North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 17 June, 2014, 10:35am

North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns | South China Morning Post



Agence France-Presse in Seoul

North Korea appears to have acquired a sea-based copy of a Russian cruise missile, the latest step in an effort to enhance its maritime strike capability, a US think-tank said on Tuesday.

A state propaganda film disseminated on social media sites, including YouTube, provides a very brief glimpse of the missile being launched from a naval vessel.

Writing on the closely watched 38 North website of the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University, arms control expert Jeffrey Lewis said the missile would mark “a new and potentially destabilising addition” to North Korea’s military arsenal.

Lewis identified the weapon as a copy of the Russian-produced KH-35 – a sea-skimming anti-ship cruise missile developed during the 1980s and 90s.

The possibility that North Korea might sell KH-35 technology to others is not a happy thought Jeffrey Lewis Continue reading “North Korea cruise missile fuels proliferation concerns”

North and South Korean warships exchange fire in disputed area of Yellow Sea

Residents on a nearby island were evacuated to underground shelters

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 22 May, 2014, 6:38pm

Associated Press in Seoul

North and South Korean warships exchanged artillery fire yesterday in disputed waters off the western coast of the Korean peninsula, in the latest sign of rising animosity between the bitter rivals in recent weeks.

Officials from the South’s Joint Chiefs of Staff and Defence Ministry said a South Korean ship was engaged in a routine patrol near the countries’ disputed maritime boundary in the Yellow Sea when a North Korean ship fired two artillery shells. The shells did not hit the South Korean ship and fell in waters near it, they said. Continue reading “North and South Korean warships exchange fire in disputed area of Yellow Sea”

 North Korea conducts firing drills near a disputed sea border with South Korea / 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds

Ju-min Park and James Pearson,

Thomson Reuters April 29, 2014 08:45

More than 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds back into the North’s waters.

North Korea conducted live fire drills on Tuesday in two areas near a disputed sea border with South Korea that have been the scene of deadly clashes and where they fired hundreds of artillery rounds only weeks ago.

Map of Korean maritime border, language neutra...

Continue reading ” North Korea conducts firing drills near a disputed sea border with South Korea / 100 rounds landed south of the border during that drill, prompting South Korea to fire hundreds of rounds”

Satellite shows heightened N Korean nuclear activity – report

A North Korean nuclear test within days “cannot be ruled out” analysts said Saturday, after new satellite imagery showed heightened activity at the test site. The report by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) chimes with other findings and suggests Pyongyang is moving towards an underground detonation.


North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

Pictures taken on Friday show an increase in movement near one entrance to a tunnel. Continue reading “Satellite shows heightened N Korean nuclear activity – report”

North Korea may conduct nuclear test of ‘new type’

March 30, 11:51 UTC+4 TOKYO
“It is not ruled out that a nuclear test of new type will be conducted to build up our defence potential,” KCNA reported


TOKYO, March 30, /ITAR-TASS/. North Korea may conduct a nuclear test of “new type” in retaliation to the position of the United Nations Organisation that continues to condemn nuclear and missile programmes in North Korea, the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Sunday.

“It is not ruled out that a nuclear test of new type will be conducted to build up our defence potential,” KCNA reported.

Since 2006 up to now North Korea has already carried out three nuclear tests, though the U.N. Security Council resolutions banned that country to conduct any activity related with nuclear technologies. In 2006 and 2009 North Korean specialists have exploded plutonium bombs. Meanwhile, the type of nuclear weapon used in a nuclear test in February 2013 remains unclear. South Korean military experts believe that that bomb could have been uranium.


Continue reading “North Korea may conduct nuclear test of ‘new type’”

US defence contractor admits to giving secrets to Chinese girlfriend

– Bishop had access to “top secret” information on efforts to defend against a ballistic missile attack from North Korea

UPDATED : Thursday, 13 March, 2014, 1:25am

Associated Press in Honolulu


Bishop had US secrets at home.

A civilian US defence contractor accused of giving military secrets to a Chinese girlfriend half his age will be entering a guilty plea, according to his attorney.

Benjamin Bishop was expected to plead guilty in federal court  today to one count of transmitting national defence information to a person not entitled to receive it and one count of unlawfully retaining national defence documents and plans.

Bishop, 60, was arrested in March last year at the headquarters of the US Pacific Command, where he worked.

A document for the plea agreement, filed on Tuesday, said Bishop e-mailed his girlfriend classified information on joint training and planning sessions between the US and South Korea.

It said Bishop had classified documents at his Hawaii home, including one titled “US Department of Defence China Strategy”, another on US force posture in Asia and the Pacific and a US Pacific Command joint intelligence operations centre special report. Continue reading “US defence contractor admits to giving secrets to Chinese girlfriend”

Libya threatens to bomb North Korean-flagged tanker if it takes oil from rebels


Prime minister warns of an ‘environmental disaster’ if tanker leaves rebel-held port of Es Sider with oil cargo

Reuters in Tripoli,    Sunday 9 March 2014 03.39 EDT                

The North Korean-flagged tanker docked at Es Sider.
The North Korean-flagged tanker docked at Es Sider. Photograph: Esam Omran Al-Fetori/Reuters

Libya has threatened to bomb a North Korean-flagged tanker if it tries to ship oil from a rebel-controlled port, in a serious escalation of a standoff over the country’s petroleum wealth.

The rebels, who have seized three major Libyan ports since August to press their demands for more autonomy, warned Tripoli against staging an attack to halt the oil sale after the tanker docked at Es Sider terminal, one of the country’s biggest. The vessel started loading crude late at night, oil officials said. Continue reading “Libya threatens to bomb North Korean-flagged tanker if it takes oil from rebels”

South Korean military gains authority to launch pre-emptive strike against North when necessary

Updated: 2014-03-07 AM 9:17:55 (KST)

Flag of South Korea
Flag of South Korea (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

What is eye catching about this year’s defense reform is that it includes plans to allow South Korea to pre-emptively strike North Korea if Pyongyang is about to attack.

Previously Seoul’s response was limited to local provocations, but the pre-emptive strike capability adds a whole new strategic level in dealing with Pyongyang’s provocations.

This includes striking North Korea’s missile and nuclear facilities in the early stages, using the so-called “Kill-Chain” system.

Under international law, a country that conducts a pre-emptive strike could be blamed for starting the war. Continue reading “South Korean military gains authority to launch pre-emptive strike against North when necessary”

Chinese jet in near miss with North Korean missile

Shenyang-bound flight missed shot by minutes, but could have been hit on rocket’s descent

 UPDATED : Wednesday, 05 March, 2014, 11:13pm
 Agencies in Seoul


A China Southern Airlines airplane carrying 220 passengers passed through the trajectory of a North Korean rocket (seen on the news in Seoul above). Photos: AP, Reuters

A China Southern Airlines aircraft carrying 220 passengers passed through the trajectory of a rocket launched seven minutes earlier by North Korea, a South Korean official said.

Flight CZ628 was headed to Shenyang in Liaoning province after taking off from Narita airport in Japan when North Korea fired the missile at 4.17pm on Tuesday, South Korean defence ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said. Continue reading “Chinese jet in near miss with North Korean missile”

U.S. Pacific forces chief concerned over Japan-China tension


Jan. 24, 2014 – 03:00PM JST


The commander of U.S. forces in the Pacific said Thursday the tensions between China and Japan are likely to grow unless they talk to each other.

The two Asian powers are at loggerheads over remote islands that are administered by Japan but also claimed by China. Beijing has also been angered by a recent visit by Japan’s prime minister to a controversial war shrine.

Maritime claims in the South China Sea

Adm. Samuel Locklear told a news conference that “the risk calculation can grow” when two large powers have a disagreement but aren’t talking to each other and when there’s no clear resolution in sight. Continue reading “U.S. Pacific forces chief concerned over Japan-China tension”

‘No poor countries by 2035’: Bill Gates annual letter says extreme poverty and child mortality could be virtually wiped out in next two decades

EEV: This a day after the Oxfam report is released on wealth redistribution reaching globally destabilizing levels. This is almost as curious as the .

* EEV Commentary added above as well as the Oxfam Graphic released 20 JAN 2014

Bill and Melinda Gates use letter to quash ‘three myths’ about world poverty

Adam Withnall

Tuesday, 21 January 2014

Bill Gates has said there will be “almost no poor countries by 2035”, and that child mortality rates in the poorest nations will plummet to the same levels as in the US and UK in 1980.

The world’s richest man made the prediction in the Gates Foundation’s annual letter, in which he and his wife, Melinda, sought to dispel three common “myths” surrounding the issues of world poverty.

EEV: Posted from the Oxfam report, released 20 JAN 2014

Continue reading “‘No poor countries by 2035’: Bill Gates annual letter says extreme poverty and child mortality could be virtually wiped out in next two decades”

Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle by stripping him naked, throwing him into a cage and leaving him to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 starving dogs

  • A pack of 120 starving dogs were set on Jang Song Thaek and five aides
  • Kim Jong-Un and 300 officials watched horrific execution
  • Punishment, called ‘quan jue’, or execution by dogs, lasted an hour
  • Uncle was accused of treachery and corruption by the brutal regime
  • Kim has carried out a ‘massive purge’ of threats to consolidate his grip

By Tom Gardner

PUBLISHED:          04:20 EST, 3 January 2014       | UPDATED:          12:01 EST, 3 January 2014


North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un sentenced his uncle to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 wild dogs in a savage punishment for treachery, it has been claimed.

Jang Song-Thaek, 67, along with five close aides, was stripped naked and thrown into a cage of hounds which had been starved for three days, according to new details emerging from China.

The pack of animals spent more than an hour mauling the group in a punishment called ‘quan jue’, or execution  by dogs, a report in Chinese newspaper Wen Wei Po said.

Brutal: Jang Song-Thaek, in blue suit and handcuffs being escorted in court on December 12, was executed by wild dogs, according to reports coming from China 

Brutal: Jang Song-Thaek, in blue suit and handcuffs being escorted in court on December 12, was executed by wild dogs, according to reports coming from China Continue reading “Kim Jong-Un killed his ‘scum’ uncle by stripping him naked, throwing him into a cage and leaving him to be eaten alive by a pack of 120 starving dogs”

Attrition: Fighter Pilots Doomed By Poverty



December 30, 2013: The political battles over chronic deficit spending in the United States has led to sharp and often unexpected cuts in the military budget over the last few years. This has forced the U.S. Air force to make major cuts in the hours combat pilots fly for training. The latest cut reduces many pilots to 120 hours a year. That’s about half of what it was a decade ago. There is concern that this will threaten the domination of the air the United States has had since World War II. Moreover it’s been over 60 years since any American troops have been attacked from the air. Much of that is attributed to high number of hours American pilots spend training in the air each year. But with it costing over $20,000 an hour to keep combat aircraft in the air many military budgets can’t handle it. Continue reading “Attrition: Fighter Pilots Doomed By Poverty”

China-made software collects text data without users’ knowledge


 The government’s National Information Security Center has warned about 140 organisations, not to use a Japanese input method editor developed by Baidu

Yomiuri Shimbun/ANN | 26-12-13

The government’s National Information Security Center has warned about 140 organisations, including government ministries and agencies as well as universities and research institutes, not to use a Japanese input method editor developed by Baidu Inc., China’s biggest search engine company, after it was found that text data typed into computers are sent to the company’s server without the users’ knowledge, The Yomiuri Shimbun has learned.

The NISC said it cannot be denied that important information might have been leaked from those organisations.

According to an investigation by The Yomiuri Shimbun, Baidu IME is installed in some computers at the Foreign Ministry and at least 12 universities, including the University of Tokyo.

If the software is used in default settings, words and texts typed in a search window, e-mail, word-processing software and others are automatically sent to Baidu’s server.

In Japan, about two million people are using Baidu IME, according to Baidu’s Japanese unit.


US veteran of Korean war has been held in North Korea since last month

Family of Merrill Newman, 85, from Palo Alto, California, disclose he was taken off aircraft leaving the country without explanation.
Associated Press in San Jose,              Thursday 21 November 2013 03.40 EST

Merrill Newman, Korean War veteran, in an open-neck shirt

Merrill Newman, 85, a retired finance executive and Red Cross volunteer from Palo Alto, California, has been detained since last month.  Photograph: Nicholas Wright/AP

An 85-year-old US veteran of the Korean war has been detained in North Korea since last month, his family has said.

Merrill Newman’s son Jeffrey told the San Jose Mercury News  on Wednesday that his father had been taken off a plane set to leave North Korea on 26 October without explanation.

Newman, from Palo Alto, California, was travelling with Bob Hamrdla, who was allowed to return.

Continue reading “US veteran of Korean war has been held in North Korea since last month”

N.Korea ‘making progress’ on ballistic missile that could strike US

05 Nov  2013
Seoul (AFP)

North Korea is making progress on an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of delivering a first-generation nuclear warhead to the continental United States, a leading US think-tank said Tuesday.

The closely followed 38 North website of the Johns Hopkins University’s US-Korea Institute argued that ICBM mock-ups seen at recent military parades in Pyongyang were “less fake” than originally believed.

Numerous experts had widely ridiculed the models of the North’s road-mobile KN-08 ICBM seen in 2012 and July this year, with at least one respected aerospace engineer labelling them technically preposterous and a “big hoax”.

An analysis posted by 38 North disagreed, saying they were consistent with the ongoing development of a missile with a limited intercontinental ability using only existing North Korean technology.

“Elegant or not,” the mockups suggest an ability to assemble components and technologies to produce missiles with theoretical ranges of 5,500 kilometres (3,400 miles) to more than 11,000 km.

“Almost all of the configurations examined would be able to deliver a light, first-generation nuclear warhead at least as far as Seattle,” it said.

The analysis was co-written by non-proliferation expert Jeffrey Lewis and aerospace engineer John Schilling.

The authors noted that glaring discrepancies in KN-08 mock-ups displayed in 2012 had largely disappeared by the time of the July parade.

And the new arrangement of welds and rivets was similar to that seen on recovered debris from the North’s Unha-3 carrier, which successfully placed a satellite in orbit in December last year.

In a separate, technical paper published in Science and Global Security, Schilling stressed that the KN-08 was still very much a missile in development.

“The lack of flight testing strongly suggests that operational deployment is still months or years in the future,” the engineer said.

And even with a successful test programme, it would likely be unreliable, limited in mobility and performance, and available only in small numbers, he added.

A missile is displayed during a military parade to mark 100 years since the birth of North Korea’s founder Kim Il-Sung in Pyongyang on April 15, 2012

Lewis and Schilling’s paper referenced recent analysis of satellite imagery indicating that North Korea was upgrading its main missile launch site, possibly to cater to larger, mobile weapons.

