Information operations · Information Warfare · North Korea

DPRK Update – 9 September

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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Some very interesting articles today.

Glick’s analysis is excellent and hits on a key point ignored by most of the US MSM “analysts” – if the US does not denuclearise the DPRK, by whatever means, the NPT, fatally damaged by the invasion of Crimea, is dead.

Also very interesting are Chinese leadership comments on “Beijing remaining persistent on the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula”, which if sincere, and China has good reasons not to want a nuclear DPRK, is a robust motive to deal with the problem, but whether robust enough to compel Beijing to act is another matter.

Narang’s analysis is interesting, but given the realities spelled out in the Lieber and Press paper, and the presence of three different BMD systems, no longer a realistic or credible play.

Walker makes an interesting point, but nobody really wants to be responsible for a basketcase state like the DPRK, which as a protectorate would have to be garrisoned, and stripped of WMD – this model is only compatible with regime change in Pyongyang, a feature repeatedly of the Soviet protectorate model he argues for.

Ultimately the Kim regime has for decades played an escalating game of extortion, and with eventually operational nuclear armed IRBM/ICBMs, has the ultimate extortionist’s toolbox, and the highly saleable commodity of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. Because the regime has proven repeatedly its indifference to the suffering of its own population, it can make credible threats as any retaliation other than actual decapitation or annihilation of the regime is simply not a credible deterrent to Pyongyang.

The regime has now produced a genuine and strong incentive for regime change, arguably by overplaying its hand.

Caroline B. Glick | North Korea’s ultimatum to America – Opinion – Jerusalem Post

Washington and Pyongyang exchange threats as the latter continues to evoke the wrath of world powers with its latest nuclear test.

Trump Team Prepping Aggressive Options for North Korea – NBC News

Trump is considering cyberattacks, increased surveillance, inspection of North Korean ships, sanctions on Chinese banks, and upgraded missile defense systems.

U.S. calls for U.N. Security Council vote on North Korea on Monday

The United States on Friday told the U.N. Security Council that it intends to call a meeting on Monday to vote on a draft resolution establishing additional sanctions on North Korea for its missile and nuclear program, the U.S. Mission to the United Nations said in a statement.

US pushes for freeze on Kim’s assets | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

The US yesterday pressed China and Russia to freeze the personal assets of Kim Jong-un and to impose an oil embargo on North Korea amid concerns that the rogue

U.S. Demands UN Vote On North Korea Sanctions Despite Russian, Chinese Resistance

The United States on September 8 formally requested a vote of the United Nations Security Council on a U.S. resolution to impose severe new economic sanctions on North Korea over its latest nuclea…

North Korea’s Trade Troubles Could Point to a Need for Cash – The New York Times

As sanctions take effect, China is selling more goods to North Korea than it is buying, raising questions about Pyongyang’s potential cash needs.

North Korea’s Nuclear Arsenal Threatens China’s Path to Power – The New York Times

Beijing has made little secret of its goal to replace the United States as the major power in Asia, but North Korea presents a nettlesome challenge.

To Stop Kim Jong-Un, China Needs A Big Prize: The South China Sea

Kim Jong-un has emerged as China’s decoy in South China Sea disputes.

Here’s Vladimir Putin’s weirdly on-point analysis of North Korea – Vox

The Russian president’s view is very different from Trump’s — but similar to what you hear from American experts.

North Korea crisis: What will Russia do? – BBC News

President Putin has criticised North Korea’s missile tests, but shares the country’s anti-US sentiments.

