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Mar 12, 2013

Tensions Rise on Korean Peninsula: “The Armistice Agreement has been Nullified”

Global Research, March 12, 2013

koreanorthmapAmid threats from both sides, North Korea yesterday cut the phone “hotline” between the two Koreas and abrogated the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War. The move came as American and South Korean troops began joint military exercises and Washington announced new sanctions against Pyongyang.

The escalation of tensions on the Korean peninsula follows last week’s UN Security Council resolution imposing further punitive measures on North Korea over its third nuclear test on February 12. As well as previous UN sanctions, the North Korean regime has also been subject to a US-led economic and diplomatic blockade since the end of the Korean War.

An editorial in North Korea’s state-run Rodong Sinmun yesterday declared that “the armistice agreement has been nullified” and warned “no one can expect what will happen next.” The 1953 armistice stopped the fighting but did not formally end the war. Pyongyang has pressed for decades for a formal peace treaty with the US, only to be repeatedly rejected.

North Korea has previously declared the armistice void, most recently in 2009 in response to a previous round of sanctions that the US pushed through the UN. Tensions flared in 2010 following the sinking of the South Korean corvette, the Cheonan, for which North Korea denied responsibility. Amid provocative US-South Korean naval exercises, the two Koreas engaged in artillery exchanges in which several South Korean soldiers and civilians on Yeonpyeong Island were killed.

On Sunday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visited an artillery unit that took part in the 2010 shelling, urging it to “deal deadly counterblows to the enemy if a single shell is fired on the waters.”

Exercise Key Resolve, involving 10,000 South Korean troops and more than 3,000 American military personnel, began yesterday and will continue until March 21. During the war games, the Pentagon has supplemented the 28,500 US troops stationed in South Korea with additional personnel, as well as extra warships and warplanes.

No military incidents or clashes involving the two Koreas have been reported to date. Moreover, several dozen South Korean managers continued their daily trip yesterday to the Kaesong industrial zone inside North Korea, where they supervise some 50,000 workers making goods for South Korean businesses.

Both sides, however, have engaged in bellicose rhetoric. Last week, as the UN Security Council prepared to impose further sanctions, Pyongyang warned that it would “exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack” to defend the country and claimed to have the ability to carry out a precision attack on Washington.

South Korea’s defence ministry warned last Friday that the North’s government would “evaporate from the face of the Earth” if it ever used a nuclear weapon. Newly-elected South Korean President Park Geun-hye told her first cabinet meeting yesterday: “We must deal strongly with a North Korean provocation.”

Full Article

Armistice dead? US and South Korea dismiss North Korea’s edict

Skepticism about the effect of the North’s dismissal of a cease-fire is grounded in past experience.

By , Staff writer / March 12, 2013

CSM

The US has scoffed at North Korea‘s announcement that it was nullifying the 1953 armistice with South Korea, even as it has issued a stern warning to the North not to carry through with threats of a nuclear attack.

“North Korean officials have made some highly provocative statements. North Korea’s claims may be hyperbolic, but as to the policy of the United States, there should be no doubt: We will draw upon the full range of our capabilities to protect against, and to respond to, the threat posed to us and to our allies by North Korea,” National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said yesterday, according to the Guardian.

This includes not only any North Korean use of weapons of mass destruction but also, as the president made clear, their transfer of nuclear weapons or nuclear materials to other states or non-state entities. Such actions would be considered a grave threat to the United States and our allies and we will hold North Korea fully accountable for the consequences.”

The skepticism about the armistice nullification is grounded in past experience – North Korea has declared the armistice void multiple times.

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Beijing opposes new sanctions against Pyongyang

Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying (file photo)

Tue Mar 12, 2013 5:5PM GMT
China has expressed its opposition to the latest series of UN sanctions against North Korea and called for dialogue to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

“China maintains that sanctions shall not be the objective, and we urge relevant parties to stick to dialogues and explore effective ways of attaining lasting peace and stability in the region under the framework of the six-party talks,” the official Xinhua news agency quoted Chinese Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying as saying.

The six-party negotiations include Russia, China, the United States, Japan, South Korea and North Korea, aimed at curbing North Korea’s nuclear program.

On February 12, North Korea announced that it had successfully carried out its third underground nuclear test, which involved a “miniaturized” device and was conducted in a “perfect manner.”

On March 7, the United Nations Security Council unanimously passed a resolution, drafted by the United States and China, against North Korea, tightening Pyongyang’s financial dealings and adding new names to the UN sanctions blacklist.

On March 11, Pyongyang threatened to “wipe out” Baengnyeong Island in the South amid rising tensions on the Korean Peninsula.