South Korea’s Defence Intelligence Agency told parliament on Tuesday that North Korea had conducted five tests of long-range rocket engines this year.

An initial test of the KN-08 could come “at any time”, Schilling said.

Missile delivery has often been cited as the main weakness of the North’s nuclear weapons programme which, after three tests, is believed to be close to mastering the key technology of warhead miniaturisation.

December’s satellite launch caused serious concern, but experts stressed that it lacked the re-entry technology needed to bring an ICBM down onto a target.

Nevertheless, Lewis and Schiller said dismissing the mock-ups paraded in Pyongyang would be dangerous.

“The simplest explanation here is that the (KN-08) is exactly what it appears to be: A developmental road-mobile ICBM of limited capability but still able to threaten the continental United States,” they said.


South Korean Cyber Unit Probed Over Election Meddling

Oct. 22, 2013 – 07:26PM   |
South Korean President Park Geun-Hye attends the 16th ASEAN-Korea summit in Brunei on Oct. 9. The country's defense ministry has acknowledged that four members of the cyber unit had posted comments online prior to last year's election.

South Korean President Park Geun-Hye attends the 16th ASEAN-Korea summit in Brunei on Oct. 9. The country’s defense ministry has acknowledged that four members of the cyber unit had posted comments online prior to last year’s election. (Roslan Rahman / AFP)

SEOUL — South Korea’s Defence Ministry said Tuesday that senior members of its cyber warfare unit had been questioned over their possible involvement in a widening scandal over state interference in elections.

Areas of the unit’s headquarters were searched and several of its commanders questioned, a ministry official said.

The main opposition Democratic Party (DP) has accused the unit of posting online comments prior to last year’s presidential election, smearing opposition candidate Moon Jae-In and extolling his ruling party rival — and eventual winner — Park Geun-Hye.

Similar accusations against members of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) have already resulted in the arrest of the former head of the domestic spy agency.

The defense ministry has acknowledged that four members of the cyber unit had posted such comments, but insists they acted alone and not as part of any coordinated campaign.

The defense ministry set up the 400-member special unit in 2010 as part of efforts to expand the military’s cyber warfare capability to counter hacking threats from North Korea.

The accusations of meddling by state agencies in the electoral process has been simmering away for months, but has gained traction in the past week, with a senior prosecutor investigating the affair saying his team had been pressured to go slow with the probe.

Kimsuky And The Secret Menace

October 21, 2013: Internet security researchers recently announced they had identified a new group of hackers operating out of North Korea. Calling this group Kimsuky, it has been active for about six months and has targeted universities, shipping companies and groups encouraging Korean unification. What made Kimsuky stand out was the amateurish behavior of its personnel. The malware (to secretly steal passwords and other ID data) were crudely done and the group was sloppy (or just new to all this) in how they carried out their attacks. This sloppiness made it possible to track the attacks back to North Korea. Kimsuky may be a team formed from newly graduated Cyber War specialists who are out to show they can produce. They can, but not very effectively and not with the stealth required to carry out the most effective attacks.

Earlier this year South Korean security researchers concluded that nearly all the Internet based attacks since 2009 were the work of one group of 10-50 people called DarkSeoul. Given the extent of the attacks, the amount of work required to carry them out, and the lack of an economic component (no money was being stolen) it appeared to be the work of a national government. That coincides with earlier conclusions that North Korean, not Chinese, hackers were definitely responsible for several attacks on South Korean networks. The most compelling bit of evidence came from an incident where a North Korean hacker’s error briefly made it possible to trace back to where he was operating from. The location was in the North Korean capital at an IP address belonging to the North Korean government. Actually, very few North Korean IP addresses belong to private individuals and fewer still have access to anything outside North Korea.

Kimsuky and DarkSeoul appear unrelated other than both coming from North Korea. This indicates that the North Korean Cyber War effort has become so large that several organizations are now planning and carrying out attacks. North Korea appears to be grooming its Cyber Warriors to be major operatives in any future war. More likely the North Korean Cyber War efforts are leading up to some very damaging attacks that North Korea will deny responsibility for and that, if done right, cannot definitively be traced back to North Korea. The South Koreans may not put up with that, in which case the north can play the victim and gain some more enthusiasm for a war from its bedraggled people, and substantial military aid from China.


Why you can’t trust the wide boys: Men with broad faces like North Korean leader are more likely to cheat on their partners and lie

  • Study shows men wide-faced are less  trustworthy than thinner counterparts
  • They also tend to be aggressive, violent,  bigoted and exploitative
  • But the research also shows they are  likely to be more successful

By  Stuart Woledge

PUBLISHED: 05:00 EST, 19  October 2013 |  UPDATED: 07:56 EST, 19 October 2013

It is an established fact that someone with a  long face is probably feeling a bit sorry for themselves –  but scientists  say people with wide faces are untrustworthy.

Research has shed new light on the motives of  ‘wide boys’ who are more likely to lie and cheat than their thinner faced  contemporaries.

But the study also showed that those with  larger faces, such as former Prime Minister Gordon Brown and  disgraced former US President Richard Nixon, were more cut-throat and therefore more  likely to be successful, particularly in business or in politics.

Untrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend to lie and cheat more than those with thinner facesUntrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend to lie and cheat more than those with thinner faces

Untrustworthy: New research has revealed men with fat  faces, such as Gordon Brown (left) and former US President Richard (right) tend  to be less trustworthy then those with thinner faces


Psychologists from Canada gave 150 men an  exercise to complete where they had to roll virtual dice on a screen and then  manually write down their score.

They were told that the number they recorded  would correspond to the number of tickets they received in a lottery. The  researcher then left the room while they completed the task.

But software secretly recorded the real total  allowing the psychologists to compare it with what the respondent had  entered.

About 20 per cent – or one in five – of the  men who took part cheated, all of whom had wide faces, according to The Times.

The results of the survey, by Canadian psychologist professor Cheryl McCormick,  provides further evidence that those carrying extra weight around their faces  tend to display antisocial personalities.

Wide-boy: North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un is definitely a man to be wary off, according to Canada's research 

Wide-boy: North Korean tyrant Kim Jong-un is definitely  a man to be wary off, according to Canada’s research


Past research has suggested men with fat  faces tend to be more aggressive, violent, bigoted and exploitative of their  fellow man than those with slimmer cheeks.

Prof McCormick, from Brock University in  Ontario, argued they should not consider themselves less worthy.

She said: ‘We  were measuring within the general population. We have to keep in mind this is  something that doesn’t work well at the level of individuals.’

Past research she has carried out revealed  people do consider men with wide faces to be more unpleasant, but generally only  when making instant judgements.

‘This may only be useful to consider when you  are encountering strangers and have to make a snap judgment.

‘Actual experience of people tells us much,  much more than this trait alone.’

However, she also investigated which certain  psychopathic personality traits correlated with width of face, and found  ‘fearless dominance’ – where someone has low levels of anxiety while being  socially dominant – tended to reflect facial width.

She added: ‘There are gains and risks to marrying a man with a wider face.

‘Among chief executives dominant traits lead  to success in business, even if they may not have behaved in the most ethical  fashion. So you could have a wealthier life.

‘We have found no relationship between how  attractive men are rated and their facial width.

‘This could be because there are also certain  risks associated with marrying aggressive, dominant men.’

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US army developing ‘Iron Man’ body armour for soldiers of the future

Superhuman suits worn by comic book heroes may not be science fiction if US army scientists succeed in developing advanced body armour

PUBLISHED : Sunday, 13 October, 2013, 12:00am
UPDATED : Sunday, 13 October, 2013, 6:15am

Agence France-Presse      in Washington


US Army Sergeant Matthew Oliver showcases an example of futuristic soldier armour at the Chicago Auto Show last year. Photo: SMP

US army researchers are working on building hi-tech body armour that would give soldiers “superhuman strength” in a real-life version of the suit featured in Iron Man films.

The blueprint for the Tactical Assault Light Operator Suit (TALOS) would include an exoskeleton to allow a soldier to carry heavy equipment, built-in computing power, beefed up protection to stop bullets and a system to monitor vital signs, defence officials said.

“Some of the potential technologies planned for TALOS research and development include advanced armour, situational awareness, command and control computers, power management systems, and enhanced mobility exoskeletons,” according to a US Army statement.

US Special Operations Command put out the call last month for research papers on potential technologies that a “smart” combat suit could incorporate.

The request for “white papers” will extend through September 2014, and then defence officials will weigh how to proceed while taking into account growing pressures on the Pentagon budget, said army spokesman Roger Teel.

The new combat armour might also employ “liquid armour,” reminiscent of the Terminator films, though the technology is still in an early stage of development, Teel said.

The liquid would transform into a solid if a magnetic or electrical charge was applied.

“There is a liquid armour that they are looking at developing,” said Teel, adding that scientists at MIT were studying the idea. “It could possibly be turned on with a battery switch” to deflect gunfire, he said.

TALOS “is an advanced infantry uniform that promises to provide superhuman strength with greater ballistic protection,” according to an army statement.

In a crude animated demonstration video released by the army on how the combat suit might operate, a soldier in science fiction-inspired gear stands in a doorway as bullets bounce off at close range from an unidentified enemy.

The project’s acronym, TALOS, refers to the automaton of Greek mythology made of bronze that Zeus deploys to safeguard his lover Europa.

Despite previous weapons programmes that came to little, officials say the technologies for the ambitious project are not out of reach, even if they sound more like the stuff of myth or movie.

The concept of providing virtual displays of battlefield forces in a soldier’s helmet screen resembles similar efforts already underway for a sophisticated helmet for pilots flying the new F-35 fighter jet.

As the proposed suit would draw on a range of technical disciplines, the military expects the project to be developed jointly by academia, government scientists and technology firms.

Although the project evokes comparisons with Tony Stark’s superhero suit from the Iron Man movies, no one is claiming the smart armour will enable soldiers to fly. “It’s not going to be all that,” Teel said. “But it’s going to be special.”

This article appeared in the South China Morning Post print edition as ‘Iron Man’ soldiers taking shape in lab.

North Korean army placed on high alert

ВМС США USS George Washington Джордж Вашингтон авианосец корабль сша прибывает в юго-восточный портовый город Пусан Южная Корея

USS George Washington

Photo: EPA

The North Korean army is placed on alert to be ready to begin combat actions at any time in response to the US-South Korean manoeuvres that begin in the Sea of Japan on Tuesday, North Korea’s central news agency reports.

0The Korean People’s Army is ordered to attentively watch actions of American and Japanese aggressors and the South Korean regime to be ready to begin combat actions at any moment, a North Korean general staff official said in a statement published on Tuesday in response to the US, Japanese and South Korean manoeuvres in the Sea of Japan with the participation of the George Washington aircraft carrier.

0Voice of Russia, TASS

North Korea puts army on high alert, warns U.S. of “horrible disaster”

Source: Reuters – Mon, 7 Oct 2013 11:41 PM

Author: Reuters


SEOUL, Oct 8 (Reuters) – North Korea said on Tuesday its military would be put on high alert and be ready to launch operations, stepping up tension after weeks of rhetoric directed against the United States and South Korea, who it accuses of instigating hostility.

Reclusive North Korea has often issued threats to attack the South and the United States but has rarely turned them into action. Such hostile rhetoric is widely seen as a means to perpetuate its domestic and international political agenda.

In the latest outburst, a spokesman for the North’s military warned the United States of “disastrous consequences” for moving a group of ships, including an aircraft carrier, into a South Korean port.

“In this connection, the units of all services and army corps level of the KPA received an emergency order from its supreme command to reexamine the operation plans already ratified by it and keep themselves fully ready to promptly launch operations any time,” the spokesman said, referring to the Korean People’s Army (KPA).

“The U.S. will be wholly accountable for the unexpected horrible disaster to be met by its imperialist aggression forces’ nuclear strike means,” the spokesman said in a statement carried by the official KCNA news agency.

In March, the North declared it was no longer bound by the armistice that ended fighting in the 1950-53 Korean War signed with the United States and China, threatening to use nuclear weapons to attack U.S. and South Korean territories.

The North has defied international warnings not to build  nuclear and long-range missiles and is believed to have enough fissile material to build up to 10 nuclear bombs.

Most intelligence analysis says it has yet to master the technology to deploy such weapons.

The United States, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South, regularly engages in drills with its ally, and has said the aircraft carrier USS George Washington was leading a group of ships to visit South Korea in a routine port call.

South Korea’s Defence Ministry said on Monday the ships were taking part in a routine maritime search and rescue exercise and said any criticism by North Korea was “wrong”.

The impoverished North’s large but ageing conventional military is considered unfit to fight an extended modern battle but it staged surprise attacks against the South in 2010 that killed 50 people in aggression unprecedented since the war.

An attempt at dialogue in August led to the reopening of a jointly run factory park that was shut amid high tensions in April. However, talks have since hit a stalemate.   (Reporting by Jack Kim; Editing by Paul Tait)


North Korea suspected of restarting Yongbyon nuclear reactor

Satellite imagery shows reactor capable of producing plutonium for weapons is likely to be operating, says US research institute


  • Tania Branigan in Beijing
  •,              Thursday 12 September 2013 05.09 EDT

North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex seen in a satellite image taken last year. Photograph: Geoeye Satellite Image/AFP/Getty Images

North Korea appears to have restarted a reactor capable of producing weapons-grade plutonium, according to analysis of satellite imagery and a US official.

White steam can be seen rising from a building near the hall housing steam turbines and electric generators at Yongbyon nuclear complex in an image taken on 31 August, said the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

Pyongyang announced it would restart the reactor this spring, amid high tensions on the peninsula. Relations have since improved, with North and South Korea saying on Wednesday that their joint industrial complex at Kaesong, closed in April, would reopen on a trial basis on Monday.

The US-Korea Institute said the gas-graphite reactor was capable of producing 6kg of weapons-grade plutonium a year. It believes that the North already has 34-36kg, sufficient for around a dozen weapons.

“The white coloration and volume are consistent with steam being vented because the electrical generating system is about to come online, indicating that the reactor is in or nearing operation,” wrote Nick Hansen and Jeffrey Lewis on 38 North, the website of the Washington-based institute.

Previous images had shown that the North was repairing the reactor, which was mothballed in 2007 as part of a six-party aid-for-denuclearisation deal that subsequently broke down.

A US official speaking on condition of anonymity told Reuters that he believed the North Koreans had restarted the reactor, saying that the amount of steam suggested it was being tested.

