A Glimmer of Sense From The White House; Maybe!

DefendingWesternCivSm

This in from the White House Statements and Releases:

"Statement on the UN Security Council Presidential Statement on the Cheonan

Today’s UN Security Council Presidential statement condemns the attack by North Korea on the Cheonan and warns North Korea that the international community will not tolerate such aggressive behavior against the Republic of Korea.  The unanimous statement, reflecting the shared view of the 5 members of the Six-Party Talks, constitutes an endorsement of the findings of the Joint Investigative Group that established North Korea’s responsibility for the attack.  We commend the Republic of Korea’s restraint in the face of North Korean belligerence and reiterate our unwavering commitment to the defense of South Korea.  This statement increases North Korea’s international isolation, which includes the strongest sanctions that it has ever faced through UNSC Resolution 1874, as the international community continues to make clear the cost that comes with North Korea’s provocative behavior."

Good News if it is sincere!

N.Korea explodes ‘Hiroshima’ bomb – 20 times more powerful than its last nuke

North Korea was condemned as a ‘danger to the world’ yesterday after it exploded a nuclear warhead the size of the Hiroshima bomb.
Gordon Brown and Barack Obama led global criticism of the underground blast, which was ten to 20 times more powerful than the Communist state’s first nuclear test in 2006.
Diplomats believe the explosion, which prompted an emergency session of the United Nations Security Council, was a calculated attempt by Pyongyang to destabilise the region and shore up its hardline regime.
But the isolated nation appeared to have overreached itself when even China and Russia joined in with the criticism.
Mr Brown swiftly denounced the move as ‘erroneous, misguided and a danger to the world’. The Prime Minister said: ‘This act will undermine prospects for peace on the Korean peninsula and will do nothing for North Korea’s security.
‘The international community will treat North Korea as a partner if it behaves responsibly. If it does not then it can expect only renewed isolation.’
Mr Obama said the nuclear test constituted an act of ‘blatant defiance’ of the UN Security Council, a violation of international law.
The U.S. President added: ‘North Korea’s attempts to develop nuclear weapons, as well as its ballistic missile programme, constitute a threat to international peace and security.’
In a White House address the President pledged to work with allies around the world to ‘stand up to’ North Korea. Tensions had already been running high over Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.
It was censured by the UN last month for launching a rocket – widely seen as a test for a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead – in breach of a missile test ban.
North Korea claimed it had launched a satellite into space, but the object actually flew over Japan before breaking up into the Pacific. It retaliated to the criticism by expelling UN nuclear inspectors.
Yesterday’s explosion in the country’s north was first detected by seismologists, who said it was a ten to 20 kiloton device that triggered earth tremors measuring 5.3 on the Richter scale that measures the size of earthquakes.

Emergency sirens sounded in the Chinese border city of Yanji, 130 miles from the test site, where residents felt the ground tremble.
The state- controlled Korean Central News Agency confirmed that the regime had ‘successfully conducted one more underground nuclear test on May 25 as part of measures to bolster its nuclear deterrent for self-defence’.
South Koreans reacted to the terrifying news by staging angry street protests against their Stalinist northern neighbour.
Enlarge North Korea carried out the nuclear test at a site six miles underground and 40 miles north-west of Kimchaek in the north-east of the country
Western intelligence analysts and diplomats believe the explosion was designed to attract the attention of the Obama administration.
But it is more likely to lead to further isolation, by halting a recent thawing of relations with the West.

The U.S. had taken North Korea off its list of state sponsors of terrorism after Pyongyang allowed some inspections of its nuclear facilities.
Foreign Secretary David Miliband said: ‘The test is a provocation that will prevent others from dealing with North Korea as a responsible partner.’

At an anti-North Korean rally, protesters in Seoul, South Korea, burn a mock North Korea nuclear missile and portraits of the country’s leader Kim Jong Il
Foreign Office and U.S. State Department experts believe that the blast is evidence that the hardline military in North Korea is asserting itself as the health of dictator Kim Jong-Il declines.
While the leadership is hard to penetrate and its motives are difficult to read, it is thought that Army chiefs want to reassert their influence before a successor is chosen to Kim, whose position has been on under question since he suffered a stroke last year.
Others think nuclear brinkmanship is a way for Kim to reassert his iron grip on power to ensure that one of his sons is well placed to succeed him.

The Taepoding-1, North Korea’s first generation of long-range ballistic missile. An updated version was fired over Japan two months ago that was capable of striking the U.S., while Pyongyang claimed to have fired a short-range missile

China, the hermit state’s regional benefactor, said it was resolutely opposed to the test, but it was thought to remain opposed to punitive sanctions.
Its foreign ministry said: ‘The Chinese side vehemently demands North Korea abides by its denuclearisation promises, stop any actions which may worsen the situation and return to the six-party talks process.
‘The Chinese government calls on all sides to calmly and appropriately deal with the situation.’

