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US warns of military option if North Korea nuclear and missile tests continue

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Nikki Haley

UN ambassador and national security adviser float possibility if new sanctions fail: ‘We have been kicking the can down the road and we’re out of road’

The US has warned it could revert to military options if new sanctions fail to curb North Korean missile and nuclear tests, after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan for the second time in a fortnight.

The US ambassador to the UN, Nikki Haley, and the national security advisor, HR McMaster, told reporters that the latest set of UN sanctions – imposed earlier this week after North Korea’s sixth nuclear test – would need time to take effect, but they suggested that after that, the US would consider military action.

“What is different about this approach is we’re out of time, right?” McMaster said on Friday. “We have been kicking the can down the road and we’re out of road. For those who have been commenting about the lack of a military option – there is a military option. Now it’s not what we prefer to do, so what we have to do is call on all nations … to do everything we can do to address this global problem, short of war.”

Haley said the North Korea issue could soon become a matter for the Pentagon and the defence secretary, James Mattis.

“We try to push through as many diplomatic options that we can,” the ambassador said, but she noted that Monday’s UN Security Council sanctions, which capped petrol and oil exports to the regime and banned textile imports, had not deterred Pyongyang from launching a second intermediate range ballistic missile in two weeks over Japanese territory and into the Pacific.

The missile flew further than any missile tested by the regime, triggering emergency sirens and text alerts minutes before it passed over the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido on Friday morning.

Flight data shows the missile travelled higher and further than the one involved in the 29 August flyover of Japan, suggesting the regime is continuing to make advances in its missile and nuclear weapons programmes.

A new UN security council session was called on Friday to address North Korean defiance, but Haley said there was little more UN measures could do to change Pyongyang’s behaviour.

“It will take a little bit of time but it has already started to take effect,” she said. “But what we see is that they continue to be provocative, they continue to be reckless and at that point, there is not a whole lot the security council is going to be able to do from here, when you’ve cut 90% of their trade and 30% of the oil. So having said that, I have no problem kicking this to Gen Mattis, because I think he has plenty of options.”

However, when he was asked about a possible US military response, Mattis said: “I don’t want to talk about that yet.”

He said the North Korean launch was a “reckless act” which had “put millions of Japanese in duck and cover”.

Many strategic analysts argue there is no feasible military option for curtailing North Korean nuclear and missile development, as any pre-emptive attack would be likely to trigger a devastating barrage on Seoul, without any guarantee that all Pyongyang’s missiles and nuclear weapons would be put out of action.

The US secretary of state, Rex Tillerson, put the onus on Beijing and Moscow to implement the agreed sanctions to the limit.

“China supplies North Korea with most of its oil. Russia is the largest employer of North Korean forced labour,” Tillerson said in a statement. “China and Russia must indicate their intolerance for these reckless missile launches by taking direct actions of their own.”

North Korea will be a focus of next week’s international summit at the UN general assembly, but China’s Xi Jinping and Russia’s Vladimir Putin will not be attending.

Japan has warned North Korea it risked having no “bright future” and called for an emergency meeting of the UN security council after Pyongyang launched a ballistic missile over Japanese territory for the second time in just over two weeks.

Shinzo Abe, the Japanese prime minister, called the launch “absolutely unacceptable”. He said the recent UN resolution banning North Korean textile exports and capping the supply of oil to the country “showed the international community’s unified strong will for a peaceful solution. But despite that, North Korea has again carried out this outrageous conduct.

“Now is the time when the international community is required to unite against North Korea’s provocative acts, which threaten world peace,” Abe told reporters shortly after arriving back in Tokyo from a trip to India. “We must make North Korea understand that if it continues down this road, it will not have a bright future.”

The Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said Beijing objected to North Korea’s latest launch but believed diplomacy was the only way to solve the “complicated, sensitive and grim” problem.

“The top priority is now to prevent any provocative acts,” Hua told reporters.
But Hua rejected the theory – advanced, among others, by Trump and Theresa May, the British prime minister – that Beijing held the key to thwarting Kim Jong-un’s nuclear and missile ambitious.

“China is not the focus. China is not the driving force behind the escalating situation. And China is not the key to resolving the issue,” Hua said.

Hua said China had already made “great sacrifices” and “paid a high price” in its bid to help rein in Pyongyang: “China’s willingness and its efforts to fulfill its relevant international responsibilities cannot be questioned.”

In an online editorial, the Communist party-controlled Global Times newspaper said it was the US and South Korea, not China, that needed “to guide North Korea into a new strategic direction” through dialogue.

“An isolated North Korea will be more rational if the international society treats it in a rational way,” argued the newspaper, which sometimes reflects official views. It said attempts to intimidate North Korea with threats or shows of force would fail.

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Bomb Threats Across United States – reports

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Law enforcement authorities around the United States were reponding to a wave of bomb threats, many of them sent by email NBC reported.

