North and South Korean warships exchange fire in disputed area of Yellow Sea

Residents on a nearby island were evacuated to underground shelters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 6:38pm

Associated Press in Seoul

North and South Korean warships exchanged artillery fire yesterday in disputed waters off the western coast of the Korean peninsula, in the latest sign of rising animosity between the bitter rivals in recent weeks.

Officials from the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Ministry said a South Korean ship was engaged in a routine patrol near the countries’ disputed maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea when a North Korean ship fired two artillery shells. The shells did not hit the South Korean ship and fell in waters near it, they said. Continue reading “North and South Korean warships exchange fire in disputed area of Yellow Sea”

 North Korea conducts firing drills near a disputed sea border with South Korea / 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds

Ju-min Park and James Pearson,

Thomson Reuters April 29, 2014 08:45

More than 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds back into the North’s waters.

North Korea conducted live fire drills on Tuesday in two areas near a disputed sea border with South Korea that have been the scene of deadly clashes and where they fired hundreds of artillery rounds only weeks ago.

Map of Korean maritime border, language neutra...

Continue reading ” North Korea conducts firing drills near a disputed sea border with South Korea / 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds”

South Korean military gains authority to launch pre-emptive strike against North when necessary

Updated: 2014-03-07 AM 9:17:55 (KST)

Flag of South Korea
Flag of South Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is eye catching about this year’s defense reform is that it includes plans to allow South Korea to pre-emptively strike North Korea if Pyongyang is about to attack.

Previously Seoul’s response was limited to local provocations, but the pre-emptive strike capability adds a whole new strategic level in dealing with Pyongyang’s provocations.

This includes striking North Korea’s missile and nuclear facilities in the early stages, using the so-called “Kill-Chain” system.

Under international law, a country that conducts a pre-emptive strike could be blamed for starting the war. Continue reading “South Korean military gains authority to launch pre-emptive strike against North when necessary”

Chinese jet in near miss with North Korean missile

Shenyang-bound flight missed shot by minutes, but could have been hit on rocket’s descent

 UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 11:13pm
 Agencies in Seoul

northmissile_southernairline.jpg

A China Southern Airlines airplane carrying 220 passengers passed through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket (seen on the news in Seoul above). Photos: AP, Reuters

A China Southern Airlines aircraft carrying 220 passengers passed through the trajectory of a rocket launched seven minutes earlier by North Korea, a South Korean official said.

Flight CZ628 was headed to Shenyang in Liaoning province after taking off from Narita airport in Japan when North Korea fired the missile at 4.17pm on Tuesday, South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. Continue reading “Chinese jet in near miss with North Korean missile”

China scrambles military planes after US and Japan fly sorties into new zone

EEV: Read the Link to article at bottom – “japan-prime-target-chinas-new-air-zone-state-media”

Tensions rise as US and Japan fly sorties and South Korea puts contested island in its own zone

surveillance_pek.jpg

Kristine Kwok kristine.kwok@scmp.com

PUBLISHED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 10:26am
UPDATED : Friday, 29 November, 2013, 11:49pm

Chinese military aircraft were scrambled yesterday after US and Japanese planes flew into the mainland’s new air defence identification zone.

Earlier, South Korea announced plans to include a tiny island contested with China under its own air defence zone, potentially raising the diplomatic temperature further.

PLA Air Force spokesman Shen Jianke said the air force ordered Su-30 and Qian-11 planes to verify the identity of the aircraft inside the zone yesterday morning.

The PLA identified two US aircraft and 10 Japanese aircraft. The US planes made two sorties across the zone, while the Japanese made seven.

Continue reading “China scrambles military planes after US and Japan fly sorties into new zone”

South Korea caught in crossfire amid air defence zone row / China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s

UPDATED : Wednesday, 27 November, 2013, 3:13pm Audrey Yoo audrey.yoo@scmp.com
skorea_epa.jpg

China’s air defence zone aimed at Tokyo puts South Korea in an awkward position

 

South Korea is finding itself caught in the crossfire amid growing Sino-Japanese tensions after Beijing’s declaration of a new air defence zone (ADIZ) that overlaps with those of Japan and Korea.

Local media reported that although China’s air defence zone was aimed at Japan, it turned Korea into a “piggy in the middle” as Beijing tries to expand its defence zone to the east and Tokyo to the west.

“Korea has become sandwiched [between Beijing and Tokyo] as China and Japan flex their muscles,” said a report in the conservative Seoul-based newspaper JoongAng Ilbo.

On Thursday, South Korea’s foreign minister Yun Byung-se said the issue of China and Japan’s ADIZ had emerged as a situation that further intensified tensions in Northeast Asia.

China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s and Seoul has told Beijing that it cannot accept what it sees as Beijing’s unilateral decision.

Continue reading “South Korea caught in crossfire amid air defence zone row / China’s air defence zone overlaps with some 3,000 square kilometres of South Korea’s”

DoD to Award Contracts Throughout Shutdown, But Won’t Announce Them

Oct. 1, 2013 – 03:45AM   |
By MARCUS WEISGERBER   |

US Defense Department lawyers are working 'to see if there's any margin here or widening in the interpretation of the law regarding exempt versus non-exempt civilians,' said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is traveling in South Korea.

US Defense Department lawyers are working ‘to see if there’s any margin here or widening in the interpretation of the law regarding exempt versus non-exempt civilians,’ said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, who is traveling in South Korea.   (Erin A. Kirk-Cuomo)

Shutdown fallout

WASHINGTON — The Pentagon will continue to award hundreds of millions of dollars in acquisition, services and other types of contracts despite a government-wide shutdown, but don’t expect to hear about them.

The US Defense Department will not publicly announce contracts during the shutdown, Lt. Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a Pentagon spokesman, wrote in an email.

But that should not stop the military services and defense agencies from signing pacts for equipment, supplies and other items.

The Pentagon will do “one big announcement” of the contracts awarded during this period when the shutdown ends, Christensen wrote.

So how is this possible? It is because the money being used to sign the deals was appropriated by Congress in prior years.

At the same time, the Pentagon is looking to widen the number of civilian employees allowed to work despite the first government-wide shutdown in 17 years, US Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said.

Hagel, who is traveling in South Korea, said DoD lawyers are working “to see if there’s any margin here or widening in the interpretation of the law regarding exempt versus non-exempt civilians.”

About 400,000 civilian workers are facing furloughs until Congress passes a fiscal 2014 appropriation. Lawmakers in the Democrat-controlled Senate and the Republican-controlled House were unable to strike a budget deal before the fiscal year ended at midnight on Monday, causing a shutdown.

“Our lawyers believe that maybe we can expand the exempt status,” Hagel said. “We don’t know if that’s the case, but we are exploring that, so that we could cut back from the furloughs some of the civilians that had to leave.”

Most DoD civilian workers have already been furloughed six days this year, the result of the Pentagon cutting $37 billion from its 2013 budget due to sequestration.

“This is going to impact the future of a lot of our employees,” Hagel said. “I’ve had a number of senior civilian employees in DoD talk to me last few months about their futures. Their spouses are not happy. They have families.”

It is still not entirely clear which civilian employees will continue to work during the shutdown. For example, civilians supporting activities such as combat operations in Afghanistan are exempt. Also, some civilians at military headquarters were still in their offices Tuesday because their salaries are paid through working capital funds.

The funding in those accounts — which are typically used by DoD to pay for services — is likely leftover 2013 money, said Gordon Adams, a professor at American University and former White House budget official.

Congress passed, and President Barack Obama signed, into law on Monday a bill that pays active-duty military throughout the shutdown.

Andrew Tilghman contributed to this report

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20131001/DEFREG02/310010031/DoD-Award-Contracts-Throughout-Shutdown-Won-t-Announce-Them?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Kim Jong who? Meet the cabal that really runs North Korea

August 1, 2013 06:01

Legend aside, the boy despot doesn’t do everything himself. Here’s the power pantheon he shares power with.

North korea delegates 20130731

The Workers’ Party of Korea includes the other power players in North Korea. (Korean News Service/Getty Images)

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SEOUL, South Korea — There’s more to North Korea than its pudgy and easily parodied dictator, Kim Jong Un.

Since the 1940s, the Kim dynasty has survived three generations, largely by cultivating a bizarre cult of worship among its long-suffering citizens.

But within this apparatus of near-total control, a pantheon of power players works quietly to run the country.

In a nation known for sudden swings and vicious purges, these elites know how to work the system. Of course, power is always a game of push and pull. To stay on top, the Supreme Leader needs the loyalty of his lieutenants, which gives them more clout than you might imagine.

Michael Madden, who runs North Korea Leadership Watch, the most exhaustive blog tracking the whereabouts of North Korean leaders, explained these inner workings to GlobalPost.

Here are five leading figures to watch:

The man behind the throne

As vice president of the National Defense Commission, General Jang Sung-taek heads the all-powerful body that controls the military. That makes him nation’s second most influential leader. Predictably, Kim Jong Un is his immediate supervisor, holding the post of chairman.

Jang Sung-Taek (L).Youtube.

The four-star general is among the most experienced faces in Kim Jong Un’s circle. He rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s by cultivating close ties with Kim Jong Un’s father, deceased despot Kim Jong Il; he may have even taken control behind the scenes when the Dear Leader fell into poor health.

Under the previous autocrat, Jang was so influential that one top-ranking North Korean official, who fled to Seoul, predicted that he would succeed Kim Jong Il. Jang’s status is aided by his marriage to Kim Jong Un’s aunt.

The power aunt

General Jang’s wife is North Korea’s most powerful woman, General Kim Kyong-hui. She is the Moscow-educated daughter of founding father Kim Il Sung. An ardent but pragmatic revolutionary, Kim is known for wielding sway within the ruling family and for being a principle regime supporter. In the 1980s, she oversaw the office that trafficked narcotics and weapons overseas.

Kim Kyong-Hui (C).Youtube.

She serves as a top secretary in the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, giving her a hand in state policy.

