Politics Trump unveils new sanctions targeting North Korea Olivier Knox Chief Washington Correspondent • Trump announces stiff new sanctions against North Korea President Trump on Thursday unveiled new economic sanctions targeting North Korea’s banking and trade partners and some of the country’s industries, but he left the door open to future dialogue with the Stalinist regime of Kim Jong Un.“Our new executive order will cut off sources of revenue that fund North Korea’s efforts to develop the deadliest weapons known to humankind,” Trump told reporters. “In addition, what we will do is identify new industries — including textiles, fishing, IT, and manufacturing — that the Treasury Department can target with strong sanctions.”Related SearchesNorth Korea BitcoinChina Sanctions North KoreaUn North Korea SanctionsNorth Korea Sanctions U.S.Trump On North KoreaThe order empowers the Treasury Department to impose what are known as “secondary sanctions” that target banks and companies that do business with North Korea, a kind of bank shot that aims to tighten the vise on Kim’s ability to fund his nuclear and ballistic missile programs.“Foreign banks will face a clear choice: Do business with the U.S. or facilitate trade with the lawless regime in North Korea,” the president said.Trump also praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for his central bank’s directive to Chinese financial institutions to stop doing business with North Korea and its citizens, describing that decision as a “very bold move” that was “somewhat unexpected.” China historically accounts for the lion’s share of North Korea’s external banking and trade.Trump’s announcement came as he began a working lunch with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and South Korean President Moon Jae-in on the sidelines of the annual United Nations General Assembly — showcasing a united front on the North Korean issue. Xi skipped the annual gathering, as he typically does.Asked whether negotiations with Kim were still possible, Trump replied, “Why not?”President Trump during a meeting with the South Korean president and the Japanese prime minister, Sept. 21, 2017. (Photo: Kevin Lamarque/Reuters)That appeared to be a departure from his position in late August, when he declared on Twitter, “Talking is not the answer.”North Korea recently tested a nuclear weapon that it says is a hydrogen bomb and fired an intercontinental ballistic missile thought to be able to reach the U.S. mainland. But questions remain about the reliability of its guidance systems and whether it has devised the technology to prevent its warheads from burning up upon reentry into the atmosphere.It’s not clear to what extent the new measures will change Kim’s behavior. U.S. experts say the country sees its weapons programs as an insurance policy to guarantee regime survival.The order bars ships and aircraft from U.S. soil and ports within 180 days of being in North Korea. And it applies the same ban on vessels that engaged in ship-to-ship transfers with a vessel that visited North Korea. Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin declined to say how many ships and aircraft would be affected, but described such trade as “very significant.”The president’s announcement came two days after he used his speech to world leaders assembled at the United Nations to warn that the United States will “totally destroy” North Korea if Washington is “forced to defend itself or its allies.”“‘Rocket Man’ is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime,” Trump said in the address, using his new mocking moniker for Kim. North Korea responded that the president sounded like a barking dog.Military action against North Korea could leave millions of dead. Kim’s military has South Korea’s capital, Seoul, in artillery range, and is thought to have stockpiled chemical and biological weapons. And recent missile tests have shown that its rockets could theoretically reach Tokyo. Still, Defense Secretary James Mattis told reporters on Monday that there were military options that might not put Seoul at grave risk. “But I will not go into details,” Mattis added.A photo purportedly showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, center, celebrating a missile launch. (Photo: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)Washington has also been looking at a range of options for choking North Korea’s economy and undermining Kim’s regime, including efforts to increase the hermetic nation’s citizens’ ability to get information and entertainment from the outside world.One challenge regarding sanctions, U.S. officials say, is how to hurt North Korea’s totalitarian government without overly punishing its citizens, who have coped with repeated famines.On Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters there were signs that the latest round of U.N. Security Council sanctions had started to bite.“There are indications that there are shortages, of fuel in particular,” Tillerson said.
