Trump admits defeat in Afghanistan

By setting the bar for victory very low, Trump assures victory and can leave. Gone is the concept of nation-building. Gone is the concept of the Afghan Army being able to defeat the Taliban, Al Qaeda and ISIS on their own. The Taliban may even form part of the Government of their own country (how reasonable is that?).  Instead the US will kill every jihadist in sight, without looking too hard for them, and then cut and run and claim victory in the graveyard of empires.  History will record this as a LOSS.

President Trump’s speech

Thank you very much. Thank you. Please be seated. Vice President Pence, Secretary of State Tillerson, members of the cabinet, General Dunford, Deputy Secretary Shanahan and Colonel Duggan. Most especially, thank you to the men and women of Fort Myer and every member of the United States military at home and abroad. We send our thoughts and prayers to the families of our brave sailors who were injured and lost after a tragic collision at sea as well as to those conducting the search and recovery efforts.

I am here tonight to lay out our path forward in Afghanistan and South Asia. But before I provide the details of our new strategy, I want to say a few words to the service members here with us tonight, to those watching from their posts, and to all Americans listening at home. Since the founding of our republic, our country has produced a special class of heroes whose selflessness, courage, and resolve is unmatched in human history.

American patriots from every generation have given their last breath on the battlefield – for our nation and for our freedom. Through their lives, and though their lives were cut short, in their deeds they achieved total immortality. By following the heroic example of those who fought to preserve our republic, we can find the inspiration our country needs to unify, to heal and to remain one nation under God. The men and women of our military operate as one team, with one shared mission and one shared sense of purpose.

They transcend every line of race, ethnicity, creed and color to serve together and sacrifice together in absolutely perfect cohesion. That is because all service members are brothers and sisters. They are all part of the same family. It’s called the American family. They take the same oath, fight for the same flag and live according to the same law.

They are bound together by common purpose, mutual trust and selfless devotion to our nation and to each other. The soldier understands what we as a nation too often forget, that a wound inflicted upon on a single member of our community is a wound inflicted upon us all. When one part of America hurts, we all hurt.

And when one citizen suffers an injustice, we all suffer together. Loyalty to our nation demands loyalty to one another. Love for America requires love for all of its people. When we open our hearts to patriotism, there is no room for prejudice, no place for bigotry and no tolerance for hate. The young men and women we send to fight our wars abroad deserve to return to a country that is not at war with itself at home. We cannot remain a force for peace in the world if we are not at peace with each other.

As we send our bravest to defeat our enemies overseas, and we will always win, let us find the courage to heal our divisions within. Let us make a simple promise to the men and women we ask to fight in our name, that when they return home from battle, they will find a country that has renewed the sacred bonds of love and loyalty that unite us together as one.

Thanks to the vigilance and skill of the American military, and of our many allies throughout the world, horrors on the scale of September 11, and nobody can ever forget that, have not been repeated on our shores. But we must acknowledge the reality I am here to talk about tonight, that nearly 16 years after September 11 attacks, after the extraordinary sacrifice of blood and treasure, the American people are weary of war without victory.

Nowhere is this more evident than with the war in Afghanistan, the longest war in American history – 17 years. I share the American people’s frustration. I also share their frustration over a foreign policy that has spent too much time, energy, money, and most importantly, lives trying to rebuild countries in our own image instead of pursuing our security interests above all other considerations. That is why shortly after my inauguration, I directed Secretary of Defense Mattis and my national security team to undertake a comprehensive review of all strategic options in Afghanistan and South Asia.

My original instinct was to pull out, and historically I like following my instincts. But all my life, I have heard that decisions are much different when you sit behind the desk in the oval office. In other words, when you are president of the United States. So I studied Afghanistan in great detail and from every conceivable angle. After many meetings over many months, we held our final meeting last Friday at Camp David with my cabinet and generals to complete our strategy. I arrived at three fundamental conclusion about America’s core interests in Afghanistan.

First, our nation must seek an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the tremendous sacrifices that have been made, especially the sacrifices of lives. The men and women who serve our nation in combat deserve a plan for victory. They deserve the tools they need and the trust they have earned to fight and to win. Second, the consequences of a rapid exit are both predictable and unacceptable. 9/11, the worst terrorist attack in our history, was planned and directed from Afghanistan because that country by a government that gave comfort and shelter to terrorists. A hasty withdrawal would create a vacuum that terrorists, including ISIS and al Qaeda, would instantly fill, just as happened before September 11. And as we know, in 2011, America hastily and mistakenly withdrew from Iraq.

As a result, our hard-won gains slipped back into the hands of terrorists enemies. Our soldiers watched as cities they had fought for bled to liberate and won were occupied by a terrorist group called ISIS. The vacuum we created by leaving too soon gave safe haven for ISIS to spread, to grow, recruit and launch attacks. We cannot repeat in Afghanistan the mistake our leaders made in Iraq.

Third and finally, I concluded that the security threats we face in Afghanistan and the broader region are immense. Today, 20 U.S.-designated foreign terrorist organizations are active in Afghanistan and Pakistan. The highest concentration in any region anywhere in the world. For its part, Pakistan often gives safe haven to agents of chaos, violence, and terror. The threat is worse because Pakistan and India are two nuclear-armed states, whose tense relations threat to spiral into conflict, and that could happen.

No one denies that we have inherited a challenging and troubling situation in Afghanistan and South Asia, but we do not have the luxury of going back in time and making different or better decisions.

When I became president, I was given a bad and very complex hand, but I fully knew what I was getting into. Big and intricate problems. But one way or another, these problems will be solved. I am a problem solver. And in the end, we will win. We must address the reality of the world as it exists right now, the threats we face, and the confronting of all of the problems of today, an extremely predictable consequences of a hasty withdrawal. We need look no further than last week’s vile, vicious attack in Barcelona to understand that terror groups will stop at nothing to commit the mass murder of innocent men, women, and children.

You saw it for yourself. Horrible. As I outlined in my speech in Saudi Arabia, three months ago, America and our partners are committed to stripping terrorists of their territory, cutting off their funding and exposing the false allure of their evil ideology. Terrorists who slaughter innocent people will find no glory in this life or the next. They are nothing but thugs and criminals and predators, and, that’s right, losers. Working alongside our allies, we will break their will, dry up their recruitment, keep them from crossing our borders, and yes, we will defeat them, and we will defeat them handily. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, America’s interests are clear.

We must stop the resurgence of safe havens that enable terrorists to threaten America. And we must prevent nuclear weapons and materials from coming into the hands of terrorists and being used against us or anywhere in the world, for that matter. But to prosecute this war, we will learn from history.

As a result of our comprehensive review, American strategy in Afghanistan and South Asia will change dramatically in the following ways: A core pillar of our new strategy is a shift from a time-based approach to one based on conditions. I’ve said it many times, how counterproductive it is for the United States to announce in advance the dates we intend to begin or end military operations.

