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Thread: NKorea fires artillery onto SKorean island, 1 dead

  1. #291

    North Korea ground-tests new 'high-thrust' rocket engine

    Gabriel Dominguez, London and Neil Gibson, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

    22 March 2017

    North Korea recently carried out a ground test of a 'high-thrust engine' (seen here), the KCNA reported on 19 March. Source: Via KCNA

    North Korea has carried out a ground test of a "Korean-style, high-thrust engine" developed by the country's Academy of the National Defence Science, the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on 19 March.

    "The test was conducted to confirm the overall technical indices of the engine such as features of thrust power in the combustion chamber, accurate movement of turbine pump, control system, and various valves and their structural safety and reliability," the KCNA reported.

    North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, who oversaw the event at the Sohae Satellite Launch Station - also known as the Tongchang-ri Missile and Space Launch Facility - was quoted as saying that the test "marked a great event of historic significance as it declared a new birth of the Juche-based rocket industry".

    Kim added that "the whole world" would "soon witness what eventful significance the great victory won [on 19 March] carries": an indication that Pyongyang is likely to continue engaging in provocative actions, despite warnings and condemnation by the international community.

    The North Korean leader added that the development and completion of this new type of engine "would help consolidate the scientific and technological foundation to match the [country's] world-level satellite delivery capability in the field of outer space development".

    Yonhap news agency quoted a South Korean defence ministry official a day later as saying that the North's latest rocket engine test was a "meaningful" advance in Pyongyang's development of weapons of mass destruction.

    US Department of Defense spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said the test was "consistent with the pattern we've seen by North Korea to continue to develop their ballistic missile programme", according to Reuters news agency.

    (298 of 510 words)

  2. #292

    How Trump can get Xi to say 'Yes' on North Korea [Commentary]

    By: Lori Esposito Murray, April 4, 2017 (Photo Credit: STR/AFP/Getty Images)

    President Trump has sent a stern warning to Xi Jinping that if China does not help us with North Korea, it will be bad for China and the U.S. will act on its own. Although sounding tough, the President may be dooming his meeting with Xi to just another round of failure on North Korea.

    The past several years have demonstrated that the long-standing U.S. demand that China must play the central role in a strategy of expanding sanctions with North Korea may be misguided and unrealistic. While China has shared interests in resolving the crisis, there are clear limits to the pressure China is willing to apply. This reticence is due to China’s fears of a refugee influx it cannot control if the North Korean regime collapses, and its fear of losing a buffer state on its border. China also benefits from North Korea distracting the U.S. presence in Asia, as China’s own presence rises.

    China’s security interests are not going to change. What needs to change is how we work with China. Trump cannot just bully Xi to another nominal yes on North Korea. He needs to work with Xi’s security interests, so that China’s support for pressuring the renegade state becomes implemented, sustainable policy.

    Washington has had two long-standing objectives: to end North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, and to reunify the Korean peninsula.

    President Trump should remain steadfast on the first and return North Korea to the Non-Proliferation Treaty as a non-nuclear power. An agreement that only freezes North Korean capabilities will not solve the crisis and will only, again, kick it down the road.

    The U.S. is on firm ground demanding North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons. The U.S. unilaterally removed its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991, and South Korea is a member in good standing of the Non-Proliferation Treaty. North Korea has reintroduced nuclear weapons onto the peninsula in defiance of regional and global obligations. A nuclear capable North Korea will leave open the dangerous alternatives of the U.S. reintroducing nuclear weapons onto the peninsula and/or South Korea and Japan developing their own nuclear arsenal. Despite President’s Trump’s own misplaced musings, U.S. and global security continue to be best served by fewer nuclear weapons at the disposal of dispersed, unpredictable leaders. Kim Jung Un is at the top of that list.

    But where the U.S. should show flexibility is on reunification. This goal has threatened China’s interest of a buffer state on its border and has inhibited Chinese cooperation on the imminent North Korea threat. Furthermore, unification is also being questioned within South Korea, particularly among the younger generation who are concerned about the economic sacrifice that may be required by the much more affluent South.

