Tag: nuclear

North Korea: Dead in the Water

By Joe Brown | United States

Imagine living in a world where every day is your last. Waking up each morning knowing you have numberless hordes of rockets pointed at you. Imagine living under the smoking barrel of a gun, or sleeping on a bomb, knowing that at any moment your entire existence could be reduced to a smoldering pile of nothing.

Imagine looking into the eyes of death…and yawning.

As unbelievable as this sounds, that is exactly what life is like when living in the Korean Peninsula. Welcome to the world where war is as trite as your morning cup of coffee, and the threat of nuclear annihilation is as natural as the rising of the sun.

Due to recent developments in the realm of diplomacy, many now consider with hope the possibility of a unified and peaceful Korea. But with a less than favorable track record and warhawks running foreign affairs, many question the United State’s role in garnering peace in the region, and still the greater question remains:

Can peace ever be achieved in Korea?

Despite what you may have heard in middle school, Korea was divided before the Korean War. Years of Japanese rule came to an end with the Second World War, with treaties delegating the North to Soviet forces, while the South remained under Western control before the invasion that triggered the conflict in 1950. Unlike its German counterpart who eventually united under a single democratic government, the Korean War is still technically at war to this day, leaving the people of Korea with more of a question mark than a happy ending.

After nearly 70 years of perpetual tension and complete separation between the two countries, diplomatic strides are causing some to regain hope for peace in the region. The Chinese government confirmed that earlier this week a meeting was held between Chinese President Xi Jinping and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, in which, the latter promised to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

The pledge comes after months of heightened tensions regarding North Korea’s escalating nuclear program, which included the testing of multiple warheads with nuclear capabilities. Although the announcement was welcomed by most, many wonder how China was able to reach such a solution with a country the rest of the world generally considered uncompromising.

The thought that such an agreement can be made without threatening military action, applying economic sanctions, or paying off government officials may come as a shock to an American, but victims of American “negotiating” would testify otherwise.

The failure of American diplomacy isn’t anything new, and it certainly didn’t start with Korea. If anything, the modern United States was built upon broken promises, dishonest pacts, and shredded treaties. Whether it’s the hundreds of formal agreements made with Native Americans, the recent rejection of American efforts to preside over peace talks between Israel and Palestine, or Roosevelt’s infamous “Speak Softly and Carry a Big Stick” policy, peaceful and effective negotiations have never been America’s strong suit.

What’s the point in talking if you have the bigger gun, right?

The world needs leaders who are willing to compromise, rather than leaders who can’t take their fingers off the trigger.

Besides. No one can hear you if you speak softly, and you don’t need a big stick if your ideology is worth anything.

Michael Flynn, a retired U.S. Army Lieutenant General and former National Security Advisor, famously commented on American affairs abroad, saying:

“We’ve invested in conflict, not solutions….”

Even a man who many would consider hawkish recognizes that if peace is what the U.S. is really looking for, its actions aren’t backing up its claim. In fact, if you took a closer look at the American track record concerning nuclear weapons, you would see that tensions such as those in North Korea exist because of so called “peace efforts” rather than despite them.

We don’t have to go any farther than this past year to find evidence of American efforts to undermine diplomacy. John Bolton, the newly appointed National Security Advisor with a knack for warmongering, has long opposed peaceful resolution in Iran, repeatedly stressing that regime change is the only real option in the country, (nevermind the fact that American supported regime change is what got Iran where it is now in the first place).

During a conference call with AIPAC, the most influential Israeli lobby in the U.S., Bolton revealed the true darkness of his strategy when he expressed frustration with Iranian compliance with international law. Iran has been a member of the non-proliferation treaty since its conception in 1968, and as such, its inventory, facilities, and nuclear infrastructure are subject to regular inspections from the International Atomic Energy Agency. Bolton, knowing that Iran had agreed to the rules set by international entities, vehemently advocated for crippling sanctions against Iran in order to trigger the country into withdrawing from the treaty. Bolton planned on using this reaction as justification to invade Iran, to overthrow the government. As Bolton said himself during the call:

“They have not…withdrawn from the non proliferation treaty or thrown out IAEA inspectors which I actually hoped they would do, as that reaction would produce a counter-reaction.”

Bolton is essentially saying: “How am I supposed to justify an invasion if I can’t credibly accuse them of harboring weapons of mass destruction?”

Sound familiar?

