North Korea Threatens Again To Call Off Trump Summit, Warns Of ‘Nuclear Showdown’

A top Pyongyang official lambasted “political dummy” Mike Pence and cautioned the U.S. against making “ignorant” remarks.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pictured on April 9, 2018.

KCNA/REUTERS
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pictured on April 9, 2018.

North Korea has escalated its war of words with the U.S., repeating a threat on Thursday to call off the planned June 12 summit with President Donald Trump and warning that a “nuclear showdown” could instead be on the table.

In a statement published by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency, the North’s vice minister of foreign affairs, Choe Son Hui, blamed “reckless” remarks made by top U.S. officials as the reason behind Pyongyang’s second thoughts.

Choe took aim at Vice President Mike Pence in particular, calling him a “political dummy” who’d offended North Korea with his “unbridled and impudent” comments. Pence had warned in a Fox News interview on Monday that Pyongyang could follow the “Libya model” if leader Kim Jong Un “doesn’t make a deal” ― a reference to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi, who met a brutal end following his decision to denuclearize after negotiations with the U.S.

North Korea has long expressed distaste at comparisons with Libya. Pyongyang has said that its nuclear capabilities are far more advanced than Libya’s ever were ― and has stressed its expectation that it be treated as a nuclear state on equal footing with the U.S. and other nuclear powers.

Choe echoed this scorn in her statement Thursday, saying North Korea has no interest in meeting the same “tragic fate” as the northern African nation.

“I cannot suppress my surprise at such ignorant and stupid remarks gushing out from the mouth of the U.S. vice president,” Choe said, referring to Pence’s Libya comments, according to a Wall Street Journal translation.

“In case the U.S. offends against our goodwill and clings to unlawful and outrageous acts, I will put forward a suggestion to our supreme leadership for reconsidering the [Kim-Trump] summit,” Choe added, saying that it was up to the U.S. to decide whether it wanted to negotiate in a “meeting room or encounter us [in a] nuclear-to-nuclear showdown.”

Jonathan Cheng

@JChengWSJ

KCNA: “We will neither beg the U.S. for dialogue nor take the trouble to persuade them if they do not want to sit together with us. Whether the U.S. will meet us at a meeting room or encounter us at nuclear-to-nuclear showdown is entirely dependent upon the decision…of the U.S.”

Still, North Korea on Thursday invited journalists to witness what appeared to be the demolition of its main nuclear test site. The Associated Press and South Korean media reported several explosions at the secluded Punggye-ri location.

This is the second time in about a week that North Korea has threatened to withdraw from the U.S. summit — deviating starkly from a monthslong trend of warming relations.

Last week, Pyongyang abruptly canceled talks with South Korea and cast doubt on the meeting with Trump after taking issue with recent joint military exercises undertaken by Seoul and Washington.

Kim Kye Gwan, another top North Korean official, said in a statement last Wednesday that Pyongyang would be forced to “reconsider” the Trump meeting if the U.S. insisted on “unilateral nuclear abandonment.”

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Criticism of the “Libya model” also came up in Kim’s statement, with the official criticizing White House national security adviser John Bolton for suggesting the U.S. would urge Pyongyang to rapidly dismantle its entire nuclear program as Libya did years ago.

“If the United States is trying to drive us into a corner to force our unilateral nuclear abandonment, we will no longer be interested in such dialogue and cannot but reconsider our proceeding to the North Korea-U.S. summit,” Kim said.

Trump suggested Tuesday that he’d be open to a phased dismantling of North Korea’s nuclear program ― a departure from his earlier demand for total and immediate denuclearization, reported The New York Times.

Also on Tuesday, Trump, who met with South Korean President Moon Jae In at the White House, said there was a “very substantial chance” that the summit with Kim Jong Un could be postponed.

“We’re moving along. We’ll see what happens. There are certain conditions we want to happen. I think we’ll get those conditions. And if we don’t, we won’t have the meeting,” Trump told reporters, without specifying what those “conditions” would be.

