The Marmot's Hole

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Tag: North Korean nukes (page 1 of 2)

Who said North Korea lacked a sense of humor?

Hwang Pyong-So, the director of the North Korean military’s General Political Bureau, has threatened to nuke the White House and the Pentagon:

A senior North Korean military official on Sunday threatened to launch a nuclear strike on the White House and Pentagon, according to Agence France-Presse.

“If the US imperialists threaten our sovereignty and survival … our troops will fire our nuclear-armed rockets at the White House and the Pentagon — the sources of all evil,” Hwang Pyong-So said in a speech in Pyongyang during a military rally.

Hwang is director of the military’s General Political Bureau.

You know what the problem with North Korea is? They never threaten to nuke something good. Like your local DMV or the IRS. Or Boston.

Anyway, the US State Department shrugged off the threat. In fact, in the department’s latest press briefing, they hardly mentioned it at all (and only at the very end). Apparently, there’s more important stuff going on in the Levant and the Ukraine.

Speaking of North Korea and the Levant, though, a report in the Telegraph suggests Hamas might be hitting the North Koreans up for missiles and communication support:

Hamas is attempting to negotiate a new arms deal with North Korea for missiles and communications commitment that will allow it to maintain its offensive against Israel, according to Western security sources.

Security officials say the deal between Hamas and North Korea is worth hundreds of thousands of dollars and is being handled by a Lebanese-based trading company with ties to the militant Palestinian organization.

Hamas officials are believed to have already made an initial cash downpayment to secure the deal and are hoping that North Korea will soon begin shipping extra supplies of weapons to Gaza.

One suspects North Korean cargo ships may begin experiencing a series of catastrophic accidents as certain individuals begin disappearing from the streets of Beirut.

SOUTH Korean nukes: pros and cons

Media Today took a look at conservative calls South Korea to develop its own nuclear deterrent, and presented counterarguments by a couple of progressive analysts.

Saenuri Party lawmaker and former party chief Chung Mong-joon (who, as a Hyundai scion, is Korea’s seventh richest man) was the first to get on the South Korean nuclear bandwagon, telling an assembly of lawmakers yesterday that Seoul needed to convince the United States that if North Korea goes nuclear, South Korea, too, would have no choice but to acquire “a minimum of self-defensive power.” He added, “You can’t say you can defend your home with a single stone when your thug neighbor has bought the latest machine gun.” He said with North Korea’s nukes hanging above South Korea’s head, Seoul now needed to decide whether to leave South Korea’s security in North Korea’s hands or remove North Korea’s nukes, even if Seoul must make certain sacrifices to do this.

Rep. Won Yoo-chul—who, incidentally, used to be chairman of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee—said Seoul needed to comprehensively considered from multiple angles the need to declare that South Korea would arm itself with nuclear weapons, based on the premise that it would abandon these weapons immediately once the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved. He said Seoul should also consider whether it should ask the United States to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea and revise plans to reassume wartime operational command and abolish the CFC so that these take place only after a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue is achieved.

Then there’s former Weekly Chosun magazine editor Cho Gap-je, who has been leading the charge for a South Korean Force de Frappe over at his website. In a piece posted yesterday, he laid out ten points for why and how South Korea should go nuclear. They are:

