North Korea’s 70th anniversary parade suggests little change in policy

11 10 2015

KJU-Oct-10-2015-parade(NKnews.com 10.10.2015) Parade demonstrates party commitment to nation’s defense, shows off some newer equipment.

North Korea stands ready to fight any war with the United States and its armed forces are now so strong that the country has become a global military power, leader Kim Jong Un said at major anniversary event on Saturday.

But despite the strident tone of his speech, North Korea refrained from carrying out anticipated missile tests to coincide with the event, held to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the Worker’s Party of Korea (WPK), or a satellite launch that many observers had expected earlier in the year.

“Our revolutionary forces are capable of dealing with any kind of war being waged by the U.S.,” Kim said during a 25-minute address prior to the military parade.

“Through the line of Songun (military-first) politics, our Korean People’s Army has become the strongest revolutionary force and our country has become an impenetrable fortress and a global military power,” he continued.

MILITARY PARADE

Following Kim’s speech a widely anticipated military parade kicked off, featuring formations of soldiers in various KPA uniforms – including historic versions – among the first to pass by the reviewing stand in Kim Il Sung Square.

Being a commemorative event, the approximately two hour parade featured old equipment as well as new, including the T-34 tank, a model which was used in the Korean War.

At various points during the parade, light aircraft flew above Kim Il Sung Square in formations, including CJ-6s depicting emblem of the WPK and An-2s depicting the number 70.

Among the artillery in the parade were self-propelled multiple rocket launchers (MRL) of various calibers including 107mm MRLs, 122mm MRLs, 240mm MRLs, and the previously unseen (though known to exist due to test firings) 300mm MRLs.

Other self-propelled field artillery included 122mm howitzers, 152mm gun-howitzers, and 170mm Koksan guns.

The parade featured several armored personnel carriers such as the BTR-60 and M-2010 and tanks such as the Type-59, Chonma-ho, and Pokpung-ho. Notably, there was a lack of any towed artillery in the parade, perhaps intentionally so in order to present an image of a more mobile and rapidly deployable force.

The only unmanned aerial vehicle (UAV, a.k.a “drone”) featured in the parade was a previously seen, indigenously produced UAV believed to be based on the American MQM-107. The designation of this UAV, which is mounted on ZIL-130 trucks, is unknown.

Following the UAVs were Kumsong-1 (a.k.a. KN-01) surface-to-ship missiles.

Three different surface-to-air missiles (SAM) were featured in the parade including the S-125 (NATO reporting name SA-3) and S-200 (NATO reporting name SA-5) and the KN-06, a North Korean version of the Russian S-300.

The parade also featured ballistic missiles such as the Scud (Hwasong-5/6), the Rodong-A, the Rodong-B (BM-25 Musudan), and what appears to be a new version of the KN-08 intermediate range ballistic missile (IRBM).

Following the missiles, the parade ended with a military band marching in formation to spell out the word “victory” (seungri) and Su-25 ground attack aircraft flying overhead with colored smoke trails.

CHINESE THAW?

The attendance of China’s No. 5 leader Liu Yunshan at the parade further suggested a thawing of relations between Beijing and Pyongyang, him being the most senior Chinese visitor to Pyongyang since Kim came to power.

Video of the parade on Saturday showed Kim and Liu standing shoulder to shoulder on a viewing platform overlooking Kim Il Sung square, frequently talking and laughing among themselves.

Chinese state media said Liu brought Kim a message on Friday from President Xi Jinping, extending congratulations and best wishes from Beijing to Pyongyang to commemorate the 70th anniversary.

Notably, Kim Jong Un did not mention North Korea’s signature “Byungjin” policy of simultaneously pursuing economic and nuclear weapons development, something some analysts suggested Saturday could be in respect of Liu’s presence. China is opposed to Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

The prime-position presence of Liu at the event stood in stark contrast to the distant positioning of a North Korean delegation at recent Victory Day anniversary celebrations in Beijing.

At that September 3 event, which Kim Jong Un did not attend, DPRK envoy Choe Ryong Hae stood watching the parade over 40 people away from President Xi. South Korea’s President Park Geun-hye stood adjacent to Xi, reflecting the increasingly close ties between the two countries.

Dr. Leonid Petrov, a North Korea researcher at the Australian National University (ANU) in Canberra, told NK News the parade emphasized the regime’s rule and military policy, rather than any hopes of changing inter-Korean relations which were evident in another recent event.

CEREMONY & SYMBOLISM

This parade appears to have emphasized not only the current state of the DPRK’s military technical capability, showcasing much of its newer equipment, but also the role of the party in fighting for and defending the country – both historically and presently – and the party’s leadership in military affairs.

