Here is an excerpt from article forwarded to me that speculates how the Kim regime may try and use their missiles to launch provocations against the United States to cause a split in the US-ROK alliance:
You can read the rest at the link. However, I don’t think the Kim regime would use their missiles to launch a provocation against the United States because the South Koreans would have to back US retaliations as part of the US-ROK alliance. However, where things muddier is what if he launched a missile provocation against Japan? Would the South Korean government be willing to back retaliation in support of Japan?
I think someone is definitely helping the North Koreans with their missile technology, but blaming Ukraine sounds like a Russian information operation:
Ukraine’s top diplomat in Seoul on Thursday denied allegations that North Korea might have obtained rocket engines used in its recently tested long-range missiles from Ukraine.
Charge d’Affaires Taras Fedunkiv, the acting Ukrainian ambassador to Seoul, still suspected that North Korea could not have been able to advance its missile technology “without outside help,” calling for an international probe to find “who was responsible.”
“The production lines for building these types of rockets in Ukraine were decommissioned in 1992. The expertise cannot be carried in the heads of rogue scientists. The instructions are included in complex manuals locked in top-security facilities guarded by our security forces,” he said in a written interview with Yonhap News Agency, citing Ukraine’s Foreign Minister Pavlo Klimkin’s recent op-ed in The New York Times.
“Not only would it be virtually impossible for criminals to access these manuals, but also any effort could not go unnoticed by our government,” he added.
Citing a study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies, the New York Times reported on Aug. 14 that North Korea could have got its hands on technology needed for the success of the recent missile launches through black market purchases of rocket engines from Ukraine. [Yonhap]
You can read more at the link, but I would not be surprised if it was the Russians helping the North Koreans master their long range rocket technology.
I am sure the Kim regime would be willing to sell their ballistic missiles to just about anyone with the cash to buy them even Nancy Pelosi:
The U.S. House minority leader expressed concerns Thursday about the possibility of North Korea transferring missiles and related technology beyond its borders, saying Pyongyang’s missile test-firings could be a “roadshow” aimed at selling the weapons.
“I’m concerned about North Korea for many reasons. But one of them, in addition to most of what you have heard, is that North Korea could be a proliferator,” Rep. Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) told reporters during a news conference.
“And all of these demonstrations of strength are really a roadshow for them to sell to a rogue nation or lone wolf, or whoever, some very dangerous technology,” she said.
Concerns about North Korean missile threats have spiked in the U.S. after the communist nation successfully carried out its first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile that is now capable of striking Alaska and could be further developed to reach the U.S. mainland.
Pelosi said her concerns about the North’s proliferation deepened after a trip to the North many years ago.
“When we went to Pyongyang, and we talked about missiles, we talked about MIAs and POWs, we talked about home, we talked about a number of subjects. But about the missiles, because the development of missiles was a national security issue of concern,” Pelosi said.
“They said, ‘Look, we just make these to sell. You want to buy them? We’ll sell them to you,'” she said. [Yonhap]
If you live in Seoul and you are wondering how long it would take for North Korea to nuke you, here you go:
The Associated Press(AP) reports that it takes zero to six minutes for a North Korean missile to hit Seoul, around ten minutes to hit Japan and 30 to 39 minutes to reach the capital of the United States.
The AP revealed the data on Wednesday, citing David Wright, scientist at the Union of Concerned Scientists, and missile analyst Markus Schiller at ST Analytics, a space technology and rocketry consulting company in Germany.
The two experts said if North Korea launches a strike against South Korea using its conventional artillery north of the Demilitarized Zone, the first wave of shells could land with essentially no warning. [KBS World Radio]
Another example of the urgency the Trump administration has put on stopping North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs:
The Central Intelligence Agency has created a special team dealing exclusively with North Korea in an unusual move underscoring the seriousness the United States attaches to the nuclear and missile threats from the communist nation.
The Korea Mission Center was established to “harness the full resources, capabilities, and authorities of the Agency in addressing the nuclear and ballistic missile threat posed by North Korea,” CIA said in a statement. “The new mission center draws on experienced officers from across the agency and integrates them in one entity to bring their expertise and creativity to bear against the North Korea target.”
A veteran CIA operations officer has been selected as the new assistant director for Korea and presides over the mission center, the statement said without identifying the officer, adding that the team will work closely with the intelligence community and the entire U.S. national security community.