“Once an order is issued, you should break the waists of the crazy enemies, totally cut their windpipes and thus clearly show them what a real war is like,” North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said.

The comments came on the same day that South Korea and the US launched a week-long military drill that has prompted Pyongyang to abandon the 60-year-old Korean War armistice, along with non-aggression pacts signed with the South.

North Korea condemned the maneuvers as a launch pad for a ‘nuclear war,’ saying it is scrapping the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War.

North Korea also had cut off the Red Cross hotline, which was installed in 1971, on five occasions in the past, most recently in 2010.

North Korea puts troops on ‘maximum alert’ for possible war with South

North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, tells troops stationed near disputed waters that ‘war can break out right now’

Kim Jong-unNorth Korea‘s leader, Kim Jong-un, has urged frontline troops to be on “maximum alert” for a potential war, state media reported, in its latest rhetorical volley following new UN sanctions. Analysts believe the sabre-rattling is aimed at shoring up domestic support as much as reaching the international community, possibly in part because Kim is a young and relatively new leader.

He told troops stationed near disputed waters where previous clashes with the South have occurred that “war can break out right now”, state media reported. The North has also said it has cancelled the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean war and threatened the US with a pre-emptive nuclear strike.

Seoul’s defence ministry described Pyongyang’s recent statements as an attempt to apply “psychological pressure” to the South. Experts pointed out that the North has vowed an end to the armistice on several previous occasions, while a United Nations spokesman said the agreement had been adopted by the general assembly and could not be ended unilaterally.

While calls to one North-South hotline have gone unanswered, other communication channels are still working; on Monday and Tuesday, a military line was used to allow hundreds of South Korean workers to cross the border to the jointly run Kaesong industrial complex, officials in the South said.

“Even by North Korean standards they are acting a bit extremely and recklessly, but I think they are barking rather than being about to bite,” said Han Seung-joo, a former South Korean foreign minister.

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Intel chief warns ‘belligerent’ North Korea threats could preview action against South

Published March 12, 2013

FoxNews.com

Top U.S. intelligence officials testified Tuesday that they’re “very concerned” the “belligerent” rhetoric out of North Korea could presage an attack on its southern neighbor.

Director of National Intelligence James Clapper, along with the heads of the CIA and FBI, delivered the intelligence community’s overview of global threats before the Senate Intelligence Committee. They were pressed on the recent and persistent warnings from Pyongyang, which just announced it was “completely scrapping” the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War.

Asked whether the regime could take “provocative action” that leads to hostilities with South Korea, Clapper said “absolutely.”

“The rhetoric, while it is propaganda-laced, is also an indicator of their attitude and perhaps their intent,” Clapper said. “I am very concerned about what they might do.”

Specifically, he warned of the possibility of “provocative action against the South.”

The newly confirmed CIA Director John Brennan said he agreed with Clapper’s assessment.

Clapper also warned, early on in the hearing, about the impact from sequestration cuts, forecasting a “gradual” and “almost invisible” impact on intelligence gathering — until it’s too late. He predicted “the degradation to intelligence will be insidious.”

As Korean war rhetoric rises, separated families lose hope

Members of thousands of families separated during the Korean War wonder whether they will meet again.

Global Post

Tearful korean reunion bus

PAJU, South Korea — Lee Eunsook’s artwork glows in the quiet border village of Imjingak as the sun sets over the DMZ, the demilitarized zone separating North and South Korea. A line of neon-threaded pillars in front of the village’s barbed-wire fence, her installation lists the names of a handful of families separated during the Korean War of 1950 to 1953.

As a television crew filmed the opening of her exhibition, Lee called out the names of her own siblings living across the border in the hope the broadcast would somehow reach them.

“Are you there?” she said in tears. “Father is gone, and on behalf of him, I am calling you in North Korea.”

Lee’s brothers and sisters remained in the North after her father fled to South Korea. He died in 2011 without having seen them again. “It was really he who inspired this work, and all the families still divided,” she said in an interview.

The light installation is Lee’s latest work since her success in 2007 with a similar piece on display in front of Berlin’s Brandenburg Gate. The structure commemorated estranged Korean War families by listing 5,000 individuals by name in another country once split by a Cold War boundary.

Lee believes Germany’s reunification offers hope for her country, where a generation of elderly, separated family members is quickly dying off.

Full Article

North Korea threatens to ‘wipe out’ border island

North korea threatens wipe out south korean islandsThe move comes after the US imposes new sanctions.

Global Post

SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea has threatened to “wipe out” a small South Korean island in the latest escalation of rhetoric on the Korean peninsula.

