By Tim Hume, Jethro Mullen and Yoko Wakatsuki
China sent fighter jets into its newly claimed air defense zone Thursday, as Japan and South Korea sounded notes of defiance by declaring they would continue to fly through disputed airspace without notifying Beijing.
South Korea announced yesterday it had already sent a military flight into China's newly claimed "air defense identification zone" (ADIZ) on Tuesday without alerting China, while Japan appeared to claim it had also flown into the territory since China's announcement Saturday that it was unilaterally establishing the zone.
The flights have raised the stakes in a rapidly escalating dispute over contested territory in and above the East China Sea. They follow U.S. flights into the territory earlier in the week, when two unarmed B-52 bombers passed uncontested through the zone, in what the Pentagon described as a pre-planned military exercise.
Col. Shen Jinke, spokesman for the People's Liberation Army Air Force, said the Chinese warplanes, including Su-30 and J-11 fighters and an airborne radar early warning system, were flown Thursday into the ADIZ in what he described as a "defensive measure ... in line with international practices."FULL STORY
By Gabriella Schwarz
President Barack Obama and South Korean President Park Geun-hye said Tuesday nuclear aggression from North Korea has further isolated the region and vowed to use all means to deter further provocations.
"If Pyongyang thought its recent threats would drive a wedge between South Korea and the United States or somehow garner the North international respect, today is further evidence that North Korea has failed again," Obama said during a joint press conference with the two leaders. "The United States and the Republic of Korea are as united as ever ... North Korea is more isolated than ever."
Obama said North Korea's manufactured crises will no long elicit concessions and committed to protecting the United States and its allies.
"The United States is fully prepared and capable of defending ourselves and our allies with the full range of capabilities available, including the deterrence provided by our conventional and nuclear forces," Obama said. "The commitment of the United States to the security of the Republic of Korea will never waver."
President Park, South Korea's first female president, said she will "by no means tolerate North Korea's threats and provocations, which have recently been escalating further."FULL STORY
By Pam Benson and Chris Lawrence
Despite the uproar over a disclosure this week of Pentagon intelligence concluding North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, it's not the first time the Defense Intelligence Agency has suggested Pyongyang had that capability.
Since 2005, two former DIA chiefs have raised the possibility during congressional testimony.
At a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in April 2005, then-DIA director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby acknowledged the possibility in response to a question about whether North Korea had the capability to put a nuclear device on a missile.
"The assessment is that they have the capability to do that," Jacoby said.
U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry arrived in South Korea on Friday for a trip likely to focus on North Korea's recent nuclear threats and provocations.
Kerry, who landed in Seoul, is about 30 miles (48 kilometers) from the demilitarized zone that separates the two countries. The Korean peninsula is rife with tensions over the belligerent threats issued by Pyongyang.
Shortly after his arrival, Kerry told reporters at a news conference with the South Korean foreign minister that the United States and South Korea agree that North Korea will not be accepted as a nuclear power.
"The rhetoric that we are hearing is simply unacceptable,” Kerry said.
Kerry also said that the United States is prepared to enter into talks with North Korea, but only if the North is serious about negotiating the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.
As tensions mount on the Korean Peninsula, Wolf Blitzer explains what's behind the threats and what's at stake in a special edition of "The Situation Room," Thursday at 6 p.m. ET on CNN.
Are you from South or North Korea? Concerned about the latest crisis? Send us your thoughts.
US intelligence has seen missile and launch components move to the east coast of North Korea in the “last few days”, a US official with direct knowledge of the information tells CNN’s Barbara Starr.
The movements are consistent with that of a Musudan missile, the official said. The Musadan missile has a 2,500 mile range and can threaten South Korea, Japan, Guam and southeast Asia.
The US is looking for a hidden North Korean east coast launch site or mobile launchers, the official said, which are of concern because a launch from the east coast would go over Japan.
The official said it is believed such a missile launch would be a “test” launch rather than a targeted strike. That is because it appears the North Koreans have only moved components so far. The U.S. is waiting to see if North Korea issues a notice to its airmen and mariners to stay out of the region.
Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel quoted President Dwight D. Eisenhower Wednesday, telling rising military officers "the wise and prudent administration of the vast resources required by defense calls for extraordinary skill."
In his first major policy speech since taking over the Pentagon, Hagel focused on the budget problems facing the Defense Department and the rest of the government.
"A combination of fiscal pressures and a gridlocked political process has led to far more abrupt and deeper reductions than were planned for or expected. Now DoD is grappling with the serious and immediate challenge of sequester - which is forcing us to take as much as a $41 billion cut in this current fiscal year," Hagel said at the National Defense University at Fort McNair.
By Chris Lawrence
While North Korea continues to elevate threats against the United States and its allies, the Pentagon has not seen anything "out of the ordinary" around key missile sites, a defense official told CNN on Friday.
But the heightened rhetoric over nuclear attacks, so far unmatched by any actual military moves, has no foreseeable endgame, a second defense official said.
"This could go on for a while, and we could see variations of the rhetoric," the second official said.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has approved a plan to put rockets on standby to fire at U.S. targets, including the American mainland and military bases in the Pacific and in South Korea, state media reported Thursday.
By Ed Payne, CNN
Reaction to North Korea's nuclear test - its third since 2006 - poured in Tuesday from around the world:
Barack Obama, U.S. president:
"This is a highly provocative act that ... undermines regional stability, violates North Korea's obligations under numerous United Nations Security Council resolutions, contravenes its commitments under the September 19, 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, and increases the risk of proliferation.
North Korea's nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs constitute a threat to U.S. national security and to international peace and security. The United States remains vigilant in the face of North Korean provocations and steadfast in our defense commitments to allies in the region."
"The danger posed by North Korea's threatening activities warrants further swift and credible action by the international community. The United States will also continue to take steps necessary to defend ourselves and our allies."FULL STORY
South Korea is stripping the title of "honorary consul" from Jill Kelley, the Florida socialite embroiled in the scandal that brought down CIA Director David Petraeus, a South Korean official said Monday.
Kelley will lose that designation after a New York businessman accused her of trying to use the honorary title to solicit business, Deputy Foreign Minister Kim Kyou-hyun told the semi-official South Korean news agency Yonhap.
"It's not suitable to the status of honorary consul that (she) sought to be involved in commercial projects and peddle influence. It's also inappropriate as honorary consul," Yonhap quoted Kim as telling South Korean reporters during a visit to Washington.FULL STORY
From Jill Dougherty, CNN Foreign Affairs Correspondent
In a 911 call, aspiring socialite Jill Kelley demands that police in Tampa, Florida, help remove people from her property, describing herself as an “honorary consul general.”
"I am an honorary consul general,” the 911 recording says. “… I have inviolability. They should not be on my property. I don't know if you want to get diplomatic, uh, protection involved as well. It's against the law to cross my property …"
Kelley, it turns out, is an “honorary consul” for the South Korean government, according to the South Korean Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade. The official South Korean news agency Yonhap reports that Kelley had "good connections and network and a willingness to develop Korea-U.S. relations, including the free trade agreement between the two nations."
South Korean officials tell CNN that “an honorary consul can generally play a role of promoting trade and economic cooperation between the two countries.”
South Korean Presidential Decree No. 23706 describes the duties as anything from “work(ing) to protect Korean national/resident living abroad” to “promoting interacting of trade, economy, art, science and education.”
The honorary post, however, has no official responsibilities, in spite of Kelley’s attempts to invoke “inviolability.” Yonhap cites a South Korean official as saying that “she will be relieved from the symbolic post if she is found to be problematic.”