Home » Budget Industry » Expert: Banned Fuel Trade With North Korea Increases Need to Monitor Maritime Traffic


Expert: Banned Fuel Trade With North Korea Increases Need to Monitor Maritime Traffic

A recent attempt by Korea Kumbyol Trading Company’s vessel RYE SONG GANG 1 to conduct a ship-to-ship transfer, possibly of oil, in an effort to evade sanctions on Oct. 19, 2017. Dept. of Treasury Photo

With tougher United Nations sanctions now restricting the flow of oil to North Korea, the regime is taking more extreme measures to evade international scrutiny, making monitoring regional maritime traffic an even more pressing mission for U.S. intelligence and naval forces, an expert on illicit trade told USNI News on Tuesday.

Friday, South Korean officials announced they had seized a Hong Kong-flagged oil tanker suspected of illegally transferring fuel oil to North Korean tankers in international waters, according to media accounts.

The ship in question, Lighthouse Winmore, was seized and the crew questioned in November, but the story is only now being told after a Korean newspaper published a U.S Treasury Department release with aerial reconnaissance photos depicting the alleged ship-to-ship at-sea fuel transfer.

South Korean officials alleged international commodities trading firm Trafigura Group sold the oil shipment, violating international sanctions. But Tuesday, Trafigura Group denied being involved in the transaction. According to media accounts, Trafigura Group initially owned the shipment, but sold it to another trading house, with stipulations the oil could not be sold in violation of sanctions.

Selling fuel while it’s being transported is quite common among commodities firms, but transferring fuel between tankers and ships bound for North Korea is prohibited by United Nations Security Council Resolution 2375, which was passed on Sept. 11.

Marine Traffic Photo

Current UN sanctions prohibit most sales of fuel oil to North Korea, a move applauded by Nikki Haley, U.S. ambassador to the U.N. on Dec. 22. Doing so follows U.S. efforts to squeeze North Korea’s ability to fund its nuclear weapons programs, but cutting off both access to cash used to fund the program and by draining North Korea’s coffers by making ordinary products much more expensive to purchase.

This type of activity, using transferring oil between foreign flagged ships at sea, is a relatively new way for North Korea to try evading international sanctions, Lisa Collins, a fellow with the Korea Chair at the Center for Strategic and International Studies, told USNI News.

While it’s hard to quantify how common this practice is for North Korea, Collins said that it apparently occurred twice recently “indicates North Korea is feeling a squeeze in this area and the efforts to keep North Korea from using their own ships or ships flagged from other countries is leading them to find other ways to evade detection.”

Once in international waters, it becomes much harder to track ships or stop them from being involved in illegal activities, Collins said. “The ships turn off their transponders so they can’t be tracked.”

South Korean officials suspect such transfers of fuel and other trade now barred by United Nations Security Council sanctions have occurred in the past and are continuing to occur. Over the weekend, South Korean officials announced they suspected more illegal fuel transfers occurred at sea, according to news reports.

This is why Collins said communication between countries and surveillance help from the U.S. becomes in important. Information, such as when a ship left port and is due at its next stop, can be monitored for suspicious activity. If the ship’s tracking devices turn off, it could possibly be surveilled, such as by a satellite.

Lt Cmdr. Nate Christensen, a spokesman for the U.S. Pacific Fleet, wouldn’t discuss intelligence matters but did say, “U.S. Naval forces operate routinely in the Pacific every day – as we have done for the past seven decades. Our mission in the Pacific is clear: to provide security and stability to the region by being where it matters, when it matters, with what matters. We do this by deterring suspected illegal activities, countering violent extremism and strengthening our partner nations’ capabilities to promote a safe and secure maritime environment.”

In the past, the presence of U.S. Navy ships has thwarted suspected sanctions violations involving North Korean vessels. In 2009, USS John S. McCain (DDG-56) tailed a North Korean vessel Kang Nam suspected of carrying weapons. Ultimately, the cargo ship returned to North Korea before it could be searched.

In 2014, Panamanian officials seized a North Korean flagged ship loaded with Cuban weapons attempting to transit the Panama Canal.

Collins said the safest option now is for countries to continue following South Korea’s lead by waiting for suspected ships to pull into a port. Trying to stop a ship at sea, Collins said, “increases the danger of something happening. Trying to capture or board a ship once they’ve reached the port is the safest thing to be done.”

 

 

  • kye154

    The sanctions aren’t going to work against the North Koreans the way the U.S. intends for them to do. If anything, it will just drive North Koreans further into desperation, and its very likely that the North Koreans will fire off their missiles at us, thinking they have nothing further to lose anyway. After a few million people die, then what? The Russian and Chinese will step in, and America is nowhere near prepared to handle that, and we lose in the end game. Its apparent U.S. planners have not thought this scenerio through very well. Seems like America is really begging for a nuclear war, and they may get it.. Perhaps that is why the U.N. approved the sanctions, so America will be getting what it asks for?

