Korea experts are trying to establish whether North Korea’s shelling of a South Korean island is linked to recent disclosures about Pyongyang’s nuclear programme.
In a report published on 20 November US nuclear scientist Dr Sigmund Hecker confirmed Jane’s reports of activity at Yongbyon Nuclear Complex in North Korea, where an “ultra-modern” uranium enrichment plant is in operation.
On 23 November North Korea fired more than 170 artillery rounds at the island of Yeonpyeong in what it said was a response to “provocative” Republic of Korea (RoK) Navy exercises.
L Gordon Flake, executive director of The Maureen and Mike Mansfield Foundation, said that although there was unlikely to be a direct link between the nuclear revelations and the artillery attack, Pyongyang was using low-intensity and low-risk tactics to recapture the initiative in dealing with the international community.
Flake said “North Korea is not looking for escalation”, but added that the attacks left South Korean President Lee Myung-bak with “no good options” and put the US on the back foot.
Scott Snyder, director of the Center for US-Korea Policy in Washington, DC, said that he had “not yet found compelling evidence to suggest that the two incidents are linked”.
For the guys who want to know other possible attacks against North Korea, an article over at Debka is quite a read:
What was in the background of our foreign policy has now steamed to the forefront with the shelling of South Korea. The Wall Street Journal asks and answers if this incident was different than others in the past, in that while there have been military flare-ups between North and South, this is the first time a civilian area was hit. And it was almost fortuitous that I decided to post the night before this indecent a commentary by Chasrles Krauthammer that is worth re-posting here:
So how does all this change our foreign policy overnight in regard to this military cult? Jane’s posts a bit on one aspect that is now under scrutiny (non-subscriber section):
US nuclear scientist Dr Sig Hecker has confirmed Jane’s reports of activity at Yongbyon Nuclear Complex in North Korea and revealed that a state-of-the-art uranium enrichment plant is in operation at the site.
Hecker, who visited Yongbyon for the fourth time in mid-November, identified construction at the site as the foundation of a 100 MW thermal light-water reactor, a finding that has been confirmed by new satellite imagery.
A co-director of Stanford University’s Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC), Hecker wrote in a CISAC report published on 20 November that he had also seen a “small industrial-scale uranium enrichment facility with 2,000 centrifuges that was recently completed and said to be producing low enriched uranium (LEU) destined for fuel for the new reactor”.
The existence of the new reactor site is confirmed by satellite images taken on 4 November 2010 by DigitalGlobe’s WorldView-2. They show the newly paved concrete pad of the reactor core and the foundation of the reactor containment wall. The circular pad is about 22 metres in diameter and is situated within a 43 m 2 recently entrenched cut that will accommodate the reactor containment building.
Jane’s first reported renewed activity at this site after analysis of a 24 September 2010 GeoEye-1 satellite image showed four construction vehicles preparing the site. The concrete pad of the reactor has since been laid and two massive cranes – one tower crane with a 54 m horizontal jib and one mobile crane – have been deployed to the site.
China must persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear plans, a senior United States official has said, after the rogue state’s latest atomic plant was revealed.
The revelation that North Korea is building a new light water nuclear plant at its Yongbyon site was proof that it remains a “dangerous country” intent on making nuclear weapons, said Admiral Mike Mullen, chairman of the US military’s Joint Chiefs of Staff.
“We have to continue to bring pressure on [Kim Jong-il] specifically.
Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist at Stanford University, revealed at the weekend that he had been taken to a plant at the Yongbyon nuclear complex this month where he saw hundreds of centrifuges that North Korea said were operational.
North Korea has said the new facility is for electricity generation, but the sophistication of the plant has surprised experts, and drawn a warning from Robert Gates, the US Defence secretary, that North Korea may use the plant for enriching uranium.
Pyongyang may have deliberately shown its hand in order to gain an advantage in any upcoming negotiations on aid for disarmament.
So the question is this, and is really Charles suggestion, would it be wiser for us to ramp up Japan and South Korea (and Taiwan) to make the point hit home that China better do something with North Korea and stop playing games?
SEOUL, South Korea (AP) – North Korea published a photo in state media Thursday of leader Kim Jong Il’s youngest son and heir apparent Kim Jong Un in the first official image of him released.
A photo of a group of senior Workers’ Party officials was published in Thursday’s edition of the authoritarian regime’s main Rodong Sinmun newspaper.
An article accompanying the front-page photo listed the names of those in the picture. The 20-something Kim Jong Un was one of the officials named and appeared to be sitting near his father with a military officer between them.
The release of the photo comes after the younger Kim earlier this week was handed top military and party posts at a Workers’ Party conference….
“We endorse President Lee’s demand that North Korea immediately apologize and punish those responsible for the attack and, most importantly, stop its belligerent and threatening behavior,” the White House said.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak said today that North Korea would have to “pay a price” for the torpedo attack on a South Korean navy ship in March that killed 46 young sailors. …
….Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has made efforts to persuade Chinese officials support condemnation during the two-day annual U.S.-China high level talks in Beijing. She told reporters that they were “in the midst of very intensive consultations” and “the Chinese recognize the gravity of the situation we face.”
Clinton said both countries are “working hard to avoid an escalation, belligerence and provocation,” but “at the same time to send a message to North Korea that we are not simply resuming business as usual.”
(TownHall.com – Good Article, Should Read)
….SINCE OBAMA took office nearly a year and a half ago, Israel has agreed to Obama’s demand that it allow him to take the lead on international efforts to prevent Iran from becoming a nuclear power. Israel stood back as he wasted a year trying to woo Ahmadinejad often at Israel’s own expense as he linked Iran’s nuclear weapons program to the Palestinian conflict with Israel. Israel has stood back since then as he pushed forward UN sanctions.
And now, a year and a half later, Obama’s sanctions gambit is revealed as a dangerous joke. Iran is months away from the bomb. Hizbullah has an arsenal of guided missiles capable of hitting Tel Aviv and beyond. Iran’s diplomatic stature has soared to unprecedented heights as it runs diplomatic circles around Obama and his advisors. And Brennan wants to make a deal with Hizbullah.
South Korea’s acknowledgment of North Korea’s aggression places it on a collision course with the Obama administration which prefers to court Beijing for dollars than deal effectively with Pyongyang’s aggression. Israel has been on a collision course with Washington for a year and a half now as it insists in the face of US opposition that Iran’s nuclear program is the greatest threat to global security today.
Sadly, the US’s ridiculous sanctions resolution and its general diplomatic incompetence make clear is that it is time for Israel to risk escalating its crisis with Obama still further. It is time for Israel to take the lead in the international campaign to prevent Iran from acquiring nuclear weapons.