North Korea has warned foreign companies and tourists in South Korea to evacuate, saying the two countries are on the verge of a nuclear war. The new threat appeared to be an attempt to scare foreigners into pressing their governments to pressure Washington and Seoul to avert a conflict. Analysts see a direct attack on Seoul as extremely unlikely and there are no overt signs North Korea’s army is readying for war, let alone a nuclear one. In Pyongyang, there were no signs of a military build-up. South Korea’s military has reported missile movements on North Korea’s east coast but nothing pointed toward South Korea. “The situation on the Korean Peninsula is inching close to a thermonuclear war due to the evermore undisguised hostile actions of the United States and the South Korean puppet warmongers and their moves for a war against the North,” said a statement by the North Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee. The statement is similar to past threats that analysts call an attempt to raise anxiety in foreign capitals.
Another week, another new Audi. Two new Audis, in fact. The German car maker has announced a couple more additions to its Q line up of SUVs. The Q4 is a coupe-SUV hybrid that will go up against the BMW X4 and Mercedes GLC Coupe. As its name suggests, it’ll be positioned between the compact Q3 and bigger Q5. At the other end of the scale is the Q8, which will go head to head against the Range Rover. It’s lower and sleeker than the Q7 Audi is also producing. In concept form, it sat only four people, although it seems likely the production version will be a five seater. There’s a 630 litre boot as well. Eagle eyed Audi followers will notice the only SUV slots left to fill are the Q1 and Q6. Watch this space...
US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has reacted to North Korea’s latest nuclear test by saying threats to the United States and its allies “will be met with a massive military response”. Mr Mattis spoke at the White House following a meeting with President Donald Trump and national security advisers. He said any response will be “both effective and overwhelming”. Mr Mattis said the United States is “not looking to the total annihilation” of North Korea, but added “we have many options to do so”. North Korea claimed “perfect success” in an underground test of what it called a hydrogen bomb – potentially vastly more destructive than an atomic bomb. It was the North’s sixth nuclear test since 2006, but the first since Mr Trump took office in January. In a brief statement to reporters Mr Mattis said the international community was unified in demanding the denuclearisation of the Korean peninsula and said the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un, should know that Washington’s commitment to Japan and South Korea is unshakeable. US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis made a tough statement following a meeting with president Donald Trump (Pablo Martinez Monsivais/AP) Earlier, Mr Trump raised the stakes in the escalating crisis over North Korea’s nuclear threats, suggesting drastic economic measures against China and criticising ally South Korea. With General Joseph Dunford, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, at his side, Mr Mattis said: “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response – a response both effective and overwhelming.” Those words alone were within the usual bounds of US commentary on answering North Korean aggression. But he seemed to take it a step further with the reference to “total annihilation”. North Korea has conducted a major Nuclear Test. Their words and actions continue to be very hostile and dangerous to the United States….. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017 ..North Korea is a rogue nation which has become a great threat and embarrassment to China, which is trying to help but with little success. — Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) September 3, 2017 Mr Mattis, who did not take questions from reporters, said he had attended a “small group” national security meeting with Mr Trump and others. He said the president wanted to be briefed on each of what Mr Mattis called “many military options” for action against North Korea. “We made clear that we have the ability to defend ourselves and our allies, South Korea and Japan, from any attacks, and our commitments among the allies are ironclad,” he said. Mr Trump, asked by a reporter during a trip to church services if he would attack the North, said: “We’ll see.” Commitment to Allies. @USMC #F35B, #Japanese #F15Js, @usairforce #B1Bs, @RoyalAirForce #F15Ks fly from @AndersenAFBGuam over #Japan. pic.twitter.com/uM9meaXiKs — U.S. Dept of Defense (@DeptofDefense) September 3, 2017 The precise strength of the underground nuclear explosion had yet to be determined. South Korea’s weather agency said the artificial earthquake caused by the explosion was five times to six times stronger than tremors generated by the North’s previous five tests. North Korea’s state-run television broadcast a special bulletin to announce the test, and said Kim attended a meeting of the ruling party’s presidium and signed the go-ahead order. Earlier, the party’s newspaper published photos of Kim examining what it said was a nuclear warhead being fitted onto an intercontinental ballistic missile.
North Korea has moved a missile with “considerable range” to its east coast, South Korea’s defence minister said, adding that there are no signs Pyongyang is preparing for a full-scale conflict. The report came hours after North Korea’s military warned it has been authorised to attack the US using “smaller, lighter and diversified” nuclear weapons. It was the North’s latest war cry against America. The reference to smaller weapons could be a claim that Pyongyang has improved its nuclear technology, or it could be a bluff. South Korean defence minister Kim Kwan-jin said he did not know the reasons behind the North’s missile movement, and that it “could be for testing or drills”. He dismissed reports in Japanese media that the missile could be a KN-08, which is believed to be a long-range rocket that if operable could hit the United States. Mr Kim said the missile has “considerable range”, but not enough to hit the US mainland. The range he described could refer to a mobile North Korean missile known as the Musudan, believed to have a range of 1,800 miles. The Pentagon announced it will deploy a missile defence system to the US Pacific territory of Guam to strengthen regional protection against a possible attack. US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel said Washington is doing all it can to defuse the situation, while South Korea said its military is ready to deal with any provocation.
