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North Korea: ‘Multiple Rocket Launchers’ On Kim’s Order Confirms State Media

Last month, North Korea said it tested a “tactical guided weapon.” Commercial satellite images have also detected increased activity at some North Korean nuclear and satellite launch facilities in recent weeks.

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North Korean leader Kim Jong Un visits Kumyagang Power Station No. 2 in North Korea in this May 4, 2019, photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency. VOA

North Korea tested “multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons,” state media confirmed Saturday, the first comments on a launch that has further raised military tensions.

Kim Jong Un personally “gave an order of firing” of the projectiles into the sea off North Korea’s east coast, the state-run Korean Central News Agency reported.

“The purpose of the drill was to estimate and inspect the operating ability and the accuracy of striking duty performance of large-caliber long-range multiple rocket launchers and tactical guided weapons,” KCNA reported.

The test is North Korea’s latest attempt to gradually increase pressure on and signal its frustration with the United States and South Korea, since the breakdown of nuclear talks.

Pyongyang’s statement did not contain any explicit threats or even mentions of the United States or South Korea. Seoul on Friday condemned the launch as needlessly provocative and a violation of an inter-Korean military agreement.

North Korean military conducts a "strike drill" for multiple launchers and tactical guided weapon into the East Sea during a military drill in North Korea, in this May 4, 2019, photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).
North Korean military conducts a “strike drill” for multiple launchers and tactical guided weapon into the East Sea during a military drill in North Korea, in this May 4, 2019, photo supplied by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). VOA

Missile or projectile?

There has been some confusion about the exact type of weapons North Korea launched. South Korea’s defense ministry initially characterized the launch as a “short-range missile” test. Later statements referred to the weapons as “projectiles.”

A picture published Saturday by the North’s Rodong Sinmun newspaper suggested that at least one of the projectiles launched was in fact a short-range missile.

A man watches a television screen showing a news report on North Korea firing several short-range projectiles from its east coast, on a street in Tokyo, May 4, 2019.
A man watches a television screen showing a news report on North Korea firing several short-range projectiles from its east coast, on a street in Tokyo, May 4, 2019. VOA

Under a series of U.N. Security Council resolutions, North Korea is banned from conducting medium- or long-range ballistic missile launches. Seoul says the weapons traveled from 70 to 200 kilometers, which would be classified as a short-range test.

North Korea has not carried out a missile test since November 2017. The self-imposed moratorium has helped facilitate nuclear talks with U.S. President Donald Trump.

In Kim’s view, the moratorium, which was never formalized, does not cover short-range tests. But by launching multiple short-range projectiles, Kim may be attempting to test the limits of how Washington interprets that moratorium.

Last month, North Korea said it tested a “tactical guided weapon.” Commercial satellite images have also detected increased activity at some North Korean nuclear and satellite launch facilities in recent weeks.

Trump: Deal still possible

So far, Trump has played down the provocations. But he has also not signaled a change in his negotiating stance. Reacting to the latest test, Trump said he still believes a nuclear deal with North Korea is possible.

Kim, who wants the removal of international sanctions hurting his economy, has said he will give the United States until the end of the year to become more flexible in the nuclear talks. Trump says he will not relax sanctions until Kim agrees to completely abandon his nuclear program.

Deadlocked talks

Trump and Kim have held two summits over the past year. At the first meeting, in Singapore, both men agreed to work “toward the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.” But U.S. officials later acknowledged the two sides never agreed on what that means.

At the second meeting in Vietnam, Trump rejected Kim’s offer to dismantle a part of North Korea’s nuclear program in exchange for major sanctions relief. Since that meeting, the two sides have struggled to even hold talks, U.S. officials say.

FILE - U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Feb. 3, 2019.
U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun arrives at Incheon International Airport in Incheon, South Korea, Feb. 3, 2019. VOA

Stephen Biegun, the U.S. special envoy for North Korea, will visit South Korea and Seoul in coming days to help advance the talks.

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South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whose liberal government has prioritized engagement with the North, says he is willing to hold a fourth summit with Kim anytime, anywhere.

Last week, Japan’s conservative prime minister, Shinzo Abe, said he is willing to meet with Kim “unconditionally and talk with him frankly with an open mind.” (IANS)

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U.S. Pentagon Emits More Greenhouse Gases Than Portugal, Study Finds

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide

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U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE - The Pentagon building is seen in Washington. VOA

The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions through its defense operations alone than industrialized countries such as Sweden and Portugal, researchers said Wednesday.

The Pentagon, which oversees the U.S. military, released about 59 million metric tons of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases in 2017, according to the first study to compile such comprehensive data, published by Brown University.

The Pentagon’s emissions were “in any one year … greater than many smaller countries’ greenhouse gas emissions,” the study said.

If it were a country, its emissions would make it the world’s 55th-largest contributor, said Neta Crawford, the study’s author and a political scientist at Boston University.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
FILE – Air pollution hangs over the skyline as the sun rises over Beijing’s central business district, Jan. 14, 2013. VOA

“There is a lot of room here to reduce emissions,” Crawford said.

Request for comments to the Pentagon went unanswered.

Troop movements

Using and moving troops and weapons accounted for about 70% of its energy consumption, mostly due to the burning of jet and diesel fuel, Crawford said.

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It dwarfed yearly emissions by Sweden, which the international research project Global Carbon Atlas ranks 65th worldwide for its of CO2 emissions.

Pentagon emissions were higher than those of Portugal, ranked 57th by the Global Carbon Atlas, said Crawford.

China is the world’s largest emitter of carbon dioxide, the main gas responsible for climate change, followed by the United States.

The Pentagon called climate change “a national security issue” in a January report to Congress and has launched multiple initiatives to prepare for its impact.

U.S., Pentagon, Greenhouse Gases
The United States creates more planet-warming greenhouse gas emissions. Pixabay

Global temperatures are on course for an increase of 3 to 5 degrees Celsius (5.4-9.0 degrees Fahrenheit) this century, far overshooting a global target of limiting the increase to 2 C or less, the U.N. World Meteorological Organization said in November.

Four degrees Celsius of warming would increase more than five times the influence of climate on conflict, according to a study published in Nature magazine on Wednesday.

Improvements

Crawford said the Pentagon had reduced its fuel consumption significantly since 2009, including by making its vehicles more efficient and moving to cleaner sources of energy at bases.

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It could reduce them further by cutting fuel-heavy missions to the Persian Gulf to protect access to oil, which were no longer a top priority as renewable energy gained ground, she said.

“Many missions could actually be rethought, and it would make the world safer,” she said. (VOA)