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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 58770 times)
Power User
Posts: 42476

« on: October 13, 2006, 08:25:58 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: The Non-Reactions to the North Korean Test

One of the rules of geopolitical analysis is that you should pay little attention to what people say and a great deal of attention to what they do. Applying that principle to the North Korean explosion (nuclear, fizzled or other) causes us to come to a singular conclusion: there is no great concern among the major powers about what happened. No one is doing anything on their own and no one can agree on what should be done together. If this is a crisis, no one is acting that way.

The United States and Japan, it is true, have imposed sanctions on North Korea. However, China and Russia aren't going along with this, therefore the action is fairly meaningless. It's like a balloon with two holes in it: it defeats the entire purpose. The United States, it should be added, can't be surprised by the Russian and Chinese position. Moscow and Beijing have always been wary of following the U.S. sanctioning protocol with other countries, and they were always unlikely to follow the Americans on North Korea. Given that fact -- and given that Washington knows it -- U.S. and Japanese sanctions are more a gesture than an action.

If one listens to conventional analyses of the situation, North Korea poses a threat to the international community, and the key countries -- the United States, China, Russia, Japan and South Korea -- are searching for ways to achieve the common goal of a non-nuclear North Korea. This is the community-of-nations theory of international relations, also known as multilateralism. It makes an assumption of a common interest that really isn't accurate. In fact, all of the key players have very different interests.

China, for example, sounds like a country that is quite upset that North Korea did something it didn't want. It behaves as a country that is quite content with North Korea's move, as it should be; the test flouts America's will and the United States is unable to do anything about it. American impotence is of direct interest to China. The United States has maneuvered itself into a position of taking primary responsibility for dealing with North Korea's threat. China, seeking a dominant position in Asia, welcomes anything that makes the United States appear incapable of carrying out this role. The weaker the United States appears, the greater the vacuum for China to step into. Beijing is going to make the appropriate sounds, but will also make certain that the United States looks as helpless as possible.

The Russians, too, are pleased to see North Korea's challenge to the United States and America's inability to respond; they are not going to bail Washington out. Russia sees itself as locked in a duel with the United States in the former Soviet Union. It holds the Americans responsible for the recent crisis in Georgia, as well as for a generally aggressive stance in Ukraine and Central Asia. The Russians are delighted to see the United States bogged down in Iraq and Afghanistan. Anything that adds to American pain can only help.

Now, one might say that both Moscow and Beijing should be concerned that the unstable government in Pyongyang might threaten them with nuclear weapons. In our view, neither China nor Russia sees Pyongyang as unstable, politically or mentally. They are not worried about North Korean nukes because (a) North Korea doesn't really have nuclear weapons yet and (b) North Korea will be wiped from the face of the Earth by China or Russia should it strike at them and Pyongyang knows it. The risks are low and the benefits are high for both China and Russia. The appropriate expressions of concern will be uttered, but neither country will do anything.

Japan is concerned -- but not to the point of taking any unilateral action, because it can't. South Korea is far more worried about a conventional war than North Korean nukes, and does not want the government in Pyongyang to fall under any circumstances. The task of integrating a post-Communist North Korea with the South would cripple South Korea for decades. The South Koreans are not happy North Korea tested a nuke, but they are not about to do anything to destabilize the situation.

Multilateral approaches assume that there is a common interest in a solution and that the problem is working out the process to get there. There are indeed times when there is a common interest among nations, but they are rarer than times when interests diverge. In the case of North Korea, what we see is not a group of nations struggling to find a way to achieve a common goal. Rather, we see a group of nations pretending to have a common goal, and using that as a cover for pursuing very different ends. China and Russia view this as weakening the United States and they like it. South Korea does not want chaos to the North. Japan is waiting for someone else to take a risk. And the United States is out of options and allies.

The only good news for Washington is that it might discover that the test was not a nuclear test at all. That would relieve it of the burden of doing something, and therefore not make it look nearly as helpless as it now does. Indeed, discovering that there was no nuclear blast would solve a lot of problems; it would show that not doing anything was the result of prudence, and not of a lack of options.

« Last Edit: April 01, 2012, 07:42:13 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
Power User
Posts: 9471

« Reply #1 on: October 16, 2006, 11:47:36 PM »

Thanks Crafty for the Strat report.  I don't agree completely, but it makes a nice takeoff point for discussion.

Strat makes several assertions or conclusions that are arguably valid, but could also be looked at differently.  At the core they seem to see this as a U.S. public relations challenge with the U.S. looking impotent.  IMO, that assumes that people buy the anti-American rhetoric of the regime (they are doing this because they are threatened by the U.S., they demand 2-party talks with the U.S., etc.).

Blame goes to the NK regime IMO, not Clinton, Carter, Bush or China. If they fed their people or allowed any human effort at having an economy maybe one could then argue that defense and exerting sovereignty are healthy or righteous interests. That is not the case.

If there is a PR problem it should go to China who has influence and leverage, who laid down the line that was then crossed.

Strat quote: "The United States has maneuvered itself into a position of taking primary responsibility for dealing with North Korea's threat."

Yes, the current and previous President said this was unacceptable.  But I assume the same goes for statements of all others in the 6-party talks except for the DPRK and the UN and all the non-proliferation nations.  This is NOT acceptable.  Unfortunately, all this is in the context of the Iraq experience: the 12 years of resolutions without enforcement or consequences, the lack of support for action from so much of the world, and the enormous difficulty, tragedy and yet unknown outcome of finally taking bold action.

Strat continued: "the United States is out of options and allies."

Obviously there is an elephant in the room, a militatary strike in the spirit of Ozirak, the Israeli strike on an Iraqi nuclear facility in June 1981, is very carefully not being mentioned or discussed in any way. Ozirak reference:

I see that China is working on a new fence:  Perhaps that is in preparation for the fall of the NK regime and perhaps they are considering stronger actions after they feel they can control the flow of refugees - pure speculation on my part.  As Strat wrote, they also have an interest in seeing the status quo continue.  They certainly do not fear the NK regime.

The U.S. allies with the most to fear from a nuclear NK are obviously South Korea first (if they are still our ally), then Japan and ...Taiwan, oops another elephant in the room. 

I don't know the timeframe for North Korea becoming a real threat.  If this is a U.S. problem, then the political timeframe for this administration taking any action is 2 years.  In the Ozirak link above, the time frame was also driven by a leader with a deadline to leave office.

Under my theory that this really is a China problem first and with China not wanting Japan and Taiwan to accelerate their militarization or increase their defense cooperation with the U.S., I presume China could shut this down one way or another in a short order if or when that decision is made. 

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #2 on: October 17, 2006, 06:20:22 AM »
Power User
Posts: 42476

« Reply #3 on: October 22, 2006, 06:00:40 AM »

We need a thread dedicated to NK.  So here it is, started with yet another post pilfered from GM grin

The Sunday Times October 22, 2006

Kim tested by rise of armed resistance
Michael Sheridan, Far East Correspondent

AN underground resistance movement in North Korea, capable of smuggling out videos of executions and staging violent acts of defiance, has emerged as the Kim Jong-il dictatorship faces international sanctions for testing a nuclear bomb.
The latest evidence of North Koreans willing to risk their lives to tell their story is a video showing the execution by firing squad of a woman convicted of murder committed in the course of stealing food last July.

Captured by a bystander with a tiny camera, it shows the victim being tied to a stake, watched by other convicts, in a field next to the Juyi River in the north.

There are sounds of people muttering in Korean, ?See, that?s how they blindfold them,? as three executioners prepare to fire. Shouted commands are then heard.

As a ragged series of 12 shots resounds, blurry clouds of smoke break out around the distant figure, which slumps in its bonds. The body is then wrapped in what appears to be a plastic bag for burial.

The video was aired by Japan?s Asahi Television, which said the dead woman was named Yoo Bun Hee, but gave no details of how it obtained the pictures. North Korean exiles said they believe it is authentic.

The footage provides a clue to an unexplained series of border incidents earlier this year which North Korean officials blamed on a shadowy ?resistance?.

In one clash North Korean border guards confronted three men creeping at night across the frozen Tumen River from China. In the ensuing fight the intruders stabbed several soldiers and escaped, leaving a bag containing three guns, ammunition, a video camera and a phone.

On the same night in late January men opened fire on a frontier post at the town of Huiryeong, causing an unknown number of casualties before escaping.

Chinese witnesses and foreign diplomats say there have been repeated outbreaks of gunfire, usually at night, along the mountainous barren borderlands. Lim Chun Yong, a former North Korean special forces officer who has defected, claimed that four or five groups of an ?armed resistance? were in the area.

?The people say among themselves that the regime is worse than the Japanese colonists,? he told South Korea?s Dong-A Ilbo newspaper.

The constant traffic of traders and escapees along the 850-mile border has eroded totalitarian controls to the point where clandestine goods and ideas now thrive in the frontier provinces. Smuggled mobiles allow North Koreans to make calls on Chinese networks by capturing their signals at the border.

Because there are no barriers to calling South Korea or the United States from China, they can talk to family members and enemies of the regime.

The latest video is proof that Chinese currency and DVDs are in circulation, because some witnesses to the execution had been forced to watch as punishment for possessing such things.

People smugglers and black-marketeers are rife. Chinese sources said some North Korean border guards could be bribed to turn a blind eye.

When the rivers freeze or dry to a trickle, it is almost impossible to seal the frontier. Chinese travellers report that in some areas North Korean officials are too nervous to go out at night and military reinforcements have been brought in from politically reliable units.

Experts on the regime do not expect it to fold quickly or easily. The exiled Hwang Jang-yop, 83, who was the chief ideologue in Pyongyang before his astonishing defection to the South in the late 1990s, says only the overthrow of Kim Jong-il could end its nuclear ambitions.

Kim could also easily withstand the envisaged United Nations sanctions, he added.

The next step in the crisis is still in doubt after Condoleezza Rice, the US Secretary of State, cast doubt on reports that Kim had expressed regrets and promised no more tests. Instead, she said, North Korea seemed bent on escalation.
Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #4 on: October 23, 2006, 06:38:48 AM »

Korea's Nightmare: Horrors of Life in the North
By Peter Brookes

As many problems as North Korea's Stalinist dictatorship makes for the rest of the world, what it inflicts upon its captive population is far, far worse. Life in Kim Jong Il's iron-fisted police state is a hellish nightmare.

It's the most repressive country on earth, under absolute control of "Dear Leader" Kim. Fear, intimidation and wild-eyed propaganda dominate every aspect of society.

From outside, it can seem comical - like Pyongyang's recent boast that Kim had fired 11 holes in one - in 11 holes, of course - the first time he played golf. Somehow, that whopper was supposed to boost the tyrant's image.

But let's take a peek behind Kim's Iron Curtain.

The U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom reported in 2005: "There are virtually no personal freedoms in North Korea." Indeed, any and all civil liberties are considered a threat to the regime.

Radios and TVs are hard-wired to pre-set frequencies, over which North Koreans are subjected to constant propaganda, martial music, or B-grade Korean War flicks (this time, they win.) All homes display pictures of the "Dear Leader" and his father, "Great Leader" Kim Il Sung.

Crimes in "Kim-land" include defecting (or just trying), slandering Kim or the government, listening to foreign broadcasts, reading "subversive" material - even sitting on a newspaper that displays Kim's picture.

Failure to play by the rules can mean a bullet to the back of the head or time in one of Kim's seven political gulags, hard-labor camps that hold more than 200,000 men, women and children. The North Korean Freedom Coalition estimates that 400,000 to 1 million political prisoners have perished, some in gas chambers, in these camps since they were set up in 1972.

The regime has been accused of using political prisoners as guinea pigs in medical experiments. Public executions of tortured prisoners aren't uncommon.

One former North Korean prison guard who defected said: "They trained me not to treat the prisoners as human beings . . . beating and killing is an everyday affair . . . they're just like dogs or pigs."

A single person's offense can get an entire family - sometimes up to three generations - sent to the gulag. Female prisoners, who become pregnant - sometimes due to rape by prison guards - often undergo forced abortions. Infanticide, at the hands of guards, takes place, too.

Making matters worse, North Korea has been fighting a famine since 1995. Natural disasters such as annual floods account for some of the food shortages, but most is due to failed agricultural and economic policies.

As a result, as many as 2.5 million people (out of a population of 22 million) have died due to starvation/disease over the last decade. While accurate numbers are near impossible to come by, today , 7 percent are believed to be starving, and 37 percent chronically malnourished, reports Freedom House.

Even more tragic, many children born during the famine have been orphaned - and suffer from mental/physical handicaps due to severe malnutrition early in life. Defectors report cases of cannibalism.

And while North Korea has received massive influxes of international food aid, relief groups say Pyongyang uses food as a weapon, directing aid to the most loyal segments of society, while withholding it from others. People have subsisted on twigs, bark and grass for years. Local cooperatives mix grass with grain to produce horrid, drab olive "Franken-food."

As many as 300,000 North Koreans have fled to northern China. But Beijing won't let relief groups assist them (for fear of encouraging others), so refugees are victimized by locals into near-slavery or prostitution or returned as criminals - to an almost certain death sentence.

And while common people starve, the elite spends millions on luxuries. Kim's cognac bill is $500,000 a year. When he has a craving, he sends his personal chef abroad to fetch his favorite nosh. And then there's Dear Leader's female "happiness teams"

North Korea spends one-third of its gross domestic product on a million-man army, ballistic missiles and an expensive nuclear-weapons program, while the country's hospitals , desperately short of supplies, are little more than hospices .

The regime may now have a nuke, but it's had a weapon of mass destruction for years. Unfortunately for the North Korean people, that WMD is their "Dear Leader," Kim Jong Il.

Peter Brookes is a columnist for The New York Post , a Heritage Foundation senior fellow and author of "A Devil's Triangle: Terrorism, WMD and Rogue States."

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #5 on: October 23, 2006, 07:24:20 AM »

Allow Japanese Nukes
By Charles Krauthammer

The first stop on Condoleezza Rice's post-detonation, nuclear reassurance tour was Tokyo. There she dutifully unfurled the American nuclear umbrella, pledging in person that the United States would meet any North Korean attack on Japan with massive American retaliation, nuclear if necessary.

An important message, to be sure, for the short run, lest Kim Jong Il imbibe a little too much cognac and be teased by one of his "pleasure squad" lovelies into launching a missile or two into Japan.

But Rice's declaration had another and obvious longer-run intent: to quell any thought Japan might have of going nuclear to counter and deter North Korea's bomb.

The Japanese understood this purpose well. Thus, at a joint news conference with Rice, Foreign Minister Taro Aso offered the boilerplate denial of even thinking of going nuclear: "The government of Japan has no position at all to consider going nuclear."

The impeccably polite Japanese were not about to contradict the secretary of state in her presence. Nonetheless, the very same Aso had earlier the very same day told a parliamentary committee that Japan should begin debating the issue: "The reality is that it is only Japan that has not discussed possessing nuclear weapons, and all other countries have been discussing it."

Just three days earlier, another high-ranking member of the ruling party had transgressed the same taboo and called for open debate about Japan's acquiring nuclear weapons.

The American reaction to such talk is knee-jerk opposition. Like those imperial Japanese soldiers discovered holed up on some godforsaken Pacific island decades after World War II, we continue to act as if we, too, never received news of the Japanese surrender. We applaud the Japanese for continuing their adherence to the MacArthur constitution that forever denies Japan the status of Great Power replete with commensurate military force.

Of course Japan has in recent decades skirted that proscription, building a small but serious conventional military. Nuclear weapons, however, have remained off the table.

As the only country ever to suffer nuclear attack, Japan obviously has its own reasons to resist the very thought. But now that the lunatic regime next door, which has already overflown Japan with its missiles, has officially gone nuclear, some rethinking is warranted.

Japan is a true anomaly. All the other Great Powers went nuclear decades ago -- even the once-and-no-longer great, such as France; the wannabe great, such as India; and the never-will-be great, such as North Korea. There are nukes in the hands of Pakistan, which overnight could turn into an al-Qaeda state, and North Korea, a country so cosmically deranged that it reports that the "Dear Leader" shot five holes-in-one in his first time playing golf and also wrote six operas. Yet we are plagued by doubts about Japan's joining this club.

Japan is not just a model international citizen -- dynamic economy, stable democracy, self-effacing foreign policy -- it is also the most important and reliable U.S. ally after only Britain. One of the quieter success stories of recent American foreign policy has been the intensification of the U.S.-Japanese alliance. Tokyo has joined with the United States in the development and deployment of missile defenses and aligned itself with the United States on the neuralgic issue of Taiwan, pledging solidarity should there ever be a confrontation.

The immediate effect of Japan's considering going nuclear would be to concentrate China's mind on denuclearizing North Korea. China calculates that North Korea is a convenient buffer between it and a dynamic, capitalist South Korea bolstered by American troops. China is quite content with a client regime that is a thorn in our side, keeping us tied down while it pursues its ambitions in the rest of Asia. Pyongyang's nukes, after all, are pointed not west but east.

Japan's threatening to go nuclear would alter that calculation. It might even persuade China to squeeze Kim Jong Il as a way to prevent Japan from going nuclear. The Japan card remains the only one that carries even the remote possibility of reversing North Korea's nuclear program.

Japan's response to the North Korean threat has been very strong and very insistent on serious sanctions. This is, of course, out of self-interest, not altruism. But that is the point. Japan's natural interests parallel America's in the Pacific Rim -- maintaining military and political stability, peacefully containing an inexorably expanding China, opposing the gangster regime in Pyongyang, and spreading the liberal democratic model throughout Asia.

Why are we so intent on denying this stable, reliable, democratic ally the means to help us shoulder the burden in a world where so many other allies -- the inveterately appeasing South Koreans most notoriously -- insist on the free ride?

Power User
Posts: 15533

« Reply #6 on: October 24, 2006, 05:59:38 AM »

Cracking the Hermit Kingdom 
By Gordon Cucullu and Joshua Stanton | October 24, 2006

The twin fizzles of North Korea?s attempted long-range Fourth of July rocketry and its semi-successful nuclear test encourage those who favor procrastination as a viable foreign policy. In the long run, it affords little comfort that North Korea?s weapons don?t work well, because it cannot stop Kim Jong-il?s patience and marketing of more and better rockets. After 15 years of stalling, lying, and cheating his way through nuclear negotiations, Kim Jong-il could be the subject of a Country & Western song. We must accept the fact that he is faithful to his nuclear weapons programs, and unfaithful to anyone who would take them away from him. As Ambassador Christopher Hill put it, ?North Korea can have nuclear weapons or it can have a future.? Kim Jong-il has chosen; he means to build the Arsenal of Terror. Now, we must choose whether we will let him.

Can we disarm Kim Jong-il at less risk of a catastrophic war than the risks of continuing with the present course?  We think so, but not through conventional diplomatic or military means.


Some analysts talk of military strikes directed at key facilities. Newt Gingrich has suggested that the Kim regime be told privately, on unequivocal terms, that every time he stands a missile up for testing it will be killed on the pad. Some suggest reacting against any movement toward another nuclear test with a strike against the deeply dug-in, highly protected test equipment. Strikes might set some of those programs back but probably could not destroy his underground nuclear facilities. The other side of the cost-benefit ledger is heavy:  domestic forces might compel Kim Jong-il to respond, and that could escalate into a second Korean War and the destruction of Seoul, which lies within artillery range of the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ).


Economic sanctions have the benefit of attacking Kim Jong-il?s economic vulnerabilities. For the past year, the Treasury Department has been constricting the financial arteries that support Kim Jong-il?s palace economy:  illegal weapons, narcotics, and counterfeiting. These measures have shown some promising results. Japan?s new Prime Minister, Shinzo Abe, just added his muscle to the squeeze by denying North Korean merchant ships access to Japan?s ports and by vigorously attacking one of Kim?s great sources of foreign cash: Korean Yakuza operations in western Japan. UN Resolution 1718 (which, by itself, justified John Bolton?s confirmation) freezes or cuts off funds for his WMD-related assets and accounts, and even bans him from purchasing luxury items, such as his French Cognac supplies. The object of this goes beyond the inducement of derelium tremens. Louis XIV said, ?L??tat, c'est moi,? but Kim Jong-il has perfected it in practice. He stands atop a precarious pyramid of faction-riven Party hacks, intelligence service thugs, and what former Ambassador Jim Lilley calls ?hard-faced generals.? Kim Jong-il knows that too many missed payments to these men, whose endemic corruption requires constant care and feeding, puts him a trigger squeeze from oblivion.


Others have proposed a naval blockade, but Kim?s protectors, including China and South Korea, might help diffuse the effect of the more onerous sanctions. Another less risky option could be almost as devastating:  the Treasury Department could designate North Korea itself as an ?entity of concern? for money laundering, under Section 311 of the USA PATRIOT Act. That would instantly sever all of North Korea?s connections to the international finance system, but would have collateral effects in other countries whose cooperation we would prefer to obtain through polite requests.


All of these measures will have an effect, but they will take time. They might also cause Kim Jong-il to squeeze his suffering people even harder, and in the end, they might mean little more than replacing one evil tyrant with another. They might force Kim Jong-il to negotiate, but not in good faith. They might weaken the regime, but they won?t necessarily replace it with one that will live in peace.


