Wednesday, August 24, 2016

North Korea submarine fires ballistic missile into Japan's DIZ

The KN-11 missile was launched from waters near Sinpo and flew about 500km (300 miles) before falling into the Sea of Japan, a US official said. Japan's PM said it fell inside Japan's Air Defence Identification Zone, calling it a "reckless act".

Wednesday's launch appears to have been its most successful test yet of a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM). SLBMs are of particular concern because of the mobility of submarines and the ease with which launch preparation can remain undetected.
The launch coincided with a meeting of foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea in Tokyo. The three regional powers agreed to "urge North Korea to exercise self-restraint regarding its provocative action, and to observe the UN Security Council's resolutions" - a rare agreement between them.
North Korea has conducted four nuclear tests to date but despite its claims, it is not yet believed to have the ability to mount a nuclear device onto a warhead.

Pyongyang has been angered recently by several high profile defections, including its deputy ambassador to the UK, Thae Yong-ho.

Monday, August 22, 2016

North Korea threatens nuclear strike amid US-South Korea drill

The US and South Korean militaries started a massive joint annual exercise Monday, Ulchi Freedom Guardian, a drill that has drawn North Korean threats of nuclear retaliation.

North Korea will "turn the stronghold of provocation into a heap of ashes through Korean-style pre-emptive nuclear strike" if the US and South Korea "show the slightest sign of aggression" during the drill, a spokesman for North Korea's military was quoted as saying.
The annual drill will include 25,000 US troops, the bulk of which are already stationed in Korea and 50,000 South Korean troops according to a statement.
The regime's recent aggressive testing of medium- and long-range missiles -- as well as its nuclear testing -- makes North Korea now a "practical" threat and no longer a "theoretical" threat according to analysts.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Beijing Sets "Red Line" on Japan-US Joint Operations

On Saturday, diplomatic sources confirmed that China had issued a severe warning to Tokyo in late June demanding that Japan refrain from dispatching Self-Defense Forces to join US operations testing the freedom of navigation in the South China Sea.

Japan will “cross a red line” if SDF vessels take part in the freedom of navigation operations, Chinese Ambassador Cheng Yonghua conveyed to Tokyo at the time. Cheng threatened military action if Japan failed to comply with the ultimatum.
Beijing has become irate over international pressure calling for it to comply with the court order in the name of international law.

Those tensions risk spilling over with a Chinese state-run newspaper already issuing a warning to Australia that it would be the "ideal target for a strike" and repeated warnings to Japan to avoid intervening.

Friday, August 19, 2016

Russia moving military assets into Crimea

Reuters is reporting Russian naval and land forces are moving military hardware and troops to annexed Crimea as part of a logistics exercise which foreshadows much larger war games there next month, the Russian Defence Ministry said.

The training exercise comes at a time of heightened tension between Russia and Ukraine. President Vladimir Putin flew into Crimea on Friday where he planned to hold a meeting of his Security Council. It said specialized logistic troops had cooperated with Russian Railways and the country's merchant fleet to move troops, armor and technical equipment to the Crimea.
Vessels from Russia's Black Sea Fleet had also taken part, including a submarine, a large landing ship, mine-sweepers and an unspecified number of guided missile cruisers. Around 2,500 troops and up to 350 armored vehicles had also been involved. The Pentagon has identified eight staging areas in Russia where large numbers of military forces appear to be preparing for incursions into Ukraine, according to U.S. defense officials.

As many as 40,000 Russian troops, including tanks, armored vehicles, and air force units, are now arrayed along Ukraine’s eastern border with Russia.

Thursday, August 18, 2016

US moves nuclear weapons from Turkey to Romania

Independent sources have said that the US has started transferring nuclear weapons stationed in Turkey to Romania, against the background of worsening relations between Washington and Ankara. According to one of the sources, the transfer has been challenging in technical and political terms.

According to a report some 50 US tactical nuclear weapons were stationed at Turkey’s Incirlik air base, approximately 100 kilometres from the Syrian border. During the failed coup in Turkey in July, Incirlik’s power was cut, and the Turkish government prohibited US aircraft from flying in or out. Eventually, the base commander was arrested and implicated in the coup. Whether the US could have maintained control of the weapons in the event of a civil conflict in Turkey is unknown.
US-Turkey relations had deteriorated so much following the coup that Washington no longer trusted Ankara to host the weapons. The weapons are being moved to the Deveselu air base in Romania.

