North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has expanded to 30 warheads and will grow further as Pyongyang produces increased quantities of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, according to estimates. In just three years, the North’s unpredictable leader, Kim Jong-un, will control sufficient fissile material to double that arsenal to as many as 60 weapons, says the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. To underscore this alarming increase, the U.S. estimated that North Korea owned just one or two nuclear weapons in 1999 and would have 10 or more by 2020, according to a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained by The Washington Times shortly after it had circulated privately last decade. “The bottom line is that North Korea has an improving nuclear weapons arsenal,” said David Albright, founder and director of the Institute for Science and International Security. “The last several years have witnessed a dramatic and overt buildup in North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.” The numbers show that North Korea is becoming a true nuclear power with the ability to hit its neighbors and, one day, the U.S. Analysts say the North’s objective is simple: Assure the communist state’s, and thus the Kim dynasty’s, survival and coerce U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.
A former director of Venezuela’s Office of Identification, Migration and Foreigners said that during his 17 months in the post, the socialist government gave at least 10,000 Venezuelan passports and other documents to citizens of Syria, Iran and other Middle Eastern countries. In an interview with El Nuevo Herald, Colonel Vladimir Medrano Rengifo said the operation was headed by current Vice President Tareck El Aissami. He said most passports and visas were granted in the Venezuelan Consulate in Damascus, Syria’s capital. “Today we don’t know where these people are, nor what they are doing,” said Medrano, who currently resides in the United States. “They can be anywhere in the world, traveling with Venezuelan documentation,” adding that the number of Middle Eastern individuals with irregular Venezuelan documentation could be much larger. Colonel Medrano was dismissed in October 2009 by El Aissami, who was then Minister of Interior and Justice. According to Medrano, El Aissami fired him because he knew he was trying to dismantle the human smuggling network. El Aissami, one of the most powerful men in Venezuela, has long been investigated in the United States for his alleged links to drug trafficking and to the Islamist militant group Hezbollah. In January he became the most senior Venezuelan official to ever be targeted by the U.S., when the Trump administration decreed sanctions against him and Samark Lopez, a wealthy Venezuelan businessman believed to be his front man in Miami. In the Sunday interview, Medrano told El Nuevo Herald that El Aissami was directly involved in the passport scheme. He said that whenever his office reported irregularities involving Syria-issued passports, El Aissami ordered him to look the other way. Medrano said the passports were legitimate, but the people carrying them were not Venezuelans.
Satellite photography reportedly shows that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site for another detonation, probably timed to coincide with celebrations of national founder Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday this weekend. Reuters reports that North Korean officials told foreign journalists in Pyongyang to prepare for a “big and important event” on Thursday. This proved to be a considerable letdown when the journalists were merely conducted to the opening of a new street in the middle of Pyongyang, but it is always possible the North Koreans are playing coy with journalists. The report of activity at Punggye-ri comes from monitoring group 38 North, which said the site was “primed and ready” after detecting the movement of vehicles and personnel. The sort of activity they described seems consistent with preparation, rather than a frenzy of activity that would indicate an imminent detonation. 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez, who has a good track record of predicting Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, told CNN the activity noted over the past six weeks is “suggestive of the final preparations of a test.” In particular, 38 North analysts thought the end of excavation and water pumping at the site were indicators that it could be put to use soon. Fox News cites South Korean officials saying they “saw no signs that North Korea was preparing any sort of provocative actions,” although they acknowledged that North Korea has demonstrated the ability to conduct missile tests with very little warning. Japan added another reason for concern, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a session of his parliament, “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.” Sarin is the nerve agent suspected of deployment in the chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was allegedly killed with a different chemical weapon, VX, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February. Interestingly, China’s Communist Party organ, the Global Times, published an editorial calling on North Korea to suspend its nuclear activities, coupled with a promise that China will “actively work to protect the security of a denuclearised North Korean nation and regime.” China has previously promoted a deal in which North Korea would suspend nuclear tests if the United States agreed to halt military drills with South Korea, but there was little interest in the deal from either side. In fact, the United States Air Force launched a surprise exercise of air power in Japan on Thursday, which was seen as a demonstration to North Korea of what the Air Force’s largest combat-ready wing can do on short notice. China is still advocating for a non-violent resolution to the North Korean nuclear situation. The Trump administration is talking about using unprecedented sanctions to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, potentially instituting what one official described to Reuters as “essentially a trade quarantine on North Korea.” The measures under consideration could include “an oil embargo, banning its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang,” according to the officials who spoke to Reuters. Other possibilities include interdicting North Korean freighters, prohibiting the use of North Korean contract labor abroad, implementing a global ban on coal, or banning North Korea’s seafood exports. Some of these steps would not require U.N. approval, which means China would not be able to veto them. China has been remarkably tough in enforcing its own punitive ban on North Korean coal exports, but Trump administration officials worried Beijing might have gone as far as it’s willing to go. It is considered something of a gamble to menace Chinese interests with the secondary effects of tough sanction against North Korea and hope it inspires them to bring Pyongyang to heel, instead of alienating the Chinese. “China has always opposed the use of unilateral sanctions in international relations and is firmly opposed when such unilateral sanctions harm China’s interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing.
