Category Archives: Koreas

N. Korea completes upgrade of rocket site, shows no signs of launch preparations yet

North Korea has completed construction to upgrade its main rocket launch facility, but is still showing no signs of preparations to launch a long-range rocket or missile from the facility, a U.S. research institute said Wednesday.

The website 38 North made the assessment citing recent satellite imagery of the North’s Sohae Satellite Launching Station. South Korean officials said last week the North completed upgrading the facility to enable it to handle bigger rockets, and a launch could come around the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Workers’ Party in October.

“There are still no indications at Sohae that test preparations are underway to support a long-range SLV (satellite launch vehicle) launch. There is also no public evidence to suggest that a decision has been made by the leadership in Pyongyang to move forward with a launch,” 38 North said in a report.

“In the coming weeks, if preparations are indeed underway, we would expect to see other on-the ground indications at Sohae, including increased rail activity and the possible arrival of missile related railcars, activity at facilities associated with rocket assembly,” it said.

38 North said the North has completed all construction work at the facility

(LEAD) N. Korea completes upgrade of rocket site, shows no signs of launch preparations yet

North Korea ‘hit by worst drought in 100 years’ | World news | The Guardian

North Korea says it has been hit by its worst drought in a century, resulting in extensive damage to agriculture.

The official Korean Central News Agency said the drought had caused about 30% of its rice paddies to dry up. Rice plants normally need to be partially submerged in water during the early summer.

“Water levels of reservoirs stand at the lowest, while rivers and streams are getting dry,” it said in a report on Tuesday.

An official from South Korea’s unification ministry said rainfall in North Korea was abnormally low in May. Its production of rice and potatoes could decline by as much as 20% compared to average years if the shortage of rainfall extends to early July, he said. The official could not confirm North Korea’s claim that it was experiencing its worst drought in a century.

North Korea ‘hit by worst drought in 100 years’ | World news | The Guardian

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

  • China continues transfer through its own territory, nuclear weapons technology involving both North Korea and Iran.
  • In April, North Korea launched a ballistic missile from a submerged platform. The North Korean underwater launch test was closely related to the further development of a missile-firing submarine capable of hitting the U.S. — “a first step,” according to Uzi Rubin, “in achieving a very serious and dangerous new military capability… it will take many years to build up the missile defenses, so we had better use the time wisely.”
  • Although the Chinese profess to be against nuclear proliferation, documented evidence illustrates just the opposite — as a means of asserting Chinese hegemony, complicating American security policy and undermining American influence.
  • Unfortunately, no matter how attractive a strategy of diplomatically ending North Korea’s nuclear program might look, it is painfully at odds with China’s established record of supporting nuclear proliferation with such collapsed or rogue states as Iran, Syria, Pakistan, North Korea and Libya.
  • China’s nuclear assistance to Pakistan did not stay just in Pakistan.

It is not as if Chinese nuclear proliferation is a recent development or a “one of a kind” activity. As far back as 1982, China gave nuclear warhead blueprints to Pakistan, according to Reed. These findings indicate that China’s nuclear weapons proliferation activities are over three decades old.[9]

[1] The Washington Post, May 20, 2015, Anna Fifield, “North Korea says it has technology to make mini-nuclear weapons“; and Admiral Bill Gortney, US NORAD Commander, quoted in “NORAD commander: North Korean KN-08 Missile Operational“, by Jon Harper, in “Stars and Stripes”, of April 7, 2015; the Admiral said: “Our assessment is that they have the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland.” He said “Yes sir” when asked if the U.S. thinks North Korea has succeeded in the complicated task of miniaturizing a warhead for use on such a missile. North Korea has conducted three nuclear tests since 2006.

North Korea’s Serious New Nuclear Missile Threat

Book Review of ‘The Nuclear Express’ – WSJ

Ranging widely over the subject, Messrs. Reed and Stillman assemble a mass of details, technical and political, to tell us how the world reached this parlous state. Both are retired designers of thermonuclear weapons, the former from Livermore National Laboratory, the latter Los Alamos. Two themes predominate in their account. First, the technological know-how to build nuclear weapons has become impossible to contain. The nuclear express, they say, is a train that long ago left the station and is now hurtling down the tracks without an engineer at the throttle. On one of his visits to his counterparts in China, Mr. Stillman tells us, he observed American-educated Chinese engineers and physicists laboring away on every aspect of weapons design. As “The Nuclear Express” makes clear, the Chinese — assiduous students of American achievements — have been improving on our best techniques and then, in turn, disseminating this technological know-how to clients abroad.