The official suggested Pyongyang was showing it would not abandon its nuclear programmes, rather than trying to force major powers to resume nuclear talks so that it could extract concessions.

He said the North “wants to create a fait accompli and be accepted as a [nuclear] power and nuclear weapons state.” The only way to counter it would be to “raise the cost to them of taking this path, and increasing multilateral pressure, with China an active participant”.

Andre Lankov, of Kookmin University in Seoul, said: “If the US behaves as if North Korea does not exist, they will become even more of a problem. Neglect, also known as strategic patience, is not, on balance, a bad approach, but cannot be sustained for a long time.

“The North Koreans won’t just sit and beg or enjoy visits from eccentric basketball players. They are going to develop their nuclear capabilities.”

Pyongyang announced in April that it would reopen the nuclear complex, which also includes a uranium enrichment facility. Experts had predicted it would take up to six months to restore operations at the reactor.

Although the North destroyed the Yongbyon cooling tower in 2008 as a confidence-building step, the US-Korea Institute had already said that it would not need to reconstruct the tower and could instead connect the reactor to a new pump-house.

Repeated attempts to use carrot and stick to halt the North’s nuclear programme have faltered. While some have called for a return to multinational negotiations, Glyn Davies, the US special representative for the North, said on Monday that it was “very hard to imagine how the six-party [talks] could be fruitful at the moment”.


Syria Nuclear Milestones and what ia a Miniature Neutron Source Reactor

Research Reactor Section

IAEA Support of Research Reactor HEU to LEU Fuel Conversion

Miniature Neutron Source Reactors

The Chinese-built Miniature Neutron Source Reactors (MNSR, 27 kW) reactors (two in China, five abroad) are low-power, neutron source RRs used primarily for neutron activation analysis, education, and training. These reactors have cores consisting of about 1 kilogram of HEU, enriched to 90% or greater. The IAEA initiated a Coordinated Research Project (CRP) in June 2006 to assist in the conversion of these reactors to LEU.

Institutions in China, Ghana, Iran, Nigeria, Pakistan, and Syria are participating as contract holders in this CRP. The U.S. (Argonne National Laboratory) is an agreement holder. All contract holders have acquired an understanding of the technical and other steps necessary as well as the documentation that will be required to satisfy regulatory requirements. Information acquired through the CRP will be published by the Agency in the form of a technical publication. This will serve as an addendum to the IAEA’s existing core conversion handbook.

Parallel to the completion of the CRP, a MNSR Working Group has been established consisting of the CRP participants with relevant fuel transport and cask designers/owners as observers. The group is focusing on the coordination of common activities, such as the performance of the MNSR zero power tests, development of a transportation cask for returning spent HEU fuel to China, and the application of IAEA assistance.

 – 1963-2009

The Risk Report Volume 15 Number 3 (May-June 2009)

1963: Syria joins the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

1968: Syria signs the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT).

Mid- 1970s: The Atomic Energy Commission of Syria (ACES) is established.

1979: The IAEA, AECS and Syria’s Ministry of Electricity begin a nuclear power program feasibility and planning study.

1982: The IAEA and AECS establish a nuclear analytical laboratory (completed in 1990). The IAEA provides systems for atomic absorption spectrometry, X-ray fluorescence analysis, gas and liquid chromatography, fluorimetry and low-level alpha, beta and gamma counting. Five AECS members are trained to use the laboratory.

1982: AECS is a co-founder of the Arab Atomic Energy Agency (AAEA), aimed at developing and transferring peaceful uses of atomic energy in Arab countries.

1984: The IAEA and AECS establish a nuclear training laboratory (completed in 1987). The IAEA provides oscilloscopes, electronic tools and components, a scintillation detector, X-ray and GM counters, neutron sources and chemicals.

1985: Syria negotiates with the Soviet Union for transfer of a 10 MW nuclear research reactor, but negotiations eventually fall through.

1986 – 1992: The IAEA provides Syria with a micro-plant facility to test the feasibility of recovering uranium “yellow cake” from phosphoric acid produced at the Homs fertilizer plant. Syria’s nuclear power program is shelved for financial and contractual reasons.

1990: Argentina reportedly comes close to selling Syria a 10 MW thermal pool-type reactor for isotope production. The deal would have included a radiological protection center and a hot cell for radioisotope fabrication.

1991 – 1998: The IAEA assists AECS with the purchase and installation of a Chinese 30 KW miniature neutron source reactor in the Der Al-Hadjar Nuclear Research Center.

1991: India’s Atomic Energy Commission reportedly offers to sell Syria a light water research reactor.

February 1992: Syria signs an NPT safeguards agreement with the IAEA, which allows the IAEA to verify Syria’s declarations of its nuclear material and nuclear-related activity.

1995: Syria approaches Argentina for a 3 or 5 MW nuclear reactor for medical purposes, but Argentina declines the sale due to international pressure.

1996 – 2001: The IAEA helps Syria undertake a pilot plant project to remove uranium from Triple Super Phosphate produced at the Homs fertilizer plant.

March 1996: The Miniature Neutron Source Reactor located at the Der Al-Hadjar Nuclear Research Center goes critical.

1997: According to U.S. intelligence, nuclear cooperation probably begins between North Korea and Syria.

1997 – 2007: The IAEA helps Syria build a cyclotron in Damascus. Equipment includes a 30 MV cyclotron machine purchased from Ion Beam Applications in Belgium, a high performance liquid chromatography unit, a gas chromatography unit, a polarograph, a gamma spectrometer and dose calibrator, two lead windows, and two hot cell manipulators. Also included are hot cells and clean rooms.

1997: The IAEA begins to assistSyria with the purchase of an ion beam accelerator and equipment from High Voltage Engineering Europe BV in the Netherlands.

February – July 1998: Russia agrees to provide Syria a 25 MW light-water research reactor; the project is abandoned due to lack of finances.

February 1999: The pilot plant to remove uranium from Triple Super Phosphate is commissioned.

April – August 2001: According to the IAEA, Syria begins to build a secret nuclear reactor at the Dair Alzour site, also referred to as Al Kibar, along the Euphrates River in eastern Syria.

2001: A. Q. Khan reportedly meets with Syrian nuclear officials in Iran to help Syria develop nuclear weapons.

2002: North Korean officials seek to procure a gas-cooled reactor component, which U.S. intelligence believes is intended for Syria.

2002: The cyclotron facility at the Dubaya Center in Damascus is operational.

2004: U.S. intelligence reports that Syria has nuclear research facilities at Der Al-Hadjar and Dubaya.

January 2004: Pakistani investigators say that A. Q. Khan offered technology and hardware to Syria, according to the Pakistani press.

May 2004: The U.S. Government issues Executive Order 13338 prohibiting the exportation or reexportation of U.S. Munitions List and Commerce Control List items to Syria and freezing assets under U.S. jurisdiction of entities determined to contribute to Syria’s pursuit of nuclear weapons.

September 2005: The ion beam accelerator at AECS’ Physics Department is commissioned.

November 2005: The U.S. Government amends the Iran Nonproliferation Act of 2000 to become the Iran and Syria Nonproliferation Act, under which companies can be punished for helping Syra build weapons of mass destruction.

2006: According to U.S. intelligence, North Korea transferred cargo to the Dair Alzour area, probably to the reactor site.

September 2007: Israel destroys a nearly complete but non-operational Syrian nuclear reactor in Dair Alzour.

September – October 2007: Syria commences large scale clearing and leveling of the Dair Alzour site.

October 2007: Syrian President Bashar al-Assad claims that Israel hit an unoccupied military compound in its September airstrike.

April 2008: U.S. intelligence asserts that the site near Dair Alzour housed a gas-cooled graphite-moderated reactor, similar to North Korea’s Yongbyon reactor, that would have been capable of producing plutonium for nuclear weapons.

June 2008: The IAEA inspects and takes environmental samples of the Dair Alzour site.

October 2008: Syrian official Fayssal Mekdad declares that three additional sites the IAEA wishes to investigate in connection to the Dair Alzour site are off limits because they are restricted military areas.

November 2008: The results of environmental samples taken by the IAEA at Dair Alzour reveal man-made uranium particles produced through chemical processing. The IAEA also finds the containment structure, size, and water pumping capacity of the bombed structure to have been sufficient for a nuclear reactor.

November 2008: The IAEA approves a feasibility and site selection study for a Syrian nuclear power plant. The study will begin in 2009.

February 2009: Further analysis by the IAEA of environmental samples from Dair Alzour reveals additional uranium particles not declared by Syria’s nuclear material inventory. The findings are inconsistent with Syrian claims that the particles originated in Israeli missiles used to destroy Dair Alzour.

2009: The IAEA plans to help Syria establish a specialized dosimetry laboratory and to enhance the analytical capabilities of the ion beam accelerator in the AECS’ Physics Department.

Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend ‘executed by firing squad for appearing in porn films’

Reports indicate the dictator had been to see his former lover sing in a concert just nine days before she was arrested and killed

Adam Withnall

Thursday, 29 August 2013

Kim Jong-un’s ex-girlfriend has been executed by firing squad along with a dozen fellow North Korean musicians charged with violating laws against pornography, according to reports in a respected South Korean newspaper.

The Chosun Ilbo said performers from a well-known orchestra and light music ensemble were arrested on 17 August, accused of filming themselves having sex and then selling copies of the tapes.

While this breached North Korean anti-pornography laws, some of the musicians were also found to have Bibles in their possession and all were treated as political dissidents, according to the newspaper’s unnamed source.

They were executed in public by machine gun fire three days later, reportedly as the rest of the Unhasu Orchestra and Wangjaesan Light Music Band were forced to watch.

In accordance with the country’s rules on guilt by association, their families were then taken away to detention camps, according to the reports.

Among those killed was said to be singer Hyon Song-wol, who reached an international audience when she won a Hungarian competition in 2005 and released the hit single “A Girl In The Saddle Of A Steed” – often mistranslated as “Excellent Horse-Like Lady”.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un met Ms Hyon a decade ago, and they were reported to have been in a relationship until Kim’s father Kim Jong-il said he disapproved.

The South Korean reports included images showing the dictator attending a concert given by Ms Hyon and the groups on 8 August in Pyongyang, and there have been rumours that the couple continued their affair after both married other people.

The paper said Kim’s current wife Ri Sol-ju was also a member of the Unhasu Orchestra before she married him. It said: “Whether she had any hand in the executions is unclear.”

Quotations from another source, again unnamed, indicated that the executions on 20 August were in keeping with the dictator’s recent activities, and “show that he is fixated on consolidating his leadership”. The source said: “Kim Jong-un has been viciously eliminating anyone who he deems a challenge to his authority.”

While it is often impossible to verify reports coming out of the closed-off communist state, an authority on North Korean affairs and professor at Tokyo’s Waseda University told the Daily Telegraph there seemed to be “a political reason” behind the killings.

Toshimitsu Shigemura told the paper: “If these people had only made pornographic videos, then it is simply not believable that their punishment was execution.

“They could have been made to disappear into the prison system there instead.

“There is a political reason behind this. Or, as Kim’s wife once belonged to the same group, it is possible that these executions are more about Kim’s wife,” he said.

Kim Jong who? Meet the cabal that really runs North Korea

August 1, 2013 06:01

Legend aside, the boy despot doesn’t do everything himself. Here’s the power pantheon he shares power with.

North korea delegates 20130731

The Workers’ Party of Korea includes the other power players in North Korea. (Korean News Service/Getty Images)

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SEOUL, South Korea — There’s more to North Korea than its pudgy and easily parodied dictator, Kim Jong Un.

Since the 1940s, the Kim dynasty has survived three generations, largely by cultivating a bizarre cult of worship among its long-suffering citizens.

But within this apparatus of near-total control, a pantheon of power players works quietly to run the country.

In a nation known for sudden swings and vicious purges, these elites know how to work the system. Of course, power is always a game of push and pull. To stay on top, the Supreme Leader needs the loyalty of his lieutenants, which gives them more clout than you might imagine.

Michael Madden, who runs North Korea Leadership Watch, the most exhaustive blog tracking the whereabouts of North Korean leaders, explained these inner workings to GlobalPost.

Here are five leading figures to watch:

The man behind the throne

As vice president of the National Defense Commission, General Jang Sung-taek heads the all-powerful body that controls the military. That makes him nation’s second most influential leader. Predictably, Kim Jong Un is his immediate supervisor, holding the post of chairman.

Jang Sung-Taek (L).Youtube.

The four-star general is among the most experienced faces in Kim Jong Un’s circle. He rose to prominence in the 1980s and 1990s by cultivating close ties with Kim Jong Un’s father, deceased despot Kim Jong Il; he may have even taken control behind the scenes when the Dear Leader fell into poor health.

Under the previous autocrat, Jang was so influential that one top-ranking North Korean official, who fled to Seoul, predicted that he would succeed Kim Jong Il. Jang’s status is aided by his marriage to Kim Jong Un’s aunt.

The power aunt

General Jang’s wife is North Korea’s most powerful woman, General Kim Kyong-hui. She is the Moscow-educated daughter of founding father Kim Il Sung. An ardent but pragmatic revolutionary, Kim is known for wielding sway within the ruling family and for being a principle regime supporter. In the 1980s, she oversaw the office that trafficked narcotics and weapons overseas.

Kim Kyong-Hui (C).Youtube.

She serves as a top secretary in the ruling Korean Workers’ Party, giving her a hand in state policy.

Politics aside, Kim has one eclectic item on her resume. She opened the nation’s first hamburger joint in 2010. North Korea has renamed the classic Western dish “minced meat and bread.”

Reportedly a heavy drinker, the 67-year-old has survived repeated rumors of her imminent death.

The protege

The Clintons may have Huma Abedin as their favored up-and-comer. Likewise, North Korea’s celebrity political couple, Jang and Kim, are mentoring a rising official, Vice Marshal Choe Ryong-hae. Choe holds two key posts in the ruling party that give him sway over ideology and defense issues.

Choe Ryong-hae (R).Youtube.

Some analysts doubt whether Choe has the spine to survive the ruling scrum, and point to his supposed lack of army experience as a dire liability. A track record of noble revolutionary valor is pretty much a prerequisite for success in North Korea (although experts debate whether it’s becoming less important under Kim Jong Un).

Madden says that Choe has been on the ascent for longer than many believe. Choe was demoted last year, only to reemerge just as powerful months later.

And what purpose does he serve his mentors? Madden thinks that North Korea’s power couple is using Choe as a generational link to the youthful and inexperienced Kim Jong Un.