Vipin Narang | Why Kim Jong-Un wouldn’t be irrational to use a nuclear bomb first – The Washington Post

Yes, Kim is brutally rational. And that is precisely why he may have to use nuclear weapons, but not in a first strike against American cities. Kim’s nuclear arsenal exists to stop his enemies’ quest for regime change. If North Korea and the United States wind up shooting at each other, it might make sense for Kim to use nuclear weapons first in a way that increases his chances of survival. The basic idea is to use one set of nuclear devices first to stave off the conventional invasion, and hold in reserve longer range, more powerful devices that threaten the enemy’s cities to deter nuclear annihilation. It’s a doctrine called “asymmetric escalation,” employed by states that are conventionally weak. France used it during the Cold War to deter the more powerful Soviet Union, and Pakistan does the same today against a more powerful India. The strategy turns on Kim’s main calculation that the United States will say it’s not worth losing a major American city to get rid of him. This would allow him to avoid the fate of Iraq’s Saddam Hussein and Libya’s Moammar Gaddafi, who did not have nuclear weapons. Deterrence worked uneasily during the Cold War — albeit with close calls and some hair-raising moments — but it worked. Many of the same principles about mutual destruction still obtain today between major powers. Yet the equation for North Korea, which cannot ensure mutual destruction, is slightly different. Faced with the prospect of a U.S.-led invasion, Pyongyang’s conventional inferiority requires it to degrade the United States’ ability to sustain the attack against it. This means it essentially has no option but to use nuclear weapons first against targets such as Andersen Air Force Base in Guam, which stations American bombers, and a variety of allied bases in Japan and South Korea. North Korea has to use nuclear weapons there because it does not have enough conventional warheads to damage the bases meaningfully; a conventional response would not slow or stop a U.S. onslaught. It is for these bases that North Korea has tested the medium-range missiles, reportedly developed a compact nuclear fission warhead and honed guidance for the missiles that would carry it. Wouldn’t such an attack mean the retaliatory annihilation of North Korea? Not necessarily. This is why the intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and the H-bomb are so important. Kim’s survival theory is that North Korea could threaten to destroy an American city with a thermonuclear-tipped ICBM if the United States continued an invasion or retaliated with nuclear weapons. Anytime its cities can be held at risk, the United States’ deterrence equation changes, as it did during the Cold War. Are we willing to risk losing millions of civilians in our homeland? Possibly not. And it’s unlikely that we could reliably destroy all of Kim’s ICBMs on the ground or intercept the warheads in the air, particularly as he builds more. So the prospect of losing San Francisco thanks to our nuclear retaliation may cause us to pause conventional operations and elicit a cease-fire, thereby preserving Kim’s regime and rule. Kim may surmise that if he doesn’t use nuclear weapons first, he is certain to lose; if he does, he may have a fighting chance of surviving.

Matthew Continetti | The Bodyguards of Kim Jong-Un

“Why did we lose this war?” asked James Burnham of Vietnam in 1972. One reason, he wrote, was that “We failed—that is, our leadership failed.”

What should we do about North Korea? We may be thinking about it all wrong. – The Washington Post

Trying to marshal good reasons to adopt a certain strategy can lead policymakers astray.

Andray Abrahamian | Trump Turns Kim Jong Un’s Hopes into Achievable Goals | 38 North: Informed Analysis of North Korea

Three generations of North Korea’s Kim family have dreamed of getting the United States off the Korean peninsula. Now, the Trump administration appears to be doing everything it can to undermine the US-South Korean alliance that has vexed Pyongyang since the armistice that ceased the Korean War was signed 64 years ago. During his election campaign, Donald Trump’s “America First” rhetoric caused broad and general consternation amongst US allies. Then, more than once, he suggested that maybe South Korea and Japan would have to go nuclear, raising the prospect that those countries couldn’t count on the US nuclear umbrella and should be thinking about fending for themselves. As soon as he took office, Trump decided to walk away from the Trans-Pacific Partnership (TPP), a 12-country trade agreement that did not include China. The TPP was widely seen as a move by the United States to reassure its allies and friends of its enduring security commitment to the region and to bind together non-Chinese economies in order to balance Beijing’s growing political and economic clout in the region. Withdrawal from the TPP was interpreted by some of America’s Asian partners, including South Korea, as a sign that the US was abandoning the region to Chinese influence.