America followed an almost identical formula to justify regime change in Iraq, even after Saddam Hussein invited chemical weapons inspectors from the U.N. to prove his country had no plans to use WMD’s. In order to preserve the false narrative that justified the invasion, John Bolton illegally exercised his influence to get the Chairman of the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons fired in 2002, in what the United Nations’ highest administrative tribunal later condemned as an “unacceptable violation” of principles protecting international civil servants. His actions sent a clear message to the global community: The United States doesn’t accept dissident opinions.

This has grim consequences in the realm of negotiation.

Even as significant steps in diplomacy bring us closer to peace than we’ve ever been before, similar strategies have been used against North Korea in attempts to sabotage peace efforts. To the career politicians and lobbyists on capitol hill, an end to the conflict means losing the Korean War.

The recent strikes in Syria pose an additional threat to global security, as they jeopardize America’s fragile position as peacemakers in North Korea. With the groundbreaking talks between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korea’s Kim Jong-Un scheduled to happen within a month, many speculate that attacking one of the closest allies of Kim Jong-Un’s regime cripples America’s ability to negotiate. Simon Jenkins, one of Britain’s most acclaimed authors, notes that western patterns of opposition such as air strikes and economics sanctions act as an “elixir” that empowers dictatorships, spoils public image, and that promotes independence from domestic markets. All of which actually do more to support authoritarian regimes and contribute to a robust political and economic environment in which the U.S. has no power or influence.

Kim Jong Un is motivated by a desire to maintain power. He recognizes that the possession of nuclear weapons may be one of the only ways under the sun to prevent American aggression, and his administration has repeatedly stated that their nuclear weapons program would be suspended if they felt safe to do so.

As unpopular as the rocket man may be, Kim Jong Un paid attention in history class.

He knows what happened to Ukraine after the breakup of the Soviet Union, when regional leaders surrendered over 2,000 nuclear weapons in exchange for territorial autonomy. Following the deal, Ukraine would be invaded by Russian forces, and Crimea would be annexed.

He knows the only thing that preserved peace during the Cold War was the grim concept of mutually assured destruction

He knows that the complete lack of WMD’s still wasn’t enough to prevent an invasion in Iraq, and that the U.S. wouldn’t be bombing Syria if Assad possessed nuclear weapons.

Love him or hate him, the Supreme Leader has some legitimate concerns.

The problem isn’t that we’re dealing with a bully with a bad haircut who threatens other countries with nuclear weapons. The problem is that you didn’t know if I was talking about the Korean dictator, or the U.S. President.

By all means, hope for peace. But don’t be surprised by empty promises, broken treaties, and failed agreements. Whether by diplomatic incompetence or dark design, national interests have always been more important than peace.

Rather than asking: “Is peace attainable?” we should be asking: “Was peace ever even a priority?”

Of course peace is attainable. The real question isn’t whether or not peace is possible. The question is whether or not the current administration, or any administration for that matter, is willing or capable of garnering that peace.

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Japan is Strengthening its Defense Arsenal Amid North Korean Weapon Tests

By Vaughn Hoisington | JAPAN

In an attempt to increase national security against the threat of North Korea’s missiles and nuclear program, Japan’s Defense Ministry has requested an additional 730 million yen ($6.4 million) to be added to the initial budget for 2018. The budget was already their highest ever, at ¥5.26 trillion ($47.6 billion), with an increase of 2.5 percent from last year’s initial budget.

The addition to the budget will be used to scout potential land-based sites in Akita and Yamaguchi Prefectures to deploy Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, which are believed to be the defense system Japan will purchase two of, with a portion of their originally requested budget. These units cost around ¥80 billion ($728 million) and were originally planned to be deployed in 2023, but the Japanese Government is allocating ¥2.1 billion ($18 million) from its supplementary budget to accelerate preparation for the development of missile defense complexes.

With Aegis Ashore missile-defense units, Japan’s missile defense system would become three-tiered. Japan’s current two-tiered system involves “ships armed with SM-3 interceptor missiles, which must knock down a ballistic missile on the middle part of its trajectory. If this is not done, the second level of missile defense will be deployed using the Patriot PAC-3, which must intercept the missile at the final stage of its flight.”

Along with plans to purchase Aegis Ashore missile-defense units from the U.S., the Defense Ministry will seek to use the budget to develop an improved anti-stealth radar system that can distinguish ballistic missiles that are more difficult to detect and improve detection capabilities on the Japan Aerospace Defense Ground Environment automatic alert control system. Japan’s Defense Ministry also plans to purchase six F-35A stealth fighters, maintain facilities on the southwestern island of Okinawa Prefecture for units of the Self-Defense Forces, and study the development of high-speed glide bombs with the remaining amount of the budget.

