Friday, March 26, 2010

Meanwhile, Things Heating Up in Korea...

Whatever sunk that South Korean destroyer today (strange that S. Korea and the US won't say), according to AFP the North Koreans have just made an explicit threat to use nuclear weapons in any coming conflict with the US:
SEOUL (AFP) – North Korea's military accused the United States and South Korea Friday of trying to topple the Pyongyang regime and said it was ready to launch nuclear attacks to frustrate any provocations.

The military General Staff cited a South Korean newspaper report as evidence of "desperate moves of the US imperialists and the South Korean puppet warmongers" for regime change.

"Those who seek to bring down the system in the DPRK (North Korea)... will fall victim to the unprecedented nuclear strikes of the invincible army," a General Staff spokesman told the official Korean Central News Agency.
IMHO, they're not bluffing...

BTW, The Heritage Foundation has published this report on Iranian-N. Korean ties:
Unknown #2: How extensive is Iranian-North Korean nuclear cooperation?

North Korea and Iran share a common hostility to the United States and have a long history of military and economic cooperation. Iran's ballistic missile force, the largest in the Middle East, is largely based on transferred North Korean missiles and weapon designs. North Korea has also sold Iran conventional weapons, including rocket launchers, small arms, and mini-submarines. The two countries are known to have close intelligence ties and to exchange intelligence regularly.[34]
The extent of North Korean cooperation with Iran on nuclear issues remains unknown. However, both are known to have received help from A. Q. Khan's proliferation network.[35] Iran helped to finance North Korea's nuclear program in exchange for nuclear technology and equipment, according to CIA sources cited in a 1993 Economist Foreign Report.[36] Increased visits to Iran by North Korean nuclear specialists in 2003 reportedly led to a North Korea-Iran agreement for North Korea either to initiate or to accelerate work with Iranians to develop nuclear warheads that could be fitted on the North Korean No-Dong missiles, which North Korea and Iran were developing jointly.[37]

North Korea has also threatened to transfer a nuclear weapon. According to Michael Green, former Senior Director for Asia at the National Security Council, the head of the North Korean delegation to the nuclear talks confirmed in March 2003 that North Korea had a "nuclear deterrent" and threatened that North Korea would "expand," "demonstrate," and "transfer" the deterrent if the United States did not end its hostile policy.[38] Senior U.S. officials warned the North Koreans that transfer would cross a red line, but Pyongyang evidently brushed aside the warning and cooperated extensively with Syria in building a nuclear reactor, which could have advanced a nuclear weapons program. Green noted that the al-Kibar reactor site, which Israel bombed on September 6, 2007, provided ample evidence of North Korean collusion on nuclear proliferation: "U.S. intelligence officials later confirmed that the reactor was being built on North Korean specs, with North Korean technicians on-site."[39]

Since Pyongyang risked nuclear cooperation with Syria, similar nuclear cooperation with Iran is easy to envision given their much closer ties. The Syrian nuclear project also may have involved Iran, which could greatly benefit from secret facilities located outside its own territory. Der Spiegel reported that North Korean and Iranian scientists were working together at the Syrian reactor when Israel bombed it. Some of the reactor's plutonium production was reportedly designated for Iran, which perceived the Syrian reactor as a "reserve site" to produce weapons-grade plutonium to supplement Iran's production of highly enriched uranium.[40] In late February, Western officials leaked the fact that before the nuclear reactor was attacked North Korea had delivered 45 tons of unenriched uranium concentrate known as "yellowcake" to Syria and that the North Koreans subsequently moved the material to Iran via Turkey.[41]

Another worrisome link between North Korea and Iran involves illegal arms transfers. In August 2008, the U.S. invoked the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) to convince India to prevent the overflight of its country by a North Korean flight from Burma to Iran. Although not a member of the PSI, India complied and blocked the flight.[42] What the cargo plane was carrying is not known, but the PSI applies only to missiles and nuclear weapons (e.g., components, technology, and materials). Any North Korean attempt to transfer such items would violate U.N. Security Council Resolutions 1695 and 1718.