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Old 07-09-2017   #61
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After intensive study, Elleman, a former consultant at the Pentagon, and other specialists would report that they had detected multiple design features in the new North Korean missile engine that echo those of a 1960s-era Soviet workhorse called the RD-250*.
There is no record of Pyongyang’s obtaining blueprints for the Russian missile engine, and experts disagree on whether it ever did so. But the discovery of similarities has focused new attention on a question that has dogged U.S. analysts for at least the past two years: How has North Korea managed to make surprisingly rapid gains in its missile program, despite economic sanctions and a near-universal ban on exports of military technology to the impoverished communist state?
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/...cid=spartandhp

Lemme guess - long-since declassified hard-copy plans got pitched in a Kremlin dumpster ("Yuri, clean out this storage room. Yes, all of those file cabinets must go"). Someone trashpicked them and put them on their table at a Moscow flea market. NorK embassy flunky bought them for the equivalent of $5?
* See https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/RD-250 & www.astronautix.com/r/rd-250.html
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Old 07-10-2017   #62
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Default A Sampling of Opinions Following North Korea's July 4th ICBM Test

Robert E. Kelly at the Lowy Institute (Australia): Learning to live with a Nuclear North Korean ICBM (July 11, 2017)


There can be no preemptive attacks on North Korea by the U.S. because South Korea and Japan would “veto” such a decision due to the retaliation from North Korea that they would face. Were the U.S. to attack without consulting South Korea and Japan, these countries would probably withdraw from their alliances with the U.S. In addition, a U.S. attack may cause a shooting war between it and China. The U.S. has “learned to live” with Russian, Chinese and Pakistani nuclear weapons...

Recommendations:
  1. Continued sanctions: these measures have retarded North Korea’s development of a credible nuclear deterrent capable of reaching the CONUS, and sanctions relief offers leverage if North Korea ever decides to negotiate as Iran did for the JCPOA
  2. Working with China: given China’s decisive economic leverage over North Korea, cooperating with China is crucial. We should pressure China to do more and search for “smarter sanctions”
  3. Missile defense: although missile defense may be “expensive”, it is necessary, and Japan and South Korea should cease “whining” and work with the U.S. to construct “layered” missile defenses including Patriot BMD, Aegis BMD and THAAD, which are “defensive systems…they signal no offensive intention”

Richard Fontaine at the Center for a New American Security: Time to Lose Your Illusions on North Korea (July 7, 2017)

The U.S. needs to dispense with various illusions now that North Korea can theoretically strike Alaska and will probably soon have the capability to strike the CONUS with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile:
  1. China Will Solve It: China will not pressure North Korea into denuclearization as this could cause that state to fail and remove a convenient buffer between China and U.S. and allied forces in South Korea
  2. South Korea and Japan Will Solve It: both countries have tolerated a direct North Korean threat for decades, and any nuclear-tipped ICBM would be targeted toward the U.S. and not them. Neither has the capability to remove the North Korean threat to them without the risk of unacceptable losses due to retaliation
  3. North Korea can be Wooed with the Right Balance of Incentives and Disincentives: North Korea only fears foreign intervention and has reportedly cited the fates of Qaddafi and Hussein who abandoned their WMD programs. North Korea believes that a credible nuclear deterrent is is “fundamental security guarantee and will not be induced into trading them away”. A more “realistic goal is a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and, more ambitiously, some rollback of them”
  4. Military Force Can Work: North Korea holds populations in South Korea and Japan at risk. In addition, there is no guarantee that the U.S. could secure escalation dominance and keep a war restricted to disarming North Korean nuclear and missile forces

The U.S. should pursue a strategy of deterrence based upon North Korea’s “essential rationality – or at least its survival instinct”

Recommendations:
  1. Missile defense
  2. Covert action: sabotage of North Korean weapons programs
  3. Sanctions: current sanctions on North Korea are “minor compared to those applied to Iran as it enriched uranium”. Sanctions should target the North Korean elite and those Chinese individuals and entities conducting business with them (“there is much more the U.S. can do unilaterally”)
  4. Information warfare: bombard North Korea with information detailing the state’s human rights abuses, encourage defections and sow distrust
  5. Trade-offs: do not appease Chinese or Russian aggression due to a myopic focus on North Korea, such as ending joint exercises with South Korea, which are essential in the event of conflict

John Nilsson-Wright at Chatham House: North Korea Missile Test Exposes How Trump Has Overplayed His Hand (July 5, 2017)

