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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 24945 times)
G M
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« Reply #100 on: May 05, 2014, 03:45:26 PM »

http://freebeacon.com/national-security/report-n-korea-has-nuclear-warheads-for-missiles/
« Last Edit: May 05, 2014, 04:02:45 PM by G M » Logged
ccp
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« Reply #101 on: October 12, 2014, 07:47:54 PM »

Is Korea up to it's old tricks or does this mean something with regard to power shift in N Korea?

*****The Koreas
Till Kimdom come
An unusual visit to South Korea by a powerful Northern trio raises plenty of questions
Oct 11th 2014 | SEOUL | From the print edition Timekeeper CloseSave this article
 
THE surprise at the Asian games, in the South Korean city of Incheon, did not come on the track. Rather it was when three of North Korea’s most powerful men suddenly appeared on October 4th, the day of the games’ closing ceremony.

The seniority of the men visiting South Korea was unprecedented. Though it was at least the third trip south for Kim Yang Gon, North Korea’s point-man on relations with the South, it was the first for Choe Ryong Hae, thought to be the closest aide of the young dictator, Kim Jong Un—until watchers believed he had been purged in May. Most surprising, however, was Hwang Pyong So, head of the political bureau of the Korean People’s Army and probably the North’s second-in-command.

The trio dropped in with only a day’s notice and had, it appears, no particular message. Still, they were warmly welcomed by the South’s unification minister for lunch and tea; Mr Hwang in turn conveyed Mr Kim’s “heartfelt greetings” to President Park Geun-hye. They also met Ms Park’s national security adviser, Kim Kwan-jin, and the prime minister, Chung Hong-won. After months of refusals, the North agreed to a new round of talks soon.

On the face of things, it marks a transformation of the lousy North-South relations since Ms Park took office last year. North Korea has fired a score of rockets into seas around the Korean peninsula this year. A relentless propaganda offensive has taken aim at Ms Park. Now, North Korea may want to patch up with the South as its relations with China sour. Remarkably, the Chinese media made no mention this week of the 65th anniversary of the two countries’ ties; North Korean mouthpieces returned the compliment. But money usually counts for much with the North. It may be keen to see South Korean trade sanctions eased and to restart hard-currency tours to Mount Kumgang, a resort shut off since 2008, when a soldier shot dead a South Korean tourist.

High-level officials from the North have not come south since the funeral of a former president, Kim Dae-jung, in 2009. Indeed, no one as senior as Mr Hwang has ever visited South Korea before, says Michael Madden, who runs “North Korea Leadership Watch”, a blog. Mr Hwang arrived in full military garb and on Mr Kim’s personal plane. Sending its heavyweights for snaps with foreign officials makes North Korea look “more like a sovereign state, less like a gangster fiefdom”, says Robert Kelly of Pusan National University. North Korea is burnishing its image elsewhere, too. Last month its foreign minister attended the UN’s General Assembly, for the first time since 1999, and in Europe a senior diplomat even met the EU’s top human-rights official.

All this has rumbled on while the young Mr Kim has been out of view. He was last seen on September 3rd, attending a concert with his wife. Mr Kim’s late father, Kim Jong Il, would disappear for months. But his son has been much more visible, and this is his longest absence yet. He even skipped a set-piece meeting of the North’s parliament.

Mr Kim, who may be 31, is fat, drinks heavily and smokes even in front of the cameras. In July he was seen limping. Gout and an ankle injury are thought to be reasons for his “discomfort” announced by state media last month—possibly the first-ever acknowledgment of problems with a North Korean leader’s health.

Now Mr Hwang’s sudden appearance in the South has some wondering who wields ultimate power in the North. Mr Hwang has been promoted five times this year, an “unprecedented, almost scary” rise, says Mr Madden. He gained his most senior title yet, that of vice-chairman of the National Defence Commission—the North’s top executive body, headed by Mr Kim—at the very gathering from which Mr Kim was absent.