Bret Stephens: Kim Jong-un may be a madman, but he’s not without a strategy | National Post

Kim needs a 50-year solution to North Korea’s strategic dilemmas, not just piecemeal concessions from Seoul or Washington

Kim Jong-un and the Art of Tyranny – The New York Times

See the world from Pyongyang’s point of view.

Articles: Make North Korea a Chinese Protectorate

By Bruce Walker During the Cold War, the Warsaw Pact nations were Soviet protectorates. What that means is that nations like East Germany have a degree of nominal independence, but their foreign policy and national security positions had to strictly conform to the interests of the Soviet Union. Rather than annex the nations of Eastern Europe after the Second World War, the Soviets made these nations protectorates. The Soviet Union took responsibility for the actions of these nations. So despite the fact that there were many theater nuclear weapons with effective delivery systems in these nations, these could never be used without the consent of the Politburo. NATO never had to worry that a rogue leader of one of these nations would threaten Western Europe because every leader of a Warsaw Pact nation was ultimately under the control of Moscow. America ought to take the position that North Korea is a protectorate of China, recognizing China’s right to represent North Korea’s interests in global affairs and also to recognize that China can take whatever action it deems necessary to restrain North Korea. That places both responsibility and authority to Beijing. What that would mean is that if China occupies all or part of North Korea, or, indeed, if China annexes North Korea, we would accept that decision without negative comment or action. It would also mean that if North Korea launched any nuclear attack against Seoul or Tokyo, then we would consider that an act by China against South Korea or Japan. America, under this arrangement, could give food and other aid to North Korea, but only through China. That would give China extra leverage in dealing with its new protectorate. The affluent democracies threatened today by the madman in North Korea could give every deference and support to China in controlling North Korea. Why might China want the privilege and the burden of accepting North Korea as a protectorate? China’s authority would be formally expanded, something Chinese expansion into the South China Sea suggests that Beijing would like. China also could act to prevent a nuclear attack, which would throw global markets, Pacific trade, and financial markets into a calamitous death spiral – a disaster that would hurt China as much as any nation.

Negotiate with North Korea? A Russian Tried – Bloomberg

A filmmaker who made the most revealing movie about North Korea doesn’t believe conventional tactics can work.

North Korea Says U.S. to Pay Dearly for Haley’s ‘Hysteric Fit’ – Bloomberg

North Korea said the U.S. will “pay dearly” after its United Nations Ambassador Nikki Haley said the isolated nation was “begging for war,” again ratcheting up tensions as world leaders consider a fresh round of sanctions.

America’s ‘nuke sniffer’ aircraft are deployed to Japan | Daily Mail Online

A WC-135 Constant Phoenix, which can test for radioactive debris after a nuclear explosion, has been seen at the USA’s Kadena Air Base near Okinawa after landing there on Tuesday.

Nuke-sniffer, ballistic recon aircraft deploy to Okinawa amid rising tensions with N. Korea – News – Stripes

Air Force aircraft that detect radioactive fallout and track ballistic missiles are operating on Okinawa in the wake of North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and ahead of an anticipated intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

How to normalize North Korea – The Washington Post

Regarding the Sept. 7 news article “U.S. officials mix messages on threat of North Korea”: Although the current dialogue seems almost uniquely focused on military threats, that avenue is a dead en…

What would happen if North Korea fires a missile at the US | Fox News

Last month, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said if North Korea follows through on its threats to fire a missile at the United States or its allies “it’s game on.”

Peace in our time and a McDonald’s in Pyongyang | The Times & The Sunday Times

On September 23, 2017, Ri Yong-ho, the foreign minister of North Korea, strode off the podium at the UN general assembly. The audience of international leaders

Trump’s Twitter taunt: ‘Go ahead, Kim — make my day’ | World | The Times & The Sunday Times

COUNTDOWN TO WARThe threat by Ri Yong-ho, the North Korean foreign minister, speaking at the UN in New York, to reduce American cities to “radioactive cinders”

What the Iran Deal Can Teach America About North Korea – The Atlantic

If credibility depends in part on a country’s willingness to follow through on military threats, surely it also depends on whether it abides by diplomatic commitments.

