Information operations · Information Warfare · Russia

DPRK / PRC / WESTPAC Ad Hoc Update (19)

Anonymous expert compilation, analysis, and reporting.

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An interesting day for WESTPAC media:

  1. WashPost publishes excellent essay covering the backstory to the 1990s Sea Launch venture to commercialize Soviet SLBM tech in the West, which it appears ended up instead becoming the technology base for the DPRK’s ICBMs. What is unknown is how many of the Makeyev bureau engineers ended up in the DPRK, whether they are still there, and what ongoing role was performed by Muscovy in other and further facilitation of the DPRK ICBM program – such as the transfer of RD-250 family engines and documentation from Russia;
  2. Russians sprung, yet again – Russian flagged tankers caught smuggling POL to DPRK via ship-to-ship transfers;
  3. Debate continues over Chinese sanction busting;
  4. More DPRK threats and backfill reports;
  5. Three interesting reports on Chinese domestic politics;
  6. An excellent essay by Prof Hugh White of the ANU on realignments in Asia, a must read for anybody interested in how nations in Asia read US engagement in the region;
  7. Reports of some panic in Canberra over Russian VKS deployment of Tu-95MS BEAR H cruise missile carriers to Indonesia earlier this year – when the risks of long-range cruise missiles were raised just over a decade ago in the public debate in Canberra, the very same bureaucracy tried to ridicule the subject matter – and who is ridiculous now?


Documents shed light on North Korea’s startling gains in sea-based missile technology – NZ Herald

Documents offer fresh clues into the origins of N Korea’s sea-based missile technology.

Documents shed light on North Korea’s startling gains in sea-based missile technology – The Washington Post

Russians in the 1990s were eager to share missile secrets with Americans. But North Korea claimed them instead.

Makeyev Rocket Design Bureau – Wikipedia

R-29 missile | Makeyev JSC, Russia

Second generation SLBMs | Makeyev JSC, Russia

R-27 Zyb – Wikipedia



The old Soviet SLBM “R-27”  and the reuse of its steering engines by North Korea and Iran

R-29RM Shtil – Wikipedia



МБР РСМ-54 (Р-29РМ)

МБР РСМ-54 (Р-29РМ)

Russian tankers have smuggled oil to North Korea, a breach of U.N. sanctions – NBC News

Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea at least three times by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources.

Sources: Russian tankers gave North Korea fuel

Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by tr

Russian tankers fueled North Korea via transfers at sea

Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources.

Russia says it fully abides by UN sanctions on North Korea –

The Russian Foreign Ministry is rejecting claims that Moscow has breached U.N. sanctions against North Korea.

Exclusive: Russian tankers fueled North Korea via transfers at sea – sources [Reuters]

