CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the United States has to act as if North Korea is on the verge of being able to strike it with a missile and act accordingly — and that President Donald Trump is ready to do so.
…Pompeo is among a number of former officials who have been signaling the increased possibility of a slide into military confrontation with North Korea over its refusal to back down from its nuclear program.
CNN/Laura Smith-Spark, Claudia Rebaza & Isa Soares/10-19-17
The Spanish government said Thursday it would begin the process to impose direct rule on Catalonia in an unprecedented move to crush the region’s independence bid.
In a statement from Madrid, the government of Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said it would invoke Article 155 of the constitution, a provision that allows the central government to suspend the autonomy of the Catalan regional administration.
Rajoy’s Cabinet will meet on Saturday to agree measures to “restore the constitutional order” in Catalonia, where a banned referendum on independence took place earlier this month. The plan will then be put before the Senate, where Rajoy’s Popular Party has a majority, for approval.
Spain’s prime minister has put Catalonia on notice that it could impose direct rule on the region.
Mariano Rajoy said his government had asked the regional government to clarify whether or not it had declared independence.
The move is the first step towards suspending Catalonia’s autonomy under the constitution.
Catalan leader Carles Puigdemont on Tuesday proclaimed the region’s independence from Spain but said the effects would be postponed to allow for talks.
“I assume the mandate that Catalonia should become an independent state in the form of a republic … I propose suspending the effects of the declaration of independence to undertake talks to reach an agreed solution,” Puigdemont told the regional parliament.
CNN/Euan McKirdy, Hilary Clarke & Angela Dewan/10-10-17
Catalonia’s leader is due to address a specially convened session of the region’s parliament Tuesday, as he comes under growing pressure to stop short of declaring independence from Spain.
…Spanish Prime Minister Mariano Rajoy said he was determined to prevent a breakaway by the northeastern province in the wake of the October 1 vote.
“Spain will not be divided, and the national unity will be preserved. To this end we will employ all the means we have within the law. It is up to the government to make decisions, and to do so at the right moment,” Rajoy said in an interview with German newspaper Die Welt on Monday.
PG View: Bloomberg is reporting that Spanish authorities are reportedly ready to arrest Catalan President Carles Puigdemont
CNN/Hilary Clarke & Angela Dewan/10-09-17
Spain faces a week of deep political uncertainty as the secessionist leader of Catalonia considered whether to make a unilateral declaration of independence, against the backdrop of a bitter standoff with the central government in Madrid.
Catalan President Carles Puigdemont had been expected to make a formal declaration at a specially convened session of the Catalan parliament on Tuesday.
President Donald Trump on Monday morning tweeted another hint that he was nearing the end of his patience with North Korea.
“Our country has been unsuccessfully dealing with North Korea for 25 years, giving billions of dollars & getting nothing. Policy didn’t work!” Trump tweeted.
Trump’s tweet echoes a sentiment he expressed over the weekend that “only one thing will work” to solve the North Korea crisis.
…Mick Mulvaney, the White House budget director, later confirmed the meaning in an interview on NBC: Trump was “clearly telegraphing” military action against North Korea.
Securing North Korea’s missile launchers and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sites would likely be a chief priority for China in the event of a major crisis involving its communist neighbor, analysts say, although Beijing so far is keeping mum on any plans.
Despite China’s official silence, its People’s Liberation Army likely has a “vast array” of contingency plans involving military options, said Dean Cheng, an Asia security expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington…
…What’s less clear is whether and under what conditions China would commit troops as an occupying force should North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime fall apart, Cheng said.
Catalonia will move on Monday to declare independence from Spain, a regional government source said, as the European Union nation nears a rupture that threatens the foundations of its young democracy and has unnerved financial markets.
PG View: In light of the aggressive measures employed by Spain to suppress the referendum, what steps might they take to halt further steps toward independence?
• King Felipe says Spain living through “very grave” moments for country because of Catalan crisis.
• King Felipe says Catalan government seeking to illegally proclaim independence.
• King Felipe says Catalan society today is fractured and divided, says economic stability of Spain at risk
• King Felipe says Catalan authorities “totally outside law and democracy. They have meant to fracture Spain”.
• King Felipe says Spanish state must ensure constitutional order in Catalonia.
• King Felipe says “very complex moments” but “we will come through” and “our democratic principles are solid”.
• King Felipe says Spanish crown firmly committed to constitutional order.
