Weekly Roundup (13 February-17 February)

North Korean ballistic missile test an ‘armed provocation’ says Seoul

13 February 2017, Seoul, South Korea – euronews.com – Eyes turned to North Korea again, when the isolated state fired off another missile test.

What alarmed Western analysts was not the test’s provocative nature, though that did dominate headlines, it was the fact that the missile type used a more efficient, solid fuel propellant.

This new, more powerful capability will allow all next-generation North Korean missiles, including nuclear-capable ones, to be built for rapid deployment and launch.

The central question is: from where did North Korean scientists get this technology? Was it locally developed in isolation from external sources, or did another power facilitate Pyongyang in this evolutionary jump in ballistic missile technology?

Trump blasts ‘illegal leaks’ after national security adviser quits

13 February 2017, Washington D.C., United States – 9news.com.au – National Security Adviser to Donald Trump, Lt. Gen. Michael Flynn, resigned over allegations that he misled Vice President Mike Pence over his contacts with Russia.

Coming at a time when the entire Trump 2016 presidential campaign was and still is under suspicion of having links to Russian intelligence officials – allegations Moscow has been quick to deny – have rocked the four-week-old Trump administration.

President Trump has downplayed the importance of Flynn’s resignation. Indeed, his team was quick to identify a number of possible replacements for Flynn. However, never before has the White House, under a former administration, suffered the resignation of someone so important to the functioning of the US government. The National Security Advisor serves the President of the United States as the president’s key assistant on national security issues.

Female assassins ‘used chemical spray’ to kill Kim Jong-un’s half-brother in Malaysia

14 February 2017, Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia – South China Morning Post/Reuters – In a story worthy of its own HBO television series, Kim Jong-nam, the 46-year-old estranged half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, was murdered at an airport in Kuala Lumpur.

Speaking to medical staff before he died, Kim said a chemical spray poisoned him. The spray was allegedly administered by two female North Korean agents.

Kim Jong-nam was once touted as the heir and successor to his late dictator father Kim Jong-il. But a falling out saw Kim Jong-nam exiled from North Korea. By Thursday 16 February, Malaysian authorities had two women and one man (all North Korean nationals) detained over the murder – more properly classified as an assassination.

The Kim dynasty of North Korea seems to have a habit of using extremely violent means to maintain and sustain political control, especially against members of the family thought to covet the top job.

Trump’s pick to replace Flynn declines offer

17 February 2017, Washington D.C., United States – CNN politics – The man selected by Donald Trump to act as Michael Flynn’s replacement in the role of National Security Adviser, Vice Admiral Robert Harward, declined the President’s offer.

The reasons seem to be numerous, however, what appears to be the main points involve direct access to the president himself; then the fact that Harward could not bring his own team along to support him in the position; the Trump administration’s inconsistent messages regarding foreign policy to date.

It is suspected that the hand of Assistant to the President and White House Chief Strategist, Steve Bannon might have placed too many caveats on Harward’s position to make it viable for the former SEAL to undertake.

The person who undertakes the role of Trump’s National Security Adviser will have to be comfortable with dealing directly with Bannon, and occasionally, the President himself. Trump has allowed Bannon far too much power to control events in the White House, a situation that is likely to haunt Trump’s presidency for the duration.

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