We will not talk about numbers of troops or our plans for further military activities. Conditions on the ground, not arbitrary timetables, will guide our strategy from now on. America’s enemies must never know our plans or believe they can wait us out. I will not say when we are going to attack, but attack we will. Another fundamental pillar of our new strategy is the integration of all instruments of American power, diplomatic, economic, and military, toward a successful outcome. Someday, after an effective military effort, perhaps it will be possible to have a political settlement that includes elements of the Taliban and Afghanistan, but nobody knows if or when that will ever happen. America will continue its support for the Afghan government and the Afghan military as they confront the Taliban in the field.

Ultimately, it is up to the people of Afghanistan to take ownership of their future, to govern their society, and to achieve an everlasting peace. We are a partner and a friend, but we will not dictate to the Afghan people how to live or how to govern their own complex society. We are not nation building again. We are killing terrorists.

The next pillar of our new strategy is to change the approach in how to deal with Pakistan. We can no longer be silent about Pakistan’s safe havens for terrorist organizations, the Taliban, and other groups that pose a threat to the region and beyond.

Pakistan has much to gain from partnering with our effort in Afghanistan. It has much to lose by continuing to harbor criminals and terrorists. In the past, Pakistan has been a valued partner. Our militaries have worked together against common enemies. The Pakistani people have suffered greatly from terrorism and extremism. We recognize those contributions and those sacrifices, but Pakistan has also sheltered the same organizations that try every single day to kill our people. We have been paying Pakistan billions and billions of dollars, at the same time they are housing the same terrorists that we are fighting. But that will have to change. And that will change immediately. No partnership can survive a country’s harboring of militants and terrorists who target U.S. service members and officials. It is time for Pakistan to demonstrate its commitment to civilization, order, and to peace.

Another critical part of the South Asia strategy or America is to further develop its strategic partnership with India, the world’s largest democracy and a key security and economic harbor of the United States. We appreciate India’s important contributions to stability in Afghanistan, but India makes billions of dollars in trade with the United States, and we want them to help us more with Afghanistan, especially in the area of economic assistance and development. We are committed to pursuing our shared objectives for peace and security in South Asia and the broader Indo-Pacific region.

Finally, my administration will ensure that you, the brave defenders of the American people, will have the necessary tools and rules of engagement to make this strategy work and work effectively and work quickly. I have already lifted restrictions the previous administration placed on our war fighters that prevented the secretary of defense and our commanders in the field from fully and swiftly waging battle against the enemy. Micromanagement from Washington, D.C., does not win battles. They are won in the field drawing upon the judgment and expertise of wartime commanders and frontline soldiers, acting in real time with real authority and with a clear mission to defeat the enemy. That is why we will also expand authority for American armed forces to target the terrorists and criminal networks that sow violence and chaos throughout Afghanistan.

The killers need to know they have nowhere to hide, that no place is beyond the reach of American might and American arms. Retribution will be fast and powerful. As we lift restrictions and expand authorities in the field, we are already seeing dramatic results in the campaign to defeat ISIS, including the liberation of Mosul in Iraq. Since my inauguration, we have achieved record-breaking success in that regard. We will also maximize sanctions and other financial and law enforcement actions against these networks to eliminate their ability to export terror. When America commits its warriors to battle, we must ensure they have every weapon to apply swift, decisive, and overwhelming force.

Our troops will fight to win. We will fight to win. From now on, victory will have a clear definition. — attacking our enemies, obliterating ISIS, crushing al Qaeda, preventing the Taliban from taking over Afghanistan, and stopping mass terror attacks against America before they emerge. We will ask our NATO allies and global partners to support our new strategy, with additional troop and funding increases in line with our own. We are confident they will.

Since taking office, I have made clear that our allies and partners must contribute much more money to our collective defense, and they have done so. In this struggle, the heaviest burden will continue to be borne by the good people of Afghanistan and their courageous armed forces.

As the prime minister of Afghanistan has promised, we are going to participate in economic development to help defray the cost of this war to us. Afghanistan is fighting to defend and secure their country against the same enemies who threaten us. The stronger the Afghan security forces become, the less we will have to do. Afghans will secure and build their own nation and define their own future. We want them to succeed. But we will no longer use American military might to construct democracies in faraway lands or try to rebuild other countries in our own image. Those days are now over. Instead, we will work with allies and partners to protect our shared interests.

We are not asking others to change their way of life but to pursue common goals that allow our children to live better and safer lives. This principled realism will guide our decisions moving forward. Military power alone will not bring peace to Afghanistan or stop the terrorist threat arising in that country.

But strategically-applied force aims to create the conditions for a political process to achieve a lasting peace. America will work with the Afghan government as long as we see determination and progress.

However, our commitment is not unlimited, and our support is not a blank check. The government of Afghanistan must carry their share of the military, political, and economic burden. The American people expect to see real reforms, real progress, and real results.

Our patience is not unlimited. We will keep our eyes wide open. In abiding by the oath I took on January 20, I will remain steadfast in protecting American lives and American interests. In this effort, we will make common cause with any nation that chooses to stand and fight alongside us against this global threat.

Terrorists, take heed. America will never let up until you are dealt a lasting defeat. Under my administration, many billions of dollars more is being spent on our military. And this includes vast amounts being spent on our nuclear arsenal and missile defense. In every generation we have faced down evil, and we have always prevailed.

We prevailed because we know who we are and what we are fighting for. Not far from where we are gathered tonight, hundreds of thousands of America’s greatest patriots lay in eternal rest at Arlington national cemetery. There is more courage, sacrifice, and love in those hallowed grounds than in any other spot on the face of this Earth.

Many of those who have fought and died in Afghanistan enlisted in the months after September 11, 2001. They volunteered for a simple reason: they loved America and they were determined to protect her. Now we must secure the cause for which they gave their lives. We must unite to defend America from its enemies abroad. We must restore the bonds of loyalty among our citizens at home, and we must achieve an honorable and enduring outcome worthy of the enormous price that so many have paid.

Our actions and in the months to come, all of them will honor the sacrifice of every fallen hero, every family who lost a loved one, and every wounded warrior who shed their blood in defense of our great nation.

With our resolve, we will ensure that your service and that your families will bring about the defeat of our enemies and the arrival of peace. We will push onward to victory with power in our hearts, courage in our souls and everlasting pride in each and every one of you. Thank you. May God bless our military, and may God bless the United States of America. Thank you very much. Thank you.