Recommendation: The U.S. could dispatch a senior diplomat to negotiate with Kim Jong-Un, and offer concessions such as a U.S. liaison mission in Pyongyang and “asymmetric conventional force reductions on the peninsula”

Mark Fitzpatrick at International Institute for Strategic Studies: Could a ‘double freeze’ be viable path to peace on Korean Peninsula? (July 5, 2017)

The Sino-Russian proposal for a freeze on U.S.-South Korean military exercises for a freeze in North Korean nuclear and missile tests has "upsides":
  • Without flight testing, North Korea cannot develop a missile reliably capable of striking the CONUS
  • “Most observers believe that rolling back the nuclear-weapons programme is unattainable for the time being”
  • Discussing the proposal is a precondition for China to participate in pressuring North Korea further
  • A ban on exports by North Korea of nuclear technology could be added
  • A freeze would involve the return of IAEA inspectors
  • Return to the failed 2012 “Leap Day Deal”

Loren B. Thompson at Lexington Institute: The Only Answer To North Korea’s Missiles That Won’t Make War More Likely (July 6, 2017)

Quote:
It seems there is only one step the Trump administration can take that would not increase the likelihood of war and materially improve the safety of the American homeland. That step is to accelerate and expand the modest missile defense system called Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) that operates interceptors in Alaska and California.
David Santoro at Center for Strategic and International Studies: Don’t go ballistic! The least bad agenda after North Korea’s ICBM test (July 5, 2017)

Quote:
There is no reason to think that deterring and defending against a North Korea armed with nuclear-tipped ICBMs can’t work...
Quote:
Treating North Korea’s ICBM test as a game-changer is also counterproductive, for three reasons. First, that characterization suggests to Pyongyang that it is capable of deterring the United States…Second, the rhetoric of strategic game-changer suggests to Pyongyang that anything short of ICBM development is de facto acceptable, or “more” acceptable...Third, it is counterproductive to regard North Korea’s ICBM test as a game-changer because it suggests to regional allies, South Korea and Japan, that Washington only worries about North Korea when the US homeland is threatened.
Recommendations:
  • Forward-deploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons
  • Strengthen sanctions
  • Pursue dialogue with North Korea to negotiate limitations on its arsenal

Jonathan D. Pollack at Brookings Institute: North Korea has tested an ICBM. Now what? (July 6, 2017)

Quote:
Calls for preemptive military action or outsourcing the issue to China are simply not credible…At the same time, widespread calls for renewed U.S. negotiations with North Korea make little sense.
Quote:
The only viable path is one that acknowledges the reality of the North’s nuclear weapons and missiles while explicitly denying any political legitimacy or implied permanence to these programs, and raises the costs to Pyongyang for its actions. We cannot expect to fully understand Pyongyang’s calculus of risk, but measures explicitly designed to heighten the pressures on the regime are essential.
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Old 07-11-2017   #63
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Pending an appropriate African thread popping up, I'll just leave this here -

North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa

Quote:
WINDHOEK, Namibia — Near the southern tip of Africa, 8,000 miles from Pyongyang, this capital city is an unlikely testament to North Korean industry.
There’s the futuristic national history museum, the sleek presidential palace, the sprawling defense headquarters and the shadowy munitions factory. They were built — or are still being constructed — by North Korea, for a profit.

For years, North Korea has used African nations like this one as financial lifelines, building infrastructure and selling weapons and other military equipment as sanctions mounted against its authoritarian regime. Although China is by far North Korea’s largest trading partner, the smaller African revenue streams have helped support the impoverished Hermit Kingdom, even as its leaders develop an ambitious nuclear weapons program in defiance of the international community.
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/world/...cid=spartandhp
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Old 07-11-2017   #64
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Default Commentary from CNI on North Korea

These are the final opinions that I will be posting. Curiously, Heritage and RAND have been notably silent on how to address the July 4th "firework"...

Harry J. Kazianis from the Center for the National Interest at The Week: How America should handle the frightening North Korea problem (July 5, 2017)

Kazianis argues that a “defiant China” and “rogue North Korea” should be the top priority for the U.S., and that all other threats and issues, from Russia and Iran to the ongoing wars in the MENA region to counter-terrorism, should be secondary.

He refers to China as “the biggest foreign policy and national security dilemma of our lifetime”.