North Korea’s parliament has endorsed plans to give nuclear weapons greater prominence in the country’s defences. The move came a day after the ruling Workers’ Party called for nuclear forces to be “expanded and beefed up qualitatively and quantitatively”. North Korea has said it is entering a “state of war” with the South prompting Seoul to promise a “strong response” to aggression by the North. The North is angry at UN sanctions following its February 12 underground nuclear test, the country’s third. It is also unhappy with joint US-South Korea annual military drills, but the US says there is no sign of North Korean “actions to back up the rhetoric”. Analysts see a full-scale North Korean attack as unlikely and say the threats are more likely efforts to provoke softer policies toward Pyongyang from a new Government in Seoul, to win diplomatic talks with Washington and to solidify young North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s military credentials at home. Meanwhile, North Korea has announced it has appointed a new premier, Pak Pong-ju. He was sacked from the same post in 2007. Mr Pak is seen by outside experts as an economic reformer who was previously sacked from the post after proposing Western-style capitalist reforms.These included a proposal for an incentive-based hourly, rather than monthly, wage system. The re-emergence of Pak Pong Ju as premier at an annual spring parliamentary session is seen by analysts as a signal that Kim Jong Un is moving to back up recent statements vowing to focus on strengthened economic development. The UN says two-thirds of the country’s 24 million people face regular food shortages. “Pak Pong Ju is the face of economic reform, such as it exists,” said John Delury, a North Korea analyst at Seoul’s Yonsei University.
Donald Trump has responded to an overture from North Korea for talks with the US, saying that will happen only “under the right conditions”.The US president raised North Korea at an annual White House meeting with the nation’s governors after a North Korean envoy sent a message through South Korea on Sunday. The envoy said the North has “ample intentions” of holding talks with the US.The White House said in response that it would take a wait-and-see approach, and Mr Trump followed up on Monday.“We want to talk only under the right conditions,” he said. The administration’s position is that Pyongyang must get rid of its nuclear and missile programmes before any talks can take place. The US has applied a series of sanctions, including a fresh round on Friday, in what it says is a “maximum pressure campaign” to force North Korea to disarm.The Trump administration says it is open to talks with North Korea, primarily to explain how America will maintain its pressure on the country until it takes steps to eliminate its nuclear weapons. US officials differentiate talks from negotiations. For those to occur, they first want Pyongyang to accept that its nuclear programme will be on the table.Speaking to the governors, Mr Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping for bolstering his country’s sanctions against the North and warned that Russia is “behaving badly” on the issue of sanctions.“Russia is sending in what China is taking out,” Mr Trump said.During Sunday’s closing ceremony for the Winter Olympics, the office of South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced that a North Korean delegate to the Olympics said his country is willing to hold talks with the US. The move came after decades of tension between the two countries, which have no formal diplomatic relations, and a year of escalating rhetoric, including threats of war, between Mr Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.The North has “ample intentions of holding talks with the United States”, Mr Moon’s office said. The North’s delegation also agreed that “South-North relations and US-North Korean relations should be improved together”, the statement said.
Britain “should be concerned” about North Korea’s activities, William Hague said. The Foreign Secretary said the “danger of miscalculation” by Kim Jong-un’s regime, which had worked itself up into a “frenetic state of rhetoric”, must be considered. But he insisted it was vital the international community remained calm and stated there were no signs that North Korea was beginning to re-position its forces ready for war. Mr Haig said: “There’s a threat to the world from any country breaching the non-proliferation treaty, which North Korea is doing, acting in contravention of a whole series of UN Security Council resolutions and setting out to develop more and more longer range weapons, testing new nuclear weapons and indulging in the proliferation of many items to other countries as well. “We should be concerned about that. There is a danger in that. “But it is important to stress that we haven't seen in recent days, in recent weeks, a change in what is happening in North Korean society.”