CNN/Euan McKirdy, Emanuella Grinberg, Isa Soares & Vasco Cotovio/01-02-17
Spain is facing a political and constitutional crisis after Catalans voted in favor of independence in a contested referendum that descended into chaos when police launched a widespread and violent crackdown.
The Catalan government said it had earned the right to split from Spain after results showed 90% of those who voted were in favor of a split.
But amid an unexpectedly harsh response from Spanish police, turnout was only around 42%.The Catalan health ministry said 893 people were injured in the clashes Sunday as riot police raided polling stations, dragged away voters and fired rubber bullets.
AFP, via TheLocalSpain/Michaela Cancela-Kieffer/09-29-17
Spain is on tenterhooks as the crisis between Catalan separatist leaders and the central government reaches fever-pitch ahead of an independence referendum banned by Madrid on Sunday.
The showdown is one of Spain’s biggest political crises since the end of the dictatorship of Francisco Franco four decades ago and it has Catalonia deeply divided.
…Determined to block the illegal vote, the state has deployed thousands of police to Catalonia, some of them housed in ferries in the ports of Barcelona and Tarragona.
South China Morning Post/Liu Zhen & Kristin Huang/09-28-17
China announced on Thursday that all North Korean firms and joint ventures in China would be closed, as part of the latest sanctions imposed on Pyongyang over its nuclear weapons programme.
All existing joint ventures with North Korean firms in China, as well as entities solely owned by North Korean companies or individuals, are to be closed within 120 days from September 11, when the sanctions were adopted, a notice from the Ministry of Commerce said.
Joint ventures set up overseas by Chinese firms and North Korean entities or individuals should also be closed, it said.
North Korea’s foreign minister on Monday accused President Donald Trump of declaring war, saying that gives the rogue regime the right to take countermeasures.
That includes the right to shoot down strategic U.S. bombers, even when they are not flying in North Korean airspace, Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho told reporters in New York.
“The whole world should clearly remember it was the U.S. who first declared war on our country,” he said.
CNN/Yoko Wakatsuki & James Griffiths/09-25-17
Japanese leader Shinzo Abe has called an early election to take advantage of higher opinion polls to secure a stronger mandate as the country prepares to respond to increasing threats from North Korea.
Pyongyang has fired two ballistic missiles over northern Japan in recent weeks, as it steps up missile tests amid a deepening regional crisis.
In a national address Monday, Abe said he’ll dissolve parliament’s lower house on Thursday to “seek the mandate of the people immediately.”
TheGuardian/Tom Phillips & Justin McCurry/09-19-17
Donald Trump and Xi Jinping have agreed “to maximise pressure” on North Korea, the White House has announced, as the US president prepares to use his debut speech to the UN general assembly to urge global action against Pyongyang’s “hostile and dangerous behaviour”.
Russian-backed Syrian forces fighting Isis crossed the Euphrates river on Monday, violating a “deconfliction line” agreed between Moscow and Washington and increasing the chance of clashes between their proxy forces.
Gold prices are near steady in early New York trading Friday, despite overnight developments on the geopolitical front. The yellow metal continues to see a corrective technical pullback and some profit taking from the shorter-term futures traders after prices last week hit a 12-month high.
The marketplace is so far showing a very muted reaction to news North Korea has fired another ballistic missile over Japan. The U.N. Security Council is holding an emergency meeting today on the matter.
Reports of a bomb explosion in a London subway indicate the incident was a terror attack.
Telegraph/ Chris Graham,Danny Boyle & Neil Connor/09-15-17
North Korea has fired an intermediate-range ballistic missile that flew over Japan before landing in the northern Pacific Ocean.
It was the second aggressive test-flight over the territory of the close US ally in less than a month and it followed the sixth and most powerful nuclear test by North Korea to date on September 3.
PG View: South Korea responded by test-firing missiles of its own, as Japan considers bolstering its military capabilities.
Reuters, via CNBC/09-14.17
A North Korean state agency threatened on Thursday to use nuclear weapons to “sink” Japan and reduce the United States to “ashes and darkness” for supporting a U.N. Security Council resolution and sanctions over its latest nuclear test.
PG View: Geopolitical tensions should continue to underpin gold.
CNN/Angela Dewan, Taehoon Lee & Eli Watkins/09-03-17
US Defense Secretary James Mattis warned of “a massive military response” to any threat from North Korea against the United States or its allies in a statement outside the White House after a meeting with President Donald Trump, Vice President Mike Pence and top national security advisers Sunday.
Mattis said Trump wanted to be briefed on each of the “many military options” for dealing with the North Korean nuclear threat.
