US service member killed in Afghanistan

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Stocktrek Images/iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An American service member has been killed in eastern Afghanistan as part of an operation against the ISIS affiliate in that country.

“One U.S. service member has died as a result of wounds suffered Wednesday during a partnered operation with U.S. and Afghan Forces in Eastern Afghanistan,” said a statement from U.S. Forces Afghanistan.

“U.S and Afghan forces were also injured during the operation aimed at further reducing Islamic State of Iraq and Syria-Khorasan presence in Afghanistan,” the statement continued. “The wounded personnel have been medically evacuated for treatment.

“Next of kin notifications are underway,” added the statement. “More information will be released as appropriate”

Two U.S. soldiers were killed on Aug. 2 in Kandahar Province in southern Afghanistan, while four others were injured in the attack. Specialist Christopher Harris, 25, and Sgt. Jonathon Hunter, 23, both with the 82nd Airborne Division, were killed when their convoy was attacked by a suicide bomber.

The death of the American service member on Wednesday is the tenth this year. In 2016, nine American service members total were killed in action.

There are 8,400 American troops serving in Afghanistan advising and assisting the Afghan military in the fight against the Taliban and ISIS-Khorasan.

The fight against ISIS in eastern Afghanistan has grown in intensity over the past year as the Afghan military has carried out multiple offensive operations against the ISIS affiliate.

The Trump administration is currently discussing a new South Asia strategy that wraps up the U.S. military role in Afghanistan.

While there is the possibility the administration could send as many as 3,900 additional troops to Afghanistan, no decision has been made pending a strategic decision from Trump about the future U.S. military role in that country.

Earlier this week, Defense Secretary James Mattis said the administration was “very close” to a decision about a new strategy and that all options were on the table, including the complete withdrawal of American troops from Afghanistan.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Pence won’t address Trump comments but condemns supremacists

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Vice President Mike Pence on Wednesday skirted questions about comments by President Donald Trump voicing sympathy for Charlottesville protesters, but says he stands with the president nonetheless.

UK leader criticizes Trump remarks blaming ‘both sides’

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Britain’s prime minister Theresa May has criticized U.S. President Donald Trump’s remarks on white supremacists, declaring that there is "no equivalence" between fascists and their opponents

US demands big NAFTA changes, setting stage for tough talks

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — The top U.S. trade negotiator says that the United States won’t settle for cosmetic changes to the North American Free Trade Agreement as negotiations to rework terms of the pact began.

President Donald Trump has called the 23-year-old trade pact the “worst” in history.

In a statement Wednesday, U.S. Trade Rep. Robert Lighthizer said that Trump “is not interested in a mere tweaking of a few provisions and an updating of a few chapters. We believe NAFTA has fundamentally failed many, many Americans and needs major improvement.”

Lighthizer’s comments suggest the negotiations could prove contentious. The Canadian and Mexican negotiators defended NAFTA as an economic success story but acknowledged it needs to be updated to reflect economic and technological changes.

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China, India soldiers hurl stones at 1 another in Kashmir

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Indian and Chinese soldiers hurled stones at one another during an altercation in the high Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir

China, India soldiers hurl stones at 1 another in Kashmir

Posted on: August 16th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Indian and Chinese soldiers hurled stones at one another during an altercation in the high Himalayas in Indian-controlled Kashmir

Trump lashes out at ‘alt-left’ in Charlottesville, says ‘fine people on both sides’

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

He spoke out today in New York.

‘ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide,’ Tillerson says

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The terrorist group has targeted Yazidis, Christians and some Muslims.

Experts say Kim Jong Un doesn’t want nuclear war

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Despite the fiery rhetoric coming from both President Donald Trump and North Korean officials, experts maintain that nuclear war is not what Kim Jong-Un wants.

Experts say Kim Jong-Un doesn’t want nuclear war

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) — Despite the fiery rhetoric coming from both President Donald Trump and North Korean officials, as well as concerns over the country’s recent advances in missile technology, experts maintain that nuclear war is not what Kim Jong-Un wants. Rather, experts say what Kim is searching for can be summed up in one word: survival.

“This is not a man who wants to go to war with the United States,” Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who focuses on Northeast Asian studies, told ABC News.

“[The North Koreans] were not going to strike first because they know the risks if they did launch some kind of missile attack,” Pollack said, adding that those risks include Trump deciding to put North Korea “out of business.”

