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North Korea’s new tactical nuclear weapons means new dangers, new U.S. strategy needed

North Korea’s tactical nuclear weapons expand deterrence, risk

Experts say sanctions relief would get North Korea’s attention to return to negotiations as the country faces economic downfall.   Aljazeera, By Frank Smith3 Apr 2021   Seoul, South Korea 
– North Korea appears to be well on its way to becoming a mature nuclear state despite longstanding United Nations sanctions, after Pyongyang’s tests in late March of cruise and ballistic missiles capable of carrying tactical nuclear warheads.

North Korea’s nuclear development increased dramatically under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power in 2010 following the death of his father, Kim Jong Il.

Kim Il Sung, the founder of North Korea and Kim Jong Un’s grandfather, conducted 15 ballistic missile tests between 1983 and 1993, according to the database of the Nuclear Threat Initiative, a Washington think-tank.Kim Jong Il oversaw two nuclear tests and 16 missile tests.

Kim Jong Un has presided over four nuclear tests and 91 ballistic missile tests, as well as the launches of cruise missiles and the firing of rocket-propelled artillery.

“They clearly see this type of weapons development as a key to their survival, and they will not stop,” Eric Gomez, director of defence policy studies at the Cato Institute, told Al Jazeera, while at the same time suggesting there was a window through which the US could at least reduce the threat with greater efforts and compromise.

North Korean missile development has continued even as the North has been subject to strict UN Security Council sanctions and through on-and-off talks on denuclearisation.Negotiations have now been stalled for about two years and North Korea has rebuffed offers to resume discussions from the new US administration under Joe Biden.

Predictable patternThe development of nuclear and missile programmes has followed a somewhat predictable pattern………..

……Kim’s wish listTactical nuclear weapons are one of the items on Kim’s wish list that elicit concern, because, despite Kim Jong Un’s assumed preference to maintain personal “assertive control” over any launch of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, with tactical nuclear weapons that expectation changes.“Tactical nuclear weapons are a big headache when it comes to command and control … as they lend themselves to pre-delegation to officers in the field,” explained Panda.

That means tactical nuclear weapons could be more widely distributed throughout the country, to more officials capable of launching them in the case of a perceived attack, which raises additional concerns, according to analysts…………

………..the US will have to give more concessions than it has been willing to in the past. Experts said sanctions relief would get North Korea’s attention, particularly with the deterioration of the country’s economy as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and the closure of borders with China, its key trading partner.It’s an “important source of leverage … a door the North Koreans would be looking to crack open,” said the Carnegie Endowment’s Panda, advocating talks aimed at risk reduction.

The Biden administration has said it will soon conclude its policy review on North Korea, which will provide some clarity concerning the new US president’s strategy towards Pyongyang……. https://www.aljazeera.com/news/2021/4/3/north-korea-expanding-and-enhancing-its-weaponry

April 6, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong-un wants ”arms control talks” with USA, not denuclearisation in the short term

March 23, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Expert panel reports that North Korea is relying on cyberattacks to fund nuclear weapons.

February 13, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, secrets,lies and civil liberties | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un signals plans to develop new nuclear weapons

Kim Jong Un signals plans to develop new nuclear weapons.  North Korea raises tensions with incoming US administration of Joe Biden. Ft.com      Edward White in Seoul JANUARY 9 2021  Kim Jong Un has signalled plans to develop new nuclear weapons and described the US as North Korea’s “biggest enemy”, moves that threaten to raise tensions with US president-elect Joe Biden. The North Korean leader’s comments, made at a rare gathering of top political officials in Pyongyang, marked the dictator’s strongest broadside against Washington since Mr Biden won the presidency in November’s election.

“Our external political activities going forward should be focused on suppressing and subduing the US, the basic obstacle, biggest enemy against our revolutionary development,” Mr Kim said,  according to a translation by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency.  ………. https://www.ft.com/content/b4971c6e-8b89-43b5-93d2-9098d5f229ef

January 10, 2021 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Economic crisis forces North Korea to put new nuclear parade facilities on ice.