  1. Korea can develop nuclear weapons in a short period of time, and they can make much more and much better ones than the North Koreans.
  2. Korea has a leading nuclear power industry, so it can build reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities with its own technology. And Korea’s got a ton of used nuclear fuel and uranium to reprocess/enrich.
  3. Legally speaking, the things preventing Korea from going nuclear are the NPT and the bilateral nuclear agreement with the United States.
  4. South Korea should withdraw from the NPT and amend its bilateral agreement with the United States. South Korea could do this by noting that the international community failed to stop North Korea from going nuclear, creating for South Korea a fatal security crisis. South Korea’s nukes should be considered an exercise in sovereignty for national survival. To convince the international community of this, strong diplomacy would be needed.
  5. South Korea’s nuclear weapons development would be different in character from those of North Korea, Israel, India and Pakistan. For South Korea, nuclear weapon development would be a choice for survival since the international community stood by and watched while North Korea developed its nuclear weapons first.
  6. Seoul should declare openly that it intends to develop nuclear weapons, even if the actual development is conducted in secret. Seoul needs to do this legally and with chin up. Seoul should also make clear that it is prepared to abandon its nuclear program if North Korea abandons its nuclear program.
  7. South Korea should develop its nukes with public consensus. You can even hold a referendum. We must give the international community the impression that nuclear weapons are an overwhelming demand of the public and cannot be stopped.
  8. A movement to develop nukes could become a golden opportunity for Koreans to overcome their longtime servility and flunkyism. If Koreans come together to decide on their own survival, it could resolve a lot of the illnesses of Korean society.
  9. Korea must accept some economic losses in the name of security. Moreover, if Korea pleads with and convinces the international community with rational arguments, it might not get slapped with sanctions. It’s almost impossible for market economies to slap economic sanctions on one another (Marmot’s Note: Somebody tell the South Africans that). In this regard, the KORUS FTA is a safety valve. The way to overcoming servility and flunkyism is to strengthen Korea’s diplomatic power so that it can deal with American and Chinese pressure after stressing that Korea faced a crisis after it was threatened by a nuclear-armed gangster state and making it clear that it would abandon its nukes once the North did.
  10. We must continuously convene mass gatherings in Gwanghwamun calling for South Korea to develop nukes.

Cho’s former mother paper, the Chosun Ilbo, called for South Korea to develop nukes in an editorial yesterday (Marmot’s Note: see my summary in yesterday’s post), and the Segye Ilbo did the same, calling for a revision to South Korea’s bilateral nuclear agreement with the United States banning Seoul from nuclear reprocessing.

Not everyone’s getting on the bandwagon, though. Yonsei professor and Western media favorite Moon Jung-in told Media Today that not only would South Korea’s development of nuclear weapons by unreasonable, but it would be “rash nuclear ethno-nationalism” that could lead to the suspension of the development of Korea’s domestic nuclear industry.

He also poo-pooed the idea of getting the United States to redeploy tactical nukes to South Korea, noting that the United States has been destroying its tactical nukes since Bush Senior, and that it removed its tactical nukes formerly deployed at Gunsan Air Base because the cost of maintaining and securing them outweighed their benefit. He said tactical nukes had disappeared from recent US strategic concepts.

About South Korea developing its own nukes, Moon said such voices are growing louder with Park Geun-hye taking office since her father tried to develop nuclear weapons, but the problem is where to get the uranium and plutonium. He said Seoul asked the Americans to allow them to reprocess spent fuel in last year’s talks to revise the bilateral nuclear agreement, but the United States said no precisely because the Americans were concerned the Koreans could use reprocessed fuel to build nuclear weapons.

If the Koreans try to secretly bring in plutonium and uranium, it would violate the NPT and nuclear fuel provisions from the IAEA’s NSG would be suspended immediately. This could suspend the development of Korea’s nuclear power industry. And even if South Korea does succeed in developing nuclear weapons, would the North Koreans be frightened? Instead of a deterrent, it would lead to nuclear proliferation, and Northeast Asia would suffer from a nuclear domino effect with Japan and China getting involved.

Kim Jong-dae, the editor-in-chief of progressive military affairs journal Defense 21, also told Media Today that not only does the United States not have nuclear weapons to place in South Korea, but it disassembled all its tactical nukes everywhere in the 1990s because it was already widely accepted that battlefield nukes were useless. Moreover, it would be risky and politically burdensome for the United States to redeploy tactical nukes to the South, so why would they?

Kim said the North Korean nuclear test is a question of nuclear proliferation, and the United States is looking to prevent nuclear proliferation, so placing nukes in South Korea would create a contradiction. It’s a mistake to believe the United States will do anything South Korea asks just because it’s an ally.

Kim said Korea has developed economically by following the rules of the international community, and it wasn’t worth considering arming South Korea with nukes by severing all those relationships should it withdraw from the NPT and declare it would develop nukes.

Media Today also notes that unlike the Chosun Ilbo, the JoongAng Ilbo and other conservative papers said South Korea should not abandon the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula nor develop nuclear weapons.

Marmot’s Note: When you live in a neighborhood when China, Russia and North Korea all have nukes, I see no reason why South Korea shouldn’t have them. Would it pressure the North to abandon its nuclear program? Probably not—the North pursues its nuclear program primarily to blackmail the United States. Still, South Korea’s got plenty of other security concerns outside of North Korea, and an independent nuclear arsenal would serve to keep its neighbors honest.

