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Author Topic: North and South Korea  (Read 28581 times)
G M
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« Reply #100 on: May 05, 2014, 03:45:26 PM »

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From the print edition: Asia

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

___

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

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

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

And Joe Biden thinks he gets rough treatment. 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

By Paul McLeary with Adam Rawnsley

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

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

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

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

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

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

stratfor

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


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

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

Summary

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

https://www.facebook.com/prageru/videos/1079959035380285/
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« Reply #115 on: January 02, 2017, 01:20:53 PM »

Shooting Down North Korea’s Missiles
Kim wants the ability to make U.S. cities his nuclear hostages.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May 2016. ENLARGE
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in May 2016. Photo: European Pressphoto Agency
Jan. 2, 2017 1:10 p.m. ET
7 COMMENTS

Kim Jong Un announced Sunday that North Korea is about to test an intercontinental ballistic missile that can reach the U.S. mainland. If he proceeds with the test, the U.S. should shoot it down.

The test itself is not a shock. Four previous tests of the Taepodong-2 missile were disguised as satellite launches, and two of them succeeded in putting objects into orbit over the U.S. The news here is that the young dictator is so confident of becoming a full nuclear power that he has dispensed with the fig leaf of a space program.

This is one more sign that Kim is racing to the finish line of full nuclear-weapons capability. Thae Yong Ho, the No. 2 in the North Korean Embassy in London until he defected, warned last week that Kim wants to deploy nuclear-armed missiles by the end of 2017.

The North already has the technology to launch a nuclear weapon against South Korea and Japan. But hurdles remain to deploying an ICBM with a nuclear warhead. Chief among them is a re-entry vehicle capable of withstanding extremes of temperature and vibration. A successful test could provide the North with valuable data to work the problem.

The U.S. has ship-based missile defenses in the region, and intercepting the test would have the dual purpose of slowing Kim’s nuclear progress and demonstrating an effective deterrent. Kim may figure the U.S. won’t take such action as it prepares to inaugurate a new President and South Korea is riven by an impeachment trial of President Park Geun-hye. But the U.S. right to self defense provides ample justification, and U.N. Security Council resolutions ban the North from pursuing its missile program.

Even the defensive use of force carries risks that Kim would retaliate, but the larger risk is letting a man as reckless as Kim gain the means to hold American cities hostage. Kim evidently believes that once the North has a credible ability to destroy Seattle or Chicago, the U.S. will have no choice other than to accept it as a normal nuclear state. The Obama Administration, in consultation with President-elect Donald Trump, can demonstrate its bipartisan resolve to thwart that plan.
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« Reply #116 on: February 10, 2017, 07:08:24 AM »

http://www.aei.org/publication/how-to-really-deal-with-the-north-korean-nuclear-threat/?utm_source=paramount&utm_medium=email&utm_content=AEITODAY&utm_campaign=021017

==============================

Stratfor


U.S., South Korea: Upcoming Military Exercises Expected To Focus On Pre-Emptive Strikes
Situation Reports
February 9, 2017 | 15:35 GMT Print
Text Size

The United States and South Korea are set to hold annual Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises in early March, with the joint drills expected to be the largest ever, Arirang News reported Feb. 9. The drills will focus heavily on developing pre-emptive strike capabilities versus North Korea. There is also a possibility that the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense anti-ballistic missile system (THAAD) could be incorporated into the Key Resolve simulated exercises. Seoul is continuing to focus its efforts on pre-emptive strike doctrine and capabilities alongside the United States as North Korea moves closer to accumulating viable nuclear delivery systems.
« Last Edit: February 10, 2017, 07:35:41 AM by Crafty_Dog » Logged
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« Reply #117 on: February 14, 2017, 09:46:18 AM »

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/2017/02/14/kim-jong-uns-older-brother-killed-north-korean-spies-poison1/
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« Reply #118 on: February 15, 2017, 01:01:01 AM »

paracom.paramountcommunication.com/ct/40431535:sQNPGdlN4:m:1:1488789220:CA3B073C770DA6C1F7C0CED5199E75B7:r
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« Reply #119 on: February 20, 2017, 11:03:52 AM »

https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/china-suspends-north-koreas-coal-imports-striking-at-regimes-financial-lifeline/2017/02/18/8390b0e6-f5df-11e6-a9b0-ecee7ce475fc_story.html?utm_term=.cefc8d0e23db&wpisrc=nl_evening&wpmm=1