Christians in Sydney, Australia, are being advised to hide their crosses after an Arabic-speaking gang shouting “F*** Jesus!” attacked a couple on a train while transport officers looked on from a “safe space” and did nothing. The Sydney-based Daily Telegraph – a News Corp outlet unrelated to the Telegraph Media Group newspaper of the same name – reports the couple were attacked while riding the train through “Muslim enclaves” in south-west Sydney. Mike, who asked for his surname to be withheld for fear he might be targeted, said that four men of Middle Eastern appearance ripped his cross from his neck, stomped on it, and rained kicks and punches on his face, back, and shoulders. Two women attacked his girlfriend when she tried to protect him. Five uniformed transport officers watched the attack take place but failed to intervene, Mike claimed, leaving the police to meet the train at a later station. “I was born in Australia of Greek heritage,” Mike told the Telegraph. “I’ve always worn my cross. For [them] to rip it off and step on it has to be a religious crime … It’s not on to feel unsafe in your own country.” Mike went to Greek community leader and former Sutherland Shire Council deputy mayor Reverend George Capsis, who believes Christians in Sydney face growing persecution at the hands of Muslim gangs, about the attack. “This is not an isolated incident,” said Rev Capsis, who explained that Mike was the fourth Christian to have come to him about a religiously-motivated attack in just the last six months. “There are gangs of these young fellows of Muslim background who have been harassing people they identify as Christian … You don’t hear about it because no one’s reporting it.”
Well, we are, here at The Daily Buzz.. And, while this story is out of Australia.. The exact same thing could easily happen here in America.
The race to develop an unstoppable and unbeatable weapon capable of defeating all the military defense systems in the world is getting much too close for comfort. According to multiple reports, Russia is expected to begin production soon of its 3M22 Zircon, a hypersonic missile that will travel 4,600 miles per hour — five times the speed of sound — and will have a range of 250 miles. That’s just three minutes and 15 seconds from launch to impact. Guided hypersonic missiles will be more accurate than traditional ballistic missiles and could conceivably be armed with nuclear warheads, according to the geopolitical analysis firm Stratfor. And they’re coming, whether we like it or not. And they’ll be on our doorstep sooner, not later. “State tests of Zircon are scheduled for completion in 2017 … and the missile’s serial production is planned to be launched next year,” the Russian news agency TASS reported last year, quoting sources. And last month, Russia’s Interfax news agency cited a source familiar with the Zircon project who said the 5-ton missile is likely to be tested for the first time this spring — earlier than the projected date of 2018 — “from a sea-based platform.” The International Business Times (IBT) reported that the U.S. Navy is concerned the missile could be fitted to a Russian warship. Hypersonic speed is the stuff of science fiction. As explained in IBT: “The missile employs revolutionary scramjet technology to reach its hypersonic speeds whereby propulsion is created by forcing air from the atmosphere into its combustor where it mixes with on-board fuel – rather than carry both fuel and oxidizer like traditional rockets. This makes it lighter, and therefore much faster. “It uses no fans, rotating turbines or moving parts – just an inlet where air is compressed and a combustor where the air is mixed with fuel. Fewer moving parts also means less chance of mechanical failure. “The Zircon … would be capable of destroying the world’s most advanced warships and aircraft carriers in one strike and could be put into action by 2020.” The Zircon will have a radar target seeker and an optical-electronic complex that can trace and detect targets, also at hypersonic speed, according to the Strategic Culture Foundation. “It will greatly reduce the reaction time that [Western military units] have to deploy their own defenses and counter-measures,” Tim Ripley, who covers defense issues for Jane’s Defence Weekly, told the German international broadcaster Deutsche Welle. He said the Zircon could render Western anti-aircraft defenses “obsolete,” and he warned that Russia appears far ahead of the U.S. in development. “In the public domain, the West seems to be quite a long way behind,” Ripley said. “But that doesn’t mean there isn’t some black, super-secret project run by the U.S.’ Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, or DARPA.” In fact, the U.S. may not be behind at all. According to Stratfor, U.S. Maj. Gen. Thomas Masiello announced in late February that the Air Force plans to have operational prototypes of its own hypersonic missile ready for testing by 2020. And Stratfor forecasts that the U.S. and China will likely have the first operational long-range hypersonic missiles in their arsenals by 2025, years ahead of Russia. India is also working to develop a hypersonic missile. According to India Today, India is developing its BrahMos II missile in collaboration with Russia, and it will use the same scramjet technology as Zircon.
