News Briefs – June 17, 2020

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North Korea’s military threatens to reenter demilitarized areas

North Korea’s military on June 16 threatened to move back into zones that were demilitarized under inter-Korean peace agreements as the country continued to dial up pressure on rival South Korea amid stalled nuclear negotiations with the Trump administration.
The General Staff of the Korean People’s Army said it’s reviewing a ruling party recommendation to advance into unspecified border areas that had been demilitarized under agreements with the South, which would “turn the front line into a fortress.”
The powerful sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un days earlier said the North would demolish a “useless” inter-Korean liaison office in the border town of Kaesong and that she would leave it to the military to come up with the next step of retaliation against the “enemy” South.
“Our army is keeping a close watch on the current situation in which the (North-South) relations are turning worse and worse, and getting itself fully ready for providing a sure military guarantee to any external measures to be taken by the party and government,” said the KPA’s General Staff, which is akin to other countries’ Joint Chiefs of Staff.
It said it’s studying an “action plan for taking measures to make the army advance again into the zones that had been demilitarized under the (North-South) agreement, turn the front line into a fortress and further heighten the military vigilance against (the South),” according to the statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency.
While it wasn’t immediately clear what actions North Korea’s military might take against the South, the North has threatened to abandon a bilateral military agreement reached in 2018 to reduce tensions across the border. AP
 

Company provided subpar steel for Navy submarine hulls

For decades, the Navy’s leading supplier of high-strength steel for submarines provided subpar metal because one of the company’s longtime employees falsified lab results — putting sailors at greater risk in the event of collisions or other impacts, federal prosecutors said in court filings June 15.
The supplier, Kansas City-based Bradken Inc., paid $10.9 million as part of a deferred prosecution agreement, the Justice Department said. The company provides steel castings that Navy contractors Electric Boat and Newport News Shipbuilding use to make submarine hulls.
Bradken in 2008 acquired a foundry in Tacoma, Wash., that produced steel castings for the Navy. According to federal prosecutors, Bradken learned in 2017 that the foundry’s director of metallurgy had been falsifying the results of strength tests, indicating that the steel was strong enough to meet the Navy’s requirements when in fact it was not.
Prosecutors say the company initially disclosed its findings to the Navy but then wrongfully suggested that the discrepancies were not the result of fraud. That hindered the Navy’s investigation into the scope of the problem as well as its efforts to remediate the risks to its sailors, prosecutors said.
There is no allegation in the court documents that any submarine parts failed, but Moran said the Navy had incurred increased costs and maintenance to ensure the subs remain seaworthy. The government did not disclose which subs were affected. AP
 
 
 

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