While statements were being hurled back and forth by both Trump and Kim last week, Scott Snyder, a senior fellow for Korea studies at the Council on Foreign Relations, told ABC News that “what we know of Kim Jong-Un is that he wants to survive.”

Steve Ganyard, an ABC News aviation contributor and retired Marine Corps colonel, agreed: “Kim Jong-Un is a rational man, so the whole goal is regime survival.”

“He’s learned the lesson of Saddam [Hussein] and Muammar [Gaddafi],” Ganyard said. “He’s never going to give up his nukes, so I think at some point we go back to Cold War-style deterrence and containment the way we did with the Soviet Union successfully,” Ganyard added.

That would bring relations with the U.S. back to the status quo, but not change things much on the ground in North Korea.

“It will remain a standoff unless we can ratchet up the economic sanctions to the point that it begins to cripple the North Korean economy,” Ganyard said.

Pollack went further, saying that in addition to simply surviving as the country’s leader, Kim “wants to be validated.”

“He presides over one of the most misbegotten regimes in the world that has an economy one fortieth the size of South Korea’s,” Pollack said of Kim. “He is trying to claim that he is now on a level playing field with the most powerful state in the world, so he does this through an over-commitment to military programs.”

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ISIS ‘clearly responsible for genocide,’ Tillerson says

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Mark Reinstein/Corbis Via Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that ISIS has committed genocide.

“ISIS is clearly responsible for genocide against Yezidis, Christians, and Shiia Muslims,” Tillerson told reporters gathered in the State Department’s Treaty Room, adding that his statement should “remove any ambiguity from previous statements or reports by the State Department.”

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Sierra Leone mudslide leaves more than 300 dead and at least 700 missing

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

[email protected](FREETOWN, Sierra Leone) — At least 312 people have been killed and 700 others are missing in the wake of heavy flooding and mudslides in Sierra Leone, a Red Cross spokesperson told ABC News. An estimated 3,000 people had their homes swept away in the disaster, and those numbers could still rise, the Red Cross said.

A hillside on the outskirts of Sierra Leone’s capital Freetown collapsed Monday morning after a night of heavy rain, sweeping away houses and turning roads into rivers. Many people were asleep at the time of the landslide, which happened around 6:30 a.m. local time, and aid organizations fear that many may still be trapped in their homes.

“In places, entire communities seem to have been washed away and whatever is left is covered in mud,” Abdul Nasir, program coordinator for the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies, said in a statement.

The Red Cross said that its volunteers have rescued 71 people from the mud and rubble so far.

#SierraLeoneMudSlide update: #RedCross volunteers helped free 71 ppl from mud & debris. Situation remains grim. More announcements to come. pic.twitter.com/eWuoAfDVCq

— Matthew Cochrane (@mahatmat) August 15, 2017

“Although a full picture of the damage is still emerging, reports indicate that the situation in and around Freetown is extremely serious,” Alex Carle, director of international programs at the British Red Cross, said in a statement. “At least a hundred houses have been affected, some of which have been completely submerged.”

He added that he is concerned about the increased risk of waterborne diseases such as cholera and typhoid after the flooding.

Save the Children said that one of their staff members and his young children are among the missing. His house was buried during the flooding.

“We were driving on the main road out of Freetown past Regent when a lady ran onto the road and started gesticulating wildly. She called out to another lady who had been riding a bike in front of us who, after a brief conversation, started crying and looked very upset,” Ramatu Jalloh, a worker with Save the Children who was near the scene of the flooding, said in a statement.

“It was clear from their reactions that something terrible had happened. Soon afterward, another man ran towards our car. He was crying about the number of lives that had been lost,” Jalloh added.

Dozens of children are likely to have lost their lives in the flooding, according to Save the Children.

The U.N. Secretary-General “is saddened by the deaths and devastation” caused by the mudslide, his spokesman said in a statement.

The Secretary-General is saddened by the deaths & devastation caused by the mudslide & flooding in Sierra Leone https://t.co/dW6l7Bpbs3

— UN Spokesperson (@UN_Spokesperson) August 14, 2017

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Kim Jong Un briefed on Guam attack plan, will watch ‘stupid American behavior for a bit longer’

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) — Kim Jong Un was briefed by a North Korean general on the country’s plan to launch missiles toward Guam, according to South Korea’s largest news agency, but the combative leader appeared to pause the heated rhetoric, saying he would watch “stupid American behavior for a bit longer.”