“KJU’s speech and today’s military parade were to convince people inside and outside of the DPRK that after the 70 years of dictatorship and militarism nothing is going to change,” Petrov told NK News.

“The country will remain an ‘impenetrable fortress’ and its perpetual conflict with ‘American imperialists’ will continue,” said Petrov, paraphrasing Kim. “It would have been much more memorable if KJU had repeated what he had apparently told the visiting Chinese envoy, Liu Yunshan: namely, that he wants to improve relations with South Korea.”





North Korea feeling victimised by the West.

1 07 2014

Seth Rogen_James Franco_The Interview (2SER FM107.3 June 31, 2014) North Korea is back in the headlines again, this time taking pot shots at our own Foreign Minister as well as Hollywood.

Following Julie Bishop’s interview on a radio station in America, North Korea released a statement threatening to “punish anyone who dares slander the dignity of its supreme leader”. This statement was followed by a promise to retaliate mercilessly if the Hollywood film ‘The interview’ which plots the killing of Kim Jong-un is released. Should North Korea feel threatened? And what is North Korea trying to achieve by releasing such statements?

Dr Leonid Petrov joined us on the line from Canberra to help us understand North Korea a little better.

http://www.2ser.com/component/k2/item/9659-north-korea-feeling-victimised-by-the-west





North Korea Threat: is it cooling?

11 04 2013

NK missile launch drills (By Steven Borowiec, Chrisian Science Monitor, 10 April 2013) North Korea threat of missile launch continued to preoccupy the region today, which was the deadline North Korea gave for foreigners to leave South Korea to avoid conflict. But nothing happened.

North Korea picked Wednesday April 10 as the day by which foreign embassies in Pyongyang should submit evacuation plans, foreigners should leave South Korea, and South Korean workers should leave the now barely functioning Kaesong Industrial Complex, hinting at a provocation that could bring the area into a state of conflict.

Though North Korea has threatened South Korea many times in the past, this time analysts are viewing the situation differently, seriously considering the possibility of a large-scale provocation from the North. North Korea is believed to have moved two Musudan missiles to its eastern coast last week, leading many to predict an imminent missile launch. South Korean and US defense forces responded by upgrading their military surveillance postures looking for signs of a North Korean rocket launch.

But as the day came and went with no observed action, it raised the question: Have North Korea’s heated rhetoric and threats been bluffs? “The general principle is to escalate tensions in order to later be able to negotiate from a position of strength,” says Leonid Petrov, a researcher in Korean studies at Australian National University.

Musudan missiles have a range of about 1,875 miles, meaning they could reach anywhere in South Korea, Japan, or the US territory of Guam. But as the Musudan missiles have never been flight-tested by North Korea, their launch might be unlikely, as the North would be wary of the loss of face that would come with an unsuccessful launch attempt.

According to analysts, the raising of tensions may be a deliberate ploy to create an atmosphere of nervousness about North Korea’s next move and thereby strengthen Pyongyang’s hand when it comes time to negotiate next with the international community. North Korea, for example, raised eyebrows with seemingly irrational acts like pulling workers out of the joint North-South Kaesong economic industrial park, an important source of revenue for the cash-strapped country.

According to Mr. Petrov, this type of short-term move could pay off down the road when North Korea seeks aid or economic assistance. Hostile rhetoric can also contribute to more important ends like rallying citizens around an ideology of confrontation with enemies, particularly the US and South Korea. “North Korea’s leadership is willing to do things that may be self-harming in the short term. Money is not the most important thing to them. Things like maintaining their system, the stability of the leadership, the isolation of the people from other sources of information, those are the most critical things,” says Petrov.

In a New York Times opinion piece on Tuesday, Kookmin University professor Andrei Lankov wrote, “Put bluntly, North Korea’s government hopes to squeeze more aid from the outside world. Of late, it has become very dependent on Chinese aid, and it wants other sponsors as well.”

Today in Seoul, the US Department of State reiterated its position that there was no reason for US citizens to expect any special danger in South Korea, in a statement that read, “North Korea’s reported ‘advice’ to foreigners that they depart South Korea only serves to unnecessarily and provocatively escalate tensions.”

Still, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se told a parliamentary hearing today, “according to intelligence obtained by our side and the US, the possibility of a missile launch by North Korea is very high.” Mr. Yun added that a missile launch could still come “at any time.”

South Korea’s police raised their state of terror alert one level from “attention” to “caution” out of concern for a possible North Korean terrorist attack.