North Korea capitalizes on own instability – opinion – news portal

North Korea capitalizes on own instability – opinion. An expert believes that the US should better convince Pyongyang not to use weapons.North Korea uses its instability for its own benefit, says Jason Smart, an American political scientist and director of the non-governmental organization For a Free Ukraine. “The image of the unstable North Korea is helping it, because it is the best it can offer the world. They are using this opportunity, instability, because no one can guess what and when happen next,” smart told a round table conference dedicated to global threats of the confrontation between the US and North Korea, Organized by Gorshenin Institute. Thus, according to Smart, it is better to agree with Pyongyang and give them something in exchange for their promise not to use weapons. The expert believes that thanks to its missile program the DPRK knows that the US is ready to provide its food and other assistance. “Now they are threatening Guam… What happens next? North Korea most likely will come to terms agree with the US “.

North Koreans Have Nothing to Celebrate on the Country’s Birthday

Only Kim Jong Un and his inner circle have reason to celebrate North Korea’s founding Saturday.

Moscow analyst: Russia has made North Korea’s rocket program possible | EUROMAIDAN PRESSEuromaidan Press |

In two articles published online this week, Moscow analyst Aleksandr Nemets details the evidence many have assembled showing that Moscow is heavily involved in both the rocket program of North Korea and Pyongyang’s “aggressive plans” to use it against other countries (see “Зато они ‘делают’ ракеты” and “Системный подход“). It is absolutely essential, he says, that South Korea, Japan and the United States understand that everything that is now brewing in the region is what Moscow or more precisely Putin wants” and not some rogue action by Kim Jong Un as many imagine.

Kim Jong-Un furious after ‘provocative’ BBC radio service ignores North Korean warnings | World | News |

THE BBC has been accused of inflaming North Korean nuclear crisis by pushing ahead with a Korean peninsula news service, despite Kim Jong-Un’s warnings.

How Kim Jong Un’s early childhood set him up to become North Korea’s ruthless leader | Business Insider

Though North Korea has been under the dynastic…

North Korea’s capital is a ghost town amid nuclear testing | New York Post

Is anybody home, Pyongyang? The North Korean capital looks positively post-apocalyptic in aerial footage that emerged this week. Aram Pan, 41, a Singaporean…

Trafficked from North Korea as a ‘bride’, one woman reveals her desperate flight from China | South China Morning Post

China ‘has made life dangerous’ for North Korean refugees living in the country amid the escalating nuclear weapons crisis, NGO’s leader says

YouTube shuts down North Korean propaganda channels | World news | The Guardian

Academics who use the channels to better understand the regime’s nuclear program are urging the company to reinstate them

On Russia and North Korea, shell companies conceal the truth (Opinion) – CNN

Shell companies are widely used to launder money from illicit sources and their role could well be a factor in the Russia investigation as well as the North Korean WMD program, write Stefan Cassella and Michael Zeldin

Beijing remains persistent on de-nuclearization of Korean Peninsula: President Xi

Chinese President Xi Jinping has said Beijing remains persistent on the de-nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In a telephonic conversation with his US counterpart,

The Latest: China, German leaders back new N.Korea sanctions – ABC News

The Latest: China, German leaders back new N.Korea sanctions

Xi: Concerted effort needed to solve DPRK issue –

Chinese President Xi Jinping said Thursday that the international community should make a concerted effort to solve the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula.• Xi, Macron exchange views on Korean Peninsula issue• Key to Korean Peninsula issue is sanctions and dialogue

Xi, Merkel discuss Korean Peninsula – USA –

President Xi Jinping and German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed in a phone conversation on Thursday that the Korean Peninsula issue should be solved peacefully through talks.