North Korea weapons capability

The already advanced timeline to address North Korea’s weapons capability is now even shorter.

North Korea is achieving weapons technology faster than previous estimates as the US intensifies its international campaign to counter Kim Jong-un’s regime.

According to an assessment of the Defense Intelligence Agency, North Korea now has a nuclear warhead small enough to fit in a missile.

The news prompted President Trump, speaking at an event on opioid addiction, to mirror recent North Korean rhetoric.

“He has been very threatening beyond a normal state, and as I said they will be met with the fire and fury and frankly power, the likes of which this world has never seen before.”

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is in Asia, already pressing allies and adversaries to enforce sanctions against North Korea, isolate it and constrict its resources.

Analysts claim North Korea’s recent missile launches show it’s missiles can reach the Unilted States. The regime would still need to successfully mount a nuclear warhead to an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) and demonstrate it could hit a target.

The United Nations Security Council has approved stricter sanctions against North Korea. China joined more than a dozen nations in unanimously voting for the additional measures.

“I think China feels this,” said Nikki Haley, U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. “I mean when I talk to the Chinese ambassador, when the missile test took off, they felt it in China. It was so close to their border and the ground shook.”

China has failed to fully enforce previous sanctions. It accounts for 90% of Norkt Korea’s trade, thoug the administration sees China slowly shifting to address its aggression while the U.S. argues North Korea’s behavior is also a threat to China’s economic plans and prosperity.

In response to the latest round of U.N. Security Council Sanctions, North Korea says of the U.S. and its allies that they are “packs of wolves coming in attack to strangle a nation and that physical action will be taken mercilessly with the mobilization of all its national strength.”

US spy satellites detect North Korea moving anti-ship cruise missiles to patrol boat

Reporting by Lucas Tomlinson

Despite Secretary of State Tillerson's insistence that North Korea halt its missile tests, days ago, US spy agencies detected the rogue communist regime loading two anti-ship cruise missiles on a patrol boat on the country’s east coast. It's the first time these missiles have been deployed on this platform since 2014, US officials tell Fox News.

It also points to more evidence that North Korea isn't listening to the diplomatic threats from the West.

“The best signal that North Korea could give us that they're prepared to talk would be to stop these missile launches,” said Secretary of State Rex Tillerson in Manila Monday.

North Korea loaded two Stormpetrel anti-ship cruise missiles on a Wonsan guided-missile patrol boat at Toejo Dong on North Korea’s east coast. It was the first time these anti-ship cruise missiles have been loaded on this type of platform since 2014, US officials with knowledge of the latest intelligence in the region tell Fox News.

“North Korea is not showing any evidence it plans to halt its missile tests,” said one official who requested animosity to discuss sensitive information.  “It's a trend that does not bode well for hopes of de-escalating tensions on the [Korean] peninsula.” 

The latest moves by Pyongyang point to a likely missile test in the days ahead or it could be a defense measure should the U.S. Navy dispatch more warships to the Korean peninsula, officials said.   

President Trump voiced his displeasure about the coverage of the unanimous UN Security Council vote over the weekend to sanction Pyongyang. 

Donald J. Trump‏Verified account @realDonaldTrump  

The Fake News Media will not talk about the importance of the United Nations Security Council's 15-0 vote in favor of sanctions on N. Korea!

With all eyes on North Korea, China quietly tests missiles over weekend, US officials tell Fox

By Lucas Tomlinson

As the world reacted to North Korea’s record-setting long-range missile test Friday, one day later and hundreds of miles away, China quietly performed a dramatic series of missile tests of its own, designed U.S. officials say, to send a message to the United States and the world.

On Saturday, U.S. spy agencies detected the Chinese military launching a series of 20 missiles at mock up targets designed to look like American THAAD missile batteries and advanced US Air Force F-22 stealth fighter jets.

