Passport

A running list of North Korea's near-daily threats (updated)

If you're having a hard time keeping track of the multitude of threats issued by North Korea in the last few weeks, you're not alone: Kim Jong Un's young regime is on a seemingly endless tear of warnings and provocations. From threats of a nuclear holocaust to artillery strikes near disputed borders, here are the latest shots across the bow from the Hermit Kingdom, beginning with those that followed international sanctions over Pyongyang's third nuclear test in February:

1. We now have "lighter and smaller" nukes, and we're not afraid to use them against the United States.

2. Are you ready for the silent treatment? We just cut our military hotline with South Korea.

3. We also just tore up all previous non-aggression pacts with South Korea.

4. In response to these UN sanctions, we're going to "exercise the right to a pre-emptive nuclear attack."

5.  We're ready for "all-out war."

6. We just invalidated the 1953 amristice, so anything's fair game.

7. Seriously, that armistice agreement has been invalidated.

8. Now we're sharply increasing the number of training flights for our fighter-jets.

9. Not impressed? How about we turn South Korea's Baengyeong Island into a "sea of fire"?

10. Now we're conducting live-fire drills near a disputed maritime border.

11. Just FYI, our military personnel are standing by to "annihilate the U.S. imperialist aggressors." 

12. At this very moment, all of our citizens are singing a song about wiping out the "U.S. imperialists."

13. We're so serious about going to war that we conducted a practice drone strike.

14. That's it: We're conducting air-raid drills.

15. We will order "strong military counter-action" if the U.S. conducts more B-52 bomber sorties.

16. Seriously, we'll destroy your military bases in Japan and Guam if you fly one more B-52 bomber around here.

17. One more move and we'll start taking hostages ... American hostages. 

18. Don't mess with us, we just set our field artillery units to the "highest alert."

19. Remember when we cut our military hotline? Well we actually have another military hotline, but not anymore because we just cut that too.  

20. Also, we're going to let you in on a secret: We can now drop bombs on Hawaii, Washington, Austin, and Los Angeles.

21. Come to think of it, the U.S. mainland is like a "boiled pumpkin" vulnerable to attack.

22. Now we're blocking access to the Kaesong industrial complex, which we may close off permanently if you don't take us seriously. 

23. We now have "final approval" to nuke the United States.  

24. A word to the wise: Do not "misjudge the will of the army and people of the DPRK to annihilate enemies."  

To be continued...

Passport

U.S. military denies mortar ban will jeopardize service members

The Pentagon pushed back hard on an Associated Press report today about a supposed "worldwide" ban on 60 mm mortar rounds in the aftermath of a deadly accident at an army depot in Nevada.

The 60 mm rounds are used in infantry units across multiple branches of the military and are highly effective at rooting out insurgents in Afghanistan. But officials at the Pentagon and Marine Corps told Foreign Policy the ban only applies to the Marine Corps and, even then, includes exemptions for units engaged in combat operations.

"This is not a service-wide suspension, but rather only a USMC suspension," said Pentagon spokeswoman Anne Edgecomb. "Additionally, commanders operating in combat theater (Afghanistan) can use the 60 mm mortar system following an operational risk management assessment."

The Marine Corps mortar ban was implemented after an explosion at the Hawthorne army depot in Nevada killed seven marines. According to reports, the mortar round blew up in its firing tube during a training exercise. (An investigation is ongoing as to why the round went off.)

The specter of a worldwide ban on the mortars surprised weapons analysts this morning given the weapons' utility on the battlefield. "In a place like Afghanistan, with widely dispersed operating locations, mortars can often be the only fire support a local commander has until aircraft appear overhead," said Chris Dougherty, a war games expert at the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments  "In that sense, they can function as a sort of 'security blanket.'"

In its report, the AP stated that the Pentagon "banned the use of 60mm mortar rounds by its troops worldwide."

"Absolutely not," said Marine Corps spokesman Richard Ulsh, in an interview with FP.

When asked if the red-tape requirement that combat units fill out risk management assessments to acquire mortar rounds might prevent the weapons from getting in the right hands, Ulsh said the process was simple and that the "precautionary measure would be removed sometime after the investigation is done." He added, "the exception provides  the commanders in Afghanistan the flexibility to weigh the risks themselves and use it at their discretion."