Perhaps if this weren't WaPo more prominent mention might have been given to the possibility that the phone call with President Trump played a role here.
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« Reply #120 on: February 20, 2017, 03:49:08 PM »

I hope the result of this is not a million Koreans starve to death.
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« Reply #121 on: February 20, 2017, 04:26:29 PM »

It most certainly seems to be a significant development.
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« Reply #122 on: February 21, 2017, 11:02:03 AM »

I thought the news said VX gas?  Now they reveal that was just more AP fake news.  Apparently they don't know what killed him.
It seem hard to believe one of the involved women claims she thought it was some sort of candid camera pranks when one sees the video of the murder.


https://www.yahoo.com/finance/news/malaysia-no-cause-death-determined-yet-north-korean-073333799.html
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« Reply #123 on: March 04, 2017, 12:15:44 PM »

Ummm , , ,  a lot of this intel seems to me quite unsuitable for public release , , ,  angry angry angry

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/04/world/asia/north-korea-missile-program-sabotage.html?emc=edit_na_20170304&nl=breaking-news&nlid=49641193&ref=cta&_r=0

also see:

https://www.nytimes.com/2017/03/04/world/asia/left-of-launch-missile-defense.html?action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&module=RelatedCoverage&region=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article

How fg stupid do they have to be to publicize this?!?  angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry angry
https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2017/02/24/world/asia/north-korea-propaganda-photo.html?action=click&contentCollection=Asia%20Pacific&module=RelatedCoverage&region=EndOfArticle&pgtype=article



WASHINGTON — Three years ago, President Barack Obama ordered Pentagon officials to step up their cyber and electronic strikes against North Korea’s missile program in hopes of sabotaging test launches in their opening seconds.

Soon a large number of the North’s military rockets began to explode, veer off course, disintegrate in midair and plunge into the sea. Advocates of such efforts say they believe that targeted attacks have given American antimissile defenses a new edge and delayed by several years the day when North Korea will be able to threaten American cities with nuclear weapons launched atop intercontinental ballistic missiles.

But other experts have grown increasingly skeptical of the new approach, arguing that manufacturing errors, disgruntled insiders and sheer incompetence can also send missiles awry. Over the past eight months, they note, the North has managed to successfully launch three medium-range rockets. And Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, now claims his country is in “the final stage in preparations” for the inaugural test of his intercontinental missiles — perhaps a bluff, perhaps not.

An examination of the Pentagon’s disruption effort, based on interviews with officials of the Obama and Trump administrations as well as a review of extensive but obscure public records, found that the United States still does not have the ability to effectively counter the North Korean nuclear and missile programs. Those threats are far more resilient than many experts thought, The New York Times’s reporting found, and pose such a danger that Mr. Obama, as he left office, warned President Trump they were likely to be the most urgent problem he would confront.
Continue reading the main story
Related Coverage

    U.S. Strategy to Hobble North Korea Was Hidden in Plain Sight MARCH 4, 2017
    interactive
    THE INTERPRETER
    What One Photo Tells Us About North Korea’s Nuclear Program FEB. 24, 2017
    Kim Jong-un Says North Korea Is Preparing to Test Long-Range Missile JAN. 1, 2017
    North Korea, Rebuking Trump, Says It Can Test Long-Range Missile ‘Anytime’ JAN. 9, 2017

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Pakistan

Saudi Arabia

Iran

India

Thailand

China

Mongolia

Italy

Russia

Scud B/C/ER

180–600 miles

Spain

North

Korea

KN-11

600 miles

Norway

Britain

Nodong

800 miles

Japan

Greenland

(Denmark)

Guam

Musudan

2,200 miles

Australia

Papua

New Guinea

Canada

North Korea’s Growing Reach

The potential range of North Korea’s current weapons, particularly the KN-14 and KN-08 missiles, would put most of the world in reach of its nuclear warheads.

KN-14

6,200 miles

United

States

KN-08

7,200 miles

Mexico

Estimated

ranges
Source: The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

By Troy Griggs

Mr. Trump has signaled his preference to respond aggressively against the North Korean threat. In a Twitter post after Mr. Kim first issued his warning on New Year’s Day, the president wrote, “It won’t happen!” Yet like Mr. Obama before him, Mr. Trump is quickly discovering that he must choose from highly imperfect options.
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He could order the escalation of the Pentagon’s cyber and electronic warfare effort, but that carries no guarantees. He could open negotiations with the North to freeze its nuclear and missile programs, but that would leave a looming threat in place. He could prepare for direct missile strikes on the launch sites, which Mr. Obama also considered, but there is little chance of hitting every target. He could press the Chinese to cut off trade and support, but Beijing has always stopped short of steps that could lead to the regime’s collapse.