China has long protested the deployment of U.S. THAAD anti-ballistic missiles to South Korea, and doubled down on its condemnation after the government in Seoul said they want four more American launchers over the weekend following North Korea’s second KN-20 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) launch.

Officials believe the Chinese military tested intermediate, medium and cruise missiles and were also meant to coincide with China’s Army Day celebrations on August 1st, when China staged a massive military parade involving 12,000 troops in the desert along with dozens of tanks, jets and missiles.  Chinese state media said it was the first time China ever celebrated Army Day with a parade, attended by China’s President Xi Jinping and Beijing’s military chief.

China currently has as many destroyers, crusiers and submarines as the U.S. Navy.  Beijing recently put a new type of destroyer in the water which analysts say rivals advanced American Arleigh Burke-class destroyers.

Days before the China missile tests Saturday, U.S. military satellites also detected a failed attempt of China’s anti-ballistic missile system—Beijing’s version of the US THAAD system

At the State Department Tuesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters the United States and China are at a “pivot point” in history.

Tillerson acknowledged differences between super powers over North Korea and Beijing’s continued island construction of military bases in the South China Sea.

“We will deal with those differences in a way that does not lead to open conflict,” Tillerson vowed.

China's U.N. envoy said this week said it’s up to the United States and North Korea, not Beijing, to reduce tensions and work toward resuming talks to end Pyongyang's nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile programs.

Tillerson said yesterday “at some point” he would be open for talks with North Korea.

One day after North Korea’s record-setting intercontinental ballistic missile launch, President Trump tweeted that he was “very disappointed” in China for doing “nothing” to stop North Korea’s missile and nuclear weapons programs.

FOX News Exclusive: Security risks identified in Defense Department program

Reporting by James Rosen

Since 2009, the Defense Department has enrolled more than 10,000 foreign-born individuals into the U.S. Armed Forces under a program called “Military Accessions Vital to the National Interest,” or MAVNI.

In exchange for service, the foreigners, selected for language and other needed skills, can receive an expedited path to U.S. citizenship.

Among the program’s success stories is the Army’s soldier of the year in 2012, Sgt. Saral Shrestha of Nepal.

But lawmakers on three committees tell FOX news MAVNI has “big problems,” and that its ranks have been, quote, “compromised” due to inadequate vetting, and that some MAVNI enrollees are now unaccounted for.

“The lack of discipline in implementation of this program has created problems elsewhere,” said Republican Congressman Steve Russell of Oklahoma, a retired Army officer who first sounded the alarm a month ago.

FOX News has confirmed exclusively that the Pentagon Inspector General has investigated the program and issued a report—its contents still classified—evaluating the services’ compliance with security reviews for, and monitoring of, MAVNI enrollees.

“The Department of Defense is conducting a review of the MAVNI pilot program due to potential security risks associated with the program,” a spokesman told FOX.

But the Pentagon cited “pending litigation” for saying nothing more.

A lawsuit was filed in February against Defense Secretary James Mattis, in which seven MAVNI enrollees, all naturalized U.S. citizens, alleged their careers were “crippled” after DOD began restricting access to security clearances issued under MAVNI last fall.

One lawmaker told FOX News that a backlog of cases led to applicants being enrolled in the armed forces before full clearance checks had been completed. Another problem was the use of MAVNI to hire workers, like cooks, drivers and mechanics, who did not possess the specialized skills MAVNI was created to exploit. 

Russia retaliates

Reporting by Amy Kellogg

Russia is retaliating and as a result hundreds of American diplomats will have to pack their bags and leave the country by September first.

Staff at the US Embassy and consulates will now be capped at 455 people, the same number Russia has in the United States, and the Serebryanni Bor compound where Americans working in Russia would vacation will be off limits as of next week. Storage facilities used by the American Embassy in Moscow will also be closed in a matter of days.

The US Ambassador has expressed “strong disappointment and protest.”

The moves from Moscow signal payback for the new sanctions passed by Congress this week. Russian President Vladimir Putin said enough is enough.

