US military base blares false alarm amid North Korea concerns

The operator immediately identified the mistake and alerted all units at the base of the false alarm, which did not interfere with any operations. (File/AFP)
Short Url
Updated 28 December 2019

US military base blares false alarm amid North Korea concerns

  • The incident came a day before Japanese broadcaster NHK mistakenly sent a news alert saying North Korea fired a missile over Japan
  • There are concerns Pyongyang could do something provocative if Washington doesn’t back down and relieve sanctions

SEOUL, South Korea: A US military base in South Korea accidentally blared an alert siren instead of a bugle call, causing a brief scare just as the US and its allies are monitoring for signs of a provocation from North Korea, which has warned it could send a “Christmas gift” over deadlocked nuclear negotiations.
The siren at Camp Casey, which is near the border with North Korea, went off by “human error” at around 10 p.m. Thursday, said Lt. Col. Martyn Crighton, a public affairs officer for the 2nd Infantry Division.
The operator immediately identified the mistake and alerted all units at the base of the false alarm, which did not interfere with any operations, Crighton said in an email Saturday.
The incident came a day before Japanese broadcaster NHK caused panic by mistakenly sending a news alert saying North Korea fired a missile over Japan that landed in the sea off the country’s northeastern island of Hokkaido early Friday. The broadcaster apologized, saying the alert was for media training purposes.
North Korea has been dialing up pressure on Washington ahead of an end-of-year deadline issued by leader Kim Jong Un for the Trump administration to offer mutually acceptable terms for a nuclear deal. There are concerns that Pyongyang could do something provocative if Washington doesn’t back down and relieve sanctions imposed on the North’s broken economy.
The North fired two missiles over Japan during a provocative run in weapons tests in 2017, which also included three flight tests of developmental intercontinental ballistic missiles that demonstrated potential capabilities to reach the US mainland.
Tensions eased after Kim initiated diplomacy with Washington and Seoul in 2018 while looking to leverage his nukes for economic and security benefits.
But negotiations have faltered since a February summit between Kim and President Donald Trump broke down after the US side rejected North Korean demands for broad sanctions relief in exchange for a partial surrender of its nuclear capabilities.
In a statement issued earlier this month, North Korean senior diplomat Ri Thae Song asserted that the Trump administration was running out of time to salvage faltering nuclear negotiations, and said it’s entirely up to the United States to choose what “Christmas gift” it gets from the North.
The North also in recent weeks said it conducted two “crucial” tests at a long-range rocket facility it said would strengthen its nuclear deterrent, prompting speculation that it’s developing a new ICBM or preparing a satellite launch.


Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

Updated 20 January 2020

Ukraine to press for plane crash black boxes as Iran minister visits

  • Ukraine’s foreign minister said returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash
  • The plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran

KIEV: Ukraine will press Iran to hand over the black boxes from the crash of a Ukrainian passenger plane at a meeting with a visiting Iranian delegation on Monday, Foreign Minister Vadym Prystaiko told reporters.
Ukraine would convey the message to visiting Minister of Roads and Urban Development Mohammad Eslami, that returning the black boxes would show that Iran wanted an unbiased investigation of the crash, Prystaiko said.
“His main task is to apologize and acknowledge what happened. We hope that we can go a little further than just political discussions and discuss practical problems. Among them in particular is the return of the black boxes,” Prystaiko said.
Iran had said on Sunday it was trying to analyze the black boxes from the airliner its military shot down this month, denying an earlier report it would hand them to Ukraine. All 176 aboard the flight died.
“At first they stated that they were handing them over, then the same person stated that they were not handing them over. This created some misunderstanding in Ukraine and we were starting to be asked: are they being handed over or not?“
Many of those killed had were Iranians with dual citizenship, but Iran does not recognize dual nationality and on Monday said it would treat the victims as Iranian nationals.
Canada, which had 57 citizens on the flight, said there were still no firm plans for downloading the recorders. Ottawa and other capitals have called for the black boxes to be sent abroad.
The Jan. 8 plane disaster has heightened international pressure on Iran as it grapples with a long-running dispute with the United States over its nuclear program and its influence in the region that briefly erupted into open conflict this month.
The Iranian military has said it downed Ukraine International Airlines flight 752 in error in the aftermath of tit-for-tat strikes by the United States and Iran. But authorities delayed admitting this, prompting days of protests on Iran’s streets.
Ukraine held a ceremony at Kiev’s Boryspil airport on Sunday as the bodies of 11 citizens, including nine crew, were returned to Ukraine.