Pyongyang orders South Koreans out of Kaesong, labels closure of industrial zone ‘declaration of war’
North Korea says it is kicking out all South Koreans from the jointly run Kaesong industrial zone and freezing the assets of companies operating there, calling the South’s move to suspend operations a “declaration of war”…….
The UN Security Council has strongly condemned North Korea’s rocket launch, saying it will speed up work on a sanctions resolution “in response to these dangerous and serious violations”.
N. Korea Offers to Halt Nuclear Tests in Exchange for Peace Treaty VOA NewsJanuary 16, 2016
North Korea says it will stop conducting nuclear tests in exchange for a peace treaty with the United States and an end to joint military exercises between Washington and Seoul.
The proposal, published in North Korea’s state media late Friday, is similar to previous offers by Pyongyang that have been quickly rejected by the U.S. and South Korea……..
Earlier this week, the U.S. Congress passed legislation that seeks to deny the Pyongyang government the hard currency it needs for its nuclear weapons program by imposing stronger sanctions. http://www.voanews.com/content/north-korea-offers-to-halt-nuclear-tests-in-exchange-for-peace-treaty/3148838.html
US and South Korea plan simulated nuclear strike on North Korea http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/12099482/US-and-South-Korea-plan-simulated-nuclear-strike-on-North-Korea.htmlUpdated plans would help them prepare their defenses against a potential nuclear strike from Pyongyang By Julian Ryall, Tokyo. 14 Jan 2016
In November, the two governments agreed upon an updated set of plans to defend South Korea from missile, nuclear, chemical and biological threats. Known as the 4D Operational Concept, the plans are designed to detect, disrupt, destroy and defend the South from threats posed by the North.
The additional capability would be on top of the military hardware that South Korea has asked its closest security partner to provide.
In the wake of Pyongyang’s fourth underground nuclear test on January 6, however, Seoul and Washington are examining the possibility of conducting manoeuvers to extend the reach of the plan, the Chosun Ilbo reported on Thursday. The two countries are discussing ways to reflect parts of the 4D concept during the joint annual exercises in March and then to develop it as a full scale operational system”, an official of the defence ministry in Seoul told the newspaper.
Analysts say the two governments – along with others in the region – will have drawn up contingency plans for a number of possible scenarios on the Korean peninsula, including indications of an imminent nuclear strike, an invasion of the South with conventional forces or the collapse of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
One situation that military planners are particularly concerned about would be the current regime imploding but a number of factions – potentially armed with nuclear or other non-conventional weapons – jostling for power.
“North Korean assets that are capable of waging nuclear war will obviously be of the highest priority”, Lance Gatling, a defence analyst and president of Nexial Research Inc., told the Telegraph.
“These will be the mobile launch tractors that the North has for its tactical medium-range ballistic missiles, which can reach targets in South Korea and Japan”, he said.
“They will also be targeting the openings to underground facilities where weapons are stored in preparation for launch, although it can be very difficult to find all these sites”.
The US has said it will “not accept North Korea as a nuclear armed state”.
Pyongyang has in the past condemned joint US-South Korean military exercises as provocation and preparations for an invasion of the North. It is likely to react angrily to suggestions that its perceived enemies are preparing a first-strike capability.
Koreas Ramp Up Psychological Warfare After Nuclear Test VOA News, Brian Padden January 14, 2016 SEOUL—North Korea’s fourth nuclear test earlier this month ended a short period of inter-Korean cooperation and restarted the Cold War standoff between Seoul and Pyongyang.
While avoiding direct military confrontation that could easily escalate into a hot war, both North and South have resumed psychological war games and tactical maneuvers to demonstrate military readiness and resolve.
On Wednesday a suspected North Korean drone was sighted crossing the inter-Korean demilitarized zone. South Korean forces responded by firing about 20 machine gun rounds at the unidentified flying object but apparently did not hit it.
“Our military fired warning shots after broadcasting a warning. Then it returned to the northern side of the border right away,” said Jeon Ha-gyu, the head of public affairs for the Joint Chiefs of Staff of South Korea’s armed forces.
North Korean propaganda
There have also been reports this week of pro-North Korean leaflets scattered throughout Seoul and its suburban areas. South Korea’s military suspects the propaganda leaflets were sent from the North by hot air balloons.
“North Korea was seen scattering leaflets from the northern area yesterday afternoon and early this morning,” Jeon said Wednesday. …….