    • publius_maximus_III

      I’ll tell you one thing that surely hasn’t worked — continuing to feed the beast that’s in the room (Phat Phok Kim) .

      North Korea’s topography is pretty mountainous, so would probably be difficult to attack ICBM’s in such hardened sites, or on mobile launchers hidden in caves and camouflaged trenches. But that seeming advantage is also a disadvantage as far as communications, which could be easily disrupted during an exchange with the US.

      Hopefully those North Korean missile crews do not have a Doom’s Day standing order: if you fail to hear from Dear Leader Rocket Man every 24 hours, assume all is lost and launch.

  • What the f..k

    If O was still POTUS, he’d look at these photos and exclaim: “North Korea, you didn’t build that, somebody made that happen. I think when you spread the oil around, it’s good for everybody But this is above my pay grade”

    • Duane

      It’s time you got over the 2008 and 2012 elections. This is 2018,

  • Stephen Kinnaman

    LTCDR Christensen underestimated the U.S. Navy’s presence in the Pacific. We have been routinely operating in the Pacific since 1818 when Captain Downes on the Macedonian entered those waters and established the Pacific Squadron.

  • DaSaint

    This can’t end well. Desperation breeds desperation. Someone’s going to do something to prevent the seizure of a vessel, whether in port or at sea. If NK is truly cornered, it may decide to commit further irrational acts, irrespective of the consequences.

    • incredulous1

      So far, it seems Trump has been very calculating and showed great restraint no matter what the press thinks of the tweeting. And no, tweets are not official communications. As far as I know the Op Plan hybrid is still being worked out toward not being as kinetic as many people think or fear. Think Apocalypse Now,… “terminate his command with extreme prejudice,” or a version of it.

      • Duane

        Speeches to the UN where the President declares that he will destroy the entire nation of North Korea (and not simply conduct regime change) are the exact opposite of restraint. And the tweets are not harmless diversions – every political leader in the world reads them and forms their opinions of the sanity and reliability of the government of the United States of America based upon all that they read and see and hear.

  • Danger_Dan

    Imposing blockades against continental landmasses with relatively friendly neighbors has historically proven difficult or impossible (e.g. the Napoleonic wars). It will be impossible to enforce trade along the DPRK’s border with Russia and China. As long as the DPRK remains a useful tool for Russia and China in keeping the US preoccupied, they will allow Un to remain in power. There is no easy solution to this problem.

    • Duane

      No we cannot enforce the border between DPRK and PRC. But you also have to understand that the new maximum leader of PRC, Xi, absolutely hates Kim and his regime .. he recently overpowered the old guard in PRC that supported Kim. Xi has already agreed to stiff sanctions and trade restrictions. If he allows his border to be leaky, he undermines himself and his newly-consolidated rule over China. He also embarrasses himself, because he has clearly sought to define a world leadership role for China. Smuggling contraband into NK would completely undercut that objective.

      And Russia’s border with DPRK is very short – only 20 miles long – and distant from any Russian power or population bases, and easily cut by PRC at their pleasure. And Xi would surely cut any attempts to build a Russian pipeline.

      • kye154

        Duane, that is a bunch of rubbish. You don’t know anything about the relationships that China and Russia has. And it’s not just a personality dispute between Kim Jung-un and Xi either, as you make it out to be. Personality disputes makes for great American TV shows, but it is really more about protecting each other’s turfs and core interests than anything else.

        • Duane

          I know far more than you, dudette. You obviously know zilch about the current power dynamics inside the PRC where Xi has completely consolidated his power position. His political enemies lost, completely, and they were the supporters of the status quo with NK and support of the Kim regime as part of their worldwide support of communism. Xi can’t stand Kim, and would cut him lose in a microsecond.

          Why do you think that Xi approved the recent round of sanctions on NK? His political enemies would never have countenanced that at all.

          Xi is striving to build up China as a true super power and world geopolitical leader, not to advance a worldwide communist revolution, but simply to take on the role that he sees is China’s rightful position in the world. He does not operate on a reality show mindset like Trump. He completely punked Trump last year, and will continue to do so. Xi plays 3 dimensional chess while Trump, and you are stuck playing checkers.

          Indeed, Xi knows that as long as Kim maintains his nuclearized prison state in the North, he will never be rid of American presence on the Korean Peninsula. The best way to rid himself of the Americans is to let Kim fall, and then either let NK become a ward of the PRC under his control, much as Tibet is today, or even allow the north and south to unify provided that the ROK demilitarizes too.

          Whether Xi is ultimately successful in getting rid of the Americans in Korea, only time will tell. But the only way to accomplish that requires the destruction of the Kim regime.

          • kye154

            I am sure you shook hands with Kim and Xi to know them well. Ha, ha!!! Tell us more of your inane nonsense. We like the entertainment.

          • Duane

            Go ahead and luxuriate in your ignorance of geopolitical affairs. You’d be much better off educating yourself, however. It hurts when reality intrudes.