“Dear Supreme Leader has spent a long time to review the plan to attack Guam by surrounding it and conferred with the leaders present,” reads a translated statement by Yonhap, attributed to KCNA, the state news agency of North Korea.

The war planning came during the leader’s visit on Monday to the the headquarters of Strategy Division of the North Korea’s People’s Army where he reportedly met with General Kim Rak Gyom. While there, Kim warned soldiers to stand ready to strike “at all times,” according to the Yonhap report.

The order to his army was reportedly followed by more bluster but also a call for the U.S. to ease tensions.

“Dear Supreme Leader said that the Americans’ reckless military confrontational behavior has ended up the U.S. trapping themselves with their own hands and are spending pathetic fate by weary minutes and seconds and that Dear Supreme Leader will watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer,” KCNA said, according to Yonhap.

“The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash,” Kim was quoted as saying.

When the preparation for battle was complete, Kim decided to take a photo with his soldiers.

“Dear Supreme Leader took a commemorative photo with the soldiers, who welcomed the Dear Supreme Leader with utmost excitement, to whom the Dear Supreme Leader responded by waving at them,” KCNA reported.

Pyongyang’s saber rattling comes a week after the North Korean army declared it would complete an assault to launch four intermediate ballistic missiles near Guam by mid-August. And it’s one day after the U.N. passed sanctions to devastate the region; China on Tuesday announced it would phase out supplying North Korea with crucial coal imports.

Kim’s rhetoric on Monday came shortly after Secretary of Defense James Mattis harshly warned North Korea of considering any sort of aggression against the U.S.

“If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they’ve hit the United States. … If they do that, then it’s game on,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

 

Kim Jong Un briefed on Guam attack plan, will watch ‘stupid American behavior’

Posted on: August 15th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was reportedly being briefed on plans to launch missiles towards Guam.

Defense Secretary Mattis: ‘We’ll take out’ North Korean missiles to Guam

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Dursun Aydemir/Anadolu Agency/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Amid heightening rhetoric over an attack on the U.S. island territory of Guam, Secretary of Defense James Mattis told reporters Monday that his department will know “within moments” where a North Korean missile is headed, were it to be launched.

“We’ll know if it’s going towards Guam within moments,” he said, adding later, “We know swiftly after it’s launched where it’s going to land.”

Mattis also cautioned that “we’ll take it out” if the missile is located heading to the U.S. territory off the coast of Philippines.

However, Mattis said that President Donald Trump would be the one to decide America’s response if the missile is found to have been launched into Guam’s surroundings waters.

“Well, then it becomes an issue that we take up however the president chooses,” he responded.

Mattis chose stronger words for the hostile North Korean regime during the press gaggle Monday in comparison to his words last week during an event in California.

Mattis said that if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s army fired a missile at the U.S, it would “escalate into war very quickly,” and that if it hit U.S. cities, it would be “game on.” But the retired U.S. Marine Corps general stressed that the Defense Department will do its “best to make sure it doesn’t hit the U.S.”

When asked to clarify his comments on an escalation of war, Mattis said, “War is up to the president, perhaps up to Congress. The bottom line is that we will defend the country from an attack. For us, that’s war. That’s a war-time situation.”

Mattis also pointed out that making the decision to go to war can’t be done in “advance,” given a “host of things going on,” especially since there are “allies that [they] have to consult with.”

Mattis’ strong statement comes as Yonhap reports that KNCA, North Korea’s state news agency, reported that “Dear Supreme Leader said today that the Americans’ reckless military confrontational behavior has ended up the U.S. trapping themselves with their own hands and are spending pathetic fate by weary minutes and seconds and that Dear Supreme Leader will watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer.”

On August 10, Mattis told reporters that a potential nuclear incident “would be catastrophic” and warned that the “tragedy of war is well-known.” Mattis looked to be opting for a more diplomatic route during the Defense Innovation Unit Experimental (DIUx) event in California, saying that he wanted to “stay right here now” in the “American effort [that] is diplomatically led.”

“It’s [North Korea’s] aligning the United Nations in very serious sanctions, and I would just tell you that it did not happen by accident,” Mattis said, of the 15-0 unanimous U.N. Security Council vote to impose economic sanctions on North Korea and stop its missile production.

However, Mattis changed his tune on Monday, saying “welcome to reality” for the young troops who would be going into a wartime situation, adding that this doesn’t mean war is being declared yet.

