Pubblicato in: Armamenti, Geopolitica Asiatica, Geopolitica Militare

Giappone. Aumenta di 6.75 miliardi Usd il budget della difesa.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2021-12-01.

2021-11-30__Japan 001

«Producer prices in Japan rose by 8.0% yoy in October 2021, the most since January 1981, …. amid surging commodity prices. Cost surged further for petroleum & coal products (44.5% vs 32.4% in September), iron & steel (21.8% vs 18.1%), chemicals (14.1% vs 12.7%) and non-ferrous metals (31.4% vs 27.0%).» [Fonte]

* * * * * * *

«Japan plans to add $6.75 billion to its already record annual military spending in a rush to bolster air and maritime defenses as it becomes more concerned about threats posed by China and North Korea»

«Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government on Friday approved the outlay as part of a supplementary budget»

«While such additions to defense spending are common, the 774 billion yen that lawmakers will be asked to approve is the largest amount ever»

«As the security environment around Japan worsens at unprecedented speed, our urgent task is to accelerate the implementation of various projects»

«The cash injection will let Japan, three months earlier than planned, upgrade surface-to-air missile launchers on islands at the edge of the East China Sea and Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries elsewhere that are the last line of defense against any incoming North Korean warheads»

«China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan is causing jitters in Japan because Beijing’s control of the island would bring Chinese forces within around 100 kilometers (62 miles) of its territory and would threaten key maritime trade routes that supply Japan with oil and other goods»

«The extra spending will also let Japan more quickly acquire anti-submarine missiles, maritime patrol planes and military cargo jets»

* * * * * * *

Il Giappone è carico di problemi, tra i quali spicca la stagflazione.

Giappone. Demografia. Tassodi fertilità sceso a 1.34. È crisi devastante.

Giappone. Un vecchio ogni 1.8 giovani. Cina e Russia si leccano i baffi.

Giappone. 2021Q1. Pil -3.9% QoQ, Consumi Privati -6.0%.

Giappone. 2021Q1. Investimenti in impianti e macchiari -7.8 sul 2020Q1.

Giappone – PIL (Prodotto Interno Lordo) (Annuale) -3.0%. [2021-11-14]

* * * * * * *

Il Giappone non nutre fiducia che gli Stati Uniti li difendano in caso di aggressione, e Cina e Korea del Nord sono vicini scomodi, armati fino ai denti.

La conseguenza è semplice, ossia riarmarsi. Ma senza disporre di armi atomiche il suo potere deterrente sarà pur sempre misero.

Infine, a crisi demografica nel medio – lungo termine lavora tutto a favore della Cina, che alla fine occuperà delle isole spopolate.

* * * * * * *


Japan adds $6.75 billion to military budget in rush to bolster air and sea defenses

Tokyo (Reuters) Japan plans to add $6.75 billion to its already record annual military spending in a rush to bolster air and maritime defenses as it becomes more concerned about threats posed by China and North Korea.

Prime Minister Fumio Kishida’s government on Friday approved the outlay as part of a supplementary budget. While such additions to defense spending are common, the 774 billion yen that lawmakers will be asked to approve is the largest amount ever, according to Japan’s Ministry of Defense.

“As the security environment around Japan worsens at unprecedented speed, our urgent task is to accelerate the implementation of various projects,” the Defense Ministry said in its spending proposal.

Japan’s Air Self-Defense Force’s F-15 fighter jets, one of the country’s key defenses, fly during a review after the graduation ceremony of the National Defense Academy on March 22, 2020.

The cash injection will let Japan, three months earlier than planned, upgrade surface-to-air missile launchers on islands at the edge of the East China Sea and Patriot PAC-3 missile batteries elsewhere that are the last line of defense against any incoming North Korean warheads.

China’s increasing pressure on Taiwan is causing jitters in Japan because Beijing’s control of the island would bring Chinese forces within around 100 kilometers (62 miles) of its territory and would threaten key maritime trade routes that supply Japan with oil and other goods. It would also provide China with bases for unfettered access to the western Pacific.

The extra spending will also let Japan more quickly acquire anti-submarine missiles, maritime patrol planes and military cargo jets, the Defense Ministry said.

