Speaking at the massive military parade on Tuesday morning to mark Iran’s Army Day, President Rouhani said “I would like to extend my warm congratulations on the National Army Day to all staff, commanders, their respected families as well as the Leader of the Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Khamenei.”
“Army Day marks a reminder for sacrifice of brave Iranians during eight years of Imposed War against Iraq as well as protecting the country’s borderlands for almost 30 years after the war,” he continued.
“Virtuousness and grandeur have always been attributed to the Army of the Islamic Republic of Iran both in the regions and in the world. Some armies in the world are associated with interference in internal affairs of other countries, genocide, protecting terrorists, coup, disrespect for view of people and the law while the Iranian Army is reminiscent of order, discipline, faith and holy defense of territories within the framework of law and national interests,” Rouhani said.
Rouhani highlighted that capabilities of Iranian armed forces are now incomparable to the time of Imposed War since eye-catching achievements have been made in the meantime; “Iran’s defense industry and armed forces are becoming more powerful on a daily basis.”
The Iranian President rejoiced to note that one major objective of his government had been strengthening the country’s defense capabilities as evidenced by the 45% rise in the budget for defense sector despite tough economic conditions.
He recalled that the amount of progress in the past three and a half years were equal to the 10-year period before that saying “Iran’s armed forces are more prepared than any other time though they would never pose threat to others.”
Hassan Rouhani emphasized that the Army mainly seeks to prevent tensions and conflicts while at the same time maintains vigilance against conspiracies and boosts its deterrent power.
The senior official reassured neighboring countries that Iranian armed forces were ready to defend the whole critical and pivotal region of the Middle East; “other states can be confident that Iran’s Army holds defensive rather than offensive power.”
“Nevertheless, we have shown how vigorously will the Army defend people and the country in the face of aggression by invaders.”
Later at his speech, Iran’s President enumerated unique characteristics of the country’s Armed Forces including faith and divine inspiration since Army personnel are devoted and has always had sacrifice.
“Another distinguished feature of Iranian armed forces is their close relations with the nation which is a mutual relation indeed,” he stressed.
Rouhani said enjoying a Commander in Chief was another distinguished aspect of the Armed Forces, a leadership which stems from Islamic jurisprudence and moderation and possesses a legal and religious position.
He recalled the remarks made by Imam Khomeini and the Leader Ayatollah Khamenei who urge the armed forces to keep away from political games as a means of gaining more power and enjoying support of the nation.
Rouhani expressed hope that, by implementing religious orders of the Leader, unity will increase in Armed Forces in order to give sense of safety and calmness to the people.
Last Thursday, NBC News issued an anonymously sourced report claiming that the Trump administration was poised to carry out a preemptive strike against North Korea if Pyongyang conducted another nuclear test, as many expected would happen in the next few days.
Luckily, it seems the report was wrong — defense and intelligence officials aggressively downplayed the possibility of a preemptive strike, calling the report “wildly wrong,” “crazy,” and “extremely dangerous,” according to Fox News’s Jennifer Griffin.
But while the report was wrong, the idea wasn’t out of the realm of possibility — indeed, during his March trip to Asia, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson refused to rule out a preemptive strike against North Korea, telling reporters, “If they elevate the threat of their weapons programs to a level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table.”
This all raises a troubling question: What would happen if the US really decided to do it?
I spoke with Jonathan Pollack, a senior fellow at the Brookings Institution who specializes in US strategy in Asia and the Pacific, to gain a better sense of how it would work. He’s skeptical that the US would ever carry out a preemptive strike except in the most dire circumstances — he believes North Korea would have to be on the cusp of either actually using nuclear weapons in an attack or taking other steps that would pose a very serious threat to South Korean, Japanese, or US forces. But he said that if it ever happened, one thing is clear: It would likely spark a war that would wreak havoc in the region and visit destruction on millions of innocents.
What follows is a transcript of our conversation, lightly edited for length and clarity.
What would the US actually target in the case of a preemptive strike?
If you’re in an all-bets-are-off scenario, then you’re going to utilize every capability that you have, you’re going to mobilize every warplane. If North Korea is about to embark on something that is so extreme and so dire that it must be prevented at all costs, you must: 1) do so by whatever means you have [to] prevent that attack from occurring, and 2) deny North Korea any plausible means to retaliate for the attack that would be initiated against them. Those two are very tall orders.
But this is also analyzed to death, and when we look at it, we come to the same conclusion every time: We would “win a war,” but the price our allies [would pay] far exceeds whatever the gains would be. This is why they call [North] Korea “the land of no good options.”
What would the North Korean response be?
If, for sake of argument, the US decides to embark on a preemptive attack — which I do not in any way, shape, or form endorse or anticipate — then we had better get ready for a very big war.
