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The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

Taking a longer view of a nuclear North Korea

flag-N-KoreaShould we really be so afraid of a nuclear North Korea? https://theconversation.com/should-we-really-be-so-afraid-of-a-nuclear-north-korea-71855  The Conversation, ,  Anthropologist and Lecturer in Korean and Japanese studies, University of Sheffield ,   Postdoctoral Scholar, Korean Studies Institute, University of Southern California February 6, 2017  The common thinking is that North Korea’s nuclear programme poses a threat to global peace and diverts economic resources from an impoverished population. North Korean leaders are depicted in the Western media as a cabal of madmen who won’t be satisfied until WashingtonSeoul, or some other enemy city is turned into a “sea of fire”.

Successive US governments have used a range of carrots and sticks to entice or pressure the North Korean leadership to give up its nuclear programme. The North’s missile launches and nuclear tests in 2016 make plain that these efforts have failed; in short, the West has to accept that it is now a nuclear power and focus instead on limiting the risks a nuclear North Korea presents.

But it also pays to consider what sounds like a perverse question: could a North Korean bomb actually benefit both the country’s people and the world at large?

First, a reality check: the North Korean nuclear programme is less a madcap scheme than a clear and deliberate strategy. Its leaders have closely watched what’s happened to other countries that have backed away from nuclear arsenals, and two in particular: Ukraine and Libya.

Ukraine gave up its massive Soviet-era nuclear arsenal in 1994 when it signed the Budapest Memorandum with Russia, the US and the UK, on whose terms it traded nuclear weapons for a formal reassurance to respect its sovereignty; 20 years later, Moscow invaded and annexed the Crimean peninsula, and a pro-Russian insurgency in the east is still rumbling. As for Libya, Muammar Gaddafi renounced his weapons of mass destruction programme as part of an opening to the West only to be forcibly removed from power by the same countries some eight years later.

Along with the Iraq War, these spectacles taught the North Korean regime that it’s hard for a relatively small, isolated country to survive without the military hardware to guarantee it. Pyongyang has duly shown great diplomatic skill in drawing out nuclear negotiations, buying itself both time and financial aid as its programme moves forward.

In 2016 alone, it tested two nuclear weapons, sent a satellite into orbit, and made advances in both submarine launched ballistic missiles (SLBM) and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) technology. In his New Year’s address at the start of 2017, Kim Jong-un emphasised that the country’s nuclear forces are central to its self-defence capability: “We will defend peace and security of our state at all costs and by our own efforts, and make a positive contribution to safeguarding global peace and stability.”

The long view

A nuclear North Korea obviously worries the international community for several reasons. Kim might in theory actually use nuclear weapons on his enemies, a threat he periodically makes. His country’s admission into the “nuclear club” might spark a regional arms race. It could share or sell technologies of mass destruction to hostile states. And then there’s the danger of a full-blown nuclear accident with all the attendant regional repercussions.

These risks aren’t trivial, but they should be viewed with some perspective. For starters, a nuclear attack from Pyongyang appears highly unlikely. The government is fully aware that it would incur an overwhelmingly destructive military response from the US and South Korea. It’s also worth remembering that while the programme has been underway for 25 years, there is still no sign of a regional nuclear arms race.

As for proliferation or accidents, these demand not isolation but co-operation and communication. Keeping Pyongyang cut off from the world will not help; if its nuclear facilities are to be kept safe and their products not used to bring in illicit foreign revenue, they must be properly monitored rather than kept hidden.

Meanwhile, a nuclear North Korea might well see fit to downsize its enormous and costly conventional military forces, which are among the world’s largest. As it transitions away from what it calls a “Military First” policy to something more deterrent-centric, it makes sense to encourage it to reduce its conventional military forces. (Better still, if it did, heavily-armed South Korea might follow suit.)

