31 August 2017

USA: USS Wasp departs to join 7th Fleet forces in Japan

From USS Wasp Public Affairs

USS Wasp (LHD 1) file photo. (U.S. Marine Corps/Cpl. Ryan G. Coleman) >>

NORFOLK, Va. - Amphibious assault ship USS Wasp (LHD 1) departed for Sasebo, Japan, Aug. 30, where it will assume duties as the forward-deployed flagship of the amphibious force of the U.S. 7th Fleet.

The shift will introduce an F-35B Joint Strike Fighter-capable amphibious assault ship to the Indo-Asia-Pacific region, pairing it with the F-35Bs of Marine Fighter Attack Squadron (VMFA) 121.

"This move ensures that our most technologically-advanced air warfare platforms are forward deployed," said Wasp Commanding Officer Capt. Andrew Smith. "Our capabilities, paired with the F-35B Joint Strike Fighter, increases our Navy's precision strike capabilities within the 7th Fleet region. Wasp will help America's commitment to the maritime security and stability in the Indo-Asia-Pacific."

USA: U.S., South Korean Defense Leaders Meet in Wake of Most Recent North Korean Missile Launch

By Jim Garamone
DoD News, Defense Media Activity

WASHINGTON, Aug. 30, 2017 — U.S. and South Korean defense leaders are today discussing ways to make the alliance stronger in face of continued outrageous acts by North Korea.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis hosted South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo at the Pentagon today, the day after North Korea shot an intermediate-range ballistic missile over Japan.

The visit is Song’s first in his position. “It says a great deal about the priority you and your president [Moon Jae-in] place on the relationship,” Mattis said in opening remarks at the meeting.

Mattis said the world will continue to seek diplomatic solutions to the problem posed by North Korea. “We are never out of diplomatic solutions,” he said. “The minister and I share a responsibility to provide for the protection of our nations, our populations and our interests, which is what we are here to discuss.”

News Report: India Wants 36 More French-Made Rafale Fighter Jets

India is looking to place a follow-up order for 36 more fourth-generation Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets for its Air Force.

After four years of negotiations, French aircraft maker Dassault Aviation signed a deal worth 7.87 million euros with the Indian government last September to sell the jets, which are expected to be delivered starting November 2019 and likely ending in mid-2022.

West Bengal, near the border with Bangladesh and Myanmar, will host the first squadron of Rafale fighters, while Haryana, near the Pakistani border, will house the second. Space for an additional squadron of 18 aircraft each is available at both Indian Air Force (IAF) bases, which according to the service "will cut down the induction costs of the 36 additional fighters," the Diplomat reports.

According to the Times of India, the IAF made "some presentations" on the operational need for three dozen more of the twin-engine, multirole fighters, which would be more cost effective than the proposed Sukhoi/HAL Fifth Generation Fighter Aircraft (FGFA), or Perspective Multirole Fighter (PMF), a stalled co-development project with Russia. 

News Story: Japan Left Vulnerable After US Reneges on Radar Delivery

CGI of an Aegis Ashore System
The US has so far declined to furnish Japan with a new longer-range radar, causing concern that this will leave Tokyo’s planned missile defense system ill-equipped to deal with aggression from North Korea.

By 2023, Japan wants to have an operational land-based version of the Aegis ballistic missile defense (BMD) system as an answer to advances Pyongyang has made in its ballistic missile program.

According to Reuters, the range of the powerful Spy-6 radar is needed to accommodate a new generation of BMD interceptor missiles. Without it, Japan will be forced to field the Aegis system with its current radar technology, which has a shorter range.

This means that even though the interceptor has the range to strike a high-flung missile, the radar won’t be able to detect the projectile until it becomes closer to land. The Spy-6 technology boosts the radar dozens of times over, but Tokyo has not been successful in its effort to procure the radar from Washington.

News Report: China’s “Hegemonic Ambitions” Not Compatible With BRICS’ Intent

A former Indian diplomat is of the view that with China’s growing hegemonic ambitions and seeking of parity with the US are no longer compatible with BRICS’ main aim to curb America’s post-Cold War unilateralism, which was conceptualized during the Russia-India-China dialogue and led to the formation of the economic grouping.