We still have not spoken of North Korea?s greatest vulnerability: its citizens?s disapproval. We think of North Korea as a stable, opaque, Orwellian monolith, but recently we have seen cracks in the fa?ade. Refugees and defectors report a recent wave of uprisings and expressions of dissent. A few of the disturbances, such as the rising in the Onsong Concentration Camp and the planned mutiny of the Chongjin garrison, were significant. Most, however, were localized, and the regime was able to keep them that way by taking great pains to isolate its subjects from outside world and compartmentalize them from internal communication among themselves.


Geography is also on the regime?s side. North Korea?s terrain is rugged. Its road and communications infrastructure is decrepit. (Its original dictator, Kim Il Sung, died of a heart attack, because ambulances could not negotiate the road to one of his mountain hideaways in time.) Today, even Kim Jong-il?s concentration camps are not, physically speaking, ?concentrated;? they are really scattered networks of guarded hamlets where uprisings are easy to contain and from which escape is a formidable challenge. All information comes from tightly controlled Party outlets. Radios and televisions are pre-set with approved frequencies. Listening to any of the few sources of ?unofficial? information ? South Korean, Japanese, or ?foreign? stations ? is punishable with immediate exile of the suspect and his entire family to a labor camp.


Despite all of these countermeasures, the information blockade on which Kim Jong-il?s power depends is breaking down. Since the famine that killed 2.5 million North Koreans in the 1990?s, hundreds of thousands of North Koreans have voted with their feet and risked death by crossing the border into China. Some of these refugees later returned to North Korea and spoke of China?s comparative prosperity. China arrested others and ruthlessly sent them back to the North Korean gulag. A few escaped to South Korea or elsewhere. This refugee flow is Beijing?s recurring nightmare. China dreads the prospect of an imploding North Korea releasing millions of refugees along the countries? 900-mile border. China, which barely suppressed the SARS outbreak, worries that North Koreans ? whose immune systems are weakened by malnutrition and a lack of basic medical care ? could bring a plague of diseases and burden its economy.


Some of these refugees are crossing out of economic desperation. There is an active business of smuggling goods and people across the Chinese-North Korean border. But most refugees are probably motivated by politics to some degree ? because the government has put them in a low-priority category for food rations, because they have lost all faith in their government, or a combination of both. The moment they see the relative prosperity of China, they realize the magnitude of the propaganda barrage inside North Korea. Meanwhile, corruption, disillusionment, and societal decay have accelerated the corrosive effect on the information blockade. Cell phones, tunable radios, and South Korean DVD?s are now available, even in Pyongyang, to those who know where to find them, even though the possession of these items can be a death-camp offense. There is a growing network of underground churches inside North Korea, a remarkable phenomenon given the ruthless repression with which the Communists have attacked any religion other than the worship of the two Kims.


This below-the-radar decline of the Cult of Kim has led to some surprising results. Last month, Thai authorities arrested as many as 300 North Korean refugees who survived a dangerous journey across China, along a thousand-mile underground railroad run largely by Christian missionaries and sympathizers. On every inch of this journey, they risked forcible repatriation to North Korea if caught by Chinese authorities. Of these 300, half asked to go to the United States ? a nation they had been indoctrinated since birth to hate and fear as an imperialist warmonger. Their remarkable yearning for freedom led them to choose America instead of South Korea, where they already share a common language and customs. According to a recent New York Times report, ?$10,400 will buy a package deal to get someone out of North Korea and, armed with a fake South Korean passport, on a plane or boat to South Korea within days.? It is simply a matter of money; the bodies of those who try to escape without it wash up in bullet-ridden heaps beside the Tyumen River. Yet still, more make the risky crossing.


More also want to know the truth. The Broadcasting Board of Governors recently cited surveys from 2003 and 2004, which found that 28 to 31 percent of North Korean refugees had listened to the Voice of America, and that 18 percent had listened to Radio Free Asia. They tuned in to these forbidden broadcasts in spite of the terrible risk of being caught. The percentage of listeners is probably higher today. Yet two years after the North Korean Human Rights Act authorized the expansion of Radio Free Asia, along with more programs to smuggle information into North Korea, our government is only starting the process of expanding radio broadcasts to the North. North Korea?s hysterical reaction speaks volumes about the subversive potential of broadcasting. The letters North Korean refugees write to Radio Free Asia are inspiring. To be sure, survey samples based on refugees are skewed, but the North Korean people do appear to be an emerging market for such subversive ideas as tolerance, religious freedom, pluralism, free markets, and democracy.


There is another side to breaking down the isolation of the North Korean people that observers tend to overlook ? getting information out of North Korea. In a land still described by popular media as the Hermit Kingdom, the factual vacuum about conditions inside North Korea partially explains why nations have failed to coordinate a common response to such issues as famine, food aid, human rights, crime, and weapons proliferation. Ask most Americans about conditions within North Korea, and you will elicit a shrug. In contrast, even closed societies such as the former Soviet Union and present-day China are open volumes compared to reclusive North Korea. The Great Famine was the most heartrending example of this. By the time international relief agencies gleaned through sparse information and agreed that a famine was killing millions of North Koreans, it was too late to save many of them. A German physician, Norbert Vollertsen, fled North Korea with photos of malnourished children in striped pajama uniforms. When he tried to tell the South Korean people this terrible news, he was beaten by South Korean police, threatened with expulsion, and threatened by pro-North Korean Stalinists determined to protect the South?s appeasement-based Sunshine policy from the truth about conditions in the North. In a more recent and highly suspicious incident, Vollertsen was attacked by a group of unidentified men on a street in downtown Seoul. South Korean Police dismissed the incident and accused Vollertsen of being drunk, although he proceeded to give a speech before an audience that can confirm otherwise.


To their everlasting shame, many in South Korea choose to live in cognitive dissonance and outright denial about conditions inside their northern neighbor. Many South Koreans dismiss reports of grave human rights abuses as ?U.S. propaganda,? and dispute reports of conditions within North Korea?s gulag, to include the reported experimental poison gas chamber at Camp 22. Repeatedly, when the U.N. has considered resolutions condemning North Korea?s atrocities against its people, South Korea abstained or refused to vote. Now, Foreign Minister Ban Ki-Moon, who presided over this shameful diplomacy, is about to become the new UN General Secretary.


While educating South Koreans and others is important, tearing open the bamboo curtain and allowing the light of truth to both penetrate and escape from the North is essential. North Koreans must learn what is happening in their own districts, provinces, and country, and the rest of the world should share this information. Already, this process has made a courageous start. Brave guerrilla cameramen recently brought out video of public executions, labor camps, starving soldiers sent home to die, South Korean food aid stolen by the military, and acts of dissent. A Seoul-based news site, The Daily NK, collects and publishes reports from defectors, traders, and clandestine journalists who cross the border between North Korea and China.


Our government can do much more to support the breaking of this blockade. It can start by breaking our own State Department?s blockade on the appropriation and distribution of funds already authorized under the North Korean Human Rights Act. It should also help to expand this network of clandestine journalists inside North Korea. Many of these journalists could be recruited from the same source that produced the concentration camp survivor, defector, journalist, and author Kang Chol-Hwan ? the ranks of thousands of North Korean refugees in South Korea and in third countries. A select group of them, properly trained in clandestine reporting, could return to their homeland to tell their stories. We could provide them satellite telephones and cameras to transmit their reports without making the risky journey across the border. With enough money, it is possible to smuggle large quantities of i-pods, cell phones, and micro-radios into North Korea, so that the people could hear the news these journalists reported. Eventually, we could train other refugees in basic technical skills, the fundamentals of how democratic government works, and eventually, medicine, so that the underground could begin to provide essential services that the regime stopped providing years ago. Eventually, these volunteers could become the core of new civil society in a scarred, traumatized, and chaotic post-Kim Jong-il Korea.


Ultimately, the key rests with China?s treatment of refugees. China must realize that its refugee policy is earning the eternal enmity of the North Korean people for the sake of a dying regime. One day, North Koreans will make up one-third of the population of a united Korea, which will be one of China?s largest trading partners and trade corridors, and as an added bonus, might not require a large U.S. military presence for its defense. It must begin to accept North Korean refugees in large numbers, even if only in UN-run refugee camps along its border. The United States and a coalition of other nations could foot the bill for refugee care, something that is vastly cheaper than recovering from missile strikes. The establishment of these refugee camps, or ?feeding stations? if you prefer, would be predicated on the notion that all inhabitants would eventually be repatriated to Korea or resettled outside of China.

From Washington, North Korea looks as stable as East Germany, Romania, and Albania looked in 1988. In reality, those regimes hung by tenuous threads, disguising political weakness behind statist omnipotence, waiting for the sword stroke that freed their subjects from oppression. By reaching out to the North Korean people with truth, hope, food, and medical care, we can do much to undermine the cult of hate and isolation on which Kim Jong-il?s grip on power depends. Diplomacy has failed, sanctions are only a partial solution, and military strikes carry an unacceptable risk of disaster. The root of the crisis is Kim Jong-il. We must help the North Korean people uproot him. We must help them achieve what Koreans and Americans have dreamed of for more than half a century:  a Korean that is united and free.

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Lt. Col. Gordon Cucullu is a former Special Forces lieutenant colonel and author of the best-selling book Separated at Birth. Joshua Stanton practices law in Washington, D.C., and blogs at One Free Korea.
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« Reply #7 on: November 01, 2006, 10:29:23 AM »

Geopolitical Diary: A Return to Six-Party Talks

During a meeting in Beijing on Tuesday, representatives from China, North Korea and the United States agreed to restart six-party nuclear talks in the near future. Afterward, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill, Washington's chief negotiator, was upbeat, telling the press that the next round of talks, though still requiring a lot of preparation, likely will lead to "substantial progress" in resolving the North Korean nuclear issue. Hill also gave most of the credit to the Chinese.

These were exactly the words Beijing was hoping to hear. Despite its protestations prior to and following North Korea's October nuclear test, China has demonstrated the ability to benefit politically from North Korea's actions. Whether this was through shrewd Chinese maneuvering following the test or prior knowledge that the test would take place is less significant than the fact that, either way, China once again has come out on top.

China has used North Korea's missile program and nuclear threats to demonstrate its value to the United States as the only path through which Washington can control the actions of the "rogue" North Korean regime. North Korea's early October nuclear test has threatened to add another blot to the Bush administration's record as the Nov. 7 congressional elections approach, and the test has been characterized by opponents of the administration as a clear failure of U.S. policies on North Korea and proof that U.S. President George W. Bush had the wrong focus with the war in Iraq.

China has pulled that brand out of the fire, giving the U.S. administration a moral victory days before the election. Hill, White House spokesman Tony Snow, U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and Bush were quick to tout the win, saying Pyongyang's agreement to return to the talks was proof that the administration's tough policy toward North Korea, and its cooperation with China, were the proper tools to rein in North Korea's behavior.

In return for the political pre-election assist, the United States is giving China full credit for the resumption of talks, and Beijing will certainly ask for other favors in the future. To bring North Korea back to the table, Beijing used a combination of carrots and sticks. On one hand, China restricted some trade and increased its troop presence along the North Korean border, and Hong Kong impounded North Korean ships for "safety violations." On the other hand, Beijing assured Pyongyang of Chinese support and offered to soften the U.S. approach to North Korea.

South Korea and Russia have welcomed the news that the talks are back on, even though a date has not yet been set, but Japan has remained somewhat reticent, reminding Washington, Seoul and Tokyo of their earlier agreement that six-party talks would not resume unless North Korea gave up its nuclear ambitions beforehand. Japan does not want to see a temporary U.S. policy, based on political expediency, derail what Tokyo sees as progress toward regime change in North Korea. It also does not want to lose the convenience of having North Korea as a foil to shape domestic dialogue on Japan's military and constitutional reforms.

For North Korea, the resumption of talks has always been possible -- so long as it could lead to Pyongyang's broader goals of a nonaggression pact or peace accord with the United States and, more immediately, the removal of the economic sanctions against the regime (such as the frozen accounts in Macao). And if China offers certain guarantees, Pyongyang will respond -- even if the North Korean leadership continues to look for ways to become more independent of its former sponsor.

But as Hill correctly pointed out, the news that the nuclear talks will resume is no cause to break out the champagne and cigars. North Korea and China will continue playing their own political games once talks resume, and the United States is no more willing to allow North Korea to continue developing its nuclear program now than it was before the test. Add in Japan's intransigence, and the talks could again be destined for failure -- or another temporary solution that fails to finally resolve the situation (something that seems possible only after a fundamental regime shift in Pyongyang, or at least a shift in the North Korean worldview).

Rather, the only ones really celebrating are the Chinese -- who once again have transformed a perceived regional crisis into a diplomatic coup -- and their North Korean counterparts, who have tested a nuke (though it was a fizzle of a test) and been rewarded with a resumption of dialogue. This is a political gain for China -- one Washington is willing to grant in order to gain at least a week of positive airtime about Bush's foreign policy success. And Beijing sits back smugly in the knowledge that Washington has called in another favor -- one Beijing will expect to be paid in kind at a future date.
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« Reply #8 on: February 14, 2007, 11:49:17 AM »


Faith-Based Nonproliferation
We'll believe it when Kim Jong Il hands over his plutonium.

Wednesday, February 14, 2007 12:01 a.m. EST

So after a couple of decades of broken promises, missile launches and nuclear tests, North Korea's Kim Jong Il has finally decided to give up his nuclear ambitions in return for diplomatic recognition and foreign aid. The Bush Administration will no doubt be praised with scorn for finally being "reasonable" and recognizing "reality," but the exercise strikes us as something close to faith-based nonproliferation.

Perhaps the best thing we can say about the deal is that it is marginally better than the "Agreed Framework," the 1994 accord in which the Clinton Administration agreed to hand over two light-water reactors and 500,000 tons of fuel oil a year in exchange for North Korea's promise to freeze its plutonium program. Pyongyang pocketed the oil, only to demand more compensation within a few years while secretly enriching uranium in a separate nuclear program that it only acknowledged in 2002.

This time there are no nuclear reactors on offer, and North Korea will get only 5% of the promised one million tons of fuel oil and humanitarian assistance up front. The remaining 95% is contingent upon North Korea providing a full accounting of all of its nuclear programs within 60 days, and ultimately agreeing to dismantle the works. That includes nuclear bombs, spent fuel and the clandestine uranium program--which it now denies having but that the Bush Administration insists does exist.

The other difference from 1994 is that China is a party to this accord. Beijing has by far the most leverage of any country on Pyongyang, as its political patron and supplier of most of its energy needs. China was instrumental in getting Pyongyang back to the negotiating table after a three-year absence, and the U.S. is counting on it to help ensure the North's cooperation.
A senior Administration official tells us that there has been a "sea change" in the Chinese attitude toward North Korea since last summer's missile launch--read: Beijing is furious--and that Beijing is now "heavily invested" in making sure that the deal succeeds. We can only hope this is so.

However, Kim has proven he can stand up to China before, and the dictator's habit is to strike an agreement and then try to renegotiate it along the way for better terms. He will have many chances to do so under yesterday's accord, because the commitments and timetables are vague to say the least. His one important specific promise is to shut down his plutonium facility, at Yongbyon, within 60 days.

The accord makes no mention of the plutonium his regime has produced, nor of the eight or more nuclear bombs he is thought to possess. Nor does it refer to his uranium enrichment program, much less specify that international inspectors will be able to roam the country's vast network of underground installations for evidence of where that program might be. Bush Administration officials say that they believe that all of Kim's nuclear activities are covered under the agreement, and that Kim will be expected to come clean in his 60-day declaration.

But if he doesn't? One danger of this accord is that it will start a traditional "arms control" process in which Kim can stall and protest, and the U.S. will be pressured to make even further concessions. We can already see the lineup of South Koreans, Chinese, American media and State Department officials all suggesting that the Bush Administration is being obstinate and "unrealistic" if it insists on intrusive inspections, or on recovering all of Kim's plutonium.

Meanwhile, the immediate effect of the fuel assistance and promises of diplomatic recognition will sustain Kim's regime, allowing him to sell the deal at home as a victory for his missile and nuclear blackmail. The timing is especially ironic given that Kim's position arguably has never been more precarious thanks to U.S.-imposed financial measures against the North's international banking activities.

Treasury's blacklisting of Banco Delta Asia in Macau in September 2005--and the demonstration effect on other banks that did business with the North--essentially shut down Pyongyang's access to the global banking system. The U.S. is now promising to review its Banco Delta Asia action within 30 days. If that results in the government of Macau releasing some portion of the $24 million in BNA's North Korean accounts, it's yet another prop for the regime.

All of which is to say that this is far from the nonproliferation model set by Libya's Moammar Gadhafi in the wake of Saddam Hussein's ouster in 2003. Gadhafi relinquished his entire nuclear program up front, and only later--once compliance was verified and the nuclear materials removed from the country--did the U.S. take Libya off the terror list and provide other rewards.
Perhaps Mr. Bush feels this is the best he can do in the waning days of his Administration. Or perhaps, in the most favorable interpretation, he wants to clear the decks of this issue in order to have more political capital to control Iran's nuclear ambitions. Iran may look at this deal, however, and conclude it has little to lose by raising the nuclear stakes. We'd like to believe this will turn out better, but history doesn't support such faith.
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« Reply #9 on: February 22, 2007, 09:31:26 PM »
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« Reply #10 on: May 18, 2007, 12:21:31 PM »


Pyongyang's Perfidy
May 18, 2007; Page A17

Over a month has passed since sweetness and light were due to break out on the Korean Peninsula. On Feb. 13, the Six-Party Talks in Beijing ratified a bilateral agreement between the U.S. and North Korea, providing for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear programs. The first step, 60 days after ratification, was to be that North Korea "will shut down and seal for the purpose of eventual abandonment" the Yongbyon nuclear facility, and readmit inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Other steps were to follow, but the first move was unequivocally to be made by Pyongyang. The 60 days came and went, and indeed, another 35 days have come and gone. No IAEA inspectors have been readmitted, and not even Pyongyang claims that it has "shut down" Yongbyon.

Instead, observers -- especially Iran and other nuclear weapons aspirants -- have witnessed embarrassing U.S. weakness on a supposedly unrelated issue, unmentioned in the Feb. 13 agreement. That issue involves North Korea's widely publicized demand that approximately $25 million frozen in Macau-based Banco Delta Asia (BDA) accounts be released and transferred to Pyongyang. The funds came from North Korean counterfeiting of U.S. currency, money laundering and other fraudulent activities uncovered by a U.S. Treasury investigation begun in 2003. The accounts were frozen in 2005 and the BDA was promptly put on Treasury's blacklist for illicit activity.

While the Bush administration denies a direct link, the North Koreans have said publicly that they will not comply with the bilateral agreement until the BDA funds are safely under their control. This obvious quid pro quo is not only embarrassing, it sets a dangerous precedent for other regimes that would blackmail the U.S. What are the consequences of the BDA meltdown?

First, the timetable of the Feb. 13 agreement is already shredded. President Bush said at the time of the deal: "Those who say that the North Koreans have got to prove themselves by actually following through on the deal are right, and I'm one." Assistant Secretary of State Chris Hill, the deal's U.S. architect and chief negotiator, said: "We need to avoid above all missing deadlines. It's like a broken-window theory: one window is unrepaired, and before you know it you'll have a lot of broken windows and nobody cares."

Those statements were correct when made, and they are correct today. Sadly, however, they no longer seem to be "operative."

Second, by making secret side deals with North Korea, the State Department has left itself vulnerable to future renegotiation efforts. This is the North's classic style: Negotiate hard to reach an agreement, sign it, and then start renegotiating, not to mention violating the deal at will. America's serial concessions on BDA simply confirm to Pyongyang that State is well into the "save the deal" mode, which bodes well for future North Korean efforts to recast it. Consider the sequence of administration positions on BDA: Initially, the criminal investigation and the nuclear issue were not supposed to be connected, but the North insisted and the U.S. gave in.

Then, North Korea moved the renegotiation into high gear, demanding the return of the funds as a precondition to complying with its own commitments. Unwilling to "just say no," the Bush administration tried to distinguish between "licit" and "illicit" funds, returning only those that were legitimate. (This, of course begs the question whether anything that the criminal conspiracy running North Korea does is "licit.") Even the "licit" funds returned, however, were to be used only for "humanitarian" projects in North Korea rather than returned to Kim Jong Il's grasp -- although how in an age of the U.N.'s "Cash for Kim" program the State Department thought this was to be verified remains a mystery.

Nevertheless, North Korea was not satisfied, insisting that all the funds had to be returned to the actual account holders, with no restrictions on their use, even though all agree that at least some were acting illicitly. This, too, State accepted.

Third, we now face the nagging question whether there are other secret side deals beyond BDA. Of course, the BDA agreement was not so secret that Kim Jong Il was barred from knowing about it, by definition. Most troubling, however, is that State apparently thought it too sensitive to share with the American people until the February deal broke down in an unavoidably public way. But even this was not enough for North Korea, which, sensing U.S. weakness, continues to press for more. Although conflicting stories abound, North Korea may be seeking not just the return of the BDA funds, but something much more significant: guaranteed access to international financial markets, even through an American bank. Indeed, this week Wachovia Corp. confirmed that it had been approached by the State Department to assist in the transfer of funds.