In May senior US and Nato officials attended a ceremony in Deveselu to mark construction of the Aegis system, a shield to protect Nato countries from short and medium-range missiles.
See ----->
See ----->

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Putin Poised for assault on Ukraine

Navy Day celebrations in Sevastopol, Crimea, on July 31.
Russian President Vladimir Putin may be preparing a new offensive in Ukraine. Following Russian claims of thwarted terrorist attacks in Crimea that the United States cannot confirm, Putin is vowing revenge. “We obviously will not let such things slide by,” he warned.

Russia is amassing troops on the border of Crimea under the guise of war games, the Kavkaz exercises. Russia used war games in 2008 to amass troops on the border with Georgia before fighting broke out there. Russia is amassing armored personnel carriers, military ambulances, fuel tankers, trucks, signals and engineering vehicles. In Sevastopol, a Nanuchka-class missile corvette is at anchor. In Dzhankoy, the troop level has been doubled.

July was the deadliest month in a year for the Ukrainian army, with at least 42 soldiers killed and 181 wounded.
The conflict in eastern Ukraine has reached a stalemate, even though fighting in the area has increased.
Donetsk Peoples Republic (DPR) leader Alexander Zakharchenko
The Organization for Security and Cooperation in Europe (OSCE), the multinational group charged with monitoring the Ukraine cease-fire, reports that cease-fire violations recently increased from dozens to hundreds daily.

The OSCE also has reported that its monitors are more frequently being harassed by combined Russian-separatist forces and denied access to key battlefield locations.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

China Flirts With War in South China Sea - Wall Street Journal

The risk of a clash between China and the U.S. grows by the day as Beijing flexes it muscles in disputed areas of the South and East China seas, according to a new study by think tank Rand Corp.

Tensions are at an all-time high in the South China Sea, where a game of geopolitical chess is taking place between China, the U.S. and other nations over territorial claims and military build-ups.

Monday, August 15, 2016

Putin deploys S-400 Triumph air defence systems in Crimea

World powers urged Russia and Ukraine to refrain from ratcheting up a confrontation over Crimea as President Vladimir Putin bolstered military assets with his army’s most advanced air-defence missile systems.

The European Union said there was no independent confirmation of claims that Ukrainian agents had killed two Russian servicemen in Crimea. Putin pledged a “very serious” response as he blamed Kiev for pursuing “terror” activities. The 28-member bloc called on both sides to refrain from intensifying what has led to the worst diplomatic standoff between the two countries since a 2015 truce. The S-400 Triumf is an anti-aircraft weapon system developed by Russia's Almaz Central Design Bureau in the 1990s as an upgrade of the S-300 family.
It has been in service with the Russian Armed Forces since 2007.

The S-400 uses three different missiles to cover its performance envelope. These are the extremely long range 40N6, long range 48N6 and medium range 9M96 missile.
Triumf air defence missile systems are capable of destroying incoming hostile aircraft, missiles and drones with a range of 400 km.
Ukrainian tanks and APCs move towards the de-facto border with Crimea near Kherson, southern Ukraine, Friday, Aug. 12, 2016.Pro-Russian separatists attacked Ukrainian forces near separatist-held cites of Donetsk and Luhansk and the government-controlled Black Sea port of Mariupol, Ukraine’s military said. One Ukrainian soldier was killed and four were injured, according to a spokesman

The U.S., the EU and their allies have refused to recognize Russia’s takeover of Crimea. NATO said it was closely monitoring the heightened tensions.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Photos prove China has Militarized Disputed Islands in South China Sea

Hangars large enough to hold: Fighter jets (red) Bombers, tankers or transport planes (yellow)Subi Reef July 24, 2016.

When President Xi Jinping of China visited President Obama at the White House last September, he startled many with reassuring words ... “China does not intend to pursue militarization,” Mr. Xi said, referring to the area as the Nansha Islands, a Chinese name for what most of the rest of the world calls the Spratlys in the South China Sea.