More NK sanctions on China and Russia

How to win friends and influence people – sanction them until they drop out of the WTO and form their own trade grouping.  I can foresee the world splitting into 2 trade blocs, and many of the countries like Australia being forced to choose between its main export markets and its main military alliances.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-22/treasury-slaps-sanctions-china-russia-entities-and-individuals-over-north-korea

Treasury Slaps Sanctions On China, Russia Entities And Individuals Over North Korea

In a move that is certain to infuriate China further and result in another deterioration in diplomatic relations between Washington and Beijing, moments ago the United States slapped both Chinese and Russian entities and individuals with new sanctions in the Trump administration’s escalating attempts to pressure North Korea to relent and stop its nuclear program and occasional missile launches.

The Treasury Department’s Office of Foreign Assets Control said it would target 10 entities and six individuals who help already sanctioned people who aid North Korea’s missile program or “deal in the North Korean energy trade.” The U.S. also aims to sanction people and groups that allow North Korean entities to access the U.S. financial system or helps its exportation of workers, according to the Treasury:

The U.S. Department of the Treasury’s Office of Foreign Assets Control (OFAC) designated 10 entities and six individuals in response to North Korea’s ongoing development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), violations of United Nations (UN) Security Council Resolutions, and attempted evasion of U.S. sanctions.  Today’s sanctions target third-country companies and individuals that (1) assist already-designated persons who support North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs, (2) deal in the North Korean energy trade, (3) facilitate its exportation of workers, and (4) enable sanctioned North Korean entities to access the U.S. and international financial systems.

As a result of the latest action, “any property or interests in property of the designated persons in the possession or control of U.S. persons or within the United States must be blocked, and U.S. persons are generally prohibited from dealing with them.”

Speaking on today’s sanctions, Steven Mnuchin who, or rather whose wife today is in the news for an entirely different reason, made the following statement:

“Treasury will continue to increase pressure on North Korea by targeting those who support the advancement of nuclear and ballistic missile programs, and isolating them from the American financial system,” said Treasury Secretary Steven T. Mnuchin.

“It is unacceptable for individuals and companies in China, Russia, and elsewhere to enable North Korea to generate income used to develop weapons of mass destruction and destabilize the region.  We are taking actions consistent with UN sanctions to show that there are consequences for defying sanctions and providing support to North Korea, and to deter this activity in the future.”

Among the companies sanctions in regards to North Korea’s “WMD program” are the following:

OFAC designated China-based Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. for its support to UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation, an entity OFAC previously designated for being owned or controlled by, or acting or purporting to act for or on behalf of, directly or indirectly, the UN- and U.S.-designated General Bureau of Atomic Energy, which is responsible for North Korea’s nuclear program.  Dandong Rich Earth Trading Co., Ltd. has purchased vanadium ore from Korea Kumsan Trading Corporation.  UNSCR 2270 prohibits North Korea’s exports of vanadium ore, and requires member states like China to prohibit the procurement of vanadium ore from North Korea.

OFAC designated Gefest-M LLC and its director, Russian national Ruben Kirakosyan, for support to the UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Tangun Trading Corporation, also known as Korea Kuryonggang Trading Corporation, which is subordinate to the UN- and U.S.-designated Second Academy of Natural Sciences, an entity involved in North Korea’s WMD and missile programs.  Gefest-M LLC, a company based in Moscow, has been involved in the procurement of metals for Korea Tangun Trading Corporation’s Moscow office.

OFAC also designated China- and Hong Kong-based Mingzheng International Trading Limited (“Mingzheng”).  Mingzheng acts as a front company for UN- and U.S.-designated Foreign Trade Bank (FTB), and it has provided financial services to FTB by, among other things, conducting U.S.-dollar denominated transactions on behalf of FTB.  FTB is North Korea’s primary foreign exchange bank; it was designated by the United Nations on August 5, 2017 as part of UNSCR 2371.  OFAC designated FTB in 2013 for facilitating transactions on behalf of North Korea’s proliferation network, including for UN- and U.S.-designated Korea Mining Development Corporation and Korea Kwangson Banking Corporation.  On June 29, 2017, OFAC designated Mingzheng’s owner, Sun Wei.

The Treasury also designated three Chinese coal companies collectively responsible for importing nearly half a billion dollars’ worth of North Korean coal between 2013 and 2016.  Dandong Zhicheng Metallic Materials Co., Ltd. (“Zhicheng”), JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd., and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. have sold, supplied, transferred, or purchased coal or metal, directly or indirectly, from North Korea, and the revenue may have benefitted the nuclear or ballistic missile programs of the Government of North Korea or the Workers’ Party of Korea.  JinHou International Holding Co., Ltd. and Dandong Tianfu Trade Co., Ltd. also were designated for operating in the mining industry in the North Korean economy.

Meanwhile, top U.S. officials have said they do not want to take military action against North Korea unless it is a last resort, and as a result getting China to cooperate is seen as a key part of a diplomatic solution.

Of course, what this latest round of sanctions will achieve, is to further anger Beijing and the local population, in the process making a diplomatic solution even more unlikely and “forcing” America’s ruling Generals, Kelly and McMaster to launch the first “preemptive” shot against Pyongyang.

Peak Shale Oil

This confirms that even the world’s biggest miner doesn’t know what it is doing with oil assets.  BHP Billiton bought up these shale assets in 2011, when prices were high, but a surge in drilling produced a glut and the price dropped and now BHP is hoping to sell, having lost $40 billion (and they don’t have a buyer yet). This has been exacerbated by Saudi Arabia’s refusal to be the “swing producer” any more – adjusting production to keep the price stable.  The US should now be the swing producer, but is caught up in the frantic “Drill, baby, drill!” boom.

Shale oil is altogether a less profitable business than conventional oil.  Drilling the wells is more complex and expensive, and involves fracking the well to increase the exposed surface area.  Then the production of the well drops off very quickly – 90% in the first 4 years, so the drilling frenzy must be maintained. And finally the oil doesn’t match the hydrocarbon profile of conventional crude (like WTI) so must be sold at reduced prices and blended with heavier oils to produce the same product mix after refining.

Clearly the ERoEI of the complete process is going to be worse than for conventional oil, and hardly worth the effort.  Nobody would be doing it at all if it wasn’t for a lack of good oilfields to develop. There are no giant oilfields left to discover, and the only big ones involve drilling under deep seas and in polar regions, where the additional costs are obvious.

Peak Oil is alive and kicking, and the life-blood of Industrial Civilisation is becoming more scarce by the year.  It is only a matter of time before investors realise this, and take a hard look at the projections of Ultimately Recoverable Resources of the oil majors’ fields.  Then they will be seen as liars about their bankable “assets” and their share price will tumble, causing the next Great Crash which will see the end of Industrial Civilisation for good.  This will at least solve the Climate Change problem, but will be far more serious for humanity.

