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Oct 31, 2017 08:59 PM IST | Source:

North Korea LIVE: Tunnel collapses at N Korea nuke test site, 200 feared dead

Live updates as tensions grow over North Korea's nuclear ambitions.

  • Oct 31, 04:17 PM (IST)

    US forces are carrying out a nuclear war drill dubbed “Global Thunder” as tensions look set to snap with North Korea, Daily Star reported.

    US Strategic Command (StratCom) has described the secretive drill as preparing their forces for “wherever they are needed”. Details released by the Pentagon have been sparse, but it understood to involve missiles and bombers. Global Thunder’s mission statement is to ready the US’s nuclear command centre for war.

  • Oct 31, 03:55 PM (IST)

    South Korea’s Unification Minister has insisted South Korea and the US are open to holding early negotiations with North Korea if Pyongyang displays a willingness to abandon its nuclear program, North Korea Inside reported.

    During a parliamentary inspection of the Unification Ministry on Tuesday, Cho Myoung-gyon said Seoul and Washington are aiming for the complete denuclearization of the North, but are willing to negotiate with Pyongyang in advance, as long as the allies can affirm the regime's will to denuclearize.

  • Oct 31, 03:50 PM (IST)

    South Korea's Unification Minister has confirmed North Korean spies have tried to threaten or cajole some North Korean defectors living in South Korea, North Korea Inside reported.

    Cho Myoung-gyon made the disclosure during the parliamentary inspection on Tuesday, when asked by Representative Park Byeong-seug of the ruling Democratic Party to confirm Pyongyang's suspected behavior.

    The minister also agreed with Park’s criticism about a loophole in Seoul's protection of the defectors after the lawmaker pointed out that the North's ability to track the whereabouts or contact information of the defectors could put them at serious risk of harm.

  • Oct 31, 03:36 PM (IST)

    China has quietly undertaken more construction and reclamation in the South China Sea, recent satellite images show, and is likely to more powerfully reassert its claims over the waterway soon, regional diplomats and military officers say. Read the whole story by Reuters here.

  • Oct 31, 03:29 PM (IST)

    Trump administration officials, eager to choke off North Korea’s global networks, have in recent days urged Persian Gulf countries to clamp down harder on the nuclear-armed state’s ties to the region, Wall Street Journal reported.

    In three days of high-level talks in the United Arab Emirates and Qatar, US Treasury officials pushed regional leaders to tighten financial oversight and reduce the number of North Korean labourers working in the region, many of whom are employed in the construction industry.

  • Oct 31, 03:24 PM (IST)

    The DPRK (North Korea) has developed intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the territory of European countries, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said at a meeting with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Tokyo.

  • Oct 31, 02:52 PM (IST)

    Diplomatic experts from Japan, the United States and South Korea are calling on US President Donald Trump to seek ways to get Pyongyang to return to the negotiating table, possibly in the so-called six-party talks framework that includes the three nations plus North Korea, China and Russia, the Japan Times reported.

    “Don’t demonize North Korea. We can still have effective communication with them,” said Moon Chung-in, a special adviser on foreign affairs and national security to South Korean President Moon Jae-in. “We also have to be more realistic. In my personal opinion, if you put denuclearization at the entrance of dialogue and negotiations with them, they’ll never come to the table. We might think about putting denuclearization at the exit.”

  • Oct 31, 02:35 PM (IST)

    The United States shouldn’t obstruct efforts by China and its neighbors to agree on a code of conduct in the disputed South China Sea, China’s ambassador said yesterday as President Donald Trump prepared for his first official visit to Asia.

    Ambassador Cui Tiankai said the US has no territorial claim in those waters and should let countries in the region manage their disputes in a “friendly and effective way.”

  • Oct 31, 02:16 PM (IST)

    North Korea has demonstrated significantly improved capability in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) through its tests in July, according to defense analysts.

    The analysts said such tests could be a sign that the Kim Jong-un regime may perfect an ICBM topped with a nuclear warhead soon and become capable of striking targets on the US mainland.

    But they noted that the North had yet to demonstrate a reliable re-entry vehicle robust enough to resist the heat and pressure of penetrating the atmosphere, and that this technology seemed a major hurdle for the North in its quest to develop an operational ICBM. Read more on The Korea Times.

