Pakistan and India Approach Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

maxresdefaultIndia-Pakistan tensions and the threat of nuclear war

Shalini Chawla

For more than five decades, the strategic situation in the South Asian region continues to be dominated by the strained India-Pakistan relationship. While the intensity of the tensions between the two neighbours has varied, the current decade has witnessed escalation in tension levels, increasing mistrust and inability to communicate between the two nations.

Recently, General Joseph L Votel, Commander US Central Command, in his statement before the Senate Armed Services Committee, raised concerns about the tensions between the two countries.

He said: “India remains concerned about the lack of action against India-focused militants based in Pakistan and even responded militarily to terrorist attacks in India-held territory earlier this year. We assess that these types of attacks and the potential reactions, increase the likelihood for miscalculation by both countries.”

Commenting on India’s stance on Pakistan’s diplomatic isolation, General Joseph said: “India’s public policy to ‘diplomatically isolate’ Pakistan hinders any prospects for improved relations. This is especially troubling as a significant conventional conflict between Pakistan and India could escalate into a nuclear exchange, given that both are nuclear powers.”

General Joseph’s statement caught ample media attention which was not unexpected. No doubt, the situation in the region is risky with two nuclear states sharing a hostile relationship. The question here is: Is New Delhi expected to absorb continued terror attacks without any response?

 

The writer is a senior fellow at the Centre for Air Power Studies, New Delhi.

Iranian Nukes Via North Korea

Experts: ‘Iran Is Progressing Toward Nuclear Weapons Via North Korea’

March 2, 2017

Evidence indicates Iran has outsourced its nuclear program, clandestinely circumventing the nuclear deal.

BY BRENT NAGTEGAAL

JERUSALEM—“Iran is steadily making progress towards a nuclear weapon and is doing so via North Korea,” two nuclear experts wrote in a new paper published by the Begin-Sadat Center for Strategic Studies on Tuesday. Dr. Rafael Ofek and Dr. Dany Shoham claim the collusion between the two rogue states creates a way for Iran to clandestinely circumvent the nuclear deal implemented with world powers on Jan. 16, 2016.

Iran is said to have helped North Korea by providing necessary funding, specific nuclear-related technologies and help with ballistic missile technologies.

Dr. Ofek and Dr. Shoham write:

From the 1990s onward, dozens—perhaps hundreds—of North Korean scientists and technicians apparently worked in Iran in nuclear and ballistic facilities. Ballistic missile field tests were held in Iran, for instance near Qom, where the North Korea missiles Hwasong-6 (originally the Soviet Scud-C, which is designated in Iran as Shehab-2) and Nodong-1 (designated in Iran as Shehab-3) were tested. Moreover, in the mid-2000s, the Shehab-3 was tentatively adjusted by Kamran Daneshjoo, a top Iranian scientist, to carry a nuclear warhead.

As further evidence of collusion, the authors say the Syrian nuclear reactor that was destroyed by an Israeli air strike in 2007 was constructed by North Korea (NK) and heavily financed by Iran.

The partnership ramped up in 2012, at the very same time the United States government began to look for ways to coax Iran into signing a nuclear compromise. In July 2012, the Obama administration wrote a secret message to Iranian leaders offering to open up a direct channel to resolve the nuclear agreement.

The paper states that, two months later:

A meaningful event took place … when Daneshjoo, then the Iranian minister of Science and Technology, signed an agreement with NK establishing formal cooperation. The agreement formally addressed such civil applications as “information technology, energy, environment, agriculture and food.” However, the memorandum of the agreement was ratified by Ali Akbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran. Iranian Supreme Leader Khamenei has since clarified that the agreement is an “outcome of the fact that Iran and NK have common enemies, because the arrogant powers do not accept independent states.” It is reasonable to infer that the agreement went far beyond its alleged civilian sphere.

In order for Iran to comply with the developing nuclear deal and yet continue its nuclear program, its leaders simply decided to outsource most of its work to North Korea while it negotiated the nuclear deal with the West that would result in desperately needed relief from economic sanctions.

Between 2013 and 2016, Iranian scientists were often covertly present at North Korea’s nuclear tests. Numerous North Korean delegations also visited Iran during this time; the last of which came one month before the nuclear deal was agreed to in June 2015.

According to the paper, some in the U.S. government at the time were aware of collusion between Iran and North Korea and did not do enough to stop it.

Finally, in April 2016, a remarkable clash arose between Deputy Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Rep. Brad Sherman (D-CA) during a U.S. House Foreign Affairs Committee hearing. They locked horns over planes that fly between Iran and NK, which should land and be rigorously inspected in China so as to ensure the prevention of NK proliferation of nuclear and missile technology, let alone actual nuclear weapons, to Iran. Sherman charged that this had not been handled with sufficient care by the Obama administration.

