- The only way to locate and destroy with complete certainty all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons program is through a ground invasion
- That blunt assessment from the Pentagon is in response to a letter from two congressmen asking about casualty assessments in a conflict with North Korea
- The amount of casualties would differ depending on the advance warning and the ability of US and South Korea forces to counter these attacks, he said
Published: 23:54 EDT, 4 November 2017 | Updated: 01:53 EDT, 5 November 2017
The only way to locate and destroy with complete certainty all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons program is through a ground invasion, American military planners said on Saturday.
That blunt assessment from the Pentagon is in response to a letter from two Democratic congressmen asking about casualty assessments in a conflict with North Korea.
Rear Adm Michael J Dumont of the Joint Staff offered the assessment in response to a letter from Reps Ted Lieu of California and Ruben Gallego of Arizona.
Dumont noted that the US is evaluating North Korea's ability to target heavily populated areas of South Korea with long-range artillery, rockets and ballistic missiles.
He also pointed out that Seoul, the South's capital with a population of 25 million, is just 35 miles from the demilitarized zone.
The only way to locate and destroy with complete certainty all components of North Korea's nuclear weapons program is through a ground invasion, American military planners said on Saturday. North Korean ruler Kim Jong-un is seen in the above file photo
The amount of casualties would differ depending on the advance warning and the ability of US and South Korea forces to counter these attacks, he said.
'A classified briefing would be the best place to discuss in detail the capability of the US and its allies to discuss capabilities to counter North Korea's ability to respond with a nuclear weapon and eliminate North Korea's nuclear weapons located in deeply buried, underground facilities,' he said.
Military officials would be happy to join 'the intelligence community to address these issues in a classified briefing,' he said.
In a joint statement issued Saturday, 15 Democratic lawmakers and one Republican- all military veterans – called the assessment that a ground invasion would be required to destroy the North's nuclear arsenal 'deeply disturbing' and that such an action 'could result in hundreds of thousands, or even millions of deaths in just the first few days of fighting.'
'It is our intent to have a full public accounting of the potential cost of war, so the American people understand the commitment we would be making as a nation if we were to pursue military action,' the lawmakers said.
They also said the Trump administration 'has failed to articulate any plans to prevent the military conflict from expanding beyond the Korean Peninsula and to manage what happens after the conflict is over.'
'With that in mind, the thought of sending troops into harm's way and expending resources on another potentially unwinnable war is chilling. The President needs to stop making provocative statements that hinder diplomatic options and put American troops further at risk,' they said.
President Donald Trump ramped up his tough rhetoric against North Korea when he arrived in Japan on Sunday, saying that the United States and its allies are prepared to defend freedom and that 'no dictator' should underestimate US resolve.
President Donald Trump (left) kicked off a 12-day Asian trip and is looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea through meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe (right) amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests
Trump kicked off a 12-day Asian trip and is looking to present a united front with Japan against North Korea through meetings with Prime Minister Shinzo Abe amid heightened tensions over Pyongyang's nuclear and missile tests.
He told reporters on Air Force One en route to Asia that North Korea would figure prominently in discussions during the trip. He also singled out trade, which he said had been 'badly handled' in the region for years.
Trump has rattled some allies with his vow to 'totally destroy' North Korea if it threatens the United States and his dismissal of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as a 'rocket man' on a suicide mission.
'No dictator, no regime, no nation should ever underestimate American resolve,' Trump told hundreds of cheering US and Japanese troops in camouflage uniforms gathered at Yokota Air Base, just west of Tokyo, soon after he arrived.
'Every once in a while, in the past, they underestimated us. It was not pleasant for them, was it?' said Trump, who wore a leather bomber jacket as he addressed the troops.
North Korea's recent actions, including several missiles that overflew Japan and Pyongyang's sixth and largest nuclear test, have raised the stakes in the most critical international challenge of Trump's presidency.
Recent drills over South Korea by two US strategic bombers have further raised tensions.
'We will never yield, never waver and never falter in defense of our freedom,' Trump said.
He told reporters earlier on Air Force One that a decision would be made soon on whether to add reclusive North Korea to a list of state sponsors of terrorism.
His administration also planned to take a different approach to dealing with the issue after years of what he termed 'total weakness', although he did not give any details.
'We want to get it solved. It's a big problem for our country and the world, and we want to get it solved,' he said.
