Did America hide N. Korean rocket intel from Seoul?

That’s what the Kyunghyang Shinmun is suggesting, citing a report in Japan’s Sankei Shimbun.

According to the report, the US government limited its provision to South Korea of secret intel, including satellite photos, during the final stages of North Korea’s rocket launch preparations. Washington was reportedly upset about the South Korean government leaking intel on North Korea to the South Korean press, so responded by keeping Seoul in the dark.

Quoting multiple Japanese government officials, the Sankei reported today that Washington withheld satellite intel from Seoul as North Korea entered the final stage of its preparations.

With the United States withholding intel, Seoul could not get a grasp on North Korean preparations after it had first disassembled its rocket, and speculation spread that it would be a while before the North would be able to launch.

On the other hand, the paper reported that the United States continued to supply the Japanese government with satellite photo intel, allowing the Japanese government to respond quickly. The Japanese foreign minister, in fact, alluded to close cooperation with the United States in a press conference held immediately after the launch.

Marmot’s Note: I’m skeptical—considering the source, this might be nothing more than Japanese right-wing trouble-making. I really should be surprised that a good progressive paper like the Kyunghyang isn’t displaying more skepticism, too. But I’m not.

Call it wishful thinking, but I refuse to believe the United States stiffed Seoul on something this important, and I especially refuse to believe the United States would intentionally embarrass the pro-American administration of a major ally right before what everyone predicts to be a close presidential election.

Still, if I might be able to play LMB spin-doctor for a moment, with criticism coming from Moon Jae-in and other progressive sorts that the conservatives have screwed the pouch pooch as far as national security is concerned, this at least gives them an excuse—blame Obama!

(HT to Don Kim)

  • http://www.askakorean.net/ The_Korean

    First, I’m pretty sure the expression is “screw the pooch.”
    Second, is this turning out to be an embarrassing season for conservatives, or what? One of the few redeeming qualities of the conservatives were that they were supposed to be better at national security and U.S.-ROK relations. Well, they didn’t even realize the rocket was going up (much less stop it,) and U.S. stiffed LMB.
    — of course, I qualify the foregoing with: “if this is all true.” I likewise have doubts when I saw the news, which is why I didn’t write a post about it :)

  • SalarymaninSeoul

    And how were they supposed to stop it?

  • http://humesbastard.wordpress.com/ Hume’s Bastard

    And, here it is that one of Seoul’s arguments against the GSOMIA with Japan was, that Seoul didn’t need Japanese intelligence when it had America’s. Maybe the Obama administration found a way to bitch slap the Lee administration for that blunder.

  • Dokdoforever

    China will be the long run loser here. If NK develops ICBM technology they can neutralize the US nuclear umbrella. SK and Japan will both need their own nukes and speed development of anti- missile systems. Those can of course be used against China as well as NK and China ends up less secure as a result.

  • ig5959292ee

    very true

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    Treat Sankei stuff like you would treat FOX exclusives.

  • Jang

    The damn thing is out of control. Looking for a few good space traffic cops!
    “Now in orbit, though, that satellite doesn’t appear to be capable of doing… well, much of anything. In fact, U.S. officials told NBC News the object appears to be “tumbling out of control.”

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    LMB’s fall from grace in Korea, assuming he ever enjoyed that status, has been more than matched by that in Washington since he bungled GSOMIA and visited Dokdo. I nevertheless remain highly suspicions of the self-serving Sankei report.

  • will.i.aint

    The fact of the matter is that regardless of how important some pieces of North Korea-related intelligence are – the US does not share everything with South Korea. And it’s the same for other close allies as well. And South Korea does the exact same with the US – it has tons of North Korea-related intelligence that it will never share with the US. It’s just the nature of the beast.

  • http://atlantarofters.blogspot.com The Sanity Inspector

    The U.S. should let ROK take the gloves off and partner with them, to develop their own missile technology, instead of having them futzing around with the Russians.

  • will.i.aint

    I should have included this in my first post.

    **IF** the US withheld intelligence that it normally provides – then you have a news story here. If it’s a case of the US not providing something that it doesn’t normally provide anyway – then you have someone trying to make news out of nothing.