S. Korea warns North against nuclear test

Updated 01 February 2013
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S. Korea warns North against nuclear test

SEOUL: South Korean President Lee Myung-Bak held an emergency security meeting yesterday that warned North Korea of “serious consequences” if it went through with an expected nuclear test.
The meeting at the presidential Blue House included the defense minister, National Intelligence Service chief and the national security advisor.
A statement issued afterwards said Lee had insisted on a strengthened defense posture, given Pyongyang’s apparent desire to take advantage of the ongoing leadership transition in the South.
Lee will be formally replaced as president by the newly elected Park Geun-Hye on Feb. 25.
“The government urges N. Korea to immediately stop all provocative statements and actions and abide by international obligations including UN Security Council resolutions,” the statement said.
“If the North miscalculates and commits a provocative act again, it would face various serious consequences”, it added.
N. Korea has threatened to carry out its third nuclear test in response to UN sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for its long-range rocket launch in December.
It has also warned of “physical counter-measures” against the South if Seoul “directly participates” in the UN sanctions.
S. Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-Jin later visited a front-line army unit and called for tight vigilance.
“Provocations are always possible because N. Korean troops have been put on full alert,” he said, adding S. Korean troops should cope swiftly with any provocations.
Pyongyang said its rocket launch was a scientific mission aimed at placing a satellite in orbit, but most of the world saw it as a disguised ballistic missile test. South Korea staged a satellite launch on Wednesday.
After North’s rocket launch, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution, expanding sanctions imposed on the country after its nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009.
North Korea’s space agency, a bank, four trading companies and four individuals were added to the UN sanctions list for an assets freeze and travel ban.
According to Lee’s national security advisor, Chun Young-Woo, numerous N. Korean state entities have begun opening special accounts in China to pre-empt fresh sanctions that would almost inevitably follow a nuclear test.
“In anticipation of UN sanctions, N. Korea has opened dozens of these bank accounts under aliases,” Chun was quoted as telling a seminar on Wednesday by the Chosun Ilbo daily.
Insisting that the North had been repeatedly “weaseling” out of sanctions already imposed, Chun said the UN measures against Pyongyang should be ramped up to the level of those imposed on Iran.


Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis (L) talks with National Security Adviser John Bolton. (Reuters)
Updated 41 min 48 sec ago
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Bolton, Mattis meet at Pentagon

  • When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
  • The two men decided to have “regular” meetings

WASHINGTON: US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis met with John Bolton, the new national security adviser to President Donald Trump, at the Pentagon on Wednesday, a spokeswoman said.
The breakfast meeting came amid US media reports that Mattis risks being isolated by Trump’s more bellicose coterie of advisers, including Bolton, an Iraq War-era hawk who has advocated for military action in both Iran and North Korea.
Bolton “was here this morning,” Pentagon spokeswoman Dana White said.
The two men decided to have “regular” meetings, she added, noting that CIA Director Mike Pompeo, Trump’s pick to run the State Department, could join them.
When Mattis first met Bolton at the Pentagon last month, the defense secretary jokingly said: “I’ve heard that you’re absolutely the devil incarnate and I wanted to meet you.”
Mattis, a retired four-star Marine general, is one of a dwindling pool of original Trump picks not to have drawn negative attention from his mercurial boss.
According to multiple reports, after a suspected chemical attack in Syria this month, he successfully pushed Trump to only taking limited action in response, while Bolton wanted a larger operation.
Mattis used to meet regularly with Rex Tillerson, who was fired last month from his position as secretary of state.
Pompeo is seen as being more hawkish than Mattis, further raising the possibility of the Pentagon chief’s influence waning.