nuclear-news

The News That Matters about the Nuclear Industry

China’s more rational response to the North Korean situation

China and the North Korean nuclear challenge, In Beijing’s eyes, the status quo is preferable to the upheaval that would result from action to topple Kim, Japan Times, BY RAMESH THAKUR, 17 Aug 17 GUANGZHOU, .ON A SUPERFICIAL READING, CHINA IS FEELING THE SQUEEZE TO TAKE EFFECTIVE ACTION TO BRING NORTH KOREA TO HEEL OVER ITS ROGUE NUCLEAR PROGRAM. ON A DEEPER READING, CHINA’S GAINS FROM THE CRISIS EXCEED THE COSTS. ON A WIDER READING, WASHINGTON DAILY VINDICATES PYONGYANG’S NUCLEAR CHOICES……..

Stability and conflict-avoidance in its immediate region remains a vital national interest for China’s development and peaceful rise. Heightened tensions over North Korea’s nuclear antics risk an uncontrolled armed conflict, strengthened U.S.-Japan-South Korea alliances and enhanced prospects of nuclear breakouts by Japan, South Korea and Taiwan.

But China’s leverage over Pyongyang, although greater than that of others, is limited. Pyongyang has proven indifferent to what others think and impervious to external pressure. With 80 percent of trade with China, more U.N. sanctions amount to more sanctions on China. It is cost-free for Washington and Western countries to engage in virtue signaling by enacting still tougher international sanctions whose costs have to be borne by China.

If the sanctions succeed in destroying North Korea’s economy and engineer a collapse, millions of desperate refugees will flood into China and a crucial geographical buffer against U.S. forces will disappear.

By what right does Washington tolerate nuclear weapons in the hands of its ally Israel but demand that China force a rollback of North Korea’s? In Beijing’s eyes, the U.S. provokes a crisis but holds China responsible for solving it. U.S. threats also stir memories among elderly Chinese of how they were treated in the early year’s of China’s own nuclear program.

Any further weakening of Pyongyang’s links with Beijing and Moscow will feed North Korea leader Kim Jong Un’s siege paranoia and solidify reliance on nuclear weapons as the only assured guarantee of regime and personal survival. The U.S. record of infidelity to political package deals — the 1954 Geneva accords on Indochina, understandings with Russia on Eastern Europe on ending the Cold War, Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s abandonment of his nuclear program — inspires distrust. Every fresh bellicose threat from Washington deepens Pyongyang’s dependence on and attachment to a nuclear deterrent that can strike the U.S. mainland.

On balance, therefore, in China’s calculation the status quo of a nuclearized North Korea, however unpalatable, is preferable to the upheaval that would result from military strikes or regime collapse. This is consistent with the sober conclusion of The Economist that all options for dealing with North Korea are bad but blundering into a war would be the worst………

Chinese President Xi Jinping is the very model of a circumspect, calm and statesmanlike leader urging restraint in rhetoric and action by both sides and calling for a phased program (freeze-for-freeze) to reduce tensions. Each new step on the escalation ladder does further damage to the U.S. reputation for responsible leadership while boosting China’s profile and prestige. It also obscures China’s own past culpability in enabling North Korea’s nuclear program while underlining the history of U.S. forcible regime change as the main driver of Pyongyang’s nuclear pursuit.

This, in turn, this amplifies the larger narrative of the diminishing U.S. presence in Asia…..

Japan and South Korea have managed to live for years with the reality of vulnerability to North Korea’s nukes. There is no reason why the U.S. cannot learn to do the same. Kim should be left in no doubt that an attack on any of the three allies would bring instant military strikes and elimination of the regime. But there will be no preventive strikes. Instead a policy of containment — which requires credible threats, not bluster — will be instituted along with risk avoidance and crisis stability measures that served all sides well during the Cold War.

The only genuine progress on eliminating nuclear threats will be a universal ban treaty followed by a verifiable and enforceable plan for destroying and dismantling nuclear weapons programs in all countries.

Professor Ramesh Thakur is director of the Center for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament in the Crawford School of Public Policy, Australian National University. https://www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2017/08/17/commentary/world-commentary/china-north-korean-nuclear-challenge/#.WZYqftIjHGg

August 18, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Pre-emptive attack on North Korea is not an option: get used to N Korea having nuclear weapons

North Korea’s nuclear weapons ‘aren’t going away’, says former US intelligence boss, ABC News Breakfast, 17 Aug 17, 

Gregory Treverton was the chairman of the powerful US National Intelligence Council until he stood down in January, and today said the US may need to back down a bit to avoid conflict.

“We have got to find a way to avoid [war] … That means climbing down on our side,” he told News Breakfast.

“It means, over time, I think [it will be] very, very hard for us, but to recognise those North Korean nuclear weapons aren’t going to go away.

“The best thing we can try and do is cap them, contain them.”

After a week of rising tensions and threats, US President Donald Trump this week praised North Korean leader Kim Jong-un for a “wise and well reasoned” decision not to fire missiles towards Guam. However, Mr Treverton said the threat of war had by no means passed…….

The plain fact is there is no good military option.”