Mr Hwang is also an official of the Organisation and Guidance Department (OGD), seen by some as a party within the party and established by Kim Jong Il to keep rivals and relatives in check. It has the power to appoint and dismiss all party members. Jang Jin-sung, a former propaganda official for Kim Jong Il who fled the North in 2004, thinks there has been a power grab. Mr Hwang arrived in Incheon flanked by two bodyguards: a move that Mr Jang sees as lèse-majesté, for hitherto only the supreme leader could ever be seen to be guarded. The trio looked in control, “not like anyone’s delegation”, says Aidan Foster-Carter, an analyst of North Korea at Leeds University. They also stinted in public on flattering the Young Leader; and rather than bridle at questions about his ill health, they denied any problem.

Few besides Mr Jang support the theory of a coup, however. Had the Kim family been overthrown, there would presumably have been troop movements, particularly in sensitive border areas. And, despite strained ties, the top brass would surely first turn to China for reassurance, says Hahm Chai-bong of the Asan Institute, a South Korean think-tank. Still, the tantalising possibility arises of Mr Kim being at the centre of a cult, but not the centre of power.

As soon as the trio had returned home, calls grew in South Korea for a response to their unusual gesture. For the first time, members of the ruling conservative party asked to lift trade sanctions introduced in 2010 after a South Korean corvette was torpedoed, killing 46. Yet just three days after the visit, North and South Korean ships exchanged fire when a Northern patrol boat crossed a disputed maritime boundary. The North can surprise. But it can also be wearyingly predictable.

From the print edition: Asia

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ccp
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« Reply #102 on: October 29, 2014, 07:35:27 AM »


Mystery Of Kim Jong Un's Disappearance May Be Solved
 
AP      | By KIM TONG-HYUNG 
Posted:  10/28/2014 8:14 am EDT    Updated:  10/28/2014 10:59 pm EDT   
 
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — South Korea's spy agency believes it has solved the mystery of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un's 6-week public absence that set off a frenzy of global speculation, a lawmaker who attended the agency's closed-door briefing said Wednesday.

The National Intelligence Service told legislators Tuesday that a foreign doctor operated on Kim in September or October to remove a cyst from his left ankle, lawmaker Shin Kyung-min said. He said the spy agency also told lawmakers that the cyst could recur because of Kim's obesity, smoking and heavy public schedule.

After last being seen in state media on Sept. 3, Kim reappeared on Oct. 14 hobbling with a cane, but smiling and looking thinner. The speculation during his absence was particularly intense because of the Kim family's importance to the country locked in a long-running international standoff over its nuclear and missile programs. The family has ruled the nation since its founding in 1948.

Shin said the spy agency identified Kim's condition as tarsal tunnel syndrome, an often painful condition that is caused by the compression of a nerve, sometimes because of a cyst. Surgery is generally seen as a last resort after other treatments are unsuccessful.

No weight should be put on the foot for 10 days after an operation, and an improvement in symptoms may take two to three months, according to the website of the NYU Langone Medical Center's Department of Neurosurgery.

It wasn't immediately clear how the information about Kim's condition was obtained by the spy agency, which has a spotty track record of analyzing developments in opaque North Korea.

The agency also told the lawmakers that North Korea has expanded one of its five political prisoner camps in the country. The agency said it believes authorities are relocating inmates held in the Yodok camp, northeast of Pyongyang, to the expanded camp in the northeastern town of Kilju, according to Shin's office.

Shin said the agency also believes that North Korea recently used a firing squad to execute several people who had been close to Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was considered the country's No. 2 power before his sudden purge and execution in December 2013.

In an intelligence success, South Korea's spy agency correctly said that Jang had likely been dismissed from his posts before North Korea officially announced his arrest.

However, it received heavy criticism when its director acknowledged that it had ignored intelligence indicating North Korea's impending shelling of a South Korean island in 2010. It also came under fire because of reports that it only learned of the 2011 death of then leader Kim Jong Il, the father of Kim Jong Un, more than two days after it occurred when state media announced it to the world.

___

Associated Press writer Hyung-jin Kim contributed to this report
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DougMacG
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« Reply #103 on: October 29, 2014, 09:47:15 AM »

I wondered what ankle injury could take a leader out for 6 weeks.  Maybe they flew him to the best in the world, in Cuba, where Hugo Chavez was treated.

"the agency also believes that North Korea recently used a firing squad to execute several people who had been close to Kim Jong Un's uncle, Jang Song Thaek, who was considered the country's No. 2 power before his sudden purge and execution in December 2013."

And Joe Biden thinks he gets rough treatment. 