As for Korea suffering sanctions, I’m not so sure that will happen. Not in the long-term, anyway. The United States eventually reconciled itself to a nuclear India, and South Korea not only has a much closer security relationship with the United States than India, but it’s in a neighborhood with three other nuclear powers. I think Seoul could convincingly argue to the international community that they did things their way, and all it got South Koreans was a nuclear gun pointed at their head with Kim Jong-un on the trigger.

Anyway, in another piece, Cho Gap-je asks why the United States would punish South Korea for developing nuclear weapons when the United States OK’d India’s nuclear program, to say nothing of all the aid Washington gave Pakistan in the War on Terror:

인도와 파키스탄은 核확산금지조약에 가입하지 않은 나라이다. 그런 나라에 대하여 미국이 이렇게 협조적인 것은, 두 나라가 미국의 國益(국익)에 소중한 존재이기 때문이다. 인도는 중국을 견제하고, 파키스탄은 알카에다와 탈레반을 견제한다. 東北亞에서 미국의 전략적 利害(이해)관계에 보조를 맞추어온 한국은 파키스탄과 인도보다 못한 존재인가? 한국 정부와 한국인들은 자신들의 전략적 가치를 미국에 대하여 한번도 시험해본 적이 없다. 몸값이 얼마나 높은지도 모른다.
미국에 있어서 한국은 전략적, 경제적, 군사적 몸값이 영국, 프랑스, 독일, 인도에 못지 않는 나라가 되었다. 더구나 우리는 참을 만큼 참아 왔다. 6者 회담이 국제사기극이란 사실을 알면서도 굴욕을 참고 미국과 보조를 맞추려 하였다. 더 참는 것은 노예의 삶이다.


What would happen if a 7 kt nuke exploded over Yongsan, and other assorted North Korean nuke-related crap

South Korea’s netizens are reacting to North Korea’s nuclear test as best they can—by not giving a rat’s ass. On Naver’s list of top search words of the day yesterday, the North Korean nuke test came in just fourth. At the top of the list was Korean cosmetic brand Innisfree’s sale.

At least one Twitterer knew where to lay the blame.

Now, to be fair, the Korean media has been all over the test, although I suspect they, like your Uncle Marmot, are simply going through the motions out of a sense of duty, not because they actually care.

The Chosun Ilbo, however, really does care. They’re running a ton of stuff on it, including this wonderful story about what would happen after a 6—7 kiloton air burst over Seoul. Such an air burst would create a fireball 1.2 km wide and destroy buildings within 2 km radius. Within 2 months, 200,000 people would be dead.

Or so said a nuclear physicist at SNU. The US Defense Department ran its own simulation in 1998 predicated on 15 kiloton air burst over Yongsan. That one evaporated buildings within a 150 m radius and left people within a 1.5 km radius with third degree burns. Overall, it killed 620,000 people.

Your Uncle Marmot would probably be evaporated. Future generations of school children would come to see my shadow burned into the landscape and ask, “Teacher, why is that one’s ass so much bigger than the others?”

Anyway, the Chosun Ilbo’s editorial—which hasn’t been translated yet, perhaps because it’s long—was worth the read. To sum up what I took away from it, Ye Olde Chosun asks incoming President Park to figure out how to correct the security imbalance between the nuclear North and non-nuclear South. One option is to ask the Americans to reintroduce to South Korea tactical nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn after the 1991 Korean denuclearization declaration. The United States would reportedly grant such a request if made. Park could also consider delaying the transfer of wartime operational control from the United States to South Korea, currently set for 2015, although the Chosun wonders whether it would be effective to entrust the fate of Korea to the US nuclear umbrella when the North has its own nukes.

The Chosun also notes that North Korea won’t abandon its nukes with aid or security guarantees, and that neither the United States nor China seem able (in the case of the United States) or willing (in the case of China) to get North Korea to behave. What the Chosun would like to do, however, is for Korea to make a strategic choice that would get the United States and China to work together to change North Korean behavior. Now, Ye Olde Chosun never spells out what that choice should be, but it strongly hints at it. With North Korea pointing nukes at the South’s head, Seoul must impress on the Americans and Chinese that the South is willing to do what it does not want to do —“regardless of great threats or sacrifices”—to protect itself.