The hardliner

Decorated general Kim Kyok-sik has “excellent street cred in Pyongyang as a hardliner,” explains Madden. His eclectic CV includes service in Syria the 1970s, where he may have also aided Middle Eastern and African revolutionary movements. More recently, he was the defense minister.

Kim Kyok-sik (R).Youtube.

Kim has gained momentum lately. It all started in 2010, when he supposedly commanded the shelling of the South Korean island of Yeonpyeong, killing four people.

In early 2013, Kim was heavily involved in a bout of saber-rattling between North Korea and the world. In February, the United Nations imposed a round of sanctions on Pyongyang as punishment for a nuclear test. In response, the garrison state spent two months spewing war threats and broadcasting military exercises — all aimed at Washington and Seoul, of course.

Kim proved himself further during this time, but not without hiccups. In May 2013, he was suddenly relieved of his duties, but made a comeback as the new army chief of staff, giving him wide-ranging power over the nation’s war machinery.

The reformer

In a break from fire-and-brimstone militarism, Pak Pong-ju is one of few reformers with influence. In April 2013, the businessman, known for his progressive views, took the post of prime minister.

Pak Pong-ju (C, smiling). Liu Jin/AFP/Getty Images.

As the premier, Pak pays special attention to the economy. Even some North Korean defectors in Seoul say they’re optimistic about his policies and demeanor.  “He is a very humble person and is a self-made man,” Madden said.

In the mid-2000s, Pak tried his first stint as premier. He relaxed the government’s socialist system of rationing food — a way of easing shortages — and gave state firms greater autonomy. These were part of a push toward a more open market.

But remember, this is North Korea, so idealistic Pak didn’t last long. In 2007, he was rebuked and fired.

It’s truly amazing that he got a second try. If North Korea ever opens up, he’ll be the man to call.

Japan eyes first-strike capability, Marines in defense policy update

By Linda Sieg

National Jul. 25, 2013 – 05:10PM JST ( 41 )


Japan is likely to start considering acquiring the ability to launch pre-emptive military strikes in a planned update of its basic defense policies, the latest step away from the constraints of its pacifist constitution.

The expected proposal, which could sound alarm bells in China, is part of a review of Japan’s defense policies undertaken by Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government, an interim report on which could come as early as Friday. The final conclusions of the review are due out by the end of the year.

Abe took office in December for a rare second term, pledging to bolster the military to cope with what Japan sees as an increasingly threatening security environment including an assertive China and unpredictable North Korea.

Article 9 of Japan’s constitution, drafted by U.S. occupation forces after its defeat in World War Two, renounces the right to wage war and, if taken literally, rules out the very notion of a standing army. In reality, Japan’s Self-Defense Forces are one of Asia’s strongest militaries.

The Defense Ministry will call in the interim report for a study of how to “strengthen the ability to deter and respond to ballistic missiles”, the Yomiuri newspaper and other media said on Thursday.

But in a sign of the sensitivity, the report will stop short of specifically mentioning the ability to hit enemy bases when the threat of attack is imminent, the Yomiuri newspaper said.

The ministry will also consider buying unmanned surveillance drones and creating a Marines force to protect remote islands, such as those at the core of a dispute with China, media said.

“The acquisition of offensive capability would be a fundamental change in our defense policy, a kind of philosophical change,” said Marushige Michishita, a professor at the National Graduate Institute of Policy Studies.

Obtaining that capability, however, would take time, money and training, meaning any shift may be more rhetorical than real. “It’s easier said than done,” Michishita added.

The updated guidelines could also touch on Abe’s moves toward lifting a self-imposed ban on exercising the right of collective self-defense, or helping an ally under attack, such as if North Korea launched an attack on the United States.

The defense review may also urge replacing a self-imposed ban on arms exports, that has been eased several times, making it easier for Japan’s defense contractors to join international projects and reduce procurement costs.

Some experts stressed that the changes were evolutionary rather than a sudden transformation in Japan’s defense posture.

“It’s all part of a process of Japan edging away from the most restrictive interpretation of Article 9,” said Richard Samuels, director of the MIT-Japan program at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

Still, given Japan’s strained ties with China over disputed isles and how to frame the narrative of Japan’s wartime history, China is likely to react strongly to the proposals, which come after Abe cemented his grip on power with a big win in a weekend election for parliament’s upper house.

“No matter how Japan explains things, China will attack it pretty harshly,” said Michael Green of the Washington-based Center for Strategic and International Studies.

Although China has been a nuclear power for decades and North Korea is developing nuclear arms, Japan says it has no intention of doing so.

Support has grown in Japan for a more robust military because of concern about China, but opposition also remains.

Japan last updated its National Defense Program Guidelines in 2010 when the Democratic Party of Japan was in power.

Those changes shifted Japan away from defending areas to its north, a Cold War legacy, to a defense capability that could respond with more flexibility to incursions to the south, the site of the row with China over tiny, uninhabited islands.

Japan has for decades been stretching the limits of Article 9 and has long said it has the right to attack enemy bases overseas when the enemy’s intention to attack Japan is evident, the threat is imminent and there are no other defense options.

But while previous administrations shied away from acquiring the hardware to do so, Abe’s Liberal Democratic Party in June urged the government to consider acquiring that capability.

Just what hardware might come under consideration is as yet unclear. And with a huge public debt, Japan may be in no position to afford the bill.

Japan already has a very limited attack capability with its F-2 and F-15 fighter jets, mid-air refueling aircraft and Joint Direct Attack Munition guidance kit. Tokyo also plans to buy 42 Lockheed Martin’s F-35 stealth fighters, with the first four due for delivery by March 2017.

Acquiring the ability to hit mobile missile launchers in North Korea – the most likely target – would require many more attack aircraft as well as intelligence capability for which Japan would most likely have to rely on the United States, Michishita said. Cruise missiles might also be considered.

Obtaining the ability to strike missile bases in mainland China would be an even bigger stretch, experts said, requiring for example intercontinental missiles. “It would cost lots of money, and take time, training and education to acquire a robust and meaningful capability,” Michishita said.

(c) Copyright Thomson Reuters 2013


N.Korea has everything in place for new atom test: US expert

N.Korea needs more tests to “miniaturise” bomb, an expert said. -Reuters     Wed, Jul 17, 2013  Reuters

VIENNA – North Korea has strong technical reasons to carry out another nuclear test but may be hesitating because it would anger China, a prominent US scientist who has often visited the reclusive Asian state said on Wednesday.

Stanford University’s Siegfried Hecker, who was shown a previously undetected uranium enrichment facility when he was last there three years ago, said the North had “everything in place” for what would be the fourth such explosion since 2006.

The impoverished country conducted its third nuclear test in February, prompting stiffer UN sanctions against it.

Like the United States and South Korea, China – North Korea’s sole major diplomatic ally – has urged Pyongyang to take steps to end its nuclear programme and to return to dialogue.

Hecker said North Korea “needed additional tests in my opinion to miniaturise”, referring to the effort to develop a bomb small and robust enough to fit onto a delivery vehicle such as a missile.

The outside world tries to monitor North Korea’s nuclear advances largely via satellite images.

Hecker said the North’s tunnel preparations had caused speculation that there could be two tests back in February, but this did not happen and one tunnel remained ready.

“There are strong drivers for them to test again,” said Hecker, believed to have been the last Westerner to visit North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex. “They have a tunnel that’s ready to go if they want to test again,” he told a seminar held by an international nuclear-test-ban treaty organisation in Vienna.

But China’s displeasure was an important reason “why I think they are hesitating now… The price they have to pay is mostly determined by China”, Hecker said.

China is North Korea’s most important economic and political backer, but the two are uneasy allies and tensions have grown.

Some Chinese banks have frozen out North Korea’s main foreign exchange bank amid frustration in Beijing over the North’s continued pushing of its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes.

Earlier this month, US Secretary of State John Kerry said China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi assured him that Beijing had been “very firm” with Pyongyang on its need to end its nuclear programme.

Hecker said he believed the North was weighing the benefits and costs of further testing: “The important part is to increase the cost … and the Chinese are absolutely key to that”.

North Korea said this month it would not give up its nuclear deterrent until Washington ends its “hostile policy” towards Pyongyang, but it was ready to revive international talks on its nuclear programme frozen since 2008.

Hecker, a former head of the US Los Alamos National Laboratory, said he was concerned about the possibility of cooperation between North Korea and Iran, which denies Western allegations that it is seeking nuclear weapons capability.

Any sharing of the North’s test data would be dangerous, he said, adding: “That would be very, very troublesome and indeed could give the Iranian programme a significant boost”.

An Iranian diplomat in the audience took issue with Hecker’s comment, saying Tehran “does not need any nuclear weapon”.

Hecker said he believed Iran had developed a nuclear weapon option. “Iran … has put all the things in place to be able to develop the bomb should it decide to do so,” he said.

Report: N. Korea Deploys New Guns Along Border

Jun. 30, 2013 – 12:37PM   |

SEOUL — North Korea has deployed new rocket launchers along its border capable of hitting targets beyond Seoul, a report said Sunday.

Artillery units from the North were spotted replacing older multiple rocket stations with an upgraded version of the 240mm guns, Yonhap news agency said.

The agency quoted an unnamed government official as saying the new multiple rocket launchers with a maximum range of 70 kilometers (42 miles) could extend their reach beyond the South Korean capital.

The South’s defense ministry declined to confirm the report.

North Korea has 5,100 multiple rocket launchers, according to military data.

It has been eager to upgrade its mainstream multiple rocket launchers, which pose a serious security threat to South Korea.

Residents in Seoul and neighboring satellite cities, together home to nearly half the South’s 49 million people, have always lived under threat of attack from the North’s rockets and long-range artillery.

In 2010, North Korea using multiple rocket launchers shelled a South Korean island near the disputed Yellow Sea border, killing four people.|newswell|text|FRONTPAGE|p

Satellite images show tunnelling at N. Korea test site

AFP Wednesday, Jun 26, 2013

SEOUL – Satellite imagery has revealed new tunnelling work at North Korea’s nuclear test site, but nothing that points to an imminent detonation, a US research institute said Wednesday.

The activity appears to have begun in late April – at the height of a recent surge in inter-Korean tensions – and gathered momentum over the next few months, the US-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University posted on its 38 North web site.

The tunnelling at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site – evidenced by a large new dumpsite – was taking place near the West Portal where the North’s 2009 and possibly 2013 nuclear tests took place.

The purpose of the work was either to construct a new test tunnel that would take several years, or to repair or clean out an existing tunnel, the closely-followed website concluded.

“These activities do not appear to be part of preparations for a nuclear test in the near-term,” it said.

“Rather, they seem to be long-term projects – a conclusion reinforced by the presence of installed cart rails – that may be necessary for the conduct of future tests,” it added.

North Korea conducted its third and most powerful nuclear test at the Punggye-ri site in February this year.

North Korea said the test was of a miniaturised device, and hinted that the fissile material involved may have been uranium, as opposed to the plutonium used in its two previous tests in 2006 and 2009.

Pyongyang has made it clear that it plans to conduct further tests sometime in the future.

The February detonation triggered tightened UN sanctions and a cycle of escalating military tensions on the Korean peninsula that lasted for two months.

US targeted Fox News reporter as ‘co- conspirator’ in government spying case

Washington Post reports FBI sought phone records and emails of James Rosen as part of spying case against goverment official

Tom McCarthy,              Monday 20 May 2013 13.15 EDT

Fox News hat

Rosen has not been charged in the case, but Steven Jin-Woo Kim has been charged with handing over a classified document. Photograph: Stan Honda/AFP/Getty Images

The Obama administration has investigated a reporter with Fox News as a probable “co-conspirator” in a criminal spying case after a report based on a State Department leak.

The Justice Department named Fox News’s chief Washington correspondent James Rosen “at the very least, either as an aider, abettor and/or co-conspirator” in a 2010 espionage case against State Department security adviser Stephen Jin-Woo Kim. The accusation appears in a court affidavit first reported by the Washington Post.

Kim is charged with handing over a classified government report in June 2009 that said North Korea would probably test a nuclear weapon in response to a UN resolution condemning previous tests. Rosen reported the analysis on 11 June under the headline ‘North Korea Intends to Match UN Resolution With New Nuclear Test’.

The FBI sought and obtained a warrant to seize all of Rosen’s correspondence with Kim, and an additional two days’ worth of Rosen’s personal email, the Post reported. The bureau also obtained Rosen’s phone records and used security badge records to track his movements to and from the State Department.

Fox News issued a sharply worded statement on Monday calling the episode “downright chilling”.

“We are outraged to learn today that James Rosen was named a criminal co-conspirator for simply doing his job as a reporter,” Fox News executive vice-president of news editorial Michael Clemente said in the statement. “In fact, it is downright chilling. We will unequivocally defend his right to operate as a member of what up until now has always been a free press.”

Rosen has not been charged with a crime in the case. Kim was indicted in August 2010 on charges of violating the Espionage Act of 1917, one of a batch of six cases in which the Obama administration began to use the first world war-era spying law to prosecute suspected government whistleblowers.

Even in cases of historic import in which the Espionage Act was used to prosecute whistleblowers, notably the 1971 Pentagon Papers case, the government did not, in spite of strenuous efforts, find grounds to prosecute the media for publishing the results of a leak. The government has not charged WikiLeaks founder Julian Assange for the publication online of an unprecedented amount of classified material. However, Assange, who has taken refuge at the Ecuadorian embassy in London, has said he expects to be charged.

The government has prosecuted and even imprisoned journalists in leak cases in the past for the journalists’ refusal to disclose a confidential source. In such cases, notably the 2005 Judith Miller case, journalists have been charged with contempt of court.

Instead of relying on the threat of a contempt charge to get journalists to divulge their sources, the Obama administration has used warrantless wiretapping and dragnet records seizures to identify who is talking to whom.

Last week it emerged that the Department of Justice had seized phone records for more than 20 lines used by the Associated Press, in possible violation of regulations governing such seizures. There have been no reports of the government accusing journalists of criminal activity in that case.


N. Korea fires 4th short-range missile in 2 days – Seoul

 Published time: May 19, 2013 09:01   Edited time: May 19, 2013 11:36                                                                             
North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un (C) (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korea has fired a short-range missile into the Sea of Japan, a Seoul military official said, one day after firing three short-range guided missiles. Meanwhile, South Korea has deployed precision-guided missiles on its border islands.

Seoul has placed Israeli precision-guided missiles capable of hitting North Korean targets on its Yellow Sea border islands, Yonhap news agency reported Sunday.

“Dozens of Spike missiles and their launchers have recently been deployed on Baengnyeong and Yeonpyeong islands,” an official for the Joint Chiefs of Staff (JCS) said. “They can destroy [North Korea’s] underground facilities and can pursue and strike moving targets.”