With a smaller conventional military to maintain, Pyongyang might be able to channel scarce state funds away from defence and towards raising the standard of living for ordinary North Koreans. This point is in line with its stated strategy of growing the economy and developing the nuclear deterrent in parallel, a policy known as the Byungjin line, and with Kim’s mooted five-year economic plan. His plans demand dramatic shifts in North Korean state policy, which could destabilise the regime. The calculation is that the security provided by nuclear capabilities would offset the shock of sudden domestic change.

Most paradoxically of all, North Korea’s nuclear “arrival” might make for a positive turn in inter-Korean relations. International efforts to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear programme isolated the country, in turn greatly undermining the chances of a rapprochement with the South, whose efforts to defrost relations have lately come to nothing. The pace of the North’s nuclear development meant that the now-impeached President Park’s policy of reconciliation – “Trustpolitik” – was doomed before it began.

As far as Pyongyang is concerned, its militaristic strategy has worked: It has kept the Kim government internally stable, the population dependent on the government, and the country’s enemies at bay. Accepting the country’s nuclear status, rather than trying to head it off with sanctions and threats, could bring it back to the diplomatic bargaining table.

February 8, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis warns NKorea against nuclear attack

Atomic-Bomb-SmUS warns NKorea against nuclear attack, http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2017/02/03/us-warns-nkorea-against-nuclear-attack   SBS News, 3 Feb 17, Newly minted US Defence Secretary Jim Mattis has told North Korea that any attack on the US or its allies will attract an “effective and overwhelming” response.
Source: AAP  
US President Donald Trump’s defense secretary has warned North Korea of an “effective and overwhelming” response if Pyongyang chooses to use nuclear weapons.

It came as he reassured Seoul of steadfast US support at the end of a two-day visit.

“Any attack on the United States, or our allies, will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons would be met with a response that would be effective and overwhelming,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said at South Korea’s defense ministry.

Mattis’ remarks come amid concern that North Korea could be readying to test a new ballistic missile, in what could be an early challenge for Trump’s administration.

North Korea, which regularly threatens to destroy South Korea and its main ally, the United States, conducted more than 20 missile tests last year, as well as two nuclear tests, in defiance of UN resolutions and sanctions.

The North also appears to have also restarted operation of a reactor at its main Yongbyon nuclear facility that produces plutonium that can be used for its nuclear weapons program, according to US think tank 38 North.

“North Korea continues to launch missiles, develop its nuclear weapons program and engage in threatening rhetoric and behaviour,” Mattis said.

North Korea’s actions have prompted the United States and South Korea to respond by bolstering defenses, including the expected deployment of a US missile defense system, known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), in South Korea later this year. The two sides reconfirmed that commitment on Friday.

February 4, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

China bans nuclear materials export to North Korea

flag-Chinahttp://gbtimes.com/world/china-bans-nuclear-materials-export-north-korea   CHINA RADIO INTERNATIONAL
2017/01/26 
China has released a new list of restricted goods that cannot be exported to North Korea, many of which are “dual use” items that could be used to build weapons of mass destruction.

The comprehensive list comes amid mounting speculation over an expected test by North Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile that might be able to reach the west coast of the United States.

The items include materials and equipment to develop nuclear missiles, software related to rockets or drones, high-speed video cameras, submarines, sensors and lasers.

The Ministry of Commerce said the list was meant to comply with the requirements of a round of UN sanctions imposed in November in response to North Korea’s fifth and largest nuclear test in September.

The list was jointly released with the Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the State Administration of Science, Technology and Industry for National Defense, the China Atomic Energy Authority and the Customs Bureau.

US officials said last week that they had seen indications that North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch.

It’s widely believed a launch could be an early test of the administration of President Donald Trump, who was sworn in last Friday.

January 28, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Despite nuclear tensions, Americans have continued to send humanitarian aid to North Korea

US Humanitarian Aid Goes to North Korea Despite Nuclear Tensions, VOA, January 25, 2017 Baik Sung-won WASHINGTON —  The United States has provided $1 million in humanitarian aid to impoverished North Korea, the U.S. State Department said Wednesday.