I wouldn't want to be the doctor who tells Dear Leader he's overweight and smokes too much.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #104 on: May 16, 2015, 08:37:04 PM »

 North Korea: The Shortcomings of a Successful Missile Test
Analysis
May 15, 2015 | 14:38 GMT
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A man watches a report on a North Korean missile launch at the Seoul Railway Station in March 2014 in Seoul, South Korea. (Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images)
Summary

On May 9, North Korea tested its new KN-11 submarine-launched ballistic missile under the watchful gaze of U.S. satellites, aircraft and observation ships. North Korea’s launch was successful: military personnel ejected the missile from underwater, its engine ignited at the surface and it flew about 150 meters (490 feet) before crashing into the sea. Fully developing this technology would extend the reach of North Korean nuclear missile systems and improve the country's second-strike capability in case its ground-based facilities are taken out. The smoothness of the test and the resulting media attention, however, obscure the major obstacles to developing this capacity. Developing the missile technology is one step, but Pyongyang also needs a suitable ballistic missile submarine of the requisite size, endurance and stealth — something that it does not have and will find challenging to develop.
Analysis

Pyongyang is naturally secretive about its submarine-launched ballistic missile program and has carefully guarded the details of it. Because of this, post-test estimates of the program’s progress have varied. An anonymous South Korean defense official told the media that North Korea could develop a fully operational system within two to three years. U.S. officials, however, believe a fully functional system is far from completion and allege the test was not actually carried out from a submarine. Instead, they suggest it was a simulated firing to test an underwater ejection system, perhaps from a towed launch pad.

Fielding a submarine-launched ballistic missile is difficult. The technology is much more complex than land-based missile technology, which itself has already proved challenging for North Korea. Underwater launch first requires a successful ejection system and a gas generator for reducing hydrodynamic resistance. Still, a reliable submarine-launched ballistic missile is not completely out of North Korea’s reach. With time, continuous tests and the necessary resources, the North Koreans could eventually develop a successful system.
North Korea's Geographic Challenge

The technology for the missile system itself, however, is just one aspect of a successful system. A sea-based nuclear missile capability hinges on developing an adequate carrier vessel — a ballistic missile submarine. Without a large, stealthy and long-range submarine, the North Korean submarine-launched ballistic missile effort will simply consume significant resources without altering the nuclear equation.

On paper, North Korea’s submarine fleet is quite large, comprising around 70 vessels. But the majority of these are mini-submarines that displace about 300 tons of water and are unsuited for operations beyond littoral waters. The North Korean navy’s largest submarines at the moment are Chinese Type 033 vessels. These are copies of Russia’s 1950s-era Romeo-class submarines and displace 1,830 tons. Rumors suggest North Korea is developing a replacement for these submarines: the Sinpo-class. These new vessels, however, are unlikely to exceed the capabilities of the improved Type 033 variants currently in use and will be of around the same size, displacing approximately 1,500 tons.

Unfortunately for Pyongyang, the Sinpo-class submarines under development simply do not meet the requirements to be an adequate ballistic missile launching platform. In order to function in this capacity, a submarine would need to be of sufficient size to carry a ballistic missile. The smallest submarine to ever carry a submarine-launched ballistic missile is the Soviet Zulu IV-class, which carried one to two nuclear ballistic missiles, displaced approximately 2,000 tons and was a full quarter heavier than North Korea’s Chinese Type 033 or Sinpo-class submarines. Pyongyang will need bigger vessels in the future to carry one to two missiles in an operational capacity. To carry more would require a new and entirely different class of submarine.

Despite these challenges, the benefits of a fielded submarine-launched ballistic missile are substantial. This capability would give North Korea two advantages not offered by ground-based missiles. First, it would extend the reach of North Korea's missile systems and theoretically enable it to strike targets outside of ground-based missile range. Second, submarine-launched missiles, because they are offshore and mobile, would give North Korea a second-strike capability, allowing it to retaliate against attacks on its land-based nuclear bases and launch pads. These benefits assume, however, that North Korea’s submarines have an adequate level of endurance, the amount of time a vessel can remain at sea unsupported. Submarines would need to be able to remain unsupported long enough to reach targets beyond the range of land-based missiles. In order to fulfill a second-strike role, vessels would need to be deployed for months far from vulnerable ports and remain ready for counterattack.

