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Briefing :- 30/7/17

Here is CurrentHow’s Briefing™ for the 30th of July, 2017 :-

1. US bombers fly over Korean peninsula after North Korean ICBM test :-

The United States flew two B-1B bombers over the Korean peninsula in a show of force after recent North Korean missile tests, the US Air Force said in a statement on Sunday.

North Korea said it conducted another successful test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Friday that proved its ability to strike America’s mainland, drawing a sharp warning from US President Donald Trump.

The B-1B flight, conducted on Saturday, was in direct response to the missile test and the previous July 3 launch of the “Hwansong-14” rocket, the US statement said. The bombers took off from a US air base in Guam and were joined by Japanese and South Korean fighter jets during the exercise, according to the statement.

“North Korea remains the most urgent threat to regional stability,” Pacific Air Forces commander General Terrence J. O’Shaughnessy said in the statement.

“If called upon, we are ready to respond with rapid, lethal, and overwhelming force at a time and place of our choosing”.

The US has in the past used overflights of the supersonic B1-B “Lancer” bomber as a show of force in response to North Korean missile or nuclear tests.

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un personally supervised the midnight test launch of the missile on Friday night and said it was a “stern warning” for the United States that it would not be safe from destruction if it tries to attack, the North’s official KCNA news agency said.

North Korea’s state television broadcast pictures of the launch, showing the missile lifting off in a fiery blast in darkness and Kim cheering with military aides.

China, the North’s main ally, said it opposed North Korea’s missile launches, which it said violate United Nations Security Council resolutions designed to curb Pyongyang’s banned nuclear and missile programmes.

“At the same time, China hopes all parties act with caution, to prevent tensions from continuing to escalate,” China’s foreign ministry said in a statement on Saturday.

However, Trump said he was “very disappointed in China”.

The Hwasong-14, named after the Korean word for Mars, reached an altitude of 3,724.9 km (2,314.6 miles) and flew 998 km (620 miles)for 47 minutes and 12 seconds before landing in the waters off the Korean peninsula’s east coast, KCNA said.

Western experts said calculations based on that flight data and estimates from the US, Japanese and South Korean militaries showed the missile could have been capable of going as far into the United States as Denver and Chicago.

David Wright of the US-based Union of Concerned Scientists wrote in a blog post that if it had flown on a standard trajectory, the missile would have had a range of 10,400 km (6,500 miles).

North Korea refers to the United States as its sworn enemy in its propaganda and has done so since the 1950-53 Korean War in which the Soviet and Chinese-backed North fought against the US-backed South. The isolated country often shows mock-up images of a missile hitting key US landmarks in its media.

 

2. Pakistan to elect new Prime Minister on Tuesday :-

Pakistan’s parliament will meet on Tuesday to elect a new prime minister after the Supreme Court disqualified Nawaz Sharif following an investigation into corruption allegations against his family.

The ruling party named Sharif’s younger brother Shahbaz as his successor over the weekend, but he must first enter Parliament by contesting the seat left vacant by Sharif.

In the meantime, the Pakistan Muslim League-Nawaz (PML-N), which enjoys a majority in Parliament, has nominated ex-oil minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi as interim prime minister.

The top court ousted Sharif Friday after an investigation into corruption allegations against him and his family, bringing his historic third term in power to an unceremonious end.

“The nomination papers — shall be delivered to the Secretary, National Assembly by 2.00 pm, on Monday,” said a notification by the National Assembly Secretariat and seen by AFP.

It said the assembly would meet at 3:00 pm Tuesday (1000 GMT) for the “election of the Prime Minister”.

The younger Sharif — who is chief minister of the country’s most populous province of Punjab — has so far been unscathed by the corruption allegations engulfing his brother’s family.

However he only holds only a provincial seat and therefore must be elected to the national assembly before becoming prime minister.

On Saturday the Election Commission said fresh elections would be held in Nawaz Sharif’s former constituency, in the family’s power base in Punjab, in a process that could take up to 45 days.

Abbasi is set to be rubber-stamped as placeholder in the parliamentary vote.

The opposition could also field a candidate but has little chance of securing enough votes in the 342-seat house.

3. US successfully tests THAAD missile interceptor system to counter North Korea threat :-

American forces successfully tried out on Sunday a missile interception system the US hopes to set up on the Korean peninsula, military officials said following a trial just days after North Korea’s second test of an ICBM.

In the American test of the so-called THAAD system, a medium-range missile was launched from a US Air Force C-17 aircraft flying over the Pacific and a THAAD unit in Alaska “detected, tracked and intercepted the target,” the US Missile Defense Agency said.

It said this was the 15th successful intercept in 15 tests for the weapons system known as THAAD, which stands for Terminal High Altitude Area Defense.

South Korea said Saturday it will speed up deployment of a THAAD battery on its territory because of the latest North Korean test of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

Parts of the THAAD defense system were brought into South Korea under the government of ousted president Park Geun-Hye. But new leader Moon Jae-In suspended deployment of the programme last month, citing the need for a new environmental impact assessment.

However, South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-Moo said Saturday that Seoul will now begin consultations on the “tentative deployment” parts of the THAAD battery in response to the latest North Korean test.

The THAAD deployment has infuriated China, which has long argued it will destabilise the region.

4. Australia police disrupt ‘terrorist plot’ to ‘bring down an airplane’ :-

Australian authorities said Sunday they had stopped an allegedly Islamist-inspired “terrorist plot” to bring down an airplane with an improvised explosive after four people were arrested in raids in Sydney.

“I can report last night that there has been a major joint counter-terrorism operation to disrupt a terrorist plot to bring down an airplane,” Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull told reporters.

Additional security has been put in place at all major domestic and international airports, with travellers told to arrive two hours early for screenings, he added.

Officials did not specify if the alleged plot targeted a domestic or international flight, but Sydney’s Daily Telegraph reported that a local route had been the objective.

The four men, arrested in a series of raids across Sydney on Saturday, were allegedly linked to an “Islamic-inspired” plot, Australian Federal Police Commissioner Andrew Colvin said.

“In recent days, law enforcement has become aware of information that suggested some people in Sydney were planning to commit a terrorist attack using an IED (improvised explosive device),” he told reporters.

But he added that police did not yet have “a great deal of information on the specific attack, the location, date or time”, with the investigation expected to be “very long and protracted”.

Turnbull said the alleged plan appeared to be “more in that category of an elaborate plot” rather than designed by a lone wolf, but added that the national terror alert level would remain at probable.

Canberra lifted the alert level in September 2014 and introduced new national security laws amid rising concerns over attacks by individuals inspired by organisations such as Islamic State.

Counter-terrorism police have also made a string of arrests since late 2014 across the nation and say they have prevented 12 terror attacks on home soil, before the latest announcement, in the past few years.

But several attacks have taken place, including a cafe siege in 2014 where two hostages were killed and the murder of a Sydney police employee in 2015 by a 15-year-old boy.

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