North Korea on Tuesday staged a live-artillery exercise in waters near the South, and the regime issued a fresh nuclear warning, news reports said.
Roughly 50 munitions were fired from two coastal military facilities in the afternoon, the Yonhap News Agency reported. South Korea was notified ahead of time about the maritime exercise and did not return fire as no North Korean shell crossed into its territory.
Meanwhile, a powerful North Korean military body on Monday threatened to do “more than nuclear tests” in response to recent international warnings on the matter.
“The world is making all the guesses and conjectures that our new nuclear test and the rocket launch will develop into a boosted fission weapon or a new generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles,” the North Korean National Defense Commission said in a statement quoted by the Choson Ilbo newspaper.
“If you ask us to tell the truth, we will not deny that we are capable of doing more than these speculations,” the defense commission said.
The United States and South Korea are keeping a close eye via satellites on the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site, where personnel appear to be in the thick of preparations for an expected fourth underground atomic trial. U.S. President Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye on Friday warned that Pyongyang could expect more sanctions and an end to any hope of reviving a moribund aid-for-denuclearization process if it proceeds with the test.
In related news, the South Korean government on Monday authorized a plan to boost domestic missile defenses by upgrading existing interceptors and purchasing more-capable systems from the United States, the Korea Times reported.
Under the approved plan, the South would acquire as many as 100 Patriot Advanced Capability 3 missiles between 2016 and 2020 and would seek to buy upgrades for its 48 PAC-2 systems through a competitive bid process, the Korea Herald reported.
The new interceptors and missile upgrades will be used to boost the effectiveness of the country’s Korea Air and Missile Defense framework, which is designed to counter lower-altitude ballistic missiles fired by North Korea.
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Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."