April 12th, 2013
07:14 PM ET

Pentagon intel suggested N. Korea nuke capability previously

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.

Kerry lands in South Korea amid North Korea's nuclear threats
April 12th, 2013
05:25 AM ET

Kerry lands in South Korea amid North Korea's nuclear threats

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.

Filed under: North Korea • Sec. State John Kerry • South Korea
Kerry to urge China to pressure North Korea
April 11th, 2013
07:36 PM ET

Kerry to urge China to pressure North Korea

By Jill Dougherty

The Obama administration says China is increasingly frustrated by the provocative actions of North Korea and Secretary of State John Kerry will try to convince leaders in Beijing that Pyongyang is, as one senior administration official said, "putting China's own interests at risk."

Briefing reporters on Kerry's plane as he flew from London to the first stop on his four-day Asian tour, that official and a senior State Department official said the administration is urging China to use its leverage with the North "otherwise it is very destabilizing."

Kerry to seek diplomatic 'off-ramp' for North Korea
April 7th, 2013
07:14 AM ET

Kerry to seek diplomatic 'off-ramp' for North Korea

By Elise Labott

When he visits Asia later this week, Secretary of State John Kerry will discuss potential diplomatic incentives for North Korea once it stops its bellicose rhetoric and threatening behavior, senior administration officials tell CNN.

Officials warn any resumption of talks with North Korea is premature, and could only come once Pyongyang adheres to its international obligations. But they say Kerry hopes the new emphasis on diplomacy will give the North Koreans a face-saving way to de-escalate the current situation.

"Secretary Kerry agrees that we have to have a robust deterrent because we really don't know what these guys will do," one senior official said. "But he also knows that the North Koreans need a diplomatic off-ramp and that they have to be able to see it."

Kerry left Saturday for the Middle East and then for London before traveling to Seoul, Bejing and Tokyo later next week. FULL POST

April 4th, 2013
12:21 PM ET

US intel sees missile movement in North Korea

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.

            For full story

Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech
April 3rd, 2013
06:40 PM ET

Hagel quotes Eisenhower, cites fiscal pressures in major policy speech

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.

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Filed under: Budget • China • Hagel • Japan • Military • Military life • Missile launch • North Korea • Secretary of Defense • Security Brief • South Korea
March 29th, 2013
05:56 PM ET

No end in sight for North Korea tensions

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.


February 20th, 2013
06:03 PM ET

Obama administration takes on hackers stealing trade secrets

By Alex Mooney

The U.S. is seeking a more muscular response to the growing threat from foreign hackers interested in obtaining U.S. businesses’ trade secrets.

The response, in the guise of a 150-page report unveiled by Attorney Gen. Eric Holder and other leading government officials on Wednesday, includes new pledges by the Justice Department and FBI to crack down on hacking, a guide for corporations vulnerable to attacks on how to beef up their own security, and a proposal to better coordinate efforts with U.S. allies to prosecute foreign hackers.

“In this time of economic recovery, this work is more important than it has ever been before,” Holder said Wednesday at a White House event that outlined the new response. “I am pleased to report we are fighting back more aggressively and collaboratively than ever before.”

The announcement comes a day after the Virginia-based Mandiant published a 60-page report that alleges the Chinese government is sponsoring cyber-espionage to attack top U.S. companies.

Filed under: China • Cybersecurity • White House
Report: Chinese military engaged in 'extensive cyber espionage campaign'
February 19th, 2013
01:31 AM ET

Report: Chinese military engaged in 'extensive cyber espionage campaign'

By CNN Money's Charles Riley

An American cybersecurity firm has linked one of the world's most prolific groups of computer hackers to the Chinese government, saying in a new report that an extensive cyber-espionage campaign is being waged from a location near Shanghai.

The security firm, Mandiant, detailed the allegations in a 60-page report published Tuesday that describes the group's tactics and history over a six-year period.

The Virginia-based Mandiant, which helps companies detect and respond to cyber threats, said it has observed the group of hackers - called the "comment crew" - systematically steal hundreds of terabytes of data from at least 141 organizations across 20 industries worldwide since 2006.

Mandiant claims the activity can be traced to four networks near Shanghai - with some operations taking place in a location that is also the headquarters of Unit 61398, a secret division of China's military.


Filed under: China • Cybersecurity
February 12th, 2013
06:50 AM ET

North Korea gives John Kerry his first "3 AM" call

By Elise Labott and Barbara Starr

North Korea's nuclear test Tuesday set off a diplomatic scramble for America's new secretary of state as the U.S. national security community began working with other countries to try to determine what North Korea truly achieved.

The test was was not a total surprise, senior administration officials said. North Korea warned the United States and China on Monday that it would be undertaking a nuclear test, two senior administration officials told CNN. The warning came in the form of a message through the "NY channel," which is the U.S. mission to the United Nations, North Korea's typical method for passing messages to the United States. The warning was not specific on timing, but the officials said Washington took it to mean the test could happen at any moment.

After the test was detected late Monday night, Secretary of State John Kerry spoke with South Korea's foreign minister. He's also expected to talk with the foreign ministers for China, Japan and Russia. The United States began coordinating its own response with inter-agency calls between Washington and Seoul, Tokyo, Moscow and Beijing. U.S. Ambassador to South Korea Sung Kim and Gen. James Thurman, commander of the US-Republic of Korea Combined Forces Command, met with the South Korean defense minister.

The U.S. intelligence community and military began the process of assessing the test and North Korea's claims and by morning concluded an underground nuclear test had probably been conducted.

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