According to Mr Treverton a pre-emptive attack by the US against North Korea was not a feasible option.

He said North Korea had been building hidden facilities and moving its missiles around. And even if the US could target its nuclear facilities, it would still have non-nuclear options that could devastate South Korean targets.

Trump’s diplomacy is ‘erratic’

Mr Treverton said Mr Trump had “painted himself into a corner” after ramping up his threats towards North Korea and that his approach to foreign policy was “really quite erratic”.

“I came to realise that almost nothing he says has any content,” Mr Treverton said.

“It’s really attention, self-aggrandisement, upsetting the apple cart.”……http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-17/north-koreas-nuclear-weapons-arent-going-away/8816010

August 18, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un unlikely to commit nuclear suicide. (but what about Trump?)

Where will Trump and Kim’s nuclear brinkmanship lead?  CBS News, 13 Aug 17, President Trump says the U.S. military is “locked and loaded” in its confrontation with North Korea. But how exactly would all that firepower be used? Here’s David Martin at the Pentagon:Behind the “fire and fury” rhetoric, there is one very hard fact: If the U.S. were to unleash its military power against North Korea, it would result — in Secretary of Defense James Mattis’ words — in “the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.”

Before he retired, Admiral James Winnefeld was the vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the number two man in uniform, during the Obama Administration.  He knows that one submarine like the USS Kentucky can by itself carry enough nuclear weapons to annihilate North Korea.

When asked to compare America’s nuclear forces to Korean nuclear forces, Adm. Winnefeld replied, “Well, there’s just no comparison whatsoever.”

Martin asked, “Were Kim Jong Un, for whatever reason, to launch a nuclear weapon against the United States, would he, in essence, be committing suicide?”

“Absolutely. Yeah, I mean, there is just no question that we would undertake a proportional response,” Adm. Winnefeld replied. “But in the case of a nuclear weapon, that proportional response would be overwhelming and would probably mean the end of the Kim regime — and he knows it.”…..

“The North Korean regime has hundreds of artillery cannons and rocket launchers within range of one of the most densely-populated cities on Earth, which is the capital of South Korea,” said Mattis.

Kim — like his father and grandfather before him — has lived under what he believes to be the constant threat of an attack from the south.  That fear (some would call it paranoia) is what is driving his quest for a nuclear weapon.

“He wants to have what we would view as a credible nuclear threat so we won’t attack him,” WInnefeld said, …. he could not be certain a nuclear armed missile would get through the missile defense system, but he could be certain that if he tried, it would be the end of his regime.

“I think At the end of the day,” said Adm. Winnefeld, “two essential facts stand out: The first is, it’s very unlikely that he will ever willingly give up his program. But it’s also very, very unlikely that he will ever use it, as long as we don’t try to overthrow his regime.”

Can the U.S. live with that? It’s up to the commander-in-chief, who has said he will not allow North Korea to threaten America or its allies. http://www.cbsnews.com/news/donald-trump-kim-jong-un-nuclear-brinkmanship/

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A pre-emptive nuclear strike on North Korea? – catastrophic, and illegal

A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Be Catastrophic and Illegal TruthOut , August 12, 2017, By Marjorie Cohn, As Special Counsel Robert Mueller impanels two grand juries to investigate Donald Trump and his associates, and former Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort’s home is searched, Trump needs to distract attention from the investigation into his alleged wrongdoing.

North Korea has provided just such a distraction — albeit a potentially catastrophic one.

On Tuesday, Trump stated, “North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Friday morning, Trump warned North Korea that the US military is “locked and loaded.”

Trump has learned that bombing other countries enhances a president’s popularity. In April, with 59 Tomahawk cruise missiles, each armed with over 1,000 pounds of explosives, he went from scoundrel-in-chief to national hero virtually overnight. The corporate media, the neoconservatives and most of Congress hailed Trump as strong and presidential for lobbing the missiles into Syria, reportedly killing nine civilians, including four children.

Several hours after Trump’s recent “fire and fury” statement, Pyongyang warned it was “carefully examining” a strike that would create “an enveloping fire” around Guam, the site of an important US military base and home to more than 160,000 people.

North Korea has accused the United States of planning a “preventive war,” saying that plans to mount one would be met with an “all-out war, wiping out all the strongholds of enemies, including the US mainland.” A spokesman for the General Staff of the Korean People’s Army promised, “the tragic end of the American empire will be hastened.”

In an attempt to tamp down fears of all-out war, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said there is not “any imminent threat” from North Korea.

But Defense Secretary James Mattis cautioned that Pyongyang “should cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and the destruction of its people.” And National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster said that the White House is considering all options, including “preventative war.”…….

An Attack on North Korea Would Be Dangerous

The Intercept reports that “even a conventional war between the US and [North Korea] could kill more than 1 million people; a nuclear exchange, therefore, might result in tens of millions of casualties.”……

A Preemptive Strike on North Korea Would Violate the UN Charter

A preemptive strike on North Korea would be illegal. It would violate the United Nations Charter, which forbids the use of military force unless conducted in self-defense or when approved by the Security Council…..