South Korea has said it believes North Korea remains committed to improving relations despite strongly criticising Seoul over ongoing US-South Korean military drills.South Korea’s Unification Ministry spokesman Baek Tae-hyun said Seoul expects Pyongyang to faithfully abide by the agreements between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean president Moon Jae-in in their summit last month.The Korean leaders had issued a vague vow on the “complete denuclearisation” of the peninsula and pledged permanent peace.“We are just at the starting point and we will not stop or waver as we move forward for peace in the Korean Peninsula,” said Mr Baek.North Korea has taken repeated proverbial shots at Washington and Seoul since cancelling a high-level meeting with South Korea on Wednesday and threatening to scrap next month’s historic summit between its leader Kim Jong Un and President Donald Trump, saying it will not be unilaterally pressured into relinquishing its nuclear weapons.The North’s threat cooled what had been an unusual flurry of diplomatic moves from a country that last year conducted a provocative series of weapons tests that had many fearing the region was on the edge of war.It also underscored South Korea’s delicate role as an intermediary between the US and North Korea and raised questions over Seoul’s claim that Mr Kim has a genuine interest in dealing away his nukes.Analysts said it is unlikely that North Korea intends to scuttle all diplomacy. More likely, they said, is that it wants to gain leverage ahead of the talks between Mr Kim and Mr Trump, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore.Mr Baek spoke hours after Ri Son Gwon, chairman of a North Korean agency that deals with inter-Korean affairs, accused South Korea’s government of being “an ignorant and incompetent group devoid of the elementary sense of the present situation, of any concrete picture of their dialogue partner and of the ability to discern the present trend of the times”.In comments published by the North’s Korean Central News Agency, Mr Ri said the “extremely adventurous” US-South Korean military drills were practising strikes on strategic targets in North Korea, and accused the South of allowing “human scum to hurt the dignity” of the North’s supreme leadership.Mr Ri was apparently referring to a news conference held at South Korea’s National Assembly on Monday by Thae Yong Ho, a former senior North Korean diplomat who defected to the South in 2016.Mr Thae said it is highly unlikely that Mr Kim would ever fully relinquish his nuclear weapons or agree to a robust verification regime.Mr Ri said it will be difficult to resume talks with South Korea “unless the serious situation which led to the suspension of the North-South high-level talks is settled”.Senior officials from the two Koreas were to sit down at a border village on Wednesday to discuss how to implement their leaders’ agreements to reduce military tensions along their heavily fortified border and improve overall ties, but the North cancelled the meeting.In Washington, Mr Trump said on Thursday that nothing has changed with respect to North Korea after the warning from Pyongyang.He said North Korean officials are discussing logistical details about the meeting with the US “as if nothing happened”.Trying to address the North Korean concerns, Mr Trump said if Mr Kim were to agree to denuclearise, “he’ll get protections that would be very strong.”But Mr Trump warned that failure to make a deal could have grave consequences for Mr Kim. Mentioning what happened in Libya, Mr Trump said, “That model would take place if we don’t make a deal.”“The Libyan model isn’t the model we have at all. In Libya we decimated that country.” Mr Trump added. “There was no deal to keep Gadhafi.”Mr Trump said he is “willing to do a lot” to provide security guarantees to Mr Kim. “The best thing he could do is make a deal.”
The US has called for North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions and said it would be “extremely alarming” if Pyongyang follows through on a vow to restart its plutonium reactor. The White House and the State Department said they were taking seriously an almost daily string of threats from North Korea toward the US and South Korea, ratcheted up a notch when the North said it would revive its long-dormant reactor and ramp up production of nuclear weapons material. But officials cast doubt on whether North Korea would follow through, portraying the latest threat as part of a pattern of antagonistic taunts that, so far, have not been backed up by action. “There’s a long way to go between a stated intention and actually being able to pull it off,” said State Department spokeswoman Victoria Nuland. Still, the US is taking steps to ensure it has the capacity to defend itself and its allies against any threats from North Korea, and President Barack Obama is being updated regularly, said the president’s spokesman, Jay Carney. “The entire national security team is focused on it,” Mr Carney said. North Korea said yesterday that scientists will quickly begin “readjusting and restarting” the facilities at its main Nyongbyon nuclear complex, which was shuttered as part of international nuclear disarmament talks in 2007 that have since stalled. Officials said those operations would include the plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant, both of which could produce fuel for nuclear weapons. Mr Carney called the North’s announcement a violation of its international obligations and said that while North Korea has obtained nuclear weapons in the past, it has not tempered the US resolve to see the Korean peninsula rid of nuclear weapons. North Korea’s recent tide of nuclear vows and aggressive threats are seen as efforts to force Washington into disarmament-for-aid talks and to boost young leader Kim Jong Un’s stature as a strong military leader. Pyongyang has reacted angrily to US-South Korean military drills and a new round of UN and US sanctions after North Korea’s February 12 underground nuclear test. Although world leaders have largely shrugged off the threats, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday that the North appears to be “on a collision course with the international community,” adding that the crisis has gone too far.
North Korea has barred South Korean workers from entering a jointly run factory park just over the heavily armed border in the North, officials in Seoul said. The move came a day after Pyongyang announced it would restart its dormant plutonium reactor and increase production of nuclear weapons material. The bid to bar South Koreans from entering the Kaesong factory park, the last remaining symbol of detente between the rivals, comes amid increasing hostility from Pyongyang. It has threatened to stage nuclear and missile strikes on Seoul and Washington and said that the armistice ending the 1950s Korean War is void. Seoul’s Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-suk said Pyongyang is allowing South Koreans to return home from Kaesong but that about 480 nationals who planned to travel to the park yesterday were being refused entry. He said North Korea cited political circumstances on the peninsula when they delivered their decision to block South Korean workers from entering Kaesong. The two sides do not allow their citizens to travel to the other country without approval, but an exception has previously been made each day for the South Koreans working at Kaesong. The peninsula is technically in a state of war because the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty. The North is angry about South Korea-US military drills and new UN sanctions over its February 12 nuclear test. Dozens of South Korean firms run factories in the border town of Kaesong.