Archive for the ‘North Korean’ Category

Fired General Likens Japan’s Government to Repressive North Korean Regime

November 4, 2008

Japan’s sacked air force commander compared his country to North Korea for a row over his assertion that Tokyo was not a World War II aggressor, prompting the government Tuesday to promise an inquiry.

As the government sought to reassure other Asian countries that it did not agree with his comments, Toshio Tamogami went on the offensive insisting he was right and had thought it was time for such views to be accepted.

“If you are not allowed to say even a word that counters the government’s statements, you cannot possibly call the country democratic,” the ex-general told a press conference.

“It’s just like North Korea.”

by Harumi Ozawa, AFP

Tamogami was fired from his post for an essay in which he wrote that Japan was falsely accused of being the aggressor and calling for the nation to shed elements of its post-WWII pacifism.

Japan's sacked air force commander General Toshio Tamogami, ... 

ABOVE: Japan’s sacked air force commander General Toshio Tamogami, seen here, compared his country to North Korea for a row over his assertion that Tokyo was not a World War II aggressor, prompting the government Tuesday to promise an inquiry.(AFP/HO/File/Jiji Press)

He retired Monday two years early rather than serve in a lesser position.

Tamogami said many Asian countries “take a positive view” of Japan’s past military actions, seeing Tokyo as a bulwark against Western imperialism.

The scandal comes at a bad time for Prime Minister Taro Aso, who criticised Tamogami’s remarks but has himself previously caused controversy by defending aspects of Japanese colonialism.

The Yomiuri Shimbun newspaper Tuesday released a survey showing that, for the first time since Aso took office in September, more people disapproved of his government’s performance than approved of it.

His government’s approval rating stood at 40.5 percent.

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North Korea’s Kim suffers ‘serious’ setback

October 29, 2008

New South Korean intelligence indicates that ailing North Korean leader Kim Jong Il suffered a serious setback in his recovery from a stroke and has been hospitalized, a newspaper reported Wednesday.

The report in the Dong-a Ilbo newspaper cited an unnamed government official in saying intelligence obtained Sunday suggested “a serious problem” with Kim’s health. The report did not elaborate, and South Korea’s National Intelligence Service and Unification Ministry said Wednesday they could not confirm it.

By JEAN H. LEE, Associated Press Writer

Kim, 66, reportedly suffered a stroke and underwent brain surgery in August. A Japanese TV station says his eldest son went to Paris to recruit a neurosurgeon who was flown back to Asia to treat Kim.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews ... 
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews a military parade in Pyongyang in this October 10, 2005 file photo, celebrating the 60th anniversary of the communist party.(Korea News Service/Files/Reuters)

The Dong-a report came a day after Japan’s prime minister told lawmakers in Tokyo that Kim probably is in the hospital, though “not unable” to make decisions as North Korea’s leader.

The chief of the National Intelligence Service had told lawmakers Tuesday that Kim was “not physically perfect” but still able to rule the country.

North Korea denies Kim is ill, However, speculation about the reclusive leader’s health grew when he missed a September military parade marking North Korea’s 60th anniversary. He then disappeared from public sight for two months.

Kim, who rules the Stalinist nation with absolute authority, has not publicly named any successors, leading to concerns about an uncertain future in the impoverished, nuclear-armed nation.

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North Korea threatens to reduce South to ruins

October 28, 2008

North Korea’s military threatened on Tuesday to use everything in its arsenal to reduce South Korea to rubble unless Seoul stops civic groups from sending anti-Pyongyang leaflets into the communist state.

The North has lashed out at the South’s president who took office in February for his pledges to get tough with his neighbor and has been enraged by a fresh wave of propaganda leaflets sent by balloons launched in the South in recent months.

“We clarify our stand that should the South Korean puppet authorities continue scattering leaflets and conducting a smear campaign with sheer fabrications, our army will take a resolute practical action as we have already warned,” the official KCNA news agency quoted the military spokesman as saying.

From Jack Kim, Reuters

North Korean soldiers clap their hands at an undisclosed location ... 
North Korean soldiers clap their hands at an undisclosed location in North Korea in a picture released by KCNA on August 16, 2008.(KCNA/Reuters)

At a rare round of military talks on Monday, North Korea complained about the leaflets while South Korean activists sent a new batch of 100,000, despite warnings from Seoul not to do so.