Here, the issue is inescapably related to North Korea's nuclear program. The North's access to international financial markets to launder its ill-gotten revenues is critical both to continued financing of its nuclear regime and to keeping Kim Jong Il in power. If this is even close to what the State Department is prepared to do, who will ever again take us seriously when we threaten financial strangulation of rogue states and terrorist groups? Granting this North Korean demand would make U.S. concessions on BDA look paltry by comparison.

Fourth, the BDA affair calls the remainder of the Feb. 13 agreement into question. Just to remind, 2007 is the 13th anniversary of the Agreed Framework, a predecessor U.S.-North Korean agreement, and the 15th anniversary of the Joint North-South Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In all likelihood, it is also the 13th and 15th anniversaries, respectively, of North Korea's first violations of those agreements. No serious observer contends there is any sign of a strategic decision by North Korea to give up its nuclear program, which means, therefore, there is no more reason to believe the North will comply with the Feb. 13 deal than it has complied with its predecessors.

It is not even clear if North Korea actually gave up anything significant in the Feb. 13 deal. It is entirely possible, for example, that Yongbyon is now a hulk, well past its useful life span, and that the North agreed, in effect, to shut down a wreck. Even if Yongbyon is not in such parlous condition, it may be that the North has extracted all the plutonium possible from the fuel rods it has, and that Yongbyon therefore offers it nothing more. Here, the omissions in the Feb. 13 agreement become significant. The deal says nothing about the plutonium, perhaps weaponized perhaps not, that North Korea has already reprocessed.

How these issues play out will have ramifications far beyond North Korea, particularly for Iran. Some say the Bush administration entered the Feb. 13 deal because it desperately needed a success. One thing is for certain: It does not need a failure. The president can easily extricate himself from the deal, just based on North Korea's actions to date. He should take the first opportunity to do so.

Mr. Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the U.N. and Abroad," forthcoming this fall from Simon & Schuster.
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« Reply #11 on: May 18, 2007, 01:26:00 PM »

 bit outdated but Gertz On NK - still producing nukes - gee - what a surprise.

I have trouble of thinking of any Presidential candidate with the strength and clear track record to prove that he can stand up to these foreign threats - except for Gingrich.  Let's hope he runs IMO.

McCain maybe, but enough leadership skills.  Romeny maybe - but not proven.

I can't think of a single Dem who I feel would not sell the US out for expediency.
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« Reply #12 on: July 08, 2007, 07:31:30 AM »

A Whistleblower's Tale
Remember Oil for Food? Here's the story of how the U.N. propped up Pyongyang.

Sunday, July 8, 2007 12:01 a.m. EDT

It's been more than six months since the U.S. first shone a light on the corruption in the United Nations Development Program in North Korea--a scandal potentially involving tens of millions of dollars used to help prop up the nuclear-armed regime of one of the world's most dangerous dictators. But never mind. It's all a Bush administration plot.

Such, apparently, is the considered view of the UNDP, which has spent the past half-year variously disputing the U.S. disclosures, justifying UNDP actions on "humanitarian" grounds, or offering an everyone-does-it defense. Ad Melkert, the former Dutch politician who is the No. 2 official at the UNDP and the point person for oversight of the program, even threatened to "retaliate" against the U.S., according to Zalmay Khalilzad, U.S. ambassador to the U.N.

In any case, Mr. Melkert seems to be more worried about his own job than the integrity of the organization he leads. In a June 23 article titled, "Smear Campaign, U.S. Against Melkert," the Dutch daily De Telegraaf, citing "insiders at the UNDP," reported that "conservative forces in the American government want the scalp of Ad Melkert."

So it's perhaps the right moment for a reality check courtesy of the man who blew the whistle on it all--Artjon Shkurtaj, an Albanian-born accountant who served as chief of operations for all U.N. operations in North Korea from November 2004 to September 2006. Mr. Shkurtaj--a veteran of UNDP programs in Bangladesh, East Timor, Kosovo, Mexico, India and elsewhere--was outraged at the violations he encountered in North Korea. After two years of trying to persuade his superiors at UNDP headquarters in New York to take corrective action, he took his information to the U.S. mission to the U.N. in May 2006. The UNDP responded by firing him this March.

A preliminary report by U.N. auditors, issued last month, confirms massive violations of U.N. rules regarding hiring practices, the use of foreign currency, and inspections of U.N.-funded projects. In a series of interviews in New York, Mr. Shkurtaj says the auditors (who were barred by North Korea from going there) barely scratched the surface of the misconduct.
We get quickly to the bottom line: Did the U.N. money go to the humanitarian projects it was supposed to fund? "How the hell do I know?" responds Mr. Shkurtaj--oversight was so poor, the involvement of North Korean workers assigned by the government so extensive and the use of cash so prevalent, that it was impossible to follow the money trail.

Mr. Shkurtaj arrived in North Korea on Nov. 4, 2004. He says one of his first indications that something was amiss was when checks denominated in euros and made out to "cash" arrived on his desk for signature. "Rule No. 1 in every UNDP country in the world is that you have to operate in local currency," he says, "not in hard currency. It's the rule No. 1 of development . . . in order to support the local economy and not devalue or destroy the local currency."

"I didn't sign the checks for about a week," he says, and then "it became a real mess. Headquarters contacted me, and said, 'Don't become a problem. You're going to wind up a PNG, a persona non grata, and ending up a PNG means the end of your career with the U.N. . . . We are authorizing you to go ahead and sign the checks. . . . So I started signing."

"Every morning from 8 to 10, we would issue checks" in euros for staff and projects, Mr. Shkurtaj says. "Then the checks, instead of going directly to the people or institutions by mail, as they should go [as specified by U.N. rules], the checks were given to the driver of our office." The driver would take them to the Foreign Trade Bank, where he would "exchange them into cash and come back to the office." North Korea did not permit Mr. Shkurtaj to have access to the UNDP's accounts at the Foreign Trade Bank, which refused even to keep his signature on file.

Then, every day at noontime, "North Koreans saying they represented U.N.-funded projects would come to receive cash at the UNDP offices." Mr. Shkurtaj says he was not allowed to require the North Koreans to sign receipts for the money or even to present IDs. "I had to trust them," he says. "But, hey, if headquarters tells me to give the money away, I'll give the money away."

On Aug. 16, 2006, a few weeks before Mr. Shkurtaj left North Korea, the UNDP resident representative, Timo Pakkala, issued a memo to the staff noting "an increased use of cash payments, in some cases to payees that are not authorized to receive payments." Citing "UNDP policy," Mr. Pakkala ordered future payments be made by bank transfer or "non-cash cheque." He also ordered staff to obtain receipts and not give money to unidentified people.
Mr. Shkurtaj says nothing happened. "The same routine continued." On Jan. 31, in a memo to Kemal Dervis, head of the UNDP, he urged that "the cashing of checks from the UNDP driver must be stopped and UNDP must demand access to the Foreign Trade Bank in all transactions with our accounts."

As the recent U.N. audit confirmed, the North Koreans who worked at UNDP were selected by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, which also collected their salaries; both practices were violations of U.N. rules. Mr. Shkurtaj notes, too, that North Koreans selected by the government performed "core" functions such as dispensing cash--another violation of the rules. All communications tools--fax and telex equipment, computer servers, the local area network--"were in the hands of the North Koreans." "All the backup data [for the office's computers] were in a storage place completely isolated with a North Korean the chief of it." When Mr. Shkurtaj wanted to file a secure report, "I would go use the telex and communications satellite at the German Embassy or other embassies in the compound."

A North Korean--Li Kum Sun--controlled the office safe in her job as "finance officer." "Damn it," says Mr. Shkurtaj, "you had security-evacuation plans in the hands of a North Korean. It's unbelievable." One of his few on-the-job successes was to get control of the safe and petty cash taken away from Ms. Li and handed over to him in March 2006.

The U.N. audit also found numerous irregularities regarding on-site inspections of UNDP projects. Most projects are located outside Pyongyang, and Mr. Shkurtaj says one way to determine whether the required annual field visits actually took place is whether the inspectors filed expense accounts. "Everybody--meaning one driver, one translator . . . and one or two international staff would have received per diems," he says, or submitted vouchers for gas or overtime. "That is the proof that people checked the project." Yet, "in nearly two years in North Korea. . . . I signed for a maximum of two or three" such trips.

Mr. Shkurtaj recounts two inspections he attempted to carry out himself. In one case, UNDP paid for 300 computers intended for Kim Il Sung University. "Instead of the computers coming to UNDP, they went to a warehouse outside town, and we were allowed to inspect them only after a month and a half of fighting [with the government]. Then we were allowed to inspect only one computer in one box. The other boxes were not allowed to be opened."

Another inspection charade involved GPS equipment supposedly going to an agricultural project on flood control. "They didn't allow us for 3 1/2 months to see the GPSs that we gave them," Mr. Shkurtaj says.

Finally, he says, "they took us to the outskirts of Pyongyang, to an empty building, completely empty--no desk, no chairs, no nothing. We come in and go to the first floor. Empty. We go to the second floor. Empty. On the last door of the second floor, we enter. There is only one desk in the middle of the room, and on the desk are the GPS devices that we provided. Now, you're telling me we are providing GPS devices for an empty building, without people working inside?"

During the years he worked for UNDP in Pyongyang, Mr. Shkurtaj says he filed numerous reports to his superiors but got nowhere. Finally, with several months to go in his tour of duty in North Korea, he was recalled to New York.
He says that David Lockwood, deputy assistant administrator of the UNDP, told him, "Look, it would be good for your future if you come to New York and from here we'll send you somewhere else in the world. But you have rocked the boat too much right now and you should leave for your own good."

Mr. Shkurtaj's last day in North Korea was Sept. 26, 2006. When his contract came up for renewal in March--the vast majority of U.N. employees operate under work contracts--he was told that after 13 years of employment at UNDP his services would no longer be needed.

A few months before his dismissal, he received an "outstanding" rating in his annual review, dated Dec. 14, 2006, and signed by Romulo Garcia, chief of the Northeast Asia and Mekong Division. Mr. Garcia described Mr. Shkurtaj as "quick, professional, highly competent, creative, hard working and dedicated."

Mr. Shkurtaj has filed a complaint with the U.N. Ethics Office, asking for reinstatement under the U.N. whistleblower protection policy. Yesterday Rep. Ilena Ros-Lehtinen, ranking Republican on the House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon asking him to look into Mr. Shkurtaj's dismissal. His case "appears to be a fundamental test of the UN's whistleblower protection policy, one of the touted hallmarks of internal U.N. reform in recent years," she writes. "It is also highly relevant to whether UNDP has adequately internalized the need for increased transparency and accountability." Her request followed a similar letter to Mr. Ban last week from Sen. Norman Coleman, asking that Mr. Shkurtaj be accorded whistleblower protection.

Meanwhile, Mr. Shkurtaj has sent his wife and two children home to Italy--he is an Italian citizen--and is fast depleting his savings. He says he is "living like a bum" in New York.

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of The Wall Street Journal's editorial page.
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« Reply #13 on: July 16, 2007, 10:37:55 PM »
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« Reply #14 on: July 18, 2007, 05:56:54 AM »

I think this is the article you were posting,  I don't understand either China's strategy or Stratfor's analysis of it.

China: Fearing a U.S.-North Korean Thaw
July 16, 2007 20 42  GMT


The six-party nuclear talks are slated to resume July 18 in Beijing now that North Korea has shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor. Before then, U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will hold a bilateral meeting with North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan. The recent progress on the North Korean nuclear issue is raising new concerns in Beijing, sending it on a mission to reclaim its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.


Now that North Korea has shut down the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the six-party nuclear talks have been set to resume July 18 in Beijing. U.S. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill will meet one-on-one with North Korean chief nuclear negotiator Kim Kye Gwan before then.

Signs that Washington and Pyongyang might begin a series of bilateral security talks, coupled with the recent progress on the North Korean nuclear issue, have caused China some concern, prompting Beijing to seek to restore its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.

China has hosted the six-party talks on North Korea's nuclear program, publicly calling numerous times for dialogue between Pyongyang and Washington. While Beijing sought to avoid another war on the Korean Peninsula, it knew such a scenario was very remote. It used its ties with, and influence over, North Korea to help manage Chinese relations with the United States, using its role as mediator and facilitator of the talks to reduce U.S. pressure on China in other areas.

However, the growing rift between Beijing and Pyongyang and the decline in North Korean reliance on Chinese exports steadily have eroded Beijing's ability to command obedience from Pyongyang. North Korean oil imports from Russia's Primorsky region via deals brokered through Moscow, for example, have risen precipitously in recent years. And while China still exerts influence over North Korea, Chinese oil stoppages no longer hold the bite they once did.

The long delay between the Feb. 13 agreement and North Korea's shutdown of Yongbyon was not a big problem for Beijing. While it did show some limitations of Beijing's ability to manipulate North Korea, it kept Washington looking to Beijing to keep North Korea in line. But the rapid shift -- just three weeks -- from the return of North Korean funds deposited in Macau's Banco Delta Asia (long a sticking point in the six-party process) to Pyongyang's announcement of the shutdown has left China concerned that the process is moving out of its control. Pyongyang's offer of direct bilateral defense talks with Washington and Washington's relatively positive response to this have magnified Chinese fears.

North Korea's offer of direct military talks with the United States, something that could be part of -- or a supplement to -- a peace accord between the two nations, sidesteps China's role as facilitator. China remains a signatory to the 1953 Armistice Agreement that ended the Korean War, along with North Korea and the United States. (South Korea refused to sign at the time.) Washington's positive response, as well as rumors that the United States is even considering normalized relations with North Korea -- or at least a liaison office in Pyongyang -- is adding to China's sense of isolation.

For China, this is more than just the short-term issue of using North Korea's latest crisis as a lever in U.S.-Chinese relations; North Korean nuclear crises come and go. Rather, there is a deeper concern in Beijing regarding a true U.S.-North Korean rapprochement. North Korea is a critical component of China's buffer strategy. China has significant land borders and so has created a system of buffers to protect the heartland around the Yellow, Yangtze and Pearl rivers. This buffer zone was created over the course of China's history and includes Manchuria, Inner Mongolia, Xinjiang and Tibet, among other parts of China. It offers strategic depth and supplements China's defense forces with natural barriers.

Historically, China viewed Korea as part of this buffer zone, even if it was not formally part of the Chinese nation. During the Korean War, the fear of losing North Korea as a strategic buffer to U.S. forces triggered Chinese intervention. And while Washington is currently not threatening to march up to the Yalu, China's need for North Korea as a strategic buffer remains strong. A saying used by the Chinese during the Korean War maintains that relations between China and North Korea are as close as lips and teeth: When the lips are gone, the teeth get cold. When North Korea ceases to be a friendly buffer state, China accordingly gets nervous and feels vulnerable.

For Beijing, helping the inter-Korean reconciliation process was not much of a concern. For geographic and economic reasons, a unified Korea would more than likely shift toward China -- but a U.S.-friendly North Korea is a different story. And even if it is unlikely that Washington and Pyongyang will make immediate friends and become close allies, Beijing is worried that it is losing control of the process, and thus its ability to shape its own strategic environment.

Beijing is now looking for a way to reclaim its influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship. One method will be to press for four-party talks on shaping a peace accord. These talks would include China, the United States and the two Koreas, drawing on Seoul's similar concern that it is being left out of the U.S.-North Korean process. This would also help keep Russia out in the cold as far as influence over the six-party talks is concerned. Another means by which Beijing could address this issue would be to offer support for South Korean attempts to resurrect the North Korean economy by tying existing economic activities on the China-North Korea border to those on the inter-Korean border (such as the inter-Korean Kaesong industrial complex).

However remote, the threat Beijing perceives from any sign of a U.S.-North Korean rapprochement is very real. Hence, China's primary goal at the talks beginning July 18 will be to reclaim influence over the U.S.-North Korean relationship.
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« Reply #15 on: July 18, 2007, 07:47:09 AM »

Thanks for the save Doug!  (PS I accidentally deleted your email about Scott G.  embarassed Would you resend it please?)

As for the NK situation, at the moment it looks like President Bush may actually have a win on this one.  As for Strat's analysis, I can't really comment-- I haven't understood the NK situation all along  cheesy
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« Reply #16 on: July 18, 2007, 11:06:11 AM »

The North Koreans shut down a known reactor and the South Koreans delivered oil to them.  The difference between this and the Clinton agreement is that this administration is reacting with caution, acknowledging that other covert reactors may still exist.  Bill Clinton and Madeline Albright reacted with an end zone dance that could have made Randy Moss blush.

What I fail to grasp is why a rogue NK is useful to China in 2007. 

National Security Director Steven Hadley on Fox News Sunday:,2933,289361,00.html

"It's a first step in implementing an agreement that was reached last February, which is part of an overall framework of a year ago September, and under that framework, they need to give up their entire nuclear program."

[Understood. But what effect — what practical effect does the shutdown at Yongbyon have on their ability to continue to produce nuclear devices?]

"It means they will no longer be able to process to produce the plutonium from which they — of those nuclear weapons that are made out of plutonium.  We have concerns they may have a covert enrichment program. That will be the next subject of discussions..."

[And that's a uranium deal, right?]

"This is basically enriching uranium to the point where it can be used for nuclear weapons."

[Harder to do than with plutonium, correct?]

"Harder to do. We've had concerns they have a covert program. They at one point admitted that program.  But the route that they have used to date is the reprocessing route. That will be shut down. That route will be cut off, assuming these facilities are shut down.  We will then pursue to work through toward disabling, ultimately dismantling that program, getting a full accounting of what they've been doing with any covert enrichment program, and finally getting them to turn over any nuclear materials from which nuclear weapons have or could be made."
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« Reply #17 on: October 31, 2007, 12:16:20 PM »

Bush's North Korea Meltdown
October 31, 2007; Page A21

Facts about Israel's Sept. 6 raid on a suspected nuclear facility in Syria continue to emerge -- albeit still incompletely, especially regarding the involvement of the Democratic People's Republic of (North) Korea. Important questions remain, such as whether its personnel were present when the attack occurred, and whether they had been working to clone the Yongbyon nuclear facility in the Syrian desert since the North Korean commitment in February (the latest in a long series) to give up its nuclear programs.

Seemingly unperturbed, however, the Bush administration apparently believes North Korea is serious this time, unlike all the others. The concessions continue to flow in essentially only one direction, crossing repeated "red lines" Washington had drawn.

These include: (1) the humiliating U.S. collapse on North Korea's access to international financial markets; (2) accepting a mere "freeze" of Yongbyon (misleadingly called "disablement" by the administration) rather than real dismantlement; (3) failing to ensure enforcement of U.N. Security Council Resolution 1718's sanctions, imposed after Pyongyang's nuclear test; and (4) the State Department's palpable hunger to remove North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism and the Trading With the Enemy Act's prohibitions, and re-establish full diplomatic relations.

The Bush administration's most serious concession is forthcoming, in which the U.S. will accept, with little or no concrete verification, Pyongyang's imminent declaration that it actually has very little nuclear activity other than what we have long known about at Yongbyon.

Even critics from the left now worry that State is conceding far more than it should. Jack Pritchard, the special envoy for negotiations with North Korea who resigned during Secretary of State Colin Powell's tenure because our policy was too unyielding, said recently that North Korean officials think "they can ask for and get what they want from the Bush administration because [it] is so eager to demonstrate a diplomatic achievement." Mr. Pritchard concluded, "The North Koreans are rubbing their hands together with glee."

Our current Secretary of State, Condoleezza Rice, and other partisans of the six-party talks respond to all internal administration complaints or criticisms by asking, "What is your alternative? What would you have us do otherwise, risk war on the Peninsula?" Herewith, some responses:

First, it is simply inapposite to judge every tactical decision -- to accede or stand firm on this or that subsidiary point -- by forecasting the complete demise of the entire six-party process if North Korean sensibilities are ruffled by occasionally saying "no." Indeed, showing tactical toughness can frequently enhance the long-term prospects for success, not reduce them. Sadly, however, toughness at the tactical or strategic level is no longer the hallmark of our North Korea policy. Weakness is the watchword.

Second, before it is too late, President Bush has to draw a deep line in the sand on verification. The State Department has yet to say anything publicly about how verification will be accomplished, especially on the North's uranium-enrichment efforts, giving rise to the suspicion that our negotiators don't really have a clue what they mean. The idea of North Korea for years engaged in cloning Yongbyon in Syria (or anywhere else -- Burma, for instance) should be a fire bell in the night. President Reagan's mantra of "trust but verify" in the Cold War days didn't offend anyone, and if it offends Kim Jong Il, that should tell us something. If anything, however, with North Korea, President Bush should reverse Reagan's order: Let's see real verification, and leave trust until later.