“Creating the Korea Mission Center allows us to more purposefully integrate and direct CIA efforts against the serious threats to the United States and its allies emanating from North Korea,” CIA Director Mike Pompeo said. “It also reflects the dynamism and agility that CIA brings to evolving national security challenges.” [Yonhap]
No one does a military parade quite like the North Koreans:
Pukguksong-2 ballistic missiles on display in 2017 North Korean military parade. [The Diplomat]
North Korea’s latest military hardware, including what analysts said appeared to be three kinds of intercontinental ballistic missiles, rolled through the North’s capital on Saturday, as the country showed off its military might amid heightened tensions with the United States.
As the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, watched from a platform, long columns of goose-stepping soldiers, accompanied by a fleet of tanks, missiles and rocket tubes, marched through a large plaza in the capital, Pyongyang, that was named after Mr. Kim’s grandfather Kim Il-sung, the country’s founding president.
Saturday was the 105th anniversary of Kim Il-sung’s birth and the North’s most important holiday, called the Day of the Sun. The United States, China and other regional powers had feared that North Korea might mark the occasion by conducting its sixth nuclear test or by launching an intercontinental ballistic missile. The United States sent a naval strike group to the area in a show of force.
South Korean analysts said Mr. Kim seemed to have decided to celebrate his grandfather’s birthday not with a nuclear test or a missile launching, but with a military parade meant to demonstrate his missile capabilities to his American foes.
To military analysts scrutinizing North Korea’s broadcast of the parade, the most noteworthy element seemed to be three types of long-range ballistic missiles, one of them apparently new. [New York Times]
You can read the rest at the link, but remember that these new ICBMs have not been tested and could be mock ups for all we know. The signaling that the Kim regime appears to be doing is to show the US that they are developing solid fuel ICBMs. Missiles with solid fuel means they can be fired quicker due to not needing to be fueled. They did recently successfully test fire the Pukguksong-2 intermediate range missile which uses solid fuel which shows they are developing the capability.
Most significant was that the Kim regime did not conduct a nuclear test yet. It will be interesting to see if in the coming days if they will attempt to conduct one. If not this is an indication that the US show of force worked to stop their planned nuclear test.
I would think the Chinese would not be too happy with the North Koreans trying to draw attention away from the G-20 Summit they are currently hosting, but obviously the Kim regime cares little about what the Chinese think:
North Korea on Monday fired three medium-range missiles that traveled about 1,000 kilometers (620 miles) and landed near Japan in an apparent show of force timed to coincide with the Group of 20 economic summit in China, South Korean officials said.
North Korea has staged a series of recent missile tests with increasing range, part of a program that aims to eventually build long-range nuclear missiles capable of striking the U.S. mainland.
Such tests are fairly common when international attention is turned to Northeast Asia, and this one came as world leaders gathered in eastern China for the G-20 summit of advanced and emerging economies. China is North Korea’s only major ally, but ties between the neighbors have frayed amid a string of North Korean nuclear and missile tests and what many outsiders see as other provocations in recent years.
South Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said that the three ballistic missiles, all believed to be Rodongs, were launched from the western North Korean town of Hwangju and flew across the country before splashing into the sea. [Associated Press]
You can read more at the link, but all these missile launches do is further justify South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s decision to deploy the THAAD missile defense system to the ROK against Chinese objections.
After North Korea fired a missile last week that landed in their EEZ I wondered if they were going to take measures to prevent this in the future. It looks like they will:
Japan has ordered its Self-Defense Forces to intercept and destroy incoming flying objects after North Korea fired a ballistic missile last week that landed in Tokyo’s exclusive economic zone. The command issued on Monday is to apply to all incoming projectiles, South Korean news service Newsis reported. The directive is to be in effect for the next three months. But according to Japanese press reports the command is to be updated every three months, signifying the policy is more than a temporary measure designed to respond to North Korea provocations. [UPI]
You can read more at the link, but to defend water the Japanese would have to rely on their Aegis ships equipped with SM-3 missiles which would mean ensuring always having one out at sea to support a missile defense mission. That is likely why after three months this decision will be reviewed because there is probably better things these sailors could be doing than sailing in circles for three months if the North Koreans are no longer firing into their EEZ.