Archive for the ‘Obama and China’ category

EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s Pentagon Plans to Challenge Chinese Claims in South China Sea

July 21, 2017

EXCLUSIVE: Trump’s Pentagon Plans to Challenge Chinese Claims in South China Sea, BreitbartKristina Wong, July 20, 2017

AP Photo/Bullit Marquez, File

The Trump administration has already conducted three FONOPs in the South China Sea since May. The Obama administration conducted three during all of last year.

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President Trump approved a Pentagon plan this year that will require regular challenges to China’s excessive maritime claims in the South China Sea, Breitbart News has learned.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis sent the plan to the White House in April that outlines a schedule for the whole year of when U.S. Navy ships will sail through international waters China illegally claims, according to a U.S. official.

Although the U.S. Navy has routinely conducted these “freedom of navigation operations” all around the world for decades, the Obama administration put a stop on them in the South China Sea from 2012 to 2015, with only a few in 2016, out of concern for upsetting China.

Under Obama, the Pentagon would send requests for FONOPs to the National Security Council, where they would stall. There was a concern “of doing anything that would cause anybody to get their feathers ruffled,” the official said.

During that time, China began aggressively building up islands and reefs in the South China Sea and increasingly placing military equipment on them, even though the territory is also claimed by Taiwan, Vietnam, Malaysia, Brunei, and the Philippines.

Under the new plan, the White House will already be aware of the planned operations so that they will not be “a surprise” every time a request comes up the chain of command, and they will be approved faster than before, the official said.

Having them approved faster will allow the operations to be conducted on a “very routine, very regular” basis, with the benefit of making each operation part of a regular program to keep the waters open, versus a “one-off event.”

Under the Obama administration, the operations were requested, considered, and approved in a “one-off” fashion, which took longer to approve and gave the impression that they were in response to something specific China had done, rather than part of routine naval operations.

It is not clear yet whether the plan is part of a larger Asia Pacific strategy or for the narrower purpose of making FONOPs more routine in the area. But one expert said the frequency of FONOPs do have importance in and of themselves.

“The frequency of FONOPs is often seen as a litmus test, for better or worse, of American commitment,” Joseph Liow, dean of comparative and international politics at the S. Rajaratnam School of International Studies, said at a recent Center for Strategic and International Studies event.

The Trump administration has already conducted three FONOPs in the South China Sea since May. The Obama administration conducted three during all of last year.

“You have a definite return to normal,” Chief Pentagon Spokesperson Dana White told Breitbart News.

“This administration has definitely given the authority back to the people who are in the best position to execute those authorities, so it’s a return to normal,” she said.

Although the U.S. does not take sides in the numerous South China Sea territorial disputes, the U.S. military conducts FONOPs there to ensure waters remain open to international commerce. An estimated $5 trillion in goods are transported through the area each year.

Under the plan, FONOP requests will begin with the U.S. Navy’s 7th Fleet, go up to Pacific Fleet, to Pacific Command, to the Pentagon, and then to the National Security Council.

The Pentagon will also send the requests to the State Department the same time they are sent to the NSC, to make sure they do not undermine any concurrent diplomatic initiatives, the official said.

Harry Kazianis, director of defense studies at the Center for the National Interest, said, “having regular, steady deployments of U.S. naval assets conducting freedom of navigation operations in the South China Sea is a good thing – and something I support 100 percent.”

“China must know we will surely operate wherever allowed by international law, just like Beijing does when they conduct missions around Guam, Hawaii or near Alaska. This is standard military operating procedure and codified in international law. In fact, it shouldn’t even be controversial,” he said.

In May, a bipartisan group of senators urged the Trump administration to conduct FONOPs in the South China Sea, expressing concern that one had not been conducted since last October.

“In recent years, China, in particular, has taken a series of aggressive steps in disputed areas of the South China Sea,” they wrote. “We believe that United States engagement in the South China Sea remains essential to continue to protect freedom of navigation and overflight and to uphold international law.”

Early on in the Trump administration, FONOP requests being sent to the Pentagon were not being approved and forwarded to the White House, as first reported by Breitbart News in March, and later by the New York Times in May.

The official said at the time that Mattis did not want to approve and send up any piecemeal requests to the White House until an overall plan could be devised.

The plan was approved before the first FONOP was conducted on May 24, when the destroyer USS Dewey sailed within 12 nautical miles of the Mischief Reef in the Spratly Islands. On July 2, the destroyer USS Stethem sailed within 12 miles of Triton Island in the Paracel Islands. On July 6, two Air Force B-1B Lancers flew over the East and South China Seas.

