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August 5, 2015 / 20 Av, 5775
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘South Korea’

N. Korea Claims to Have Fired Missile

Sunday, May 10th, 2015

North Korea claims to have fired a new ballistic missile from a submarine on Saturday, according to a Fox News report.

South Korea reported that North Korea fired three anti-ship cruise missiles.

The U.S. State Department said the launches are violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions.

North Korea Will Nuke US If It ‘Forces Our Hand’

Thursday, May 7th, 2015

A senior North Korean official told CNN Thursday that the country will use a nuclear weapon to strike the American mainland if the United States “forced their hand.”

The rare interview was conducted with Park Yong Chol, deputy director of the regime-linked DPRK think thank called the Institute for Research into National Reunification.

Park said North Korea needs to continue developing its nuclear arsenal, which he said can hit American soil, to “counter the U.S. threat.”

When questioned about” human rights abuses in North Korea, Park fired back, “The U.S. President and other high-ranking administration officials have acknowledged really severe forms of punishment on inmates in detention. If you talk about human rights in the DPRK, we will talk about human rights in the U.S.”

Park’s threat to use nuclear weapons if the United States “forced its hands” is particularly worrisome because of the country’s close links with Iran and Tehran’s development of a nuclear warhead. North Korea has provided technologies to Iran, and an alleged Israeli strike on a nuclear facility under construction in northern Syria four years ago killed several North Korean scientists.

Park’s claim that North Korea can nuke the United States is not accepted by many American officials, but there is no questioning the threat to U.S. bases in South Korea.

The Breaking Defense website reported that former Pentagon strategist Van Jackson said that American missile defenses in the Pacific are “woefully outgunned” and that Patriot launchers and Navy ships could not defend American bases.

Diplomacy with North Korea not only has failed but also has allowed it to become a nuclear power.

Given North Korea’s close ties with Iran, it is far from certain that the Obama administration is not repeating the same scenario with its negotiations with the Islamic Republic over the future of its nuclear program.

Fears Over US Iran Deal Trigger Mideast Nuclear Race, Saudi-South Korea Deal

Thursday, March 5th, 2015

The race for nuclear power has begun in the Middle East in response to fears of an Iranian nuclear threat.

The move towards nuclear technology in a region where barely half of the population graduates high school, let alone matriculates in a post-secondary school institution, was triggered by U.S. reluctance to reign in Tehran and the hostility of the Obama administration towards Israel.

Possibly in response to an editorial published this week in the English-language edition of the Saudi Arabia-based Al Arabiya,

U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry flew straight to Riyadh yesterday after talks with Iran went on a brief hiatus in Montreaux.

But the leaders of Saudi Arabia have signed a $2 billion deal with South Korea to build at least two small and medium-size nuclear reactors, according to a report Tuesday in The Korea Herald.

The memorandum of understanding (MOU) calls for a feasibility study to build Korean SMART reactors in Saudi Arabia. The reactors, to be designed by the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute, are specifically intended for the generation of electricity and desalination of sea water in Middle Eastern nations, according to the report. Completion of the feasibility study is expected by 2018. The two nations previously signed a nuclear cooperation agreement in 2011.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye met Tuesday with Saudi King Salman on ways to strengthen bilateral relations between the two nations. Before arriving in Riyadh, Park had concluded a three-day visit to Kuwait.

Next on her itinerary are the United Arab Emirates and Qatar.

Washington needs Saudi Arabia’s support in the region for a host of foreign policy reasons. As a result, Kerry is now working to convince the Riyadh government that President Barack Obama will not bargain away its interests at the table with Iran.

The U.S. “will not take our eye off of Iran’s other destabilizing actions in places like Syria, Lebanon, Iraq and the Arabian peninsula – Yemen particularly,” Kerry told a meeting of the foreign ministers from the six Gulf Cooperating Council (GCC) states.

The Secretary of State met earlier in the day with newly-crowned King Salman and deputy Crown Prince Mohammed bin Nayef in his efforts to reassure Saudi Arabia that the U.S. was not seeking any “grand bargain” with the Islamic Republic.

“Nothing will be different the day after this agreement,” Kerry claimed, “if we were to reach one, with respect to all of the other issues that challenge us in this region.”

The Hidden Threat of Kim Jong Un

Sunday, May 5th, 2013

Yet again, the United States, and, indeed the world, finds itself having to confront a dictatorial regime led by a maniacal leader who continuously threatens both our country and that of our allies. Although Iran typically leads international headlines in this arena, the North Korean regime has taken center stage with both provocative acts and thinly-veiled threats.