Dr. Ofek and Dr. Shoham summarized their findings this way:

The chronology, contents and features of the overt interface between Iran and NK mark an ongoing evolutionary process in terms of weapons technologies at the highest strategic level. The two countries have followed fairly similar nuclear and ballistic courses, with considerable, largely intended, reciprocal technological complementarity. The numerous technological common denominators that underlie the [nuclear weapon] and ballistic missile programs of Iran and NK cannot be regarded as coincidental. Rather, they likely indicate—in conjunction with geopolitical and economic drives—a much broader degree of undisclosed interaction between Tehran and Pyongyang.

Iran’s connection to North Korea is something the Trumpet has watched for several years. In a recent update to his booklet The King of the South, editor in chief Gerald Flurry asks, “Why were Iranian officials present for North Korea’s illegal nuclear weapons tests? Are the Iranians outsourcing their nuclear program, or at least parts of their nuclear bombs? It certainly appears that way. The Iranians are watching these tests for a reason.”

Gerald Flurry called the nuclear deal with Iran the worst foreign-policy blunder in American history. This is particularly true if it turns out that Iran simply made its nuclear program a joint venture with North Korea. According to the paper, it’s also likely that much of the $150 billion transferred to Iran under the nuclear deal actually went to funding its continued nuclear arrangement with North Korea.

US Puts Pressure On North Korea

US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea

US & South Korea launch large-scale war games amid tensions with North Korea
The US and South Korea have kicked off Foal Eagle, an annual joint military exercise that has been denounced by North Korea as a rehearsal for invasion. The exercise comes amid tensions in the region following North Korea’s recent missile test.

South Korea’s Defense Ministry and the US military based in the South confirmed the commencement of the joint drills on Wednesday.

The exercise is a field training exercise involving ground, air, and naval forces from both US and South Korea that will run through the end of next month. The two allies are likely to deploy their major strategic assets in the drills to deliver a warning against what they see as North Korean provocations. In March, both countries also plan to separately conduct Key Resolve practice, a computer-simulated command post exercise, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency reported, citing the South Korean Defense Ministry.

US Defense Secretary Jim Mattis and South Korean Defense Minister Han Min-Koo had a phone conversation early on Wednesday, in which Mattis expressed Washington’s commitment to the defense of its ally.

“Secretary Mattis said that the United States remains steadfast in its commitment to the defense of [South Korea]. He further emphasized that any attack on the United States or its allies will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with a response that is effective and overwhelming,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis said in a readout, as cited by Yonhap.

Mattis also welcomed the land-swap deal that South Korea signed with the Lotte Group on Tuesday of this week, which will see the South host America’s THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defense) defense missile system.

This land transfer will support the alliance’s decision to station Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, a defensive weapons system, in ROK [South Korea] as soon as feasible. This is a critical measure to defend the ROK people and alliance forces against North Korean missile threats,” Davis said.

The deal will see the Lotte Group trade its golf course for military-owned land near Seoul, South Korea’s capital. The golf course will become the future home of the advanced THAAD system, which is designed to intercept short, medium, and intermediate-range ballistic missiles during their terminal flight phase. Equipped with long-range radar, it is believed to be capable of intercepting North Korea’s intermediate-range ballistic missiles.

Both Seoul and Washington claim the system is a defensive measure to counter Pyongyang, while Moscow has urged those involved to consider the escalated tensions it will inevitably cause.

Beijing has also questioned the controversial deployment, with the Chinese Foreign Ministry once again reminded Seoul last month of its strategic “concerns,” stressing its “clear opposition” to THAAD’s deployment on South Korean soil.

Some South Koreans have criticized the deployment as well. A demonstration was staged to protest the land-swap on Tuesday, and people living closest to the golf course have even filed a lawsuit against the South Korean Defense Ministry.

South Korea aims bring the system online by the end of the year, with a military official saying last week that the deployment could be completed by August.

In the phone call with Mattis, Han Min-Koo said that this year’s joint drills will be similar in scale to those held in 2016, which the South’s Defense Ministry called the “largest-ever” at the time. He also said the exercises, which have been held annually since 1997, contribute to peace on the Korean Peninsula.

Both defense chiefs promised to monitor possible North Korean provocations and strengthen military cooperation in order to improve mutual combat-readiness.

On Tuesday, North Korean leader Kim Jong-un inspected the headquarters of a major military unit and issued guidance on increasing combat readiness, Reuters cited North Korea’s official KCNA news agency as reporting.

Last month, Kim Jong-un announced that his country’s military is capable of test-launching an inter-continental ballistic missile, warning that it could reach the US mainland at any time, from any location.

However, US President Donald Trump has brushed off the threat, saying North Korea will never succeed in acquiring an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of that distance.

The joint drills come amid increased tensions with North Korea following its test firing of a new Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile in February, which the state hailed as a major military achievement, but drew angry reactions from its regional neighbors and the US.

Last year’s Foal Eagle exercise involved about 17,000 American troops and more than 300,000 South Korean service members. Although the two countries have held larger joint drills, these were the biggest war games conducted under the current format adopted in 2008 named Key Resolve/Foal Eagle. Last year drills prompted North Korea to order artillery drills simulating an attack on the residence of South Korea’s president, with Kim promising to turn Seoul “into rubble and ashes” if it challenges Pyongyang.