The official said FONOPs will still remain “a tool in our tool bag to show [when] we don’t agree with something.”

Kazianis warned, however, that FONOPs cannot be the sole instrument Washington uses to push back against China’s excessive claims, as was the case under the Obama administration.

“The Trump Administration needs to layout a comprehensive strategy to push back against China’s coercive and bullying actions that stretch from the East China Sea all the way to the depths of the South China Sea. If not, in a few years’ time, Beijing will be the unquestioned master of the Asia-Pacific – something Washington simply can’t allow,” he said.

Liow agreed: “The non-military toolkit … is also quite important and needs to be developed.”

FULL MEASURE: January 08, 2017 – China Challenge

January 11, 2017

FULL MEASURE: January 08, 2017 – China Challenge via YouTube, January 11, 2017

 

Stumping Earnest: Say, why didn’t Obama eject China diplomats over OPM hack?

January 6, 2017

Stumping Earnest: Say, why didn’t Obama eject China diplomats over OPM hack? Hot Air, Ed Morrissey, January 6, 2017

(Please see also, Why Trump and US intel clash over Russia. — DM)

However, the OPM hack  in particular was much more damaging, and was conducted directly against the government of the United States. The hack went on for over a year and exposed the background-check files of anyone who applied for a security clearance. That included the raw data from those checks, which means that China’s intel agencies have their hands on a lot of very sensitive information they can use to potentially blackmail people in highly sensitive positions. At the very least, they know who all of those people are and where they and their families live, which is a huge head start on forcing people into becoming moles and double agents.

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Call this the Question of the Week. ABC’s Jon Karl asked White House Press Secretary Josh Earnest on Tuesday about why Barack Obama expelled 35 Russian diplomats for hacking the DNC but didn’t expel any Chinese diplomats for hacking an actual government agency and stealing the highly confidential records of 21 million government employees. Earnest … really didn’t have much of an answer. Via RealClearPolitics and our pal Matt Vespa:

(Video at the link. — DM)

JON KARL, ABC: So when the Chinese hacked OPM in 2015, 21+ million current and former government employees and contractors had their personal data stolen by the Chinese. Why did the White House do nothing publicly in reaction to that hack? Which in some ways, was even more widespread than what we saw here from the Russians?

JOSH EARNEST: These are two cyber incidents that are malicious in nature but materially different.

KARL: 20 million people had their personal data taken… fingerprints, social security numbers, background checks. This was a far-reaching act–

EARNEST: I’m not downplaying the significance of it, I’m just saying that it is different than seeking to interfere int he conduct of a U.S. national election. I can’t speak to the steps that have been taken by the United States in response to that Chinese malicious cyber activity–

KARL: But nothing was announced. There was not a single step announced by the White House.

EARNEST: It is true that there was no public announcement about our response, but I can’t speak to what response may have been initiated in private.

KARL: But no diplomats expelled, no compounds shut down, no sanctions imposed, correct? You don’t do that stuff secretly.

When this popped up on Twitter, one person responded that the disparity was because the Russians hacked the election. Actually they didn’t hack the election; they conducted a propaganda campaign boosted in part by hacks on two private political organizations, one of which refused to cooperate with investigators afterward. That’s certainly serious enough to merit some kind of a diplomatic response, but the Russians didn’t change vote totals or crash electoral systems — in fact, they didn’t penetrate any government systems in this effort.

However, the OPM hack in particular was much more damaging, and was conducted directly against the government of the United States. The hack went on for over a year and exposed the background-check files of anyone who applied for a security clearance. That included the raw data from those checks, which means that China’s intel agencies have their hands on a lot of very sensitive information they can use to potentially blackmail people in highly sensitive positions. At the very least, they know who all of those people are and where they and their families live, which is a huge head start on forcing people into becoming moles and double agents.

And yet, the Obama administration did nothing to publicly rebuke China, except scold them in a speech. How well did that work out? Not impressively, as Sharyl Attkisson pointed out:

Last March, China government hackers continued a malicious pattern of cyber attacks on U.S. government and private networks, according to U.S. Cyber Command chief Mike Rogers. China has been linked by U.S. intelligence agencies to wide-ranging cyber attacks aimed at stealing information and mapping critical computer networks for future attacks in a crisis or conflict.

Karl’s question, and Earnest’s inability to provide a coherent response, is the question the media should have been asking ever since Obama and the Democrats suddenly embraced Mitt Romney’s formulation of Russia as our #1 geopolitical foe over the last two months. That question should also be aimed at Congress as they ask for joint select committees to delve into the Russian propaganda campaign. The basic question is this: Why didn’t you do anything about China first?

