Posted tagged ‘China and North Korea’

Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea

January 2, 2018

Secret Document Reveals China Covertly Offering Missiles, Increased Aid to North Korea, Washington Free Beacon, January 2, 2017

Chinese President Xi Jinping / Getty Images

CIA spokesmen had no immediate comment on the document that could not be independently verified.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return emails seeking comment.

Former State Department intelligence official John Tkacik, a China affairs specialist, said the document appears genuine and if confirmed as authentic would represent “a bombshell” disclosure.

Tkacik told the Free Beacon the document, may be “evidence that China has no real commitment to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, and indeed sees North Korean nuclear arms as an additional strategic threat to the United States, one that China can claim no influence over.”

“Reading between the lines, it is clear that China views North Korea as giving it leverage with the U.S., so long as the U.S. believes that China is doing all it can do,” Tkacik said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said if the document is authentic, “it reveals China’s policy to be completely cynical and utterly detached from its publicly stated position.”

“The White House would have to react accordingly,” he added.

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China’s Communist Party adopted a secret plan in September to bolster the North Korean government with increased aid and military support, including new missiles, if Pyongyang halts further nuclear tests, according to an internal party document.

The document, labeled “top secret” and dated Sept. 15—12 days after North Korea’s latest underground nuclear blast—outlines China’s plan for dealing with the North Korean nuclear issue. It states China will allow North Korea to keep its current arsenal of nuclear weapons, contrary to Beijing’s public stance that it seeks a denuclearized Korean peninsula.

Chinese leaders also agreed to offer new assurances that the North Korean government will not be allowed to collapse, and that Beijing plans to apply sanctions “symbolically” to avoid punishing the regime of leader Kim Jong Un under a recent U.N. resolution requiring a halt to oil and gas shipments into North Korea.

A copy of the four-page Chinese-language document was obtained by the Washington Free Beacon from a person who once had ties to the Chinese intelligence and security communities. An English translation can be found here.

CIA spokesmen had no immediate comment on the document that could not be independently verified.

A Chinese Embassy spokesman did not return emails seeking comment.

Disclosure of the document comes amid reports China is continuing to send oil to North Korea in violation of United Nations sanctions, prompting criticism from President Trump. Trump tweeted last week that China was caught “red handed” allowing oil shipments to North Korea.

“There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korean problem if this continues to happen,” the president stated on Dec. 28.

Release of the classified internal document is unusual since China’s communist system imposes strict secrecy on all party policies. Exposure of the secret Central Committee directive could indicate high-level opposition within the party to current supreme leader Xi Jinping, who has consolidated more power than any leader since Mao Zedong.

China: Pressure on North Korea won’t work

China’s leaders, according to the document, concluded that international pressure will not force North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, estimated to be at least 20 warheads.

As a result, the Central Committee of the party directed its International Liaison Department, the organ in charge of communicating with foreign political parties, to inform Pyongyang of China’s continued backing.

The head of the Liaison Department, Song Tao, visited Pyongyang Nov. 17 and met with senior North Korean officials. North Korean state media did not provide details of the talks, other than to say issues of mutual concern were discussed.

The directive appears written in response to the United Nations Security Council resolution passed after the Sept. 3 North Korean nuclear test. Included among the resolution’s new sanctions are restrictions on oil and gas transfers, including a ban on transferring oil between ships in open ocean waters.

On the U.N. requirement to shut down oil and gas transfers from China to North Korea, the party document said after North Korean businesses in China will be closed under the terms of the latest U.N. resolution, “our country will not for the moment restrict Korea from entrusting qualified Chinese agencies from trade with Korea or conducting related trade activities via third countries (region).”

A directive ordered the Liaison Department to offer a promised increase in aid for “daily life and infrastructure building” and a one-time increase in funds for North Korea of 15 percent for 2018. Chinese aid will be then be increased annually from 2019 through 2023 by “no less than 10 percent over the previous year.”

The Chinese also promised the North Koreans that in response to calls to suspend all banking business with North Korea that the financial ban will “only apply to state-owned banks controlled by the central government and some regional banks.”

On military support, the document reveals that China is offering North Korean “defensive military construction” and “high level military science and technology.”

The weaponry will include “more advanced mid- and short-range ballistic missiles, cluster munitions, etc.,” the document said.

“Your department should at the same time seriously warn the Korean authority not to overdo things on the nuclear issue,” the document says.

“Currently, there is no issue for our country to forcefully ask Korea to immediately and completely give up its nuclear weapons. Instead, we ask Korea to maintain restraint and after some years when the conditions are ripe, to apply gradual reforms and eventually meet the requirement of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula.”

Beijing to warn Kim of ‘punitive measures’

The document then directs the Liaison Department to warn that if North Korea insists on acting rashly, further punitive measures will be imposed on senior North Korean leaders and their family members.

The directive lists “requirements” for the Liaison Department to pursue, including informing the North Koreans of China’s “determination to protect the Korean government on behalf of the Central Committee of CPC.”

Liaison officials also were tasked with informing the North Koreans of promises of support and aid in exchange for Pyongyang making “substantial compromises on its nuclear issues.”

“According to the current deployment of world forces and the geographic position of the Korean Peninsula, to prevent the collapse of the Korean government and the possible direct military confrontation with western hostile forces led by the United States on the Korean Peninsula caused by these issues, our country, Russia, and other countries will have to resort to all the effective measures such as diplomatic mediation and military diversion to firmly ensure the peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and to prevent ‘chaos and war,’ which is also the common position held firmly by our country, Russia, and others,” the report says.

The document states that if the United States “rushes to war” against North Korea, the conflict would have a huge impact on the political and economic state of the region and the world.

“At such a time, the security of Japan and (South) Korea can be hardly taken care of, especially the security of Seoul, the (South) Korean capital,” the document says.

“Also, our country, Russia, and others will absolutely not look on the chaotic situation on the Korean Peninsula without taking any action.”

The document states that China believes that “theoretically” western powers will not use military force to overthrow the Kim Jong Un regime to solve the nuclear issue.

“However, international provocations by Korea via repeatedly conducting nuclear tests has imposed huge international pressure on our country that is continuously accumulating and becoming unbearably heavy,” the document says.

‘Stern warning’ and ‘assurances’

The deal outlined in the document to be communicated to Pyongyang includes a “stern warning” combined with “related assurances to Korea at the same time.”

“That is, currently Korea will not have to immediately give up its nuclear weapons, that so long as Korea promises not to continue conducting new nuclear tests and immediately puts those promises into action, our country will immediately increase economic, trade, and military assistance to Korea, and will add or continue providing the following benefits,” the report states.

The first item then lists greatly increasing trade with North Korea to keep the government operating and to raise the living standard of North Koreans.

“As for products under international sanctions such as crude oil products (except for the related products clearly defined as related to nuclear tests), under the condition of fully ensuring domestic demand of Korea, we will only make a symbolic handling or punishment,” the Party document said.

Past document leaks have included party documents on decision making related to the 1989 military crackdown on unarmed protesters in Beijing’s Tiananmen Square published in the 2001 book The Tiananmen Paper.

A more recent disclosure in October was the release of an internal Communist Party document  authorizing the Ministry of State Security, China’s civilian spy service, to dispatch 27 intelligence officers to the United States to “crush hostile forces.” That document was made public by exiled Chinese businessman-turned-dissident Guo Wengui.

Orville Schell, a China specialist who worked on the Tiananmen Papers, said he could not authenticate the document but said it has “an air of veracity.”

“The language in Chinese is spot on party-speak, and the logic of the argument would appear to be congruent with the current line and what is happening,” said Schell, director of the Center on U.S.-China Relations at the Asia Society in New York.

Columbia University Professor Andrew Nathan also could not authenticate the document but said it looks genuine. “The typeface, layout, header, seal, vocabulary, and diction are all those of an official inner party document,” said Nathan who also worked on the Tiananmen papers.

Nathan said the document appeared to be a directive for International Liaison Department director Song Tao’s mission to Pyongyang two months later, and Beijing’s attempt to press North Korea to halt nuclear tests using a combination of incentives and warnings.

The Chinese language version uses some terms that reveal China’s contempt for North Korea, such as the term “ruling authorities” for the Kim regime, something Nathan said is an “unfriendly” tone.

Former State Department intelligence official John Tkacik, a China affairs specialist, said the document appears genuine and if confirmed as authentic would represent “a bombshell” disclosure.

Tkacik told the Free Beacon the document, may be “evidence that China has no real commitment to pressuring North Korea to give up nuclear weapons, and indeed sees North Korean nuclear arms as an additional strategic threat to the United States, one that China can claim no influence over.”

“Reading between the lines, it is clear that China views North Korea as giving it leverage with the U.S., so long as the U.S. believes that China is doing all it can do,” Tkacik said.

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton said if the document is authentic, “it reveals China’s policy to be completely cynical and utterly detached from its publicly stated position.”

“The White House would have to react accordingly,” he added.

Trump criticizes past N. Korea policies

Trump last week tweeted a video showing then-President Bill Clinton praising the 1994 Agreed Framework that Clinton said would freeze and ultimately dismantle the North Korean nuclear program.

The video also included a clip of Trump on NBC’s “Meet the Press” from 1999 urging action then to stop the North Korean nuclear program in its early stages.

Trump told the New York Times after the tweet he was disappointed China is secretly shipping oil to North Korea. “Oil is going into North Korea. So I’m not happy about it,” he said, adding that he has been “soft on China” for its unfair trade practices and technology theft.

“China has a tremendous power over North Korea. Far greater than anyone knows,” Trump said Dec. 28, adding that “China can solve the North Korea problem, and they’re helping us, and they’re even helping us a lot, but they’re not helping us enough.”

“If they don’t help us with North Korea, then I do what I’ve always said I want to do,” the president added. “China can help us much more, and they have to help us much more … We have a nuclear menace out there, which is no good for China, and it’s not good for Russia. It’s no good for anybody.”

The Trump administration has been signaling for months it is prepared to use military force against North Korea to rid the country of nuclear arms and missile delivery systems.

North Korea conducted several long-range missile tests in 2017 that U.S. officials have said indicate rapid progress toward building a missile capable of targeting the United States with a nuclear warhead.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Dec. 29 that he has drawn up military options for operations against North Korea.

“I don’t speculate, as you know, about future operations by our forces,” Mattis told reporters. “But with three U.N. Security Council resolutions in a row, unanimously adopted, each one has put significantly more pressure on the North Korean regime for its provocations, for its outlaw activities. I think you will see increased pressure. What form that pressure takes in terms of physical operations is something that will be determined by the Congress and government.”

Asked if the United States is closer to war with North Korea, Mattis said: “You know, I provide military options right now. This is a clearly a diplomatically led effort with a lot of international diplomatic support. It’s got a lot of economic buttressing, so it’s not like it’s just words. It’s real activities.”

China backs N. Korea as buffer zone

The party directive states that China regards North Korea as a strategic “buffer zone” needed to “fend off hostile western forces.” Ideologically, North Korea also is important to China in promoting its vision of “socialism with Chinese characteristics led by our Party” and identifying North Korea as “irreplaceable.”

According to the document, the Party regards the “continuity of the Korean government,” maintaining peace on the Korean Peninsula and one of its unwavering goals.

“This issue is about the peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula and the fundamental interests of our Party, our country, and all Chinese people,” the document concludes, adding that the department should quickly coordinate with the Foreign and Commerce Ministries and other agencies to develop an operational plan to implement the policy “to ensure the sense of responsibility, to strictly maintain related confidentiality, and to seriously accomplish the heavy tasks entrusted by the Central Committee of CPC.”

The document bears the seal of the General Office of the Communist Party Central Committee, the office in charge of administrative affairs. Copies were sent to the administrative offices of the National People’s Congress, State Council, and Central Military Commission.

The internal document states that the new policy toward the North Korean nuclear issue is based on consultations among key power organs within the ruling party, including the Central Committee and State Council, along with what was termed “the guiding spirit” of meetings held by the National Security Commission, headed by Chinese leader Xi Jinping.

“After research and assessment, the Central Committee of the Communist Party of China decided to authorize your department to lead and organize the communication and coordination work with the Korean administration on its nuclear issues,” the document states.

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018

December 30, 2017

Expect America’s Tensions with China and Russia to Rise in 2018, Gatestone Institute, John Bolton, December 30, 2017

Yesterday’s 2017 review and forecast for 2018 focused on the most urgent challenges the Trump administration faces: the volatile Middle East, international terrorism and the proliferation of nuclear, chemical and biological weapons. Today, we examine the strategic threats posed by China and Russia and one of President Trump’s continuing priorities: preserving and enhancing American sovereignty.

Russia and China will be among the Trump administration’s key strategic challenges in the coming year. Photo: Wikipedia.

China has likely been Trump’s biggest personal disappointment in 2017, one where he thought that major improvements might be possible, especially in international trade. Despite significant investments of time and attention to President Xi Jinping, now empowered in ways unprecedented since Mao Tse Tung, very little has changed in Beijing’s foreign policy, bilaterally or globally. There is no evidence of improved trade relations, or any effort by China to curb its abuses, such as pirating intellectual property, government discrimination against foreign traders and investors, or biased judicial fora.

Even worse, Beijing’s belligerent steps to annex the South China Sea and threaten Japan and Taiwan in the East China Sea continued unabated, or even accelerated in 2017. In all probability, therefore, 2018 will see tensions ratchet up in these critical regions, as America (and hopefully others) defend against thinly veiled Chinese military aggression. Japan in particular has reached its limits as China has increased its capabilities across the full military spectrum, including at sea, in space and cyberwarfare.

Taiwan is not far behind. Even South Korea’s Moon Jae In may be growing disenchanted with Beijing as it seeks to constrain Seoul’s strategic defense options. And make no mistake, what China is doing in its littoral periphery is closely watched in India, where the rise of Chinese economic and military power is increasingly worrying. The Trump administration should closely monitor all these flash points along China’s frontiers, any one of which could provoke a major military confrontation, if not next year, soon thereafter.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program is where China has most disappointed the White House. Xi Jinping has played the United States just like his predecessors, promising increased pressure on Pyongyang but not delivering nearly enough. The most encouraging news came as 2017 ended, in the revelation that Chinese and American military officers have discussed possible scenarios involving regime collapse or military conflict in North Korea. While unclear how far these talks have progressed, the mere fact that China is engaging in them shows a new level of awareness of how explosive the situation is. So, 2018 will be critical not only regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons threat but also whether Sino-American relations improve or take a distinct turn for the worse.

On Russia, the president has not given up on Vladimir Putin, at least not yet, but that may well come in 2018. Putin is an old-school, hard-edged, national interest-centered Russian leader, defending the “rodina” (the motherland), not a discredited ideology. Confronted with U.S. strength, Putin knows when to pull back, and he is, when it suits him, even capable of making and keeping deals. But there is no point in romanticizing the Moscow-Washington dynamic. It must be based not on personal relationships but on realpolitik.

No better proof exists than Russia’s reaction to Trump’s recent decision to supply lethal weapons to Ukraine, which is now a war zone entirely because of Russian aggression. To hear Moscow react to Trump’s weapons decision, however, one would think he was responsible for increased hostilities. President Obama should have acted at the first evidence of Russia’s military incursion into Ukraine, and even Trump’s aid is a small step compared to President Bush’s 2008 proposal to move Kiev quickly toward NATO membership. Nonetheless, every independent state that emerged from the Soviet Union, NATO member or not, is obsessed with how America handles Ukraine. They should be, because the Kremlin’s calculus about their futures will almost certainly turn on whether Trump draws a line on Moscow’s adventurism in Ukraine.

Just as troubling as Russia’s menace in Eastern and Central Europe is its reemergence as a great power player in the Middle East. Just weeks ago, the Russian Duma ratified an agreement greatly expanding Russia’s naval station at Tartus, Syria. In 2015, Obama stood dumbfounded as Russia built a significant air base in nearby Latakia, thus cementing the intrusion of Russia’s military presence in the Middle East to an extent not seen since Anwar Sadat expelled Soviet military advisers and brought Egypt into the Western orbit in the 1970s.

This expansion constitutes a significant power projection for the Kremlin. Indeed, it seems clear that Russia’s support (even more than Iran’s) for Syria’s Assad regime has kept the dictatorship in power. Russia’s assertiveness in 2017 also empowered Tehran, even as the ISIS caliphate was destroyed, to create an arc of Shia military power from Iran, through Iraq and Syria, linking up with Hezbollah in Lebanon. This Russian-Iranian axis should rank alongside Iran’s nuclear-weapons program on America’s list of threats emanating from the Middle East.

Finally, the pure folly of both the U.N. Security Council and the General Assembly crossing the United States on the Jerusalem embassy decision was a mistake of potentially devastating consequences for the United Nations. Combined with the International Criminal Court’s November decision to move toward investigating alleged U.S. war crimes in Afghanistan, there is now ample space for the White House to expand on the president’s focus on protecting American sovereignty.

Trump’s first insight into the rage for “global governance” among the high minded came on trade issues, and his concern for the World Trade Organization’s adjudication mechanism. These are substantial and legitimate, but the broader issues of “who governs” and the challenges to constitutional, representative government from international bodies and treaties that expressly seek to advance global governing institutions are real and growing. America has long been an obstacle to these efforts, due to our quaint attachment to our Constitution and the exceptionalist notion that we don’t need international treaties to “improve” it.

No recent president has made the sovereignty point as strongly as Trump, and the United Nations and International Criminal Court actions in 2017 now afford him a chance to make decisive political and financial responses in 2018. If 2017 was a tumultuous year internationally, 2018 could make it seem calm by comparison.

John R. Bolton (@AmbJohnBolton) served as U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and as undersecretary for arms control and international security affairs at the U.S. Department of State under President George W. Bush. He is now a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

This article first appeared in The Hill and is reprinted here with the kind permission of the author.

How Trump’s tweets and three fleets can help move the North Korea needle

October 26, 2017

How Trump’s tweets and three fleets can help move the North Korea needle, Washington ExaminerTom Rogan, October 25, 2017

OPINION

The Nimitz transit route will translated in Beijing as: “if you don’t help us with North Korea, we are going to escalate against your interests.”

President Trump’s public skepticism about diplomacy lends threat credibility to this CSG posture. Under Trump’s authority, the international community cannot assume these CSGs are just for show. At the strategic level, Trump’s potential to move the diplomatic needle rests in external perceptions that he will use military force absent that movement. Again, this is especially important in Beijing, which is reflexively predisposed against making concessions to the United States.

I recognize that sending three CSGs into potential conflict zones isn’t without risk. Still, considering that we only have a few months to reach a diplomatic agreement with North Korea, a show of muscle with these deployments is the right call.

Put simply, Trump must roll the dice, and CSGs roll well.

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In a rare occurrence, three U.S. Navy carrier strike groups (CSGs) are now in the Indian Ocean or western Pacific Ocean. While the Navy claims these deployments were pre-planned, its heavy publicity of this news suggests it was told to make a show of its presence.

As such, I suspect the Trump administration is attempting to raise Chinese and North Korean concerns that the U.S. is preparing to use force against the latter.

In specific terms, Trump wants China to put additional economic pressure on North Korea. While President Xi of China has made some limited efforts in this regard, he could do much more to restrict the financial intermediaries that deliver Kim Jong Un his foreign capital. And whether coincidental or not, these three arrivals align well with the news that diplomats are struggling to make headway. The timing and contrast between diplomats and carriers allows the U.S. to present a binary choice between the carrot of diplomacy and the stick of military power.

Still, the pressure on China is also extended by basic geography. After all, unless it takes a big detour, the Nimitz CSG will navigate past China’s artificial islands in the East and South China Seas in order to get to the Korean Peninsula. We know this because the Navy’s press release makes clear the Nimitz is sailing from the Middle East and asserts that the CSG “will be ready to support operations throughout the [Western Pacific area of operations].” Seeing as North Korea is the primary threat contingency in that area, we should assume the Nimitz will head towards the peninsula.

The Nimitz transit route will translated in Beijing as: “if you don’t help us with North Korea, we are going to escalate against your interests.”

Yet Trump himself is also crucial here.

That’s because President Trump’s public skepticism about diplomacy lends threat credibility to this CSG posture. Under Trump’s authority, the international community cannot assume these CSGs are just for show. At the strategic level, Trump’s potential to move the diplomatic needle rests in external perceptions that he will use military force absent that movement. Again, this is especially important in Beijing, which is reflexively predisposed against making concessions to the United States.

Don’t get me wrong, I recognize that sending three CSGs into potential conflict zones isn’t without risk. Still, considering that we only have a few months to reach a diplomatic agreement with North Korea, a show of muscle with these deployments is the right call.

Put simply, Trump must roll the dice, and CSGs roll well.

Military options strengthening Trump’s diplomatic hand with North Korea?

October 9, 2017

Military options strengthening Trump’s diplomatic hand with North Korea? Fox News via YouTube, October 9, 2017

(Please see also, Britain leaks battle planning for war North Korea. — DM)

 

China’s North Korea conundrum

October 6, 2017

China’s North Korea conundrum, The Hindu, October 6, 2017

(We dance around in a ring and suppose,
But the secret sits in the middle and knows. — Robert Frost. — DM)

A file photo of a missile during a military parade in Pyongyang. | Photo Credit: AP

With tensions between the U.S. and North Korea running high and relations between Beijing and Pyongyang at a historic low, questions are being raised about how China might respond in the event of a regime collapse. The scene along the China-North Korea border in the wild mountains of northeast Asia provides some clues.

Despite a dearth of traffic and trade, construction crews are at work on a six-lane highway to the border outside the small Chinese city of Ji’an along the Tumen River, a corridor that could facilitate the rapid movement of tanks and troops.

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Questions are being raised about how it will respond to a regime collapse

Securing North Korea’s missile launchers and nuclear, chemical and biological weapons sites would likely be a chief priority for China in the event of a major crisis involving its communist neighbor, analysts say, although Beijing so far is keeping mum on any plans.

Despite China’s official silence, its People’s Liberation Army likely has a “vast array” of contingency plans involving military options, said Dean Cheng, an Asia security expert at the Heritage Foundation think tank in Washington.

The PLA and paramilitary People’s Armed Police could also be deployed to deal with refugees and possible civil unrest, he said.

What’s less clear is whether and under what conditions China would commit troops as an occupying force should North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s regime fall apart, Mr. Cheng said. “We can hypothesise that they might, but, as the observation goes, those who know don’t say and those who say probably don’t know,” he said.

With tensions between the U.S. and North Korea running high and relations between Beijing and Pyongyang at a historic low, questions are being raised about how China might respond in the event of a regime collapse. The scene along the China-North Korea border in the wild mountains of northeast Asia provides some clues.

Despite a dearth of traffic and trade, construction crews are at work on a six-lane highway to the border outside the small Chinese city of Ji’an along the Tumen River, a corridor that could facilitate the rapid movement of tanks and troops.

Strategic choice

Guard posts, barbed wire-topped fences and checkpoints manned by armed paramilitary troops mark the frontier along the border signs of concern about potentially violent border crossers or even more serious security threats.

China’s unwillingness to discuss its plans is likely a strategic choice by the notoriously secretive PLA, but potentially threatens unintended consequences were a major crisis to emerge, experts say. Asked about Chinese preparations for a North Korean crisis, defense ministry spokesman Col. Wu Qian offered assurance but no details at a monthly news briefing on Thursday.

North Korea’s New Internet Link to Russia May Signal Fear of China Leaving Kim Jong Un in the Dark

October 3, 2017

North Korea’s New Internet Link to Russia May Signal Fear of China Leaving Kim Jong Un in the Dark, Newsweek,  , October 2, 2017

One of Russia’s leading telecommunications companies has reportedly secured a contract with one of the world’s most exclusive buyers: North Korea.

TransTeleKom, a conglomerate operated by Russia’s state-owned railroad company that boasts one of the biggest fiber optics networks on Earth, has begun providing internet service to Russia’s reclusive neighbor, according to a report by North Korea monitoring group 38 North. The move was uncovered as the U.S. leads an international campaign to isolate North Korea diplomatically and economically over leader Kim Jong Un’s refusal to abandon his nuclear and ballistic weapons programs.

With U.S. pressure mounting on China, North Korea’s greatest ally and owner of what was previously its only point of access to the internet, Pyongyang may have reached out to Moscow for fear that Beijing would cave to Washington’s interests, said Martyn Williams, who runs the North Korea Tech blog and authored the 38 North report.

“I’m sure the North Koreans saw the pressure on China and realized they could lose the existing link at any moment,” Williams told Newsweek.

North Korean children learn to use the computer in a primary school on April 2, 2011 in Pyongyang, North Korea. The relatively few number of Internet users in North Korea reportedly got a huge boost October 1, 2017, when Russia’s TransTeleKom provided the country with its second major line of Internet access. FENG LI/GETTY IMAGES

Using information gathered by internet routing databases, Williams was able to determine that the new connection first appeared just after 5 a.m. ET Sunday, which would have been seen in Pyongyang on Sunday evening. TransTeleKom, which is believed to have reached North Korea via the Friendship Bridge that links it to Russia, joins China’s state-owned Unicom as the only companies providing web access to a country of 25 million people, but one with few internet users.

The state wields near absolute control over the flow of information in North Korea, and internet access is generally limited to universities, major companies, foreigners with smartphones, government departments and the military’s cyberwarfare division. By bolstering the country’s bandwidth with a new international provider, Williams said it’s possible that North Korea may have just made its internet stronger and faster than ever before.

Since taking power after his father’s death in 2011, Kim Jong Un has continued his predecessor’s legacy of modernizing the country’s technology sector, including the expansion of the cellular network, distance learning systems and integrated circuit cards for banking and public transportation, Williams said. He has also rapidly advanced its military prowess, ordering the country’s first two intercontinental ballistic missile tests in July and its sixth nuclear weapons test last month.

North Korea has argued it needs nuclear weapons to deter an invasion, but its moves have angered many foreign countries. President Donald Trump and Kim have engaged in an escalating stand-off of insults and threats in recent months, and the Republican leader ordered a direct cyber assault on hackers tied to North Korea on Saturday, The Washington Post reported.

From left: The flags of Russia, China and North Korea on a viewing tower on the border between the three countries in Hunchun, in China’s northeast Jilin province, on June 25, 2015. China sided more closely with Russia than the U.S. on the North Korea nuclear crisis, but Beijing has taken action to punish Pyongyang over its nuclear program. GREG BAKER/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

TransTeleKom was not immediately available to speak when reached for comment by Newsweek, but a company spokesperson told The Financial Times Monday that the Russian firm “has historically had a backbone network interface with North Korea under an agreement with Korea Posts and Telecommunications Corp. struck in 2009.”

While China has opted to side more closely with Russia than the U.S. in the ongoing nuclear crisis between Pyongyang and Washington, Beijing has abided with U.S.-led sanctions at the U.N. China’s Ministry of Commerce announced Thursday that all North Korean businesses would have to close within 120 days in accordance with the latest sanctions adopted September 11 by the U.N. Security Council, and scores of North Korean workers have begun leaving the country, Reuters reported Monday.

Trump is Right, Tillerson is Wasting His Time on North Korea

October 2, 2017

Trump is Right, Tillerson is Wasting His Time on North Korea, Power LinePaul Mirengoff, October 2, 2017

(Please see also, China openly discussing collapse of North Korea. — DM)

If there is any hope of changing North Korea’s behavior, it rests not with Tillerson’s diplomacy or with the direct effect of threatening Kim Jong Un. Rather, it rests with China acting out of self-interest.

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A day after Secretary of State Tillerson said he was reaching out to North Korea in hopes of starting a new dialogue, President Trump belittled the idea. He tweeted:

I told Rex Tillerson, our wonderful Secretary of State, that he is wasting his time trying to negotiate with Little Rocket Man. Save your energy Rex, we’ll do what has to be done!

Trump is right. North Korea isn’t going to negotiate away its nuclear arsenal and it’s not going to freeze its nuclear program until the program has the capacity to inflict the level of damage Kim Jong Un deems necessary to deter the U.S. — namely the capacity to hit major U.S. cities.

Michael Green, President George W. Bush’s chief Asia adviser, acknowledged that “the president is right on this one in the sense that Pyongyang is clear it will not put nuclear weapons on the negotiating table, nor will the current level of sanctions likely convince them to do so. . . .”

The incoherence of Tillerson’s approach is underscored by this incoherent statement by Sen. Bob Corker:

I think that there’s more going on than meets the eye. I think Tillerson understands that every intelligence agency we have says there’s no amount of economic pressure you can put on North Korea to get them to stop this program because they view this as their survival.

If no amount of economic pressure can induce North Korea to stop its nuclear program because of its centrality to the regime’s survival, then what are the likely outcomes of Tillerson negotiating with the regime? The likely outcomes are (1) no agreement or (2) acceptance of North Korea continuing its program, in effect on North Korean terms.

These have been the outcomes of past U.S. diplomacy with North Korea. As Trump tweeted: “Being nice to Rocket Man hasn’t worked in 25 years, why would it work now?”

The question remains, though, why did Trump publicly undercut his Secretary of State on Twitter. According to reports, the president was furious at Tillerson for contradicting his public position that now is not the time for talks. That seems like reason enough for the president’s tweeting. It may be reason enough to sack Tillerson.

Some have suggested that Trump is attempting a good cop, bad cop approach to Kim Jong Un. It seems to be true that the North Koreans are mightily confused by conflicting signals coming from Washington. According to a number of sources, they are frantically talking to American sources in an attempt to understand the true intentions of the Trump administration. And Trump has often touted the advantages of keeping our adversaries uncertain about his intentions.

It’s far from clear, however, that this is the right approach in the context of a fledgling nuclear power led by an inexperienced ruler about whom we don’t know much. My guess is that Trump’s rhetoric will unsettle North Korea, but is no more likely than Tillerson’s diplomacy to deter it from expanding its nuclear program.

At the same time, it will not prompt Kim Jong Un to start a war he otherwise doesn’t want, as Trump’s critics suggest might happen. Where’s the advantage to the regime in that?

If one is inclined to view Trump’s rhetoric as rationally calculated to achieve a positive purpose, I think that purpose would be to influence China. If China believes Trump might launch a preemptive attack on North Korea, it might apply a stranglehold on the regime, especially if it also sees South Korea and Japan possibly moving towards developing a nuclear arsenal.

If there is any hope of changing North Korea’s behavior, it rests not with Tillerson’s diplomacy or with the direct effect of threatening Kim Jong Un. Rather, it rests with China acting out of self-interest.