By Guy Faulconbridge, Jonathan Saul and Polina Nikolskaya LONDON/MOSCOW – Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources, providing an economic lifeline to the secretive Communist state.The sales of oil or oil products from Russia, the world’s second biggest oil exporter and a veto-wielding member of the United Nations Security Council, breach U.N. sanctions, the security sources said.The transfers in October and November indicate that smuggling from Russia to North Korea has evolved to loading cargoes at sea since Reuters reported in September that North Korean ships were sailing directly from Russia to their homeland.”Russian vessels have made ship-to-ship transfers of petrochemicals to North Korean vessels on several occasions this year in breach of sanctions,” the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity, told Reuters.A second source, who independently confirmed the existence of the Russian ship-to-ship fuel trade with North Korea, said there was no evidence of Russian state involvement in the latest transfers. “There is no evidence that this is backed by the Russian state but these Russian vessels are giving a lifeline to the North Koreans,” the second European security source said.The two security sources cited naval intelligence and satellite imagery of the vessels operating out of Russian Far Eastern ports on the Pacific but declined to disclose further details to Reuters, saying it was classified.Russia’s Foreign Ministry and the Russian Customs Service both declined to comment when asked on Wednesday if Russian ships had supplied fuel to North Korean vessels. The owner of one ship accused of smuggling oil to North Korea denied any such activity.The latest report came as China, responding on Friday to criticism from U.S. President Donald Trump, denied it had illicitly shipped oil products to North Korea.North Korea relies on imported fuel to keep its struggling economy functioning. It also requires oil for its intercontinental ballistic missile and nuclear program that the United States says threatens the peace in Asia.”The vessels are smuggling Russian fuel from Russian Far Eastern ports to North Korea,” said the first security source, who spoke on condition of anonymity. Reuters was unable to independently verify that the vessels had transferred fuel to North Korean vessels, whether the Russian state knew about the sales or how many Russian vessels were involved in the transfers. It was also unclear how much fuel may have been smuggled.Ship satellite positioning data consulted by Reuters and available on Reuters Eikon shows unusual movements by some of the Russian vessels named by the security sources including switching off the transponders which give a precise location. The security sources said the Russian-flagged tanker Vityaz was one vessel that had transferred fuel to North Korean vessels. The Vityaz left the port of Slavyanka near Vladivostok in Russia on Oct. 15 with 1,600 tonnes of oil, according to Russian port control documents. Documents submitted by the vessel’s agent to the Russian State Port Control authority showed its destination as a fishing fleet in the Japan Sea. Shipping data showed the vessel switched off its transponder for a few days as it sailed into open waters. According to the European security sources, the Vityaz conducted a ship-to-ship transfer with the North Korean Flagged Sam Ma 2 tanker in open seas during October. Reuters could not independently verify the transfer as ship tracking data showed that the Sam Ma 2 had turned off its transponder from the start of August. The owner of the Russian vessel denied any contact with North Korean vessels but also said it was unaware that the vessel was fuelling fishing boats. Yaroslav Guk, deputy director of the tanker’s owner, Vladivostok-based Alisa Ltd, said the vessel had no contacts with North Korean vessels.”Absolutely no, this is very dangerous,” Guk told Reuters by telephone. “It would be complete madness.”When contacted a second time, Guk said the vessel did not have any contacts with North Korean ships and that he would not answer further questions.An official at East Coast Ltd, the vessel’s transport agent, declined to comment.Two other Russian flagged tankers made similar journeys between the middle of October and November, leaving from the ports of Slavyanka and Nakhodka into open seas where they switched off their transponders, shipping data showed. In September, Reuters reported that at least eight North Korean ships that left Russia loaded with fuel this year headed for their homeland despite declaring other destinations, a ploy that U.S. officials say is often used to undermine sanctions.A Russian shipping source with knowledge of Far Eastern marine practices said North Korean vessels had stopped loading fuel in Russia’s Far Eastern ports but that fuel is delivered at sea by tankers using ship-to-ship transfers, or even by fishing vessels.China on Friday denied reports it has been illicitly selling oil products to North Korea, after Trump said he was not happy that China had allowed oil to reach the isolated nation.The United States has proposed that the United Nations Security Council blacklist 10 ships for transporting banned items from North Korea, according to documents seen by Reuters this month.The vessels are accused of “conducting illegal ship-to-ship transfers of refined petroleum products to North Korean vessels or illegally transporting North Korean coal to other countries for exports,” the United States said in its proposal. (Editing by Giles Elgood)

North Korea is receiving fuel from a major country in violation of UN sanctions – TheBlaze

According to a report from Reuters, surveillance shows that North Korea is being aided by fuel shipments from a major fuel exporter, despite UN sanctions. The report cites two anonymous sources who say that North Korea is being aided by fuel tankers coming from Russia. Russian tankers have supplied fuel to North Korea on at least three occasions in recent months by transferring cargoes at sea, according to two senior Western European security sources, providing an economic lifeline to the secretive Communist state.

China is playing Trump on foreign policy

President Trump must flip the deck on President Xi.

Looking ahead 2018: Risk of US-North Korea clash increasing: China adviser Jia- Nikkei Asian Review

BEIJING — A moment of crisis on the Korean Peninsula is fast approaching, according to Jia Qingguo, dean of the School of International Studies at Pe

Trump Warns China Over Prohibited Fuel Sales to North Korea – Bloomberg

President Donald Trump warned that alleged illicit Chinese oil sales to North Korea may jeopardize a peaceful resolution to the confrontation over Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

After Trump criticism, China denies selling oil illicitly to North Korea

China on Friday denied reports it had been illicitly selling oil products to North Korea in violation of U.N. sanctions, after U.S. President Donald Trump said he was unhappy that China had allowed oil to reach the isolated nation.

China Tells Trump ‘This is Not How a U.S. President Should Behave’ After North Korea Tweet

Both President Donald Trump and North Korean supreme leader Kim Jong Un garnered global criticism for their infamous tempers.

Chinese State Media: Trump North Korea Attack ‘Absurd,’ ‘Really Stupid’

Chinese state media called President Donald Trump’s accusations of illicit oil trade with Pyongyang “absurd.”