The most recent satellite photographs suggest a different plan. The photos show the construction of reinforced aircraft hangars at Subi, Mischief Reef, and Fiery Cross, all part of the disputed territories.
Mischief Reef July 22, 2016.

While China asserts the structures are for civilian aircraft or other nonmilitary functions, analysts say the satellite photos strongly suggest otherwise. Besides their size, all show signs of structural strengthening.

“They are far thicker than you would build for any civilian purpose,” Gregory B. Poling, director of the center’s Asia Maritime Transparency Initiative, said in a telephone interview. “They’re reinforced to take a strike.”
Fiery Cross Reef June 3, 2016

Friday, August 12, 2016

USAF dispatches strategic bombers to South China Sea

The United States Air Force (USAF) has deployed an undisclosed number of supersonic B-1B Lancer heavy strategic bombers to Andersen Air Force Base on Guam in the western Pacific to replace the base’s fleet of B-52H long-range heavy bombers, U.S. Pacific Command announced on August 8.

It is the first time in over a decade that the United States has dispatched its heaviest supersonic strategic bomber to the Asia-Pacific region. The USAF’s 62 B-1B Lancers are capable of carrying up to 75,000 pounds (34,000 kilograms) of weapons—the largest payload of both guided and unguided weapons in the USAF’s inventory.
Though heavily armed, the bomber can reach a top speed of Mach 1.2 and can operate at altitudes above 30,000 feet (9,100 meters). The B-1B bombers will be permanently stationed on Guam as part of U.S. Pacific Command’s so-called Continuous Bomber Presence.

On August 9, the USAF also dispatched three B-2 Spirits nuclear-capable stealth bombers to Guam.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

Vietnam moves new rocket launchers into South China Sea

Vietnam has discreetly fortified several of its islands in the disputed South China Sea with new mobile rocket launchers capable of striking China's runways and military installations.

Intelligence shows Hanoi has shipped the launchers from the Vietnamese mainland into position on five bases in the Spratly islands in recent months, a move almost certain to raise tensions with Beijing.
Deputy defence minister, Senior Lieutenant-General Nguyen Chi Vinh, said in June that Hanoi had no such launchers or weapons ready in the Spratlys but reserved the right to take any such measures.

"It is within our legitimate right to self-defence to move any of our weapons to any area at any time within our sovereign territory," he said. Military analysts say it is the most significant defensive move Vietnam has made on its holdings in the South China Sea in decades. China's installations on Subi, Fiery Cross and Mischief Reef are now within range of many of Vietnam's tightly clustered holdings on 21 islands and reefs.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

China seeks India's help on South China Sea

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is visiting India on a three-day tour from August 12. Wang is expected to make efforts aimed at ensuring that Prime Minister Narendra Modi does not join other countries in raising the controversial issue of South China Sea during the upcoming G20 meeting in early September.

China is extremely worried that several countries including the United States will raise the issue.
Beijing was not pleased by the guarded response from India after the Hague ruling which said that the UN convention should be effectively implemented, and all the relevant parties should cooperate in the effort. Beijing does not want a discussion on the subject at G20, and wants India to not join any country which is seeking a discussion.

China recently persuaded a meeting of ASEAN countries to keep the issue outside the joint communique but it is not nearly so certain of achieving a similar success at the G20 meeting. Narendra Modi is expected to meet Chinese president Xi Jinping and US president Barack Obama on the sidelines of the meeting in the Chinese city of Hangzhou during his three-day visit from September 3.

Saturday, August 6, 2016

China conducts 'combat patrols' in South China Sea

China's air force sent bombers and fighter jets on "combat patrols" near contested islands in the South China Sea, in a move a senior colonel said was part of an effort to "normalize" such drills and respond to security threats.

The air force sent several H-6 bombers and Su-30 fighter jets to inspect the airspace around the Spratly Islands and Scarborough Shoal, Senior Colonel Shen Jinke of the People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force said Friday, according to state news agency Xinhua.

Shen Jinke, spokesperson for the Chinese People's Liberation Army (PLA) Air Force
The patrols included surveillance and refueling aircraft.

