Never miss a story

Get subscribed to our newsletter


×
FILE - Gen. Robert Abrams looks to the dais as he testifies before the Senate Armed Services Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington, Sept. 25, 2018. VOA

North Korea’s nuclear and other military capabilities remain unchanged and still pose a threat to the United States and its allies, the top U.S. military commander in South Korea told a Senate hearing Tuesday.

“Little to no verifiable change has occurred in North Korea’s military capabilities,” despite Pyongyang’s public statements about denuclearization, General Robert Abrams, head of U.S. Forces Korea, told the Senate Armed Services Committee.


The comments underscore the stalled diplomacy between the U.S. and North Korea since President Donald Trump and Kim Jong Un agreed last June in Singapore to work toward the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.

Trump and Kim are set to hold a second summit in Vietnam later this month. U.S. officials have said they expect “significant and verifiable” progress there.

“My personal opinion is the announcement of a second summit…is a positive sign of continued dialogue,” Abrams said. “It certainly beats the alternative of what we were living with in 2017.”


FILE – A TV shows a photo of U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, left, at Seoul Railway Station in Seoul, South Korea, Jan. 1, 2019. VOA

It has been 440 days since North Korea last conducted a nuclear or missile flight test, Abrams noted. “The reduction in tension on the peninsula, it’s palpable,” he said.

“Having said all that though, we have not observed activity that’s consistent with a full-court press on denuclearization,” he added.

Military drills

Meanwhile, North Korea is continuing its annual winter military exercises, Abrams said.

“We have observed no significant changes to the size, scope, or timing of their ongoing exercises,” Abrams said, putting particular emphasis on the word “their.”

At last year’s Singapore summit, Trump announced the cancellation of several major military drills between the U.S. and South Korea, saying they were expensive and needlessly provocative.

North Korea has for decades said the exercises amount to preparation to invade the North — a notion the U.S. strongly denies.

Some U.S. lawmakers and others have expressed concern about U.S. military readiness, should the exercises be postponed much longer.


FILE – U.S. Army and South Korean soldiers take their positions during a demonstration of the combined arms live-fire exercises at the Rodriquez Multi-Purpose Range Complex in Pocheon, north of Seoul, South Korea, March 25, 2015. VOA

Troop levels

Many have also expressed worry that Trump may use the upcoming summit to announce a withdrawal or reduction of U.S. troops in South Korea.

Asked by Senator Jack Reed whether the U.S. can afford to reduce its troop presence, Abrams responded that the current posture “is appropriate in terms of providing an adequate deterrent” against North Korea.

The U.S. currently has over 28,000 troops in South Korea.

Trump has for years complained U.S. troops in Korea are too expensive and do not adequately advance U.S. interests. However the U.S. president, along with the top U.S. envoy to North Korea, Stephen Biegun, have said they are not discussing a troop withdrawal or reduction in the peninsula.

Earlier this week, the U.S. and South Korea signed an agreement that will increase by 8 percent the amount Seoul pays for the U.S. troop presence. Trump had reportedly demanded an increase of 50 percent.

ALSO READ: 2015 Agreement to Bring Peace to Ukraine’s East Remains Unimplemented

The deal, which is subject to South Korean parliamentary approval, is only valid for one year, unlike the previous agreement, which lasted five years. (VOA)


Popular

Photo by Pedro Durigan on Unsplash

The world's largest producer of ketchup announced the Packet Roller, a ketchup bottle-shaped gadget that allows users to squeeze the most out of a condiment packet, CNN reported.

Heinz has just rolled out a new product that the condiment company says is the "biggest innovation in sauce since the packet itself." Earlier this month, the world's largest producer of ketchup announced the Packet Roller, a ketchup bottle-shaped gadget that allows users to squeeze the most out of a condiment packet, CNN reported.

"Do not click 'purchase' unless you are prepared to change everything about the way you sauce," the Heinz Packet Roller website says. The roller goes for $5.70. The roller is pocket-sized, can be added to a keychain, and features a packet corner cutter.


Keep Reading Show less
Wikimedia Commons

Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer, is recovering from a right-knee surgery he underwent last month.

Swiss tennis ace Roger Federer, who is recovering from a right-knee surgery he underwent last month, said on Sunday that it was a difficult process to decide whether to undergo a third right-knee surgery after having two last year. But following Wimbledon, where he was "really unhappy" with his performance in reaching the quarterfinals, Federer opted to go through with it.

Federer, who made a late decision to attend this year's Laver Cup in Boston -- a tournament held between teams from Europe and the rest of the world -- said on the sidelines of the event that the recovery and rehabilitation are "going to take me a few more months and then we'll see how things are at some point next year". "The reception I've received, everybody is so upbeat that I'm here. They wish me all the best and they don't even see the crutches. They just want me to be good again and enjoy the weekend," Federer said in an interview for the event with former world No. 1 Jim Courier.

"I've seen some incredible tennis, some great matches and it's been wonderful. I'm really happy I made the trip," the winner of 20 majors was quoted as saying by atptour.com. On why he opted for a third surgery, the tennis ace said, "I was just nowhere near where I wanted to be to play at the top, top level. But I tried my best and at the end... too much is too much. Now I've just got to take it step by step," Federer said.

Roger Federer RG2012 volley Federer received thunderous ovations inside Boston's TD Garden, where he has often been sitting in the front row watching the action or behind the scenes visiting with the players. | Wikimedia Commons

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Eiliv-Sonas Aceron on Unsplash

By Hitesh Rathi

Cleopatra, was regarded as a great beauty, to preserve her skin, she took her daily bath in donkey milk. Besides, Hippocrates, the father of medicine, prescribed donkey milk for various diseases including fever, wounds, etc. To add to these benefits, donkey milk has four times the amount of Vitamin C than cow's milk has. So, it's no secret that donkey milk is a powerhouse of nutrients for both the skin and body.

Used for Anti-Ageing and Healing
The milk contains essential fatty acids that work as powerful anti-ageing and healing properties. These fatty acids blur the wrinkles on the skin and help to regenerate damaged skin. Plus, donkey milk also contains anti-bacterial properties which are effective in healing skin irritation and redness.

Look younger as you get old The milk contains essential fatty acids that work as powerful anti-ageing and healing properties.| Flickr

Keep reading... Show less