DPRK

North Korea has 30 warheads and is quickly expanding its nuclear arsenal

North Korea’s nuclear arsenal has expanded to 30 warheads and will grow further as Pyongyang produces increased quantities of weapons-grade uranium and plutonium, according to estimates. In just three years, the North’s unpredictable leader, Kim Jong-un, will control sufficient fissile material to double that arsenal to as many as 60 weapons, says the Institute for Science and International Security in Washington. To underscore this alarming increase, the U.S. estimated that North Korea owned just one or two nuclear weapons in 1999 and would have 10 or more by 2020, according to a secret Defense Intelligence Agency report obtained by The Washington Times shortly after it had circulated privately last decade. “The bottom line is that North Korea has an improving nuclear weapons arsenal,” said David Albright, founder and director of the Institute for Science and International Security. “The last several years have witnessed a dramatic and overt buildup in North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities.” The numbers show that North Korea is becoming a true nuclear power with the ability to hit its neighbors and, one day, the U.S. Analysts say the North’s objective is simple: Assure the communist state’s, and thus the Kim dynasty’s, survival and coerce U.S. allies South Korea and Japan.

Analysis: John Bolton hits it on head with North Korea

Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton — you know, the guy leftists hated because he dared to stand strong in the face of Israel-hating globalists and anti-America elitists — offered up a pretty blunt assessment of the North Korea thang that went like this: Want to get rid of the nuke threat from the regime? Then take out the regime. Force a reunification with the South. Bleak — but true. Right? Seriously, there are some foreign leaders who just embrace their dictatorial powers to such extent that no amount of talking, no amount of diplomacy, is going to move them. And here’s a bit of a clue for the wimpy intellectuals of the world who spend so much time trying to see all sides of an issue that common sense goes out the window, truth fogs and moral equivalencies are drawn where they have no business being drawn: There is actual evil in this world — gasp. Yes, there is. And generally, evil doesn’t respond to a good talking to. That two-minute time-out? Ain’t gonna work here. Bolton gets that. Obama, as we all know, didn’t. “Because of eight years of the Obama administration doing nothing [in North Korea], under the guise of a policy they called ‘strategic patience,’ which was really a synonym for doing nothing, North Korea is perilously close to having the capability to put a nuclear device under the nose cone of an ICBM and land it on the United States,” he said in an interview with Breitbart. Thanks, Obama. No doubt, next up, Iran, the country that most benefited from the flawed, very flawed, nuclear treaty forged by Obama, over the loud opposition of Israel, Republicans and — well, the sane. But back to Bolton, on North Korea: “You ask what the long-term solution is. I believe this: North Korea will never be talked out of its nuclear weapons — not by diplomacy, not by economic pressure. People in North Korea live in a prison camp now. The regime doesn’t care about their economic well-being. They care about staying in power. A nuclear weapon is the regime’s ace in the hole to stay in power.” So the only way to deal? “I think the only long-term way to deal with the North Korean nuclear weapons program is to end the regime in North Korea,” Bolton said. “Reunite the Korean peninsula. … We need to bring them to the realization that reunification is going to happen one way or the other.” That’s a realization that is going to require a strong stomach from America. Why? Because it’s not going happen peaceably. “We can either do it the sensible way,” Bolton said, “or it will happen in a much more threatening way. I don’t pretend that’s easy, but that’s the real solution.” Agreed. It’s a rock and hard place foreign policy face-off that comes down to this, for America: Ignore the regime and pretend they’re not a threat — a la Obama. Or recognize the regime as a nuclear threat and prepare for a long haul, dig-in military operation that’s not going to end until the dictatorship is crumbled.

Former U.S. Ambassador John Bolton is exactly right, as usual.  And, thanks to Cheryl K. Chumley for that analysis…although not sure there would necessarily be a “long haul” if we got into a military engagement with the DPRK.  Reunification between the Koreas at some point is inevitable.  HOW that happens is the real question.  And, it would be best if it happened in a way favorable to our national security interests.  The President has said, “the era of strategic patience is over.”  Let’s hope so.  It’s time to put an end to the brutal, and evil Kim dynasty.