In case you’re incredibly thick, the Korea’s paper of record is recommending Park Geun-hye threaten to develop an independent South Korean nuclear deterrent. Which I think is kind of cool—you know, the daughter finishing what the father started.

Oh, the Defense Ministry announced it would soon deploy cruise missiles capable of hitting anywhere in North Korea, and that it would also acquire ballistic missiles with ranges of 800 km. The Chosun also reports that the United States is likely to push Korea harder to participate in missile defense. Which I think is only fair—if we’re going to put American cities at risk to defend South Korea, the least the Korean side could do is allow us to defend said cities from Korean territory.

The Hankyoreh is calling for a strong but cool-headed reaction, which I can only assume does not include the development of an independent nuclear arsenal. Bummer. They did call for the ruling and opposition parties to put their heads together to come up with a creative solution that would sever the vicious cycle of North Korean provocations and international sanctions. I’ll let you figure out what that means.

BREAKING NEWS: North Korea finally nukes itself for a third time

Korean and American observers picked up a 5.1 earthquake in North Korea’s Kilju region at 11:57 am, meaning that in all likelihood, North Korea has just pulled ahead of Japan in the rankings for Asia’s most nuked nation.

For what it’s worth, CFC has lowered its “Watch Condition” from 3 to 2.

UPDATE: A Defense Ministry spokesman estimated the nuke test at six to seven kilotons. Or it would be six to seven kilotons if it were a nuke test, which has not been officially confirmed. Anyway, if it was a nuke test, it produced a bigger bang than the 2009 test.

UPDATE 2: David Sanger tweeted a funny:

UPDATE 3: A (South) Korean government official told Yonhap that North Korea informed the United States, China and Russia yesterday that it would conduct a nuke test. They’ve notified the United States and China prior to their past tests, too.

UPDATE 4: Now the KCNA is reporting the test, bragging that not only was it more powerful, but the warhead was miniaturized and lightened. Oh, and fear not, tree huggers—the KCNA proudly noted that surrounding ecological environment was not impacted by the test.

North Korean nuke crap

North Korea’s really, really upset after the chairman of South Korea’s Joint Chiefs told the National Assembly that the South would launch preemptive strikes against the North’s nuclear facilities:

“On the top of hatred and indignation, (we) cannot help but feel like laughing,” the North’s propaganda Web site Uriminzokkiri said in a commentary, referring to remarks made by Gen. Jung Seung-jo, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff on Wednesday.

Referring to the South as a warmonger, the Web site’s commentary continued, “They do not know what a real war is like and they would shudder after experiencing our military’s spirit to attack in a single breath.”

“We can communicate no more with the herd of vicious traitors of the nation,” it said.

As usual, it sounds even better in the original Korean.

North Korea is also threatening to take control of the Kaesong Industrial Zone, a threat that, if followed up on, would be the best news I’ve heard all week. Who needs international sanctions when the North Koreans are perfectly willing to place sanctions on themselves?

Oh, and the US Congress has banned food aid to the North.

Not all may be shitty up North, though. The Economist ran a length piece on the development of a capitalist class in the North. Perhaps North Korea is changing after all. One certainly hopes it’s true, but I’ve been hearing about economic change in North Korea for the last decade now and the situation still seems to suck.

Meanwhile, the government—and Chosun Ilbo—is upset that South Koreans seem more concerned with flaws at South Korea’s nuclear power stations than North Korea’s nuclear program:

South Koreans seem relatively untroubled by North Korea’s impending nuclear test, even as they worry about the safety of ageing nuclear reactors here. “It seems that only the government, media and some politicians are taking the nuclear test seriously, while the ordinary public is not that interested,” said a senior government official here Thursday.

Even when minor problems are detected at existing nuclear power plants, some civic groups vehemently call for their closure.

“We’re seeing a bizarre phenomenon where people are reacting very sensitively to even the slightest malfunction at one of our nuclear power plants, which are relatively safe, while there is not much awareness about the risks of North Korean nuclear facilities, which pose a far greater threat,” said Shin Beom-chul at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

My guess is this would be due to the fact, mentioned in the piece, that many Koreans view the North Korean nuclear issue as a bilateral one between the United States and North Korea, not a regional one involving them. Also playing a part is the fact that “minor problems” in existing power stations are probably more likely to irradiate Busan than a North Korean nuclear strike.

