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Crafty_Dog
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« 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.
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« Reply #1 on: October 23, 2006, 06:38:48 AM »


http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/10/korea...e_horrors_of_li.html

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."

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« Reply #2 on: October 23, 2006, 07:24:20 AM »

http://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2006/10/world_war_ii_is_over.html

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?

letters@charleskrauthammer.com

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« Reply #3 on: October 24, 2006, 05:59:38 AM »

Cracking the Hermit Kingdom 
By Gordon Cucullu and Joshua Stanton
FrontPageMagazine.com | 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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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #4 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 #5 on: February 14, 2007, 11:49:17 AM »

WSJ

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 #6 on: February 22, 2007, 09:31:26 PM »

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20070214-120013-3871r.htm
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« Reply #7 on: May 18, 2007, 12:21:31 PM »

WSJ

Pyongyang's Perfidy
By JOHN R. BOLTON
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 #8 on: May 18, 2007, 01:26:00 PM »

 bit outdated but Gertz On NK - still producing nukes - gee - what a surprise.

http://www.washtimes.com/national/20070424-104648-6053r.htm

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 #9 on: February 23, 2008, 09:35:44 PM »

Gen. Burwell B. Bell
The North Korean Threat
By MELANIE KIRKPATRICK
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.

WSJ
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« Reply #10 on: April 24, 2008, 08:04:53 AM »


   
REVIEW & OUTLOOK 


 
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 #11 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".


http://news.yahoo.com/s/mcclatchy/20080626/wl_mcclatchy/2976984

****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.
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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 #12 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 #13 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 #14 on: November 19, 2010, 08:02:38 AM »

Dispatch: Koreas Refocusing Policy Postures
November 18, 2010 | 1938 GMT
Click on image below to watch video:



Following South Korea’s declaration that the Sunshine Policy has failed and North Korea threatening another nuclear test, Analyst Rodger Baker examines politics on the peninsula.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

The South Korean Unification Ministry’s latest white paper declares the Sunshine Policy a failure. The Sunshine Policy set up under former President Kim Dae Jung to encourage North Korea to change its behavior through friendly actions through economic assistance. The Unification Ministry said that this is been a failure, that the North Koreans have not changed their behavior, the North Korean population is no better off, and that it remains in effect a threat to South Korea.

As the South Koreans are reviewing their North Korean policies, the North Koreans appear to be ramping up for another nuclear test or at least making it appear that that’s what they’re doing. There are increasing reports from the region that there is activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site, and this is raising concerns that Pyongyang is going to carry out its third test.

The North Koreans have a reputation of raising the stakes before they reenter negotiations. What they will do is that they will use that to shape the discussions and shape the sense of immediacy. It brings people into the negotiations in a way where you want to deal with the immediate issue of the nuclear test, and other issues that are long-standing maybe take out second place. The North Koreans gain the benefit of going back to the status quo before they have to start stepping down from there.

As the North Koreans really try to solidify the new leadership, there is always a push for some grand and bold action to make it clear who’s in charge. When Kim Jong-Il came to power there was the Taepodong launch. With Kim Jong Un, it very well may be a nuclear test just to show that from the beginning he is strong, he is tough.

From the South perspective they’re looking at starting to take over security responsibility for the peninsula from the United States - you have changes in that dynamic with the U.S. defense relationship where really the two Koreas are our re-looking at each other. In North, you have the leadership transition underway, in the south we really moved beyond some of the past types of governments considered pro-North Korean. But also you have a new pressure building for both Koreas.

The Chinese have become much more assertive in their political behavior and even in their military behavior in the region. Japan is starting to wake up it seems - feeling threats from China, feeling threat from Russia. The United States is re-engaging in the region. And what happens when you have these large powers coming and pressing against each other in the Pacific region, very often where it all overlaps is the Korean peninsula. In southern Seoul and in Pyongyang, they’re feeling this increasing pressure, an increasing sense of concern for what historically they would’ve called the minnow between whales.

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« Reply #15 on: November 21, 2010, 01:29:14 AM »

Breaking News Alert
The New York Times
Sat, November 20, 2010 -- 9:00 PM ET
-----

North Koreans Unveil New Plant for Nuclear Use

North Korea showed a visiting American nuclear scientist last
week a vast new facility it secretly and rapidly built to
enrich uranium, confronting the Obama administration with the
prospect that the country is preparing to expand its nuclear
arsenal or build a far more powerful type of atomic bomb.

Whether the calculated revelation is a negotiating ploy by
North Korea or a signal that it plans to accelerate its
weapons program even as it goes through a perilous leadership
change, it creates a new challenge for President Obama.

The scientist, Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who
previously directed the Los Alamos National Laboratory, said
in an interview that he had been "stunned" by the
sophistication of the new plant.

Read More:
http://www.nytimes.com/2010/11/21/world/asia/21intel.html?emc=na
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« Reply #16 on: November 23, 2010, 02:12:57 AM »

Woof,
 It is about to hit the fan in Korea guys: www.msnbc.msn.com/id/40329269/ns/world_news-asiapacific
                  P.C.
« Last Edit: November 23, 2010, 02:17:45 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

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« Reply #17 on: November 23, 2010, 09:27:49 AM »

Before moving to this disconcerting developement I would like to take a moment to note that on Fox's Brett Baier Special Report yesterday, there was a good discussion (especially Krauthammer-- no surprise there) on the role of China in enabling the Norks and that the real issue was to  , , , demotivate the Chinese in this direction.  Apparently a trial balloon has been floated quite recently about the US lending the Sorks some tactical nukes, something the Chinese really don't want.  The conversation went on to suggest that encouraging Japan to nuclearize would really freak the Chinese too.  Bottom line, the idea is to make clear to the Chinese that if they don't want the Sorks and the Japanese going nuke, they had best choke the supply lines to the Norks-- without which the Norks cannot survive.