Hawaii Lawmakers Ask State to Prepare for North Korea Missile Attack

Lawmakers in Hawaii have asked state officials to update contingency plans and provide extra funding in anticipation of an attack from North Korea, amid escalating tensions between America and the communist state. Last Thursday, the state’s House Public Safety Committee passed a resolution demanding extra resources for any potential attack, which includes the redevelopment of shelters last used during the Cold War. Amongst other things, the resolution asks for the “restocking of fallout shelter provisions,” as well as calling on authorities to “conduct public awareness campaigns to ready the public for a nuclear disaster.” “At a time when we have this kind of saber-rattling and really blustering foreign policy, it does make people a little nervous,” said House Public Safety Committee Vice Chairman Matt LePresti. “They haven’t been updated since 1985. I was 11 years old when they were last updated. Many of the buildings that are on the fallout shelter list don’t exist anymore.” Many experts have warned that Hawaii may be the first point of any potential North Korean attack, with its location in the mid-Pacific ocean far more reachable than the American west coast. The remote island is located 4,660 miles from North Korea, while Los Angeles remains approximately 5,800 miles in distance. An analysis carried by the BBC suggests that North Korea possesses over 1,000 missiles, all with ranging capabilities. Some of their weapons, including the Taepodong-2 ballistic missile, have an intercontinental range, meaning they can travel up to 5000 miles, just short of the American coastline. The request comes amidst rising tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, with Donald Trump warning last week that he was sending “an armada” into the region to fend off any potential threat. Meanwhile, on Sunday, North Korean forces held a military parade to celebrate the 105th birthday of former leader Kim il-Sung, who remains the country’s “eternal leader.” However, reports from South Korea also indicated that the country’s planned missile launch, intended to be a show of strength, ended in failure. On Monday, Vice President Mike Pence visited the Korean demilitarized zone, also the border between South and North. In an interview with CNN, Pence said that “the people in North Korea should make no mistake that the United States of America and our allies will see to the security of this region and see to the security of the people of our country.”

Japan Suggests North Korea May Have Sarin Gas Missiles

Satellite photography reportedly shows that North Korea is preparing its Punggye-ri nuclear test site for another detonation, probably timed to coincide with celebrations of national founder Kim Il-sung’s 105th birthday this weekend. Reuters reports that North Korean officials told foreign journalists in Pyongyang to prepare for a “big and important event” on Thursday. This proved to be a considerable letdown when the journalists were merely conducted to the opening of a new street in the middle of Pyongyang, but it is always possible the North Koreans are playing coy with journalists. The report of activity at Punggye-ri comes from monitoring group 38 North, which said the site was “primed and ready” after detecting the movement of vehicles and personnel. The sort of activity they described seems consistent with preparation, rather than a frenzy of activity that would indicate an imminent detonation. 38 North analyst Joseph Bermudez, who has a good track record of predicting Pyongyang’s nuclear tests, told CNN the activity noted over the past six weeks is “suggestive of the final preparations of a test.” In particular, 38 North analysts thought the end of excavation and water pumping at the site were indicators that it could be put to use soon. Fox News cites South Korean officials saying they “saw no signs that North Korea was preparing any sort of provocative actions,” although they acknowledged that North Korea has demonstrated the ability to conduct missile tests with very little warning. Japan added another reason for concern, as Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told a session of his parliament, “There is a possibility that North Korea already has a capability to deliver missiles with sarin as warheads.” Sarin is the nerve agent suspected of deployment in the chemical weapons attack in Syria last week. North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un’s half-brother Kim Jong-nam was allegedly killed with a different chemical weapon, VX, at the Kuala Lumpur airport in February. Interestingly, China’s Communist Party organ, the Global Times, published an editorial calling on North Korea to suspend its nuclear activities, coupled with a promise that China will “actively work to protect the security of a denuclearised North Korean nation and regime.” China has previously promoted a deal in which North Korea would suspend nuclear tests if the United States agreed to halt military drills with South Korea, but there was little interest in the deal from either side. In fact, the United States Air Force launched a surprise exercise of air power in Japan on Thursday, which was seen as a demonstration to North Korea of what the Air Force’s largest combat-ready wing can do on short notice. China is still advocating for a non-violent resolution to the North Korean nuclear situation. The Trump administration is talking about using unprecedented sanctions to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs, potentially instituting what one official described to Reuters as “essentially a trade quarantine on North Korea.” The measures under consideration could include “an oil embargo, banning its airline, intercepting cargo ships and punishing Chinese banks doing business with Pyongyang,” according to the officials who spoke to Reuters. Other possibilities include interdicting North Korean freighters, prohibiting the use of North Korean contract labor abroad, implementing a global ban on coal, or banning North Korea’s seafood exports. Some of these steps would not require U.N. approval, which means China would not be able to veto them. China has been remarkably tough in enforcing its own punitive ban on North Korean coal exports, but Trump administration officials worried Beijing might have gone as far as it’s willing to go. It is considered something of a gamble to menace Chinese interests with the secondary effects of tough sanction against North Korea and hope it inspires them to bring Pyongyang to heel, instead of alienating the Chinese. “China has always opposed the use of unilateral sanctions in international relations and is firmly opposed when such unilateral sanctions harm China’s interests,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said at a press briefing.