  • leroy

    Forget a naval blockade. If we attack we do not want the DPRK alerted in any way. Any attack must be by surprise, fast, overwhelming and completely devastate the NK leadership, nuke facilities, troop barracks, forward artillery and rocket positions, identified missile launch sites … you get the picture. Shock and Awe multiplied exponentially.

    As far as Russia goes, we must warn them. Any interference in a military campaign against the DPRK and we’ll simply give Ukraine massive offensive armaments with which they can intensify their conflict with Russia. Ukraine can be used as a trump card (no pun intended) to keep Moscow on the sidelines. Same with Taiwan and China. China interferes not only will we cut off trade but also arm Taiwan to the teeth. We have a hand to play, multiple hands, let’s make sure, if need be, that we play them well!

    • SpaceHoosier

      Any attack on North Korea will not come as a surprise. NK will be alerted to any impending attack when there are massive evacuations in and around Seoul of US military families and civilians. No way the US risks NK retaliatory artillery and missile strikes on South Korea if non-military personnel are still on the ground there.

      • leroy

        It’s hard to argue that. OK, let’s say an evacuation can be used as a way to ratchet up pressure. An attack may follow, it may not. Anyway, families shouldn’t be there anyway. Civilians in Seoul? They better know where their nearest subway entrance is!

        Seoul I understand has a vast underground network of hardened bunkers. Enough space for the city’s population. I don’t think I’m wrong on that, but am open to corrections. Anyway, like Lindsey Graham said, we may have to choose between the lesser of two evils – thousands dead or millions dead. NK cannot be allowed to maintain a military capability where they can destroy the entire US. Think where they’ll be in a decade!

      • incredulous1

        Both the US and Japan have already encouraged military family an non-essentials to leave Seoul and the surrounds. But to show we finally mean business, remaining family will be evacuated a few weeks before we have to do something. So not mandatory yet, but advisories were issued last year.

        • leroy

          At the very least they should make South Korea an unaccompanied tour. Have they done that yet? It would be another way to send Kim a message. Won’t do much, but it will be noticed.

          PS. I don’t like the way the ROK is so quick to jump on Kim’s invite for talks (of some kind). No preconditions? Well, OK, let Seoul take a shot but if Kim tests a missile or shoots off another nuke I hope Moon has the sense of determination to withdraw from any talks. Personally I think it’s all a charade to drive a wedge between the U.S. and ROK and to buy the DPRK more time to test and build-out their nukes and ICBMs. UNACCEPTABLE! I trust the NK dictator about as fat, opps, I mean far, as I could throw him! THAT ain’t much distance.

        • Duane

          Uhhh, no. No such declaration has been made. South Korea is still officially an accompanied tour location, and we have huge numbers of military family members as well as civilian logistical and administrative support staff there. We just completed construction of one of the largest US military installations in the world at Camp Humphreys, in the most expensive construction campaign ($13B) ever performed by DOD, to where the US has consolidated nearly all of our forces in the ROK.

    • kye154

      Sorry Leroy, but that old 1950’s” iron fist” approach didn’t work then, and certainly won’t work now, particularly since North Korea has nuclear armed missiles, that they did not have in 1950. And let’s not forget, it was Russia who recently demanded the U.S. leave Syria, and we tucked tail and left. So, what could we possibly do in the Ukraine? As for cutting off trade with China, that is a bit of a joke, because China is the one who manufactures things for us. We don’t manufacture anything for them, except sell our debt in the way of treasury notes to them. So, if we cut off trade with China, its like cutting off our nose to spite our face. They have plenty of other countries who they can trade with. Also, they have recently been enticing the OPEC countries to trade in yuans rather than dollars, and they are backing their trade in yuans for oil in gold too. The U.S. has not not backed the dollar with gold standard since 1970. All the Chinese have to do is convince OPEC to abandon the dollar entirely, and trade in yuans, and the dollar’s value and our economy collapses overnight. U.S. sanctions would be meaningless too. They really don’t need the U.S. as a trade partner. They have already contemplated the issue of the U.S. imposing trade sanctions on them, and its the reason why the Chinese are building a new overland “Silk Road” to Europe, so the U.S. can’t interdict or sanction their trade traffic whatsoever.. The reality is, the U.S. isn’t the powerhouse it once was back in the 1950’s,so what you have suggested simply won’t work these days.

      • leroy

        You are making too many assumptions. Bottom line, I don’t believe this President will allow NK to maintain the capability to destroy the US, to build on it. We are talking about our survival as a nation. If we have to, I believe Washington will pull out all the stops. We’ll have to wait and see.

        • kye154

          No assumptions about this. Its already happening. Americans are simply behind the power curve on a lot of this, to understand what is going on international scene. It doesn’t matter what the president thinks or do at this time, He doesn’t have the power to change anything. All he can do is to accept it or face the consequences.

          • leroy

            That’s your opinion. I disagree.

          • kye154

            Its not opinion, it is fact. Whether you disagree or not is irrelevant to me.

