North Korea

The South Offers China A Deal

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VLADIVOSTOK. President Putin talking with Kim ...

VLADIVOSTOK. President Putin talking with Kim Jong-Il, Chairman of the National Defence Commission of North Korea. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

April 25, 2013: Six weeks of aggressive threats to start a war have come to nothing for North Korea. None of this bluster has produced any needed aid (as in free food or fuel) or offers to reduce the sanctions. No one shows any sign of giving in to this latest barrage of threats. This is a major disappointment for the northern leadership. For over half a century you could always get something useful if you ranted and threatened long enough. The north cannot risk making good on these threats and starting an actual war, as they would lose big. North Korean military planners were taught the “correlation of forces” by their Russian mentors and have calculated the growing strength of the south and the decline of the north. All those smart bombs and combat-proven new tech the south and their allies have would make a mess of the north. But maybe another nuclear or long-range missile test will help.

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Is North Korea Making EMP Weapons?

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Electromagnetic Pulse
Electromagnetic Pulse (Photo credit: arbyreed)

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InnovationNewsDaily Staff

North Korea may be developing electromagnetic pulse weapons or bombs that could take out power grids — not to mention military and civilian electronics.

Such speculation comes from a Chinese military analyst’s article in the journal Bauhinia, according to the Washington Times. The Chinese military pointed out that North Korea has always planned to develop small nuclear weapons capable of creating such electromagnetic pulses (EMPs) — likely targeted at South Korean and U.S. military forces based in the southern half of the Korean peninsula.

The possibility of using EMPs as a weapon arose during early days of U.S. and Soviet nuclear testing during the Cold War. Nuclear blasts from those tests created EMPs as a secondary effect that led to some unexpected damage for civilian power grids and facilities.

Several countries, such as the U.S., have also investigated the possibility of making EMP weapons that don’t require nuclear blasts. But North Korea’s weapon-making efforts have recently focused upon expanding its nuclear arsenal. Read the rest of this entry »

Operation White North: Anonymous Demands Public Safety Minister Vic Toews Resign, E-Snooping Bill C-30 Scrapped

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The Huffington Post Canada  

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Vikileaks has been shut down, but Public Safety Minister Vic Toews isn’t out of hot water yet.

Hacker group Anonymous has posted a video demanding the resignation of Toews and calling for the controversial online surveillance bill C-30 to be scrapped.

The video’s message targets Toews for reintroducing bill C-30 despite backlash from internet users and privacy advocates.

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North Korea from 30,000 feet | Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

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Article Highlights

In the January/February issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Siegfried S. Hecker and Robert Carlin assessed North Korea‘s nuclear developments in 2011. That assessment preceded the death of Kim Jong-il on December 17. This article supplements the Hecker/Carlin piece with detailed overhead imagery, additional analysis of Pyongyang’s march toward a more threatening nuclear weapons capability, and brief commentary on how the accession of Kim Jong-un to leadership may influence North Korea’s nuclear trajectory.

The first publicly available overhead imagery that suggested North Korea was constructing a new nuclear reactor at its Yongbyon complex appeared on November 4, 2010. Charles L. Pritchard, a former special envoy for negotiations with North Korea and the president of the Korea Economic Institute, along with a delegation from the institute provided the first confirmation of this construction after a visit to Yongbyon that week. The following week, Yongbyon officials told PDF Stanford University’s John W. Lewis and two authors of this article (Hecker and Carlin) that the reactor was designed to be an experimental pressurized light water reactor (100 megawatts thermal, or 25-30 megawatts electric) to be fueled with low-enriched uranium fuel produced in a newly constructed centrifuge plant at the nearby Yongbyon fuel fabrication plant. The new reactor is being constructed on the former site of a cooling tower for a now-disabled, 5-megawatt electric, gas-cooled, graphite-moderated reactor that had been used to produce plutonium; the tower was demolished in 2008 as a step toward an eventual denuclearization agreement.

The Yongbyon construction site that Pritchard, Hecker, Carlin, and Lewis saw was essentially at the stage of development captured in the overhead image in Figure 1. The foundation slab had been poured, and the steel-reinforced concrete containment structure was about one meter high, on its way to a final height of 40 meters. Additional excavation was visible along with the construction of several new buildings that looked like storage sheds.

Figure 1

Overhead image that provided the first evidence of the construction
of a new reactor at the Yongbyon nuclear complex.

Overhead imagery tracks construction progress during the past year — from September 26, 2010, to November 3, 2011 — as shown in Figure 2. Early images indicated that the construction of this new light water reactor began in late September 2010, near the site of the destroyed cooling tower.

Figure 2

A time sequence of overhead images of the light water reactor
site tracking its development from September 2010 to November 2011.

The images show the rapid rate of construction of the reactor’s exterior, including the development of the reactor containment structure and the adjacent turbine generator hall. As the photos indicate, not much progress was made between December 2010 and April 2011, likely because of the harsh North Korean winter.

The September 23, 2011, annotated image shown in Figure 3 demonstrates that much has been done since May. The dashed lines represent underground cooling pipes running from a newly constructed pump house to the Kuryong River (as seen in a May 22 overhead not shown here). The reactor building containment dome is partially complete, and construction has begun on the turbine generator hall. Construction trucks can be seen in the right-hand corner of the image. On the north side of the reactor is the skeleton of a structure for transferring equipment into the reactor hall during annual maintenance outages.