Chinese Media: Ally North Korea Is ‘The Most Insecure Country in the World’

A scathing column in the Chinese government publication Global Times condemns the nation’s Communist allies in North Korea as “the most insecure country in the world,” calling for a political solution to tensions between Pyongyang and Washington. The column, published this week, followed a visit by American Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to South Korea, Japan, and China. His hosts in China appeared extremely pleased by Tillerson’s use of “win-win cooperation” language – by now, boilerplate statements in Chinese diplomacy – and eager to cooperate economically with Washington. The Global Times‘ columnists argued on Thursday that the fact that North Korea has continued to engage in belligerent, if also internationally embarrassing, military behavior is a sign that sanctions on Pyongyang are having the intended effect. North Korea attempted to launch a missile at Japan on Thursday, believed to be a response to international calls for dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon his illegal nuclear program. The missile in question “exploded right after it took off from a launch pad” and appeared to represent no danger to its intended target. As it exploded within seconds of launch, it was impossible for South Korea and U.S. military observers to confirm the exact target of the launch. “The failure of this launch revealed the immaturity of North Korea’s missile technology,” the Times taunts. “The international sanctions have worked. It has become more difficult for North Korea to acquire resources for missile research and development.” International sanctions, the Times continues, will “exert a long-term effect. They will seriously undermine missile research and development, but not endanger the survival of the Korean regime in the short-term.” “North Korea has claimed to have nuclear weapons, but also has become the most insecure country in the world,” the authors argue. The Times recommends for China to continue participating in some sanctions against North Korea, but not all. “As long as China doesn’t completely close its border with North Korea, doesn’t implement a full embargo on food and necessities, and doesn’t pose a direct threat to the survival of the Korean regime, China and North Korea will not come to the point of confronting each other despite their cold relations,” the Times predicts. China is North Korea’s largest trading partner and a fellow Communist nation, one of the few remaining on the globe. Up to 85 percent of North Korea’s international trade comes from China; the nation relies heavily on Chinese food and fuel exports, and the little it exports mostly goes to China. China has been reluctant to cut ties with Pyongyang, though recently opted to cease importing North Korean coal for the rest of the year. Beijing claimed it was “ludicrous” to suggest that the new policy was a response to the assassination of Kim Jong-nam, brother to Kim Jong-un and long believed to enjoy a positive relationship with China, instead suggesting Beijing was aspiring to adhering to U.N. sanctions requirements. To make up for the profits it expected from Beijing, North Korea is publicizing a new tourist cruise program, seeking international investors to develop tours around North Korea’s mountainous Kosong port area. North Korea also issued a rare condemnation of China’s behavior in halting North Korean coal imports in February. Without mentioning China by name, a column in the state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) condemned the “friendly neighbor” as a “vassal state … dancing to the tune of the U.S. while defending its mean behavior with such excuses that it was meant not to have a negative impact on the living of the people in the DPRK but to check its nuclear program.” China’s barbs at North Korea follow a period of somewhat surprising diplomacy between Beijing and Washington. While Secretary of State Tillerson used his Asia trip to pressure China into flexing its muscle to curb North Korean belligerence, he made his strongest public statements in Japan and South Korea, not China. “We look to China to fulfill its obligations and fully implement the sanctions called for,” Tillerson said in Tokyo last week. In China, he told reporters he was looking to expand “win-win cooperation.” “His tone is widely seen as ‘moderate’ compared with his earlier statements in South Korea and Japan,” the Global Times said of his remarks in China. The publication also cited experts who praised his call for an end to the Obama-era policy of “strategic patience” with North Korea and his statement seeking a “new model of major power relations” with China. These indicate a possibility that China will aid the United States on the international stage in calling for sanctions, though much remains on the line in anticipation of President Xi Jinping’s meeting with President Donald Trump in April. At the U.N., the Security Council is preparing to pass a new resolution this week condemning the atrocious human rights record of the Kim regime, according to the South Korea Foreign Ministry.