Thus far, the U.S. and its allies have taken a “wait-and-see approach,” which, it seems, has only hardened the North’s resolve to establish itself as a dominant player in world affairs and a nuclear-armed nation. As the world stood by and watched, North Korea launched a satellite into space in December of last year and conducted another nuclear test this past February. Although it has vocalized its plans to attack the United States with nuclear weapons, the conventional wisdom is that the North’s technological advances have yet to create a nuclear warhead capable of fitting on a missile which can reach the U.S.

And, as if the world needs more pseudo-pundits addressing the situation, Iran’s foreign ministry has ironically asked both sides to use restraint and not promote “provocative behavior.” As foreign ministry spokesman Ramin Mehmanparast said, “We think that the event that is intensifying between North Korea, South Korea and the United states should be controlled as soon as possible. Both parties should not move toward a corner in which there is a threatening climate.”

Although the U.S. can hardly afford to open a new front internationally and remains mired in Iraq and Afghanistan, the fact remains that Kim Jong Un continues to be caricatured by the press and not taken seriously enough. On April 7th, Saturday Night Live (“SNL”) opened with a fake press conference where Kim Jong Un brags about his sexual prowess and fist pumps Dennis Rodman towards the end of his address. While this is typical SNL fare, it is emblematic of the world’s failure to truly fathom the grave threat represented by maniacal figures like Un.

As if to make matters worse and again reinforce this image of two clowns hanging out, Dennis Rodman traveled to North Korea in February where he called Un “a friend for life” and announced plans to “have some fun” with Un in August, saying he “just wants to be loved.” Episodes like this may end up creating an air of oblivion about what is truly going on behind the scenes and lulling the world into focusing on the amusement of the affair as opposed to Un’s nefarious intentions.

History has a habit of repeating itself and we know from our experiences in the past that leaders who were not taken seriously while issuing existential threats often desire to carry them through. History is replete with examples of various countries placating or satirizing Adolph Hitler, who simply pursued his vision with uncanny fervor and focus. In 1940, Charlie Chaplin created the film, “The Great Dictator”, where he expressed his views through what has been called a “satirical attack on fascism.” Although creating a comedy about Hitler was very controversial, Chaplin stated “I was determined to go ahead,” “for Hitler must be laughed at.” In the film, Chaplin casts “A Jewish Barber,” who also plays the dictator “Adenoid Hynkel” and parodies Hitler.

As history would tell, society could ill afford to stop and laugh at a jingoistic megalomaniac like Hitler. The world waited, appeased, and ran away in fright until we no longer could, and by that time, Hitler’s Generalplan Ost, or Grand Plan to dominate Central and Eastern Europe and ethnically cleanse Jews and others in its wake had already had a devastating impact. The Holocaust was Hitler’s answer, and for the rest of the world, it was too late.

In this same time period, caricatures of Mussolini and Stalin were also readily available during their regimes, helping mask the true dangers these tyrants posed not only to their citizens, but to the world at large. Stalin, of course, was one of the most murderous dictators in history who cause the death and suffering of tens of millions through his forced labor camps and purging “enemies of the people.” Mussolini was also known to severely torture or imprison his opposition, in addition to framing and murdering them at a later time. His secret police exerted influence over most aspects of daily life and were in charge of ending any anti-Fascist activity.

Samsung Korea VP Visits Yeshiva to Help Koreans Learn Talmud

Sunday, April 21st, 2013

Charlie Park, Vice President of Samsung Korea, visited an Israeli Yeshiva at Shalavim last week, accompanied by a South Korean camera crew, and met with the program directors and with students to document how students study Talmud at the Yeshiva.

The South Koreans have developed a fascination with the study of Talmud. The country’s ambassador to Israel, Ma Young-Sam, has told the “Culture Today” TV show that Talmud study is now a mandatory part of the country’s school curriculum.

In addition, it is said, almost every home in South Korea boasts a Korean version of the Talmud, and mothers commonly teach it to their children, who call it the “Light of Knowledge.”

Young-Sam explained, “We were very curious about the high academic achievements of the Jews, who have a high percentage of Nobel laureates in all fields – literature, science and economics.

“This is a remarkable achievement. We tried to understand: What is the secret of the Jewish people? How are they, more than other people, able to reach those impressive accomplishments? Why are Jews so intelligent?

“The conclusion we arrived at is that one of your secrets is that you study the Talmud… We believe that if we teach our children Talmud, they will also become geniuses. This is what stands behind the rationale of introducing Talmud study to our school curriculum. I, for example, have two sets of the Talmud.”

While touring the Beit Midrash, the study hall, he said he now felt he understood “the growing grounds” of the Jewish genius.

Park was at the yeshiva to get a first-hand account of this wonder, but his trip also involved business. He was in Israel to review possible acquisitions of Israeli startup companies.

