Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Evening Update: "Explosive" Situation With North Korea

Russia Worried By "Explosive" North Korea Situation

Russia on Wednesday said it was worried by the "explosive" North Korea situation, saying even a simple human error could cause the crisis to spiral out of control.

"Russia has to be worried as we are talking about an explosive situation in the immediate vicinity of our Far East borders," Deputy Foreign Minister Igor Morgulov told the Interfax news agency.

Mounting tensions have seen Pyongyang threaten missile and nuclear strikes against the United States and its ally South Korea in response to UN sanctions and joint military drills.

"In the current tense atmosphere, it would only need an elementary human error or technical problem for the situation to go out of control and plunge into a critical dive," Morgulov added.

Russia shares a short border with North Korea south of Vladivostok in its Far Eastern region but in the current crisis Moscow has steered clear of overt criticism of its neighbour.

"We urge all sides to refrain from any comments or actions which could further complicate the situation," said Morgulov.

North Korea dramatically escalated its warlike rhetoric on Thursday, warning that it had authorised plans for nuclear strikes on targets in the United States.
"The moment of explosion is approaching fast," the North Korean military said, warning that war could break out "today or tomorrow".
Pyongyang's latest pronouncement came as Washington scrambled to reinforce its Pacific missile defences, preparing to send ground-based interceptors to Guam and dispatching two Aegis class destroyers to the region.
Tension was also high on the North's heavily fortified border with South Korea, after Kim Jong-Un's isolated regime barred South Koreans from entering a Seoul-funded joint industrial park on its side of the frontier.
In a statement published by the state KCNA news agency, the Korean People's Army general staff warned Washington that US threats would be "smashed by... cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means".
"The merciless operation of our revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified," the statement said.

China continued moving tanks and armored vehicles and flying flights near North Korea this week as part of a military buildup in the northeastern part of the country that U.S. officials say is related to the crisis with North Korea.

The Obama administration, meanwhile, sought to play down the Chinese military buildup along the border with Beijing’s fraternal communist ally despite the growing danger of conflict following unprecedented threats by Pyongyang to attack the United States and South Korea with nuclear weapons.
According to U.S. officials with access to intelligence reports, both intelligence and Internet reports from the region over the past week revealed the modest military movements in the border region that began in mid-March and are continuing.

The PLA movements were first reported Monday by the Free Beacon.
The buildup likely serves two goals, the officials said. One is to bolster border security in case a conflict sends large numbers of refugees from the impoverished state into China.
Additionally, the troop buildup is a signal to Pyongyang that China will abide by its defense commitment to North Korea in the event of renewed conflict.
China’s military maintains a mutual defense treaty with North Korea. The last time Chinese troops defended North Korea was during the Korean War.

The US has announced it is moving an advanced missile defence system to the Pacific island of Guam as North Korea steps up its warlike rhetoric.
The latest statement from Pyongyang "formally informs" the Pentagon it has "ratified" a possible nuclear strike.
North Korea has threatened to target the US and South Korea in recent weeks.
Its latest statement came amid warnings from US Defence Secretary Chuck Hagel that North Korea is a "real and clear danger" to the US and its allies.
The US Department of Defense said on Wednesday it would deploy the ballistic Terminal High Altitude Area Defense System (Thaad) in the coming weeks

Also on Wednesday, a statement carried by the official North Korean news agency said: "We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating US hostile policy towards the DPRK [North Korea] and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified."
It warned war could break out on the Korean peninsula as early as "today or tomorrow".
The BBC's Damian Grammaticas in Seoul says few observers believe North Korea has rockets or miniaturised weapons that could hit the US mainland.

But just how confident can Pentagon officials be about whether Mr. Kim is a rational actor?
Could he, in fact, be young, reckless, without great political savvy and in grave danger of making a move that could set off a chain of events – including an inadvertent war – with dire consequences?

Defense analysts say that there are indeed some hints that Kim may be losing his hold on the military.
There have been defections of small units of North Korean soldiers to China – soldiers who were subsequently turned around and sent back to North Korea, says retired Brig. Gen. Russell Howard, former commander of the 1st Special Forces Group, which has an Asia Focus.
This may seem like a positive development, but it is a problem because it means that Kim may feel the need to reassert his control over the military, by beating the war drum and trying to get his troops to rally around it. The more he needs their support, the harder he might beat the drum.