71 Republic Person of the Year: Kim Jong Un

By Andrew Zirkle|USA

Somewhere, deep in a land fortress implanted in the far East of the world, is a man with his hands on a trigger. This man, so isolated from all, yet known by so many, has used this year to captivate an audience, build his power, and prepare his trigger finger for the ultimate decision. Kim Jong Un has single-handedly made the earth tremble, both figuratively and literally, by presenting a nuclear threat of a magnitude unseen since the 1960’s. This year, the leader of North Korea has shown an intense desire to shift American and Western attention from the Middle East to the Far East through aggressive threats and a new wave of missile and payload performance tests that have kept the defenders of democracy in Asia awake throughout all of 2017. Before this year, Kim Jong Un struggled to share the spotlight with other world threats. However, with the downfall of ISIS as a major threat combined with a surge in Korean nuclear capabilities, he has managed to give his threatening regime much more attention from South Korea, Japan, the United States and even China.

Kim began the year with a threat that fell on deaf ears. In a thirty-minute television speech on New Years Day, 2017, Kim personally delivered a message that North Korea was approaching the apex of nuclear technology, with a long-range intercontinental ballistic missile to be ready soon. Kim made a New Years resolution that his country would “translate the people’s ideas and dreams into brilliant reality on this land,” a promise that fell apart as the regime aggressively pursued nuclear hellfire ahead of the welfare of the country, pushing its citizens to the brink of starvation.

Kim began to make good on his threats starting in February, when on the 11th, North Korea tested a Pukguksong-2 medium/long-range missile, a test which prompted concern from Japanese President Shinzo Abe, who was meeting with President Donald Trump during the launch. Kim followed this fairly routine missile test with something much

Image: FILES-NKOREA-KIM
Jim Jong Nam

more ambitious. On February 13th, Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Kim Jong Nam was found dead at a Malaysian airport, later found to be assassinated by DPRK operatives using nerve gas. This calculated killing of his half-brother showed that Kim was now willing to do anything to solidify his position as the supreme leader [of the DPRK] and prevent any political challenges so that he could operate more freely through the rest of the year. The assassination provoked a concerned response from the international community, including accusations from the South Korean government that the assassination of the fairer brother was “an intolerable crime against humanity and terrorist act.”  Just weeks after these two February incidents, China announced that they would be banning all coal exports to North Korea, a decision that would have severe financial ramifications for both countries.

 

Despite creating a heightened tension in the international community, Kim Jong Un and the DPRK continued upping the ante by firing four ballistic missiles into Japanese waters on March 6th, testing a rocket engine designed for ICBM use on the 20th, and launching a failed missile test towards the end of the month. Kim continued his provocations into April, firing 3 more ballistic missiles as tests throughout the month and showing off new ICBMs and other military technology in a military parade. The United States tried to calm tensions throughout the month by taking part in joint exercises with South Korea and Japan, as well as engaging in talks with China. However, the US response came to an abrupt stop, after a carrier strike force group that was said to be headed for the peninsula as a show of force never showed up.

As tensions began to heat up in the Korean peninsula, the US finally had achieved concrete success through the installation of the THAAD missile defense system, that despite receiving heavy criticism from China, finally was installed in South Korea for its protection from a nuclear strike. Nevertheless, North Korea continued their unprecedented volume of tests, with more missile launches occurring in May on the 14th, the 26th, and the 29th. Following a busy month by Kim and the DPRK, the UN Security Council voted unanimously on June 2nd to introduce some of the toughest international sanctions on any country ever, further pressuring North Korea and endangering their progress towards a nuclear weapon. The situation between Kim Jong Un and his enemies escalated, after an American prisoner and college student, Otto Warmbier, was returned to the United States in such a state of medical neglect that he died days after returning home. Kim Jong Un pushed the envelope even more when on July 4th, on American Independence day, he ordered the test of the Hwasong-14, an ICBM