Third, consider the severely negative effect these repeated concessions have on our relations with Japan and South Korea. President Bush used to stress that this was a "six-party" process, but now all of the action is bilateral. The State Department's lust to remove North Korea from the terrorism list is having a profoundly negative impact on our treaty ally, Japan, the nation most directly threatened by Pyongyang's nuclear capability. Thomas Schieffer, the Bush administration's ambassador to Japan, reportedly complained recently to the president that he was "cut out of the process." State should explain why it trusts North Korea more than our ambassador to Tokyo, and why we ignore Tokyo's concerns over North Korea's kidnappings of Japanese citizens.

South Korea is facing a critical presidential election in December. The last thing Washington should do is pursue concessionary policies that might enhance the prospects for a new president who follows the same appeasement line as incumbent President Roh Moo-hyun. If South Korea can discard Mr. Roh's rose-colored glasses, our overall prospects will improve considerably, but our unquestioning embrace of North Korea could have exactly the wrong impact in the South's volatile politics.

Fourth, and most importantly, the right response to the North Korean threat is to apply pressure steadily and consistently, rather than hastily releasing it. After its nuclear test, Pyongyang faced growing pressure from the cumulative impact of Chinese anger, U.N. Security Council sanctions, ongoing implementation of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), and the U.S. Treasury's continuing financial squeeze.

There was a plan, of sorts, and it was producing some evidence of success. Instead of squeezing harder, such as by encouraging refugee flows out of the North, the administration did a U-turn. It let a desperate North Korea up off the mat, provided tangible economic support for this appallingly authoritarian regime, allowed Kim Jong Il to relegitimize himself, and undercut the PSI world-wide.

The icing on Kim's cake is that for years -- before, during and after the 2005 and 2007 "agreements" -- North Korea was happily violating its commitments. Instead of focusing China on solving the problem of the regime it has propped up for so long, we absolved China, sidelined Japan, inserted ourselves and started life-support for the administrators of the world's largest prison camp.

This will perpetuate the North Korean problem, not solve it. Any by perpetuating Kim Jong Il's regime, and its continuing threat, it is actually the State Department's policy that poses the greater risk to international peace and security. This is true not only for Pyongyang, but for other would-be proliferators watching our ongoing failure to stop North Korea.

The debate within the Bush administration is not yet over, although time is short before irreparable harm is done. Growing restiveness in Congress among Republicans and Democrats may increasingly become a factor. For President Bush, I can only hope he re-reads his first term speeches on North Korea.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations," out next week from Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions.

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« Reply #18 on: January 25, 2008, 11:13:09 AM »

Foggy Bottom Apostate
January 25, 2008; Page A14
Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush's special envoy for human rights in North Korea, has recently pointed out that our current approach to Pyongyang is failing. Lord help a diplomat who tells the truth.

Mr. Lefkowitz, growled Condoleezza Rice at a Tuesday press conference in Europe, "doesn't work on the six-party talks [on North Korea], he doesn't know what's going on in the six-party talks and he certainly has no say in what American policy will be in the six-party talks." For good measure, the Secretary added that she "would doubt very seriously that [the Chinese and Russians] would recognize" Mr. Lefkowitz's name.

In this Foggy Bottom version of the vanishing commissar, Mr. Lefkowitz is being written out of the Administration's North Korea policy for a speech he gave last week at the American Enterprise Institute. Noting that it has been more than two years since Pyongyang pledged to abandon its nuclear weapons program, and more than two weeks since it violated the latest deadline to disclose the full extent of that program, Mr. Lefkowitz observed that "it is increasingly clear that North Korea will remain in its present nuclear status when the Administration leaves office in one year."

Mr. Lefkowitz also noted that the rationale for the six-party talks (which include China, Japan, Russia and South Korea in addition to the U.S. and North Korea) has largely evaporated since it's become clear that neither China nor South Korea were prepared to exert any meaningful leverage on Pyongyang to abandon its weapons. "What we had hoped would be a process in which Beijing and Seoul would simultaneously withhold carrots and use their considerable influence over Pyongyang to end its nuclear activities has evolved into a process that provides new carrots without a corresponding cost to Pyongyang." Instead, he added all too accurately, the talks have deteriorated into the North Korean-U.S. bilateral negotiation that Kim Jong Il always wanted.

It wasn't long ago that Mr. Lefkowitz's comments, which also recommended linking human-rights to security issues with the North, would have been a fair reflection of President Bush's own views. But apparently not any more, as Mr. Bush has accepted Ms. Rice's judgment that one more "Dear Mr. Chairman" letter, or one more aid shipment, or one more diplomatic concession will cause Kim to change his ways.

State is even claiming that North Korea has fulfilled the requirements necessary to get itself off the list of state sponsors of terrorism, one of Pyongyang's key demands. A contrary assessment is provided by the Congressional Research Service, which recently noted "reports from reputable sources that North Korea has provided arms and possibly training to Hezbollah in Lebanon and the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka." State also seems to be ignoring, or suppressing, evidence of Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation, which was brought to light after Israel destroyed an apparent North Korean nuclear facility in September.

We understand why Ms. Rice would be unhappy to hear her policy contradicted by Mr. Lefkowitz. We would be more understanding if that policy had any record of success. Kim Jong Il has now had nearly a year and two deadlines to fulfill his nuclear promises and shows no intention of doing so. Chances are he now figures he can wait out this Administration and hope for better terms from President Clinton.

On present course, Ms. Rice is setting President Bush up to spend his final year begging Kim to cooperate by offering an ever growing and more embarrassing list of carrots. Mr. Bush would do better to listen to Mr. Lefkowitz, while ordering Ms. Rice to introduce him to the Chinese and Russians.

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« Reply #19 on: February 23, 2008, 09:35:44 PM »

Gen. Burwell B. Bell
The North Korean Threat
February 23, 2008; Page A9

On the Acela between
New York and Washington

The Cold War may be over, but Gen. Burwell B. (B.B.) Bell is still on duty. This American soldier is serving in the one place on the planet where that conflict hasn't ended, and where it has the potential to turn "hot" in the blink of an eye: the Korean Peninsula. With a new president taking over in Seoul on Monday promising to take a tougher line with Pyongyang, it's a good moment to revisit the subject of the North's military capabilities -- and the South's readiness.

In Pentagon lingo, Gen. Bell is "triple-hatted." He commands the 28,500 U.S. forces in South Korea, the combined U.S.-South Korean forces in time of war, and the United Nations forces that have been stationed south of the 38th parallel since 1953, when the armistice in the Korean War was signed. As such, he is probably the world's leading expert on North Korea's military strength.

That's the topic we start with as we chat aboard the express train taking the general and his entourage from New York to Washington, where he'll report to the president the next day. The general is in plain clothes -- for security reasons, U.S. military officers don't travel in uniform -- but that doesn't stop passengers from staring at the straight-backed men in buzz cuts as we climb aboard at Pennsylvania Station in midtown Manhattan. We are escorted by local police officers and two of the soldiers who have been patrolling Penn Station since the 9/11 attacks.

In light of all the publicity given the six-party disarmament talks, it's interesting that the first words out of Gen. Bell's mouth don't include "nuclear." "First and foremost, I'm worried . . . about the conventional threat that the North Korean military poses to South Korea," he says.

"What worries me is that North Korea is a 'military first' country where all their resources and their focus goes into the maintenance of the military apparatus . . . This is a very large military, over a million men under arms in a very small country of only 22 million people. That means . . . [at] any time 5% of the whole country, regardless of age, [is] serving on active duty."

The North Korean army is in the midst of its winter training cycle right now, the general says. He notes that Pyongyang didn't bother to inform the U.N. command in advance, as required under the armistice accord. "Every time we conduct a large exercise, 30 days before that exercise . . . we inform them just like we're supposed to. . . . But they don't afford us with the same privileges. I will tell you that. We have to find out through other means what they are up to." Six-party negotiators take note: Kim Jong Il is not in the habit of keeping promises.

Gen. Bell describes the North Korean military as deployed in a "threatening posture" with "about 70% of their force within 90 miles of the demilitarized zone." Their equipment is old -- the Russians and the Chinese have stopped supplying them -- and training is poor. The army's capabilities have deteriorated in recent years, he says -- a factor, some argue, in Kim Jong Il's reluctance to give up his nuclear program. The North Korean dictator knows his army's potential to hammer the South with conventional arms isn't as good as it used to be.

Even so, Gen. Bell says, the North Koreans "certainly have the capability of bringing aerial fires, rocket and conventional cannon artillery to bear against Seoul . . . They don't need to bring any guns forward. So, they can certainly, at a moment's notice, engage targets in Seoul, should they choose to." He adds: "There would be casualties. But I will tell you, our purpose is to quickly eliminate that threat." Some of the missiles, many believe, would be carrying chemical weapons.

On the nuclear threat, Gen. Bell states bluntly, "We don't know what we don't know." North Korea tested a nuclear device in October 2006, but, he says, it is "totally unclear to me" whether the country has the capability of delivering a nuclear weapon on a missile. That's why the six-party talks are important, he says, even though the North Koreans refused to declare their nuclear programs on Dec. 31, as they had promised. Why did they miss the deadline?

"I can't speculate," the general responds, but "I assume that they want something that they're going to negotiate for." They've "slowed the process down, and it's disquieting, but nevertheless they're still disabling their [Yongbyon nuclear] reactor. That process has gone forward. . . . We've got people up there, the five parties, [and] there are people supervising, observing [the] removal of these fuel rods."

Things are "pretty quiet" along the DMZ these days, Gen. Bell says, though there's "a flare-up every now and then" and "there is some kind of engagement with a North Korean citizen once or twice a month" -- usually a ship straying into South Korean waters. Most such visitors want to be repatriated, he says -- any North Korean may stay in South Korea if he wishes -- but "we see defections from their military from time to time."

Overall, he says, North Korea specializes in "wild cyclical flows in behavior" -- what he characterized in Senate testimony last year as "alternating provocations and engagement overtures." Lately, however, "they haven't shown that kind of aggressive provocative stuff." Kim Jong Il has even invited the New York Philharmonic to visit later this month, he notes. "That sounds really nice, doesn't it? Meanwhile, his army is training like crazy in their forward position." Sarcasm noted.

Gen. Bell addressed the Korea Society earlier in the day on the subject of the South's readiness to take more responsibility for its own defense. He stresses this point in our conversation.

The Republic of Korea's military "is world class," he says. Or, as he told the Korea Society, in language that befits his native Oak Ridge, Tenn. (and explains why Bell impersonators abound at the Pentagon), "This beast can hunt." To translate from the Tennessean: "I proclaim loudly and clearly that the capacities of the [South] Korean forces are second to none on the globe, and it would not be wise for the North Koreans to test that."

The South Korean army has already largely replaced the U.S. Second Infantry Division along the DMZ. And on April 17, 2012, the South will take full responsibility for its own defense in wartime, with the U.S. military in a supporting role -- 59 years after the end of the Korean War. Meanwhile, the U.S. base in the heart of downtown Seoul is being moved south.

South Korea's anti-American President Roh Moo-hyun leaves office Monday, and while any man with four stars on his shoulders knows better than to publicly diss the leader of a U.S. ally, it's not hard to see that Gen. Bell is counting the days. "The alliance weathered a couple of storms recently," he told the Korea Society, "but it's got to rain a little for the flowers to grow."

This particular flower is called Lee Myung-bak. He's the former businessman, legislator and mayor of Seoul who is the president-elect. The general calls Mr. Lee "pro-American" and notes that he was elected "by an overwhelming majority" of voters on a platform that promised to improve relations with the U.S.

Gen. Bell points to a recent poll showing that 77% of South Koreans support having U.S. troops in their country. To Americans who say the U.S. should pack up and go home, he says, "The Republic of Korea several years ago sent a message to Americans that perhaps we weren't welcome . . . But I can flat tell you that those days are behind us."

Gen. Bell thinks the U.S. military will have a role on the peninsula even after reunification of the two Koreas. The alliance "has purpose throughout the 21st century and beyond," he says. "The mutual defense treaty between the two nations has merit outside the single context of North Korea."

A rising China goes unmentioned here. "It's not to anybody's advantage to create a security vacuum which could lead to misunderstanding and even conflict," the general says. "You know, when you look at the history in that area of the world it's replete with conflict after conflict after conflict. It's been very quiet for 55 years and there's no reason why it ought not to be throughout this century and beyond." He also notes that 25% of the world's trade goes through Northeast Asia.

Gen. Bell is the senior-most general in the U.S. Army, and Korea is his last posting before retirement. He began his military career in 1969 as a second lieutenant in a cavalry unit in the Fulda Gap. It was the height of the Cold War.

"Bad Hersfeld, Germany," he says, "12 kilometers from the East-West German border. Unbelievable military apparatus just across the border, facing us." Thirty-nine years later and 5,000 miles east, it's deja vu along the DMZ.

Gen. Bell talks of the "negative Cold War environment" that pertains in the North, the global economic miracle that has passed it by, and the "tortured" people. He expresses the hope that North Korea will "take down that wall," as the East Germans did. But "until then, we've got to deter and be ready."

Ms. Kirkpatrick is a deputy editor of the Journal's editorial page.

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« Reply #20 on: March 17, 2008, 05:19:59 AM »

Salvaging Our North Korea Policy
March 17, 2008

There are signs, albeit small ones, that the Bush administration may be reaching the end of its patience with the Six-Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear weapons program. These signs could prove illusory. But as it nears its end, the administration has a serious responsibility: It must not leave its successor with an ongoing, failed policy. At a minimum, President Bush should not bequeath to the next president only the burned-out hulk of the Six-Party Talks, and countless failed and violated North Korean commitments.

David Gothard 
Since they were conceived in spring 2003, the Six-Party Talks have stumbled around inconclusively. And for the last 13 months, Pyongyang has ignored, stalled, renegotiated and violated the Feb. 13, 2007 agreement.

Throughout all this "negotiation," which has mostly consisted of our government negotiating with itself, North Korea has benefited enormously. It's been spared the truly punishing sanctions that concerted international effort might have produced. In large part because of the appeasement policies of the two previous South Korean governments, Pyongyang has not felt the full impact of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) on its outward proliferation efforts. The U.S. has muzzled its criticism of North Korea's atrocious oppression of its own citizens. And, perhaps most humiliatingly of all, the U.S., in a vain effort at chasing the mirage, gave up its most effective pressure point -- the financial squeeze -- allowing Pyongyang renewed access to international markets through institutions like Banco Delta Asia.

In fact, the protracted Six-Party Talks have provided Kim Jong-il with the most precious resource of all: the time to enhance, conceal and even disperse his nuclear weapons programs. Time is nearly always on the side of the would-be proliferator, and so it has proven here. In exchange for five years of grace to North Korea, the U.S. has received precious little in return.

Pyongyang is now stonewalling yet again on its promise to disclose fully the details of its nuclear programs, including its uranium enrichment efforts and its outward proliferation. The successful Israeli military strike against a Syrian-North Korean facility on the Euphrates River last September highlighted the gravity of the regime's unwillingness to do anything serious that might restrict its nuclear option.

President Bush should spend the next 10 months rectifying the Six-Party concessions and put North Korea back under international pressure -- efforts that would be welcomed by Japan, and South Korea's new, far more realistic President Lee Myung-bak. Here are the steps to take:

- Declare North Korea's repeated refusal to honor its commitments, especially but not exclusively concerning full disclosure of its nuclear programs, unacceptable. This is the easiest step, and the most obvious. It can happen immediately. Accept no further partial "compliance," as the State Department continuously tries to do. Make public what we know about the North's Syria project, and its uranium enrichment and missile programs, so our 2008 presidential candidates can have a fully-informed debate.

- Suspend the Six-Party Talks, and reconvene talks without North Korea. Although the talks could be jettisoned altogether, continuing them without the North allows Japan, South Korea and the U.S. to begin applying real pressure to China, the one nation with the capacity to bring Pyongyang's nuclear program to a halt. China has feared to apply such pressure, worried that it could collapse Kim Jong-il's regime altogether -- an accurate assessment of the regime's limited staying power. Nonetheless, the effect of Chinese reticence has been to preserve Kim and his nuclear program. It is vital that China know this policy is no longer viable.

- Strengthen international pressure on North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. Ramp up PSI cooperation with South Korea. Remind Russia of its own voluntarily-assumed obligations as a PSI core member. Remind China as well to comply with the sanctions imposed on North Korea by U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718 (which followed the North's 2006 ballistic missile and nuclear tests), and honor its other counterproliferation obligations. Tell them we will be watching with particular care, and that Chinese failure to increase pressure on North Korea will have implications in Sino-American bilateral relations. We can make this point privately to China rather that trumpet it publicly, but it should be made without ambiguity.

- Squeeze North Korea economically. Return the regime to limbo outside the international financial system, and step up action against its other illicit activities, such as trafficking in illicit narcotics and counterfeiting U.S. money. These and other "defensive measures" are nothing more than what any self-respecting nation does to protect itself, and the U.S. should never have eased up on them. Even now they can have a measurable impact on Kim Jong-il's weak and unsteady regime.

- Prepare contingency plans for humanitarian relief in the event of increased North Korean refugee flows or a regime collapse. Both China and South Korea have legitimate concerns about the burdens they would face if the North collapsed, or if increased internal economic deprivation spread instability. America and Japan should make it plain that they will fully shoulder their share of providing humanitarian supplies and assistance if either happened. Moreover, President Lee should increase pressure on Pyongyang -- by reiterating that South Korea will fully comply with its own constitution and grant full citizenship to any refugees from the North, however they make their way to the South.

Doubtless there are other steps. President Bush will not likely be able to solve the threat posed by North Korea's nuclear weapons program. Nonetheless, he still has time to implement policies that will allow him to leave office with the nation back on offense -- thereby affording his successor the chance to vindicate a return to the original Bush administration national security strategy.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster/Threshold Editions, 2007).
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« Reply #21 on: April 24, 2008, 08:04:53 AM »


Plutonium on the Euphrates
April 24, 2008; Page A12
What really happened in the Syrian desert near the Euphrates River on the night of September 6, 2007? The Bush Administration is finally due to answer that question today when it briefs Members of Congress. We've been hearing, and the press is now reporting, that the Administration will confirm that Israel bombed what the U.S. believes was a nascent plutonium-producing nuclear reactor being built with North Korea's assistance.

Everyone who has looked at the incident has suspected as much, despite official refusals to talk about it. But the Administration's acknowledgment of it, even in classified briefings, makes its current stance toward North Korea seem odder than ever.

The State Department has already given up on holding North Korea to its promise to disclose all of its nuclear activities. But now it appears that Foggy Bottom and President Bush are prepared to forgive North Korea for telling what the U.S. now agrees were lies about the North's nuclear proliferation to a Middle Eastern autocrat who is an enemy of America. At the same time, Bush Administration officials are saying that it is good policy to trust Kim Jong Il's declarations on his stockpiles of plutonium.

So: Israel had to risk war with Syria to destroy a nuclear facility built with the help of lying North Koreans. But no worries, the U.S. says it can still trust North Korea to tell the truth about its current programs. This makes us wonder if the unofficial U.S. nonproliferation policy is to have Israel bomb every plutonium facility that the North Koreans decide to sell.

If a Democratic President were pursuing the Bush Administration's North Korean diplomacy, Republicans would hoot him out of town. Mr. Bush should beware of diplomats dangling "legacies" before him. Otherwise, his real legacy on North Korea may be turning nuclear nonproliferation into a global farce.
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« Reply #22 on: May 08, 2008, 07:51:47 AM »

Vetoing the Verifiers
May 8, 2008; Page A14
The State Department is justifying its decision to let North Korea renege on its pledge to give a "complete declaration of its nuclear programs" by promising a strict verification regime. So why is Foggy Bottom cutting its own verification experts out of the loop?

The State Department's systematic exclusion of its own Bureau of Verification, Compliance and Implementation has gone unreported as the North Korean diplomacy proceeds. But it is causing concern on Capitol Hill and has already led to a proposal to require State to submit a report to Congress describing how the U.S. will verify any nuclear deal. Sponsored by Florida Republican Ileana Ros-Lehtinen, the legislation passed the House Foreign Affairs Committee last week with the support of Democratic Chairman Howard Berman.

The mandate of the verification bureau, as described on the State Department's Web site, is to provide oversight "on all matters relating to verification or compliance with international arms control, nonproliferation and disarmament agreements and commitments." It "supports the Secretary" in "developing and implementing robust and rigorous verification and compliance policies."

The verification bureau was created by a Republican Congress in 1999 over the objections of the Clinton Administration and State Department careerists who didn't want agreements subject to additional oversight. The bureau's biggest success to date is Libya, where it played a central role in dismantling the country's WMD programs in 2003. There the bureau worked closely with experts from the Departments of Defense and Energy as well as with Britain and the International Atomic Energy Agency.

North Korea is a different story. The verifiers "have no voice so far," one person close to the process told us. They aren't part of the negotiating teams talking to the North Koreans and they've been excluded from key internal meetings. No one from the verification bureau participated in a recent State Department trip to Pyonygang intended to work out verification issues.

