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EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 9:38 am
by ReadyMom
Another month ... another thread. :bored:

North Korean hackers may have stolen secret US-South Korean war plans to kill Kim Jong Un ... =buffer-bi

South Korean lawmaker Lee Cheol-hee said that North Korean hackers have stolen classified military documents, including the US and South Korea's most current war plans and plans to kill Kim Jong Un, the Financial Times reports.

Lee said that defense officials revealed to him that 235 gigabytes of data had been stolen, 80% of which has yet to be identified.

But Lee said the theft included Operational Plan 5015, the US and South Korea's current plan for war with North Korea.

The news follows a May announcement from South Korea's defense ministry saying its military network had been breached.

“This is a total failure of management and monitoring [of classified information],” Shin Jong-woo, a researcher at the Korea Defense and Security Forum told the Financial Times of the hacks.

The US and North Korea have been engaged in a secretive cyber war for some time, with the US reportedly conducting a large-scale attack against Pyongyang in early October on the instruction of President Donald Trump.

Since then, Russia has provided internet infrastructure support to North Korea in a move that would diversify and strengthen Pyongyang's cyber war capabilities.

North Korea has been found responsible for a number of high-profile attacks over the years, and is still technically at war with the US and South Korea.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #6 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 12:21 pm
by NJMike
This breach happened in September of 2016... I wonder when we knew about it?

Perhaps some % of Kim Jong Un's "erratic" behavior this past year has been a reaction to the plans of having him assassinated among other things. That would make him offing his brother earlier this year a more rational response than previously understood.

It would be fascinating if NK publicly published the entire document dump like via Wikileaks. If I were the little dictator, that's what I might do.

This news though, reinforces my concern about the ability of NK hackers (or others) to bring down our power grid. That scenario has been a bigger fear for me than a nuke landing anywhere nearby.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Tue Oct 10, 2017 10:17 pm
by ReadyMom
Experts: North Korea Targeted U.S. Electric Power Companies ... es-n808996

Oct 10 2017, 6:05 pm ET

by Andrea Mitchell and Ken Dilanian

WASHINGTON — The cybersecurity company FireEye says in a new report to private clients, obtained exclusively by NBC News, that hackers linked to North Korea recently targeted U.S. electric power companies with spearphishing emails.

The emails used fake invitations to a fundraiser to target victims, FireEye said. A victim who downloaded the invitation attached to the email would also be downloading malware into his or her computer network, according to the FireEye report. The company did not dispute NBC's characterization of the report, but declined to comment.

There is no evidence that the hacking attempts were successful, but FireEye assessed that the targeting of electric utilities could be related to increasing tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, potentially foreshadowing a disruptive cyberattack.

"This is a signal that North Korea is a player in the cyber-intrusion field and it is growing in its ability to hurt us," said C. Frank Figliuzzi, a former chief of counterintelligence at the FBI.

The FireEye report comes on the heels of an report in August that U.S. intelligence officials are increasingly worried that North Korea will lash out against enhanced U.S. pressure by using its fearsome cyber capabilities to attack U.S. infrastructure.

"We've been worried for some time that one of the ways that North Korea can retaliate against further escalation of tensions is via cyber, and particularly attacks against our financial sector," Dmitri Alperovitch, co-founder of Crowdstrike, a cybersecurity firm, told NBC News in August. "This is something they have really perfected as an art against South Korea."

Scott Aaronson, a top security official at the Edison Electric Institute, an industry trade group, said in a statement: "Phishing attacks are something that electric companies prepare for and deal with on a regular basis, often in coordination with security experts and industry stakeholders. In this case, the delivery of safe and reliable energy has not been affected, and there has been no operational impact to facilities or to the systems controlling the North American energy grid."

EEI referred questions to Robert Lee, a cybersecurity expert who consults with the industry.

Lee told NBC News that "any targeting of infrastructure by a foreign power is a concerning thing," but that North Korea and other adversaries "are far from being able to disrupt the electric grid."

"This activity represents initial targeting, and if disruptions are even possible they would be very minor," he said.

Lee added: "The North American power grid is considerably better off than people give it credit for. Our threats are growing, and this activity comes at a concerning geopolitically tense time, but if the North Koreans tried to disrupt the electric grid, they would be disappointed with what they were able to achieve."