Defense officials from China and South Korea are scheduled to meet Friday in Seoul to discuss the increasingly tense security situation on the Korean peninsula. http://www.voanews.com/content/koreas-ramp-up-psychological-warfare-after-nuclear-test/3145316.html
Claims North Korea faked test footage to hide ‘catastrophic failure’ of submarine-launched ballistic missile, ABC News 14 Jan 15 Experts analysing footage released by North Korea last week showing the firing of a submarine-launched ballistic missile say the images appear to be faked. In defiance of a United Nations ban, North Korea said it tested ballistic missile technology that would allow it to launch a nuclear warhead from a submarine.
North Korea released the submarine launch footage after it separately conducted a fourth nuclear weapons test on January 6.
Two days later, North Korean state television aired footage of the submarine test which it said took place in December.
Unlike a previous submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) test in May, it was not announced at the time.
At the weekend, South Korea’s military said North Korea appeared to have modified the video and edited it with Scud missile footage from 2014.
However, an official said the ejection technology might have improved since that test.
Now, analysis by the California-based James Martin Centre for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) shows two frames of the state media video where flames engulf the missile and small parts of its body break away.
“The rocket ejected, began to light, and then failed catastrophically,” CNS senior research associate Melissa Hanham said.
“North Korea used heavy video editing to cover over this fact.”
Ms Hanham said North Korea state media used different camera angles and editing to make it appear the launch was several continuous launches, when in fact it was a single event.
Launch likely from barge, not submarine: expert
She said the CNS study showed editors used rudimentary techniques to crop and flip old video footage of an earlier SLBM test and Scud missile launch.
John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who is a specialist in satellite and launch vehicle propulsion systems, said it appeared from the video that the launch was conducted from a submerged barge rather than a submarine…….
Crispin Rovere, an Australia-based nuclear policy and arms control specialist, said the 5.1-magnitude tremor detected at the North’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site was too small to support Pyongyang’s claim.
“The seismic data that’s been received indicates that the explosion is probably significantly below what one would expect from an H-bomb test,” Mr Rovere said.
“So, initially, it seems to be that they’ve successfully conducted a nuclear test but unsuccessfully completed the second-stage hydrogen explosion.”
This test came just two days before leader Kim Jong-un’s birthday. Analysts said the leader had been looking for a major achievement to highlight at a rare ruling party congress scheduled for May, the first gathering of its kind for 35 years. http://www.abc.net.au/news/2016-01-13/claims-north-korea-faked-missile-test-footage/7085094
North Korea nuclear reactor not fully operational: US think tank https://au.news.yahoo.com/world/a/30571677/north-korea-nuclear-reactor-not-fully-operational-us-think-tank/ January 14, 2016 Seoul (AFP) – Recent satellite images suggest the nuclear reactor seen as North Korea’s main source of weapons-grade plutonium is still not operating at full capacity, a US think tank said on Thursday.
North Korea mothballed the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after its third nuclear test in 2013.
When fully operational, the reactor is capable of producing around six kilos (13 pounds) of plutonium a year — enough for one nuclear bomb, experts say.
Analysing satellite imagery from late 2014 to the end of 2015, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) concluded the reactor has been operating intermittently or at low power throughout the period.
Using tell-tale operational markers, including steam emissions and hot water discharges, the ISIS experts discerned a pattern of limited operations for a few weeks, followed by an apparent shutdown.
“The reasons for this type of operation are unknown,” the institute said.
Its findings contradict a North Korean statement in September last year that all facilities at the Yongbyon nuclear complex were working normally.
The ISIS experts did detect signs that a gas centrifuge plant for enriching uranium was operational, given snow melt on the roofs of the plant’s main buildings.
Activity at Yongbyon is closely monitored for any sign of reprocessing activity.
At some point North Korea is expected to shut down the reactor, discharge the spent fuel, and chemically process it in a nearby radiochemical laboratory to extract weapons-grade plutonium.
North Korea has carried out four nuclear tests since 2006, the most recent being last week when it announced it had detonated its first hydrogen bomb.
Experts have disputed the H-bomb claim, saying the yield from the test was far too low for a full-fledged thermonuclear device.
