South Korea issues warning over North threat

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-07/south-korea-issues-warning-over-north-threat/4557422

North Korean soldiers conduct training drills

PHOTO: North Korean soldiers attend military training amid speculation the country is preparing for war. (AFP)

South Korea has promised strong and swift retaliation against the communist North if it carries out a threat to attack it.

Angered by a joint military exercise between South Korea and the United States planned for next week, Pyongyang has warned it will launch strikes if the drill goes ahead.

A spokesman for Kim Jong-un’s regime appeared on state television on Tuesday (local time) and said Pyongyang had torn up the armistice that ended the Korean War in 1953.

Seoul rarely responds to these outbursts but in a press conference, a South Korean military spokesman vowed strong and resolute retaliation if Pyongyang opens fire.

“We have all preparations in place for strong and decisive punishment, not only against the source of the aggression and its support forces but also the commanding element,” South Korean army Major General Kim Yong-hyun said.

South Korea’s new president Park Geun-hye had pledged to engage the North if it dropped its nuclear plans, but now faces the prospect of a hostile challenge early in her five-year term.

North Korea is gearing up to expand its own military drills and may be preparing to test-fire short-to-medium-range missiles by banning flights and sailing off its coast, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency said, quoting South Korean government sources.

“The North’s military … is preparing large-scale combined military exercises so it may have blocked off the areas for nautical firing or fighter jet firing exercises,” Yonhap quoted a South Korean government source as saying.

“But the firing of missiles cannot be ruled out.”

The South’s defence ministry and office of the joint chiefs of staff could not confirm that report, but South Korean officials have said the North is conducting military exercises that appear to be larger in scale than in previous years.

Preparing for war?

Japan’s Kyodo news agency is now reporting that camouflage netting has been placed over buses and trains in Pyongyang, the first time in years such measures have been taken.

The news agency speculates it is an indication the country is preparing for a possible war.

Tensions have ratcheted higher across the Korean peninsula since the North launched a long-range rocket in December.

This was followed with a third nuclear test on February 12, triggering the prospect of more UN sanctions that are due to be formally announced on Thursday after the United States and China, the North’s one major diplomatic ally, struck a deal to punish Pyongyang.

The proposed fresh sanctions would explicitly ban the sale to Pyongyang of items coveted by North Korea’s ruling elite, such as yachts and racing cars, a UN Security Council diplomat said on condition of anonymity.

The US ambassador to the United Nations, Susan Rice, said the new sanctions would target “the illicit activities of North Korean diplomatic personnel, North Korean banking relationships, (and) illicit transfers of bulk cash”.

Despite sanctions, Pyongyang now has a nuclear stockpile sufficient for around half a dozen warheads, has made substantial progress in developing a long-range missile and is working towards miniaturising a nuclear warhead for an intercontinental ballistic missile.

North Korea threatens pre-emptive nuclear strike against US

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/mar/07/north-korea-threatens-nuclear-strike-us

North Korean soldier guard Unha-3 rocket

North Korean soldiers standing guard in front of the Unha-3 rocket at Tangachai-ri space centre. Photograph: Pedro Ugarte/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has vowed to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States, amplifying its threatening rhetoric hours before athe UN security council voted to impose new sanctions on Pyongyang for a recent nuclear test.

An unidentified spokesman for Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said the North will exercise its right for “pre-emptive nuclear strikes on the headquarters of the aggressors” because Washington is pushing to start a nuclear war against it.

Although North Korea boasts of nuclear bombs and pre-emptive strikes, it is not thought to have mastered the ability to produce a warhead small enough to put on a missile capable of reaching the US. It is believed to have enough nuclear fuel, however, for a handful of cruder devices.

Such inflammatory rhetoric is common from North Korea, but it has been coming regularly in recent days. The Pyongyang regime is angry over the possible sanctions and over upcoming US-South Korean military drills.

At the UN in New York, the US-drafted resolution was approved unanimously by the 15-nation security council. It came after three weeks of negotiations between the US and China after North Korea’s latest nuclear test on 12 February.

The UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon, a former South Korean foreign minister, said the resolution “sent an unequivocal message to [North Korea] that the international community will not tolerate its pursuit ofnuclear weapons.”

The resolution specifies some luxury items that North Korea’s elite will not be allowed to import, such as yachts, racing cars, luxury automobiles and certain types of jewelry. This is to close a loophole that previously allowed countries to decide for themselves what constitutes a luxury good.