New Delhi (Sputnik) — Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi is expected to meet Chinese President Xi Jinping for bilateral talks on September 4 on the sidelines of the BRICS Summit being hosted by China from 3-5 September 2017.

“At the invitation of the President of the People’s Republic of China, Prime Minister Shri Narendra Modi will visit Xiamen in China’s Fujian province… to attend the 9th BRICS Summit,” India’s Ministry of External Affairs said in a statement. “Subsequently, Prime Minister will pay a State visit to Myanmar from 5-7 September at the invitation of U. Htin Kyaw, President of the Republic of the Union of Myanmar,” it added.

In June this year, the Indian Prime Minister had turned down Beijing’s request to participate in its multi-billion dollar Belt & Road Initiative. In the immediate aftermath, the Doklam standoff ensued, casting a shadow over Modi’s participation in the BRICS summit.

News Report: 'Cry for Freedom' - Swimmers Deliver Petition Calling for UN Action on West Papua

Image: Flickr User - Matt Brown
A petition calling for action on West Papua has been delivered to the United Nations in Switzerland by a team of British swimmers. But where is West Papua and why have the alleged human rights abuses by Indonesia struggled to make the news?

On Wednesday, August 30, a British team of activists ended a 30-hour swim along Lake Geneva and handed in a petition with 120,000 names on it to the UN.

The petition calls on the UN to take action on West Papua and says the people there should be given a new vote on self-determination.

Benny Wenda, spokesman for the United Liberation Movement for West Papua, was on the quayside to welcome the swimmers on Wednesday.

News Report: US Test-Intercepts Medium-Range Ballistic Missile Off Hawaii Coast

USS John Paul Jones (Image: Wiki Commons)
A day after the latest North Korean missile launch, the US military test-intercepted a ballistic missile off the Hawaii coast.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) – The US Missile Defense Agency said it had conducted jointly with the US Navy soldiers missile defense flight test, intercepting a medium-range ballistic missile target off the coast of Hawaii.

"The Missile Defense Agency and U.S. Navy sailors aboard the USS John Paul Jones (DDG 53) successfully conducted a complex missile defense flight test, resulting in the intercept of a medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM) target using Standard Missile-6 (SM-6) guided missiles during a test off the coast of Hawaii today," the statement read.

The vessel detected and tracked the target missile launched from the Pacific Missile Range Facility on Kauai, Hawaii with its onboard AN/SPY-1 radar, the statement read.

News Report: N. Korea Missile Launch Designed to Expose Japan Vulnerabilities - Ex-Diplomat

North Korea deliberately fired a missile over Japanese airspace to expose the country’s vulnerability to an attack and sow doubts about the US ability to protect its ally, former Assistant Secretary of State Chas Freeman told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, the Defense Department confirmed that North Korea launched an intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM) during its latest test. The missile, launched on Monday, flew over the territory of northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean some 500 nautical miles east of the country, according to the Pentagon.

"The fact that the overflight of Japan raises doubts in Japan about the country's self-defense capability and the value of its alliance with the United States is an ancillary benefit from Pyongyang's point of view," he said.

The North Koreans had deliberately planned to fire their test missile over the territory of Japan’s largest island Hokkaido to expose Tokyo’s vulnerability and in the hope that it would sow widespread doubts about the US capability to protect its ally, Freeman explained.

North Korea had not broken any international law by conducting the test as the missile flew above the main atmosphere, Freeman observed.

News Report: Growing Commerce With India Gives Vietnam New Defense Against China

Ralph Jennings

HO CHI MINH — A flood of Indian business in fast-growing Vietnam has solidified commercial ties to help Hanoi upgrade an alliance with a powerful Asian neighbor and offset dependence on its historic rival, the more massive China.

Indian investment in Vietnam has reached $2 billion and bilateral trade hit $10 billion over the year ending in March on its way to $15 billion by 2020, said Radha Krishnan, vice chairman of the Indian Business Chamber of Vietnam.

"As of now that is very easily achievable," Krishnan said. "The last three ... years exports from Vietnam to India have picked up momentum."

News Report: Taliban Chief Says Foreign 'Occupation' Blocking Afghan Peace

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — The fugitive leader of the Afghan Taliban renewed his call Wednesday for U.S. and NATO forces to leave the country, saying that would pave the way to peacefully resolve the armed conflict.