  • Oct 31, 02:06 PM (IST)

    A tunnel under construction at North Korea's nuclear test site collapsed and as many as 200 workers could have been killed, Yonhap reported today.

    About 100 people were trapped inside when the unfinished tunnel at the North's Punggye-ri nuclear test site collapsed, and an additional 100 people could have been killed while trying to rescue those trapped as a second collapse occurred, Yonhap said quoting a report by Japan's TV Asahi.

    The report didn't provide further details, such as when the accident happened.

    For full report, click here.

  • Oct 31, 01:54 PM (IST)

    President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe agreed to work together on steps to counter North Korea’s nuclear and missile development, ahead of the US leader’s visit to Asia, the Japanese government said late on Monday. 

    In a 20-minute phone call, Trump and Abe discussed the schedule of the president’s coming visit, which includes a November 5-7 stop in Japan, and agreed to remain in close contact over North Korea, Deputy Chief Cabinet Secretary Yasutoshi Nishimura told reporters.

  • Oct 31, 01:42 PM (IST)

    Hong Kong banks need more support from the government to reduce their exposure to sanctioned North Korean entities via the Chinese firms they do business with.

    That was the view of a United Nations sanctions expert in 2016, and, concern is once again highlighted in a recent UN report that sheds light on the financial hub’s conduit role when Pyongyang seeks to bypass the many sanctions imposed on it.

  • Oct 31, 01:20 PM (IST)

    National Assembly Speaker Chung Sye-kyun said he will deliver a message of peace when he meets United States President Donald Trump on November 8.

    “Dialogue and diplomacy should be the only option to resolve the crisis caused by North Korea’s nuclear program, although sanctions are accompanied,” Chung said in an interview with The Korea Times. “I will deliver to President Trump the Korean people’s wishes for peace.”

  • Oct 31, 01:17 PM (IST)

    The South Korean military’s deployment of a three-axis defense system against North Korean nuclear and missile attacks will not be completed by 2022, lawmaker Kim Hack-yong said today, NK News reported.

    The three-axis system includes the Kill Chain pre-emptive strike program, Korea Air and Missile Defense (KAMD), and the Korea Massive Punishment and Retaliation (KMPR) systems.

  • Oct 31, 01:03 PM (IST)

    South Korea President Moon Jae-in today renewed his call for North Korea to participate in the PyeongChang Olympic Winter Games, saying it will mark great progress toward peace on the peninsula.

    "The doors to PyeongChang, the road to peace, are also open to North Korea," Moon said in his speech to the general assembly of the National Unification Advisory Council (NUAC).

  • Oct 31, 12:58 PM (IST)

    Pursuing both sanctions and dialogue is the most practical way to effectively counter North Korea's nuclear and missile threats, the ruling party leader said Monday, The Korea Times reported.

    Ruling Democratic Party of Korea (DPK) Chairwoman Rep. Choo Mi-ae showed strong support for President Moon Jae-in's pledge to engage with the belligerent country while maintaining sanctions.

  • Oct 31, 12:32 PM (IST)
  • Oct 31, 12:30 PM (IST)

    North Korean ballistic missile scientists carried out a static test of a new type of solid-fuel engine a couple of weeks ago, a US government source with knowledge of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs told The Diplomat.

    According to the source, the test took place at North Korea’s solid-fuel engine testing site in Hamhung, on the country’s east coast. Read the full story here.

  • Oct 31, 12:22 PM (IST)

    Acting Prime Minister Julie Bishop has signalled Australia is open to reviving plans for a sensitive four-way diplomatic and security co-operation with the United States, India and Japan - an arrangement that has historically angered China, which sees it as a containment strategy, The Sydney Morning Herald reported today.

    It is understood that Bishop recently discussed with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono the prospect of setting up formal four-way meetings among the major democracies - known as the "quadrilateral dialogue" - and how to encourage India's involvement.

  • Oct 31, 12:09 PM (IST)

    South Korea's top nuclear envoy expressed hope today of having extensive discussions with his Chinese counterpart on ways to peacefully resolve the North Korea nuclear stalemate, The Korea Herald reported.

    Lee Do-hoon, the special representative for peace and security affairs on the Korean Peninsula, left for Beijing to meet China's Kong Xuanyou later in the day.

  • Oct 31, 12:06 PM (IST)

    Clothing manufacturer Nine Mode President Ok Sung-seok said he and other factory owners at the joint industrial park in Gaeseong, North Korea, are determined to resume business there if it reopens, Korea Times reported.

    Ok, also a co-vice president of the Corporate Association of Gaeseong Industrial Complex (GIC), said they are aware of the business risks associated with North Korea. Operations at the GIC were suspended indefinitely in February 2016 after Pyongyang conducted a nuclear weapon test.

  • Oct 31, 12:01 PM (IST)

    The first two of a dozen F-35A Lightning II stealth fighters arrived on Okinawa this week for a six-month deployment that’s part of Pacific Command’s “theater security” program, Stars and Stripes reported.

    The jets — America’s newest and most advanced stealth fighters — landed at Kadena Air Base on Monday afternoon, an Okinawa Defense Bureau spokesman said. They will be joined by 10 others from Utah’s 34th Fighter Squadron to help “demonstrate the continuing US commitment to stability and security in the region,” the US Air Force said.

  • Oct 31, 11:49 AM (IST)

    Top US national security officials yesterday warned congressional Republicans and Democrats demanding a new war authorization that existing laws governing combat operations against terrorist groups are legally sufficient and that repealing them prematurely could signal the United States is backing away from the fight, Associated Press reported.

    During testimony before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis urged Congress to tread carefully. If lawmakers are compelled to replace the post-September 11, 2001, laws, the two secretaries cautioned them against imposing restrictions and conditions on American military forces that allow their enemies "to seize the initiative."

  • Oct 31, 11:46 AM (IST)

    NATO chief Jens Stoltenberg urged all United Nation members today to fully and transparently implement sanctions against North Korea, which he said has emerged as a global threat able to fire ballistic missiles as far as Europe and North America, Reuters reported.

    “North Korea’s ballistic and nuclear tests are an affront to the United Nations Security Council,” North Atlantic Treaty Organization Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said in a joint announcement in Tokyo, where he met Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

  • Oct 31, 11:43 AM (IST)

    South Korea is open to talks with North Korea even before Pyongyang gives up its nuclear weapons if the North shows its commitment to denuclearization, South Korea's unification minister said today.

    Unification Minister Cho Myoung-gyon also said in a parliamentary audit that North Korea is not currently showing any intent to have dialogue with the US, though both sides seem to be exploring the possibility of talks, The Korea Herald reported.

  • Oct 31, 11:24 AM (IST)

    A diplomatic dispute between South Korea and China officially ended on Tuesday, following months of tense relations and economic retaliation triggered by the deployment of a controversial missile defense system, CNN reported.

    In statements issued by both countries' foreign ministries Tuesday, Seoul and Beijing said they recognized the "great importance" of the relationship between the two neighbors."

    The relationship between the two countries had deteriorated after South Korea announced in July 2016 that it would deploy the US-built Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system to defend against North Korean missile threats.

  • Oct 31, 11:21 AM (IST)

    With little more than 100 days to go before the 2018 Winter Olympics in South Korea, chief organiser Lee Hee-beom has dismissed fears of a potential attack by the nuclear-armed North as an "exaggeration", Channel News Asia reported.

    Several countries have expressed concerns about the Pyeongchang Games, which will take place in February just 80km from the heavily fortified Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) which divides the Korean peninsula.

  • Oct 31, 11:07 AM (IST)

    North Korea probably stole South Korean warship blueprints after hacking into Daewoo Shipbuilding & Marine Engineering Co Ltd’s database in April last year, a South Korean opposition lawmaker said on Tuesday. 

  • Oct 31, 10:54 AM (IST)

    North Korea has reportedly threatened the UK after the latter claimed Kim Jong-un was behind the NHS cyber attack.

    North Korea has responded to the claims, blasting it as an "attempt to incriminate the Democratic People's Republic of Korea [DPRK]".

  • Oct 30, 08:38 PM (IST)

    The global pitch against North Korea's show of nuclear mettle is getting shriller by the day. The hermit nation's response has been increasingly arrogant as it readily accepts the possibility of more potent nuclear tests and an attack on Guam - an unincorporated and organised territory of the United States.

    The discourse among conflict analysts and columnists has gone a step further and considered the possibility of a North Korean nuclear missile attack on mainland United States.

    Whether North Korea will take such a step is best left to their conscience but a potential offensive against the world's most powerful military raises a question: Can the US protect itself from such an occurrence?

    Find out here

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