Book Review of ‘The Nuclear Express’ – WSJ

Major construction at North Korea rocket site, US research institute says | Fox News

Satellite imagery shows significant new construction at North Korea’s main rocket launch site in a sign of leader Kim Jong Un’s determination to pursue a space program despite international censure, a U.S. research institute said Thursday.

North Korea is barred under U.N. Security Council resolutions from launching rockets as that technology can also be used to launch ballistic missiles. Kim, however, declared this month that its space program “can never be abandoned.”

North Korea has been upgrading the Sohae launch site on its west coast since mid-2013 after it blasted its first rocket into space in December 2012. It says the space program is peaceful.

Major construction at North Korea rocket site, US research institute says | Fox News

A dissident group says Iran and North Korea are forging nuclear ties – Business Insider

An exiled Iranian opposition group said on Thursday a delegation of North Korean experts in nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles visited a military site near Tehran in April amid talks between world powers and Iran over its nuclear program.

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said the seven person North Korean Defence Ministry team were in Iran for the last week of April. It was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

A dissident group says Iran and North Korea are forging nuclear ties – Business Insider

I don’t think “forging ties” is an accurate description. The ties had already been forged years ago. Naturally there will be meetings between the two countries as each makes progress in different areas. This all means that if one of them has it (missile or nuclear technology) then one should assume the other has it too.

In my opinion there is no stopping these two. Eventually both will acquire the ability to accurately deliver nuclear warheads to countries far and wide. And they will probably sell this technology too. Over the next 10 to 15 years we will see this play out.

 

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

“Twenty years after an Iran-style deal, North Korea has 20 bombs.”

Even China is now raising flags about nuclear proliferation. Beijing helped Pakistan get the bomb in the 1980s and has been North Korea’s patron from one Dear Leader to the next. But in February Chinese officials warned a group of Americans that Pyongyang has many more nuclear warheads than previously believed: up to 20 already, perhaps 40 by next year.

The new Chinese assessment, reported Thursday by the Journal, is based on updated intelligence concerning North Korea’s ability to enrich uranium. The North Koreans had no such capability when they signed the 1994 Agreed Framework with the Clinton Administration, which required them to stop their nuclear-weapons efforts.

But Pyongyang cheated on that deal, not least by developing a uranium-enrichment program first acknowledged to the Bush Administration in 2002. The North Koreans tested their first bomb in 2006 and were later discovered to be building a secret nuclear facility in the Syrian desert, which was destroyed by Israeli warplanes in 2007. The Bush Administration rewarded this behavior with a new nuclear deal—which Pyongyang again violated by testing bombs in 2009 and 2013.

China’s Nuclear Warning – WSJ

North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks | Washington Free Beacon

North Korea supplied several shipments of missile components to Iran during recent nuclear talks and the transfers appear to violate United Nations sanctions on both countries, according to U.S. intelligence officials.

Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.

North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks | Washington Free Beacon

NORAD Chief: North Korea Has Ability to Reach U.S. With Nuclear Warhead on Mobile ICBM – USNI News

North Korea has the ability to launch an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the West Coast of the U.S. with a nuclear weapon from a mobile launcher, according to a Department of Defense intelligence assessment cited by the head of NORAD in a Tuesday press briefing.

Not only does the Pentagon worry that the road mobile weapon — the KN-08 — is able to launch with reduced warning from inside North Korea but also that the current regime has advanced its nuclear weapons technology enough to arm the ICBM with an effective warhead.

NORAD Chief: North Korea Has Ability to Reach U.S. With Nuclear Warhead on Mobile ICBM – USNI News

US Cites Growing N. Korea Long-Range Missile Threat

President Obama’s National Intelligence Director recently told the U.S. Congress that North Korea has made advancements toward developing a long-range ballistic missile that could reach the U.S. At the same time, a possible deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea is being debated, but for officials in Seoul, these two issues are not necessarily related.

In written testimony to Congress, James Clapper, the U.S. National Intelligence Director, last week said that North Korea has taken steps to deploy a long range, inter-continental ballistic missile (ICBM) called the KN-08 that will be capable of reaching the U.S.

US Cites Growing N. Korea Long-Range Missile Threat

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement

North Korea continues along the nuclear path. A new report warns that Pyongyang could amass a nuclear arsenal as large as 100 weapons by 2020. With that many warheads the North would move from marginal local player to significant regional power in the same league as India, Israel, and Pakistan. Iran’s potential program, currently the subject of frenzied negotiation, suddenly looks much less threatening.

Washington has no realistic strategy to deal with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. Some policymakers have advocated offensive military action, but that likely would trigger a war which would devastate South Korea. In contrast to Iran, U.S. presidents long ago stopped intoning that “all options” are on the table. The price of war simply would be too high.

North Korea Advances Along The Nuclear Path: Washington Should Switch From Coercion to Engagement