When it happens, people will say how could we have been so blind?  But people always want to see the most optimistic side of things, especially when the alternative is so pessimistic, so Cognitive Dissonance helps maintain the fiction.  Plus, of course, those with all the wealth tell such lies to hide the truth, even though they know they will be exposed sooner or later.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-22/more-peak-shale-worlds-largest-miner-selling-its-shale-assets

More Peak Shale: World’s Largest Miner Is Selling Its Shale Assets

Over the past several months, we have wondered if despite new all time high shale production, whether the US shale sector in the has peaked. Some of our recent thoughts can be found in the following articles:

The “peak shale” narrative got a boost in late July when one of the world’s most bearish hedge funds, Horseman Global, announced it was aggressively shorting shale companies on the thesis that funding is about to “run dry”, resulting in a sharp drop in production and with the lack of capex, would lead to another round of industry defaults (while sending the price of oil higher).

More evidence was revealed in the latest Baker Hughes data, which showed that both active Horizontal and Permian oil rigs had finally peaked and were now declining, while the number of oil rigs funded by Public junk bond deals had plateaued, suggesting little interest in future funding:

Fast forward to today when overnight, we got the clearest indication yet that the US shale sector may have indeed have peaked, when BHP Billiton – the world’s largest miner – said it was in talks with potential buyers of its U.S. shale assets, purchased during a frenzied $20 billion buying spree in 2011, just as the price of oil peaked.

“We’re talking to many parties and we’re hopeful” of completing a small number of trade sales to divest the onshore oil and gas division, Chief Executive Officer Andrew Mackenzie told Bloomberg Television Tuesday in an interview, adding that the moves on shale and potash aren’t the result of shareholder pressure. “We have been moving in this direction for some time” on shale.

As Bloomberg adds, BHP’s strategic pull-back by comes after new Chairman Ken MacKenzie, who starts his job next month, met more than a hundred investors in recent weeks in Australia, the U.S. and the U.K. in the wake of the campaign by some shareholders calling for reform.

BHP’s admission that there is no more upside for its shale assets, in their current form, is a victory for Elliott Singer’s ongoing activist campaign, which has been pushing for a disposition of these assets in a vocal activist campaign. According to Singer’s Elliott Management, strategic missteps by BHP’s leadership, including in the shale unit, have destroyed $40 billion in value; Elliott launched its public campaign seeking a range of reforms in April.

Admitting that Elliott is right, during a call with analysts, CEO Mackenzie said BHP’s 2011 shale deals had been too costly, poorly timed and the eighth-largest producer in U.S. shale didn’t deliver the expected returns. That said, if the company expected oil prices to rebound, or if the shale assets to become sufficient productive where they would generate positive returns, he would hardly have sold them. Which is why in the current configuration of prices and technology, at least one major player in the space has confirmed that shale’s euphoric days may be over.

This was confirmed by Macquarie Wealth Management Division Director Martin Lakos who said that BHP likely concluded the shale and Jansen assets were “not going to generate the returns that is going to make the grade,” although he added that “it’s most likely the Elliott activity has accelerated the shale sales process.”

BHP’s disposition of shale has been a long time coming:

Discussions among BHP shareholders have been dominated by concerns over shale and potash, according to Craig Evans, a portfolio manager at Tribeca Investments Partners Pty, which holds the producer’s shares. Tribeca and other investors have also pressed the case with BHP directly, he said.

 

“Elliott put the first balls in motion on this in calling them to task,” Evans said. “It’s no coincidence that we’re talking about those issues now.”

 

Investors including AMP Capital, Schroders Plc, Escala Partners and Sydney-based Tribeca have added to criticism of BHP, or offered support for some of Elliott’s proposals, in recent weeks. Elliott didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on BHP’s decisions on shale and potash

Some believe that BHP timed its asset sale at just the right time: “BHP are going to get better value than they would have two years ago after the surge in crude oil price from last year’s 12-year low,” David Lennox, an analyst at Fat Prophets, said on Bloomberg TV. The company has “probably picked an opportune time because we’ve seen the oil price come up from a bottom,” he said.

Of course, a much bigger question is whether the potential buyer will agree, as any acquiror will be purchasing not on current or historical prices, but where they expect oil prices to go in the future. As such, the big wildcard is shale’s access to cheap funding, which for the past 3 years has been the only factor that mattered not only for the US oil industry, but also for OPEC, whose repeated attempts to push the price of oil higher has been foiled every single time thanks to record low junk debt yields and an investor base that will oversubscribe every single shale offering. Well, as we showed last month, that is now ending as bond investors have suddenly turned quite skittish, and the result is that US shale production has not only peaked but is once again declining. While it remains to be seen how the overall industry will respond, if indeed we have hit “peak shale”, OPEC’s long awaited moment of redemption may finally be here.

US-Turkey relations

Turkey is vital to NATO, but NATO isn’t vital to Turkey, and the US treatment of Turkey over the 2016 coup (which was probably US-inspired, just like all the previous ones) has led to deteriorating relations. Add to that the condemnation of Erdogan’s post-coup reactions, especially by the EU, and the US use of Kurdish proxies in Syria, has made Erdogan furious at its partners. This is now beginning to show in this lack of co-operation over drone teams operating from Turkey over Syria, the drones only being there to protect the Kurds from ISIS and Turkey.

These drone crashes could have been due solely to normal accidental circumstances, but they might be due to radio interference by Turkey or Russia.  Recall that Iran hijacked a drone in Afghanistan and captured it and lent it to Russia for analysis.

It is unclear what this means: “We [US] are working closely with our host nation partners [Turkey] to ensure this is resolved without conflict.” but it implies conflict has been threatened – hardly the actions of good NATO allies.

Russia must be overjoyed at this spat, as if Turkey eventually leaves NATO, this would be a major change on the Grand Chessboard, completely altering the strategic balance on Russia’s southern borders and the Middle East in general.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-21/back-back-us-drone-crashes-turkey-come-amidst-severe-strain-between-nato-allies

Back to Back US Drone Crashes In Turkey Come Amidst Severe Strain Between NATO Allies

Two United States MQ-1 Predator drones have crashed in Turkey within four days, possibly cutting the Air Force’s operational fleet of drones at NATO’s main Turkish base down to half. This comes at a moment when the future of US drone operations in the region remain in question due to heightened political tensions with the Erdogan government and the uncertain future of the war in Syria. On Monday Turkey’s Incirlik Air Base, which hosts US and other NATO personnel conducting operations over Syria and Iraq, released a statement confirming the crash of the drone in southeast Turkey at around 11:50 a.m. (0850 GMT), with no further details given.

Incirlik had confirmed an earlier Predator drone crash just last Thursday (8/17) near the air base. Last week’s statement quoted a US military spokesman as saying:

“At this time the safety of our host nation civilians and the recovery and security of our asset is paramount,” said Col. David Eaglin, commander of the 39th Air Base Wing.  “Our Airmen train continuously to respond to incidents such as this, and we are working closely with our host nation partners to ensure this is resolved without conflict.”