China to Obama: America Forced Norks to get Nukes and Must Negotiate a Deal

September 20, 2016

China to Obama: America Forced Norks to get Nukes and Must Negotiate a Deal, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 20, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

In an article titled North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama, posted the day after North Korea’s most recent nuke test, September 9th, I contended that China would not honor Obama’s request to make North Korea stop developing and testing nukes. China has remained a faithful ally of North Korea since the end stage of the Korean Conflict and “sees Obama, not as the representative of the world’s greatest power, but as a joke. He has no clout internationally and is a national embarrassment.”  NB: I had hoped to publish this article more than a week ago, but my internet was down or at best intermittent from September 13th until September 19th.)

I was right, but it’s a bit worse than I had thought.

On September 12th, an article was published by Xinhua titled China urges U.S. to take responsibility on Korean Peninsula nuclear issueXinhua is

the official press agency of the People’s Republic of China. Xinhua is the biggest and most influential media organization in China. Xinhua is a ministry-level institution subordinate to the Chinese central government. Its president is a member of theCentral Committee of China’s Communist Party.

According to Xinhua,

U.S. Defence Secretary Ashton Carter reportedly called for further pressure on the DPRK last Friday after the country carried out a new nuclear test and said China bears “responsibility” for tackling the problem. [Emphasis added.]

The essence of the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue is the conflict between the DPRK and the United States, spokesperson Hua Chunying said at a press conference. [Emphasis added.]

As a permanent member of the UN Security Council and a close neighbor of the DPRK, China has made unremitting efforts to maintain peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and safeguard the international nuclear non-proliferation regime, Hua said.

A statement released by the Foreign Ministry of the DPRK Sunday said the United States compelled the DPRK to develop nuclear warheads, and the nuclear threat it has constantly posed to the DPRK for decades is the engine that has pushed the DPRK to this point. [Emphasis added.]

Blindly increasing the pressure and the resulting bounce-back will only make the nuclear issue on the Korean Peninsula “a firm knot,” Hua said, calling for responsibility from all relevant parties.

Hua reiterated that China will remain committed to resolving issues concerning the Peninsula through dialogue to realize long-term peace and stability.

China strongly urges all parties to speak and act cautiously with the larger picture in mind, avoid provoking each other and make genuine efforts to achieve denuclearization, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula, Hua said.

. . . .

“We have seen the twists and turns in the situation on the Korean Peninsula since the six-party talks have stalled,” Hua said, noting that it proves that simple sanctions cannot solve the issue. [Emphasis added.]

Hua said the security concerns of parties on the Korean Peninsula must and can only be resolved in a way that serves the interests of all parties.

Any unilateral action based on one’s self-interest will lead to a dead end, and it will not help resolve one’s security concerns but will only aggravate the tension, complicate the issue, and make it more difficult to achieve relevant goals, Hua said. [Emphasis added.]

The six-party talks, involving China, the DPRK, the United States, the Republic of Korea (ROK), Russia and Japan, were a multilateral mechanism aimed at solving the Korean Peninusla nuclear issue. The talks began in 2003 and stalled in December 2008. The DPRK quit the talks in April 2009.

“Resuming the six-party talks is difficult, but we cannot give up easily ,” Hua said.

China will continue to keep close communication with relevant parties and call on them to return to the right track of solving issues related to the Korean Peninsula through dialogue and negotiation, the spokesperson said.

China clearly appears to be following the line of Kim Jong-un on why North Korea needs nukes:

The Obama administration cannot engage in successful negotiations with North Korea, for several reasons. They are, in no particular order: Obama will be gone in about four months; Kerry is Obama’s Secretary of State; The Obama-Clinton-Kerry Iran Scam gave the Islamic Republic everything it sought and, at best, left Iran on the highway to nukes. North Korea and Iran are different in at least one major respect: Iran claimed that it did not have nukes and had not tried to develop them; Supreme Leader Khamenei was claimed to have issued a fatwa against the acquisition, development and use of nukes — despite propaganda videos showing how Iran will use nukes against the “great and little Satan.” North Korea has and has tested five nukes. Kim brags about them and threatens to use them.