The satellite-guided Spike missile has a range of about 20km (12.4 miles) and weighs 70kg (154lbs), according to military officials.

Yeonpyeong is situated just 11km (6.8 miles) from North Korean shores.

North Korea's artillery sub-units (Reuters / KCNA)

North Korea’s artillery sub-units (Reuters / KCNA)


South Korea moved to place the Israeli missiles after Seoul confirmed that North Korea on Saturday had launched three short-range guided missiles off its east coast into the Sea of Japan.

Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them as well.

Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, the Yonhap news agency reported.

Media reports speculated that the projectiles were likely shore-based anti-ship KN-2 Toksa missiles, North Korea’s version of the Soviet-made OTR-21 Tochka tactical ballistic missile, which Pyongyang is believed to have reverse-engineered.

“The missiles traveled about 120 km and in the North Korean arsenal, only the modified KN-02 or multiple rocket launchers of 300 mm or larger in caliber can go that far,” a source in the South Korean government said.

Seoul condemned North Korea’s latest short-range missile launches as “provocative.”

North Korea has not commented on the launches.

While the latest test launch only involves short-range missiles, it poses security threats to the region and should be “stopped immediately,” said the Seoul ministry that is charged with cross-border affairs.

“We find it deplorable that the North does not stop provocative actions such as the launch of guided missiles yesterday,” said Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok.

“We call on the North to take responsible actions for our sake and for the sake of the international community.”

UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon expressed concern over the missile launches and urged Pyongyang to return to talks on the nuclear issue in the six-party format.

“We are very concerned about North Korea’s provocative actions,” Ban told reporters in Moscow on the weekend. “I hope that North Korea will refrain from any further such actions.”

The UN Secretary General said hopes that Russia “will continue to use their contacts to reduce tensions and intensify the dialogue with North Korea.”

He said that he had discussed this subject matter in a meeting on Friday in Sochi with Russian President Vladimir Putin.


A South Korean navy destroyer (Reuters / South Korean Navy)

A South Korean navy destroyer (Reuters / South Korean Navy)


Meanwhile, the US State Department Saturday called on the North to exercise restraint, without specifically mentioning the launches.

The US stations around 28,500 troops in South Korea, a carry-over from the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended with an armistice, not a peace treaty, between the warring sides.

The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest episode of tensions, which began February 12, 2013, when Pyongyang announced it had conducted an underground nuclear test, its third in seven years.

The test was met with harsh international condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

South Korea and the US responded with large scale naval maneuvers, which Pyongyang called a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal if attacked.

Japan confirms report N. Korea fires 3 short-range missiles

япония флаг япония

©с-sa 3.0

Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them too.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest period of high tension, which started after the North conducted its third nuclear test in February. The test was met with condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

 South Korea and the US conducted massive war drills shortly after the test, with the US sending some of its most powerful military hardware in a demonstration of strength. Pyongyang called the buildup a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal, if attacked. The North says the aggressive stance of Washington and Seoul justifies its development of nuclear weapons.

 South Korea detects three launches of short-range missiles by North

 South Korea’s Ministry of Defense has detected three launches of short-range guided missiles by North Korea, it said.

 Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, reports Yonhap news agency.

 The missiles were fired from the east coast into the Sea of Japan, the report says.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 Voice of Russia, RT


North Korea launches short-range missiles, South says

кндр ракета кндр северная корея ракета северная корея спутник запуск

© Photo: «Vesti.Ru»

South Korea’s Ministry of Defense has detected three launches of short-range guided missiles by North Korea, it said.

 Two launches were fired on Saturday morning and another one in the afternoon, reports Yonhap news agency.

 The missiles were fired from the east coast into the Sea of Japan, the report says.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 Japan confirmed the report of the launches, saying its military had detected them too.

 The South’s military says it is maintaining high level of readiness amid the developments.

 The Korean Peninsula is emerging from the latest period of high tension, which started after the North conducted its third nuclear test in February. The test was met with condemnation and a new round of sanctions by the UN Security Council.

 South Korea and the US conducted massive war drills shortly after the test, with the US sending some of its most powerful military hardware in a demonstration of strength. Pyongyang called the buildup a provocation and threatened to use its nuclear arsenal, if attacked. The North says the aggressive stance of Washington and Seoul justifies its development of nuclear weapons.


10 million sign petition for rescue of abductees from N Korea

National Apr. 27, 2013 – 07:10AM JST ( 10 )


An association started by the family of Megumi Yokota who was abducted by North Korea, is preparing to present a petition calling for the rescue of her and other abductees to Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.

The association said Friday it had received from Saitama Gov Kiyoshi Ueda a petition containing 356,192 signatures, taking the total number of signatures to over 10 million. The association is planning to hand the petition to Abe at a public gathering on Saturday.

Yokota’s parents are still campaigning for her return, despite persistent claims that she committed suicide as the result of depression after being abducted and taken to North Korea in 1977. However, her death was later disputed by a North Korean defector in 2011. Yokota was one of at least 17 Japanese citizens kidnapped by North Korea in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

The North Korean government admitted to kidnapping Yokota 20 years after her initial disappearance. Yokota’s parents and others in Japan refuse to believe reports of her death and a controversial DNA test on her cremated remains was inconclusive. Her parents believe their daughter, who would now be 49 years old, is still alive in North Korea and and they and relatives of other abductees have been collecting signatures as part of a public campaign seeking their return to Japan.

Japan Today


N.Korea deploys more missiles on east coast

баллистическая ракета Scud Скад Корея Сеул вооружение ядерные испытания ядерное испытание

Photo: EPA

North Korea has moved two mobile SCUD missile launchers to the country’s eastern coast, in addition to seven missile complexes it deployed there early this month, South Korean military officials said on Saturday.

 Right now there are nearly a dozen ballistic missiles there, including the Musudan missiles with an effective range of up to 4,000 km, which means they can reach targets in Japan and Guam.

 Japanese and South Korean armed forces have been on heightened alert since April 10 in anticipation of more missile launches by the North.

 Voice of Russia, TASS


North Korea on Wednesday barred a delegation of South Korean businessmen from delivering food and supplies to 200 of their staff inside the closed Kaesong joint industrial zone.

N. Korea bars South delegation from joint zone

South Korean trucks arrive from North Korea’s Kaesong Industrial Complex.

AFP Wednesday, Apr 17, 2013

SEOUL – North Korea on Wednesday barred a delegation of South Korean businessmen from delivering food and supplies to 200 of their staff inside the closed Kaesong joint industrial zone.

Ten representatives of the 123 South Korean firms in Kaesong had applied for permission to visit the zone, two weeks after the North blocked all access amid soaring military tensions on the Korean peninsula.

“Moments ago, North Korea informed us that the request for a visit by 10 representatives of the business companies at Kaesong had been turned down,” Unification Ministry spokesman Kim Hyung-Seok said.

“It is very regrettable that the North has rejected the request and disallowed a humanitarian measure,” Kim said.

Kaesong, which lies 10 kilometres (six miles) inside North Korea, was established in 2004 as a shining symbol of inter-Korean cooperation.

Of the nearly 900 South Koreans who were in the zone when the North first cut off access on April 3, around 200 have opted not to leave in an effort to keep their companies running.

But the North’s action has left them without supplies of daily necessities, as well as raw materials.

“We again strongly urge the North Korean authorities to take responsible measures for meeting the most basic needs of the staff at Kaesong,” Kim said. The North withdrew all its 53,000 workers and suspended operations in Kaesong on April 8.

Seoul’s offers of dialogue to resolve the situation have been dismissed by the North as a “crafty trick”.

On Tuesday, North Korea said the South was seeking to shift responsibility for Kaesong’s closure, which Pyongyang insists was forced by Seoul’s policy of “confrontation” and its “war-mongering” statements.

“The puppet regime can never escape from the criminal responsibility for putting Kaesong in this grave situation”, the North’s state body in charge of special economic zones said in a statement.

The South is “clinging to sanctions against the North, while bringing in massive volumes of new war machines and madly engaging in exercises for a war of aggression while prattling about dialogue,” the statement said.

Neither of the Koreas has allowed previous crises to significantly affect the complex, which is seen as a bellwether of stability on the Korean peninsula and is a key source of hard currency for the North.


N. Korea issues ‘ultimatum’ to the South, warns of ‘immediate retaliation’ – reports

  Published time: April 15, 2013 18:44    Edited time: April 15, 2013 20:28                                                                            

AFP Photo / Files / KCNA VIA KNS

AFP Photo / Files / KCNA VIA KNS

North Korea’s military supreme command has issued an ultimatum to South Korea demanding apologies for “all the major and minor hostile actions.” It has also threatened an immediate military response to any “insulting” action the South undertakes.

“The supreme command of the Korean People’s Army Tuesday issued an ultimatum to the South Korean puppet group,” South Korean Yonhap agency cites Pyongyang’s official news agency KCNA.

The ultimatum consists of three clauses, RIA reports also citing KCNA, in which the North demands an apology for all the hostile actions in the past and a “practical demonstration” of good intentions from the South, saying it is the condition for starting any sort of discussion or dialogue.

Should the South Korean state undertake any action considered “insulting” to North Korea’s “supreme dignity,” there would be an “immediate retaliatory action without warning,” demonstrating the country’s military might, the second clause of the ultimatum says as cited by RIA.

Earlier on Monday there was a brief break in the bellicose rhetoric from the North, as the country celebrated the ‘Day of the Sun’ – the 101st birthday of the country’s founder Kim Il-sung. Not only did the North Korean government refrain from the much-discussed symbolic missile launch, it also decided not to stage a traditional massed military parade to demonstrate the county’s power.

However, as the clock struck Tuesday local time, there was a resumption of North Korean war threats, which recently included warning of a “thermonuclear war” for the South, notions of Tokyo “consumed in nuclear flames” for Japan, and ratification of a nuclear strike against the USA. All these threats would be triggered in the event of the “slightest move” of armies or any “provocative intervention” in North Korean manoeuvres and affairs, the KCNA news agency has warned.

North Korea has also repeatedly blamed its neighbors, but ultimately the USA for the escalating tension, and explained the recent proposal to all foreign embassies to evacuate by “the increasing threat from the United States.”

Amid the warnings, North Korea on Sunday said it seeks peaceful relations with every world nation – but only “as a responsible nuclear-weapon state.”

Both the US and its allies in the region made it clear they “cannot allow North Korea in any way to possess nuclear weapons.” China also said it is “firmly committed to upholding peace and stability and advancing the denuclearization process on the Korean peninsula.”

Russia has agreed denuclearization was a “mutual task” of all the nations involved in multilateral talks on the Korean crisis, but stressed only a political and diplomatic settlement of the situation is possible. “No one should intimidate anyone with any military manoeuvres,” Russian Foreign Minister Lavrov said on the sidelines of the recent G8 summit. Earlier, the ministry also stressed North Korean “provocative and bellicose” behavior was “unacceptable.”

China breaking UN sanctions to support North Korea

As John Kerry arrives in Beijing, China continues to flout United Nations sanctions in order to prop up Kim Jong-un’s regime, The Sunday Telegraph can reveal.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with China's Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing.

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry, left, speaks with China’s Premier Li Keqiang during a meeting at the Zhongnanhai compound in Beijing. Photo: AP

By , Dandong

8:00PM BST 13 Apr 2013

There was never any clue from the outside that a cheap apartment on the 16th floor of a tower block in the Chinese city of Dandong was in fact North Korea’s lifeline to the outside world.

But for nearly a decade, 1602 Huiyou Gardens was the Chinese office of an organisation described by American investigators as a “key financial node in North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction apparatus”.

Since it founded its Chinese branch in 2004, the Kwangson Bank, otherwise known as the Foreign Trade Bank, helped channel billions of pounds of valuable foreign currency to Pyongyang, money that was used to finance North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles programmes.

So when the Chinese authorities shut down the branch office last month, 10 days after the United Nations Security Council imposed fresh sanctions on North Korea, it seemed a clear sign that Beijing had finally lost patience with Kim Jong-un’s truculent, unpredictable, and increasingly belligerent regime.

“It is a big hit for North Korea! China is implementing the UN Security Council resolution,” wrote one Chinese government-owned newspaper in Hong Kong.

Several visits last week confirmed that the branch office, conveniently close to the North Korean consulate, was indeed deserted. Neighbours professed amazement that the axis of evil had been just next door.

Meanwhile, at least two of China’s big state-owned banks were ordered to shut down their own accounts with Kwangson, whose imposing Soviet-style offices are in the heart of the North Korean capital, Pyongyang, next to Kim Il-sung Square.

Dandong, a grimy city of nearly 800,000 people that is separated from North Korea by the Yalu river, is Pyongyang’s only major link to the outside world.

Full of smugglers, spies and military officers it often feels as if the normal rules do not apply in this shady border town.

Around 70 per cent of the £4 billion of annual trade between North Korea and China flows through the city, and there is, perhaps, another £6.5 billion of black-market trade.

A key oil pipeline here provides the rogue state with 80 per cent of its fuel needs, and China, which is Pyongyang’s only remaining ally, demands a high price for the privilege.

Dandong has also traditionally been the channel for the valuable foreign currency that North Korean leaders spend to acquire the imports they personally covet. Their shopping list includes luxury food and fine wine, Apple iMacs for Kim Jong-un, 30, as well as Chinese-built missile launchers and components for their nuclear arsenal.

But with tensions on the Korean peninsula at their highest for years, it is widely being suggested that the cosy relationship between China and North Korea is unravelling.

“No one should be allowed to throw a region and even the whole world into chaos for selfish gains,” said Xi Jinping, the new Chinese president, in comments seen as a sharp rebuke to Pyongyang.

If China really were to cool its relationship with its neighbour, this could dramatically change the situation on the peninsula. Indeed, without China’s support throughout its entire existence, North Korea’s regime might have collapsed long ago.

“China’s attitude towards North Korea has changed unprecedentedly since February,” said Shi Yinhong, a professor of international relations at Renmin University, adding that a decision last week to halt Chinese tourism across the border at Dandong was another clear signal of displeasure from Beijing to Pyongyang.

Bonnie Glaser, of the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in Washington, said: “The Chinese expected Kim Jong-un, who was brought up in the West, would come in and make some economic reforms – and, as a young man, would show some respect for his elders and for the people giving him food. But he has been nothing but defiant.”

She also said that a high-ranking Chinese military officer and the head of a major Chinese think tank had both told her last week that China was “taking action” against the North.

