‘If US goes to war against N Korea, Pyongyang will fight back’

North Korea, treated as a rogue nation led by crazy people, has developed a nuclear program they consider to be existentially important as a deterrent against the menace they perceive from the US, says Brian Becker from the anti-war Answer Coalition.

North Korea has conducted first missile test since September. The hermit nation fired an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) which splashed down in the Sea of Japan early Wednesday, according to South Korean, Japanese, and US militaries. The Pentagon's initial assessment indicated it was an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). 

 
People watch a news report on the North Korea missile launch in Seoul, South Korea, November 29, 2017 © Kim Hong-Ji

Pyongyang said the missile reached an altitude of around 4,475 kilometers (2,780 miles), more than 10 times the height of the International Space Station. It said it flew 950 kilometers (690 miles) during its flight, which lasted 53 minutes.

RT:Why do you think North Korea decided to conduct a missile test now, after a two-month pause? 

Brian Becker: If you want to have an advanced missile technology program, they must be tested from time to time – at different times of the day, under different weather conditions, from different locations. I think the Kim Jong-un government and North Korea made it very clear in their New Year’s message to the nation that they were planning to go forward in what they call the final stage of the nuclear weapons program, so that DPRK would be understood to be a nuclear power by the world. And by having this kind of very advanced intercontinental ballistic missile test which was successful and traveled 2,780 miles straight up and could have, if flown horizontally, travelled about 8,000 miles, in other words, the distance to Washington DC. It is clear that the DPRK which has been treated as a rogue nation led by crazy people, a bunch of peasants, maybe ignorant, has in fact developed effective missile technology program and nuclear technology program which they consider to be existentially important for their having a deterrent against the menace that they perceive from the US – the largest military in the world. 

 
A US-South Korea joint landing operation drill in Pohang, South Korea © Kim Hong-Ji

RT: The US Defense Secretary said this latest missile went higher than any previous launch, and yet we've seen quite a muted response from the US administration, with Trump merely saying he will "take care of it". Why is that?

BB: We don’t know. Actually, Trump has been all bluster and bluff. In spite of the fact that Trump says that he’s a great negotiator, the art of the deal, you never what Donald Trump’s bottom line is because there’s so much bluster. He said from the podium of the UN General Assembly that he was prepared to totally destroy North Korea, he called its head of state “little rocket man,” he said that the US would use “fire and fury” the type of which the world has never seen to take out North Korea. And at the same time now he calmly says of this missile test “we’ll take care of it.”…It’s quite clear that if the US – and there are many advocates here who favor this – goes to war, carries out a military strike against the DPRK, the DPRK will not wait, they will fight back, and we will have a major war which will take the lives of tens of thousands…or millions of people. 

Joseph Cheng, a political analyst and professor at Hong Kong City University says that the escalation in North Korea has become “almost routine”.

However, he explained, it is “quite expected because North Korea will certainly continue to improve its nuclear weapons and missile capabilities so as to achieve the objective of processing a minimum credible nuclear deterrent”.

Obviously, Pyongyang calculates to achieve the maximum propaganda impact - it wants to make sure that the world will be reminded of the North Korea nuclear weapons issue,” he told  RT.

According to Cheng, the Trump administration does not have “a credible strategy to deal with the issue”.

Any military options on a part of the US will be very risky and strongly opposed by China and Russia. And will not be supported by South Korea. And it is obvious that economic sanctions alone will not be able to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons program,” he added.

  

 
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Iraqi militias spill blood for their country while US is playing its own game – FM

Iraqi militias have made huge sacrifices for their country and has become a legitimate force on the ground, Iraq’s FM told RT, describing as hypocritical the US demand for Iranian-backed militiamen to “go home.”

The Popular Mobilization Forces (PMU/PMF) militias are sons of Iraq, whose sacrifices in the war against Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL) terrorists are immeasurable, and they deserve the “highest merits,” Ibrahim al-Jaafari told RT in an exclusive interview.
 
“Al-Hasd Al-Shaabi [the Arabic name for the PMU] fighters suffered huge losses, shed their precious blood for the sake of saving the Fatherland,” the official said.
 
“These fighters voluntarily went to other parts of Iraq and have been dying there. For what? What did they want to get there? They deserve the highest merits. These formations have the constitutional status and the real military presence on the ground.”
 
Recent demands by the US urging the “Iranian militias” to “go home” are a glaring example of US hypocrisy, al-Jaafari stated.
 
“The US is playing its own game, by own rules and relying on certain factions. Iraq, though, operates in its own territory within its own powers, relying on support of it sons, its political parties and movements, on support of those who sacrifice themselves for the good of their country,” the minister told RT.
 
The demands were voiced by US State Secretary Rex Tillerson last Sunday at a joint news conference with Saudi Foreign Minister Adel Jubeir in Riyadh following a meeting with senior Saudi and Iraqi officials.
 