The export of luxury goods, and items related to Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, to North Korea has been prohibited since 2006, though diplomats and analysts say the enforcement of UN sanctions has been uneven.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the United Nations, said: “The strength, breadth and severity of these sanctions will raise the cost to North Korea of its illicit nuclear program and further constrain its ability to finance and source materials and technology for its ballistic missile, conventional and nuclear weapons program,

“When North Korea tries to move money to pay for its nuclear and ballistic missile programs, countries must now block those transfers even if the money is being carried in suitcases full of bulk cash,” she said.

China’s ambassador Li Baodong reiterated Beijing’s calls for a resumption of the stalled six-party aid-for-disarmament talks between the two Koreas, United States, China, Russia and Japan. “We want to see full implementation of the resolution. The top priority now is to defuse the tension, bring down heat, focus on the diplomatic track.”

 

UN orders tough sanctions against N Korea amid nuke threat

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-08/un-orders-tough-new-sanctions-against-north-korea-amid-nuke-thr/4559772

US ambassador Susan Rice votes

SINKHOLES, AN INCREASING CONCERN

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/gallery/2010/jun/03/natural-disasters-guatemala#/?picture=363335098&index=6

Sinkholes around the world – in pictures

From Guatemala to China, sinkholes come in all shapes and sizes

Sinkholes: 2007, Guatemala City, Guatemala: A giant sinkhole

 

Japan and China step up drone race as tension builds over disputed islands

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/jan/08/china-japan-drone-race

China-Japan tensions

The row between China and Japan over the disputed islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – has escalated recently. Photograph: AP

Drones have taken centre stage in an escalating arms race betweenChina and Japan as they struggle to assert their dominance over disputed islands in the East China Sea.

China is rapidly expanding its nascent drone programme, while Japan has begun preparations to purchase an advanced model from the US. Both sides claim the drones will be used for surveillance, but experts warn the possibility of future drone skirmishes in the region’s airspace is “very high”.

Tensions over the islands – called the Diaoyu by China and the Senkaku by Japan – have ratcheted up in past weeks. Chinese surveillance planes flew near the islands four times in the second half of December, according to Chinese state media, but were chased away each time by Japanese F-15 fighter jets. Neither side has shown any signs of backing down.

Japan’s new conservative administration of Shinzo Abe has placed a priority on countering the perceived Chinese threat to the Senkakus since it won a landslide victory in last month’s general election. Soon after becoming prime minister, Abe ordered a review of Japan’s 2011-16 mid-term defence programme, apparently to speed up the acquisition of between one and three US drones.

Under Abe, a nationalist who wants a bigger international role for the armed forces, Japan is expected to increase defence spending for the first time in 11 years in 2013. The extra cash will be used to increase the number of military personnel and upgrade equipment. The country’s deputy foreign minister, Akitaka Saiki, summoned the Chinese ambassador to Japan on Tuesday to discuss recent “incursions” of Chinese ships into the disputed territory.

China appears unbowed. “Japan has continued to ignore our warnings that their vessels and aircraft have infringed our sovereignty,” top-level marine surveillance official Sun Shuxian said in an interview posted to the State Oceanic Administration’s website, according to Reuters. “This behaviour may result in the further escalation of the situation at sea and has prompted China to pay great attention and vigilance.”

China announced late last month that the People’s Liberation Army was preparing to test-fly a domestically developed drone, which analysts say is likely a clone of the US’s carrier-based X-47B. “Key attack technologies will be tested,” reported the state-owned China Daily, without disclosing further details.

Andrei Chang, editor-in-chief of the Canadian-based Kanwa Defence Review, said China might be attempting to develop drones that can perform reconnaissance missions as far away as Guam, where the US is building a military presence as part of its “Asia Pivot” strategy.

China unveiled eight new models in November at an annual air show on the southern coastal city Zhuhai, photographs of which appeared prominently in the state-owned press. Yet the images may better indicate China’s ambitions than its abilities, according to Chang: “We’ve seen these planes on the ground only — if they work or not, that’s difficult to explain.”

Japanese media reports said the defence ministry hopes to introduce Global Hawk unmanned aircraft near the disputed islands by 2015 at the earliest in an attempt to counter Beijing’s increasingly assertive naval activity in the area.

Chinese surveillance vessels have made repeated intrusions into Japanese waters since the government in Tokyo in effect nationalised the Senkakus in the summer, sparking riots in Chinese cities and damaging trade ties between Asia’s two biggest economies.

