The world can’t ignore North Korea’s nuclear progression WP, By Editorial Board August 17 CHARTING THE course of North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile program has always required painstaking detective work. Because the country is so closed to outsiders, hints have been drawn from sources such as atmospheric samples, seismic data and satellite photographs. A new building or roof on an industrial factory has often pointed to activity inside. North Korea once gave a visiting American scientist an eyeful: a sprawling array of new uranium enrichment centrifuges that hadn’t been detected previously.
This is why there are serious worries about uranium mining and milling in North Korea as described in a new report from Jeffrey Lewis of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. Analyzing satellite photographs and other information, Mr. Lewis has published evidence on the Web site 38 North, which is run by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, that North Korea is “expanding its capacity to mine and mill natural uranium.” The information doesn’t confirm what the uranium is to be used for; it might be for nuclear power reactors, or it might be for nuclear weapons. Mr. Lewis found evidence of “significant refurbishment” at a uranium concentration plant at Pyongsan that turns ore into yellowcake. Pyongsan is the most important uranium mine and mill in the country.
This new hint comes on top of an earlier report this year from the same institute that suggested North Korea is moving toward a bigger, better nuclear arsenal that could put it on par with Pakistan and Israel. …….https://www.washingtonpost.com/opinions/the-world-cant-ignore-north-koreas-nuclear-progression/2015/08/17/6e74a664-42ca-11e5-8e7d-9c033e6745d8_story.html
any opportunity for a preemptive strike against the North’s nuclear sites has been lost, for fear it would prompt an attack on Seoul and other parts of the South. Now, the threat of destruction raining down on the northern parts of South Korea is too high a price. Consequently, the only option remaining is diplomacy.
The art of North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship, Guardian, Robert E McCoy for NK News, part of the North Korea network, 29 May 15 A string of recent missile launches may have been faked, but the country is a nuclear power that requires diplomatic engagement argues Robert E McCoy
North Korea’s press office announced earlier this month that Kim Jong-un had personally supervised the firing of a new submarine-based missile.
The news was soon followed by more footage from state media claiming to evidence another ballistic missile launch, but experts have since voiced doubts over the authenticity of the images.
But these stories are just the latest steps in a routine North Korea has long been playing with the west.
Despite often engaging in deals and agreements with western powers hoping to halt its nuclear proliferation, this “dance” of negotiations has so far failed to halt the DPRK’s military development…………….
Perhaps it’s time for diplomacy to try a different tack?
The routine begins
Troubles with North Korea began in 1989 when it was first suspected of developing a nuclear bomb, despite having signed the nuclear non-proliferation treaty just three years earlier……………
events reveal a pattern, and suggests that North Korea has developed a tried-and-tested formula to outwit western powers for over 25 years.
It has done so using a modus operandi we’ll call “the dance”, which follows these eight steps:
Step 1: North Korea wants or needs something, most often food or petroleum.
Step 2: North Korea generates tension and gains international attention.
Step 3: Countries initially ignore the activity and attribute it to North Korea merely “acting up”.
Step 4: North Korea increases tension through increasingly violent acts or extreme rhetoric.
Step 5: The world finally pays attention and agrees to discuss a resolution.
Step 6: North Korea agrees to stop its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for what it needs or wants: food, petroleum or other aid.
Step 7: Once the aid is received, North Korea soon finds – or invents – a way to justify breaking its commitment.
Step 8: Repeat…………….. Continue reading
THE US TRIED TO STUXNET NORTH KOREA’S NUCLEAR PROGRAM KIM ZETTER Wired, 05.29.15 A PRECISION DIGITAL weapon reportedly created by the US and Israel to sabotage Iran’s nuclear program had a fraternal twin that was designed to attack North Korea’s nuclear program as well, according to a new report.
The second weapon was crafted at the same time Stuxnet was created and was designed to activate once it encountered Korean-language settings on machines with the right configuration, according to Reuters. But the operation ultimately failed because the attackers were unable to get the weapon onto machines that were running Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.
WIRED reported back in 2010 that such an operation against North Korea would be possible in light of the fact that some of the equipment used by the North Koreans to control their centrifuges—the devices used to turn uranium hexafluoride gas into nuclear-bomb-ready fuel—appeared to have come from the same firms that outfitted the Iranian nuclear program………
While the plan worked beautifully in Iran, it ultimately hit a snafu against North Korea where the nuclear program is even more tightly controlled than Iran’s and where few computers—belonging to contractors or anyone else—are online and accessible via the internet.
