NORTH KOREA: WORLD ON THE BRINK

SIX-PAGE SPE­CIAL: IN­CLUD­ING IAIN MACWHIRTER & DAVID PRATT

Sunday Herald - - FRONT PAGE -

CHI­NESE pres­i­dent Xi Jin­ping has made a plea for cool-head­ed­ness over es­ca­lat­ing nu­clear ten­sions be­tween the US and North Korea. In a phone con­ver­sa­tion with US Pres­i­dent Don­ald Trump yes­ter­day, he urged both sides to avoid words or ac­tions that could worsen the sit­u­a­tion.

The call came after Trump un­leashed a slew of fresh threats against North Korea, declar­ing the US mil­i­tary “locked and loaded” and warn­ing North Korean leader Kim Jong-un that he “will re­gret it fast” if he takes any ac­tion against US ter­ri­to­ries or al­lies.

Trump has pushed China to pres­sure North Korea to halt a nu­clear weapons pro­gramme that is near­ing the ca­pa­bil­ity of tar­get­ing the United States. China is the North’s big­gest eco­nomic part­ner and source of aid, but says it alone can­not com­pel Py­ongyang to end its nu­clear and mis­sile pro­grammes. State-run China Cen­tral Tele­vi­sion quoted Xi as telling Trump the “rel­e­vant par­ties must main­tain re­straint and avoid words and deeds that would ex­ac­er­bate the ten­sion”.

But re­straint was not been the watch­word of Trump who has sent out a cas­cade of un­scripted state­ments, in­clud­ing what ap­peared to be an­other red line – the mere ut­ter­ance of threats – that would trig­ger a US at­tack against North Korea and “big, big trou­ble” for Kim.

North Korea’s Minju Jo­son news­pa­per hit back at the US in an edi­to­rial on Satur- day. “The pow­er­ful rev­o­lu­tion­ary Paek­tu­san army of the DPRK, ca­pa­ble of fight­ing any war the US wants, is now on the standby to launch fire into its main­land, wait­ing for an or­der of fi­nal at­tack,” it said.

DPRK is the acro­nym for North Korea’s of­fi­cial name, the Demo­cratic Peo­ple’s Repub­lic of Korea. The tough talk capped a week in which long­stand­ing ten­sions be­tween the coun­tries risked abruptly boil­ing over. New United Na­tions sanc­tions con­demn­ing the North’s rapidly de­vel­op­ing nu­clear pro­gramme drew fresh ire and threats from Py­ongyang. Trump, re­spond­ing to a re­port that US in­tel­li­gence in­di­cates Py­ongyang can now put a nu­clear war­head on its lon­grange mis­siles, vowed to rain down “fire and fury” if chal­lenged. The North then came out with a threat to lob four in­ter­me­di­ate-range Hwa­song-12 mis­siles near Guam, a tiny US ter­ri­tory some 3,200km (2,000 miles) from Py­ongyang.

At Trump’s New Jersey golf course, the Pres­i­dent seemed to put Kim on no­tice, say­ing: “If he ut­ters one threat in the form of an overt threat – which by the way he has been ut­ter­ing for years and his fam­ily has been ut­ter­ing for years – or he does any­thing with re­spect to Guam or any place else that’s an Amer­i­can ter­ri­tory or an Amer­i­can ally, he will truly re­gret it and he will re­gret it fast.”

Mean­while, Ja­pan’s prime min­is­ter has said he will do ev­ery­thing he can to pro­tect peo­ple as ten­sions es­ca­late over North Korean plans to send mis­siles fly­ing over Ja­pan to­ward Guam.

“I will do ev­ery­thing, to the best of my abil­ity, to pro­tect the safety and prop­erty of the Ja­panese peo­ple,” Shinzo Abe said on Satur­day, while vis­it­ing his fa­ther’s tomb in his an­ces­tral home town of Na­gato, west­ern Ja­pan. The Ja­panese de­fence min­istry said on Fri­day it was de­ploy­ing four sur­face-to-air Pa­triot in­ter­cep­tors in west­ern Ja­pan to re­spond to a pos­si­ble risk of frag­ments fall­ing from mis­siles. The min­istry did not con­firm whether de­fence min­is­ter It­sunori On­odera has al­ready is­sued an or­der to shoot down in­com­ing mis­siles.

In an­other de­vel­op­ment, Guam res­i­dents were warned they should take cover from a North Korean mis­sile at­tack quickly, in a con­crete struc­ture, prefer­ably un­der­ground – and stay there un­til told oth­er­wise, ac­cord­ing to a sur­vival guide. The US is­land ter­ri­tory’s Of­fice of Civil De­fence be­gan dis­tribut­ing fact sheets, Pre­par­ing For An Im­mi­nent Mis­sile Threat, on Fri­day to help peo­ple pre­pare for an at­tack. The guid­ance in­cludes tips on build­ing an emer­gency kit, ad­vice on stay­ing put in con­crete or brick struc­tures, and re­minders about keep­ing calm.

“Do not look at the flash or fire­ball – it can blind you,” the fact sheet ad­vises those who are caught out­side. “Lie flat on the ground and cover your head.”

The leaflet also of­fers guid­ance on re­mov­ing ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial, say­ing: “When pos­si­ble, take a shower with lots of soap and wa­ter to help re­move ra­dioac­tive con­tam­i­na­tion.” But do not scratch skin and “do not use con­di­tioner be­cause it will bind ra­dioac­tive ma­te­rial to your hair”.

Of­fi­cials have not raised the ter­ri­tory’s threat level even after Py­ongyang laid out plans to strike near the is­land in the com­ing weeks, Guam gov­er­nor Ed­die Calvo said. He noted that Guam had many build­ings made to with­stand pow­er­ful ty­phoons, but ac­knowl­edged that noth-

BY BRID­GET MOR­RIS I have to say Ed­die, you’re going to be­come ex­tremely fa­mous. All over the world they’re talk­ing about you. And your tourism

ing can pro­tect against a ther­monu­clear at­tack. Trump as­sured Calvo that Guam was safe dur­ing a phone call. “We are with you 1,000 per cent,” Trump said, ac­cord­ing to video of the call posted on Calvo’s Face­book page. “You are safe.”

He added: “I have to say Ed­die, you’re going to be­come ex­tremely fa­mous. All over the world they’re talk­ing about you. And your tourism. I can say this, your tourism is going to go up like ten­fold with the ex­pen­di­ture of no money so I con­grat­u­late you. It looks beautiful, you know I’m watch­ing.”

Calvo re­sponded by say­ing he feels safe and con­fi­dent with Trump’s lead­er­ship: “I’m glad you’re at the helm, Sir.”

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