When Kim Jong-Un took over after the death of his father Kim Jong-il in late 2011, Beijing had expected him to follow the Chinese model of reforming the economy while keeping the political system under firm control.

But North Korean officials have fretted that embracing capitalism would not only undermine the ideology that keeps them in power, but also grant China dangerously unfettered access to their market.

In Dandong, Chinese frustration with the North’s intransigence is palpable. Billions of renminbi (or yuan, or hundreds of millions of pounds) have been poured into a joint economic zone that has now stalled.

The skeleton of what would have been a giant suspension bridge between the two countries stands forlornly at the site. Dozens of Chinese built skyscrapers, in anticipation of a boom, are empty and now, apparently, sinking into the soggy river banks.

Yet despite their frustration with Pyongyang, however, investigations in Dandong by The Sunday Telegraph last week suggest that the Chinese still prefer the devil they know. North Korea, even with its endless bluster and war threats, remains a country with which it can work, and represents a crucial buffer against what China sees as an American attempt to “encircle” it. If the regime collapsed, China would either be forced to take over the running of the country, or risk the possibility that it is subsumed into South Korea, bringing pro-western forces right to the Chinese border.

Which is why, on a single morning last week at the main branch of the Bank of Dandong, 11 people had no difficulty in transferring money from within China to the capital of North Korea despite the new UN sanctions.

While Kwangson bank may have lost its branch office, it is now possible instead to send money through this smaller local, but still state-run, bank.

Inside the branch, Wu Junhong, an assistant to the manager, held up a completed transfer slip. “Look,” she said, “We just sent across €15,000 to Pyongyang – it’s that easy.

“It takes one day, and you can send as much money as you like, there is no upper limit. And we offer five different currency options: dollars, euros, yen, Korean won and Chinese yuan.”

Ms Wu added that it was also still possible to transfer money from other banks in the city, but that the cash would be rerouted through the Bank of Dandong.

“You can use an account anywhere to send money to North Korea. It will just take you slightly longer and they will charge you for it.”

Before the raid that closed the Kwangson Bank’s office last month, account holders are said by some to have been tipped off, enabling them to come to withdraw their money in advance before it was frozen.

Wang Yuangang, a Chinese businessman in Dandong with a Kwangson account, said the closure had only been “an inconvenience”.

“I only had a tiny bit of money in the account,” he said. “Of course my business has been affected by what is going on, but not because there have been any sudden changes. It is only because the development of the economy has been very slow on the Korean side.”

Despite China’s public protestations, trade from Dandong continues to flourish. Each day, scores of lorries queue up outside the city’s customs house to transport grain, fertiliser and containers of goods into North Korea. And the city remains a magnet for rich North Koreans.

“They buy everything as soon as it is released,” said a young salesman at a store selling Apple products. “They buy the most expensive and best items. Some customers will come in and buy 40 or 50 iPhone 5s or iPads to take back with them.”

The Chinese are also accused of turning a blind eye to sanctions against what is now the North Korean economy’s only money-earning export – weapons. The country still produces ageing Soviet-era technology that finds black market buyers in some of the more bankrupt African nations, but much of it gets intercepted during routine inspections of North Korean ships.

During one interception in South African port of Durban in 2010, however, officials discovered North Korean tank parts and other military equipment, apparently bound for the Congo, that had been loaded behind sacks of rice in the port of Dalian in north-east China. Diplomats said it was suspicious that the parts were not spotted by Chinese customs agents – and believe that such illicit trade may still be going on.

“One of the main effects of the UN sanctions regime has been to authorise weapons seizures, but that will remain a largely ineffective measure until the Chinese implement it,” said a former Western diplomat.

And although the newest round of United Nations sanctions specifically ban the sale to North Koreans of luxury items including jewellery, gemstones, and pearls, the shops that line Qi Jing street in Dandong reported a brisk trade with customers from across the nearby border.

“We sell them necklaces like this one,” said a saleswoman at China Gold, pointing to a delicate floral filigree, studded with gems and priced at the equivalent of £3,600. “The North Koreans who come here are usually government officials or businessmen and they are really rich.”

Indeed, while few people have even heard of the sanctions in Dandong, even fewer seem to care about them.

At the Bank of Dandong, Mrs Wu laughed at the suggestion that the sanctions might have stopped the flow of money. “How is that possible?” she asked.

“Business is still going on. We have lots of people every day.”

Additional reporting: Colin Freeman

Source: White House Wanted DIA Finding on N. Korean Nukes Under Wraps

Apr. 12, 2013 – 01:36PM   |
North Korea launched Unha-3 rocket Dec. 12 allegedly carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3. The photo was taken by North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency.

North Korea launched Unha-3 rocket Dec. 12 allegedly carrying the satellite Kwangmyongsong-3. The photo was taken by North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency.   (KCNA via Getty Images)

WASHINGTON — A U.S. Defense Intelligence Agency finding that North Korea possesses nuclear-tipped ballistic missiles was thrust into public by a senior U.S. House staff member who was merely doing his job, congressional sources say.

In a new twist, a House source tells Defense News that a DIA congressional liaison told a senior House Armed Services Committee aide that while the finding was unclassified, the Obama administration wanted to keep it under wraps.

House Armed Services Committee member Rep. Doug Lamborn, R-Colo., sent ripples around the world Thursday when he read this passage from a sensitive DIA intelligence report: “DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles. However, the reliability will be low.”

Gen. Martin Dempsey, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, was visibly unsettled and shocked after Lamborn shared the finding during a public hearing about the Pentagon’s 2014 budget request. Dempsey told Lamborn, “I haven’t seen it,” and added that since the report had not been publicly released, he did not feel comfortable discussing it in an open session.

Dempsey’s admission that Lamborn’s reading was the first he had heard of the DIA finding, which Lamborn and congressional sources say was unclassified, raised several questions.

How did House members receive such a potentially game-changing finding that the Joint Chiefs chairman had not received from a leading U.S. intelligence agency as the Korean Peninsula — and perhaps the entire region — teeters on the brink of war? Did someone inside the Pentagon or DIA purposely leak the finding? If it was leaked, what are the motivations of any leaker(s)?

As described by multiple congressional sources, the circumstances under which the DIA finding, which senior U.S. officials say does not reflect the beliefs of the entire intel community, wound up in Lamborn’s hands were not nearly as dramatic as such questions imply.

“Finished intelligence reports are a part of our routine oversight,” a senior House Armed Services Committee aide said Friday.

Another House aide offered more detail in a separate conversation with Defense News.

Many professional staff members who work for committees that perform oversight of national security agencies have access to what the aide described as “a secure network” where intelligence reports are posted.

A senior professional staff member on the House Armed Services Strategic Forces subcommittee “was looking through those recently and came across that sentence in the conclusion of a report,” the House aide said.

“He then immediately emailed the DIA legislative affairs contact and asked if that sentence was classified or unclassified,” said the House aide, who has reviewed the email exchange. “The legislative affairs contact wrote back, in all capital letters, that it was unclassified.”

Defense officials have since said the sentence was mistakenly unclassified.

Congressional sources say it is common for some parts of a single intelligence report to be marked classified and other parts marked unclassified.

A senior Pentagon official referred a reporter to DIA’s public affairs office. That office has yet to respond to a reporter’s telephone call seeking more information.

During the email exchange with the senior House Armed Services subcommittee professional staffer, the DIA legislative liaison told him, in the House aide’s words: “The administration didn’t want this getting out.”

A White House National Security Council spokeswoman declined to comment. DIA’s public affairs office had yet to respond to a second telephone message, this one specifically about that charge.

On Thursday evening, Director of National Intelligence James Clapper issued a statement declaring the DIA finding is not shared by the other U.S. intelligence agencies.

“North Korea has not yet demonstrated the full range of capabilities necessary for a nuclear-armed missile,” Clapper said.

Also on Thursday, Pentagon Press Secretary George Little said in a statement, “It would be inaccurate to suggest that the North Korean regime has fully tested, developed, or demonstrated the kinds of nuclear capabilities referenced in the passage.”

Still, the DIA finding set off alarm bells on Capitol Hill and in the region. Some lawmakers are pressing the White House to be more aggressive in its efforts to defuse North Korea’s increasingly bellicose actions and rhetoric.

N. Korean missile launchpad moved into firing position – report

Published time: April 11, 2013 01:38   Edited time: April 11, 2013 03:45                                                                            

AFP Photo / Ed Jones

AFP Photo / Ed Jones

A North Korean missile launcher has moved into the firing position with rockets facing skyward, Kyodo reports, citing a Japan defense official.

The Japanese government is on high alert, citing indications that Pyongyang might soon launch ballistic missiles at its island neighbor.
Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera said Thursday morning that so far Tokyo was responding by “gathering a variety of information … with a sense of tension,” according to Kyodo.

Several Patriot Advance Capability-3 missile interceptor units have been deployed in Japan over the last few days to defend key military units and the country’s capital city, Tokyo. One of the units was set up at the Defense Ministry’s headquarters in Ichigaya, in Tokyo’s Shinjuku Ward.

The Patriots’ deployment followed Japan’s deployment of Aegis destroyers equipped with SM-3 interceptor missiles.

Japan authorized its forces to shoot down anything fired at it from North Korea.

A Japan Self-Defence Forces soldier stands near units of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo April 10, 2013. Japan has deployed ground-based PAC-3 interceptors, as well as Aegis radar-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in response to North Korea's threats and actions, according to its government.(Reuters / Issei Kato)

A Japan Self-Defence Forces soldier stands near units of Patriot Advanced Capability-3 (PAC-3) missiles at the Defence Ministry in Tokyo April 10, 2013. Japan has deployed ground-based PAC-3 interceptors, as well as Aegis radar-equipped destroyers carrying Standard Missile-3 (SM-3) interceptors in response to North Korea’s threats and actions, according to its government.(Reuters / Issei Kato)

The indication of the new North Korean readiness follows South Korean and US forces’ announcement of an upgrade of their surveillance alert status to the highest possible level before coming into a state of war.

It also comes amid revelations from South Korea’s Yonhap news agency, with a government source saying Pyongyang is preparing multiple launches of shorter-range Scud and Rodong missiles. “There are clear signs that the North could simultaneously fire off Musudan, Scud and Nodong missiles,” an anonymous military source was quoted as saying on Wednesday.

The military alert status is now at Watchcon 2, reflecting a perceived “vital threat” from North Korean missiles after the North warned of a ‘thermonuclear’ war and asked foreigners to leave South Korea.

To counter the threat, two Aegis destroyers with SPY-1 radar have been placed on standby by the South along the Korean Peninsula.

The South Korean military is also operating early warning aircraft Peace Eye and ground-based missile defense radar system Green Pine to counter a potential rocket launch from the north.

On Tuesday, the commander of US Pacific Command said that the US is ready capable of countering the missile threat.

Allied forces on high alert amid NK missile threats ( Moved to Watchcon LVL 2 )

Song Sang-ho

The Korea Herald

Publication Date : 11-04-2013

Seoul officials say Pyongyang is ready for multiple missile launches; Washington calls threat ‘unhelpful

South Korea and the US stepped up their intelligence and surveillance activities on Wednesday amid growing signs of North Korea’s imminent multiple missile launches.

The allied forces raised the Watch Condition, or Watchcon, by one notch to level 2, and bolstered their intelligence personnel. Intelligences indicated Pyongyang has finalized preparations to launch its Musudan intermediate-range missiles from its east coast. Seoul officials said.

“North Korea can fire missiles at any time now, if it has the political determination to do so,” a military source said, declining to be named.

Seoul officials believe Pyongyang could launch multiple missiles such as its Musudan, Scud and Rodong missiles on the same day.

“In addition to the two Musudan missiles spotted in the Wonsan area of (the North’s) Gangwon Province, we identified four to five transporter-erector-launchers (mobile launchers) around the Donghan bay spanning South Hamgyeong Province and Gangwon Province,” a senior government official told reporters.

The mobile launchers are known to be used to carry the North’s Scud or Rodong missiles.

Scud missiles with ranges of 300-500 km put South Korea within striking range while Rodong missiles with ranges of some 1,300 km and Musudan missiles with ranges beyond 3,000 km can strike Japan and Guam, respectively.

All three missiles have been deployed before while Taepodong-2 missiles with ranges of longer than 6,700 km are still under development. The intercontinental missiles are capable of striking the US mainland.

In the past, Pyongyang launched multiple missiles in the same day. On July 5, 2006, it launched a Taepodong-2 missile, four Scud missiles and two Rodong missiles while on July 4, 2009, it fired five Scud missiles and two Rodong missiles.

Mobilising their core intelligence, reconnaissance and surveillance assets including South Korea’s Aegis-equipped destroyers, the South Korean and US militaries here kept closer tabs on North Korean movements.

The South Korean military ran a taskforce, consisting of some 10 senior officers, to prepare for the possible missile launch.

To better handle ballistic missile threats, Seoul seeks to establish the “Air and Missile Defence-Cell” by July. The AMD-Cell tasked with analyzing missile information gleaned from early warning satellites and radars, is a key part of the low-tier missile shield Seoul plans to build.

During a parliamentary session, Seoul’s Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se confirmed the possibility of North Korea launching missiles was “considerably high”.

“Based on our and US intelligence, the missile could be the Musudan missile. Its range is around 3,500 km, but how far it will travel hinges on North Korea’s intentions,” he said.

Experts said the range of the missile can be adjusted according to the amount of the fuel, the angle at which it flies, and other factors.

Stressing its nuclear and missile capabilities had reached a “considerable level,” Yun warned another missile launch would constitute a violation of UN Security Council resolutions that ban any missile tests by the provocative state.

“Upon any additional launch, the UNSC would immediately convene. As we all need to thoroughly analyse the nature of the missile launch, it is yet difficult to predict what kinds of measures the UNSC would adopt for another launch,” he said.

The minister also underscored that Washington would not hold talks with Pyongyang should it continue to set off provocations and refuse to show sincerity in the multilateral efforts to denuclearise it.

“The US stresses that inter-Korean talks should precede any talks between Washington and Pyongyang, (though be held) in close coordination with Washington,” he said.

During a Senate Armed Services Committee session, Adm. Samuel Locklear, the commander of US Pacific Command, said the US military has the ability to intercept a North Korean ballistic missile. But he added that a decision on whether a missile should be intercepted would be based on where it is aimed and expected to land.

“I believe we have the ability to defend the homeland, Guam, Hawaii and defend our allies,” said Locklear, pointing out that the reclusive state’s nuclear weapons and missiles posed a “clear threat” to the US and its regional allies.

