The official North Korean news agency and state radio Tuesday afternoon carried the latest announcement from the army's supreme command that all field artillery units, including those armed with strategic rockets and long-range artillery, are now at the top level of "combat-ready posture."
The announcer reading the military's statement on the central broadcasting station in Pyongyang declared the units "will target all enemy objects in U.S. offensive bases on its mainland, Hawaii and Guam."
The targets, according to the broadcast, also include South Korea, with the warning that at first shot "everything will be blown away and turned to ash."
South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense says this is the first time Pyongyang's military has ever publicly referred to an “il-ho” – or number one – combat readiness alert.
It is the latest in an escalating round of bellicose rhetoric from the North, which has included a threat to conduct a preemptive nuclear strike on the United States.
The command issued to the rocket units comes days after the U.S. air force flew B-52 sorties over the peninsula as part of an annual joint drill with South Korean forces. And it comes just hours after South Korean President Park Geun-hye said it is time for North Korea to change for its own sake.
The president, speaking at the national cemetery in Daejeon, says "the only way North Korea will survive is if it voluntarily lays down its nuclear weapons, missiles, provocations and threats, and transforms into a responsible member of the international community."
The speech was part of a memorial marking the March 26, 2010 sinking of a South Korean coastal warship that killed 46 sailors.
South Korea and others who joined a multinational investigation into the explosion on the Cheonan in the Yellow Sea concluded the ship was hit by a North Korean torpedo. Pyongyang has denied carrying out the attack.
In a letter to soldiers marking the anniversary of the Cheonan's sinking, Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin requested the military stay on high alert so it can immediately retaliate should there be another North Korean attack.
As the solemn observance was taking place in the South, military maneuvers were apparently underway in the North. But there has been no indication any attack is imminent.
Wee Yong-sub is a spokesman for South Korea's Ministry of National Defense.
Wee says there appears to be a state-level military drill underway with amphibious landings and counter-landing operations conducted by North Korea's navy and army.
A three-year war fought by the two Koreas in the early 1950's ended in a stalemate. A peace treaty was never signed.
Two weeks ago, Pyongyang declared the 1953 war truce invalid. The U.S.-led U.N. command says the document remains in effect and that no one party to the armistice can abrogate it.
Source: VOA News
Speaking to VOA during a rally for Tibetan rights in New Delhi prior to China's National People’s Congress, Lobsang Sangay, prime minister of the Tibetan government in exile, made this request of the new Chinese president:
“We hope Xi Jinping will review the hardline policies in Tibet, realize these policies have failed and introduce reforms to meet the aspirations of Tibetan people," Lobsang Sangay says. "Then there will be peace and harmony in Tibet. But if you look at the past 50 years, it is not that optimistic.”
Professor Michael Davis, a China constitutional law expert at Hong Kong University, says Xi’s priorities are likely to include managing the economy, fighting corruption and negotiating the U.S. pivot to Asia - not re-evaluating Tibet policies.
“Tibet to the leadership in Beijing is a security problem," David said. "You would like to think they could connect the dots; that if you have a lot of dissent within Tibetan society, maybe more repression is not the answer; that a more generous, accommodating approach that respects Tibetan autonomy and culture might be more constructive.”
Beijing still fails to grasp how completely Tibetans reject the language, economic and religious policies that marginalize Tibetans in their own country, says Tsering Tsomo, director of the Tibet Center of Human Rights and Democracy.
“These policies are a guise for changing the identity of the Tibetans and turning them into what the Chinese government calls, ‘The New Socialist Man,’ he said. "That is their goal, and has been since Mao. It is really regressive of the Chinese to continue these policies, even now.”
The View From Dharamsala
In Dharamsala, Tibetan students are holding an anti-China hunger strike at the Dalai Lama’s temple. Although he gave up his political authority two years ago, the Dalai Lama remains a symbol of exile and the focus of Beijing’s criticism.
The spiritual leader will turn 80 well before the end of Xi Jinping’s first five-year term, notes Tibet analyst Caroline Coutinhall.
“The political bureau of the Chinese government is changing. Of course it is important. But it is not as important as the transition in power when the Dalai Lama passes away,” Coutinhall said.
From his office near the University of Hong Kong memorial to the Tiananmen Square massacre, Professor Davis suggets that President Xi might want to act sooner rather than later if he has any intention of engaging the Tibetan people through dialogue.
“I think the Chinese will find a less accommodating community if the Dalai Lama wasn't there. China will also have a vacuum as to who they can deal with; who can deliver the support of the Tibetan community," he said.
An Eventual Return Home?
Pursued by Chinese security forces for her role in the 2008 Lhasa uprising, Pema - not her real name - fled Tibet after being in hiding for five months. The young woman longs to return to her family, and has not seen her mother for over two years.
“Self-immolation shows how bad things are in Tibet. [It] is the final resort," she said. "When the Dalai Lama dies, it is possible Tibetans will take up arms: change from peaceful protest to non-peaceful protest.”
Decades of living in exile have not tempered the desire of Tibetans to return to their homeland. Despite the lack of progress on political talks with China, time remains on their side, asserts Lobsang Sangay.
“Buddhism has existed for some 2,600 years. Communism is 100 and something years old. So there is no competition. I really believe we will see basic freedom for Tibetan people and the return of the Dalai Lama to Tibet,” the prime-minister-in-exile said.
Tibetans and Chinese are waging a political campaign that is in the process of being handed on from one generation to the next.
Source: VOA News
Justice For The World (JFW) is an independent, non-profit, non-governmental human rights organization (NGO) based in The Netherlands, Europe, dedicated to protect human rights and to creatively raise awareness about the value of human rights with in particular the right to life, freedom and faith.
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