          • leroy

            Back at ya. If you don’t mind I’ll follow what POTUS and SECDEF do, not what you opine.

          • muzzleloader

            It doesn’t matter what the President thinks or does? He doesn’t have the power change anything? We are not talking about Malaysia or the Philippines.
            I will not dispute you that China is mightily ascending as a financial power and a military one as well. But to say that the US President has no power in this situation, is to ignore that America still has the most potent military on the planet, with the ability to turn Pyongyang into dust, as well as any other portion of his country. Nuclear assets aside, there are capabilities have that are unmatched by any other nation.
            If our President in league with his NSC decides to take out the NK regime, I have little doubt it can be done.
            The question is will he he? I agree with Leroy in that if it comes to our national survival, President Trump will act, and I fully believe that Trump is of the fortitude to do so if required. I also believe that at some point there will be a reckoning with NK. Kim Jong -Un is a Phsyco who has nuclear weapons. If he will have blood relatives fed to dogs, assassinated and executed, he will have no qualms about turning Seoul or Guam or Tokyo to dust.

          • incredulous1

            I think they call it a “bunch of hooey” when people spew like this from a position of ignorance. Normally I ignore it, but it isn’t right that the board here be blown up by a stupid and useless argument.

          • Duane

            Trump is only President and Commander in Chief – he is NOT our dictator. He cannot act alone to declare and conduct war without Congressional authorization.

            I grant you that Trump is crazy and ignorant enough to attempt to start a war unilaterally on his own personal orders. At which point he will trigger a constitutional crisis, and the JCS are highly likely to refuse to obey his illegal orders. Members of the JCS have already stated publicly in Congressional testimony that they are prepared to refuse to obey illegal orders from the Commander in Chief.

            If indeed Trump tries to start a war on his own anyway, he will be impeached and convicted and removed from office, per our Constitution.

            Contrary to Trump’s ignorant narcissistic and nihilist thinking, the United States of America is not all about Trump. He is not our Dictator, he’s simply a temporary elected officeholder, as are all such politicians who ever served in the White House and in Congress since the Constitution was ratified in 1788.

          • muzzleloader

            Duanne, Hillary LOST. We know that you are still enraged about that, and anyone who frequents this website knows that you despise President Trump, but Please, can you find somewhere else to vent?

          • Duane

            You Trumpians just slay me. Whatever Trump does or does not do, or can or cannot do, has zero to do with the 2016 election. It has EVERYTHING to do with facts and reality. You cannot live forever on the 2016 campaign, though you Trumpians continue to try and pretend it is still 2016. It is 2018, and Trump is our POTUS, and what he does or will or can do is all that matters.

          • muzzleloader

            Who is saying anything about 2016? We are having a discussion on a topic of potential grave national security interest that turned into a discussion on the possible options that our CIC has. It is you who brought politics into the mix, “Trump is ignorant, narcissistic,crazy, ignorant, etc. And then, you hurl insults at anyone who supports Trump. Really?
            No one but you brought up 2016.
            And I agree with you that all that matters, is now.

          • Duane

            You brought up Hillary Clinton, are you dense or what? She is not the POTUS. She never was the POTUS. She was a defeated candidate for POTUS, so your irrelevant reference to here simply serves as a sort of attempted red meat baiting, in your mistaken assumption that I support her or like her, or have ever been a Democrat. None of which is so.

          • muzzleloader

            No I am not dense. Red meat baiting? Duanne it was you, who without any prompting, launch diatribes about your total contempt for POTUS, as well as your obvious disdain for anyone who voted for him, when it has nothing to do with the topic being discussed. If you want to loathe Trump, and his supporters,that is your choice. How about just leaving that out of the forums?

          • Duane

            I have contempt for Trump because he is contemptible. A majority of Americans believe that to be true, both voters in 2016, and with much larger margins in opinion polls now. He just is.

            But even so, even if the POTUS were the most glorious human being who ever walked the planet, the Constitution still says what it says, and the law still says what it says, and so, no, Trump cannot unilaterally launch a preemptive war on anyone anywhere without Congressional authorization.

          • muzzleloader

            I really do not believe that Trump wants to start a war.
            Think of the Cuban Missle Crisis of 1962. JFK ordered the US Navy to blockade Cuban ports. F-100 Super Sabres armed with full war loads were parked on the ramp at Patrick and Homestead Air Force bases. The 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg was on full alert.
            Strategic Air Command was at DEFCON 2.
            President Kennedy did not consult Congress prior to taking these actions. He exercised his power as CIC.
            Thankfully the greatest crisis of the 20th century was avoided. Of course there were also diplomatic moves behind the scenes also that helped to defuse the situation.
            Would JFK have ordered the Navy to sink the trawlers had they ran the blockade? Would he have ordered the missle gantries bombed?
            Would he have ordered the 82nd in? I think he would have if push came to shove, and Kruschev knew it.

