North Korea tensions: All the latest updates

Here are all the latest developments since the latest “toughest” UN sanctions imposed on North Korea on August 4:

August 29, 2017 

  • North Korea has fired a ballistic missile that flew over Japan before plunging into the northern Pacific Ocean, in a step termed by the Japanese prime minister as a “grave threat”.

  • The launch appeared to be the first to cross over Japan since 2009 and comes amid ongoing annual military drill being carried out between the US and its close ally in the region, South Korea.

August 26, 2017 

  • Three North Korea short range ballistic missiles failed on Saturday, a temporary blow to Pyongyang’s rapid nuclear and missile expansion, US military officials said.

  • The US Pacific Command said in a statement that two of North Korea’s missiles failed in flight after an unspecified distance, and another appeared to have blown up immediately.

  • It added that the missile posed no threat to the US territory of Guam, which North Korea had previously warned it would fire missiles towards.

August 22, 2017

  • North Korea on Tuesday greeted the start of annual US-South Korean military drills with fiery threats, threatening “merciless retaliation” for exercises the country claims are an invasion rehearsal.

  • North Korea’s military routinely responds to US-South Korean exercises.

  • Tuesday’s threat came as top US generals, including Harry Harris, the commander of US forces in the Pacific, visited South Korea.

August 21, 2017

  • US and South Korean troops have begun military drills amid heated warnings by North Korea that the exercises will worsen tensions in the region.

  • The Ulchi Freedom Guardian drills, which began on Monday, are largely computer-simulated war games. 

  • The exercise brings together as many as 50,000 South Korean soldiers and approximately 17,500 US service members for a simulation of war on the Korean Peninsula.

August 20, 2017

  • North Korea has warned the US will be “pouring gasoline on fire” by conducting annual war games with South Korea amid heightened tensions between North Korea and the US.

  • The Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises involving thousands of American and South Korean troops are to begin on Monday. North Korea views the drills as a highly provocative rehearsal for an invasion.

August 18, 2017

N Korea ‘fails’ South’s Moon   

  • North Korea’s state media gave the South’s President Moon Jae-in a “fail” grade on Friday for his first 100 days in office, dismissing his proffered olive branches as “hypocrisy”. 
  • Moon, elected to replace impeached President Park Geun-hye, came into office in May and has since had to deal with tensions over North Korea’s missile and nuclear programmes.   

August 17, 2017

  • South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in has ruled out a “war again on the Korean Peninsula” and is considering sending a special envoy to North Korea for talks if Pyongyang stops its missile and nuclear tests.

  • Moon’s comments on Thursday, marking his 100 days in office, come amid increased tensions between the United States and North Korea following Pyongyang’s warning that it might send missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam.

August 16, 2017

  • UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres has said it was time to “dial down rhetoric and dial up diplomacy” on North Korea, offering to help broker talks with the parties involved in the dispute.

  • “My good offices are always available – and I conveyed this message yesterday to the representatives of the six-party talks,” Guterres said on Wednesday amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula since Pyongyang conducted ballistic missiles test last month.

  • “The solution to this crisis must be political. The potential consequences of military action are too horrific to even contemplate.”
  • Kim Jong-un ordered the army to be ready to launch should he make the decision for military action.
  • Kim said the US should make the right choice “in order to defuse the tensions and prevent the dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula”.

  • The visit to the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force marks Kim’s first public appearance in about two weeks.

August 15, 2017

  • China has warned the United States and North Korea to “hit the brakes” on threats and actions, and work towards a peaceful resolution of their dispute.

  • Foreign Minister Wang Yi, in a phone conversation with his Russian counterpart Sergey Lavrov on Tuesday, said the two countries should work together and contain tensions.

  • Russia and China should not permit any party to “stir up an incident on their doorstep”, he said.

August 13, 2017

  • CIA director Mike Pompeo has offered assurances there is “nothing imminent” in the US standoff with nuclear-armed North Korea but said he would not be surprised if Pyongyang conducts another missile test.

  • Asked how worried people should be, Pompeo told Fox News on Sunday: “There’s nothing imminent today. But make no mistake about it. The increased chance that there will be a nuclear missile in Denver is a very serious threat.”

August 13, 2017

  • A Canadian pastor who was imprisoned for more than two years in North Korea has arrived back home.

  • Hyeon Lim, a 62-year-old South Korean-born Canadian citizen, was convicted and sentenced in 2015 for allegedly trying to use religion to destroy the North Korean system and helping US and South Korean authorities lure and abduct North Korean citizens.
  • Hyeon’s release came nearly two months after US college student Otto Warmbier died shortly after he was released from North Korea in a coma. 