“The puppet authorities had better bear in mind that the advanced pre-emptive strike of our own style will reduce everything opposed to the nation and reunification to debris, not just setting them on fire,” the spokesman said.

South Korean groups have been sending the leaflets into the North for years. Analysts said the recent wave appeared to have touched a nerve because they mentioned a taboo subject in the North — the health of leader Kim Jong-il.

U.S. and South Korean officials have said Kim may have suffered a stroke in August, raising questions about who was running Asia’s only communist dynasty and making decisions concerning its nuclear arms program.

North Korea mostly refrained from threatening the South when it was receiving a steady stream of unconditional aide under liberal presidents who ruled for 10 years before President Lee Myung-bak.

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North Korea said to be deploying missiles

October 9, 2008

By Mark Heinrich and Jack Kim

VIENNA/SEOUL (Reuters) – North Korea deployed more than 10 missiles on its west coast apparently for an imminent test launch, a South Korean newspaper said on Thursday, and Pyongyang halted U.N. monitoring of its nuclear complex.

The potentially destabilizing moves followed reports that the United States had offered to remove North Korea from its terrorism blacklist this month in an effort to keep a nuclear disarmament pact from falling apart.

North Koreans participate in celebrations for the 60th anniversary ...
North Koreans participate in celebrations for the 60th anniversary of the founding of North Korea in Pyongyang, September 9, 2008, in this picture distributed by North Korea’s official news agency KCNA.(KCNA/Reuters)

It would be an unprecedented test if North Korea fired all 10 of the surface-to-ship and ship-to-ship missiles. Intelligence sources quoted by the Chosun Ilbo paper said they thought the North may launch five to seven of them.

North Korea has forbidden ships to sail in an area in the Yellow Sea until October 15 in preparation for the launch, an intelligence source told the paper.

A South Korean defense ministry official declined to comment on the report but said the government had no indication of unusual activity in the North.

The United States urged North Korea not to do anything, including launching missiles, that would make matters worse. “We would urge North Korea to avoid any steps that increase tension on the peninsula,” State Department spokesman Sean McCormack said.

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North Korea tests short-range missiles

March 28, 2008
By BURT HERMAN, Associated Press Writer

SEOUL, South Korea – North Korea test-fired a barrage of short-range missiles on Friday in apparent response to the new South Korean government‘s tougher stance on Pyongyang.

A missile unit of the Korean People's Army (KPA) marches ...
A missile unit of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) marches through Pyongyang’s Kim Il Sung square in 2007. North Korea raised the stakes Friday in its nuclear disputes with South Korea and the United States, test-firing several missiles and warning it may slow down work to disable atomic plants.(AFP/KCNA via KNS/File)

The launches came as the North issued a stern rebuke to Washington over an impasse at nuclear disarmament talks, warning the Americans’ attitude could “seriously” affect the continuing disablement of Pyongyang’s atomic facilities.

South Korean President Lee Myung-bak, a conservative who took office last month, has said he would take a harder policy line on the North — a change from a decade of liberal Seoul governments who avoided confrontation to maintain a “sunshine policy” of engagement.

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N.Korea threatened to transfer nukes

February 5, 2008

By Bill Gertz
The Washington Times
February 5, 2008

North Korea threatened to export nuclear weapons to international terrorists in 2005, according to a U.S. intelligence report made public yesterday.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-il returns a salute as he reviews ...
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il
The report to Congress on arms proliferation was produced in 2006 and also said al Qaeda is developing chemical and biological weapons for use in Iraq and Afghanistan and continues to seek nuclear or radiological bombs.
On Syria, the report said that the Damascus government has nuclear research facilities at Dayr, Al Hajar and Dubaya, and that U.S. intelligence agencies “continue to monitor Syrian nuclear intentions with concern.”

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Condoleezza Rice Hits Back At Critics Of Her North Korea Nuclear Strategy

January 26, 2008

(US News) North Korea’s continuing unwillingness to provide what the Bush administration considers a “complete and correct” declaration of its nuclear facilities–as required by an agreement last year–is reviving tensions within the administration over its dealings with the secretive regime in Pyongyang.