Kim Jong Un forced to put new nuclear parade facilities on ice.   Satellite images show economic crisis is delaying North Korean leader’s vanity projects, Edward White in Seoul,  DECEMBER 24 2020 “…….”…….The delays are the latest indications of the financial crisis unfolding in the secretive state, where the economy has been buffeted by sanctions, pandemic-linked border closures and damage from extreme flooding and typhoons this year. Rapid construction previously observed at Wonsan, as well as a new hospital in Pyongyang and facilities at a training ground for the regime’s theatrical nuclear weapons parades continue to “lose steam”, according to analysis of images published on Wednesday by 38 North, a programme run by the Stimson Center, a US think-tank.  ……. https://www.ft.com/content/68dd3c40-5add-4ce7-979c-63cbb945aa58

December 26, 2020 Posted by | business and costs, North Korea, politics | Leave a comment

Good Biden-Kim Relationship Necessary to Avoid a Nuclear Crisis 

Good Biden-Kim Relationship Necessary to Avoid a Nuclear Crisis   Council  on Foreign Relations,  by Guest Blogger for Asia Unbound,  December 4, 2020   The incoming Biden administration will face a nuclear catastrophe unless it can build good relations with North Korea. The U.S. President-Elect can begin by sending the right signals to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un.

Because North Korea has nuclear weapons, the Biden administration cannot unilaterally impose terms on Pyongyang. Refusal to even talk with Pyongyang until it takes steps to denuclearize is a foolish and dangerous approach. Such an approach will likely inflame tensions and return Washington to a tense nuclear standoff with Pyongyang that poses a risk of miscalculation and accidental escalation into a nuclear war. Biden may be under pressure to be “tough” on North Korea to differentiate himself from Trump’s alleged cozy relationship with the North Korean dictator. However, a hostile stance toward Pyongyang will only make North Korea feel more insecure and drive Kim to pursue further nuclear development to ensure his regime’s survival.
Washington must recognize that Pyongyang has no incentive to denuclearize if the regime finds in nuclear weapons a guarantor of its survival and prestige. …………. https://www.cfr.org/blog/good-biden-kim-relationship-necessary-avoid-nuclear-crisis

December 7, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

North Korea sparks new nuclear weapons fears

North Korea sparks new nuclear weapons fears, By Sarah Keane, 20 November 2020   NORTH Korea sparks new nuclear weapons fears as experts confirm uranium factory is now active

The International Atomic Energy Agency watchdog has spotted fresh activity at Kim Jong-un’s ‘secret’ uranium factories, sparking new nuke bomb fears….. https://www.euroweeklynews.com/2020/11/20/north-korea-sparks-new-nuclear-weapons-fears/

November 21, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

North Korea, with its new intercontinental-range ballistic missile makes it clear that it is a nuclear weapons nation

A Nuclear North Korea’s Wake-up Call, A spectacular pre-dawn parade on Saturday served to remind the world of North Korea’s continuing missile progress.  The Diplomat, By Ankit Panda, October 13, 2020  On Saturday, October 10, North Korea celebrated the 75th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK), the country’s ruling party. The occasion was celebrated in a grand way, with an unprecedented pre-dawn military parade. Thousands of uniformed military personnel marched through Pyongyang’s renovated Kim Il Sung Square in perfect unison, trailed by scores of heavy military vehicles……..

A ‘New Strategic Weapon,’ As Promised

The parade reached its climax with the reveal of an all-new intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) design. Prior to the parade, North Korea’s largest known nuclear-capable ballistic missile was the Hwasong-15, the ICBM that was tested for the first (and so far only) time in November 2017. After four Hwasong-15s rolled through Kim Il Sung Square, an even larger missile appeared in its wake. Four of these super-large ICBMs followed in the wake of the Hwasong-15s, in a single file formation. Not only were these missiles the largest ever to be seen in North Korea, they were the largest road-mobile missiles on integrated launchers seen anywhere in the world……….

For the United States, this missile is not good news. Not only does it underscore the failure of the Trump administration’s diplomatic attempts to constrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs; it also emphasizes the continuing growth of Pyongyang’s qualitative capabilities. A lot remains unknown about the precise capabilities of this new missile, but its sheer size certainly implies that it would be capable of carrying and delivering multiple nuclear reentry vehicles to likely the entire continental U.S. As North Korea’s weapons-grade fissile material stocks continue to grow, it likely will have enough fissile material on hand to justify allocating resources toward a multiple reentry vehicle capability. ………