Mattis referenced the political satire Dr. Strangelove, a film that satirized the Cold War fears of a nuclear conflict between the Soviet Union and the U.S., saying he’s not trying to “do things like that.”

Mattis released a harsher statement immediately following Trump’s initial “fire and fury” comments last week and North Korea’s threat to send four intermediate range missiles to Guam. The war veteran said “it must be noted that the combined allied militaries now possess the most precise, rehearsed and robust defensive…capabilities on Earth,” adding that any arms race would be “grossly overmatched by ours.”

Mattis has continuously warned North Korea of “the consequences” the rogue nation could bear in his slew of statements, despite calling for actions in a “diplomatically effective manner.”

The secretary said he regularly speaks with former secretaries of defense and state, as well as former national security advisers.

“Korea looms large in those discussions with all those predecessors,” he said.

Mattis’ comments Monday come on the heels of North Korea’s warning Saturday that the Trump administration “better talk and act properly” if it doesn’t want to meet its “tragic doom.”

“The U.S. has done all sorts of wrongs to the DPRK… but now it finds itself in an ever worsening dilemma, being thrown into the grip of extreme security unrest by the DPRK. This is tragicomedy of its own making,” North Korea said in a statement distributed through state-run media.

Trump spoke with a key leader in the conflict, China’s President Xi JinPing, on Saturday to reiterate both nation’s commitments to “denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Kim Jong Un briefed on possible Guam attacks

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un was reportedly being briefed on plans to launch missiles towards Guam.

Kim Jong Un briefed on possible Guam attacks: media report

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SEOUL) — Kim Jong Un was briefed on Monday by a North Korean general on the country’s plan to launch missiles toward Guam, according to South Korea’s largest news agency.

“Dear Supreme Leader has spent a long time to review the plan to attack Guam by surrounding it and conferred with the leaders present,” reads a translated statement by Yonhap, attributed to KCNA, the state news agency of North Korea, of the meeting Kim had with General Kim Rak Gyom.

“Dear Supreme Leader has spent a long time to review the plan to attach Guam by surrounding it and conferred with the leaders present,” the statement added.

The war planning came during the leader’s visit on Monday to the the headquarters of Strategy Division of the North Korea’s People’s Army. While there, Kim warned soldiers there to stand ready to strike “at all times,” according to the Yonhap report.

The order to his army was reportedly followed by more bluster.

“The United States, which was the first to bring numerous strategic nuclear equipment near us, should first make the right decision and show through actions if they wish to ease tensions on the Korean Peninsula and prevent a dangerous military clash,” Kim was quoted as saying.

“Dear Supreme Leader said that the Americans’ reckless military confrontational behavior has ended up the U.S. trapping themselves with their own hands and are spending pathetic fate by weary minutes and seconds and that Dear Supreme Leader will watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer,” KCNA said, according to Yonhap.

The report claimed that Kim “will watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer” but that it was the Americans who were the provocateurs, for their “reckless military confrontational behavior has ended up the U.S. trapping themselves with their own hands and are spending pathetic fate by weary minutes and seconds and that Dear Supreme Leader will watch such stupid American behavior for a bit longer.”

When the preparation for battle was complete, Kim decided to take a photo with his soldiers.

“Dear Supreme Leader took a commemorative photo with the soldiers, who welcomed the Dear Supreme Leader with utmost excitement, to whom the Dear Supreme Leader responded by waving at them,” KCNA reported.

Pyongyang’s saber rattling comes a week after the North Korean army declared it would complete an assault to launch four intermediate ballistic missiles near Guam by mid-August. And it’s one day after the U.N. passed sanctions to devastate the region; China on Tuesday announced it would phase out supplying North Korea with crucial coal imports.

Kim’s rhetoric on Monday came shortly after Secretary of Defense James Mattis harshly warned North Korea of considering any sort of aggression against the U.S.

“If they shoot at the United States, I’m assuming they’ve hit the United States. … If they do that, then it’s game on,” he said.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Driver purposely steers into French pizzeria, killing girl

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

A man who French officials say was probably under the influence of drugs and possibly suicidal rammed his car into a pizzeria east of Paris, killing an adolescent girl

Ukraine denies North Korean missile components came from state-owned factory

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Ukraine’s government has denied a report that one of the country’s state-owned factories may have supplied the rocket engines North Korea is using to create an ICBM.