    While we cannot live with a nuclear-capable Kim regime, the question is whether we can live with a non-nuclear Kim regime on a divided peninsula. If the answer is yes, policy options open up to achieve that goal with Chinese cooperation.

    Since the North Korea crisis first moved to the top of the U.S. agenda in the 1990s, North Korea has focused on the U.S. providing incentives in return for the end of its nuclear program -- food aid, energy aid, security guarantees, and a peace agreement to replace the 1953 truce. Providing these incentives has received skeptical reception in the U.S. given North Korea’s track record of broken agreements, proliferation, and human rights abuses.

    But, since 1994, China’s economic and security prowess in the region has greatly expanded, including its support for North Korea after the Soviet Union collapsed. The responsibility should shift to China to provide the incentives. It has a lot to offer: security guarantees, by strengthening its 1961 mutual assistance agreement; more investment in North Korean industry and infrastructure; membership in the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank; and integration into its One Belt One Road initiative, among others.

    If more sanctions are needed, China’s leverage may be better played by focusing on North Korea’s illicit economy, a major source of cash flow and an area where some Chinese entities have been implicated -- proliferation, drug trafficking, human trafficking, cyber bank robberies -- as opposed to its legitimate economy. Cracking down on illicit activities requires commitment, financial resources, international support, all of which China can help deliver. Furthermore, North Korea’s legitimate economic development will be a cornerstone of a more stable, nuclear free North Korea and, in the short term, will not offset the loss of cash flow from its illicit practices.

    Stopping a determined nation from developing nuclear weapons is difficult. Reversing established capabilities is even harder. But it has been done. To move North Korea into the success column, Trump needs to ensure Xi Jinping recognizes North Korea is a U.S. priority, that we are willing to work with China’s security interests, and that the U.S. will keep its eye on the ball and not blink.

    Lori Esposito Murray is an adjunct senior fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations. She most recently held the distinguished chair for national security at the U.S. Naval Academy. She served as special advisor to the president on the Chemical Weapons Convention and is also a former assistant director of the U.S. Arms Control and Disarmament Agency at the State Department. The views expressed are her own.

  3. #293

    Korea decisions - shutting down the DPRK's business

    06th April 2017 - 13:10

    by Wendell Minnick in Taipei

    With North Korea responding to international sanctions against its weapons of mass destruction (WMD) development programme with smirks, the US administration has a myriad of policy options, including asymmetrical, to rein in Pyongyang's WMD efforts.

    Former US intelligence and military sources outlined to Shephard a list of policy changes, the first of which was to shut down North Korean export companies working in the Asia-Pacific region.

    For example, Taiwan has at least two North Korean front companies providing all manner of equipment, including computer/information technology equipment and industrial machinery such as high-tolerance lathes and drills.

    Well-documented front organisations still exist in Malaysia, Micronesia, the Philippines and Thailand. In the past, some of these organisations were discovered in Singapore, only to be shut down after US government complaints.

    Second, the US must get tougher on Chinese companies that do business with North Korea. In one visible example of this, China Shipbuilding and Offshore International Company (CSOC) may have blundered at the LIMA 2017 defence show in Langkawi, Malaysia, in late March.

    For the first time, a Chinese 'defence' company provided product pamphlets that listed North Korea as a market for its weapon wares. In its 'Land-based Military Products' pamphlet provided by CSOC representatives, the 'DPR. Korea' [Democratic People's Republic of Korea] was listed under 'export markets'.

    Other countries listed, with dubious human rights records and under a variety of UN and Western sanctions, included Sudan and Iran.

    No specific weapon system was identified as being exported to North Korea, but products in the literature included C4ISR systems, targeting radars, photoelectric tracker pods, air defence close-in weapon systems, electronic warfare systems, and unmanned aerial vehicles.

    Crippling CSOC commercial exports of cargo vessels and transport ships would be a good start at punishing the company.