In two meetings of Mr. Trump’s national security deputies in the Situation Room, the most recent on Tuesday, all those options were discussed, along with the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a dramatic warning. Administration officials say those issues will soon go to Mr. Trump and his top national security aides.

The decision to intensify the cyber and electronic strikes, in early 2014, came after Mr. Obama concluded that the $300 billion spent since the Eisenhower era on traditional antimissile systems, often compared to hitting “a bullet with a bullet,” had failed the core purpose of protecting the continental United States. Flight tests of interceptors based in Alaska and California had an overall failure rate of 56 percent, under near-perfect conditions. Privately, many experts warned the system would fare worse in real combat.

So the Obama administration searched for a better way to destroy missiles. It reached for techniques the Pentagon had long been experimenting with under the rubric of “left of launch,” because the attacks begin before the missiles ever reach the launchpad, or just as they lift off. For years, the Pentagon’s most senior officers and officials have publicly advocated these kinds of sophisticated attacks in little-noticed testimony to Congress and at defense conferences.
Photo
The KN-14, one of two types of intercontinental ballistic missiles that North Korea is developing, at a military parade in the capital, Pyongyang, in October 2015, in an image released by the nation's government. Credit Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

The Times inquiry began last spring as the number of the North’s missile failures soared. The investigation uncovered the military documents praising the new antimissile approach and found some pointing with photos and diagrams to North Korea as one of the most urgent targets.

After discussions with the office of the director of national intelligence last year and in recent days with Mr. Trump’s national security team, The Times agreed to withhold details of those efforts to keep North Korea from learning how to defeat them. Last fall, Mr. Kim was widely reported to have ordered an investigation into whether the United States was sabotaging North Korea’s launches, and over the past week he has executed senior security officials.

The approach taken in targeting the North Korean missiles has distinct echoes of the American- and Israeli-led sabotage of Iran’s nuclear program, the most sophisticated known use of a cyberweapon meant to cripple a nuclear threat. But even that use of the “Stuxnet” worm in Iran quickly ran into limits. It was effective for several years, until the Iranians figured it out and recovered. And Iran posed a relatively easy target: an underground nuclear enrichment plant that could be attacked repeatedly.

In North Korea, the target is much more challenging. Missiles are fired from multiple launch sites around the country and moved about on mobile launchers in an elaborate shell game meant to deceive adversaries. To strike them, timing is critical.

Advocates of the sophisticated effort to remotely manipulate data inside North Korea’s missile systems argue the United States has no real alternative because the effort to stop the North from learning the secrets of making nuclear weapons has already failed. The only hope now is stopping the country from developing an intercontinental missile, and demonstrating that destructive threat to the world.
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Photo
KN-08 ballistic missiles were paraded through Pyongyang in July 2013 on mobile launch vehicles that can be hidden in caves or underground, making the missiles hard to track and target. Credit Kyodo News

“Disrupting their tests,” William J. Perry, secretary of defense in the Clinton administration, said at a recent presentation in Washington, would be “a pretty effective way of stopping their ICBM program.”
Decades in the Making

Three generations of the Kim family have dreamed that their broken, otherwise failed nation could build its own nuclear weapons, and the missiles to deliver them, as the ultimate survival strategy. With nukes in hand, the Kims have calculated, they need not fear being overrun by South Korea, invaded by the United States or sold out by China.

North Korea began seeking an intercontinental ballistic missile decades ago: It was the dream of Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder, who bitterly remembered the American threats to use nuclear weapons against the North during the Korean War.

His break came after the collapse of the Soviet Union, when out-of-work Russian rocket scientists began seeking employment in North Korea. Soon, a new generation of North Korean missiles began to appear, all knockoffs of Soviet designs. Though flight tests were sparse, American experts marveled at how the North seemed to avoid the kinds of failures that typically strike new rocket programs, including those of the United States in the late 1950s.

The Rise of Missile and Nuclear Tests

The frequency of missile tests has risen dramatically under Kim Jong-un, with a recent increase in nuclear tests as well.

25

20

Nuclear test

15

Missile test

10

5

0

’01

’06

’09

’11

’13

’16

’17

Kim Jong-un

Kim Jong-il

1994–2011

2011–
Includes only major systems. Omits engine firings at ground facilities, ejection tests of submarine missiles, and firings of artillery, short-range rockets and air-defense missiles.
Source: Center for Strategic and International Studies

By The New York Times

The success was so marked that Timothy McCarthy of the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey wrote in a 2001 analysis that Pyongyang’s record “appears completely unique in the history of missile development and production.”