Germany responds to Charlottesville violence with sharp condemnation

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Thomas Lohnes/Getty Images(BERLIN) — The violence in Charlottesville this weekend was “absolutely repulsive,” a spokesman for German Chancellor Angela Merkel said Monday, as other German politicians condemned the neo-Nazi sympathies on display in the Virginia city and President Donald Trump’s response.

“The scenes at the right-wing extremist march were absolutely repulsive – the racism, anti-Semitism and hate on display were in their most naked and evil form,” the spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said, according to a statement from the German chancellor’s office. He said what happened there was “diametrically opposed to the political goals of the chancellor and the entire German government.”

The entire German government “stands in solidarity with those who peacefully stand up to aggressive, right-extremist positions,” Seibert said. He added that Merkel’s “thoughts are with the family and friends of the woman who died as well as with the other victims, who we hope will completely recover.”

Several leading politicians condemned the violence, and a couple called out President Trump for not immediately condemning the neo-Nazis, Ku Klux Klan members and other white nationalists who marched and clashed with counterprotesters in Charlottesville on Friday and Saturday.

“What happened in the U.S. is Nazi terror, that’s the only way to describe it and to call it,” Martin Schulz, the head of the Social Democratic Party and a candidate for chancellor, said Monday. “It’s shocking that the president of the United States of America has remained silent about this kind of terror, or makes comments that would allow those who committed these acts of violence there to feel encouraged.”

Another member of Schulz’s party, German Ministry of Justice Heiko Maas, echoed that criticism.

“His half-hearted dithering on the right-wing extremist violence is fatal,” Maas tweeted. “All democrats should find unambiguous words to stand up against racism. Those who can’t demonstrate a definitive stand must reckon with the fact that they are empowering neo-Nazis.”

Trump on Saturday blamed “many sides” for the violence, which killed one woman and injured at least 19 others. Monday, after two days of criticism for his failure to call out white nationalists by name, he specifically denounced “the KKK, neo-Nazis, white supremacists and other hate groups that are repugnant to everything we hold dear as Americans.”

Germany has strict laws against displaying Nazi symbols and slogans. Even suggesting support for Nazi ideas is taboo.

Anti-immigrant sentiment in the country, however, has led to the rise of the right-wing, populist Alternative für Deutschland Party. But support for the party has reportedly slipped in recent months, after an AfD politician criticized Germany’s tradition of taking responsibility for the Holocaust and other crimes of the Nazi era.

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One dead, 7 injured after car plows into pizzeria near Paris

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(PARIS) — At least one person is dead and seven others are injured after a driver drove into patrons at a restaurant in a suburb northeast of Paris, a French Interior Minister spokesperson told ABC News.

The spokesperson said the car intentionally plowed into the terrace of a pizzeria in Sept-Sorts. Five people were badly injured, while two others were only slightly wounded.

A suspect has been arrested, according to the spokesperson. The motive is unknown at this time.

This is a breaking news story. Please check back for updates.

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War-torn Yemen now wracked by cholera, with thousands dead and 500,000 sick

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

It’s the worst cholera outbreak in the world.

Ukraine denies North Korean missile components came from state-owned factory

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

STR/AFP/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — Ukraine’s government has denied a report that one of its state-owned factories may have supplied the rocket engines North Korea is using in its quest to create a missile capable of hitting the continental United States.

The successful test launches North Korea has carried out in recent months that have prompted fiery rhetoric from President Donald Trump have also surprised experts. The country has been making rapid progress in developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Now, a new analysis by an American missile expert, first reported by The New York Times on Monday, says it has identified the engines that are powering these recent missile tests as a type produced by a factory in the Ukrainian city of Dnipro.

Michael Elleman, a senior fellow for missile defense at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, told The New York Times he believed that the engines had likely been acquired illegally from workers from Yuzhmash, a Ukrainian factory that has been suffering severe financial difficulties recently. Elleman said he did not believe Yuzhmash’s executives or the Ukrainian government were involved in the deal, but that Ukraine was the most likely source of engines. Elleman told the Times he feared that Yuzhmash technicians might be aiding the North Koreans.

“It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine —- probably illicitly,” Elleman told the Times. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”

The head of Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council, Oleg Turchynov, flatly rejected Elleman’s report in a statement. Turchynov said the claims were unfounded and suggested Russian intelligence officials were behind the allegations.