North Korea’s current Type 033 submarines, even with modifications, cannot meet these endurance requirements. A fully functioning KN-11 missile would have a range of approximately 2,500 kilometers (1,553 miles). The Type 033 submarine has a range of around 15,000 kilometers. This is not enough to approach within 2,500 kilometers of the U.S. mainland and return without at-sea refueling. Were North Korea to refuel these vessels at sea, it would significantly degrade the stealth variable of these vessels.

Stealth would be essential in order to avoid being detected and neutralized by an enemy in long patrols at sea or a mission to the U.S. mainland. The Type 033 is a diesel electric boat and can be stealthy in short missions within littoral waters. Beyond these near-shore environments, however, the submarine would have a more difficult time concealing itself without the noise or clutter typically found in littoral waters. The Type 033 would also be forced to spend significant time at the surface to recharge its batteries by running its diesel engines, a process for which they need atmospheric oxygen. Many of the latest conventional submarines, by contrast, are equipped with air-independent propulsion, which means they do not need to surface to run their engines.

Without an adequate submarine, the resources Pyongyang is investing in new missile technology will not improve the capability of its existing land-based missile program. The missiles in the current KN-08 program will still have greater range and will be able to be more rapidly dispersed in large numbers and in difficult terrain. Eventually, North Korea could develop a suitable ballistic missile submarine, but it would take several years to complete. Such a development would truly change the nuclear equation. For now, however, the successful test conducted May 9 is not going to alter North Korea’s nuclear capability.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #105 on: January 10, 2016, 12:53:10 PM »

I forget where I saw this idea recently, but the suggestion was that the Chinese are the ones in the best position to pressure the Norks about their nukes and that the way to pressure the Chinese to do so was to threaten to help/encourage the Japanese to go nuke and develop their military.

edited to add that the suggestion also included the South Koreans.
« Last Edit: January 10, 2016, 03:23:03 PM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
G M
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« Reply #106 on: January 10, 2016, 03:08:06 PM »

I forget where I saw this idea recently, but the suggestion was that the Chinese are the ones in the best position to pressure the Norks about their nukes and that the way to pressure the Chinese to do so was to threaten to help/encourage the Japanese to go nuke and develop their military.

At this point, both Japan and Taiwan would be best served by going nuclear. Another Obama legacy!
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DougMacG
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« Reply #107 on: January 10, 2016, 04:02:01 PM »

I forget where I saw this idea recently, but the suggestion was that the Chinese are the ones in the best position to pressure the Norks about their nukes and that the way to pressure the Chinese to do so was to threaten to help/encourage the Japanese to go nuke and develop their military.
At this point, both Japan and Taiwan would be best served by going nuclear. Another Obama legacy!

Yes, he is the President who ended non-proliferation.  Legitimized NK and paved Iran's path, what could possibly go wrong?  Everyone goes nuclear but the worst countries have no fear of (mutually) assured destruction.

For one thing, if Iran destroyed Israel tomorrow or if NK landed a bomb on Los Angeles, Secretary Kerry would immediately accerate diplomatic efforts with them.  Perhaps require more self inspection.  No one would expect him to strike back. 

And Trump would threaten a trade war.
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ccp
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« Reply #108 on: January 10, 2016, 04:06:16 PM »

Well if history serves us correctly here NK is playing the same game they always play.

They are all bluff awaiting another appeasing deal the West is great at caving into.

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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #109 on: February 08, 2016, 10:46:33 AM »

By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

3-2-1. The big news over the weekend was North Korea’s long-range rocket launch which it claimed put a satellite into space. The move, which comes just weeks after the North tested a nuclear device, has rattled world leaders and added to some existing tensions between Washington and Beijing.

Almost immediately upon news of the launch, the U.S. and South Korea announced they were kicking off “formal consultations” over deploying the U.S.-made Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system to South Korea. A statement released on Saturday by U.S. Forces-Korea claimed the system “would be focused solely on North Korea and contribute to a layered missile defense that would enhance the Alliance’s existing missile defense capabilities against potential North Korean missile threats.” But Beijing isn’t so sure.