Both incidents, which are being described in official statements as accidents, are currently under investigation. While no fatalities or injuries have been reported in connection with either crash, NATO’s 39th Air Base Wing issued a notice to Turkish residents indicating that any possible property loss or damage claims could be submitted for potential reimbursement. Photos of the second crash quickly emerged on social media and appear to show a downed drone in a private corn field.

predator.crashAfter the formal withdrawal of American troops from Iraq in 2011, the US Air Force negotiated the transfer of one combat air patrol unit (or PAC) of Predators to Incirlik. A PAC consists of a total of four drones, which theoretically allows for constant 24 hour aerial operations within a drone unit (one aircraft over the target area, one preparing to take over operations, one returning to refuel, and one in reserve).

Though it’s unknown if the Air Force later added additional units, a Department of Defense internal briefing from 2013 indicates that the original memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the US and Turkey to allow a single drone unit transfer took five months to negotiate.


An unclassified slide from a 2013 DoD briefing on the original deployment of Predator drones to Incirlik. 

Assuming there was a single PAC in continued operation at Incirlik, this means the recent back to back crashes in southern Turkey have, at least temporarily, reduced the fleet by half. This comes at sensitive time for the US which desires to maintain a drone presence at the strategically located Turkish host base. The Air Force has further already planned to phase out the Predator drones, which are set to be completely replaced by the larger MQ-9 Reapers by 2018.

But it’s the rocky and worsening US-Turkish relationship which may ultimately deal a death blow for future Air Force drone operations out of Turkey. The two NATO allies are increasingly engaged in heightened diplomatic standoff over official US support for the Kurdish “People’s Protection Units”, more commonly known by the acronym YPG, which forms the backbone of the US-backed Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) operating in Syria. Turkey sees no distinction between the YPG and the PKK, which operates within Turkish borders and is designated a terrorist organization by both the US and Turkish government.

Last May the US rebuffed repeat Turkish requests not to move forward with arming the YPG – something widely seen as pushing Turkey into closer cooperation with Russia. The following month American officials announced plans to charge members of Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan’s security service after they were filmed attacking protesters outside of the Turkish embassy in D.C. – further harming diplomatic relations.

But perhaps the greatest outrage came in July, when Turkish state media leaked the locations of US bases in Syria, putting US special forces personnel and local partners on the ground at risk. A prominent American analyst described the incident as “a F-you” which threatened to permanently destroy US-Turkey cooperation in the Middle East. Furthermore, among the general Turkish public anti-Americanism has long been on the rise over the past years, and US drones falling from the sky over inhabited areas will not make things any better.

With ISIS now in retreat, and with both the Iraqi and Syrian governments looking increasingly confident in terms of regaining their sovereign territory, it is unclear what purpose US drones in Turkey will serve other than to prop up the SDF in Syria. This is something Turkey already sees as intolerable – the latest drone crashes could signal the beginning of the end for such operations at Incirlik.

More US ship collisions

Yet another US Navy ship involved in a collision – and they are supposed to have the best radar in the world!

http://www.c7f.navy.mil/Media/News/Display/Article/1283879/uss-john-s-mccain-collides-with-merchant-ship-near-strait-of-malacca-update-100/

mccain.collision

alnicThe merchant vessel Alnic is 182 meters (600 feet) long and has a dead weight of 50,760 tons, the Washington Post reported. The ship has a 30,000+ ton oil/chemical tank and was built in 2007. The Alnic sails under the Liberian flag and is reportedly operated by Stealth Maritime Corporation S.A.

mccain

The USS McCain is a 505-foot-long Arleigh Burke-class destroyer based at the 7th Fleet’s home port in Yokosuka, Japan, and was commissioned in 1994. Earlier this month, it sailed within a 12-mile range of Mischief Reef in the disputed Spratly islands chain in the South China Sea. Donald Trump also referred to the warship as a show of force during the latest verbal exchange amid escalating tensions with North Korea.

mccain.damage

The incident marks the second US warship collision with a trade vessel this summer. On 17 June 2017, seven American sailors were killed after the USS Fitzgerald destroyer collided with a Philippine-flagged container ship some 56 nautical miles southwest of Yokosuka, Japan.

 

In May this year, a guided-missile cruiser, the USS Lake Champlain crashed into a 60-foot South Korean fishing boat. No one was injured during the open sea incident.

Roughly a year ago, on August 19, a nuclear ballistic-missile submarine, the USS Louisiana, collided with a military sealift command support vessel, the USNS Eagleview off the coast of Washington State. No one was injured in the collision.

 

A new square on the Grand Chessboard

This story is a prediction of what may happen in the future, so it inherently can not be tested now, but it can certainly be watched and tested in the future.  The US has managed to insert its proxies, the Kurdish fighters, into Syria without the agreement of the Syrian Government, in fact they have declared it to be an invasion by an enemy power.

Yet by continued backing of the Kurdish cause for a state of their own, which ALL the region’s powers are against, the US will have produced a very intractable problem. So this problem will never be resolved, and the US bases in Syria will continue to remain in Syria and northern Iraq.    This would leave them well-placed to influence any further military actions in the future, whatever they may be. A new square on the Grand Chessboard has been created, and the US holds it, albeit at great expense over the coming years and at the cost of antagonising Turkey, Iraq and Syria.  (It is completely accidental that the region has its own oil resources.)

Al-Mansar is an independent news agency with close ties to the Syrian Government, so has been pilloried in the western media for years. But this prediction makes a lot of sense – we shall see.

 

https://www.almasdarnews.com/article/us-forces-occupy-syria-decades-come/

US forces to occupy Syria for decades to come

 

BEIRUT, LEBANON (12:00 P.M.) – According to Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF) spokesman Talal Silo, the strategic interests of the United States in Syria dictate that its forces will continue to occupy the northern regions of the country, in collusion with Kurdish separatist wishes, for many decades to come.

 

According to the SDF representative, Washington will continue to develop its strategic policies in SDF-occupied northern Syria via various military and economic cooperation initiatives with Kurdish-dominated political structures that have been established under the Democratic Union Party (PYD) long after ISIS in gone.

In the past, Silo has openly admitted that the SDF is a tool of American foreign policy in Syria and that the alliance group is forbidden by its US handlers from cooperating with either the Damascus government or Russia.

The announcement by Silo comes around the same time British Army representative for Operation Inherent Resolve Major General Rupert Jones said that the US-led coalition (supposedly against ISIS) would not allow “Syrian regime forces” to move north of the Euphrates River (into SDF-occupied regions). In doing so, Jones essential confirmed suspicions long-expressed by pro-Damascus analysts that Western powers (led by US) pursue a second unspoken policy in Syria aimed at preventing government forces from restoring sovereignty in the country’s northern regions.