The need for Japan to improve its surveillance capability was underlined late last year when Japanese radar failed to pick up a low-flying Chinese aircraft as it flew over the islands.

The Kyodo news agency quoted an unnamed defence ministry official as saying the drones would be used “to counter China’s growing assertiveness at sea, especially when it comes to the Senkaku islands”.

China’s defence budget has exploded over the past decade, from about £12.4bn in 2002 to almost £75bn in 2011, and its military spending could surpass the US’s by 2035. The country’s first aircraft carrier, a refurbished Soviet model called the Liaoning, completed its first sea trials in August.

A 2012 report by the Pentagon acknowledged long-standing rumours that China was developing a new generation of stealth drones, called Anjian, or Dark Sword, whose capabilities could surpass those of the US’s fleet.

China’s state media reported in October that the country would build 11 drone bases along the coastline by 2015. “Over disputed islands, such as the Diaoyu Islands, we do not lag behind in terms of the number of patrol vessels or the frequency of patrolling,” said Senior Colonel Du Wenlong, according to China Radio International. “The problem lies in our surveillance capabilities.”

China’s military is notoriously opaque, and analysts’ understanding of its drone programme is limited. “They certainly get a lot of mileage out of the fact that nobody knows what the hell they’re up to, and they’d take great care to protect that image,” said Ron Huisken, an expert on east Asian security at Australian National University.

He said the likelihood of a skirmish between Chinese and Japanese drones in coming years was “very high”.

US drones have also attracted the interest of the South Korean government as it seeks to beef up its ability to monitor North Korea, after last month’s successful launch of a rocket that many believe was a cover for a ballistic-missile test.

The US’s Global Hawk is piloted remotely by a crew of three and can fly continuously for up to 30 hours at a maximum height of about 60,000 ft. It has no attack capability.

The US deployed the advanced reconnaissance drone to monitor damage to the Fukushima nuclear power plant in the aftermath of the March 2011 earthquake and tsunami on Japan’s north-east coast.

N Korea threatens to scrap 1953 armistice accord

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-03-06/n-korea-threatens-to-scrap-armistice-accord/4554956

South Korean soldiers participate in a ceremony marking the 62nd anniversary of the outbreak of the 1950-53 Korean War

North Korea has threatened to scrap the armistice which ended the Korean War in 1953, citing US moves to impose sanctions for its nuclear test and tensions over South Korean-US exercises.

The threat comes amid reports from the United Nations that China and the United States have reached agreement on new measures to punish the North for last month’s nuclear weapons test.

The North’s military said it could launch a “precise” strike anytime, unrestrained by the armistice. It also warned it could mount a strike with atomic weapons to counter any US nuclear threat.

In a statement on official media yesterday, the military called the joint exercise a “most blatant” provocation and slammed a “vicious” scheme by the US and its allies to push for tougher United Nations sanctions.

The armistice that ended the 1950-53 war will be “completely” nullified from March 11, when the South Korean-US exercise gets into full swing in the South, the North said.

An annual exercise known as Foal Eagle began on March 1 and will run until April 30, involving more than 10,000 US troops along with a far greater number of South Korean personnel.

Separately, US and South Korean troops will stage a largely computer-simulated joint exercise called Key Resolve from March 11-21. The United States has had troops based in the South since the war, with a force currently numbering 28,500.

Pyongyang habitually denounces such drills as a provocative rehearsal for invasion but Seoul and Washington insist they are defensive in nature.

The North said it would cut off a military hotline in the truce village of Panmunjom, which straddles the heavily fortified border with South Korea.

The armistice was never followed by a peace treaty and the combatants in the Korean conflict have remained technically at war. The hotline has been used by North Korean and US officers to prevent accidental conflicts.

The North in the past has threatened to scrap the armistice at times of high tension.

Pyongyang said the February 12 nuclear test, its third and most powerful, was a response to tightened UN sanctions imposed after its long-range rocket launch last December.

But the underground blast brought strong international criticism, even from ally China.

If Wilders is wrong, explain this conference!

http://blogs.news.com.au/heraldsun/andrewbolt/index.php/heraldsun/comments/if_wilders_is_wrong_explain_this_conference/

image

Geert Wilders, the Dutch political leader now on a speaking tour of Australia, has not only had his speeches blockaded by violent demonstrators trying to stop Australians from hearing him.

He has not only been vilified in the media for trying to warn that Islam as an ideology is a menace to Western values and freedoms – from the freedom to speak to even identify as gay.