Dates and numbers have great symbolic importance to North Korea, so Pyongyang often schedules what Washington calls “provocative acts” around holidays and important political events. Some are eying the anniversary of the birthday of Kim Il-sung, the state’s founder and the current leader’s grandfather, on April 15.

Also on Wednesday, the South Korean government announced that it had determined that North Korea was behind cyber-attacks that disrupted the systems of several banks and broadcasters on March 20. This has fed speculation that North Korea will increasingly use asymmetric tactics that are still harmful but avoid direct military conflict, where it is at a significant disadvantage.





In Harm’s Way: Australia and North Korea

2 04 2013

Kevin Rudd(by Sasha Petrova, Crikey, 26 March 2013) In late 2011, then Foreign Minister Kevin Rudd wrote an opinion piece in which he warned Australia about the threat of missile attack from North Korea – a “cruel, totalitarian state” that he claimed could “prove to be our worst nightmare.”

“The secretive North Koreans are hard at work to threaten our allies, our region and us. North Korea has not only developed nuclear weapons, it is also building missiles that could, in future, reach Australia,” Rudd wrote in the Daily Telegraph.

Drawing on the two nuclear tests conducted by North Korea in 2006 and 2009, and the imminent destabilising transition of power, Rudd cautioned that “we, in Australia, have no cause for comfort.” He detailed that the rogue regime’s development of the Taepo-Dong 2 – a long-range missile that was tested in 2006 but crashed shortly after take-off – put Australia well within its purported 9000km range, with Darwin lying 6000km and Sydney 8500km away.

Less than two years on, a successful missile launch and another nuclear test later, should we heed Rudd’s warnings? With increasing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, continuous threats from an ambitious Kim Jung-un, a ramping up of US military drills in South Korea, Pyongyang’s nullification of the 1953 Korean Armistice and last Monday’s propaganda video of an imagined attack against Washington, could Australia truly be in harm’s way?

Not according to Dr Leonid Petrov, a Korean Studies expert from the Australian National University. “North Koreans don’t have any intention to attack Australia,” he says. “They didn’t event test an ICBM.” The gravest fear is of North Korea developing an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of mounting a nuclear warhead.

Pyongyang claimed that its missile launch in December last year was purely for the purposes of putting a satellite into orbit for weather and maritime monitoring. “I don’t have any reason not to trust them because in fact they did put the satellite into orbit. It was, in essence, very similar to what South Korea did the following month – in January 2013. It launched a missile that had the same pattern of flight, the same orbit and was flying southward towards Australia.”

Moreover, Dr Petrov puts Rudd’s grave warnings down to personal histrionics based on a grudge he has held against the North Koreans for some time. “I was surprised to see when Kevin Rudd won the elections in late 2007 and the North Korean embassy in Canberra packed up and left in January 2008. Something must have happened between the North Korean embassy and Kevin Rudd ‘s administration that prompted the North Korean embassy to leave.”

Personal grievances aside, it’s impossible to dismiss Pyongyang’s aggressive behaviour. Indeed a failed missile test in March 2012 was reportedly headed in our direction, with a personal warning issued to Bob Carr by the US State Department.

Australia has long been on alert to a threat from the north. The 2009 Defence White Paper considered “threats posed by ballistic missiles and their proliferation, particularly by states of concern such as North Korea,” as potential strategic challenges. Recently, the National Security Strategy also flagged the tensions and unstable environment on the Korean Peninsula, particularly arising from North Korea, as worrisome for Australia.

North Korea’s withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, the most comprehensive international agreement to halt the spread of nuclear weapons, still draws widespread condemnation; it’s nuclear ambitions continuing to alarm world leaders. Consequent six-party talks and other negotiations about its suspected – and self-professed – nuclear program have failed to reach a suitable compromise.

Australia has been one of the 15 members of the Security Council who, in January, unanimously voted to adopt sanctions against North Korea under Resolution 2087. These imposed travel bans and asset freezes on some senior officials. In response to the latest nuclear test in February, the most recent resolution strengthened and intensified the sanctions already in place since its first test in 2006.

For Australia, these sanctions mean a ban on supplying, selling or transferring all arms and related material to North Korea as well as a wide list of items, materials, equipment and technology that relates to ballistic missile programs or weapons of mass destruction.

These impositions have only served to aggravate the regime further. While Pyongyang continues to conduct missile and nuclear tests in clear violation of Security Council Resolutions, its nullification of the 1953 truce to end the Korean War stands as the most problematic of its retaliatory actions so far. In this regard, Dr Petrov considers the situation to be more serious now than it was in January or last December.