Trump deliberately misinterprets NK statement to claim a win

On August 10, North Korea’s official news outlet quoted General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, saying they would complete their plan to fire 4 missiles towards Guam by mid-August and then wait for further orders from the Commander in Chief, Kimjong-Un.

http://kcna.kp/kcna.user.article.retrieveNewsViewInfoList.kcmsf [Warning: beware malware!]

Pyongyang, August 10 (KCNA)

General Kim Rak Gyom, commander of the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army, released the following statement on August 9:

[…]

The Hwasong-12 rockets to be launched by the KPA will cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Koichi Prefectures of Japan. They will fly 3356.7 km for 1065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.

The KPA Strategic Force will finally complete the plan until [by] mid August and report it [readiness] to the commander-in-chief of the DPRK nuclear force and wait for his order.

There was no mention of whether the missiles would carry nuclear warheads, and they were to splash down 30-40 Km from Guam, so they would be in international waters and NOT a real threat. Obviously this is an open invitation to the US to shoot them down, (if they can). If they can’t hit them all, then no harm done, but the DoD will be extremely embarrassed and US will be seen to be still at risk.

This statement was deliberately misinterpreted by the US to be a threat to attack Guam with nukes on 14-16th August. So when it didn’t happen, Trump tweets triumphantly:

tweet.16aug2017

The tweet mistakes Kim’s intention to decide when to execute the plan, which no doubt will be when the US next flies their B-1 bombers over the peninsular again, clearly threatening North Korea with nukes.

Trump’s eagerness to be seen to “score a win” over Kim is blatantly wrong, and everyone can see it. Who is he trying to kid? – only the american public.

Where we are at

Where we are at:

politics_climate.change

bear.in.forest

Bears are dangerous !
They can kill people !
So we MUST kill them before they kill us!
That’s only fair and perfectly reasonable.
Surely everyone can see that?
Kill them, so we can be SAFE.

North Korea doesn’t have an ICBM capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear payload

This detailed paper published by Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists confirms that North Korea doesn’t have an ICBM capable of hitting the US mainland with a nuclear payload.

http://thebulletin.org/north-korea%E2%80%99s-%E2%80%9Cnot-quite%E2%80%9D-icbm-can%E2%80%99t-hit-lower-48-states11012

North Korea’s “not quite” ICBM can’t hit the lower 48 states


11 August 2017

Theodore A. Postol – professor of science, technology, and national security policy at MIT.
Markus Schiller – holds degrees in mechanical and aerospace engineering from Technical University Munich.
Robert Schmucker – has more than five decades of experience researching rocketry, missiles, and astronautics.

On July 3, 2017, while Americans were preparing for the 241st celebration of the Declaration of Independence, a lone rocket rose from North Korea on a near-vertical trajectory. After five to six minutes of powered flight, the second stage of the missile shut down and coasted to an altitude of about 2,720 kilometers. It then fell back to Earth, reentering the atmosphere above the Sea of Japan some 900 kilometers to the east of where it had launched. The rocket’s upper stage coasted in freefall for about 32 minutes, and the overall time-of-flight, from launch to atmospheric reentry, was about 37 minutes. The launch occurred at 8:39 p.m., United States’ Eastern time. Within hours, the news of the launch was trumpeted by the US mainstream press: North Korea had flown an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), a missile that could carry nuclear warheads to Anchorage, Alaska, and to the continental United States as well!

But the Western press apparently did not know one crucial fact: The rocket carried a reduced payload and, therefore, was able to reach a much higher altitude than would have been possible if it had instead carried the weight associated with the type of first-generation atomic bomb North Korea might possess. Experts quoted by the press apparently assumed that the rocket had carried a payload large enough to simulate the weight of such an atomic bomb, in the process incorrectly assigning a near-ICBM status to a rocket that was in reality far less capable.

Only three and a half weeks later, on July 28, there was a second launch of the same type of missile, this time at night, Korean time. The rocket flew approximately the same powered flight trajectory that it had on July 3 (or July 4 in North Korea), this time, however, reaching a higher altitude—a reported 3,725 kilometers. This longer flight path led to yet more unwarranted conclusions that the continental United States was now directly under threat of nuclear attack by North Korea. Actually, however, in this second case, by our calculations, the second stage of the so-called ICBM carried an even smaller payload and tumbled into the atmosphere at night over the Sea of Japan. The spectacular night-reentry of the rocket—what was almost certainly the heavy front-end of the nearly empty upper stage—created an impressive meteoric display that some experts mistook for the breakup of a failed warhead reentry vehicle.

From the point of view of North Korean political leadership, the general reaction to the July 4 and July 28 launches could not have been better. The world suddenly believed that the North Koreans had an ICBM that could reach the West Coast of the United States and beyond. But calculations we have made—based on detailed study of the type and size of the rocket motors used, the flight times of the stages of the rockets, the propellant likely used, and other technical factors—indicate that these rockets actually carried very small payloads that were nowhere near the weight of a nuclear warhead of the type North Korea could have, or could eventually have. These small payloads allowed the rockets to be lofted to far higher altitudes than they would have if loaded with a much-heavier warhead, creating the impression that North Korea was on the cusp of achieving ICBM capability.

In reality, the North Korean rocket fired twice last month—the Hwasong-14—is a “sub-level” ICBM that will not be able to deliver nuclear warheads to the continental United States. Our analysis shows that the current variant of the Hwasong-14 may not even be capable of delivering a first-generation nuclear warhead to Anchorage, Alaska, although such a possibility cannot be categorically ruled out. But even if North Korea is now capable of fabricating a relatively light-weight, “miniaturized” atomic bomb that can survive the extreme reentry environments of long-range rocket delivery, it will, with certainty, not be able to deliver such an atomic bomb to the lower 48 states of the United States with the rocket tested on July 3 and July 28.

First, the bottom line. In each of the two North Korean tests in July, the rockets were fired on a trajectory that sent them to high altitudes; on these trajectories, the rockets traveled relatively short horizontal distances. But after the tests, analysts projected the maximum range the rockets could have traveled by assuming that they could have been placed on trajectories that would result in a maximum achievable range, rather than a maximum achievable altitude. For example, the 2,720-kilometer altitude achieved by the July 3 rocket was determined by its burnout speed. If it is assumed that the rocket could achieve roughly the same burnout speed on a trajectory that is shaped for maximum range, it would be sufficient to carry the payload to Anchorage, Alaska.

In the case of the July 28 test, the same rocket achieved a higher burnout speed and a higher altitude—about 3,725 kilometers. If it were again assumed that the rocket’s trajectory is shaped for maximum range instead of maximum altitude, the new higher burnout speed would be able to carry the payload to Seattle, Washington.

Figure 1 below shows the trajectories flown on July 4 and July 28 that were misinterpreted as tests of a North Korean rocket capable of delivering atomic bombs to the continental United States.

