The United States and China have reaffirmed their mutual commitment to "strive for the complete, verifiable, and irreversible denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula," Chinese state media agency Xinhua reported Saturday.
The statement comes after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary James Mattis hosted Chinese diplomats in Washington in an attempt to reach consensus on how to deal with increasing provocation from Pyongyang. Tillerson indicated earlier this week he is asking China, which is North Korea's primary trading partner, to increase its political and economic pressure on the Kim Jong Un regime. Bonnie Kristian
North Korea is angry Homeland Security agents detained a 'diplomatic delegation' that wasn't actually a diplomatic delegation
North Korea blasted Homeland Security agents at New York's John F. Kennedy International Airport for "literally mugging" a diplomatic delegation, although the U.S. claims the North Koreans in question were not protected by diplomatic immunity. Pyongyang accused the DHS officers of taking a diplomatic package away from a delegation that was visiting New York for a United Nations conference, but the three North Koreans did not hold diplomatic status, CNN reports.
"According to the U.S. State Department, the North Korean citizens were not accredited members of North Korea's Mission to the U.N. and had no entitlement to diplomatic immunity. The package in question had no diplomatic protection from inspection," said the Department of Homeland Security in a statement. "Multiple media items" and "packages" were seized in the confrontation.
"According to the 1961 Vienna Convention, diplomatic couriers 'shall not be liable to any form of arrest or detention' and the diplomatic bags they carry may not be opened or detained," CNN writes. That being said, couriers are required to have the proper accreditation on them while traveling in order to prove their immunity.
North Korea slammed the U.S. agents for behaving like "gangsters," calling the confrontation "an illegal and heinous act of provocation."
"The U.S. should reflect on its reckless act and be fully aware of the grave consequences to follow," North Korea said. Jeva Lange
Because America doesn't have enough problems on the world stage, former NBA star Dennis Rodman is headed back to North Korea on Tuesday to meet with leader Kim Jong Un for the fifth time since 2013 and his first trip to Pyongyang of the Trump presidency. If past visits are any guide, Rodman will be greeted warmly by Kim, a basketball fan. In China, Rodman told reporters that he is "just trying to open a door" with North Korea. When asked if he had spoken with President Trump about his trip, he replied, "Well, I'm pretty sure he's pretty much happy with the fact that I'm over here trying to accomplish something that we both need."
Relations between North Korea and the U.S. are especially tense right now, after Pyongyang's several missile tests in recent months and Washington's response. Several U.S. citizens are being detained in North Korea, but that's "not my purpose right now," Rodman said. The U.S. State Department said it is aware of Rodman's trip, highlighting that he's making it as a private citizen. "We wish him well, but we have issued travel warnings to Americans and suggested they not travel to North Korea for their own safety," said U.S. Undersecretary of State Thomas Shannon.
Rodman is friendly with both Kim and Trump, after his appearance on two season of Trump's Celebrity Apprentice reality TV show. A Rodman publicist highlighted that unusual configuration of relationships, and CNN's Erin Burnett suggested it's improbable that Rodman isn't somehow visiting Kim on Trump's behalf.
At the same time, Rodman's journey is being sponsored by a company that uses cybercurrency for marijuana transactions in states where the drug is legal. Marijuana is not legal in North Korea. Peter Weber
North Korea announced Sunday it "fully rejects" new United Nations sanctions issued Friday in retaliation to Pyongyang's pursuit of nuclear armament. The sanctions target the North Korean military and include a travel freeze for key senior officials.
The sanctions are "a crafty hostile act with the purpose of putting a curb on [North Korea's] buildup of nuclear forces, disarming it and causing economic suffocation to it," a regime representative said in state-run media. "Whatever sanctions and pressure may follow, we will not flinch from the road to build up nuclear forces which was chosen to defend the sovereignty of the country and the rights to national existence and will move forward towards the final victory."
North Korea has ordered the development of more powerful weapons as a means of sending a "bigger 'gift package' to the Yankees," the state news agency, KCNA, quoted leader Kim Jong Un as saying.
On Monday, North Korea tested missiles equipped with "an advanced automated pre-launch sequence compared with previous versions of the 'Hwasong' rockets," Reuters writes. "That indicated the North had launched a modified Scud-class missile, as South Korea's military has said." The missile flew about 280 miles before coming down in the sea in Japan's economic zone, South Korean officials said. The launch came after two successful tests of North Korean mid- and long-range missiles in the last two weeks.
North Korea is desperately trying to develop an intercontinental ballistic missile that could deliver a nuclear warhead to the mainland United States as a deterrent against international pressures and sanctions. Read more about Monday's launch here. Jeva Lange
After North Korea launches new ballistic missile, Trump says Pyongyang has 'shown great disrespect' to China
North Korea continued a series of controversial weapons tests on Monday with the launch of at least one short-range ballistic missile. The apparent Scud-class ballistic missile flew about 280 miles before coming down in the sea in Japan's economic zone, South Korean officials said. The launch came after two successful tests of North Korean mid- and long-range missiles in the last two weeks. President Trump responded on Twitter that "North Korea has shown great disrespect for their neighbor, China, by shooting off yet another ballistic missile ... but China is trying hard!"
North Korea's refusal to curb its missile and nuclear weapons programs in defiance of United Nations resolutions and international sanctions has ratcheted up tensions with the U.S. and other nations. The U.S. on Tuesday plans to conduct its first test of a missile defense system intended to intercept ICBMs. Harold Maass
North Korean state media on Sunday reported the isolated regime has tested "a new type of anti-aircraft guided weapon" under the observation of leader Kim Jong Un.
"This weapon system, whose operation capability has been thoroughly verified, should be mass-produced to deploy all over the country," said the KCNA news agency story, "so as to completely spoil the enemy's wild dream to command the air, boasting of air supremacy and weapon almighty."
This is Pyongyang's third Sunday test in a row; the tests performed one and two weeks ago both used mid-range ballistic missiles. Next week, the U.S. military will test a system for shooting down an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear weapon, which is North Korea's stated development goal. Bonnie Kristian
One week after its most recent ballistic missile test, North Korea tested what is believed to be a medium-range ballistic missile Sunday. The rocket traveled about 310 miles before landing in the Sea of Japan, a shorter flight than the last test.
"We are working with our Interagency partners on a more detailed assessment. We continue to monitor North Korea's actions closely," said a statement from U.S. Pacific Command. "U.S. Pacific Command stands behind our ironclad commitment to the security of our allies in the Republic of Korea and Japan."