In response, President George W. Bush in late 2002 announced the deployment of antimissile interceptors in Alaska and California. At the same time, Mr. Bush accelerated programs to get inside the long supply chain of parts for North Korean missiles, lacing them with defects and weaknesses, a technique also used for years against Iran.
Threat Grows in Obama Era

By the time Mr. Obama took office in January 2009, the North had deployed hundreds of short- and medium-range missiles that used Russian designs, and had made billions of dollars selling its Scud missiles to Egypt, Libya, Pakistan, Syria, the United Arab Emirates and Yemen. But it aspired to a new generation of missiles that could fire warheads over much longer distances.

In secret cables written in the first year of the Obama administration, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton laid out the emerging threat. Among the most alarming released by WikiLeaks, the cables described a new path the North was taking to reach its long-range goal, based on a missile designed by the Soviets decades ago for their submarines that carried thermonuclear warheads.

It was called the R-27. Unlike the North’s lumbering, older rockets and missiles, these would be small enough to hide in caves and move into position by truck. The advantage was clear: This missile would be far harder for the United States to find and destroy.

The North Korean Arsenal

The rockets currently being tested have a wide range of sizes and capabilities.

No flight tests to date

6ft

Scud B/C/ER

KN-11

Nodong

Musudan

KN-14

KN-08

600

7,200

180–600 miles

800

2,200

6,200

Primary engines believed to be based on Soviet R-27 missile system
Includes only major systems. Omits engine firings at ground facilities, ejection tests of submarine missiles, and firings of artillery, short-range rockets and air-defense missiles.
Source: The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies

By The New York Times

“North Korea’s next goal may be to develop a mobile ICBM that would be capable of threatening targets around the world,” said an October 2009 cable marked “Secret” and signed by Mrs. Clinton.

The next year, one of the new missiles showed up in a North Korean military parade, just as the intelligence reports had warned.

By 2013, North Korean rockets thundered with new regularity. And that February, the North set off a nuclear test that woke up Washington: The monitoring data told of an explosion roughly the size of the bomb that had leveled Hiroshima.

Days after the explosion, the Pentagon announced an expansion of its force of antimissile interceptors in California and Alaska. It also began to unveil its “left of launch” program to disable missiles before liftoff — hoping to bolster its chances of destroying them. Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, announced the program, saying that “cyberwarfare, directed energy and electronic attack,” a reference to such things as malware, lasers and signal jamming, were all becoming important new adjuncts to the traditional ways of deflecting enemy strikes.
Photo
Intermediate-range Musudan missiles rolled through Pyongyang during a parade in 2015. Credit Kyodo News

He never mentioned North Korea. But a map accompanying General Dempsey’s policy paper on the subject showed one of the North’s missiles streaking toward the United States. Soon, in testimony before Congress and at public panels in Washington, current and former officials and a major contractor — Raytheon — began talking openly about “left of launch” technologies, in particular cyber and electronic strikes at the moment of launch.

The North, meanwhile, was developing its own exotic arsenal. It tried repeatedly to disrupt American and South Korean military exercises by jamming electronic signals for guided weapons, including missiles. And it demonstrated its cyberpower in the oddest of places — Hollywood. In 2014, it attacked Sony Pictures Entertainment with a strike that destroyed about 70 percent of the company’s computing systems, surprising experts with its technical savvy.

Last month, a report on cybervulnerabilities by the Defense Science Board, commissioned by the Pentagon during the Obama administration, warned that North Korea might acquire the ability to cripple the American power grid, and cautioned that it could never be allowed to “hold vital U.S. strike systems at risk.”
Secret Push, and New Doubts

Not long after General Dempsey made his public announcement, Mr. Obama and his defense secretary, Ashton B. Carter, began calling meetings focused on one question: Could a crash program slow the North’s march toward an intercontinental ballistic missile?

There were many options, some drawn from General Dempsey’s list. Mr. Obama ultimately pressed the Pentagon and intelligence agencies to pull out all the stops, which officials took as encouragement to reach for untested technologies.