=========
North Korea and South Korea have reportedly traded artillery fire Nov. 23 across the disputed Northern Limit Line (NLL) in the Yellow Sea to the west of the peninsula. Though details are still sketchy, South Korean news reports indicate that around 2:30 p.m. local time, North Korean artillery shells began landing in the waters around Yeonpyeongdo, one of the South Korean-controlled islands just south of the NLL. North Korea has reportedly fired as many as 200 rounds, some of which struck the island, injuring at least 10 South Korean soldiers, damaging buildings and setting fire to a mountainside. South Korea responded by firing some 80 shells of its own toward North Korea, dispatching F-16 fighter jets to the area and raising the military alert to its highest level.

South Korean President Lee Myung Bak has convened an emergency Cabinet meeting, and Seoul is determining whether to evacuate South Koreans working at inter-Korean facilities in North Korea. The barrage from North Korea was continuing at 4 p.m. Military activity appears to be ongoing at this point, and the South Korean Joint Chiefs of Staff are meeting on the issue. No doubt North Korea’s leadership is also convening.

The North Korean attack comes as South Korea’s annual Hoguk military exercises are under way. The exercises — set to last nine days and including as many as 70,000 personnel from all branches of the South Korean military — span from sites in the Yellow Sea including Yeonpyeongdo to Seoul and other areas on the peninsula itself. The drills have focused in particular on cross-service coordination and cooperation in recent years.

Low-level border skirmishes across the demilitarized zone and particularly the NLL are not uncommon even at the scale of artillery fire. In March, the South Korean naval corvette ChonAn was sunk in the area by what is broadly suspected to have been a North Korean torpedo, taking tensions to a peak in recent years. Nov. 22 also saw South Korean rhetoric about accepting the return of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula, though the United States said it has no plans at present to support such a redeployment.

While the South Korean reprisals — both artillery fire in response by self-propelled K-9 artillery and the scrambling of aircraft — thus far appear perfectly consistent with South Korean standard operating procedures, the sustained shelling of a populated island by North Korea would mark a deliberate and noteworthy escalation.

The incident comes amid renewed talk of North Korea’s nuclear program, including revelations of an active uranium-enrichment program, and amid rumors of North Korean preparations for another nuclear test. But North Korea also on Nov. 22 sent a list of delegates to Seoul for Red Cross talks with South Korea, a move reciprocated by the South, ahead of planned talks in South Korea set for Thursday. The timing of the North’s firing at Yeonpyeongdo, then, seems to contradict the other actions currently under way in inter-Korean relations. With the ongoing leadership transition in North Korea, there have been rumors of discontent within the military, and the current actions may reflect miscommunications or worse within the North’s command-and-control structure, or disagreements within the North Korean leadership.

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« Reply #18 on: November 23, 2010, 01:24:27 PM »

second post

Summary
North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire near their disputed border in the Yellow Sea/West Sea on Nov. 23. The incident raises several questions, not the least of which is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the real “red line” for conventional weapons engagements, just as it has managed to move the limit of “acceptable” behavior regarding its nuclear program.

Analysis
Special Topic Page
Conflict on the Korean Peninsula
North Korea and South Korea exchanged artillery fire near the Northern Limit Line (NLL), their disputed western border in the Yellow Sea/West Sea on Nov. 23. The incident damaged as many as 100 homes and thus far has killed two South Korean soldiers with several others, including some civilians, wounded. The South Korean government convened an emergency Cabinet meeting soon after the incident and called for the prevention of escalation. It later warned of “stern retaliation” if North Korea launches additional attacks. Pyongyang responded by threatening to launch additional strikes, and accused South Korea and the United States of planning to invade North Korea, in reference to the joint Hoguk military exercises currently under way in different locations across South Korea.

The incident is the latest in a series of provocations by Pyongyang near the NLL this year following the sinking of the South Korean warship ChonAn in March. Over the past several years, the NLL has been a major hotspot. While most border incidents have been low-level skirmishes, such as the November 2009 naval episode, a steady escalation of hostilities culminated in the sinking of the ChonAn. The Nov. 23 attack on the South Korean island of Yeonpyeongdo represents another escalation; similar shellings in the past were for show and often merely involved shooting into the sea, but this attack targeted a military base. It also comes amid an atmosphere of higher tensions surrounding the revelation of active North Korean uranium enrichment facilities, South Korea’s disavowal of its Sunshine Policy of warming ties with the North and an ongoing power succession in Pyongyang.

Over the years, North Korea has slowly moved the “red line” regarding its missile program and nuclear development. It was always said that North Korea would never test a nuclear weapon because it would cross a line that the United States had set. Yet North Korea did test a nuclear weapon in October 2006, and then another in May 2009, without facing any dire consequences. This indicates that the red line for the nuclear program was either moved, or was rhetorical. The main question after the Nov. 23 attack is whether Pyongyang is attempting to move the red line for conventional attacks. If North Korea is attempting to raise the threshold for a response to such action, it could be playing a very dangerous game.

However, the threat North Korea’s nuclear program poses is more theoretical than the threat posed by conventional weapons engagements. Just as it seems that a North Korean nuclear test would not result in military action, the ChonAn sinking and the Nov. 23 attack seem to show that an “unprovoked” North Korean attack also will not lead to military retaliation. If this pattern holds, it means North Korea could decide to move from sea-based to land-based clashes, shell border positions across the Demilitarized Zone or take any number of other actions that certainly are not theoretical.

The questions STRATFOR is focusing on after the Nov. 23 attack are as follows:

Is North Korea attempting to test or push back against limits on conventional attacks? If so, are these attacks meant to test South Korea and its allies ahead of an all-out military action, or is the North seeking a political response as it has with its nuclear program? If the former, we must reassess North Korea’s behavior and ascertain whether the North Koreans are preparing to try a military action against South Korea — perhaps trying to seize one or more of the five South Korean islands along the NLL. If the latter, then at what point will they actually cross a red line that will trigger a response?
Is South Korea content to constantly redefine “acceptable” North Korean actions? Does South Korea see something in the North that we do not? The South Koreans have good awareness of what is going on in North Korea, and vice versa. The two sides are having a conversation about something and using limited conventional force to get a point across. We should focus on what the underlying issue is.
What is it that South Korea is afraid of in the North? North Korea gives an American a guided tour of a uranium enrichment facility, then fires across the NLL a couple of days after the news breaks. The South does not respond. It seems that South Korea is afraid of either real power or real weakness in the North, but we do not know which.
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« Reply #19 on: November 23, 2010, 01:39:39 PM »

Any expect Barry to vote present and/or grovel?
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« Reply #20 on: November 24, 2010, 10:06:19 AM »

This is a genuine question GM, what would your propose?

