Category Archives: Koreas

Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium | 38 North

Today, the fundamental balance of power that has endured on the peninsula since World War II seems to be wobbling. The region’s strategic geopolitics is under great stress from China’s meteoric rise compared to the relative decline of American, Russian and Japanese leverage over the peninsula. Add to that situation the massive conventional arsenals in both Koreas, which enable these rivals to engage in high-intensity warfare. However, the most crucial source of disequilibrium within the traditional balance stems not from the historical “great power competition,” but from North Korea’s domestic development of an asymmetrical strategic nuclear capability. North Korea’s strategic nuclear and missile programs, coupled with its provocative testing, present a clear and present danger to peace and stability in Northeast Asia, and are the primary reasons why the Korean peninsula is falling into disequilibrium.

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Warning: The Korean Peninsula is Falling into Disequilibrium | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Russian Nuclear Weapons Policy Increasingly Resembles That of North Korea | The Jamestown Foundation

Moscow reacted harshly to North Korea’s most recent nuclear test. “Such explicit disregard for the norms of international law and the opinion of the international community merits the strongest possible condemnation,” the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs declared in a statement (Mid.ru, September 9). The irony, however, is that the nuclear weapons policy of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un increasingly resembles the nuclear policy of Russia’s President Vladimir Putin. By illegally annexing Crimea from Ukraine and unleashing the “secret” war in Donbas, in 2014, Moscow entered into a military confrontation with the West. Meanwhile, North Korea is also confronting “American imperialism.” However, neither the Russian Federation nor the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK—North Korea) have sufficient resources for such a confrontation. Indeed, Russia lacks the military and economic potential of the Soviet Union. Moreover, unlike the Soviet Union, Russia today has no real allies; the current demographic situation does not allow the formation of a five-million-strong Armed Forces; and Russian industry is no longer capable of mass producing conventional weapons.

Russian Nuclear Weapons Policy Increasingly Resembles That of North Korea | The Jamestown Foundation

North Korea ready for another nuclear test any time: South Korea | Reuters

North Korea is ready to conduct an additional nuclear test at any time, South Korea’s Defence Ministry said on Monday, three days after the reclusive North’s fifth test drew widespread condemnation.

“Assessment by South Korean and U.S. intelligence is that the North is always ready for an additional nuclear test in the Punggye-ri area,” South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Moon Sang-gyun told a news briefing.

North Korea ready for another nuclear test any time: South Korea | Reuters

North Korea’s Fifth Nuclear Test: What It Means – The Atlantic

Many people seem to have trouble accepting that North Korea really is building nuclear weapons. It seems so incongruous, this backward little peninsular nightmare as a nuclear power. But North Korea has conducted five nuclear tests, with progressively larger yields, since 2006. And now the North Koreans claim to have tested a nuclear weapon small enough to arm a missile. Do we believe them? After all, this is North Korea we’re talking about.

North Korea is coming last, in an era when these technologies are 50 years old and have been demonstrated repeatedly by other nuclear powers. In this context, the country’s boasts about building nuclear weapons small enough to arm missiles and making use of thermonuclear materials don’t seem outlandish at all.

North Korea’s Fifth Nuclear Test: What It Means – The Atlantic

North Korea Will Have the Skills to Make a Nuclear Warhead by 2020, Experts Say – The New York Times

Remember the following: North Korea and Iran share nuclear and missile technology. It is likely that Iran will possess that same knowledge as North Korea concerning miniaturized nuclear warheads and the missiles to deliver them.

Military experts say that by 2020, Pyongyang will most likely have the skills to make a reliable intercontinental ballistic missile topped by a nuclear warhead. They also expect that by then North Korea may have accumulated enough nuclear material to build up to 100 warheads.

Siegfried S. Hecker, a Stanford professor who has traveled to North Korea and who formerly directed the Los Alamos weapons lab in New Mexico, the birthplace of the atomic bomb, said North Korea’s progress in missile and nuclear development signals that it has gone from seeing unconventional weapons as bargaining chips to “deciding they need a nuclear weapons fighting force.”

The Pentagon warned Congress in a report earlier this year that one of Pyongyang’s latest missiles, if perfected, “would be capable of reaching much of the continental United States.”

“That means that, rather than simply hitting the West Coast, an operational North Korean ICBM could probably reach targets throughout the United States, including Washington, D.C.,” he wrote in a blog.

North Korea Will Have the Skills to Make a Nuclear Warhead by 2020, Experts Say – The New York Times

“The textbook definition of unstable”: why North Korea’s newest nuclear test is scary – Vox

My guess is that these tests are larger than we think, because they bury them under a lot of rock and that messes up the signal. This is at least 10 kilotons, and I think it is probably 20 kilotons. There is no question that this thing succeeded.

ZB: So what does this increased size tell us?

JL: It’s a compact device that fits on a nuclear warhead. I assume they use both plutonium and highly enriched uranium. But that’s a guess based on what the North Koreans have said.

