The Irish Times

The Irish Times online. Latest news including sport, analysis, business, weather and more from the definitive brand of quality news in Ireland.

https://www.irishtimes.com/

China’s test of hypersonic weapon raised regional tensions, says US defence chief.

US defence secretary Lloyd Austin has said China’s development and test of a hypersonic weapon had increased tensions in the Indo-Pacific region and underscored why China was the top challenge for the American military.

“We know that China conducted a test of a hypersonic weapon on the 27th of July,” Mr Austin said in his first confirmation of the test that was first reported by the Financial Times.

“We’ll continue to maintain the capabilities to defend and deter against a range of potential threats from the PRC to ourselves and our allies,” he added during a visit to Seoul.

China flew a hypersonic glide vehicle – a manoeuvrable spacecraft that travels at more than five times the speed of sound – on an orbital rocket system, demonstrating the ability to hit any part of the US with nuclear weapons. The HGV launched a missile as it flew over the South China Sea, revealing a capability that stunned the Pentagon because of the difficulties of firing a projectile while flying at such a speed.

Mr Austin was speaking alongside Suh Wook, his South Korean counterpart, after annual talks about the military alliance between the countries. The discussions included General Mark Milley, chair of the US joint chiefs of staff.

In a joint communiqué, Mr Austin and Mr Suk acknowledged the “importance of preserving peace and stability in the Taiwan Strait”. That language reinforced a statement issued by President Moon Jae-in and President Joe Biden issued in May, which reflected escalating concern in the region about China’s increasingly assertive military activity around Taiwan.

Abe comments

Shinzo Abe, the hawkish former prime minister of Japan, suggested on Wednesday that Tokyo would support the US in a conflict with China over Taiwan if Beijing invaded the country. China views Taiwan as part of its sovereign territory.

The Chinese foreign ministry on Thursday summoned the Japanese ambassador to complain, saying Mr Abe had offered “brazen support” for pro-independence forces in Taiwan.

Xi Jinping, China’s president, told Mr Biden last month that anyone who supported independence forces in Taiwan would be “playing with fire”.

The South Korean defence minister declined to say if the country, a US defence ally, would help defend Taiwan in a conflict with China.

US and South Korean officials also discussed North Korea and agreed to start the process of updating their plan for any potential military clash. Austin said the allies reaffirmed their view that Pyongyang was “continuing to advance its missile and weapons programmes which is increasingly destabilising for regional security”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un outlined his nuclear ambitions in January, which include tactical weapons, undersea-launched long-range nuclear arms and hypersonic weapons. North Korea has since tested a submarine-launched ballistic missile and a train-launched ballistic missile. In September, it claimed to have tested a new hypersonic missile that it suggested was capable of delivering a nuclear warhead over long ranges.

Gen Milley and Mr Austin also held talks about a long-term goal of South Korea commanding the joint forces that the nations have on the peninsula. The US has about 18,500 troops stationed in South Korea.

Seoul has also been pushing Washington to support a push to declare an end to the Korean war, which ended with an armistice in 1953. The progressive administration of Mr Moon, whose successor will be elected in March, wants to secure diplomatic support for an end-of-war declaration.

The US has entertained the idea but has not offered its full backing because it does not see what benefits this would bring, particularly as it struggles to get North Korea to hold talks over its nuclear programme. – Copyright The Financial Times Limited 2021

19-Year-Old Pilot Becomes Youngest Woman To Fly Solo Around The World.

19-Year-Old Pilot Becomes Youngest Woman To Fly Solo Around The World.

Zara Rutherford is now the youngest woman to fly solo around the world. NBC News’ Dasha Burns reports more on the 19-year-old’s five-month journey circling the globe.   » Subscribe to NBC News: » Watch more NBC video: NBC News Digital is a collect...

'Like a clown car on fire': Cooper reacts to Giuliani's fake electors plot.

'Like a clown car on fire': Cooper reacts to Giuliani's fake electors plot.

Trump campaign officials, led by Rudy Giuliani, oversaw efforts in December 2020 to put forward illegitimate electors from seven states that Trump lost, according to three sources with direct knowledge of the scheme. CNN's Pamela Brown reports. #C...

White House avoids questions on soft-on-crime policies.

White House avoids questions on soft-on-crime policies.

'The Five' panelists weigh in on the White House's refusal to weigh in on radical district attorneys. #FoxNews #TheFive Subscribe to Fox News! Watch more Fox News Video: Watch Fox News Channel Live: FOX News Channel (FNC) is a 24-hour all-encompas...

Demand for Peloton bikes, treadmills fall

Demand for Peloton bikes, treadmills fall

The CEO of Peloton denied a report that the company was idling factories.

1 31

Ukraine crisis: UK says Russia has 'not learnt lesson' as UK warns against conflict.

Ukraine crisis: UK says Russia has 'not learnt lesson' as UK warns against conflict.

RUSSIA is set to encircle Europe with massive war games alongside China and Iran as fears grow over a possible invasion of Ukraine. Putin plans to hold naval drills in the Atlantic, Arctic, Mediterranean and the Pacific this month, Moscow's Minist...

Growing Cities Struggle To Keep Up With Housing Shortage.

Growing Cities Struggle To Keep Up With Housing Shortage.

Home prices have skyrocketed during the pandemic while supply chains and labor issues have crippled contractors, leading to a nationwide housing shortage. NBC News’ Guad Venegas reports from Reno, Nevada, a booming town struggling to keep up with ...