On her way to Berlin for meetings on Iran’s nuclear program this week, Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice issued a rare, public rebuke of a fellow administration official who had, in effect, challenged Rice’s pragmatic patience toward the North Korean regime. In comments that may have been first vetted at the White House, Rice said that Jay Lefkowitz, President Bush’s special envoy on North Korean human rights, “doesn’t know what’s going on in the six-party [nuclear] talks” and that “he certainly has no say on what American policy will be” in them.

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National Intelligance Estimate: Incomplete Snapshot?

December 18, 2007

NIE in the sky?
By James Zumwalt
The Washington Times
December 18, 2007

With the recent publication of the National Intelligence Estimate (NIE) suggesting Iran may have halted work on its nuclear weapons capability in 2003, we recalled the intelligence reporting received in 1991 as we prepared to advance into Kuwait during Desert Storm.

Assessments made it clear a formidable Iraqi army stood between us and our objective. Aerial photos revealed massive networks of bunkers.

Intelligence, from an array of other sources, supported the assessment thousands of enemy soldiers occupied the networks. But one very important intelligence input was missing from the assessment — human intelligence or “humint.” Absent the benefit of human eyes and ears on the ground, i.e., an observer, spy or defector providing timely,
subjective information, we lacked good intelligence on enemy troop levels, willingness to fight, their ability to fight, etc. Advancing into Kuwait, we encountered little resistance.

Unbeknownst to the analysts, many Iraqi soldiers deserted under cover of darkness. What Saddam Hussein predicted would be the “mother of all battles” became the mother of all defeats as U.S. ground forces routed the Iraqis in four days.

The science of analyzing intelligence is imperfect. Like modern art, it is subject to personal interpretation. At times, intelligence can provide clear evidence of enemy intent. In the 1962 Cuban missile crisis, it proved most embarrassing for the Soviet ambassador, after
being called in by the U.S. State Department and denying the presence of Soviet missiles in Cuba, to be shown indisputable evidence of same in aerial photographs.

Edging toward war, Washington remained steadfastly firm, forcing Moscow to back down and remove the missiles.

Only later did we discover such U.S. steadfastness was the result of critical humint fed to Washington by a Soviet spy inside the Kremlin, thus providing Washington with a decided edge throughout the crisis.

In the Desert Storm example, no humint was available to indicate enemy levels and intentions; in the Cuban missile crisis example, enemy intentions were clear. Thus, intelligence assessments become a balancing act of trying to determine what elements should be given more weight and which should receive less.

Sometimes analysts give humint the wrong weight. In December 1941, as the Japanese navy silently approached Pearl Harbor bent on war-making, analysts felt war was not imminent, giving greater weight to the words and actions of Japanese diplomats in Washington they believed to be bent on peacemaking. Thus, even when humint is available, intelligence analysis is seldom perfect.

There are several reasons for concern about NIE’s about-face on Iran’s nuclear weapons capability.

The assessment appears to have been triggered primarily by recent humint input. Worrisome is the weight given to what may well be a counter-intelligence effort by Tehran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC). The humint relied upon is a claim by senior IRGC official Ali Rez Asgari who defected during a February trip to Turkey. Mr.
Asgari told a foreign intelligence agency all activity on Iran’s nuclear weapons program stopped four years ago. His claim purported was supported by intercepted communications among Iranian officials.

Such information needs to be carefully scrutinized as we have learned
some lessons from the Cold War. We now know “critically timed”
defections as well as intercepted communications within a targeted
country could conceivably be a counter-intelligence initiative. The
Iranians are well aware of Moscow’s successful use in the past of
double agents — Soviet spies who defected to the West only to further
U.S.S.R. objectives in obfuscating Moscow’s sinister intent.

The role of one such Soviet double agent, Yuri Noshenko, remains a
mystery. His timely defection to the United States, shortly after
President Kennedy’s assassination as the Warren Commission began
investigating whether accused killer Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone, has
long been cited as a disinformation effort to divert suspicion from
Moscow. While claiming coincidentally to have just reviewed the KGB’s
files on Oswald, who visited the U.S.S.R. prior to the assassination,
he said he found no evidence of Soviet complicity. Yet Noshenko later
failed two polygraph exams.