SCIENCE CAN TELL IF NORTH KOREA’S TEST WAS REALLY AN H-BOMB, Wired, 7 Jan 16, “……North Korea has a history of exaggerating its military claims to achieve its political ends. (South Korea, the US, and Japan are typically named…… because North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un is unlikely to let international inspectors anywhere near the test site, the only real way to tell whether North Korea’s big boom was the big H is by analyzing data collected from a suite of global sensors……
Hydrogen bombs, on the other hand, use nuclear fusion—melding atoms together—to release way more explosive energy. These “thermonuclear” weapons are so powerful that they actually need atomic fission to kickstart the fusion process. That’s right, H-bombs use an A-bomb just to get going. American scientists detonated the first H-bomb in 1952, on a Pacific atoll. It was over 500 times more powerful than the bomb the US dropped on Nagasaki. Modern H-bombs are at least twice as powerful. Which is why everyone is so freaked out about whether North Korea, the world’s most famous renegade nation, has a hydrogen bomb…….
why seismologists take recordings from multiple sensors. The agency responsible for monitoring atomic blasts, the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization, currently has 42 certified seismic stations distributed around the globe (plus over 100 auxiliary stations). Because seismic signals bounce through the Earth, not only did Russia and Japan pick up North Korea’s event, but so did the US……….
The smoking gun can only really come by detecting radioactive material. To that end, CTBTO has radionuclide detection stations scattered throughout the globe. These come in two flavors. The first looks for radioactive dust—fallout. These systems use suction pumps to pull air through a filter, which then goes through a radiation counter. The types of particles present, and their radioactivity, would give a lot of clues as to the bomb’s type. Let’s say you have a typical atom bomb: Its fallout particles would be decayed bits of uranium or plutonium.
A hydrogen bomb also uses those materials, but they’d be mostly burned away by the super hot fusion reaction. According to this 1991 analysis of a Chinese explosionpublished in Science and Global Security, an H-bomb’s radioactive particulate signature would have a lot less decayed plutonium and uranium, and also different ratios of their various decayed isotopes. But if someone knew the exact particles found after an H-bomb went off, they could use that knowledge to build their own H-bomb (that’s probably one of the ways the Soviets copied the US’s weapon). Which is why Wallace told me the details of the analysis are secret. But if the blast is underground, as this one seems to have been, radionuclide detection is little help—the particles get contained.
The other type of detector looks for radioactive gases, rather than particles. Xenon gas is the most potent of these, partly because it is a noble gas that doesn’t interact with other substances. Xenon can, however, decay. And the rate of decay tells scientists the gas atoms’ exact age. For instance, after North Korea’s 2013 test, a Japanese sensor picked up xenon isotopes that scientists deduced were exactly 55 days old. The exact same day as North Korea’s test…….
it matters not just what kind of bomb North Korea detonated, but that the country detonated one at all. http://www.wired.com/2016/01/science-can-tell-if-north-koreas-test-was-really-an-h-bomb/
Kim Jong Un Focuses on Economy, Not Nukes, in New Year’s Speech VOA News January 01, 2016 North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his New Year’s Day address Friday to focus primarily on the importance of economic development, avoiding any explicit threats or references to his country’s nuclear weapons program……..
“We will continue to actively try to improve the North Korea-South Korea relations and will discuss issues regarding the (Korean) people and unification in an open-minded manner with anyone who sincerely wishes for the (Korean) people’s reconciliation, unity, peace and unification,” he said.
Kim also warned that his country was open to war if provoked by “invasive” outsiders.
He also spoke positively of the high-level talks agreed to this year with South Korea, which have offered the prospect of improved inter-Korean relations but so far delivered little in the way of concrete results…….http://www.voanews.com/content/kim-jong-un-focuses-on-economy-in-new-year-speech/3127151.html
North Korea has a hydrogen bomb, says , Guardian, 11 Dec 15
International experts sceptical as leader describes the DPRK as ‘a powerful nuclear state ready to defend its dignity’ Kim Jong-un has suggested that North Korea has the capacity to launch a hydrogen bomb, a step up from the less powerful atomic bomb, although international experts are sceptical of the claim.
The North Korean leader made the comments on a tour of the Phyongchon Revolutionary Site, which commemorates the achievements of his father Kim Jong-il and his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, on Thursday, the official KCNA news agency reported.
The work of Kim Il-sung “turned the DPRK into a powerful nuclear weapons state ready to detonate a self-reliant A-bomb and H-bomb to reliably defend its sovereignty and the dignity of the nation,” Kim Jong-un was quoted as saying.
A hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear bomb, uses more advanced technology to produce a significantly more powerful blast than an atomic bomb.