The additional military outlay comes after Kishida’s ruling party in October included a goal of almost doubling defense spending to 2% of gross domestic product (GDP) in election pledges.

For decades the pacifist nation has stuck to a policy of keeping defense spending within 1% of GDP, easing concern both at home and overseas about any revival of the militarism that led Japan into World War II.

The additional spending plan approved by Kishida’s government on Friday also includes pre-payments to defense contractors for equipment to help them deal with coronavirus pandemic disruptions that have hurt their finances.

The proposed supplemental spending combined with defense outlays approved for the year to March 31 comes to about 1.3% of Japan’s GDP.

Pubblicato in: Geopolitica Mondiale

North Korea. Bombe? Missili? Sanzioni? Non pigliamoci in giro.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-10-25.

2017-10-27__Korea_North__001

Lo spettro di una Korea del Nord dotata di missili balistici e di armamento atonico in grado di minacciare il mondo è stato oltremodo utile a permettere che nelle elezioni anticipate giapponesi il governo Abe abbia ottenuto la maggioranza qualificata per poter cambiare la costituzione.

A breve vedremo il Giappone riarmarsi e dotarsi verosimilmente di armamento atomico e relativi vettori balistici: era nella logica della cose.

A questo punto la Korea del Nord non serve più. Non fa più notizia.

*

Con perfetto sincronismo, la Cnn è uscita con un poderoso articolo:

Statues and ammunition: North Korea’s Africa connections.

«North Korea’s illicit African connections»

*

L’articolo è troppo esteso per poterlo riportare.

Sono decenni che la Korea del Nord intrattiene simpaticissimi rapporti con numerosi stati africani, offrendo loro consulenze nel settore degli armamenti e relativi munizionamenti in cambio di tutto ciò che l’Occidente non vorrebbe darle.

Lo vende ai paesi africani, talora persino lo dona, e questi lo rimettono al destinatario finale: la Korea del Nord: semplice, ne vero?

La sanzioni servono solo alle persone che proprio non sanno regolarsi da sole.

Era ed è il segreto di Pulcinella. Il Danaus plexippus lo sbandiera ai quattro venti nelle sue migrazione americane.

L’articolista liberal democratico della Cnn ne parla con accorato dolore, quasi fosse una candida orsolina che parlasse di uno stupro di massa. L’unica viola mammola che nulla sapeva.

Sicuramente dolore ne prova, eccome. Bolla con estrema forza la Namibia, da dove recentemente i liberal democratici sono stati sfrattati. Per incanto, da brava gente, quelli della Namibia sono diventati discoli impenitenti. E pure omofobi.

Pubblicato in: Criminalità Organizzata, Devoluzione socialismo, Unione Europea

Merkel. Quella santa femmina finanzia il programma nucleare della North Korea.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-05-14.

merkel__mutter_angela__economist__

Quella che sta emergendo è solo la piccola punta dell’iceberg.

Il grosso sta ancora sotto il pelo dell’acqua.

Ma che il Governo tedesco, e con esso anche molti altri della benpensante Europa, siano sprovvide mammole lo si racconti ai creduli, non alle persone normali.

*

In estrema sintesi.

La North Korea si è nel tempo procurata in Europea un buon numero di immobili commerciali ed industriali, che affitta tranquillamente a realtà imprenditoriali occidentali, ed anche a prezzi ragionevoli.

Il ricavato poi è mandato in patria, e li è impiegato per portare avanti il programma di armamento nucleare. Non coltivano tulipani.

Nessuno se ne era accorto al catasto.

Nessuno se ne era mai accorto passando per strada.

Nessuno se ne era mai accorto di conti correnti in essere a nome della North Korea. Come sono distratte le banche tedesche!

Nessuno se ne era mai accorto di bonifici internazionali dai paesi europei, dalla organizzatissima Germania, alla North Korea. E gli organi di controllo federali giocavano a fare la bella addormentata nel bosco.

*

Ma che ci starebbero mai a fare i servizi segreti?

«we’re funding the North Korean embassy»

*

«We didn’t realise we were funding North Korea»

*

Più candidi delle sante monache orsoline.


The Local. 2017-05-14. Berlin backpackers inadvertently funded North Korea

It’s an unusual dilemma that tourists in Berlin have to grapple with: Will getting into a hostel bunk bed help finance North Korea’s nuclear ambitions?