======
WASHINGTON — President Obama and South Korea’s president agreed Tuesday night to hold joint military exercises as a first response to North Korea’s deadly shelling of a South Korean military installation, as both countries struggled for the second time this year to keep a North Korean provocation from escalating into war.


The exercise will include sending the aircraft carrier George Washington and a number of accompanying ships into the region, both to deter further attacks by the North and to signal to China that unless it reins in its unruly ally it will see an even larger American presence in the vicinity.
The decision came after Mr. Obama attended the end of an emergency session in the White House Situation Room and then emerged to call President Lee Myung-bak of South Korea to express American solidarity and talk about a coordinated response.

But as a former national security official who dealt frequently with North Korea in the Bush administration, Victor Cha, said just a few hours before the attack began, North Korea is “the land of lousy options.”

Mr. Obama is once again forced to choose among unpalatable choices: responding with verbal condemnations and a modest tightening of sanctions, which has done little to halt new attacks; starting military exercises that are largely symbolic; or reacting strongly, which could risk a broad war in which South Korea’s capital, Seoul, would be the first target.

The decision to send the aircraft carrier came as the South Korean military went into what it termed “crisis status.” President Lee said he would order strikes on a North Korean base if there were indications of new attacks.

North Korea’s artillery shells fell on Yeonpyeong Island, a fishing village whose residents fled by ferry to the mainland city of Inchon — where Gen. Douglas MacArthur’s troops landed 60 years ago this fall, three months after the outbreak of the Korean War.

Today, Inchon is the site of South Korea’s main international airport, symbolizing the vulnerability of one of the world’s most vibrant economies to the artillery of one of the world’s poorest and most isolated nations.

A senior American official said that an early American assessment indicated that a total of about 175 artillery shells were fired by the North and by the South in response on Tuesday.

But an American official who had looked at satellite images said there was no visible evidence of preparations for a general war. Historically, the North’s attacks have been lightning raids, after which the North Koreans have backed off to watch the world’s reaction. This one came just hours after the South Koreans had completed a long-planned set of military exercises, suggesting that the North Korean attack was “premeditated,” a senior American official said.

Television reports showed large plumes of black smoke spiraling from the island, as dozens of houses caught fire. The shelling killed two marines and wounded 18 people. The South put its fighter planes on alert — but, tellingly, did not put them in the air or strike at the North’s artillery bases. Mr. Obama was awakened at 3:55 a.m. by his new national security adviser, Thomas E. Donilon, who told him of the attack.

Just 11 days before, North Korea had invited a Stanford nuclear scientist to Yongbyon, its primary nuclear site, and showed him what was described as a just-completed centrifuge plant that, if it becomes fully operational, should enable North Korea to enrich uranium into nuclear fuel and add to its arsenal of 8 to 12 nuclear weapons.

Taken together, the nuclear demonstration and the attack were widely interpreted as an effort to bolster the credentials of Kim Jong-un, the heir apparent as the country’s leader, and the son and grandson of the only two men who have run the country. When his father, Kim Jong-il, North Korea’s ailing leader, was establishing his credentials, the North conducted a similar series of attacks.

“They have a 60-year history of military provocations — it’s in their DNA,” said a senior administration official. “What we are trying to do is break the cycle,” a cycle, he said, that has North Korea’s bad behavior rewarded with “talks, inducements and rewards.” He said that the shelling would delay any effort to resume the six-nation talks about the North’s nuclear program.

While Mr. Obama was elected on a promise of diplomatic engagement, his strategy toward the North for the past two years, called “strategic patience,” has been to demonstrate that Washington would not engage until the North ceased provocations and demonstrated that it was living up to past commitments to dismantle, and ultimately give up, its nuclear capacity.

The provocations have now increased markedly, and it is not clear what new options are available. Beijing’s first reaction on Tuesday was to call for a resumption of the six-nation talks involving North and South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States. The last meeting was two years ago, at the end of the Bush administration.

Mr. Obama’s aides made it clear in interviews that the United States had no intention of returning to those talks soon. But its leverage is limited.

When North Korea set off a nuclear test last year just months after Mr. Obama took office, the United States won passage of a United Nations Security Council resolution that imposed far harsher sanctions. The sanctions gave countries the right, and responsibility, to board North Korean ships and planes that landed at ports around the world and to inspect them for weapons. The effort seemed partly successful — but the equipment in the centrifuge plant is so new that it is clear that the trade restrictions did not stop the North from building what Siegfried S. Hecker, the visiting scientist, called an “ultramodern” nuclear complex.

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

Page 2 of 2)



By far the biggest recent disruption of relations came in March, when a sudden explosion sank a South Korean warship, killing 46 sailors. South Korean and international investigators said the blast was caused by a North Korean torpedo. The North has vehemently denied it. If the North was responsible for the sinking, it would be the most lethal military attack since the end of the Korean War in 1953.

President Lee of South Korea decided not to respond militarily to the sinking and was praised by Washington for his restraint. To make North Korea pay a price, he imposed new food restrictions on the North and ended trade worth several hundred million dollars that had been intended to induce the desperately poor North Koreans to choose income over military strikes. But some analysts believe that the cutoff in food aid was an excuse, if not a motivation, for Tuesday’s attack.
Choi Jin-wook, a North Korea expert at the Korea Institute for National Unification, a research institute in Seoul, said, “It’s a sign of North Korea’s increasing frustration.”

“Washington has turned a deaf ear to Pyongyang, and North Korea is saying: ‘Look here. We’re still alive. We can cause trouble. You can’t ignore us.’ ”

Yet for Mr. Obama, much stronger responses, including a naval quarantine of the North, carry huge risks. A face-off on the Korean Peninsula would require tens of thousands of troops, air power and the possibility of a resumption of the Korean War, a battle that American officials believe would not last long, but might end in the destruction of Seoul if the North unleashed artillery batteries near the border.