“Our commitment among the allies are ironclad,” Mattis said. “Any threat to the United States or its territories, including Guam, or our allies will be met with a massive military response, a response both effective and overwhelming.”
Mattis called on North Korean leader Kim Jong Un to “take heed” of the UN Security Council’s unanimous position against North Korea’s nuclear program and again stressed the US military’s position.
“We are not looking to the total annihilation of a country, namely North Korea, but as I said, we have many options to do so,” Mattis said.
Washington Post, via Denver Post/Anna Fifield/09-04-17
South Korea’s defense minister on Monday said it was worth reviewing the redeployment of American tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula to guard against the North, a step that analysts warn would, if taken, sharply increase the risk of an accidental conflict.
Tensions on the peninsula remain high after North Korea conducted a huge nuclear test Sunday.
South Korea’s defense ministry said Monday that Kim Jong Un’s regime might be preparing to launch another missile, perhaps an intercontinental ballistic missile theoretically capable of reaching the mainland United States.
North Korea’s increasingly hostile threats, matched by the rapidly advancing ability to make good on them, has policymakers in the United States and in South Korea wondering how to respond.
Reuters/Andrew Osborn & Dmitry Solovyov/09-01-17
President Vladimir Putin warned on Friday that the standoff between North Korea and the United States was close to spilling into a large-scale conflict and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang into halting its nuclear missile program.
…“It is essential to resolve the region’s problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks),” Putin, whose country shares a border with North Korea, wrote on the Kremlin’s web site.
“Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere.”
CNN/Brad Lendon & Joshua Berlinger/08-30-17
North Korea’s launch of a missile over Japan was a prelude to more military operations directed at the American territory of Guam, North Korean state media warned Wednesday.
The country’s state-run Korean Central News Agency reported leader Kim Jong Un presided over the dawn launch Tuesday of the “ultra-modern rocket system,” the first missile ever fired from the capital Pyongyang.
…The North Korean launch was “the first step of the military operation of the (North Korean military) in the Pacific and a meaningful prelude to containing Guam,” state media said.
CNN/Joshua Berlinger, Yoko Wakatsuki & K.J. Kwon/08-29-17
US President Donald Trump has warned that “all options are on the table” after North Korea launched a missile over Japan early Tuesday.
The missile was fired just before 6 a.m. in Japan, where the launch set off warnings in the northern part of the country urging people to seek shelter.
“The world has received North Korea’s latest message loud and clear,” Trump said in a statement. “This regime has signaled its contempt for its neighbors, for all members of the United Nations, and for minimum standards of acceptable international behavior.”
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe also denounced Tuesday’s launch, saying it represented a “most serious and grave” threat.
Investors are pulling into safe haven assets after North Korea’s missile launch.
Gold climbed to its highest level this year earlier in the day, touching $1,326.08 per ounce.
The Japanese yen, Swiss franc, and US Treasurys are rallying Tuesday morning, as well.
…”North Korea’s provocations have added to fuel to the fire that was already burning,” Marc Chandler, the global head of currency strategy at Brown Brothers Harriman, said of the dollar.
Kitco News/Anna Golubova/08-22-17
Unresolved tensions between the U.S. and North Korea are still very much on the table and can boost gold prices even further, according to a recent Capital Economics report.
“Until there is some certainty as to how the current situation between the U.S. and North Korea will evolve, we think that gold prices are likely to remain well supported and could even rise above $1,350 per ounce, which hasn’t been breached since the Brexit referendum last year,” Simona Gambarini, the U.K.-based research firm’s commodity economist, said Tuesday.
The United States is targeting Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in its push to pressure North Korea to back off its nuclear ambitions.
The Treasury Department on Tuesday said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury.
“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin said in a statement. “It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.”
Although prepared for “the enveloping fire at Guam”, the North said it would watch what “the foolish Yankees” do before taking a decision.
Last week’s threat against Guam escalated the sharp rhetoric being exchanged between the two sides.
This latest report points to a pause in the increasingly bitter war of words.
So far, the war between US President Donald Trump and North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un over the latter’s nuclear program has been fought only in words. But each turn of the rhetorical screw deepens the risk that, to paraphrase Winston Churchill, “jaw-jaw” could turn into “war-war.”
…It is unlikely that either North Korea or the US actually wants war. But, as the late English historian A.J.P. Taylor concluded, after studying eight great wars since the late eighteenth century, wars have often “sprung more from apprehension than from a lust for war or for conquest.”