SEOUL: South Korea braced for a possible further missile test by North Korea when it marks its founding anniversary on Saturday, just days after its sixth and largest nuclear test, which it marks each year with a big display of pageantry and military hardware.
Throughout the week, South Korean officials have warned the North could launch another intercontinental ballistic missile, in defiance of UN sanctions and amid an escalating standoff with the United States.
Last year, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test on the Sept. 9 anniversary.
Tension on the Korean peninsula has escalated as North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has stepped up the development of weapons, testing a string of missiles this year, including one flying over Japan, and conducting its sixth nuclear test on Sunday. (Graphics on ‘Nuclear North Korea’ – here)
Experts believe the isolated regime is close to its goal of developing a powerful nuclear weapon capable of reaching the United States, something Trump has vowed to prevent.
South Korean nuclear experts, checking for contamination, said on Friday they had found minute traces of radioactive xenon gas but that it was too early to link it to Sunday’s explosion.
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said it had been conducting tests on land, air and water samples since shortly after the North Korean nuclear test on Sunday.
Xenon is a naturally occurring, colourless gas that is used in manufacturing of some sorts of lights. But the NSSC said it had detected xenon-133, a radioactive isotope that does not occur naturally and which has in the past been linked to North Korea’s nuclear tests.
There was no chance the xenon “will have an impact on South Korea’s territory or population”, the agency said.
US President Donald Trump has repeatedly said all options are on the table in dealing with North Korea and on Thursday said he would prefer not to use military action, but if he did, it would be a “very sad day” for North Korea.
“Military action would certainly be an option. Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable,” Trump told reporters. “If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”
Even as Trump has insisted that now is not the time to talk, senior members of his administration have made clear that the door to a diplomatic solution is open, especially given the US assessment that any pre-emptive strike would unleash massive North Korean retaliation.
North Korea says it needs its weapons to protect itself from US aggression and regularly threatens to destroy the United States.
South Korea and the United States are technically still at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean conflict ended with a truce, not a peace treaty.
US CARRIER ON THE MOVE
The USS Ronald Reagan, a nuclear-powered carrier, left its home port in Japan for a routine autumn patrol of the Western Pacific, a Navy spokeswoman said. That area included waters between Japan and the Korean peninsula, she added, without giving any further details.
The Ronald Reagan was out on routine patrol from May until August, and was sent to the Sea of Japan with the another carrier, the USS Carl Vinson, to take part in drills with Japan’s Self Defence Forces as well as the South Korean military.
North Korea vehemently objects to military exercises on or near the peninsula, and China and Russia have suggested the United States and South Korea halt their exercises to lower tension.
While Trump talked tough on North Korea, China agreed on Thursday that the United Nations should take more action against it, but it also pushed for dialogue.
The UN Security Council is expected to vote on a new set of sanctions soon. Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said that it was too early to draw conclusions about the final form of the UN resolution, Russia’s Interfax news agency quoted Lavrov as saying at a news conference on Friday.
North Korea offered fresh vitriol against the pending sanctions, specifically targeting US ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley, who this week accused North Korean leader Kim of “begging for war”.
“There is nothing more foolish than thinking we, a strong nuclear state, will endure this evil pressure aimed at overthrowing our state,” the North’s official news agency said in a commentary.
“Even if Nikki Haley is blind, she must use her mouth correctly. The United States administration will pay for not being able to control the mouth of their UN representative.”
The United States wants the UN Security Council to impose an oil embargo on North Korea, ban its exports of textiles and the hiring of North Korean labourers abroad, and to subject leader Kim Jong Un to an asset freeze and travel ban, according to a draft resolution seen by Reuters on Wednesday.
China is by far North Korea’s biggest trading partner, accounting for 92 percent of two-way trade last year. It also provides hundreds of thousands of tonnes of oil and fuel to the impoverished regime.
China’s economic influence has been felt by South Korea as well. The two countries have been at loggerheads over South Korea’s decision to deploy a US anti-missile system, the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, which has a powerful radar that can probe deep into China.
Shares in South Korean automaker Hyundai Motor and key suppliers slid on Friday on worry over its position in China after highly critical Chinese state newspaper comments.
The military section of China’s Global Times newspaper on Thursday referred to THAAD as “a malignant tumour”.
“Matthew 24:6 And ye shall hear of wars and rumours of wars: see that ye be not troubled: for all these things must come to pass, but the end is not yet. 24:7 For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places. 24:8 All these are the beginning of sorrows. 24:9 Then shall they deliver you up to be afflicted, and shall kill you: and ye shall be hated of all nations for my name’s sake. 24:10 And then shall many be offended, and shall betray one another, and shall hate one another. 24:11 And many false prophets shall rise, and shall deceive many. 24:12 And because iniquity shall abound, the love of many shall wax cold. 24:13 But he that shall endure unto the end, the same shall be saved.”
