents based in the South now able to communicate with their handlers via the internet, the use of numbers, which they would then decipher using a reference book, appears outdated.