According to French press agency AFP, South Korea’s intelligence services claim that North Korea is using Russian technology to develop nuclear electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons aimed at paralyzing Seoul’s military electronic equipment.
Seoul’s National Intelligence Service (NIS) said in a recent report to parliament that the North had purchased Russian electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weaponry in order to develop its own versions of the weapon, for possible use against South Korea.Sponsored Ads
EMP weapons are detonated at high altitudes to damage computers and other electronic equipment across a very large territory, effectively sending the affected area into the Stone Age without directly killing anyone.
Yet long after the Cold War is over, the American nuclear shield extends even wider to include a number of countries in Europe and East Asia. In East Asia, the American nuclear backstop protects Japan, South Korea, Australia, and the Philippines formally, and Taiwan and other nations informally. But what if a local conflict between the Chinese and a U.S. ally inadvertently escalates into a nuclear stand off between China and the United States?
And it easily could. A rising China is an ally of South Korea’s nemesis, North Korea. China also claims Taiwan and has disputes with U.S. allies over islands in the South China Sea (with the Philippines) and in the East China Sea (with Japan). In the last case, China has recently upgraded its coast guard. Meanwhile, a new conservative government in Japan is making noises about scrapping Japan’s pacifist constitution and obtaining offensive weapons, and recent dangerous confrontations have occurred between Japanese and Chinese forces near the disputed islands. With a new hawkish and more aggressive government, Japan–like a mouthy little brother standing behind his huge sibling and taunting the opponent–could easily drag the United States into an undesired war with nuclear-armed China. During World War I, outdated alliances dragged the major European powers into a cataclysmic war that nobody wanted. Outdated Cold War alliances could do the same to the United States now in East Asia.
Mongolian women are disappearing — and many of them are landing in Beijing brothels against their will
As soon as the women reached their destination countries, NGO workers told us, they were routinely abused, physically and mentally. Many were beaten, forced to take drugs, raped, and repeatedly sold. Trafficked women often found themselves in a system of “trapped bondage,” in which employers demanded repayment for travel and other costs. The debts could be crippling. Some girls ran away, but most, lacking money, travel documents, and help of any kind, were forced to stay for several years.
Some women who found their way back to Mongolia continued to suffer. Many needed counseling for depression and treatment for sexually transmitted diseases. They were shunned by their families. With no work experience and few options, some returned to what they knew, becoming traffickers themselves or returning to prostitution in cities like Erlian.
Our plans continued to move forward. Tom contacted a friend of his named Esso, a former Mongolian journalist who lived in Beijing, where she was raising her two teenage sons. She would come along as our translator.
Signs of the sex trade were everywhere in Macau, ranging from freelance prostitutes trolling the casinos in major hotels to entire floors in smaller hotels dedicated to “saunas.” The young women who staffed the saunas came mostly from the Chinese mainland, as well as from Southeast Asia, Taiwan, South Korea, and Mongolia. Many of them were sold to sauna owners and were forced to work. Their passports were confiscated and they were housed in tiny dormitories. If they complained, they would be threatened with violence or rape. The year before, according to one of the NGO workers we’d interviewed, a fifteen-year-old girl’s tongue had been cut out by her captors after she sent text messages pleading for help.
The situation on the Korean Peninsula demonstrates why the United States does not and cannot make its nuclear policy in a vacuum. Nor should American nuclear policy orient itself around the ossified Cold War framework which largely took only Russia into account. Soaring rhetoric about nuclear zero from President Obama, negotiating New START, further talk of unilateral drawdowns, a Nuclear Posture Review with the stated goal of moving away from reliance on nuclear weapons, an ever-worsening fiscal picture, and deep cuts to the defense budget – all of these at least raise the question of whether the U.S. guarantee of security under its nuclear umbrella is waning. U.S. allies and enemies alike must surely wonder: what would further cuts in the American nuclear arsenal mean? Would the U. S. have either the will or the capability to respond to a regional crisis?
While South Korea is the most likely state that could next seek nukes, it is by no means the only country that would be impacted be a perceived shrinking of the American nuclear umbrella. Indeed, South Korean efforts to re-start a nuclear program would have a significant impact on Japanese thinking. The same is true in the Middle East, where the development of an uncontested Iranian nuclear weapons program would trigger similar questions about American security guarantees among other American allies.
Countries seek various methods to compensate for adversaries with larger militaries or nuclear weapons: Alliances or developing their own nuclear weapons. If the US is not going to be there then our allies will seek other methods of compensation such as building their own nuclear weapons.