The Pentagon plans to deploy a land-based “terminal high-altitude area defence system” to Guam in the coming weeks as a precautionary move to counter a possible missile attack.

It has also unveiled its plan to strengthen missile defence against the North by installing 14 additional ground-based interceptors at its bases in Alaska and California by September 2017.

White House spokesperson Jay Carney characterised North Korea’s nuclear war threat as “unhelpful, concerning and provocative”, noting it was a pattern of combative statements and behaviour that the leadership in Pyongyang has shown for years.

Another US official said North Korea’s test missile launches could occur without Pyongyang issuing a standard warning to commercial aviation and maritime authorities.

“We hope they issue a notification, but at this point we don’t expect it. We are working on the assumption they won’t,” the anonymous official was quoted by CNN as saying.


North Korea deploys seven mobile missile launchers

кндр северная корея баллистическая ракета мусудан Musudan

Photo: EPA

Up to seven mobile units with ballistic missiles of various range, from 300 km to over 3,000 km have been detected on the east coast of North Korea. They can be launched simultaneously or in succession over several days, starting from today, military sources said in Tokyo.

 Besides the two mobile launchers with medium-range Musudan missiles detected on the east coast of the country, missile units have been moved to the coast of Hamgyong Province in the northeast of the country, with “Scud” ballistic missiles with a range of up to 500 km, and “Nodong” missiles with a 1.3 thousand kilometer range mounted on about five mobile launchers.

 Border crossing between N.Korea and China shut to tourists

 A key border crossing between North Korea and China been closed to tourist groups, a Chinese official said Wednesday as nuclear tensions mounted, but business travel was allowed to continue.

 An official at the Dandong Border Office, who declined to give his name, told AFP: “Travel agencies are not allowed to take tourist groups to go there, since the North Korean government is now asking foreign people to leave. As far as I know, business people can enter and leave North Korea freely.”

 Earlier, Pyongyang advised all foreigners to “consider leaving South Korea”, warning that the Korean peninsula was headed for “thermo-nuclear” war.

 An AFP photographer at the border on Wednesday saw cars and a larger vehicle passing over the bridge crossing the Yalu River that marks the frontier, in both directions.

 China is North Korea’s sole major ally and the provider of the vast majority of its trade and aid, with most of the business passing through Dandong.

 North Korea could test fire missiles at any time – U.S. officials

 The U.S. administration says that based on recent intelligence it’s likely North Korea may test fire mobile ballistic missiles at any time, reports CNN. Earlier it was announced that a missile might be launched in the direction of Japan. Pyongyang has most probably completed launch preparations, said a U.S. official Tuesday.

 Most of the information comes from satellite imagery, so it’s impossible to reach a definitive conclusion because the U.S. has no means to gather information on the ground.

 On Tuesday Adm. Samuel J. Locklear, commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, confirmed that Pyongyang had loaded a medium-range ballistic missile onto mobile launchers at an “unidentified” facility near the east coast.

 He said the Pentagon would shoot down such a missile if its calculated flight trajectory would be potentially threatening for the U.S. or its allies.

 Meanwhile, South Korea does not exclude the likelihood that North Korea might test-launch several such missiles from a number of diverse facilities in the country.

 Moscow presses for calming the situation on the Korean Peninsula

 Moscow will seek to normalize the situation on the Korean peninsula, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said. “We are confident that the situation is serious. Nuclear tests and missile launches are not jokes.”

 However, the rhetoric also plays as just harmful role because mutual accusations, threats and warnings might reach a critical level when people drive themselves into a corner, and they will have to show something to the public opinion, Lavrov said in an interview with RTVi TV channel.

 He urged not to escalate emotions over the situation linked with North Korea and diplomatically try to reach an agreement on the resumption of six-country talks.

 At present, Russia is working with other countries of the group of six, Lavrov said.

 Earlier this month, North Korea nullified Armistice with South Korea.

 N. Korea wraps up missile launch preparations

 North Korea has wrapped up preparations for a ballistic missile launch which could be carried out on Wednesday, Yonhap reports.

 South Korean and American military are planning to track the missile’s flight using two destroyers fitted out with the Aegis Combat System.

 Japan has deployed two warships provided with identical missile tracking systems and SM-3 missiles in the Sea of Japan to intercept the North Korean missile or its fragments should they fall on the territory of Japan.

 According to experts, Pyongyang is planning to launch a Musudan-class missile with a range of 3,000-4,000 km that can hit targets in Japan and on Guam Island in the Pacific.

 North Korea warns foreigners to evacuation measures in South Korea – KCNA

 North Korea warned foreigners in South Korea to take evacuation measures on Tuesday in case of war, in the latest escalation of warnings from Pyongyang.

 “We do not wish harm on foreigners in South Korea should there be a war,” its KCNA news agency, citing the spokesperson for its Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee.

 S.Korea president says no company will invest in N.Korea if Pyongyang shuts down Kaesong complex

 South Korean President Park Geun-hye said on Tuesday North Korea would hurt its credibilty as a place to do business if it shut down the Kaesong industrial zone and no company from any country would want to invest in the country.

 “Investment is all about being able to anticipate results and trust and when you have the North breaking international regulations and promises like this and suspending Kaesong while the world is watching, no country in the world will invest in the North,” Park told a cabinet meeting.

 US praises Russia, China over Korea mediation

 The US Administration hails Russia’s and China’s effort aimed at defusing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

 White House spokesman Jay Carney said in Washington on Monday that the United States kept working with its partners in Russia, China and other countries to make Pyongyang abide by its international commitments.

 Russian President Vladimir Putin had earlier voiced alarm over the situation on the divided peninsula. China, too, expressed “serious concern” about the growing tensions between the two Korean states.

 Voice of Russia, TASS, AFP, IF, RIA, Reuters, Yonhap News Agency, Interfax

North Korea to consider closing Kaesong complex after worker recall

Pyongyang’s suspension of operations at complex it runs with South Korea is yet another ‘foolish gesture’, says expert

  • Tania Branigan in Beijing
  •,   Monday 8 April 2013 11.19 EDT
A South Korean security guards the road leading to the Kaesong complex in Paju

A South Korean security official guards the road leading to the Kaesong industrial complex, in the border city of Paju. Photograph: AFP/Getty Images

North Korea has said it will recall more than 50,000 workers from the industrial park it runs with the South and consider shutting it permanently, spelling an end to inter-Korean co-operation.

Pyongyang has engaged in weeks of angry rhetoric in response to a UN security council resolution expanding sanctions following its third nuclear test and to ongoing joint exercises by South Korean and US forces.

But analysts noted that while the latest move by Pyongyang was substantive, it was also a non-military one made amid concerns that the North might be planning another missile or nuclear test.

The Kaesong industrial complex has been a much-needed source of income for the impoverished North and a cheap source of workers for labour-intensive South Korean firms.

The statement from a senior party Workers’ party official, carried by the KCNA state news agency, warned that operations would be suspended while the future of Kaesong was reviewed.

“The zone is now in the grip of a serious crisis,” Kim Yang Gon said. “It is a tragedy that the industrial zone, which should serve purposes of national reconciliation, unity, peace and reunification, has been reduced to a theatre of confrontation between compatriots and war against the North.”

He did not mention the 475 South Korean managers still at Kaesong. The North has prevented personnel and supplies from entering from the South since last week.

North Korean workers at the South-owned Shinwon clothes company in Kaesong industrial park

North Korean workers at the South-owned Shinwon clothes company in Kaesong industrial park. Photograph: Lee Jae-Won/ReutersAccording to Associated Press, about a dozen of more than 120 South Korean companies at Kaesong have halted production owing to lack of supplies.

“The temporary suspension is likely to become the final sigh of the sunshine policy as we knew it,” said Leonid Petrov, an expert on the North at Australian National University.

“It’s understandable that as they proclaimed war it would be inconsistent with the desire to produce sneakers and LCDs at the same time … North Korea is sending a strong message to prove that money means nothing for the regime and its nuclear missile programmes are not for sale and not negotiable.”

Seoul’s policy of free-flowing aid and engagement was ended by South Korea‘s previous president, Lee Myung-bak, who took office in 2008. Petrov argued future attempts at co-operation would have to start from scratch, adding: “It is unlikely it will happen under Park Geun-hye given the conservative origins of her party.

“Many people blamed the sunshine policy for being ineffective, but that’s not correct: it was too successful for its time. It achieved a lot but was too dangerous for the North and too expensive for the South.”

James Hoare, the former British chargé d’affaires in Pyongyang, said: “It may be that among the military there are those who never liked [Kaesong] and saw it as a Trojan horse. It may be they’ve decided they won’t carry on with it, but they could still row backwards. It is not militarily threatening. It’s a gesture which to me looks foolish from the North Korean point of view, but it isn’t firing rockets or doing a nuclear test.”

He pointed out that attempts at engagement with the North had often stumbled, from the early 1970s onwards. But he added: “It’s very unfortunate for the workers, who will lose their wages and other perks.”

Stephan Haggard of the Washington-bade Peterson Institute, an expert on North Korean economics, wrote last year: “For North Korea, [Kaesong] is a cash cow that even hardliners have been loath to push the way of the Mount Kumgang project. Since 2004, total wage payments for North Korean workers in the KIC has totalled $245.7m, rising from $380,000 in 2004 … to $45.93m in the first half of 2012. For Pyongyang, even hardliners can see that this is a no-brainer.”

One possibility is that the North believes it must threaten a clearly valuable asset to send the message that it is serious in its stance. Another possibility mooted by experts is that it could hope to expropriate the factories and hand them over to members of the elite, bolstering domestic support for the regime.

S Korean government source: N Korea allegedly preparing fourth underground nuclear test

Северная Корея ядерные испытания Северная Корея кндр ядерные испытания ядерные испытания

Photo: EPA

North Korea could perform a fourth underground nuclear weapons test at Punggye-ri, the site of its previous test. Pyongyang appeared to be making preparations for the test, according to a South Korean government source speaking to the country’s Joong Ang Daily newpaper.

 This comes on the heels of the South’s defense ministry reports that Pyongyang could perform a mid-range missile test-launch by Wednesday – also the deadline it has given to foreign diplomats to evacuate, as their safety would reportedly no longer be guaranteed by the government.
“We have detected increased activity of labor forces and vehicles at the southern tunnel of the test site in Punggye-ri, where the regime has worked on maintenance for facilities since its third nuclear test in February,” one of South’s top government officials said. He added that “the activities appear to be similar to those before the third test, so we are closely monitoring the site.”

 The official went on to say that the South Korean government “were also tipped off that Pyongyang would soon carry out an additional nuclear test… but we are analyzing if it is indeed preparation for an additional test or if it is just to pressure Seoul and Washington.”

 Voice of Russia, RT


North Korea readies missile launch as fears of a covert cyberwar grow

As Pyongyang moves ballistic weapons to the coast, it may also be planning to disable computer networks in the US

South Korean soldier at border.

A South Korean soldier patrols at the crossing to the jointly managed Kaesong industrial complex on the border. Photograph: Lee Jae-Won/Reuters

South Korea is bracing for a protracted standoff with the North that could include at least one missile test-launch and a border skirmish.

On Friday, North Korea attempted to heighten fears of military conflict when it told embassies in its capital, Pyongyang, that it could not guarantee the safety of their staff in the event of war. In another sign that it is determined to increase the pressure, Pyongyang extended a ban preventing South Korean officials from entering the Kaesong industrial complex – which it operates jointly with the South – for a fourth day.

A government official in Seoul said there was no indication of an exodus of foreign diplomats from the North, despite the warning. “We don’t believe there’s any foreign mission about to leave Pyongyang,” the official told the Yonhap news agency. “Most foreign governments view the North Korean message as a way of ratcheting up tension.”

The message to embassies came as US officials confirmed media reports that North Korea had moved two medium-range missiles to its east coast. The Musudan missiles, with a range of 1,865 miles, are capable of striking South Korea, Japan and US bases in the Pacific. Possible launches are expected to be tests rather than targeted strikes, and may be timed to coincide with the 101st anniversary of the birth of North Korea’s founding father, Kim Il-sung, on 15 April.

In response, South Korea has sent Aegis destroyers equipped with advanced radar systems to both of its coasts. The US had earlier said it would speed up the deployment of missile defence systems to Guam, a US Pacific territory whose military bases Pyongyang has identified as targets. Officials in Washington offered a measured response to confirmation that the North had mounted two missiles on mobile launchers. “We’ve obviously seen the reports that North Korea may be making preparations to launch a missile and we’re monitoring this situation closely,” the White House  press secretary Jay Carney said. “And we would not be surprised to see them take such an action. It would fit their current pattern of bellicose, unhelpful and unconstructive rhetoric and actions.”

US attempts to lower the diplomatic temperature come after a prolonged display of its naval and air power in the region during joint military exercises with South Korea. Pyongyang has condemned the annual drills, which run to the end of the month, as preparations for an invasion.

The North Korean media continued to describe the standoff in dramatic terms at the weekend, accusing the US and South Korea of “waging madcap nuclear war manoeuvres”.

“This is aimed at igniting a nuclear war against it through a pre-emptive strike,” the Minju Joson, a government daily newspaper, said. “The prevailing situation proves that a new war, a nuclear war, is imminent on the peninsula.”

The prospect of a North Korean missile test is causing concern in Japan, which is easily within range. In Tokyo, Yoshihide Suga, a government spokesman, said that Japan was preparing for a “worst-case” scenario, and urged China and Russia to play “significant roles” in defusing tensions. Experts and officials have dismissed Pyongyang’s threats to launch nuclear strikes against the US, given the rudimentary state of its weapons capability. But it could cause widespread disruption with a cyberattack, according to a defector who worked for the regime’s 3,000-member cyberwarfare unit.

The regime’s next move could be to break into US computer networks to steal information and spread viruses, Jang Se-yul, who defected to the South in 2008, told the Observer. North Korea’s hackers are suspected of being behind recent cyberattacks that paralysed computer networks at several South Korean banks and broadcasters.

“It would demonstrate that North Korea is a strong cyberpower,” Jang said. “Their prime target is the US, and they’ve been preparing for something like this for years, including when I was there in the 1990s. I can’t say how successful they would be, but it’s a possibility.”

The barrage of threats have failed to unnerve people in Seoul, just 54km from the demilitarised zone – the strip of heavily guarded land that has separated the two states since they agreed on a ceasefire, but not a peace treaty, at the end of the 1950-53 Korean war. Streets were packed with cars and shoppers as usual on Saturday, despite rain and chilly weather.