But not every part of the electric grid is equally well defended. Some under-funded public utilities rely on antiquated equipment and outdated cybersecurity strategies, experts have long said, and Figliuzzi said there's also great disparity among private utility companies.

"North Korea and any other hacking state will start looking for the weakest link, where's the weakest part of that defense," he said. "And when they find it, they'll exploit it. So there's a need to step up security in that regard."

American intelligence officials rank North Korea behind Russia, China and Iran among U.S. adversaries in ability to inflict damage via cyberattacks.

In 2014, U.S. intelligence officials say, North Korean hackers attacked Sony Pictures, destroying corporate computers and disclosing sensitive company data. The U.S. accused North Korea of carrying it out in response to a film lampooning North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

Experts worry that North Korea could deploy the same techniques to inflict harm not just on one company, but on the American economy.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:11 pm
by ReadyMom
North Korea says Trump 'lit the wick of war,' vows 'a hail of fire' ... -fire.html

North Korea swore on Wednesday to bring “a hail of fire” after President Trump “lit the wick of war” with the Hermit Kingdom, the latest dramatic pronouncement promising conflict between the rogue regime and the United States.

North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told Russia’s state-run TASS news agency the U.S. and North Korea have a “final score” to settle that can’t be done with words, Reuters reported.

“With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us,” Ri told TASS news agency, according to Reuters. “We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words.”

Ri said North Korea is nearing its goal to achieve full nuclear capability to counter any U.S. threat, calling it the “real balance of power with the United States" and describing the weapons as a “sword of justice.”

“Our principal position is that we will never agree to any talks in which our nuclear weapons will be the subject of negotiations,” Ri said.

Officials feared the rogue nation would test another missile or nuclear bomb on Monday or Tuesday as North Korean citizens celebrated the 11th anniversary of the country’s first nuclear test and the foundation of the ruling Worker’s Party of Korea. North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, reportedly detonating a hydrogen bomb, on Sept. 3, calling it a “perfect success.” Its latest missile launch, later that same month, flew over Japan before splashing into the Pacific Ocean.

On Wednesday, the U.S. and South Korea flew two strategic bombers over the Korean peninsula in a joint military exercise — another show of force against Pyongyang amid the mounting tensions. The bombers also conducted firing exercises over the East Sea and Yellow Sea, according to the BBC. Japan’s air force also joined the drill.

This is the second time since Trump’s fiery U.N. General Assembly speech that North Korea vocally accused the U.S. of declaring war on its country. Trump lambasted “little rocket man” Kim Jong Un for going on a “suicide mission for himself and his regime” in the speech last month. He vowed to “totally destroy” the country if it did not halt its nuclear program. Days later, Ri claimed the threats amounted to a “declaration of war” against Kim’s regime.

White House Press Secretary Sarah Sanders later clarified the president was not declaring war on North Korea.

Trump slammed more than two decades of U.S. policy toward North Korea on Twitter on Monday, saying past action to quell the crisis “didn’t work.”

“Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn’t work!” Trump tweeted.

Kim has stood by his goal to obtain full nuclear capability despite mounting economic sanctions by the U.N. Security Council to cripples its program. Over the weekend, Kim said having nuclear weapons was a “powerful deterrent firmly safeguarding the peace and security in the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia” against “protracted nuclear threats of the U.S. imperialists.”

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Wed Oct 11, 2017 9:19 pm
by ReadyMom
Jim Mattis urges US Army to 'be ready' with military options for tackling North Korea ... ing-north/

Rob Crilly, New York 9 October 2017 • 11:33pm

Jim Mattis, the US defence secretary, on Monday urged senior officers to be ready with military options for Donald Trump to deal with North Korea if diplomacy falls short, days after the President reprimanded Pentagon officials for not providing plans fast enough.

He delivered his remarks at the annual Association of the United States Army meeting in Washington as the Trump administration continues to signal its frustration at being unable to rein in Pyongyang with diplomatic measures.

“It is right now a diplomatically led, economic sanctions-buttressed effort to try to turn North Korea off of this path,” Mr Mattis said, according to The Hill.