The remarks by Maulvi Haibatullah Akhunzada came in a message to mark the coming Muslim festival of Eid al-Adha in a bid to rally followers.

“The main obstacle in the way of peace is the occupation,” said the insurgent chief, referring to the presence of international forces in Afghanistan.

“Peaceful solution of the Afghan issue is the main pillar of the policy of the Islamic Emirate [the Taliban], should the occupation come to an end,” he added.

Akhundzada claimed the Taliban has established “administration over more than half of the country,” and the Islamist insurgency is determined to “liberate” from foreign “invaders” the rest of the Afghan territory.

News Report: Pakistan - Trump's Afghan Policy 'Hostile and Threatening'

Ayesha Tanzeem

ISLAMABAD — Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution Wednesday strongly denouncing President Donald Trump’s new policy on Afghanistan and calling his and General John Nicholson’s statements on Pakistan “hostile and threatening.”

President Trump had some of the harshest words for Pakistan when he announced his new policy on Afghanistan and South Asia on August 21.

“We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars at the same time they are housing the very terrorists we are fighting,” he said in a speech.

Soon after, in an interview with an Afghan TV channel, the top U.S. military commander in Kabul, General Nicholson said the U.S. is "aware of the presence" of Taliban leaders in the Pakistani cities of Quetta and Peshawar, and that they should not "sleep in peace."

News Story: Indian Navy to buy underwater systems for its submarines

By: Vivek Raghuvanshi

NEW DELHI — The Indian Navy on Wednesday floated a global request for information to buy 12 anti-torpedo defense systems and associated equipment for its submarines.

“The ATDS is an important program, and it will acquired on a fast-track basis,“ a senior Indian Navy official said.

Global defense companies from Germany, Russia and the U.S. are likely to respond to this request for information, or RFI, and the service wants to induct them within the next two years, he added.

The foreign defense companies have also been asked to furnish details of transfer of production and transfer of technology of ATDS.

Currently, no Indian defense company manufactures submarine-launched ATDS.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: China, India, Pakistan face fallout from US strategy for Afghanistan

By: Aaron Mehta

WASHINGTON — In rolling out his strategy for Afghanistan on Aug. 21, U.S. President Donald Trump made clear that a change in the relationship with Pakistan is in the cards.

But regional experts warn that any change in Washington’s posture to Islamabad will impact two regional powers — China, America’s greatest rival in the Pacific, and India, an increasingly vital ally — that are currently feuding over a border dispute.

Alice Hunt Friend, an Obama-era senior adviser to the deputy undersecretary of defense for strategy, plans and forces and country director for Pakistan, calls the region “a conundrum,” adding, “This is a Gordian Knot,” in part, because of the necessity to factor in China and India for any big picture strategy.

One attention-grabbing facet of Trump’s speech was a public call for India to take on a broader role in Afghanistan.

“We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development,” Trump said.

Friend, now with the Center for Strategic and International Studies, believes that such a call could, to Pakistan, sound like a threat to their longtime goal of “strategic depth” — essentially the idea that Pakistan cannot let itself be encircled by India in the south and an Indian-affiliated government in Afghanistan to the north.

The U.S. has historically been careful about balancing a desire for more Indian support in Afghanistan with Pakistan’s concerns, she said, which resulted in Indian funds being directed more towards economic and public development rather than military projects.

It’s unclear if that is set to change, but Trump’s India comments will likely not be received well in Islamabad, Vipin Narang, a regional expert who teaches at MIT, predicts.

Read the full story at DefenseNews

News Story: UN Security Council condemns DPRK missile launch

UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The UN Security Council on Tuesday strongly condemned Monday's missile launch by the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) as well as several launches on Friday, demanding the country immediately cease such "outrageous actions."

"The Security Council expresses its grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan as well as its recent actions and public statements, deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and has caused grave security concerns around the world," said the Security Council in a president's statement, which was released after closed-door consultations by council members.

The Security Council stressed that those DPRK actions are not just a threat to the region, but to all UN member states, demanding the country comply with relevant Security Council resolutions and not conduct any further launches using ballistic missile technology.

It also requested that the DPRK should abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a "complete, verifiable and irreversible manner" and not conduct any future nuclear tests or any further provocation.

