Tuesday, February 9, 2016

Iraq Bad; Afghanistan Bad; Syria a Mess; ME General Disarray: North Korea Worse

North Korea Has Dug Tunnels Under the DMZ

Old Guard Standing Behind Young, Lost, and Total Maniac

Rather long post, but one that needs attention: North Korea always seeks world attention and recognition along side the U.S. on the world stage any way they can, and in the end it’s almost always via threats and violent acts. They seldom try diplomacy until the smoke clears and they want favors (food, recognition, and more attention).

UPDATED (from the BBC – short clip follows): North Korea could soon have enough plutonium for nuclear weapons after restarting one of its reactors, Intelligence Chief James Clapper says. He also said Pyongyang had taken steps towards making an intercontinental ballistic missile system. He then concluded with this statement: “We assess that North Korea has followed through on its announcement by expanding its Yongbyon enrichment facility and restarting the plutonium production reactor. We further assess that North Korea has been operating the reactor long enough so that it could begin to recover plutonium from the reactor's spent fuel within a matter of weeks to months.”

This aspect comes days after the North launched a long-range rocket, which critics say is a test of banned missile technology. Last September Pyongyang said its main nuclear facility at Yongbyon had resumed normal operations. The reactor there has been the source of plutonium for its nuclear weapons program.

Other key points since they conducted its fourth nuclear test in January.
  • Experts say when fully operational, Yongbyon could make one nuclear bomb's worth of plutonium per year. About 4kg of plutonium is needed to make a 20 kiloton bomb.  
  • Pyongyang has pledged several times to stop operations at Yongbyon and even destroyed the cooling tower in 2008 as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal.
  • However, in March 2013, following a row with the US and after new UN sanctions over a third nuclear test, it vowed to restart all facilities at Yongbyon.
  • Six-nation talks involving South Korea, the US, China, Japan and Russia aimed at ending the North's nuclear program have been stalled since 2009.
  • Pyongyang says it has made a device small enough to fit a nuclear warhead on to a missile, which it could launch at its enemies. However, US officials have cast doubt on the claim.
History of the Yongbyon nuclear complex:

  1. North Korea's main nuclear facility, believed to have manufactured material for previous nuclear tests
  2. Reactor shut down in July 2007 as part of a disarmament-for-aid deal
  3. International inspectors banned in April 2009 when North Korea pulled out of disarmament talks
  4. A uranium enrichment facility was revealed in 2010. An American nuclear scientist said centrifuges appeared to be primarily for civilian nuclear power, but could be converted to produce highly enriched uranium bomb fuel
  5. In 2013, North Korea said it would restart the nuclear reactor, the same year it conducted a nuclear test. It is believed to have shut it down for a period in 2014.
  6. Experts believe that reactor could make one bomb's worth of plutonium per year
  7. Nuclear test based on uranium device would be harder to monitor than plutonium
Historical look back:
  • On October 9, 2006, North Korea issued an announcement that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test for the first time.
  • On January 6, 2007, North Korea further confirmed that it had nuclear weapons.
  • In April 2009, North Korea has become a “fully fledged nuclear power” expressed an opinion by IAEA Director General Mohamed ElBaradei.
  • On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test. Although there was no official information about the test location, it is believed that it happened at the site of the first nuclear test at Mantapsan in the north-eastern part of North Korea.
  • By 2016, all indications show that North Korea could have 14 to 48 nuclear weapons or equivalents. (For one uranium-filled weapon, it would require each to contain about 20 kilograms of weapons-grade uranium).
North Korea always follows fiery rhetoric with some sort of military action:

“We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means. The U.S. had better ponder over the prevailing grave situation.”

April 3, 2013:  PAJU, South Korea (AP) — In past deadly confrontations between North and South Korea, a jointly operated industrial park stayed open, churning out goods.  But in the latest sign that North Korea's warlike stance toward South Korea and the United States is moving from words to action. North Korea started barring South Korean managers and trucks delivering supplies from crossing the border to enter the Kae-song industrial park where thousands of workers are employed (goods that total about $2 billion a year with the North making some $800 million).

It's an announcement that further escalates a torrent of actions that analysts say is aimed at pressuring the U.S. and South Korea to change their policies toward North Korea.  The Kae-song move came a day after the North said it would restart its long-shuttered plutonium reactor and a uranium enrichment plant. Both could produce fuel for nuclear weapons that North Korea is developing and has threatened to hurl at the U.S., but which experts don't think it will be able to accomplish for years. The South and U.S. hold routine annual training exercises and have for decades while the North continues to call them invasion preparations.

April 12, 2013: North Korea warned Japan that Tokyo would be the first target in the event of a war on the Korean Peninsula. They increased their threats of an attack if their missiles fired towards Japan are shot down, saying that Tokyo's standing orders to destroy any missile heading toward Japan will cause them to attack.

The history of North Korea acts of violence:
(1)  Digging massive number of tunnels under the DMZ,
(2)  Attacking the Blue House in Seoul to assassinate President Park (January 1968),
(3)  Capturing the USS Pueblo (also in January 1968),
(4)  Killed the ROK First Lady (Yuk, Young-soo) while trying to assassinate President Park, Chung-hee (August 15, 1974).
(5) Murder in the DMZ tree cutting incident of two U.S. Army officers (August 1976),
(6)  Bombing in Rangoon in attempt to assassinate President Chun, Doo-whan (October 1983),
(7)  Blowing up KAL flight 858 from Baghdad to Seoul killing 115 (November 1987) (bomber Miss Kim, Hyun-Hee now lives in Seoul).
(8)  Sinking of a ROK Navy ship and artillery fire across the DMZ in civilian homes up around the Inchon area on the islands of Y-P-do and P-Y-do.

Here is a short clip from the BBC on this topic:

North Korea poses a huge threat to sustained peace and stability in Korea... with this young, harsh "leader (Kim, Jung-un) trying to make a name for him after following his father and grandfather, that huge doubt looms over the entire region and North Korea's next step - and they have been that way ever since since 1953.

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