Hwasong-14-missileTA2-807438520
Hwasong-14 Missile

that most experts agree could strike most of the United States. Another successful long-range test on the 28th of July confirmed the opinion of many defense officials that North Korea was now capable of hitting cities in the United States as far inland as Denver and Chicago. Rhetoric reached a height on the 8th of September, with Donald Trump vowing that North Korean nuclear threats would be met with “fire and fury,” a threat that was directly countered by a North Korean threat to fire ballistic missiles at the US territory of Guam in the next month. Despite not attacking Guam, Kim did authorize another missile test on the 29th of September, one that flew so close to Japan that anti-missile sirens were activated. Testing and threats reached their pinnacle on the 3rd of September when after high volumes of missile tests, the DPRK tested a hydrogen bomb. The bomb, which had a yield of 120kT and produced a magnitude 6.3 earthquake, caused a flurry of responses from world leaders, with some like Vladimir Putin and various state department officials stating the time for dialogue with North Korea was useless and would not help the situation. North Korea has restrained themselves only slightly after September, with only 2 missile tests occurring since then. With the slowing down of missile tests, horror stories have been pouring out of North Korea displaying the dire conditions of hunger and radioactive poisoning that the citizens face under the Kim regime. The month of November was then capitalized by the successful escape of a DPRK soldier over the demilitarized zone and into South Korea, despite being shot multiple times during his escape.

Although there has only been one missile test in the last two months, Kim Jong Un has left his personal mark in 2017. A year, that otherwise would have been capitalized by the victory over ISIS, has been marred by the countless tests and empty threats by the Kim regime. Although it may not be apparent, Kim Jong Un now sits upon a foundation of instability, with UN sanctions spreading resources thinner and unrest at an all-time high The nation that Kim Il Sung built decades ago is now only held together by the momentum of its nuclear program and the threat it poses to international security. Kim Jong Un is now on the cusp of history. Will he strike the democracies of the East and the United States with unrelenting nuclear fire? Or will his exhausted state fade back into obscurity under international pressure? This is a question with an answer that is dependent on the one most important man of the year, the one still hiding in his fortress of Pyongyang. Until Kim himself makes the hard decision, he will remain alone, isolated and with the fate of the world in his hands, his hands wrapped around a trigger.

(Note: This is not an endorsement of North Korean policy or the Kim regime)

Why War With North Korea Simply Won’t Happen

By Griffen Smith | NORTH KOREA

 

In the last month, North Korea has launched multiple missile tests. Some of them went over Japan airspace, though all of them eventually went into the ocean. However, all come with condemnation from the United States and their allies. United States President Donald Trump says there will be “fire and fury” as retaliation in the case of any missile attacks from the small communist nation. US media has further escalated the issue, vividly describing the death and destruction that would ensue from these wars if they ever took place.

Unfortunately for them, there will never be a nuclear war to report on.

The possession of nuclear weapons, as explained by philosopher William Gay, actually discourages countries from war. In his paper titled “Apocalyptic thinking versus nonviolent action,” taking into account the use of a nuclear arsenal in potential conflicts actually decreases violence. In fact, he explains that in the numerous conflicts between countries in the 20th century, almost all countries used nonviolent modes of aggression. The reason countries are not convening in blatant warfare is because these countries possess the ability to destroy one another in less than an hour. Examples of the concept of mutually assured destruction (or MAD) can be seen in the Cold war, and now Korean tensions. This can also be seen today with the US putting sanctions on nuclear countries such as Russia, Iran, and North Korea.

What the media will not tell you is that nuclear weapons in the present are simply used for leverage, not for war. There has not been a single nuclear or even conventional war between two countries that have weapons of mass destruction. Yes, nuclear war has happened once. World War II holds the title as the only time conventional nuclear weapons were actually utilized. However, if Japan had developed the capability to launch nuclear weapons, the attacks on Hiroshima and Nagasaki most likely would not have taken place for fear of retaliation. The doctrine of mutually assured destruction is what drives this philosophy of nonviolence. MAD explains how if both nations in any instance have nuclear weapons, then both will not fire because nuclear war is simply unwinnable. Simply put, “whoever shoots first, dies second.”

Lastly, journalists arguing that North Korea is different from past nuclear aggressors don’t take into account how the North Korean regime has threatened the world for decades. It all started in 1994 when a North Korean negotiator threatened to turn Seoul into “a sea of fire.” Since then a campaign if aggressive rhetoric has been coming from Pyongyang as well as America. For example, George Bush calling North Korea the “Axis of evil” in 2002. The Korean crisis is, at least at this moment, all bark, no bite. Furthermore, if Kim Jong Un wants a preserved North Korea, the last thing he would do would be to attack the most powerful military in the world, even with non-nuclear weapons.

So when looking at this threat of a supposed World War III with North Korea, one must look at what the media refuses to mention. Nuclear war is not feasible without complete destruction of the countries that participate in it, along with the rest of the world. Moreover, Nuclear weapons actually prevent violence through MAD. This is why there will not be a nuclear war in the near future, or as long as nuclear missiles are the pinnacle of military technology around the world.