The nuke threat

38 North is a think tank largely devoted to obtaining and publishing reliable information about North Korea’s nuke and missile programs. An article there by , published on September 12th, concludes:

What are the greatest threats from the rapidly expanding North Korean nuclear program? Left unchecked, Pyongyang will likely develop the capability to reach the continental United States with a nuclear tipped missile in a decade or so. Much more troubling for now is that its recent nuclear and missile successes may give Pyongyang a false sense of confidence and dramatically change regional security dynamics. The likely ability of the DPRK to put nuclear weapons on target anywhere in South Korea and Japan and even on some US assets in the Pacific greatly complicates the regional military picture. That situation would be exacerbated if Pyongyang decides to field tactical nuclear weapons as its arsenal expands and its confidence in its nuclear arsenal grows.

More bombs and better bombs also increase the potential of accidents and miscalculations with greater consequences as the number and sophistication of bombs increase. Rendering the nuclear enterprise safe and secure in case of internal turmoil or a chaotic transition in the North becomes more difficult. We also cannot rule out that a financially desperate leadership may risk the sale of fissile materials or other nuclear assets, perhaps to non-state actors. [Emphasis added.]

So, what to do? The latest nuclear test demonstrates conclusively that attempting to sanction the DPRK into submission and waiting for China to exert leverage over Pyongyang’s nuclear program do not work. Increasing sanctions and adding missile defenses in South Korea to that mix will also not suffice and make China even less likely to cooperate. What’s missing is diplomacy as much as Washington may find it repugnant to deal with the Kim regime.

On September 20th, North Korea announced that it had tested a new long-range rocket engine, suggesting that it “can be used for an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is capable, in theory, of hitting targets on the U.S. mainland.” The September 9th nuke test is claimed to have involved “a miniaturized nuclear warhead that could be mounted on a ballistic missile.” How close in North Korea to being able to nuke the U.S. mainland? I don’t know and don’t want to find out by having it happen.

Can diplomacy, even if undertaken by a new administration after Obama leaves office, be successful? Continued sanctions got Iran to engage in negotiations; both Iran and Obama’s America very much wanted the sanctions lifted so that Iran would become an honorable member of the community of nations. There are few if any significant sanctions to lift on North Korea and China will not impose or enforce any; China’s role has been to help North Korea evade sanctions.

In China Won’t Stop Kim Jong-un. The U.S. Must Stand Up to Both of Them, published by Slate Magazine on September 13,  had some perhaps useful suggestions:

[T]he United States should rally the same sort of campaign that revved up the pressure against Iran before those nuclear talks got underway. In other words, the international community should apply sanctions not only against North Korea but also against all institutions that do business with North Korea—an action that would affect some major Chinese banks, which provide it with energy supplies, other goods, and hard currency. [Emphasis added.]

Yes, this would stir tensions in U.S.-China relations; but so do a lot of other actions, many of them instigated by China (for instance, the dodgy territorial claims in the South China Sea), and in this case, any perceptions of American aggression would be offset, to some degree, by a realization—at least by some Chinese officials—that it’s time for Beijing to face up to its problem and reassess its strategic priorities accordingly. (Longtime China-watchers say that some of Xi’s senior comrades have been advocating tougher action against Kim.)

He also suggests that if an end is put to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions and work, America should agree to terminate its no longer necessary THAAD deployments in South Korea and Japan. Further, the next president

should take steps, especially with China, to prevent Pyongyang from deploying a nuclear missile; but if that proves fruitless, he or she should make very clear that North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons—or even a conventional invasion of South Korea (which might be accompanied by a brandishing of nukes to deter anyone from coming to Seoul’s aid)—will be regarded as an attack on the United States and will be dealt with accordingly. There should be no ambiguity about this. Kim Jong-un may be crazy, but his eccentricities have always been in the service of his survival—and he should understand that he’s putting his survival on the line. Daniel Sneider, associate director of Stanford University’s Shorenstein Asia-Pacific Research Center, thinks we should deploy more nuclear-capable aircraft on U.S. bases in Asia to drive this point home fiercely.

It seems worth noting that among the reasons to expect that a Russian-assisted attack on South Korea would be successful, which Kim Il-sung suggested to Stalin in 1950, was that Secretary of State Dean Atcheson had delivered an important address in which he listed the nations to the defense of which America would come if attacked. South Korea was not on the list. As I observed here in November of 2010,

When Kim il-Sung secretly visited Moscow between March 30 and April 25, he assured Stalin that his attack would succeed in three days: there would be an uprising by some two hundred thousand party members and he was convinced that the United States would not intervene. Secretary of State Dean Acheson’s January 12, 1950 speech was persuasive evidence. There, Secretary Acheson had omitted South Korea from a list of nations which the United States would defend if attacked. Stalin gave the go-ahead.