Backpackers staying at the Cityhostel found themselves struggling with precisely this question after learning that Pyongyang owns the property and is making money from it.

“Oh no, we’re funding the North Korean embassy! We’re sorry. Very sorry,” said British tourist Alex Smith.

“We didn’t realise we were funding North Korea.”

By booking a room in the Soviet-style building, “my friend made a big mistake”, he said, turning to his travel companion and calling him a “silly, silly boy”.

Cityhostel found itself at the centre of a storm after German media reported Tuesday that the North Korean embassy was not just the guesthouse’s neighbour but also the owner of the prime real estate.

Rented out since 2004, the property brings in about 38,000 euros a month in rent for Pyongyang, public broadcaster ARD reported.

The German government said Wednesday that it would shut down the hostel because the site had been leased by Pyongyang in violation of UN rules.

Tougher sanctions implemented last November require UN member states to only allow “North Korean foreign representations to carry out diplomatic and consular activities”.

“Any kind of commercial activity on the site of the embassy or in relation to the embassy is prohibited,” said German foreign ministry spokesman Martin Schäfer.

“Cityhostel in Berlin constitutes neither a diplomatic nor consular activity of a North Korean foreign representation,” Schäfer said, adding that Germany would “shut down the financial source to the North Korean regime as quickly as possible”.

Over the past 11 years, the UN Security Council has imposed six sets of sanctions on Pyongyang — two adopted last year — to ramp up pressure and deny the regime hard currency to fund its rocket and atomic programmes.

Cityhostel’s employees told AFP they were unaware of the North Korean link, but would not say more.

The hostel’s management, a Berlin company registered as GBI, said in a statement that it “regrets having been taken hostage by international politics”.

It had “frozen rental payments” until further clarification, it said.

Within walking distance of major tourist sites like Checkpoint Charlie and the Brandenburg Gate, Cityhostel Berlin offers dorm beds for as little as 16 euros a night.

The hulking grey building that serves as the hostel is separated from the gated North Korean compound by a metal fence.

Canadian traveller Alexandra Brosseau said that “we don’t have a lot of money so we decided to go there, but if we had known, we wouldn’t have come here”.

“It should be written somewhere, like on reviews or something.”

Italian backpacker Emmanuel Giorno, 28, agreed: “Spending money on the North Korean regime really isn’t great.”

Others, like Swiss tourist Diana Vukovic, had a laugh about it.

Nothing in the hostel hinted at its North Korean link, she said, though she conceded that inside, it did feel “a little bit like a prison”.

Pubblicato in: Cina, Geopolitica Asiatica, Problemi militari

USS Carl Vinson e North Korea. Ecco perché la flotta è scappata. – Bloomberg

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-05-03.

Washington. White House. 001

Se la notizia non la avesse data l’Agenzia Bloomberg la avremmo ritenuta essere una barzelletta.

Abbiamo aspettato qualche giorno a pubblicarla, in attesa di una smentita, che non è arrivata.

*

«The U.S. Navy flotilla sailing toward the Korean peninsula to deter Kim Jong Un’s regime lacks a key capability: It can’t shoot down ballistic missiles»

*

«The USS Carl Vinson and the aircraft carrier’s accompanying destroyers and cruiser are expected to arrive in waters near the peninsula this week, carrying a full complement of weaponry, including scores of Tomahawk cruise and anti-ship missiles, radar-jamming aircraft and non-stealthy “Super Hornet” jets built by Boeing Co.»

*

«That firepower brings a lot to any fight, but the Navy’s lack of ballistic missile defense capability …. force has a significant gap as it warns North Korea against another missile test and pressures it to back down from its nuclear program»

*

«They aren’t equipped with the version of the Aegis surveillance system made by Lockheed Martin Corp. that can track long-range ballistic missiles or Raytheon Co.’s SM-3 interceptors that are capable of bringing down medium and longer-range ballistic missiles.»

*

«And the three South Korean “Sejong the Great”-class destroyers currently in operation don’t have ballistic missile defense capability»

* * * * * * *

Non si intende minimamente entrare nel merito del problema.

Si sa per esperienza che quando si parla di operazioni militari una gran massa delle notizie sono mera disinformazione.