Figure 1. The highly lofted rocket trajectories for the burnout speeds achieved in the July 4 and the July 28 tests are shown on the left side of the figure. The center and right side of the figure show alternative rocket trajectories that could instead have been flown with loft angles optimized for maximum range instead of for maximum altitude.

One question is not answered by this basic kinematic study of the July 4 and July 28 tests: How did the rocket achieve its burnout speed? That’s to say, what kind of rocket motors did it need to achieve the resulting burnout speed, what was the rocket’s launch weight, and most, important, what was the payload-weight carried by the rocket?

Figure 2 shows a summary of our estimates of the range versus the weight of atomic bomb that might be carried by a Hwasong-14 missile, derived from our technical analysis of the Hwasong-14’s weight and propulsive capabilities and the likely weight of a North Korean nuclear warhead.

The analysis results summarized in the graph are for two different “designs” of the Hwasong-14.

The first design uses published information about the powered flight time of the second stages of the rockets and is reflected by the red curves in Figure 2. Those two curves correspond to reported second-stage flight times of 224 and 233 seconds for the two rocket tests. We have received two independent confirmations of these published flight times from sources that we believe to be reliable. As those curves show, if the North Koreans have achieved the capability of creating a missile warhead as light-weight as those used by the Chinese and Pakistani militaries—no small feat for a country with means as limited as North Korea’s—the two missiles fired in July could carry that missile roughly 6,000 kilometers, approximately the distance to Anchorage, Alaska. The missiles simply could not carry such a warhead to the lower 48 states.

The second design—reflected by the blue curves in Figure 2—assumes that the North Koreans actually use more efficient rocket motors than are indicated by the information published in major media about the powered flight trajectory of the second upper stage. In this second design, we assumed that the rocket’s upper stage would be powered by rocket motors similar to those with characteristics demonstrated in the top stages of the North Korean Unha-3 and the Iranian Safir Satellite Launch Vehicle (SLV). We believe North Korea is capable of building such a variant of the Hwasong-14, and that variant could have the capability to deliver a first-generation weaponized North Korean atomic bomb to Anchorage, Alaska, and slightly beyond.

But neither variant of the Hwasong-14 we have studied could carry a first-generation weaponized North Korean atomic bomb to any part of the continental United States beyond Alaska.

Atomic bomb weights—without the hype. At this time, no one outside of North Korea has solid information about the characteristics of North Korea’s nuclear weapons designs—especially about whether or not the weapons that have been tested are cumbersome laboratory devices or readily militarized designs that could be put into bombs or carried on ballistic missiles. This information is simply not available at this time.

We are therefore left to speculate based on intelligence information that we have from other sources and on an understanding of the very significant technical problems of design and implementation that must be solved to be able to build and deliver atomic bombs by ICBM.

There is general information about an atomic bomb design that was obtained by Pakistan from China, and by Libya from Pakistan. A.Q. Khan, a Pakistani known to have trafficked equipment and information that would facilitate the building of atomic bombs, is reported to have sold that design to Libya. Khan is known to have sold uranium enrichment gas-centrifuge technology to North Korea; it is very likely he also shared atomic bomb design information similar to what he sold Libya.

It is reported that the bomb design Khan sold to Libya and possibly to North Korea would produce a warhead that weighed about 500 kilograms and yielded about 10 kilotons, if properly implemented. All of the original design information from China was for devices that were aimed at assembling uranium 235 cores. This information could have been modified and used by North Korea to implement similar implosion devices to instead assemble plutonium 239 cores. However, these devices would have had to be developed and modified from the original designs.

This information is consistent with the seismic data from Pakistan’s nuclear tests in 1998, which suggest that the yield of atomic bombs tested by Pakistan is between 10 and 15 kilotons. It is also consistent with the seismic data from North Korea’s nuclear tests, which indicate maximum explosive yields of perhaps 10 to 20 kilotons.

North Korea has publicly displayed what it claims to be a standardized atomic bomb that dimensional analysis indicates could weigh as little as 400 kilograms. The device displayed by North Korea is clearly a spherical implosion design—seemingly based on the same design concept that Khan sold to Libya and used by Pakistan. (If North Korea had instead sought to impress the outside world by displaying an atomic bomb that was shaped somewhat like an egg, it could have indicated an entirely different and far more advanced design.) But the payload of a missile consists of more than a warhead. Because of the extreme environments created by long-range missile reentry to the atmosphere—including temperatures in the thousands of degrees and high deceleration forces—we have assumed that 25 percent of the payload-weight of these North Korean rockets would have to be given over to a heat shield and the structure needed to hold an atomic bomb in place during deceleration. This is an intentional underestimate of the weight of the warhead assembly, to make our assessment of the Hwasong-14’s capabilities as favorable to North Korean capabilities as possible.

In this extremely conservative estimate, and as a result of a review of the very sketchy information about nuclear weapons design information that has leaked from China to Pakistan and beyond, we think that a reasonable guess for the minimum weight of an advanced first-generation weaponized North Korean atomic bomb that is able to survive the extreme environments associated with ICBM delivery could be as low as 500 to 600 kilograms.

In our view, the engineering challenges of implementing a nuclear weapon are substantial and highly dependent on material resources, national experience, and the skill and depth of knowledge of scientists, engineers, and technicians involved at every level of the enterprise. As such, it cannot be ruled out that a North Korean weaponized device could weigh considerably more than 600 kilograms or less than 500 kilograms, but we believe it is overwhelmingly likely that it would not weigh less than 500.

Our estimates show that the Hwasong-14, using the publicly reported burn times for the upper rocket stage, could deliver a nuclear warhead only as far as Anchorage, Alaska if the warhead weighed 500 kilograms to 550 kilograms. To reach Seattle, the warhead would have to be substantially smaller, weighing no more than 300 kilos. We believe that an advanced North Korean weaponized atomic bomb would be unlikely to weigh less than 500 to 600 kilograms. So it is entirely possible that this variant of the Hwasong-14 will not be able to deliver an atomic bomb to Anchorage, Alaska.

If the upper stage of the Hwasong-14 were instead fitted with the more capable vernier motors from the SS-N-6 submarine launched ballistic missile (known in Russia as the R-27), it could potentially deliver an atomic bomb to Anchorage, if the bomb weighed less than between 650 and 750 kg. The same upgraded variant of the Hwasong-14 could only deliver an atomic bomb to Seattle if the bomb weighed less than between 400 and 450 kg.

Since it is extremely unlikely that a first-generation weaponized North Korean atomic bomb would weigh substantially less than 500 kilograms, we conclude that neither variant of the Hwasong-14 missile could deliver a first-generation North Korean atomic bomb to the continental United States.