“What does the future hold? Neither you nor I can say, so there is one thing the US Army can do. And that is you have to be ready to ensure that we have military options that our president can deploy if needed.”

Other nations have issued calls for restraint, amid fears that any US action could prompt deadly reprisals by Kim Jong-un’s unpredictable regime.

Dmitry Peskov, Kremlin spokesman, said on Monday: "Moscow has called and continues to call on the parties involved in the conflict and on those who have anything to do with this issue to exercise restraint and to avoid any steps that would only worsen the situation."

Analysts believe millions could die if North Korea launched nuclear or conventional missiles at Seoul and Tokyo in response to a US attack.

Meanwhile, North Korea shows no sign of slowing its weapons programme despite concerted diplomatic action and fresh sanctions.

It has launched two missiles over Japan and conducted its sixth nuclear test in recent weeks as it pursues its goal of developing a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the US mainland, which the regime believes is essential for self-defence.

Donald J. Trump


Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn't work!
6:50 AM - Oct 9, 2017

Meanwhile Mr Trump has kept up a steady barrage of tweets complaining that diplomacy had failed to deliver results.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Thu Oct 12, 2017 10:35 am
by Illini Warrior
the side talk continues that North Korea is serving as a distraction - once the US commits to action the real activity in the Middle East will come busting off full tilt ....

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:19 am
by ReadyMom
Thursday hearing with the Homeland Security Subcommittee on Oversight and Management Efficiency regarding the EMP threat. Testimony below by 2 EMP Commission members. (One of the members is Dr. Pry, who I met several years ago. He's a good man.) ... 171012.pdf
Screen Shot 2017-10-13 at 11.24.42 AM.png

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:22 am
by ReadyMom
Congress warned North Korean EMP attack would kill '90% of all Americans' ... le/2637349

by Paul Bedard | Oct 12, 2017, 4:25 PM

Congress was warned Thursday that North Korea is capable of attacking the U.S. today with a nuclear EMP bomb that could indefinitely shut down the electric power grid and kill 90 percent of "all Americans" within a year.

At a House hearing, experts said that North Korea could easily employ the "doomsday scenario" to turn parts of the U.S. to ashes.

In calling on the Pentagon and President Trump to move quickly to protect the grid, the experts testified that an explosion of a high-altitude nuclear bomb delivered by a missile or satellite "could be to shut down the U.S. electric power grid for an indefinite period, leading to the death within a year of up to 90 percent of all Americans."

Two members of the former congressional EMP commission said the threat to the U.S. has never been higher, in part because of the current high level of saber rattling by both sides and North Korea's surprising display over the past six months of its ability to deliver on its threats.

"With the development of small nuclear arsenals and long-range missiles by new, radical U.S. adversaries, beginning with North Korea, the threat of a nuclear EMP attack against the U.S. becomes one of the few ways that such a country could inflict devastating damage to the United States. It is critical, therefore, that the U.S. national leadership address the EMP threat as a critical and existential issue, and give a high priority to assuring the leadership is engaged and the necessary steps are taken to protect the country from EMP," the experts told a House Homeland Security subcommittee.

William R. Graham, chairman of the former EMP commission and its former chief of staff, Peter Vincent Pry, said that the U.S. has ignored the warning signs for years and that North Korea's military moves this year must be seen as a wake-up call.

They said:
  • Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea's nuclear arsenal was primitive, some academics claiming it had as few as 6 A-Bombs. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea has 60 nuclear weapons.
  • Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea's ICBMs were fake, or if real could not strike the U.S. mainland. Now the intelligence community reportedly estimates North Korea's ICBMs can strike Denver and Chicago, and perhaps the entire United States.
  • Just six months ago, most experts thought North Korea was many years away from an H-Bomb. Now it appears North Korea has H-Bombs comparable to sophisticated U.S. two-stage thermonuclear weapons.
  • Just six months ago, most experts claimed North Korean ICBMs could not miniaturize an A-Bomb or design a reentry vehicle for missile delivery. Now the intelligence community reportedly assesses North Korea has miniaturized nuclear weapons, and has developed reentry vehicles for missile delivery, including by ICBMs that can strike the U.S.
  • After massive intelligence failures grossly underestimating North Korea's long-range missile capabilities, number of nuclear weapons, warhead miniaturization, and proximity to an H-Bomb, the biggest North Korean threat to the U.S. remains unacknowledged—nuclear EMP attack.

