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In what we believe is a significant escalation and potentially a hint as to the president’s thinking, President Trump said during a phone call with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe that the US remains committed to defending its territories and allies using all “diplomatic, conventional and – here’s the big one – nuclear – capabilities at our disposal.” This is the first time Trump has explicitly referenced possible involvement of nuclear weapons in a US response to its isolated antagonist, and also means that the two world leaders discussed the possibility of a nuclear response.
- TRUMP REAFFIRMS U.S. COMMITMENT TO DEFEND THE U.S. & ALLIES USING FULL RANGE OF DIPLOMATIC, CONVENTIONAL AND NUCLEAR CAPABILITIES: STATEMENT
The White House released a statement about what the two leaders discussed on the call. It’s available in full below:
JUST IN: White House issues statement on call between President Trump and Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe pic.twitter.com/pc7w3v42y4
— NBC News (@NBCNews) September 3, 2017
The call was held to discuss how the two countries should respond to North Korea’s sixth nuclear test – and possibly its first successful test of a hydrogen bomb. The test came after multiple provocations from the North over the past week, including two missile tests. Earlier, Defense Secretary James Mattis, using the couched language of international diplomacy, said any threat to the US or its territories would be met with a “massive military response.”
The full White House statement on the 6th North Korean nuclear test, as delivered by Mattis shortly after 3pm ET, is below:
“Any threat to the US or its territories including Guam or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming. Kim Jong Un should take heed in the United Nations’ Security Council’s unified voice. All members unanimously agreed on the threat North Korea poses and they remain unanimous in their commitment to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula. We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said we have many options to do so.”
China also strongly criticized the nuclear test, slamming Pyongyang for ignoring international condemnation of its atomic weapons program. North Korea “has ignored the international community’s widespread opposition, again carrying out a nuclear test. China’s government expresses resolute opposition and strong condemnation toward this,” the foreign ministry said in a statement on its website.
“We strongly urge the DPRK (North Korea) to face the strong will of denuclearisation from the international community, earnestly abide by the relevant resolutions of the UN Security Council, stop taking mistaken actions which worsen the situation and are also not in line with its own interests, and effectively return to the track of solving the problem through dialogue,” it added.
Finally, as several sellside desks have commented this afternoon, a sixth nuclear test by North Korea likely represents crossing a “red line” sufficient “to prompt China and Russia to support additional UN sanctions.” And while China could impose more restrictions on oil exports to NK as part of future UN sanctions – as a reminder the UNSC is meeting tomorrow at 10am – it is unclear if this means a complete embargo. It is also unclear whether more of the same, i.e., sanctions would be sufficient to change NK regime behavior. Finally, China will need to consider the risk that punitive sanctions end up destabilizing the NK regime, leading to a flood of refugees and other adverse consequences.
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North Korea’s latest ICBM test demonstrated once again that all of Japan is within striking range of the Kim Jong Un’s missiles, as it has been for a long time.
But it appears the North’s intensifying campaign of missile tests, which have increased dramatically in frequency since the beginning of the year, has convinced many wealthy Japanese that a nuclear confrontation could be imminent.
At least that’s what a surge in sales at one US-based builder of custom bunkers seems to suggest. The company, Atlas Survival Shelters, says the escalating tensions between President Donald Trump and North Korea have sparked a boom in sales, but not in the markets one might expect, according to Bloomberg.
Perhaps sensing that Trump is rather vulnerable right now, and confirming reports from two days ago that an ICBM launch is imminent, moments ago Japan’s NHK reported that North Korea has fired “what appears to be a missile”, which Kyodo has since classified as an ICBM, which landed in Japan’s exclusive economic zone. The Pentagon, as reported by Fox news, confirms that Japan has indeed launched a ballistic missile, and is assessing the results.
Japan Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said on comments carried on TV that North Korea has again launched a missile, which may have landed in the waters of Japan’s exclusive economic zone, confirming an earlier report by NHK which said the missile may have landed in the waters near Japan, citing Japan Coast Guard. NHK adds that Japan Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshihide Suga to give briefly shortly.
Captured by an underwater robot on Saturday, footage released by plant operator Tepco shows for the first time what appears to be melted nuclear fuel inside one of the destroyed Fukushima reactors in Japan.
According to the Japan Times:
This is the first time Tepco has found something likely to be melted fuel. When the utility sent a different robot into reactor 2 in January, it found black lumps sticking to the grating in the primary containment vessel but said they were difficult to identify.
Under the plan the radioactive material tritium, which is being used to cool reactors whose cooling systems were damaged in the 2011 tsunami, will be released into the Pacific Ocean.
“I’m very sorry that Tepco has been prolonging making a decision,” the new chairman of Tokyo Electric Power Company Holdings (TEPCO) Takashi Kawamura told reporters on Thursday, reported Reuters. “We could have decided much earlier, and that is Tepco’s responsibility.”
Ahead of this week’s G-20 summit in Hamburg, Germany, Donald Trump called the leaders of China and Japan to discuss the “threat posed by North Korea’, along with trade issues, the White House said on Sunday. Trump spoke with Chinese President Xi Jinping and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe, whose LDP had just suffered a devastating loss in the Tokyo Assembly elections, and according to the White House read out, “both leaders reaffirmed their commitment to a denuclearized Korean Peninsula” adding that “President Trump reiterated his determination to seek more balanced trade relations with America’s trading partners.”
The terse statement did not provide further details of the call or say if Trump managed to persuade Xi to endorse his approach of exerting maximum pressure on North Korea, including a slew of further economic and trade sanctions.
H/t reader squodgy:
“The MSM & Political silence is deafening!”
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Better not wake up!