Politics aside, Kim has one eclectic item on her resume. She opened the nation’s first hamburger joint in 2010. North Korea has renamed the classic Western dish “minced meat and bread.”

Reportedly a heavy drinker, the 67-year-old has survived repeated rumors of her imminent death.

The protege

The Clintons may have Huma Abedin as their favored up-and-comer. Likewise, North Korea’s celebrity political couple, Jang and Kim, are mentoring a rising official, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae. Choe holds two key posts in the ruling party that give him sway over ideology and defense issues.

Choe Ryong-hae (R).Youtube.

Some analysts doubt whether Choe has the spine to survive the ruling scrum, and point to his supposed lack of army experience as a dire liability. A track record of noble revolutionary valor is pretty much a prerequisite for success in North Korea (although experts debate whether it’s becoming less important under Kim Jong Un).

Madden says that Choe has been on the ascent for longer than many believe. Choe was demoted last year, only to reemerge just as powerful months later.

And what purpose does he serve his mentors? Madden thinks that North Korea’s power couple is using Choe as a generational link to the youthful and inexperienced Kim Jong Un.

The hardliner

Decorated general Kim Kyok-sik has “excellent street cred in Pyongyang as a hardliner,” explains Madden. His eclectic CV includes service in Syria the 1970s, where he may have also aided Middle Eastern and African revolutionary movements. More recently, he was the defense minister.

Kim Kyok-sik (R).Youtube.

Kim has gained momentum lately. It all started in 2010, when he supposedly commanded the shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people.

In early 2013, Kim was heavily involved in a bout of saber-rattling between North Korea and the world. In February, the United Nations imposed a round of sanctions on Pyongyang as punishment for a nuclear test. In response, the garrison state spent two months spewing war threats and broadcasting military exercises — all aimed at Washington and Seoul, of course.

Kim proved himself further during this time, but not without hiccups. In May 2013, he was suddenly relieved of his duties, but made a comeback as the new army chief of staff, giving him wide-ranging power over the nation’s war machinery.

The reformer

In a break from fire-and-brimstone militarism, Pak Pong-ju is one of few reformers with influence. In April 2013, the businessman, known for his progressive views, took the post of prime minister.

Pak Pong-ju (C, smiling). Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images.

As the premier, Pak pays special attention to the economy. Even some North Korean defectors in Seoul say they’re optimistic about his policies and demeanor.  “He is a very humble person and is a self-made man,” Madden said.

In the mid-2000s, Pak tried his first stint as premier. He relaxed the government’s socialist system of rationing food — a way of easing shortages — and gave state firms greater autonomy. These were part of a push toward a more open market.

But remember, this is North Korea, so idealistic Pak didn’t last long. In 2007, he was rebuked and fired.

It’s truly amazing that he got a second try. If North Korea ever opens up, he’ll be the man to call.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/north-korea/130731/the-cabal-really-runs-north-korea

Airport landing system off when plane crashed in San Francisco

Sunday Jul 07, 2013   |    Peter Henderson, Dan Levine for Reuters

The San Francisco skyline is seen in the background as an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 plane lies off the runway after it crashed while landing at San Francisco International Airport in California

Credit: Reuters
SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – A navigation system that helps pilots make safe descents was turned off at San Francisco airport on Saturday when a South Korean airliner crashed and burned after undershooting the runway, officials said.

 

The system, called Glide Path, is meant to help planes land in bad weather. It was clear and sunny, with light winds, when Asiana Flight 214 from Seoul, South Korea crashed just before noon, killing two passengers and injuring more than 100.

 

Aircraft safety experts said Glide Path was far from essential for routine landings, and it was not unusual for airports to take such landing systems off line for maintenance or other reasons.

 

But pilots have grown to rely on the decades-old technology, which is designed specifically to prevent runway misses, so investigators are likely to look closely at the issue.

 

“The pilots would have had to rely solely on visual cues to fly the proper glide path to the runway, and not have had available to them the electronic information that they typically have even in good weather at most major airports,” said Captain Chesley “Sully” Sullenberger, the former US Airways pilot who gained fame with a successful crash landing on the Hudson River in 2009.

 

“What that means is that then the automatic warnings that would occur in the cockpit when you deviate below the desired electronic path wouldn’t have been available either. So we don’t know yet if that’s a factor in this particular situation, but that’s certainly something they’ll be looking at,” he told the local CBS News affiliate.

 

Glide Path is a computerized system based at an airport that calculates a plane’s path of descent and sends it to pilots in real time.

 

San Francisco International has turned off the system for nearly the entire summer on the runway where the Asiana flight crashed, according to a notice from the airport on the Federal Aviation Administration’s Web site. It showed the system out of service June 1-August 22 on runway 28 Left.

 

Kevin Hiatt, chief executive of the Flight Safety Foundation and a former Delta pilot, said it was common for airports to take instrument landing systems offline for maintenance on clear days. Pilots use several other instruments and visual cues to land in clear conditions, Hiatt said.

 

“All of those are more than adequate to fly an aircraft down for a successful landing on the runway,” he said.

 

Sullenberger said the San Francisco runway safety area had been increased to avoid short landings.

 

Airport spokesman Doug Yakel told reporters there had been construction on the runway recently, but not on Saturday.

 

“Given that we had clear visibility today, we were operating under what’s called visual flight rules,” when good weather allows a pilot to see well to operate the plane, he added. He did not take further questions on the instrument landing technology.

 

Former Inspector General of the U.S. Department of Transportation Mary Schiavo said pilots had become increasingly dependent on instruments for flying. But she added that modern planes had plenty of systems for landing safely, down to a pilot watching the lights on the runway.

 

(Additional reporting by Laila Kearney in San Francisco and Tim Hepher in Paris; Editing by Jonathan Weber and Andrew Heavens)

 

http://www.newsdaily.com/article/96ff0d2b98e36d2620b8f26bc50d9563/airport-landing-system-off-when-plane-crashed-in-san-francisco

Asiana Crash incoming airplane’s glide path was not working on Saturday

EEV: This is not likely the cause, but is worthy of investigation…

Investigators seek cause of deadly plane crash San Francisco

Credit: Reuters/Xu Da

By Sarah McBride

SAN FRANCISCO |          Sun Jul 7, 2013 11:02am EDT

SAN FRANCISCO (Reuters) – U.S. officials examined flight information recorders and began investigating the crash of an Asiana Airlines Boeing 777 that burst into flames upon landing in San Francisco, killing two teenaged Chinese students and injuring more than 180 people, officials said on Sunday.

There was no immediate indication of the cause of Saturday’s accident but Asiana said mechanical failure did not appear to be a factor. The airline declined to blame either the pilot or the San Francisco control tower.

Eric Weiss, a spokesman for the National Transportation Safety Board, said the plane’s “black boxes” – the cockpit voice recorder and flight data recorder – had been recovered and were sent to Washington for analysis. The Federal Aviation Administration also was investigating and Asiana Airlines said on Sunday that Korean accident investigators were on their way to San Francisco.

NTSB Chairman Deborah Hersman said on Sunday there was no indication of a criminal act but it was too early to determine what went wrong.

“Everything is still on the table,” she said on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

Investigators in coming days will interview the pilots and look at data from the black boxes, radar equipment and other information to determine the cause of the crash, she said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

“It’s really important to put all of the pieces of the puzzle together,” Hersman said.

The plane was coming in from Seoul when witnesses said its tail appeared to hit the approach area of a runway that juts into San Francisco Bay. One witness said the plane appeared to be coming in too low and too fast.

The impact knocked off the plane’s tail and the aircraft appeared to bounce violently, scattering a trail of debris before coming to rest on the tarmac.

SERIOUS INTERIOR DAMAGE

Pictures taken by survivors showed passengers hurrying away from the wrecked plane. Thick smoke billowed from the fuselage and TV footage later showed the aircraft gutted and blackened by fire. Much of its roof was gone.

Interior damage to the plane also was extreme, Hersman said on CNN.

“You can see the devastation from the outside of the aircraft, the burn-through, the damage to the external fuselage,” she said. “But what you can’t see is the damage internally. That is really striking.”

The dead were identified as Ye Meng Yuan and Wang Lin Jia, both 16-year-old girls and described as Chinese nationals who are students, Asiana Airlines said. They had been seated at the rear of the aircraft, according to government officials in Seoul and Asiana.

The crash was the first fatal accident involving the Boeing 777, a popular long-range jet that has been in service since 1995. It was the first fatal commercial airline accident in the United States since a regional plane operated by Colgan Air crashed in New York in 2009.

“For now, we acknowledge that there were no problems caused by the 777-200 plane or (its) engines,” Yoon Young-doo, the president and CEO of the airline, told reporters on Sunday at the company headquarters on the outskirts of Seoul.

Asiana on Sunday said the flight, which had originated in Shanghai, had carried 291 passengers and 16 crew members. The passengers included 141 Chinese, 77 South Koreans, 64 U.S. citizens, three Indians, three Canadians, one French, one Vietnamese and one Japanese citizen.

Dale Carnes, assistant deputy chief of the San Francisco Fire Department, said 49 people were hospitalized with serious injuries. Another 132 suffered moderate and minor injuries.

Five people were in critical condition at San Francisco General Hospital, according to spokeswoman Rachael Kagan. She said a total of 52 people were treated for burns, fractures and internal injuries. Three people were critical at Stanford Hospital.

TOO LOW, TOO FAST

Survivor Benjamin Levy told a local NBC station he believed the Asiana plane had been coming in too low.

“I know the airport pretty well, so I realized the guy was a bit too low, too fast, and somehow he was not going to hit the runway on time, so he was too low … he put some gas and tried to go up again,” he said in a telephone interview.

“But it was too late, so we hit the runway pretty bad, and then we started going up in the air again, and then landed again, pretty hard.”

Levy said he opened an emergency door and ushered people out. “We got pretty much everyone in the back section of the plane out,” he said. “When we got out there was some smoke. There was no fire then. The fire came afterward.”

Vedpal Singh, a native of India, was on board the flight along with his wife and son when the aircraft struck the landing strip.