On Wednesday, Trump told Fox News there was a “good chance” that the summit would take place.

Breaking News

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U.S. President Trump says of pending summit with North Korea’s Kim Jong Un that there is a chance it will work out, and a substantial chance it won’t work out, but that doesn’t mean it won’t work out over a period of time, adding that there’s a good chance meeting will be held.

North Korea experts said they still expect the summit to happen, though the journey to get there may be rocky.

“In effect, President Trump is getting a mini-lesson in talking to the North Koreans even before he talks to the North Koreans,” Jung Pak, a Brookings Institution fellow and former CIA analyst, told the Times this week.

Mintaro Oba, a former state department expert on the Koreas, suggested last week that Trump “keep calm and carry on,” and that the North’s threat to cancel is “par for the course.”

“The question is whether they’re willing to go so far as to go through with it, or whether they’re mainly trying to gain some leverage [or] test how much we want the summit,” he wrote on Twitter.

This has been updated to include reports of North Korea’s nuclear test site demolition.

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BEFORE YOU GO

PHOTO GALLERY
North Korea Meets With South Korea

North Korea Frees Three U.S. Citizens

Americans are flying home with Mike Pompeo, removing clash point ahead of Trump-Kim summit

U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in this image released by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency.
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo shakes hands with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in this image released by Pyongyang’s official Korean Central News Agency. PHOTO: KCNA VIA KNS/AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE/GETTY IMAGES

North Korea released three U.S. citizens imprisoned for more than a year and allowed them to fly home with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, removing a source of diplomatic friction between Washington and Pyongyang ahead of a summit between the leaders of the two adversaries that appeared set for Singapore.

The three men— Kim Dong-chul, Tony Kim and Kim Hak-song—flew out of Pyongyang on Mr. Pompeo’s plane, according to a Twitter message Wednesday morning by President Donald Trump.

The detainees “seem to be in good health,” Mr. Trump wrote, adding that he would greet them at Joint Base Andrews in Maryland when they arrive at 2 a.m. Thursday.

Donald J. Trump

@realDonaldTrump

I am pleased to inform you that Secretary of State Mike Pompeo is in the air and on his way back from North Korea with the 3 wonderful gentlemen that everyone is looking so forward to meeting. They seem to be in good health. Also, good meeting with Kim Jong Un. Date & Place set.

The three Americans were all able to walk on the plane without assistance, according to a White House statement that said Mr. Trump regarded North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s decision to release the trio as “a positive gesture of goodwill.”

The three freed Americans issued a statement thanking the U.S. government for facilitating their release. It was provided Wednesday night by the State Department after Mr. Pompeo made a brief stop in Anchorage, Alaska, en route to Washington.

“We would like to express our deep appreciation to the United States government, President Trump, Secretary Pompeo, and the people of the United States for bringing us home,” they said. “We thank God, and all our families and friends who prayed for us and for our return. God Bless America, the greatest nation in the world.”

The release contrasts with the case last year of Otto Warmbier, a University of Virginia undergraduate who was returned from imprisonment in North Korea in a coma and died six days later.

Mr. Trump said Mr. Pompeo had enjoyed a “good meeting” with Kim Jong Un in Pyongyang, where they set a date and venue for the summit—the first between U.S. and North Korean leaders.

Mr. Trump ruled out the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea, although he wouldn’t give a reason for doing so. But by ruling out the DMZ as the site for the summit, the location appeared set for Singapore. Mr. Trump said during a joint press conference with German Chancellor Angela Merkel on April 27 that he was considering two locations for the site of the summit. Three days later, during a similar event with Nigerian President Muhammadu Buhari, he revealed that the two locations were Singapore and the DMZ.

Mr. Trump said Wednesday that he would officially announce the location within three days. “We’re going to make a really good deal,” he said, “ or we’re not going to make a deal at all.”

The fate of the three prisoners, the last known U.S. detainees in North Korea, had become a key issue ahead of the planned meeting between Messrs. Trump and Kim.