Pressing against a precipitous reaction is that the North’s attacks have a choreographed character, even a back-to-the-future feel. The last time North Korea engaged in acts this destructive was in the 1980s, when it blew up a South Korean airliner and also detonated a bomb in Myanmar in a botched attempt to assassinate the visiting South Korean president. Both attacks were said to be ordered by Kim Jong-il, who was then the heir to Kim Il-sung, his father and North Korea’s founder.

Now Mr. Kim’s youngest son, Kim Jong-un, is in that position. He was promoted on Sept. 28 to the rank of four-star general, a prerequisite for his ascendancy to power. Many see these attacks as the effort of a man the Chinese now say is 25 years old to establish his military credentials.
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« Reply #21 on: November 24, 2010, 04:13:06 PM »

The shelling across the Northern Limit Line between North Korea and South Korea recently has raised a lot of questions as to just what the North Koreans are doing — why they carried out this act at this particular time. One of the elements to that is really to better understand what is the Northern Limit Line, why is it there and how do the North Koreans view this.

At the end of the Korean War, as the armistice was being discussed, there was a general agreement on where the DMZ — the demilitarized zone - would go between the two Koreas. However, there was no agreement on where the maritime border would go on the west coast. The United Nations unilaterally drew the Northern Limit Line — putting it within three nautical miles of the North Korean coast, which was standard territory at the time. It also placed five islands just south of the NLL under South Korean or under U.N. control at the time. And in many ways, that boxed in the North Koreans, and it protected the southern port at Incheon.

The North Koreans never recognized the NLL, and by the late 1950s they were already complaining about it. They were suggesting the creation of what they called the MDL — the military demarcation line. This would have been a line that matches more along the 12 nautical miles and runs fairly diagonally between North Korea and South Korea in the West Sea. For the North Koreans, this would give them access to Haeju, their southern deepwater port. It would also give them access to critical crab-fishing grounds in the area.

For the South Koreans however the shape of the MDL, from their perspective, would put Incheon at risk, and South Korea and the United Nations refused to change the line.

As the Cold War was drawing to a close, the North Koreans were looking at ways to modify and change their economic structure. They knew they couldn’t be fully reliant upon the Chinese, upon the Soviets or the Russians after that point. And they started looking into the idea of special economic zones, of trying to increase trade. Ports became very important for them, and they started looking again at Haeju and they started looking again at the Northern Limit Line.

By the end of the 1990s and the firm establishment of Kim Jong Il as the new leader of North Korea, the Northern Limit Line became a very hot area once again. There were two incidents at the end of 1999 and the beginning of the 2000s of shelling between the two Koreas — a maritime fight which had ships sunk on both sides. Tensions began to rise along that line. The North Koreans started calling for a renegotiation of the line and demanding that the South Koreans back away from their positions along that line.

When we look at North Korea’s broad strategic behavior in trying to force negotiations over critical issues, we see them posturing, we see them raising crises so they can step back from them in return for talks and for negotiations. But as we’ve seen in the issues of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles, they’ve reached a point where it’s very hard now to create a crisis because they’ve already tested nuclear weapons; they’ve already launched long-range missiles. In general, any red line — real or imagined — has already been crossed.

We’re seeing now on the NLL that the North Koreans are having a step up even to a higher state of activity to be able to draw attention to the NLL. So shelling into the water doesn’t do it, missile tests doesn’t do it, shooting between boats doesn’t necessarily do it, even the incident with the Chon An didn’t seem to bring this NLL issue back up onto the table. They’re now shelling South Korean islands.

The question is how far do the North Koreans have to go before the crisis either draws attention in the way they want or forces a response from the South Koreans and, ultimately, from the United States.

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« Reply #22 on: November 25, 2010, 12:26:44 AM »

Building on the previous post, , ,


Deciphering North Korea's Provocations

North Korean artillery began shelling the island of Yeonpyeongdo in disputed waters Tuesday afternoon (local time). The island is occupied by South Korea and located in the West (Yellow) Sea south of the Northern Limit Line that South Korea claims as its territory, but north of the Military Demarcation Line that North Korea claims as its territory. Homes were destroyed and at least two South Korean soldiers were killed. South Korean artillery responded in kind, and South Korean F-16 fighter jets were scrambled.

Looking back, in 1968, North Korean commandoes staged an attack on the Blue House, the South Korean president’s office and residence, in an assassination attempt against South Korean President Park Chung Hee. In 1983, North Korean special agents killed four members of the South Korean Cabinet on a visit to Myanmar, and in 1987 they caused an explosion on a South Korean airplane that killed 115 people. There were running gunbattles in the hills of South Korea in 1996 as Koreans pursued commandoes that had infiltrated the South via submarine. Even today, small arms fire and even artillery fire are routinely exchanged between the North and the South — particularly in the disputed waters west of the Demilitarized Zone. Naval skirmishes occurred there in 1999, 2002 and 2009, and it was in these same waters that the South Korean corvette ChonAn (772) sank in March.

The ChonAn sinking combined with the wider context really brings this recent incident into relief. Despite what Seoul and its allies consider to be irrefutable proof of Pyongyang’s culpability in the sinking of the ChonAn, there was no meaningful reprisal against the North beyond posturing and rhetoric. Needless to say, international sanctions have not succeeded in chastening North Korea in recent years.

“The question is, what exactly is Pyongyang pushing for?”
History is rife with examples of sunken warships that either served as a pretext for war or were ignored in the name of larger geopolitical interests. But while the ChonAn sinking was not incomparable to other fatal incidents in North-South relations on the Korean Peninsula, it has certainly been a new low-water mark for the last decade. And historical precedent or not, it is generally worth taking note when one country does not respond to the aggression of another that has committed an overt act of war by sinking a ship and taking dozens of sailors’ lives. Perhaps the most overt result of the ChonAn sinking other than some very serious internal retrospection regarding South Korea’s military and its defense posture was the tension between the United States and South Korea over Washington’s hesitancy to deploy an American aircraft carrier at Seoul’s request as a demonstration of the strength and resolve of the alliance (due to Washington’s sensitivity to Beijing’s opposition).