Però, l’articolo di Bloomberg lascia alquanto perplessi.

Al momento attuale i sistemi di arma sono così numerosi da imporre altrettanto numerosi sistemi di contro azione. Gli americani hanno ottimi sistemi di arma contro i missili balistici, e non è assolutamente detto che essi debbano essere montati direttamente sulla portaerei e non piuttosto sulle navi di appoggio e di scorta.

*

Voci, e quindi pettegolezzi non verificati ed inverificabili, hanno anche suggerito che la North Korea sia stata dotata di sistemi missilistici 3M22 Zircon russi o sistemi equivalenti cinesi. La notizia sembrerebbe essere destituita di fondamento, essendo ufficialmente tale sistema ancora in fase di test ed essendo del tutto inverosimile che la Russia conceda i suoi più avanzati sistemi a paesi terzi, per di più non in stretti rapporti diplomatici.


Bloomberg. 2017-04-26. Trump ‘Armada’ Sent to Deter Kim Can’t Shoot Down His Missiles

– Vinson strike group escorts aren’t equipped for interceptions

– Navy vessels homeported in Japan would be needed for that

*

The U.S. Navy flotilla sailing toward the Korean peninsula to deter Kim Jong Un’s regime lacks a key capability: It can’t shoot down ballistic missiles.

The USS Carl Vinson and the aircraft carrier’s accompanying destroyers and cruiser are expected to arrive in waters near the peninsula this week, carrying a full complement of weaponry, including scores of Tomahawk cruise and anti-ship missiles, radar-jamming aircraft and non-stealthy “Super Hornet” jets built by Boeing Co.

That firepower brings a lot to any fight, but the Navy’s lack of ballistic missile defense capability on the scene means the Trump administration’s high-profile show of force has a significant gap as it warns North Korea against another missile test and pressures it to back down from its nuclear program.

“One carrier by itself is not a game changer,” Omar Lamrani, a senior military analyst at Stratfor, a company that does geopolitical analysis, said in an interview. Although the Vinson-led group is getting a lot of attention, it’s “not going to do terribly much by itself,” he said.

Tensions on the peninsula have ratcheted up as President Donald Trump and Kim face off over North Korea’s continuing development of its nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile program. Trump vowed in January that he wouldn’t let North Korea develop a nuclear weapon capable of reaching the U.S., and he said this month that the U.S. was sending an “armada” to the region. North Korea, in turn, called the Vinson’s deployment “intimidation and blackmail” and promised it would “react to a total war with an all-out war.”

This week the regime in Pyongyang conducted a live-fire artillery exercise east of the capital, while the USS Michigan, a nuclear-powered submarine capable of carrying 154 Tomahawks, arrived at the South Korean port of Busan. In a highly unusual move, the Navy publicly announced the visit. But North Korea, which marked the 85th anniversary of its army during the week, didn’t conduct another nuclear test.

Accompanying the Vinson, which is en route from the Philippine Sea south of Japan, are the destroyers USS Wayne E. Meyer and USS Michael Murphy and the Ticonderoga-class guided-missile cruiser USS Lake Champlain. They aren’t equipped with the version of the Aegis surveillance system made by Lockheed Martin Corp. that can track long-range ballistic missiles or Raytheon Co.’s SM-3 interceptors that are capable of bringing down medium and longer-range ballistic missiles.

Nor are the modern Japanese Navy destroyers JS Samidare and JS Ashigara that joined the Vinson group for exercises equipped for missile defense detection or intercepts, a Japanese Navy spokesman confirmed. And the three South Korean “Sejong the Great”-class destroyers currently in operation don’t have ballistic missile defense capability, Tom Callender, a naval forces analyst with the Washington-based Heritage Foundation, said in an interview.

Risk to Seoul

While the Obama administration began the process of deploying Thaad, a high-altitude missile defense system, to the South Korean mainland, the hardware isn’t fully operational yet either. That leaves Seoul — just 35 miles (56 kilometers) south of the demilitarized zone — and the rest of the country more vulnerable to attack.

Asked about the Vinson carrier group, Navy Commander Gary Ross, a Pentagon spokesman, said via email that “we don’t discuss specific capabilities of weapons systems.” He added that “no single capability defends against all threats. Rather it is the employment of integrated, multi-layered land and sea-based systems that provide missile defense” for the U.S. and allies.