“This information is not based on any grounds, provocative by its content, and most likely provoked by Russian secret services to cover their own crimes,” Turchynov said. “Ukraine has always adhered to all its international commitments, therefore, Ukrainian defense and aerospace complex did not supply weapons and military technology to North Korea.”

A spokesperson for the factory, Yuzhmash, also denied the report, telling ABC News it was “false information.”

Elleman’s analysis, published in full on the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ website, sought to answer a question that has puzzled experts. Many analysts have wondered how North Korea could have so rapidly produced an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, given that even a year ago its efforts had appeared mired in technical failures.

On May 14, North Korea test launched a new intermediate missile capable of striking Guam. Two months later, on July 4, it launched a more powerful missile that the U.S. military estimates reached an altitude of more than 1,700 miles, making it officially an intercontinental ballistic missile. That launch was met with strong international condemnation and provoked an intense war of words between Trump and North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong Un.

The successful launches abruptly ended a long string of failures during which North Korean rockets often blew up shortly after ignition. North Korea’s efforts to build an ICBM seemed to stall until September last year, after which the country moved swiftly from a ground-launch test through to a full successful ICBM launch. Such progress through design stages normally take years, experts have said.

In his analysis, Elleman suggested that North Korea’s rapid progress was due to the fact that it had imported a new foreign-made engine, adapted with foreign expertise. Based on analyzing video of the launches, Elleman said he had narrowed down the recent missiles’ engine type. Elleman said it appeared to be a modified version of a Russian-designed liquid fuel engine, called an RD-250, that was originally mass produced for use in the Soviet Union’s nuclear arsenal.

During the Soviet Union and up until 2006, Elleman wrote, the engines were produced by Yuzhmash in conjunction with a Russian company, Energomash. But in recent years, Yuzhmash has suffered severe financial problems, recently exacerbated by the economic crisis in Ukraine following the 2014 revolution there and the country’s conflict with Russia.

Elleman noted that hundreds of the rocket engines may be stored in Russia in Energomash warehouses as well, but suggested that Yuzhmash’s financial troubles mean that it was the prime suspect as the supplier to North Korea. He wrote he believed criminal networks operating in Ukraine may have collaborated with workers from the plant to acquire some of the spare engines.

Yuzhmash rejected that information in a statement on its website, writing that the claims in The New York Times article “do not correspond to reality” and are “based on an incompetent ‘expert’ opinion.”

The company said that it had not produced any military-use missile technology since Ukraine’s independence in 1991 and that it complied with an international treaty intended to prevent the spread of ballistic missile technology for armed purposes.

Reached by phone later on Monday, Elleman reiterated that he did not believe either the Ukrainian government or Yuzhmash executives had been involved in supplying the engines but stood by his claim that Ukraine remained the most likely source.

“I think it’s more likely it came from Ukraine, but I can’t be certain,” he said. “We don’t have proof that it came from Yuzhmash or any other specific firm.”

Elleman added that both Yuzhmash and Energomash were the most likely sources. It would not be the first time North Korea has sought Ukrainian rocket technology. In 2012, Ukraine jailed two North Koreans on espionage charges for attempting to acquire classified technology relating to rocket engines from a Yuzhmash researcher, Yonhap News Agency reported at the time.

Elleman said one of his primary reasons for looking to Yuzhmash was the nature of the modification made by the North Koreans, condensing the engine to a single chamber instead of the usual two. Elleman said two sources had seen an engine with such a modification on display at Dnipro National University, which is closely connected with Yuzhmash.

“It doesn’t mean that Yuzhnoi actually did it,” Elleman said using part of the company’s name. But, he said, “that’s what leads me to think it’s the most likely source.”

Yuri A. Mitikov, head of the university’s engine design department who has worked with Yuzhmash, told ABC News that it was impossible that the factory had supplied the engine.

“Yuzhmash is a forgotten factory,” Mitikov said of the company’s rocket engineering section. “It simply isn’t working.”

Mitikov said that for the past five years, the rocket construction department has only been working one day a week and that most of the rocket engines had been stored in Russia.

He argued U.S. arms control specialists had helped dismantled much of the factories’ equipment used for military-use missile construction when Ukraine handed over its nuclear arsenal after 1991.

As for the modified RD-250 engine at the university, Mitikov said there was indeed one in a department lab, but that it was a mock-up for students.

“There’s nothing inside,” he said.