“Iranian militias that are in Iraq, now that the fight against… ISIS is coming to a close, those militias need to go home,” Tillerson said, referring to the PMU units, some of whom, to a certain extent, are backed by Tehran. “The foreign fighters in Iraq need to go home and allow the Iraqi people to regain control.
 
Tillerson’s demand was met by a firm rejection from Baghdad, which condemned Washington’s interference into internal affairs of their country.
 
“No party has the right to interfere in Iraqi matters,” Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi’s said Monday, according to a Facebook statement issued by his office.
 
Tens of thousands of Iraqis joined militia units in 2014 after Iraqi Shia cleric Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani called for a national uprising against IS terrorists by issuing a non-sectarian fatwa. Though there are no official statistics, PMU units numbered up to 100,000 fighters, according to some estimates. Iran has been funding and training some of the PMU units which fought alongside the Iraqi Army in the battle of Mosul and other northern Iraqi cities.
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‘Defensive actions’? NATO launches new multinational force to counter Russia

NATO is launching a new multinational force in Romania to counter Russia along its eastern flank and keep close tabs on the Russian presence in the Black Sea. The chief of the military alliance said NATO’s actions are purely “defensive and proportionate.”

“Here in Romania, our multinational framework brigade is now operational,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg said in Bucharest on Monday, thanking Romania for hosting the brigade.

“We are also seeing increased allied presence in the Black Sea,” the alliance chief noted, adding that NATO jets are busy patrolling the skies over Romania and Bulgaria.

 
© Regis Duvignau

“Our deployments are a direct response to Russia’s aggressive actions in Ukraine,” Stoltenberg said, speaking at the NATO Parliamentary Assembly in the Romanian capital.

“NATO’s actions are defensive, proportionate and entirely in line with our international commitments,” he concluded.

Stoltenberg went on to say that members of the alliance are “concerned by Russia’s military buildup close to our borders and its lack of transparency when it comes to military exercises such as Zapad 2017. This highlights the importance of our dual-track approach to Russia,” he said.

What the alliance chief said next, however, sounded more like a mantra.

“Russia is our neighbor. Russia is here to stay. We do not want to isolate Russia. NATO does not want a new Cold War. Our actions are designed to prevent, not provoke conflict.”

Details of the new force size are unclear. Once a small force relying on troops from 10 NATO countries, the land, air and sea deployments will complement some 900 US troops already in place, according to Reuters.

The land component of the multinational force is stationed at a base near the southern Romanian city of Craiova. Aside from Romania, Poland is the biggest troop contributor; Bulgaria, Italy and Portugal will train with the force in Craiova, while Germany is also set to contribute. Apart from routine NATO Black Sea naval patrols, a maritime presence will feature more allied visits to Romanian and Bulgarian ports, training and exercises.

 
U.S. army soldiers with their Stryker armoured fighting vehicle attend the final day of NATO Saber Strike exercises in Orzysz, Poland, June 16, 2017. © Ints Kalnins

Some Eastern Europeans reportedly want NATO's new ballistic missile defense shield, which includes a site in Romania, to be part of NATO's eastern posture vis-a-vis Russia.

"The Aegis Ashore system would add another level of deterrence," Maciej Kowalski, an analyst at the Polish Casimir Pulaski Foundation, told Reuters.

NATO’s military activities near the Russian border have been repeatedly criticized by Moscow, which has accused the alliance of undermining the security balance with its eastward encroachment and military provocations.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in a speech at the UN General Assembly in New York last month that NATO is currently seeking to revive the Cold War climate instead of building a dialogue with Moscow. Russia has long been trying to remove the legacy of the Cold War but received no support in its efforts from its partners in the West, the minister noted, expressing regret that “some countries still prefer force to dialogue."

"The West constructed its policy on the basis of a principle, ‘If you are not with us, you are against us’ and proceeded with hideous expansion of NATO to the east,” Lavrov said.

 
© function.mil.ru

The Russian permanent representative to NATO, Aleksandr Grushko, meanwhile noted in July that NATO activities in Eastern Europe “not only ensure a reinforced military presence of the allies in the immediate vicinity of Russia’s borders but in fact represent an intensive mastering of the potential theater of military operations.”

Last month, Russia conducted the Zapad 2017 (West 2017) military drills, which took place on the territory of Russia and Belarus. The exercises involved about 12,700 servicemen, including up to 5,500 from Russia and about 7,200 from Belarus.

The drills caused hysteria in several countries neighboring Belarus, including Ukraine, with the country’s commander-in-chief, Viktor Muzhenko, claiming in an interview with Reuters that Russia had allegedly withdrawn only a few units from Belarus.

"As for the units of Russian troops who took part in the joint strategic ‘West 2017’ exercise, they all returned to the points of permanent deployment," Russian Defense Ministry spokesman Igor Konashenkov stated in September, adding that Muzhenko's allegations about "hidden" Russian troops in Belarus "demonstrate the depth of the degradation of the General Staff of Ukraine and the professional incompetence of its leader."

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