Speaking during a visit to border artillery units on Monday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un identified Baengnyeong Island as a priority target in the event hostilities break out.

“Once an order is issued, you should break the waists of the crazy enemies, totally cut their windpipes and thus clearly show them what a real war is like,” the Korean Central News Agency reported Kim as saying.

His visit coincided with the beginning of a joint military exercise by the United States and South Korea, an annual drill that prompted the North to cut a hotline with the South and nullify the Korean War armistice and all nonaggression pacts signed with the South.

Dennis Rodman ‘planning a vacation’ with Kim Jong-Un

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, March 12, 2013 7:25 EDT

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un and former NBA star Dennis Rodman hug on Feb. 28, 2013. Photo via AFP.

The odd couple is getting odder: first, Dennis Rodman and North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un took in a hoops game side-by-side. Now they’re planning a holiday together.

The retired and flamboyant 51-year-old Rodman, who announced the vacation plan Monday, became the most high-profile American to meet Kim, doing so during a recent trip to Pyongyang which came against a backdrop of increased North Korean saber-rattling on the peninsula.

While officials in Washington have played down the significance of the trip, stating that the former Chicago Bulls star does not represent the views of the United States, Rodman said Monday he plans to return to the isolated and impoverished state.

In brief comments to the KXJB local television station in Fargo, North Dakota, Rodman described Kim as a friend.

“I don’t condone what he does, but he’s my friend,” Rodman told a reporter. Asked if he planned to return to North Korea, Rodman replied: “Yes I will. In August. I’m vacationing with him.”

Rodman’s remarks came as Kim threatened to “wipe out” a South Korean island and North Korea came under renewed diplomatic fire, with US sanctions and UN charges of gross rights abuses.

US State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell last week rejected the suggestion that Rodman could become an ambassador to North Korea, given his new unexpected relationship with Kim.

“I’m not even sure I can dignify that with a response,” Ventrell said.

“Dennis Rodman has never been a player in our diplomacy. He does not represent the views of the United States,” Ventrell added.

“We have direct channels of communications with the DPRK. They know how to get in touch with us,” Ventrell insisted.

“Instead of spending their money on staging sporting events, the North Korean regime should focus on the well-being of its people, and it should come in line with its international obligations.”

The United States and North Korea have no official diplomatic relations, but have kept a channel of communications open at the United Nations in New York, and Sweden also acts as a go-between for the two nations.

 

Combat readiness: North Korea turns off hotline with South, as both sides prepare for potential of war

March 11, 2013SEOUL – North Korea has cut off a Red Cross hotline with South Korea, as it escalates its war of words against Seoul and Washington in response to a military drill in the South and UN sanctions imposed for its recent nuclear test. The North had threatened to cut off the hotline on March 11 if the United States and South Korea did not abandon their joint military exercise. The Red Cross hotline is used to communicate between Seoul and Pyongyang which do not have diplomatic relations. “We called at 9am and there was no response,” a government official from South Korea said. The line is tested each day. Pyongyang has also threatened to cut off a hotline with UN forces in South Korea, at the border “truce village” of Pammunjom. Tensions on the Korean peninsula have risen since the North conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 12, prompting new UN sanctions. South Korea and UN forces are conducting large-scale military drills until the end of April, while the North is also gearing up for a massive state-wide military exercise. North Korea has accused the United States of using the military drills in South Korea as a launch pad for a nuclear war and has threatened to scrap the armistice with Washington that ended hostilities in the 1950-53 Korean War. The North has threatened a nuclear strike on the United States, but such a threat has been dismissed as rhetoric by analysts, as the North does not have the military capacity to reach the United States. The North is viewed as more likely to stage some kind of attack along a disputed sea border, if it does anything at all, rather than risk a war with South Korea and the United States, which it would lose, according to most military assessments.

BBC

Tensions mounting: Over the past week, newspapers here in the South have turned Pyongyang’s threats into front-page spreads: its promises of “pre-emptive nuclear strikes,” “all-out war” and withdrawal from the 60-year-old Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War the BBC reports. The secretive communist state is due to begin its own large-scale military drills this week. Few people here are expecting full-blown war, but in the current climate, there is concern over accidental escalation, especially after North Korea’s decision to cut the military hot-line between the two sides at Panmunjom. Even this though is not unprecedented. The telephone line at Panmunjom has been abandoned by the North before, most recently in 2010. The year before that, it also announced its withdrawal from all joint agreements involving the South. And analysts point out that an alternative military communications line, used to monitor cross-border workers at the Kaesong Industrial Complex, remains open. “I’m not so worried,” another Korean friend told me. “Even though they have cut the hotline, I see their rhetoric as a plea for direct negotiations with the US.”