Your daily dose of North Korea-related crap for your nuke test countdown parties

North Korea is now threatening to respond with “actions stronger than a nuclear test” if sanctions are pressed against Pyongyang.

The KCNA warned that the North would take actions stronger than a nuclear test to deal with hostile forces’ moves toward nuclear war, which are gradually growing more brazen. Or something like that.

What those actions might be, North Korea did not say.

Meanwhile, the JoongAng Ilbo’s TV crew went to the top of Aegibong Peak—the annual site of the world’s most dangerous Christmas tree—to shoot some video footage of a snow-covered North Korean village on the other side of the DMZ. It’s an even bigger shit hole than Haebangchon, to be sure, but it’s pretty quiet. The JoongAng describes it as “the calm before the storm.”

And then there’s Iran. Experts on North Korea’s economy say it’s beyond North Korea’s economic capacity to conduct two rocket launches (estimated cost: US$1 billion) and a nuke test within a single year. Or so says the Kyunghyang Shinmun. A diplomatic source in Washington told the paper he believes the North is getting outside financial help from Iran, which reportedly sent specialists to the rocket launch and has men pertinently stationed in the North. In fact, American missile experts think the Unha 3’s third stage was the same as Iran’s Safir rocket.

Anyway, this source thinks Iran gives North Korea the cash, and North Korea conducts the tests and shares the data. This seems to be what Stanford’s Siegfried Hecker thinks, too:

One of the most damaging results of another test will come from potential cooperation with Iran. Sharing Pyongyang’s nuclear test experience with Tehran similarly to how it has shared missile technologies will greatly increase the Iranian nuclear threat. Iran now has the capacity to enrich uranium to weapons grade, although it has claimed to have enriched it only to lower levels for peaceful purposes. It would be very difficult for Iran to continue its peaceful nuclear façade if it tested to further its nuclear weapons capabilities. However, if Pyongyang were to involve Iran or share its testing experience, that would change the picture dramatically. Should Iran make the decision to build nuclear weapons, it is more likely to do so without necessarily testing its own device.

Oh, and former US Defense Secretary William Perry told Yonhap there needs to be official high-level talks between the United States and the North, and he doesn’t believe a military strike would eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capacity. In 1994, when North Korea’s nuclear facilities were all in one spot, a single strike would have done the job, he said, but not now.

N. Korean preparations to nuke itself near completion

Looks like our friends to the north are ready to conduct their third nuclear test:

Seoul said that the North has the means to conduct a nuclear test once a decision is made by its leadership. The latest spy satellite photos of the Punggye-ri nuclear test site showed workers had built screens over the entrances of tunnels where nuclear weapons may have been buried in preparation for a test. The screens could be hiding last-minute preparations from satellite observation and are viewed as a tell-tale sign that the test may be imminent.

I’m willing to bet the North Koreans detonate that sucker on Super Bowl Sunday because even Kim Jong-un has got to think all the reverence in the media for Ray Lewis is bullshit.

Speaking of bullshit, Seoul is warning that this third test ain’t like the other two:

In a meeting with ministry officials, Yu Woo-ik claimed the overall situation facing South Korea remains grave and made clear that it is wrong to view the expected atomic detonation in the same light as the tests conducted in 2006 and 2009.

“The first and second tests can be seen as part of Pyongyang’s efforts to develop nuclear capability, while a third detonation could mean it is in the final stages (of making weapons),” he claimed.

Or it could mean Pyongyang has one less bomb to drop.

N. Korea threatens to nuke itself again. And this time they mean it!

And the poo continues to fly north of the DMZ:

“We do not hide that a variety of satellites and long-range rockets which will be launched by the D.P.R.K. one after another and a nuclear test of higher level will target against the U.S., the sworn enemy of the Korean people,” the statement said, using the abbreviation for the North’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

But it also repeated past wording that the nuclear program was meant as deterrence.

For those at home wondering how to say “sworn enemy” in Korean, it’s cheolcheonji wonsu (철천지원수).

BTW, I’m glad the North has finally picked up this. I know when I renewed my passport a couple of years ago, I had to swear eternal hatred for the Korean people. And the Canadians.

