Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

A handout picture taken in 2014 shows the submarine ARA San Juan docked in Buenos Aires. More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the US, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort to find ARA San Juan. (Argentine Navy/AFP)
Updated 19 November 2017
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Satellite signals raises hope for missing Argentine submarine

MAR DEL PLATA/BUENOS AIRES, , Argentina: Failed satellite calls that probably came from an Argentine navy submarine missing in the South Atlantic raised hopes that its 44 crew members are alive, but stormy conditions on Sunday complicated the search.
Boats searching for the German-built ARA San Juan on the ocean surface struggled against waves of up to 6 meters, navy spokesman Enrique Balbi said. The submarine was 432 kilometers off Argentina’s southern Atlantic coast when it sent its last communication early on Wednesday.
“Luckily we have been able to continue with the air search,” Balbi told reporters on Sunday. “Unfortunately, we have not yet had contact with the San Juan submarine, and we will keep working.”
More than a dozen boats and aircraft from Argentina, the United States, Britain, Chile and Brazil had joined the effort.
The submarine probably tried to make seven satellite calls on Saturday between late morning and early afternoon, the Argentine defense ministry said.
“Yesterday’s news was something of a respite for us, to know that there is life,” Claudio Rodriguez, the brother of a crew member, said on television channel A24 on Sunday morning.
Stormy weather probably interfered with the calls, and the government was working with an unidentified US company specialized in satellite communication to trace the location.
“We are checking and confirming that information, and we are trying to squeeze out any information that may result in something concrete to detect the location,” Balbi said.
A search of 80 percent of the area initially targeted for the operation turned up no sign of the vessel on the ocean surface, he said, but the crew should have ample supplies of food and oxygen.
The navy said an electrical outage on the diesel-electric-propelled vessel might have downed its communications. Protocol calls for submarines to surface if communication is lost.
The US Navy said early on Sunday morning that it would send an aircraft with 21 personnel from Jacksonville, Florida, to assist with the search. It had previously said it would deploy a deep-sea mission with a remotely operated vehicle and two vessels capable of rescuing people from submarines.
Crew members’ relatives gathered at a naval base in the coastal city of Mar del Plata, where the submarine had been expected to arrive around noon on Sunday from Ushuaia. However, it would not be unusual for storms to cause delays, Balbi said.
Argentine-born Pope Francis mentioned the missing vessel in his Sunday noon prayer.
“I also pray for the men of the crew of the Argentine military submarine which is missing,” the pontiff said.
The dramatic search has captivated the nation of 44 million, which recently mourned the loss of five citizens killed when a truck driver plowed through a bicycle path in New York City.
The ARA San Juan was inaugurated in 1983, making it the newest of the three submarines in the navy’s fleet. Built in Germany by Nordseewerke, it underwent midlife maintenance in 2008 in Argentina.


North Korea slams Pence remark, renews threat to quit summit

A man watches a television news screen showing North Korean leader Kim Jong Un at a railway station in Seoul on May 16, 2018. (AFP / Jung Yeon-je)
Updated 55 min 50 sec ago
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North Korea slams Pence remark, renews threat to quit summit

  • Pyongyang’s latest salvo follows recent comments by US Vice President Mike Pence suggesting the North may end up like Libya if it doesn’t move forward with denuclearization.
  • US President Donald Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed. But the US says it is still working on making it happen.

TOKYO: North Korea has renewed its threat to pull out of a summit next month with President Donald Trump, saying it is just as ready to meet in a nuclear confrontation as at the negotiating table.
Pyongyang’s latest salvo follows recent comments by US Vice President Mike Pence suggesting the North may end up like Libya if it doesn’t move forward with denuclearization.
Choe Son Hui, the vice minister of foreign affairs, was quoted Thursday by the North’s state-run news agency slamming as “ignorant” comments Pence made in an interview with Fox News that compared North Korea to Libya, saying they showed he does not understand North Korea’s situation.
She also questioned whether the summit, scheduled for June 12 in Singapore, would be worthwhile if the remarks reflect Washington’s position.
“We will neither beg the US for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us,” KCNA quoted her as saying. “Whether the US will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision and behavior of the United States.”
The summit plan has hit a number of speed bumps recently as both sides have begun taking tougher positions and trading barbs. Trump met with South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Tuesday at the White House for consultations and suggested the summit could be delayed. But the US says it is still working on making it happen.
Choe, a veteran diplomat and former head of the North America desk at the Foreign Ministry, was responding to comments Pence made to Fox News this week that it would be a “mistake” for the North Koreans to think they can “play” Trump. Pence said both the Clinton and Bush administrations had been “played” by the North Korean government.
“We offered concessions to the North Korean regime in exchange for promises to end their nuclear weapons program, only to see them break those promises and abandon them,” he said, adding that if Pyongyang does not go along with talks to give up its nuclear weapons, Washington could return to the “Libya model.”
That suggestion, which was made earlier this month by National Security Adviser John Bolton and also sparked an outraged response from the North, is especially inflammatory to Pyongyang.
The Libya model refers to negotiations in 2004 that led to the shipping of nuclear components to the US from Libya under Muammar Qaddafi. But in Pyongyang’s mind the most important part of the story is what came after that. Qaddafi was deposed after a 42-year reign and killed in 2011 — the year Kim assumed power in North Korea — while his country spiraled into chaos.
“In view of the remarks of the US high-ranking politicians who have not yet woken up to this stark reality and compare the DPRK to Libya that met a tragic fate, I come to think that they know too little about us,” she said, using the acronym for North Korea’s official name.
She added: “To borrow their words, we can also make the US taste an appalling tragedy it has neither experienced nor even imagined up to now.”
How seriously the North would really consider calling off the summit isn’t entirely clear, however.
Meeting with Trump as an equal on the world stage would be an important moment for Kim and Choe couched her statement carefully, noting that she would only recommend the North Korean leader withdraw from the meeting if Washington “clings to unlawful and outrageous acts.”
North Korea was also expected to go through with a major gesture of goodwill ahead of the summit by dismantling its nuclear test site. The North, which has vowed to stop all underground nuclear testing and intercontinental ballistic missile launches, has invited foreign media to the remote site to observe a ceremony to mark the closing.
The ceremony was expected to be held Thursday or Friday, depending on the weather.