Deciphering the Chinese and American Korea Strategy

Tuesday, April 9th, 2013

Is there any piece of received wisdom more universally invoked than the inane piety that China wants to calm North Korea down, and gets annoyed when the Kims act up?  It’s hard to think of many.  This hoary premise gets trotted out every time.  And every time, it comes up short on explanatory or operational value.  It’s never relevant to why the Kim went crazy.  Nor is China coming down on a Kim ever the key to settling the Kim’s hash.  If the snarling Kim stops yelping for a while, it’s always because the U.S. was induced to do something – intensify some negotiating stance, make some offer, fork over some “aid,” make a concession to China; or maybe just look alert enough to make it the wrong time for a showdown.

You’d think someone would figure this out.  When the Kims start throwing food on the floor, somebody’s got an eye on Uncle Sam.

China’s Basic Posture

While it’s quite true that China sets boundaries on a given Kim’s latitude for geopolitical tantrums, it is wrong to suppose that China wants the same thing the U.S., South Korea, or Japan wants.  China is only interested in pacifying North Korea if events are not proceeding to China’s advantage.  If it is advantageous to China for the Kims to provoke responses out of the U.S., China will let the drama run its course.  (As discussed below, that is the case today.)

Conversely, it is equally wrong to imagine that China instigates what the Kims do.  The Chinese don’t have to make a Kim’s nonsense up for him; the average Kim is an indefatigable nonsense factory.  His natural intransigence and self-cultivated geopolitical alienation are useful for China – a convenience to be prized and guarded.

The Kim psychosis keeps the Korean peninsula divided, with one half of it joined at the hip to China.  For China, that is better than any other option – perhaps even better than the most unlikely one:  a united Korea joined at the hip to China.

The Chinese want to prevent, at all costs, the opposite situation: a united Korea allied with the United States and friendly with Japan.  But a united Korea would tend to be a pain in China’s neck in any case.  For the Chinese, keeping Korea divided is a pretty good option, especially when it’s the United States paying to guarantee that the division remains peaceful.  China couldn’t afford 60 years of guarding the DMZ.

The Obama Enigma

The underlying geopolitical structure for that assumption is starting to change, however, in part because of the deliberate, announced policy change toward the Pacific Rim on the part of the U.S.  But it’s also because, in the context of that new policy, no one is sure what Obama will do.  In visibly and enthusiastically rattling the saber at North Korea, he is not doing what previous presidents have done.  There is one exception – John F. Kennedy, abetted by Robert McNamara – and their pattern of behavior in foreign policy did not turn out well.

Obama’s pattern (Honduras, Iran, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria; the missile defense pull-out from Poland; the Obama nuclear policy and New START) is as confused as JFK’s, if not as bombastic.  Predicting what Obama means by the rather humorous “airplane escalation” in Korea – first the B-52s, then the B-2s, then, oh, no, not them, the F-22s – is something of a puzzler.  Is he trying to deter something?  If so, what?  Clearly, he’s not deterring Kim Jong-Un’s saber rattling or missile-launcher moving.

I was amused (yet again) to hear on the TV news yesterday that the U.S. Navy is moving one of its “mightiest warships,” USS John F McCain (DDG-56), to the waters off North Korea.  McCain is an Arleigh Burke-class Aegis destroyer, and as such is certainly mightier than the global-average destroyer.  But there are 61 other Arleigh Burkes, in total, and 15 others have the ballistic missile defense (BMD) upgrade that McCain has, including four other Arleigh Burkes homeported, like McCain, in Japan.  I’m a big fan of the Arleigh Burke, but I do wonder where the hyperventilating copy billing McCain as one of our “mightiest warships” came from.  I really hope it wasn’t a government office.

The question remains:  What is Obama hoping to achieve with these moves?  It’s like he’s doing an imitation of what he and other academic leftists perceive to be going on when nations come into conflict over something.  These leftists tend to characterize events in terms of nations “posturing” and “rattling the saber” at each other, with the implication that it’s all stupid, regrettable, and untethered to meaningful policy issues – and that it could be prevented with a little grown-up intervention.

The Shakiest Nukes in the West

Sunday, March 24th, 2013

In case everyone in Northeast Asia missed it, in spite of their intelligence and early-warning networks which have assuredly been tracking it in fine detail, the Obama Defense Department announced on Monday that the U.S. has been deterring North Korea by sending B-52 bombers on practice runs in its vicinity.  The specter of nuclear deterrence was clarified by Deputy Secretary Ashton Carter:

Deputy defense secretary Ashton Carter said during a visit to South Korea on Monday that the bomber flights are part of the U.S. “extended deterrence”—the use of U.S. nuclear forces to deter North Korea, which conducted its third underground nuclear test Feb. 12.

Nukes! I say.  Nukes!  Pay attention, dudes.