          • incredulous1

            Yes, you are assuming that the DPRKs nuclear power is a putative force. And that has absolutely never been demonstrated. And in fact the opposite has. If Un had a button on his desk that worked he wouldn’t be blabbing about it publicly as he has. As I have been expecting China is only self-serving and there has never been any consequences due to their bad acts at the UN or elsewhere and Chairman Xi obviously wants to keep the peninsula divided as long as he can without economic risk from the US, or worse. Even that time is coming to a close now. There are so many assumptions and so much tribal knowledge in your initial post it’s not even worth going over point by point, so I’ll just leave it at that,

        • Duane

          The President does not have the authority to unilaterally start war without a Congressional resolution of war or authorization for military force. If Trump were to simply ignore the Constitution and order his military to do so, it is quite likely the JCS would refuse his illegal order, at which point, we have a full blown constitutional crisis that is far worse than anything that NK is going to do to us today. Congress would have no choice but to impeach and convict Trump and remove him from office.

          Presidents must get consensus and approval from our entire government. He is commander in chief, which only gives him the power to deterimine how to conduct a war that has been authorized Constitutionally, and even then his powers are limited by Congressional funding and even statutory limits which can be enacted over his veto.

          We have never in our history had a President start a war without having either a declaration of war, or explicit Congressional statutory and funding legislation along with international treaty authorization (such as occurred with the Korean War, the Vietnam War, and the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan).

          Trump can only attempt to persuade. He’s a horrible persuader. It is impossible to imagine that he will ever successfully convince Congress to pre-authorize a preemptive war on North Korea, merely on the grounds that the NORKs possess the same kind of weaponry that the Soviets, Russians, and Chinese as well as Indians, Pakistanis, Israelis, and France and UK have had for many decades.

          • leroy

            Not true Duane, he can commit forces according to the War Powers Resolution:

            “The War Powers Resolution requires the President to notify Congress within 48 hours of committing armed forces to military action and forbids armed forces from remaining for more than 60 days, with a further 30-day withdrawal period, without a Congressional authorization for use of military force (AUMF) or a declaration of war by the United States.”

            Yes, POTUS can start a war, but after 60 days Congress must ok or deny its continuance. If President Trump started something with the DPRK, I doubt Congress would put the brakes on after 2 months. Possible, but I doubt it.

          • Duane

            No, POTUS cannot start a war. The War Powers Resolution does NOT authorize preemptive war

          • leroy

            Congress could pass a law prohibiting the use of force or blocking funding for military action in North Korea. But short of an outright ban, the Trump administration would have authority to act for at least 60 days as it if determines the US is under threat, according to national security and legal analysts.

          • Duane

            No. Read the War Powers Resolution.

            It provides that the U.S. President can send U.S. Armed Forces into action abroad only by declaration of war by Congress, “statutory authorization,” or in case of “a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.”

            Possession of nuclear weapons is NOT an attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

            Even if the WPA authorized unilateral warmaking absent an attack on the US – which it most clearly does NOT – then the WPA would be un-Constitutional and declared so by SCOTUS. WPA has never been challenged in court, but most constitututional scholars agree that it is on very weak ground. Because WPA clearly conflicts with Article One if it were interpreted to allow a President to unilaterally declare war subject only to a 60-day time limit, which power is of course nowhere to be found within the Constitution, and clearly in conflict with all principles that ever underlay our Constitutional government with its inherent checks and balances and separation of powers.

            Aside from being illegal to do so, if Trump unilaterally launched a war, which no US President has ever done, it would in any event result in a Constitutional crisis, and a Congressional impeachment and conviction and removal from office of the President. With 100% certainty. Because such actions are befit only a Dictator not a President – any Dictator with such powers could overwhelm the entire national polity, and reduce us to a third rate banana republic like Putin’s Russia,

          • leroy

            OK Duane. Only Congress can declare war, but the President can commit forces. To North Korea, to Sudan, to Iran. Anywhere in his estimation the security of the United States is at risk. So we disagree.

          • Duane

            Can you not read the words, directly quoted from the WPA? It is not a matter of agreement or disagreement. The words are facts, and they are as clear as day. Unless we’re attacked first, the President must obtain Congressional authorization. And if Congress so desires, they can outlaw the expenditure of any Federal dollars on unauthorized offensive actions.

          • leroy

            Well then you better look on the Internet because there are plenty of articles quoting legal experts that say you’re wrong. If the President decides there’s an imminent threat to the U.S., and certainly nukes with ICBMs from a regime like North Korea’s is a threat, POTUS can commit military force to take that threat out. Congress comes in after 60 days. Period! Let’s end this Duane because we’re not going to agree. Happy New Year.

          • Duane

            The internet is not the law. The law is the law. The words are as clear as can be, they say what they say. And no, most constitutional and statutory law professors agree that the US President under our Constitution has no authority to make war without Congressional declaration.

          • leroy

            Duane, your hatred for POTUS is well known. You also display and have been called out on your inability to admit when you may be wrong. Like I said, in this case I am of the opinion (shared by legal experts) that your are. I don’t want to become enemies with you because we agree on much. So? Let’s just drop it. No more discussion to be had, only back and forth over-heated banter.

