Skip to main content

US submarine makes South Korea port call amid reports of artillery drill by the North


US submarine arrived in South Korea on Tuesday as it prepares to join an "armada" of warships sent to the region by Donald Trump to confront Pyongyang.
The nuclear-powered USS Michigan, which is built to carry and launch ballistic missiles and Tomahawk cruise missiles, made the port call amid growing concerns that North Korea was set to carry out a nuclear test.
Kim Jong-un’s regime marks the 85th anniversary on Tuesday of the founding of its Korean People's Army – a symbolic date which observers believe could see a test of military hardware.
Such concerns eased during the afternoon, with no reports of tests, but South Korean media said the North was carrying out its “largest-ever live-fire drills” to mark the occasion.
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) arriving in Busan, South Korea,
The Ohio-class guided-missile submarine USS Michigan (SSGN 727) arriving in Busan, South Korea, CREDIT: EPA/US NAVY
Pyongyang and Washington have been engaged in an escalating war of words in recent weeks after President Trump’s administration declared the era of “strategic patience” towards North Korea’s military ambitions was over.
US vice president Mike Pence said on Saturday that a strike group led by the US Carl Vinson aircraft carrier would arrive in Korean waters “in a matter of days”.
The ships were heading north in the western Pacific Ocean conducting joint exercises with Japan's Maritime Self-Defence Force on Monday.
South Korea's navy said it was conducting a live-fire exercise with US destroyers on Tuesday in waters west of the Korean peninsula, and would soon join the carrier strike group approaching the region.
Mr Trump had previously described the force as an “armada” and said that submarines were being sent which were “far more powerful than the aircraft carrier.”
Concerns have been rising in the region that Mr Trump may be provoked into action if Pyongyang carries out a test of military hardware.
South Korea’s Yonhap agency said the North instead “conducted a massive live-fire artillery training exercise in Wonsan near the demilitarized zone (DMZ)”, referring to the dividing area between the two countries, who officially remain at war after the 1950-53 conflict ended with a truce rather than a peace treaty. 
"Hundreds of heavy guns joined it," the report said.
The South's Joint Chiefs of Staff said in a statement: “Our military is keeping a close eye on the North Korean military's activities in the vicinity of Wonsan and maintaining a steadfast combat posture."
Show more
China, a key trading partner and only diplomatic ally of North Korea, has been seeking to ease tensions.
Xi Jinping, the Chinese president, called for restraint from all sides in a telephone call with Mr Trump on Monday.
Chinese media on Tuesday reached out to Pyongyang in editorials that urged North Korean leaders not to provoke the US.
The influential Global Times newspaper, which has close links to China’s ruling Communist Party, said: “The North Korea nuclear issue is like a puzzle filled with bombs.
“Pyongyang must not strike a match and detonate it. What it needs is big wisdom to realise a soft landing.”
A national meeting at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on Monday in celebration of the 85th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army
A national meeting at the People's Palace of Culture in Pyongyang on Monday in celebration of the 85th founding anniversary of the Korean People's Army CREDIT: REUTERS
“(North Korean leaders) are at once perilously overestimating their own strength and underestimating the hazards they are brewing for themselves.
"They need to reassess the situation so they do not make any misjudgments.”
An AWACS air surveillance plane lifts off from a runway in the southeastern port of Busan, South Korea
An AWACS air surveillance plane lifts off from a runway in the southeastern port of Busan, South Korea CREDIT: EPA
But North Korean media continued its aggressive tone on Tuesday, with the official Rodong Sinmun newspaper expressing pride in the country’s military on the symbolic date.
The North was prepared "to bring to closure the history of US scheming and nuclear blackmail,” it said in a front page editorial.
"There is no limit to the strike power of the People's Army armed with our style of cutting-edge military equipment including various precision and miniaturized nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles,” it added.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Why States Still Use Barrel Bombs

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary
Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.

However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.

Analysis


Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …

Russia Looks East for New Oil Markets

Click to Enlarge


In the final years of the Soviet Union, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began orienting his foreign policy toward Asia in response to a rising Japan. Putin has also piloted a much-touted pivot to Asia, coinciding with renewed U.S. interest in the area. A good expression of intent was Russia's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 in Vladivostok, near Russia's borders with China and North Korea. Although its efforts in Asia have been limited by more direct interests in Russia's periphery and in Europe, Moscow recently has been able to look more to the east.

Part of this renewed interest involves finding new export markets for Russian hydrocarbons. Russia's economy relies on energy exports, particularly crude oil and natural gas exported via pipeline to the West. However, Western Europe is diversifying its energy sources as new supplies come online out of a desire to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

This has forced…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)

Summary


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.

Analysis


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…