U.S. ships threatened by secret China EMPs

New missile capable of shutting down American military might

empEditor’s Note: The following report is excerpted from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin, the premium online newsletter published by the founder of WND. Subscriptions are $99 a year or, for monthly trials, just $9.95 per month for credit card users, and provide instant access for the complete reports. WASHINGTON – Just as the United States undertakes a policy “pivot” toward Asia, which will move more American ships into the East and South China seas, Beijing is letting it be known that it is fielding its new DF-21D anti-ship missile as a threat against U.S. aircraft-carrier strike groups, according to report from Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.The move all of a sudden casts a shadow over the platforms – the U.S. aircraft carriers and their support groups – that have allowed the U.S. to maintain military superiority in the Asia-Pacific region for generations.

Andrew S. Erickson of the Washington think-tank Jamestown Foundation said that the Chinese anti-ship missile can target what is the “last relatively uncontested U.S. airfield” in the Asia-Pacific from long-range, land-based mobile launchers.

“This airfield is a moving aircraft carrier strike group (CSG), which the Second Artillery, China’s strategic missile force, now has the capability to at least attempt to disable with the DF-21D in the event of conflict,” Erickson said.

This new anti-ship ballistic missile, or ASBM, reflects a powerful asymmetric form of deterrence which could challenge U.S. military supremacy in the region, especially given Beijing’s new military assertiveness toward neighbors over maritime rights in the East and South China seas.

At the time of its initial deployment in 2010, China announced its new DF-21D missile with what may be a non-nuclear electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, capability aimed at the sophisticated network-centric capabilities that the U.S. aircraft carrier strike groups bring to the region. Those capabilities have assured U.S. warfare superiority.

In 2011, it was first revealed that China was developing EMP weapons to be used against U.S. aircraft carriers in any future conflict, especially over Taiwan, according to a 2005 National Ground Intelligence Center study.

That center study said the Chinese were developing a family, or “assassin’s mace” of EMP and high-powered microwave, or HPM, weapons to be used by a technologically inferior force such as China’s, against U.S. military forces.

The once secret but now declassified study pointed out that the Chinese could detonate an EMP weapon some 30 to 40 kilometers over Taiwan or – by inference – a U.S. carrier strike group – and destroy the electronics capability on which U.S. network-centric strategy depends.

Why Hollywood kowtows to China

Films set in Shanghai, Chinese scientists saving the day, Beijing portrayed as the promised land … US film-makers are flattering their way into the world’s fastest-growing movie market

Connor Cruise and Josh Hutcherson in Red Dawn (2012)Posted by

Monday 11 March 2013 14.24 GMT guardian.co.uk

Last week North Korea threatened America with a nuclear strike. This week sees the UK release of Red Dawn, which features a North Korean invasion of the US. An impressive instance of Hollywood’s far-sightedness? Not quite.

Red Dawn is the reboot of a cold war thriller that’s much cherished in some quarters. Back in 1984, when the original appeared, the aggressor could only have been the Soviet Union. With the new film comes a new commie bogeyman – but it was not supposed to be North Korea. These days, it’s not so much Kim Jong-un’s eccentric dictatorship that makes Americans tremble, it’s their newfound rival for superpower status, China.

So, MGM’s re-imaginers decided to reallocate Russia’s role to the Chinese People’s Republic. Fancifully enough, they envisaged Beijing “repossessing” an America that had defaulted on its huge Sino debt. However, this storyline didn’t go down well in China. When excerpts of the script leaked out in 2010, they prompted the headline “US reshoots cold war movie to demonise China” in the Beijing-based, 1.5m-circulation Global Times. Buyers told MGM that distributing Red Dawn in China would prove problematic. So the studio decided on a change of tack.

Unfortunately, the film had already been shot. No matter. During post-production, $1m was spent on digitally erasing Chinese flags and symbols and changing sequences and dialogue to turn the invaders into North Koreans. Of course, Hollywood would never have dreamed of bowing like this to Soviet displeasure, but China is different.

The world’s most populous nation has become the second-largest overseas market for American films. Its increasingly avid cinemagoers can easily add $50m to a Hollywood movie’s gross. The number of screens in the country, already more than 11,000, is expected to double by 2015. In a recent report, Ernst & Young predicted that China’s box office would overtake America’s by 2020.

Sadly for movie-makers, this burgeoning treasure trove is guarded by a censorious state. China’s government imposes a quota on film imports and keeps a careful eye on the content of those it allows through. Back in the 90s, Disney, Sony and MGM all had their Chinese business blocked after releasing the movies Kundun, Seven Years in Tibet and Red Corner, all of which were deemed critical of the regime.