Despite growing tensions between North Korea and Washington, the U.S. sent the assistance last week on the day before President Donald Trump was sworn in and took over the U.S. government.

It marks the first time that the U.S. provided humanitarian assistance to the North since 2011, when it provided relief items including medical supplies to North Korean flood victims. That aid, worth $900,000, was made through Samaritan’s Purse, a U.S.-based humanitarian aid organization.

Aid to help typhoon damageThe current assistance comes in the aftermath of Typhoon Lionrock, which hit North Korea in August with heavy rain that resulted in flooding. At the time, the government reported hundreds were dead and missing, and said thousands had lost their homes. International aid organizations responded immediately.

Outgoing Secretary of State John Kerry awarded $1 million for North Korea to UNICEF, a U.N. agency, the day before President Donald Trump took office last week………http://www.voanews.com/a/united-states-humanitarian-aid-goes-to-north-korea/3692811.html

 

January 27, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, Religion and ethics, USA | Leave a comment

Can Donald Trump manage nuclear diplomacy with North Korea? It’s unlikely

TrumpIn Nuclear Poker, Don’t Bet on Trump, Bloomberg JAN 19, 2017 BY  Is North Korea’s belligerent young leader, Kim Jong-un, bluffing when he says the “last stage” is underway for testing a ballistic missile capable of hitting the U.S.? What about President-elect Donald Trump, when he tweets, “It won’t happen“?

As Trump’s administration begins, a showdown with North Korea over ICBMs seems all but inevitable. Just yesterday, South Korean media reported possible signs that the North may be preparing a new missile launch. In managing this conflict, few things will be more crucial than understanding the nature of bluffing. Unfortunately, for all his talk of being a good deal maker, Trump is a terrible bluffer — and his lack of skill is likely to destabilize nuclear politics.

A bluff is an untrue but plausible story. In the mindsport of poker, bluffs work when your opponent believes you have a better hand, so he can’t call your bet or raise, conceding you the pot. The savvier player wants to steadily grind away at the stack of his opponent over a large number of small pots, without risking too many of his own chips in any single hand. The weaker player can counter the “small ball” strategy by raising all-in fairly often, forcing all-or-nothing confrontations.

To understand why these dynamics are so crucial in nuclear negotiation, consider the work of John von Neumann, the prodigiously gifted polymath who immigrated to the U.S. from Hungary in 1933 and later contributed to the Manhattan Project. Von Neumann loved poker because its strategy involves guile, probability, luck and budgetary acumen, but is never transparent; it always depends on the counterstrategies deployed by opponents.

 Expert players misrepresent the strength of their hands, simulate irrational behavior, and deploy other mind games to confuse their opponents. In a nutshell, they bluff. It was von Neumann’s efforts to express bluffs in mathematical terms that helped him develop game theory, which has numerous real-world applications, nuclear strategy foremost among them……..

Trump bluffs almost constantly. He has spent his entire adult life overstating the value of his real estate holdings and branding endeavors, while bragging relentlessly about his wealth, sex life, length off the tee, and on and on. His bluffs during the campaign — that he had a replacement for Obamacare, a secret plan to defeat Islamic State and so on — were plainly false to anyone paying attention. To Trump, what was true hardly mattered.

Such tendencies would not serve him well in a poker game. Any player who continually misrepresents the size of his hand would cause sharp opponents to give his bets little credit. They’d simply wait for above-average hands and call him. As Daniel Negreanu, the all-time winningest poker tournament player, put it to me, “Trump’s bluffs are very effective against level-one thinkers. His lies are so outlandish that people think they have to be true or he wouldn’t have said it. The constant barrage makes him tougher to read. But sharper players would pick him apart.”