North Korea rescinded its signature to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003 and announced its intention to build a nuclear arsenal, which it deems necessary for defending itself from the US and its regional allies, South Korea and Japan. The UN Security Council has passed several resolutions condemning Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles and has imposed economic sanctions on North Korea to hinder its programs’ advancement.

Iran’s Nuclear Collusion With Korea

ANALYSIS: Is Iran’s collusion with North Korea a nuclear threat to the world?

By Tony Duheaume Friday, 24 February 2017

With North Korean leader Kim Jung Un having announced the detonation of the DPRK’s fifth nuclear device on September 9, 2016, which was said to have been a miniaturized nuke capable of being fitted to a missile, it came close to a time when Iran had openly admitted that it was accelerating its missile development program, making both Iran’s and Korea’s programs to run almost parallel.

But as well as the detonation of a nuke, it also became apparent that a missile launched by North Korea toward Japan on 14 February, 2017, had a solid fuel engine, which in turn, made it fully road mobile, and much quicker to prepare for launch. The missile was also launched from a tractor-erector-launcher unit, which means it could be transported along roads or across rough terrain, and with it being driven to an undisclosed site, it would make it much harder for an enemy to detect.

At the same time, Kim Jung-Un also announced that by the end of 2017, his military will have tested a cruise missile that can reach the United States, and thus, with Iran’s program picking up momentum at the same pace as North Korea’s, it almost seems as though the two countries are in collusion with each other.

Considering the two nation’s statements came so close together, with both accelerating military programs which can cause mass devastation, it leaves a lot of speculation as to whether this is simply coincidental, or it had been planned well in advance. With so much talk about Iran having secret nukes in North Korea, the proof has always been there as far as the two countries past cooperation is concerned over each of their nuclear programs, and experience has shown; what North Korea has today, Iran has tomorrow, or visa versa.

Back to the 80s

North Korea has assisted the Iranian regime militarily since its early days in power. In 1981, when the Iranian’s opened a terrorist training camp at Manzarieh in northern Tehran, among the earliest trainers to arrive on site was a group of North Korean military personnel, and it was thanks to the brain washing techniques taught by these specialist trainers, Iran has been able to transform gullible recruits at its camps into lethal human bombs, and it went on to develop suicide terrorism into the lethal form of unconventional warfare we see today.

During the Iran/Iraq war, a conflict, which lasted from September 1980 to August 1988, Iran had taken a severe beating from the bombardment of Iraqi missiles raining down on its cities, and with the country being the subject of severe sanctions, arms were almost impossible to procure, and so its main missile supplier had been North Korea.

As hostilities intensified, in a war that eventually saw a body count of one million, North Korea found it impossible to keep pace with the supply of missiles needed by Iran for the battlefront. It was at this point, the Iranian regime came to realise its weaknesses in the air war, and was determined to build up its own missile capability, which would eventually lead to the regime achieving self-reliance through an indigenous production line.

It was in 1985, Akbar Hashemi Rafsanjani, who at the time head of Iran’s Parliament, signed an agreement to launch a cooperative missile and nuclear development program with North Korea, agreeing to fund the production of North Korea’s 300-kilometre-range Scud-B missiles, and also give financial support for its research and development program pursuing missile and nuclear technology, as well as the sharing of test data and weapons designs, which has continued throughout the decades.

During the 1990s, Iran and North Korea came together in the development of Iran’s Shahab medium range missile, which was almost identical to the North Korean Nodong, and had many of its components imported from North Korea. As the years went on, the two countries were said to have collaborated on many other missile systems, and together had produced Iran’s Shahab-3 and Shahab-4, and the longer Shahab-5 and Shahab-6.

Technology transfer

Then as far as the transfer of technology is concerned, the North Korean Hwasong-10, also known by the names BM-25 and Musudan, a mobile intermediate-range missile that was first on display during a military parade on October 2010, was seen to feature a triconic cone that was almost identical to that of Iran’s indigenously produced Ghadar-1.

But one thing that is really perturbing is how the Supreme Leader of Iran, Ali Khamenei, and the North Korean leader, Kim Jung Un, share the same intense hatred of the USA. On top of this, they have pursued an illicit nuclear program for decades, through which they have often shared technology to help each other out, with the endgame of producing nuclear weapons, as well as missiles capable of carrying them, and they now seem to be intent on developing an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), which is capable of carrying a nuclear warhead to reach the shores of the United States.

Over the years, with the two countries having worked together in all fields of missile and nuclear technology, some reports suggest that in 2006, an Iranian team was present when North Korea successfully tested a bomb at a secret underground location, and that a group of Iranian scientists were invited to study the results of the blast, which could be useful preparation for Tehran’s possible testing of its own device at some point in the future.

With the aid of North Korea, Iran has acquired the largest and most diverse ballistic missile arsenal in the Middle East, which makes the prospect of Iran obtaining a nuclear weapon even scarier, and with the two countries having shared so much technology in the fields of both nuclear weapons and missile development, it makes it all the more conceivable that North Korea could well be testing a bomb for Iran.