As WIRED reported in 2010, “someone would have to infiltrate the Hermit Kingdom’s most sensitive sites and introduce the worm into the command systems, a hard bargain to say the least. In other words, don’t go thinking the United States or an ally could magically infect North Korea with Stuxnet. But if more information emerges about the North’s command systems, that might provide fodder for a copycat worm—provided someone could introduce it into Yongbyon.” http://www.wired.com/2015/05/us-tried-stuxnet-north-koreas-nuclear-program/
North Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons WP By Anna Fifield May 20 TOKYO — North Korea claimed Wednesday that it has been able to make nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile — a development that, if verified, would mark a major advance in the country’s military capabilities and the threat it can pose to the world.
Pyongyang has a habit of exaggerating its technical abilities, and the latest assertion comes amid widespread doubts about its purported test of a submarine-launched ballistic missile this month.
But Kim Jong Un’s regime is known to have been working simultaneously on a nuclear weapons program and missile technology, and analysts widely believe that it is just a matter of time until North Korea puts the two together through “miniaturization.”
The North’s National Defense Commission, or NDC — its top military authority, chaired by Kim — said it was able to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on an intercontinental ballistic missile, designed to be fired at the mainland United States.
“It is long since [North Korea’s] nuclear striking means have entered the stage of producing smaller nukes and diversifying them,” a spokesman for the NDC said in a statement carried by the North’s official Korean Central News Agency………http://www.washingtonpost.com/world/pyongyang-says-it-has-technology-to-make-small-submarined-mounted-nuclear-warheads/2015/05/20/0e96d0bc-fec0-11e4-833c-a2de05b6b2a4_story.html
North Korea ‘not even close’ to meeting standards on nuclear weapons, says Kerry, Guardian, 28 May 15
Secretary of state says US is talking to China about boosting sanctions and highlights ‘grotesque’ public executions on whim of leader Kim Jong-un The US is talking to China about imposing further sanctions against North Koreaas the reclusive country is “not even close” to taking steps to rein in its nuclear weapons programme, the US secretary of state, John Kerry, has said.
Speaking on Monday in the South Korean capital, Kerry said Washington continued to offer North Korea the chance for an improved relationship in return for signs of a genuine willingness to end its nuclear programme.
“To date, to this moment, particularly with recent provocations, it is clear the DPRK [Democratic People’s Republic of Korea] is not even close to meeting that standard,” Kerry told a joint news conference with the South Korean foreign minister, Yun Byung-se. “Instead it continues to pursue nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.”
North Korea is already under heavy US and UN sanctions for its missile and nuclear tests but Kerry said further penalties were being considered…….http://www.theguardian.com/us-news/2015/may/18/north-korea-may-face-further-sanctions-john-kerry-indicates
Report: Nuclear North Korea successfully tests a submarine-launched missile HOT AIR, MAY 10, 2015 BY NOAH ROTHMAN Over the weekend, North Korea announced that it had successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile. That announcement was accompanied with a series of photographs of the launch, and Kim Jong-un beaming into the camera as he reflected on his country’s achievement. It’s never wise to give the North Korean’s any more credibility than they deserve. While there has not yet been independent confirmation of the launch, no American officials or members of the intelligence community have called the veracity of the DPRK’s claim into question either.
The test launch represents a violation of United Nations sanctions banning North Korea from developing and using advanced ballistic missile technology, but so does Pyongyang’s decision to manufacture and test at least three fissionable devices. It should be clear to anyone but a diplomat that the 12-year-long on-again, off-again diplomatic process aimed at preventing North Korea from becoming a significant nuclear power has failed.
As of 2013, officials estimated that Pyongyang possesses enough weapons-grade plutonium for between six and 10 bombs. On at least three occasions, the secretive communist country has conducted underground nuclear tests. It remains, however, unclear whether those were plutonium or uranium devices, the latter being more difficult to produce………
It is too late to prevent the DPRK from serving as the foremost exporter of nuclear technology to the globe’s worst actors, but there is still time to prevent a much more volatile region of the world – the Middle East – from rolling the atomic dice. Unfortunately for future generations, today’s Western leaders do not seem predisposed to do the hard work of preventing a nuclear arms race in the Arab world. http://hotair.com/archives/2015/05/10/nuclear-north-korea-successfully-tests-a-submarine-launched-missile/
China warns North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is expanding, report says, Guardian, 23 Apr 15
Chinese experts believe their communist ally may already have an arsenal of 20 warheads and the enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year. Chinese nuclear experts believe North Korea may already have a nuclear arsenal of 20 warheads and the uranium enrichment capacity to double that figure by next year, the Wall Street Journal reported on Thursday.
The estimate, which the Journal said was relayed to US nuclear specialists in a closed-door meeting in February, is significantly higher than any previously known Chinese assessment.
It also exceeds recent estimates by US experts which put the North’s current arsenal at between 10 and 16 nuclear weapons.
A leading expert on North Korea’s nuclear programme, Siegfried Hecker, who attended the February meeting, said a sizeable North Korean stockpile would only compound the challenge the international community faces in persuading Pyongyang to decommission the weapons.