Iran’s president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad yesterday rejected a Western deal for Tehran to freeze its nuclear programme in return for no further sanctions. He ruled out talks on the issue, in a blow to Mr Obama’s attempts to engage with Iran diplomatically.

North Korea readies missile and makes new threat

Reuters Published: March 26, 2009
By Jonathan Thatcher

North Korea said on Thursday that if the international community punishes it for next month’s planned missile launch it will restart a nuclear plant that makes weapons grade plutonium.

The secretive state this week put a long-range missile in place for a launch the United States warned would violate U.N. sanctions imposed on Pyongyang for past weapons tests.

The planned launch, seen by some countries as a disguised military exercise, is the first big test for U.S. President Barack Obama in dealing with the prickly North, whose efforts to build a nuclear arsenal have long plagued ties with Washington.

North Korea warned that any action by the U.N. Security Council to punish it would be a “hostile act.”

… All the processes for the denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula … will be brought back to what used to be before their start and necessary strong measures will be taken,” the North’s foreign ministry spokesman said in comments carried by the official KCNA news agency.

North Korea has frozen its ageing nuclear reactor and started to take apart its Yongbyon atomic plant under a deal signed by regional powers in 2005 that called for economic aid and better diplomatic standing for the isolated North in return. Despite the agreement, the North carried out a nuclear test in 2006.

The South Korean daily Chosun Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source as saying the North could fire its Taepodong-2 missile, which has the range to hit U.S. territory, by the weekend.

This is earlier than the April 4-8 timeframe Pyongyang announced for what it says is the launch of a satellite.

“Technically a launch is possible within three to four days,” the Chosun Ilbo quoted a diplomatic source in Seoul as saying.

The U.S. State Department said top nuclear envoys from Japan, South Korea and the United States will meet in Washington on Friday in a signal of growing concern over the possible launch.

U.S. diplomats responsible for the North Korea nuclear dossier will meet the Japanese and South Korean envoys separately and then all three parties could meet informally, spokesman Gordon Duguid said.

The White House said a missile launch by Pyongyang would be “provocative” and in violation of United Nations resolutions. The U.S. Director of National Intelligence, Dennis Blair, said that a North Korean missile launch would risk international condemnation or “worse,” told reporters in Washington.

South Korea said the launch would be a serious challenge to security in north Asia, which accounts for one sixth of the global economy. Japan urged North Korea to refrain from action that would destabilise the region.

“We strongly urge the North to immediately stop the launch of a long-range missile, which would be a clear violation of the U.N. Security Council resolution 1718,” South Korean Defence Ministry spokesman Won Tae-jae told reporters.

ROCKET ON THE PAD

On Wednesday, a U.S. counter-proliferation official told Reuters that North Korea appeared to have positioned the rocket on its launch pad.

Another U.S. official, also speaking on condition of anonymity, said North Korea had placed together two stages of what is expected to be a three-stage rocket.

Once it has been positioned, North Korea will need several days to fuel the rocket which could, in theory, carry a warhead as far as Alaska. The only previous test of the rocket in 2006 ended in failure when it blew apart seconds after lift-off.

South Korea plans to dispatch an advanced destroyer capable of tracking and shooting down missiles to waters off the east coast, Yonhap news agency quoted government sources as saying.

The planned launch and growing tension on the Korean peninsula are beginning to worry financial markets in the South, although so far there has been only minor impact.

“If they really fire something, it would definitely shake the financial markets, but only briefly, as has been the case in many previous cases of provocation and clashes,” said Jung Sung-min, a fixed-income analyst at Eugene Futures.

U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, during a visit to Mexico, said on Wednesday the launch would deal a blow to six-party talks to end Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons programme.

Those talks sputtered to a halt in December over disagreement on how to check the North was disabling its nuclear facilities.

Pyongyang repeated its threat on Thursday to quit the six-party talks, which also involve South Korea, Russia, Japan, the United States and China, if it was punished.

CHINA TO BLOCK MORE SANCTIONS?

North Korea faces a range of U.N. sanctions and many analysts doubt new ones would get past China — the nearest Pyongyang has to a powerful ally — in the Security Council.

China, sticking to its low-key approach, said it hoped all “relevant parties will remain restrained and calm.”

Read it all by clicking on the title!!!

As war games begin, North Korea issues threat

Choe Sang-hun Published: March 9, 2009

SEOUL: As thousands of U.S. Marines poured into South Korea on Monday to open an annual joint military exercise, North Korea warned that it would attack the United States, Japan and South Korea if they tried to shoot down a satellite it says it plans to launch.

