North Korea Agent Charged With Crime

A “loyal agent of North Korea” has been charged with trying to sell missile parts and technology on the black market to raise money for Pyongyang in breach of international sanctions, Australian police said Sunday.

The 59-year-old naturalised Australian citizen of Korean descent was attempting to broker illicit deals that could have generated “tens of millions of dollars” for North Korea, the Australian Federal Police (AFP) said.

The man was involved in discussions to set up a ballistic missile production facility and the supply of missile construction plans in addition to components, software and the transfer of technical expertise from Pyongyang, police alleged.

AFP Assistant Commissioner Neil Gaughan told reporters the case was “like nothing we have ever seen on Australian soil”, alleging that the man was in contact with high-ranking North Korean officials.

“This man is a loyal agent of North Korea, believing he was acting to serve some higher patriotic purpose.”

The alleged agent’s plans did not involve other governments or officials, police said. Authorities did not reveal which individuals or entities the man was allegedly trying to trade with.

North Korea is under tough United Nations sanctions aimed at choking off revenue to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programmes.

“This is a very important arrest, the charges laid are the greatest nature,” Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

“It is vitally important that all nations … enforce those sanctions.”

The man, who has lived in Australia for three decades, allegedly used encrypted communication services to facilitate the attempted trades, which included the transfer of coal from North Korea to entities in Indonesia and Vietnam.

He is in custody and faces a total of six charges, with maximum penalties of up to 10 years in jail.

Investigators would not rule out further charges, and are probing other attempted commodity trades involving oil and gemstones.

This is the first time charges have been laid for breaches under Canberra’s Weapons of Mass Destruction Act and for violating UN sanctions against North Korea in Australia.

Global anxiety about North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un’s authoritarian government has steadily risen this year, with Washington calling on other UN members to cut ties with Pyongyang in order to squeeze the secretive regime.

North Korea Launches New Ballistic Missile, To Reach United States

North Korea says it has successfully tested a new type of intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the whole of continental United States.

State television said Pyongyang had achieved its mission of becoming a nuclear state.

The Hwasong-15 missile, described as its “most powerful”, was launched in darkness early on Wednesday.

It landed in Japanese waters but flew higher than any other missile the North had previously tested.

The test, which defied international sanctions imposed over the North’s weapons programme, drew swift international condemnation, with the UN Security Council due to convene an emergency session.

South Korea responded by carrying out live-fire exercises, launching one of its own ballistic missiles.

News of the launch was announced on state television in a special broadcast at midday, as well as in a report released by state news agency KCNA.

Pyongyang says the missile reached an altitude of 4,475km (2,780 miles) and flew 950km in 53 minutes, close to independent estimates made by South Korea’s military.

The projectile, fired at a steep incline, did not fly over Japan as some have done in the past, and landed about 250km short of its northern coast, according to Japanese officials.

Trump, Abe Agreed To Increase Pressure On North Korea

U.S. President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister  agreed to work together to raise pressure on North Korea, Yasutoshi Nishimura, a deputy chief cabinet secretary, said on Monday.

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump and spoke by telephone after the Japanese premier’s ruling coalition scored a big win in an election on Sunday.

Nishimura told reporters that Abe and Trump were planning to play golf together on Nov. 5, when Trump makes his first visit to Japan.

 

Update: Two Women Accused Of Kim Jong-nam’s Murder Plead Not Guilty

The two women accused of the assassinating the half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un have pleaded not guilty at the start of the high-profile murder trial in a Malaysian court on Monday.

Indonesian Siti Aisyah, 25, and Doan Thi Huong, 28, a Vietnamese, are charged with killing Kim Jong-nam by smearing his face with VX, a chemical poison at the Kuala Lumpur’s international airport on 13 February.

The late estranged half-brother of North Korean leader was on his way back to his home in the Chinese territory of Macau when he was attacked with VX, a banned chemical poison under the 1993 chemical weapons convention.

The two women who are charged with murder under section 302 of the Malaysian criminal code, which carries a mandatory death sentence arrived at court Monday wearing bullet proof vests with their eyes downcast, surrounded by heavy police presence.

After two interpreters read the charges to the women in the Shah Alam court, the interpreters told the court that the women pleaded not guilty.

The prosecution said their actions showed “intent to kill the victim” by smearing his face and eyes with VX nerve agent, which a post-mortem confirmed had killed Kim. They also told the court that four North Koreans who are at large helped the accused women carry out several practice runs in Kuala Lumpur shopping malls.

The women, however, told their lawyers they did not know they were participating in a deadly attack and believed they were carrying out a prank for a reality TV show.

If found guilty, the accused women will face a mandatory death sentence.

Trump Approach To N’Korea Crisis Not Best Way – France

Frane’s foreign Minister has pointed out and said to President Donald Trump on the way to handle the nuclear crisis and urged the U.S. to focus attention on raising diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang.

Bellicose statements by Trump and North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un in recent weeks have created fears that a miscalculation could lead to action with untold ramifications, particularly since Pyongyang conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3.

