EDM Thursday Briefing: North Korea Fires Missiles, China Enforces Sanctions, Drones Used to Assist First Responders
Emergency and disaster management briefing for Thursday, March 10, 2016: North Korea fires missiles protesting sanctions and military drills, China enforces recently passed UN sanctions on North Korea, and clean up continues in Japan five years after a massive earthquake, tsunami and nuclear meltdown.
- North Korea launched two short-range ballistic missiles off its eastern coast earlier today. This latest action was followed by a statement that the country intends to liquidate the remaining assets that North Korea holds from its joint ventures with South Korea. This includes the Kaesong industrial complex that is in North Korean territory, but funded by Seoul and worth an estimated $663 million dollars.
- This and many of the recent actions by North Korea have been in direct response to the newly increased and strengthened UN sanctions imposed on the nation that impact international transport systems and the country's raw mineral export. A key part of the sanctions' effectiveness depends on China's willingness to enforce them, but a recent report indicates that the nation has blacklisted 31 North Korean vessels, and is turning them away from its ports.
- Such missile launches are not unusual for North Korea when it seeks to protest actions by South Korea or the U.S. These missile launchers are seen most often during dual military drills between the United States and South Korea. Drills between the two nations began on Monday, reportedly the largest ever to occur.
- A recent report indicated that Pentagon deployed military drones flown over the United States in the past ten years were not to flown as spy missions, but instead largely done to support first responders. The report also noted that the flights always occurred according to and within existing laws. Many of the flights were said to aid in search and rescue, flooding, and forest fires.
- Friday, March 11, 2016 marks five years since the The Great East Japan Earthquake, a magnitude 9.0 quake that triggered the massive Tōhoku tsunami, killing approximately 18,000 lives. Recovery still continues across the island nation. Of the villages completely wiped out out by the tsunami, some have tried to rebuild, but others simply cannot. All of the villages located nearest the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear Plant remain deserted and uninhabitable due to high radioactive levels from the plant's nuclear reactor meltdowns following the tsunami.
- Clean up at the plant following the nuclear disaster has been slow, and the vast amounts of radioactive debris, including soil and water, is currently being stored on site at the plant. The decommissioning of the plant is likely to take decades, as many areas around the reactors are still too highly radioactive to allow access for clean up.
- Some areas hardest hit by the tsunami are attempting to rebuild, such as Rikuzentakata, whose destruction included four out of every five buildings. The village is now constructing a wave barrier that is 40 feet high for protection against future tsunami's. Other projects include increasing the height of city blocks near the shoreline to 50 feet, which is being done by compacting soil and rocks to elevate the ground.