Kim may not be irrational, but he knows how to seem that he is, which gives him leverage. Kim’s contempt for most North Koreans means that he has less to lose by threatening to nuke an American city. The more we know about his pretensions to deity, his labor camps, the food and electricity shortages his policies have prolonged, the easier it is to believe he might sacrifice millions of Koreans in an absurd attempt to save face. Kim isn’t threatening to defeat the U.S., a bluff no one would credit; he’s trying to prove he could grievously injure it before dying himself, a bluff that must be taken seriously. As Negreanu puts it, Kim is “a scary player. Being unpredictable, capable of any move at any time, makes him hard to prepare for.”

In such circumstances, Trump’s long history of empty boasts is destabilizing. Kim may calculate that he has renewed leverage to push for concessions from the U.S. He might engage in riskier behavior, such as firing more test missiles or launching cyberattacks. Almost certainly, he’ll persist in developing missiles that can reach the U.S., calculating all the while that Trump’s Twitter outbursts are simply talk.

That may be true. But what if, for once in his life, Trump means what he says? What if he can’t bear to have his bluff called, and really is tempted to launch a preemptive attack if it looks like North Korea poses a real threat to the U.S. mainland?……..https://www.bloomberg.com/view/articles/2017-01-19/in-nuclear-poker-don-t-bet-on-trump

January 21, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch

U.S. sees indications of possible North Korea missile test-launch Yahoo News,  By James Pearson and Phil Stewart January 20, 2017 SEOUL/WASHINGTON (Reuters) – North Korea may be preparing for a new missile test-launch, U.S. officials told Reuters on Thursday, after South Korean media reported movement of what could be components of an upgraded prototype of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the United States was seeing activity in North Korea indicating a possible ballistic missile test, including positioning of two mobile missile launchers.

Still, the timing of the test and precise type of missile remained unclear, the officials said.

In his New Year’s speech, leader Kim Jong Un said North Korea was close to test launching an ICBM, and state media has said a launch could come at any time. Experts on the isolated and nuclear capable country’s missile program believe the claims to be credible.

The Pentagon declined comment on its intelligence about the North Korea threat, but spokesman Peter Cook assured reporters that Washington’s readiness would be not be diminished during the U.S. presidential transition, due to take place on Friday.

“I can’t get into intelligence matters. I can’t confirm what’s been reported there,” Cook told a news briefing.

“We would once again encourage North Korea not to engage in provocative actions that do nothing but destabilize the region.”

South Korean media said a test could potentially coincide with the inauguration of U.S. President-elect Donald Trump on Friday, South Korean media said.

Trump on Jan. 2 tweeted, “It won’t happen!” about North Korean ICBMs, although his precise meaning was unclear. The Pentagon has said it would not necessarily strike a test-launched ICBM if it did not pose a threat.

NEW TYPE OF MISSILE?

South Korean intelligence agencies reported on Wednesday that they had recently spotted missile parts being transported, believed to be the lower-half of an ICBM, raising fears that a test-launch may be imminent, the Chosun Ilbo newspaper said, citing unidentified military sources…….https://www.yahoo.com/news/u-sees-north-korea-activity-signaling-possible-missile-160137245.html

January 20, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea’s greatly increased plutonium stockpile

plutonium_04flag-N-KoreaNorth Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Under Kim Jong Un, Plutonium Stockpile Has Reached Unprecedented Levels, International Business Times,  BY  @TIMMARCIN ON 01/12/17 In the past two years, North Korea has steadily increased its supply of plutonium and now has enough for 10 nuclear warheads, according to a report this week from the South Korean Ministry of National Defense. In all, South Korea’s 2016 Defense White Paper found that the North had increased its supply of weapons -grade plutonium to 50 kilograms, up from 40 kilograms two years ago, the Korea Times reported. The plutonium was obtained by reprocessing spent fuel rods.