If the Trump administration wants to buttress its threats — at the risk of escalating the crisis — it could deploy toward Korea some or all of the six Navy vessels capable of defending against ballistic missiles that are now based at Yokosuka, on the eastern side of Japan. Just moving those ships toward the Korean peninsula would signal to the world U.S. action to stop a missile test is more imminent and would be seen as an urgent threat by Pyongyang.

Navy Admiral Harry Harris, the head of U.S. forces in Korea and the Pacific, cited those ships’ capabilities Wednesday in response to questions about whether the Vinson is capable of deterring ballistic missile launches.

“We have ballistic missile ships in the Sea of Japan, in the East Sea, that are capable of defending against ballistic missile attacks,” Harris told the House Armed Services Committee. He added that the carrier group is well-equipped to defend itself against attack with its own escort warships, saying, “If it flies, it will die, if it’s flying against the Carl Vinson strike group.”

The six vessels in Japan are the cruiser USS Shiloh and the destroyers USS Stethem, Barry, Benfold, Curtis Wilbur and John S. McCain. A seventh, the Fitzgerald, is currently at sea conducting a maritime exercise in waters west of Japan, the Navy said in a statement.

Sea of Japan

Those U.S. ships “would be in a good position to engage medium-range ballistic missiles going into the Sea of Japan, which is where the previous North Korean test shots have gone,” said Bryan Clark, a naval analyst with the Washington-based Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, who previously served as a special assistant to the Chief of Naval Operations.

That presence off of Japan means that “when the Vinson gets there, it will not need to bring additional BMD capability,” Clark added, referring to ballistic missile defense.

The cruisers and destroyers “bring a significant capability to the region,” Lieutenant Commander William Knight, spokesman for the Navy Pacific Fleet, said in an email.

Yet even if Aegis-equipped vessels are stationed near Korea and Japan, in the case of a North Korean ICBM test they wouldn’t be able to shoot it down immediately after launch, said David Wright, a missile defense analyst with the Union of Concerned Scientists.

“There is a misconception that if it was close enough,” a U.S. Navy BMD vessel “could shoot a missile down during boost phase,” Wright said. “But it doesn’t have that capability. During boost phase the missile is an accelerating target, and Aegis doesn’t have the maneuverability to home in on such a target.”

Boost Phase

“Similarly, it would not be able to shoot down shorter-range missiles, like the Musudan, during boost phase,” he said. “You might be able to shoot it down after boost phase, but by that time North Korea would be able to get information about the most critical part of the trajectory, so that strategy is unlikely to slow” the regime’s missile development process, he said.

The Carl Vinson and its four strike squadrons of aircraft plus escort vessels with more than 300 Tomahawk and air-defense missiles “provide an impressive non-nuclear strategic deterrent,” the Heritage Foundation’s Callender said. The Vinson’s aircraft include the latest Super Hornets and Growler electronic jamming aircraft.

Tomahawks are highly capable of striking surface targets such as air defense systems, but they aren’t designed for missile defense or penetrating deeply buried facilities, bunkers or caves. The current “Tactical Tomahawk” version is capable of loitering over an area and being re-directed against new targets, such as wheeled or tracked missile launchers and mobile artillery.

Stealthy Bombers

If the U.S. were to conduct a preemptive strike on North Korea, the Vinson’s role would be to enable missions by stealthy B-2 bombers and F-22 fighters, Clark said.

The Vinson fleet would need to use its radar-jamming capabilities and Tomahawks to degrade North Korea’s existing air defense system “before conducting strikes against North Korean nuclear or missile facilities,” Clark said.

Strafor recently completed an assessment of North Korea’s nuclear challenge and plausible U.S. responses that concluded the regime has more than 1,000 missiles of various ranges and destructive power that could strike from across North Korea.

But their military utility is limited by the relatively small number of launchers, which would have to be reloaded for successive launches and vulnerable to U.S. and South Korean strikes.

 

 

Pubblicato in: Cina, Problemi militari, Trump

Flotta americana con portaerei in rotta per la Korea del Nord.

Giuseppe Sandro Mela.

2017-04-09.