Meanwhile, we can't forget about Iran. This one comes from Joel Rosenberg:

On Monday, I met with James Woolsey, the former Director of the Central Intelligence Agency. I’ve long been impressed with Woolsey’s analysis of global trends, but had not previously had the honor of meeting him. We spent about an hour in his Washington, D.C. office, discussing the growing threats posed by Iran, Syria and North Korea and how the U.S. should be handling them. 

Q: Do you think Israel will use military force, and if so, how soon?
James Woolsey: The problem is that the Israeli air force is one of the two best in the world, but they are not big. We have the capacity to launch a sustained bombing campaign — multiple sorties over many days or weeks — and really damage or completely destroy Iran’s nuclear infrastructure. But a brief Israeli air strike won’t suffice. It’s not like hitting the Osirik reactor in Iraq in 1981. It’s not like the hitting the Syrian reactor that the North Koreans built in 2007.

Q: What if President Obama won’t do this? He’s sending B-52s and Stealth bombers and others military assets to South Korea and the Pacific to send a strong message to North Korea. But he’s doing just the opposite with regards to Iran — pulling carrier battle groups out of the Persian Gulf area, and so forth. So this brings us back to Israel. Are you saying the Israelis don’t have the military capabilities to neutralize the Iran nuclear threat?
Woolsey: I’m concerned because I don’t think Israel can take out all of Iran’s nuclear facilities using air strikes – some yes, but all? I don’t think so.

Q: Then what does Netanyahu do? I ask that because my impression is that Netanyahu brought in Ehud Barak, a long-time political rival, to serve as his Defense Minister for the past four years precisely to lead the IDF into devising and practicing and be preparing to execute a decisive plan to stop Iran from getting the Bomb. And my impression is that Barak feels like he accomplished that objective and stepped down feeling confident that he gave Netanyahu a viable plan, should it become necessary to use.
Woolsey: You may be right. Israel’s air assets are limited in numbers, but Netanyahu may have to attack anyway. He may have no other choice. He can’t just sit there and do nothing. The one thing that gives me a little bit of optimism is that Bibi and Barak are the two most experienced men in the art of unconventional warfare serving in the leadership of any country anywhere in the world. No other country has one Bibi, or one Barak – much less both. These are men who understand how to defeat an enemy using every trick in the book. And they may have something up their sleeve, a plan that doesn’t simply involve attacking from the air. These two guys are used to thinking about the art of war the way Sun Tzu told us to. I don’t think they’d limit themselves to an airstrike or two.

And the West Bank is heating up again: 

A Palestinian teen was killed in clashes with the IDF near Tulkarm late Wednesday night and another was wounded in the stomach.
Security forces were already on high alert for violence that was expected to break out on Thursday following the Hebron funeral for Palestinian prisoner Maissara Abu Hamdiyeh, 63, who died of esophageal cancer in Soroka University Medical Center on Tuesday.

Two separate autopsies by both Israel and the Palestinian Authority found that his death was caused by cancer, but that did not quell Palestinian anger at Israel. PA President Mahmoud Abbas has accused Israel of medical negligence in his death.
Hamdiyeh was jailed in 2002 and given a life sentence for his role in attempting to bomb the Caffit restaurant in Jerusalem’s German Colony.
Hamdiyeh was hailed as a martyr and a hero, and violence immediately broke out in the West Bank Tuesday and continued Wednesday.
According to the IDF, Palestinians attacked a guard station near Tulkarm late Wednesday night and threw Molotov cocktails at it. Soldiers responded with live fire, but the IDF would not confirm any deaths.
The soldiers targeted by the firebombing felt their lives to be at risk before using live fire, a senior defense source told The Jerusalem Post.
Abir Kopty of the Popular Struggle Coordination Committee confirmed that according to the Red Crescent, Amer Nassar, 17, was killed by IDF fire.
Some 200 Palestinians rioted in Hebron, where they threw stones and scores of Molotov cocktails at IDF forces near the police checkpoint, which is often the flashpoint for such violence.


Gary said...

From what I have read, North Korea has not mobilized their troops, nor have made any moves that would suggest an imminent hostile act. I wonder why the Chinese are responding so aggressively?

Unknown said...

I think China is simply telling the US that they will not tolerate US troops in North Korea.

Flying B2 bombers practicing nuke runs near their border is not a good negotiating technique against a paranoid 28 year old 3rd generation nutcase.

For some reason, we are provoking a NK action. If a small nuke went off in the US, we would eliminate NK with no questions asked and have Martial Law until it was safe to give our freedoms back.

This smells bad.