The council called on all UN member states to "strictly, fully and expeditiously" implement all relevant Security Council resolutions concerning the DPRK, reiterating the importance of maintaining peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia at large.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: China says sanctions against DPRK must be within framework of UN Security Council

BEIJING, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- China said Wednesday sanctions against the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) must be within the framework of the UN Security Council.

Foreign Ministry Spokesperson Hua Chunying's remarks came after the UN Security Council released a president's statement, which strongly condemned Monday's missile launch by the DPRK as well as several launches Friday.

"The Security Council expresses its grave concern that the DPRK is, by conducting such a launch over Japan as well as its recent actions and public statements, deliberately undermining regional peace and stability and has caused grave security concerns around the world," said the statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Japanese DM, local media differ on cause of Osprey's emergency landing

TOKYO, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- A U.S. Marine Corps Osprey aircraft that made an emergency landing at a commercial airport in southwestern Japan may have done so due to an instrument malfunction, Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Wednesday.

Onodera's remarks came despite local media reporting that the plane's crew notified air traffic controllers of its need to make an emergency landing due to engine trouble.

The controversial Osprey, known for its checkered safety history, is reportedly the same aircraft that was forced to make an emergency landing near Okinawa's main island in June under potentially similar circumstances.

Onodera, conceding that the tilt-rotor airplanes are continuing to have accidents, called for tighter safety measures to be implemented.

"Accidents involving Ospreys are continuing to happen, so I want safety to be ensured when operating them," the defense minister told a press briefing on the matter.

Japan's top government spokesperson, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga, also expressed his concerns over the safety of the turboprop planes that can take off and land like a helicopter and fly like a fix-winged aircraft.

Suga told a press briefing that the government has requested further information on the incident and for thorough safety management regarding the planes.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Philippine president gives military option to bomb last terrorist holdouts in Marawi

Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte
MANILA, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte said Wednesday that the option is now with the military to make a last-ditch effort to retake the remaining Islamist militants' holdouts in the southern Philippine Marawi City.

Duterte said in a speech that he cannot allow the 100-day fighting to continue to drag on.

"I have my limits," Duterte said, adding that the situation is already out of his hands.

"Up to this time, there is a stalemate," Duterte said.

He said he has told the military "that the option is already yours because we cannot have a stalemate for over one year."

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Pakistani Senate asks gov't to summon U.S. envoy over Trump's policy

ISLAMABAD, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- The Pakistani Senate on Wednesday asked the government to summon the U.S. ambassador to convey concern of the country and the people over U.S. President Donald Trump's regional strategy that shifted blame to Pakistan of the U.S. failure in Afghanistan.

President Trump in his Afghan-South Asia Policy statement this month had warned that his administration can no longer be silent about "Pakistan's safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond."

A statement by the Pakistani Senate, or Upper House of the Parliament, said the House has instructed the foreign minister to present a fact sheet to Washington about Pakistan's contributions and sacrifices in the "war against terror" and the logistical facilities Pakistan has provided on the ground and in the air to the United States and NATO troops.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Afghan forces kill 8 militants in northern Kunduz province in 24 hrs

Afghan Police Officer (File Photo)
KUNDUZ, Afghanistan, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- At least eight insurgents affiliated with the Taliban group have been killed in the troubled Kunduz province over the past 24 hours, officials said Wednesday.

"Five insurgents have been killed and six others wounded, when the militants attacked a police checkpoint in Momin Dara area of Dasht-e-Archi district of the province on Tuesday, triggering a gun battle which lasted for a while," district governor Nasruddin Nazari told Xinhua.

Similarly, the security forces, in a crackdown on Taliban hideouts, have killed three militants and injured four others in Khan Abad district over the period, a local official, Qudratullah Safi, said.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: 4 killed in Afghan lawmaker house attack

JALALABAD, Afghanistan, Aug. 30 (Xinhua) -- Four people were killed after an explosion and gun firing rocked house of an Afghan politician in eastern city of Jalalabad on Wednesday, provincial government said.

"House of Zahir Qadir, a member of Lower House of Afghanistan's parliament came under attack occurred roughly 10:30 a.m. local time. The killed included two security guards and two assailants," it said in a statement.