Beijing unhappy. The Chinese government has long cited concerns over the potential deployment of THAAD’s radar system to South Korea, which can penetrate deep into China. The Lockheed Martin-built THAAD is a long-range missile defense system that can knock ballistic missiles out of the sky at high altitudes, even outside the earth’s atmosphere. Japanese Defense Minister Gen Nakatani said late last year that Tokyo is considering deploying the system the bolster its Patriot missile capability.

And if you need to see what THAAD looks like in action, here’s some video.

As concerning as the North’s actions are, Ben Goodlad, an analyst at IHS Aerospace, Defence and Security, urged some caution. It’s “important to remember that this wasn't a ballistic missile test, however the rocket motors tested during the launch could be used to form the first and second stages of any future weapon," he said. Reports indicate that the satellite launched Sunday weighed about 440 pounds, doubling the weight of a satellite launched in a similar test in 2012.

Blame Clinton (the other one). The launch came up on the campaign trail here in the States, with Republican presidential hopefuls using it to try and secure some national security leverage. Texas Senator Ted Cruz reached back almost two decades in assigning blame for the North’s ability to launch the rocket and continuing ability to test nuclear devices, FP’s John Hudson writes. “The fact that we’re seeing the launch and we’re seeing the launch from a nuclear North Korea is a result of the failures of the first Clinton administration” for loosening sanctions against the nation, Cruz said. “What we are seeing with North Korea is foreshadowing of where we should be with Iran.”
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #110 on: February 13, 2016, 10:19:40 AM »

stratfor

Summary

Editor's Note: This analysis explores the ongoing tensions between Washington and Seoul over a U.S. proposal to deploy an anti-ballistic missile system. Tomorrow, Stratfor will consider the broader picture, namely, the competing U.S. and Chinese strategies that underscore the controversy.

Planned April discussions over the deployment of a U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system on the Korean Peninsula have strained the U.S.-South Korea defense relationship. The Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense missile system, known as THAAD, is a mobile and air-transportable anti-missile platform and a key component of U.S. layered air defense. The United States argues this layered system is necessary to protect South Korea as well as U.S. forces deployed there.

In recent weeks, however, China has voiced strong opposition to any THAAD deployment in South Korea. Russia and North Korea have followed suit. Beijing has not so subtly reminded Seoul that China, not the United States, is South Korea's major trading partner and that any deployment could have significant political and economic costs. In reply, Seoul has said that it will make a decision on THAAD based on its own national interests. Beijing's public commentary, however, is making it likely that Seoul will decide to accept the deployment, rather than continue with its policy of strategic ambiguity. Regardless, South Korea's public hesitation in accepting the THAAD systems highlights the country's subtle desire for greater independence in its defense, challenges to the U.S. regional strategy, and China's rising concern.
Analysis

South Korea has not yet taken a concrete stance on whether it will accept THAAD deployments. There are several reasons for this posture. First, according to South Korean officials, the United States has not yet issued a formal request to deploy the system, meaning that there have been no consultations. This is technically true but South Korea and others have known for years that the United States considers Korea a prime location for THAAD deployment. Reports in South Korean media said that the U.S. military had already assessed potential sites in South Korea — a fact Seoul is aware of.

Seoul's second reason for remaining noncommittal stems from concern about maintaining its balance between the United States and China. While the United States is South Korea's most significant defense partner, China is South Korea's largest trading partner. Seoul has also worked for years to use its political ties with Beijing to help manage the North Korean threat. As North Korea's largest trading partner as well as its main economic and security patron, China is in a singular position to assist South Korea in its relationship with North Korea.
Risks of Deployment

THAAD deployment — as seen vividly in Beijing's public objections — carries immediate political risks for South Korea. The question is whether the benefits of deployment outweigh those risks. Authorizing the deployment of THAAD would increase the robustness of South Korea's layered missile defense system. THAAD would protect against tactical and theater ballistic missiles, at ranges up to 200 kilometers (125 miles) and altitudes up to 150 kilometers (93 miles). A THAAD battery, typically composed of nine transporter or launcher vehicles with eight missiles each, two mobile tactical operations centers and a ground-based X-band radar, also uses a "kinetic kill" system. The system does not employ explosive warheads and can intercept hostile ballistic missiles inside or outside the earth's atmosphere.
Interactive
Interactive Graphic: Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD)

North Korea's missile systems, too, are layered, using artillery and KN-02 ballistic missiles for short-range attack, Scuds for further reach, Nodong missiles for medium-range and Taepodong missiles for long-range. South Korea is most concerned about North Korea's artillery rockets and ability to launch saturation attacks with short-range missiles. Fears of North Korea's more advanced Nodong missiles — which THAAD would counter — are less pressing.