But to add to the fear, with the North Koreans having already tested five devices, the first in October 2006, which had produced a one kiloton explosion, the second in May 2009 which produced a four kiloton blast, the third in February 2013 which produced a yield of four kilotons, and a fourth device on 6 January 2016, which North Korea announced to be its first successful testing of a hydrogen bomb, although the weapon was not large enough to be a thermonuclear device, it could well have involved some nuclear fusion, but whichever the case, it had been enough to alarm the international community.

Then on September 9, 2016, North Korea announced its fifth detonation, it had an estimated yield of 10-kilotons, which it was claimed to be that of a nuclear warhead, and could be mounted on a ballistic missile.

The atomic bomb that was dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, had the yield of 15-kilitons, which meant that the North Koreans are fast on a path to meet this, and with its latest missile test on 12 Feb, 2017, having reached an altitude of 550 km (340 miles), and Kim Jung Un boasting that his military would have an ICBM by the end of 2017, and his further claim of being able to miniaturise a nuclear device, it has most definitely left Donald Trump with his first major headache as President of the United States.

Fissile material

It has been estimated that North Korea already has enough stocks of fissile material to construct at least twenty bombs, added to the fact that its boffins have the capacity to produce enough reserves of fissile material to produce in the region of six or seven WMDs a year, plus the fact that that the two regimes have been known to eagerly share each others technology, should either Kim Jung Un or his close trading partner Ali Khamenei end up being confronted by the U.S., they could in theory soon have an ICBM fitted with a nuclear device be ready to launch against it.

The Iran deal was no deterrent in stopping Iran from pursuing the test-firing of nuclear-capable missiles, as despite the regime denying its pursuit of nuclear weapons; it is still intent on developing missiles capable of carrying them.

Although the present missiles being tested are only presently able to strike short range, medium range, and intermediate-range targets, their long-term goal is to produce one with an intercontinental reach, which is close to fruition, and the Iran Deal has already given the regime billions of dollars to pursue this, as well as subsidise its impoverished partner to pursue its own nuclear agenda.

The Islamic Korea Connection

Image result for pakistan korea nuclear
Posted : 2017-02-22 17:55
Updated : 2017-02-22 17:55
By Jack Burton

North Korea’s launch of the Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile is another example of the steady advancement that Pyongyang has made in developing its nuclear and missile arsenal. But it also raises the question of how Pyongyang has been able to master such technology.

Pyongyang’s propaganda proclaimed the test of the intermediate range missile as an example of “a new strategic weapon of our own style,” implying that North Korean technicians had developed the missile from scratch. But most analysts believe that North Korea has always received help from other countries in developing its nuclear and missile program since the 1980s.

The four main enablers of the North’s quest for weapons of mass destruction have been Russia, China, Iran and Pakistan.

Western analysts are now debating who might have helped in developing Pukguksong-2. The missile does represent significant technical progress for North Korea. It is a solid fuel missile, similar to the submarine-launched one, the Pukguksong-1, that Pyongyang tested last year. Solid-fueled missiles allow for greater mobility and quicker launches than liquid-fueled missiles that make them easier to hide, but their technology is also more difficult to master.

What has surprised analysts is the rapid pace that North Korea has shown in developing a solid-fueled missile after years spent testing liquid-fueled ones. That has increased suspicions that North Korea has received outside help.

Some analysts believe that both Pukguksong missiles bear a resemblance to China’s submarine-launched JL-1 submarine-launched missile and land-based DF-21 version. North Korea has already used related Chinese-made mobile missile systems, including transporter-erector-launcher(TEL) vehicles, although apparently the TEL used in the Pukguksong-2 launch was of its own design.

But instead of acquiring the Pukguksong technology directly from China, North Korea could have also gotten it from Pakistan, which has developed its own arsenal of mobile, solid-fuel medium-range missiles with the help of China.

Pakistan, of course, has been implicated before in the North’s nuclear program. Pyongyang is believed to have obtained centrifuge technology in the 1990s from the smuggling network of A.Q. Khan, the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, to construct a large uranium enrichment facility for its nuclear program.

The fingerprints of foreign assistance have been evident throughout North Korea’s missile development over the last 40 years. In the 1970s, China offered to transfer technology to Pyongyang to produce liquid-fueled tactical missiles and trained North Korean scientists in the design and production of missile airframes and engines.

A decade later, North Korea was collaborating with Egypt in reverse engineering the Soviet Scud-B missile, whose technology dated from the 1950s. Iran was also said to have become involved in this process as well. This led to the North Korea’s deployment of the mobile, short-ranged Hwasong-5 missile.

Scud technology, including some possibly obtained from China, led to the development of the larger and longer-range mobile Nodong missile by 1990s. North Korea then sold the missiles to Iran, Pakistan and Syria as part of an exchange of technologies and test data.