If you go in and think you’re just going to do the equivalent of a “surgical strike” — we’re just going to take out their testing site — and assume that nothing else bad is going to happen, that’s very bad planning.
It would be a very big war. It would have to be, if you want to prevent something really, really bad from happening as a consequence of your initiating a war, given the kinds of capability that North Korea demonstrably has — hundreds of missiles, thousands of artillery pieces, nuclear weapons, special forces, you name it.
What could happen to Japan and South Korea?
The risk would be that Japan would be the only country in the history of civilization to have been attacked yet again with a nuclear weapon. You would see devastation of all kinds directed against South Korea. You could assume, for example — and you don’t even need nuclear weapons to do it — direct attacks on South Korea’s nuclear reactor complex. South Korea has one of the most developed nuclear energy components of any country in the world.
You’re talking about Seoul, a city which, including its environs, is more than 20 million people that is within artillery range of North Korea. You’re quite possibly talking about use of chemical weapons. The North is very serious about war. They plan for war, they train for war, they have huge armed forces. And under circumstances of a direct attack by the US on their territory, I don’t think they would have a lot of incentives for restraint.
Pyongyang can fire nuclear warheads that would reach Japan?
That’s one of the great debates — whether they’ve miniaturized a warhead sufficiently to be able to put it atop a missile and reach targets in Japan and maybe beyond. And a lot of Americans are very seized by the idea that North Korea plans an intercontinental ballistic missile, but the reality is their threat right now, whatever capabilities they do have of this sort, they’re regional; they’re not intercontinental.
That’s worrisome enough to me at least, and to many others. But it’s a very hard thing to prove. North Korea would like us to believe they have these capabilities, but they have never tested a nuclear weapon on a missile. That’s an international norm they have yet to violate.
But an argument in many circles is that that’s not a risk you can take lightly — you have to make assumptions as if they have that kind of capability.
And how would China and Russia feel about a preemptive attack?
China has a 1,400-kilometer shared border with North Korea, and you have ethnic Koreans living in northeastern China. Russia’s border with North Korea is tiny, but they have interests of their own as well. Both Russia and China would see this as a profound failure of the [nuclear] nonproliferation system if the US is prepared, by definition of its own interests, to undertake these kinds of attacks in the face of opposition from just about everybody else, to do it unilaterally.
So I’m pretty sure you think a preemptive strike wouldn’t be a good idea.
I understand that some people see North Korea as such an inherent danger that we can’t rule out them doing something so extreme that we have to therefore act before they act. And I don’t trivialize the North: These are people who are heavily armed, they put enormous resources into these programs, and the consequences for their own people — their livelihood, their well-being — are pretty substantial.
But a lot of it boils down to whether or not you believe that a nuclear weapon would be a usable capability. If I’m just reacting to what the North Koreans say — and I’m not saying I therefore accept it — most of their arguments are that they’re claiming these nuclear weapons are for deterrence — in essence, the same thing we say all the time.
A lot of people wouldn’t believe that; they look at the government’s cruelty toward its own citizens, they look at it assassinating a family member in a foreign airport, they look to when North Korea shot down a South Korean aircraft trying to prevent the Olympics from going to Seoul in 1988. The argument would go [that] there’s no lengths to which these guys won’t go if presented the opportunity.
So first things first, you have to make clear to them, and I think we do make clear to them, that if they cross a range of thresholds, they will have destruction heaped upon them on a scale that is unimaginable. We can only hope that that really keeps them in the box they are in, because the box is one of their own making, frankly.
I readily accept that this does not come cheaply, but I don’t know that we or anyone else has alternatives. Some people would say you could negotiate with them, and that’s tried from time to time, but I’m also familiar enough with what they expect from that process, and it’s not a price that any American president would be prepared to pay.
You say there are no good options. What’s the least worst option for handling North Korea?
The least worst options are what we’re doing. Number one, we are reinforcing our military presence on the peninsula and the surrounding areas to make it abundantly clear that we will respond to anything severe that North Korea undertakes.
Not that I’m a huge believer in missile defense, but we’re augmenting those kind of capabilities like THAAD with the hopes that, in the unlikely event that North Korea would use missiles against the South, you shoot them down before they hit South Korean or Japanese territory.
Number two, give absolute assurance to your Korean and Japanese allies that we’re going to be with them through thick and thin, that we won’t cut side deals that will disadvantage them. They’ve got to know that — if they don’t know that, what you’re going to see is a sentiment over time, in both Korea and Japan, that says, “You know, maybe we really can’t rely on the US; maybe we need some of these weapons of our own.”