Sign a Peace Treaty, End the Korean War

Moreover, North Korea cannot forget the 1950-1953 Korean War, which reduced North Korea’s population of 10 million by approximately one-third. Sixty-four years ago, the United States and North Korea signed an armistice agreement, but the US never permitted the creation of a peace treaty……..

Far from being an intractable foe, North Korea has repeatedly asked the United States to sign a peace treaty that would bring the unresolved Korean War to a long-overdue end.”

A month ago, China and Russia proposed a “freeze-for-freeze” strategy, which would entail North Korea freezing its nuclear and missile testing, and in return, the US and South Korea would end their annual joint military exercises. This proposal, issued in a joint statement by the Chinese and Russian Foreign Ministries after meetings between Russian President Vladimir Putin and Chinese President Xi Jinping, is a diplomatic solution that should be pursued……..

As we stand on the precipice of a disastrous war, these are the right circumstances for Trump to meet with Kim Jong-un. If Trump were to successfully negotiate a peace treaty with North Korea, he would receive plaudits for being a real diplomat. The unthinkable alternative is military action that would cause the deaths of untold numbers of Koreans, Japanese people and Americans. http://www.truth-out.org/news/item/41598-a-preemptive-strike-on-north-korea-would-be-catastrophic-and-illegal

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Avoiding the fate of Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi – this is Kim Jong-un’s nuclear strategy

Kim Jong-un views nuclear weapons as a way to escape fate of Saddam and Gadhafi  North Korea’s nuclear weapons unnerve the world, but are a security blanket for the regime, By Mark Gollom, CBC News   Aug 13, 2017 William Tobey, a nuclear non-proliferation expert who has taken part in past Six Party Talks with North Korea, says anyone who claims to perfectly understand the motivations of the North Korean government, and does not live in Pyongyang, is probably blowing smoke.

But Tobey and most experts agree that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un’s No. 1 goal is self-preservation. For Kim, the pursuit of nuclear weapons and a missile program is a rational way to stave off attempts by the U.S. to overthrow his regime.

“I think most people ascribe a motivation of regime preservation to their nuclear programs,” Tobey said. “So it would be used to deter any attacks that would be aimed at dislodging the government.”

Nuclear ‘treasure sword’

The North Korean government has said as much in its public statements, Tobey said, and those should be taken “at face value.”

A commentary published by North Korea’s state KCNA news agency in January last year stated that “history proves that powerful nuclear deterrence serves as the strongest treasure sword for frustrating outsider’s aggression.”

The piece suggested North Korea fears suffering the same demise as Saddam Hussein’s Iraq and Moammar Gadhafi’s Libya, that neither could “escape the fate of destruction after being deprived of their foundations of nuclear development and giving up undeclared programs of their own accord.”

Philip Yun, a former senior adviser to two U.S. co-ordinators for North Korea at the Department of State, said that he has been in hundreds of hours of negotiations with the North Koreans. “Every single time during that period, they talked about [Slobodan] Milosevic and they talked about Saddam Hussein and subsequently talked about Gadhafi — if they had nuclear weapons they’d still be there.”…….

Preserving the dynasty

If North Korea truly believes an attack is imminent, it would launch its own strike, believing it has nothing to lose, said Tom Collina, director of policy at Ploughshares Fund, a think-tank dedicated to reducing the dangers of nuclear weapons.

But North Korea would not attack “out of the blue,” because it knows that would be suicidal, the end of the regime, he said…….

Tobey said he believes the “no viable options” view is a myth and that the U.S., South Korea and Japan need to step back and take a deep breath. North Korea, he reminded, is a tiny country, with a tiny economy, and it knows the regime would end if it deployed any serious weapons.

“We managed to deter the Soviet Union for decades with basically rough parity in the two military arsenals. There’s no comparison with U.S. and North Korea military capabilities. We can deter them.” http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/north-korea-nuclear-weapons-donald-trump-1.4244020

August 14, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

What Washington should do about North Korea

Washington Should Step Back In Korea: Is Donald Trump Or Kim Jong-Un More Dangerous? Forbes, 11 AUG 17 “……..,What should Washington do?