Indeed, the subsequent compromise between Seoul and Washington was supposed to center on an enhanced schedule of military exercises over time — including both new exercises and the expansion of existing ones. Among these was supposed to be the Hoguk 2010 exercise that began Monday and included some 70,000 South Korean troops conducting maneuvers — including on the very island shelled by North Korea, Yeonpyeongdo — an annual exercise in which the United States has often participated. Yet American participation was withdrawn earlier in the month at effectively the last minute over a “scheduling conflict” — in reality once again likely due to American concerns about the broader regional dynamic, including China’s and Japan’s reaction (the drills would have involved U.S. Marines stationed in Okinawa partaking in an amphibious invasion of a small island, which would have been somewhat provocative in the current tense atmosphere over island sovereignty in Northeast Asia). What’s more, the United States has little interest in seeing conflict flare up between the North and the South, so its calculus may in fact be not only wider regional concerns but also specifically the tension on the Korean Peninsula. In other words, part of the American motivation to withdraw its participation in Hoguk 2010 may very well have been to avoid provoking North Korea, even at the expense of further disappointing its South Korean ally.

Even before the Hoguk 2010 withdrawal, the U.S. hesitancy had enormous impact on Seoul, which, in the South Korean mind, was refused immediate and unhesitating reinforcement by its most important ally at the worst possible moment because of other American interests in the region. The state of the alliance is still strong, and exercises at more convenient times can be expected. But the course of events in 2010 in terms of the American commitment to the alliance may well define South Korean strategic thinking for a decade.

For North Korea, on the other hand, it is hard to imagine a more successful course of events. It struck at its southern rival with impunity and, as a bonus, provoked potentially lasting tensions in the military alliance arrayed against it. The North also wants to avoid all-out war, so Pyongyang is not without its disincentives in terms of provoking Seoul. Note that North Korea’s actions have been limited to disputed areas and of a nature that would be difficult to interpret as a prelude to a larger, broader military assault (one to which the South Korean military would be forced to respond). Instead Pyongyang appears to be calling attention to the disputed maritime border, at least in part a bid to emphasize the need for a peace treaty or some similar settlement that would resolve the disadvantageous status quo in the sea and give Pyongyang the assurances of non-aggression from the United States that it desires.

Yet Pyongyang enjoys a significant trump card — its “nuclear” option. By this, STRATFOR does not mean North Korea’s fledgling nuclear program, which may or may not include workable atomic devices. We mean the legions of hardened conventional artillery positions within range of downtown Seoul and able to rain down sustained fire upon the South Korean capital, home to about 46 percent of the country’s population and source of about 24 percent of its gross domestic product. Though North Korea’s notoriously irrational behavior is actually deliberate, carefully cultivated and purposeful, Seoul is still an enormous thing to gamble with, and South Korea — and the United States, for that matter — can hardly be faulted for not wanting to gamble it on military reprisals in response to what amount to (admittedly lethal) shenanigans in outlying disputed areas.

The problem that has emerged for the United States and its allies is that “red lines” exist only if they are enforced, and both Iran and North Korea have become expert at pushing and stretching them as they see fit. Though (despite rhetoric and appearances) Pyongyang absolutely wants to avoid war, especially during the transition of power, it has now established considerable room to maneuver and push aggressively against its southern rival.

So, what exactly is Pyongyang pushing for? What does it seek to achieve through the exertion of this pressure? Is it still within the realm of its behavior throughout most of the past decade, in which provocations were intended to give it the upper hand in international negotiations, or is it now asking for something more? The North Korean regime has been extraordinarily deliberate and calculating, and one would think it remains so. But is this ability to calculate weakening as a result of the internal strains of the power transition, or other unseen factors? Finally, what is Pyongyang ultimately aiming at as it takes advantage of South Korea’s inability to respond?

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G M
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« Reply #23 on: November 25, 2010, 12:44:40 AM »

The NorKs wouldn't do shiite without the nod from with China's power structure, at least no big moves. Were I the president, I'd advise China informally that Japan is not reacting well to the NorKs having nukes and is strongly considering withdrawing from the US-Japanese defense treaty and developing their own nukes. The China-NorK gambit depends on us and the other interested countries trying to be reasonable and allowing ourselves to be shaken down. The answer is to say no mas, and force China to work with us and S. Korea to work on a "soft landing" for the end of the NorK monstrosity. China does not want a nuclear and militarized Japan (no one else in asia does either) and China doesn't want a shooting war between the Koreas either, or a violent collapse of the NorKs with  waves of millions of starving N. Koreans flooding into Northern China.

Time to put an end to the shakedowns and push China to act in it's own long term interest.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #24 on: November 28, 2010, 02:49:33 AM »

Woof,
 From the horse's mou...well pick your body part tongue

 www.korea-dpr.com/forum/

                        P.C.
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prentice crawford
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« Reply #25 on: November 28, 2010, 03:18:47 AM »

 Second post:

Woof,
 Artillery fire heard as war games begin:

 www.businessweek.com/news/2010-11-27/artillery-heard-in-north-korea-u-s-carrier-enters-yellow-sea.html

                            P.C.
« Last Edit: November 28, 2010, 03:20:25 AM by prentice crawford » Logged

DougMacG
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« Reply #26 on: November 28, 2010, 01:06:36 PM »

Regarding the 'horse's mouth': http://www.korea-dpr.com/forum/

The name of the other Korean entity is the "South Korean puppet"? Try a word count on that, lol.  The U.S. then is the real enemy?  We are the "imperialists" even though for half century plus have never invaded their space or rescued a single starving innocent from their millions.  Amazing to me how this writing style is nearly identical to that of the former Saddam Hussein regime.