One security guard was injured in the incident which happened in Police District Two of the city.

One terrorist detonated his explosive jacket and the second assailant was shot dead by security guards and his suicide vest was defused by police, according to the statement.

Read the full story at Xinhua

News Story: Australia In Discussions Over Sending In More Troops (to Afghanistan)

Australia’s Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said on Tuesday they were in talks with the US about sending in more troops to Afghanistan ahead of a formal request by the Trump administration.

According to the West Australian newspaper the Australian ambassador to the US Joe Hockey also said over the weekend that Canberra was discussing their next move.

“We are now in deep discussions with the US administration about how to further increase our participation,” Hockey said.

Read the full story at TOLOnews

News Story: N.Korea defends 'tough counter-measures' as missile alarms Japan

By Sebastien BERGER

North Korea defended its right to take "tough counter-measures" in response to what it called US aggression, after firing a ballistic missile over Japan which sparked fear and fury in Tokyo Tuesday.

The test launch by the nuclear-armed nation was seen as a major escalation that triggered global alarm and an angry response from the Japanese government.

A visibly unsettled Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was an "unprecedented, serious and grave threat", while the UN Security Council called an emergency meeting at Tokyo and Washington's request.

But North Korean ambassador Han Tae-Song, addressing the UN Conference on Disarmament in Geneva, said his country had the right to react to ongoing US-South Korean military exercises.

"Now that the US has openly declared its hostile intention towards DPR (North) Korea by raising joint aggressive military exercises despite repeated warnings... my country has every reason to respond with tough counter-measures as an exercise of its rights to self-defence," Han said, without mentioning the missile launch.

Washington, he said, would be responsible for "the catastrophic consequences" that may result from heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula.

The North always condemns the annual Ulchi Freedom Guardian exercise and other joint drills as a rehearsal for invasion, while Seoul and Washington say they are purely defensive.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: China says N. Korea tensions reached 'tipping point'

China warned that tensions on the Korean peninsula have reached "tipping point" after North Korea Tuesday fired a ballistic missile over Japan, but said the United States and South Korea are partly to blame.

Foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying urged all sides to avoid provocations and repeated Beijing's call for the North to suspend missile tests in return for a halt to US-South Korean military exercises.

The situation is "now at a tipping point approaching a crisis. At the same time there is an opportunity to reopen peace talks," Hua told a regular news briefing.

"We hope relevant parties can consider how we can de-escalate the situation on the peninsula and realise peace and stability on the peninsula," she added.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: Computer system for Hawkei vehicles tested

by Richard Tomkins

A C4I integral Computing System for the Australian Army's Hawkei vehicle has been tested by the government's Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group, the Australian Ministry of Defense announced on Monday.

The CASG Land 121 Phase 4 project team conducted the tests at the Monegeetta Proving Ground and signed a project charter for the system with nine companies involved in the system.

CASG identified the companies as Thales Australia, Cablex, Elbit Land Systems Australia, Esterline, Harris Australia, Kongsberg, Raytheon, Rockwell Collins, and Thomas Global Systems.

"Using generic vehicle architecture and a central computing concept to host various C4I systems and communications, the ICS will optimize and centralize the flow of information to the user, enabling rapid decision making and multi-tasking at levels not previously achievable on land based platforms," said Land 121 Phase 4 Project Director Col. John McLean said in a press release.

Read the full story at SpaceDaily

News Story: China Modernizes Bomber Fleet, Looks to Future With H-20

A Chinese H-6 Bomber (File Photo)
Though it has not received media attention equal to its fighter counterparts, the People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF) bomber fleet is steadily being modernized, and plans call for a next generation stealthy, multi-role bomber.

The Xian Aircraft Corporation (XAC) H-6K bomber proved its capabilities during the Aviadarts 2017 competition held earlier this month in China, edging out the Russian Tu-22M3/M3M Backfire in the bomber category. Chinese analysts credit the win to newer navigation systems and targeting radar, as well as rigorous aircrew training.

The PLAAF has also reportedly introduced a new imaging infrared (IIR) or optical seeker variant of the K/AKD-20/CJ-20 “Long Sword” cruise missile, which is the primary air-launched cruise missile of the H-6K. The CJ-20 is guided by an integrated GPS/inertial navigation system and terrain contour matching (TERCOM). The new seekers will ensure a higher survivability against electronic countermeasures and greater target accuracy at the terminal stage.