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How North Korea Could Start World War III: A War Between Russia and America Dave Majumdar,The National Interest 4 hours agoYes, it is possible.How North Korea Could Start World War III: A War Between Russia and AmericaUltimately, while American attempts to shoot-down a North Korean missile are unlikely to trigger an accidental nuclear war, it might not be good idea stress the Russian early warning system. The best option—time permitting—would be to forewarn Moscow of any attempt to shoot down a North Korean missile. However, during such events, there is no time to spare.If the United States decides to attempt to shoot down future North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests using the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system, it is likely that Russia’s early warning system will not mistake the interceptors for a potential nuclear attack.That does not address the question of if the United States genuinely has the capability to intercept a North Korean ICBM—and many critics doubt that it does. However, the chances are that such an attempt to shoot down a North Korean ICBM would likely not trigger an accidental nuclear war even if the possibility does exist at some level.“There is no reason to believe that threat identification could be a problem,” Pavel Podvig, an independent analyst based in Geneva who runs the Russian Nuclear Forces research project told The National Interest.“It is true that an unexpected event, such as a GMD launch from Alaska, would probably generate an alarm, but the system is designed to deal with these kinds of events. Of course, it would be better if it doesn’t have to deal with them, but it is not an issue of the capability of the system – I would equally not trust the U.S. system to perform adequately under stress.”What a War Between China and Japan Would Look Like. While Russia had for many years after the collapse of the Soviet Union allowed its early warning system to atrophy, the Kremlin has rebuilt and upgraded most of its ground-based missile warning radars. However, Russia has yet to fully reconstitute its space-based warning systems. Nonetheless, the systems has improved to a point where the Russians are less likely to mistakenly launch a retaliatory strike due to hole in coverage or errors.“On satellites, yes, there are only two in orbit right now. But Russia never really relied on satellites to the extent the U.S. does, so the lack of coverage from space is not necessarily a problem,” Podvig said.“Russia doesn’t really have the launch-on-warning posture during peacetime, so detection of a few missiles/interceptors is unlikely to trigger a launch. There are, of course, scenarios in which things can go wrong, but it’s an inherent risk in the system rather than a specific problem with the Russian—or U.S. for that matter—early-warning system.”Indeed, Russia has in recent years, upgraded its early warning (EW) radars.What a War Between NATO and Russia Would Look Like. “As far as I can tell, it is reasonably adequate for the job it is supposed to do,” Podvig said.“Russia has almost completed deployment of EW radars and now can cover pretty much all directions. I know some people were asking questions about recent North Korean launches, but I do not think the fact that Russia insists on NK missile been intermediate-range has anything to do with the capability of the EW system. It is something else, although I don’t have a good explanation of what it is.”But there are reasons as to why some might assume that Russia might be prone to launching a retaliatory strike in the event that it detected incoming missiles.“If you’re a country—or its government—that is not fully confident of its survivable systems, and suspect your adversary doesn’t believe in them either, you’re going to want to be able to launch-under-attack as a way of deterring your adversary,” Olga Oliker, director of the Russia and Eurasia program at the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) told The National Interest.“Since you can’t know for sure you’re being attacked until something blows up, what you’re really planning for is launching on warning. For this you need an early warning system.”The problem for Russia is that ground-based radars do not give as much warning to leaders as a space-based system.What a War Between America and China Would Look Like. “The U.S. and Russia both have early warning systems that combine satellites and ground-based radars,” Oliker said.