But South Korea's defense system also includes Patriot PAC-3 systems for point defense and Aegis-equipped destroyers as the initial source of interceptors to knock out ballistic missiles during their mid-course flight. The PAC-3 system has proven itself capable of intercepting less advanced Scud missiles. Practically, the systems in place may be enough to protect South Korea — in a time of war many of North Korea's longer-range missiles would likely target U.S. bases in Japan. This is not to minimize the ballistic missile threat from North Korea. For Seoul, however, there are reasons to consider different air defense architecture. This architecture would deal with the full range of the threat from North Korea while giving South Korea a degree of operational independence and a freer hand in designing its own defenses.

Over the past decade, South Korea has sought to create a defense architecture that is more independent of the United States. Seoul is not necessarily looking to expel U.S. forces from the country but it cannot be sure that U.S. interests will always align with those of South Korea. Seoul also finds it politically fraught to be entirely dependent upon the United States for its defense. Washington has pressured Seoul to tighten defense ties with Japan — a move that many South Koreans oppose for historical reasons.

The United States has also been pushing for changes in the defense alliance architecture that would allow U.S. forces in South Korea to deploy elsewhere in times of crisis. Seoul fears that granting the United States this option would ultimately lead to South Korea being tied politically to any overseas U.S. war. Finally, South Korea is concerned that the United States is overly cautious about Chinese concerns to the detriment of South Korean interests. Seoul was frustrated by the long delay in a U.S. show of naval force off South Korea's coast following the March 2010 sinking of the ROKS Cheonan, allegedly by North Korean torpedoes.
Seeking More Independence

In addition to these strategic concerns, Seoul would like to boost its own domestic defense industry for economic reasons and technological development. It would also wean South Korea off of its dependence on the United States for supplies and defense. Seoul already invested money toward its own air defense network called the Korea Air Missile Defense, a series of systems that would include U.S. elements but not be completely tied into the U.S.-Japanese anti-ballistic missile architecture. The system would free up Seoul to pursue missile and anti-missile development projects with Israel or even Russia.

Washington has long hesitated to more fully share missile development technology with South Korea — a stance that has been a bone of contention between the two allies. The United States argues that reliance on U.S. systems preserves the balance of power because it reduces South Korea's ability to unilaterally begin a war with North Korea. While THAAD would bolster South Korea's immediate defense — or at least the defense of U.S. bases in South Korea — it would do little to improve South Korea's ability to develop its own systems or expand its own defense industry.

The South Korean debate over THAAD deployment has become highly public — something that Seoul never intended to happen. Managing the U.S. defense relationship has been a controversial topic in domestic politics with South Korean political parties expressing competing views. Though the government in Seoul — whether conservative or liberal — largely agrees that South Korea must maintain a robust defense alliance with the United States, the exact balance and level of self-determination are both hotly contested. Even before the introduction of the question of political risk to Chinese relations, the THAAD decision was subject to competition within Seoul.

However, China's decision to so actively and publicly decry a deployment that has yet to be officially requested has forced Seoul to openly and immediately address the issue. It has also pushed Seoul toward approving at least a limited THAAD deployment on the Korean Peninsula — if only to underscore the independence of its decision-making.

Editor's Note: This is the first of two analyses on THAAD deployment in South Korea, read the second part here. 
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #111 on: April 23, 2016, 04:30:46 PM »

http://www.allenbwest.com/michellejesse/just-in-south-korea-on-high-alert-after-north-koreas-latest-move
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G M
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« Reply #112 on: April 23, 2016, 04:49:55 PM »


This is very bad news. Luckily, we have Team "Smart Power" on the job!

 rolleyes
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #113 on: May 23, 2016, 11:45:31 AM »

Summary

Editor's Note: This is the first installment of a five-part series examining the measures that could be taken to inhibit North Korea's nuclear weapons program. The purpose of this series is not to consider political rhetoric or noninvasive means of coercion, such as sanctions. Rather, we are exploring the military options, however remote, that are open to the United States and its allies, along with the expected retaliatory response from Pyongyang.