Nor is the verification bureau in charge of monitoring the disabling of the North's nuclear reactor at Yongbyon. One bureau professional took part, but he was invited for his technical expertise; he was not there as a verifier. Paula DeSutter, the assistant secretary who heads the bureau, declined to comment.

Incredibly, the Bureau of East Asian and Pacific Affairs is calling the shots – talking to the North Koreans, hand picking experts to work at Yongbyon, and overseeing disablement. Call it the Chris Hill Show. Mr. Hill – the assistant secretary for East Asia – has also made a mockery of the interagency process. The verification bureau's Pentagon counterparts, who were closely involved in the six-party Korean diplomacy until mid-2005, have also been kept in exile.

Now there's talk that the East Asia bureau – not the verification bureau – will also end up monitoring any final six-party agreement. Not only does East Asia lack the technical expertise to verify a nuclear agreement, its staffers would hardly be eager to find violations in an accord negotiated by their superiors. There's even talk State may outsource some of the inspection work to China, which will be chairing a verification group within the six-party group. But China would have no incentive to blow the whistle on its client state.

The fact that Mr. Hill and his boss, Secretary Condoleezza Rice, are marginalizing their own verifiers is further reason to doubt their North Korea deal. The diplomats want to deliver a "success" and are afraid that if the verifiers get a close look, they will expose it as a fraud. Among the uncomfortable questions: Where is all of the plutonium North Korea has produced over the years? What happened to the uranium program that Pyongyang once boasted about but now says does not exist? What exactly did the North proliferate to Syria?

No verification can deliver 100% certainty, and North Korea, with its history of cheating and lying, would be a difficult case under even the most stringent inspection regimes. The disarmament of Libya succeeded because Moammar Gadhafi decided to cooperate. There's zero indication that Kim Jong Il shares that frame of mind.

North Korea's geography offers special challenges too. It's a mountainous country, with caves hiding mobile missile launchers aimed at Seoul. The military has vast underground facilities built with the help of its former Soviet patrons. Will these be open to inspectors? Even assuming that Kim will allow unimpeded and unannounced access – a leap of diplomatic faith – special expertise is needed to decide where to inspect and what to look for.

The State Department's verification bureau was created in the spirit of Ronald Reagan's slogan, "trust but verify." The Gipper was referring to the disarmament of the Soviet Union in the 1980s, but his principle applies equally to North Korea today. If Foggy Bottom won't trust its own verifiers enough to make them part of any disarmament deal, then the rest of us shouldn't trust any deal struck by the Bush State Department.

See all of today's editorials and op-eds,
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« Reply #23 on: June 27, 2008, 08:13:32 AM »

All very confusing.  On one hand the libs will refuse to recognize Bush for this and will find a way to spin it.  Like the crat hack Holbrooke (the pseudo diplomate) of course is saying this whole accomplishment with N Korea was by way of an accident but his real point is of course that if only Bush would have done it the liberal way and talk more with our enemies we would have seen this much sooner.  Then you have Bolton who in my opinion is about the only guy really saying like it is denouncing this as the "end of the Bush doctrine".

****U.S.-North Korea accord began with an 'accidental' meeting in Berlin

By Warren P. Strobel, McClatchy Newspapers Thu Jun 26, 7:07 PM ET

WASHINGTON — Meeting in Berlin, Germany in January 2007 , in what was portrayed at the time as an accidental encounter, Christopher Hill , the State Department's top Asia hand, and his North Korean counterpart sketched out a deal to resume nuclear negotiations.

The North Koreans had proposed the venue, but Hill had to find an excuse to be there. "I need to be in Berlin , and I need a cover story," Hill told his mentor and one-time boss, Richard Holbrooke , the former U.N. ambassador. Holbrooke arranged for Hill to deliver a speech.

Just three months earlier, North Korea had exploded its first atomic device. The Bush administration responded to the underground test with a campaign for U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang , and Chinese-led six-nation talks aimed at denuclearizing North Korea fell into a deep freeze.

The talks between Hill, known for his aggressive, risk-taking diplomacy, and North Korean envoy Kim Kae -gwan led to a pair of public agreements last year that culminated in this week's nuclear breakthrough.

North Korea on Thursday handed over a 60-page declaration of its nuclear activities, and President Bush announced a partial lifting of U.S. sanctions.

The Berlin talks also marked a historic turnabout for President Bush , current and former U.S. officials said.

Until then, Bush had refused to engage in one-on-one diplomacy with a regime he reviled, at least outside the Chinese-organized six-nation framework. He still refuses direct talks with Iran , another troublesome nuclear aspirant.

"That was the change, the single point. You can put your finger on that, and watch the pivot," said Jack Pritchard , who served as Bush's special envoy for North Korea from 2001-2003.

Added Holbrooke: "No matter how much they try to say it wasn't a change in policy, it was," and led directly to this week's events.

Now Bush, who for most of his presidency has been accused of using too little diplomacy, faces unfamiliar criticism that he has given away too much.

Even some proponents of the peace talks say North Korea's nuclear declaration contains less than it promised last year. It covers North Korea's known efforts to produce plutonium for nuclear weapons, but says nothing about the weapons themselves— nor about an alleged covert program aimed at a uranium-based bomb or the North's nuclear cooperation with countries such as Syria .

"I think it's a very sad day. . . . It reflects the collapse of the Bush doctrine," said former undersecretary of state John Bolton , a leading hawk on proliferation issues.

Bush and Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice argue that it's important to focus first on the most immediate threat— the North's plutonium stock— and advance in stages.

But "proceeding in stages is entirely advantageous to North Korea ," because it will it draw out every step to gain more rewards, Bolton said.

Precisely why Bush changed course so dramatically on North Korea — a country he famously included in his "Axis of Evil" and whose leader, Kim Jong Il, he said he loathed— remains a mystery.

But officials cite the White House's plate was overflowing with wars in Iraq and Afghanistan ; the declining influence of administration hawks such as former Defense Secretary Donald H. Rumsfeld and Bolton; the Republican defeat in the November 2006 mid-term elections; and the tireless efforts of Hill, who had Rice's consistent backing.

Bush also may have wanted a historic foreign policy agreement before he left office.

"There's certainly a desire on the legacy issue here," said Carolyn Leddy , who worked on counter-proliferation at the White House's National Security Council until last November, and is critical of the deal Bush struck.

Leddy recalled that after the October 2006 North Korean nuclear test, "we were all geared up to look at new sanctions mechanisms." Then, she said, "all off a sudden, it was no more sanctions . . . no more sticks."

The stage was set for the two days of meetings in Berlin in January.

Holbrooke, telling his part of the story for the first time, told McClatchy Newspapers that he invited Hill, who served as his deputy in the 1995 Dayton negotiations that ended the war in Bosnia , to give a speech to the American Academy in Berlin , which Holbrooke chairs. A press conference was scheduled, in case Hill had important news to announce. Rice also happened to be en route to Berlin , from a mission to the Middle East .

The outlines of a deal that Hill and North Korea's Kim reached were codified the following month at the six-party talks.

The North would shut down its Yongbyon nuclear reactor and deliver a list of its nuclear programs. North Korea in return would get heavy fuel oil for its electricity needs, and Washington would begin removing it from its list of state sponsor of terrorism, and from under the Trading with the Enemy Act.

Bush has doggedly stuck to the deal, even as criticism from his conservative allies has mounted.

Not even intelligence data showing North Korea helped Syria construct an alleged nuclear reactor— Israel bombed the facility last September— derailed it.

"If he could, (Bush) would much rather ignore, isolate and verbally condemn North Korea ," said Jon Wolfsthal , a proliferation expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies .

"Reality intervened," he said. "The Bush doctrine, the neoconservative view of regime change as a tool for nonproliferation, was left on the battlefields of Iraq ."****
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« Reply #24 on: June 28, 2008, 11:04:07 AM »

The NK situation continues to befuddle me.  I lack confidence in Bush's judgment and fear Bolton is right.
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« Reply #25 on: January 31, 2009, 05:43:38 AM »

Yesterday, North Korea declared all its political and military agreements with the South "dead" -- the latest in a string of confrontational moves taken by Pyongyang against Seoul and the U.S. In the past few weeks, the North confirmed it possessed enough plutonium for four to five nuclear warheads; threatened to retain its nuclear weapons until America withdraws its nuclear protection from the South; denounced the appointment of Seoul's new unification minister as "an open provocation"; and proclaimed that a routine South Korean military exercise had so inflamed tensions that "a war may break out any time."

The Associated Press concluded from all this that North Korea "sounded open to new ideas to defuse nuclear-tinged tensions." Some State Department quarters will warmly receive that analysis; a senior careerist at State once called earlier North Korean provocations "a desperate cry for help." Others will say Kim Jong Il just wants attention, that these moves are simply a "coming out" exercise after his recent illness.

Unfortunately, early signs are that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is falling prey to such logic and downplaying the significance of Pyongyang's nuclear program. It may well be that the Obama administration wants to emphasize domestic economic issues and limit foreign affairs priorities to the Arab-Israeli conflict. But neglecting North Korea is a dangerous gamble with very high stakes.

Most troubling is Mrs. Clinton's unwillingness to acknowledge North Korea's uranium-enrichment efforts. In her confirmation hearing, she said these efforts were "never quite verified." Although we know precious little about the North's progress, including how much weapons-grade uranium may have been produced, Mrs. Clinton cast doubt on whether uranium enrichment was a serious subject at all. Pressed on this point on Jan. 23 at State's daily briefing, the department spokesman said "we don't know" whether such a program exists.

Of course, the easiest way to solve a difficult problem is to conclude there really isn't one. (This was John Kennedy's technique for eliminating the U.S. "missile gap" with the Soviet Union, which he had deployed so effectively against Richard Nixon.) For years, State's permanent bureaucracy has been trying to wish away North Korea's uranium-enrichment program. If President Barack Obama's State Department takes this strategy, Pyongyang will once again have occasion to contemplate the profound wisdom of the ancient North Korean riddle: Why negotiate with the Americans when we do so well by letting them negotiate with themselves?

Equally tempting -- and equally dangerous -- is the notion that North Korea is not a truly pressing problem. After all, the argument goes, the North already has nuclear weapons, so unlike Iran there is no line to prevent it from crossing. Accordingly, there is no urgency to reconvene the six-party talks with the Koreas, Russia, China and Japan to end the North's nuclear program, and certainly not to take any concrete measures to apply meaningful pressure to Kim Jong Il's regime.

By contrast, George Mitchell, the newly appointed special envoy to the Middle East, arrived in the region five days after being named, and the endless cycle of meetings on Iran's nuclear program among the U.N. Security Council's five permanent members and Germany will resume in days. The special envoy for Afghanistan-Pakistan is gearing up rapidly. And there's now even a special envoy for climate change.

But so far, there is no special envoy for North Korea. Mrs. Clinton's first press conference last Tuesday provided another opportunity to announce the position and name the envoy, but she passed, even though she was asked specifically about the six-party talks. There are persuasive arguments against reviving the unhappy Clinton administration practice of unleashing numerous Big Beast envoys in the State Department. But make no mistake: In such an ecosystem, if your issue does not have a Big Beast, then it is not a Big Issue.

The belief that North Korea is not an imminent danger is closely related to the fallacy that it is "merely" a threat to peace and security in Northeast Asia, a longstanding State Department fixation. In fact, North Korea is an urgent threat in the Middle East, both because of its nuclear program and its strenuous efforts to proliferate ballistic missile technology there.

The clone of North Korea's Yongbyon reactor -- under construction in Syria until it was destroyed by Israel in September 2007 -- demonstrates beyond debate how the North's nuclear program contributes directly and palpably to Middle East tensions. Trying to ignore or downplay the relationship guarantees that we will resolve neither Pyongyang's, nor Tehran's, nuclear ambitions.

Ironically, North Korea's provocations may well precipitate the appointment of a U.S. special envoy to continue the six-party talks. If so, the North will have succeeded yet again, suckering Washington into more fruitless negotiations which have no prospect of eliminating the North Korean threat. By whittling away our time, they will continue to prevent the U.S. from implementing stronger measures to undermine Kim Jong Il's regime.

Mr. Bolton, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute, is the author of "Surrender Is Not an Option: Defending America at the United Nations" (Simon & Schuster, 2007).
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« Reply #26 on: February 26, 2009, 04:58:37 PM »

If Ronald Reagan didn't pursue what the left derided as "star wars" we wouldn't be able to do this now would we?

****ABC News' Martha Raddatz, Adm. Timothy Keating, head of the U.S. Pacific Commands, said that the military is prepared to shoot down any North Korean ballistic missile -- if President Obama should give the order.

There are reports that Kim Jung Il is advancing his nuclear plans for North Korea and Washington is watching closely. Admiral Keating says that the U.S. military is ready and prepared to respond to the launch of any missiles by North Korea.
(AP Photos)"If a missile leaves the launch pad we'll be prepared to respond upon direction of the president," Keating told ABC News. "I'm not a betting man but I'd go like 60/40, 70/30 that it will, they will attempt to launch a satellite. There's equipment moving up there that would indicate the preliminary stages of preparation for a launch. So I'd say it's more than less likely."

"Should it look like it's not a satellite launch -- that it's something other than a satellite launch -- we'll be ready to respond."

Intelligence reports suggest that North Korea is preparing a long-range missile test. Earlier this week, North Korea announced its plans to send a satellite into orbit as part of its space program.

However, many in the international community assert that North Korea's satellite test is simply a means of concealing a long-range missile test -- a move that would flare existing tension in the region.

Will North Korea Launch a Long-Range Missile?NKorea Building Underground Fuel Facility?Clinton Fears North Korean Power StruggleKeating said that the military is ready to respond with at least five different systems: destroyer, Aegis cruiser, radar, space-based system and ground-based interceptor. All of these work in conjunction with one another to protect against any missile threat.

 Destroyers are fast, multi-purpose warships that can be used in almost any type of naval operation. They would likely play a defensive role, helping to repel an air attack and offering a platform for gunfire and missiles to hit airborne objects.

 The Aegis cruiser is part of the Navy's computer-based command and control system that integrates radar and missiles to fight against land, air and sea attacks. For Keating, the Aegis combat system can tracks threats and counter any short- or medium-range missiles.

 Radars vary in type and design, but the military would likely employ a range of sea-based and early warning radars to detect the presence of a North Korean missile, track warheads' movement and more easily home in on the position of a missile to knock it down.

 Space-based infrared system is a defense system that provides warning of any missile launches, detecting the threat and employing other tools to obliterate it.

 Ground-based interceptor is a weapon that seeks and destroys incoming ballistic missiles outside of the earth's atmosphere. Its sensors give the military the ability to locate and obliterate a North Korean missile.

"We will be fully prepared to respond as the president directs," Keating said. "Everything that we need to be ready is ready. So that's ready twice in one sentence, but we're not kidding, it doesn't take much for us to be fully postured to respond."****
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« Reply #27 on: February 26, 2009, 07:41:28 PM »

Does the Empty-suit have the huevos? I guess we'll find out.
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« Reply #28 on: February 26, 2009, 10:30:35 PM »

Can open.  Worms everywhere , , ,
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« Reply #29 on: March 08, 2009, 10:10:44 AM »

Friday, March 06, 2009

The Airliner Threat

It its latest attempt at sabre-rattling, North Korea has threatened to shoot down a South Korean airliner during next week's exercises between ROK military forces and their American counterparts.

Reuters has the warning, issued by the official Korean Central News Agency:

"Security cannot be guaranteed for South Korean civil airplanes flying through the territorial air of our side and its vicinity ... above the East Sea of Korea (Sea of Japan) in particular, while the military exercises are under way," the North's KCNA news agency quoted a statement from a government official as saying.

In response, South Korean airlines have announced plans to re-route flights approaching Seoul from the east, placing them farther away from North Korean territory. Singapore Airlines, which also operates a number of flights into and out of Seoul, has adopted a similar policy. Other carriers, including Japan Airlines, All Nippon Airways and Air China, said they have no plans to alter their flight routes.

There was no word from U.S. carriers that service South Korean destinations, including Northwest Airlines and United.

Pyongyang's warning is almost certainly a prelude to the expected launch of a Tapeodong-2 long-range missile, now being prepared at a test site on North Korea's east coast. DPRK officials claim the rocket will be used to put a satellite into orbit, but western analysts dispute that statement. There were no signs of a satellite deployment during previous TD-2 launches in 1998 and 2006. Intelligence officials in the U.S., Japan and South Korea believe the launch is nothing more than a test of the extended-range missile, capable of hitting U.S. territory throughout the Pacific.

North Korea is expected to announce a "closure area" for air and naval traffic in preparation for the test. The restricted area may extended into commercial air corridors over the Sea of Japan --the same routes used by airliners flying into Seoul from the east. However, the launch of a single missile, from a location on the North Korean coast, would pose a minimal threat to commercial air traffic.

But the warning statement--and anticipated closure area--will achieve an important goal: minimizing air traffic over the Sea of Japan during the upcoming missile test. That will make it for North Korean air defenses to keep tabs on U.S. platforms expected to monitor the launch, namely the RC-135S "Cobra Ball," and the RC-135V/W "Rivet Joint."

Cobra Ball is a dedicated Measures and Signatures Intelligence (MASINT) aircraft, configured to track ballistic missile flights at long range. Normally based at Offut AFB, Nebraska, at least one RC-135S will be deployed to Kadena AB, Japan in preparation for the North Korean test. Rivet Joint is a dedicated SIGINT platform, used to monitor enemy communications and threat emitters, providing additional threat warning to Cobra Ball and other allied assets.

Indeed, the greatest risk to our reconnaissance platforms--and commercial airliners--comes from North Korean fighters and long-range surface-to-air missiles (SAMs), not the TD-2. The DPRK maintains a number of older fighters, mostly MiG-21s and MiG-19s, on alert at bases on it eastern coast. While both have limited ranges, they could (potentially) intercept an RC-135 operating within 150 NM of the DPRK coastline, or a commercial jet approaching ROK airspace.

A second threat comes from the aging SA-5 "Gammon" SAM system, purchased from Russia more than 20 years ago. North Korea has two SA-5 complexes, located an Ongo-dak and Tokchae-san. Together, they provide overlapping coverage of the eastern coast, and airspace south of the DMZ. With a range of at least 150 NM, the SA-5 is optimized for engagements against large, non-maneuvering targets like reconnaissance aircraft and commercial airliners.

In response, Washington and Seoul should make it very clear that any provocative move by Pyongyang will result in a strong military response. The U.S. and South Korea have a variety of assets that could target the SA-5 sites and airfields housing MiG-21s and MiG-19s. If North Korea sends its fighters on an intercept mission, they should be shot down. If one of the SA-5 complexes "paints" a recce flight or an airliner, the site will be hit with an ATACMS, anti-radiation missiles, cruise missiles or a combination of those weapons.

It's no accident that North Korea has grown increasingly bold in its provocations toward the U.S. and our allies in the Far East. Sensing weakness and indecision in the Obama Administration, Kim Jong-il is quite willing to test the limits of our patience--and response options.

Less than two months into Mr. Obama's term, Pyongyang has announced plans to launch another TD-2 (on a flight path that may carry it over Japan); vowed military against South Korea, and threatened to disrupt commercial air service along busy east Asia corridors.

The U.S. response? Nothing more than mild diplomatic warnings. No wonder Mr. Kim is feeling his oats.
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« Reply #30 on: March 08, 2009, 08:28:46 PM »

N. Korea warns intercepting 'satellite' will prompt counterstrike+   

Mar 8 05:45 PM US/Eastern
PYONGYANG/BEIJING, March 9 (AP) - (Kyodo)—North Korea warned Monday that any move to intercept what it calls a satellite launch and what other countries suspect may be a missile test-firing would result in a counterstrike against the countries trying to stop it.
"We will retaliate (over) any act of intercepting our satellite for peaceful purposes with prompt counterstrikes by the most powerful military means," the official Korean Central News Agency quoted a spokesman of the General Staff of the Korean People's Army as saying.

If countries such as the United States, Japan or South Korea try to intercept the launch, the North Korean military will carry out "a just retaliatory strike operation not only against all the interceptor means involved but against the strongholds" of the countries, it said.

"Shooting our satellite for peaceful purposes will precisely mean a war," it added.

North Korea earlier announced it is preparing to put a communications satellite into space, but outside observers suspect it may in fact be a test-firing of a long-range ballistic missile.

The United States, Japan and South Korea have said that even if Pyongyang calls the launch a missile test, it would violate existing U.N. Security Council resolutions.

The same North Korean statement said the country's military will cut off communications with its South Korean counterparts during the U.S.- South Korean exercises for the duration of the exercises beginning Monday.

A separate, more rare statement by the KPA's Supreme Command was quoted by the KCNA as saying that its soldiers are under orders to be "fully combat-ready" during U.S.-South Korean military exercises beginning Monday.

The North's armed forces have been ordered to "deal merciless retaliatory blows" should there be any intrusion "into the sky and land and seas of the DPRK even an inch."

DPRK stands for Democratic People's Republic of Korea, North Korea's official name.