“For a while recently, Russia had no satellites—all the old ones had failed and it took a while to get new ones up into the sky. There are two up now, and a total of 12 planned. Russia therefore relies more on its ground-based radars. Over recent years, these have improved, and the system as a whole provides good coverage—there used to be holes. However, ground-based radars don’t give Moscow that much warning in terms of time—none of this gives you a ton of time. The U.S. system provides 30 minutes of warning at best. Moreover, there are questions about how accurate it is. Finally, false warning is always possible, and there have been cases of it in the past.”Mike Kofman, a research scientist at the Center for Naval Analyses specializing in Russian military affairs, agreed with Oliker’s assessment.“Russia has new early warning radars but lost its launch detection satellite network a few years ago, and is now two satellites deep into replacing it out of a desired 10,” Kofman told The National Interest.“As such, Russia depends on its network of radars while a new constellation of satellites comes online. Ideally, you want multiple means of warning, detecting a launch, confirming the missile on radar, estimating its trajectory and so on. The more time you have and means of confirmation the better the decision making process on how to respond.”Of particular concern is that Russia relies very heavily on its vulnerable silo-based ICBMs even though it does have more survivable submarine and road-mobile weapons in its inventory. Moscow’s reliance on silo-based ICBMs could mean that the Kremlin might be more prone to launching a retaliatory strike if it feels its deterrent is threatened.“So if you, as a country, have a tendency to build expensive silo-based ICBMs that you’re really proud of and put a lot of weapons on them, you might be more inclined to launch on warning,” Oliker said.“If your warning system isn’t that good, and you’re kind of paranoid about your adversary, you might be more likely to launch on false warning. If you do that, you’ll start a nuclear war by accident. This makes me nervous about Russia’s propensity to put a lot of its warheads on silo-launched ICBMs.”Ultimately, while American attempts to shoot-down a North Korean missile are unlikely to trigger an accidental nuclear war, it might not be good idea stress the Russian early warning system. The best option—time permitting—would be to forewarn Moscow of any attempt to shoot down a North Korean missile. However, during such events, there is no time to spare.Dave Majumdar is the defense editor for The National Interest. You can follow him on Twitter: @Davemajumdar.
Bloomberg Video Trump Calls China Move Against N. Korea ‘Unexpected’ Bloomberg Video 6 hours ago Sep.21 — President Donald Trump ordered new sanctions on individuals, companies and banks doing business with North Korea as the U.S. increases pressure on Pyongyang for its weapons programs. Bloomberg’s Joe Sobczyk reports on „Bloomberg Daybreak: Australia.”
World Russia’s Zapad 17 War Game: What We Learned From Putin’s Sparring Match That Was ‘All About NATO’ Damien Sharkov,Newsweek 12 hours agoAfter months of buildup and about a week of official training activity, Russia and Belarus wrapped up their regular joint Zapad (West) war game with some bang, but without any serious confrontation with nearby Western allies.The closest that the drill appears to have come to a real-world clash was a momentary violation of Lithuanian airspace by two Russian jets, which Moscow said was caused by obstructive weather forcing pilots into a diversion, as opposed to an intent to attack the Baltic state. In fact, local media reports suggest Russians bore the brunt of their own military’s fire during Zapad, as a Ka-52 helicopter appeared to fire onto civilian onlookers outside St. Petersburg.That said, Russia’s war game on the fringes of its hypothetical front line with NATO are not without significance. Here is what we learned from Zapad 2017:Trending: The Sex Moves Women Want: Clitoral Stimulation Helps Female Orgasm, Study FindsSize Matters and Russia Is ‘Downright Lying’ About ItRussia has lost the trust of the West. After first denying sending the masked troops to Crimea in 2014 that set up the ersatz referendum to join Russia, and then admitting to it months later; after denying it was supporting separatists in east Ukraine whose impressive array of troops and kit has held one of Europe’s largest militaries at bay for three years; and after declaring a war on “terror” in Syria that has also punished civilians, medics and the regime’s enemies, Russia does not have the benefit of the doubt in Western capitals. When the Russian defense ministry announced that 12,700 troops would take part in Zapad (only 3,000 of which would be Russian troops deployed in Belarus), European experts began calculating how much higher this number would be in reality. Virtually all concluded with certainty that the figure would be higher than the 13,000 figure—the internationally agreed upon threshold for holding a drill without