North Korea conducted underground tests to set off nuclear devices in 2006, 2009 and 2013, for which it has been subject to UN Security Council sanctions banning trade and financing activities that aid its weapons programme.
An official at South Korea’s intelligence agency told Yonhap news agency there was no evidence that the North had hydrogen bomb capacity, and said he believed Kim was speaking rhetorically…….http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/dec/10/north-korea-hydrogen-bomb-kim-jong-un-nuclear
North Korea, South Korea Hold Rare Talks Following Clashes, IBT, By Aditya Kondalamahanty on November 26 2015 North Korean and South Korean officials met in a demilitarized village on the border Thursday, to hold talks aimed at initiating sustainable communication between the two countries, according to reports. The rare meeting is the first intergovernmental interaction since August when the two sides met to defuse a crisis that had pushed them to the brink of an armed conflict.
Held in the border village of Panmunjom, about 34 miles north of Seoul, the meeting saw the two sides ironing out a framework to resume high-level talks, although they did not arrive at a precise timeline. Both countries signed a joint agreement agreeing on details such as who would represent their respective governments and the issues that would be on the agenda…….
Yoo Ho-yeol, a professor of North Korean studies at Korea University, said, according to Yonhap News Agency: “The North will likely call on Seoul to lift its sanctions against the North and to reopen the Kumgang tour program. The South is expected to raise the issue of family reunions.”
In October, the two Koreas conducted reunion of families, separated by the 1950-53 Korean War, as part of a deal signed in August. South Korea seeks to regularize the reunions while the cash-strapped North Korea has demanded that Seoul allow South Korean tour groups to its scenic Mount Kumgang resort.
Earlier in November, South Korean President Park Geun-hye said she was open to a summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un if the latter agreed to give up nuclear weapons and focus sincerely on inter-Korean ties. http://www.ibtimes.com/north-korea-south-korea-hold-rare-talks-following-clashes-2201165
Ask a North Korean: what do you think about nuclear weapons? http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/oct/23/ask-a-north-korean-nuclear-weapons
In an ongoing series, NK News poses a reader’s question to a North Korean defector. This week, pride in the government’s atomic exploration, Guardian, Je Son Lee for NK News, part of the North Korea network
Friday 23 October 2015 When I was still living in North Korea, the regime had a successful nuclear test. People were very proud of it, and afterwards we had a town hall meeting where my neighbours talked about how the US would no longer be able to boss us around.
Most North Koreans are very aware of the fact that other countries make fun of them, and look down on the DPRK, but many think it’s because the country is poor.
North Koreans are generally very curious about how they are perceived internationally, and reports are circulated among communities of discrimination and abuse suffered abroad – such as in China – which generate a feeling of self-consciousness.
Therefore, people in the DPRK have become very proud when they hear that the country has become a nuclear state. When they hear news like this, they think: “Our nation may still be poor. But we can [still] be one of the most powerful and influential nations in national defence.”
North Korea invests heavily in education, especially in teaching people about Japanese imperial rule and the era following independence.
The Japanese committed atrocities against unarmed, innocent Koreans, and Kim Jong-un’s government frequently highlights these acts of brutality when it justifie the possession of nuclear weapons.
Thanks to frequent reminders in school textbooks and history classes, North Koreans show more hostility toward Japanese than Americans.
Pictures and graffiti of Japanese and American soldiers committing acts of violence are painted on the buildings of kindergartens, schools and offices. If you had grown up being brainwashed and exposed to this from a young age, how would you feel? North Koreans begin to realise the importance of protecting their country.
This justifies the nuclear programme and weapons, but the government doesn’t teach its people about the negative sides and ordinary citizens have no way of finding out how dangerous they can be.
Of course, some North Koreans may hold different opinions on this issue. But from what I’ve seen, North Koreans are in favour of their government’s nuclear programme for one reason: they think it will protect them from powerful countries such as the US and Japan, and means they won’t have to go back to the time when Koreans had to suffer under the US military and Japanese imperialism.
Editing and translation by Elizabeth Jae. A version of this article first appeared on NK News, North Korea News
Seoul says North Korea preparing for nuclear test http://www.thestar.com/news/world/2015/10/20/seoul-says-north-korea-preparing-for-nuclear-test.html The South Korean spy agency says its assessment is based on the monitoring of activities at North Korea’s main Nyongbyon nuclear complex. By: The Associated Press, Published on Tue Oct 20 2015
The office of lawmaker Lee Cheol Woo said the National Intelligence Service made the assessment after monitoring activities at North Korea’s main Nyongbyon nuclear complex.