A spokesman for the Oklahoma City police told NBC News that individuals in and around that city have gotten 10 to 13 specific email bomb threats, with specific addresses.

Bronx Science said it evacuated its building at 11 a.m. after it received a bomb threat by phone. The school said students were “currently well supervised at neighboring schools.”

The New York police department confirmed it received a call about the threat and responded to the school. The department later tweeteed it was monitoring “multiple bomb threats that have been sent electronically to various locations throughout the city.”

Nearly a dozen threats were received at businesses throughout South Florida, including in Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach. At least three others were reported in Orlando.

Massachusetts State Police are investigating after multiple bombs threats were allegedly mailed to “numerous businesses in the state.” Authorities said the MSP Fusion Center is tracking the activity.

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Trump accuses Comey of lying in testimony to Congress

Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets.

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James Comey

Washington, Dec 10 : US President Donald Trump has accused former FBI Director James Comey of lying during his testimony before a congressional committee last week, when the ex-official revealed that the investigation into presumed Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election was initially focused on four US citizens.

In two tweets, Trump criticised Comey’s testimony, the transcription of which was made public Saturday evening and was published on Sunday by several US media outlets, Efe reported on Sunday.

“Leakin’ James Comey must have set a record for who lied the most to Congress in one day. His Friday testimony was so untruthful! This whole deal is a Rigged Fraud headed up by dishonest people who would do anything so that I could not become President. They are now exposed!” Trump wrote on Twitter.

The president added that during Comey’s appearance before the House Judiciary and Government Reform committees on Friday, the former FBI chief told lawmakers “on 245 occasions” that “he didn’t know, didn’t recall, or couldn’t remember things when asked. Opened investigations on 4 Americans (not 2) … All lies!”

Comey, who was abruptly fired by Trump in May 2017, was ordered to appear before Congress behind closed doors on Friday to respond to questions from lawmakers investigating the actions of the FBI and the Department of Justice during the scandal involving former Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton regarding her use of a private e-mail server while she was secretary of state.

In July 2016, Comey closed the FBI investigation into Clinton’s use of her private server to send a number of e-mails while she was serving in the Barack Obama administration, but a few days before the election he reopened the probe to review new messages, something that Democrats say could have influenced the result of the election, which Clinton lost to Trump in what most regarded as a stunning upset.

In his appearance before the House committees, Comey defended the decisions he made in 2016 and revealed that the FBI investigation into possible links between Russia and the Trump campaign initially was focused on four Americans, according to the transcript.

Comey did not identify those four people, but he said that Trump was not one of them.

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Former US President George H.W. Bush dead at 94

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Herbert Walker Bush-

Washington, Dec 1: George H.W. Bush, the 41st President of the US who is best known for sanctioning the Gulf War, presiding over the fall of the Berlin Wall and steering America through the end of the Cold War, has died at the age of 94 in Houston.

The announcement of his passing on Friday night was made in a statement by his son and 43rd US President George W. Bush on Saturday. “Jeb, Neil, Marvin, Doro, and I are saddened to announce that after 94 remarkable years, our dear dad has died,” Bush said.

George Herbert Walker Bush served as a fighter pilot during the Second World War, a Congressman, Ambassador to the UN, Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) Director and served two terms as Ronald Reagan’s Vice President between 1981 and 1989, before concluding his four-decade long political career by serving as the US President from 1989 to 1993.

During his stint in the White House, Bush Sr. saw the end of the Cold War, the first Gulf War and the invasion of Panama while the Soviet Union collapsed and Germany reunified.

Despite military and diplomatic successes, he was unable to secure re-election and handed over the reins of the White House to Bill Clinton and retired to his home in Boston, Texas, along with his wife Barbara Bush.

Bush Sr’s death came eight months after that of his spouse to whom he was married for 73 years. They had six children together. The cause of his death was not immediately known.

He was suffering from a form of Parkinson’s disease that left him on a wheelchair over the last few years. He was also frequently hospitalised especially for respiratory problems.

President Donald Trump and First Lady Melania Trump said Bush guided the nation and the world to a victorious end to the Cold War.

“With sound judgement, common sense and unflappable leadership, President Bush guided our nation and the world to a peaceful and victorious conclusion of the Cold War,” Trumps said.

Bush Sr. was also lauded by former President Barack Obama who called him “a patriot and humble servant”.

“His life was a testament to the notion that public service is a noble, joyous calling,” Obama said.

Grandson George P. Bush said: “He was a good man. His courage was matched by his compassion; and his dedication to country was equalled only by his devotion to his family.”

Tricia Nixon Cox and Julie Nixon Eisenhower, the daughters of former President Richard Nixon, said: “George H.W. Bush lived a life that was purposeful, and extraordinarily rewarding – for our nation, and for our world.”

IANS

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