Definitely something to keep an eye on…
The top U.S. general in Europe told lawmakers Thursday that he sees evidence Russia might be supplying the Taliban in an effort to undermine the United States, in what could be a significant turning point in the Afghanistan conflict. “I’ve seen the influence of Russia of late, increased influence in terms of association and perhaps even supply to the Taliban,” Army Gen. Curtis Scaparrotti, the head of the U.S. military’s European Command and the Supreme Allied Commander for NATO, told the Senate Armed Services Committee. Scaparotti did not specify what Moscow may have been supplying to the insurgents. Until now, top Pentagon officials have said Moscow has only been influencing the Taliban in an effort to counter NATO. Officials say Iran and Pakistan have also lent support to the Taliban in the past year. General Scaparrotti spoke hours after the key Sangin district in southern Afghanistan’s volatile Helmand Province fell to the Taliban. Sangin was once considered the deadliest battlefield for British and U.S. troops in Afghanistan. Three hundred Marines will return there this spring to relieve an Army unit, the first time Marines have deployed to Helmand since 2014. Since the withdrawal of foreign NATO combat troops from Afghanistan at the end of that year, and with only a smaller, U.S.-led advise and training mission left behind, Sangin has been seen as a major tests of whether Afghan security forces can hold off advancing Taliban fighters.
This is a HUGE development that isn’t getting the media attention it should. We’ll keep an eye on this as it develops..
A scathing column in the Chinese government publication Global Times condemns the nation’s Communist allies in North Korea as “the most insecure country in the world,” calling for a political solution to tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. The column, published this week, followed a visit by American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to South Korea, Japan, and China. His hosts in China appeared extremely pleased by Tillerson’s use of “win-win cooperation” language – by now, boilerplate statements in Chinese diplomacy – and eager to cooperate economically with Washington. The Global Times‘ columnists argued on Thursday that the fact that North Korea has continued to engage in belligerent, if also internationally embarrassing, military behavior is a sign that sanctions on Pyongyang are having the intended effect. North Korea attempted to launch a missile at Japan on Thursday, believed to be a response to international calls for dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon his illegal nuclear program. The missile in question “exploded right after it took off from a launch pad” and appeared to represent no danger to its intended target. As it exploded within seconds of launch, it was impossible for South Korea and U.S. military observers to confirm the exact target of the launch. “The failure of this launch revealed the immaturity of North Korea’s missile technology,” the Times taunts. “The international sanctions have worked. It has become more difficult for North Korea to acquire resources for missile research and development.” International sanctions, the Times continues, will “exert a long-term effect. They will seriously undermine missile research and development, but not endanger the survival of the Korean regime in the short-term.” “North Korea has claimed to have nuclear weapons, but also has become the most insecure country in the world,” the authors argue. The Times recommends for China to continue participating in some sanctions against North Korea, but not all. “As long as China doesn’t completely close its border with North Korea, doesn’t implement a full embargo on food and necessities, and doesn’t pose a direct threat to the survival of the Korean regime, China and North Korea will not come to the point of confronting each other despite their cold relations,” the Times predicts. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and a fellow Communist nation, one of the few remaining on the globe. Up to 85 percent of North Korea’s international trade comes from China; the nation relies heavily on Chinese food and fuel exports, and the little it exports mostly goes to China. China has been reluctant to cut ties with Pyongyang, though recently opted to cease importing North Korean coal for the rest of the year. Beijing claimed it was “ludicrous” to suggest that the new policy was a response to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, brother to Kim Jong-un and long believed to enjoy a positive relationship with China, instead suggesting Beijing was aspiring to adhering to U.N. sanctions requirements. To make up for the profits it expected from Beijing, North Korea is publicizing a new tourist cruise program, seeking international investors to develop tours around North Korea’s mountainous Kosong port area. North Korea also issued a rare condemnation of China’s behavior in halting North Korean coal imports in February. Without mentioning China by name, a column in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) condemned the “friendly neighbor” as a “vassal state … dancing to the tune of the U.S. while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program.” China’s barbs at North Korea follow a period of somewhat surprising diplomacy between Beijing and Washington. While Secretary of State Tillerson used his Asia trip to pressure China into flexing its muscle to curb North Korean belligerence, he made his strongest public statements in Japan and South Korea, not China. “We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for,” Tillerson said in Tokyo last week. In China, he told reporters he was looking to expand “win-win cooperation.” “His tone is widely seen as ‘moderate’ compared with his earlier statements in South Korea and Japan,” the Global Times said of his remarks in China. The publication also cited experts who praised his call for an end to the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea and his statement seeking a “new model of major power relations” with China. These indicate a possibility that China will aid the United States on the international stage in calling for sanctions, though much remains on the line in anticipation of President Xi Jinping’s meeting with President Donald Trump in April. At the U.N., the Security Council is preparing to pass a new resolution this week condemning the atrocious human rights record of the Kim regime, according to the South Korea Foreign Ministry.
..which, of course, will be laughed at by Kim Jong Ding Dong and his band of thugs. What Kim IS concerned with, is this surprising reaction from China following Sec of State Tillerson’s visit. Definitely something to keep an eye on…