As Bill Gertz demurely puts it, “It is unusual for the Pentagon to make such overt statements about the use of strategic nuclear forces in Asia Pacific.”

Deterrence. Indeed.  That’s because such overt statements are a form of strutting and posturing that makes the U.S. look foolish.  Kim Jong-Un may be a weirdo who hangs out with Dennis Rodman, but he knows we have nukes.  North Korea wants nukes because the U.S., Russia, and China have them, and, in the crudest sense, they make us powerful – if not invincible, at least hard for anyone else to deter.

Making pointed comments about “extended deterrence” comes off as a novice’s imitation of what he thinks a tough security policy sounds like.  It’s kind of informative, in fact: this is what the political left thinks is necessary for achieving deterrence.  You have to remind everyone about your nukes.

It’s not like decision-makers in North Korea, South Korea, Japan, Russia, and China have been unaware of our big exercise with the B-52 participation.  Their radars track the B-52s all over the air space off the coast of Northeast Asia.  Each of them has a foreign-forces guide that informs every soldier and airman of the nuclear role played by the B-52 in the U.S. deterrence arsenal.  They fully understand what they’re seeing when the B-52s show up.

But to publicly emphasize the U.S. nuclear deterrent in this circumstance is misdirected anyway, if the deterrence target is North Korea.  For Pyongyang, evidence of the U.S. commitment to South Korea has been shown most effectively by our conventional military cooperation, which includes thousands of troops stationed in the South.  The nuclear threat is always implicitly there, but it isn’t needed to deter Kim Jong-Un.  We can take him down without going nuclear.  The audience for nuclear deterrence is Russia and China, and the point of it has always been to deter them from trying to settle the Korean situation themselves, to the detriment of our allies and interests in the region.

Is there any sense being fostered by anyone in the Obama administration that China or Russia needs special nuclear-deterring in the current situation with North Korea?  Does anyone at all, even outside the administration, think that’s necessary?  I don’t see that theme being retailed anywhere.  It makes no sense to rattle the nuclear saber at Kim Jong-Un.  But no case has been made that it ought to be rattled at Vladimir Putin or Li Keqiang either.

Nukes aren’t something you wave around like a drunk brandishing a knife.  The current situation has that feel to it, however.

Consider another aspect the situation. The Northeast Asian nations are sophisticated enough to understand: that U.S. nuclear-armed submarines are not sitting “near South Korean waters,” as claimed in additional South Korean news reporting cited by Gertz.  Sitting near South Korean waters would be pointless.  If a U.S nuke were ever launched at North Korea from a submarine, it would be launched from out in the Pacific by a ballistic missile submarine (SSBN).  We don’t have any other submarine-launched nukes today.

The nuclear Tomahawk missile (TLAM-N), formerly launched by attack submarines, was removed from U.S. ships and submarines in 1991 and put in storage.  Obama’s 2010 Nuclear Posture Review recommended eliminating the TLAM-N from the U.S. inventory, and, as described by the Federation of American Scientists, the new 2013 version of the Navy’s baseline instruction on nuclear weapons contains no section on the TLAM-N.  This indicates that the TLAM-N is no longer in the inventory of nuclear weapons.

All tactical nuclear weapons having now been retired from the U.S. arsenal, there is no submarine-launched nuke that could be fired from a position “near South Korean waters.”  No one in Northeast Asia lacks the intelligence or resources to figure that out.  How did that impression get left with the South Korean media?

Perhaps the Obama administration imagines that it’s appropriate to pointedly warn North Korea about our nukes because Kim has a nuclear weapon himself?  The leap of logic here is fatal to stability, if that’s the thinking.  Even if Kim expended his one or handful of nuclear warheads, it is in the highest degree unlikely that we would use nukes on him, for the simple reason that it isn’t necessary.  If Kim getting one nuke causes the U.S. to begin treating North Korea like a credible nuclear power, then that one nuke has accomplished its purpose, and everyone else across the globe will want to try it.

There might be a neighborhood in which having a crude warhead or two makes one a member of an elite nuclear-armed “club” – but it isn’t Northeast Asia.  North Korea has not achieved the ultimate goal of the nuclear-armed dictator: invulnerability to deterrence.  Kim is still badly over matched in every way by Russia, China, and the U.S. – and, in fact, is over matched conventionally by South Korea and Japan as well, if it came to that.  It is unseemly and off-kilter for the U.S. to get into a nuclear showdown with North Korea.

There might or might not be utility in giving a bit of “informational” emphasis to our exercise series with South Korea right now, with the North being so obstreperous.  But there is no need to issue reminders of our nuclear capabilities.  Doing so, in fact, comes off as uncalibrated and a bit hysterical.

Originally published at the Optimistic Conservative.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/analysis/j-e-dyer/the-shakiest-nukes-in-the-west/2013/03/24/

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