Few countries intrigue and perplex like the Democratic People's Republic of Korea. Isolated by choice from the ebbs and flows of the international system, North Korea is an island of its own making. It is often painted as a weak, fearsome lunatic with delusions of grandeur and aspirations to become a nuclear power, but the truth is a little more complicated. Despite outward appearances, Pyongyang is not reckless in its ambition. Nor does it foolhardily invite destruction. It walks a fine line, hoping to quietly attain a credible nuclear deterrent without inciting world powers to take decisive action.

Deterrence has always been a part of North Korea's survival strategy. Pyongyang's calculated disarray is primarily for the benefit of potential aggressors, advising caution should provocation lead to a disproportionate response. Thriving on contradiction, Pyongyang simultaneously depicts itself as fragile to the point of collapse yet immeasurably strong. This act has served the Kim dynasty well, gaining concessions from major powers that normally would not have been afforded.

North Korea has a good read on the world's inability and unwillingness to respond, not only because of upcoming U.S. elections but also because of the risk of pre-emption: Pyongyang's conventional deterrent raises the cost of intervention far higher than it is at most other places. The window for a military option to stem Pyongyang's nuclear program is closing, but that does not necessarily mean a strike is more likely now than before. Still, the balance is delicate, and should Pyongyang overplay its hand, the repercussions could be catastrophic.
Analysis

North Korea's biggest fear is to be coerced into a position of subservience, having to prostrate itself before China (its primary benefactor) or another powerful country. Its carefully curated image of aggressive unpredictability is intended to preserve its authoritarian and regulated society and, as a result, its isolation. The North is unlikely to expose itself to the international community unless it can guarantee two things: the primacy and security of its leaders, and an effective military deterrent. And there are few deterrents as effective as nuclear weapons. Pyongyang's unswerving progress toward developing a nuclear capability reflects the singular obsession with which it chases its goals and why the West takes its threats seriously.
North Korea's Geographic Challenge

Security and longevity have always been at the forefront of Pyongyang's reasoning. In the immediate aftermath of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided into its constituent parts, sandwiching a Russian-backed northern Korean administration between mainland China and the U.S. Army Military Government in Korea to the south. North Korea flourished during the Cold War, maintaining strong connections with the rest of the communist bloc. Until the 1970s, North Korea was more prosperous than the South. Things changed, however, in the aftermath of the collapse of the Soviet Union in the early 1990s.

As Cold War structures crumbled around the North and its defense partners became less viable, Pyongyang realized it had to adapt to survive, especially in the face of a burgeoning South Korea. Beyond an asymmetric approach to defense — including assassination attempts, high-profile kidnappings, bombings and subterranean excavations — North Korean began pursuing other options to safeguard its existence. It soon realized that a fledgling nuclear program provided a weighty bargaining chip. Transitions of power within the ruling Kim family served to make Pyongyang only more insular and unpredictable. The Inter-Korean Summit in 2000 led to a reduction of provocation across the peninsula, but Pyongyang's imperatives remained unchanged.

Being branded a rogue state by the United States did little to dampen the flame of juche, the ideology installed by Kim Il Sung and the epitome of Korean self-reliance. Juche effectively calls for North Korea to stand alone economically, militarily and on the world stage. North Korea began to act up again in 2010, in advance of another transition of power within the Kim family, sinking a South Korean naval vessel and launching artillery at a prominent border island. Then in 2013, the country threatened once more to withdraw from the 1953 Armistice Agreement. Under Kim Jong Un's tenure, North Korea has prioritized strategic weaponry over all else. Despite widespread condemnation from the international community, Pyongyang has actually accelerated its nuclear weapons program, for it sees a credible nuclear arsenal as the only guarantor against Western-imposed regime change.
A Generational Congress

All eyes were on North Korea for its 7th Workers' Party Congress at the beginning of May, the first such meeting in more than 35 years. It was also the first time Western journalists were invited en masse to attend, albeit with strict limitations and the ever-present threat of deportation. The congress served many purposes, not least of which was to consolidate and institutionalize Kim Jong Un's rule and move away from the informal lines of command and political fiefdoms that developed under the rule of his father. Shedding his previous title of first secretary, Kim was introduced as party chairman for the first time.