“The more they believe they have a fully functional nuclear arsenal and deterrent, the more difficult it’s going to be to walk them back from that,” Hecker told the Journal.
The Chinese estimate reflects growing concern in Beijing about the nuclear ambitions of its errant ally, and is the latest in a series of expert assessments that suggest Pyongyang is moving faster down the nuclear path than previously thought.
A recent report by US researchers warned that North Korea appeared poised to expand its nuclear program over the next five years and, in a worst case scenario, could possess 100 atomic arms by 2020……http://www.theguardian.com/world/2015/apr/23/china-warns-north-koreas-nuclear-arsenal-is-expanding-report-says
North Korea says can fire nuclear missile at ‘any time’ (Reuters) 19 Mar 15 – North Korea has the ability to fire a nuclear weapon and would use a nuclear missile in retaliation if it is attacked, the country’s ambassador to Britain told Sky News on Friday.
“It is not the United States that has a monopoly on nuclear weapons strikes,” Ambassador Hyun Hak-bong told Sky at the isolated Asian country’s London embassy.
Asked if that meant North Korea, which quit the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1993, had the capability to fire a nuclear missile now, he replied: “Any time, any time, yes.”
“If the United States strike us, we should strike back. We are ready for conventional war with conventional war, we are ready for nuclear war with nuclear war. We do not want war but we are not afraid of war,” he added.
In a speech on March 3, North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Su Yong said his country had the power to deter an “ever-increasing nuclear threat” by the United States with a pre-emptive strike if necessary.
He also denounced military exercises staged by South Korea and the United States as provocative. The United States has said it is seriously concerned about North Korea’s nuclear work, which it says breaches international agreements.
North Korea has conducted three nuclear detonations, the most recent in February 2013, and the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea said in October he believed Pyongyang had the capability to build a nuclear warhead that can be mounted on a ballistic missile, although there had been no tests or other evidence to show it had taken that step. http://www.reuters.com/article/2015/03/20/us-northkorea-crisis-idUSKBN0MG26Q20150320
North Korea’s Nuclear Expansion, NYT By THE EDITORIAL BOARDFEB. 27, 2015 North Korea could be on track to have an arsenal of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020, according to a new research report. The prediction, from experts on North Korea, goes well beyond past estimates and should force renewed attention on a threat that has been eclipsed by other crises.
At the moment, the United States and five other major powers are negotiating an agreement that would constrain the nuclear program in Iran, which does not possess any nuclear weapons. North Korea, on the other hand, is estimated to have already produced 10 to 16 weapons since 2003.
The new assessment comes from Joel Wit, a former American negotiator with North Korea who is now a senior fellow with the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies, and David Albright, head of the Institute for Science and International Security. They conclude that North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have been growing since 2009 and are now “poised for significant expansion over the next five years.” That poses serious threats for other countries in Asia and for the United States.
Details about the programs are hard to come by given North Korea’s closed system. As a result, the researchers have outlined possible scenarios for the next five years, ranging from 20 nuclear weapons to 100, which would put North Korea on a par with India, Pakistan and Israel. Independently, China has also estimated the program to be capable of producing the higher range of weapons, another expert on North Korea told The Times.
North Korea already has 1,000 ballistic missiles including the medium-range land-based Nodong missile, which is mobile and accurate enough to attack cities, ports and military bases in Japan and South Korea. The country may also possess limited long-range missiles that can reach targets in the United States, the report said. It has also succeeded in miniaturizing nuclear weapons so they can fit on both medium-range and long-range missiles………….http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/27/opinion/north-koreas-nuclear-expansion.html?_r=0
The meeting was set to get a feel for each other’s positions amid a years-long standoff over the North’s nuclear weapons buildup. Leon Sigal, director of the Northeast Asia Cooperative Security Project at the Social Science Research Council, a US-based nonprofit, told reporters that the meeting will cover the North’s nuclear missile programs.
He said “it’s two ways of taking each other’s temperature.”
The US and North Korea have no formal diplomatic ties, but former US officials occasionally meet the North’s diplomats in a bid to settle the impasse over Pyongyang’s pursuit of a long-range nuclear-armed missile that could hit the US mainland. North Korea’s team was led by Ri Yong Ho, the chief negotiator for six-party denuclearisation talks……http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/01/18/north-korea-us-have-nuclear-meeting
North Korea Offers U.S. Deal to Halt Nuclear Test, NYT By CHOE SANG-HUNJAN. 10, 2015 SEOUL, South Korea — North Korea said Saturday that it had told the United States that it would impose a temporary moratorium on nuclear tests if Washington canceled its joint annual military exercises with South Korea to help promote dialogue on the divided Korean Peninsula.
