President Donald Trump spoke to Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe on Saturday to “discuss ongoing efforts to maximize pressure on North Korea,” the White House announced soon after North Korea claimed to have inspected loading a hydrogen bomb onto an intercontinental missile.
“The two leaders reaffirmed the importance of close cooperation between the United States, Japan, and South Korea in the face of the growing threat from North Korea,” the White House said in a readout of the call.
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Pyongyang’s state media said late Saturday evening (EST) that it had investigated loading an H-bomb onto a new ICBM.
Leader Kim Jong Un has repeatedly defied condemnations and sanctions from the international community by continuing to experiment with and build his nation’s weapons arsenal.
It is unclear whether the call between Abe and Trump came prior to or after North Korea’s weapons claim was made.
SEOUL, South Korea — North Korean leader Kim Jong Un inspected the loading of a hydrogen bomb into a new intercontinental ballistic missile, Pyongyang’s state media said Sunday, a claim to technological mastery that some outside experts will doubt but that will raise already high worries on the Korean Peninsula.
As part of North Korea’s work to build an arsenal of viable nuclear ICBMs that can reach the U.S. mainland, Kim inspected during a visit to the North’s Nuclear Weapons Institute the loading of a “homemade” H-bomb into an ICBM.
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The explosive power of the bomb is adjustable from tens kiloton to hundreds kiloton,” the state run Korean Central News Agency said.
North Korea in July conducted its first ever ICBM tests, part of a stunning jump in progress for the country’s nuclear and missile program since Kim rose to power following his father’s death in late 2011.
The North conducted two nuclear tests last year alone. The first involved what it claims to have been a hydrogen bomb and the second was its most powerful ever. Experts and outside governments are skeptical of the hydrogen claim, but it is almost impossible to independently confirm North Korean statements about its highly secret weapons program.
The key question is how far North Korea has gotten in efforts to consistently shrink down nuclear warheads so they can fit on long-range missiles.
South Korea’s main spy agency has previously asserted that it does not think Pyongyang currently has the ability to develop miniaturized nuclear weapons that can be mounted on ballistic missiles. Some experts think the North may have mastered this technology.
North Korea is thought to have a handful of rudimentary nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to perfect a multistage, long-range missile to eventually carry smaller versions of those bombs.
President Donald Trump and first lady Melania Trump returned south to visit areas affected by Hurricane Harvey on Saturday, electing for a more personal encounter than their first trip this past Tuesday, as they met with victims of the storm in Houston, Texas, and Lake Charles, Louisiana, two cities hit with overwhelming flooding.
WASHINGTON — The United States seized control Saturday of three Russian diplomatic posts in the U.S. after confirming the Russians had complied with the Trump administration’s order to get out within two days, officials said.
As the Kremlin cried foul, accusing Washington of bullying tactics, the U.S. disputed Moscow’s claims that American officials had threatened to “break down the entrance door” to one of the facilities, and that the FBI was “clearing the premises.” Not true, said a senior State Department official, adding that U.S. officials had joined Russian Embassy personnel for walkthroughs of the three buildings.
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“These inspections were carried out to secure and protect the facilities and to confirm the Russian government had vacated the premises,” the official said in a statement emailed Saturday to reporters by the State Department on condition the official not be named.
Russia has been incensed by the move to shutter Russia’s consulate in San Francisco and trade offices in Washington and New York, actions the U.S. took in retaliation for Moscow’s decision last month to force the U.S. to cut its diplomatic personnel in Russia to 455. Moscow has accused the U.S. of violating international law by shuttering the facilities, a charge the U.S. disputes.
On Saturday, Russia’s Foreign Ministry said it had summoned the U.S. deputy chief of mission in Moscow, Anthony Godfrey, to deliver a formal protest note calling the purported trade office search an “unprecedented aggressive action.”
The Foreign Ministry also posted video on Facebook that it said showed FBI agents inspecting the consulate general building in San Francisco. In the video, a man in a tie knocks on several numbered doors and enters what appears to be apartment units, taking a quick glance inside before declaring everything in order.
There was no additional comment from the U.S. about whether the FBI was involved in the inspections. The State Department declined to answer additional questions about whether the premises might be searched for intelligence-gathering purposes now that the Russians have left.
A day earlier, black smoke was seen billowing from the chimney at the consulate as the Russians rushed to meet the Saturday deadline, and workers could be seen hauling boxes out of the stately building.
The U.S. did appear to bow to one Russian complaint — that they were given a mere 48 hours to vacate homes used by diplomats and their families. Softening the original order, the U.S. said it had made “separate arrangements” to give families “sufficient time” to pack their belongings and vacate apartments on the consulate grounds.
In the meantime, the State Department will control all access to the properties, along with the responsibility for securing and maintaining them, the official said.
The closures on both U.S. coasts mark perhaps the most drastic diplomatic measure by the United States against Russia since 1986, near the end of the Cold War, when the nuclear-armed powers expelled dozens of each other’s diplomats.
And it comes amid some of the broadest strains in their relationship ever since. The two countries have clashed over the wars in Ukraine and Syria, but most significantly over American allegations that Russia meddled in the 2016 U.S. election to boost President Donald Trump’s chances of victory. Investigations continue into whether Trump’s campaign colluded with Moscow.