Their release fulfills a longstanding objective for Washington and represents a gesture of good faith by North Korea ahead of negotiations that the two sides say will aim to remove nuclear weapons from the peninsula and formally end the 1950-53 Korean War.

Kim Dong-chul, one of three U.S. citizens held by North Korea, was detained in October 2015 and sentenced the following April to 10 years hard labor on charges of conducting espionage for the South Korean government. PHOTO: KIM KWANG HYON/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Accounting professor Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk and shown here in California in 2016, was detained by North Korea in April last year after a stint at the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. PHOTO: TONY KIM FAMILY/ASSOCIATED PRESS

Kim Hak-song, shown in an undated family photo, worked at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology when he was detained in May last year, two weeks after North Korea detained his university colleague Tony Kim. PHOTO:FAMILY PHOTO

Mr. Pompeo’s trip built on momentum in advance of the summit. In April, during a historic meeting at the inter-Korean demilitarized zone, the leaders of North and South Korea agreed to work toward a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War and pledged to pursue denuclearization of the peninsula.

On Monday and Tuesday, Mr. Kim traveled to China for his second summit with President Xi Jinping in two months, and the two discussed the planned U.S.-North Korean talks.

Before the prisoner release, Mr. Pompeo met with Mr. Kim for 90 minutes. The three men were granted amnesties by Mr. Kim, and the U.S. delegation was warned by a North Korean official to ensure “that they do not make the same mistakes again,” according to remarks released by the State Department.

Mr. Pompeo took off from North Korea with the three U.S. citizens at 8:42 p.m. local time, less than an hour after the men had been released from custody.

North Korea published a photo of Mr. Pompeo’s handshake with Mr. Kim on the front page of its main Rodong Sinmun newspaper Thursday, and described their meeting with warmth. After Mr. Pompeo delivered a verbal message from Mr. Trump, Pyongyang’s account read, Mr. Kim “expressed thanks, highly appreciating that the U.S. president has shown deep interest in settling the issue through dialogue.”

Mr. Kim told Mr. Pompeo that the coming summit would be an “excellent first step toward promotion of the positive situation development in the Korean peninsula and building of a good future,” the report said.

The two men then “reached a satisfactory consensus” on a number of practical logistics regarding the summit, the North’s official state media said, adding that Mr. Kim promised to meet Mr. Pompeo again.

On his second trip to Pyongyang in just over a month, Mr. Pompeo had been greeted by Kim Yong Chol, a top lieutenant of Kim Jong Un who has played a key role in the North’s recent outreach to South Korea. Mr. Pompeo called him a “great partner” in preparing for the coming summit, which the secretary of state said would last one day, with a possible one-day extension.

Kim Yong Chol is a four-star general whom the government in Seoul on whom Seoul has imposed sanctions for his alleged role in the 2010 sinking of a South Korean warship, which killed 46 sailors, and the bombardment of a South Korean island the same year.

Related Video

What Would Peace Look Like on the Korean Peninsula?

The two Koreas have technically been at war for more than six decades. That’s about to change, say North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korea’s Moon Jae-in. But what would peace on the peninsula look like?

On Wednesday, over a lunch banquet of poached fish, duck and red wine, Gen. Kim told Mr. Pompeo that the detente on the peninsula wasn’t driven by Mr. Trump’s sanctions campaign against North Korea.

Instead, Gen. Kim said it was “the will of the Korean people,” according to the State Department.

Mr. Trump has said he wants to meet Mr. Kim to urge the North Korean leader to dismantle his nuclear program and rid the Korean Peninsula of nuclear weapons. The president isn’t willing to grant Pyongyang substantial relief from sanctions the U.S. and other countries have imposed in return merely for a freeze of its nuclear and missile tests, administration officials have said.

Gen. Kim, who is the director of the North’s United Front Department that oversees relations between the two Koreas, reiterated the North Korean leader’s remarks in April that the country would turn its focus entirely to economic development, having declared its nuclear arsenal and missile development complete.

“We have perfected our nuclear capability,” he said. “It is our policy to concentrate all efforts into economic progress in country.”