The North’s missiles soon began to fail at a remarkable pace. Some were destroyed, no doubt, by accident as well as by design. The technology the North was pursuing, using new designs and new engines, involved multistage rockets, introducing all kinds of possibilities for catastrophic mistakes. But by most accounts, the United States program accentuated the failures.
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The evidence was in the numbers. Most flight tests of an intermediate-range missile called the Musudan, the weapon that the North Koreans showed off in public just after Mrs. Clinton’s warning, ended in flames: Its overall failure rate is 88 percent.

Nonetheless Kim Jong-un has pressed ahead on his main goal: an intercontinental ballistic missile. Last April, he was photographed standing next to a giant test-stand, celebrating after engineers successfully fired off a matched pair of the potent Russian-designed R-27 engines. The implication was clear: Strapping two of the engines together at the base of a missile was the secret to building an ICBM that could ultimately hurl warheads at the United States.

In September, he celebrated the most successful test yet of a North Korean nuclear weapon — one that exploded with more than twice the destructive force of the Hiroshima bomb.

His next goal, experts say, is to combine those two technologies, shrinking his nuclear warheads to a size that can fit on an intercontinental missile. Only then can he credibly claim that his isolated country has the know-how to hit an American city thousands of miles away.

In the last year of his presidency, Mr. Obama often noted publicly that the North was learning from every nuclear and missile test — even the failures — and getting closer to its goal. In private, aides noticed he was increasingly disturbed by North Korea’s progress.

With only a few months left in office, he pushed aides for new approaches. At one meeting, he declared that he would have targeted the North Korean leadership and weapons sites if he thought it would work. But it was, as Mr. Obama and his assembled aides knew, an empty threat: Getting timely intelligence on the location of North Korea’s leaders or their weapons at any moment would be almost impossible, and the risks of missing were tremendous, including renewed war on the Korean Peninsula.
Hard Decisions for Trump
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Photo
The single successful test flight in a run of Musudan missile failures came in June, shown in this image from North Korea’s state-run news agency. The Musudan had an overall failure rate of 88 percent, much higher than the 13 percent failure rate of the Soviet-era missile on which it was based. Credit Korean Central News Agency, via Reuters

As a presidential candidate, Mr. Trump complained that “we're so obsolete in cyber,” a line that grated on officials at the United States Cyber Command and the National Security Agency, where billions of dollars have been spent to provide the president with new options for intelligence gathering and cyberattacks. Now, one of the immediate questions he faces is whether to accelerate or scale back those efforts.

A decision to go after an adversary’s launch ability can have unintended consequences, experts warn.

Once the United States uses cyberweapons against nuclear launch systems — even in a threatening state like North Korea — Russia and China may feel free to do the same, targeting fields of American missiles. Some strategists argue that all nuclear systems should be off limits for cyberattack. Otherwise, if a nuclear power thought it could secretly disable an adversary’s atomic controls, it might be more tempted to take the risk of launching a pre-emptive attack.

“I understand the urgent threat,” said Amy Zegart, a Stanford University intelligence and cybersecurity expert, who said she had no independent knowledge of the American effort. “But 30 years from now we may decide it was a very, very dangerous thing to do.”

Mr. Trump’s aides say everything is on the table. China recently cut off coal imports from the North, but the United States is also looking at ways to freeze the Kim family’s assets, some of which are believed held in Chinese-controlled banks. The Chinese have already opposed the deployment of a high-altitude missile defense system known as Thaad in South Korea; the Trump team may call for even more such systems.

The White House is also looking at pre-emptive military strike options, a senior Trump administration official said, though the challenge is huge given the country’s mountainous terrain and deep tunnels and bunkers. Putting American tactical nuclear weapons back in South Korea — they were withdrawn a quarter-century ago — is also under consideration, even if that step could accelerate an arms race with the North.

Mr. Trump’s “It won’t happen!” post on Twitter about the North’s ICBM threat suggests a larger confrontation could be looming.

“Regardless of Trump’s actual intentions,” James M. Acton, a nuclear analyst at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, recently noted, “the tweet could come to be seen as a ‘red line’ and hence set up a potential test of his credibility.”
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« Reply #124 on: March 06, 2017, 08:59:21 AM »

China’s North Korea Feint
Beijing isn’t cutting economic support to its nuclear client state.
A coal yard beside Yalu River on the North Korean side of the border.
A coal yard beside Yalu River on the North Korean side of the border. Photo: Getty Images
Updated March 5, 2017 6:34 p.m. ET
36 COMMENTS

Is China greeting the Trump era by getting tough on North Korea? That may be the impression Beijing has tried to convey by announcing a suspension of coal imports from the nuclear-armed state. But there is less here than meets the eye.