China Resists U.S. Efforts to Blacklist Ships Through U.N. – WSJ

Beijing and Washington clashed over a U.S. push to blacklist cargo ships for violating international sanctions against North Korea, including one vessel South Korea said it seized after an illegal transfer of oil.

South Korea Seizes Ship Suspected Of At-Sea Oil Transfer To Benefit North Korea : The Two-Way : NPR

One suspected transfer was seen in U.S. reconnaissance photos; South Korean media say ships have sold oil to North Korean vessels about 30 times since October.

South Korea holding crew of ship that allegedly gave oil to North Koreans | Fox News

The crew of a Hong Kong-flagged ship that allegedly violated U.N. sanctions by transferring oil to a North Korean vessel in October is being held in South Korea, officials announced Friday, until a full inspection is sent to the Security Council.

North Korea vows it won’t give up nukes if U.S. keeps up ‘blackmail’ – NBC News

North Korea said Saturday that it will never give up its nuclear weapons as long as the United States and its allies continue their “blackmail and war drills” at its doorstep.

Kim Jong Un: North Korea says won’t give up nukes if US continues ‘blackmail’ – The Economic Times

The North’s official Korean Central News Agency took the oft-repeated stance on Saturday as it reviewed the country’s major nuclear weapons and missile tests this year.

If North Korea’s nukes don’t scare you, take a look at its biological weapons | New York Post

The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse — Pestilence, War, Famine and Death — gallop through the Book of Revelation, and they’ve put in plenty of grim…

Who Are Kim Jong Un’s Children and Does North Korea Have an Heir?

North Korea has never revealed Kim Jong Un to have any children, but NBA star Dennis Rodman said, “he’s a good dad and has a beautiful family.”

China: 7 big things to watch in 2018 – Axios

The U.S.-China relationship will be the world’s most consequential in 2017

China’s Communist party raises army of nationalist trolls

Growing band of online patriots prowls the internet to promote their homeland

In Sign of Resistance, Chinese Balk at Using Apps to Snitch on Neighbors – WSJ

New technology, part of the country’s effort to build a mass surveillance web, rewards citizens for notifying authorities about illegal activity, domestic disputes and other problems. But people are wary of using it.

China’s policy of expansion | Inquirer Opinion

“Good faith” is usually defined as honesty and sincerity — the absence of any desire to act maliciously or with fraudulence toward others. “Good faith” was the operative phrase used by President Duterte’s spokesperson Harry Roque when asked recently about Malacañang’s position following a recent provocative posting by China as reported by Reuters. On its National Marine Data and Information Service website, China confirmed for the first time that it had “reasonably” expanded its islands in the South China Sea as part of its defense and military presence in the area, as well as to supposedly provide the islands’ inhabitants with a more stable supply of water and power. ADVERTISEMENT Sought for comment, Roque said: “We don’t know where these works are. We continue to rely on China’s good faith. Location is material since we do not have claims on all the islands and waters in the disputed area.” This wasn’t the first time Roque had leaned on the phrase to explain China’s behavior in the disputed area and its possible implications on Philippine national security. “Good faith,” in fact, appears to have become the default line of the Duterte administration when it comes to the China question.

Hugh White | Dawn of the post-American order in Asia, Opinion News & Top Stories – The Straits Times

Historians may well look back at 2017 as the year that Asia’s leadership changed hands. It will be seen as the year China stepped forward and America stepped back.. Read more at

Be Careful What You Wish For: Legacies, Realignments, and Russia’s Evolving Role in South Asia

Editor’s Note: This is the fifteenth installment of “Southern (Dis)Comfort,” a new series from War on the Rocks and the Stimson Center. The series seeks to

Australian Defence Force on high alert following Russian military exercise

The Australian Defence Force in Darwin was reportedly in a state of high alert as Russian military planes carried out exercises close Australia earlier this month.

Australian Defence Force on alert after Russian military exercise

Defence personnel were operating under “increased readiness” in Darwin earlier this month after Russian bombers reportedly flew out of an Indonesian …

Australian air force put on alert after Russian long-range bombers headed south | World news | The Guardian

Russia thought to be extending its Pacific influence after nuclear-capable aircraft carry out military exercises in Indonesia

Australian military on high alert fears for Russian bomber | Daily Mail Online

An Australian military base has been on high alert after fears Russian bombers could target the coast while experts were also concerned they may have been spying on important intelligence.