Mr. Pompeo, during his toast, expressed hope for a changed relationship with North Korea, while acknowledging many challenges.

“For decades, we have been adversaries,” he said. “We are hopeful that we can work together to resolve this conflict, take away threats to the world and make your country have all the opportunities your people so richly deserve.”

Gen. Kim said he had “high expectations” that the U.S. would play “a very big role in establishing peace on the Korean Peninsula.”

Of the three detained Americans—who share the same surname but aren’t related—Kim Dong-chul, a Virginia resident, had been held by North Korea the longest, detained since October 2015. In April 2016, Mr. Kim was sentenced to 10 years of hard labor for conducting “subversive plots and espionage” against the North.

The other two men, Tony Kim, also known as Kim Sang-duk, and Kim Hak-song, were detained in the spring last year. Both men were affiliated with the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology, a Christian-backed university in the North Korean capital.

The release of the three came after some signs of hope, particularly during the Winter Olympics, which were held in South Korea in February amid a general rapprochement between Pyongyang and its adversaries. At the time, anticipation had built for the possible release of the three men, said Sol Kim, the son of Tony Kim, in a recent interview. But the three men weren’t released then.

“We want to thank all of those who have worked toward and contributed to his return home,” the family of Tony Kim said shortly after Mr. Trump’s tweet. “We also want to thank the president for engaging directly with North Korea.”

Write to Jonathan Cheng at jonathan.cheng@wsj.com and Michael C. Bender at Mike.Bender@wsj.com

Trump administration to open U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May. Palestinians criticize move as illegal and irresponsible

Trump administration to open U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May. Palestinians criticize move as illegal and irresponsible
A view of the Western Wall and the Dome of the Rock in Jerusalem’s Old City. (Oded Balilty / Associated Press)

 

Accelerating controversial plans, the Trump administration will open a small U.S. Embassy in Jerusalem in May to coincide with the 70th anniversary of Israel’s declaration of independence, a State Department official said Friday.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson approved preliminary security plans for a limited contingent, including the ambassador, David Friedman, and a skeleton staff, to move into a section of the American Consulate in the Arnona neighborhood of Jerusalem, said Steven Goldstein, the under-secretary for public diplomacy and public affairs.

“The goal is to open a small footprint in May, and, over time, open a more full embassy by the end of 2019,” Goldstein said in an interview.

The May 14 date — the date Israel originally declared independence — significantly accelerates the schedule for transferring the U.S. Embassy from Tel Aviv, where it always existed along with the rest of the world’s diplomatic missions, to the disputed holy city of Jerusalem. (According to the Hebrew calendar, Independence Day this year will be celebrated on April 18.)

President Trump in December announced he was recognizing Jerusalem as the capital of Israel and ordering the embassy transfer, reversing decades of U.S. and international policy and enraging the Arab world and many allies.

While Israel claims Jerusalem as its “eternal and undivided” capital, Palestinians also claim the eastern part of the city as their capital in a future independent state.

The status of Jerusalem was to be decided in final peace talks. The Palestinians now contend that the U.S., once the broker of such talks, has disqualified itself as a mediator by taking Israel’s side.

The move has been celebrated in Israel, which has long had its ministries, parliament and government offices in Jerusalem. But it generated a wave of furious, weekly protests in Palestinian territories.

Vice President Mike Pence, visiting Jerusalem last month, gave the first sign that the embassy transfer was being accelerated, when he announced to the Israeli Knesset, or parliament, that the move would take place by the end of 2019.

U.S. officials say the 2019 deadline would see a substantial annex of the consulate in Jerusalem becoming the embassy. A new building to house a full embassy, however, will still take several years to establish, the officials said.

Israel Katz, the Israeli minister of intelligence, congratulated the Trump administration in a tweet Friday. “There is no greater gift than that!” he said. “The most just and correct move.”

Majdi Khaldi, diplomatic advisor to Palestinian Authority President Mahmoud Abbas, decried the “unfortunate announcement” that he described as “illegal, irresponsible and unacceptable to Palestinians.”