Under the dictatorial rule of leader Kim Jong Un, North Korea has focused on developing its nuclear arsenal. More recently, North Korea has worked toward developing a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that would be capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

The increased stockpile comes amid continued threats from Kim. In a New Year’s speech, Kim provoked the West — the United States and South Korea especially — and claimed an ICBM was nearing completion…….

Should the North develop a reliable ICBM, it would likely have the capability of reaching the United States. A working ICBM could still be a ways off, however…….http://www.ibtimes.com/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-under-kim-jong-un-plutonium-stockpile-has-reached-2474439 

January 13, 2017 Posted by | - plutonium, North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

US govt denies North Korea’s claims on its nuclear missiles, but international concerns grow

missiles s korea museumUS Rejects North Korea’s Nuclear Claim Amid Growing Concerns http://www.voanews.com/a/us-rejects-north-korea-nuclear-claim-amid-growing-concerns/3665388.html, 5 Jan 17, Amid speculation surrounding North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, the U.S. government said this week that Pyongyang has yet to acquire the ability to outfit an intercontinental ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead.

The latest assessment came after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s statement that the preparations for launching an intercontinental ballistic missile had “reached the final stage.” His claim, in a New Year’s Day address, immediately sent ripples across the world’s capitals, prompting President-elect Donald Trump to tweet, “It won’t happen!”

Despite the U.S. rejection of North Korea’s purported capability, experts are raising concern about the threats emanating from the regime. Continue reading

January 7, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea accelerates its race for nuclear weapons

missiles s korea museumflag-N-KoreaNorth Korea ‘racing ahead’ on nuclear plan, defector says By KJ Kwon, CNN December 27, 2016 CNN)Political uncertainty in the United States and in South Korea could give North Korean leader Kim Jong-un “an apt time” to develop nuclear weapons “at all costs by the end of 2017,” a high-profile North Korean diplomat who recently defected to South Korea said Tuesday.

December 28, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New sanctions on North Korea in reaction to its latest nuclear and ballistic missile tests.

Coal sanctions newest move to block North Korean nuclear efforts SBS World News Radio: The United Nations Security Council has imposed new sanctions on North Korea in response to its latest round of nuclear and ballistic missile tests.By Gareth Boreham, 1 Dec 16 

The sanctions on North Korea target what is increasingly being seen as a key means of financing the country’s nuclear build-up — coal exports.

The United Nations is imposing a new binding cap on how much coal can be shipped out of the country.

South Korea’s ambassador to the United Nations, Oh Joon, estimates more than $1.3 billion has already been spent on testing and missile-launching……..

The 15-member Security Council unanimously agreed to the sanctions, which follow North Korea’s fifth — and largest — nuclear test in September.

The resolution cuts coal exports by 60 per cent, with an annual cap of $540 million a year.

Copper, nickel, silver and zinc exports will also be restricted.

UN secretary-general Ban Ki-Moon says the sanctions are some of the toughest and most comprehensive ever imposed on North Korea, or the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea……..

While opposed to North Korean nuclear testing, China has criticised South Korea and the United States for strengthening their military presence on the Korean Peninsula.

China’s UN ambassador, Liu Jieyi, has told the council the planned US high-altitude anti-missile system would undermine China’s security interests and upset the regional balance.

“As such, it is neither conducive to the realisation of the goal of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula nor helpful for the maintenance of peace and stability on the peninsula.”

Russia’s UN representative, Vladimir Safrankov, has expressed his country’s reservations about the impact of sanctions on the North Korean population.

“We stress, in particular, this new resolution can in no way be used to smother the North Korean economy and worsen the humanitarian situation and the situation of the people living in that country.”