having to invite foreign observers. Poland and Germany estimated that around 100,000 Russian troops would be mobilized, while Lithuania predicted 140,000 and Ukraine estimated 240,000. At the end of the drill, Ukraine said 120,000 had mobilized.NATO has concluded that Zapad was “larger” than initially advertised, and independent estimates fall in the middle, at around 70,000 troops, London’s Royal United Services Institute reported.But the huge figures cited by Western governments ahead of the drill were a public relations coup for Moscow, because the Kremlin can now dismiss evidence it overstepped the threshold it set for itself, equating any such assertions to “paranoia” abroad, says Mathieu Boulègue of the Chatham House think tank. Don’t miss: Mormon-Run BYU Is Now Selling Caffeinated Soda on Campus, but Students Still Can’t Have CoffeeTomáš Valášek, the former Slovak ambassador to NATO, said earlier this week that it should worry the West that Moscow is “downright lying” about the size of the drill, because in tense political times that makes accidental conflict more likely.“In the future, there may well be a situation where we want proper monitoring when the tensions between East and West are much higher than they are today,” he said during a Politico podcast. “And [when] we don’t have that recourse, then it makes everybody jumpy, right?”A lack of trust and poor communication close to tense borders is a dangerous combination, considering that Russian drills in the northwest have resulted in two serious misfires over the past month alone. The first—a tank missile ricochet—killed one and wounded five.The casualties were Russian servicemen, so, although tragic, the incident did not become an international one. Any unaccounted-for kit malfunctioning close to a non-allied neighbor that already suspects Russia’s motives would mean a larger threat of political crisis.Russia Tests Its Reinforced Front LineThe last time Russia held a Zapad drill was 2013. This was before its annexation of Crimea, the conflict in Ukraine’s east, and a cumulative drop-off in relations with the West that has led to swollen troop sizes on both sides of the NATO-Russia divide in the region. As part of Zapad, Russia had a chance to see its updated front line in action. While the numbers may have been lower, the strategy and purpose were also different, Boulègue says. Most popular: Steve Bannon Helped Write Trump’s U.N. Speech, Claims Sebastian Gorka, Who Called it ‘Classic MAGA Agenda’“In 2013, Zapad was about big numbers,” he says. “The conclusions they drew there and from experience in Crimea and Syria was they didn’t need to displace huge numbers for what they wanted to drill this time. Zapad 17 was not about displacement. It was about improving command and control in the Russian military. What we saw was better integration of ground forces with air capabilities, air support and naval forces.”So far, no country has claimed to have observed what Sweden did in 2013 and what Poland did in 2009: a Russian practice air drop, near their territory, of a payload that could theoretically be a nuclear weapon.“The only time they did anything nuclear threshold-related is when they deployed Yars ICBMs, and that was in Kamchatka,” Boulègue says. Capable though the missile may be to hit European capitals, the test was less of a show of force toward any particular nearby state. The launch was part of a number of drills Russia ran across its territory during Zapad. Its western drills, however, showed an evolution in “the understanding of Russian warfare” after Crimea, Boulègue says.The drafted drill scenario—a covert, foreign incursion into western Belarus—greatly resembled Russia’s tactics in Crimea, while combat involved a series of measures honed in Syria.“The scenario is the following: Russian airborne units are sent for reconnaissance and to repel the enemy incursion. The army then prepares for ground attack with aerial and naval support. It’s less about the nuclear threat, and it is more about rehearsing what they do best,” Boulègue says.Namely, this is artillery-enabled ground assault with air support—so called Anti-Access/Area Denial (A2/AD) capabilities. Despite being billed as a defense drill, the tactics switched midway into an offensive against a conventional military force on its back foot, as opposed to a counterterrorism operation. „The drill was all about NATO, and it really showed,” Boulègue says.The arrival of paratrooper forces relies on help from an assemblage of smart kit, such as radio and electronic capabilities and drones integration—many of which were spotted in the sky during Zapad—as well as testing the speed and reliability of its own data links and communication systems in a scenario where speed, as opposed to bigger numbers, is of the essence.