Trump’s move, Khaldi said in an interview, “gave the Israelis a pretext to say that Jerusalem is unified under Israeli rule,” contravenes international law and will impede peace efforts.

“It cancels any peace offer,” Khaldi said.

Trump, speaking at the White House on Friday alongside visiting Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, reiterated a claim he has made that his administration is making “great progress” on promoting peace in the Middle East. Several former ambassadors to Israel say, in fact, peace has never been further away.

Jerusalem, a 6,000-year-old city, was divided for 19 years, from the date of Israel’s 1948 founding until the war of 1967, when Israel seized the eastern half of the city from Jordan.

The embassy move is scheduled to take place on the date marking Israel’s Declaration of Independence in 1948, which Palestinians call Naqba Day, or the day of the catastrophe.

State Department lawyers, meanwhile, were examining whether it is legal to accept private donations to fund a diplomatic mission, following a proposal by Las Vegas casino magnate and pro-Israel hawk Sheldon Adelson to pay for the new embassy.

Adelson is a major contributor to the Republican Party, a loyal supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and owner of a popular tabloid in Israel. Trump’s Jerusalem decision was seen in part as a gesture to Adelson as well as to evangelical Christians, a key component of the president’s base of political support.

However, Goldstein said there were “no formal talks” between the State Department and any private citizen for financing the embassy, and no formal requests made to the State Department for such an arrangement.

Trump has promised the “ultimate deal,” a final agreement on Israeli-Palestinian peace, and placed the negotiations under the direction of his 37-year-old son-in-law, Jared Kushner.

None of the parties to possible future negotiations, however, has seen any part of the plan that the Trump administration periodically declares is imminent, and the Palestinian Authority cut off all contact with the United States following Trump’s Jerusalem announcement.

Daniel Shapiro, a former U.S. ambassador to Israel under President Obama, agrees that the embassy belongs in Jerusalem but that the Trump administration has failed to give the proper assurances especially to the Palestinians.

“Before May 14, the administration should do what it failed to do in December: describe this decision in the context of a broader, credible plan for two states, including a Palestinian capital in East Jerusalem,” Shapiro said.

Staff writer Wilkinson reported from Washington and special correspondent Tarnopolsky from Jerusalem.

tracy.wilkinson@latimes.com

Courtesy: L A Times

Historic speech by U.S. VP Mike Pence in Israel’s Parliament – Palestinians are outraged

 

A powerful historic speech in the Israeli parliament.
Vice President Mike Pence delivered remarks at a special Knesset session.
Muslim MPs tried to interrupt Pence’s Speech in Israel’s Knesset.
They waved signs saying “Jerusalem belongs to Islam”.
Israel is the only democratic state in the Middle East, only in Israel Jews, Muslims and Christians sit together in parliament.
Welcome to Israel Vice President Mike Pence!
The bond between Israel and the USA is stronger than ever.


History has been made: Trump recognized Jerusalem as Israel’s capital. Giving Jerusalem to Palestinian Muslims is like giving the Vatican to the Islamic state.
Australian Foreign Minister Julie Bishop joined the France President, Turkey’s President, Hamas, Palestinian Authority, the Islamic Jihad and ISIS, calling on Trump not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel without the approval of the Muslim world.
The Muslims who call themselves “Palestinians” are freaking out after Trump officially recognized Jerusalem as the Israel’s capital.
Trump was under pressure from the Muslim world not to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Sultan of Turkey, Recep Tayyip Erdoğan claimed “Jerusalem belongs to Muslims only”.
Turkey’s president warned the United States not to recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, or to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, saying it would constitute a “red line” for Muslims.
French president stabed Israel in the back to please the Muslim world.France’s Macron told trump he’s worried about U.S. recognizing jerusalem as Israel’s Capital saying “it would hurt Muslim feelings and the peace process”.
No one in France cared about the “peace process” 3 years ago when French Senate passed resolution to recognize Palestinian state.
But now after Trump recognized Jerusalem as the capital of Israel, France cries out “Islamophobia.”
Islamic countries use the Israeli-Palestinian conflict in an attempt to take control of the holy sites in Jerusalem.
There is no freedom of religion in any Muslim country, Israel is the only free democratic state in the entire Middle East.
Only Israel can preserve the Holy Places in Jerusalem for all religions (not only Islam).
The Western world must support Israel and recognize Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
There is not a single church in countries such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Kuwait and the United Arab Emirates.
Just look at what is happening to Christians throughout the Muslim world, the Islamic persecution of Christians in the Middle East (Syria, Iraq, Egypt, etc.) has become genocide. If you recognize Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, share this post.
Jerusalem is the capital of Israel, not Palestine.
If you need a proof just read the Bible, and if you need another one read the Quran.
There is no mention of Jerusalem in the Quran.