          • Duane

            This has nothing to do with hatred. I hate nobody. I think Trump is a traiter, sold us out to his Russian business partners, and is a complete ignoramus and totally devoid of character. But those are factual statements. And absolutely none of that has a single thing to do with the powers of POTUS under our Constitution, which we are discussing.

            You are lamely arguing based on some silly stuff you read on the internet that POTUS – no matter who it is – can launch a premptive war without Congressional authorization.

            You are wrong, of course. Forget Trump for a moment – just educate yourself on Articles One and Two of the Constitution … and try reading the War Powers Resolution’s extremely plain language before revealing that you obviously have not read it. All this stuff applies to any President, now or in the future, no matter who it is.

            We are a constitutional Republic, not a dictatorship.

          • leroy

            Argue with this guy then – CNN reporter Jeremy Herb, because he reports :

            “Can the President launch a military strike on his own?

            The Constitution may give Congress the ability to declare war, but in reality it has little ability to stop the President if he’s determined to strike North Korea.

            That’s because the President has his own authority as commander in chief to defend the country from threats, and in practice the Executive Branch has used that authority for a range of military actions.

            Congress could pass a law prohibiting the use of force or blocking funding for military action in North Korea. But short of an outright ban, the Trump administration would have authority to act for at least 60 days as it if determines the US is under threat, according to national security and legal analysts.

            “The Constitution gives tremendous authority for the president of United States to act on his own,” said Roger Zakheim, a former House Armed Services Committee aide.

            “Both in terms of constitutional law and in practice, for the President to take military action there’s a lot of precedent if the perceived act of belligerence puts the national security of the United States at risk.”

          • leroy

            More:

            “Congress has passed some constraints on the President’s military power. The 1973 War Powers Act — passed over the veto of President Richard Nixon — requires the President receive congressional approval for any hostilities lasting longer than 60 days.”

            No more from me on this. Let others chime in if they want to.

          • muzzleloader

            You are absolutely right.

          • leroy

            If a missile is heading towards Guam, I doubt that any POTUS would ask Congress if he can attack NK. No time. Even if it ended up not hitting the island. The threat alone (in the President’s JUDGEMENT) would justify his ordered military action (could be SSGNs and air assets hitting Pyongyang). Any number of “sparks” could cause the President to deem appropriate the deployment of military force. If a total war follows – oh well. That’s the weight of authority we afford the CinC.

          • leroy

            BTW – that missile headed towards Guam. How would the President know whether or not it had a nuke on it? What would have happened during the Cold War if a President was alerted by SAC that a missile fired by the Soviet Union was headed towards Washington? Kennedy, Nixon, Reagan might very well have ordered an immediate nuclear response. Make no mistake. The President has tremendous powers and the ability to get us into a war. A thermonuclear one at that!

          • Duane

            You’re discussing something different, which is Congress’s ability to stop the POTUS from doing something illegal. Congress has no police powers, it cannot arrest anyone. Congress can only pass laws, and in the extreme, it can impeach, convict, and remove from office a POTUS, after the fact. Of course after the fact is after the fact of a Constitutional crisis, a massive public revolt against an outlaw POTUS, and quite possibly the deaths of hundreds of thousands or even millions of people, both Americans and allies and enemy peoples. Removing Trump from office after the fact is shutting the barn door after the horses have gotten out and the barn is burnt down.

            That’s why it is so critically important that POTUS respect the Constitution and its limitations on his power. An outlaw POTUS can wreak tremendous damage on the republic before a removal from office can be performed.

          • leroy

            Read this from Jeremy Herb of CNN:

            “Could Congress stop Trump from bombing North Korea Jeremy Herb”. Search engine it.

      • incredulous1

        There are lots of steps prior to an actual trade war and so far we have been very careful about using them, like registration with WTO on a few items, and instituting a few tariffs on other items. And also there has been a growing number of firms repatriating to Japan and the US given the risks involved in staying in China. In fact China just had to offer freebies in a desperate attempt to keep some from leaving. Europeans on the other hand are still going hog stupid full bore into China – not smart. The “silk OBOR” will soon turn out to be more like Swiss cheese belt among the anti-US block and trying to leverage their hold on ASEAN members.

  • waveshaper1

    This commercial shipping stuff is complicated. The players in this incident include; The tanker is owned by Win More Shipping Ltd, managed by Lighthouse Ship Management Ltd, Flagged in Hong Kong, was chartered by a Taiwanese company called the Billions Bunker Group, was loaded with Japanese refined oil products, it got this refined oil product in a South Korean port, and the refined oil was sold to Billions Bunker Group by Trafigura Group which is a leading global commodity trading firm.