Enhancements to the H-6K continue; in late August, an amateur photo of a “green” H-6 with in-flight refueling probe surfaced on Weibo, the Chinese version of Twitter. This could be the alleged H-6N that reportedly flew for the first time in December. Many believe the H-6N could host the air-launched DF-21D anti-ship ballistic missile. The reworked airframe could have been modified and strengthened to accommodate the 11-meter missile and better shielded against radiation.

Read the full story at AINonline

News Story: North Korean Missile Test a Prelude to "Containing" Guam

Hwasong-12 ballistic missile test launch prep (File Photo)
North Korea fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile on Tuesday, with leader Kim Jong Un saying he wanted more exercises targetting the Pacific.

“The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the Korean People's Army in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” state media agency KCNA quoted Kim as saying. 

Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, after U.S. President Donald Trump threatened “fire and fury” if it threatened the U.S.

Tuesday’s test was of the same Hwasong-12 missile Kim had threatened to use on Guam, reports Reuters, but the test flight took it another direction, over northern Japan’s Hokkaido and into the North Pacific Ocean.

Read the full story at MarEx

News Story: Australia offers to train Philippine troops in IS fight

SYDNEY – Australia yesterday offered to help train Philippine troops to tackle Islamic militants terrorizing parts of the country as it calls the threat “deeply concerning.”

Philippine forces have been fighting militants in Marawi City for almost 100 days. But the gunmen, flying the Islamic State (IS) group’s black flag, have defied military assaults, including airstrikes and artillery barrages.

Australia, which has an extensive defense cooperation program with Manila, has already deployed two high-tech AP-3C Orion aircraft for surveillance and is keen on providing more help.

Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said she recently spoke to President Duterte, who wanted to bolster resources for his armed forces.

“We would be ready to support the Philippines in the same way we are supporting Iraq in advising, assisting and training,” she said.

Read the full story at PhilStar

News Story: Moon, Abe agree to increase pressure on N. Korea to 'extreme' level

SEOUL, Aug. 30 (Yonhap) -- South Korean President Moon Jae-in and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed Wednesday to further increase pressure on North Korea to an "extreme" level, also vowing to push for new and stronger sanctions by the U.N. Security Council.

The agreement came in a telephone conversation, one day after the communist North fired an intermediate range ballistic missile that flew over Japan.

"In their telephone conversation, the two leaders highly evaluated their countries' close cooperation in dealing with the crisis. They agreed on the need to increase the pressure on North Korea to an extreme level to make North Korea voluntarily come out to the dialogue table," Park Soo-hyun, spokesman for South Korea's presidential office Cheong Wa Dae, said in a press briefing.

The South Korean president said launching a ballistic missile over the Japanese territory was "outrageous violence," again denouncing the North's latest missile test that marked the 14th of its kind since the beginning of the year.

The leaders welcomed the UNSC's statement, condemning the reclusive North for its latest missile provocation, calling it an "unprecedentedly swift action" by the UNSC.

They agreed to further work together for fresh UNSC sanctions, according to Park.

Read the full story at YonhapNews

News Story: Osprey makes emergency landing at southwestern Japan airport

OITA, Japan (Kyodo) -- An Osprey aircraft made an emergency landing at an airport in Oita Prefecture, southwestern Japan, on Tuesday due to possible engine trouble, a prefectural government official said.

The U.S. military aircraft landed around 6:30 p.m. at Oita airport after taking off from the U.S. Marine Corps' Air Station Iwakuni in Yamaguchi Prefecture, western Japan. There were no reports of injury or fire.

Read the full story at The Mainichi

News Story: Japan in tense mood after N. Korea launches missile

Japan was filled with a sense of tension after North Korea launched a missile, which flew above Hokkaido before plunging into the Pacific Ocean, early on the morning of Aug. 29.

The central and local governments were quick to respond to Pyongyang's missile launch. The national government officially confirmed that North Korea launched the missile at 6:01 a.m., a few minutes after the missile was launched, and Prime Minister Shinzo Abe instructed the government to take all possible measures to respond to the missile launch.