“Trump’s method is perhaps not the best, but at the same time we shouldn’t mix up the responsibilities,’’ Jean-Yves Le Drian told BFM TV. “The country that is breaking with nuclear international agreements is North Korea. “President Trump is reacting forcefully to this, but without a

“The country that is breaking with nuclear international agreements is North Korea. “President Trump is reacting forcefully to this, but without a

“President Trump is reacting forcefully to this, but without a doubt, there is a way to act in a different way by putting pressure and sanctions.”

North Korean Foreign Minister, Ri Ho, on Monday accused Trump of declaring war on North Korea and threatened that Pyongyang would shoot down U.S. warplanes flying near the Korean Peninsula after American bombers flew close to it last Saturday.

The North Korean minister was reacting to Trump’s Twitter comments that Kim and Ri “won’t be around much longer” if they acted on their threats toward the U.S. Drian repeated that a maximum amount of pressure needed to be placed on Pyongyang to get it back to the negotiating table, but warned there was a risk of an accidental military escalation.

“The world is living in a dangerous period,” he said. “At the moment we’re at a verbal clash, but there could be an incident. We need to avoid incidents.”

 

US Would Destroy North Korea- Donald Trump

To defend itself or its allies, the US President Donald Trump has told the UN General Assembly that America would destroy North Korea if they had to.

In his debut speech, he mocked North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, saying: “Rocket man is on a suicide mission.”

North Korea has tested nuclear bombs and missiles in defiance of the UN.

Just before Mr Trump spoke, UN Secretary General Antonio Guterres had urged statesmanship, saying: “We must not sleepwalk our way into war.”

The American leader also attacked Iran, saying it was a “corrupt dictatorship” which was intent on destabilising the Middle East.

He called on the government in Tehran to cease supporting terrorism and again criticised the Obama-era international agreement over Iran’s nuclear programme, which he called an embarrassment.

Washington has repeatedly warned North Korea over its weapons tests, which violate UN Security Council resolutions.

The crisis worsened last month when the North announced plans to test missiles around the US Pacific territory of Guam.

“If [the US] is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” Mr Trump said.

 

Japan In Defence Deploy Missile To Protect Northern Island

North Korea launched a missile over the island, sparking emergency warnings to take cover, while Japan deployed Tuesday an additional missile defence system on its northern island of Hokkaido, days after.

“As part of measures to prepare for emergencies, we will today deploy a PAC-3 unit” to a base of the nation’s Ground Self-Defense Force in the southern tip of Hokkaido, Defence Minister Itsunori Onodera told reporters.

The Patriot Advanced Capability-3 system arrived at the base later on Tuesday, a local defence official told AFP.

The move came with tensions on the Korean peninsula at fever-pitch after Pyongyang carried out its sixth nuclear test and fired two missiles over Japan in the space of less than a month.

North Korea “may take further provocative actions including launching ballistic missiles that would fly over Japan again in the future”, Onodera said, adding that his ministry “would take appropriate measures to protect people’s safety”.

According to local officials, Japan has already deployed the PAC-3 system to another part of Hokkaido.

But defence officials declined to confirm where in Japan other systems were deployed, citing the sensitive nature of defence information.

North Korea has threatened to “sink” Japan into the sea and said Saturday it sought military “equilibrium” with arch-enemy the United States by developing a full nuclear arsenal.

Hawkish Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has said he would “never tolerate” the North’s “dangerous provocative action” and has urged the international community to ramp up pressure on Pyongyang.

The UN Security Council, which condemned the launch as “highly provocative,” will hold a new ministerial-level meeting Thursday on the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, focused on enforcing sanctions on the North Korean regime.

N’Korea Nuclear Issue Must Be Resolved – China

Chinese Foreign Minister, Wang Yi, told his Russian counterpart during a meeting at the UN, that the North Korean nuclear issue must be resolved peacefully, China’s Foreign Ministry said on Tuesday.

The U.S. and South Korea, and separately Russia together with China, started military drills on Wednesday in a show of force against North Korea, which repeatedly defied the UN to conduct nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Wang said in a meeting with Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov on Monday that China would strictly implement UN Security Council sanctions and stressed that “parties directly involved” must also take action and responsibility.

“The current deepening vicious cycle must be broken. Resuming peace talks is an equally important step in implementing Security Council resolutions,” Wang said, according to a statement on the foreign ministry website.

Russia has supported China’s “suspension-for-suspension” proposal, where the U.S. and South Korea would agree to halt joint military drills while North Korea halted missile and nuclear tests.

Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Donald Trump spoke about keeping the pressure on North Korea using economic sanctions imposed through the UN, the White House said on Monday.

Trump and Xi spoke on the phone days after Trump and his aides publicly discussed potential military action against North Korea.

Trump said on Friday he was “more confident than ever that our options in addressing this threat are both effective and overwhelming”.

Pyongyang carried out the latest in a rapid series of missile launches by firing another mid-range ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, soon after its sixth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 3, in defiance of UN sanctions and other international pressure.

United Nations Backs New Sanctions On North Korea

The UN Security Council came to a unanimous decision to impose new sanctions on North Korea after Washington toned down its original proposals to secure backing from China and Russia banning textile exports and restricting shipments of oil products to punish Pyongyang for its sixth and largest nuclear test.

