(Washington, DC-AP) – Security experts say North Korea appears to be rebuilding a key long-range rocket site after last month’s failed summit. The Center for Strategic and International Studies says recent satellite imagery shows rapid progress at a test site that was shutdown last August.
The site on North Korea’s west coast has been used in the past for satellite launches which use ICBM technology. The center’s findings suggest North Korean leader Kim Jong-un may plan to demonstrate resolve after President Trump rejected demands to lift economic sanctions.
(SL) – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis says North Korea is not dismantling its nuclear weapons program.
The Pentagon chief told reporters yesterday he isn’t aware of any steps North Korea is taking to begin taking apart its nuclear weapons or missiles and he doesn’t expect it in the near future.
President Trump said, after his historic meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last week, that the isolated Stalinist state either had or would soon begin destroying a missile engine testing site. Mattis said yesterday that isn’t happening.
(Tehran) – Iranian President Hassan Rouhani says his country has plans in place if President Trump decides to pull out of the 2015 nuclear deal. The deal, struck between Iran and six major powers, grants sanctions relief in exchange for Iran putting the brakes on nuclear development.
Trump has hinted he will pull out of the deal unless what he sees as flaws are fixed by May 12th. In a speech on state TV, Rouhani said that orders have been given to “confront America’s plots” against Iran and that America would regret leaving the deal.
Washington wants to put Iran’s ballistic missile program on the table but Rouhani says the country will continue making as many weapons as it needs to defend itself.
(Pyongyang) — North Korea is warning the U.S. and other nations that support a new round of UN sanctions they will pay a heavy price. A statement from North Korea’s foreign ministry on Sunday criticized the actions and claimed the U.S. is intimidated by North Korea’s nuclear power.
In the statement issued through the country’s official news agency, it warns the U.S. that if it wishes to live safely, “it must abandon its hostile policy” toward North Korea and called the sanctions an act of war.
The UN Security Council last week unanimously approved the sanctions prompted by North Korea’s continued testing of intercontinental ballistic missiles.
U.S. Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley said the sanctions will choke North Korea’s energy supplies and result in tighter restrictions on smuggling.
In Baltimore, Maryland Senator Ben Cardin says slapping new UN sanctions on the outlaw North Koreans marks a major accomplishment for the United States. The Democrat tells “Fox News Sunday” that “They’re pretty strong additional sanctions to be imposed against North Korea because of their continued testing of ballistic missiles.” The ranking member of the Senate Foreign Relations Committee says it “was absolutely a strong move forward and it was great to see China and Russia join us.” Cardin says the next step is diplomacy — finding a way to ease tensions and get North Korea to change directions.
United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley says the UN sanctions cut exports of gasoline, diesel and other refined oil products by 89-percent. It also bans exports of machinery, transportation vehicles and industrial metals to North Korea.
(SL) – New warnings out of Korea as Pyongyang is adamant about launching a retaliatory nuclear strikes against the United States if it determines that Washington is planning a pre-emptive strike against North Korea.
The North’s latest threat comes after South Korea and the US carried out naval drills in the East Sea (also called Sea of Japan) in a show of force following Pyongyang’s fifth and largest ever nuclear test on 9 September.
The Rodong Sinmun referred to the joint naval exercise as “advance preparations for mounting a pre-emptive attack”.
‘If the aggressors and provocateurs dare mount a preemptive attack on the DPRK, they will not be able to escape a merciless, nuclear retaliatory strike of justice,’ an article published today said.
In a previous article, published yesterday, Pyongyang said ‘the Korean peninsula has reached the brink of a war’, and branded President Obama ‘the chieftain of war’.
Washington (CNN) – In a major victory for President Barack Obama, Democratic Sen. Barbara Mikulski of Maryland announced support for the Iran nuclear deal Wednesday, providing the White House the votes it needs to prevent Republicans from scuttling the agreement.
The announcement means that at least 34 senators — the number required by the Constitution to sustain a veto — will back Obama’s expected veto of a Republican resolution to disapprove of the deal. Mikulski is retiring at the end of her term.
While majorities of both the GOP-controlled House and Senate are poised to vote against the agreement, supporters of the multinational accord that aims to curb Iran’s nuclear weapons program are also hoping to get the 41 votes needed to filibuster the bill and prevent it from even getting to a final vote in the Senate.
Secretary of State John Kerry said the administration will continue to try and push support for the deal past the 34 votes they now have “until the last moment.”
“Thirty-four votes are obviously enough votes for the president’s veto to be upheld,” Kerry told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour. “That is not satisfactory for us. We do want to try to go further. We’ll continue to persuade.”
That prospect upsets some Republicans who believe the historic agreement deserves a final up-or-down vote.