VOA has got an analysis piece up that warns that North Korea’s latest threat isn’t just bluster. And honestly, I doubt it is. OK, the official outrage at the United States is probably fake—the rhetoric is just their way of making sure we’re listening—but a third nuclear test is a good bet. Sure, there’s are a ton of other retaliatory options the North could mobilize—most of them involving the murder of South Korean armed forces personnel—but I’m guessing Pyongyang’s wants to go big.

In the VOA piece, some former State Department official said China could be a wildcard factor:

Reiss, who said Pyongyang’s behavior is antagonizing Beijing, described China’s endorsement of this week’s United Nations resolution as part of an “increasing reassessment” by intellectuals, academics and the Chinese Communist Party “about the value and wisdom of keeping North Korea as the type of ally [it has been].”

He said the Chinese have “significant influence” over North Korea both as an energy/food supplier and a “safety valve” source of temporary employment for North Korean workers.

However, analysis in the Chosun Ilbo suggests China might not be much of a factor. In a forum hosted by the Chosun, the Brookings Institute and a Korean think tank, Jonathan D. Pollack—the head of Brooking’s John L. Thornton China Center—said North Korea’s nuclear test threat means they are ready to butt heads with China.

China has provided—for virtually free—about 300,000–400,000 tons of food aid and 500,000 tons of crude oil a year. The food aid covers about half of North Korea’s annual food shortfalls and the oil about half of North Korea’s annual demand. Put bluntly, China is North Korea’s lifeline, and the Chosun notes that Beijing has on occasion used that life line to get North Korea to behave. A Unification Ministry official told the paper he believes Kim Jong-un’s got neither the balls nor the strategic thinking to play China like his dad did.

Others, however, think Kim III has grown more brazen thanks to the successful rocket launch last month. Some also say the fact that Chinese foreign policy makers adopted policies favorable to North Korea following its second nuclear test—namely, by deciding to treat North Korea issues and the nuke issue separately—has encouraged North Korean adventurism.

This is to say, North Korea uses the fact that China considers the stability of the North Korean regime more important than getting the North to denuclearize.

A South Korean security official also said the nuclear issue is also tied up with North Korean domestic concerns, which is one of the reasons it’s so difficult to resolve.

One other thing the Chosun notes is that North Korea hasn’t really had anything bad to say about Park Geun-hye since her election. A Unification Ministry official said it seems the North hopes for improvements in inter-Korean relations when Park takes office, but that won’t be easy as long as the North continues to do what it’s doing.

Oh, and in case anyone forgot—and I imagine the North Koreans haven’t—some B-2s will soon be in the neighborhood.

N. Korea mildly upset by UNSC condemnation of rocket test, declares will never give up nukes and may conduct nuclear test

Angry that the UN Security Council has adopted a resolution condemning North Korea for its recent rocket test and tightening sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korea is now throwing its poo around its cage.

In a Foreign Ministry statement carried by KCNA, North Korea said the six-party talks and Sept 19 Joint Statement are kaput thanks to hostile American policy ™ and the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula has come to and end. It also said even if there are future discussions to guarantee the peace and security of the Korean Peninsula, there would be no discussions about denuclearization.

They apparently said this less than two hours after the UNSC adopted its resolution of condemnation.

The statement also said that Pyongyang has made a final conclusion that under clear conditions in which hostile American policy ™ has changed not even a little, it is impossible to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula prior to the realization of global denuclearization. Or something like that.

Best of all, they signaled a third nuclear test might be coming, saying that they would respond to American pressure by taking arbitrary physical measures to massively strengthen their self-defensive military strength, including their nuclear deterrent.

There’s more, but I have no desire to translate/summarize it.

I’m not a CIA linguist, but I’d say the language of the statement, while bombastic, leaves a bit of wiggle room, depending on your interpretation. Or in other words, it’s an official North Korean statement on the nuclear issue. I also think a third nuclear test is a good bet.

For what it’s worth, I never thought they would abandon their nukes. At the same time, I don’t see them ever really abandoning the con that—if the price is right—they’d be willing to abandon their nuclear program. Now they want us to pay them—preferably in money and goods, but perhaps just be lifting sanctions—to get them to talk denuclearization again. Which would be a fool’s bargain, granted, but if you’re emotionally wedded to the belief that there’s a grand bargain to be struck with North Korea, this latest statement isn’t necessarily cause for you to jump from your nearest bridge.