As is often the case regarding Beijing’s ties to Pyongyang, the details of the coal cutoff are murky. In the most generous telling, China has decided to squeeze North Korea’s key source of hard currency to punish it for acting in destabilizing ways—testing missiles, assassinating overseas enemies with VX nerve agent and the like. By this logic, Beijing is signalling a desire to work with the new U.S. Administration on the shared goal of denuclearizing the Kim regime. North Korean state media have pushed this line, slamming China for “dancing to the tune of the U.S.”

Yet Beijing has said that it had to cut off coal imports to comply with United Nations sanctions passed in November. According to the Foreign Ministry, Chinese imports in 2017 have already approached the U.N.’s annual value limit of $400 million. Beijing would hardly deserve applause for buying its full quota and then stopping to meet its legal obligations.

A year ago the Chinese also promised to comply with an earlier round of U.N. sanctions on North Korean mineral exports. But Beijing made sure those sanctions included a loophole exempting transactions for undefined “livelihood purposes.” It then proceeded to rack up record purchases of North Korean coal.

After November’s sanctions moved to nullify the “livelihood” loophole with hard caps, Beijing promised a cutoff—yet still imported more North Korean coal in December than in any previous month of the year. Its total coal imports for 2016, a year in which it twice voted for sanctions on such purchases, rose 14.5% from 2015 and totaled more than $1 billion.

Pyongyang can fund a lot of missile tests with that money. Then there is the unspecified sum China will soon begin paying for 4,000 metric tons of North Korean liquefied petroleum gas, an arrangement quietly announced this month and spotted by Victor Cha of the Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Beijing sustains Pyongyang in countless other ways, including access to Chinese oil, banks, trading firms, ports and front companies. Contrast this with China’s unofficial economic sanctions on South Korea merely for wishing to defend itself against North Korean nuclear missiles by installing advanced U.S.-made antimissile defenses.

Beijing is clearly exploring its options in the Trump era, which is no doubt why it dispatched foreign-policy chief Yang Jiechi to Washington this week to meet the President and some of his senior aides. The coal gambit may have been a gift of sorts to Mr. Trump after he reaffirmed traditional U.S. policy toward Taiwan.

Whatever Beijing intends, it is clear that Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile capabilities pose a direct and increasingly intolerable threat to U.S. security, and that the threat will end only when the Kim dynasty is deposed. If Beijing won’t cut its economic lifelines to the North, the Trump Administration should use financial sanctions on Chinese entities to force the issue.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #125 on: March 08, 2017, 11:15:55 AM »

by Rodger Baker

"Irrational" North Korea has done it again. Even with U.S. and South Korean forces gathered on the peninsula for their largest annual joint military exercises, Pyongyang launched four ballistic missiles early on March 6. Three landed in the sea west of Japan, within Tokyo's 200-nautical-mile exclusive economic zone. As expected, the "irrational" Pyongyang's actions elicited the usual cries of condemnation, triggered a brief dip in the South Korean stock market and led South Korea's acting president, Hwang Kyo Ahn, to reiterate the need for South Korea to rapidly deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system — something that will undoubtedly further perturb North Korea’s closest friend, China. 

I use "irrational" in quotation marks for a reason. I have already discussed the use of "provocation" as a lazy term for describing North Korea's actions. But Pyongyang's latest moves, as well as the current U.S. review of North Korean policy, offer an opportunity to talk about the idea of the rationality of nations, governments and leaders. North Korea provides what could be a textbook case of the mixed perceptions of rationality and irrationality — a tool with utility beyond today’s feisty standoff between the hermit state and its geopolitical rivals.
More Than Just Emotion

At Stratfor, we are often asked why we default to attributing rationality to the behavior of governments. Many argue that the behavior of other governments (or our own at times) appears irrational. Think of the economically devastating land reform instituted by Zimbabwean President Robert Mugabe in 2000, or former British Prime Minister David Cameron’s decision to hold a referendum on the Brexit, or the U.S. plan in Iraq that assumed the country's disparate ethnic and sectarian divides would simply be overcome by the downfall of a dictator. We all know individuals who act in an irrational manner, whether because of emotional stress or stimuli, fatigue, mental conditions or any number of other reasons. Few of us can honestly say that we have never acted on impulse, out of emotion (be it anger or love), or out of a failure to think things through before engaging in some ill-advised endeavor that we hope will end in minor embarrassment and a funny story rather than in tragedy.