Yuzhmash is currently contracted to produce 12 ‘Zenit’-class rockets for the Russian-owned commercial space company, S7 Sea Launch, according to a statement in June announcing the project.

But otherwise, Yuzhmash largely produces trolleybuses and tractors now.

Elleman said the key point he had been trying to make was that North Korea had not produced the engine that it was using and that it must have been smuggled into the country from Russia or Ukraine.

He praised Ukraine’s government for its previous work on arms control and said he believed they needed to investigate whether the engine could have come from its territory.

“The Ukrainian government should investigate, and if they exonerate themselves, then great,” he said. “But there is definitely a source somewhere.”

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War-torn Yemen now wracked by cholera, with thousands dead and 500,000 sick

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(SANA’A, Yemen) — As she sat silently in the back seat of the car with her hands around her bowed head, Lena Rabasi listened to her father’s voice while he drove: “God willing, we’ll get there, God willing you’ll get better.’”

Lena, 15, didn’t know if she could believe those words. The drive to the hospital felt too long. She was dizzy, had diarrhea, and felt a penetrating pain in her stomach – her mother next to her had the same symptoms.

“I was scared we wouldn’t be able to get treatment and would die. I knew from our symptoms that we had cholera,” Lena told ABC News via phone from her home in Yemen. “I was scared of the hospital because it was the first time I was going to a hospital. I was scared of needles. I was trying to imagine the doctors because I didn’t know what they would be like.”

Yemen is home to the largest outbreak of cholera in the world, with the total number of suspected cases reaching 500,000 and nearly 2,000 people dying from the disease since April, the World Health Organization said. Every day, an estimated 5,000 more are falling ill.

The U.N. calls the epidemic a “man-made catastrophe” caused by more than two years of devastating war between a Saudi-led military coalition and Iran-backed Houthi fighters.

Cholera, a waterborne disease, is relatively easy to treat.

Almost all people in Yemen sick with suspected cholera who can access health services are surviving. But nearly 15 million people in the country are unable to get basic health care while almost 16 million don’t have access to clean water because of damage to infrastructure from the conflict.

Lena and her family were able to rent a car and drive to a health center supported by Save the Children for treatment, but many others never reach the hospital.

“And if people are lucky and find a hospital the most simple medicine and equipment will be missing,” Anas Shahari, Save the Children’s communications manager in Yemen’s capital of Sanaa, told ABC News.

“Most hospitals have no oxygen supplies and medicine. Sometimes the sick sleep on the ground in the hallways,” said Shahari, who has visited hospitals in the country.

Shahari said she has seen children receiving treatment in tents, some sitting in chairs because no beds were available. In other cases, patients sleep under trees with their IVs hanging in the branches, he said.

The health system in the war-torn country is collapsing, with more than half of all health facilities closed. Even the ones that are open don’t have enough medicine and equipment and 30,000 health workers have not been paid salaries in nearly a year, according to the World Health Organization.

As a result, millions of people have to travel far to reach any hospital, and many can’t afford the transportation to get there.

“Many people have to borrow money from friends or sell their belongings to afford the transportation to the hospital,” Shahari said. “Others have sold their cows just for the treatment.”

At one hospital, Shahari met a mother and child with cholera who were almost unconscious when they arrived because they were so dehydrated. The family lived six hours away from the hospital in Sanaa and one child died on the way. Shahari didn’t meet the father – he had just heard that his mother had died and had to return for her funeral. The mother had stayed behind although she also had cholera symptoms.

Shahari said he also met one of the first cholera cases in Sanaa: A girl who suffered kidney failure due to dehydration from the cholera. At the time she had no place to go that specialized in cholera. Shahari said he met her father, mother, two sisters, aunt and two other children – a 2-year old and a 1-year-old – from the same family who all had contracted the disease.

Shahari doesn’t know what happened to the girl and her family.

The crisis is hitting the elderly and children the hardest. About 30 percent of those who have died are over the age of 60 while more than 41 percent of those with suspected cases and a quarter of those who have died are children, according to the U.N.

More than 1 million malnourished children aged under 5 in Yemen are living in areas with high levels of cholera at risk of contracting the disease, and one child is being infected with cholera every 35 seconds, says Save the Children.

“Yemen’s health workers are operating in impossible conditions. Thousands of people are sick, but there are not enough hospitals, not enough medicines, not enough clean water. These doctors and nurses are the backbone of the health response – without them we can do nothing in Yemen. They must be paid their wages so that they can continue to save lives,” said Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, director-general of the World Health Organization.