“It is impossible to endlessly endure boorish behavior toward our country.”

A key aspect of the new legislation is congressional control. It removes the president’s authority to remove any sanctions without the blessing of Congress.

In addition, the bill puts new restrictions on a wide range of entities from weapons suppliers to corrupt individuals and it punishes Russia for meddling in the 2016 presidential campaigns.

The sanctions bill had overwhelming bipartisan support.

“It sends a message to him and the rest of the world,” said Senator Chuck Schumer. Any further attempts to degrade our democracy will meet further sanctions and action. We will not stand by idly as this is done. There is no process that is more sacred.”

President Obama seized two Russian diplomatic properties in the US last December and expelled 35 diplomats. President Putin did not respond at the time. Analysts say the Kremlin was banking on better relations with incoming President Trump and didn’t want to rock the boat.

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson did speak with his Russian counterpart Sergei Lavrov who said the Russian movers were not an eye for an eye but a forced step. That said, Lavrov claims Russia is still ready to normalize relations.

American allies join adversaries in criticizing U.S. sanctions bills

Reporting by Rich Edson

American allies are joining U.S. adversaries in criticizing sanctions bills the House and Senate have passed targeting Iran, North Korea and Russia.

The sanctions towards Russia target its oil and gas sector. European companies conduct business with Russian firms and these sanctions could expose them to penalties. The European Union is considering retaliating against the U.S.

Statement from the French Foreign Ministry:

“…the extraterritorial scope of this text appears to be unlawful under international law.”

The German government demands the U.S. coordinate with its European allies with German Foreign Office Spokesman Martin Schaeffer saying, “The United States does not have the right to sit in judgement on European companies, and to tell them how to do business with a third country, in this case with Russian energy providers, on a contractual or other level.”

The bills also limit the president’s authority to ease sanctions against Russians and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson has argued that limits his flexibility in negotiating with the Russian Government.

The White House remains noncommittal on the bills the House and Senate have already passed.

There’s a possibility that more changes take place and so we’re going to see what that looks like before we make a final decision,” said White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders. “The President and the entire administration as we’ve said many times before strongly support sanctions against Russia, Iran, and North Korea.”

The U.S. is relying more on sanctions to address adversaries’ aggressive behavior, as two senior U.S. officials say the intelligence community believes North Korea continues its ballistic missile program and Iran is poised to launch another rocket.

Congress is still considering these sanctions and the House passed a version this week that is different from the bill the Senate approved. Congressional leaders, with wide support in both parties, will have to work out those differences before sending a bill to the White House.

Tensions continue between President Trump and Attorney General Sessions

Reporting by Kevin Corke

Even as he left the White House today, questions about the future tenure of the embattled attorney general remained unanswered.

But one thing is clear--President Trump is displeased with the job performance of his attorney general and continued to hammer Jeff Sessions again today on Twitter.

“Why didn’t A.G. Sessions replace Acting FBI Director Andrew McCabe, a Comey friend who was in charge of Clinton investigation but got big dollars ($700,000) for his wife’s political run from Hillary Clinton and her representatives. Drain the Swamp!”

Some have wondered why President Trump continues to attack the very first senator to back him during the campaign, with Senator Lindsey Graham (R-SC) telling FOX News Channel he believes the president is “trying to get Sessions to quit” and that he hopes that doesn’t happen. Graham also added “if the president wants to fire him, fire him.”

Sessions has been leading a Justice Department that is looking into the possibility of Russia meddling in the 2016 election. Sessions has recused himself specifically from the probe—a decision that has angered President Trump.

White House aides say the president wants Attorney General Sessions to simply do his job, with White House Press Secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders telling reporters this afternoon the president wants to focus on things like immigration, leaks, and a number of other issues.

Fox News has also learned that Attorney General Sessions will soon announce several criminal leak investigations, which a source claims, has “been in the works for some time.”