The US and China have compelling shared interests — neither China nor the US wants to see in perpetuity a nuclear-armed North Korea. And the other core shared conviction of the US and China is that we don’t want another Korean War on the peninsula; it would be a disaster of unimaginable proportions.
We have to be prepared that this is going to be a longer-term effort to constrict what North Korea does, to make life as difficult as we can for them, to deny them external economic opportunities, to not legitimate in any way the nuclear weapons they possess. All of this is going to be tough and demanding and long term.
Russia sends world’s largest submarine – Typhoon-class Dmitry Donskoy – to the BalticAnd Russian economists reckon it could hold the key to the Kremlin unearthing almost £24 TRILLION of oil and gas buried deep beneath the snow, The Times reports.
Moscow yesterday released the first pictures of the giant Arctic Trefoil complex on the Arctic island of Alexandra Land – where temperature can drop to -50°C.
More than 150 troops will be based at the clover-shaped compound – which is decked out in the red, white and blue of the Russian flag.
Disasters can happen anywhere and at any time. But some places experience more than their fair share of floods, tornadoes, hurricanes, winter storms and severe weather — so much so that certain locales earn frightening nicknames, such as Tornado Alley. No matter where you live, make sure you have the right kinds and necessary amounts of insurance coverage to protect your finances.
Most frequent disasters: damaging wind, winter storms, floods and flash floods
Weather-related fatalities (2006-2013): 87
New Jersey earns the top spot on this list, in large part due to damage wrought by Sandy — which had weakened from a hurricane to a post-tropical cyclone by the time it the Jersey Shore — in October 2012. The state was among the hardest hit by Sandy, which was the second-costliest storm in U.S. history, after Hurricane Katrina. Many homes and businesses were destroyed along the Jersey Shore, and a portion of the Atlantic City Boardwalk washed away. Shortly after Sandy hit, another storm brought wet snow that caused more power outages and damage.
Homeowners who live along the coast or in areas where there are frequent storms should take steps before hurricane season begins to protect their homes and finances from damage.
North Korea has consistently issued threats of war toward the United States in recent decades, but the Trump administration’s announced end of a “strategic patience” policy with Pyongyang has upped the ante in terms of warnings and bellicose rhetoric. North Korea’s UN deputy representative, Kim In Ryong, on Monday unleashed at a hastily called UN press conference a torrent of threats, war scenarios and rhetoric aimed at the United States.
North Korea tensions
The press event was held hours after US Vice President Mike Pence visited the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. Pence warned North Korea not to test the resolve of the United States “or the strength of our military forces.”
In New York, North Korea returned verbal fire. North Korea’s UN ambassador condemned the US naval buildup in the waters off the Korean Peninsula, plus the US missile attacks on Syria.
While reporters at the United Nations have heard similar rhetoric from North Koreans before, Monday’s forceful wording was on a higher level.
The deputy ambassador, reading from a statement, told reporters, “The US is disturbing the global peace and stability and insisting on the gangster-like logic that its invasion of a sovereign state is ‘decisive, and just, and proportionate’ and contributes to ‘defending’ the international order in its bid to apply it to the Korean Peninsula as well.”
Kim said his country is ready to react to any “mode of war” from the United States. Any missile or nuclear strike by the United States would be responded to “in kind,” said the North Korea representative.
The USS Carl Vinson carrier-led Navy strike group was sent to the Korean Peninsula. North Korea’s UN representative said the maneuvers show the “US reckless moves for invading the DPRK (North Korea) have reached a serious phase.”
The United Nations is clearly worried. Spokesman Stephane Dujarric told journalists, “We’re obviously deeply concerned about the rising tensions that we’ve seen in the Korean Peninsula. We call on all to redouble their diplomatic efforts. “
The North Korean deputy ambassador was asked to respond to President Donald Trump’s comment that North Korea should “behave better.” He declined, instead wrapping up numerous questions about US policy and Pence’s visit to the DMZ into a long series of criticisms of the United States.
He denounced the United States for introducing into the Korean Peninsula — what he called “the world’s biggest hotspot” — its “huge nuclear strategic assets, seriously threatening peace and security of the Peninsula and pushing the situation there to a brink of war.”
North Korea staged a failed missile launch over the weekend. Dujarric said, “I think the latest launch that we saw over the weekend from the DPRK was troubling. We call on the DPRK to take all the steps necessary to deescalate the situation and return to a dialogue on denuclearization.”
North Korea is upset that the UN Security Council will hold a meeting on the situation later this month, with US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson presiding.
Pyongyang again said it has sent letters demanding its own hearing at the Security Council for alleged US abuses, but they have been ignored by a council which has seen numerous council resolutions violated by North Korean missile and nuclear tests.