WAR WOULD RESULT IN '20,000 DEATHS PER DAY' IN SOUTH KOREA
Some 20,000 South Koreans would die every day in the event of a US-North Korean war, according to alleged calculations made by the Pentagon.
The claim was made in September by a retired Air Force general who said the figure was estimated based on a conventional war scenario and did not include potential use of nuclear weapons.
South Korea and China have urged the United States to help dial down tensions with the North after Pyongyang accused President Donald Trump of declaring war.
When playing out hypothetical war scenarios in case armed conflict were to break out, the Pentagon 'estimated the potential number of dead in South Korea at 20,000 each day', retired general Rob Givens told the Los Angeles Times.
Givens, who spent four years stationed in Korea, added that the figures did not take into account potential use of nuclear weapons by Pyongyang.
'There is only one way that this war ends. With North Korea’s defeat – but at what cost?,' Givens said.
Beijing has pleaded with both the US and Pyongyang to 'realize that resorting to military force will never be a viable way to resolve the peninsula issue and their own concerns, adding that 'War on the peninsula will have no winner.'
While repeatedly calling for dialogue to resolve the issue, China has also signed up for increasingly tough UN sanctions against North Korea.
China's fuel exports to North Korea fell in August, along with iron ore imports from the isolated nation, as trade slowed after the latest UN sanctions, but coal shipments resumed after a five-month hiatus.
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Sydney seaplane crash: Exhaust fumes affected pilot, report confirms
The pilot of a seaplane that crashed into an Australian river, killing all on board, had been left confused and disorientated by leaking exhaust fumes, investigators have confirmed.
The Canadian pilot and five members of a British family died in the crash north of Sydney in December 2017.
All were found to have higher than normal levels of carbon monoxide in their blood, a final report has found.
It recommended the mandatory fitting of gas detectors in all such planes.
British businessman Richard Cousins, 58, died alongside his 48-year-old fiancée, magazine editor Emma Bowden, her 11-year-old daughter Heather and his sons, Edward, 23, and William, 25, and pilot Gareth Morgan, 44. Mr Cousins was the chief executive of catering giant Compass.
The family had been on a sightseeing flight in the de Havilland DHC-2 Beaver plane when it nose-dived into the Hawkesbury River at Jerusalem Bay, about 50km (30 miles) from the city centre.
The final report by the Australian Transport Safety Bureau (ATSB) confirmed the findings of an interim report published in 2020.
It said pre-existing cracks in the exhaust collector ring were believed to have released exhaust gas into the engine bay. Holes left by missing bolts in a firewall then allowed the fumes to enter the cabin.
“As a result, the pilot would have almost certainly experienced effects such as confusion, visual disturbance and disorientation,” the report said.
“Consequently, it was likely that this significantly degraded the pilot’s ability to safely operate the aircraft.”
The ATSB recommended the Civil Aviation Safety Authority consider mandating the fitting of carbon monoxide detectors in piston-engine aircraft that carry passengers.
It previously issued safety advisory notices to owners and operators of such aircraft that they install detectors “with an active warning” to pilots”. Operators and maintainers of planes were also advised to carry out detailed inspections of exhaust systems and firewalls.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55862128
Australia unlikely to fully reopen border in 2021, says top official
Australia is unlikely to fully open its borders in 2021 even if most of its population gets vaccinated this year as planned, says a senior health official.
The comments dampen hopes raised by airlines that travel to and from the country could resume as early as July.
Department of Health Secretary Brendan Murphy made the prediction after being asked about the coronavirus’ escalation in other nations.
Dr Murphy spearheaded Australia’s early action to close its borders last March.
“I think that we’ll go most of this year with still substantial border restrictions,” he told the Australian Broadcasting Corporation on Monday.
“Even if we have a lot of the population vaccinated, we don’t know whether that will prevent transmission of the virus,” he said, adding that he believed quarantine requirements for travellers would continue “for some time”.
Citizens, permanent residents and those with exemptions are allowed to enter Australia if they complete a 14-day hotel quarantine at their own expense.
Qantas – Australia’s national carrier – reopened bookings earlier this month, after saying it expected international travel to “begin to restart from July 2021.”
However, it added this depended on the Australian government’s deciding to reopen borders.
Australia’s tight restrictions
The country opened a travel bubble with neighbouring New Zealand late last year, but currently it only operates one-way with inbound flights to Australia.