North Korea has demanded a stop to this month's U.S.-South Korean exercises, and said earlier it cannot guarantee the security of South Korean civilian airplanes flying through its territorial airspace while they are under way.
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« Reply #31 on: May 25, 2009, 10:47:37 AM »

Hey all

N.Korea conducts second nuclear test, U.N. to meet(and do What ? oh ,I know nothing ,just like the obama) shocked
SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea conducted a second nuclear test Monday that was far more powerful than its first one, triggering an emergency U.N. Security Council meeting on the hermit state's defiant act, but financial markets wobbled only briefly on the news.

U.S. President Barack Obama said Pyongyang's attempts at developing nuclear weapons was a threat to international peace and security, while the North's neighbor and long-time benefactor, China, said it was "resolutely opposed" to the test.

Russia, which also called the test a threat to regional security, said the blast was about equal in power to the U.S. atom bomb dropped on the Japanese city of Nagasaki in World War Two.

Ratcheting up tensions further, North Korea test-fired three short-range missiles just hours later, Yonhap news agency said.

Officials in Washington and Beijing said North Korea had warned their governments of the test about an hour before detonation but nearby Japan said it was not given advance notice.

Germany, Britain and France were among the nations condemning the test while U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said he was "deeply worried."

Monday's blast was up to 20 times more powerful than the North's first nuclear test about 2 1/2 years ago, underscoring the advances in its nuclear program despite multilateral talks on ending Pyongyang's nuclear weapons ambitions.

The latest test will confound the international community, which has for years tried a mixture of huge aid pledges and tough economic sanctions to persuade the impoverished North to give up efforts to build a nuclear arsenal.

It is also bound to raise concerns about proliferation, a major worry of the United States which has in the past accused Pyongyang of trying to sell its nuclear know-how to states such as Syria.


Analysts said the test also will serve to raise North Korea's leverage in any negotiations with the United States.

It comes as speculation has mounted that leader Kim Jong-il, his health uncertain after reports of a stroke last year, wants to strengthen an already iron grip on power so he can better secure the succession for one of his three sons.

The nuclear test dealt another blow to South Korean markets, already unsettled by fears of domestic unrest after former President Roh Moo-hyun, who had been questioned over his links to a corruption scandal, jumped to his death during the weekend.

South Korea's main stock market index fell more than 6 percent at one stage on worries by some that investors would flee.

But the decline was short-lived and analysts said investors were used to the North's repeated saber-rattling, even as it became more aggressive, and would likely panic only if there was military conflict on a peninsula where 2 million troops face each other across one of the world's most heavily armed borders.

North Korea already is so isolated there is little left with which to punish an autocratic government that has long been willing to take dealings with the outside world to the brink.

At home, its leaders repeatedly stress the threat from a hostile United States to justify heavy spending on the military that keeps them in power but which has meant deepening poverty, at times famine, for most of the rest of its 23 million people.

The official KCNA news agency said the North had "successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of the measures to bolster up its nuclear deterrent for self-defense in every way."

The country's first nuclear test, in October 2006, was considered to have been relatively weak, about 1 kiloton, suggesting design problems.


China Monday echoed concerns by other permanent members of the Security Council, which was due to go into an emergency session later Monday.

"The Chinese side vehemently demands North Korea abides by its denuclearization promises, stop any actions which may worsen the situation and return to the six-party talks process," the Foreign Ministry said in a statement on its website (

"The Chinese government calls on all sides to calmly and appropriately deal (with the situation)."

Analysts said, however, Beijing was unlikely to back stronger sanctions as part of a new U.N. Security Council resolution.

Obama said it was "a matter of grave concern to all nations" and warranted action by the international community.

North Korea had for weeks threatened to conduct the test in response to tighter international sanctions following its April launch of a rocket, widely seen as a disguised long-range missile that violated U.N. resolutions.

Following the tightened sanctions, Pyongyang also said it would no longer be a party to six-country talks on giving up its nuclear weapons program.

"North Korea's strategic objective hasn't changed. That objective is to win the attention of the Obama administration, to push the North Korea issue up the agenda," said Xu Guangyu, a researcher at the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Boyo( Obamas foriegn policy in a nut shell : You're right its all our fault we diserve it , we surrender. evil)

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« Reply #32 on: May 25, 2009, 12:22:38 PM »

Also to be remembered here is the presence Iranian scientists at these things, the NK nuke operation in Syria neutralized by Israel, recent reports that Pak is upgrading its nuke program-- probably with US money!!!--  The Gathering Perfect Clusterfcuk gains momentum. cry angry
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« Reply #33 on: May 27, 2009, 03:57:37 AM »

This piece strikes me as a bit glib-- but still worthy of the read:

Geopolitical Diary: North Korea's Nuclear Program in the Past and Future
May 26, 2009
North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Monday, a little more than two and a half years after its first such test in October 2006. Since the early 1990s, North Korea has been engaged in a public balancing act between nuclear development and negotiations with the international community — particularly the United States. One of the key factors driving the North’s nuclear program is its own insecurity when faced with the United States’ full might. At its core, the nuclear program is about regime survival — not only now, but into the future.

Pyongyang’s focus on a nuclear program is rooted in its history. The Korean War showed North Korea how quickly the U.S. military could reverse a situation, pushing the North’s forces from their nearly complete conquering of the Korean Peninsula back up to the Yalu River line in a matter of weeks. But even before the vast difference in military capability between North Korea and the United States was reinforced by that war, North Korea, the united Korea before it and even the earlier Korean kingdoms occupied a rather insecure geographical position in Asia.

The Korean Peninsula traditionally has been an invasion route and contested territory between the two regional competitors, China and Japan. It has developed a limited repertoire of tactics to deal with this unchosen geographic position: It can attempt isolation (the so-called “Hermit Kingdom”); play regional competitors against one another (a similar strategy was employed, ultimately to failure, as Korea sought to avoid the push of colonialism in the late 19th and early 20th centuries); or find a third-party sponsor to provide protection from its neighbors (for example, as the United States provided protection for South Korea in the second half of the 20th century).

North Korea has employed varieties of these tactics — from playing the Russians and Chinese off one another during the Cold War (and exploiting both powers’ fears of a U.S. occupation of the entire peninsula) to developing a fortress mentality, closing itself off to outside ideas and influence. Even North Korea’s nuclear program, in some ways, has been used at times to draw U.S. attention and maintain U.S. involvement in part to ensure the peninsula doesn’t end up once again stuck between an aggressive China and expansionist Japan.

But the nuclear program, as it developed, also was a manifestation of North Korea’s “Juche” self-reliance philosophy — a philosophy born from centuries of having to rely on others and almost always being sorely disappointed in the end. By developing a nuclear capability, even if in the early stages, North Korea is moving closer to a point where neither its neighbors nor the United States have many options for threatening it without facing a deadly response.

For decades, Pyongyang maintained a massive conventional military, replete with short- and medium-range missiles, rockets and artillery aimed at the nearby South Korean capital, Seoul, as a deterrent to any military action against the North. But this was not seen as a sufficient deterrent to the United States — which continued to carry out military operations around the world against seemingly powerful regimes that ultimately were unable to respond in a manner that truly threatened Washington or even made it think twice. Pyongyang could not be sure that Washington would always consider Seoul as the deciding factor, its threats to turn the city into a “sea of fire” notwithstanding.

Pyongyang’s nuclear and long-range missile programs, then, were part of an effort to demonstrate that North Korea would be able to respond to the United States or other distant aggressors. Initially, Pyongyang was willing to trade away its developing capability in return for more concrete assurances from Washington (whether through a formal peace accord or normalized relations) that Pyongyang would not end up in the U.S. military’s gun sights. But Pyongyang quickly found that its conventional deterrent, coupled with the very different views found among its neighbors and the United States (Beijing rarely agreed to the most stringent sanctions, Seoul was often conflicted about risking destabilizing the North, and Japan opposed concessions), meant that it could escalate a threat, then partly back down in exchange for an economic or political reward — all without really halting its nuclear and missile progress.

The 2006 nuclear test, part of a concerted effort to draw the United States back to the bargaining table, triggered a perhaps surprisingly soft response. In essence, the United States and others gave Pyongyang a sound talking to, and then returned to negotiations. This convinced some among the North Korean elite, particularly in the military, that not only would North Korea never have to give up its nuclear deterrent, but it also could accelerate development with little risk of backlash. This thinking came to the fore again after Kim Jong Il suffered a stroke in 2008, without a clear line of succession. The situation set off intensified maneuvering in Pyongyang as various factions — including the military — sought to take advantage and gain strength.

North Korea’s attempted satellite launch last month and the nuclear test on Monday are both as much about demonstrating Kim Jong Il’s continued strength at home as they are about warning the world (and particularly the United States) not to mess with Pyongyang while the reorganization of top leaders is under way. But it is also an attempt by Pyongyang to show the world that North Korea is both willing to follow through on its threats and not afraid of the consequences (perhaps because it has seen how ineffectual the “consequences” of past actions were).

In essence, North Korea is saying that it does not need to rely on anyone else — that is has found another way to ensure the security of the Korean Peninsula from its neighbors, without relying on outside exploitation. This is, of course, not entirely true: North Korea remains heavily dependent upon China for energy, food and cash, and has grown used to periodic food and fuel aid handouts from the international community, South Korea and the United States.

But to summarize the North Korean behavior as mere attempts to attract U.S. attention or to bargain fails to take into consideration the deep-rooted insecurities of North Korea and its predecessor states on the Korean Peninsula. What the “shrimp between two whales” is trying to do is find a way to avoid being crushed or eaten. It may not fit exactly with international norms, but it has worked for Pyongyang so far.
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« Reply #34 on: May 27, 2009, 07:34:13 PM »

Russia fears Korea conflict could go nuclear


By Oleg Shchedrov

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Russia is taking security measures as a precaution against the possibility tension over North Korea could escalate into nuclear war, news agencies quoted officials as saying on Wednesday.

Interfax quoted an unnamed security source as saying a stand-off triggered by Pyongyang's nuclear test on Monday could affect the security of Russia's far eastern regions, which border North Korea.

"The need has emerged for an appropriate package of precautionary measures," the source said.

"We are not talking about stepping up military efforts but rather about measures in case a military conflict, perhaps with the use of nuclear weapons, flares up on the Korean Peninsula," he added. The official did not elaborate further.

North Korea has responded to international condemnation of its nuclear test and a threat of new U.N. sanctions by saying it is no longer bound by an armistice signed with South Korea at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War.

Itar-Tass news agency quoted a Russian Foreign Ministry official as saying the "war of nerves" over North Korea should not be allowed to grow into a military conflict, a reference to Pyongyang's decision to drop out of the armistice deal.


"We assume that a dangerous brinkmanship, a war of nerves, is under way, but it will not grow into a hot war," the official told Tass. "Restraint is needed."

The Foreign Ministry often uses statements sourced to unnamed officials, released through official news agencies, to lay down its position on sensitive issues.

Russian President Dmitry Medvedev has condemned the North Korean tests but his foreign minister, Sergei Lavrov, has warned the international community against hasty decisions.  Russia is a veto-wielding permanent member of the U.N. Security Council which is preparing to discuss the latest stand-off over the peninsula.

In the past, Moscow has been reluctant to support Western calls for sanctions. But Russian officials in the United Nations have said that this time the authority of the international body is at stake.  Medvedev told South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, who called him on Wednesday, that Russia was prepared to work with Seoul on a new U.N. Security Council resolution and to revive international talks on the North Korean nuclear issue.

"The heads of state noted that the nuclear test conducted by North Korea on Monday is a direct violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution and impedes international law," a Kremlin press release said.
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« Reply #35 on: May 27, 2009, 07:42:30 PM »

"Clinton slams N. Korea's rhetoric, 'belligerent' actions"

I'm sure Kim Jong Il is shaking in his boots.   shocked
Let's hope action is taken besides useless rhetoric... 

WASHINGTON (CNN) -- Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that North Korea "has ignored the international community" and "continues to act in a provocative and belligerent manner toward its neighbors."

"There are consequences to such actions," Clinton said, referring to recent saber-rattling and nuclear activities in North Korea.

The country has chosen to violate "specific language of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1718" and "abrogated obligations it entered into though the six-party talks," Clinton said Wednesday during an appearance with the Egyptian foreign minister. The U.N. resolution, adopted in 2006 after North Korea's first nuclear test, condemned the test and imposed sanctions on the country.
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« Reply #36 on: May 27, 2009, 07:51:26 PM »

Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again,
Stop, or I'll say stop again....
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« Reply #37 on: May 27, 2009, 07:56:24 PM »

You mean that doesn't work?
« Reply #38 on: May 28, 2009, 10:56:53 AM »

May 28, 2009
John Bolton, prophet

Ethel C. Fenig
Last week, on May 20, the Wall Street Journal  published  former UN ambassador John Bolton's  op-ed prophetically titled "Get Ready for Another North Korean Nuke Test."
 Five days later--boom!  Well, why not?  As Bolton noted
What the North has lacked thus far is the political opportunity to test without fatally jeopardizing its access to the six-party talks and the legitimacy they provide. Despite the State Department's seemingly unbreakable second-term hold over President Bush, another test after 2006 just might have ended the talks.

So far, the North faces no such threat from the Obama administration. Despite Pyongyang's aggression, Mr. Bosworth has reiterated that the U.S. is "committed to dialogue" and is "obviously interested in returning to a negotiating table as soon as we can." This is precisely what the North wants: America in a conciliatory mode, eager to bargain, just as Mr. Bush was after the 2006 test.

If the next nuclear explosion doesn't derail the six-party talks, Kim will rightly conclude that he faces no real danger of ever having to dismantle his weapons program. North Korea is a mysterious place, but there is no mystery about its foreign-policy tactics: They work. The real mystery is why our administrations -- Republican and Democratic -- haven't learned that their quasi-religious faith in the six-party talks is misplaced.

For good measure, the North Koreans sent up a few missiles the next day--and yes, Ms. Tina Fey, they can reach Alaska.  And Alaska, governed by Sarah Palin (R) is part of the United States.

And what will Iran learn from North Korea?   Bolton concluded

Negotiations like the six-party talks are a charade and reflect a continuing collapse of American resolve. U.S. acquiescence in a second North Korean nuclear test will likely mean that Tehran will adopt Pyongyang's successful strategy.

It's time for the Obama administration to finally put down Kim Jong Il's script. If not, we better get ready for Iran -- and others -- to go nuclear.

Expanding his ideas in a May 25 New York Times op-ed, Bolton warns of the dangerous results of President Barack Hussein Obama's (D) insistence on arms control; (read arms reduction.)

Today's real proliferation threat, however, is not Israel, but states like Iran and North Korea that become parties to the alphabet soup of arms control treaties and then violate them with abandon. Without robust American reactions to these violations - not apparent in administration thinking - more will follow.

And right on schedule, as, to no one's surprise ( well, except maybe the entire Obama administration) Parisa Hafezi and Zahra Hosseinian  report in the Washington Post

Ahmadinejad on Monday rejected a Western proposal for it to "freeze" its nuclear work in return for no new sanctions and ruled out any talks with major powers on the issue.

The comments by the conservative president, who is seeking a second term in a June 12 election, are likely to further disappoint the U.S. administration of President Barack Obama, which is seeking to engage Iran diplomatically.

Instead he

proposed a debate with Obama at the United Nations in New York "regarding the roots of world problems" but he made clear Tehran would not bow to pressure on the nuclear issue.

"Our talks (with major powers) will only be in the framework of cooperation for managing global issues and nothing else. We have clearly announced this," Ahmadinejad said.

"The nuclear issue is a finished issue for us," he told a news conference. "From now on we will continue our path in the framework of the (U.N. nuclear watchdog) agency."

Iran has recently fired missiles which can not only reach Israel but southern Europe, other Arab countries and US forces in the Gulf.

Bolton thus reminds us

The Senate, which must approve any treaty with a two-thirds supermajority, is now the only obstacle to Obama administration policies that will seriously weaken the United States. Voters should remind their representatives on Capitol Hill that they have a responsibility to keep us safe.

But as Andy Borowtiz noted

U.S. to Respond to North Korea with 'Strongest Possible Adjectives'

 And will speak those same adjectives to Iran.  And then will be shocked, shocked, shocked that they will have no effect, downplay a North Korean and Iranian missile threat while frantically attempting even more engagement.   

Page Printed from: at May 28, 2009 - 11:54:03 AM EDT
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« Reply #39 on: May 28, 2009, 03:42:34 PM »

Fast-track to failure
May 27, 5:44 PM

It's not often that we beat John Bolton to the punch on North Korea.  But in this column on April 26th--about three weeks ahead of Dr. Bolton's Wall Street Journal op-ed--we predicted more trouble with Pyongyang: 
From the moment Mr. Obama entered the presidency, it has been clear that Pyongyang planned to test him.  By late February. intelligence agencies in the U.S., Japan and South Korea were detecting suspicious activity at Musudan-ri, North Korea's long-range missile test facility.  Preparations for a launch of a Tapeodong-2 ICBM were underway. 
"...In response, Washington (once again) turned the other cheek, seeking only mild punishment for North Korea's violation of existing U.N. resolutions.  American officials have also urged the DPRK to return to the Six Party nuclear talks, which have been stalled for months. 
Not surprisingly, Pyongyang was undeterred.  The missile test went off as scheduled on April 5th, but a satellite never reached orbit.  Intelligence analysts report that the TD-2's third stage failed, although its unclear if the missile actually carried a satellite payload.  Many experts remain convinced that the launch was nothing more than a missile test. 
In response, Washington vowed to seek new sanctions against North Korea.  Meanwhile, Kim Jong-il's regime was moving on to other, equally outrageous acts.  Less than a year after (supposedly) shuttering its nuclear efforts, Pyongyang promised to restart the program.
Of course, North Korea did more that restart its nuclear efforts.  Earlier this week, the DPRK conducted its second, underground nuclear test, a blast in the 10-20 kiloton range.  That's roughly the size of the atomic bomb dropped on Hiroshima during World War II, and demonstrates that Pyongyang has completely mastered the nuclear weapons cycle.  North Korea's first nuclear test (in 2006) was a dud, raising questions about the reliability of Kim's nuclear technology. 
To be fair, Ambassador Bolton deserves credit for predicting the recent test, noting that the military and scientific imperatives made it all-but-inevitable.  We thought the next nuclear test would be later this year, but clearly, Kim Jong-il is on an accelerated timetable. 
Consider the events that have followed the nuclear blast.  The hours that followed saw a series of short-range missile launches, affirming  North Korea's ability to build nuclear weapons and (eventually) mate them to various delivery platforms.   And, if that's not enough, Pyongyang has announced that it is no longer bound by the armistice that ended the Korean war, and has threatened to attack allied vessels that try to inspect North Korean merchant ships. 
The reaction from Washington?  Nothing but sharply-worded statements, pleas for U.N. action and invitations for North Korea to return to the bargaining table.  No wonder Kim Jong-il is feeling his oats. 
In fact, our "evolving" policy toward Pyongyang is rather remarkable, given the recent, dangerous turn of events in northeastern Asia.  In less than two months, North Korea has demonstrated its ability to launch a crude ICBM, detonated a nuclear weapon that will (one day) be carried by that missile, and promised additional provocations unless the U.S., South Korea and Japan play ball with Kim's regime.  Put another way, Washington and its allies better cough up more aid--and avoid new sanctions--or the DPRK will raise the ante again. 
The Obama Administration seems to believe that Pyongyang has already played its trump card with Monday's nuclear test.  At some point, the thinking goes, North Korea will be desperate for food and fuel and meekly return to negotiations.  That will allow everyone to forget about the recent unpleasantness, and get back to the diplomatic " Rope-a-Dope" that passes for bargaining with North Korea.
Unfortunately, there are a few problems with that theory.  Truth is, Mr. Kim can create more havoc, exacerbating the crisis that now engulfs the Korean peninsula.  The crab fishing season is now underway along the Northern Limit Line (the maritime extension of the DMZ), an area that saw pitched battles between DPRK and South Korean gunboats a few years ago.  Given the current tensions in Korea, the potential for new battles is growing.  How would Mr. Obama respond to a naval "war" that quickly spreads to land? 
Or, how would the commander-in-chief react if North Korean MiGs or surface-to-air missiles begin firing on U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Sea of Japan, or south of the DMZ?  Would he order attacks on the DPRK missile sites, or beg the U.N. to take action?  And, what about a repeat of Pyongyang's commando attack on the South Korean presidential mansion (the Blue House) in the 1970s?  Or the terrorist bombings in the 80s that brought down a RIK airliner, killing hundreds of passengers, or a decapitation strike against South Korean leaders during a state visit to Burma?  All of these options remain a part of Kim Jong-il's playbook, and history demonstrates that the North Korean leader is not afraid to raise the stakes, in pursuit of his goals. 
Carried to their extreme, Kim's plans could (ultimately) include a general attack against South Korea, though most "experts" have long discounted that possibility.  Still, that scenario cannot be completely ruled out.  Sixty percent of the North Korean Army is located within 60 miles of the DMZ, meaning that Kim Jong-il could launch a limited invasion with virtually no intelligence warning.  Did we mention that he now has nukes? 
Against this deteriorating backdrop, how should the U.S. respond?  While the time for diplomatic carrots and U.N. resolutions has clearly passed, Mr. Obama remains wedded to that approach, with little regard for wider, long-term  consequences.  Consider the examples of South Korea and Japan.  Over the past three months, both have been threatened by their enemy's long-range missiles, and now that same regime has detonated a nuclear weapon.
That leaves Tokyo and Seoul with a sobering choice.  Remain under the American umbrella (which Washington appears reluctant to use), or consider building their own nukes.  With their advanced technological and industrial bases, both Tokyo and Seoul could have nuclear weapons in a little over a year, a development that would likely spur all-out arms race in the region.   And rest assured, the nuclear option is being quietly discussed in both capitals, as confidence in American (read" the Obama Administration) sinks like a rock.         
At the very least, this should be an interesting summer on the Korean peninsula.  Borrowing John Bolton's crystal ball, we can easily envision naval clashes between North and South Korea, and American involvement is almost assured.  Ditto for some sort of ambush involving a U.S. reconnaissance aircraft over the Sea of Japan or the Yellow Sea.  Beyond that, the situation grows even dicier.   
Clearly, no one wants another Korean War, but there are steps the Obama Administration should be taking now, to deter Pyongyang's aggression.  For starters, how about re-imposing some of the financial sanctions that (among other things) froze the assets of North Korean leaders stashed in a Macau bank.  The amount of the money was rather small, but it got the attention of Kim Jong-il.  Moreover, it spurred a rare stretch of "good" behavior from the DPRK, until the U.S. released the assets. 
Additionally, Washington should press ahead with naval exercises involving South Korea vessels along the Northern Limit Line, as a show of resolve against Pyongyang.   Potential attacks by DPRK vessels should bring an immediate response by both navies, aimed at neutralizing the maritime threat.    On the political front, Mr. Obama needs to lean on China--hard.  Not only can Beijing put additional pressure on Pyongyang, it can help in more practical ways, too.
At the top of that list is barring over-flights and landings by transports that routinely ferry arms to Iran and Syria.  Deprived of that aerial route--and with allied warships stopping North Korean merchant vessels--Pyongyang will feel the pressure rather quickly and reconsider its actions.
Regrettably, there are no indications that the Obama Administration is prepared to adopt--and maintain--a tougher line against North Korea.  Indeed, the president's policies for dealing with the DPRK are on a fast track to failure, following the precedent set by Bill Clinton and George W. Bush--with one exception.  Neither Mr. Clinton nor Mr. Bush had to deal with a North Korean regime that was nuclear-capable.  Now, Mr. Obama is facing one with nukes, but he has no realistic plan for handling the situation, beyond myopic diplomacy.                                         
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« Reply #40 on: May 29, 2009, 10:50:41 PM »