“Your instincts take over. You don’t know what’s going on,” said Singh, who had his arm in a sling as he walked through the airport’s international terminal and told reporters he had suffered a fractured collar bone.

Asiana, South Korea’s junior carrier, has had two other fatal crashes in its 25-year history.

A senior Asiana official said the pilot was Lee Jeong-min, a veteran pilot who has spent his career with the airline. He was among four pilots on the plane who rotated on two-person shifts during the 10-hour flight, the official said.

A San Francisco airport spokesman said that a component of the facility’s instrument landing system that tracks an incoming airplane’s glide path was not working on Saturday.

Pilots and air safety experts said the glide path technology was far from essential for a safe landing in good weather.

(Additional reporting by Hyunjoo Jin, Alistain Barr, Sarah McBride, Ronnie Cohen, Poornima Gupta, Laila Kearney, Dan Levine, Gerry Shih, Jonathan Weber, Peter Henderson, Alex Dobuzinskis in Los Angeles and Jonathan Allen and Barbara Goldberg in New York.; Editing by Bill Trott and Doina Chiacu)

http://www.reuters.com/article/2013/07/07/us-usa-crash-asiana-idUSBRE9650E220130707

Report: N. Korea Deploys New Guns Along Border

Jun. 30, 2013 – 12:37PM   |
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |

SEOUL — North Korea has deployed new rocket launchers along its border capable of hitting targets beyond Seoul, a report said Sunday.

Artillery units from the North were spotted replacing older multiple rocket stations with an upgraded version of the 240mm guns, Yonhap news agency said.

The agency quoted an unnamed government official as saying the new multiple rocket launchers with a maximum range of 70 kilometers (42 miles) could extend their reach beyond the South Korean capital.

The South’s defense ministry declined to confirm the report.

North Korea has 5,100 multiple rocket launchers, according to military data.

It has been eager to upgrade its mainstream multiple rocket launchers, which pose a serious security threat to South Korea.

Residents in Seoul and neighboring satellite cities, together home to nearly half the South’s 49 million people, have always lived under threat of attack from the North’s rockets and long-range artillery.

In 2010, North Korea using multiple rocket launchers shelled a South Korean island near the disputed Yellow Sea border, killing four people.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130630/DEFREG03/306300007/Report-N-Korea-Deploys-New-Guns-Along-Border?odyssey=mod|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

N. Korea fires 4th short-range missile in 2 days – Seoul

 Published time: May 19, 2013 09:01   Edited time: May 19, 2013 11:36                                                                             
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korea has fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan, a Seoul military official said, one day after firing three short-range guided missiles. Meanwhile, South Korea has deployed precision-guided missiles on its border islands.

Seoul has placed Israeli precision-guided missiles capable of hitting North Korean targets on its Yellow Sea border islands, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday.

“Dozens of Spike missiles and their launchers have recently been deployed on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands,” an official for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. “They can destroy [North Korea’s] underground facilities and can pursue and strike moving targets.”

The satellite-guided Spike missile has a range of about 20km (12.4 miles) and weighs 70kg (154lbs), according to military officials.

Yeonpyeong is situated just 11km (6.8 miles) from North Korean shores.

North Korea's artillery sub-units (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korea’s artillery sub-units (Reuters / KCNA)

 

South Korea moved to place the Israeli missiles after Seoul confirmed that North Korea on Saturday had launched three short-range guided missiles off its east coast into the Sea of Japan.

Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them as well.

Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Media reports speculated that the projectiles were likely shore-based anti-ship KN-2 Toksa missiles, North Korea’s version of the Soviet-made OTR-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile, which Pyongyang is believed to have reverse-engineered.

“The missiles traveled about 120 km and in the North Korean arsenal, only the modified KN-02 or multiple rocket launchers of 300 mm or larger in caliber can go that far,” a source in the South Korean government said.

Seoul condemned North Korea’s latest short-range missile launches as “provocative.”

North Korea has not commented on the launches.

While the latest test launch only involves short-range missiles, it poses security threats to the region and should be “stopped immediately,” said the Seoul ministry that is charged with cross-border affairs.

“We find it deplorable that the North does not stop provocative actions such as the launch of guided missiles yesterday,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok.

“We call on the North to take responsible actions for our sake and for the sake of the international community.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the missile launches and urged Pyongyang to return to talks on the nuclear issue in the six-party format.

“We are very concerned about North Korea’s provocative actions,” Ban told reporters in Moscow on the weekend. “I hope that North Korea will refrain from any further such actions.”

The UN Secretary General said hopes that Russia “will continue to use their contacts to reduce tensions and intensify the dialogue with North Korea.”

He said that he had discussed this subject matter in a meeting on Friday in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin.

 

A South Korean navy destroyer (Reuters / South Korean Navy)

A South Korean navy destroyer (Reuters / South Korean Navy)

 

Meanwhile, the US State Department Saturday called on the North to exercise restraint, without specifically mentioning the launches.

The US stations around 28,500 troops in South Korea, a carry-over from the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, between the warring sides.

The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest episode of tensions, which began February 12, 2013, when Pyongyang announced it had conducted an underground nuclear test, its third in seven years.

The test was met with harsh international condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

South Korea and the US responded with large scale naval maneuvers, which Pyongyang called a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal if attacked.

 

http://rt.com/news/north-korea-missile-sea-494/

Japan confirms report N. Korea fires 3 short-range missiles

япония флаг япония

© Flickr.com/doraemon/cc-by-nс-sa 3.0

Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them too.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest period of high tension, which started after the North conducted its third nuclear test in February. The test was met with condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

 South Korea and the US conducted massive war drills shortly after the test, with the US sending some of its most powerful military hardware in a demonstration of strength. Pyongyang called the buildup a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal, if attacked. The North says the aggressive stance of Washington and Seoul justifies its development of nuclear weapons.

 South Korea detects three launches of short-range missiles by North

 South Korea’s Ministry of Defense has detected three launches of short-range guided missiles by North Korea, it said.

 Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, reports Yonhap news agency.

 The missiles were fired from the east coast into the Sea of Japan, the report says.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 Voice of Russia, RT

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_05_18/Japan-confirms-report-N-Korea-fires-3-short-range-missiles/

 

North Korea launches short-range missiles, South says

кндр ракета кндр северная корея ракета северная корея спутник запуск

© Photo: «Vesti.Ru»

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense has detected three launches of short-range guided missiles by North Korea, it said.

 Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, reports Yonhap news agency.

 The missiles were fired from the east coast into the Sea of Japan, the report says.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them too.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest period of high tension, which started after the North conducted its third nuclear test in February. The test was met with condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

 South Korea and the US conducted massive war drills shortly after the test, with the US sending some of its most powerful military hardware in a demonstration of strength. Pyongyang called the buildup a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal, if attacked. The North says the aggressive stance of Washington and Seoul justifies its development of nuclear weapons.

http://english.ruvr.ru/news/2013_05_18/South-Korea-detects-three-launches-of-short-range-missiles-by-North/

 

North Korea on Wednesday barred a delegation of South Korean businessmen from delivering food and supplies to 200 of their staff inside the closed Kaesong joint industrial zone.

N. Korea bars South delegation from joint zone

South Korean trucks arrive from North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Complex.

AFP Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013

SEOUL – North Korea on Wednesday barred a delegation of South Korean businessmen from delivering food and supplies to 200 of their staff inside the closed Kaesong joint industrial zone.

Ten representatives of the 123 South Korean firms in Kaesong had applied for permission to visit the zone, two weeks after the North blocked all access amid soaring military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“Moments ago, North Korea informed us that the request for a visit by 10 representatives of the business companies at Kaesong had been turned down,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok said.

“It is very regrettable that the North has rejected the request and disallowed a humanitarian measure,” Kim said.

Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea, was established in 2004 as a shining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Of the nearly 900 South Koreans who were in the zone when the North first cut off access on April 3, around 200 have opted not to leave in an effort to keep their companies running.

But the North’s action has left them without supplies of daily necessities, as well as raw materials.

“We again strongly urge the North Korean authorities to take responsible measures for meeting the most basic needs of the staff at Kaesong,” Kim said. The North withdrew all its 53,000 workers and suspended operations in Kaesong on April 8.

Seoul’s offers of dialogue to resolve the situation have been dismissed by the North as a “crafty trick”.

On Tuesday, North Korea said the South was seeking to shift responsibility for Kaesong’s closure, which Pyongyang insists was forced by Seoul’s policy of “confrontation” and its “war-mongering” statements.

“The puppet regime can never escape from the criminal responsibility for putting Kaesong in this grave situation”, the North’s state body in charge of special economic zones said in a statement.

The South is “clinging to sanctions against the North, while bringing in massive volumes of new war machines and madly engaging in exercises for a war of aggression while prattling about dialogue,” the statement said.

Neither of the Koreas has allowed previous crises to significantly affect the complex, which is seen as a bellwether of stability on the Korean peninsula and is a key source of hard currency for the North.

http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20130417-416516.html

 

Allied forces on high alert amid NK missile threats ( Moved to Watchcon LVL 2 )

Song Sang-ho

The Korea Herald

Publication Date : 11-04-2013

Seoul officials say Pyongyang is ready for multiple missile launches; Washington calls threat ‘unhelpful

South Korea and the US stepped up their intelligence and surveillance activities on Wednesday amid growing signs of North Korea’s imminent multiple missile launches.

The allied forces raised the Watch Condition, or Watchcon, by one notch to level 2, and bolstered their intelligence personnel. Intelligences indicated Pyongyang has finalized preparations to launch its Musudan intermediate-range missiles from its east coast. Seoul officials said.

“North Korea can fire missiles at any time now, if it has the political determination to do so,” a military source said, declining to be named.

Seoul officials believe Pyongyang could launch multiple missiles such as its Musudan, Scud and Rodong missiles on the same day.

“In addition to the two Musudan missiles spotted in the Wonsan area of (the North’s) Gangwon Province, we identified four to five transporter-erector-launchers (mobile launchers) around the Donghan bay spanning South Hamgyeong Province and Gangwon Province,” a senior government official told reporters.