"The Air Force is organizing normalized South China Sea combat patrols, practising tactics ... increasing response capabilities to all kinds of security threats and safeguarding national sovereignty, security and maritime interests," Shen said.


China makes show of force in Senkaku islets

For the second time in two days, Japan has protested to Beijing over Chinese coastguard ships and fishing vessels sailing into waters close to disputed islands in the East China Sea. The two countries are locked in a long-running dispute over the uninhabited islets, known as the Senkaku in Japan and the Diaoyu in China.

Japan's foreign ministry said that seven Chinese coastguard ships, including four that appeared to be armed, and about 230 fishing vessels sailed on Saturday close to what Tokyo considers its territorial waters.
Beijing claims the islands and occasionally sends its coastguard vessels near them. However, it is rare for so many Chinese fishing vessels to be spotted in the area.

Saturday's protest came a day after Japanese vice foreign minister Shinsuke Sugiyama summoned Cheng Yonghua, China's ambassador to Tokyo, to protest over intrusions into its territorial waters by Chinese coastguard and fishing vessels on Friday afternoon. China has threatened an air defence zone over the region. Beijing has a significant air power superiority over Japan.

Friday, August 5, 2016

Mischief Reef the South China Sea Flash Point?

A significant part of the Permanent Court of Arbitration's July 12, 2016 ruling on the South China Sea is the decision on Mischief Reef. According to the ruling, the reef and everything on it legally belongs to the Philippines. This in spite of China's reclamation of approximately 5,580,000 square meters of land, and the construction of a 9,800-foot runway, radar nests, and what some believe is a soon-to-be naval base.

According to the ruling, Mischief Reef falls within the exclusive economic zone of the Philippines. It lies about 129 nautical miles from Palawan and 51 nautical miles from Nanshan Island, which is occupied by the Philippines.
Within a day of the ruling, China landed a civilian aircraft on the disputed reef for the first time.

Chinese state-run media published photos of the flight crew posing in front of the plane at the newly constructed airport.

Satellite image taken in September 2015 of China's land reclamation efforts on Mischief Reef
Beijing maintains the Hague-based court ruling has no bearing on its rights in the South China Sea and has therefore reasserted its territorial claims to Mischief Reef. "As I've said before, it [ruling] won't have any effect," Chinese foreign ministry spokesman Lu Kang said.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said it was "impossible" for the ruling to become irrelevant since it is legally binding. The US has confirmed it will continue sailing warships within the area as a pledge to upholding freedom-of-navigation in the region.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

China suspected of hacking South China Sea arbitration

Newly discovered malware targeted parties involved with the dispute between China and the Philippines over the South China Sea, researchers announced today.

The antivirus firm F-Secure found samples of the malware, which could be used to spy on a victim's computer, among other functions, in the Philippines's justice department, the organizers of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Summit and an “international law firm representing one of the involved parties.” F-Secure is calling the malware, technically called a remote-access Trojan, “NanHaiShu."
"Not only are the targeted organizations all related to the case in some way, but its appearance coincides chronologically with the publication of news or events related to the arbitration proceedings," said Erka Koivunen, a cybersecurity adviser at F-Secure, in a statement.

The malware infected computers through Microsoft Office documents sent through highly targeted spear-phishing emails. One infected file, “DOJ Staff bonus January 13, 2015.xls," was sent a month after the arbitration tribunal put out a major press release. Others came at major deadlines for both countries.

N. Korea fires mid-range missile toward waters near Japan

A medium-range ballistic missile fired Wednesday by North Korea flew about 1,000 kilometres and landed near Japan's territorial waters, Seoul and Tokyo officials said, one of the longest flights by a North Korean missile.

The U.S. Strategic Command said North Korea fired two presumed Rodong missiles simultaneously on Wednesday, not just one. The command's statement said initial indications reveal one of the missiles exploded immediately after launch, while the second was tracked over North Korea and into the Sea of Japan.
North Korea has recently claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in its goal of acquiring a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental U.S.

South Korean defence officials say North Korea doesn't yet have such a weapon, but some experts believe the North has the technology to mount warheads on shorter-range Rodong and Scud missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.