He has also warned against using the situation on the Korean Peninsula as a pretext for enhancing foreign military capacities. http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2016/12/01/coal-sanctions-newest-move-block-north-korean-nuclear-efforts

December 2, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Diplomatic outreach from Trump. Xi and Putin could persuade North Korea to give up nuclear weapons expansion

diplomacy-not-bombsflag-N-KoreaUnder Trump, America can defuse the Korean nuclear crisis – with help from China and Russia http://www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2048641/under-trump-america-can-defuse-korean-nuclear-crisis-help

Charles K. Armstrong and John Barry Kotch say North Korea may well be willing to give up its nuclear plans if both Xi and Putin can be convinced to add their weight to the diplomatic outreach   Charles Armstrong John Barry Kotch, 24 November, 2016,  US Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said recently at a Council on Foreign Relations forum that dissuading North Korea from continuing its nuclear development was “a lost cause”. The remark is itself a cause for alarm. North Korea’s growing nuclear arsenal and increasing delivery capability could render East Asian stability itself a lost cause, substantially raising the risks of regional nuclear proliferation and disarray in America’s alliances with Japan and South Korea – as well as posing a direct threat to the US homeland. It is a principal reason that Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe sought an early meeting with President-elect Donald Trump last week.

Throughout most of its tenure, the Obama administration has put its stock into increasingly intrusive sanctions based on a strategy of so-called “strategic patience”, but this has not brought a resolution of the North Korean nuclear crisis any closer. On the contrary, Pyongyang has tested nuclear weapons and missiles at an ever-increasing rate.

What has been lacking is a diplomatic component as a complement to the pressure of sanctions. Resolving the issue requires not just outreach conducted at the ambassadorial level by a coordinator, but a high-level diplomatic initiative, the only kind that has succeeded in the past.

Had Hillary Clinton been elected president, one could envisage such an initiative led by two former US presidents – Jimmy Carter and Bill Clinton – who have negotiated or held substantive discussions with North Korea’s leader himself or at the top leadership echelon. And while previous agreements reached with Kim Jong-un may have rejected the agreements his father and grandfather made in the 1990s, avowing not to go down the nuclear path via plutonium reprocessing or uranium enrichment, one thing the younger Kim could not have done was spurn the legacy of his father and grandfather in meeting with two former US presidents.

Carter’s negotiations with Kim Il-sung in 1994 led to a shutdown of the nuclear plant at Yongbyon for eight years and the resumption of International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. A bilateral framework established the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organisation, with the goal of providing light-water reactors to meet Pyongyang’s energy needs. Unfortunately, the agreement fell apart during the first George W. Bush administration.

Towards the end of the Clinton administration, the US moved towards recognising North Korea as a legitimate state actor. The momentum towards diplomatic recognition was symbolised in 2000 by the visit of North Korea’s Marshall Jo Myong-rok to the White House and secretary of state Madeline Albright’s meeting with Kim Jong-il in Pyongyang. The two sides discussed a missile agreement, to be finalised by a presidential visit to North Korea.

Trump now has an opportunity, at the start of a new relationship with Xi Jinping ( 習近平 ) and Vladimir Putin respectively, to work with China and Russia in making clear to Kim Jong-un that a North Korean nuclear capability is incompatible with the stability of Northeast Asia. As Stanford University professor Siegfried Hecker has noted, the North’s strategy has evolved from a nuclear deterrent as a bargaining chip to a strategic force, and a 2020 reality of a fully fledged intercontinental ballistic missile capability.

And what of the argument, according to Clapper, that North Korea will never give up this capability, which it views as the sole guarantor of its survival? In effect, this is a false choice – unless one accepts Pyongyang’s proposition that it is faced with an existential threat from the US, making a nuclear deterrent essential for its security. Just the reverse is true: North Korea’s nuclear capability itself puts the country’s survival at risk, because no American president can tolerate the threat a nuclear-armed North Korea would pose to the US homeland.

Given the above, now is the time for China and Russia, both neighbouring states that would be directly affected by a potential US pre-emptive strike on North Korea, to embrace high-level “pincer” diplomacy vis-à-vis North Korea. To date, Beijing has argued that squeezing too hard would force a North Korean collapse, which is China’s worst-case scenario. But clearly the sanctions that China has enforced have been insufficient to deter North Korea. A non-nuclear North Korea would offer Beijing the best of both worlds: a buffer on its eastern border that is not a rogue nuclear state or a threat to regional stability.