The mobile launchers are known to be used to carry the North’s Scud or Rodong missiles.

Scud missiles with ranges of 300-500 km put South Korea within striking range while Rodong missiles with ranges of some 1,300 km and Musudan missiles with ranges beyond 3,000 km can strike Japan and Guam, respectively.

All three missiles have been deployed before while Taepodong-2 missiles with ranges of longer than 6,700 km are still under development. The intercontinental missiles are capable of striking the US mainland.

In the past, Pyongyang launched multiple missiles in the same day. On July 5, 2006, it launched a Taepodong-2 missile, four Scud missiles and two Rodong missiles while on July 4, 2009, it fired five Scud missiles and two Rodong missiles.

Mobilising their core intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assets including South Korea’s Aegis-equipped destroyers, the South Korean and US militaries here kept closer tabs on North Korean movements.

The South Korean military ran a taskforce, consisting of some 10 senior officers, to prepare for the possible missile launch.

To better handle ballistic missile threats, Seoul seeks to establish the “Air and Missile Defence-Cell” by July. The AMD-Cell tasked with analyzing missile information gleaned from early warning satellites and radars, is a key part of the low-tier missile shield Seoul plans to build.

During a parliamentary session, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se confirmed the possibility of North Korea launching missiles was “considerably high”.

“Based on our and US intelligence, the missile could be the Musudan missile. Its range is around 3,500 km, but how far it will travel hinges on North Korea’s intentions,” he said.

Experts said the range of the missile can be adjusted according to the amount of the fuel, the angle at which it flies, and other factors.

Stressing its nuclear and missile capabilities had reached a “considerable level,” Yun warned another missile launch would constitute a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban any missile tests by the provocative state.

“Upon any additional launch, the UNSC would immediately convene. As we all need to thoroughly analyse the nature of the missile launch, it is yet difficult to predict what kinds of measures the UNSC would adopt for another launch,” he said.

The minister also underscored that Washington would not hold talks with Pyongyang should it continue to set off provocations and refuse to show sincerity in the multilateral efforts to denuclearise it.

“The US stresses that inter-Korean talks should precede any talks between Washington and Pyongyang, (though be held) in close coordination with Washington,” he said.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee session, Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of US Pacific Command, said the US military has the ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile. But he added that a decision on whether a missile should be intercepted would be based on where it is aimed and expected to land.

“I believe we have the ability to defend the homeland, Guam, Hawaii and defend our allies,” said Locklear, pointing out that the reclusive state’s nuclear weapons and missiles posed a “clear threat” to the US and its regional allies.

The Pentagon plans to deploy a land-based “terminal high-altitude area defence system” to Guam in the coming weeks as a precautionary move to counter a possible missile attack.

It has also unveiled its plan to strengthen missile defence against the North by installing 14 additional ground-based interceptors at its bases in Alaska and California by September 2017.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney characterised North Korea’s nuclear war threat as “unhelpful, concerning and provocative”, noting it was a pattern of combative statements and behaviour that the leadership in Pyongyang has shown for years.

Another US official said North Korea’s test missile launches could occur without Pyongyang issuing a standard warning to commercial aviation and maritime authorities.

“We hope they issue a notification, but at this point we don’t expect it. We are working on the assumption they won’t,” the anonymous official was quoted by CNN as saying.

http://www.asianewsnet.net/Allied-forces-on-high-alert-amid-NK-missile-threat-45269.html

 

S Korean government source: N Korea allegedly preparing fourth underground nuclear test

Северная Корея ядерные испытания Северная Корея кндр ядерные испытания ядерные испытания

Photo: EPA

North Korea could perform a fourth underground nuclear weapons test at Punggye-ri, the site of its previous test. Pyongyang appeared to be making preparations for the test, according to a South Korean government source speaking to the country’s Joong Ang Daily newpaper.

 This comes on the heels of the South’s defense ministry reports that Pyongyang could perform a mid-range missile test-launch by Wednesday – also the deadline it has given to foreign diplomats to evacuate, as their safety would reportedly no longer be guaranteed by the government.
“We have detected increased activity of labor forces and vehicles at the southern tunnel of the test site in Punggye-ri, where the regime has worked on maintenance for facilities since its third nuclear test in February,” one of South’s top government officials said. He added that “the activities appear to be similar to those before the third test, so we are closely monitoring the site.”

 The official went on to say that the South Korean government “were also tipped off that Pyongyang would soon carry out an additional nuclear test… but we are analyzing if it is indeed preparation for an additional test or if it is just to pressure Seoul and Washington.”

 Voice of Russia, RT

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_04_08/S-Korean-government-source-N-Korea-allegedly-preparing-fourth-nuclear-test-915/

 

North Korea readies missile launch as fears of a covert cyberwar grow

As Pyongyang moves ballistic weapons to the coast, it may also be planning to disable computer networks in the US

South Korean soldier at border.

A South Korean soldier patrols at the crossing to the jointly managed Kaesong industrial complex on the border. Photograph: Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

South Korea is bracing for a protracted standoff with the North that could include at least one missile test-launch and a border skirmish.

On Friday, North Korea attempted to heighten fears of military conflict when it told embassies in its capital, Pyongyang, that it could not guarantee the safety of their staff in the event of war. In another sign that it is determined to increase the pressure, Pyongyang extended a ban preventing South Korean officials from entering the Kaesong industrial complex – which it operates jointly with the South – for a fourth day.

A government official in Seoul said there was no indication of an exodus of foreign diplomats from the North, despite the warning. “We don’t believe there’s any foreign mission about to leave Pyongyang,” the official told the Yonhap news agency. “Most foreign governments view the North Korean message as a way of ratcheting up tension.”

The message to embassies came as US officials confirmed media reports that North Korea had moved two medium-range missiles to its east coast. The Musudan missiles, with a range of 1,865 miles, are capable of striking South Korea, Japan and US bases in the Pacific. Possible launches are expected to be tests rather than targeted strikes, and may be timed to coincide with the 101st anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung, on 15 April.

In response, South Korea has sent Aegis destroyers equipped with advanced radar systems to both of its coasts. The US had earlier said it would speed up the deployment of missile defence systems to Guam, a US Pacific territory whose military bases Pyongyang has identified as targets. Officials in Washington offered a measured response to confirmation that the North had mounted two missiles on mobile launchers. “We’ve obviously seen the reports that North Korea may be making preparations to launch a missile and we’re monitoring this situation closely,” the White House  press secretary Jay Carney said. “And we would not be surprised to see them take such an action. It would fit their current pattern of bellicose, unhelpful and unconstructive rhetoric and actions.”

US attempts to lower the diplomatic temperature come after a prolonged display of its naval and air power in the region during joint military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang has condemned the annual drills, which run to the end of the month, as preparations for an invasion.

The North Korean media continued to describe the standoff in dramatic terms at the weekend, accusing the US and South Korea of “waging madcap nuclear war manoeuvres”.

“This is aimed at igniting a nuclear war against it through a pre-emptive strike,” the Minju Joson, a government daily newspaper, said. “The prevailing situation proves that a new war, a nuclear war, is imminent on the peninsula.”

The prospect of a North Korean missile test is causing concern in Japan, which is easily within range. In Tokyo, Yoshihide Suga, a government spokesman, said that Japan was preparing for a “worst-case” scenario, and urged China and Russia to play “significant roles” in defusing tensions. Experts and officials have dismissed Pyongyang’s threats to launch nuclear strikes against the US, given the rudimentary state of its weapons capability. But it could cause widespread disruption with a cyberattack, according to a defector who worked for the regime’s 3,000-member cyberwarfare unit.

The regime’s next move could be to break into US computer networks to steal information and spread viruses, Jang Se-yul, who defected to the South in 2008, told the Observer. North Korea’s hackers are suspected of being behind recent cyberattacks that paralysed computer networks at several South Korean banks and broadcasters.

“It would demonstrate that North Korea is a strong cyberpower,” Jang said. “Their prime target is the US, and they’ve been preparing for something like this for years, including when I was there in the 1990s. I can’t say how successful they would be, but it’s a possibility.”

The barrage of threats have failed to unnerve people in Seoul, just 54km from the demilitarised zone – the strip of heavily guarded land that has separated the two states since they agreed on a ceasefire, but not a peace treaty, at the end of the 1950-53 Korean war. Streets were packed with cars and shoppers as usual on Saturday, despite rain and chilly weather.

The South Korean media have also been measured in their coverage. When North Korea vowed last week to restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, South Korean newspapers devoted more space to government plans to grant tax breaks to home buyers. On Naver, the country’s most popular web portal, the most read news item last week was about Ryu Hyun-jin, a South Korean baseball pitcher who made his debut for the LA Dodgers. The relaxed mood would quickly change in the event of a localised attack on a South Korean military asset or one of the frontline islands near the disputed maritime border.

Last week the South’s new president, Park Geun-hye, said that the military would hit back hard if provoked. Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was criticised for his slow response to attacks in 2010 on a naval ship and island, in which 50 people died.

An editorial in the Korea Times said those living in both the North and South had reason to be vigilant. “Not a single expert can say for sure what will be the unpredictable regime’s next move,” the newspaper said. “One thing seems certain, however: it will be Koreans, especially South Koreans, who will have to shoulder the risks of any misjudgment or miscalculation to be made by either Koreas.” There was consternation, too, that the North had disrupted operations at Kaesong for four days, although it has not closed the facility. Last week it prevented South Korean workers from crossing the border into the complex, located just inside North Korea. About 100 South Koreans who had stayed at Kaesong last week were due to return yesterday, with 500 more remaining.

The Korea Herald noted that the £56bn that the North earns from the complex every year was “no small amount”, adding that the country “does not have many comparable or better sources of hard currency”.

Political tensions have briefly disrupted operations at Kaesong several times since it opened in 2004, but a complete and prolonged shutdown would be a sign that cross-border ties were near to collapse.