If individuals are susceptible to such irrational behavior, why not governments? Deploying secret agents to assassinate someone who was apparently such a low-level threat that he traveled without a security team seems irrational, or at least purely emotional. All the more so when the attack was done with a banned chemical weapon in an airport of one of the few countries with relatively good diplomatic relations with North Korea, and a key hub for the nation’s sanctions-skirting economic activity. Launching four ballistic missiles a few days after positive meetings with China (which eased tensions after Beijing had recently hit the North Korean economy by cutting off coal imports), and thus further justifying Seoul’s pursuit of the THAAD system to the detriment of China’s interests, just seems irrational. Why hurt the one country that continues to give North Korea international support and appeared intent on strengthening its relationship with Pyongyang rather than isolating it even more?

Our assertion of rationality as the default analysis does not claim that all decisions are perfect, or that errors cannot be made. Irrational or responsive decisions are possible, and even "rational" decisions can lead to catastrophes. But we do assert that choices made by governments are generally based on more than emotion or randomness. Rationality differs based on one's point of view, place and time. If I assume irrationality on the subjects of my inquiry, if I find their behavior illogical or unwise, my first job is to reassess my understanding of their perspective of rationality. This is the obligation of the analyst: to challenge the impulse to impose one's own sense of rationality upon others. What is it that has shaped those subjects' worldview, their perception of risk and reward, of threat and opportunity?
Back to the Geopolitical Basics

Even a cursory glance at North Korea reveals a worldview molded by geography and history. North Korea is a tiny country with insufficient arable land that is squeezed between China and South Korea, the latter of which hosts tens of thousands of U.S. forces. Historically, the unified Korea was caught between China and Japan, the proverbial minnow between whales. Today North Korea remains squeezed between whales, though this time the United States and China, and its basic question is whether it wants to subsume its national authority and identity to one of its neighbors or remain independent in policy and ideology. If Pyongyang prefers the latter, it can neither draw too close to China nor allow its economy and culture to open up fully to the West. Historically, North Korea has followed a path of isolation, of nominal fealty to China while maintaining domestic control — an approach that has been called the "poison-shrimp" strategy of being more dangerous to invade than to ignore.

This leads to a perspective of rationality that is very different than that of most analysts in the United States. Even if South Korea can partially understand the North’s sense of rationality, it does not match the national interests of Seoul, which in many ways is in the same position as Pyongyang but has allowed itself, much like Japan, to cede its national independence to the United States for years. The attribution of rationality to North Korea’s leadership is not a justification for its actions, nor does it argue that the North has only one path to pursue. Rather, it seeks to understand the behavior of the country's rulers — a vital step toward predicting both action and reaction.   

The second component is to assess the structure of power within the nation's leadership. No leader, no matter how dictatorial, operates alone. There are bureaucracies, formal and informal systems of relationships, and power, money, finances and resources that shape how a government or ruling group works. For a leader to lead, there must be those willing to carry out orders, and shy of a very small organization, that requires several layers of power and control. So, policy goes beyond the actions of a single individual. The system itself, then, provides in some ways a check on irrationality. Any decision, any command, must pass through this often complex system of power. By their very nature, governments slow down action, providing the equivalent of counting to 10 before responding to an emotionally charged situation.
A Careful Balance

In North Korea's case, elections are certainly a bit of a sham, but Kim Jong Un doesn't stay in power simply because of his family name. He is the third generation of Kim leadership in North Korea, and the least prepared or qualified of any for the task of leading the country, since his father delayed training or anointing a successor for fear that power would begin to form around the son, rather than himself. But the Kims are not divine leaders, holding power because none dare to challenge their right to lead. Instead, they must constantly manipulate, balance and counterbalance the various interest groups and power centers in North Korea.

The primary task of a Kim leader is to ensure that no single faction or small group of factions becomes too powerful. This involves a combination of reward (access to foreign funds and opportunities), punishment (death, at the extreme) and distribution of power among different groups as well as inducements to spy on one another. A perception of unpredictability by Kim may be beneficial to a point, but complete unpredictability would undermine the balance quickly, since there would be no way to ensure long-term power or influence, and the system would quickly turn against the leader. In many ways this is similar to the story that Thae Yong Ho, the recently defected deputy ambassador to the North Korean Embassy in London, has been telling in media interviews in South Korea and beyond.

