Ruling party chief says N.K. missile launch ‘unpardonable’

The United Nations condemned North Korea's "outrageous" firing of a ballistic missile over Japan on Tuesday, demanding Pyongyang halt its weapons program but holding back on any threat of new sanctions on the isolated regime. North Korea said the launch of an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) was to counter U.S. and South Korean military drills and was a first step in military action in the Pacific to "contain" the U.S. territory of Guam. The North's leader Kim Jong Un ordered the launch to be conducted for the first time from its capital, Pyongyang, and said more exercises with the Pacific as the target were needed, the North's KCNA news agency said on Wednesday. "The current ballistic rocket launching drill like a real war is the first step of the military operation of the KPA in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam," KCNA quoted Kim as saying. The Korean People's Army or KPA is the North's military. Earlier this month, North Korea threatened to fire four missiles into the sea near Guam, home to a major U.S. military presence, after President Donald Trump said the North would face "fire and fury" if it threatened the United States. In a statement the 15-member Security Council said it was of "vital importance" that North Korea take immediate, concrete actions to reduce tensions and called on all states to implement U.N. sanctions on Pyongyang. However, the U.S.-drafted statement, which was agreed by consensus, does not threaten new sanctions on North…... [read more]

NEW YORK: Wall Street set aside morning jitters over North Korea's missile launch and rose to a positive finish on Tuesday (Aug 29), reversing losses from earlier in the day. The flag of Texas flies outside the New York Stock Exchange. The exchange has committed more than US$1 million for Hurricane Harvey relief efforts. (AP Photo Peter Morgan) But oil stocks continued to take a battering as Hurricane Harvey left more than 20 per cent of US production in the Gulf of Mexico off line. The blue-chip Dow Jones Industrial Average rose 56.97 points (0.26 per cent) to 21,865.37. The broader S&P 500, which comprises many US companies based in Houston, Texas, edged up 2.06 points (0.08 per cent) to end at 2,446.30, while the tech-heavy Nasdaq gained 18.87 points (0.30 per cent) to 6,301.89. Although investors were shaken overnight after North Korea launched a missile that passed over Japan, "The market was relieved in large part to find out that our response was measured, as opposed to two weeks ago," said Art Hogan of Wunderlich Securities. President Donald Trump had earlier promised "fire and fury" if the North persisted in provocations with is nuclear weapons program but on Tuesday made no explicit mention of retaliation, saying only that "all options" were on the table. Hogan said, "The market took some solace in the fact that we are still trying to…... [read more]

LONDON: The euro topped US$1.20 on Tuesday (Aug 29) for the first time in more than two and a half years, as traders bet on the winding down of eurozone crisis-era stimulus measures. The euro topped US$1.20 for the first time in more than two and a half years, as traders bet on the winding down of eurozone crisis-era stimulus measures. (Photo: AFP/Philippe Huguen) At 0810 GMT, the single currency touched US$1.2070, the highest level since early January 2015. That compared with US$1.1978 late in New York on Monday. In hotly-anticipated speeches late last week, central bank chiefs from the US and Europe sidestepped the questions of economic stimulus and monetary policy. European Central Bank chief Mario Draghi meanwhile expressed scant concern over the euro's ongoing strength, dealers said. "Draghi's lack of concern about the euro's recent rally provided the green light for a jump above the key US$1.20 level," NFS Macro analyst Nick Stamenkovic told AFP. "Positive sentiment looks set to persist," he said, adding that recent eurozone data had sparked optimism over the "strengthening growth picture". At the same time, the greenback has been hampered by jitters over US President Donald Trump's possible tax reforms, and geopolitical fears after North Korea's missile launch over Japan. Sentiment was also dented in the wake of monster storm Harvey. "The dollar continues to suffer from the Trump reality check," noted Oanda…... [read more]