President Xi has said to President-elect Trump that “facts have shown that cooperation is the only correct choice” for the United States and China. To gain Beijing’s acquiescence to a diplomatic approach, the first step would be for the US to delay the deployment of the Terminal High-Altitude Air Defence (THAAD) system in South Korea. THAAD was to be deployed in response to Pyongyang’s testing an intermediate-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead into space, on a trajectory that could reach Guam or the Aleutian Islands. China has been adamantly opposed to THAAD; dropping or delaying the deployment of the system opens the door to a positive diplomatic role for China, to complement sanctions-based coercive diplomacy. Once the North Korean threat was removed, there would be no need or justification for THAAD.

Russia, similarly, has a vested interest in the denuclearisation of North Korea. Engaging Moscow in resolving the nuclear impasse is both logical, given the Soviet role in providing the Yongbyon nuclear reactor, the principal driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear programme, and would take advantage of the political leverage enjoyed by Putin, the only current leader to have successfully engaged with a North Korean leader, in persuading Kim Jong-il to observe a three-year missile moratorium in 1999. He has similarly agreed with Trump to “normalise relations and pursue constructive cooperation on the broadest possible range of issues”. The upside for Putin is an opportunity to bolster his standing in the West by making an important contribution to international peace and security.

Trump will have the opportunity for a fresh diplomatic approach to resolving the North Korean nuclear issue with the cooperation of the most important nuclear powers in the region – an opportunity that should be grasped sooner rather than later. The test for both Putin and Xi will be their willingness, with the full backing of Trump, to intercede directly with the North Korean leader.

Charles K. Armstrong is professor of Korean Studies at Columbia University and John Barry Kotch is a research scholar and Columbia PhD in political science

November 26, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | 1 Comment

New sanctions on North Korea, agreed on by China and USA. Russia delays

China, U.S. agree on new sanctions to punish North Korea for nuclear test, but Russia ‘trying to hold it up’, National Post Michelle Nichols, Reuters | November 24, 2016 UNITED NATIONS — The United States and China have agreed on new U.N. sanctions to impose on North Korea over the nuclear test it conducted in September, but Russia is delaying action on a draft resolution, a senior Security Council diplomat said on Wednesday.

The diplomat, who spoke on condition of anonymity, believed China could persuade Russia to agree to the new sanctions and that the 15-member Security Council could vote on the draft resolution as early as next week.

Since North Korea’s fifth and largest nuclear test on Sept. 9, the United States and China, a close ally of North Korea, have been negotiating a new draft Security Council resolution to punish Pyongyang.

That draft text was recently given to the remaining three permanent council veto powers, Britain, France and Russia.

“The (permanent five members) are getting very close to agreement on a draft resolution,” the diplomat said. “The key thing is that China and the U.S., who have led this, have got to a position that they agree on. So the issue now is Russia…….http://news.nationalpost.com/news/world/china-u-s-agree-on-new-sanctions-to-punish-north-korea-for-nuclear-test-but-russia-trying-to-hold-it-up

November 26, 2016 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international, Russia, UK | Leave a comment

Fears about North Korea’s nuclear test swish around Donald Trump’s inauguration

flag-N-KoreaNUCLEAR WARNING: North Korea planing another nuke test on Donald Trump’s INAUGURATION http://www.express.co.uk/news/world/735831/North-Korea-nuke-test-Donald-Trump-president-inauguration-US-Lee-Su-seok-Kim-Jong-un NORTH Korea could launch another devastating nuclear test on the same day Donald Trump is inaugurated into the White House in a chilling show of strength, security experts have warned. By WILL KIRBY  Nov 24, 2016 The secretive state has launched 20 missiles this year alone as it aims to develop a long-range weapon, capable of hitting the US mainland.

