AFP / by Stéphane Koguc, Marian Henbest
Seoul (AFP) - North Korea is ready to carry out a fifth nuclear test and could press the button at any time, South Korea's president said Tuesday, amid reports Pyongyang has readied a powerful, new mid-range missile for an imminent flight test.
Concern has been growing for weeks that the North is building up to another nuclear experiment ahead of a rare, ruling party congress to be held early next month.
"We assess that they have completed preparations for a fifth nuclear test and can conduct it whenever they decide to," President Park Geun-Hye said during a meeting with local media.
If North Korea does go ahead, it would constitute a dramatic act of defiance in the face of tough UN sanctions imposed after its most recent nuclear test in January.
Some analysts have suggested that, by carrying out a fifth test so soon after the fourth, the North might hope to avoid a heavy package of additional sanctions -- but Park insisted that the international community's response would be swift and severe.
"Although the current sanctions are strong, we can impose even stronger sanctions that fill up any holes," the president said.
- Grave 'miscalculation' -
"North Korea's miscalculation is that by ignoring warnings from the international community and continuing to launch provocations, it will not defend its security, but only speed up its own collapse," she added.
In recent months the North has claimed a series of major technical breakthroughs in developing what it sees as the ultimate goal of its nuclear weapons programme -- an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to targets across the continental United States.
These have included success in miniaturising a nuclear device to fit on a missile, developing a warhead that can withstand atmospheric re-entry, and building a solid-fuel missile engine.
Earlier this month, leader Kim Jong-Un monitored the test of an engine specifically designed for an ICBM that he said would "guarantee" an eventual strike on the US mainland.
The South's Yonhap news agency on Tuesday quoted unidentified government sources as saying the North had readied a medium-range Musudan missile for an imminent test launch.
Existing UN resolutions forbid North Korea from the use of any ballistic missile-related technology.
The Musudan is believed to have an estimated range of anywhere between 2,500 and 4,000 kilometres (1,550 to 2,500 miles). The lower range covers the whole of South Korea and Japan, while the upper range would include US military bases on Guam.
The missile has never been successfully flight-tested.
A test firing on April 15 ended in what the Pentagon described as "fiery, catastrophic" failure -- apparently exploding seconds after launch.
According to the Yonhap sources, North Korea had prepared two Musudans for the test, but the second launch was called off after the first failed.
"The remaining missile now appears to be standing by for launch," one of the sources said
PARIS, APRIL 27, 2017: (DGW)A North Korean government official said on Wednesday that his country’s nuclear tests would “never stop” as long as the U.S. continued what they viewed as “acts of aggression.”
Speaking to CNN Wednesday, Sok Chol Won wouldn’t confirm when the country’s long-anticipated sixth nuclear test would take place but said it wouldn’t be influenced by outside events.
“The nuclear test is an important part of our continued efforts to strengthen our nuclear forces,” he said.
“As long as America continues its hostile acts of aggression, we will never stop nuclear and missile tests.”
Sok’s official title is director of North Korea’s Institute of Human Rights at the Academy of Social Sciences, but he was authorized to comment to CNN on all matters.
His comments came as top U.S. Cabinet members put a stress on economic sanctions and diplomatic pressure to rein in North Korea, calling for a return to dialogue after a Senate briefing on the threat posed by Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile program.
The calmer tone came in contrast to U.S. President Donald Trump’s tough rhetoric toward North Korea earlier this week.
Another nuclear test could further inflame an already tense situation on the Korean Peninsula, at a time when the Trump administration is moving large amounts of military hardware to the region.
The USS Vinson aircraft carrier is currently on its way to the peninsula, while a nuclear-powered submarine, USS Michigan, arrived in a South Korean port on Tuesday.
And the THAAD anti-missile system designed to mitigate the threat of North Korea’s missiles will be operational “in the coming days,” the top U.S. commander in the Pacific said.
Sok said Tuesday’s massive artillery drill, held on the 85th anniversary of North Korea’s army, was a warning to the U.S. President.
“This exercise is a direct response to acts of aggression by the United States,” he said.
But despite the dramatic drills and the deployment of military assets, analysts said that outright conflict between North Korea and the U.S. and its regional allies was unlikely.
“We are in a phony war phase,” Euan Graham, director of the International Security Program at Sydney’s Lowy Institute, wrote for CNN.
“If there’s an underlying motive to Washington’s increased belligerence, it is to get the Chinese sufficiently rattled that they become serious about sanctions beyond tokenistic enforcement.”
Trump has repeatedly called on China, North Korea’s only real ally and main economic benefactor, to do more to bring its neighbour into line.
PARIS, AUGUST 27, 2016: (DGW) World's oldest man, Indonesian, aged 145 , said he is now ready to go the way of all flesh having outlived his generation.
In an interview with The Telegraph, he recounted all he has been through and survived many natural disasters that rocked his native country of Indonesia which claimed so many lives.
According to documentation recognised by Indonesian officials, Mbah Gotho is 145 and was born on 31st December 1870.
He has not surprisingly outlived all 10 of his siblings as well as his four wives, the last of whom died in 1988.
All of his children have also died, and now he is survived by his grandchildren, great grandchildren, and great-great grandchildren.
If correct, that makes him significantly older than the verified oldest person in the world ever, a title that belongs to French woman Jeanne Calment, who lived to be 122.
The super senior citizen from Sragen, Central Java, was interviewed by Liputan 6 television news,
He said he has been through it all and would not mind passing on.
'What I want is to die. My grandchildren are all independent,' he told Liputan 6 on Tuesday.
Suryanto, Mbah Gotho's grandson, said his grandfather has been preparing for his death ever since he was 122, but it never seemed to come.