Figure 3

Annotated diagram of the new reactor site, shown in a photo indicating
significant progress in construction.

The latest available close-up overhead image, taken on November 14, 2011 (Figure 4), shows that many of the reactor’s external components are almost complete. Much progress has been made on the turbine generator hall; a traveling crane rail is already visible. The structure of the turbine pedestal inside the turbine building is already apparent. This is significant; it indicates that North Korea has a turbine design and possibly the ability to manufacture a turbine generator set that will fit within the dimensions of the turbine pedestal now under construction. The reactor building containment dome on the east side of the reactor’s containment structure is complete and will be placed on top of the containment structure once the large internal components of the reactor’s core have been inserted. For the first time, we see the appearance of small cylindrical components near the dome; these are likely parts of the pressure vessel that will go inside the containment structure.

Figure 4

Close-up overhead image of the new reactor site. This is the most
up-to-date image publicly available.

Using overhead images from Figure 4, we constructed a 3-D model (Figure 5) of the light water reactor using the open-source program Google Sketchup. Based on the model, it is obvious that the reactor’s exterior is almost complete. The model also provides perspective on the size of the reactor, which will be 40 meters tall when completed and stretch 20 meters in diameter.

Figure 5

Three-dimensional model of the light water reactor based on the
latest satellite images.

Our analysis confirms Pyongyang’s plan to use this experimental reactor for electricity production. The rapid progress of construction also demonstrates that North Korea still has impressive manufacturing capabilities, in spite of the last two decades of economic downturn. However, we view this progress with alarm. Was the seismic analysis of the reactor site sufficiently rigorous? Did the regulatory authorities have the skills and independence required to license this reactor in such a short time period? And do Yongbyon specialists have sufficient experience with the very demanding materials requirements for the internal reactor components, including the pressure vessel, steam generator, piping, and fuel-cladding materials? Read the rest of this entry »

Kim Jong-Il: The “Great Successor

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December 19, 2011

by Nate Jones

Kim Jong-Il and Kim Il-Sung

Updated after the death of the “Dear Leader” Kim Jong-Il.

As the world speculates over what makes “Brilliant Comrade” Kim Jong-Un tick,  I figure it may be worthwhile to give this 1994 cable a re-read and remember that the next leader of North Korea won’t necessarily be better than the last.

It’s the 9 July 1994 cable announcing the death of North Korea’s “Great Leader,” Kim Il-Sung.  This State Department cable reported to embassies that it had learned of Kim Il-Sung’s death through North Korean media reports (not intelligence sources), and implied that other countries may have better intelligence on the situation than the US.  It instructed embassies abroad to use their foreign contacts because they “have representation in Pyongyang and are well positioned to provide information on developments.”

Father and Son

The cable alluded to the warming of relations between North Korea and the US during the early Clinton administration and appeared to be cautiously optimistic that Kim Il-Sung’s death would not derail North Korean engagement.  The cable hedged that “DPRK public themes are focusing on continuity of policy” although “we assume that North Koreans will turn inward during the is period of morning.”

This optimism  stemmed from the belief that Kim Il-Sung’s son, Kim Jong-Il would steer North Korea in a more pragmatic and engaged direction than his father.  In fact, an earlier 1990 Department of State memo entitled “Kim Jong-Il Takes Charge,” (also in the Two Koreas set) gave Kim Jong-Il almost complete credit for Korea’s recent foreign policy engagement. Read the rest of this entry »

Peering into North Korea’s Future: the Cyber Angle

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Looking out over the DMZ into the drab proto-industrial North Korean villages along the border.

With the death of North Korean dictator and “Dear Leader” Kim Jong Il, I join the rest of the world in welcoming this early Christmas gift… at least I hope that it proves to be so.

Egypt’s Mubarak is gone but the country is less stable; post-Qadhafi Libya’s political course is still an open question. So uncertainty is the only safe prediction about North Korea’s near-term political environment. But no nation’s people have endured such unrelenting deprivations (mass starvation, no fuel) for so long in the post-World War II era.

I have no special insight into North Korea’s future. My only DMZ visit on the Peninsula, with a close-up look at Panmunjeom and beyond it “the last Stalinist state on earth,” was in 2006 (see my photos and observations here).

But I have noted the Western-education background (and apparently technologically-intensive current activities) of “The Great Successor,” Kim’s son Kim Jong-Un. One can understand the intense focus which Western governments have trained on the younger Kim’s background and activities, for any clues into his plans – and the plans of those who surround him, or potentially could rival him. Read the rest of this entry »

Suspected assassin arrested: report

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September 16 2011 at 09:21am


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sxc.hu

Ampule and syringe on abstract coloured background.

SeoulSouth Korea’s intelligence agency has arrested a man allegedly sent by North Korea to assassinate an outspoken anti-Pyongyang activist with a poison-tipped needle, a news report said on Friday.

The man, identified only as An, was in possession of the needle and other weapons at the time of his arrest, Yonhap news agency said.

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