We are standing on the threshold of great and solemn events. Prophecies are fulfilling. The last great conflict will be short, but terrible. Old controversies will be revived. New controversies will arise. We have a great work to do. Our ministerial work must not cease. The last warnings must be given to the world.There is a special power in the presentation of the truth at the present time. How long will it last?Only a little while…. 3SM 419.3
The inquiry of everyone should be, “Whose am I? To whom do I owe allegiance? Is my heart renewed? Is my soul reformed? Are my sins forgiven? Will they be blotted out when the time of refreshing shall come?” … 3SM 419.4
Many Children Will Be Taken Away
Ere long we are to be brought into strait and trying places, and the many children brought into the world will in mercy be taken away before the time of trouble comes.—Manuscript 152, 1899 (See Child Guidance, 565, 566; Counsels on Health, 375.). 3SM 419.2
Today the signs of the times declare that we are standing onthe threshold of great andsolemn events. Everything in our world is in agitation. Before our eyes is fulfilling the Saviour’s prophecy of the events to precede His coming: “Ye shall hear of wars and rumors of wars…. Nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” Ev 194.1
The present is a time of overwhelming interest to all living.Rulers and statesmen, men who occupy positions of trust and authority, thinking men and women of all classes, have their attention fixed upon the events taking place about us. They are watching the relations that exist among the nations. They observe the intensity that is taking possession of every earthly element, and they recognize that something great and decisive is about to take place,—that the world is on the verge of a stupendous crisis. Ev 194.2
Satan delightsin war, for it excites the worst passions of the soul and then sweeps into eternity its victims steeped invice and blood. It is his object to incite the nations to war against one another, for he can thus divert the minds of the people from the work of preparation to stand in the day of God. DD 33.2
Satan works through the elements also to garner his harvest of unprepared souls. He has studied the secrets of the laboratories of nature, and he uses all his power to control the elements as far as God allows.When he was suffered to afflict Job, how quickly flocks and herds, servants, houses, children, were swept away, one trouble succeeding another as in a moment. It is God that shields His creatures and hedges them in from the power of the destroyer. But the Christian world have shown contempt for the law of Jehovah; and the Lord will do just what He has declared that He would—He will withdraw His blessings from the earth and remove His protecting care from those who are rebelling against His law and teaching and forcing others to do the same. Satan has control of all whom God does not especially guard. He will favor and prosper some in order to further his own designs, and he will bring trouble upon others and lead men to believe that it is God who is afflicting them. DD 33.3
While appearing to the children of men as a great physician who can heal all their maladies, he will bring disease and disaster, until populous cities are reduced to ruin and desolation. Even now he is at work. In accidents and calamities by sea and by land, in great conflagrations, in fierce tornadoes and terrific hailstorms, in tempests, floods, cyclones, tidal waves, and earthquakes, in every place and in a thousand forms, Satan is exercising his power. He sweeps away the ripening harvest, and famine and distress follow. He imparts to the air a deadly taint, and thousands perish by the pestilence. These visitations are to become more and more frequent and disastrous. Destruction will be upon both man and beast. “The earth mourneth and fadeth away,” “the haughty people … do languish. The earth also is defiled under the inhabitants thereof; because they have transgressed the laws, changed the ordinance, broken the everlasting covenant.” Isaiah 24:4, 5. DD 33.4
We are standing on thethreshold of great and solemnevents. Prophecies are fulfilling.Strange and eventful history is being recorded in the books of heaven—events which it was declared should shortly precede the greatday of God. Everything in the world is in an unsettled state. The nations are angry, and great preparations for war are being made. Nation is plotting against nation, and kingdom against kingdom. The great day ofGod is hasting greatly. But although the nations are mustering their forces for war and bloodshed, thecommand to the angels is still in force, that they hold the four winds until the servants of God aresealed in their foreheads. 1SM 221.3
The world is now realizing the sure results of transgression of the law of God. His work of creation completed, the Lord rested on the seventh day, and sanctified the day of His rest, setting it apart as the day which man should devote to His worship. But today the world at large is utterly disregarding the law of Jehovah.Another day has been instituted in the place of God’s day of rest. The human agent has set his way and his will against the positive teachings of the Word, and the world is plunged in rebellion and sin. 1SM 222.1
We are standing on thethreshold of great and solemnevents. Prophecy is fast fulfilling.The Lord is at the door. There is soon to open before us a period ofoverwhelming interest to all living.The controversies of the past areto be revived; new controversies will arise. The scenes to be enacted in our world are not yet even dreamed of. Satan is at work through human agencies. Those who are making an effort to change the Constitution and secure a law enforcing Sunday observance little realize what will be the result. A crisis is just upon us. 5T 753.2
But God’s servants are not to trust to themselves in this great emergency. In the visions given to Isaiah, to Ezekiel, and to John we see how closely heaven is connected with the events taking place upon the earth and how great is the care of God for those who are loyal to Him.The world is not without a ruler. The program of coming events is in the hands of the Lord. The Majesty of heaven has the destiny of nations, as well as the concerns of His church, in His own charge. 5T 753.3