Who other than their own leadership says that DPRK couldn't quit threatening the world and open their economy for commerce, aid and travel tomorrow?
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G M
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« Reply #27 on: November 28, 2010, 05:55:14 PM »

http://www.japantoday.com/category/national/view/ground-defense-command-likely-to-be-set-up-to-coordinate-armies

Ground Defense Command likely to be set up to coordinate armies

Sunday 28th November, 03:21 PM JST

TOKYO —

The Defense Ministry has been making final adjustments toward establishing a Ground Defense Command that will coordinate the operations of the Ground Self-Defense Force’s regional armies, sources at the ministry and the Self-Defense Forces said Saturday.

The proposed change is likely to be included in the new National Defense Program Guidelines the government plans to adopt at a cabinet meeting on Dec 10, according to the sources.

The move is aimed at boosting operational coordination within the GSDF, but the sources said the new higher body is unlikely to be given a command authority, although it was originally sought.

Under the current SDF command structure, the defense minister, in times of emergencies, gives operational commands to the Air Self-Defense Force mainly through its Air Defense Command and to the Maritime Self-Defense Force via its Self-Defense Fleet.

Because the GSDF has no such unified command, the minister would give commands to each of the five regional armies, a process some critics say is cumbersome compared with the other two defense branches.

Efforts had been made within the ministry since 2004 to consider unifying the lines of command in the regional armies at a ground command, but they fizzled out due to opposition from the GSDF.

Under the new plan, the Eastern Army, now headquartered at Camp Asaka in and around Tokyo’s Nerima Ward and responsible for defending the Kanto region, would be abolished and replaced by the new command.

**Looks like Japan is moving to address the growing threats from China and the NorKs.**
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G M
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« Reply #28 on: November 28, 2010, 07:45:33 PM »

http://hotair.com/greenroom/archives/2010/11/28/korea-verbose-silence-interpolation/

Korea: Verbose Silence, Interpolation
posted at 8:27 pm on November 28, 2010 by J.E. Dyer


One of the most worrisome aspects of the Obama administration’s foreign policy is the effective inconsistency of its “information” posture. The crisis on the Korean peninsula is a case in point. Most Americans are probably under the impression that the USS George Washington carrier group is being sent as a show of force in response to North Korea’s provocative shelling incident on 23 November. But the naval exercise the carrier group is heading for has been scheduled for months.
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« Reply #29 on: November 29, 2010, 06:29:45 PM »

http://hotair.com/archives/2010/11/29/new-wikileaks-docs-revealed-china-open-to-korean-reunification/

New Wikileaks docs revealed: China open to Korean reunification?

posted at 6:00 pm on November 29, 2010 by Allahpundit


Time for the daily diplo document dump, which should be a 5 p.m. staple for at least the next week. Most of you will go looking for the Times’s write-up but the Guardian’s is better in this case. Here’s what I meant yesterday when I said that, for an ostensibly anti-war organization, Wikileaks sure is cavalier about the sort of escalation between rivals that some of these documents might ignite. At a moment when U.S./ROK wargames are going on in the Yellow Sea, with four South Koreans dead within the past week from North Korean shelling, how’s crazy Kim going to react upon learning that his chief benefactor might soon be ready to pull the plug on foreign aid and let North Korea disintegrate? Anyone excited to toss that particular match into the powder keg and see if anything pops?

    The leaked North Korea dispatches detail how:

    • South Korea’s vice-foreign minister said he was told by two named senior Chinese officials that they believed Korea should be reunified under Seoul’s control, and that this view was gaining ground with the leadership in Beijing…

    In highly sensitive discussions in February this year, the-then South Korean vice-foreign minister, Chun Yung-woo, told a US ambassador, Kathleen Stephens, that younger generation Chinese Communist party leaders no longer regarded North Korea as a useful or reliable ally and would not risk renewed armed conflict on the peninsula, according to a secret cable to Washington…

    “The two officials, Chun said, were ready to ‘face the new reality’ that the DPRK [North Korea] now had little value to China as a buffer state – a view that, since North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006, had reportedly gained traction among senior PRC [People's Republic of China] leaders. Chun argued that in the event of a North Korean collapse, China would clearly ‘not welcome’ any US military presence north of the DMZ [demilitarised zone]. Again citing his conversations with [the officials], Chun said the PRC would be comfortable with a reunified Korea controlled by Seoul and anchored to the US in a ‘benign alliance’ – as long as Korea was not hostile towards China. Tremendous trade and labour-export opportunities for Chinese companies, Chun said, would also help ‘salve’ PRC concerns about … a reunified Korea.

China ran the numbers and concluded they could absorb up to 300,000 North Korean refugees, so clearly they’re taking this possibility seriously. More ominously, a Chinese diplomat also allegedly told his American counterpart that China has “much less influence than most people believe” over the North Korean leadership. Maybe that’s self-serving spin aimed at creating plausible deniability for China the next time Kim does something nutty, but officials in the White House told Marc Ambinder last week that China was as surprised as we were by the revelation of North Korea’s new uranium enrichment facility. That jibes with a bunch of cables highlighted in the NYT’s story tonight claiming that Chinese knowledge of — and control over — the NorKs’ activities isn’t as robust as we’d like to think.

    On May 13, 2009, as American satellites showed unusual activity at North Korea’s nuclear test site, officials in Beijing said they were “unsure” that North Korean “threats of another nuclear test were serious.” As it turns out, the North Koreans detonated a test bomb just days later.

    Soon after, Chinese officials predicted that negotiations intended to pressure the North to disarm would be “shelved for a few months.” They have never resumed…

    In June 2009, at a lunch in Beijing shortly after the North Korean nuclear test, two senior Chinese Foreign Ministry officials reported that China’s experts believed “the enrichment was only in its initial phases.” In fact, based on what the North Koreans revealed this month, an industrial-scale enrichment plant was already under construction. It was apparently missed by both American and Chinese intelligence services.

The Chinese also allegedly believed that Kim would hand power to a military junta and not the young, untested Kim Jong-un. Wrong again. Could be that they’re simply playing dumb, but if they’re not then (a) the situation right now on the Korean peninsula is even more precarious than thought and (b) it’s unclear whether China could bring about reunification even if it wanted to. This takes us back to yesterday’s post about McCain’s comments: What reason is there to believe that, faced with a Chinese embargo and total social collapse, the North Korean military would opt to reunify instead of to go out fighting? Some soldiers might agree to lay down their arms for survival’s sake, but others will be so rabidly nationalistic that they’ll prefer death to absorption by South Korea. (Wouldn’t be the first time that cult members have opted for suicide.) All it would take to touch off a war on the peninsula is for a few well-placed NorK officers to give the orders to shell Seoul. What then?

Another question: To what extent have Chinese and South Korean actions over the past week been guided by the looming release of these documents? Remember that the State Department has been warning allies about what was coming, so today’s news won’t be a surprise to Beijing or Seoul (but it probably will to Pyongyang). Does this explain why South Korea’s president is suddenly talking very tough about responding to provocations while quietly canceling artillery drills that might escalate the situation further? He needs to put on a brave face for South Korean voters who are turning increasingly hawkish towards the NorKs, but he may be worried that the news about China favoring reunification has North Korea in an unusually desperate position. The solution: Speak loudly and carry a conspicuously small stick.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #30 on: December 02, 2010, 11:35:14 PM »

U.S. Calls On China to Rein in North Korea

U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Mike Mullen called on Wednesday for China to “step up” its efforts in handling of the latest crisis on the Korean Peninsula in a speech at the Center for American Progress. Mullen specifically dismissed China’s offer to host a new round of consultations among the six parties involved in Korean peninsular affairs, saying that to do so would merely reward North Korea for its “provocative and destabilizing” behavior. His comments echoed rejections of China’s offer by the South Koreans, Japanese and even the North Koreans.

The situation on the peninsula remains edgy. Washington and Seoul have concluded military exercises, only to declare they will hold more. South Korea warned of further attacks and North Korea persisted in defiant statements and actions, yet again advertising its ongoing uranium enrichment. Meanwhile, the flurry of crisis diplomacy continues. South Korean Foreign Minister Kim Sung Hwan met with U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, while China allegedly prepares to send State Councilor and top foreign policy expert Dai Bingguo to North Korea, possibly for a meeting with Dear Leader Kim Jong Il. The United States, South Korea and Japan have scheduled a trilateral meeting in a week’s time to unite their positions.

The spotlight fell on China almost immediately after North Korea fired artillery shells at South Korean-controlled Yeonpyeong Island on Nov. 23. Mullen and other American leaders called upon China to act “responsibly,” and the Korean and Japanese presidents did the same. Needless to say, Beijing is North Korea’s primary supporter through economic, military and political relations, and Beijing has often shielded Pyongyang from international criticisms and sanctions through its seat on the United Nations Security Council. China received Kim twice this year, a year commemorating the 60th anniversary of their alliance since Chinese intervention into war on the North’s behalf in 1950.

” The question is whether the North meets preconditions acceptable to the United States and its allies, or whether they can be assured in some substantial way that those conditions will be met.”
But the focus falls on China not only because of its direct leverage over the North. It also does so because of perceptions among foreign powers, intensifying over the past year, that China is becoming increasingly hard-headed and aggressive in managing its foreign policy across its periphery and beyond. One of the signal examples of this tendency was Beijing’s staunch defense of North Korea after the sinking of the ChonAn in March, which caused the United States to balk in making shows of alliance strength throughout the region. South Korea, the United States and even Japan have a firm interest in preventing China from exercising the same amount of control over the aftermath of the latest incident, for fear that it should be further emboldened. They see this repeat offense by North Korea as a crucial test of whether they can still shape the way China interacts with the international community, or whether Beijing has, in effect, become unresponsive to its obligations to them.

But Beijing is being asked to compromise on a subject it considers essential for its strategic well being. North Korea is a buffer zone that China fought to gain in 1950, and has maintained despite numerous North Korean-engineered crises. Nor does China consider any alternative scenario attractive — previously, China suffered invasion and humiliation at the hands of the Japanese through this very route into the Chinese heartland. Putting pressure on the North runs extreme risks for the regime’s stability, either collapse with dire ramifications on the Chinese border provinces, or capitulation that could bring the American alliance to China’s border. Better to keep the North standing and isolated and require that foreign powers seek redress for their qualms through China.

Yet, keeping a leash on North Korea is difficult. Pyongyang is demanding direct talks with the Americans on forging a peace treaty to replace the 1954 armistice, and has called attention to the disputed maritime border, where violence has occurred for years. It’s an effort to raise awareness of its grievances, to show that conditions will never be stable or secure on the line without a peace treaty, and to avoid having to discuss its nuclear program. The United States and its partners have refuted the concept of a peace treaty or other arrangement without first addressing the nuclear weapons program, but the North replies by ratcheting up the tension.

Therefore, North Korea has become a liability that the Chinese cannot abandon. The result is a test of Beijing’s much-vaunted assertiveness in foreign affairs. If it refuses to yield, it makes itself more conspicuous as an abettor of North Korea’s belligerence and invites greater pressure from foreign powers that are becoming more and more distrustful of how Beijing intends to wield its growing international influence. Yet, if Beijing backs down, and agrees to provide token participation in pressuring the North, it risks either succeeding and precipitating dramatic change on the peninsula or miscalculating and watching in dismay as its inch of lost North Korean leverage turns into a mile. And at this point, backing down will also risk appearing weak in front of its increasingly nationalistic domestic audience.

The six parties involved in peninsular stability are still committed to holding negotiations. The question is whether the North meets preconditions acceptable to the United States and its allies, or whether they can be assured in some substantial way that those conditions will be met. If China is not seen nudging North Korea in this direction, or is seen as obstructing it, then it risks attracting increased negative attention to itself and even getting sidelined in the event that a breakthrough between North Korea and the United States occurs. Tellingly, Russia has reiterated its condemnation of Pyongyang’s attack, leaving China with less cover in the event that it does not shift to a position that is more accommodating toward American and South Korean demands.

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G M
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« Reply #31 on: December 02, 2010, 11:53:46 PM »

http://www.vanityfair.com/politics/features/2009/09/office-39-200909?currentPage=all

NorKfellas.
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Crafty_Dog
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« Reply #32 on: December 03, 2010, 01:46:00 PM »

A resumption of six-party talks will not resolve the Korean crisis, as all parties have different goals, Vice President of Strategic Intelligence Rodger Baker says.