Recommendations:
  • The U.S. should ensure that the Asia-Pacific region “should get the bulk of America’s attention”, rather than references to “pivots” or “rebalancing”
  • The U.S. should make it clear that it will penalize China for supporting North Korea, and that at the minimum, China should pressure North Korea to cease testing and release the three American hostages
  • More military assets need to be brought into the region, and the military expanded with more attack submarines and more missile defenses
  • There should be no talks with North Korea given its treatment of Warmbier and as long as it holds hostages
  • Crippling sanctions need to be imposed on any entities in any country transacting with North Korea

Former Defense Secretary Ash Carter on "CNN's State of the Union" (July 9, 2017)

On his and former SecDef Perry's 2006 calls for a preemptive strike on North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs: "that was a very different circumstance"

On American preparedness for a North Korean nuclear attack:

Quote:
Of course. Of course. We've -- we've been -- we've been at this since 1953. I personally have been at it since 1974. We have consistently improved our military capabilities. South Korea's capabilities have improved. We have deployed missile defenses, both short-range and long-range, consistently in -- in advance of what we anticipate the North Koreans will be doing, so that we always stay one step ahead of them. So, we're very prepared. But I think it's important not to take the idea of military action on the Korean Peninsula or war lightly. And this is a situation in which we need to get North Korea and China in a corner, and not put our president in a corner.

Last edited by Azor; 07-11-2017 at 05:20 PM.
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Old 07-13-2017   #65
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The U.S. government is attempting to seize millions of dollars tied to North Korea from eight major banks after the rogue dictatorship announced on July 4 that it had developed a missile capable of reaching the United States.

Multiple newsoutlets#reported Thursday that the Justice Department has accused the banks of#processing more than#$700 million in#"prohibited" transactions since 2009.
Quote:
The banks included in the court filings are#Bank of America Corp., Bank of New York Mellon Corp., Citigroup Inc., Deutsche Bank AG, HSBC Holdings Plc, JPMorgan Chase & Co., Standard Chartered Plc and Wells Fargo & Co.
Some transactions were processed for#Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Material Co and four other "front" companies. Prosecutors said those groups tried to evade sanctions through the transactions, which would benefit North Korea's military and weapons programs.
http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/us-...cid=spartandhp
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Old 07-15-2017   #66
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Default Technical Analysis of North Korean Capabilities by 38 North

John Schilling: What is True and Not True About North Korea’s Hwasong-14 ICBM: A Technical Evaluation (July 10, 2017)

Introduction:

Quote:
After the frenzy of technical speculation over the successful launch of North Korea’s Hwasong-14 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), the dust seems to be clearing and the emerging reality is that the North has an unreliable missile that can reach Alaska or Hawaii with a single nuclear warhead, and would be lucky to hit even a city-sized target. However, with a year or two of additional testing and development, it will likely become a missile that can reliably deliver a single nuclear warhead to targets along the US west coast, possibly with enough accuracy to destroy soft military targets like naval bases. In perhaps five years, North Korea may be able to incorporate a modest suite of decoys and penetration aids to challenge US missile defenses. Let’s hope US missile defenses are up to that challenge.
  • The Hwasong-14 cannot carry multiple warheads or penetration aids at present, but probably will be able to carry the latter in several years. Multiple warheads would require at least a decade of nuclear and other tests to achieve
  • The Hwasong-14 is new, but is based upon several previous North Korean missile designs, including the older Hwasong-12 and 13
  • It can deliver a 500-600 kg nuclear payload with limited accuracy (similar to a U.S. Atlas and Thor ICBM) to targets on the U.S. west coast, with a CEP of a few miles
  • More concerning than future MIRV possibilities are decoys and penetration aids to defeat U.S. missile defenses, which currently only work half the time during tests
  • Although North Korea cannot built more ICBMs than U.S. interceptors, they can maintain a credible deterrent with a dozen decoys per ICBM
    North Korea will probably try to imitate the UK’s Chevaline Program from the early 1970s, albeit while settling for less decoys per missile

Various: North Korea’s Yongbyon Facility: Probable Production of Additional Plutonium for Nuclear Weapons (July 14, 2017)

Introduction:

Quote:
Thermal imagery analysis of the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Center indicates that from September 2016 through June 2017:
  • The Radiochemical Laboratory operated intermittently and there have apparently been at least two unreported reprocessing campaigns to produce an undetermined amount of plutonium that can further increase North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile. This suggests batch rather than continuous processing of spent fuel rods from the 5 MWe Reactor during the period of analysis.
  • Increased thermal activity was noted at the Uranium Enrichment Facility. It is unclear if this was the result of centrifuge operations or maintenance operations. Centrifuge operations would increase the North’s enriched uranium inventory; however, based on imagery alone, it is not possible to conclude whether the plant is producing low or highly enriched uranium.
  • The thermal patterns at the probable Isotope/Tritium Production Facility have remained consistent, suggesting that the facility is not operational, or is operating at a very low level. This means, the facility is likely not producing tritium, which is an essential isotope used in the production of boosted yield nuclear weapons and hydrogen bombs.
  • From December 2016 through January 2017, the thermal pattern over the Experimental Light Water Reactor (ELWR) was elevated. While that might indicate that the reactor was operational, the likelihood is low since the pattern does not appear in subsequent imagery over the last six months. It is possible that there are alternative explanations for the elevated pattern, for example, short-term activity at the ELWR such as the heating of pipes to prevent freezing. Regardless, any activity at the ELWR is cause for concern and bears continued monitoring.
  • The 5 MWe Reactor has either been intermittently operating at a low-level or not operating. The notable exception to this was during December 2016 and January 2017 when thermal patterns suggests a higher level of operations.
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Old 08-01-2017   #67
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Washington (CNN)The US military has detected "highly unusual and unprecedented levels" of North Korean submarine activity and evidence of an "ejection test" in the days following Pyongyang's second intercontinental ballistic missile launch this month, a defense official told CNN on Monday.
An ejection test examines a missile's "cold-launch system," which uses high pressure steam to propel a missile out of the launch canister into the air before its engines ignite. That helps prevent flames and heat from the engine from damaging either the submarine, submersible barge or any nearby equipment used to launch the missile.
Carried out on land at Sinpo Naval Shipyard, Sunday's ejection test is the third time this month -- and fourth this year -- that North Korea has conducted a trial of the missile component that is critical to developing submarine launch capabilities, according to the US defense official.
http://www.cnn.com/2017/07/31/politi...ity/index.html
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Old 08-08-2017   #68
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Default North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say

From The Washington Post: https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.c9578fd409ad

Introduction:

Quote:
North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

The new analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal. The U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

The findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. U.S. officials last month concluded that Pyongyang is also outpacing expectations in its effort to build an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking cities on the American mainland.
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Old 08-14-2017   #69
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Default The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success: an engine

In Post 61 in JUly 2017, citing Michael Ellerman, ex-DoD and now IISS, amidst the linked report were two passages:
Quote:
Elleman, the former Pentagon missile expert, believes that North Korea’s newest missile engine has a similar past. The designs were most likely obtained years ago, through rogue scientists or on the black market, only to surface recently as part of a newly energized missile program.Elleman is preparing to publish an analysis comparing the engine used in the Hwasong-12 and Hwasong-14 with the Soviet-era RD-250, using photos that highlight nearly identical features, including cooling tubes, exhaust nozzles and the four auxiliary engines that steer the rocket.
Today IISS has circulated a short online commentary by Mr Ellerman, that starts with:
Quote:
North Korea’s missile programme has made astounding strides over the past two years. An arsenal that had been based on short- and medium-range missiles along with an intermediate-range Musudan that repeatedly failed flight tests, has suddenly been supplemented by two new missiles: the intermediate-range Hwasong-12 and the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), Hwasong-14. No other country has transitioned from a medium-range capability to an ICBM in such a short time. What explains this rapid progression? The answer is simple. North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine (LPE) from a foreign source.
Available evidence clearly indicates that the LPE is based on the Soviet RD-250 family of engines, and has been modified to operate as the boosting force for the Hwasong-12 and -14. An unknown number of these engines were probably acquired though illicit channels operating in Russia and/or Ukraine. North Korea’s need for an alternative to the failing Musudan and the recent appearance of the RD-250 engine along with other evidence, suggests the transfers occurred within the past two years.
Link:https://www.iiss.org/en/iiss%20voice...m-success-3abb
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Old 08-16-2017   #70
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Ukraine has responded to the allegations of involvement in assisting DPRK's missile engine development.
Link:https://www.rferl.org/a/ukraine-deni.../28675992.html
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Old 08-16-2017   #71
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Default Despatch from Seoul