There are suggestions that North Korea acquired obsolete missile production lines from Russia following the collapse of the Soviet Union. This would have enabled it to begin developing multi-stage rockets, such as Taepodong missile, that represent a serious technical challenge to overcome.

When North Korea launched the Unha-2 rocket in 2009 in an unsuccessful attempt to place a satellite in orbit, analysts noticed that the third stage appear to match that of the last stage of Iran’s Safir satellite launcher, which has been successfully tested by Tehran several months earlier.Analysts also believed that the second stage of the Unha-2 may have been based on a 1960s-era Soviet submarine-launched ballistic missile, increasing speculation that Pyongyang had acquired outdated production lines from Russia.

Given the history of the North Korean missile program and its apparent heavy reliance on foreign technology, it is clear that the most obvious way to stop Pyongyang’s missile development would be to curb outside assistance instead of relying on economic sanctions alone.

In theory, international mechanisms, such as 35-nation Missile Technology Control Regime, are already in place to prevent the proliferation of missile technology. But among North Korea’s four main missile “enablers,” only Russia is a member of this organization.

It would appear then that the U.S. and the rest of the international community should apply increased pressure on China, Iran and Pakistan to stop supplying missile technology to North Korea instead of just focusing on punishing Pyongyang.

But the success of such effort will be difficult. Much of the equipment involved in missile production isconsidered “dual use” for civilian purposes as well and thus hard to regulate in terms of trade. This will continue to give North Korea many opportunities to acquire the needed technology and production hardware from complacent governments or rogue scientists and engineers.

John Burton, a former Korea correspondent for the Financial Times, is now a Washington,. D.C.-based journalist and consultant. He can be reached at johnburtonft@yahoo.com.

Preparing For Nuclear War (Revelation 15)

Nuclear_WarWhich nuclear threats should we worry most about?

Greg Thielmann | Iowa View contributor3:02 p.m. CT Feb. 19, 2017

During his 24-day reign as national security adviser, Michael Flynn put non-nuclear Iran “on notice” after it conducted a medium-range ballistic missile test in late January. Flynn directed no comparable warning to nuclear North Korea after it conducted a more significant missile test two weeks later. Meanwhile, no one had apparently put Flynn “on notice” about his multiple conversations with the Russian government concerning U.S. sanctions in the wake of Moscow’s interference in the U.S. elections.

Between the internal politics of the Trump White House, the political maneuverings of foreign governments, and the arcane technical details of nuclear missile programs, it is difficult to make sense of it all. But it is important for us to try, because our reactions to this news may make the difference between war and peace.

Of the world’s nine nuclear weapons states, three are potential adversaries; two can destroy our country in short order: Russia and China. If either decided to launch an all-out nuclear attack, there is nothing — including our missile defenses — that could spare us from nuclear annihilation. Fortunately, the Russians and Chinese know that such an attack would result in their own countries being destroyed in response.

North Korea is our only other adversary with nuclear weapons. It is some years away from being able to attack the United States, but it can already contemplate nuclear attacks on U.S. allies or U.S. military forces in the Pacific. Yet its leadership also understands that such an attack would be suicidal.

Nuclear-armed India and Pakistan confront each other across a disputed common border with an imbalance in conventional power. They have waged four wars against each other since gaining independence and have still not achieved a stable relationship. A nuclear war involving these two states alone could kill 20 million people within a week and put some two billion at risk from starvation worldwide.

Other nuclear dangers derive from the large arsenals held by the nine nuclear weapons states. If a terrorist group acquired even a single nuclear device, it would pose a potent threat of blackmail. Nuclear use would be undeterrable and disastrous if detonated in an urban area.

How should these threats be ranked? I hold an India-Pakistan nuclear conflict as being the most likely, with nuclear terrorism a close second. The most dangerous dynamic is the unconstrained nuclear and missile testing of North Korea — partly because it risks provoking a “preventive” first-strike by the United States.

I do not include Iran on this list of potential near-term nuclear horrors. Although Iran may have a hostile government, which abuses human rights and aids terrorists in the region, it is also an enemy to ISIS and al-Qaida — the top terrorist targets of the United States. Most important, it agreed to and is complying with a seven-country nuclear deal, which effectively blocks for 15 years all paths to acquiring the material needed to build a nuclear bomb — and it is not testing long-range ballistic missiles.

Our top goals now should be achieving mutual reductions in the huge Russian and U.S. nuclear arsenals, seeking resolution of the Indian-Pakistani differences aggravating their nuclear arms race, negotiating a freeze on North Korea’s nuclear program, and strengthening safeguards against terrorist acquisition of nuclear material.

During my career, I often noticed how vulnerable the public is to willful manipulation of the facts dealing with foreign threats. I personally witnessed the deliberate distortion of information related to Iraq’s nuclear weapons program prior to our 2003 invasion. I worry today that the Trump administration is paving the way for a war against Iran. The first step off that path is to demand the facts — not “Flynn facts” or “alternative facts,” just the facts.

Greg Thielmann, a native of Newton, is a 25-year veteran of the U.S. Foreign Service, who subsequently served as a Senate Intelligence Committee staffer and as a senior fellow of the Arms Control Association.