Watch the video below:
South Korea's navy on Friday fired warning shots to chase away two North Korean ships after they briefly crossed a disputed western sea boundary, Seoul defense officials said.
The North Korean ships — one military vessel and the other a fishing boat — were in South Korean-controlled waters for less than 10 minutes Friday morning before they retreated, the officials said requesting anonymity citing department rules.
They said a South Korean navy ship fired five rounds of warning shots after broadcasting a warning. There were no reports of injuries and damage to the ships of either side.
This kind of incident isn't unusual, as North Korea doesn't recognize the boundary drawn unilaterally by the American-led U.N. command at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War. In February, South Korea also fired several rounds of warning shots as a North Korean patrol boat moved south of the boundary but no clash occurred either.
The two Koreas fought three bloody naval skirmishes in the area since 1999. Fishing boats from the Koreas also jostle for positions in the waters teeming with crab and other seafood, especially in the April-June season.
Friday's incident happened as North Korea is stepping up pressure on South Korea to accept its calls to resume talks after months of animosities triggered by its fourth nuclear test in January. Seoul has rejected the overture, saying it lacks sincerity and Pyongyang must first demonstrate how serious it's about nuclear disarmament.
Critics say the North often takes conciliatory gestures after raising tension in an attempt to wrest concessions from its rivals.
PARIS, DECEMBER 28, 2016: (DGW) The Indonesian Ambassador to Nigeria, Ambassador Harry Purwanto, has issued a stern warning on what his country would continue to do to the Nigerian Government regarding its citizens living in the country or traveling from any part of the world into the country.
This was in reaction to the rampant cases of Nigerians who deal in and bring hard drugs into the country.
Speaking on Wednesday, he advised Nigerians to desist henceforth from engaging in or allowing themselves to be used for trafficking of drugs to Indonesia and warned that his government there is an existing legislation which now carries the death penalty not only for Nigerians but for everyone including Indonesians found dealing in or in possession of hard drugs.
He said: “Let me once again remind Nigerians wishing to travel to Indonesia, that the Indonesian Government, like every other government, has its laws and regulations.
“It is, therefore, expected of Nigerians and other foreigners visiting Indonesia to always obey her laws prohibiting anybody’s involvement in drug crimes.
“There are very strict laws for anyone arrested for drug-related offences in any part of Indonesia today.”
SHANGHAI (AP) — The first regional jet produced in China's initiative to compete in the commercial aircraft market made its debut flight Tuesday carrying 70 passengers.
The ARJ21-700 jet is one of a series of initiatives launched by the ruling Communist Party to transform China from the world's low-cost factory into a creator of profitable technology in aviation, clean energy and other fields.
The plane operated by Chengdu Airlines took its passengers from the western city of Chengdu to Shanghai in two hours.
China is one of the biggest aviation markets but relies on foreign-made aircraft. Beijing wants to capture more of those sales. Its major airlines are state-owned, which gives the ruling party a captive pool of potential customers that can be ordered to buy Chinese-made aircraft.
The ARJ21 — or Asian Regional Jet for the 21st Century — is intended to make its state-owned manufacturer, Commercial Aircraft Corp. of China, a competitor to Bombardier Inc. of Canada and Brazil's Embraer SA.
"The first flight of the ARJ21 marks the beginning of commercial, or passenger, operations for the ARJ21 and signifies the first time a domestically made regional jet has been used by a Chinese airline," said the COMAC chairman, Jin Zhuanglong.
The ARJ21 initiative was launched in 2002. It was scheduled to deliver its first plane in 2007 but that was pushed back due to technical problems.
A full-size jetliner under development by another state-owned company, the C919, is aimed at competing with Boeing Co. and Airbus. After delays blamed on manufacturing problems, the C919 is due to fly this year and enter service in about 2019.
Boeing forecasts China's total demand for civilian jetliners over the next two decades at 5,580 planes worth a total of $780 billion.
BEIJING (Reuters) - China is extremely dissatisfied with a statement by Group of Seven (G7) leaders on the contentious South China Sea, where Beijing is locked in territorial disputes with several southeast Asian countries, the Foreign Ministry said on Friday.
Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying made the remarks at a regular briefing. China's increasingly assertive stance in the region has sparked concern from the United States and its Asian allies.
"This G7 summit organized by Japan's hyping up of the South China Sea issue and exaggeration of tensions is not beneficial to stability in the South China Sea and does accord with the G7's position as a platform for managing the economies of developed nations," Hua said. "China is extremely dissatisfied with what Japan and the G7 have done."
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on Wednesday that Japan welcomed China's peaceful rise while repeating Tokyo's opposition to acts that try to change the status quo by force.
China has said that the South China Sea issue has nothing to do with G7 or its member countries.
China is not in the G7 club but its rise as a global power has put it at the heart of some discussions at the advanced nations' summit in Ise-Shima, central Japan. G7 leaders agreed on Thursday to send a strong message on maritime claims in the western Pacific.
BEIJING: China urged Japan on Monday to act prudently in military and security fields and avoid unsettling regional stability.
Foreign Ministry spokesperson Geng Shuang made the remarks at a routine press briefing in response to a question regarding Japan's plan to install an advanced US missile defense system, Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)
According to Japanese media reports, Tokyo plans to set up a panel to discuss ways to reinforce its missile defense system.
"We were concerned about the news reports. China's position on the deployment of the THAAD is very clear and remains unchanged," Geng said.
Japan's military and security activities are watched closely by its Asian neighbours and the international community because of its history, he said.
"We hope Japan [will] play a constructive role in boosting regional peace and stability, not to the contrary," said the spokesperson.
Calling the current Korean Peninsula situation "complicated and sensitive," he urged parties concerned to solve related issues through political and diplomatic channels.