The North Koreans said, “This is the bomb that is going to go on the missile force.” The language they used is identical, or really similar, to the language they used when Kim Jong Un posed with a mock-up of a bomb. So my guess is that they are the same object: that the mock-up was a bomb that’s going to go on their missile force.

If you look at what everyone else was able to do by their fifth test, no one was unable to make a nuclear weapon that would fit on a missile.

We shouldn’t assume that countries will struggle to make a bomb that will fit on missiles. And five tests in, with pretty solid yields, I think there’s no reason to doubt them. We should be careful not to hold them to a radically different standard than we’ve held every other country.

“The textbook definition of unstable”: why North Korea’s newest nuclear test is scary – Vox

Iran’s Partnership With North Korea On Nukes And Missiles May Scuttle Any Deal – Forbes [Feb. 20, 2015]

While negotiators haggle over the number of centrifuges Iran should keep in its inventory, North Korean engineers, technicians and laborers remain in Iran assisting in constructing and operating the facilities that are the point of all the debate. South Korean intelligence sources estimate hundreds of North Koreans are in Iran as part of an exchange of nuclear know-how as well as missiles made in North Korea.

Still, North Korea and Iran are believed to be exchanging critical stuff – North Korean experts and workers remaining in place while Iran sends observers to check out intermittent North Korean missile launches and see what North Korea is doing about staging a fourth underground nuclear explosion.

Iran’s Partnership With North Korea On Nukes And Missiles May Scuttle Any Deal – Forbes

North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test, claims it has made warheads with ‘high strike power’ – The Washington Post

North Korea defiantly celebrated its fifth nuclear test Friday, claiming that it can now make warheads small enough to attach to a missile and warning its “enemies” — specifically, the United States — that it has the ability to counter any attack.

The test appeared to be much bigger than North Korea’s previous detonations. And although the North’s claim that it mastered the technology to miniaturize nuclear weapons could not be verified — Pyongyang has a track record of exaggeration — Friday’s test underscored the fact that Kim Jong Un’s regime was continuing to make progress on its nuclear and missile programs despite waves of international sanctions and condemnation.

North Korea conducts fifth nuclear test, claims it has made warheads with ‘high strike power’ – The Washington Post

Israeli Expert: Warheads Used in North Korean Missile-Launch Latest Indication of Close Military Cooperation With Iran | Algemeiner.com

Until now, such warheads — first detected by Inbar in Iran in 2010 — have not been seen in North Korea. At the time, Inbar dubbed them NRVs (or, “new entry vehicles”), which became their nickname among missile experts around the world.

Inbar told IsraelDefense: “The configuration that we saw [on Tuesday] is identical to what we saw in Iran six years ago. In principle, its penetrating body (warhead) is identical to that of Scud missiles, but is mounted on the Shahab-3, and creates a more stable entity than other Shahab/Nodong warheads.”

Inbar said this was the third time that something of this nature had appeared in Iran before it did in North Korea. “But we must remember that the two countries engage in close cooperation where military and space-directed missiles are concerned,” he said. “It is thus possible that both plans and technology are being transferred regularly from one to the other.”

Israeli Expert: Warheads Used in North Korean Missile-Launch Latest Indication of Close Military Cooperation With Iran | Algemeiner.com

Japan’s command to destroy North Korea missiles failed, reports say – UPI.com

A Japanese command to “destroy” incoming North Korea missiles on Monday repeatedly failed, according to local press.

Tokyo’s self-defense forces were unable to recognize North Korea preparations for Monday’s missile test because Pyongyang used a road mobile launcher, also known as a transporter erector launcher, Japanese newspaper Nihon Keizai reported Tuesday.

Japan’s command to destroy North Korea missiles failed, reports say – UPI.com

China may have given SLBM to NK: US expert

China could have provided North Korea with the submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) that the North successfully fired last month, a U.S. expert claimed Thursday.

Bruce Bechtol, a North Korea expert at Angelo State University in Texas, cited that the North’s SLBM, known as KN-11, looked just like China’s JL-1 submarine missile, noting that the North Korean missile is believed to be “a JL-1 or a very, very close variant.”

“The missile that the North Koreans launched looks like a two-stage, solid-fuel missile just like the JL-1,” Bechtol said on a radio program. “Just looking at the JL-1 and the North Korean SLBM, they’re looking exactly the same.”

China may have given SLBM to NK: US expert

North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production: report | Reuters

North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production by reprocessing spent fuel rods and has no plans to stop nuclear tests as long as perceived U.S. threats remain, Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported on Wednesday.

 

North Korea’s Atomic Energy Institute, which has jurisdiction over the country’s Yongbyon nuclear facilities, also told Kyodo it had been producing highly enriched uranium necessary for nuclear arms and power “as scheduled.”

“We have reprocessed spent nuclear fuel rods removed from a graphite-moderated reactor,” the institute told Kyodo in a written interview.

North Korea says it has resumed plutonium production: report | Reuters