The cholera outbreak in Yemen has worsened what was already one of the world’s worst humanitarian crises. The country is on the brink of famine, with over 60 percent of the population not knowing where their next meal will come from. Around 2 million Yemeni children are acutely malnourished, according to the U.N.

Like many other Yemenis, Lena’s family doesn’t have nutritious food – the family’s diet consists mainly of bread and sometimes beans. They don’t have water at home and have to buy water that isn’t sanitized. Lena’s parents currently have no income which means that paying for medicine and transportation is not easy. But the family managed to rent a car and then buy medicine that Lena and her mother needed to get better after they got sick in June.

Days later Lena’s 8-year-old brother contracted the disease too. He had diarrhea, felt dizzy and suffered from pain in his stomach just like his sister and mother had. So the family rented a car again and took him to the treatment center.

“I was very worried for him,” said Lena. “He was crying from the pain in his stomach.”

Her brother recovered, but the family wasn’t free from the disease for long. Lena said she got cholera again last week. She was treated, but still feels frail and scared.

“I still feel weak from the disease,” said Lena. “I’m scared that I’ll be sick again because I’m tired of disease.”

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Between North and South Korea, buffer zone with wildlife and the blare of propaganda

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Korea’s DMZ or Demilitarized Zone is perhaps the world’s most famous border.

Between North and South Korea, buffer zone with wildlife and the blare of propaganda

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

Korea’s DMZ or Demilitarized Zone is perhaps the world’s most famous border.

Iranian drone buzzes US aircraft over Persian Gulf

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The Sunday incident followed a similar interaction last week.

Iranian drone buzzes US aircraft over Persian Gulf

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

The Sunday incident followed a similar interaction last week.

Peace rally held in Guam amid North Korea threat

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — Amid North Korea’s threat of a missile attack against Guam, the U.S. territory’s homeland security adviser said Monday there’s a 0.000001 percent chance that a missile launched from North Korea would get through the various layers of defense and reach Guam.

Gov. Eddie Baza Calvo said Monday it’s business as usual in Guam, with no change of threat levels.

The governor said President Trump and his chief of staff, John Kelly, called him at home, vowing that Guam residents will be defended and protected from any attacks.

Roughly 75 people gathered in Guam’s capital city of Hagatna, near the statue of Chief Kepuha, Guam’s first Catholic chief, on Monday evening local time to call for peace.

The Chamorro people (the indigenous people of Guam) and others stood together with peace signs, chanting, “Peace not war — that’s what our island is for,” as the sounds of conch shells and horns from motorists filled the air.

A University of Guam professor from Illinois told ABC News she is fearful of the rhetoric that is being used between North Korean and U.S. leaders. She said she will have to start the first day of school directing her students to a makeshift bunker at the university in the event that sirens begin.

Officials said 30,000 students are returning to school this week.

A Department of Education official said all schools have an emergency response plan and students are trained each month for different kinds of disasters.

Copyright © 2017, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

Iranian drone buzzes US aircraft over Persian Gulf

Posted on: August 14th, 2017 by ABC News No Comments

iStock/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) — An Iranian drone came within 1,000 feet of U.S. aircraft during fixed-wing flight operations on the USS Nimitz in the Persian Gulf Sunday, officials said.

The U.S. Navy characterized the approach of the Iranian drone as “unsafe and unprofessional,” adding that the drone failed to use navigation lights at night, which “created a dangerous situation with the potential for collision.”

The drone “made several passes in close proximity to Nimitz and its escort ships during active flight operations, coming within 1,000 feet of U.S. aircraft” and was unresponsive to repeated radio calls to establish communications, the Navy said in a statement today. – This is the 14th unsafe and/or unprofessional interaction between U.S. and Iranian maritime forces in 2017.

An Iranian drone came within 100 feet of a U.S. Navy F/A-18 fighter jet last week that was waiting to land on the Nimitz aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf.

That jet was in a holding pattern about 1,000 feet above the Nimitz when the unarmed drone performed an “unsafe and unprofessional altitude change” in its vicinity, a U.S. official said. The Iranian drone came 100 feet underneath and 200 feet horizontally from the U.S. jet, the official said.

Similar to Sunday’s incident, the drone did not respond to warnings in the form of radio calls, prompting the jet to maneuver to avoid a collision, a second official told ABC News last week.

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