sunset from behind the wire

sunset from behind the wire

Monday, April 24, 2017

Geopolitics - North Korea

Because of the general interest in North Korea that has been building for some time, I'll keep updating y'all on details. The mouse that roared is continuing to roar. It's what they do.

Kidnapping as a Signal

North Korea detained a Korean-American professor at Sunan international airport outside Pyongyang just before he was boarding an aircraft for China. The professor had just completed a month-long course at Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. In my humble opinion, ANYONE who travels to North Korea essentially signs their own death warrant. If they come back out, they dodged a bullet. I don't think that the US should take extraordinary means to rescue/save them beyond the general humanitarian efforts that we always make to ease the suffering of US prisoners held by savage and uncivilized nations.

North Korea has not announced the arrest. The Swedish Embassy in Pyongyang, which performs consular functions for the US, informed the press, but provided no information about the reason for the arrest.  Kidnapping is a tactic that the North Koreans sometimes use to invite talks with the US without appearing to be weak. However, President Trump is not his predecessors. Kidnapping may be something that the Norks like to use, but that is unlikely to bring the US to any sort of bargaining table during this administration.

Nuclear Weapon Test

North Korea has resumed activity at the Punggye-ri nuclear test site. Volleyball time has ended. The workers have placed more camouflage materials over trailers and equipment.

The imagery analysts at 38 North published an update of the status of the site based on the latest imagery. On 19 April, the site was judged to be in standby status. That has ended, though a volleyball court outline is still visible. The judgment still stands that the North Koreans can detonate a nuclear device at any time. 

North Korea issued more threats against the US and against the aircraft carrier USS Carl Vinson. One threatened a "super mighty attack". The threats against the US are worth relating. The North Koreans have submarines that can be deployed against the carrier battle group. The carrier battle group also includes attack submarines that specialize in sinking enemy submarines.

The North's Korean Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which serves as a liaison in inter-Korean affairs, issued a statement on Friday, 21 April. It warned that, "Anyone who threatens Pyongyang must be ready for South Korea to be turned into ashes, the sinking of the Japanese archipelago and nuclear hail to rain down on the US mainland.”

The North Koreans heavily rely on US press releases for locating US aircraft carriers beyond the Sea of Japan. They can be deceived and regularly miss US deployments that are made without accompanying press releases.

The anniversary of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) is 25 April. It is another occasion for a show of capabilities.

China-Russia

On 21 April, news services reported alerts and force movements by China and Russia towards the North Korean border.

Some units of the Chinese air force reportedly were placed on high alert. Specifically mentioned were Chinese bombers equipped with air launched cruise missiles. They reportedly conducted a major exercise in northeast China. China denied the aircraft alert.

Reports on Russian movements said that ground force units were moving to the North Korean border. The Russian government denied that it was reinforcing the border, but did not deny that troops moved into the border area. It said the troops were returning to base from deployments in other regions. 

The Russian border with North Korea is 17 kms long, just northeast of Sonbong. It is not an area where major Russian troop units can be concentrated. Vladivostok, however, is a major Russian port and military town. It is 170 miles northeast of the North Korean border.

This was an unusual convergence of reporting for nothing to be happening. Something North Korea did or was about to do seems to have got the attention of the Chinese and the Russians.

20 comments:

  1. LL,

    If he was taking a course at the university, presumably there was an invitation or government acceptance of his attendance. Short of proof of spying, this is an international incident. Wholesale blockade of North Kores is warranted lest the Norks be importing any torturers or evidence falsifiers to further encumber the professor.

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    1. Agreed, but we won't. I think that the plan is to let China deal with them while we remain vigilant. It's better too, if we do that. With 80% of their food coming from China, they can put a very hard squeeze on the government. Of course, the Fat Un will still eat like a king.

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    2. LL,
      Agree completely, let China deal with it. The punk might paint himself into a corner and have to save face by declaring war on somebody that he thinks he can beat or coerce.

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    3. I don't think that one US life is worth it. But that's just me.

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  2. As I understand, diesel electric submarines are very quiet. Say a NORK sub gets near one of our carriers on suicide mission and detonates a nuclear device underwater as close to the carrier as possible. Is this feasible?

    Getting close targeting information could be a matter of money changing hands with someone in a country with spy satellite capabilities.

    Too farfetched?

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    1. There is more than one way to track a submarine (cue Old NFO who did this for a living in his P-3). However if a submarine managed to get close enough and to detonate a nuke it would be problematic. Keep in mind that the deeper the nuke is detonated (the less the effect). There are all sorts of metrics involved here. The carrier travels fast, it's screened by ASW aircraft (shore based) in this situation, by its own ASW helicopters, by destroyers and more importantly by it's own submarines.

      The Chinese and Russians have not been disposed to give the Norks any real time imagery and if they colluded with the destruction of a carrier battle group by a nuclear weapon, it could mean nuclear war. The Russians and the Chinese are very careful with this sort of thing, as are we. Even in the days when the Soviet Union transitioned to Russia, they kept an iron grip on nukes and on that sort of tech.

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  3. I'm so glad you're always giving us updates. Without you, I'd be lost, LL.

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    1. Yes, these are very insightful.

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    2. Very useful. But LL, more pics of Kim's hair. Thanks.

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    3. Who is telling him that the haircut makes him look less like a freak in a Stephen King novel?

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  4. Studying at Pyongyang University is a curious addition to an American CV. Do they even teach legitimate subjects there, or is it the sort of party-line circus that education turned into under the Nazis, with subjects like "North Korean physics" and "North Korean calculus"?

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    1. He taught hard science (necessary for missile technology).

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    2. Oh. I assumed he was studying there. He taught there??? EVEN WORSE. What would ever possess an American to help the Norks develop missile technology? Adds a whole new wrinkle to the question whether to take any action to get him back.

      By the way, on a side note, interesting poster of children blowing up the U.S.

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    3. They teach children from their earliest that anything that happens to them that is bad is because of the USA - Dear Leader is the only thing standing between them and annihilation.

      The truth is that most Americans ignore the Mouse that Roared and could care less. That lack of attention infuriates Dear Leader. If you read 1984, that's the playbook.

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  5. Sooo... Now approaching 250,000 Chinese soldiers on the border, and ??? from Russia? Curious is right!

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    1. You know that Fat Un wants to cook off that nuke tomorrow to celebrate People's Army Day. The Chinese are not to be trifled with, but he has a death wish.

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  6. Thank you, again, LL. The next few days and weeks could be more than interesting. Let's hope China puts a stop to something possibly quite serious.

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    1. It's coming to a head. The Senate is receiving a mass briefing on Wednesday.

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