The North proposed its “crucial step” in a message it delivered to the United States on Friday through an unspecified channel, the North’s official Korean Central News Agency said. In the past, North Korea has relayed messages to Washington through its United Nations mission in New York.
Until now, the United States has dismissed North Korea’s routine demand for an end to its joint military exercises with South Korea. The North has called them a rehearsal for an invasion while the United States and South Korea have insisted that their annual war games are defensive in nature.
But the North’s latest proposal included a new incentive for Washington, offering to temporarily suspend nuclear tests in return for a suspension of the joint military exercises this year.
The North’s overture followed the New Year’s Day speech of its leader, Kim Jong-un, in which he said he was ready to meet with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea if “the mood was right.” Mr. Kim said the two Koreas should mark their 70th anniversary of liberation from Japanese colonial rule this year with great strides toward inter-Korean reconciliation. North Korea has since significantly toned down its habitually harsh language when referring to South Korea…….
The United States on Saturday rebuffed the North Korean proposal……..http://www.nytimes.com/2015/01/11/world/asia/north-korea-offers-us-deal-to-halt-nuclear-test-.html?_r=0
In a white paper released on Tuesday, the ministry added that North Korea is believed to have obtained more than 88lbs of weapons-grade plutonium by repeatedly reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods.
Additional efforts are also being made to produce highly-enriched uranium, the report stated.
An official of the ministry told Yonhap News that there was no solid evidence that North Korean scientists have perfected the technique of miniaturising a nuclear warhead, but the North is known to have invested heavily in the process………http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/asia/northkorea/11327412/North-Korea-close-to-miniaturising-nuclear-warheads.html
DIA: North Korea Planned Attacks on US Nuclear Plants, Washington Free Beacon 18 Dec 14 Bill Gertz Five commando units trained for strikes, sabotage North Korea dispatched covert commando teams to the United States in the 1990s to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in a conflict, according to a declassified Defense Intelligence Agency report. The DIA report, dated Sept. 13, 2004, reveals that five units of covert commandos were trained for the attacks inside the country.
According to the report, the “Reconnaissance Bureau, North Korea, had agents in place to attack American nuclear power plants.”
The document states that the North Korean Ministry of People’s Armed Forces, the ministry in charge of the military, “established five liaison offices in the early 1990s, to train and infiltrate operatives into the United States to attack nuclear power plants and major cities in case of hostilities.”…….
Disclosure of the report, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act, comes amid threats by presumed North Korean agents to conduct September 11-style terrorist attacks against U.S. movie theaters……….http://freebeacon.com/national-security/dia-north-korea-planned-attacks-on-us-nuclear-plants/
CHINA-NORTH KOREA NUCLEAR STANDOFF Eurasia Review By Debalina Ghoshal Even though North Korea and China have traditionally shared strong ties, their “key divergence” lies in Pyongyang’s nuclear program. China is an important ally for North Korea, but despite this, China has not reacted positively to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. China is keen on the denuclearization of Northeast Asia, and hence views North Korea’s nuclear ambitions as an obstacle to achieving this goal. North Korea, on the other hand, views its nuclear program as a “treasure sword” with which it can counter threats from the United States and its ally of South Korea.
The United States and South Korea have realized the importance of Beijing in any matter pertaining to the denuclearization of North East Asia. This was also echoed by US Secretary of State John Kerry when he opined that given its extensive trade relations with North Korea, China has “greater potential” to influence North Korea’s behavior [its nuclear ambitions that is] more than any other power……….http://www.eurasiareview.com/12122014-china-north-korea-nuclear-standoff-oped/
Kim Jong-un Disappearance Leads to Nuclear Weapon Concerns Liberty Voice, by Rebecca Savastio on October 10, 2014. Kim Jong-un’s continuing disappearance has led to speculation about whose finger is on the North Korean nuclear weapon arsenal. The Supreme Leader of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea has not been seen in over a month. Why should the world care? Does it matter to anyone outside of North Korea if he is vacationing, ill, deposed or dead? The fact that North Korea is a nuclear power, though without the capability to launch nuclear intercontinental ballistic missiles at the United States, makes the tiny communist nation’s stability of interest for everyone…….
……..The true state of politics within North Korea is an impenetrable mystery. It is disconcerting that the world knows so little about a country it fears so much. Given its nuclear capabilities, any change of government needs to be smooth and stable. Many feel that the only scenario worse than a communist dictator who hates America is a rogue element with nothing to lose. Whether orchestrated by Kim or accomplished without his authority, the moves made by the North Korean officials seem to be a small step in the right direction. The world is waiting to see what happens, because Kim Jong-un’s continuing disappearance had led to speculation about whose finger is on the North Korean nuclear arsenal. http://guardianlv.com/2014/10/kim-jong-un-disappearance-leads-to-nuclear-weapon-concerns/#gCOhfjJo3gRiifyJ.99
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