Fox Exclusive: Feds Arrest House IT staffer trying to leave country, charge him with bank fraud

Reporting by Chad Pergram-Capitol Hill

Fox has learned that USCP, the FBI and Customs and Border agents last night arrested House IT staffer Imran Awan and charged him with multiple counts of bank fraud.

Awan has been at the center of a House computer equipment computer scandal probed by USCP and the feds. At issue is how Awan may have double-billed the House for various computers, iPads, monitors, keyboards, routers, et al.

Several relatives of Awan worked for House Democrats and were fired. Awan was kept on staff by Rep. Debbie Wasserman Schultz (D-FL) even though he was not allowed access to the House server network. Authorities have also looked into the IT workers putting sensitive House information into the “cloud” and exposing it to outside sources.

Fox is told that the feds arrested Awan at Dulles International Airport in suburban Virginia as he was “trying to leave the country.” He has been arraigned and charged. Awan was forced to surrender his passport but is being monitored by the court.

Fox is told that Awan is still on the House payroll for the moment under Wasserman Schultz.

Fox reported first last week that arrests were coming in the case.

Awan and his relatives worked for House Democrats for more than a decade, earning hundreds of thousands of dollars. But Awan declared bankruptcy in 2012.

Awan is of Pakistani descent. Democratic sources have told Fox they believe the probe is a railroad against the family due to their ethnicity.

The investigation continues. 

Charlie Gard's parents make difficult decision to take son off life suport

Reporting by Benjamin Hall

The parents of 11-month-old Charlie Gard announced today they would let their son go and “be with the angels.”

Charlie’s father called the decision the hardest one they’ve ever had to make after what would be their final appearance in a British courtroom.

“As Charlie’s devoted and living parents we have decided that it’s no longer in Charlie’s best interests to pursue treatment.”

The news came as a surprise to many supporters who had gathered outside, but additional scans which took place last week showed that damage to Charlie’s muscles and tissues was now irreversible, and crucially he also had irreversible brain damage.

Despite the prognosis, Dr. Michio Hirano, the U.S. specialist who came to examine Charlie last week, was still willing to treat him-though with less hope of success.

Charlie’s parents claim there’s only one reason his muscles had deteriorated to this extent—time wasting. Charlie was born with mitochondrial depletion syndrome, a rare genetic disease, and has been fighting for months.

Tragically, having had Charlie’s medical notes reviewed by independent experts we know had Charlie been given the treatment sooner he would have had the potential to be a normal, healthy little boy,’ Charlie’s father told reporters.

Charlie Gard will now be taken off life support and is expected to pass away soon after that.

There still remain huge ethical, moral, medical and legal issues in this case, not lease who has the right to choose a child’s care—the parents or the state. Now the big debate will be whether the legal wrangling cost precious time as they Charlie’s parents had been asking for treatment since November.

Car bomb in Kabul

Reporting by Greg Palkot

Smoke rose over Kabul, Afghanistan today as an explosive filled car rammed into a bus filled with government workers. The suicide bomber left at least 24 dead and 40 wounded as well as vehicles and shops destroyed. Civilians were among the injured, including women and children.

The Taliban claimed responsibility for the carnage saying intelligence agents were victims. Afghan officials denied that, bud do admit the death toll following this and other attacks in Kabul and across the country is growing with nearly 1700 civilians killed this year.

All of this comes as the U.S. is weighing more troops to the country with some 8,500 there now—down from earlier levels, serving in an advisory role.

Afghan security forces often seemed overwhelmed by Taliban fighters. Insurgents overran districs outside of the capital recently. They are active nationwide.

While pledging “total victory” in military matters at the commissioning Saturday of a new aircraft carrier, President Trump is still reportedly uncertain about sending more troops to a  conflict raging for some 16 years.

Experts do note that Kabul hasn’t fallen yet, perhaps giving a reason to hang in there, despite Taliban atrocities.

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