The Iran-North Korea Connection

North Korea’s military cooperation with Iran is not surprising. The two nations have maintained a relatively consistent partnership since the 1979 Iranian Revolution. This alliance has persisted despite the stark contrast between North Korea’s strict crackdowns on religious belief and the theocratic nature of the Iranian regime. Favorable relations between the DPRK and Iran can be explained by both countries’ common anti-American foreign policy identities, and North Korea’s provision of vital technological assistance to Iran’s military.

Despite Seoul’s disapproval of Iran’s ties with North Korea, the scandal is unlikely to cause a lasting rift between Seoul and Tehran. Any erosion of diplomatic relations with Iran would jeopardize South Korea’s vital economic interests and implicitly erode the credibility of its efforts to push for an Iran-style grand bargain with North Korea.

North Korea and Iran: A Long-Standing Defense Partnership

The 1979 Iranian revolution, which overthrew the pro-American Shah, resulted in Tehran facing international isolation due to its hostile relations with both the Western and Soviet blocs. While Iran and the DPRK established diplomatic relations after Khomeini’s rise to power, both countries were cautious to form a full-fledged partnership. Iran feared that aligning too closely with North Korea would eviscerate any hopes of cooperation with South Korea. Similarly, North Korea believed that it could provide military assistance to Iran and still retain Iraq as a trade partner, even though war broke out between Iran and Iraq in 1980.

While Iran was successful in keeping South Korea as a strategic partner, despite the ROK’s close alliance with the United States, North Korea’s relations with Iraq broke down in 1982 after Saddam Hussein snubbed the DPRK by sending an unofficial representative to a covert summit in Pyongyang. This diplomatic rift caused North Korea to provide Tehran with Scud missiles and artillery that could be employed against the Iraqi military.

The collapse of the Soviet Union abruptly ended North Korea’s access to subsidized oil in 1991. It forced the DPRK to look to Iran, one of the few oil-rich countries with which it had diplomatic relations, as a potential energy source. Iran restructured North Korea’s debt in 1987 and strengthened its energy linkages with the DPRK, in exchange for North Korean assistance in its missile technology and nuclear programs.

There is evidence that both countries engaged in military technology sharing during the 1990s. Alon Levkowitz, a professor at Tel Aviv’s Bar-Ilan University, contends that Iran probably shared test data with the DPRK after its 1998 launch of the Shabab-3 missile and that Russian metallurgical assistance to Iran’s missile program indirectly benefited Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions.

This cooperation intensified after North Korea successfully tested a nuclear bomb in 2006. South Korean press reports revealed in 2011 that hundreds of DPRK scientists were working in Iranian nuclear facilities, assisting Tehran in computer technology development. Iranian scientists were also allegedly present during North Korea’s 2013 nuclear test. In the months leading up to the July 2015 nuclear deal, North Korea sent three delegations to assist Iran in developing nuclear warhead and ballistic missile systems.

This long-standing technological cooperation combined with North Korea’s support for Iranian regional allies, Hezbollah and Bashar Al-Assad in Syria, explains the continued cooperation between Tehran and Pyongyang. As North Korea continues to upgrade its missile and nuclear technologies in the face of crippling sanctions, a revival of its historic oil-for-weapons partnership with Iran could play a vital role in keeping its economy afloat.

The response from Washington and Seoul

Revelations of North Korean military cooperation with Iran predictably resulted in fierce condemnations from Republicans in the United States, who scathingly opposed the Iran nuclear deal. Rep. Ted Poe, a Republican Congressman from Texas and member of House Foreign Affairs Committee, wrote an op-ed for The Hill, highlighting the destabilizing consequences of Iran’s continued nuclear cooperation with the DPRK.

Poe contends that the Iran deal gave Tehran billions of dollars that could be diverted to the development of ballistic missiles. As North Korea has been a trusted arms supplier to Iran since the 1980s and has a cash-strapped economy, Pyongyang stands to be a major beneficiary of this extra income. The security threat to Israel and the United States resulting from an enhanced DPRK-Iran partnership would be amplified further in eight years time, once the ballistic missile ban is lifted and Iranian missile development is no longer covert.

From South Korea’s standpoint, however, the DPRK’s cooperation with Iran is a mere minor setback and an unsurprising development. South Korea has a long history of maintaining close trade relations with Iran, despite the ROK’s alliance with the United States and public disdain for Iran’s broader foreign policy. In a 2014 BBC World Service poll, only 12 percent of South Koreans viewed Iran as a positive influence in the world, yet South Korean diplomats and business leaders have worked to strengthen foreign investment linkages, energy sector cooperation, and cultural ties.