Their testimony also highlighted the failure of the Pentagon or Congress to extend the life of the EMP Commission and they recommended deeper study into the threat, include from a simple solar flare.

"Our current vulnerability invites attack," they said.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 10:26 am
by ReadyMom
Single EMP Attack by North Korea Will Destroy US, Experts Tell Congress ... -congress/

October 12, 2017

WASHINGTON (CN) – Amid an escalating war of words between North Korea and President Donald Trump, an expert told members of a House Homeland Security subcommittee Thursday to look at the state of disaster-stricken Puerto Rico to understand the havoc an electromagnetic pulse attack by Pyongyang could wreak.

An EMP attack, done with a high-altitude detonation of a nuclear weapon, could knock out the U.S. power grid and bring life to a halt, Peter Vincent Pry said during a Thursday afternoon hearing.

“Look at what’s happening in Puerto Rico now if you want to know what the consequences of an EMP attack would be,” said Pry, chief of staff with the congressional EMP commission.

Three weeks after Hurricane Maria whipped through the island destroying nearly all of the electricity grid, only 10 percent of the 3.4 million Puerto Ricans – American citizens – have power.

Imagine what would happen to Puerto Ricans, Pry posited, if the United States was unable to help for a year. Most would perish, he said.

“That’s what would happen to the United States in the event of a North Korean EMP attack,” Pry continued, “which they could do today, alright? And with a single weapon.”

Pry’s warning comes a month after Pyongyang said it had tested a hydrogen bomb capable of carrying out an EMP attack, marking the first time the rogue nation has expressed interest in doing so.

The expert described an EMP attack to the Oversight and Management Efficiency Subcommittee as “super lightning,” and dismissed those who say such an attack is unlikely.

As with the 9/11 attacks, Pry said, people will consider an EMP attack highly unlikely until the day it happens.

“North Korea has the capability of making an EMP right now, and does – right now – constitute an existential threat to the United States,” he said.

“A single weapon could put an EMP field down over not just the United States, but all of North America that would cause the collapse of electric grids, transportation, communications – all the life-sustaining critical infrastructure,” he continued. “And it wouldn’t be a temporary blackout either. We might not ever recover from it.”

Without protections in place to shield the electric grid, Pry said an attack could result in millions of American deaths.

The subcommittee called the hearing, dubbed “Empty threat or serious danger: North Korea’s risk to the homeland,” amid rising tensions with North Korea.

Trump stirred the pot last month during a speech at the United Nations, referring to North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un as “Rocketman” – a nickname he bestowed upon the leader in reference to the nation’s ongoing missile tests – and warning that he may be forced to “totally destroy” the country.

“The United States has great strength and patience, but if forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,” he said.

More recently, Trump hinted cryptically that a gathering of military leaders on October 5 was “the calm before the storm” and telling reporters present “you’ll find out” what that means.

The comments fueled concerns that war between the United States and North Korea was imminent. During an interview with Fox News on Wednesday, Sean Hannity asked Trump “what was the calm before the storm.”

Trump responded: “We can’t let this to go on. We just can’t. Now you can say what you want but this should have been handled 25 years ago – it should have been handled 20 years ago, or 10 years ago or five years ago. It should have been handled by numerous – not just Obama – but certainly President Obama should have taken care of it.”

Now the conflict is so advanced that “something has to be done,” Trump said. “We can’t allow this to go on.”

Trump described a diplomatic deal brokered with Pyongyang under President Bill Clinton as a failure. Before the ink dried “they were already starting again with the missiles, and with the nuclear, frankly,” Trump said.

On Wednesday, North Korea’s foreign minister Ri Yong Ho escalated the war of words further, saying that Mr. Trump had “lit the wick of the war.” Reuters reported that Ri told Russian state news agency Tass that Trump had crossed a line in his September speech to the U.N.