  • Warmbier had been sentenced to 15 years of hard labour in March 2016 after being accused of stealing a propaganda poster.

August 12, 2017

  • Chinese leader Xi Jinping urged US President Donald Trump on Saturday to avoid rhetoric that could inflame tensions with North Korea as an escalating war of words raised global alarm.

  • Xi made the plea in a phone call hours after Trump escalated his warnings to North Korea, saying it would “truly regret” taking hostile action against the US.

  • China’s foreign ministry said Xi urged Trump to avoid “words and deeds” that would “exacerbate” the already tense situation, exercise restraint, and seek a political settlement.

August 11, 2017

  •  A Chinese state-run newspaper has suggested Beijing would “stay neutral” if North Koreastrikes first in a conflict with the United States, despite a mutual defence pact between the Asian allies.
  • However, it added: “If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.”

  • President Donald Trump warned Kim Jong-un’s government  to “get their act together” or face extraordinary “trouble”, and suggested his earlier threat to unleash “fire and fury” on North Korea was too mild.
  • “Maybe that statement wasn’t tough enough,” Trump said, in the latest US salvo in an escalating exchange of threats between the nuclear-armed nations.

August 10, 2017

  • “Any type of attack will not be successful but at the same time an attack on Guam will be considered an attack on the United States and will be met with an overwhelming force,” Guam’s governor Eddie Calvo told Al Jazeera.
  • The people of Guam woke up on Thursday to another pointed threat from Pyongyang, which vowed to complete a plan to attack waters near the island by mid-August.

August 9, 2017

  • US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has responded to North Korea’s threat of targeting the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, saying Pyongyang’s move would lead to “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people”. 
  • Mattis said in a statement on Wednesday that North Korea “would lose any arms race or conflict in initiates”. “The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” he said, using the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

  • Earlier on Wednesday, a spokesman for the Korean People’s Army said in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency that the Guam attack plan would be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” after leader Kim Jong-un made a decision.
  • The fear of another nuclear bomb attack is growing on the 72nd anniversary of the US atomic bombing of Nagasaki, Japan, the city’s mayor said, apparently referring to the North Korean nuclear threat in the region.
  • Tomihisa Taue urged nuclear states to abandon such weapons and criticised Japan’s government for not taking part in the global efforts towards a nuclear ban.

  • Taue also criticised Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government for what he said were empty promises about working to achieve a nuclear-free world.

  • “North Korea had best not make any more threats to the United States,” said a stern-looking Trump, seated with his arms crossed and with his wife beside him, at his golf course in Bedminster, New Jersey. “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

  • North Korea said it is “carefully examining” a plan to attack the US Pacific territory of Guam with missiles, just hours after Trump‘s comments. 
  • A spokesman for the Korean People’s Army, in a statement carried by North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency, said the attack plan will be “put into practice in a multi-current and consecutive way any moment” once leader Kim Jong-un makes a decision.

  • In another statement, quoting a different military spokesman, North Korea also said it could carry out a pre-emptive operation if the US showed signs of provocation.

August 7, 2017

  • The sanctions passed at the weekend were a “violent violation of our sovereignty”, Pyongyang said in a statement carried by its official Korean Central News Agency, adding it would take “righteous action” in return.

  • North Korea said it would not negotiate over nuclear arms while threatened by the US.
  • China, a close ally of North Korea, also voted in favour of the sanctions.

  • Several Asian foreign ministers, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Sergey Lavrov, the Russian foreign minister, are currently gathered in the Philippine capital, Manila, for an ASEAN regional summit.

August 6, 2017

  • The Security Council unanimously adopted the US-led resolution, which bans mineral and seafood exports worth more than $1bn. 

  • The United States, China, Japan and South Korea have all welcomed the new UN sanctions.

  • Japan said it was time to exert more “efffective pressure” on Pyongyang rahter than to pursue dialogue.

August 4,  2017

US unveils new UN santions 

  • The United States presented to the UN Security Council a draft resolution toughening sanctions on North Korea, aiming to deprive Pyongyang of $1bn in export revenue, a council diplomat said.

  • The council is expected to vote on Saturday on the measures that include a ban on exports of coal, iron and iron ore, lead and lead ore, as well as seafood by the cash-starved state.

  • The US has been negotiating the measures with China, North Korea’s main trading partner and ally, since Pyongyang launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile on July 4.

Source: Al Jazeera News