    Third is to pressure the Chinese government to take action on North Korea by targeting the family members and children of Beijing elites, known as 'princelings', living in the US. This would include 'tossing some of them out of the US and sending the Internal Revenue Service to check on their business dealings', said a source.

    Many princelings attend Ivy League universities and are considered untouchable by US law enforcement.

    Fourth, intercepting North Korean drug trafficking was another suggestion, depriving the dictatorship of hard currency. One of the most dramatic cases, known as the Pong Su incident, occurred in 2003 when Australian authorities discovered a North Korean vessel transporting 125kg of heroin.

    The crew was arrested after an Australian special operations unit raided the ship. Despite the notoriety of the incident, international arrests of North Koreans for drug trafficking has been recurrent since the mid-1970s.

    Fifth, sources suggested that boarding North Korean vessels, whether flagged in another country or not, should be done aggressively on the open sea.

    Such raids would stop the transfer of materials for WMD, impede drug trafficking, hamper covert operations that include kidnapping and assassination, encumber the transfer of large volumes of fake foreign currency for the international black market, and reap a wide array of intelligence.

    Some activities could be covert with Australian, Japanese and US special operations forces working together, a source said. Another suggested that North Korean submarines that leave port 'never return… just disappear'.

    Sixth, Richard Fisher, author of the book China's Military Modernization, said that China should be 'shamed for its two-faced' policy. For instance, it encouraged Six Party Talks while at the same time supplying North Korea with weapon systems.

    The most obvious recent contribution, he said, was Chinese-built 16-wheel trucks for North Korea's new KN-08/KN-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles.

    'No longer should Xi Jinping be allowed to bask at large Western summits and forums without being forced to respond publicly to direct questions about China's assistance to one of the world's most odious regimes,' Fisher said.

    However, not everyone was open to the idea of ramping up sanctions and going covert on some operations.

    Arthur Waldron, a prominent US specialist on Asia, said, 'We must exit denial and stop fantasising about changing North Korea.'
    Waldron, who served as a member of the highly classified Tilelli Commission, which evaluated China operations of the CIA, said the US must try something different.

    'We must recognise them, and put an embassy in Pyongyang with a SCIF [sensitive compartmented information facility] well supplied with alcohol and an ambassador who is a real Korea hand and speaks it gutter to yangban [the ruling class].'

    He argued that if the US can recognise China, which has 'no meaningful human rights policy', then the US can also recognise North Korea.

    'The North Koreans will eat grass… rather than give up their nuclear capability,' Waldron said. 'This is fait accompli; it's not going away… so it's better we open up shop.'

    He suggested that the medium-term goal for the US should be to 'break the connection between China and North Korea, encourage multilateralism with Pyongyang's regional neighbours and then see what happens'.

    'Attempting to work with our Chinese friends to do this is madness,' he concluded.

  4. #294

    THAAD Missile Defense System Initially Capable In South Korea: Sources (excerpt)

    (Source: Reuters; published May 01, 2017)

    By Phil Stewart and Idrees Ali

    WASHINGTON --- The U.S. military's THAAD missile defense system in South Korea has reached an initial operating capability to defend against North Korean missiles, U.S. officials said on Monday, forging ahead with the system despite staunch objections from China.

    Beijing has opposed activation of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), arguing the system's radar could be used to spy into its territory, despite assurances from Washington that THAAD is purely defensive.

    The United States is looking for China to use its influence with Pyongyang to rein in its advancing nuclear and missile programs, and it is unclear how Beijing will react to the development.

    U.S. President Donald Trump has said a "major, major conflict" with North Korea is possible, and THAAD's activation adds another layer of complexity to escalating tensions.

    The system has also generated controversy in South Korea. The favorite to win South Korea's presidential election on May 9, has called for deployment to be delayed until after the next administration is in place and can review the decision.

    Local residents have worried they will be a target for North Korean missiles.

    The U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the THAAD system was initially capable. It would not be fully operational for a period of months, however, one of the officials cautioned.