In a military forum held in Seoul on Wednesday, Lee Su-seok, director of the Center for Unification Strategy at the state-run Institute for National Security Strategy, said: “North Korea may seek negotiations with the U.S. when it completes nuclear tests and reaches the stage of deploying a long-range nuclear-tipped missile.

“In early 2017, it is highly likely that Pyongyang will detonate another nuclear device and launch a long-range ballistic missile to reiterate its status as a nuclear power.”

With President-elect Trump set to be inaugurated on January 20 next year, these latest claims have sparked fears the ceremony could become a target.

Trump is not believed to consider the communist state a high priority at the moment, but this recent speculation about the country’s nuclear capabilities could spark increased efforts for dialogue and negotiations between the two countries.

 The hermit state’s leader Kim Jong-un is reportedly keen to speak to Trump, after years of declining relations with Barack Obama’s administration.
During the military forum, Lee Su-seok also expressed fears about the declining relations between North and South Korea.

He said: “Inter-Korean relations will remain frosty and strained until the first half of 2017 due to the North’s continued military provocations. Any dialogue with North Korea, if any, will be possible some time after Trump takes office in January.”

The director said: “The Kim Jong-un regime will continue its verbal and military threats in efforts to urge the nearly paralysed Seoul government to change the current strict policies toward Pyongyang”.  South Korea’s scandal-plagued president Park Geun-hye has recently been caught up in a corruption case involving her longtime confidant, Choi Soon-sill, who has been accused of using high-ranking connections to wield inappropriate influence inside the government.

As a result, Kim Jong-un’s loyal followers are expected to exploit the unrest in South Korea and create internal conflicts within the country.

November 24, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Warning that a USA strike on North Korea would spark war with China

Atomic-Bomb-SmUS strike on North Korea would spark world war with China, think-tank warns https://www.thesun.co.uk/news/2090813/crushing-crazy-kims-nuke-bid-will-spark-war-with-china/
U.S. warned against nuking nutty North Korea because it risked war with neighbouring China
 BY PATRICK KNOX 1st November 2016, 

November 4, 2016 Posted by | China, North Korea, USA, weapons and war | 1 Comment

Top secret operation into North Korea to destroy Kim Jong-un’s nuclear weapons stash

exclamation-SmSpecial forces sneak into North Korea to DESTROY Kim’s nukes http://www.dailystar.co.uk/news/latest-news/557903/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-kim-jong-un-missiles-south-korea-special-ops-unites-states  By Rachel O’Donoghue  30th October 2016 A TOP secret operation has been completed that saw agents sneak into the secretive state of North Korea to destroy Kim Jong-un’s weapons stash.  United States and South Korean forces apparently staged the operation – dubbed Teak Knife – recently.

On Thursday (October 27) a US military spokesperson confirmed the exercise had been carried out in a rare public announcement.

They said: “Troops of South Korean Air Force’s combat control team, an infiltration commando unit, and the US Air Force’s 353rd Special Operations Group staged a joint exercise at Gunsan Air Base recently.”

Part of the operation saw military transport aircraft practising flying low – something that has been done since the 1990s to test infiltrating North Korea.

These aircraft are apparently used to transport special forces who are on a mission to destroy Kim Jong-un’s missiles and nuclear weapons.

According to a South Korean news network, the 353rd Special Operations Group, which is based at the Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, completes missions to send commandos into the closed country.

The military spokesperson added: “The latest Teak Knife exercise focused on infiltrating an inland area in the North to destroy key facilities.

“It’s different from a decapitation strike operation targeting the North Korean leadership.”

There have been calls in the US to launch pre-emptive strikes in North Korea following numerous incidents of despot leader Kim Jong-un testing his countries nuclear power.

Just this week officials confirmed he tested nuclear-capable missile which has the potential to reach the US military base in Guam.

October 31, 2016 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties, South Korea, USA | Leave a comment