“South Korea takes this situation very seriously,” a senior government official in Seoul told the Observer. “We must watch even the smallest moves by North Korea. At the same time, we will continue to send signals that we want to build trust with Pyongyang in the hope that it will cooperate and dialogue can begin.”

http://www.guardian.co.uk/world/2013/apr/07/north-korea-missile-launch-cyberwar-fears

NKorea delays SKorea entry to Kaesong industrial park – May Carry out Shutdown

Update:

https://engineeringevil.wordpress.com/wp-admin/post.php?post=11007&action=edit&message=1

03   Apr   2013
SEOUL (AFP)

North Korea on Wednesday delayed the entry of South Koreans to a joint industrial complex in a rare move amid high tensions on the Korean peninsula, the South’s Unification Ministry said.

“North Korea has not yet given us the daily permission for the entry of 484 South Koreans into Kaesong today,” a South Korean Unification Ministry spokeswoman told AFP.

The border crossing usually takes place at 8:30 am (2330 GMT), but there has been no word from the North’s officials for almost an hour, she said.

The delay sparked fears the North could carry out its threatened shutdown of the Seoul-invested industrial estate, which has continued to run during previous crises on the peninsula.

Border crossings for Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea, have been functioning normally despite soaring tensions in recent weeks between the North and the South.

The operating stability of the complex is seen as a bellwether of inter-Korean relations, and its closure would mark a clear escalation of tensions beyond all the military rhetoric.

http://www.afp.com/en/news/topstories/nkorea-delays-skorea-entry-kaesong-industrial-park

Hacking group Anonymous_Korea takes down N.Korea’s official websites

2012 апрель коллаж Anonymous Анонимус хакер хакеры взлом

© Collage “The Voice of Russia”

Hacking group Anonymous_Korea claimed they have taken down five of North Korea’s official websites, including the country’s official web portal and the foreign relations committee’s site.

 The hacktivist group Anonymous_Korea published a list of the five government websites they claimed to have put out of action on their Twitter feed under the hash tag ‘Tangodown.’

 The group later tweeted the attack was still under way, but they had not managed to bring down The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s site.

 Pyongyang stepped up its warmongering rhetoric on Friday night and declared it was “entering a state of war” with its southern neighbor.

 North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a “state of war” with South Koreain a continuing escalation of tough rhetoric against Seoul and Washington after coming under international sanctions for its nuclear test. Here is what Twitter users from all over the world think about it.

 JaeSweetheart: This is so sad North Korea is ready to launch an attack on South Korea and America and go to WW3.

Felipe Sahagún: North Korea has been in state of war since 1950. To repeat it today does not deserve headlines, maybe a brief in page 50.
Solo: North Korea just wanna see if we gonna pull the hammer first. Whether we do or don’t we can still blame the war on them.
Snowie: Any conflict on the Korean border and N.Korea will open up full conflict and nuclear war. one slip on a trigger and millions will die. Tense.
Edrick Sulistio: I suppose the beginning of WWIII is near as N. Korea enters war with S. Korea.
All Jet, No Lag: N. & S. Korea haven’t been at war nor at peace for decades. This ‘declaration of war’ has been a long time coming. Just sit, wait & watch.
Bob Reiss: I actually had a fascinating discussion as few weeks ago with a guy about how N Korea should focus on building a colony on the moon.
Daniel Woods: What’s the difference between the England football team and North Korea? None. They both have there fair share of trash talk.
Libertarian Ray: Why should what tiny country like North Korea matter? We cannot control what they might do. It’s inconsequential.
David Kaib: It’s really funny that people think Iran, North Korea and Syria are the ones who want unfettered arms trade.
Bishop Council Nedd: North Korea’s Kim is making U.S. officials nervous.
InterAksyon: North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un orders military: Prepare for ‘merciless strike’ on US mainland.
The Korean: The disparity bw today’s tweets ABOUT Korea and tweets FROM Korea cannot be greater. SKoreans are just living their lives; all panic in US.
BuzzFeed News: North Korea: “This will not be a 3 day-war but a blitz war through which KPA will occupy all areas of S. Korea…”
Danny: America would demolish North Korea in a war..
Jim Roberts: US worried much more about cyberattacks from North Korea than overt military action.
Lacey… Sass-ball: Maybe if Obama wasn’t so stupid North Korea wouldn’t wanna nuke us. So who wants to move to the moon with me.
tsundere gaybu: So, North Korea is ending the 50-year “ceasefire” with South Korea and hostilities will take place again? D: This isn’t good at all.
Alexander James: North Korea is that kid on the playground who didn’t get picked for kickball, and then threatens nuclear warfare on everyone playing.

 

 Voice of Russia, RT

 

http://english.ruvr.ru/2013_03_30/Hacking-group-Anonymous-Korea-takes-down-N-Koreas-official-websites-206/

N.Korea says to enter “state of war” against South Korea – KCNA

Sat, 30 Mar 2013 00:21 GMT

Reuters

 

SEOUL, March 30 (Reuters) – North Korea said on Saturday it was entering a “state of war” with South Korea in a continuing escalation of tough rhetoric against Seoul and Washington after coming under international sanctions for its nuclear test.

“From this time on, the North-South relations will be entering the state of war and all issues raised between the North and the South will be handled accordingly,” a statement carried by the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

KCNA said the statement was issued jointly by the North’s government, ruling party and other organizations.

North Korea has been threatening to attack the South and U.S. military bases almost on a daily basis since the beginning of March, when U.S. and South Korean militaries started routine drills, and has ordered its armed forces on the highest alert.

But the impoverished state has kept a joint industrial zone that is the source of hard currency where hundreds of South Korean workers and vehicles cross enter daily after crossing the rival Koreas’ heavily armed border.

Few believe North Korea will risk starting a full-out war.

The two Koreas have been in a technical state of war because their 1950-53 conflict ended under an armistice and not a peace treaty, although Pyongyang earlier in March declared the truce no longer valid.  (Reporting by Sung-won Shim; Editing by Jack Kim)

N. Korea Says Nukes Are Not A Bargaining Chip For Aid

Mar. 17, 2013 – 12:58PM   |
By AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE   |

SEOUL — North Korea said Sunday it would never trade its nuclear weapons program for aid and stressed its “unshakeable” stance to retain the deterrent, following a third atomic test last month.

The North’s foreign ministry, in a statement carried by state TV, rejected suggestions that the impoverished state was using its weapons program as a way of bullying neighbors into offering much-needed aid.

“The U.S. is seriously mistaken if it thinks that the (North) had access to nukes as a bargaining chip to barter them for what it called economic reward,” it said.

The comments came days after the U.S. National Security Advisor Tom Donilon said Washington was willing to hold “authentic negotiations” with the North if it changed its behavior.

“To get the assistance it desperately needs and the respect it claims it wants, North Korea will have to change course,” he said last week.

But the North on Sunday called its atomic weaponry a “treasured sword” to protect itself from what it called a hostile U.S. policy.

The U.S. “temptation” may work on other countries “but it sounds nonsensical” to the North, the foreign ministry statement said.

“The (North) would like to re-clarify its unshakeable principled stand on its nuclear deterrence for self-defense.”

Last month’s test, its most powerful to date, prompted the United Nations to further tighten sanctions imposed following previous nuclear tests and long-range rocket launches in 2006 and 2009.

The tougher sanctions, and an ongoing South Korean-U.S. military exercise, sparked an angry response from Pyongyang, which said it was tearing up the armistice that ended the Korean War and ending non-aggression pacts with Seoul.

The country has suffered chronic food and fuel shortages for decades, with the situation exacerbated by floods, droughts, mismanagement and global sanctions.

International food aid, especially from South Korea and the U.S., has been drastically cut over the past several years amid tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.

A six-nation aid-for-denuclearization forum on the North, involving the two Koreas, China, Japan, the U.S. and Russia, have been at a standstill since the last meeting in December 2008.

Almost 28 percent of the North’s children under age 5 are stunted from malnutrition, a 2012 U.N. national nutrition survey showed.

http://www.defensenews.com/article/20130317/DEFREG02/303170006/N-Korea-Says-Nukes-Not-Bargaining-Chip-Aid?odyssey=tab|topnews|text|FRONTPAGE

N. Korean defense ministry confirms end of armistice

North Korea’s armed forces ministry confirmed Wednesday that it has canceled a 60-year-old armistice ending the Korean War. “The armistice agreement is no longer valid and [North Korea] is not restrained by the North-South declaration on non-aggression,” AFP quoted a ministry spokesperson as saying. A statement quoted by KCNA news agency argued that the US and its “puppets” in Seoul were responsible for the real “warmongering,” and that “what is left to be done now is an action of justice and merciless retaliation of the army and people” of North Korea.

N Korea cuts hotline with Seoul

N Korea scraps peace pacts, cuts hotline with Seoul

Mar. 08, 2013 – 01:27PM JST ( 17 )

N Korea scraps peace pacts, cuts hotline with Seoul
North Korean soldiers attend a rally in Pyongyang, on March 7, 2013AFP

SEOUL   —

North Korea responded to new U.N. sanctions on Friday with fresh threats of nuclear war, the scrapping of peace pacts with South Korea and the severing of a hotline with Seoul.

The latest measures announced by Pyongyang ramped up tensions on the Korean peninsula that have surged since the North staged a third nuclear test last month.

On Thursday, the country had threatened a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea.

Pyongyang is known for its bellicose rhetoric, but the tone has reached a frenzied pitch in recent days, fueling concerns that it might trigger a border incident, with both North and South planning major military exercises next week.

North Korea “abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South”, the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea (CPRK) said in a statement.

A non-aggression pact signed in 1991 endorsed the peaceful settlement of disputes and the prevention of accidental military clashes.

The CPRK said the pact would be voided as of Monday, the same day that Pyongyang has vowed to rip up the 1953 armistice agreement that ended Korean War hostilities.

“It also notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline,” the committee said in a statement carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

The hotline was installed in 1971 and the North has severed it on five occasions in the past—most recently in 2010.

Pyongyang’s latest announcement came hours after the U.N. Security Council beefed up existing sanctions on the communist state in response to its Feb 12 nuclear test.