Editor’s Note: Transcripts are generated using speech-recognition technology. Therefore, STRATFOR cannot guarantee their complete accuracy.

Colin Chapman: North Asia remains on edge with no sign of an end to the tension after the attacks by North Korea just over a week ago. Welcome to agenda I’m Colin Chapman, and on the agenda next week is a significant tripartite meeting between Japan, South Korea and the United States, but the chances for any kind of solution to the crisis are not good. You can see the tactical details of the exchange of fire between North Korea and South Korea on our website, along with satellite imagery that we’ve obtained and military analysis. Joining me to discuss this is Rodger Baker. Rodger, what’s your analysis of where things stand now?

Rodger Baker: We’re at a very delicate position right now in Northeast Asia. Certainly, every side is making a case that none of them want war, none of them want this to escalate, and yet the South Koreans have a incentive to — if there’s another North Korean action — to respond extremely strongly. The North Koreans may have a sense that they need to show one more time that they’re tough. The Chinese are offering talks that they don’t nobody’s going to come to, so we’re at kind of an uncertain moments as we watch the situation unfold.

Colin Chapman: Yet some people are clutching at straws. For example, North Korea has hinted it might allow international investment in mining in its country, a strange step if you’re planning a major war.

Rodger Baker: One of the things they been watching it to see whether or not the North Korean behavior with the shelling of this island fits within their typical pattern of creating crises in order to head into negotiations, and this seemed a step beyond what they’ve normally done in the past. Yet in the background we’re seeing certain actions but that still fit in the old patterns. So we’ve seen regular inspection tours by Kim Jong Il and his son. We’ve also seen an announcement today by the North Koreans that they’ve upgraded to ministry status a natural resources department and that’s suggesting that they’re going ahead with earlier plans to expand foreign investment in mining and try to draw in other individuals and if you’re about to head into a war that’s probably not something you would be doing.

Colin Chapman: The key to all this is of course China, but as you’ve said yourself North Korea is a liability that China simply cannot abandon.

Rodger Baker: Certainly when you look at China’s relations with North Korea its been a bit contentious. The Chinese sometimes appear not to be able to control the North Koreans or they get drawn into situations of tension with their other neighbors or with the United States over North Korea. At the same time the Chinese are able to manipulate that. But in the end when you look at the Chinese, North Korea serves as a strategic buffer. North Korea presents effectively the United States from being able to place troops right along the Chinese border and so no matter what you hear from the Chinese talking about maybe supporting reunification or not supporting the North Koreans or standing back, in the end they’re going to ensure that something is that position whether it be North Korea ,whether it be a Chinese-run North Korea, that creates that sense of space so they can’t have the United States coming up against the Yalu River.

Colin Chapman: Did WikiLeaks come up with anything that might be relevant here?

Rodger Baker: Some of the things we’ve seen and what got a lot of play was the idea, for example, that the Chinese had considered letting the two Koreas and letting South Korea run that. It’s kind of a misrepresentation of the Chinese position. Certainly at times Chinese scholars or Chinese officials will say things like that and they say that to appease the South Koreans. They say that to let the United States think that they’re not offensive or they’re not out trying to be dominant in the region. But in general if you look at the Chinese position the Chinese now no less than in 1950 have an interest to prevent the United States from coming up to the Yalu River.

Colin Chapman: The date in the diary is this tripartite meeting between Japan and South Korea, and the United States but is there any real prospect that it could come up with any kind of solution?

Rodger Baker: The meeting between the United States and its two key Northeast Asian allies — Japan and South Korea — is probably not going to come up with some amazing new policy on North Korea or new way of resolving the situation. However the United States really feels it does need to demonstrate first and foremost its strong commitment to these allies, solidify that that military commitment as well as the political commitment and only then after talking with the three of them will the U.S. even begin to consider how it might go back into negotiations with North Korea and maybe allow China to facilitate those. So right now this is about the U.S. showing to its allies and showing to the region that the United States does give a strong defense commitment to countries that it works with.

Colin Chapman: I talked to three former envoys to Seoul this week and all of them agreed that South Korea had handled this in a pretty cool and sensible fashion, but they think the solution is now going to be the resumption of the six-party talks. Do you agree with that?

Rodger Baker: Well I think if you look at the six-party talks, its questionable whether the six-party talks or any other multilateral forum is going to resolve the situation and that’s because as you look at each of the players they don’t necessarily have the same end goal in mind. So for China, as we’ve noted, the Chinese are really not ultimately interested in a reunified Korea at least not one that would in any way be a potential challenger or competitor or be an ally to the United States. The South Koreans don’t necessarily want to rush reunification. The United States is not looking to get involved in either a conflict in the region or to abandon its position in the region and the Japanese are always cautious about the idea of a unified Korea as being really something that could that could challenge Japanese interests in the region. The Russians haven’t decided whether or not they’re getting back involved. The North Koreans certainly don’t want to become subservient to the South Koreans so we when look at the six-party talks, the six-party talks may be about stopping the North Koreans from having nuclear weapons but the North Koreans already have them. There is very little that the North Koreans would get in giving up a capability they already have. So I think if you look at the six-party talks in particular, the Chinese use the talks as a way to manage the situation but not as a way to resolve the situation. They use it to keep the other players in check, they use it to gain leverage over some of the other players, but in the end I don’t think we have anybody who’s actually expecting these talks, these negotiations, to resolve either the North Korean nuclear issue or the broader picture which is the division of the Korean Peninsula.

Colin Chapman: Rodger Baker there, ending this week’s Agenda. I’m Colin Chapman at STRATFOR, thanks for being with us today.

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Body-by-Guinness
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« Reply #33 on: December 05, 2010, 08:35:32 AM »

A comprehensive, and glum, assessment of what will likely occur if the Kim Family regime in N. Korea collapses:

http://smallwarsjournal.com/blog/journal/docs-temp/609-maxwell.pdf
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