During his address on May 7, Kim was quick to point out the advances made by the country's nuclear weapons and missile programs. He singled out Pyongyang's burgeoning nuclear capability as the protective layer that will enable economic development, a concept known as byungjin. But considering that North Korea's nuclear aspirations have saddled the country with economic sanctions, the statement appears somewhat ironic. That said, the announcement of a five-year economic plan is telling: Kim is accepting the kind of responsibility once shouldered by his grandfather, Kim Il Sung, and solidifying his primacy at the head of the people's republic.

Pyongyang is optimistic to consider itself a nuclear power. A variety of tests and launches indicate that North Korea is assembling the constituent parts of a re-entry vehicle, but nothing decisively suggests that it has a fully functional nuclear ballistic missile. The country's fourth successful underground nuclear test was conducted Jan. 6, followed a month later by a satellite launch into orbit. This was trailed by ground tests of a rocket nose cone capable of withstanding atmospheric re-entry. Meanwhile, North Korean scientists proceeded with the controlled ignition of a solid rocket engine and, allegedly, the development of a miniaturized nuclear warhead.

On top of these nuclear stepping-stones were a number of ballistic missile tests, including the use of mobile land-based platforms and submarine launches, the latter theoretically within strike range of Guam and Japan. Though these tests included some failures — most notably three successive failures of the Musudan mobile intermediate-range ballistic missile system — they demonstrate clear progress in developing most of the individual segments of a viable nuclear deterrent. And North Korea's intent is to keep progressing until Pyongyang has a survivable weapon it can launch at short notice that will deliver a nuclear payload to the continental United States.

In response, efforts by the international community seeking denuclearization of North Korea are falling short. Pyongyang's position is deliberately opaque, primarily because it is beneficial to keep the West uncertain as to North Korea's true capabilities. If the missile program's well-publicized failures can nonetheless create enough doubt in the minds of U.S. policymakers, it might be enough to defer any possible strike. If success is not assured in North Korea's nuclear program, is direct action justifiable? Yet, North Korea is coming late to the nuclear game, and the technologies it is pursuing are already decades old. For many strategists and speculators alike, it is simply a case of when, not if. The key question then becomes: Can the United States afford to let Pyongyang cross the nuclear Rubicon? If the answer is no, then consideration must be given to the ways in which countries opposing North Korea, primarily the United States and South Korea, will use military force to neuter the nuclear program and impose compliance. The threat alone might be impetus enough for Pyongyang to take the final steps, as Stratfor's expert on North Korea, Rodger Baker, considers:

    As Pyongyang approaches a viable nuclear weapon and delivery system, the pressure is rising for the United States and other countries to pre-empt it. Consequently, the final moments of North Korea's transition from a working program to a demonstrated system are the most dangerous, providing a last chance to stop the country from becoming a nuclear weapons state. For North Korea, then, these final steps must happen quickly. Because 2016 is a presidential election year in the United States, Pyongyang may feel it has a window to finalize its nuclear arms program while the United States is preoccupied with domestic politics and unlikely to take military action. Furthermore, having just held parliamentary elections and facing a presidential contest in 2017, South Korea, too, is in the midst of political transition. North Korea is making a gamble, one that bets both on its read of U.S. politics and on its own ability to overcome technological hurdles.

This is the cost calculation faced by policymakers in the United States and South Korea as they consider a political decision that could lead to military action. The United States is the singular military power that has both the intent and the capability to conduct such an operation and would naturally take the lead. Washington has also been branded a target for North Korean aggression, along with Seoul and Tokyo.

In the coming installments, we will examine the options available to the United States and its allies should they decide to act militarily against North Korea. We will also consider, in turn, the nature of any retaliation or counterstrike by Pyongyang. The focus here is on offensive action rather than diplomacy, though it is important to note that Washington does not make decisions lightly or in isolation. Though political will must drive military intent, the opportune time for offensive action is rapidly running out. This, theoretically, makes the final stages of Pyongyang's nuclear program the most risky — it is clear the North is nearing the final steps, and once it has a viable nuclear weapon, it is too late for Washington to intervene. These are the waning moments for any practical intervention. In light of this, the second part of this series will examine what targets would need to be struck if the United States chooses to take action.
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« Reply #114 on: May 30, 2016, 09:13:55 AM »

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