The resolution adopted by the 15-member Council added new names to the U.N. sanctions blacklist and tightened restrictions on North Korea’s financial dealings, notably its suspect “bulk cash” transfers.

The new sanctions will “bite hard”, said the U.S. ambassador to the U.N., Susan Rice. “They increase North Korea’s isolation and raise the cost to North Korea’s leaders of defying the international community.”

China wants “full implementation” of the resolution, said its UN envoy Li Baodong, while stressing that efforts must be made to bring North Korea back to negotiations and to defuse tensions.

Prior to the Security Council meeting, the North Korean foreign ministry had threatened a “pre-emptive nuclear attack” against the United States and all other “aggressors”.

The United States responded by saying it was “fully capable” of defending itself and its allies—including South Korea—against any missile strike.

The CPRK statement Friday condemned the U.N. resolution as proof that Washington and its “puppets” in Seoul were “hell bent” on confrontation.

“North-South relations have gone so far beyond the danger line that they are no longer reparable and an extremely dangerous situation is prevailing on the Korean Peninsula where a nuclear war may break out right now,” it said.

The statement warned that the North Korean military would respond “mercilessly” to any intrusion—“even an inch”—into its land, sea or air space.

An annual U.S.-South Korea military exercise known as Foal Eagle is currently underway and another joint drill is scheduled to begin Monday.

The North is also believed to be gearing up for nationwide military maneuvers of its own next week, involving all three wings of its armed forces.

While most observers dismiss the North’s nuclear war threats as bluster, there are fears about the volatile mix of hair-trigger tension and military exercises.

“There’s always that risk of a miscalculation and rapid escalation,” said Dan Pinkston, a Seoul-based security expert for the International Crisis Group.

“Most of this is bluster, but the regime in North Korea is also signalling that it’s willing to take greater risks, and that’s a dangerous sign,” Pinkston told AFP.

KCNA said North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un on Thursday visited a frontline military unit involved in the shelling of a South Korean island in 2010.

During his inspection, Kim declared the North was ready for all-out war and that he would order attacks in all frontline areas in case of any provocation, KCNA said.

© 2013 AFP

http://www.japantoday.com/category/world/view/n-korea-scraps-pace-pacts-cuts-hotline-with-seoul

 

N. Korea voids non-aggression pacts with South

08   Mar 2013
SEOUL (AFP)

North Korea announced Friday it was voiding non-aggression pacts with South Korea and severing a hotline with Seoul, hours after the UN Security Council adopted tough new sanctions on Pyongyang.

North Korea “abrogates all agreements on non-aggression reached between the North and the South,” the state-run Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement.

“It notifies the South side that it will immediately cut off the North-South hotline,” said the statement, which was carried by the official Korean Central News Agency.

http://www.afp.com/en/news/topstories/n-korea-voids-non-aggression-pacts-south

 

South Korea calls for development of nuclear weapons

US ambassador responds that it would be a “huge mistake.”

 

South korea anti north korea protest 2013 02 21
A South Korean protester sprays on a North Korean national flag during a rally a day after North Korea announced they conducted a third nuclear test on Feb. 13, 2013 in Seoul.  (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
What do you think?

SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean lawmakers from the Saenuri Party, the country’s conservative ruling party, stepped up their battle cry at the National Assembly this week: It’s time for South Korea to man up and make its own nuclear weapons, they said.

“The only way to defend our survival would be to maintain a balance of terror that confronts nuclear with nuclear,” said Representative Shim Jae-cheol at a National Assembly meeting in Seoul on Tuesday, as quoted in the Joongang Ilbo.

Lawmakers also called for greater measures in launching preemptive strikes on critical targets and lifting the maximum limit on South Korean ballistic missiles as mandated by law.

The proclamation comes in response to North Korea’s third nuclear test on Feb. 12, sparking a war of words between the divided peninsula.

Some analysts are speculating that North Korea could carry out a fourth test soon as a show of strength. The allegation isn’t certain despite satellite imagery of increasing activity at the Punggye-ri test site, in the country’s far north.

KBS reports:

“The images KBS secured from US-based Digital Globe show signs of snow being removed and materials being transported around key facilities and roads along the site’s southern tunnel. Snow on the road along the perimeter of the site also appears to have been cleared.”

Government officials in Seoul, however, do not believe North Korea will carry out another test soon.

That’s not reassuring for regular South Koreans. Two-thirds of the country supports the creation of a nuclear program in response to the North Korean threat, according to a Gallup poll released Wednesday.

The popular sentiment comes at a touchy time for president-elect Park Geun-hye, who is set to take office on Monday. Park has promised to warm ties with the hermit kingdom, hoping that tit-for-tat gestures from both sides will improve relations on the peninsula.

But Park condemned the nuclear test, saying her incoming government would not tolerate a nuclear-armed North.

The US has taken its usual role, urging restraint from Seoul after a provocation from the North. The US ambassador to South Korea, Sung Kim, said that the country developing its own nuclear capability, or the US redeploying tactical nuclear weapons, would be a “huge mistake.”

Fearing a peninsular arms race, Washington has sought to limit South Korean military capabilities since the Korean War of 1950 to 1953.

http://www.globalpost.com/dispatch/news/regions/asia-pacific/south-korea/130221/south-korea-nuclear-weapons

North Korea seen preparing for rocket launch

 

Song Sang-ho

 

The Korea Herald

 

Publication Date : 16-02-2013

 

Seoul, Washington, Tokyo speed up talk on anti-Pyongyang sanctions

 

 

 

North Korea appeared to be preparing for another long-range rocket launch at its northeastern Musudan-ri test site Friday, adding to the security jitters fanned by its third nuclear test on Tuesday.

 

Presenting its analysis of recent commercial satellite imagery, the US-based “38 North” website said a flurry of activities in the test site indicated Pyongyang might be preparing to lift off a modified Musudan intermediate-range missile or a new KN-08 long-range rocket.

 

Dedicated to the analysis of the communist state, the website is run by the US-Korea Institute under the School of Advanced International Studies at the Johns Hopkins University in Washington.

 

The analysis came amid the speculation that the North could conduct additional underground nuclear tests in its northeast Punggye-ri site despite international condemnation for violating a series of UN Security Council’s resolutions.

 

The North unveilled the KN-08 missile on April 15 last year during a ceremony to mark the centennial of the birth of its late former leader and national founder Kim Il-sung. Experts speculated that it might be a new intercontinental ballistic missile.

 

The Musudan ballistic missile with a range of 3,000-4,000 km is North Korea’s longest-range one. Deployed since 2007, this missile, in theory, brings Guam, a key US strategic base in the Asia-Pacific region, within striking range.

 

Should it launch another long-range rocket, the North, which argues it has miniaturised and lightened its nuclear warheads, would pose a grave security challenge to South Korea, Japan and the US, experts noted. In December, the North successfully launched a rocket, which experts presume had a range of 10,000km.

 

Amid increased tension on the peninsula, Seoul, Washington and Tokyo are striving to craft their own or bilateral sanctions to punish the North for the nuclear test. They apparently believe that the UN Security Council might not be able to come up with tougher sanctions with Beijing calling for “calm and restraint”.

 

Seoul is accelerating its work to devise its own sanctions against the North. Some officials said that it could finalise the work before the new administration takes office on February 25.

 

The Rodong Sinmun, the daily of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, warned on Friday that Seoul’s toughened sanctions against it would spark “retaliatory strikes”. Saying that there would be nothing to achieve from harsher sanctions, its editorial threatened to make Seoul pay the “high price”.

 

After its nuclear test on Tuesday, the North’s foreign ministry spokesperson said that sanctions by “hostile forces” would be regarded as an act of war and be met with retaliatory strikes.

 

The US has expressed its resolve to sternly handle the North’s provocations, indicating that its measures against the North would be linked to its efforts to curb Iran’s nuclear ambitions.

 

“Just as it’s impermissible for North Korea to pursue this kind of reckless effort, so we have said it’s impermissible with respect to Iran. What our response is with respect to this will have an impact on all other nonproliferation efforts,” US Secretary of State John Kerry said after his meeting with Jordanian Foreign Minister Nasser Judeh at the State Department on Wednesday.

 

“The international community needs to come together for a swift, clear response, and this is about proliferation, and it’s also about Iran because they’re linked.”

 

Observers said that the allies might seek to introduce fresh financial sanctions, the inspection of the North’s maritime cargo or sanctions on foreign vessels that have called at North Korea’s ports.

 

It is unlikely that Seoul and Washington would seek to include Article 42 of UN Chapter 7, which offers grounds for military action, in a fresh sanction against the North as China and Russia could oppose it quoting Article 42, experts said.

http://www.asianewsnet.net/North-Korea-seen-preparing-for-rocket-launch-42829.html

N.Korea capable of building ICBM, says Seoul

 

Song Sang-ho

 

The Korea Herald

 

Publication Date : 22-01-2013

 

Debris also shows parts from four European countries

 

North Korea has secured technologies to develop intercontinental ballistic missiles and key components with ranges of around 10,000 kilometres, the defence ministry concluded yesterday.

 

Announcing its final analysis of North Korean rocket debris retrieved from the West Sea last month, the ministry said Pyongyang had imported 10 ancillary parts from China and four European Union countries to make the three-stage rocket.

 

The ministry did not disclose the names of the EU countries out of concern of possible diplomatic difficulties with them. The parts can also be used commercially and there were no parts made in Middle East states, it added.

 

The authorities are investigating whether the exports contravene UN resolutions and other international rules of arms control that ban any missile-related transactions with the North.

 

“Most of the core components for the long-range rocket were indigenously produced. But the North used imported secondary parts such as the temperature sensor, direct-current converter, pressure sensor and electrical wires,” a ministry official said on condition of anonymity.

 

“Despite international sanctions that restrict its efforts to introduce advanced technology and components from overseas, it has greatly advanced its missile technology based on the experience from many experiments.”

 

More than 50 experts including those from the US have analysed six pieces of the rocket’s first-stage engine parts since December 14. The state-funded Agency for Defence Development, the Korea Defence Intelligence Command, the Korea Aerospace Research Institute and other related agencies participated in the analysis.