  • President Trump should stop competing in the crazed rhetoric contest. Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un shouts to get noticed and divert attention from his country’s many weaknesses. America’s president needs do neither. To the contrary, by doing so the U.S. leader demeans himself and his country.
  • The U.S. should begin phasing out both its security treaty with and military garrison in the ROK. Seoul long has been able to defend itself. America’s defense commitment is what puts this nation in the middle of one of the world’s worst geopolitical hotspots. Protecting prosperous and populous friends is not worth the risk of nuclear war.
  • Washington should sit down with the People’s Republic of China, acknowledge its interests, and offer to make a deal. For instance, propose an American military withdrawal from the Korean peninsula in exchange for greater Chinese pressure on the North. The U.S. cannot expect the PRC to drop its only ally and aid American attempts at regional containment because that’s what Washington desires.
  • American policymakers should consider whether encouraging South Korean and Japanese development of countervailing nuclear arsenals is better than maintaining an increasingly frayed “nuclear umbrella” over Washington’s allies. Frankly, neither Seoul nor Tokyo is worth risking the loss of Los Angeles or Seattle. There are no good solutions to a nuclear DPRK. Further proliferation might be the best “second best” answer available.
  • Negotiate with North Korea. Talking would reduce the sense of threat felt by the North. Dialogue also would explore areas of potential agreement even if Pyongyang refuses to consider abandoning its nukes and missiles. For instance, a verifiable freeze would be uncomfortable, but the U.S. and world would be better off facing a North with a stable nuclear arsenal of 20 weapons than one of, say, 100 weapons and growing, which some analysts fear could be the case in just a few more years.
  • Despite the global freak-out over the war of words between Supreme Leader Kim and President Trump, there is good news. Pyongyang wants to avoid, not wage, war against America. (Hopefully the Trump administration also wants to avoid a conflict.) If the U.S. was not “over there,” seemingly threatening military action and regime change, the DPRK almost certainly would ignore Washington. But as long as the U.S. is present militarily, prepared to intervene in any conflict, and ever-ready to oust offending governments for any number of reasons, the Kim regime will look to deterrence as its only sure defense.

    Peace should remain America’s overriding objective regarding the Korean peninsula. That would most likely be achieved by Washington calming its rhetoric and stepping back militarily. If President Trump really wants to put America first, he will move the U.S. out of the firing line in Korea and Northeast Asia.https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/08/11/washington-should-step-back-in-korea-is-donald-trump-or-kim-jong-un-more-dangerous/#20326a737df1

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

Facing reality: North Korea already is a nuclear weapons state

Treating North Korea as another rival nuclear power would involve using the tools the U.S. has employed for decades to deal with such adversaries: containment, deterrence, and measures designed to lower the risk of a small incident escalating into an all-out confrontation. It might be the least bad option there is left

Is It Time to Accept the Reality of a Nuclear-Armed North Korea? By John Cassidy, 12 Aug 17, “…….A year ago, the Institute for Science and International Security estimated that Pyongyang had between thirteen and twenty-one nuclear warheads; since then, the number has likely grown. Last month, the North Koreans carried out two tests of ballistic missiles that, at least in theory, could hit parts of the U.S. mainland. The tests were apparently successful. And, according to a recent report in the Washington  Post, the Defense Intelligence Agency believes that Kim’s regime has developed a miniature nuclear warhead that could soon be fitted to these long-range missiles……In a presentation to the Asia Society last week, John Park, a director of the Korea Working Group at the Belfer Center, pointed out the Kim had been entirely consistent in his desire to obtain a nuclear deterrent, which, in addition to safeguarding his regime, would enable North Korea to avoid a costly conventional-arms race and focus on economic development. Park said that many Chinese officials privately sympathized with the North Korean policy………

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Why Washington should step back in Korea

Washington Should Step Back In Korea: Is Donald Trump Or Kim Jong-Un More Dangerous? Forbes, 11 AUG 17, President Donald Trump has put all of Asia and much of the world on edge. All week he’s gone mano-a-mano with Kim Jong-un, blustering like the frightened head of an international micro-state instead of the representative of the world’s most important and powerful nation. Who imagined that people around the globe would be left wondering who was more stable: the 33-year-old “Supreme Leader” of the world’s only communist monarchy or the duly elected president of the United States, long considered the leader of the free world?

There is no contest between the two nations, which helps explain North Korea’s bluster as it attempts to develop a deterrent against U.S. attack. America’s GDP last year was almost $19 trillion, around 650 times that of the North. The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s 25 million produce about as much as the residents of Anchorage, Alaska, or Portland, Maine. A weltmacht the DPRK is not.

Although North Korea devotes something like a quarter of its GDP to the military, its conventional armed forces are characterized more by quantity than quality. The DPRK probably has around 20 nukes, though they are of uncertain status and deliverability. Its practical missile capabilities are greatest at shorter ranges. Although Pyongyang is developing missiles capable of reaching America, they are not yet capable of successfully carrying warheads or targeting cities or bases.

In contrast, Washington spends upwards of 100 times as much as Pyongyang on the military. One carrier group possesses sufficient firepower to devastate the DPRK. And the U.S. sports the world’s most sophisticated nuclear arsenal. Only a few of America’s 1411 warheads would be necessary to turn Kim Jong-un’s kingdom into a proverbial “lake of fire,” which Pyongyang has so often threatened to do to others.

Of course, critical to deterrence is whether Kim recognizes the actual balance of power. Some Americans worry that he may believe his government’s bombastic, splenetic, confrontational, and fantastic rhetoric. But the near hysterical language with which Pyongyang addresses the world is not new. Even without deployable nuclear weapons and capable missiles the DPRK promised to destroy its opponents. A few years ago the North circulated a video purporting to show the planned destruction of New York City. Brinkmanship long has been the chief hallmark of North Korean policy.

 Moreover, there is no evidence that the North’s Supreme Leader is blind, ignorant, or suicidal, even though he is calculating, cruel, and ruthless. But so far he has played a weak hand well. He succeeded his father in December 2011 when just shy of his 28th birthday. Surrounded by experienced, tough, and older associates of his father, he out-maneuvered them all, even executing some 140 top officials, including his uncle and supposed mentor.