North Korea defiant as UN security council condemns rocket launch

29 01 2013

Image(by Tania Branigan in Beijing, The Guardian, 23 January 2013)

North Korea has vowed to strengthen its nuclear deterrent and other military capabilities after the United Nations security council condemned its latest rocket launch.

Analysts warned that the prospects of a third nuclear test by the regime had increased after its harsh response to the resolution, which extended sanctions against the North and expressed the council’s determination to take “significant action” against further missile or nuclear tests.

North Korea says it sent a satellite into orbit in December for peaceful and scientific purposes. But the council said it breached the ban on nuclear and missile activity, because the launch technology is near-identical to that required for long-range missiles.

China, which has veto rights as a permanent member of the council, agreed to Tuesday night’s resolution after sections were removed from an earlier draft. It has often blocked proposals for strengthened measures against its ally and neighbour in the past.

Susan Rice, the US ambassador to the UN, said the resolution “demonstrates to North Korea that there are unanimous and significant consequences for its flagrant violation of its obligations under previous resolutions”.

The security council reiterated its demand that the North cease further launches and end its nuclear weapons programme in a “complete, verifiable and irreversible manner”.

The angry response from Pyongyang’s foreign ministry said the North “should counter the US hostile policy with strength, not with words” and warned it would “bolster the military capabilities for self-defence including the nuclear deterrence”.

“There can be talks for peace and stability of the Korean peninsula and the region in the future, but no talks for the denuclearisation of the peninsula,” it added.

The statement “considerably and strongly hints at the possibility of a nuclear test”, the analyst Hong Hyun-ik, of the private Sejong Institute thinktank near Seoul, told Associated Press.

The North tested nuclear devices shortly after rocket launches in 2006 and 2009, and last month the 38 North blog said analysis of satellite photos showed continued activity at a nuclear test site.

But Yang Moo-jin, of the University of North Korean Studies in Seoul, told Reuters: “North Korea will likely take a sequenced strategy where the first stage response would be more militarily aggressive actions like another missile launch.”

Leonid Petrov, an expert on North Korea at the University of Sydney, said the resolution was “not helpful”.

He said: “It is just a sign of frustration. Diplomacy doesn’t work, military threats simply turn it into a worse situation, and nobody is prepared to give way in this standoff.”

He added: “Sticks without carrots do not work. A combination of sanctions with the prospect of engagement would be much more conducive to resolving the situation.

“North Korea does not want to abandon its nuclear programme. They have to develop it further, which means more tests … It looks like after the resolution, the nuclear test is now looming sooner rather than being postponed.”

He said there were hopes that Park Geun-hye, South Korea’s incoming president, would bring a “more pragmatic, less ideological and more stable” policy towards the North than that adopted by her predecessor, Lee Myung-bak, who ended Seoul’s “sunshine policy” of engagement and aid.

But Daniel Pinkston, the north-east Asia deputy project director for the International Crisis Group, warned that if a nuclear test went ahead, “any ideas or initiatives that she is thinking about or planning will pretty quickly become impossible”.

He added: “As far as sanctions achieving the intended outcome, I don’t see that happening. The people named are national heroes from the North Korean perspective.”

While Rice said the resolution introduced new sanctions, others argued it had only extended previous measures, so that more government bodies and individuals – such as the space agency and the man who runs it – will have their assets frozen and face a global travel ban.

Li Baodong, China’s permanent representative to the United Nations, described the resolution as “generally balanced”, the state news agency Xinhua reported. He noted that measures which China believed would jeopardise normal trade had been removed.

He added: “Sanctions and resolutions alone do not work. Resolutions must be completed and supplemented by diplomatic efforts.”

The six-party aid for disarmament talks stalled in 2009 and a deal with the US – which would have placed a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests in exchange for food – collapsed after the North carried out an unsuccessful rocket launch in April last year.





North Korea Threatens To Build Up “Nuclear Deterrence”

24 01 2013

nkorea_nuke_threat(North Korea reacts angrily to UN Resolution 2087, NKnews.org  23 January 2013 )North Korea reacted bitterly to yesterday’s UN resolution condemning its December satellite launch, pledging to strengthen both military and nuclear capabilities.

In a swift rejection of the U.N. warnings,  North Korea today said that it will take “physical counteraction” to bolster its “nuclear deterrence both qualitatively and quantitatively.”

The defiant statement from North Korea’s Foreign Ministry came just hours after the United Nations Security Council unanimously adopted a resolution condemning rocket launch as a violation of an existing ban against nuclear and missile activity.