2017-04-09__Korea__001

«The US military has ordered a navy strike group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea’s missile programme.»

*

«The Carl Vinson Strike Group comprises an aircraft carrier and other warships»

*

«President Trump has said the US is prepared to act alone to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea»

*

«The strike group comprises the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.»

*

«As well as massive striking power, the carrier group has the capability to intercept ballistic missiles.»

*

«The test – condemned by Japan and South Korea – came on the eve of a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to the US to meet President Donald Trump»

*

«The two leaders discussed how to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes as the US steps up the pressure on China, a historic ally of Pyongyang, to help reduce tension.»

*

«China has however been reluctant to isolate its neighbour, fearing its collapse could spawn a refugee crisis and bring the US military to its doorstep»

*

«China has long been North Korea’s closest diplomatic ally and trading partner, but the relationship has become increasingly strained over Pyongyang’s refusal to halt nuclear and missile testing»

* * * * * * *

Nessuno ha rivelato cosa effettivamente si siano detti Mr Trump e Mr Xi nel loro recente incontro.

In ogni caso, sembrerebbe essere del tutto verosimile che i due abbiano trovato un gentleman’s agreement: la presenza nel Mar Cinese del Sud di uno Strike Group della potenza di fuoco del Carl Vinson sarebbe stato del tutto problematico senza un previo accordo.

In linea generale, non sembrerebbero essere emersi elementi che possano indicare un’attitudine della Korea del Nord ad una eventuale trattativa, e nel converso gli Stati Uniti sembrerebbero non essere ulteriormente disposti a tollerare l’accesso koreano agli armamenti nucleari.


Bbc. 2017-04-09. North Korea missiles: US warships deployed to Korean peninsula

The US military has ordered a navy strike group to move towards the Korean peninsula, amid growing concerns about North Korea’s missile programme.

The Carl Vinson Strike Group comprises an aircraft carrier and other warships.

US Pacific Command described the deployment – now heading towards the western Pacific – as a prudent measure to maintain readiness in the region.

President Trump has said the US is prepared to act alone to deal with the nuclear threat from North Korea.

“The number one threat in the region continues to be North Korea, due to its reckless, irresponsible and destabilising programme of missile tests and pursuit of a nuclear weapons capability,” US Pacific Command spokesman Dave Benham said.

The strike group comprises the Nimitz-class aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson, two guided-missile destroyers and a guided-missile cruiser.

As well as massive striking power, the carrier group has the capability to intercept ballistic missiles.

It was originally due to make port calls in Australia but instead has been diverted from Singapore to the west Pacific – where it recently conducted exercises with the South Korean Navy.

North Korea has carried out several nuclear tests and experts predict more could be in the offing as the country moves closer towards developing a nuclear warhead with a big enough range to reach the US.

On Wednesday North Korea test-fired a medium-range ballistic missile from its eastern port of Sinpo into the Sea of Japan.

The test – condemned by Japan and South Korea – came on the eve of a visit by China’s President Xi Jinping to the US to meet President Donald Trump.

The two leaders discussed how to rein in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes as the US steps up the pressure on China, a historic ally of Pyongyang, to help reduce tension.

China has however been reluctant to isolate its neighbour, fearing its collapse could spawn a refugee crisis and bring the US military to its doorstep.

Mr Trump said in a recent interview that Washington was ready to act without Beijing’s co-operation: “If China is not going to solve North Korea, we will.”

The North is banned from any missile or nuclear tests by the UN, though it has repeatedly broken those sanctions.

Last month, North Korea fired four ballistic missiles towards the Sea of Japan from the Tongchang-ri region, near the border with China.

Japanese PM Shinzo Abe called it a “new stage of threat”.

The US Treasury recently slapped sanctions on 11 North Korean business representatives and one company, while US politicians overwhelmingly backed a bill relisting the North as a state sponsor of terror.

North Korea responded by warning that it will retaliate if the international community steps up sanctions, saying the US was forcing the situation “to the brink of war”.

China has long been North Korea’s closest diplomatic ally and trading partner, but the relationship has become increasingly strained over Pyongyang’s refusal to halt nuclear and missile testing.

There are fears that Pyongyang could eventually develop the ability to launch long-range nuclear missiles capable of striking the mainland US.