 

The debris was recovered in waters some 160 km away from Gunsan, North Jeolla Province after the successful rocket launch on December 12.

 

Seoul officials believe there are no imported parts of the rocket that violate the Missile Technology Control Regime.

 

The MTCR bans the export of any missile or unmanned aerial vehicle with a range of 300 km and a payload weighing more than 500 kg. Seoul joined the programme in 2001, becoming the 33rd official member of the US-led programme.

 

Observers said that the international community could discuss whether the parts the North imported to build missiles or anything under the name of satellite development should be added to the list of items controlled under the MTCR.

 

Seoul authorities are also looking into whether the foreign countries from which the North imported some of the parts violated UN Resolution 1874 that bans arms transactions with the North.

 

As there were no weapons or parts that breach the MTCR, observers say that it is unlikely that those countries had violated the resolution.

 

The North’s satellite launch in December has deepened security concerns on the peninsula and beyond as it showed it is closer to developing delivery vehicles for nuclear warheads.

 

Seoul, Washington and Tokyo have been seeking to adopt stronger international sanctions against the North.

 

Reports say that the UN Security Council could increase the number of North Korean organisations and individuals subject to anti-Pyongyang sanctions and make additional provisions that toughen economic and financial sanctions against the communist state.

http://www.asianewsnet.net/N-Korea-capable-of-building-ICBM-says-Seoul-41747.html

N. Korea tells China planning nuclear test: report

AFP Saturday, Jan 12, 2013

SEOUL – A North Korean official has apparently told Chinese authorities that the communist state is planning to conduct a third nuclear test in the coming week, a news report said Saturday.

“We’ve heard a North Korean official in Beijing told the Chinese side that the North planned to carry out a nuclear test between January 13-20,” the Joongang Ilbo daily quoted an unidentified Seoul official as saying.

South Korean officials have a policy of not commenting on intelligence matters.

“We’re now stepping up surveillance over the Punggye-ri nuclear test site,” the official said in reference to the North’s only nuclear test site, where tests were carried out in 2006 and 2009.

With the UN Security Council still debating possible sanctions against the North following the launch of a long-range rocket last month, there has been widespread speculation that Pyongyang may carry out a third nuclear test.

However, Professor Yang Moo-Jin of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul said there were “no signs of a nuclear test being imminent”.

“Chances are slim that the North might push ahead with a nuclear test in this winter season, especially when China is insisting on a moderated response to the rocket launch to prevent a third nuclear test taking place,” Yang told AFP.

Last month a US think-tank citing satellite photos said the North had repaired extensive rain damage at the nuclear test site in the northeast of the country and could conduct a detonation on two weeks’ notice.

The US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University said satellite photos as recent as December 13 showed Pyongyang was determined to maintain a state of readiness at Punggye-ri.

South Korea’s Unification Minister Yu Woo-Ik told a parliamentary committee last month it was “highly probable” the North would likely follow up the successful rocket launch with another nuclear test.

“Judging from analysis of intelligence, significant preparations have been made,” he said.

North Korea had a track record of conducting nuclear tests following missile launches, which were aimed at developing a delivery system for nuclear warheads, Yu said.

The North’s previous nuclear tests were both carried out within months of long-range rocket launches.

Pyongyang insists the launch was a purely scientific mission aimed at placing a polar-orbiting earth observation satellite in space, but most of the world saw it as a disguised ballistic missile test.

http://www.asiaone.com/News/AsiaOne%2BNews/Asia/Story/A1Story20130112-395079.html

 

S.Korea says forged nuclear certificates from unnamed parties

  •   Wed, 7 Nov 2012 02:31 GMT
  •   Source: reuters

SEOUL, Nov 7 (Reuters) – Most of the forged safety certificates submitted by eight firms under investigation for falsifying documents for equipment used in two South Korean nuclear reactors, purported to come from certifying body UCI, were from unnamed parties, South Korean officials said on Wednesday.

Economy Minister Hong Suk-woo Hong told a parliamentary committee that most of the documents that appeared to have been issued by UCI were forgeries.

A senior economy ministry official told Reuters that UCI was one of 12 U.S. certifiers, but was not one of the 8 firms under investigation.

South Korea shut down two nuclear reactors on Monday due to safety concerns over parts.

Hong did not name the companies that submitted the fake documentation

Huge $3.1 billion payday at Facebook makes Sheryl Sandberg one of the richest women in the world, but will employees stay at the company?

  • Facebook’s operator Sheryl Sandberg earned  $7.4 million last week after receiving $401 million in company stock
  • Tech blogs are wondering if employees will  begin leaving the company after a huge $3.1 billion payday
  • Facebook’s stock closed on Monday at $21.16  a share, down from $45 when the company went public

By Damian Ghigliotty

PUBLISHED:23:05 EST, 5  November 2012| UPDATED:23:05 EST, 5 November 2012

 

 

She is certainly well on her way to becoming  the world’s richest woman.

Sheryl Sandberg, Facebook’s chief operating  officer, just took home a fat bundle of cash after receiving $401 million in  company stock and selling 2% of her shares for $7.4 million.

Her big reward was part of a $3.1 billion  dollar payday at the company last week after restrictions on insider trading  expired.

Making friends: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl Sandberg talks to the press at a Seoul, Korea hotel on September 14, 2012.Making friends: Facebook Chief Operating Officer Sheryl  Sandberg talks to the press at a Seoul, Korea hotel on September 14, 2012.

43-year-old Sandberg sold 339,512 of her  shares at about $21.10 each on Halloween, according to Bloomberg  News. She still owns close to 20  million shares of company stock.

The big question suddenly buzzing throughout  the tech community is whether Sandberg and other employees will stay at the  company for much longer.

Facebook workers can now pursue life-long  dreams they put on hold to work there without any financial  concerns, TechCrunch  notes.

Facebook’s stock has hovered around $21 a  share since July, down more than 50 per cent from a high of $45 when the company  went public in May.

Home base: Facebook's corporate headquarters in Menlo Park, California.Home base: Facebook’s corporate headquarters in Menlo  Park, California.

 

Inside look: Facebook employees at work inside the company's headquarters. 

Inside look: Facebook employees at work inside the  company’s headquarters.

Sandberg joined Facebook in 2008 and helped  build it into the world’s largest social networking site worth more than $50  billion. Some estimates put her total net worth around $2 billion.

Prior to joining Facebook Sandberg worked at  Google as vice president of operations and online sales. Prior to working at  Google she served as chief of staff for the U.S. Treasury Department.

Facebook’s first employees, including  28-year-old founder and chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, have been at the  company for almost nine years now.

Zuckerberg has promised to not sell any of  his Facebook shares before September 2013

Read more: http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2228500/Huge-3-1-billion-payday-Facebook-makes-Sheryl-Sandberg-richest-women-world-employees-stay-company.html#ixzz2BPhGOeCH Follow us: @MailOnline on Twitter | DailyMail on Facebook

Common plastics chemicals linked to ADHD symptoms

2009 study posted filing

Contact: Jayne Dawkins ja.dawkins@elsevier.com 215-239-3674 Elsevier

Are phthalates really safe for children?

Philadelphia, PA, 19 November 2009 – Phthalates are important components of many consumer products, including toys, cleaning materials, plastics, and personal care items. Studies to date on phthalates have been inconsistent, with some linking exposure to these chemicals to hormone disruptions, birth defects, asthma, and reproductive problems, while others have found no significant association between exposure and adverse effects.

A new report by Korean scientists, published by Elsevier in the November 15th issue of Biological Psychiatry, adds to the potentially alarming findings about phthalates. They measured urine phthalate concentrations and evaluated symptoms of attention-deficit/hyperactivity disorder (ADHD) using teacher-reported symptoms and computerized tests that measured attention and impulsivity.

They found a significant positive association between phthalate exposure and ADHD, meaning that the higher the concentration of phthalate metabolites in the urine, the worse the ADHD symptoms and/or test scores.

Senior author Yun-Chul Hong, MD, PhD, explained that “these data represent the first documented association between phthalate exposure and ADHD symptoms in school-aged children.” John Krystal, MD, the Editor of Biological Psychiatry, also commented: “This emerging link between phthalates and symptoms of ADHD raises the concern that accidental environmental exposure to phthalates may be contributing to behavioral and cognitive problems in children. This concern calls for more definitive research.”

The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, in the Summary of their 2005 Third National Report on Human Exposure to Environmental Chemicals, state that “very limited scientific information is available on potential human health effects of phthalates at levels” found in the U.S. population. Although this study was performed in a Korean population, their levels of exposure are likely comparable to a U.S. population.

The current findings do not prove that phthalate exposure caused ADHD symptoms. However, these initial findings provide a rationale for further research on this association.

###

Notes to Editors:

The article is “Phthalates Exposure and Attention-Deficit/Hyperactivity Disorder in School-Age Children” by Bung-Nyun Kim, Soo-Churl Cho, Yeni Kim, Min-Sup Shin, Hee-Jeong Yoo, Jae-Won Kim, Young Hee Yang, Hyo-Won Kim, Soo-Young Bhang, and Yun-Chul Hong. B-N Kim, S-C Cho, Y Kim, M-S Shin, J-W Kim, Y H Yang, and H-W Kim are affiliated with the Division of Child & Adolescent Psychiatry, Department of Psychiatry and Institute of Human Behavioral Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine, Seoul, Republic of Korea. H-J Yoo is from the Department of Psychiatry, Seoul National University Bundang Hospital, Seong-nam, Republic of Korea. Y-C Hong is with the Department of Preventive Medicine, Seoul National University College of Medicine and Institute of Environmental Medicine, SNUMRC, Seoul, Republic of Korea. S-Y Bhang is affiliated with the Department of Psychiatry, Ulsan University Hospital, Ulsan, Republic of Korea. The article appears in Biological Psychiatry, Volume 66, Issue 10 (November 15, 2009), published by Elsevier.

The authors’ disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available in the article.