UN Security Council Resolution 2087 imposes sanctions on North Korea’s space agency, targets the illicit smuggling of sensitive items and updates a list of nuclear and ballistic missile technology prohibited for transfer in or out of the country. It also reiterates that a peaceful, diplomatic and political resolution to relevant issues should be sought, and advocates the resumption of the Six-Party talks.

While today’s wasn’t the first time that North Korea has issued such angry rhetoric following a UN Resolution, under the new leadership of Kim Jong Un it throws a direct challenge to both newly inaugurated President Obama and incoming South Korean President Park Geun-hye.

Reacting to the news today, North Korea expert Leonid Petrov said,

It is regrettable that after the sixty years of confrontation both the UNSC and the DPRK are still locked in the security dilemma and prefer to exchange invectives and threaten the region with prospects of resuming the Korean War. Despite the “generally balanced” tone of the recent UNSC resolution on North Korea, warnings to take “significant action” will only lead to promises “to boost and strengthen defensive military power”.

More sanctions will only lead to less dialogue because sticks work only when carrots are also on the offer. In the situation where military action is inconceivable and diplomacy does not work, the usage of soft power might be more useful.

Following Obama’s 2008 arrival at the White House North Korea conducted a rocket launch similar to the latest one and when similar UN sanctions were applied, quickly followed it with a nuclear test. At a time when Obama had promised an “open hand” to North Korea, Pyongyang’s one-two blow undermined the prospects for any short-term engagement between Washington and Pyongyang.

Having shown a visiting U.S. delegation advanced uranium enrichment capabilities in late 2010, it has long been worried that any new nuclear test would seek to showcase the latest technologies. As such, any third nuclear test could risk Pyongyang showcasing a uranium based weapons technology to demonstrate advances in bomb-making.

Yonhap today reported that reacting to the warning, South Korea has stepped up monitoring of tunnels at North Korea’s nuclear weapons test site in its northeast. And citing recent satellite imagery, Seoul intelligence officials said Pyongyang “is ready to detonate a nuclear device on a few days notice, but the decision to go ahead with the test will be a political one.”

A senior U.S. envoy arriving in South Korea for talks with South Korean officials warned that another nuclear test would be a “mistake”. Glyn Davies explained to Kyodo News, ”We think that would be a mistake. We call on North Korea not to engage in any further provocations.”

To date, Pyongyang has conducted two nuclear tests, the first in 2006 and the second in 2009.

The U.S. and North Korea’s neighbors fear Pyongyang’s ultimate goal is to put a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile that could target the west coast of the U.S., but it is not believed to have mastered the technology yet.

North Korea argues that it needs nuclear weapons to deter what it views as a “hostile” U.S. policy and long-range rocket technology so it can launch satellites into space.





Rocket ‘a firework to commemorate Kim Jong-il’

13 12 2012

north korea firework(Anthony Sharwood, news.com.au, December 12, 2012) NORTH Korea launched its rocket today to flex its military muscles both at home and abroad, a leading Korean expert says.

Speaking exclusively to news.com.au, University of Sydney lecturer Dr Leonid Petrov said North Korea had three main reasons for launching an intercontinental rocket.

“North Korea had promised to launch the rocket between the 10th and 22nd of December, and they have kept that promise,” Dr Petrov said.

“These dates are important because it is one year since the death of Kim Jong-il.

“It was extremely important to them to launch this satellite and at this time. The new technology sends a strong signal to the domestic audience that North Korea is still a strong self-reliant economic power.

“The second message they are sending is to the world.

“They are saying that they have advanced rocket technology, and sooner and later will be able to deliver a nuclear payload. Until today they could not deliver it but they have now demonstrated they are one major step forward in the arms race.”

The third reason North Korea launched the rocket today is strongly related to the other two.

“Basically, Korea has nothing to lose because of the UN sanctions against N Korea which have existed since 1950,” Dr Petrov explains.

“All that matters to the [ruling] family is the survival of the regime. A change of regime could happen if there are perceived weaknesses.”

After initially passing over Japan and leaving fragments in the sea near the Philippines, the the rocket has now reportedly deployed its satellite successfully.

Dr Petrov doubts that it will add much to North Korea’s overall communications infrastructure.

“The technological value of this satellite is propaganda. It is a firework to commemorate Kim Jong-il and show the world they have intercontinental missile capabilities.

Meanwhile, as South Korea calls an emergency meeting to deal with the crisis, Dr Petrov points out that general elections are just a week off in South Korea.

“North Korea is now one step ahead in the space race in the Korean peninsula, so South Koreans will be worried about national security. This launch might somehow influence the behaviour of voters.”