At 6:02 a.m., the Fire and Disaster Management Agency notified the Hokkaido and 11 other prefectural governments of the missile launch through the "J-Alert" nationwide warning system.

At 6:03 a.m., the Japan Coast Guard warned vessels around Japan to be on full alert while at 6:04 a.m. the Land, Infrastructure, Transport and Tourism Ministry urged airlines and the pilots of aircraft flying near the course of the missile to exercise caution.

At around 6:06 a.m., the missile passed above Cape Erimo in Hokkaido, and the central government officially confirmed that a minute later. Prime Minister Abe instructed officials to gather sufficient information on the matter.

The Oga Municipal Government in Akita Prefecture urged local residents through an emergency radio system to exercise caution.

The information on the missile launch prompted some railway operators to stop their trains as a safety precaution. At around 6:06 a.m., Nagoya Railroad Co. in Aichi Prefecture temporarily suspended operations on all its lines. A local train on the JR Tohoku Line heading for Fukushima from Sendai made an emergency stop at 6:10 a.m. The conductor announced through its public address system that the railway operator was confirming safety.

Ten residents of Sakata, Yamagata Prefecture, voluntarily evacuated to City Hall at around 6:10 a.m., prompting the municipal government to open the first floor lobby for evacuees.

The missile plunged into the Pacific Ocean about 1,180 kilometers east of Cape Erimo at around 6:12 a.m.

The Fire and Disaster Management Agency notified the Hokkaido and 11 other prefectural governments through J-Alert at 6:14 a.m. that the missile flew over Japan. Prime Minister Abe told reporters at 6:24 a.m. that the government "is determined to do its best to protect the lives of the people." Sixteen minutes later, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga held an extraordinary news conference to explain North Korea's missile launch.

Read the full story at The Mainichi

30 August 2017

USA: SEACAT enhances cooperative maritime security in South, Southeast Asia

From Task Force 73 Public Affairs

Liaison officers coordinate exercise activities during SEACAT, Aug. 28 at Changi Naval Base in Singapore. (U.S. Navy/MC2 Joshua Fulton) >>

SINGAPORE - The 16th annual Southeast Asia Cooperation and Training (SEACAT) exercise commenced Aug. 21 in Singapore, Brunei, and the Philippines, focusing on shared maritime security challenges of the region.

The goal of the exercise, which continues through Sept. 1, is to increase multilateral cooperation and information sharing among navies and coast guards across South and Southeast Asia. The exercise will continue through Sept 1.

"SEACAT brings nations together for meaningful dialogue, knowledge sharing, and practical training to address common challenges of piracy, sea smuggling, and other illegal activities at sea," said Rear Adm. Don Gabrielson, commander, Logistics Group Western Pacific (COMLOGWESTPAC). "We appreciate that regional nations see the value in working together, evidenced by a growing number of participants.

USA: Secretary Tillerson's Calls With Japanese and Republic of Korea Foreign Ministers

The following is attributable to Spokesperson Heather Nauert:

Secretary Tillerson spoke on separate calls with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono and Republic of Korea (R.O.K.) Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha to discuss North Korea’s launch of a missile that overflew Japan.

They agreed the launch was an escalation of North Korean provocations and showcased the dangerous threat posed by North Korea to the United States, Japan, the R.O.K., and countries around the world.

Secretary Tillerson reaffirmed with Ministers Kono and Kang the strength of our alliances with Japan and the R.O.K., as well as the ironclad commitment of the United States to their defense.

Secretary Tillerson agreed with the two ministers to continue close coordination on efforts to increase pressure on North Korea to show the regime that its repeated violations of UN Security Council resolutions will only result in condemnation and isolation from the international community.

News Report: N. Korean Leader Orders More Ballistic Missile Launches on Pacific Ocean Targets

Hwasong-12 ballistic missile test launch prep (File Photo)
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Wednesday ordered to carry out more ballistic missile test launches on targets in the Pacific Ocean.

TOKYO (Sputnik) – On Tuesday, North Korea test fired Hwasong-12 ballistic missile. Japan's Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga said that Pyongyang's ballistic missile had flown over Japan's northern island of Hokkaido before falling into the Pacific Ocean 1,180 kilometers (733 miles) east of the island.