Depressingly, he has even been shunned by Opposition Leader Tony Abbott and Jewish community leaders. It seems to me that political or community advantage is being put before principle – and fear is preventing a rational discussion of Wilders’ message.

It’s driven Abbott, even Abbott, to misrepresent what Wilders is in fact saying and play blind to the issue he actually raises – which is about the nature of Islam, not its followers:

 

Mr Abbott said Wilders’ was “substantially” wrong about Islam and the preparedness of Muslims living in Australia to integrate.

“He is entitled to his view but I think that the Muslims in this country see themselves rightly as fair dinkum, dinky-di Australians, just as the Catholics and the Jews and Protestants and the atheists, we see ourselves as Australians,” Mr Abbott told host Neil Mitchell.

This hypocrisy and fear is exposed best by what is misleadingly called a ”Peace Conference and Exhibition” being organised in Melbourne in March.

The conference is advertised on billboards in Broadmeadows, Altona, Dandenong and South Melbourne and is organised by the Islamic Information Services Network of Australasia and Islamic Research and Educational Academy. It is also and backed by the Islamic Council of Victoria and a range of other Muslim groups, mosques and communities.

It is fronted by Melbourne Muslim activist Wazeem Razvi, who in a recorded speech, boasted of the range of speakers:

 

Our guest speakers are … more than 15 international speakers, the chief guest that we have is Abdul Rahman Al-Sudays, the imam of Mecca … and the big news is alhumdulillah he has agreed to come to Australia and he has agreed to come to our Islamic conference … Also Brother Imran from India, Sheikh Abdul Hadi who is one of the speakers from PeaceTV from UK, Sheikh Anwar Sahib from New Zealand , one of the speakers from the Islamic Online University, run by Dr Bilal Philips … Brother Eddie [Eddie Redzovic] from USA, Sheikh Hussain Yee of Malaysia, the Buddhist convert to Islam, Sheikh Abdul Aziz, the Board of Imams president in Australia … Sheikh Issa from the Werribee mosque, Abu Hamza from IISNA , Abu Ayman from Ahl As-Sunnah wal Jama’ , Sheikh Mohamad Abou Eid from Preston mosque, and … Sheikh Mishari Alafasy from Kuwait, … Mishari from Emirates Dubai in the UAE … Sheikh ‘Assim alHakeem, the English speaker from Saudi Arabia…

We have to invite Dr Zakir Naik from India. He is, I reckon, inshallah, a very good scholar of Islam and comparative religion. He is my boss’ boss, so we are definitely going to invite him….

The big news is, alhumdulillah, that we have approached the Prime Minister, Miss Julia Gillard, now this word has to be made between us, don’t let it go out, alhumdulillah, she has agreed to be present in the conference …

With such wide backing, and so many prominent speakers, it would be fair to say it represents Muslim thought today in Australia and the world.

And when you check precisely what a number of the speakers have said, you come up with a picture of Islam remarkably similar to the one Geert Wilders is trying to warn against.

Take the main organiser himself.
 In a lecture recorded last December in Melbourne, Waseem Razvi, who supports Sharia law in Australia, said Islam allowed violence in defence of the faith:

 

You don’t have to try to convince by being compromising on Islam … you don’t have to say that Islam is all about peace, “no we don’t fight, we are not violent.” You know, the Prophet fought 30 wars … yes, we are not non-violent, we are violent but when there is a need for it. We are battles people. We are not like Buddhists wearing an orange dress and always saying we want peace, and you never get your own country. No, we fight for our country. We have in Islam Jihad, yes, but we will never do terrorism. Yes Jihad is very Islamic, so you don’t have to retreat from that.

image

Here are some facts you should know about the other invited speakers.


Al-Azhar Sheikh Abdur-Rahman Al-Sudais
, imam of the Grand Mosque in Mecca, is the highest-ranking cleric in the Sunni Muslim world. He has prayed to God to “terminate” the Jewsand is a virulent anti-Semite to judge from his sermons:

[Jews are] the scum of the human race, the rats of the world, the violators of pacts and agreements, the murderers of the prophets, and the offspring of apes and pigs…

Read history and you will understand that the Jews of yesterday are the evil fathers of the Jews of today, who are evil offspring, infidels, distorters of [others’] words, calf-worshippers, prophet-murderers, prophecy-deniers… the scum of the human race ‘whom Allah cursed and turned into apes and pigs…’ These are the Jews, an ongoing continuum of deceit, obstinacy, licentiousness, evil, and corruption…

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