today’s comedy hour

Sean Spicer Briefs Press On Latest North Korea Developments
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Apr 17 2017

In a relatively short daily press briefing, Sean Spicer took a barrage of questions on everything from North Korea to Trump’s taxes and White House visitor logs but largely just repeated official administration policies on the issues. North Korea: Repeating Trump’s previous position, Spicer noted that the White House will not define any sort of ‘red lines’ with regards to North Korean provacations but confirmed that all options remain on the table.  As of now, Spicer indicated that the White House continues to pursue active negotiations with Pres Xi of China to exert maximum, non-military pressure on North Korea which includes China’s recent decision to halt coal imports.

  • SPICER SAYS TRUMP WON’T TELEGRAPH PINDO ACTIONS ON N KOREA
  • SPICER: CHINA HASN’T MANIPULATED CURRENCY SINCE TRUMP TOOK OVER
  • SPICER: LABELING CHINA CURRENCY MANIPULATOR WOULDN’T BE HELPFUL

2016 Tax Returns: When pressed about tax returns, Spicer once again confirmed that Trump will not consider releasing his taxes while under ‘routine’ audit.

  • SPICER SAYS TRUMP’S 2016 TAXES UNDER AUDIT, A `ROUTINE ONE’
  • SPICER DECLINES TO SAY IF TRUMP WILL EVER RELEASE TAX RETURNS

Following news earlier this morning from South Korea’s primary news outlet, Yonhap, that the Pentagon has directed a total of three Pindo aircraft carriers toward the Korean Peninsula, Sean Spicer is scheduled to take the stage momentarily to brief the press on the latest developments regarding North Korea.

Pentagon Considers Shooting Down North Korea Missile Tests
Tyler Durden, Zero Hedge, Apr 18 2017

Just when a few hours had passed without any escalation around the Korean Peninsula, the Graun reports that the Pentagon is considering shooting down North Korean missile tests as a show of strength to Pyongyang according to two sources briefed on the plans. As the USS Carl Vinson heads towards the peninsula, along with two oither carriers, the Pentagon is looking for ways short of war to pressure North Korea into denuclearization, particularly if Pyongyang goes forward with an anticipated sixth nuclear test. The option, which Mad Dog Mattis has briefed Congress about, has as the Graun reports, yet to mature into a decision by the military to intercept a tested missile. One Pindo boxtop said the prospective shoot-down strategy would be aimed at occurring after a nuclear test, with the objective being to signal Pyongyang that Pindostan can impose military consequences for a transgression that Pres Trump has said is unacceptable.

But experts and former officials said shooting down a North Korean missile during a test risks an escalation that Faschingstein may not be able to control, one that risks war on the Korean peninsula and potentially devastating consequences to vassals South Korea and Japan. Abraham Denmark, the senior Pentagon policy advisor for Asia in Obama’s administration, said:

I would see such an action as escalatory. I couldn’t guess how Kim Jong-un would interpret it, but I would be concerned he would feel the need to react strongly, as he would not want to appear weak.

Both sources said the military was not looking to use the THAAD system that Pindostan is providing to South Korea. In the past, several administrations have considered shooting down North Korean missile tests, only to turn away from the option when considering the consequences of escalation against an unpredictable and bellicose adversary. Rumors have circulated since Trump took office that he has been mulling a shoot-down. One Pindo boxtop said the military was discussing a potential shoot-down ahead of Trump’s meeting with Xi on Apr 6 at Mar-a-Lago in Florida. The discussion also preceded Friday’s North Korean military parade, as well as a test-launch failure on Saturday. Senior Pentagon officials pondering the shoot-down option are said to have conceded they are unsure how North Korea would respond, especially considering North Korea’s comments. Vice Foreign Minister Han Song-Ryol told the BBC’s John Sudworth:

If Pindostan is reckless enough to use military means, from that very day, there will be all-out war. Our nuclear weapons protect us from that threat. We’ll be conducting more missile tests on a weekly, monthly and yearly basis.

Neither Pentagon nor PACOM representatives responded to a request for comment. Another factor complicating a shoot-down would be the risk of embarrassment should Aegis interceptors miss a North Korean target, which might embolden Pyongyang and unnerve regional vassals. Ken Gause of the CNA think tank, influential with the Pentagon, said Pindo planners have grown frustrated with coercive diplomacy amid North Korea’s maturing nuclear and missile capability. But Gause said that while Faschingstein might spin a shoot-down as a step below an attack on North Korea or an attempt to overthrow its government, it risked validating Kim’s position that North Korea needs nuclear weapons and long-range missiles to respond to Pindo aggression. Gause said:

I still see this as escalatory and playing with potential fire. At the end of the day, Kim Jong-un cannot be seen internally as backing down from pressure.

It seems odd that Pindostan would telegraph this intent, given Trump’s campaign discussions of not doing exactly this. Or is this simply a way of showing that the Pentagon remains on a war footing, despite a very temporary lull in global thermonuclear war rhetoric?

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