Three factors explain why Iran’s renewal of ties with North Korea is unlikely to significantly weaken the Tehran-Seoul partnership. First, South Korea’s economy, for decades, has relied extensively on Iranian oil shipments, though tightened UN sanctions against Tehran caused a decline in South Korea’s oil imports from Iran. In 2009, Iran was the ROK’s fourth largest source of crude oil, shipping 157,000 barrels per day. In 2015, thanks to UN, EU, and U.S. sanctions targeting Iran’s oil exports, South Korea’s imports of Iranian oil dropped to 114,595 bpd. However, both sides hope to nearly double that figure by the end of this year.

The Iran nuclear deal’s ratification has led to a massive upsurge in oil shipments to South Korea from Tehran, with an 81 percent increase observed between March 2015 and March 2016. South Korea has made a particularly large investment in Iranian condensate, a light form of oil that can be processed into fuels and petrochemicals. While South Korea could import condensates from Qatar, Iran’s chief industry rival, Tehran’s urgent need to re-enter the global energy trade after a period of prolonged isolation means it would be more likely than Doha to make deals on Korean terms. This ensures that Seoul and Tehran will continue to cooperate in the energy sector regardless of Iran’s military linkages with North Korea.

Second, China’s economic slowdown and the accompanying plunge in South Korean exports to the PRC, has caused South Korea to expand linkages with its other major trade partners. Last month’s Korea-Iran Joint Economic Committee confirmed this trend, as both countries agreed to expanded trade relations in infrastructure, power plant construction and information technology. As the volume of South Korea’s international exports have shrunk for 14 consecutive months (the longest slump in the ROK’s modern history, according to Forbes), the ROK can ill afford to alienate Iran during a time of economic vulnerability.

Finally, acknowledging the failure of diplomacy with Iran to curb Tehran’s belligerence would be a major blow to the credibility of the South Korean government. Since the 2013 Geneva talks, South Korea has cited Western progress toward the suspension of Iran’s nuclear program as a precedent for similar engagement with North Korea. Cutting back economic cooperation with Iran at a time when the United States is aspiring toward normalized relations would be a tacit acknowledgement of diplomacy’s shortcomings and would make the problem of North Korean aggression appear even more intractable to an already skeptical public.

Continued military cooperation between North Korea and Iran is a setback for Western policymakers seeking to normalize relations with Tehran and make the Iranian regime less belligerent on the world stage. Ironically, South Korea, the country most affected by this pernicious development, has a very low capacity for retaliation and this ensures that the South Korea-Iran partnership will continue to expand regardless of Iranian collaboration with Pyongyang.

Samuel Ramani is a journalist and MPhil student in Russian and East European Studies at St. Antony’s College, University of Oxford.

North Korea Enriching More Uranium

North Korea secretly producing highly enriched uranium, analyst says

By Elizabeth Shim Contact the Author   |   Feb. 8, 2017 at 10:21 PM

Feb. 8 (UPI) — North Korea could have about 100 pounds of plutonium and 600 pounds of highly enriched uranium in its arsenal, a South Korean analyst said Thursday, local time.

Lee Sang-hyun, a chief researcher at the Sejong Institute, a South Korean think tank, said at a conference in Seoul North Korea could have been secretly producing highly enriched uranium, or HEU, while staying relatively undetected, Yonhap reported.

HEU can be produced in small-scale facilities, unlike plutonium that requires larger stations like nuclear reactors, Lee said.

Lee said his findings indicate North Korea can produce about 13 pounds of plutonium annually, while its cache of HEU increases by 176 pounds every year.

The South Korean researcher said it typically takes 4-13 pounds of plutonium to produce a nuclear warhead, and 33-44 pounds of HEU to make a similar payload.

“North Korea appears to have used HEU in its fifth nuclear test [last September], and the demonstration of a relatively strong explosive power can mean the country has produced enough HEU,” Lee said.

The amount of fissile material in North Korea’s possession means it is at an advantage when miniaturizing nuclear warheads. The country can produce more nuclear weapons with smaller quantities of nuclear material, the researcher said.

Lee said “pressure diplomacy” must be strengthened while making it known to the North the objective is not the collapse or the removal of the regime.

Park Byung-kwan, a director at government-run Institute for National Security Strategy, said he is concerned about the “void in South Korean leadership.”

Park also said North Korea could go ahead with the test-launch of a long-range missile if Pyongyang decides it did not make a breakthrough in U.S.-North Korea relations with the new Trump administration.

North Korea has previously requested a peace treaty from the United States, and recognition as a nuclear weapons state.

Trigger To The First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

Kashmir dispute can trigger Pak-India nuclear war: Bilawal

The Nation

WASHINGTON : The Chairman Pakistan People’s Party (PPP), Bilawal Bhutto Zardari, stated that there is no visible success in Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif’s internal and foreign policy.

Addressing at the United States Institute of Peace (USIP), Bilawal Bhutto stressed that there will be no peace and prosperity in the region, unless Kashmir issue is resolved.

He said that the likelihood of Pakistan and India waging a nuclear war is high if Kashmir dispute is not addressed. The PPP chairman hoped that India would not use water as a weapon of war against Pakistan.

Bilawal emphasised that Islamic extremism was not a tap that can be turned on and off and re-iterated that “Pakistan’s role and sacrifices in the war against terrorism cannot be ignored.”