"The latest test launch of a ballistic missile close to reality has become the first military-tactical step of our army in the Pacific Ocean … From now on, it is necessary to carry out more tests of ballistic missiles on the targets in the Pacific Ocean," Kim said as quoted by South Korean Yonhap news agency.

Kim also called for more active actions of Pyongyang’s military in modernizing the missiles and increasing their striking force.

Earlier in August, North Korea said it was considering an attack on an area near the US territory of Guam in the Western Pacific. The island of Guam is home to several military facilities of the United States, which is in tensions with North Korea.

This story first appeared on Sputnik & is reposted here with permission.

News Report: North Korea Missile Test May Force Japan to Pursue Nuclear Weapons - Ex-Diplomat

North Korea’s ballistic missile test will increase the danger that Japan may push ahead to develop its own independent nuclear deterrent, former UK diplomat Jonathan Clarke told Sputnik.

WASHINGTON (Sputnik) — On Tuesday, the US Defense Department in a statement confirmed that the missile North Korea launched on Monday was an intermediate range ballistic missile. The projectile flew over the territory of northern Japan before landing in the Pacific Ocean some 500 nautical miles east of Japan, the statement added.

"The new element is the growing alarm of the Japanese and their demand for something more visible and forceful," Clarke said. "They [the Japanese] may be tempted to open their nuclear cupboard and get out their screwdriver to develop their own nuclear deterrent."

Clarke also cautioned that South Korean President Moon Jae-in, who was elected earlier this year on a platform of improving relations with Pyongyang, was likely to respond with an increased military buildup along the 38th Parallel dividing North from South Korea.

News Report: Tokyo Conducts Anti-Missile Drills for First Time Amid Recent N Korean Launch

Japanese Patriot (PAC-3) missile interceptor system
Japan has conducted military exercises at two US military bases for the first time in history amid recent DPRK missile launch over Japan, local media reported, citing anonymous sources.

MOSCOW (Sputnik) — According to the Mainichi newspaper, the joint military exercises, including training for testing the rapid deployment of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missile interceptor systems, were held at US Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and US Iwakuni Marine Corps's Air Base in Yamaguchi Prefecture. The drills coincided with the latest launch of North Korean missile, which flew over Japan before falling some 733 miles to the east of Japan's northern island Hokkaido.

News Report: Trump - All Options on the Table After N. Korea Missile Launch

President Donald Trump says that "all options are on the table" following another missile launch by North Korea Tuesday.

North Korea "has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior," Trump said in a statement released by the White House. "Threatening and destabilizing actions only increase the North Korean regime’s isolation in the region and among all nations of the world. All options are on the table."

When asked by VOA what specifically he planned to do about North Korea Tuesday morning, the president replied "We'll see, we'll see", without elaborating before boarding the Marine One helicopter on the South Lawn.

The missile launched by North Korea early Tuesday morning flew over Japan.

News Report: Suicide Bomber Kills 5 Outside Kabul Bank

Ayaz Gul

ISLAMABAD, PAKISTAN — A suicide bomber killed at least five people and wounded nine others outside a bank in the Afghan capital, Kabul.

The attack occurred Tuesday at the entrance of a Kabul Bank branch not far from the heavily protected U.S. embassy.

Witnesses said personnel of the Afghan army and other security institutions were in the crowd to receive their monthly salaries.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the attack. The deadly blast occurred as Afghanistan prepares to mark the annual Eid festival.

News Story: Experts say negotiation track still best solution to Korean nuclear issue

by Yang Shilong

NEW YORK, Aug. 28 (Xinhua) -- The best solution to the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is still a "negotiation track" as no parties involved can afford a bloody and costly war, experts said.

"The U.S. administration should be in consultation now with Seoul and Tokyo as to what the steps should be after the exercises conclude," said Jenny Town, Assistant Director of the U.S.-Korea Institute, Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, in a recent interview via email with Xinhua on the heightened tension of the peninsula.

The Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) launched three missiles on Saturday, days after the United States and South Korea began their joint annual drills, which Pyongyang deemed as a provocation.

"Can we come up with a coordinated strategy forward, that incorporates the U.S. and our allies' interests, and moves us away from this cycle of escalation?" Town asked.

Read the full story at Xinhua