The South Korean media have also been measured in their coverage. When North Korea vowed last week to restart its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon, South Korean newspapers devoted more space to government plans to grant tax breaks to home buyers. On Naver, the country’s most popular web portal, the most read news item last week was about Ryu Hyun-jin, a South Korean baseball pitcher who made his debut for the LA Dodgers. The relaxed mood would quickly change in the event of a localised attack on a South Korean military asset or one of the frontline islands near the disputed maritime border.

Last week the South’s new president, Park Geun-hye, said that the military would hit back hard if provoked. Her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, was criticised for his slow response to attacks in 2010 on a naval ship and island, in which 50 people died.

An editorial in the Korea Times said those living in both the North and South had reason to be vigilant. “Not a single expert can say for sure what will be the unpredictable regime’s next move,” the newspaper said. “One thing seems certain, however: it will be Koreans, especially South Koreans, who will have to shoulder the risks of any misjudgment or miscalculation to be made by either Koreas.” There was consternation, too, that the North had disrupted operations at Kaesong for four days, although it has not closed the facility. Last week it prevented South Korean workers from crossing the border into the complex, located just inside North Korea. About 100 South Koreans who had stayed at Kaesong last week were due to return yesterday, with 500 more remaining.

The Korea Herald noted that the £56bn that the North earns from the complex every year was “no small amount”, adding that the country “does not have many comparable or better sources of hard currency”.

Political tensions have briefly disrupted operations at Kaesong several times since it opened in 2004, but a complete and prolonged shutdown would be a sign that cross-border ties were near to collapse.

“South Korea takes this situation very seriously,” a senior government official in Seoul told the Observer. “We must watch even the smallest moves by North Korea. At the same time, we will continue to send signals that we want to build trust with Pyongyang in the hope that it will cooperate and dialogue can begin.”

Russian bombers conducts practice strikes on US missile defenses in Asia ( Mock attacks against ground-based missile defense site in Japan )

Friday, 05 April 2013

A Russian bomber recently carried out simulated cruise missile attacks on U.S. missile defenses in Asia, raising new questions about Moscow’s goal in future U.S.-Russian defense talks.

According to U.S. officials, a Russian Tu-22M Backfire bomber on Feb. 26 simulated firing air-launched cruise missiles at an Aegis ship deployed near Japan as part of U.S. missile defenses.

A second mock attack was conducted Feb. 27 against a ground-based missile defense site in Japan that officials did not identify further.

The Pentagon operates an X-band missile defense radar on the northern tip of Japan that is designed to monitor North Korean missile launches and transmit the data to missile-firing ships.

The bomber targeting comes as Russia is building up forces in the Pacific by modernizing submarines and building a spy ship specifically for intelligence-gathering against U.S. missile defenses.

Officials said it was not clear why the Russians conducted the practice strikes. However, the simulations may indicate Moscow has targeted its offensive ballistic missiles on Japan or U.S. military bases in the region.

U.S. missile defenses in Asia currently are at a heightened alert status as a result of tensions with North Korea. The communist state has threatened to conduct nuclear missile attacks on the United States and South Korea.

The incidents were detected by U.S. intelligence-gathering systems in the region and reported recently inside the Pentagon.

“As a matter of policy we do not comment on matters of intelligence,” Lt. Col. Catherine Wilkinson said when asked about the Backfire bomber incident.

The Tu-22 bomber can carry up to three air-launched Kh-22 land attack cruise missiles. The bomber has a range of about 2,500 miles.

Retired Air Force Lt. Gen. Tom McInerney said the Backfire targeting is troubling.

“Russia continues to conduct aggressive offensive missile training in the Pacific against U.S. and Allied Forces,” McInerney said.

“We should understand that they look at ‘reset’ differently than we do,” said the retired three-star general, who once commanded forces in Alaska. “They look at it as regaining their previous USSR position as a superpower while this administration is moving towards unilateral disarmament.”

Eric Edelman, undersecretary of defense for policy during the George W. Bush administration, said it is difficult to assess why the Russians carried out the simulated strikes.

Edelman said practice runs may be “a demonstration of continued Russia opposition to and hyping of their animosity toward U.S. missile defense deployments globally.”


North Korea ready for cyberwar

Posted By Josh Peterson On 1:10 PM  04/05/2013 In Tech

Despite the popular impression that North Korea is technologically inept, the regime boasts a significant and effective cyber arsenal, in addition to what is currently known about its nuclear arsenal.

Not only has the country been able to jam GPS signals, it has also reportedly conducted cyber terrorism operations against South Korean media and financial institutions.

As recently as late March, Agence France-Presse reported that the websites of North Korean defectors also were under attack.

North Korea’s cyberwarfare history includes the use of a distributed-denial-of-service (DDoS) attack — which overwhelms a system’s web servers with traffic, forcing it to crash — against U.S. and South Korean government websites.

Its cyberterrorism unit — Unit 121, which is a project of the North Korean intelligence agency, Reconnaissance General Bureau — boasts an estimated 3,000 hackers.

“Defectors from the unit told South Korean intelligence officials that North Korea sends hackers to other countries for training as well as to conduct undercover operations,” Bruce Klingner, senior research fellow for The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center, told The Daily Caller.

“The hackers never operate within North Korea since the country’s limited computer network would make it too easy to identify the source of the attack,” Klingner said, noting that North Korea has “very strong cyberterrorism capabilities.”

Steven Bucci, Director of Heritage’s Douglas and Sarah Allison Center for Foreign Policy Studies, echoed Klingner’s sentiments.

“Just as with their nukes, their lack of predictability makes them dangerous beyond their capabilities (compared to others),” Bucci told The Daily Caller in an email.

The U.S. and South Korea have been the targets of North Korean cyberterrorism dating as far back as 1999, when several government sites were hit by a DDoS attack. The DPRK’s tactics have since become increasingly more sophisticated.

In 2011, for example, an attack on South Korea’s Nonghyup Bank was attributed to the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The disabling of the South Korean newspaper JoongAng Ilbo’s news production system that same year was also traced back to a North Korean telecommunications center.

The U.S. government has expressed increasing concern over the potential of a devastating cyber attack by state-sponsored hackers against the country’s critical infrastructure for several years, even acknowledging the sophistication of North Korea’s cyber arsenal.

In 2007, CIA analyst Stephen C. Mercado wrote that North Korea had engaged in serious efforts to development its science and technology since the country’s inception in 1948 — largely under the influence of the Soviet Union and China.

The Internet further “enhanced” the abilities of North Korean researchers to acquire foreign data, Mercado observed — contrary to a common misconception that the country has maintained complete technological isolation from the outside world.

President Obama recently signed a cybersecurity executive order as part of his plan to address the threat, but lawmakers have yet to agree upon any meaningful legislation.

What kind of damage a cyber attack from North Korea could cause, however, seems uncertain.

“While it is possible that attempts against U.S. infrastructure could occur sporadically, [North Korea] does not yet seem to have the scale of highly skilled ‘wicked’ actors able to implement a long-running campaign necessary to really hurt U.S. infrastructure,” Dr. Chris Demchak, Co-Director for the Center for Cyber Conflict Studies at the U.S. Naval War College, told The Daily Caller

Demchack’s own research is from public sources and she does not speak for the U.S. government or the U.S. Navy.

“They would need friends in the cyber fight to close the distance to the U.S. effectively,” said Demchak, stating that North Korea’s focus has been on nearby neighbors like South Korea and Japan.

The federal government’s own concern about the disruptive impact of the activities of hacktivist groups like Anonymous demonstrates that even a low level of technical ability can inflict damaging.

South Korean information security professor Lee Dong-hoon told Business Insider in July 2012, however, that he believed that North Korea’s investment in cyber warfare over the past 30 years has given it capabilities behind only the United States and Russia.

The Pentagon’s own capabilities are estimated to be quite sophisticated. An April 2012 Washington Post report announced that the U.S. military was fast-tracking the acquisition of new cyberweapons that would enable it to respond to “urgent-mission critical” needs.

The U.S., which is believed to have been involved in the development of the Stuxnet worm that disrupted the Iranian nuclear enrichment program at the Nataanz nuclear facility in 2009, also not denied involvement in that effort.

“Critical to the bits-to-bolts weapon like Stuxnet is developing considerable knowledge of how systems disconnected from the web can be infected reliably and precisely, and a testbed to check if the infection will work,” said Demchak.

“Both take time and a level of ground knowledge that is very hard to obtain about [North Korea],” she said.

“Having said that, barring an identified attack by [North Korea], even if the U.S. had all this in place, it would be a violation of international law at this point to use it destructively and unambiguously,” she said.

The Pentagon told The Daily Caller that it does not comment on matters of intelligence.

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North Korea warns Britain to evacuate embassy in Pyongyang and moves mid-range missiles to coast sparking fears of imminent strike

In response to the continued threats South Korea deployed two warships that have missile-defence systems

Rob Williams

Friday, 5 April 2013

North Korea has advised Britain to evacuate its embassy in Pyongyang saying it will not be able to guarantee the safety of staff in the event of conflict from April 10th.

The Foreign Office confirmed that the British Embassy in Pyongyang had received a communication from the North Korean government and said it was “considering next steps”.

A spokesman said the Pyongyang regime had responsibilities to protect embassies under international conventions and claimed the latest move was “part of their continuing rhetoric” that the United States poses a threat.

Earlier today it emerged that Russia had also been asked to consider evacuating staff from its embassy in Pyongyang because of the increasing tension on the Korean peninsula.

A spokesman said Russia was examining the request but was not planning an evacuation at this stage, and there were no outward signs of increased tension in the North Korean capital itself.

North Korea moved two missiles to its east coast and loaded them onto launchers, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said.

In response to the continued threats South Korea deployed two warships that have missile-defence systems.

The news came as fears of an imminent missile strike from the North unsettled financial markets in South Korea.

Military officials in South Korea said that two warships were to be deployed on the east and west coasts of the country. Despite anxiety in the region over continuing tensions, Seoul has been keen to play down the threat – stating today that the missile moves could be tests.

A senior official was quoted by Yonhap saying: “It has been confirmed that North Korea, early this week, transported two Musudan mid-range missiles by train to the east coast and loaded them on vehicles equipped with launch pads.”

Musudan missiles have an range of 4,000km, putting Japan, Guam and South Korea within its range.

The news came after a further day of tension, during which the Prime Minister David Cameron claimed that North Korea now possessed the capability to launch a nuclear strike against Britain.

The Prime Minister pointed to the escalating threats from the regime in Pyongyang as evidence of the need for the United Kingdom to retain the Trident nuclear deterrent.

The bellicose rhetoric from North Korea has escalated in recent weeks and months after sanctions were imposed on the country following a nuclear test in February.

Tensions were further inflamed last week when South Korea and the US carried out joint military drills in the region using nuclear-enabled B-2 stealth bombers.

Intelligence officials from the US, Japan and South Korea were said today to be monitoring the movement of the weapons.

The United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon said today that daily reports from Pyongyang were “alarming and troubling”.

He urged North Korea to ease tensions.”Nuclear threat is not a game, it is very serious,” he said.

Today Asia experts speculated that North Korea’s latest outburst of nuclear and military threats has given the US a rare opportunity to build bridges with China and revitalize the Obama administration’s flagging policy pivot to Asia.

The architect of the administration’s Asia policy described a subtle change in Chinese thinking as a result of Pyongyang’s recent nuclear tests, rocket launches and abandonment of the armistice that ended the 1950-53 war with South Korea.

Pyongyang has taken similar actions in the past, prompting Washington to increase military readiness in the region to soothe allies South Korea and Japan. But in an unusual rebuke this week, Beijing called North Korea’s moves “regrettable” — amounting to a slap from the country’s strongest economic and diplomatic supporter.

“They, I think, recognize that the actions that North Korea has taken in recent months and years are in fact antithetical to their own national security interests,” former Assistant Secretary of State Kurt Campbell told a panel Thursday at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

“There is a subtle shift in Chinese foreign policy” toward North Korea, said Campbell, who retired in February as the administration’s top diplomat in East Asia and the Pacific region. “I think that they have succeeded in undermining trust and confidence in Beijing.”

Russia concerned about security of its citizens in both Koreas

мид РФ здание политика
Russian Foreign Ministry


Russia hopes that the leaders of the two Koreas will be wise enough not to let the current sharpening of relations between their countries grow into a war.

 A spokesperson for the Russian Foreign Ministry says that in such worsening situation, Russia will try to take care of their citizens in both Koreas.

 On Friday, North Korea’s Foreign Ministry suggested that foreign embassies in Pyongyang, including the Russian one, and other foreign organizations in North Korea should send their workers back home.

 Russia keeps in touch with world powers on N. Korea evacuation offer

 Russia’s Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said he is keeping in touch with China, South Korea, Japan and the United States after Pyongyang suggested world powers should pull their embassy staff from North Korea.

 Mr. Lavrov told journalists he was keeping the group of six international mediators posted and added Russia was concerned about belligerent rhetoric that has been fanning the conflict throughout past weeks.

 He said Russia was probing into the motives behind this proposal, but added Pyongyang made it clear that this was a mere offer, not a warning.

 Russia puzzled over N Korea’s proposal to pull out embassy staff

 Moscow is going to clarify the motives behind North Korea’s surprise proposal to evacuate Russia’s diplomatic mission, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said Friday.

 Mr. Lavrov underscored that similar offers had been made to all Pyongyang-based foreign diplomatic missions.

 Ria-Novosti news agency had a phone talk with a member of the Russian embassy in Pyongyang who confirmed that North Korea’s foreign ministry suggested that Moscow consider pulling out its diplomatic corps from Korea following the crisis that has been spinning out of hand over the week.

 Russia concerns about safety of citizens in North Korea

 The safety of Russian nationals remains the utmost priority for Moscow, a source with the country’s Foreign Office has said commenting on North Korea’s proposal to draw up a roadmap for evacuation of the Russian embassy.

 The offer came in the light of the recent escalation of tensions in the Korean Peninsula following Pyongyang’s threat to strike at the US.

 The situation is spinning out of control, the source said, adding the conflict moved the security of Russian citizens in North Korea on the front burner.

 N Korea’s Foreign Ministry suggests that Russia consider evacuation issue

 The North Korean Foreign Ministry has suggested that Russia consider the issue of evacuating the Russian embassy personnel in view of the worsening of the situation on the Korean Peninsula, a representative of the Russian embassy in Pyongyang told RIA Novosti by phone.

 According to him Russia has taken this into account.

 This information was given to the other diplomatic missions in Pyongyang as well, he said.

 At the moment the Russian embassy is working normally, everything is quiet, and there is no tension, the diplomat said.

 Voice of Russia, RIA, Interfax, TASS