Lee and another lawmaker, Shin Kyung-min, said the spy agency didn’t say how it obtained the information. Shin said it also didn’t elaborate on what test preparations meant. The spy agency’s public affairs office said it could not confirm the reported assessment.
Last month, North Korea said it had upgraded and restarted all of its atomic fuel plants, sparking speculation that it might carry out a fourth nuclear test explosion.
The speculation subsided after North Korea did not go ahead with a threat to conduct a banned long-range rocket launch to send what it called a satellite into orbit earlier this month. All of North Korea’s three previous nuclear tests in 2006, 2009 and 2013 came after it launched long-range rockets.
A fourth test could put North Korea a step closer to its goal of building a nuclear warhead small enough to mount on a long-range missile that could threaten the United States. North Korea says it has already manufactured such a warhead, but many foreign analysts are skeptical of its claim.
Energy sector cooperation with the DPRK in support of a regional Nuclear Weapons Free Zone NAPSNet Special Report David von Hippel and Peter Hayes,, NAPSNet Special Reports, September 21, 2015, http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/energy-sector-cooperation-with-the-dprk-in-support-of-a-regional-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/
In this paper, we describe the DPRK energy economy, including a description of recent trends in DPRK energy supply and demand. We then summarize the DPRK’s energy security situation and energy sector needs, along with a brief description of potential regional/international cooperation options for providing energy sector development assistance to DPRK. These options include conventional energy, energy efficiency, and renewable energy. They are followed with more general approaches to engagement and an example “package” of cooperation measures. These non-nuclear options are benchmarked to a quantitative estimate of the net present value of the two light water reactors that were to be provided in the US-DPRK Agreed Framework but never completed, as a reasonable benchmark, followed by a review of the DPRK nuclear energy sector and related potential cooperation options and issues related to the DPRK domestic pilot light water reactor and enrichment programs. We conclude by highlighting key insights and opportunities for increasing the DPRK’s energy security in the context of regional energy development in which all states have a stake……….http://nautilus.org/napsnet/napsnet-special-reports/energy-sector-cooperation-with-the-dprk-in-support-of-a-regional-nuclear-weapons-free-zone/
Russia Rejects North Korea To Be Recognized As Nuclear State, Value Walk, By: Polina Tikhonova September 27, 2015 Russia does not recognize North Korea as a nuclear state while openly opposing Pyongyang’s nuclear program, according to top Russia’s envoy in South Korea Alexander Timonin. Speaking at a forum marking the 25th anniversary of the establishment of diplomatic relations between South Korea and Russia, Alexander Timonin said the Kremlin will never justify North Korea’s nuclear missiles nor its nuclear program.
Timonin noted that if North Korea wants to claim the right as a sovereign state to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, then North Korean leader Kim Jong-un first needs to uphold his father’s pledges made on September 19, 2005 under the Joint Statement to abandon the nuclear program as well as comply with UN resolutions banning Pyongyang from launching long-range missiles.
Timonin also noted that the Kremlin has repeatedly notified North Korean leadership of its stance over Pyongyang’s nuclear program during many diplomatic events.
North Korea is not the only Korea Russia is concerned about. Timonin also expressed Moscow’s concern over possible delivery of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea.
He warned that Russia and China will have to respond for the sake of their own security in case a Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery is delivered to South Korea.
Pyongyang and Moscow have significantly strengthened bilateral ties in the past year, with Russian foreign ministry calling 2015 the ‘Year of Friendship’ with North Korea. However, Kim Jong-un declined to attend Moscow’s Victory Day Parade in May, and has not had a meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin yet.
Russia is watching North Korea’s nuclear program closely
It doesn’t seem like a ‘Year of Friendship’ at all, considering the latest non-supportive concerns expressed by Russian foreign ministry toward North Korea’s plans to resume nuclear operations and launch missiles announced on Tuesday.
In a statement on Thursday, Russian foreign ministry spokeswoman Maria Zakharova said the Kremlin has been “paying attention” and monitoring the situation ever since North Korea announced plans to launch a missile and resume activities at its Yongbyon nuclear site.
“Russia expresses its concern regarding North Korea’s continued pursuit of rocket launches and nuclear weapons production, activities that have been prohibited by U.N. Security Council resolutions,” Zakharova said, as reported by Yonhap……..http://www.valuewalk.com/2015/09/russia-rejects-north-korea-as-nuclear-state/
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