“With his bellicose and insane statement at the United Nations, Trump, you can say, has lit the wick of a war against us,” Ri had said.

“We need to settle the final score, only with a hail of fire, not words,” he added.

Given the nature of North Korean threats, Pry said the stakes are high.

While the subcommittee took a recess to vote, Pry explained in an interview why he thinks North Korea might turn to an EMP attack.

It “would be to destroy us as a society, and if we got in a war to make sure that we wouldn’t win,” Pry said. “Even if we destroyed them, turned them into a plate of glass, they would destroy us too by taking [out] our electric grid,” he said.

According to Pry, it will take about $2 billion to protect the electric grid and “transform a civilization-ending catastrophe” into “a manageable disaster.”

If terms of how fast the work could be done, Pry said much could be done in six months and about 3 ½ years of working “at a leisurely pace” to complete.

“There’s no excuse for us to be vulnerable,” he said. “And if we protected against the worst threat, which is EMP, it would also protect us against the worst-case cyberthreats, physical sabotage and hurricanes.”

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Fri Oct 13, 2017 11:55 pm
by Blondie
While we often speak of the need for new transformers as part of the restoration process after an attack, the hurricanes have put a serious strain on the availability of transformers nationwide.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 6:16 am
by Illini Warrior
key element in the Korean action prediction just occurred - the USS Theodore Roosevelt carrier group left San Diego for Korea this week - combined with the October 18th circus that's being boasted by North Korea - no word on the other carrier groups currently at sea - just could be seeing something at month's end .....

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 1:38 pm
by Blondie
Illini, the news has 7,500 Marines on board the ship.

My prayers are for their safety, no matter their mission.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Sat Oct 14, 2017 3:49 pm
by Illini Warrior
Blondie wrote:Illini, the news has 7,500 Marines on board the ship.

My prayers are for their safety, no matter their mission.

as usual there's some poor media writing in play - that 7,000 figure is the entire crew complement -the T Roosevelt isn't one of the amphib assault carriers like the USS Wasp or Kearsarge (both are currently babysitting in the Caribbean)

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:47 pm
by ReadyMom
North Korea may have destabilized nuclear testing grounds, experts say ... ounds.html

October 14, 2017 in
Congress was warned Thursday that North Korea is capable of attacking the USA today with a nuclear EMP bomb that could indefinitely shut down the electric power grid and kill 90 percent of "all Americans" within a year.

Rep. Adam Kinzinger said Friday he's often been critical of the president's use of Twitter, but when it comes to North Korea, there is a benefit when he shows some unpredictability.

Kim Jong Un has said he would watch the Americans before deciding when to launch an "enveloping fire" around Guam.

"The DPRK's toughest counteractions include a warning not only to the USA, which gravely threatens the former's rights to sovereignty and existence, but also to Japan which acts rashly, toeing the United States line, without knowing what would happen to itself".

North Korea on Friday once again threatened to attack the American island of Guam, where the U.S. maintains a military base, following announcement of imminent joint naval drills between Washington and Seoul. "Let's hope that diplomacy works".

Trump's then-White House strategic adviser, Steve Bannon, dismissed the threat of USA military action as a bluff shortly before he was sacked in August.

The United States Geological Survey (USGS) on Thursday detected a 2.9 magnitude natural disaster 23km northeast of Sungjibaegam in North Korea, near the country's nuclear testing site.

As the United States and South Korea prepared for next week's joint naval exercise, North Korean officials on Friday (Oct 13) renewed their threat to launch ballistic missiles near Guam, a USA territory in the western Pacific. Late last month, a magnitude 3.4 quake was detected under Mount Mantap- and there have been further small aftershocks since North Korea's sixth nuclear test in early September.

The agency says Friday's magnitude 2.7 quake was 54 kilometers (0.62 miles) northwest of the town of Kilju in northeastern North Korea. Commercial satellite images have also found evidence of landslides near the North Korean site, raising fears of radioactive fallout if the North conducts another nuclear test there.

The fate of the thousands of North Korean laborers already in the UAE remains up in the air. Kuwait and Qatar have taken similar steps in recent weeks.