What crisis?
May 29, 9:07 PM

Over the past five days, North Korea has detonated its second nuclear device; test-fired at least six missiles of various types, announced it is no longer bound by the armistice that ended the Korean War, and threatened more "defensive measures" against the U.S. and South Korea. 
But don't worry, there's no "crisis" on the Korean peninsula.  If you don't believe us, just ask Defense Secretary Robert Gates.
En route to a meeting of Pacific region defense chiefs, Mr. Gates told reporters on Friday that the situation in Korea hasn't reached the crisis stage, at least not yet.   
Glad he cleared that one up.  Of course, Mr. Gates' assessment begs a rather obvious question: if this isn't a crisis, then pray tell, what is.  Tensions on the peninsula are at their highest level since the infamous, 1976 "tree-cutting" incident--which resulted in the murder of two U.S. Army officers by North Korean troops--and the capture of the USS Pueblo in 1968. 
And North Korea is doing everything it can to exacerbate the situation.  In the hours since Secretary Gates' made his comments, Pyongyang has test-fired a long-range surface-to-air missile (the same type that could be used to engage U.S. reconnaissance aircraft), and intelligence analysts have detected vehicle movement at a missile complex--the same one where the DPRK launched a crude ICBM in early April.     
Oh, and did we mention that Chinese fishing boats have vacated Korean waters in the middle of the lucrative crab season?  U.S. officials aren't sure if the departure was ordered by Beijing, or simply a decision by Chinese captains.  Apparently, the folks at Foggy Bottom have never watched an episode of The Deadliest Catch.  Chinese skippers devote the same effort to the Yellow Sea season that American captains put into their crabbing expeditions in the Bering Sea.  Put another way, it would take a cataclysmic event--and a directive from Beijing--to prompt a mass exodus by the Chinese crab fleet.
In the meantime, U.S. and South Korean units have moved to WATCHCON 2, the second-highest readiness level for surveillance and intelligence-gathering activity.  That means that virtually every available ISR asset is focused on North Korea, in an effort to glean additional information on Pyongyang's intentions. 
Even General George Casey, the Army Chief of Staff, felt compelled to tell reporters that our ground forces could handle a sudden attack from North Korea, despite the on-going demands of Iraq and Afghanistan.  The Army's 2nd Infantry Division has been based on the peninsula for more than 50 years, and currently backs up the South Korean units that man forward defensive positions along the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ). 
Readers will note that General Casey didn't speculate as to whether 2 ID will be called into combat.  Fact is, Casey--and everyone else in the Pentagon--simply don't know.  Most of North Korea's combat power, roughly two-thirds of its army, is located within 60 miles of the DMZ.  That means that first and second-echelon invasion forces are located at their jumping-off points for a push against the south.  As the Defense Intelligence Agency cautioned a few years ago, North Korea has the ability to mount a limited invasion against the ROK, and the warning time would be measured in hours, not days. 
But it's not a crisis. 
In fairness to Mr. Gates, he is merely following the administration party line.  Despite the gravity of recent events, President Obama--and his national security team--have barely mentioned the situation in Korea, trying to deny Kim Jong-il the attention he craves.  But it's a little hard to ignore a nuclear test, given Pyongyang's propensity for sharing nuclear and missile technology with other rogue states.   That's why North Korea is still the top story for most papers and TV news programs, despite the administration's best efforts to manage our response and how it is covered. 
Indeed, it could argued that the DPRK's continuing belligerence has made a mockery of Mr. Obama and his policy.  In reaction to the nuclear test and recent missile launches, the President has turned to the United Nations, imploring the Security Council to pass another toothless resolution.  That sort of timid reply didn't exactly send shivers down Mr. Kim's spine, so the North Korean dictator has decided to continue his challenge.  If recently-detected activity is any indication, Pyongyang may be preparing for another ICBM test, literally challenging the U.S. to do something about it. 
Clearly, no one wants another Korean War, but there are steps the administration could take, short of conflict, that could deter North Korea.  For starters, the U.S. (along with South Korea, Japan and other regional partners) need to reimpose strict financial sanctions against Pyongyang.  Targeting the private bank accounts of the DPRK regime produced a burst of cooperation two years ago, because it denied Kim Jong-il of the cash needed to buy consumer goods and luxuries for his allies, ensuring their continued support. 
Additionally, the United States should tighten the maritime inspection regime imposed on North Korea.  Not only would it limit Pyongyang's WMD export activities, it would also complicate other activities that support the regime.  Keeping North Korean mother ships in port would curtail drug smuggling and counterfeiting, denying other sources of revenue for the DPRK.  The naval inspection program--make it a full-fledged quarantine--would also reduce the infiltration of North Korean agents into South Korea, reducing intelligence collection and potential sabotage efforts. 
Unfortunately, the current inspection program has a serious deficiency--it doesn't cover air routes.  Mr. Obama should lean hard on China (and other countries) to deny overflight and landing rights for cargo aircraft that travel between North Korean and its customers in the Middle East.  Elimination of the "air option"--coupled with the naval quarantine--would make it almost impossible for Kim Jong-il to ship his most important products to his most valuable customers.
Of course, China can (and should) do much more to bring Pyongyang into line.  If Beijing continues to balk, there are other steps that the administration must take, including greater military aid to our allies; bolstering U.S. military forces in the region, moving our own tactical nukes back into South Korea, and encouraging both Seoul and Tokyo to pursue their own nuclear deterrents.  Collectively, those measures should convince Kim Jong-il (and his supporters in Beijing) that all options are on the table in dealing with the North Korean threat.                                       
Sadly, the chances that Mr. Obama will "get tough" with the DPRK are somewhere between "slim" and "none."  Pyongyang has judged the president to be weak, and will continue its program of provocation and confrontation, hoping to undermine the current ROK government, and strain our alliances with South Korea and Japan.   Kim Jong-il hasn't achieved those goals (yet), but he's making progress, thanks to a new administration that is failing its first, major foreign policy crisis.       
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« Reply #41 on: May 31, 2009, 07:18:25 AM »

Right after North Korea's first nuclear test, in October 2006, Senator Bob Menendez explained that the event "illustrates just how much the Bush Administration's incompetence has endangered our nation." The New Jersey Democrat hasn't said what he thinks North Korea's second test says about the current Administration, so allow us to connect the diplomatic dots.

 At the time of the first test, the common liberal lament was that Kim Jong Il was belligerent only because President Bush had eschewed diplomacy in favor of tough rhetoric, like naming Pyongyang to the "axis of evil." Never mind that the U.S. had continued to fulfill its commitments under the 1994 Agreed Framework, including fuel shipments and the building of "civilian" nuclear reactors, until the North admitted it was violating that framework in late 2002. Never mind, too, that by 2006 the Bush Administration had participated in multiple rounds of six-party nuclear talks, or that it had promised to normalize relations with the North.

Nevertheless, President Bush adopted the views of Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, who had internalized the views of Bush Administration critics. Led by Christopher Hill (now President Obama's ambassador in Baghdad), the U.S. announced the resumption of the six-party talks -- only three weeks after the first North Korean test. Mr. Hill also held direct bilateral talks with the North Koreans, something Pyongyang had long sought and Mr. Bush had long resisted.

In February 2007, the six parties agreed to a statement in which North Korea promised to shut down and seal its nuclear reactor and bring in inspectors from the International Atomic Energy Agency to monitor compliance. The typical reaction was that the Bush Administration had finally seen the error of its ways. Columnist Steve Chapman of the Chicago Tribune captured the media consensus by calling it a "surprising breakthrough that belied [Mr. Bush's] hard-line record and shrewdly advanced American interests in a vital part of the world."

As part of the deal, the North promised to provide a complete list of its nuclear programs within 60 days. But Kim's minions refused to provide the list until the U.S. released $25 million in North Korean assets deposited at the Macau-based Banco Delta Asia, which had been sanctioned under the Patriot Act for money laundering and counterfeiting. The Administration even enlisted the Federal Reserve Bank of New York to get the funds to Pyongyang after no international bank would go near the transaction.

By then it was summer and North Korea promised again to provide a complete nuclear report, this time by the end of the year. In exchange, it got more diplomatic goodies: The U.S. said it would work toward a peace agreement with the North once the nuclear issue had been resolved; South Korea proposed a "South-North economic community"; and Japanese Prime Minister Yasuo Fukuda pledged to improve relations despite unresolved issues regarding Japanese citizens abducted by the North.

Amid this Western accommodation, in September 2007 Israel bombed a Syrian nuclear facility that U.S. and Israeli intelligence believe was supplied by North Korea. Pyongyang denied any role, and the U.S. kept its diplomacy active. However, North Korea ignored its end-of-year deadline for producing its nuclear declaration. When it did finally produce one, six months later, it included an incomplete plutonium record and nothing about its uranium nuclear program. The North did publicly destroy the cooling tower of its reactor at Yongbyon for the TV cameras, but it balked at any credible verification process.

Still, the Bush Administration decided to put the best face on it. Mr. Bush announced last June that he was lifting restrictions on the North under the Trading With the Enemy Act. He also removed North Korea from the list of state sponsors of terrorism.

This is the state-of-play that the Bush Administration bequeathed its successor. And it was a diplomatic approach that the Obama Administration made clear it was ready to pursue. But then Kim Jong Il decided to return to his familiar script, raising the ante by launching a ballistic missile in April, expelling U.N. inspectors, boycotting the six-party talks and then detonating a second bomb last week.

Whatever is driving Kim, no one can say it's U.S. bellicosity. Our guess is that Kim must figure President Obama will soon come calling with his own "carrots" in return for more empty disarmament promises. That's what the U.S. has always done before.

We offer this timeline of diplomatic futility as a suggestion that maybe it's time to try something different. The U.S. is now working to secure a fresh U.N. sanctions resolution, and good luck making that stick. North Korea has never honored any commitment, or abided by any convention, or respected any international law. And until some very clear signal is sent by the U.S. and its allies that they will not be gulled again by the allure of negotiations, it never will.
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« Reply #42 on: June 08, 2009, 09:07:49 AM »


U.S. Weighs Intercepting North Korean Shipments
Published: June 7, 2009
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration signaled Sunday that it was seeking a way to interdict, possibly with China’s help, North Korean sea and air shipments suspected of carrying weapons or nuclear technology.

The administration also said it was examining whether there was a legal basis to reverse former President George W. Bush’s decision last year to remove the North from a list of states that sponsor terrorism.

The reference to interdictions — preferably at ports or airfields in countries like China, but possibly involving riskier confrontations on the high seas — was made by Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. She was the highest-ranking official to talk publicly about such a potentially provocative step as a response to North Korea’s second nuclear test, conducted two weeks ago.

While Mrs. Clinton did not specifically mention assistance from China, other administration officials have been pressing Beijing to take such action under Chinese law.

Speaking on ABC’s “This Week,” Mrs. Clinton said the United States feared that if the test and other recent actions by North Korea did not lead to “strong action,” there was a risk of “an arms race in Northeast Asia” — an oblique reference to the concern that Japan would reverse its long-held ban against developing nuclear weapons.

So far it is not clear how far the Chinese are willing to go to aid the United States in stopping North Korea’s profitable trade in arms, the isolated country’s most profitable export. But the American focus on interdiction demonstrates a new and potentially far tougher approach to North Korea than both President Clinton and Mr. Bush, in his second term, took as they tried unsuccessfully to reach deals that would ultimately lead North Korea to dismantle its nuclear arsenal.

Mr. Obama, aides say, has decided that he will not offer North Korea new incentives to dismantle the nuclear complex at Yongbyon that the North previously promised to abandon.

“I’m tired of buying the same horse twice,” Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates said last week while touring an antimissile site in Alaska that the Bush administration built to demonstrate its preparedness to destroy North Korean missiles headed toward the United States. (So far, the North Koreans have not successfully tested a missile of sufficient range to reach the United States, though there is evidence that they may be preparing for another test of their long-range Taepodong-2 missile.)

In France on Saturday, Mr. Obama referred to the same string of broken deals, telling reporters, “I don’t think there should be an assumption that we will simply continue down a path in which North Korea is constantly destabilizing the region and we just react in the same ways.” He added, “We are not intending to continue a policy of rewarding provocation.”

While Mr. Obama was in the Middle East and Europe last week, several senior officials said the president’s national security team had all but set aside the central assumption that guided American policy toward North Korea over the past 16 years and two presidencies: that the North would be willing to ultimately abandon its small arsenal of nuclear weapons in return for some combination of oil, nuclear power plants, money, food and guarantees that the United States would not topple its government, the world’s last Stalinesque regime.

Now, after examining the still-inconclusive evidence about the results of North Korea’s second nuclear test, the administration has come to different conclusions: that Pyonyang’s top priority is to be recognized as a nuclear state, that it is unwilling to bargain away its weapons and that it sees tests as a way to help sell its nuclear technology.

“This entirely changes the dynamic of how you deal with them,” a senior national security aide said.

While Mr. Obama is willing to reopen the six-party talks that Mr. Bush began — the other participants are Japan, South Korea, Russia and China — he has no intention, aides say, of offering new incentives to get the North to fulfill agreements from 1994, 2005 and 2008; all were recently renounced.

“Clinton bought it once, Bush bought it again, and we’re not going to buy it a third time,” one of Mr. Obama’s chief strategists said last week, referring to the Yongbyon plant, where the North reprocesses spent nuclear fuel into bomb-grade plutonium.

While some officials privately acknowledged that they would still like to roll back what one called North Korea’s “rudimentary” nuclear capacity, a more realistic goal is to stop the country from devising a small weapon deliverable on a short-, medium- or long-range missile.

In conducting any interdictions, the United States could risk open confrontation with North Korea. That prospect — and the likelihood of escalating conflict if the North resisted an inspection — is why China has balked at American proposals for a resolution by the United Nations Security Council that would explicitly allow interceptions at sea. A previous Security Council resolution, passed after the North’s first nuclear test, in 2006, allowed interdictions “consistent with international law.” But that term was never defined, and few of the provisions were enforced.

North Korea has repeatedly said it would regard any interdiction as an act of war, and officials in Washington have been trying to find ways to stop the shipments without a conflict. Late last week, James B. Steinberg, the deputy secretary of state, visited Beijing with a delegation of American officials, seeking ideas from China about sanctions, including financial pressure, that might force North Korea to change direction.

“The Chinese face a dilemma that they have always faced,” a senior administration official said. “They don’t want North Korea to become a full nuclear weapons state. But they don’t want to cause the state to collapse.” They have been walking a fine line, the official said, taking a tough position against the North of late, but unwilling to publicly embrace steps that would put China in America’s camp.

To counter the Chinese concern, Mr. Steinberg and his delegation argued to the Chinese that failing to crack down on North Korea would prompt reactions that Beijing would find deeply unsettling, including a greater American military presence in the region and more calls in Japan for that country to develop its own weapons.

Mrs. Clinton seemed to reflect this concern in the interview on Sunday. “We will do everything we can to both interdict it and prevent it and shut off their flow of money,” she said. “If we do not take significant and effective action against the North Koreans now, we’ll spark an arms race in Northeast Asia. I don’t think anybody wants to see that.”

While Mrs. Clinton also said the State Department was examining whether North Korea should be placed back on the list of state sponsors of terrorism, she acknowledged that there was a legal process for it. “Obviously we would want to see recent evidence of their support for international terrorism,” she said.

That evidence may be hard to come by. While North Korea has engaged in missile sales, it has not been linked to terrorism activity for many years. And North Korea’s restoration to the list would be largely symbolic, because it already faces numerous economic sanctions.
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« Reply #43 on: June 20, 2009, 09:09:00 AM »

Fox - 19 June 2009

The U.S. military is preparing for a possible intercept of a North Korean flagged ship suspected of proliferating weapons material in violation of a U.N. Security Council resolution passed last Friday, FOX News has learned.

The USS John McCain, a Navy destroyer, is positioning itself in case it gets orders to intercept the ship Kang Nam as soon as it leaves the vicinity off the coast of China, according to a senior U.S. defense official. The order to inderdict has not been given yet, but the ship is moving into the area.

"Permission has not been requested. Nor is it clear it will be," a military source told FOX News. "This is a very delicate situation and no one is interested in precipitating a confrontation."

The ship left a port in North Korea Wednesday and appears to be heading toward Singapore, according to a senior U.S. military source. The vessel, which the military has been tracking since its departure, could be carrying weaponry, missile parts or nuclear materials, a violation of U.N. Resolution 1874, which put sanctions in place against Pyongyang.

The USS McCain was involved in an incident with a Chinese sub last Friday - near Subic Bay off the Philippines. The Chinese sub was shadowing the destroyer when it hit the underwater sonar array that the USS McCain was towing behind it.

This is the first suspected "proliferator" that the U.S. and its allies have tracked from North Korea since the United Nations authorized the world's navies to enforce compliance with a variety of U.N. sanctions aimed at punishing North Korea for its recent nuclear test.

The ship is currently along the coast of China and being monitored around-the-clock by air.

The apparent violation raises the question of how the United States and its allies will respond, particularly since the U.N. resolution does not have a lot of teeth to it.

The resolution would not allow the United States to board the ship forcibly. Rather, U.S. military would have to request permission to board -- a request North Korea is unlikely to grant.

North Korea has said that any attempt to board its ships would be viewed as an act of war and promised "100- or 1,000-fold" retaliation if provoked.
State Department spokesman Ian Kelly said that the resolution allows states to seek permission to inspect cargo.

"If permission is not granted, then the flag state, the owner of the ship, is instructed to send that ship to a port for -- for a formal inspection to be made," Kelly said, adding that he would not go into any details of any particular ship or the way inspections are conducted.

"We would hope that -- that North Korea would -- would comply with international law and -- and allow the inspection," he said.

Since the U.S. does not expect to be granted permission, it expects to be asked to interdict that it will have to shadow the ship until it runs out of fuel. At that point, the ship would likely have to be towed into the port.

The U.S. military may request that the host country not provide fuel to the ship when it enters its port. North Korean merchant ships usually need fuel as they approach Singapore and the ports of eastern India. When tipped off, Indian port authorities are stringent enforcers of UN sanctions against ships carrying contraband.

The U.S. Navy does not need to enforce the sanctions. Instead, it could "poison the host," a move that entails working behind the scenes with Indian Ocean port authorities to inspect and confiscate illegal cargos.

This move worked last year when U.S. officials reportedly warned Indian officials in advance of a North Korean transport aircraft that had requested permission to fly through Indian airspace on the way to Iran after stopping in Burma to refuel. The Indians refused to allow the aircraft to fly through their airspace. The aircraft reportedly was carrying gyroscopes for ballistic missiles.

The Kang Nam is known to be a ship that has been involved in proliferation activities in the past -- it is "a repeat offender," according to one military source. The ship was detained in October 2006 by authorities in Hong Kong after the North Koreans tested their first nuclear device and the U.N. imposed a subsequent round of sanctions.

"North Korea does not export anything other than weapons," a U.S. official told FOX News. "And this ship is presumed to be carrying something illicit given its past history."

The latest tension follows a Japanese news report that North Korea may fire a long-range ballistic missile toward Hawaii in early July.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said Thursday the military is "watching" that situation "very closely," and would have "some concerns" if North Korea launched a missile in the direction of Hawaii. But he expressed confidence in U.S. ability to handle such a launch.

Gates said he's directed the deployment of the Theater High Altitude Area Defense, a mobile missile defense system used for knocking down long- and medium-range missiles.

"The ground-based interceptors are clearly in a position to take action. So, without telegraphing what we will do, I would just say ... I think we are in a good position, should it become necessary, to protect the American territory."
« Reply #44 on: June 21, 2009, 04:14:16 PM »

June 21, 2009
North Korea uncovered: Palaces, labour camps and mass graves
By Miranda Prynne
US researchers are using the internet to reveal what life is really like behind the closed borders of the world's last Stalinist dictatorship

The most comprehensive picture of what goes on inside the secret state of North Korea has emerged from an innovative US project. The location of extraordinary palaces, labour camps and the mass graves of famine victims have all been identified. The online operation that has penetrated the world's last remaining iron curtain is called North Korea Uncovered. Founded by Curtis Melvin, a postgraduate student at George Mason University, Virginia, it uses Google Earth, photographs, academic and specialist reports and a global network of contributors who have visited or studied the country. Mr Melvin says the collaborative project is an example of "democratised intelligence". He is the first to emphasise that the picture is far from complete, but it is, until the country opens up, the best we have.


The palatial residences of the political elite are easy to identify as they are in sharp contrast to the majority of housing in the deeply impoverished state. Though details about many palaces' names, occupants and uses are hard to verify, it is known that such buildings are the exclusive domain of Kim Jong-Il, his family and his top political aides. Kim Jong-Il is believed to have between 10 and 17 palaces, many of which have been spotted on Google Earth:

1) Mansion complex near Pyongyang

This may be Kim Jong-Il's main residence. His father lived here surrounded by the huge, ornate gardens and carefully designed network of lakes. Tree-lined paths lead to a swimming pool with a huge water slide, and next to the complex there is a full-size racetrack with a viewing stand and arena. There is a cluster of other large houses around the mansion, forming an enclosed, elite community. It appears to be reached via an underground station on a private railway which branches off from the main line.

2) Kangdong estate

This lies about 18 miles north-east of Pyongyang and has an elaborate garden, set around many lakes. There are numerous guest houses, and a banqueting hall, within the security-fenced perimeter. Kenji Fujimoto, who served as Kim Jong-Il's cook from 1988 until 2001, said entertainment at Kangdong included bowling, shooting and roller-skating. There is also a racetrack next to the complex and Kangdong airfield is just 2.5 miles away.

3) Unnamed palace on the banks of the Changsuwon lake

The residence sits across the lake from a couple of other mansions which may house relatives of the current occupant. One Google Earth tag suggested that this might be the home of Kim Yong Nam, the second-in-command in North Korea's leadership.

4) Jungbangsan or Hwangju palace

An enormous mountain retreat set in manicured gardens with lakes and winding paths. It allegedly has several entrances to an underground facility within the steep hill next to the mansion. Google Earth reveals a railway track which runs along the top of the hill then disappears mysteriously into its east side.

5) Nampo Mansion

Estate covering a huge area with an unusual chain of dammed lakes. There are many buildings making up the mansion compound, which probably cater for members of the North Korean leadership.

6) Yongpong Mansion

Kim Jong-Il's residence on the banks of Lake Yongpong, near the city of Anju, which he uses as a private hunting retreat. According to one defector, Han Young Jin, writing in 2005, it is known for its lakeside fishing spots and hunting ground, which was completed in 1984. The mansion was originally further south and was moved after an enlargement in 1979. The estate contains the main house and 10 security and support facility buildings.

7) The Wonsan Palace

One of Kim Jong-Il's favourite holiday destinations, sitting on a peninsula lined with white sand beaches. Wonsan is where Kim Jong-Il and his relatives enjoy fishing, hunting guillemots, jetskiing and swimming during the winter. Lee Young Kuk, who worked as one of Kim Jong-Il's guards from 1979 to 1988, claimed that Kim also spent time at Wonsan hunting roe deer, pheasants and wild geese. The palace is conveniently next door to an airfield. Kim Jong-Il's enormous private yacht was caught by satellite image at anchor up the coast in Wonsan harbour. On board the vessel there is a 50-metre pool with two water slides.

Cool The Hyangsan Chalet

Large mountain retreat, located on the Horang ridge at an altitude of about 1,000m. Han Young Jin described it as a traditional Korean-style building, completed in 1984, with beautiful views of the Myohyang mountains. The compound contains three buildings for security and support facilities, and there are reports of several entrances to an underground facility beneath Hyangsan. The chalet allegedly is where Kim Il-Sung died.

Gulag-style prison camps

North Korean prison camps are split into two main types. Firstly the kwan li-so, translated as "political penal-labour colonies". These camps contain the political prisoners, and often their families, who are imprisoned without trial, usually for life. Sentences involve slave labour within the camps. The other type of camp, the kyo-hwa-so, are smaller penal-labour camps. These usually hold criminal offenders who are subject to a judicial process and fixed sentencing, after which they can be released. Kyo-hwa-so prisoners are also forced to do hard labour in mining, logging, textile manufacturing and more.

A US Human Rights Committee report in 2006 asserted that there were more than 200,000 prisoners throughout North Korea, a figure that may now have risen to 300,000. Estimates claim more than 400,000 have died in the system in 30 years. What little is known about these camps comes mainly from the testimonies of ex-detainees and ex-prison guards. Most of their accounts date back to the 1980s and 1990s and little new evidence has since come to light.

1) Kyo-hwa-so 1

A labour camp in Gaechun, South Pyongan province. Lee Soon Ok, who was imprisoned here until 1994, described prisoners dying from torture and maltreatment, their bodies dumped on the mountainsides "like animals". At the time of her imprisonment from 1986, around 6,000 people were held within the camp's high walls and electric fences, and its main industries were clothes and shoe manufacturing.

2) Kwan-li-so 14

This is near Kaechon, South Pyongan province, on the north bank of the Taedong River opposite camp 18. It measures 25 to 31 miles by 19 miles, and contains about 15,000 prisoners, according to Kim Yong, who was held there from 1995-96. Kim said the main industries were mining and farming and that many people died due to malnutrition, disease and mining accidents.

3) Kwan-li-so 15

This is located at Yodok in South Hamgyong province. Descriptions of the camp by refugees cover all the years from 1977 to 1999. These include Kang Chol Hwan, the author of Aquariums of Pyongyang: Ten Years in the North Korean Gulag, whose small village within camp 15 suffered about 100 deaths every year due to malnutrition and disease. In the 1990s Yodok held more than 45,000 prisoners, surrounded by a barbed-wire fence up to 4m high and walls topped with electric wires. Along the fence were watchtowers patrolled by guards carrying automatic rifles and hand grenades. In the camp there was a gypsum quarry, textile plants, distilleries and a gold mine, where there were frequent accidents. Lee Young Kuk, a prisoner until 1999, witnessed numerous public executions and shootings in the camp.

4) Kwan li-so 16

Less is known about this camp at Hwasong, North Hamgyong province than the others. This could be because it lies adjacent to another highly secret location, the Mount Mantap nuclear testing site, and it is close to the Musudan-ri missile-testing facility. The camp measures 18 miles by 16 miles and is believed to hold 10,000 prisoners.

5) Kwan li-so 18

This camp lies at Bukchang on the south bank of the Taedong River, South Pyongan province. Kim Yong, who was transferred here in 1996 and escaped in 1998, said it held approximately 50,000 people, mainly the families of those imprisoned in camp 14. Bukchang was less severe than camp 14, but Kim Yong still witnessed prisoners dying of malnutrition and being shot. The main industries were coal mining, brick making and cement making.

6) Kwan li-so 22

Camp located at Hoeryong in North Hamgyong province, the north-eastern tip of the country. Former guard Ahn Myong Chol described it as one of the largest prison camps, containing around 50,000 prisoners within an area 31 miles long by 25 miles wide. Hoeryong is infamous for reports of chemical weapons experiments on humans, and glass gas chambers, revealed in a BBC documentary Axis of Evil in 2004.

Mass graves

North Korea was hit by a famine in the 1990s that killed a huge number of its people. Estimates of the death toll between 1995 and 1998 vary from 600,000 to 3.5 million from a population of 22 million. The US State Department claims two million died of starvation in these years. While thousands starved, particularly in the north-east, the regime continued to prioritise weapons buying and sent shipments of international aid to politically favoured areas on the west coast.

1) Hamhung mass graves

Hamhung city in South Hamgyong province was among the worst affected by famine. In 1998 a former engineering student told Kyodo News Services that more than 10 per cent of the city's population, including his mother, had starved to death, while another 10 per cent fled the city to find food. Google Earth images have revealed mass graves on the hills around the city of Hamhung. One can see a multitude of distinctive mounds packed on to the slopes. The graves begin within a well-organised cemetery then spread. The small mounds consume the entire hill, the hills around it and nearly all the unoccupied land surrounding the city. One North Korea Uncovered researcher, Joshua Stanton, believes the number of graves exceeds 100,000, and if the smaller and less dense burial areas are included, the total could be twice that figure.

2) Unnamed graves

This is another burial ground just east of the capital, Pyongyang, where the small mounds are again visible on the hillsides. There are other large, haphazard burial grounds in North Korea. No date or cause of death relating to these graves can be determined from the satellite images. But most commentators agree it is unlikely that normal circumstances could produce such a great density of burials. The concentration of graves would be consistent with published reports filed from Hamhung during the famine.
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« Reply #45 on: July 01, 2009, 09:29:51 AM »

At this moment the Kang Nam, a North Korean tramp freighter, is on the high seas tailed by a team of American destroyers and submarines and watched by reconnaissance satellites and aircraft. The vessel had cleared the Taiwan Strait at the end of last week as it headed south. Yesterday, it was reported to have turned back north toward the Chinese coast. On board, its cargo could contain plutonium pellets, missile parts or semi-ripe melons. In any event, Washington wants to know what is in the rusty ship's hold.

Why the interest in this particular vessel? The Kang Nam is a "repeat offender" and known to carry "proliferation materials." As an unnamed American official told Fox News this month, "This ship is presumed to be carrying something illicit given its past history." United Nations Security Council Resolution 1874, unanimously passed on June 12, broadened the concept of illicit cargoes as far as North Korea is concerned. It prohibits Pyongyang from selling arms, even handguns. The Kang Nam's U-turn is a sure sign that it is carrying contraband and is now seeking a safe port.

The Security Council, while banning Pyongyang's export of weapons, has not given U.N. member states the means of enforcing the new restrictions. Resolution 1874 calls upon countries to inspect North Korean cargoes on the high seas -- but only "with the consent of the flag State," in this case North Korea. Should Pyongyang refuse -- as it most certainly would -- a member state can, within the terms of the resolution, direct a vessel to "an appropriate and convenient port" for inspection by local officials. Should Pyongyang refuse to divert the ship, the resolution contemplates the filing of a report to a U.N. committee.

It looks as if Washington will file such a report soon. Last week, the U.S. promised China it would abide by the restraints imposed by Resolution 1874. This means, in all probability, that the U.S. will be reduced to watching the Kang Nam unload illegal cargo items at some port.

Yet Washington does not have to adopt such a feeble approach. The North Koreans have, inadvertently, given the U.S. a way to escape from the restrictions of the new Security Council measure. On May 27, the Korean People's Army issued a statement declaring that it "will not be bound" by the armistice that ended fighting in the Korean War. This was at least the third time Pyongyang has disavowed the interim agreement that halted hostilities in 1953. Previous renunciations were announced in 2003 and 2006.

The U.N. Command, a signatory to the armistice, shrugged off Pyongyang's belligerent statement. "The armistice remains in force and is binding on all signatories, including North Korea," it said immediately after the renunciation, referring to the document's termination provisions. That may be the politically correct thing to say, but an armistice as a legal matter cannot remain in existence after one of its parties, a sovereign state, announces its end. Today, whether we like it or not, there is no armistice.

Furthermore, there has never been a peace treaty formally ending the Korean War. This means the U.S., a combatant in the conflict, as leader of the U.N. Command, is free to use force against Pyongyang. On legal grounds, the U.S. Navy therefore has every right to seize the Kang Nam, treat the crew as prisoners of war, and confiscate its cargo, even if the ship is carrying nothing more dangerous than melons. Because the Navy has the right to torpedo the vessel, which proudly flies the flag of another combatant in the war, it of course has the right to board her.

But does America have the will to do so? "Rules must be binding. Violations must be punished. Words must mean something," President Barack Obama said in the first week of April, reacting to North Korea's test of a long-range missile. Unfortunately, the president's words have apparently meant little because Kim Jong Il's belligerent state has, since that time, detonated a nuclear device, handed out harsh sentences to two American reporters, and announced the resumption of plutonium production. North Korea has threatened nuclear war several times in recent days and this month sent one of its patrol boats into South Korean waters. American envoys, in response, have issued stern warnings, participated in meetings in the region, and engaged in high-level diplomacy in the corridors of the U.N. None of these measures, however, has led to the enforcement of rules or the punishment of the North Korean regime.

North Korea's words, in contrast, have meant something. It has, as noted, ended the armistice. Of course, no one is arguing that the nations participating in the U.N. Command resume a full-scale land war in Asia. Yet recognizing the end of the temporary truce would allow the U.S. to use more effective measures to stop the North Korean proliferation of missile and nuclear technologies. The Bush administration sometimes got around to warning Kim Jong Il about selling dangerous technologies but never did anything about it.

Instead, President George W. Bush outsourced the problem to the U.N. In October 2006, in response to the North's first nuclear detonation, the Security Council passed a resolution aimed at halting North Korean proliferation. Unfortunately, Beijing refused to implement the new rules, calling the measures unacceptable, even after voting in favor of them. Since then, more evidence has come to light of North Korea's transfer of nuclear weapons technologies to Iran and Syria.

The lesson of the last few years is that the U.N. is not capable of stopping North Korean proliferation. No nation can stop it except the U.S. Of course, ending North Korea's sales of dangerous technologies to hostile regimes will anger Pyongyang. This month, for instance, the North said that interception of the Kang Nam would constitute an "act of war."

Yet, as much as the international community would like to avoid a confrontation, the world cannot let Kim Jong Il continue to proliferate weapons. Moreover, it is unlikely that he will carry through on his blustery threats. The North Koreans did not in fact start a war when, at America's request, Spain's special forces intercepted an unflagged North Korean freighter carrying Scud missiles bound for Yemen in December 2002. Even though the Spanish risked lives to board the vessel, Washington soon asked Madrid to release it. At the time, the Bush administration explained there was no legal justification to seize the missiles.

Now, the Obama administration has no such excuse. There is definitely a legal justification to seize the Kang Nam. North Korea, after all, has resumed the Korean War.

Mr. Chang is the author of "Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World" (Random House, 2006).
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« Reply #46 on: July 03, 2009, 09:38:18 AM »

Ironic that the Obama led military is now pointing out how we should be able to shoot down any ICBM from N. Korea that threatens US soil.

Remember how the left did and still does lambast Reagan's antiballistic defence strategy and mocks it as starwars?

Why if BO was President this strategy would never have been undertaken, we would have no defense against this threat and now this guy is acting tough by taking advantage of Reagan's wisdom.

All the while he and his socialist cohorts consider Reagan a destroyer of worlds.

I hope Dick Morris is right before this coutnry gets sold out and BO crashes and burns in the poll ratings.

We got to get him kicked out of office before its too late.
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« Reply #47 on: July 03, 2009, 06:05:30 PM »

Amen CCP.


  Any word on the sit rep with that NK tanker we are shadowing?
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« Reply #48 on: July 03, 2009, 06:29:04 PM »

Changing Course

For more than a week, the USS John S. McCain has been shadowing a North Korean merchant vessel, believed to be carrying illegal weapons.

Now that ship--the Kang Nam--appears to be heading back home. As the AP reports:

U.S. officials said Tuesday that a North Korean ship has turned around and is headed back toward the north where it came from, after being tracked for more than a week by American Navy vessels on suspicion of carrying illegal weapons.

The move keeps the U.S. and the rest of the international community guessing: Where is the Kang Nam going? Does its cargo include materials banned by a new U.N. anti-proliferation resolution?

Originally, the North Korean cargo vessel was believed enroute to Myanmar, carrying a load of missile parts. The two rogue nations have drawn closer in recent years, although Myanmar has little need for ballistic missiles. However, various intelligence agencies and anti-proliferation groups have reported that Pyongyang has been attempting to sell missiles to the Myanmar regime since 2005.

There is also the possibility that Myanmar was merely a trans-shipment point, but those reports are also unconfirmed. With U.S. naval vessels trailing the Kang Nam--and hints that we might board and search the vessel--North Korea decided to recall the ship and its cargo.

Still, no one can actually be sure the the Kang Nam is heading back to the DPRK. In the past, North Korean ships involved in illicit activities (most notably, drug running) have operated from Chinese coastal waters. Under that scenario, the vessel would rendez-vous with another ship and transfer the cargo.

However, given the constant surveillance of the Kang Nam, accomplishing that transfer would be difficult, if not impossible. It's also unlikely that Beijing would want to be associated with that activity, particularly as U.S. envoys press China to put more pressure on Pyongyang.

The most likely scenario? In a few days, the Kang Nam slips back into port at Nampo, and the cargo is unloaded. Then, it's shipped to Sunan Airfield, near Pyongyang, and loaded onto an IL-76 transport, which flies the cargo to the customer.

As we noted almost three years ago, North Korea has long used airlift to move high-value cargo to its most important clients, including Iran. And that illustrates a rather serious "hole" in current efforts to contain Pyongyang. While the U.S. (and other naval powers) are actively tracking DPRK maritime shipments, there is no comparable effort for air transfers.

In some cases, those shipments would be almost impossible to stop. With a lighter load, an IL-76 can fly non-stop from North Korea to Iran. However, those flights do require direct routing (through Chinese or Russian airspace). Without it, North Korea or Iranian airlifters would be forced to make refueling stops, providing an opportunity for the U.S. to lobby for third-party inspections, or deny access to the airfields.

As with other attempts to pressure Pyongyang, China would be a key player in eliminating the air option. But (apparently) there are limits to Beijing's cooperation. Intelligence reports indicate that North Korean IL-76s sometimes use Chinese airfields during flights to the Middle East. Without more assistance from the PRC, North Korea's "air bridge" will remain open, and Kim Jong-il will retain a critical option for shipping missile and WMD cargoes to his customers.
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« Reply #49 on: July 03, 2009, 06:33:09 PM »

North Korean-Burmese alliance grows closer

Any room for one more in the Axis of Evil Alternative Ethics Outlook?  Burma, called Myanmar by the ruling military junta, sent its military leaders to North Korea for secret talks last year, resulting in a closer military and economic alliance just coming to light now, according to the Telegraph.  Pyongyang has begun supplying the Burmese regime with weapons in defiance of UN arms embargos on both countries:

A 37-page document in Burmese obtained by Radio Free Asia detailed a visit by 17 Burmese officials, including General Thura Shwe Mann, the chief of staff of the army and Burma’s third-ranked leader, to Beijing and Pyongyang last November.

The stated aim of the visit was “to modernize the Burmese military and increase its capabilities through visiting and studying the militaries” of China and North Korea, and a memorandum of understanding was signed with North Korea counterparts on November 27.

The report also says the Burmese delegation was shown North Korean surface-to-air missiles and rockets, along with naval and air defense systems and tunnel construction, including how Pyongyang stores aircraft and ships underground to protect them from aerial attack.

None of this comes as any great shock, as Pyongyang needs all the customers it can get for its weapons systems, and Burma needs weapons systems to maintain its iron grip on power.  The path of the Kang Nam, the North Korean ship trailed by the US Navy and suspected of illegal gun-running, originally appeared to lead to Burma, before American pressure forced it to turn around.  This revelation confirms that Kim Jong-Il has turned the rogue nation of Burma into a client state.

If we needed more proof of Kim’s inclination to act as a proliferator, it would be difficult to find anything better.  He partners with fellow rogue states to move weapons around the world while his people starve to death.  The only action that will get his attention is a blockade, which is why Kim keeps threatening war when the US and its Pacific Rim allies attempt to impose it.  It may not be a bluff; if we cut off his ability to sell weapons, Kim will have no choice but to either surrender to the six-party agenda or to attempt to seize the entire Korean peninsula.
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