Nowadays, any such potential transgressions are usually nipped in the bud. When censors objected to a bald Chinese pirate in Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End, he was edited out of the film’s Chinese version. Footage was similarly removed from Men in Black 3 because unpleasant aliens had dared disguise themselves as Chinese restaurant workers. In the Chinese version of Skyfall, references to prostitution and corruption in China were removed or obscured in opaque subtitles. All mention of the torture inflicted on Javier Bardem’s villain when he was an MI6 agent in Hong Kong was carefully expunged.

Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith in The Karate KidJackie Chan and Jaden Smith in The Karate Kid

Accommodations like these are not enough for some film-makers, who opt instead for proactive ingratiation. The setting of large sections of Looper was transferred from Paris to Shanghai. In Battleship, it’s Hong Kong that is credited by Washington with divining the alien origins of the earth’s attackers. The 2010 remake of The Karate Kid saw the young hero’s family turned into importunate migrants leaving decaying Detroit to seek a better future in thriving Beijing. In spite of the film’s title, the all-conquering martial art becomes kung fu instead of karate, and the fount of all skill, wisdom and fortitude is an altogether Chinese kung fu master.

It seems to pay off. Looper, like The Karate Kid a co-production with a Chinese partner, was gifted a much sought-after Golden Week holiday release; all-American blockbusters such as The Amazing Spider-Man and The Dark Knight Rises are often forced to play against each other to stop them squeezing out indigenous productions. Audiences, as well as the authorities, seem to appreciate a Hollywood kowtow. In disaster epic 2012, a White House staffer lavishes praise on Chinese scientists when an ark they’ve designed saves civilisation. At this point in the proceedings, filmgoers sometimes rose to deliver a spontaneous standing ovation.

Among Hollywood’s old guard, all this has provoked a certain amount of disquiet. A producer, anonymous for fear of offending his industry’s new masters, was quoted by the Los Angeles Times as complaining: “It’s a clear-cut case – maybe the first I can think of in the history of Hollywood – where a foreign country’s censorship board deeply affects what we produce.”

There have been complaints that both America and the rest of the world are being given an unduly rosy portrait of a repressive behemoth. China’s social injustices, human rights abuses and imperial aspirations are, it’s suggested, being discreetly veiled from view.

Still, what’s happened with Red Dawn isn’t exactly unprecedented. During the first world war, Cecil B DeMille made a film called The Cheat with a Japanese villain. In 1923 the film was reissued, but by then Japan had become an American ally. Without benefit of digital technology, the wily oriental was quickly turned into a Burmese ivory king.

If Hollywood now finds itself cheerleading for an assertive superpower, that isn’t new either. For almost a century, Tinseltown buttressed America’s own hegemony by puffing up the American way to sell more movie tickets on the home front. If economic success is winning communist China a piece of that pie, well, put that down to capitalism’s market forces.

The Billionaire Chinese Blogger Who Wants To Buy America’s Most Expensive Building

Lily Kuo and Adam Pasick , The Atlantic| Mar. 12, 2013, 12:22 PM
 Zhang Xin at World Economic ForumChinese property tycoon Zhang Xinis making a play for the historic General Motors building in New York, just as she’s coming under scrutiny at home and makes at least one brazen call for China to embrace democracy.Zhang and her family are reportedly in discussions to buy a 40% stake in the marble-faced 705-foot (215 meters) trophy building, home to FAO Schwartz and a flagship Apple Store. The tycoon, CEO of the largest commercial property developer in Beijing and Shanghai, joins a long line of Chinese investors queuing up for US real estate–a trend reminiscent of the Japanese investors in the late 1980s and 1990s who bought iconic American commercial properties like Rockefeller Center and the Pebble Beach golf resort.The price under discussion, according to the Wall Street Journal, would value the GM building at $3.4 billion–by far the most expensive in the United States. Who is Zhang, and why is her family making such a major play for the GM building?Zhang posts daily, mostly from her iPad on China’s Twitter-like microblogging platform Sina Weibo, where she has over 5 million followers. Her posts range from photos of Beijing’s pollution to musings on global news events, including the Newtown shooting (“Honestly, can’t the politicians set aside politics and ban guns? There are always mental patients in the crowd and we can’t give guns to them.”), Mitt Romney (After he promised to bring jobs back to the US from China: “Don’t talk nonsense. Would Americans really do the work Chinese people do?”), and Oscar Pistorius (“Terrible. A Valentines Day tragedy.”)

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