In her first known official statement, the younger sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un levelled diatribes and insults against South Korea for raising concern over her country’s latest live-fire exercises.
Kim Yo Jong is in charge of propaganda affairs for North Korea and has frequently appeared at her brother’s major public events, including summits with President Donald Trump and other regional leaders.
But her statement carried by state media was the first of its kind and indicated a further elevation of her political status.
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In the statement issued on Tuesday night, she criticised South Korea’s presidential Blue House for expressing strong concerns over the North’s firing drills and urging it to stop acts that do not help reduce military animosities.
“As far as I know, the South side is also fond of joint military exercises and it is preoccupied with all the disgusting acts like purchasing ultra-modern military hardware,” Kim Yo Jong said.
“They meant they need to get militarily prepared but we should be discouraged from military exercises. Such a gangster-like assertion can never be expected from those with normal way of thinking.”
Describing the Blue House as “a mere child” and “a burnt child dreading fire,” she questioned how its words and actions could be “so perfectly foolish in detail.”
Kim Yo Jong did not name liberal South Korean President Moon Jae-in, whom she has met several times.
However, she said: “The South side’s response is so regretful and disappointing but it is somewhat fortunate that it was not a direct statement of the president.”
More artillery drills reported
South Korea’s Unification Ministry, which handles inter-Korean affairs, said on Wednesday it had no specific comment on Kim Yo Jong’s statement.
But spokesman Yoh Sang-key said the two Koreas should maintain mutual respect while working towards establishing lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
Earlier on Tuesday, state media said leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire rocket artillery exercise in an apparent reference to the two suspected short-range ballistic missile launches detected by South Korea’s military on Monday.
South Korean President Moon Jae-in with Kim Yo Jong in a picture released by North Korea’s Korean Central News Agency in February 2018 [File: KCNA via Reuters]
On Saturday, North Korea said Kim Jong Un also guided an artillery drill aimed at testing the combat readiness of military units.
The back-to-back firing exercises were an apparent show of force by Kim, who had earlier promised to bolster his nuclear deterrent and warned of “shocking action” over now-stalled nuclear negotiations with Trump.
The latest firing drills were his first weapons tests since late November.
Kim Yo Jong’s statement was issued in her capacity as a first vice-department director of the ruling Workers Party’s Central Committee.
She also serves as an alternate member of the North’s powerful Politburo and a member of the rubber-stamp parliament.
Top propaganda official
South Korean officials and experts say she is virtually the North’s top propaganda official.
Kim Yo Jong’s statement “suggests that her status and influence have been expanded to such an extent as to express her opinions externally and beyond playing a role of assisting Chairman Kim Jong Un on his public activities,” said analyst Cheong Seong-Chang at South Korea’s private Sejong Institute.
Believed to be in her early 30s, Kim Yo Jong took a prominent role at the summits Kim Jong Un has held with Trump, Moon and Chinese President Xi Jinping since North Korea entered nuclear talks in 2018.
Kim Yo Jong at the second North Korea-US summit in Hanoi in February 2019 [File: Leah Millis/Reuters]
During one of the three summits with Moon in 2018, Kim Yo Jong handed her brother a pen when he signed the guestbook, and took his gloves after he shovelled mud on a ceremonial tree and a bouquet of flowers that he had been handed at the border.
Her proximity to her brother during the summit sparked outside speculation that she may be the No 2 in the North after her brother purged potential rivals seen as posing a threat to his family’s rule.
Earlier in 2018, she went to South Korea to attend the opening ceremony of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics, becoming the first member of the North’s ruling family to visit the South since the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.
At the time, she met Moon and conveyed her brother’s invitation to meet in Pyongyang.
UAE starts first nuclear reactor at controversial Barakah plant |NationalTribune.com
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Saturday that it has started operations in the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station – the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world. Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is building and operating the plant with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) said in…
The United Arab Emirates (UAE) announced on Saturday that it has started operations in the first of four reactors at the Barakah nuclear power station – the first nuclear power plant in the Arab world.
Emirates Nuclear Energy Corporation (ENEC), which is building and operating the plant with Korea Electric Power Corporation (KEPCO) said in a press release that its subsidiary Nawah Energy Company “has successfully started up Unit 1 of the Barakah Nuclear Energy Plant, located in the Al Dhafrah Region of Abu Dhabi”.
That signals that Unit 1, which had fuel rods loaded in March, has achieved “criticality” – a sustained fission chain reaction.
“The start-up of Unit 1 marks the first time that the reactor safely produces heat, which is used to create steam, turning a turbine to generate electricity,” said ENEC.
Barakah, which was originally scheduled to open in 2017, has been dogged by delays and is billions of dollars over budget. It has also raised myriad concerns among nuclear energy veterans who are concerned about the potential risks Barakah could visit upon the Arabian Peninsula, from an environmental catastrophe to a nuclear arms race.
Paul Dorfman, an honorary senior research fellow at the Energy Institute, University College London and founder and chair of the Nuclear Consulting Group, has criticised the Barakah reactors’ “cheap and cheerful” design that he says cuts corners on safety.
Dorfman authored a report (PDF) last year detailing key safety features Barakah’s reactors lack, such as a “core catcher” to literally stop the core of a reactor from breaching the containment building in the event of a meltdown. The reactors are also missing so-called Generation III Defence-In-Depth reinforcements to the containment building to shield against a radiological release resulting from a missile or fighter jet attack.