    A second official said South Korea established a "restricted operating zone control measure" over the THAAD site on April 30, to control air space. The official added the battery was now prepared to conduct initial operational missions. (end of excerpt)

    Click here for the full story, on the Reuters website.



  5. #295

    Korea Already Paid $1 Bil. in THAAD Costs

    (Source: The Korea Times; issued May 02, 2017)

    U.S. President Donald Trump should know that South Korea has already paid more than what he has billed the country for the deployment of a Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery here, analysts said Tuesday.

    Trump has insisted that Korea pay $1 billion for the anti-missile shield and his top aides also claim that the two countries should renegotiate the terms of the deployment agreement.

    On top of the provision of the land for the missile defense unit, South Korea has already sustained huge damage from economic retaliation by China.

    Company officials and analysts say that the value of losses Korea has suffered from retaliatory steps has to have topped $1 billion. They expect the amount to snowball to as high as $20 billion if friction over THAAD is not addressed.

    The U.S. move is also against the Status of Forces Agreement (SOFA) between Washington and Seoul, which says the former pays for the cost for deployment, operation and maintenance of weapons here; while Korea pays for part of the cost of the U.S. forces stationed in Korea. It is shouldering 950.7 billion won ($840 million) this year.

    Korea also provided the land for the anti-missile battery and support facilities. The government signed a land swap deal with Lotte Group, to use the company's golf course in Seongju, North Gyeongsang Province for THAAD.

    The value of the golf course, where THAAD is deployed, is estimated at 89 billion won. The U.S. Forces in Korea do not pay rent for the land.

    Penny-wise, pound-foolish

    Analysts say that the U.S. president is ignoring Korea's huge economic loss. "In consideration of Korea's direct losses and opportunity costs related to THAAD, the amount would already have topped $1 billion," Prof. Lee Phil-sang at Seoul National University said. "Against this backdrop, it is not proper for the U.S. to ask for additional funds for the battery."

    He said President Trump is trying to negotiate on a security issue like it's a business deal.

    "Washington may get some returns for such a maneuver, but it runs the risk of losing Korea's trust. It seems to be a penny-wise and pound-foolish approach," he said.

    Jeong Yong-taek, an analyst at IBK Investment and Securities, also said that the U.S. needs to understand the "special nature" of the Sino-Korean relationship.

    "Korea is so much connected to China, from the businesses that advanced into its market, to exports, tourism and even financial markets. Deteriorating relations with China are only adding to the burden on the Korean economy," he said.

    China has claimed that the deployment of the U.S. missile defense system will work against its national security.

    Lotte Group, which was the main target of Chinese retaliation, sustained 250 billion won in lost sales in March due to the "China factor." Its retail outlet Lotte Mart operating in China has 90 percent of its stores shut down, following orders by the authorities there.

    The loss is expected to snowball to 1 trillion won for the period between March and June.

    According to the Korea Development Bank (KDB) Research Center, the Korean economy is expected to face up to a $20 billion loss if the relationship with China further worsens due to the economic retaliation.

    If China maintains this at its current intensity, Korea's exports to China will drop by $2.6 billion from the previous year, while duty free shops and tourism will lose $7.4 billion in revenue they can expect from Chinese tourists. In total, Korea will experience a $10 billion loss for its deployment of THAAD.

    The loss could balloon to $20 billion if China takes further retaliatory action and anti-Korea sentiment spreads there China, according to the report. It is based on the estimation that Korea's exports to China will drop by $8.3 billion, on top of a $11.7 billion loss incurred to duty free shops and the tourism industry.

    The country's mid-tier companies are also reporting losses. According to a survey of 166 mid-sized exporters, they reported an average 8.7 billion won in losses due to Chinese retaliation.

    One out of 10 firms reported that they experienced unusual delays in customs procedures during the past six months. The damage could increase rapidly when considering that the mid-tier firms relied on exports for 33.7 percent of their sales last year.


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