Australia has also discussed the option of travel bubbles with other low-risk places such as Taiwan, Japan and Singapore.
A vaccination scheme is due to begin in Australia in late February. Local authorities have resisted calls to speed up the process, giving more time for regulatory approvals.
Australia has so far reported 909 deaths and about 22,000 cases, far fewer than many nations. It reported zero locally transmitted infections on Monday.
Experts have attributed much of Australia’s success to its swift border lockdown – which affected travellers from China as early as February – and a hotel quarantine system for people entering the country.
Local outbreaks have been caused by hotel quarantine breaches, including a second wave in Melbourne. The city’s residents endured a stringent four-month lockdown last year to successfully suppress the virus.
Other outbreaks – including one in Sydney which has infected about 200 people – prompted internal border closures between states, and other restrictions around Christmas time.
The state of Victoria said on Monday it would again allow entry to Sydney residents outside of designated “hotspots”, following a decline in cases.
While the measures have been praised, many have also criticised them for separating families across state borders and damaging businesses.
Dr Murphy said overall Australia’s virus response had been “pretty good” but he believed the nation could have introduced face masks earlier and improved its protections in aged care homes.
In recent days, Australia has granted entry to about 1,200 tennis players, staff and officials for the Australian Open. The contingent – which has recorded at least nine infections – is under quarantine.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55699581
Covid: Brisbane to enter three-day lockdown over single infection
The Australian city of Brisbane has begun a snap three-day lockdown after a cleaner in its hotel quarantine system became infected with coronavirus.
Health officials said the cleaner had the highly transmissible UK variant and they were afraid it could spread.
Brisbane has seen very few cases of the virus beyond quarantined travellers since Australia’s first wave last year.
It is the first known instance of this variant entering the Australian community outside of hotel quarantine.
The lockdown is for five populous council areas in Queensland’s state capital.
Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk announced the measure on Friday morning local time, about 16 hours after the woman tested positive.
Ms Palaszczuk said the lockdown aimed to halt the virus as rapidly as possible, adding: “Doing three days now could avoid doing 30 days in the future.”
“I think everybody in Queensland… knows what we are seeing in the UK and other places around the world is high rates of infection from this particular strain,” she said.
“And we do not want to see that happening here in our great state.”
Australia has reported 28,500 coronavirus infections and 909 deaths since the pandemic began. By contrast, the US, which is the hardest-hit country, has recorded more than 21 million infections while nearly 362,000 people have died of the disease.The lockdown will begin at 18:00 on Friday (08:00 GMT) in the Brisbane city, Logan and the Ipswich, Moreton and Redlands local government areas.
Residents will only be allowed to leave home for certain reasons, such as buying essential items and seeking medical care.
For the first time, residents in those areas will also be required to wear masks outside of their homes.
Australia has faced sporadic outbreaks over the past year, with the most severe one in Melbourne triggering a lockdown for almost four months.
A pre-Christmas outbreak in Sydney caused fresh alarm, but aggressive testing and contact-tracing has kept infection numbers low. The city recorded four local cases on Friday.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s government has pledged to start mass vaccinations in February instead of March as was planned.
Lockdown interrupts ‘near normal’ life in Brisbane
Simon Atkinson, BBC News in Brisbane
At 8:00 today I popped to the local supermarket for some bread, milk – and because it’s summer here – a mango. I was pretty much the only customer.
When I went past the same shop a couple of hours later it was a different story – 50 people standing in the drizzle – queuing to get inside as others emerged with bulging shopping bags. “Heaps busier than Christmas,” a cheery trolley attendant told me. “It’s off the scale”.
Despite the “don’t panic” messages from authorities, pictures on social media show it’s a pattern being repeated across the city.
While shutdowns are common around the world, the tough and sudden stay-at-home order for Brisbane has caught people on the hop here after months of near normality.
But while such a rapid, hard lockdown off the back of just a single case of Covid-19 will seem crazy in some parts of the world, I’ve not come across too many people complaining.
And I don’t think that’s just because Aussies love to follow a rule. This is the first time the UK variant of the virus has been detected in the community in Australia.
And nobody here wants Brisbane to go through what Melbourne suffered last year. Even if it means going without mangoes.
Read from source: https://www.bbc.com/news/world-australia-55582836
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