(NationalSentinel) War Drums: Two ominous developments over the last 24 hours regarding North Korea:
1) During a massive military parade to celebrate the birthday of leader Kim Jong-un’s grandfather and founder of the country, Kim il-Sung, new intermediate-range ballistic missiles were shown, likely as a signal to Western intelligence agencies that the country’s missile program has advanced farther than anyone believed;
2) China canceled all flights to North Korea until further notice, while also issuing a stern warning to Pyongyang that the tense situation with the United States was inching toward a point of no return.
First, the missiles. As reported by The Wall Street Journal:
North Korea showed off what appeared to be at least one new long-range missile at a military parade Saturday, as tensions simmer over the possibility of a military confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea.
The weaponry on show, which appeared to include a newly-modified intercontinental ballistic missile and two types of large launchers with never-before-seen missile canisters, is likely to trigger fresh concerns about the speed with which Pyongyang’s missile program has advanced in recent years.
A spokesman for South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense declined to comment on the possible new military hardware, saying more time was needed to analyze the missiles.
But an expert on North Korean weapons said the new hardware appeared to be far more advanced than expected.
Analysts are calling it a “Frankenmissile.”
“We’re totally floored right now,” said Dave Schmerler, a research associate at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies in Monterey, Calif. “I was not expecting to see this many new missile designs.”
Also paraded: A pair of missile canisters that had not previously been seen, along with missiles that appeared to be designed to be launched from submarines.
But are they real weapons? Analysts say it’s hard to tell.
“A lot of this may be intimidation or bluffing, but it’s potentially a sign of things to come,” Schmerler said.
Next, the warning from China, per Reuters:
China said on Friday tension over North Korea had to be stopped from reaching an “irreversible and unmanageable stage” as a U.S. aircraft carrier group steamed toward the region amid fears the North may conduct a sixth nuclear weapons test.
Concern has grown since the U.S. Navy fired 59 Tomahawk missiles at a Syrian airfield last week in response to a deadly gas attack, raising questions about U.S. President Donald Trump’s plans for North Korea, which has conducted missile and nuclear tests in defiance of U.N. and unilateral sanctions.
“We call on all parties to refrain from provoking and threatening each other, whether in words or actions, and not let the situation get to an irreversible and unmanageable stage,” Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi told reporters in Beijing.
South Korea’s Yonghap News Agency adds:
China’s flagship carrier Air China, the only Chinese airline with regular flights to North Korea, will temporarily halt its flights between Pyongyang and Beijing starting Monday, China’s state-run media reported Friday.
China’s CCTV gave no reason for the temporary suspension by Air China, but the measure came as tensions are high on the Korean Peninsula over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
The Chinese media said flights between Pyongyang and Beijing have often been canceled due to a lack of passengers.
How do you go from “regular flights” to canceling them due to a “lack of passengers?”
In any event, clearly the major players believe the situation volatile enough to take appropriate security measures.
As for Kim, he’s not about to back down, say experts, because it would result in unacceptable loss of face for him, despite the fact that he knows there’s no way he wins an out-and-out fight with the U.S. military. As reported by the UK’s Daily Mail, Kim would rather lose his country than lose its respect:
The chubby young tyrant, Kim Jong-un, has enjoyed playing the unpredictable despot ever since he inherited power in 2011. Now he is playing with fire.
This is a leader who would willingly take his small, poverty-stricken country to the brink of war with the world’s only superpower.
He knows he can’t win, but he also knows that a second Korean War will be a bloodbath because he has a vast arsenal – everything from primitive nuclear bombs, ballistic missiles and nerve gas to 150,000 cannon – with which he can hit South Korean cities and the US bases there.
To save his own rule – and after the ominous threats emanating from the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, in recent days it would be an unimaginable humiliation for him to back down – Kim Jong-un is prepared for North Korea to take the suicide option with devastating consequences for the region.
And so a terrible game of dare is unfolding between the Supreme Leader and America’s new President.
President Donald J. Trump has made it plain the U.S. will not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea with the means to deliver such weapons to the shores of America.
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