North Korea's Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un has given his sister more power by promoting her to the nation's top decision-making body.
Kim Yo-jong, the youngest daughter of late leader Kim Jong-il, will be replacing her aunt as a member of the Workers Party's Politburo.
Ms Kim, 30, was referred to as a senior party official three years ago.
The Kim family has ruled North Korea since the country was established following the Second World War in 1948.
Ms Kim, who has frequently appeared alongside her brother in public and is thought to have been responsible for his public image, was already influential as vice-director of the propaganda and agitation department.
President Donald Trump said he wanted what amounted to a nearly tenfold increase in the U.S. nuclear arsenal during a gathering this past summer of the nation’s highest-ranking national security leaders, according to three officials who were in the room.
Trump’s comments, the officials said, came in response to a briefing slide he was shown that charted the steady reduction of U.S. nuclear weapons since the late 1960s. Trump indicated he wanted a bigger stockpile, not the bottom position on that downward-sloping curve.
According to the officials present, Trump’s advisers, among them the Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, were surprised. Officials briefly explained the legal and practical impediments to a nuclear buildup and how the current military posture is stronger than it was at the height of the buildup. In interviews, they told NBC News that no such expansion is planned.
We now know just how unconventional some of these options are: they apparently include everything from reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a show of force and deterrence to assassinating Kim Jong-un and his top commanders. “We have 20 years of diplomacy and sanctions under our belt that has failed to stop the North Korean program,” a senior intelligence official involved with the review told NBC News. Read between the lines and it’s obvious what the overall message from the Trump administration is: North Korea is a problem that has been on Washington’s hot-plate for way too long, so it’s time to shake up the establishment and look for new alternatives.
There was a time when assassinating a foreign leader was an integral component of America’s national-security toolkit. During the Cold War, leaders who were either insufficiently supportive of U.S. policy goals or in bed with the Soviets were targets for removal. Cuba’s Fidel Castro, Congo’s Patrice Lumumba the Dominican Republic's Rafael Trujillo and Guatemala's Jacobo Árbenz were all on the CIA’s hit-list at one point in time, and Libya’s Muammar el-Qaddafi was a frequent target due to his sponsorship of international terrorism. In 1986, President Ronald Reagan authorized an air strike on Qaddafi’s compound in the hope that he would be in the building. After three months of interviews across the national-security bureaucracy, the New York Times Magazine concluded that “the assassination of Qaddafi was the primary goal of the Libyan bombing” in 1986.
The Cold War, however, has been over for twenty-five years. Killing foreign political officials, an option that was once always on the table, is now generally discouraged and frowned upon. In fact, It’s been U.S. policy since the Gerald Ford presidency to stay far away from anything that would suggest that the United States is a participant, involved in some way or complicit in an assassination attempt. President Ford’s executive order on this is quite clear: “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination.” President Reagan restated—and some would say expanded—that restriction in executive order 12333, which says that “[n]o person employed by or acting on behalf of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, assassination.”
Pursuing a policy that would lead to the assassination of Kim Jong-un and the decapitating of the North Korean leadership would therefore be a big reversal from a U.S. policy that has persisted for forty-one years. Policies, of course, can change and presidential directives and executive orders can be modified or rewritten. And there is no statutory prohibition that would prohibit the president of the United States to order a hit on a foreign leader. Although 18 U.S. Code, Section 1116 could be used to prosecute a U.S. person who attempts to kill a foreign leader, this statute only applies if the crime is committed in the United States or the leader is targeted “in a country other than his own.” If President Trump were willing to amend current executive orders on the books, his administration would presumably target Kim Jong-un and not be penalized under the criminal code.
North Korea’s nuclear tests are not only raising fears around the world, they are causing the peak under which the bombs are being detonated to suffer “tired mountain syndrome.”
Analysts are seeing signs that Mount Mantap, the 7,200-foot-high peak under which the tests are conducted, is suffering from the geologic malady, the Washington Post reported.
During a massive detonation that triggered a 6.3-magnitude earthquake, the mountain visibly shifted. Since then, the region, which is not known for natural seismic activity, has had three more quakes.
“What we are seeing from North Korea looks like some kind of stress in the ground,” said Paul G. Richards, a seismologist at Columbia University’s Lamont-Doherty Earth Observatory. “In that part of the world, there were stresses in the ground, but the explosions have shaken them up.”
The brutal treatment meted out to North Korea’s political prisoners has been well-documented, but a new report coming out Thursday, based on satellite images, portrays the extensive network of “reeducation” camps for less severe violations of Pyongyang’s penal code.
These camps are situated throughout the country, both on the outskirts of cities and in huge compounds in the mountains. Conditions are severe but come with the possibility of release.
The camps are run not by the secret police, who operate a separate system for political prisoners, but by the Ministry of Public Security. They are an important pillar of the regime of Kim Jong Un, a means by which the North Korean population is kept permanently cowed.
The world is transfixed with the nuclear threat from Kim’s regime, but it is ordinary North Koreans who suffer every day, said Greg Scarlatoiu, executive director of the Washington-based Committee for Human Rights in North Korea, which compiled the report.