    The players involved and sequence of this transfer of refined oil products is definitly strange.
    – Step 1; The Lighthouse Winmore arrives in the “South Korean” port of Yeosu and takes on a cargo of refined Japanese patroleum products while in this South Korean port.
    – Step 2; This Hong Kong/PRC registered ship, that was being chartered by a Tiawanese company, then departs the South Korean port after being loaded with Japanese refined petroleum, sold to them by a global commodities trading firm, and heads into international waters.
    – Step 3; The PRC registered/Taiwanese chartered “Lighthouse Winmore” then meets up with the Nork tanker, the Sam Jong 2 (plus 3 other unnamed ships) in the East China Sea. This is where the Japanese refined petroleum products, that was loaded on the ship in a South Korean port is transferred to the Nork ship.

    Also, just the other day the ROK seized a second commercial ship (the Tanker Koti) about 18 miles west of Osan Air Base (location; South Korean Port of Pyeongtaek-Dangjin). Rumor is the ROK may also try to seize a couple Russian tankers that have been doing this at sea transfer of oil to the Norks stuff.

    • kye154

      Actually, North Korea doesn’t need to rely on marine shipments of oil and natural gas. All the Russians have to do is to extend the Sakhalin–Khabarovsk–Vladivostok pipeline into North Korea from the Vladivostok oil terminal, and they can covertly sell oil to North Korea, and there is not a thing the U.S. can do about it. I would be surprised if they haven’t already reached an agreement to build the pipeline. Back in November, the Washington Examiner ran an article on the Russians building a natural gas pipeline to North Korea. Its apart of “Russia’s 2030 energy strategy”. And America is focused on violations of the sanctions by oil shipments from sea. What Americans don’t seem to understand about that region of the world.

      • incredulous1

        but they haven’t done that yet have they? And they do cannot afford to suffer more sanctions themselves and obviously we will know as soon as they try or start building. And we should not confuse the definition of success of a blockade either. They are extensions of sanctions policies design to give the sanctions teeth and indeed, The cost of smuggling by land becomes a lot higher for both violators under a blockade. This is also a deterrent. but it is not to say that blockades are failures if they don’t get 100% of the trade stopped. They also show the world that we tried everything possible prior to going kinetic which has great value to us and the allied forces.

        • kye154

          The big problem is, there is no way the U.S. can physically blockade Russia. None!

          Secondly, in September 2017, Putin had instructed the Russian government to cease accepting the U.S. dollar entirely and made the ruble the main currency of exchange at all Russian seaports by 2018. It essentially nullifies any U.S. sanctions placed against Russia. There is nothing that the U.S. can do about that either.

          “Allied forces”? Other than Japan, we really don’t have many” allies” in Asia. Besides, the term “Allies” sort of implies, we are still buried in the WWII mentality.

          • Duane

            We don’t blockade Russia – we blockade NK. There is already a partial blockade on NK, which ROK is enforcing, having seized two merchant ships already in the last few weeks. Add in the USA and Japan, with an assist from the RAN, and perhaps our NATO allies, and given the limited extent of seacoast that needs blockading, we can squeeze out literally anything trying to ship into the NORKs.

      • Duane

        Yes, the Russians certainly can do that, physically speaking. And for their trouble they will incur another new round of sanctions that have already been levied on NK and those who violate the trade sanctions. Putin is no genius, but he’s no fool either. He is dancing on the edge of survival now with just the current sanctions on Russia imposed in retaliation for his Ukrainian adventures with a new round just added for his US electioneering adventures. One more round of severe sanctions, and wave buh-bye to Putin and his cronies.

        Oh, and I daresay that Xi would be extremely displeased if Russia attempted what you suggest, which would severely undercut China’s position with respect to both North Korea and to the rest of their regional neighbors. I would wager that the Chinese would destroy and stop any attempted rescue pipeline from Russia to NK.

        • kye154

          Well, that is a very distorted American perspective, but that is because you know practically nothing about what is going on between Russia and China.. Just 2 days ago, an extension of the East Siberia-Pacific Ocean oil pipeline between Russia and China started operating, doubling the export volumes to almost 220 million barrels on oil along that route. It was based on a Russian-Chinese agreement in 2013, which would serve China’s Belt and Road initiative for expanding China’s regional influence in Asia. Its the Skovorodino ‒ Mohe oil pipeline. Russia already pipes a lot of natural gas to China too. And, last September, the Chinese agreed to buy a minority stake in Rosneft PJSC for about $9 billion, deepening energy and political ties with Russia amid increasing tensions with the U.S. China certainly isn’t going to bite the hand that feeds it, as you have suggested. And since they are pumping the oil to Daqing China, it wouldn’t be all that difficult, or far, to extend that line to North Korea as well, and again, there is nothing the U.S. can do about it.

          And to mention Ukraine. Ukraine doesn’t really figure into the equation, other than Ukraine, is were the rocket technology that North Korea acquired came from, out of the Yuzhmash factory. To think the U.S. is going to give Russia trouble on the Ukrainian border is wishful thinking and without any substance. If the U.S. really had the clout, it would have done it in 2014. Fact of the matter is, the U.S. made a lot of noise, but the U.S. did absolutely nothing, and their sanctions had no effect whatsoever either.