The missile was fired eastward from the vicinity of Sunan in Pyongyang at around 5:57 a.m., according to South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS). "It passed through the sky over Japan" and fell into the North Pacific Ocean, the JCS said. It added the projectile, presumed to be an intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM), flew more than 2,700 kilometers at a maximum altitude of around 550 km. It was the North's 13th ballistic missile fired this year alone. The U.N. Security Council decided to hold an emergency meeting in New York later in the day on punitive steps. In a statement, the South Korean government strongly condemned the North for the latest missile launch and urged it to choose the path of denuclearization, not such a "reckless provocation."    South Korean President Moon Jae-in ordered his troops to demonstrate the capability for "strong retaliation" as his office Cheong Wa Dae immediately convened a National Security Council (NSC) session. Foreign Minister Kang Kyung-wha telephoned U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on the North Korea issue. They expressed "deep disappointment" over Pyongyang's move that went against potential talks. Top South Korean and U.S. military officers also discussed "military and strategic responses" to Pyongyang's move in a phone conversation. Gen. Jeong Kyeong-doo, chairman of South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff, and his American counterpart Gen. Joseph Dunford agreed to take related measures at the earliest possible date, which apparently include the temporary dispatch of U.S. strategic assets like long-range bombers…... [read more]

Soldiers from the Japan Air Self-Defense Force set up PAC-3 surface-to-air missile launch systems during a temporary deployment drill at US Yokota Air Bace in Tokyo on August 29, 2017. Photo by AFP/Toru Yamamanaka Nuclear-armed North Korea fired a ballistic missile over Japan and into the Pacific Ocean on Tuesday in a major escalation by Pyongyang amid tensions over its weapons ambitions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said it was an "unprecedented, serious and grave threat" and called for an emergency UN Security Council meeting. The last time a North Korean rocket overflew Japan was in 2009, when Pyongyang said it was satellite launch. Washington, Seoul and Tokyo believed it was a clandestine test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Pyongyang last month carried out two overt ICBM tests that appeared to bring much of the US mainland within reach for the first time and heightened strains in the region. At the time, US President Donald Trump issued an apocalyptic warning of raining "fire and fury" on the North, saying Washington's weapons were "locked and loaded", while Pyongyang threatened to fire a salvo of missiles over Japan towards the US territory of Guam. The latest missile was launched at around 2057 GMT Monday from Sunan, near Pyongyang, travelling "over Japan", the South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said. It flew around 2,700 kilometres (1,700 miles) at a maximum altitude of around 550 kilometres. Guam is about 3,500 kilometres from North Korea -- although the missile was fired in an…... [read more]

North Korea fired three short-range ballistic missiles Saturday, the U.S. military said, following weeks of heightened tensions between Washington and Pyongyang. The missile launches come as tens of thousands of South Korean and U.S. troops take part in joint military drills in the South, which Pyongyang views as a highly provocative rehearsal for an invasion of its own territory. Two of the missiles failed in flight and the third blew up "almost immediately", said a spokesman for U.S. Pacific Command. None of the missiles, which were launched near Kittaeryong, had posed a threat to either North America or the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, the spokesman said. "The first and third missiles... failed in flight. The second missile launch... appears to have blown up almost immediately," said the spokesman, Commander Dave Benham, adding that the launches happened over a span of 30 minutes. Yoshihide Suga, the Japanese government's top spokesman, told reporters in Tokyo Saturday morning: "We confirmed that no ballistic missiles have fallen onto our country's territory or EEZ (exclusive economic zone)." "We confirmed there was no direct impact on our country's security. Our prime minister told us to remain on high alert and do our best to respond to any situations in order to protect our people's lives and property." The launches came as North Korea state media reported that leader Kim Jong-Un oversaw a military exercise simulating a special forces assault on South Korean border islands involving aircraft, "multiple-missile launchers" and howitzers. Shells hit islands standing…... [read more]

After examining the plan, the North's leader said that he would watch Washington's behavior "a little more," but it will make an "important" decision if the U.S. continues its "extremely dangerous reckless actions" on the divided peninsula, according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), source from the Yonhap. He made the remark on Monday during his inspection of the Strategic Force command which threatened last week to fire four intermediate-range ballistic missiles towards Guam. The North's unit in charge of missile launches said that the Hwasong-12 missiles will fly over Japan and splash down 30-40 kilometers from the western Pacific island. "In order to defuse the tension and prevent dangerous military conflict on the Korean Peninsula, it is necessary for the U.S. to make a proper option first and show it through action," Kim said. The latest remark may indicate that there are no imminent plans to fire off missiles by the repressive regime, but it could make provocations depending on how Seoul and Washington conducts their annual joint military drills slated for late this month. The warning came after Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Seoul that military options would come only after sanctions fail. But the general made it clear that the U.S. is ready to make a "decisive" military response to Pyongyang's possible missile strikes near Guam. U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis also warned Monday that the U.S. will go to war with the North if…... [read more]