Re: EMP-Korea Concerns & Discussions #7 (Oct 2017)

PostPosted: Mon Oct 16, 2017 10:58 pm
by ReadyMom
North Korea revives Guam threat ahead of US-South Korea drills ... ea-drills/

October 13, 2017

WASHINGTON — North Korean state media on Friday renewed a threat to launch missiles toward the US territory of Guam, warning that “reckless moves” by the US would compel Pyongyang to take action.

North Korea first said it was examining a plan to target the Pacific island in August after US President Donald Trump warned the isolated regime would “face fire and fury like the world has never seen” following a US intelligence assessment that North Korea had produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

“We have already warned several times that we will take counteractions for self-defense, including a salvo of missiles into waters near the US territory of Guam,” the KCNA report quoted Kim Kwang Hak, a researcher at the Institute for American Studies of the North Korean Foreign Ministry, as saying.

“The US military action hardens our determination that the US should be tamed with fire and lets us take our hand closer to the ‘trigger’ for taking the toughest countermeasure,” Kim added.

The latest warnings from Pyongyang follow weeks of rising tensions, which promise to escalate further when US and South Korea joint naval exercises begin Monday.

Joint military exercises are particularly infuriating to Pyongyang. The North Korean government views them as a dress rehearsal for an invasion — even as the US insists they are purely defensive in nature.

The KCNA report listed a string of perceived US provocations including a litany of bombastic threats from President Trump, recent deployments of a US nuclear submarine and aircraft carrier to the region, and a new round of “high intensity” US and South Korea joint naval drills.

The article ended with a familiar warning: that the US would be solely responsible for “pushing the situation on the peninsula to the point of explosion.”

Experts said the latest message indicates the regime may be ready to carry out what would be its most provocative missile test to date — firing four missiles over Japan and landing around 30 to 40 kilometers (18 to 25 miles) off the coast of the tiny island.

North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un has never ruled out the plan to fire missiles into the waters off Guam. During an August 14 inspection of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, Kim said he would watch for continued “reckless” behavior by the US before making a decision.

Tensions have only escalated since.

In his remarks at the UN last month, President Trump threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea and adopted a demeaning nickname for the North Korean leader— referring to him as “Rocket Man” and subsequently “Little Rocket Man.”

Nothing enrages Pyongyang more than perceived affronts to their “Supreme Dignity”—a reference to leader Kim Jong Un — who is revered above all else in the authoritarian nation. North Korea’s Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho responded by calling President Trump “President Evil” and “mentally deranged.”

Ri told Russian state news agency TASS this week President Trump has “lit the wick of war” against North Korea. He also ruled out the possibility of diplomacy between the US and North Korea.

“The current situation — when the US resorts to maximum pressure and sanctions, to outrageous military threats against the DPRK — is not at all an atmosphere to negotiate,” Ri said, according to TASS.

Ri’s words should be taken seriously. He was recently promoted to a full voting member of North Korea’s politburo; its highest-level decision-making body. His words are coming directly from the top echelons of North Korean leadership.

White House Chief of Staff John Kelly warned Thursday that Americans should worry about North Korea having the ability to reach the United States with an intercontinental ballistic missile.

He told reporters that if the threat grows “beyond where it is today, well, let’s hope that diplomacy works” — just the latest in a series of cryptic messages from the Trump administration.

Last week, President Trump described a meeting of top military leaders as “the calm before the storm”later acknowledging the comment was a reference to North Korea.

Russian lawmaker: New test?

On a recent visit to Pyongyang, Russian lawmaker Anton Morozov told RIA news agency that Pyongyang is preparing to test a new long-range missile.

“They even gave us mathematical calculations that they believe prove that their missile can hit the west coast of the United States,” Morozov said, according to RIA.

“As far as we understand, they intend to launch one more long-range missile in the near future. And in general, their mood is rather belligerent,” he said.

Over the last two years, North Korea has conducted nuclear tests and launched missiles in response to joint drills, which have led to unprecedented UN Security Council sanctions, including a new round adopted unanimously last month.

The sanctions have not seemed to deter Pyongyang. In the last three months, North Korea conducted its most powerful nuclear test ever and launched two missiles over northern Japan.

By all indications, another North Korean provocation is inevitable — perhaps imminent.