Both of these engineering features are standard on new reactors built in Europe, says Dorfman.
There have been at least 13 aerial attacks on nuclear facilities in the Middle East – more than any other region on earth.
The vulnerability of critical infrastructure in the Arabian Peninsula was further laid bare last year after Saudi Arabia’s oil facilities at Abqaiq and Khurais were attacked by 18 drones and seven cruise missiles – an assault that temporarily knocked out more than half of the kingdom’s oil production.
On Saturday, Dorfman reiterated his concern that there is no regional protocol in place to determine liability should an accident or incident at Barakah result in radioactive contamination spreading from the UAE to its neighbours.
“Given Barakah has started up, because of all the well-rehearsed nuclear safety and security problems, it may be critically important that the Gulf states collectively evolve a Nuclear Accident Liability Convention, so that if anything does go wrong, victim states may have some sort of redress,” Dorfman told Al Jazeera.
The UAE has substantial oil and gas reserves, but it has made huge investments in developing alternative energy sources, including nuclear and solar.
Experts though have questioned why the UAE – which is bathed in sunlight and wind – has pushed ahead with nuclear energy – a far more expensive and riskier option than renewable energy sources.
When the UAE first announced Barakah in 2009, nuclear power was cheaper than solar and wind. But by 2012 – when the Emirates started breaking ground to build the reactors – solar and wind costs had plummeted dramatically.
Between 2009 and 2019, utility-scale average solar photovoltaic costs fell 89 percent and wind fell 43 percent, while nuclear jumped 26 percent, according to an analysis by the financial advisory and asset manager Lazard.
There are also concerns about the potential for Barakah to foment nuclear proliferation in the Middle East – a region rife with geopolitical fault lines and well-documented history of nuclear secrecy.
The UAE has sought to distance itself from the region’s bad behaviour by agreeing not to enrich its own uranium or reprocess spent fuel. It has also signed up to the United Nation’s nuclear watchdog’s Additional Protocol, significantly enhancing inspection capabilities, and secured a 123 Agreement with the United States that allows bilateral civilian nuclear cooperation.
Navy Blue Angels get first Super Hornet plane
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron — better known as the Blue Angels — this week received their first F/A-18 Super Hornet, a cutting-edge plane that will replace the older aircraft used for the past three decades. The first Super Hornet arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Monday, officials said. The Blue Angels are…
The U.S. Navy Flight Demonstration Squadron — better known as the Blue Angels — this week received their first F/A-18 Super Hornet, a cutting-edge plane that will replace the older aircraft used for the past three decades.
The first Super Hornet arrived at Naval Air Station Pensacola on Monday, officials said. The Blue Angels are scheduled to fully transition to the Super Hornets by the end of the year.
“Acquiring our first Super Hornet is a momentous step in our inevitable transition scheduled for later this year and it required a herculean effort to get these fleet jets ready for our team,” said Cmdr. Brian Kesselring, commanding officer and Blue Angels flight leader.
The Blue Angels have used the original F/A-18 Hornet for 34 years. The new aircraft are capable of carrying 3,500 pounds of fuel and can move faster than the Hornet while carrying more weight, according to manufacturer Boeing.
The planes also include a new 19-inch, touch-screen display in the cockpit and a 9,000-hour frame lifespan, along with an advanced infrastructure network that boasts dramatically more computing power than its predecessors.
The Blue Angels were founded in 1946 and routinely hold air shows across the country. In April, the Blue Angels teamed up with the Thunderbirds, the Air Force’s flight demonstration squadron, for a flyover of major U.S. cities to honor health care workers and first responders battling the COVID-19 pandemic.
The next Blue Angels show is scheduled for Sept. 12 and 13 in Baltimore, according to the group’s website.
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America First Action PAC ad attacks Biden defund police policies
A super PAC supporting President Trump’s policies is airing a new TV ad on Friday attacking Democrat Joseph R. Biden over defunding police, showing a fearful mother and child hiding under a bed from marauders while their frantic 9-1-1 call is placed on hold. The ad, titled “On Hold,” will air in the battleground states…
A super PAC supporting President Trump’s policies is airing a new TV ad on Friday attacking Democrat Joseph R. Biden over defunding police, showing a fearful mother and child hiding under a bed from marauders while their frantic 9-1-1 call is placed on hold.
The ad, titled “On Hold,” will air in the battleground states of Arizona, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. It’s part of America First Action PAC’s $23 million summer ad spending, The Washington Times has learned.
The ad depicts a young mother and her child retreating under a bed while a violent mob on the street outside their home menaces them. When the woman dials 9-1-1, an operator says, “You have reached 9-11 emergency services. Due to budget cuts and increased criminal activity, our agents are busy assisting other callers. The hold time is 17 minutes. Have a nice day.”
A similar national TV ad from the Trump campaign this week shows an older woman, alone at night, unable to get through to police on 9-1-1 as a masked intruder breaks into her home.
“Your family won’t be safe in Joe Biden’s America,” said Brian O. Walsh, president of America First Action PAC. “He supports defunding the police and has defended the riots in Portland as ‘peaceful.’ While Biden is too weak to stand up to the leftist mob, President Trump will never bow down and will always ensure all Americans are safe.”
The latest Rasmussen Reports survey shows that just two in 10 Americans support defunding police.
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