Kim’s byungjin policy, essentially “parallel development” of both the economy and nuclear weapons, so far has succeeded. Far more than his father he has pursued economic reform, with positive results which I observed while visiting the capital in June. In fact, the Bank of [South] Korea reports that 2016 saw the North’s fastest growth in 17 years. (Overall the DPRK remains poor, especially the countryside, where those of dubious ideological reliability are contained.) Moreover, nuclear and missile developments proceed faster than ever. Kim clearly prefers his virgins in this world rather than the next, and thus can be deterred.

Nor is the regime’s desire for nukes and missiles evidence of insanity. (The fact that a political system is criminal does not mean that it is irrational.) The DPRK once matched South Korea but over the last half century has fallen dramatically behind: the Republic of Korea possesses about 40 times the GDP and twice the population of the North. The ROK is technologically advanced, integrated into the international system, beneficiary of abundant economic and diplomatic support, and, most important, backed by the globe’s super/hyperpower.

In Pyongyang North Korean officials denounced Washington’s “hostile policy,” backed by “military threats” and “nuclear threats.” All of which is true, though, of course, the U.S. responded to the DPRK’s own “hostile” behavior. The U.S. intervened to defend the Republic of Korea after the 1950 North Korean invasion and would have liberated the entire peninsula had China not entered the conflict. Gen. Douglas MacArthur then advocated using nuclear weapons, a threat also employed by the incoming Eisenhower administration to “encourage” Beijing to conclude an armistice.

Once that agreement was reached, the U.S. forged a “Mutual Defense” treaty (in practice it runs only one way, of course) with the South and maintained a garrison, backed by nuclear weapons on the peninsula (since withdrawn), joint military exercises with the South, and ample reinforcements nearby. Such measures obviously threatened the North Korean regime.

Ironically, the end of the Cold War enhanced the danger facing Pyongyang. First Moscow and then Beijing opened diplomatic relations with South Korea, while the U.S. and Japan continued to isolate the DPRK, leaving the latter truly alone, without any real allies or even friends, other than fellow impoverished but brutal hellholes such as Cuba.

Moreover, after the demise of the Soviet Union America no longer restrained itself militarily. Indeed, no nation has used force more often over the last three decades. Washington ousted governments in Panama, Afghanistan, Iraq, and Libya; threatened an invasion to overthrow Haiti’s government; sought to capture de facto rulers in Somalia; dismantled Serbia; and backed the overthrow of Syria’s Bashar al-Assad. Washington used non-military means to support “color revolutions” in Georgia and Ukraine and later encourage a street revolution against the latter’s elected president. Kim has good reason to be paranoid, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s protestations to the contrary notwithstanding.

At the time Pyongyang took special note of America’s and Europe’s willingness to take advantage of Libyan Muammar Khadafy’s weakness and enable his ouster by armed opponents. This after he was rewarded by Washington and feted in Europe for trading away his government’s missiles and nukes and battling al-Qaeda. So much for Washington keeping its deals.

Nuclear weapons obviously offer North Korea a useful tool to defend itself in a dangerous and uncertain part of the world. Even China is at best a frenemy and Kim wants to rule an independent nation, not a de facto Chinese province. Nukes also give Pyongyang status, enable neighborly extortion, and please the military. While alone they provide local deterrence, Kim no doubt fears the attitude expressed by a shockingly callous Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC), who assumed the U.S. could freely attack the North since the conflict would be in Northeast Asia, “not here in America.” Long-range missiles would allow North Korea to share the slaughter with the U.S. homeland…….https://www.forbes.com/sites/dougbandow/2017/08/11/washington-should-step-back-in-korea-is-donald-trump-or-kim-jong-un-more-dangerous/#20326a737df1

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | 2 Comments

North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons

Paul Keating: North Korea could collapse if it gives up nuclear weapons, SMH,  James Massola, 

Fergus Hunter, 12 Aug 17,   Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating has warned that North Korea will never abandon its nuclear weapon program and that this new reality will have to be addressed in the same way as the west sought to contain the former Soviet Union.

 

The former prime minister, one of Australia’s most-respected foreign policy thinkers and a strong advocate for a more independent foreign policy, has disagreed strongly with the language and approach being taken the US President Donald Trump towards the rogue state…….

Mr Keating said his criticism could be extended to Australia’s pledge to enter any potential conflict between the US and North Korea. He also disagreed with former prime ministers Kevin Rudd and Tony Abbott that Australia should pursue a missile defence system against North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missiles.

His comments about the growing tensions on the Korean peninsula come on the same day that Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull declared Australia would assist America if it was attacked by North Korea……..

Mr Keating decided to speak publicly after being contacted by Fairfax Media and his views will be expanded in a major essay for a new magazine, Australian Foreign Affairs, to be published in October.

“I have long believed, especially after the unprovoked Western attack on Iraq and the ransacking of the Gaddafi regime in Libya, that North Korea would not desist from the full development of its nuclear weapons program, despite threats and sanctions from the West and even from China,” he said

“I said in April, we should regard North Korea as a full and capable nuclear weapons state – a state that would, in future, need to be contained, in the way the Soviet Union was contained during the Cold War. Developments since April have only confirmed my view.”