Responding to a question relating to relations with new administration in United States, Bilawal said that nothing could be said about Trump administration’s future policy regarding Pakistan.

Before the First Nuclear War (Revelation 8)

An Inevitable War

An Inevitable War

Why the World Needs to Watch the India-Pakistan Nuclear Standoff

Michael Krepon
January 29, 2017

Nuclear dangers are growing in five different regions. The least noticed is South Asia. New Delhi has not been able to figure out how to deal with militant groups that enjoy safe havens in Pakistan. So far, India’s options have been to do nothing after attacks or execute war plans that invite mushroom clouds. A third option, which involves commando raids, may now be coming into view.

During seven decades of strained relations, Indian war planning has been downsized from fighting major conflicts to fighting limited conventional wars. Comparatively speaking, moving from limited conventional war to commando raids is a step in the right direction. But this progression offers little consolation when the potential for escalation is ever present, and when nuclear weapons serve as a backdrop to every military encounter.

India’s classic war plan against Pakistan centered on large-scale, time-consuming mobilizations along two main fighting corridors. This plan didn’t help India after the “Twin Peaks” crisis, sparked by a brazen attack on the Indian parliament in 2001. India carried out a massive mobilization, but Pakistan’s army deployed faster after a delayed start, which made the prospect of a full-scale conventional war under the shadow of nuclear weapons a poor choice for New Delhi.

War plans don’t go away; they evolve. India’s army then pivoted to plans for quick strikes and shallow advances along many possible avenues of attack. Rawalpindi countered by embracing nuclear weapons tailored for various kinds of battlefield use. The Indian Army’s so-called “Cold Start” doctrine remains on the books, even though implementation is problematic due to long-standing disconnects in civil-military relations, joint-military operations and military procurement. More importantly, a limited conventional war, no matter how carefully planned, may not stay limited. India’s civilian leaders have yet to endorse the army’s plans, and didn’t employ them after the 2008 Mumbai attacks.

Since then, Pakistan has been more victimized by acts of terror than India. But because the perpetrators are overwhelmingly homegrown—and since they have refrained from attacking Indian targets—their carnage does not prompt war scares on the subcontinent.

In contrast, attacks against Indian targets that originate in Pakistan have clear escalatory potential. They typically occur after New Delhi makes overtures to improve relations with Pakistan. Prime Minister Narendra Modi has made three such overtures. He invited Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif to attend his inauguration in May 2014, he agreed in July 2015 to resume a composite dialogue on all outstanding issues, and he made an unannounced visit to Lahore bearing birthday and wedding gifts for Nawaz Sharif and his family on Christmas Day 2015.

Attacks on Indian military camps or consulates in Afghanistan followed after each of these overtures. After the attack on the Indian military outpost at Uri last September, Modi dispensed with diplomacy and adopted a very hard line. The announcement of “surgical strikes” across the Kashmir divide followed, and were reinforced by pointed references to Pakistan’s jugular—stirring up greater disaffection in Baluchistan and revisiting the Indus Waters Treaty.

Relations between India and Pakistan are now stuck in a bad place and have poor prospects of improvement in the near term. Bilateral diplomacy is limping along, the Kashmir Valley is seething due to ham-fisted governance and a lockdown by Indian security forces, and artillery fire can again be heard across the Kashmir divide.

Rawalpindi’s military’s campaign against the Tehrik-i-Taliban Pakistan will probably never end. But now that it is winding down, Pakistan is being asked what the next step in counterterrorism operations might be. So far, there has been no answer. Taking aim at the Afghan Taliban leadership and the Haqqani network seems unlikely, because ceding influence in Kabul to India is not in the cards. Tackling anti-India and violence-prone sectarian groups also seems problematic because doing so would result in a more intrusive military presence and significant spikes of violence—especially in the Punjab. To turn against anti-India groups when Modi has adopted a hard line and when Kashmiris are deeply disaffected doesn’t seem likely. Consequently, much is now left to chance—particularly additional attacks on Indian military and diplomatic outposts.

Domestic politics and shrill social and television media militate against hesitant Indian reactions, even to low-level attacks by groups enjoying safe havens in Pakistan. Hotheads don’t care that attacks against Indian targets have hurt Pakistan’s regional and international standing; nor do they care whether or not India retaliates. New Delhi expects support—or at least silence—if it decides to strike back.

Meanwhile, Pakistan’s diplomacy is hamstrung. The talking point that Pakistan does not distinguish between “good” and “bad” terrorists is belied by facts on the ground. Calls for a resumption of dialogue and a focus on conflict resolution do not resonate because “bad” terrorists that enjoy safe havens stymie both. Until it takes very hard, demonstrable steps against these groups, Pakistan cannot expect a fair hearing about its legitimate grievances.

Michael Krepon is Co-founder of the Stimson Center. His latest edited volume is The Lure and Pitfalls of MIRVs: From the First to the Second Nuclear Age.

Image: Pakistani Shaheen-I ballistic missile. Pixabay