John H. Krystal, M.D. is Chairman of the Department of Psychiatry at the Yale University School of Medicine and a research psychiatrist at the VA Connecticut Healthcare System. His disclosures of financial and conflicts of interests are available at http://journals.elsevierhealth.com/webfiles/images/journals/bps/Biological_Psychiatry_Editorial_Disclosures_08_01_09.pdf.

Full text of the article mentioned above is available upon request. Contact Jayne M. Dawkins at ja.dawkins@elsevier.com to obtain a copy or to schedule an interview.

About Biological Psychiatry

This international rapid-publication journal is the official journal of the Society of Biological Psychiatry. It covers a broad range of topics in psychiatric neuroscience and therapeutics. Both basic and clinical contributions are encouraged from all disciplines and research areas relevant to the pathophysiology and treatment of major neuropsychiatric disorders. Full-length and Brief Reports of novel results, Commentaries, Case Studies of unusual significance, and Correspondence and Comments judged to be of high impact to the field are published, particularly those addressing genetic and environmental risk factors, neural circuitry and neurochemistry, and important new therapeutic approaches. Concise Reviews and Editorials that focus on topics of current research and interest are also published rapidly.

Biological Psychiatry (www.sobp.org/journal) is ranked 4th out of the 101 Psychiatry titles and 14th out of 219 Neurosciences titles on the 2008 ISI Journal Citations Reports® published by Thomson Scientific.

About Elsevier

Elsevier is a world-leading publisher of scientific, technical and medical information products and services. The company works in partnership with the global science and health communities to publish more than 2,000 journals, including the Lancet (www.thelancet.com) and Cell (www.cell.com), and close to 20,000 book titles, including major reference works from Mosby and Saunders. Elsevier’s online solutions include ScienceDirect (www.sciencedirect.com), Scopus (www.scopus.com), Reaxys (www.reaxys.com), MD Consult (www.mdconsult.com) and Nursing Consult (www.nursingconsult.com), which enhance the productivity of science and health professionals, and the SciVal suite (www.scival.com) and MEDai’s Pinpoint Review (www.medai.com), which help research and health care institutions deliver better outcomes more cost-effectively.

A global business headquartered in Amsterdam, Elsevier (www.elsevier.com) employs 7,000 people worldwide. The company is part of Reed Elsevier Group PLC (www.reedelsevier.com), a world-leading publisher and information provider. The ticker symbols are REN (Euronext Amsterdam), REL (London Stock Exchange), RUK and ENL (New York Stock Exchange).

Creatine aids women rapidly with major depression

Muscle-building supplement vastly improves reponse time, quality of recovery

(SALT LAKE CITY)—Women battling stubborn major depression may have a surprising new ally in their fight—the muscle-building dietary supplement creatine.

In a new proof-of-concept study, researchers from three South Korean universities and the University of Utah report that women with major depressive disorder (MDD) who augmented their daily antidepressant with 5 grams of creatine responded twice as fast and experienced remission of the illness at twice the rate of women who took the antidepressant alone. The study, published Aug. 3, 2012, in the American Journal of Psychiatry online, means that taking creatine under a doctor’s supervision could provide a relatively inexpensive way for women who haven’t responded well to SSRI (selective serotonin reuptake inhibitor) antidepressants to improve their treatment outcomes.

“If we can get people to feel better more quickly, they’re more likely to stay with treatment and, ultimately, have better outcomes,” says Perry F. Renshaw, M.D., Ph.D., M.B.A, USTAR professor of psychiatry at the U of U medical school and senior author on the study.

If these initial study results are borne out by further, larger trials, the benefits of taking creatine could directly affect many Utahns. The depression incidence in Utah is estimated to be 25 percent higher than the rest of the nation, meaning the state has an even larger proportion of people with the disease. This also brings a huge economic cost to both the state and individuals.

According to numbers recently compiled at the U of U, the state of Utah paid an estimated $214 million in depression-related Medicaid and disability insurance in 2008. Add the costs of inpatient and outpatient treatment, medication, and lost productivity in the workplace, and the total price of depression in Utah reached $1.3 billion in 2008, according to the U estimate. With those large numbers, any treatment that improves outcomes not only could ease the life of thousands of Utah women but also would save millions of dollars.

“There has been a misunderstanding of how crippling and common this disease is in Utah,” says Renshaw, who’s also medical director of the Mental Illness Research, Education and Clinical Center at the Salt Lake City Veterans Affairs Health Care System. “It begs that we understand it better than we do.”

Creatine is an amino acid made in the human liver, kidneys, and pancreas. It also is found in meat and fish. Inside the body it is converted into phosphocreatine and stored in muscle. During high-intensity exercise, phosphocreatine is converted into ATP, an important energy source for cells. For this reason, creatine has become a popular supplement among bodybuilders and athletes who are trying to add muscle mass or improve athletic ability.

How creatine works against depression is not precisely known, but Renshaw and his colleagues suggest that the pro-energetic effect of creatine supplementation, including the making of more phosphocreatine, may contribute to the earlier and greater response to antidepressants.

The eight-week study included 52 South Korean women, ages 19-65, with major depressive disorder. All the women took the antidepressant Lexapro (escitalopram) during the trial. Twenty-five of the women received creatine with the Lexapro and 27 were given a placebo.  Neither the study participants nor the researchers knew who received creatine or placebo. Eight women in the creatine group and five in the placebo group did not finish the trial, leaving a total of 39 participants.

Participants were interviewed at the start of the trial to establish baselines for their depression, and then were checked at two, four, and eight weeks to see how they’d responded to Lexapro plus creatine or Lexapro and a placebo. The researchers used three measures to check the severity of depression, with the primary outcomes being measured by the Hamilton Depression Rating Scale (HDRS), a widely accepted test.

The group that received creatine showed significantly higher improvement rates on the HDRS at two and four weeks (32 percent and 68 percent) compared to the placebo group (3.7 percent and 29 percent). At the end of eight weeks, half of those in the creatine group showed no signs of depression compared with one-quarter in the placebo group. There were no significant adverse side effects associated with creatine.

Antidepressants typically don’t start to work until four to six weeks. But research shows that the sooner an antidepressant begins to work, the better the treatment outcome, and that’s why Renshaw and his colleagues are excited about the results of this first study. “Getting people to feel better faster is the Holy Grail of treating depression,” he says.

Study co-author Tae-Suk Kim, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine and visiting associate professor of psychiatry at the U of U, already is recommending creatine for some of his female depression patients.

In prior studies, creatine had been shown to be effective only in female rats. But that shouldn’t rule out testing the supplement in men as well, according to Renshaw.

U of U researchers expect soon to begin another trial to test creatine in adolescent and college-age females who have not responded to SSRI medications. Principal investigator Douglas G. Kondo, M.D., assistant professor of psychiatry, says he is looking for 40 females between the ages of 13-21. Recruitment of participants will begin as soon as the U of U Institutional Review Board approves the study, which is expected in early July.

After the initial eight weeks of treatment, study participants will be offered a six-month extension of close supervision and monitoring by the research team and board-certified child, adolescent, and adult psychiatrist at no charge.

###

Those interested in joining the study can call (801) 587-1549; visit the study Web site www.UtahBrain.org; or email Doug.Kondo@hsc.utah.edu.

The first authors on the study are In Kyoon Loo, M.D., Ph.D., professor of the Seoul National University College of Medicine and College of Natural Sciences, Seoul, South Korea, and USTAR research associate professor of psychiatry at the U of U, and Sujung Yoon, M.D., Ph.D., associate professor of psychiatry at the Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Seoul, and visiting associate professor of psychiatry at the U of U.

Other authors include Jaeuk Hwang M.D., Ph.D., of the Soonchunhyang University College of Medicine, Seoul; Wangyoun Won, M.D., Catholic University of Korea College of Medicine, Seoul; Jieun E. Kim, M.D., Ph.D., Ewha Womans University Graduate School, Seoul; Sujin Bae, Ph.D., Seoul National University College of Natural Sciences

Phthalate, environmental chemical is linked to higher rates of childhood obesity

Obese children show greater exposure than nonobese children to a phthalate, a chemical used to soften plastics in some children’s toys and many household products, according to a new study, which found that the obesity risk increases according to the level of the chemical found in the bloodstream. The study will be presented Saturday at The Endocrine Society‘s 94th Annual Meeting in Houston.

The chemical, di-ethylhexyl phthalate (DEHP), is a common type of phthalate, a group of industrial chemicals that are suspected endocrine disruptors, or hormone-altering agents.

In the study, children with the highest DEHP levels had nearly five times the odds of being obese compared with children who had the lowest DEHP levels, study co-author Mi Jung Park, MD, PhD, said.

“Although this study cannot prove causality between childhood obesity and phthalate exposure, it alerts the public to recognize the possible harm and make efforts to reduce this exposure, especially in children,” said Park, a pediatric endocrinologist in Seoul, Korea, at Sanggye Paik Hospital and professor at Inje University College of Medicine.

Phthalates are found in some pacifiers, plastic food packages, medical equipment and building materials such as vinyl flooring, and even in nonplastic personal care products, including soap, shampoo and nail polish.

Prior research has shown that phthalates may change gene expression associated with fat metabolism, according to Dr. Park. Because past research suggested a link between concentrations of phthalate metabolites and increased waist size in adults, her group studied a possible connection with childhood obesity.

Dr.Park and colleagues measured serum levels of DEHP in 204 children: 105 obese and 99 healthy-weight youth ages 6 to 13 years. The researchers divided these DEHP measurements into four groups from the lowest detectable level (40.2 nanograms per milliliter, or ng/mL) to the highest (69.7 to 177.1 ng/mL).

They found that the obese children had a significantly higher average DEHP level than did the nonobese controls (107 versus 53.8 ng/mL, respectively). In particular, a high DEHP level correlated with body mass index and percentage of fat mass. This increased risk of obesity with elevation of DEHP levels was independent of factors such as physical activity and daily calorie intake, according to the authors.

“More research in people is needed to determine whether DEHP exposure contributes to childhood obesity,” Dr.Park said