“More than that, it may be, that because the development of nuclear weapons in North Korea has, in a sense, become the raison d’etre of the state, were Kim Jong-Un and his generals to agree to the West’s demands, they may not politically survive that acquiescence.”……http://www.smh.com.au/federal-politics/political-news/paul-keating-north-korea-could-collapse-if-it-gives-up-nuclear-weapons-20170811-gxua4x.html

August 12, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Risk of US-N.Korea nuclear war increases, but is still unlikely

Experts: US-N.Korea nuclear war unlikely, but risk is rising, https://www.apnews.com/95ffd16e43af4bca815a22f39813a8ac, — Martha Mendoza in San Jose, California10 Aug 17 A nuclear war between North Korea and the United States is not imminent, analysts said, but the inflammatory rhetoric on both sides is increasing the risk. They called on all parties to de-escalate.

North Korea’s army said in a statement distributed by state media Wednesday that it was examining a plan to use ballistic missiles to make an “enveloping fire” around Guam, a U.S. territory that is home to Andersen Air Force Base. The statement came a day after President Donald Trump warned North Korea against making more threats, saying, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.”

What experts in South Korea, China and the U.S. had to say:

SLIM CHANCE OF ATTACK

A North Korean attack or an American pre-emptive strike is unlikely, said John Delury, an associate professor of East Asian Studies at Yonsei University in Seoul.

He saw North Korea’s statement as a warning to Washington that its missiles could reach targets in the region, rather than one of an actual attack.

“Well, I’m gonna go out on a limb here and say if North Korea was planning some kind of pre-emptive or surprise attack on Guam, we would not be reading about it in North Korean media,” Delury said in an interview at his office. “Now that said, you do need to track their threats. And there are cases where they (have) made a specific threat and carried it out.”

A U.S. strike against North Korea would need the support of South Korea, he said, because the North would likely retaliate against the South and its 600,000 troops.

“It’s not something you can do without robust, full support from the South Korean government people, and there’s absolutely no sign that South Korea will support military options with North Korea,” Delury said.

— Yong Jun Chang in Seoul, South Korea

DEEP CONCERN IN BEIJING

Chinese government-backed scholars said Beijing is deeply concerned about the latest statements from Trump and North Korea. They hold the U.S. partly responsible, saying Trump’s heated rhetoric is fueling the flames.

Trump’s tough talk has contributed to an increase in animosity that is pushing the sides closer to armed conflict, said Cheng Xiaohe of the School of International Studies at Beijing’s Renmin University.

“If not kept well under control, this verbal spat could turn into a military clash,” he said, adding that China should dispatch diplomats to engage in shuttle diplomacy to bring the sides to the negotiating table.

China’s patience with North Korea, its onetime close ally, appears to be running thin: Beijing agreed to recent U.N. sanctions, despite potential losses to Chinese firms doing business with North Korea and fears over destabilizing the Pyongyang regime.

A top Chinese expert on North Korea said Pyongyang seemed to have been heartened by Washington’s failure to take firm measures in response to earlier actions.

“Trump said the U.S. would take tough measures if North Korea fired off missiles, but it did not,” said Zhang Liangui, a professor at the ruling Communist Party’s main training academy. “This might make North Korea think that’s just some verbal threat, so its attitude is getting tougher and tougher.”

The U.S., China and Russia need to come together to force the North to de-escalate, he said. “The big countries should not attack each other, but unite to better cooperate on maintaining the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

— Christopher Bodeen and Fu Ting in Beijing

NO CAPABILITY YET

U.S. nuclear expert Siegfried Hecker, who has repeatedly visited North Korea’s nuclear facilities, said he doesn’t think North Korea currently has weapons systems for “enveloping fire” around Guam, as it threatened.

“I don’t believe they have the capability to do so yet, and besides, why would they want to commit suicide by attacking a remote target like Guam?” he said. “The real threat is stumbling into an inadvertent nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula by misunderstanding or miscalculation. Inflammatory rhetoric on both sides will make that more likely. It’s time to tone down the rhetoric.”

Hecker said North Korea does not have a sophisticated nuclear weapon like those of the U.S., Russia, Britain, China or France, the major nuclear superpowers.

“The shorter-range missile that can reach South Korea and Japan can accommodate larger nuclear warhead payloads,” he said. “Making the warhead sufficiently small, light and robust to survive an ICBM delivery is extremely challenging and still beyond North Korea’s reach.”

The way to avert a war with North Korea is to have a conversation, and that’s not happening, Hecker said.

“Unfortunately, there seems to be no serious dialogue between Washington and Pyongyang, only threats,” he said.

 

August 11, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Just what is America doing on Guam?

Q&A: What does the US military do on the island of Guam? https://www.apnews.com/2a347e608d2d48fe9f03e545285b2783

By AUDREY McAVOY, 11 Aug 17, HONOLULU (AP) — The small U.S. territory of Guam has become a focal point after North Korea’s army threatened to use ballistic missiles to create an “enveloping fire” around the island. The exclamation came after President Donald Trump warned Pyongyang of “fire and fury like the world has never seen.” Here’s a look at the U.S. military’s role on the island, which became a U.S. territory in 1898.

WHAT INSTALLATIONS ARE ON GUAM AND HOW SIGNIFICANT ARE THEY? There are two major bases on Guam: Andersen Air Force Base in the north and Naval Base Guam in the south. They are both managed under Joint Base Marianas. The tourist district of Tumon, home to many of Guam’s hotels and resorts, is in between.

The naval base dates to 1898, when the U.S. took over Guam from Spain after the Spanish-American War. The air base was built in 1944, when the U.S. was preparing to send bombers to Japan during World War II.

Today, Naval Base Guam is the home port for four nuclear-powered fast attack submarines and two submarine tenders.

Andersen Air Force Base hosts a Navy helicopter squadron and Air Force bombers that rotate to Guam from the U.S. mainland. It has two 2-mile (3-kilometer) long runways and large fuel and munitions storage facilities.

Altogether, 7,000 U.S. military personnel are stationed on Guam. Most are sailors and airmen. The military plans to move thousands of U.S. Marines to Guam from Okinawa in southern Japan.

Guam’s total population is 160,000.

___

WHAT ROLES DO THE BASES PLAY IN THE REGION

Guam is strategically located a short flight from the Korean peninsula and other potential flashpoints in East Asia. Seoul is 2,000 miles (3,200 kilometers) to the northwest, Tokyo is 1,500 miles (2,400 kilometers) north and Taipei is 1,700 miles (2,700 kilometers) west.

Because Guam is a U.S. territory, the U.S. military may launch forces from there without worrying about upsetting a host nation that may object to U.S. actions.

The naval base is an important outpost for U.S. fast-attack submarines that are a key means for gathering intelligence in the region, including the Korean peninsula and the South China Sea where China has been building military bases on man-made islands.

___

HOW HAS THE U.S. USED GUAM TO ADDRESS THE THREAT FROM NORTH KOREA?

The U.S. military began rotating bombers — the B-2 stealth bomber as well as the B-1 and B-52 — to Andersen in 2004. It did so to compensate for U.S. forces diverted from other bases in the Asia-Pacific region to fight in the Middle East. The rotations also came as North Korea increasingly upped the ante in the standoff over its development of nuclear weapons.

In 2013, the Army sent a missile defense system to Guam called Terminal High Altitude Area Defense or THAAD.

It’s designed to destroy ballistic missiles during their final phase of flight. A THAAD battery includes a truck-mounted launcher, tracking radar, interceptor missiles and an integrated fire control system.

___

WHAT’S THE HISTORY OF THE U.S. MILITARY ON GUAM?

The U.S. took control of Guam in 1898, when Spanish authorities surrendered to the U.S. Navy. President William McKinley ordered Guam to be ruled by the U.S. Navy. The Navy used the island as a coaling base and communications station until Japan seized the island on Dec. 10, 1941. The U.S. took back control of Guam on July 21, 1944.

During the Vietnam War, the Air Force sent 155 B-52 bombers to Andersen to hit targets in Southeast Asia. Guam was also a refueling and transfer spot for military personnel heading to Southeast Asia. Many refugees fleeing Vietnam were evacuated through Guam.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, OCEANIA, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A North Korean miniaturised hydrogen bomb would change everything

Why a North Korean miniaturised hydrogen bomb would be a game changer http://www.abc.net.au/news/2017-08-09/why-a-north-korean-miniaturised-bomb-would-be-a-game-changer/8790998ANALYSIS, By Anne Barker When the United States dropped the atomic bomb Little Boy on the Japanese city of Hiroshima 72 years ago, the nuclear bomb exploded with a force equivalent to about 15 kilotons of TNT and sent a mushroom cloud literally sky high.

Little Boy itself was three metres long, about 70 centimetres in diameter and weighed nearly 4,500 kilograms. Its destruction extended for miles.

In fact, the biggest nuclear bomb ever detonated was the Tsar Bomba, a hydrogen bomb exploded by the Russians in 1961.

It produced a 50-megaton blast and a mushroom cloud nearly 40 kilometres high, making it about 3,300 times more powerful than Little Boy.

An atomic bomb relies on nuclear fission — the splitting of an atom’s nucleus to create different elements — a process which produces extraordinary energy.

Whereas an H-bomb, or thermonuclear bomb, uses the energy from nuclear fission to fuel a secondary process of nuclear fusion, where the nuclei of smaller atoms fuse together to create even heavier elements, and thereby release even more energy.

By its nature then, a thermonuclear bomb produces an exponentially higher force than an atomic bomb of the same size or weight.

And given that today’s weapons are so much more precise than those unleashed in the 1950s and 60s, it follows that modern day nuclear bombs are now smaller, but more powerful.

This process of miniaturisation has continued ever since. By the early 1960s the US was well on the way to developing the Davy Crockett — the first nuclear rocket and small enough to use on a battlefield. Today, the US is believed to have hundreds of these so-called “tactical nukes” that in theory could be deployed from nuclear submarines.

They could include missiles and artillery shells. And their small size means they can be deployed at shorter range, but still with extraordinary power.

By contrast, North Korea’s recent missile tests have involved intercontinental ballistic missiles — that by definition cover a trajectory of thousands of kilometres and reach into space before re-entering the atmosphere. The heat and energy required for re-entry means size and weight are crucial.

As such the US, Japan and South Korea have been deeply sceptical until now that North Korea could possibly have the capability of fitting a nuclear warhead on a ballistic missile. If indeed Pyongyang has developed a miniaturised bomb, that would be a game changer.

Because it means North Korea has mastered the technology to build a Hydrogen bomb that is exponentially more powerful than an atomic bomb and could feasibly fit onto the end of an intercontinental ballistic missile.

It would mean the perceived threat from North Korea’s nuclear program is far more serious than thought.

And specifically, its threats to attack the US mainland — and potentially its allies, including Australia — can no longer be taken as just sabre rattling.

August 11, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

A missile strike on Guam is considered by North Korea

North Korea considers missile strike on Guam after Trump’s ‘fire and fury’ warning, Maureen N. Maratita and Philip Wen, GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) 8 Aug 17,- North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) – North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment ….. GUAM/DANDONG, China (Reuters) – North Korea said on Wednesday it is considering plans for a missile strike on the U.S. Pacific territory of Guam, just hours after President Donald Trump told the North that any threat to the United States would be met with “fire and fury”.

The sharp increase in tensions rattled financial markets and prompted warnings from U.S. officials and analysts not to engage in rhetorical slanging matches with North Korea.

Pyongyang said it was “carefully examining” a plan to strike Guam, which is home to about 163,000 people and a U.S. military base that includes a submarine squadron, an airbase and a Coast Guard group.

A Korean People’s Army spokesman said in a statement carried by state-run KCNA news agency the plan would be put into practice at any moment  once leader Kim Jong Un makes a decision……http://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-china-idUSKBN1AO011

August 9, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New UN sanctions on North Korea: US, South Korea pleased, China is wary

US, South Korea laud new UN sanctions on Pyongyang, Aljazeera, 6 Aug 17   Fresh UN sanctions come amid ASEAN meeting, where Chinese minister is urging North Korean official to abide by measures. The United States, China, Japan and South Korea have all welcomed tough new UN sanctions against North Korea over its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes…….

Meanwhile, Japan said it was time to exert more “efffective pressure” on Pyongyang rahter than to pursue dialogue.

“Now is not the time for dialogue but the time to increase effective pressure on North Korea so that they will take concrete actions towards de-nuclearisation,” deputy foreign ministry spokesman Toshihide Ando told a news conference in Manila.

The diplomats are meeting in Manila, the Philippine capital, as foreign ministers from across Asia gather for a regional ASEAN summit. …..

China’s vote on new UN sanctions helped clear the way for the 15-0 vote on Saturday.

Al Jazeera’s Rob McBride, reporting from Beijing, said that China is always careful when dealing with North Korea.

“The last thing China wants to see is North Korea being pushed to the point of its own self-destruction,” he said. “That is almost a worst-case scenario.” http://www.aljazeera.com/news/2017/08/south-korea-praise-sanctions-north-korea-170806045555844.html

August 7, 2017 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

China at UN urges negotiated solutions to North Korea nuclear issue

Chinese envoy stresses negotiated solutions to Korean nuclear issue http://news.xinhuanet.com/english/2017-08/01/c_136490946.htm 2017-08-01  UNITED NATIONS, Aug. 1 (Xinhua) — A Chinese envoy to the United Nations Monday called for negotiated solutions to the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.

Liu Jieyi, China’s permanent representative to the UN, made the statement at a press conference on Monday, marking the end of China’s rotating term of the Security Council President for the month of July.

Liu said China is firmly opposed to any violation of the Security Council (UNSC) resolutions, including nuclear tests and ballistic missile tests by the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK).

China has been urging the DPRK and other relevant countries not to exacerbate the situation on the Korean Peninsula by avoiding words and actions that could escalate regional tensions, which run counter to the objectives sought by the UNSC.

“Our objective is to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula, maintain peace and stability on the peninsula and to seek negotiated solutions through dialogues and consultations,” said the ambassador.

China is opposed to conflicts or wars on the peninsula, he said.

“Basically, if you can generalize broadly what relevant resolutions contain, they contain sanctions to address the nuclear ballistic missile programs in the DPRK,” he added. Liu said that normal economic relations should be maintained, and the resolutions are not intended to have adverse humanitarian consequences for the DPRK’s civilians.

“China has been working very hard to try to initiate an negotiated solution of the issues of denuclearization, peace and stability,” he said.

“In doing so, we have proposed a package solution, including ‘freeze for freeze’, ‘suspension for suspension’ and denuclearization for peace or security mechanism on the ground,” he added.

At the meeting, the ambassador also told the media that China has been working with the Russian Federation to put forth a road map for achieving regional peace and the UNSC’s objectives.

August 2, 2017 Posted by | China, North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment