Posted tagged ‘Obama and North Korea’

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea

March 17, 2017

‘Strategic Patience’ Is Over: Tillerson Floats Military Action in North Korea, Breitbart, Frances Martel, March 17, 2017

(Might Secretary Tillerson also have intended to give a “hint” to The Islamic Republic of Iran? — DM)

SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA – MARCH 17: (L to R) U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson shakes hands with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se during a press conference on March 17, 2017 in Seoul, South Korea. (Photo by Song Kyung-Seok-Pool/Getty Images)

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told reporters in Seoul on Friday that the Trump administration is open to military action against North Korea as a last resort, and that the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience has ended.”

“The policy of strategic patience has ended. We are exploring a new range of diplomatic, security and economic measures. All options are on the table,” Tillerson told reporters at a press conference with South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se. “If North Korea takes actions that threaten South Korean forces or our own forces, that will be met with an appropriate response.”

“If they elevate the threats of their weapons program to the level that we believe requires action, that option is on the table,” Tillerson added. He emphasized that the United States would attempt to avoid to the extent possible any military actions against North Korea, particularly those that may put North Korean civilian lives in danger. “We hope that that will persuade North Korea to take a different course of action. That’s our desire,” Tillerson concluded.

Tillerson also took the opportunity to once again call for China to take on a larger role in containing North Korea’s escalating belligerence and objected to China cutting economic ties with South Korea over the deployment of the America Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system. “While we acknowledge Chinese opposition, its economic retaliation against South Korea is inappropriate and troubling. We ask China to refrain from such actions. Instead, we urge China to address the threat that makes that necessary,” Tillerson said.

Tillerson is currently in the middle of a three-nation trip to Asia, having left Japan on Thursday and scheduled to meet with leaders in China on Saturday.

The Secretary of State’s remarks regarding potential military action against North Korea follow remarks in Japan that emphasized a “different approach” to the rogue government in Pyongyang. “Part of the purpose of my visit to the region is to exchange views on a new approach,” Tillerson noted on Friday in a press conference with his Japanese counterpart, Foreign Minister Fumio Kishida.

The Trump administration has hinted at a change in America’s approach towards Pyongyang in other venues, as well. Earlier this month, UN Ambassador Nikki Haley told reporters in New York that the White House is “not ruling anything out” to keep North Korea from developing and using nuclear weapons. Haley described the THAAD system as a necessary response to Pyongyang’s insistence on violating UN sanctions with missile launches that could threaten Japan and South Korea. “We are not going to leave South Korea standing there with the threat of North Korea facing them and not help. The reason for THAAD is because of the actions of North Korea,” she said in response to Chinese and Russian opposition.

Following Tillerson’s remarks Friday, President Trump himself issued a warning to North Korea on Twitter:

Tillerson’s message towards China was also similar in Japan: as its largest trading partner, take a more prominent role in containing North Korea. “We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for,” he said. Anticipating Tillerson’s visit, Chinese Premier Li Keqiang told reporters Wednesday he was “optimistic about the future of China-US relations” and anticipated a positive outcome from Tillerson’s visit. President Donald Trump is reportedly working with Chinese officials to plan a U.S. visit by President Xi Jinping next month.

These statements represent a nearly complete shift away from what former Secretary of State and twice-failed presidential candidate Hillary Clinton described as “strategic patience“: a policy of waiting for the North Korean economy to implode and Pyongyang finding itself no longer able to afford to ignore UN sanctions and the rejection of the international community. This policy largely failed because China continued to trade with North Korea, providing the fellow communist regime a vital lifeline.

The response in Seoul to the new, robust U.S. policy is largely divided along partisan lines, according to the South Korean news agency Yonhap. Conservative leaders have expressed gratitude for Tillerson’s strong support for their country. “We highly appreciate his comments as he expressed a strong willingness to respond to North Korea’s reckless behavior,” Liberty Korea Party spokesman Rep. Choung Tae-ok told Yonhap.

One left-wing leader, in contrast, told Yonhap: “We are supporting the U.S.’s move to strengthen the effectiveness of sanctions against the North through cooperation with relevant countries, but we cannot help expressing concerns about the U.S. stance that there will be no dialogue until North Korea gives up (nuclear weapons).”

North Korea appears to have responded to Tillerson’s presence in the region with the publication of a “human rights white paper” condemning the United States as a serial violator of human rights, condemning the presidential election itself as a human rights violation against the American people and labeling the nation a “human rights desert.”

The Audacity of Silence On Possible Iran-North Korea Nuclear Ties

December 16, 2016

The Audacity of Silence On Possible Iran-North Korea Nuclear Ties, Canada Free Press, , December 15, 2016

(Does the unwritten, never-produced or otherwise verified Khamenei “fatwa” against nukes — but not against missiles to deliver them —  upon which Obama, Kerry et al relied apply to North Korea? — DM)

If the silent officials of the Obama administration are confident that there has been no nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea, it’s time to put that assessment in writing and send it to Cruz. If, on the other hand, Clapper, Kerry, Lew or Obama himself have any information that points to nuclear collaboration, it’s past time to inform Cruz, the rest of Congress and the American public of the staggering extent of the radioactive debacle they are about to hand off to President-elect Donald Trump, under the heading of Obama’s legacy Iran nuclear deal.

************************

It’s now more than eight weeks since Senator Ted Cruz sent a letter to three senior officials of the Obama administration, detailing his concerns that North Korea and Iran might be working together on developing nuclear missiles.

In particular, Cruz had a question for Director of National Intelligence James Clapper. Referring to the period since the Iran nuclear deal took effect on Jan. 16, Cruz asked: “Has the U.S. intelligence community observed any possible nuclear collaboration between Iran and North Korea…”?

That’s one of the huge questions looming behind the Iran nuclear deal, officially titled the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, which President Obama has been urging President-elect Donald Trump to preserve.

It’s a question that deserves an immediate answer. If there has been any such nuclear teamwork between Tehran and rogue, nuclear-testing Pyongyang, that would be a violation by Iran that should immediately blow up the Iran deal — which the Obama White House currently touts on its web site as “The Historic Deal that Will Prevent Iran from Acquiring a Nuclear Weapon.”

Questions about possible Iran-North Korea teamwork on nuclear weapons are well-founded, as Cruz explained in his seven-page letter, referencing numerous open-source reports (including two of my own). North Korea and Iran have been strategic allies since just after Iran’s 1979 Islamic revolution. They have a long history of weapons deals, in which the usual arrangement has been that North Korea works on the weapons, oil-rich Iran pays the bills, and technicians shuttle between both countries.

While there’s been no official U.S. confirmation that this Iran-North Korea partnership extends to nuclear collaboration, there’s plenty of official U.S. documentation that it includes cooperation on developing ballistic missiles. That has long raised questions about whether the two countries are also in nuclear cahoots, because ballistic missiles are basically cost-efficient only as vehicles for delivering nuclear warheads.

And though it could be mere coincidence, it is striking that during the past year, in which Iran — to multi-billion dollar emolument — has officially relinquished any interest in nuclear weapons, cash-hungry North Korea has never been busier. North Korea has carried out two nuclear tests this year alone, in January and September, bringing its total number of nuclear tests to five since 2006, four of them during Obama’s presidency.

Over many years, North Korea and Iran have both carried out numerous ballistic missile tests, including multiple tests by both countries since the Iran nuclear deal took effect this January. That raises the question of why Iran, having promised not to make nuclear weapons, continues to pour resources into testing ballistic missiles. If not for nuclear weapons, then for what? One obvious question is whether North Korea’s nuclear program might be secretly doubling as a nuclear backshop for Iran.

Cruz, in his letter, raised specific worries about North Korea’s test this September of a powerful new rocket booster, which according to North Korean state media had a thrust of 80 tons — enough power to carry “a heavier, or less-minaturized nuclear warhead to the United States.” That happens to be exactly the same amount of thrust referenced in a Jan. 17 Treasury press release that mentioned the excursions of “Iranian missile technicians,” who “within the past several years” have “traveled to North Korea to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government.”

Cruz asked Treasury Secretary Jack Lew to confirm that the capability of North Korea’s new rocket engine, tested in September, was the same as that of the North Korean rocket on which Iranian technicians had been working in North Korea.

Cruz also had some questions for Secretary of State John Kerry, including “What penalties do you plan to announce against Iran in light of its JCPOA violations?” He also wanted to know, “What is the United States doing to ensure that the $1.7 billion paid to Iran in cash earlier this year is not used to finance nuclear weapons research in North Korea?”

From all these Administration officials, Cruz requested answers no later than Nov. 1. To date, according to his staff, he has received no answers at all.

State and Treasury have not even extended the courtesy of acknowledging the letter. From Clapper’s office, at National Intelligence, came a message in October, saying they had received the letter, and would respond. They have not.

That’s an alarming silence. For years, Obama administration officials have dodged questions about possible Iran-North Korea nuclear teamwork by reciting the talking point that any signs of such cooperation would be cause for serious concern. Now it seems Administration officials are skirting even that customary evasion. Why?

My own queries to State, Treasury and National Intelligence, asking why they had not answered Cruz, ran into the same blank walls. State and Treasury made no response. National Intelligence emailed back on Dec. 6 only to say that they had received Cruz’s letter, and “are working to respond as soon as possible.”

Obama’s administration has racked up a record that suggests silence on Iran-related issues is not a good sign. Back in January, when Obama celebrated a $1.7 billion settlement of an old financial dispute with Iran, a number of lawmakers wrote to the Administration asking for details of this transaction, and whether it was a ransom for Iran’s release of American prisoners.

The Administration took weeks to provide even partial replies, denied paying ransom and omitted entirely the manner in which the $1.7 billion had been dispatched to Iran. It took more than six months for Congress and the press to eke out of the Administration the information that the entire $1.7 billion, converted into European hard currency, had been paid to Iran in stacks of cash — hard to trace and convenient chiefly for illicit purposes — with the first installment of $400 million conveyed, ransom-style, on the same day as the prisoner release, and held in Geneva until the airplane carrying the released American prisoners was on its way out of Iran.

For the Obama administration, invested in the Iran nuclear deal as one of Obama’s signature legacies, there is tremendous temptation to ignore or bury any evidence that Iran is cheating. There is also enormous incentive to downplay another of Obama’s legacies: the dramatic enhancement, since he took office in 2009, of the nuclear arsenal and proficiency of North Korea, now honing its increasingly powerful missiles, beefing up its stockpile of nuclear fuel, and preparing for its sixth nuclear test.

If the silent officials of the Obama administration are confident that there has been no nuclear cooperation between Iran and North Korea, it’s time to put that assessment in writing and send it to Cruz. If, on the other hand, Clapper, Kerry, Lew or Obama himself have any information that points to nuclear collaboration, it’s past time to inform Cruz, the rest of Congress and the American public of the staggering extent of the radioactive debacle they are about to hand off to President-elect Donald Trump, under the heading of Obama’s legacy Iran nuclear deal.

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

State Dept: North Korea Should Be ‘Inspired by’ Iran Nuclear Deal

April 20, 2016

State Dept: North Korea Should Be ‘Inspired by’ Iran Nuclear Deal, BreitbartJohn Hayward, April 19, 2016

(Kim must either take the deal and stop testing nukes or Obama will “respond strongly” by announcing his condemnation. What might Kim be laughing at in the photo below? — DM)

Kim Chi-un laughing at Obama

During a visit to Seoul, South Korea, Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the North Koreans should be “inspired” to give up their nuclear weapons by the deal that was struck with Iran.

“Iran made a fundamental choice. It decided to freeze and roll back its nuclear program and allow inspectors to come in and create the time and space to see if we could agree a comprehensive agreement,” said Blinken, as reported by Reuters. About North Korea, he stated: “It’s our hope that the DPRK will be inspired by that example.”

He went on to cite “recent diplomatic progress” with Cuba and Myanmar as evidence the United States is “willing to engage with countries like North Korea.”

“If a country, even one with which we’ve had the most profound differences, is prepared to engage seriously and credibly in answering the demands of the international community, we are also prepared to engage,” Blinken declared.

However, he insisted the U.S. would “respond strongly” if there is another North Korean nuclear test, as international observers widely suspect.

South Korean president Park Geun-hye said on Monday that activity near the North’s nuclear test site indicates another detonation may be imminent. The South Korean Defense Ministry suggested it might be an underground test of a miniaturized warhead, bringing them perilously close to mounting nukes on a ballistic missile.

“We are in a situation in which we cannot predict what provocations North Korea might conduct to break away from isolation and to consolidate the regime,” Park warned.

Army General Vincent Brooks testified to a Senate panel on Tuesday that North Korea is “struggling” with its intercontinental ballistic missile program, but he warned that “over time, I believe, we are going to see them acquire these capabilities if they are not stopped.”

North Korea’s Sanctions Loophole

February 29, 2016

North Korea’s Sanctions Loophole, Wall Street Journal, February 28, 2016

Happy KimThis undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on February 27, 2016 shows North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un smiling during the inspection of the test-fire of a newly developed anti-tank guided weapon at an undisclosed location. PHOTO: KCNA VIA KNS/AFP/GETTY IMAGES

The Obama Administration is touting the latest United Nations sanctions as a milestone against North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. We’d like to believe it too, but a close look at the draft Security Council resolution offers many reasons to doubt.

The resolution would double the number of blacklisted North Korean individuals and state entities, adding Pyongyang’s atomic-energy and space agencies. Luxury goods banned from export to North Korea would grow to include watches, yachts and snowmobiles. A ban on sales of aviation fuel targets state-owned airline Air Koryo, while a ban on sales of rocket fuel targets Kim Jong Un’s missile program.

More significant are efforts to cut Pyongyang’s access to hard currency and smuggled weapons technology. The sanctions expand the list of banned arms and dual-use goods, and they require states to inspect all cargo transiting their territory to or from North Korea by sea, air or land. They would also squeeze North Korean mineral exports, including coal and iron ore, which in 2014 accounted for 53% of Pyongyang’s $2.8 billion in exports to China, per South Korean state figures.

Overall the blacklist of North Korean proliferators is growing by only 12 individuals and 20 entities to a total of 64; the U.N.’s former blacklist on Iran was far larger at 121. In any case, none of these matter if China won’t rigorously enforce them—which it has never done.

There are other loopholes and oversights. The nominal ban on North Korean mineral exports applies only to purchases that demonstrably fund illicit activities, rather than “livelihood purposes.” Yet money is fungible, so Chinese coal purchases excused on livelihood or humanitarian grounds will still channel hundreds of millions of dollars to the regime.

The sanctions also do nothing about the Chinese oil transfers that keep the Kim regime alive. Or Chinese purchases of textiles from mostly state-run North Korean factories that have quadrupled to $741 million a year since 2010 and recently ensnared Australian surf brand Rip Curl in a supply-chain controversy. Or the 50,000-plus North Korean laborers overseas, largely in China and Russia, earning some $230 million a year for their masters in Pyongyang.

U.S. officials say China has new incentive to back sanctions because it wants to block South Korea’s recent moves to deploy the U.S.-built Thaad missile-defense system. That may be why China wants to look cooperative, but the new sanctions aren’t enough to justify walking back on Thaad. China still views the North as a political buffer against South Korea, a thorn in the side of Japan and the U.S., and a diplomatic card to play at the U.N. So China has long played a double game of rhetorically deploring North Korea’s nuclear program while propping it up in practice.

The better way to squeeze the North is closer cooperation among Washington, Seoul and Tokyo to sanction Chinese banks that facilitate trade with Pyongyang. This worked a decade ago until the Bush Administration fell for more of China’s diplomatic promises. China won’t get serious about stopping North Korea until it sees that the U.S. and its allies are serious.