By adding warheads to its ICBMs, North Korea will improve the probability that at least one of its thermonuclear reentry vehicles successfully penetrates U.S. missile defenses. To keep up with changes in North Korea’s growing force, the U.S. will have to spend hundreds of millions adding interceptors. North Korea, meanwhile, even under economic sanctions, appears fully capable of continuing to expand its ICBM capabilities………

Despite the nighttime setting, Kim’s reveal of his new ICBM made it clear as day that North Korea remained a capable and growing nuclear state………

What the parade does in the end is clarify the big picture about North Korea’s status as a nuclear weapons possessor: its nuclear forces grow larger and more refined with every passing week. Having largely crossed the qualitative thresholds it felt were needed for a rudimentary and minimally credible deterrent in 2017, Pyongyang is continuing to evolve its force.

Ankit Panda is editor-at-large at The Diplomat, the Stanton senior fellow in the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and author of ‘Kim Jong Un and the Bomb: Survival and Deterrence in North Korea’ (Hurst/Oxford University Press, 2020). Follow him on Twitter at @nktpnd. https://thediplomat.com/2020/10/a-nuclear-north-koreas-wake-up-call/

October 15, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

New North Korean missile will prove a big diplomatic headache for US, expert warns

October 13, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un showcases North Korea’s biggest intercontinental missile

Kim Jong Un unveils North Korea’s biggest intercontinental missile
Pyongyang advances its weapons technology despite impact of sanctions and coronavirus,
Edward White, 11 Oct 20,

 Kim Jong Un has unveiled North Korea’s biggest ever intercontinental ballistic missile, highlighting his determination to develop the nation’s nuclear weapons capability despite tough international sanctions. The new long-range missile was revealed at a two-hour military parade, held at Kim Il Sung Square that also showcased new technology across smaller weaponssystems.  
………Mr Kim’s showcasing of his military prowess comes as international experts say North Korea is facing its worst economic crisis in at least 10 years. Strictly enforced coronavirus-related border closures have led to a plunge in trade with China and the country has been hit by extreme flooding, exacerbating the severe hit to state finances stemming from several years of tough US and UN sanctions.  ………

  The reminder of the nuclear threat posed by Mr Kim comes against a backdrop of stalled talks between Pyongyang and Washington — despite three meetings in two years with US president Donald Trump. The two sides have failed to agree on a plan that encompasses US demands for Mr Kim to give up his nuclear weapons and North Korea’s insistence that the Trump administration and the UN ease sanctions. With the US election just weeks away there is rising uncertainty over the US approach to North Korea under a potential Biden administration.  ……… https://www.ft.com/content/2a7b7ec0-1cd5-4b4a-bb03-0a0f5333ea37

October 12, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un Set to Show Off Nuclear Advances in Message to Trump

October 10, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment

Reduced water level poses a problem for North Korea’s nuclear reactor, if it’s restarted

September 28, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Satellite imagery shows North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Center is drying off after breaching of overflow dam

North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Center: Drying Off, 38 NORTH BY: PETER MAKOWSKYFRANK PABIANJACK LIU AND JENNY TOWN, SEPTEMBER 25, 2020   EXCELLENT SATELLITE IMAGERY

Commercial satellite imagery of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center from September 21 reveals minimal damage to the buildings throughout the complex, but notable damage along the river. Moreover, the breaching of the overflow dam, which regulates the water level of the river adjacent to the reactor area, raises a more serious concern about the ability to maintain a steady reservoir of water for the reactors when they may be operating in the future.

Additionally, substantial grain drying activities are observed throughout the complex and nearby town. While this is a common occurrence during the harvest season, the scale of what is taking place is well beyond what has been observed in previous years.

Reactor Area

There are no observable indications that the 5 MWe reactor is operating or that the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) has been started. Some vehicles are present around the 5 MWe reactor area, but this has become fairly common over the past year.

The typhoons, which recently impacted North Korea’s west coast, have once again shown the vulnerability of the reactors to seasonal flooding. This is despite the numerous measures taken to protect the site, including dredging along the riverbank to build up the embankments.

The eastern end of the reservoir dam has been breached, resulting in a dramatically lower water level behind the dam, a sharp contrast with the previously reported flooding. The reduced water level has left the two pumphouses servicing the reactors “high and dry,” with the water level above the dam down significantly and the intake cisterns exposed.

The inability to maintain a stable reservoir level, regardless of weather conditions, poses a potential problem for continuous reactor operations if the 5 MWe reactor is restarted or the ELWR is brought online.