Conclusions

China has encouraged North Korean nuclearization and wants America and her allies, principally South Korea, to cease their “provocations” against the Kim regime. Yet Kim thrives on, and encourages his supporters by, engaging in provocations far more serious and dramatic than anything thus far done by America and South Korea. It seems likely that the North Korean nuke – missile problem will continue until Kim is (a) taken out and (b) replaced with someone less narcissistic and more interested in feeding his people than his ego. Whether such a replacement will emerge is unknown. However, if a Kim clone emerges instead, he seems likely to be more concerned than Kim about his prospects for a long and happy life, even with protection from China.

North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama

September 10, 2016

North Korean Nukes, South Korea, Japan, China and Obama, Dan Miller’s Blog, September 10, 2016

(The views expressed in this article are mine and do not necessarily reflect those of Warsclerotic or its other editors. — DM)

On September 9th, North Korea conducted its fifth nuke test, of its most powerful nuke thus far. Can Obama get China to help make North Korea stop developing and testing nukes? Nope. China sees Obama, not as the representative of the world’s greatest power, but as a joke. He has no clout internationally and is a national embarrassment.

China and North Korea – a very short history

Here’s a link to an article I posted on June 25, 2013 about the Korean conflict. To summarize, China and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea) have a long history of acting together. China views the Republic of Korea (South Korea), which borders North Korea to the south and is an American ally, as a threat. She does not want reunification of the Korean peninsula under a government favorable to America.

When, on June 25, 1950, North Korea invaded South Korea with Russian aircraft, weaponry, training and other substantial support, China did not assist North Korea. North Korean forces pushed the South Korean government, as well as the few American military advisers (then under the command of the Department of State), south to the Pusan perimeter. Following General MacArthur’s unexpected and successful Inchon invasion which began on September 15th, American and other United Nations forces pushed the North Korean forces back north: MacArthur sent his by then greatly augmented forces east to Wonson and eventually managed to push North Korean forces to the northern side of the Yalu River. However, Chinese forces struck back en masse and MacArthur’s forces were driven back to Seoul.

Ever since bringing to an end MacArthur’s successes in the Korean Conflict, China has supported North Korea. She has opposed, and has then declined to enforce, significant sanctions responsive to North Korean nuclear and missile development and testing. While China may acquiesce in weak UN resolutions condemning North Korean provocations, she rarely goes beyond that.

China, Japan and the two Koreas

China has a long memory and still resents, bitterly, the lengthy period prior to and during World War II when Japan occupied significant parts of China. Ditto South Korea, all of which was under Japanese occupation for a lengthy period prior to and during World War II. Although China has substantial trade with both South Korea and Japan, she is more hostile to Japan than is South Korea; the latter two have substantial mutual interests transcending trade.

Perhaps the most important current dispute between China on the one hand, and Japan-South Korea-America on the other, involves the plans of Japan and South Korea to defend against North Korean missiles by the installation of THAAD anti-missile weapons provided by America. China’s stated reason for opposition to the THAAD system is that it could be used against Chinese, as well as North Korean, missiles. Why does China assert this objection unless she hopes to fire missiles at one or both of them? If China fires missiles at Japan and/or South Korea, they have every right to destroy her missiles and to respond in kind with U.S. assistance if requested.

President Obama

condemned Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test today in the “strongest possible terms as a grave threat to regional security and to international peace and stability” as outraged lawmakers from both parties called for tougher action to stop North Korea’s nuclear program. [Emphasis added.]

That may well be all that Obama does — despite the warnings of Rep. Adam Smith (D-Wash.), the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, that

we have to make it absolutely clear that if they engage in any military activity, they will be destroyed. We have to have a credible deterrent. That seems to be the only thing that will stop North Korea from engaging in military action… We have sanctioned them, and we should keep sanctioning them, but it’s not going to stop them from developing the nuclear weapons.” [Emphasis added.]

Obama won’t do that:

In a statement Friday, President Obama vowed to “take additional significant steps, including new sanctions, to demonstrate to North Korea that there are consequences to its unlawful and dangerous actions.”

Obama did not suggest what He might have in mind, beyond historically ineffective sanctions and condemnations “in the strongest possible terms,” to let North Korea know that there will be “consequences.”

A September 9th article at the New York Times provides an unpleasant analysis of the options Obama now has, and which His successor will have, in dealing with North Korea.

A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North’s terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably.

For more than seven years, President Obama has sought to find a middle ground, adopting a policy of gradually escalating sanctions that the White House once called “strategic patience.” But the test on Friday — the North’s fifth and most powerful blast yet, perhaps with nearly twice the strength of its last one — eliminates any doubt that that approach has failed and that the North has mastered the basics of detonating a nuclear weapon.

Despite sanctions and technological backwardness, North Korea appears to have enjoyed a burst of progress in its missile program over the last decade, with experts warning that it is speeding toward a day when it will be able to threaten the West Coast of the United States and perhaps the entire country. [Emphasis added.]

. . . .

Mr. Obama has refused to negotiate with the North unless it agrees first that the ultimate objective of any talks would be a Korean Peninsula without nuclear arms. But Mr. Kim has demonstrated, at least for now, that time is on his side. And as he gets closer to an ability to threaten the United States with a nuclear attack, and stakes the credibility of his government on it, it may be even more difficult to persuade him to give up the program.

 In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama condemned the North’s test and said it “follows an unprecedented campaign of ballistic missile launches, which North Korea claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles intended to target the United States and our allies.”

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.

Many experts who have dealt with North Korea say the United States may have no choice but to do so. [Emphasis added.]

“It’s too late on the nuclear weapons program — that is not going to be reversed,” William Perry, the defense secretary under President Bill Clinton during the 1994 nuclear crisis with North Korea, said in August at a presentation in Kent, Conn. The only choice now, he argued, is to focus on limiting the missile program. [Emphasis added.]

Obama has taken no significant steps to limit Iran’s continuing missile development and testing program. How can He limit that of North Korea without Chinese cooperation?

Yet the latest effort to do that, an agreement between the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system in the South, has inflamed China, which argues the system is also aimed at its weapons. While American officials deny that, the issue has divided Washington and Beijing so sharply that it will be even more difficult now for them to come up with a joint strategy for dealing with the North. [Emphasis added.]

China has been so vocal with its displeasure over the deployment of the American system that Mr. Kim may have concluded he could afford to upset Beijing by conducting Friday’s test. [Emphasis added.]

Fueling that perception were reports that a North Korean envoy visited Beijing earlier this week.

North Korea almost certainly sees this as an opportunity to take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities with little risk that China will do anything in response,” Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department official and North Korea specialist, said in a speech in Seoul on Friday. [Emphasis added.]

The breach between China and the United States was evident during Mr. Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping last week. “I indicated to him that if the Thaad bothered him, particularly since it has no purpose other than defensive and does not change the strategic balance between the United States and China, that they need to work with us more effectively to change Pyongyang’s behavior,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as the advanced missile defense project is known. [Emphasis added.]

North Korea and Iran

Iran and North Korea have a long history of cooperation in developing nukes and missiles with which to deliver them. In the past, Iranian scientists have been present at North Korean nuke tests, and vice versa. They have also assisted each other in the development of nukes and missiles.

Iran and North Korea have substantial reasons to cooperate: by virtue of the Iran scam, Iran now has lots of money but is at least minimally restricted in its nuke development. North Korea has little usable currency, needs whatever it can get, and no attempts to halt or even to limit its nuke development have worked.

A missile fired recently by North Korea bore a striking resemblance to an Iranian missile.

Photos released by North Korea of its launch of long-range ballistic missiles are the latest proof of the close military cooperation between Pyongyang and Tehran, an Israeli expert in the field told the news site IsraelDefense on Tuesday.

According to Tal Inbar — head of Space and UAV Research Centre at the Fisher Institute for Air & Space Strategic Studies — what was new in the photos was the shape of the warheads attached to the Nodong missiles, known in Iran as the Shahab-3.

Until now, such warheads — first detected by Inbar in Iran in 2010 — have not been seen in North Korea. At the time, Inbar dubbed them NRVs (or, “new entry vehicles”), which became their nickname among missile experts around the world. [Emphasis added.]

Inbar told IsraelDefense: “The configuration that we saw [on Tuesday] is identical to what we saw in Iran six years ago. In principle, its penetrating body (warhead) is identical to that of Scud missiles, but is mounted on the Shahab-3, and creates a more stable entity than other Shahab/Nodong warheads.”

Inbar said this was the third time that something of this nature had appeared in Iran before it did in North Korea. “But we must remember that the two countries engage in close cooperation where military and space-directed missiles are concerned,” he said. “It is thus possible that both plans and technology are being transferred regularly from one to the other.” [Emphasis added.]

Are North Korea and Iran rational? According to this New York Times analysis, North Korea is.

North Korea’s actions abroad and at home, while abhorrent, appear well within its rational self-interest, according to a 2003 study by David C. Kang, a political scientist now at the University of Southern California. At home and abroad, he found, North Korean leaders shrewdly determined their interests and acted on them. (In an email, he said his conclusions still applied.) [Emphasis added.]

“All the evidence points to their ability to make sophisticated decisions and to manage palace, domestic and international politics with extreme precision,” Mr. Kang wrote. “It is not possible to argue these were irrational leaders, unable to make means-ends calculations.” [Emphasis added.]

Victor Cha, a Georgetown University professor who served as the Asian affairs director on George W. Bush’s National Security Council, has repeatedly argued that North Korea’s leadership is rational.

I submit that the same analysis, applied to Iran, produces the same result. Iran’s leaders know what they want, and are sufficiently rational to achieve it; they did. Obama, not the leader of a dictatorial theocracy, is sufficiently irrational to believe that what he wants for the Islamic Republic of Iran is what America needs it to have. It is not.

Obama and Iran

Obama’s Iran scam would be farcical were it not potentially deadly. He did not do what would have been best for America and the free world in general — increase sanctions until Iran complied fully with UN resolutions on missile testing, ceased Uranium enrichment and disposed of the means to do it, ceased all nuke research as well as all nuke cooperation with North Korea and ceased supporting all terrorist groups, including Hezbollah and Hamas. Instead, perhaps considering Himself above such trivia, Obama sought little more than what He considered His greatest achievement — His legacy:

iranian-navy-copy-1

Conclusions

If Obama were viewed internationally as the powerful leader of the world’s most powerful nation, He might be able to get China to clamp down, severely and successfully, on North Korea’s nuke and missile development. Were China to reject His overtures, He could arrange for it to wish that it had acceded. That’s not who Obama is, as demonstrated by, among His other actions, entering into the Iran Scam deal with Iran.

Perhaps Kim Jong-un needs to dress like an Iranian mullah to convince Obama to give him a “deal” similar to the one He gave to Iran. He had better hurry: that won’t work with President Trump.

North Korea Nuke Test – Amb John Bolton – Stuart Varney

September 9, 2016

North Korea Nuke Test – Amb John Bolton – Stuart V, Fox News via YouTube, September 9, 2016

A Big Blast in North Korea, and Big Questions on U.S. Policy

September 9, 2016

A Big Blast in North Korea, and Big Questions on U.S. Policy, New York Times

GENEVA — North Korea’s latest test of an atomic weapon leaves the United States with an uncomfortable choice: stick with a policy of incremental sanctions that has clearly failed to stop the country’s nuclear advances, or pick among alternatives that range from the highly risky to the repugnant.

A hard embargo, in which Washington and its allies block all shipping into and out of North Korea and seek to paralyze its finances, risks confrontations that allies in Asia fear could quickly escalate into war. But restarting talks on the North’s terms would reward the defiance of its young leader, Kim Jong-un, with no guarantee that he will dismantle the nuclear program irrevocably.

For more than seven years, President Obama has sought to find a middle ground, adopting a policy of gradually escalating sanctions that the White House once called “strategic patience.” But the test on Friday — the North’s fifth and most powerful blast yet, perhaps with nearly twice the strength of its last one — eliminates any doubt that that approach has failed and that the North has mastered the basics of detonating a nuclear weapon.

Despite sanctions and technological backwardness, North Korea appears to have enjoyed a burst of progress in its missile program over the last decade, with experts warning that it is speeding toward a day when it will be able to threaten the West Coast of the United States and perhaps the entire country.

“This is not a cry for negotiations,” said Victor Cha, who served in the administration of President George W. Bush and now is a North Korea expert at the Center for Strategic and International Studies in Washington. “This is very clearly a serious effort at amassing real nuclear capabilities that they can use to deter the U.S. and others.”

Mr. Cha said the usual response from Washington, Seoul and Tokyo — for another round of sanctions — was not likely to be any more successful at changing the North’s behavior than previous rounds. That means Mr. Obama’s successor will confront a nuclear and missile program far more advanced than the one Mr. Obama began grappling with in 2009.

Mr. Obama has refused to negotiate with the North unless it agrees first that the ultimate objective of any talks would be a Korean Peninsula without nuclear arms. But Mr. Kim has demonstrated, at least for now, that time is on his side. And as he gets closer to an ability to threaten the United States with a nuclear attack, and stakes the credibility of his government on it, it may be even more difficult to persuade him to give up the program.

 In a statement Friday, Mr. Obama condemned the North’s test and said it “follows an unprecedented campaign of ballistic missile launches, which North Korea claims are intended to serve as delivery vehicles intended to target the United States and our allies.”

“To be clear, the United States does not, and never will, accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” he said.

Many experts who have dealt with North Korea say the United States may have no choice but to do so.