I suppose this is as close as it gets to China reading North Korea the riot act

Chinese President Hu Jintao has publically suggested North Korea might have more pressing priorities than space exploration:

Chinese President Hu Jintao urged North Korea Monday not to proceed with its planned launch of a long-range rocket next month, saying North Korea is “wrong to launch a satellite and advised to give up.” He also said Pyongyang should focus on improving its people’s livelihood.

In comments made in his summit talks with President Lee Myung-bak at the latter`s office in Seoul, Hu also said, “(The Chinese government) has been closely communicating with North Korea on this issue several times,” adding, “We`re making efforts to persuade the North to give up (the launch).”

Since Beijing had not openly expressed its opposition to Pyongyang`s previous launches of long-range rockets, Hu`s demand that the North change its priorities and focus on improving its people’s livelihood is considered unusual.

I doubt a) this will change North Korea’s mind and b) that China will actually do anything after the launch other than to call for “calm.” Still, it’s better than a kick to the head, I guess.

North Korea offers to suspend nuclear activities for food aid

Not this again

North Korea announced on Wednesday that it would suspend nuclear weapons tests and uranium enrichment and allow international inspectors to monitor activities at its main nuclear complex, a step that raised the possibility of ending a diplomatic impasse that has allowed the country’s nuclear program to continue with no international oversight for years.

Although the Obama administration called the steps “important, if limited,” they nonetheless signaled that the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, is at least willing to engage with the United States, which pledged in exchange to ship tons of food aid to the isolated, impoverished nation.

I can only hope North Korea doesn’t decide to “test” American commitment to the deal by wacking South Korea again.

North Korea ‘Dangerous in a Symbolic Sense’?

Appearing on FOX, Henry Kissinger discussed the North Korean nuke issue with with Greta Van Susteren, claiming that North Korea represents a threat “in a symbolic sense”:

VAN SUSTEREN: I have been there, and it’s very different than the way we live. I will attest to that.

How dangerous is this situation to us?

KISSINGER: It’s dangerous in a symbolic sense, that if we are really committed to preventing the spread of nuclear weapons, as the president has stated repeatedly and eloquently, and if we can’t manage it in a region in which the country that’s proliferating has such limited resources and is surrounded by countries that are hostile to its intentions and then the ability to do it and other regions will diminish all the more.

And there will be an immediate impact on Japan and South Korea, and a longer-term impact in the Middle East. And so it is a very important issue for the world.

But we should not let ourselves get maneuvered in a position where we have to bear the entire responsibility for this. This is an issue for these six-power talks with a deadline and with a determination to bring it to a conclusion this time, and the conclusion has to be the destruction of the Korean nuclear weapons capability.

We have to remember that the North Koreans have been proliferators of their technology all of these years. They build a nuclear plant in Syria that the Israelis destroyed last year.

So they are a loose cannon in the situation. And if we can — so this is an important test case of our ability to bring about denuclearization.

Well, if the North Korean nuke issue did have a silver lining, it would be that it’s revealed what a joke the anti-proliferation regime really is. Time to embrace our inner Kenneth Waltz (see further the debate here).

More Jessica Gomes

More of the lovely Jessica Gomes.

On a related note, Korean cyber-security experts expect a fresh round of DDoS attacks this evening. Oh, and President Lee told European reporters that — sit down for this — North Korea used South Korean aid to develop nuclear weapons.

And damn, this rain sucks. I usually like the rain, but I’ve got photos to shoot…

N. Korean May Nuke Itself Again

If you live in the Kilju region of North Korea, it’s time to worry — US officials are apparently warning a third nuclear test may be in the works.

It’s also come to my attention that Kilju is a kind of Finnish homebrew. And while I’m on the subject, it’s come to my attention Finland has a version of the reality TV show “Big Brother,” with a lineup of names that reminds me somewhat of the ’89 Oilers. But that’s neither here nor there.

Yep… China and Russia Stall N. Korea Sanctions

Well, I’ll be damned — China and Russia, public admonishments of Pyongyang aside, aren’t particularly keen to hit Pyongyang with sanctions.


And even if they do pass sanctions, good luck getting them enforced.

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