According to the Korea Exchange, a gram of gold changed hands at 47,210 won (US$41.2) on Friday, the highest level since April 20, when speculation of a crisis on the peninsula swirled. Last week alone, gold prices jumped 3.18 percent from the previous week, marking the first time since early July last year that the weekly increase rate has surpassed 3 percent. The bourse operator also said the weekly trading volume of gold also reached an all-time high of 366 kilograms Market watchers attributed the surge in gold prices to stronger investor appetite for safe-haven assets. In contrast, South Korean stocks plunged last week, with its currency also tumbling against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 3.16 percent last week from a week earlier, with the local currency plunging 18.40 won against the greenback for the past three sessions. Investors have been rattled by escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, sparked by North Korea's two intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July. In a bitter war of words, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened the North with "fire and fury." Pyongyang has pushed back, saying it will fire four missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific. "In light of gold prices and other indicators, it is clear that flight to safety has strengthened," said Lee Kyung-min, a senior analyst at Daeshin Investment & Securities Co. "Stocks and other risky assets are expected to suffer volatility until the end of the third…... [read more]

According to the Korea Exchange, a gram of gold changed hands at 47,210 won (US$41.2) on Friday, the highest level since April 20, when speculation of a crisis on the peninsula swirled. Last week alone, gold prices jumped 3.18 percent from the previous week, marking the first time since early July last year that the weekly increase rate has surpassed 3 percent. The bourse operator also said the weekly trading volume of gold also reached an all-time high of 366 kilograms Market watchers attributed the surge in gold prices to stronger investor appetite for safe-haven assets. In contrast, South Korean stocks plunged last week, with its currency also tumbling against the U.S. dollar. The benchmark Korea Composite Stock Price Index (KOSPI) dropped 3.16 percent last week from a week earlier, with the local currency plunging 18.40 won against the greenback for the past three sessions. Investors have been rattled by escalating tensions on the Korean Peninsula, sparked by North Korea's two intercontinental ballistic missile launches in July. In a bitter war of words, U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened the North with "fire and fury." Pyongyang has pushed back, saying it will fire four missiles near the U.S. territory of Guam in the Pacific. "In light of gold prices and other indicators, it is clear that flight to safety has strengthened," said Lee Kyung-min, a senior analyst at Daeshin Investment & Securities Co. "Stocks and other risky assets are expected to suffer volatility until the end of the third…... [read more]

Rex Tillerson has had to make several tricky diplomatic tours since becoming U.S. secretary of state. He wrapped up his latest, this time to Southeast Asia, on Wednesday. With stops in the Philippines, Thailand, and Malaysia, Tillerson’s goal was to assure regional leaders that the Trump administration cares about this strategically important area which - if massed collectively - has the sixth largest economy in the world. Yet far from bringing the parties closer together, the trip was overshadowed by developments in North Korea, and only underscored the fact that the agendas of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) countries - Indonesia, Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, Malaysia, Brunei, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar and Vietnam – are not completely aligned with those of the White House. While some officials of ASEAN members acknowledged concerns about North Korea, they also cited concerns about trade relations with the United States. “We haven’t really discussed that among ourselves,” said Philippine acting Foreign Affairs Secretary Enrique Manalo of the U.S. call to minimize relations with Pyongyang. Before Trump’s election, the Obama administration supported the Trans-Pacific Partnership trade deal to emphasize its regional commitment and also to push back on China’s growing power and presence, which is a concern for many ASEAN states. But Trump pulled out of that initiative shortly after taking office and has offered no alternatives. On the political front too, the administration has only limited affinity with ASEAN allies. The latter wanted to give priority to a broad range of issues such…... [read more]