Courtesy: FREE SPEECH TIME

Abbas won’t meet Pence as Palestinians seek new mediator

Abbas won’t meet Pence as Palestinians seek new mediator
Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas will not meet with US Vice President Mike Pence later this month and is seeking a new mediator in peace talks with Israel. Abbas won’t be alone in snubbing Pence on his Middle East tour in the wake of Trump’s Jerusalem decision.

Abbas’ refusal to host Trump was confirmed by Palestinian Foreign Minister Riyad al-Maliki before an Arab League meeting in Cairo. He added there will be no contact between US and Palestinian officials, and that his government was seeking a new mediator as Washington had surrendered its neutrality with Trump’s declaration.

“We will seek a new mediator from our Arab brothers and the international community, a mediator who can help with reaching a two-state solution,” al-Maliki said.

The statement comes after an earlier announcement by Fatah Friday, that Pence is unwelcome in Palestine following President Donald Trump’s decision to move the US embassy in Israel to Jerusalem, acknowledging the disputed city as the Israeli capital.

Religious leaders, too, refused to meet with the American VP, including Egyptian Coptic Pope Tawadros II. The Coptic Church “excused itself from hosting Mike Pence”, citing Trump’s decision which came at “at an unsuitable time” and was made “without consideration for the feelings of millions of people,” the MENA news agency reported.

“We pray for everyone to have wisdom and rationality in addressing issues that affect the peace of the Middle East peoples,” the church said in a statement.

The Coptic Church’s announcement comes a day after one of Egypt’s most influential Muslim leaders, the Imam of the Al-Azhar mosque, also threatened to cancel a planned meeting with Pence. Ahmed El-Tayeb now says any engagement will only take place if Trump reverses his decision to recognize Jerusalem as the Israeli capital.

For the past three days there has been unrest across Gaza and the West Bank over Washington’s decision, leading to the deaths of at least four people. Clashes broke out in the West Bank Saturday, where protesters threw rocks at Israeli soldiers who fired tear gas, rubber bullets and live rounds. Tensions are running high in the occupied territories, where Hamas leader Ismail Haniya has called for a new uprising, or intifada, against Israeli rule.

There have also been protests across the world, mostly in Muslim countries such as Turkey, Jordan, Pakistan, Iran and Malaysia, as well as several European cities including London and Athens. Pro-Palestinian demonstrators also gathered in the center of Paris Saturday to protest against the upcoming visit of Israeli PM Benjamin Netanyahu. Most world powers have also expressed grave concern over Washington’s decision.

Mila Kunis reveals she makes Planned Parenthood donations in Mike Pence’s name, causing Jim Beam boycott

Mila Kunis’ recent political stunt may have backfired for one of America’s most recognizable bourbon brands.

The actress, who is a spokesperson for Jim Beam, recently revealed she’s been sending monthly donations to Planned Parenthood in Vice President Mike Pence’s name.

Both Pence supporters and pro-life activists immediately took to Twitter Monday and launched a #BoycottBeam campaign. Many called for the brand to end its association with Kunis.

The 34-year-old revealed on TBS’s “Conan” on Thursday she set up a monthly donation to the organization in Pence’s name that results in Planned Parenthood sending the 58-year-old a letter thanking him for his generosity each month.