Surprisingly, the commission accepted the humint, finding Oswald did
act alone. Some critics believe the failed polygraphs cast questionable
light on the timing of Noshenko’s defection. Likewise, the timing of
Mr. Asgari’s defection must be questioned, coming at a time the
Iranians realized even America’s European allies were losing patience
with Tehran and considering more severe economic sanctions. Blindly
accepting Asgari’s claim is a “pie in the sky” approach to NIE

There are also major concerns about the experience and motivation of the U.S. analysts involved. Newsmax reports it was prepared by inexperienced State Department political and intelligence analysts who, as Democratic Party activists, politicized the assessment. Thus, it was either their political leanings or their inexperience that resulted in
several shortcomings in the NIE.

First, they relied upon humint unvetted by U.S. intelligence agencies.

Second, as pointed out by Iran expert Alireza Jafarzadeh, they failed to focus on actions of the IRGC — the military arm created in Iran by the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini in 1979 to safeguard and export the Islamic Revolution. Mr. Jafarzadeh, who first revealed the existence of Iran’s nuclear weapons program, reports the IRGC holds the keys to the
country’s nuclear weapons program. IRGC leaders who are also nuclear scientists, in collaboration with Iranian universities, are fully committed to achieving what they believe is Tehran’s religious mandate to be so armed.

Yet the NIE makes little mention of the IRGC. Third, the acceptance of Mr. Asgari’s claims Iran’s nuclear weapons program ceased in 2003 conflicts with Iranian purchases two years later of 18 North Korean BM-25 long range, land-mobile missiles that are used to carry nuclear warheads.

A post-report concern is the effort just this month by Iran to secretly obtain uranium from Bolivia, through the good offices of Venezuelan strongman Hugo Chavez.

Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad is a dedicated follower of Khomeini and believes in the ayatollah’s assertion, “Islam makes it incumbent [for believers] to prepare for the conquest of countries so that the writ of Islam is obeyed in every country of the world … [by fulfilling Islam’s mandate to] kill all unbelievers.”

Devout believer Mr. Ahmadinejad has made clear, several times, his intention to wipe the U.S. and Israel off the map. So there should be no doubt his intentions remain focused on obtaining nuclear weaponry with which to make good on his threat.

Against this backdrop of declared Iranian intentions to destroy us, of past questionable U.S. intelligence assessments, of the timing of Mr. Asgari’s defection, of the inexperience and motivations of the analysts, can we afford to put the world at risk by blindly accepting
it? Previously, the U.S. was able to bounce back following flawed intelligence assessments.
But that will not be the case if we are wrong about Iran.

Therefore, the only assessment we can afford to accept is one obtained via verifiable inspection of a nuclear weapons development program Tehran keeps hidden deep beneath the Earth’s surface, while claiming peaceful intent.

James G. Zumwalt, a Marine veteran of the Persian Gulf and Vietnam
wars, is a contributor to The Washington Times.

National Intelligence Estimate 101

Vietnam party chief heads to North Korea

October 16, 2007

By Frank Zeller HANOI (AFP) – Vietnam’s Communist Party chief on Tuesday left for a three-day visit to North Korea as state media stressed Hanoi‘s desire to support peace efforts on the Korean Peninsula.

Nong Duc Manh was joined by Foreign Minister Pham Gia Khiem, who is also deputy prime minister, on the visit at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Il, the head of the Korean Workers’ Party.

Kim Jong-il
Kim Jong-il

Vietnam — which is expected to be voted onto the UN Security Council as a non-permanent member later Tuesday — maintains relations with both Pyongyang, a communist ally, and Seoul, a major trade partner and investor.

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Virginia Tech: ‘Least Risky’ Path Raises Risk

September 5, 2007

USA Today
September 4, 2007

In the wake of any tragedy, the natural instinct is to lament that things might have been different if only some danger — obvious in hindsight — had been noticed sooner.

April’s massacre at Virginia Tech University spawned many such musings. If only police hadn’t zeroed in on the wrong suspect after the first two victims were found — more than two hours before 23-year-old Seung Hui Cho opened fire in a classroom building, killing 30 more. If only the campus had been put on alert faster. If only someone else had had a gun.

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