Obama is really pushing strategic instability by eliminating US nuclear weapons. Doing this at the same time the US has gone into decline is extremely dangerous. This is the age of upheaval.
The fact that conventional military power is the strongest factor driving nuclear proliferation should guide how we think about proliferation threats in the future. For instance, if Iran acquires nuclear weapons, its neighbors will be unlikely to follow suit. Not only do these states lack the necessary technical capacity, but they have little to fear from Iran’s nearly non-existent power projection capabilities.
On the other hand, the rise in China’s conventional military strength makes it likely that Eastern Asia will be the region where the most potent proliferation risks emanate from. Countries with territorial disputes with China—first and foremost, Japan— will have the strongest motivation to build the bomb. Unfortunately, for non-proliferation advocates, many of China’s neighbors—including Japan and South Korea— already have robust civilian nuclear programs. This breakout capability will only make it more tempting for policymakers to order a mad dash for the bomb.
A turn in that direction could help with all three “revival” goals. Dictators from Stalin to South Korea’s Park Chung-hee have managed to wrench their nations from abject poverty to mid-level industrialization, but further growth — escape from the “middle-income trap” that worries many Chinese officials — almost always is accompanied by political liberalization.
An independent judiciary would tame corruption more effectively than periodic purges and Communist Party disciplinary campaigns. And China would win more friends abroad, and drive fewer neighbors into the shelter of U.S. alliance, by respecting international norms than through bullying.
Alas, there is little evidence so far that Xi is tempted in the direction of constitutionalism. While he has, like past leaders, mentioned democracy as an eventual goal, he also has said, “The Chinese dream is an ideal. Communists should have a higher ideal, and that is communism.” When the People’s Daily posted an online survey about the “Chinese dream,” about 80 percent of respondents said they did not support one-party rule — and the survey was quickly taken down.
Reports indicate the People’s Liberation Army is on a very heightened alert status, amid mounting tensions between North Korea and the United States and South Korea.
Several reports were derived from Chinese microblogging sites that in the past have provided reliable information on Chinese military activities.
One April 17 photo showed scores of soldiers marching on a street in the city of Shenyang on the way to Dandong, a major border city on the Yalu River dividing the two countries.
Another posting stated military vehicles carrying tanks were spotted heading to Liaoyang, in Liaoning province, also near the border. The movements were reported by a user who said he was in a logistic unit of a PLA unit in Siping, Jilin province, and added that the troops would be deployed to the border “soon.”
U.S. intelligence officials assessing North Korea’s recent bellicose statements are increasingly concerned that Kim Jong-un could use his limited nuclear arsenal as part of offensive military attack that would be calculated to improve the prospects for reunifying the country rather suffering a collapse of his regime.
According to officials familiar with unclassified assessments, the North Korean leader and his military hampered by economic sanctions and a declining conventional military force remain paranoid about a U.S. military offensive.
The regime is also growing increasingly worried that China will not support its fraternal communist ally and so could calculate that it must launch a military attack. Pyongyang also fears the Chinese will replace the Kim family dynasty with a pro-China puppet regime.
Launching a war might present China with a reunified Korean Peninsula, then North Korea could seek Beijing’s support for negotiating a settlement to civil war.
Mr. Kim may take a page from his grandfather, Kim Il-sung, who launched the Korean War in part because he feared losing power.
The Korean peninsula could become very susceptible to war should the US be unable or unwilling to protect South Korea. The article suggests we might not have to wait that long.
Note the concept here: Leaders will put their people through hell if they fear losing power. If it is in their best interest, leaders will cause the suffering and deaths of millions.
Which other countries might be in a boat similar to North Korea?
While not as obvious, it is China and Russia who have a similar problem. Their problems are building. Their legitimacy is being threatened. Their days might become numbered. Should they sit around and wait for a revolution and death, or do something before that happens? Also, what happens if the other side gives them a really good excuse?
Once again, North Korea is grabbing global headlines by threatening aggression against its neighbor to the south and the United States. And once again, South Koreans are largely shrugging off the rhetoric from the north.
This nonchalance gives South Koreans the chance to focus on another existential threat — one that’s not so easily dismissed as bluster. South Korea’s economic success — the growth formula that brought forth the “miracle on the Han,” set records for development, and is a model for other emerging economies — is no longer working for a great many Koreans. The nation is beset by a deep middle-class malaise that could limit the consumer spending needed to create a more balanced economy and might eventually limit gross domestic product growth itself.