..which, of course, will be laughed at by Kim Jong Ding Dong and his band of thugs.  What Kim IS concerned with, is this surprising reaction from China following Sec of State Tillerson’s visit.  Definitely something to keep an eye on…

Former US officials, senior North Korea reps reportedly prepare for talks

Senior North Korean officials are reportedly preparing to come to the U.S. to talk with former government officials, the first time a meeting has happened on U.S. soil since 2011. The officials representing the U.S. usually take part in Track 2 – or unofficial – talks with North Korea, The Washington Post reported Sunday. North Korean government officials were still preparing for the talks. The State Department has not yet approved visas for the Pyongyang officials, according to the paper. “The North Koreans have expressed an interest in engagement, but nothing’s been approved yet,” a person familiar with the planned talks told The Post. Should the talks go on, some might see it as an indication that North Korean Dictator Kim Jong-Un is willing to open up a dialogue with the Trump administration, despite Kim’s hopes to develop a nuclear weapon and recent missile tests. So-called “Track 1.5” talks have previously taken place in Kuala Lumpur, Geneva, Berlin and Ulaanbaatar, Mongolia, but haven’t taken place in the U.S. since July 2011 – before Kim took over power in North Korea. The newspaper reported that the meeting was being organized by Donald S. Zagoria of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy. He worked as a consultant on Asia during President Carter’s administration and organized previous talks. The talks are planned to be ran independently of the State Department. However, if the visas are approved, it would be seen as approval from the State Department. Choe Son Hui is expected to lead the Pyongyang delegation. Choe is director of the U.S. affairs department in North Korea’s Foreign Ministry. She previously participated in six-party talks on North Korea’s denuclearization and other Track 1.5 talks. Aside from recent rhetoric from the Trump administration on North Korea’s missile tests and Kim’s insistence his missile launches are for protection, upcoming U.S.-South Korea military drills could put a damper on talks before the visas are even considered.

An interesting development..  We’ll, of course, keep a close eye on this one.  For more on this story, click on the text above.

Woman arrested in killing of Kim Jong Un’s half-brother, Malaysian police say

A woman carrying Vietnamese travel documents was arrested in Malaysia in connection to the apparent poisoning death of Kim Jong Nam, the exiled half-brother of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Officials said the woman, whose documents identified her as Doan Thi Houng, was arrested Wednesday at the Kuala Lumpur airport budget terminal, where Kim Jong Nam was attacked. She is believed to be one of the two women who allegedly killed him with some kind of chemical spray. The woman was identified using earlier surveillance video from the airport, police said. It was not immediately clear whether the passport the woman was carrying was genuine. Still photos of the video, confirmed as authentic by police, showed a woman in a skirt and long-sleeved white T-shirt with “LOL” across the front. Police said they are still hunting for other suspects. The astonishing killing, which reportedly came at the hands of two female assassins, set off waves of speculation over whether North Korea had dispatched a hit squad to kill Kim Jong Nam, who was known for his drinking, gambling and complicated family life. Kim Jong Nam, who was 45 or 46, was estranged from his younger brother, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, and had been living abroad for years. He reportedly fell out of favor when he was caught trying to enter Japan on a false passport in 2001, saying he wanted to visit Tokyo Disneyland. The elder Kim died en route to a hospital on Monday after suddenly falling ill at the budget terminal of Kuala Lumpur International Airport, according to two senior Malaysian government officials, who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the case involved sensitive diplomacy. He told medical workers before he died that he had been attacked with a chemical spray, the Malaysian officials said. Multiple South Korean media reports, citing unidentified sources, said two women believed to be North Korean agents killed him with some kind of poison before fleeing in a taxi. Malaysia started an autopsy Wednesday to determine the cause of death. But a Malaysian government official, who also demanded anonymity because of the case’s sensitivity, said North Korea objected to the procedure because they wanted the body back. But the Malaysian official said the autopsy was still continuing. Since taking power in late 2011, Kim Jong Un has executed or purged a number of high-level government officials in what the South Korean government has described as a “reign of terror.”

This is a follow up to this story which we posted earlier (scroll down about three articles)..  To read the rest of this AP story, click on the text above.