“It’s too late on the nuclear weapons program — that is not going to be reversed,” William Perry, the defense secretary under President Bill Clinton during the 1994 nuclear crisis with North Korea, said in August at a presentation in Kent, Conn. The only choice now, he argued, is to focus on limiting the missile program.

Yet the latest effort to do that, an agreement between the United States and South Korea to deploy an advanced missile defense system in the South, has inflamed China, which argues the system is also aimed at its weapons. While American officials deny that, the issue has divided Washington and Beijing so sharply that it will be even more difficult now for them to come up with a joint strategy for dealing with the North.

China has been so vocal with its displeasure over the deployment of the American system that Mr. Kim may have concluded he could afford to upset Beijing by conducting Friday’s test.

Fueling that perception were reports that a North Korean envoy visited Beijing earlier this week.

“North Korea almost certainly sees this as an opportunity to take steps to enhance its nuclear and missile capabilities with little risk that China will do anything in response,” Evans J.R. Revere, a former State Department official and North Korea specialist, said in a speech in Seoul on Friday.

The breach between China and the United States was evident during Mr. Obama’s meeting with President Xi Jinping last week. “I indicated to him that if the Thaad bothered him, particularly since it has no purpose other than defensive and does not change the strategic balance between the United States and China, that they need to work with us more effectively to change Pyongyang’s behavior,” Mr. Obama said, referring to the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system, as the advanced missile defense project is known.

But Mr. Obama noted that sanctions had failed at having much effect. That is largely because the Chinese have left open large loopholes that have kept the North Korean economy alive and, by some measures, enjoying more trade than anytime in years.

In a recent paper, two researchers concluded that sanctions so far “have had the net effect of actually improving” North Korea’s procurement capabilities for its weapons program. To evade sanctions, the North’s state-run trading companies opened offices in China, hired more capable Chinese middlemen and paid higher fees to employ more sophisticated brokers, according to Jim Walsh and John Park, scholars at M.I.T. and Harvard respectively.

The sanctions, Mr. Cha noted, “are supposed to inflict enough pain so the regime comes back to the negotiation table, and that’s clearly not working; or it’s supposed to collapse the regime until it starves, and that’s not working either.”

“Unless China is willing to cut off everything, which they don’t appear willing to do, the sanctions may be politically the right thing to do and a requisite response, but they are not the answer to the problem,” he said.

That means the choices facing Mr. Obama’s successor will be stark. One option is to choke off all trade, in part by telling banks that conduct transactions with North Korea that they will be shut out of dealing in dollars around the world — an effective tactic against Iran before last year’s nuclear deal. But that would enrage the Chinese, and probably cut into cooperation on other issues.

At the same time, an attempt to intercept all shipping could quickly escalate into a full-blown conflict, something neither Mr. Obama nor the South Koreans and Japanese have been willing to risk.

On the other hand, reopening negotiations, which Donald J. Trump has indicated he is willing to consider, could mean paying North Korea again to freeze nuclear activities that the Bush administration and the Clinton administration had already rewarded them for stopping years ago.

The nuclear program dates back to Mr. Kim’s grandfather, Kim Il-sung, the country’s founder, who emerged from the Korean War more than 60 years ago mindful that the United States had considered using nuclear weapons in that conflict and determined to get his own arsenal.

The missile program also has a long history, mostly to deliver conventional arms. But now the two are converging, as the North races to develop a weapon small, light and durable enough to be launched into space and survive re-entry into the atmosphere.

The explosive energy unleashed during the test on Friday, estimated at 10 to 12 kilotons of TNT, was nearly twice that of the North’s last test, conducted in January, said Yoo Yong-gyu, a senior seismologist at South Korea’s National Meteorological Administration.

And the fact that North Korea’s fifth test came only eight months after its fourth is another indication that it is making fast progress toward fitting its ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads, said Choi Kang, a senior analyst at the Asan Institute. The North had waited about three years between each of its previous tests.

North Korea’s advances have unnerved its neighbors in South Korea and Japan, and Mr. Trump’s suggestion that the two nations should pay more for the United States to defend them has not helped.

In both South Korea and Japan, a small but increasingly vocal minority hasbegun to advocate developing nuclear weapons to counter the North instead of relying on the United States.

Cheong Seong-chang, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute in Seongnam, south of Seoul, argued that a South Korean nuclear program might distract the North from its efforts to build a long-range missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the mainland United States.

“If South Korea arms itself with nuclear weapons, North Korea will regard the South Korean nuclear weapons, not the distant American nukes, as the most direct threat to its security,” Mr. Cheong said.