          • Duane

            Don’t kid yourself one moment. Russians and Chinese have always been enemies, going back thousands of years. They occasionally go to war, even when they were the two leading communist nations on the planet, they still went to war with each other as recently as in the late 1960s, and conducted a long line of proxy wars through others such as in Cambodia and Vietnam in the 1970s.

            They may declare they’re kissy-facing with each other, mainly as a means of vexing the western allies whom they desire to poke and bother, to a point. But I guarantee you that if Russia tries an end-around to support an illegal supply of NK in contravention of Xi, Xi will slam them hard. Any such pipeline as you propose would never see the light of day.

            The Chinese mean to maintain their hegemony in NK and will brook no interference from Russia.

          • kye154

            “Any such pipeline as you propose would never see the light of day.”
            So, how much money are you willing to bet on that? What makes you think it is not happening now?

          • Duane

            Go ahead, make Xi’s day. See what the result is. Of course Putin is not as stupid as you, so he would not attempt such a thing.

          • waveshaper1

            Yep, I mostly agree but; It would only be a short run for Russia to connect its Vladivostok oil pipeline to North Korea but I don’t see that happening. That being said the Russians did design one of only two “known” refineries in North Korea. This refinery is called the Sungri refinery and it has a capacity of 2 million tons a year. Its located in the NK province that borders Russia called “the NK Rason Special Economic Zone A.K.A. the port of Rason NK”. I would imagine the oil is delivered to this refinery via ship. It seems like the shipping (tanker ships) delivering oil products to NK is being seriously impacted by the recent UN sanctions and that’s a good thing IMHO. Currently there is only one pipeline going into North Korea and it was built way back in 1975. This pipeline sends Chinese crude oil directly from the Chinese Daqing oil field via a pipeline to Dandong China (located on the NK border) and then the pipeline continues to Sinuiju NK and finally to the Ponghwa Chemical Complex (designed and funded by China). This is one of two known refineries in NK and also known as the “PRC-DPRK Friendship Oil Pipeline”. There are no other joint Russian/Chinese pipelines that connect to this flow of oil going into NK and I don’t think the Russians would ever let that happen.

            This pipeline supplies 90 per cent of North Korea’s crude oil (3.64 million barrels per year) and shutting it down is not part of the latest (2017) United Nations sanctions against NK/currently the oil is still flowing unimpeded to the NORKs. Until we get China to shut down this pipeline we are all just pissing in the wind.

  • leroy

    You could be posting from North Korea for all I know. Like I said, your opinion is noted and rejected.

  • leroy

    According to the President and Secretary of Defense, as well as Gen. McMaster, the military option is still on the table. Remember that as you contemplate all these side activities.

  • John B. Morgen

    I do not expect Trump will take any military action against North Korea, except for deploying [flybyes] or send a carrier battle group for show. A war against North Korea will end any economic recovery, or end his regime if Trump brings back the Draft.

  • leroy

    Well you must be of the higher order of primate. Let me know when you run for and are elected President, then … all us lesser chimps will gladly follow you. Until then, you’re not even on the tree.

    Lead, follow, or in your case – get out of the way.

  • Ed L

    I recently Read that there are still sea mines from World War II and the Korean War floating around in that area

  • incredulous1

    Are reports of Un being aboard a sub since the 17th really true? I doubt it, but he could have been coming an going and has been moved around in unmarked cars ever since the US surveillance was made public. If he is operating from a sub, that would sure make things easier and I would certainly think we are tracking all DPRK subs along with the JMSDF.

  • Duane

    A blockade of North Korea is certainly a viable option. Trump would need to have his JCS devise a plan, brief Congress on it, and seek a Congressional statutory authorization to impose it. A blockade would have a very serious impact on North Korea. An aerial blockade as well is called for. Combined, it could put a huge burden on the NORK’s ability to survive, depriving it not only of key resources like energy and raw materials for industry but also deprive it of revenue from exporting weapons and nuclear technology to bad guys all over the planet.

    But if we are to do this it must be well argued, well planned, and a consensus act of the United States of America – and not just the latest stupid tweetstorm to get generated by the president with digital diahrrea.

    So far there has been zero talk and no evident planning from the current administration on this action. It is entirely justified just on UN Resolutions alone. And we have the ability to impose such a blockade.

  • ROBERT BEHEN

    HOW DOES THE U.S. GOVERNMENT KNOW THAT THE OIL LEAVING HOUSTON, TEXAS IS NOT EVENTUALLY ENDING UP IN NORTH KOREA?

  • Bob

    American thugs… All the propaganda and lies…. Since the UN can’t steal it’s mineral resources and occupy NK with military personnel, they try to starve the NK. However, despite an ongoing policy to dominate NK over the last several decades, NK stands strong. This forcing them to be independent is helping NK devolope alternative technology…. I am not proud of the UN (America) or their mafiaso ways….