“I disagreed with some of the stuff that Pence was doing and was trying to do,” explained Kunis, as reported by The Hill. “And so, as a reminder that there are women in the world that may or may not agree with his platform, I put him on a list of reoccurring donations that are made in his name to Planned Parenthood.

“So this happens every month?” questioned host Conan O’Brien.

“Every month, to his office, he gets a little letter that says ‘an anonymous donation has been made in your name,’” confirmed the former “That ‘70s Show” star. “I don’t look at it as a prank, I look at it just as, I strongly disagree [with him], and this is my little way of showing it.”

Pence is a longtime opponent of abortion, having signed several pieces of anti-abortion legislation while previously serving as the governor of Indiana.

Kunis, whose voice can be heard in the popular animated series “Family Guy,” was vocal about her support for former President Barack Obama in the past.

Courtesy: Fox News

Boom: US nuclear arsenal upgrade to exceed $1trillion

Boom: US nuclear arsenal upgrade to exceed $1trillion
At a time when the US national debt stands at just over $20 trillion, American taxpayers find themselves stuck with a massive maintenance bill to keep the nation’s nuclear arsenal operational over the next three decades.

The modernization of US nuclear forces will carry a price tag estimated at $1.2 trillion from 2017 until 2046, according to the US Congress Budget Office (CBO) report.

That planned modernization would increase the total costs of maintaining the current number of nuclear weapons and delivery system by 50 percent over normal operating costs, according to the CBO.

The trillion-dollar question on everybody’s mind is: How exactly will the US government foot the bill for such a massive program?

“We never really knew where the money was coming from and now it is even less clear,” Jon Wolfsthal, former senior director for arms control and non-proliferation in the Obama administration, told the Guardian.

The CBO points out, however, that the modernization plan was attached to the Obama administration’s 2017 budget request, and may change in the context of Trump’s plans for US national security.

View image on TwitterView image on TwitterView image on Twitter

@Whiteman_AFB B-2 flew a long-range mission to @PacificCommand AOR this weekend; these missions demonstrate our commitment to allies.

Presently, the Pentagon is placing the finishing touches on its so-called Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), which lays out ground rules for Washington’s procurement and use of nuclear weapons. The final version of the NPR is expected to be forwarded to Trump’s desk for approval around late December 2017 or early January 2018, according to reports.

The first draft of the NPR – which is rumored to open the door to underground nuclear tests, last carried out in 1992, as well as new guidelines for determining when it is permissible to resort to the use of nuclear weapons – was presented in September during a meeting between Trump and his top national-security advisers.

“You can … be assured that our administration is committed to strengthen and modernize America’s nuclear deterrent,” Mike Pence, the vice president, said in late October during a visit to Minot air force base in North Dakota, a main hub for Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missiles and B-52 bombers.

Pence continued with comments that carried faint shades of Orwellian doublespeak: “There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal.”

Nevertheless, there remains a possibility that Donald Trump, taking into account the US government’s massive debt load, coupled with his campaign pledge to rebuild the crumbling US infrastructure – part of his ‘Make America Great Again’ campaign – may “shift resources to address other defense priorities in the face of long-term budgetary pressures,” the CBO added.

America’s aging nuclear arsenal, much of which was built many decades ago, is reported to be nearing the end of its service life. Trump is therefore expected to accept – begrudgingly, of course – much of his predecessor’s whopping spending package. This is comprised of $772 billion for the operation, sustainment and modernization of strategic nuclear delivery systems ($313 billion of that amount to be used for ballistic missile submarines); $445 billion for research labs and production facilities that support nuclear weapons activities and the command, control, communications, and early-warning systems connected to nuclear forces; while the remaining $25 billion will be slated for shorter-range aircraft and the nuclear weapons they carry.

According to the Department of Defense, “virtually every element” of the forces it decides to retain will need to be completely modernized or refurbished.

Whether the bloated American budget can handle the sticker shock is another question.

Courtesy: RT

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