US Ambassador Nikki Haley said the tough new measures were a message to Pyongyang that “the world will never accept a nuclear-armed North Korea,” but she also held out the prospect of a peaceful resolution to the crisis.

“We are not looking for war. The North Korean regime has not yet passed the point of no-return,” Haley told the council, adding: “If North Korea continues its dangerous path, we will continue with further pressure. The choice is theirs.”

During tough negotiations, the United States dropped initial demands for a full oil embargo and a freeze on the foreign assets of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un.

The resolution instead bans trade in textiles, cuts off natural gas shipments to North Korea, places a ceiling on deliveries of refined oil products and caps crude oil shipments at current levels.

It bars countries from issuing new work permits to North Korean laborers sent abroad — there are some 93,000, providing Kim’s regime with a source of revenue to develop its missile and nuclear programs, according to a US official familiar with the negotiations.

Under the measure, countries are authorized to inspect ships suspected of carrying banned North Korean cargo but must first seek the consent of the flag-state.

Joint ventures will be banned and the names of senior North Korean official and three entities were added to a UN sanctions blacklist that provides for an assets freeze and a global travel ban.

 

North Korea Nuclear Test Rocks Parts Of China

North Korea’s nuclear test Sunday was widely felt in northeast China and rocked some cities for as long as eight seconds, according to reports and accounts on social media.

The tremor was felt as far away as the city of Changchun around 400 km (250 miles) northwest of the North’s test site at Punggye-ri, according to state broadcaster CCTV.

In the small city of Yanji, some 20 km from the border, some people reported the shaking was so intense that they fled their homes.

Jiemiao Cangxin, a commentator on the Chinese microblog Weibo, said his building swayed so much that “I put my underpants on and I just ran, and when I reached the first floor I can say I wasn’t the only one running away with just my underpants on!”

“In Yanji, we felt the shaking for ten seconds,” said Weibo user Buziranshaonv.

“I was lying down and sleeping when the tremor woke me up. At first, I thought it was a dream,” said another.

The test, North Korea’s sixth, was substantially larger than previous ones, measuring 6.3 on the Richter scale according to US monitors.

That would make it between five to six times larger than Pyongyang’s previous effort in September last year, according to South Korea’s weather agency.

The North called it a test of a hydrogen bomb which was a “perfect success”.

Reports of the explosion also provoked widespread concern further away in China, with many commentators speculating about the timing of the event — just hours before Chinese President Xi Jinping is due to open a summit of BRICs nations in southern China.

“An earthquake happened in North Korea, everyone thinks at once it is a nuclear test,” said one user, cheekily adding “is it a form of greetings for the summit in Xiamen?”

AFP

North Korea Says It Has Missile-Ready Hydrogen Bomb

Kim Jong-un provides guidance on country’s nuclear weapons programme in this undated photo released by North Korea’s KCNA news agency on Sunday. [KCNA via Reuters]

North Korea has said it has developed a more advanced nuclear weapon that has “great destructive power” and can be loaded onto a intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

The North’s official KCNA news agency on Sunday showed Kim Jong-un inspecting what it said was a hydrogen bomb that is to be loaded onto a new ICBM.

There will be some scepticism about the claim from experts about Pyongyang’s assertion that it has mastered hydrogen technology.

But Sunday’s statement by KCNA will raise already high worries on the Korean Peninsula and in Washington that the North is closer to its goal of an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the US mainland.

KCNA said the hydrogen bomb’s power is adjustable to hundreds of kilotons and can be detonated at high altitudes, with its indigenously produced components allowing the country to build as many nuclear weapons as it wants.

Questions remain over whether Pyongyang has successfully miniaturised its weapons, and whether it has a working H-bomb, but KCNA quoted Kim as saying that “all components of the H-bomb were 100 percent domestically made”, claims that have not been independently verified.

Al Jazeera’s Wayne Hay, reporting from the South Korean capital Seoul, said it will be “almost impossible” for the US, South Korea and others to verify the North’s claims.

Hay said, however, that “there will be a lot of concern about it regardless of whether it is real because it clearly shows that the North Koreans are serious about the message they are trying to get across and that they are serious about taking these provocations to another level”.

The reports come less than a week after North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan, drawing strong international condemnation, including from the UN Security Council, which called the launch an “outrageous” threat and demanded that the country not launch any more missiles.

Last month, the Security Council unanimously imposed new sanctions on the North that could cut by a third the country’s $3bn annual export revenue after it staged two long-range missile launches in July.

North Korea has been under UN sanctions since 2006 over its ballistic missile and nuclear programmes.

It has conducted launches at an unusually fast pace this year – at least 13 times, according to South Korean officials – and some analysts believe it could have viable long-range nuclear missiles before the end of US President Donald Trump’s first term in early 2020.

A newly revealed US intelligence assessment indicates those missiles can carry nuclear warheads.

Last month, three short range North Korean ballistic missiles failed, which was considered a temporary blow to Pyongyang’s.

The threat last month came after Trump warned that he would unleash “fire and fury” if North Korea continued its threats.

Source: Aljazeera