North Korea said the war games in South Korea were in preparation for an invasion of the North and put its 1.1 million-member military on standby for battle. It also cut off a military hot line, the only remaining channel of direct communication between the two Koreas, a move that stranded hundreds of South Korean workers at an industrial park in North Korea.

Amid the belligerent rhetoric, fears were growing in South Korea that the Communist regime in Pyongyang wouldresort to military provocations like a missile launch or a border attackin order to vent anger at the conservative Seoul government – which has stopped free food shipments to the North – and to force Washington to bargain over its missile and nuclear programs.

North Korea has employed such tactics in the past.

With North Korea expected to launch a satellite soon for what it called peaceful forces, its leaders vowed “a just retaliatory strike operation” against any efforts to stop the launch and said it would “mean a war” against the United States, South Korea and Japan.

Read it all. This is certainly NOT good news. The Dear Leader’s elevator has not gone all the way to the top in decades.

The proliferation chain that links North Korea and Iran


AP
THE final frontier is being assaulted by a couple of troubling pioneers. North Korean officials are boasting that they will soon launch a rocket that will lift a communications satellite into space. With this defiant spectacular, they seem to be cocking a snook at America, South Korea, Japan, China and Russia, who have been trying through six-party talks to curb North Korea’s equally vaunted nuclear-weapons efforts. Meanwhile, earlier in February, Iran—suspected of harbouring similar nuclear ambitions to North Korea’s, though it denies this—lifted its own small, supposedly home-made satellite into orbit too.

Both regimes trumpet their space prowess, and indeed such technological feats are not easy to achieve. But how do these “civilian” space efforts complement their terrestrial nuclear work? That is the question that deeply worries outsiders.

Quite simply, the technology needed to lift a satellite off the launch pad and shield it from damage on its way into space is indistinguishable from that needed to launch a far-flying nuclear-tipped ballistic missile.

… Kim Jong Il’s regime claims to have first embarked on its space adventures in 1998, when it launched a Taepodong-1 rocket over an alarmed Japan, across the Pacific towards a startled America. Mr Kim even issued a stamp to celebrate what was said to have been the successful launch of a satellite that had since been warbling patriotic tunes back from space. Oddly, no one else ever picked up its signal. A failed missile test, concluded America, after watching the rocket plop down in the Pacific.

Whether the satellite was a figment of Mr Kim’s imagination hardly matters. The latest promised test-launch will violate resolution 1718, which bans North Korea from all such activity. This was passed by the United Nations Security Council in 2006, unusually with China’s backing, after North Korea first tried (but failed) to launch a still more capable missile and then conducted what is thought to have been its first nuclear test. Its determination now to carry on launching regardless has led to speculation in some quarters that the missile, assuming it launches successfully, could even be shot down by the new ballistic-missile defences that Japan and America have been frantically cobbling together to protect Japan from North Korea’s missile threats.

…The North Korean media claim, not for the first time, that the two Koreas are at “the brink of war”, and that America is preparing a pre-emptive strike against the North.

Certainly Mr Kim is determined to look as threatening as possible. Writing in the Washington Post on February 19th, Selig Harrison, who is a frequent visitor to North Korea, said that the foreign-ministry and defence officials he talked to recently had left him with the impression that North Korea’s stash of plutonium (which is exhibit-A in the six-party talks, though there are lingering concerns that Mr Kim has also dabbled in enriched uranium, another possible bomb ingredient) had already been “weaponised”—that is, converted into missile warheads.

If that is the case, then North Korea’s “satellite” test will be doubly alarming. Although the 2006 nuclear test was thought to have fizzled, it may nonetheless have helped North Korea master a design for the sort of smaller warhead that a missile could carry.

Strutting its stuff
North Korea is evidently quite happy to brandish its bombs. It flounced out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty back in 2003 after evidence emerged that it had been cheating on an earlier denuclearisation deal with America. Iran, by contrast, claims to be an NPT member in good standing. It insists that it has no use for nuclear weapons, and that all its nuclear activities, including a uranium-enrichment effort that continues to expand in defiance of UN Security Council resolutions and sanctions, are entirely peaceful in intent; the uranium, it says, is simply intended to fuel a future fleet of power stations.

Nothing if not brazen, it claims backhanded vindication in a controversial National Intelligence Estimate by America’s spooks, which concluded a little over a year ago that Iran had indeed had a bomb programme, but that it had stopped in 2003 when its formerly secret uranium activities came to light. But what that report failed to explain clearly was that Iran was continuing work quite openly on the two other necessary components of a weapons programme: first, uranium enrichment (with a bit of time and redirection of piping, low-enriched uranium can easily be turned into the highly enriched sort needed for a bomb) and efforts to produce plutonium; and second, the efforts under way for the development of a missile that could carry a nuclear warhead.