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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

In 2017, USA considered plans to attack North Korea using nuclear weapons

September 15, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA, weapons and war | Leave a comment

The United States and its allies must learn how to live safely with a nuclear North Korea

On North Korea, Carnegie Endowment for International Peace,Toby Dalton, Co-director and Senior Fellow  Nuclear Policy Program, 9 Sep 20, 

The hard realities of North Korea’s nuclear program require a new approach by the United States.North Korea’s nuclear weapons are a fait accompli. Kim Jong Un is determined to hold on to them to guarantee his survival. Neither unilateral disarmament nor military confrontation is a viable U.S. policy approach, and maximum economic pressure will not change Kim’s calculus. The United States and its allies must learn how to live safely with a nuclear North Korea.

The United States and its allies must learn how to live safely with a nuclear North

Three practical goals should inform a new U.S. policy toward North Korea:

  1. Prevent crises that could lead to war
  2. Cap North Korea’s arsenal of nuclear and long-range missiles and prevent their export
  3. Buffer the alliances with Japan and South Korea against likely North Korean provocations

Additional objectives—for instance, preventing illicit trafficking and improving human rights—are important but ultimately secondary. Though desirable, regime change is too risky and uncertain to pursue, as recent experiences in Iraq and Libya suggest.

Accomplishing these three goals will require new negotiations just to establish rules of the road. North Korean demands are bound to be distasteful, but the costs of a negotiated agreement would be far less than those incurred through war or through increased military deployments in East Asia and the construction of a more extensive missile defense shield.

The costs of a negotiated agreement would be far less than those incurred through war.

Reaching a deal will involve helping North Korea overcome its suspicious, hard-nosed attitude. But an even greater challenge will be changing how Washington thinks about detecting and addressing the Kim regime’s possible cheating on a deal……… https://carnegieendowment.org/2020/09/09/on-north-korea-pub-82524

September 10, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, USA | Leave a comment

South Korea adviser calls for ‘six-party security summit’ to discuss North Korea nuclear issue

Moon’s adviser calls for ‘six-party security summit’ to discuss N.K. nuclear issue, Korea Herald, By Yonhap, 4 Sept 20, SEOUL (Yonhap) —A special security adviser to President Moon Jae-in on Friday suggested reviving the six-party talks on North Korea’s nuclear program in the form of a six-way summit, saying the issue is not a matter only between Washington and Pyongyang.

Moon Chung-in, special adviser for diplomatic and security affairs, made the remark during a security forum hosted by the Korea Institute for National Unification, stressing the importance of a “top-down approach” in efforts to resolve the issue.

“We need to revise the six-party talks that we failed in the past and we need to hold a ‘six-party security summit’ so that the leaders can discuss the issue of security and come up with an agreement on common security,” he said.

   “This way, we can solve the North Korean nuclear issue and materialize cooperative security,” he added……….  Nuclear negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang remain stalled after the early 2019 summit in Hanoi between the two leaders ended without a deal. The two sides were far apart over how far Pyongyang should denuclearize in order for Washington to offer concessions.
The six-party dialogue — involving the two Koreas, the U.S., China, Russia and Japan — began in 2003, but has not been held since 2008.(Yonhap)  http://www.koreaherald.com/view.php?ud=20200904000802

September 5, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, South Korea | Leave a comment

North Korea’s nuclear activity still a ‘serious concern’: UN watchdog 

North Korea’s nuclear activity still a ‘serious concern’: UN watchdog  https://nypost.com/2020/09/02/north-koreas-nuclear-activity-still-a-serious-concern-un/-By Ben Feuerherd, September 2, 2020 

Nuclear activities in North Korea remain a cause for “serious concern,” and the rogue totalitarian state continues to enrich uranium, which could be used in an atomic weapon, the UN’s watchdog said in a recent report.

The activities by the country are in “clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in the report that was released Tuesday.

The report also notes that what was once the heart of the country’s nuclear program, the Yongbyon site, has likely been shut down since 2018 — and that no plutonium has been produced there in the past year.

Nuclear activities in North Korea remain a cause for “serious concern,” and the rogue totalitarian state continues to enrich uranium, which could be used in an atomic weapon, the UN’s watchdog said in a recent report.

The activities by the country are in “clear violation of relevant UN Security Council resolutions,” the International Atomic Energy Agency wrote in the report that was released Tuesday.

The report also notes that what was once the heart of the country’s nuclear program, the Yongbyon site, has likely been shut down since 2018 — and that no plutonium has been produced there in the past year.

Still, the information it’s able to get about the program is “declining” because the agency’s been locked out of the hermit nation.

“Knowledge of the DPRK’s nuclear program is limited and, as further nuclear activities take place in the country, this knowledge is declining,” the report states.

 

September 3, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international | Leave a comment

Vulnerability of nuclear reactors to extreme weather events. Flooding all too close to North Korea’s main nuclear reactor

North Korea floods kill 22, approach nuclear reactor — but Kim doesn’t want help, WP, By Simon Denyer  August 14, 2020 ,  TOKYO — Flooding caused by weeks of unusually heavy monsoon rains has killed at least 22 people in North Korea, with four others missing, and even approached the country’s main nuclear reactor, but leader Kim Jong Un says he is too worried about coronavirus to accept outside help.

The International Federation of the Red Cross said the floods have left at least 22 people dead and four missing, citing the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea Red Cross and the country’s State Committee for Emergency and Disaster Management.

The floodwaters approached the Yongbyon nuclear complex last week, reaching the bases of two pump houses designed to cool the country’s main nuclear reactor, according to the 38 North website, citing satellite imagery.

The floodwaters have receded somewhat and pose “no imminent danger,” as the main reactor apparently has not been operating for some time and a nearby experimental light water reactor has yet to come online, said Jenny Town, deputy director of 38 North, part of the Stimson Center.

“In the long run, though, it exposes a vulnerability of the reactors to extreme weather events such as floods,” she wrote in an email, noting that North Korea has been working on building an embankment and dam along the Kuryong River to offer better protection.

“But this year, the river level is usually high,” Town added. “If this were to happen when a reactor was running, it could cause problems in the cooling systems that would necessitate the reactors to be shut down.” ……….  https://www.washingtonpost.com/world/north-korea-floods-kill-22-approach-nuclear-reactor–but-kim-doesnt-want-help/2020/08/13/f53992a8-ddda-11ea-b4f1-25b762cdbbf4_story.html

August 15, 2020 Posted by | climate change, North Korea | Leave a comment

Flooding might have damaged Bort Korea’s nuclear reactor site

August 13, 2020 Posted by | climate change, North Korea, safety | Leave a comment

Kim Jong Un says that North Korea’s nuclear weapons guarantee its freedom from attack, and war

North Korea’s Kim Says No More War Thanks to Nuclear Weapons, VOA, By Reuters   July 27, 2020 SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has said there will be no more war as the country’s nuclear weapons guarantee its safety and future despite unabated outside pressure and military threats, state media said Tuesday.

Kim made the remarks as he celebrated the 67th anniversary of the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, which fell on July 27, with a reception for veterans, the official KCNA news agency said.

The country developed nuclear weapons to win “absolute strength” to stave off another armed conflict, Kim said in a speech carried by KCNA, emphasizing the defensive nature of the programs. ………

The speech came amid stalled talks aimed at dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs in exchange for sanctions relief from Washington.  ……https://www.voanews.com/east-asia-pacific/north-koreas-kim-says-no-more-war-thanks-nuclear-weapon

July 28, 2020 Posted by | North Korea, politics international, weapons and war | Leave a comment