Uranium Enrichment Plant (UEP)

At the Uranium Enrichment Plant, what appeared to be work on the cooling units in July to repair, replace or remove old units seems to have been suspended as post-typhoon clean up and repairs and harvest-related activities are currently underway.

Construction and clean-up on the nearby causeway and bridge continues. It appears that sections of the two man-made islands and channels that were damaged from previous flooding are undergoing repairs……. https://www.38north.org/2020/09/yongbyon092520/

September 28, 2020 Posted by | climate change, North Korea | Leave a comment

U.S. general says that North Korea has a ”small” number of nuclear weapons (over 70?)

September 19, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, weapons and war | Leave a comment

USA DID have a plan to drop 80 nuclear weapons on Nortrh Korea

Yes, The United States DidDraw Up A Plan To Drop 80 Nuclear Weapons On North Korea, In 2017, a war between North Korea and the United States was “much closer than anyone would know,” President Trump claims. The Drive BY THOMAS NEWDICK, SEPTEMBER 18, 2020. 
Current nuclear war plans are among any nuclear-armed military’s most closely guarded secrets. Details of one such attack plan recently became available, however, revealing that the United States envisaged using 80 nuclear weapons in case of war with North Korea. The way this particular detail emerged is also pretty unusual — the associated passage appeared in U.S. journalist Bob Woodward’s book Rage, detailing President Trump’s administration, which was published this week.

This can be read two ways: a potential attack from the North could involve the use of 80 nuclear weapons, or the same number of weapons can be envisaged as a possible U.S. response to a first strike ordered by Pyongyang.

In an interview with NPR, Woodward cleared up any confusion, noting that the 80 nuclear weapons were part of a U.S. attack plan — OPLAN 5027, which would include ‘decapitating’ the North Korean regime of dictator Kim Jong-un.

“I think given North Korea is a rogue nation, they have, as I report, probably a couple of dozen nuclear weapons well-hidden and concealed,” Woodward explained to NPR. The veteran journalist confirmed that the then U.S. Secretary of Defense James Mattis was worried he might have to issue orders for a nuclear strike on North Korea. “The potential we’d have to shoot to prevent a second launch was real,” Mattis admitted.
“You’re going to incinerate a couple million people,” Mattis told himself, according to Woodward. “No person has the right to kill a million people as far as I’m concerned, yet that’s what I have to confront.” 
According to Woodward, Trump was worried that shooting down a North Korean ballistic missile (nuclear-armed or otherwise) on a trajectory headed toward the United States could prompt a full-scale nuclear attack from the “Hermit Kingdom.” Woodward writes that Trump had delegated authority to Jim Mattis to launch a conventionally armed interceptor missile to shoot down any North Korean missile that might be headed for the United States.

Woodward said that Mattis confided in him that he was not worried that Trump might launch a preemptive strike against North Korea. Instead, the source of his angst was the North Korean leader in Pyongyang.

In fact, such was Mattis’s level of concern that he would sleep in his gym clothes, Woodward claims. “There was a light in his bathroom… if he was in the shower and they detected a North Korean launch.”

There were alarm bells set up in Mattis’s bedroom and kitchen too, and on more than one occasion during the summer of 2017 they sounded the alert, and he entered the communications room in his Washington DC residency. Woodward explains that Mattis’s car was also constantly followed by an SUV with a team equipped to plot the flight path of any incoming missile, whether it was threatening Japan, South Korea, or the United States. If Mattis considered the missile hostile, he had a mobile communications link to issue launch orders to shoot it down. …………

Clearly, the status of a nuclear-armed North Korea provided much pause for thought within the U.S. administration during Mattis’ tenure as Secretary of Defense. That a strike plan against North Korea involving 80 nuclear weapons was discussed between the president and his defense secretary isn’t all that hard to imagine………..

One of the options under consideration in Washington was OPLAN 5015, a nuclear strike to take out the North Korean leadership, which Woodward also refers to, drawing again from his extensive interviews with Trump. Specifically, Woodward mentions “updating” such a plan — after all, Kim Jong-un and his predecessors will have always been priority targets in the case of an all-out war. ……………… https://www.thedrive.com/the-war-zone/36519/yes-the-united-states-did-draw-up-a-plan-to-drop-80-nuclear-weapons-on-north-korea

September 19, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment