Chuck Todd: Yemen in ‘Chaos’ as Iran-Backed Rebels Advance, ‘Once Touted as Success’ by Obama
Chuck Todd: Yemen in ‘Chaos’ as Iran-Backed Rebels Advance, ‘Once Touted as Success’ by Obama
North Korea has nuclear weapons and is prepared to use them in retaliation to a US attack, the DPRK’s ambassador to Britain has said.
In a rare interview, Hyun Hak-bong said the United States is not the only country that can use nuclear weapons.
He claimed North Korea has the ability to fire nuclear missiles at “any time” and would also use conventional warfare to defend itself.
The senior diplomat also attacked allegations of torture made against the secretive nation by North Korean refugees, describing them as “fabricated.”
Speaking to Sky News, the ambassador said: “It is not the United States that has a monopoly on nuclear weapons strikes.”
Journalist Alistair Bunkall pressed the diplomat further, asking: “So can I just be clear: you are telling me that North Korea has the ability now to fire a nuclear missile?”
Hyun Hak-bong replied: “Any time, any time, yes.”
He went on: “If the United States strike us, we should strike back.”
The ambassador said the DPRK would only use nuclear missiles in “retaliation.”
“We are ready for convention war with conventional war [sic], we are ready for nuclear war with nuclear war,” he said.
Bunkall asked: “But you wouldn’t push the button first?”
The diplomat replied: “Well, we are peace loving people. We do not want war, but we are not afraid of war. This is the policy of the government.”
Hyun Hak-bong’s tough rhetoric likely comes in response to joint military exercises currently being carried out by the United States and South Korea.
Around 10,000 South Korean and 8,000 US troops are taking part in the annual land, sea and air operations, according to Voice of America.
Dubbed ‘Foal Eagle’ by the US military, the exercises started on March 2 and will last for eight weeks.
According to a report by military historian Dr John Farrell, while Foal Eagle operations have their origins in the 1960s, the current version of the training exercises began in 1997.
Foal Eagle replaced the previous joint-US and South Korean training exercises called ‘Team Spirit’ because they were deemed to be unrealistically large.
North Korea’s ambassador to the UK also attacked claims of torture made by “defectors,” labeling the refugees “human scum.”
Sky News asked the diplomat about allegations of torture made by North Koreans living in Seoul, the capital of South Korea.
He said: “Those allegations are based on fabricated stories by the defectors from the North.”
“Do you know the difference between human beings and animals? Human beings have a conscience and morality. If they do not have a conscience and a morality they are like nothing.
“They’re animals. That is why we call the defectors animals. They are no better than animals. They’re human scum,” he added.
A UN report on North Korean human rights published in February last year claimed the hermit state was perpetrating crimes similar to those committed by the Nazis during the Second World War.
The UN commission found there was strong evidence to suggest systematic torture, executions, arbitrary imprisonment and deliberate starvation take place in the DPRK.
Michael Kirby, a retired Australian judge who chaired the commission, wrote to Kim Jong-un to warn him he could face trial at the international criminal court (ICC) for “crimes against humanity.”
American military officials admitted to members of Congress that they have lost track of millions in small arms, ammunition, night vision goggles, patrol boats, vehicles and other supplies donated by the US to the Yemeni government.
The US has supplied more than $500 million in military aid to Yemen since 2007 through programs managed by the Defense Department and State Department. But in January, the Yemeni government was toppled by Shiite Houthi rebels, backed by Iran and critical of US drones strikes in the country, who also took over government military bases in the north.
Marines ‘smashed’ weapons before evacuating US embassy in Yemen
Since then, the Defense Department has lost its ability to monitor the whereabouts of weaponry and equipment. The situation has only grown worse since the US closed its embassy in Sanaa, the capital, in February and withdrew military advisers.
“We have to assume it’s completely compromised and gone,” a legislative aide on Capitol Hill told the Washington Post, who spoke on the condition of anonymity.
The Washington Post said US military officials declined to comment for the record, but a defense official said there was no hard evidence the weaponry had been looted or confiscated. Nonetheless, the Pentagon had lost track of items.
“Even in the best-case scenario in an unstable country, we never have 100 percent accountability,” the defense official told the newspaper.
Pentagon officials said that they have little information to go on and that there is little they can do at this point to prevent the weapons and gear from falling into the wrong hands. As a precaution, defense officials said they have halted shipments to Yemen of about $125 million in military hardware and donated it to other countries in the Middle East and Africa.
In Yemen, the Obama administration pursued a policy to combat terrorism by training and equipping foreign militaries to fight insurgencies and defeat networks affiliated with Al-Qaeda without sending US troops. A similar effort was tried in Iraq after the US-led invasion in 2003, when the US spent $25 billion to recreate Iraqi security forces that were eventually defeated in 2014 by Islamic State fighters who now have control of many areas of the country. Yemen was supposed to be the success story for the White House.
“The administration really wanted to stick with this narrative that Yemen was different from Iraq, that we were going to do it with fewer people, that we were going to do it on the cheap,” said Rep. Mac Thornberry (R-Texas), chairman of the House Armed Services Committee. “They were trying to do with a minimalist approach because it needed to fit with this narrative . . . that we’re not going to have a repeat of Iraq.”
Imperial president allowed to wage war against enemies anywhere in the world
By Kurt Nimmo
The Obama administration designed the language of its unconstitutional AUMF to be vague, Josh Earnest, the White House press secretary, admitted on Wednesday.
Earnest said the proposal was left undefined “because we believe it’s important that there aren’t overly burdensome constraints that are placed on the commander in chief.”
Critics interpret this to mean the executive branch of the government wants to expand the reach of the imperial presidency and allow it to wage war against ill-defined enemies anywhere in the world.
Additionally, the administration believes the deliberately ambiguous AUMF, or Authorization for the Use of Military Force, will bring lawmakers together in a bipartisan coalition calling for a war against the Islamic State in Syria and Iraq without restraint, including the use of ground troops.
Republicans are concerned the proposed AUMF will not provide the authority they believe is required to eliminate the Islamic State.
House Speaker John Boehner, a Michigan Democrat, said he is concerned the latest AUMF will not give “military commanders the flexibility and authorities they need to succeed and protect our people.”
Few in Congress have questioned the constitutionality of the proposed AUMF or two previous ones used to wage war in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen following the attacks of September 11, 2001.
“In constitutional reality the President has no such sole authority,” notes Greg Weiner. “The President’s plenary ‘national security’ power is a phantom; it simply is not there in the Constitution. Like most constitutional authorities, the national security power is shared. It entails the war power, which belongs to Congress, the spending power (Congress’ too), military regulations (again) and other areas of policy that are not the President’s alone to decide.”
Republicans, however, take a different approach on the AUMF and the possibility it may limit the use of ground troops.
Arizona Republican Senator John McCain told reporters he would consider any such language as “unconstitutional,” declaring the Constitution gives the president the power to use the military to intervene abroad at his discretion.
Police are upping security after two girls were allegedly threatened with beheading as they left an army reserve center in Northumbria.
The girls were verbally threatened by two men in a Vauxhall Zafira, who were said to have shouted ‘graphic’ and ‘nasty’ statements as they left the center in Gateshead.
“The men made no attempt to make any physical contact with the girls or get out of the car, and shouted the comments while driving away from the scene,” said Gateshead superintendent Richie Jackson.
The incident took place on January 21 at 2115 GMT. Northumbria police are thought to have increased patrols around other army barracks in the area.
“Inquiries are ongoing to establish the exact nature of what was said during the incident and we have spoken to the two teenage girls, viewed CCTV footage from the area and have identified the vehicle and inquiries are ongoing to trace the driver,” a spokesperson from Northumbria Police said.
“As a precaution we have notified staff at other Army Reserve centers in the area and have had extra officers on patrol in Alexandra Road to reassure residents.”
The verbal attacks come weeks after British police and military officers were warned not to wear their uniforms publicly while off duty, in case lone wolf terrorists attack them.
Attacks have been encouraged by Islamist extremist groups such as the Islamic State (IS, formerly ISIS/ISIL), similar to those carried out by terrorists in Paris last month.
Police warn attacks on British military personnel could happen imminently, echoing the murder of Fusilier Lee Rigby in Woolwich in May 2013.
“We are aware of an incident allegedly involving members of the Army Cadet Force – this is a matter for the police and we cannot comment further. Any witnesses are urged to contact the police,” said a spokesperson for the Ministry of Defence (MoD).
“We understand the girls were not in uniform at the time of the incident and that the suspects asked them ‘Are you in the Army?’ before issuing the threats,” they added.
FROM THE HYPER REPORT FOR (12/16/2013)*