A regular SME visitor to South Korea (ROK) reports and starts with:
Quote:
Donald Trump’s war of words with Kim Jong-Un’s North Korea has dominated the international news cycle for the last several weeks. Yet here in South Korea if you didn’t turn on the news channels, you wouldn’t know it. There is no public panic. There are no obvious signs of intensified military activity. Daily routines remain unchanged.
(Later) In terms of the ebb and flow of civilian life in the South, the present crisis feels little different to previous episodes.
Link:https://defenceindepth.co/2017/08/16...ummers-crisis/
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Old 08-17-2017   #72
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Ukrainian-made rocket engines could have been copied for use in North Korea’s missile program, but Ukrainian experts didn’t help Pyongyang, says Alexander Degtyarev, a chief designer at Yuzhmash, the Ukrainian state-owned rocket factory recently implicated in an article by The New York Times.
Degtyarev also recalled the 2012 espionage trial against two North Korean spies, who were sentenced to eight years in prison for trying to steal secrets from Yuzhmash. The factory manufactures the Russian-designed RD-250 engine, which The New York Times says may have reached North Korea from Ukraine.
Earlier, Yuzhmash issued a press statement arguing in detail why its engines aren’t being used in North Korea, claiming that the North Korean engines described in The New York Times’ story are unlike the RD-250.
https://meduza.io/en/news/2017/08/15...lped-Pyongyang
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #73
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WASHINGTON (Reuters) - North Korea’s firing of a ballistic missile over Japan could increase pressure on Washington to consider shooting down future test launches, although there is no guarantee of success and U.S. officials are wary of a dangerous escalation with Pyongyang.
More attention is likely to focus on the prospects for intercepting a missile in flight after North Korea on Tuesday conducted one of its boldest missile tests in years, one government official said.
Such a decision would not be taken lightly given tensions over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.
And while President Donald Trump has repeatedly vowed that “all options are on the table”, there has been no sign of any quick policy shift in Washington toward direct U.S. military action.
But Pyongyang’s launch of an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile over Japan’s northern Hokkaido island underscored how Trump’s tough rhetoric, pursuit of sanctions and occasional shows of military force around the Korean peninsula have done little to deter North Korea’s leader.
https://www.reuters.com/article/us-n...-idUSKCN1BA085
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Old 3 Weeks Ago   #74
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Meanwhile, WaPo spins predictably.

Quote:
North Korea’s launch of a ballistic missile over Japan was unprecedented, but President Trump’s response Tuesday was not — a renewal of his warning that “all options are on the table.” His tough talk may only serve to remind that the possibility of military action has not yet deterred North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.
The missile launch seemed designed to wreak just the right amount of havoc: enough for Kim to show that he would not be cowed but not so much as to invite the “fire and fury” that Trump warned could follow continued North Korean threats.
The launch early Tuesday was the first test of such a sophisticated weapon over the landmass of a U.S. ally and an obvious warning to the United States that North Korea could easily target U.S. military facilities on Guam or elsewhere in the Pacific region.
https://www.washingtonpost.com/world...=.bf894dacf478
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #75
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Quote:
HONG KONG — One day after its latest nuclear test, North Korea appears to be making preparations to launch a ballistic missile, a South Korean official said Monday.
South Korea’s military has observed the preparations for a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile test, Chang Kyung-soo, a South Korean Defense Ministry official, told lawmakers, The Associated Press reported.
On Sunday, North Korea carried out its sixth nuclear test, its most powerful by far. The underground blast triggered a magnitude 6.3 tremor centered at the testing site in the country’s northeast, the United States Geological Survey said. It was followed by a weaker tremor believed to have been the result of a collapse in the testing site.
The nuclear test followed threats against the American territory of Guam and weeks of missile tests, including launches demonstrating that North Korea had the capability to reach much of the United States.
https://www.nytimes.com/2017/09/04/w...sile-test.html
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Old 2 Weeks Ago   #76
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Default An oil embargo probably wouldn’t work

Nothing like a "cold shower", an IISS commentary available via the newly discovered Survival Editor's Blog:http://www.iiss.org/en/politics%20an...l-embargo-883b

It ends with:
Quote:
North Korea imports Chinese oil for the same reason that Germany imports Russian gas: because it is convenient (that is, economical) to do so. Would it be good news for North Korea if the oil stopped flowing? No. Is it likely to cripple the economy and force the government to change course on their foremost strategic priority? No. There are ample hydrocarbons in North Korea to substitute for those it imports from China, though maybe not 100% overnight. Overcoming Chinese opposition to an oil embargo, in other words, is unlikely to solve the larger problem.
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Old 6 Days Ago   #77
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Quote:
North Korea has fired a ballistic missile across Japan, creating new tension in the region after its nuclear bomb test less than two weeks ago.
The missile reached an altitude of about 770km (478 miles), travelling 3,700km before landing in the sea off Hokkaido, South Korea's military says.
It flew higher and further than one fired over Japan late last month.
http://www.bbc.com/news/world-asia-41275614
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