One of the most striking things about North Korea is that its apparent irrationality has nonetheless allowed it to continue down a fairly independent path under three different paramount leaders, even as the world around them changed (at times, dramatically). This alone should suggest that there is rationality hidden in North Korea's behavior. Pyongyang has shown continuity of action, continuity of policy and, most important, continuity of leadership but for a few executions. North Korea has pursued variations of this policy since the end of the Cold War, seeking cooperation with the South to create a stronger single Korean confederation, playing various regional players off of one another, and pursuing in earnest a nuclear deterrent to reduce the perceived threat of U.S. military and political action to destabilize the government and force its collapse.

Assuming irrationality in the actions of North Korea, or of any other government, is often based on the cognitive error of mirror imaging — believing that others hold the same cultural, political, economic or moral norms as you, your culture or your government. Even among Western countries, there are many different ways that nations perceive rationality and their national interests. How much more misleading is it to apply Western or U.S. norms to North Korea's perception and decision-making? Assuming irrationality, then, is simply a poor analytic practice. Again, seeking to understand another's basis for rationality does not imply that all decisions are the "right" ones, or the most effective. Governments rarely have the luxury of a complete set of options, of time, or of full information when making choices or planning strategy. And in many cases, objective desire plays a role. Rationality does not exclude bad decisions, or more commonly, limited options.

One of the most important values to presuming rationality in others, particularly "foes," is that irrationality, by its very nature, is unpredictable. But rationality provides context within which to predict behavior, or at least to understand general patterns of behavior. That said, rationality must then be matched with reality. Governments are large entities. Decisions are being made at many levels, within many time frames. Contradictory actions are entirely possible, even frequent. Mistakes are made. Insufficient information, time or resources constrain decision-making and action. Internecine struggles for power or influence can lead to all sorts of chaos. But assuming irrationality is just lazy analysis.

North Korea is not irrational. But understanding its unique rationality is no small task.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #126 on: March 08, 2017, 11:58:20 AM »

second post


March 7, 2017 7:00 p.m. ET
45 COMMENTS

With the arrival of a C-17 transport plane at Osan Air Base outside Seoul on Monday, the U.S. and South Korea began deploying the advanced Thaad antimissile system after years of uncertainty and months sooner than expected. With North Korea’s behavior becoming more dangerous, the sooner this system becomes operational the better.

Thaad—Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense—is far more capable than the Patriot and Aegis systems currently deployed around Korea. It can scan across 1,000 kilometers, intercept missiles 200 kilometers away and coordinate with U.S. and Japanese assets elsewhere in the region.

South Koreans were reminded of the need for defenses Monday when Pyongyang fired four missiles into the Sea of Japan. The North also barred Malaysian nationals from leaving the country unless Malaysia drops its inquiry into last month’s chilling assassination of Kim Jong Un’s brother in Kuala Lumpur.

North Korea is able to terrorize the region because of China, which poses as a responsible power but still protects Pyongyang economically and diplomatically. Beijing has raged against Thaad with bogus claims that it threatens China. But Chinese leaders’ real fear is that Thaad will deepen the U.S.-South Korea alliance, an outcome they apparently consider worse than North Korea’s continued nuclearization and military threats.

“South Korea will sacrifice its fast-developing relations with China if it should be seduced into the [Thaad] defense network,” Chinese state media warned in 2014. After Seoul decided last summer to proceed anyway, Beijing responded with unofficial sanctions against South Korean pop stars, cosmetics exports and tourism. Especially hard hit was Lotte, the company that agreed to provide land for the Thaad battery and has since faced arbitrary inspections, fines, store closures, licensing holdups, public protests, cyberattacks and other difficulties.

U.S. and South Korean leaders deserve credit for sticking to last year’s decision to deploy Thaad despite this pressure. Pentagon chief Jim Mattis made Seoul his first overseas visit last month, and President Trump has spoken with South Korean leaders several times, including a phone call Monday.

The broader lesson is that China’s support for the Kim regime is increasingly harming its own interests. Chinese leaders have long feared that turning on Pyongyang could cause a chaotic collapse, but their abdication of responsibility has now brought Thaad to the Korean Peninsula and otherwise strengthened defense cooperation among the U.S., Japan and South Korea. As the North’s nuclear threat grows, South Korea and Japan will inevitably consider going nuclear themselves.

South Korean officials say Thaad could be operational by April. We hope so, especially as China will continue its economic pressure campaign to block it. A Foreign Ministry spokesman said Tuesday that China will respond to the Thaad deployment and “the consequences will be shouldered by the United States and South Korea.” The wiser course would be for Beijing to reconsider its dangerous patronage of Kim Jong Un.
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