We emphasize at this point that advances in rocketry demonstrated by North Korea in the Hwasong-14 are significant, and although the Hwasong-14 is not an immediate threat to the continental United States, variants that are almost certainly now under development, but probably years away from completion, will eventually become missiles with sufficient payloads to deliver atomic bombs to the continental United States.

Performance assessment of the Hwasong-14. Like any missile system, the actual lifting and range capability of the Hwasong-14 depends on many technical details. Among these are the type of fuel burned by the missile, the efficiency of its rocket motors, the total amount of propellant carried in each stage, the weight of the missile’s airframe, and the weight of different components, including rocket motors, plumbing, guidance and control systems, and the like.

In the case of the Hwasong-14, almost all of the critical parameters that ultimately determine the rocket’s ability to carry a payload-weight to a given range can be deduced from photographs, videos of its initial powered flight, engineering knowledge of rocket systems, and specific other engineering information that can be determined by other observations of the missile and its motor components.

For example, the performance characteristics of the main rocket motor that powers the first stage are well known. This is in part because the rocket motor has been unambiguously identified as derived from components of a well-known family of Russian rocket motors. The type of propellant used by this family of motors is also known—unsymmetrical dimethylhydrazine (UDMH) and nitrogen tetroxide (NTO), a highly energetic propellant combination used extensively in Russian rocket systems.

The dimensions of the Hwasong-14 are readily determined from photographs of the missile and its length, as measured relative to the known length of the Chinese-made vehicle that carries it. Since the density of the propellant is known, and the dimensions of the rocket stages and the functions of the different sections of the rocket stages are easily identified, very good estimates of the weights of the stages, airframes and rocket motors can be deduced from simple volumetric analysis and knowledge of design features. Although many of the refined details of the rocket may not be known, the general information of the type described above provides quite good estimates of how well the rocket will perform.

These data lead to an overall weight estimate of roughly 37 metric tons for the Hwasong-14. The known characteristics of the main first-stage rocket motor, and the observed rate of acceleration of the rocket at launch, result in a highly constrained check on the missile model we created to estimate its overall range and payload performance.

One critical parameter of the Hwasong-14 is not yet known with certainty: the exact powered flight time of the second stage. This parameter is an important factor in determining the overall performance of the Hwasong-14, due to a phenomenon known among rocket engineers as “gravitational losses” during powered flight. To perhaps oversimplify the physics involved, the longer the rocket motor burns against the gravitational pull of the Earth, the less efficiently it accelerates its payload to a final speed. But two articles in The Diplomat magazine have included flight times for the second stages of the rockets that North Korea launched in July. Two independent sources have confirmed those times to us as accurate.

Figure 3 shows photographs extracted from North Korean videos of the launches of the Hwasong-14 missile during the morning of July 4 (in North Korea; the evening of July 3 in the United States) and during the night-launch on July 28. Careful examination shows that the first stage of the Hwasong-14 is powered by a large single rocket motor supported by 4 small “vernier” motors that are used to change the direction of the rocket during powered flight and to maintain its vertical stability during its initial lift-off and vertical acceleration. North Korea has also released videos of tests of the Hwasong-14 rocket motor (shown firing on a test stand in Figure 4).

Figure 3.

We have identified this rocket motor as a being derived from a family of Russian rocket motors known as the RD-250 or RD-251. The original motors used six thrust chambers fed by three turbo pumps to together generate roughly about 240 tons (about 530,000 pounds) of lift.

The North Koreans probably obtained this motor and many others as part of a vast shipment of rocket components to North Korea that occurred in the late 1980s and early 1990s during the simultaneous disintegration of the national economy and political system of the Soviet Union. Until recently, almost all of the liquid-propellant motors seen in North Korea’s rockets could be traced back to the Makayev Institute, a vast and highly capable organization that was responsible for the design of all types of Soviet ballistic missiles. Because of the prominent role of Makayev in Soviet ballistic missile production, this institute would have had large numbers of rocket motors in storage that were used to build various models of SCUDs and the SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile (aka R-27) used on Russian Yankee class submarines.

The newest Russian rocket motor we have identified in the North Korean arsenal, derived from the RD-250/251 and used in the Hwasong-14, is not from the Makayev Institute, but from an entirely different major rocket motor manufacturer, NPO Energomash, which supported the OKB-456 Design Bureau in the Soviet Union. This rocket motor was associated with rocket and space launch vehicles produced in Ukraine. The presence of RD-250/251 rocket components in a new North Korean rocket raises new and potentially ominous questions about the variety and extent to which Soviet rocket motors might have been obtained by North Korea during the collapse of the Soviet Union.

Figure 4.

The adaptation that North Korean engineers have worked, using components from the powerful RD 250/251 rocket motor, can be appreciated by examining Figure 5. The original RD 250/251 was a rocket motor that consisted of six thrust chambers, driven by three powerful turbo pumps. This rocket engine can be seen in the image on the left in figure 5.

Each of the three turbo pumps in the original rocket engine was nested between two thrust chambers, at a height below the combustion chamber and above the gas exhaust nozzle of each thrust chamber. This clever design made it possible to shorten the length of the rocket motor compartment and to reduce the overall length of the first stage of a rocket.

The image on the right in figure 5 is an enlargement taken from Figure 4, a photo of the Hwasong-14 rocket motor firing on a test stand. The outline of the motor’s thrust chamber is shown in a silhouette overlay and the location of the turbopump next to the single thrust chamber is shown to be exactly at the height of the turbopump in the RD 250/251 motor complex. It is clear that the final rocket motor mounted in the Hwasong-14 has this single powerful turbopump feeding propellant to both the main rocket motor and the four smaller vernier motors used to control the direction of the missile.

The design indicates a well-thought-out approach to a completely new missile that was not seen in public until the launch of the Hwasong-12, which was essentially a test aimed at proving the functionality of the first stage of the two-stage Hwasong-14. It is a remarkable achievement in itself that North Korea has been able to master the use of these components well enough to be able to adapt them to their special purposes.

We have determined that the approximate properties of the Hwasong-14 missile, with a second stage upgraded with more capable vernier motors from the Russian R-27 missile, will be as follows:

Figure 5.

General conclusions—for now. Our general conclusions from intensive study of a wide variety of data relating to the two rockets that North Korea launched in July:

The Hwasong-14 does not currently constitute a nuclear threat to the lower 48 states of the United States.
The flight tests on July 4 and 28 were a carefully choreographed deception by North Korea to create a false impression that the Hwasong-14 is a near-ICBM that poses a nuclear threat to the continental US.
The Hwasong-14 tested on July 4 and 28 may not even be able to deliver a North Korean atomic bomb to Anchorage, Alaska.
Although it is clear that North Korea is not capable of manufacturing sophisticated rocket components, their skill and ingenuity in using Soviet rocket motor components has grown very substantially. This is not good news for the long run.

It is time for the United States to get serious about diplomacy and appropriate defensive preparations.

Guam Fact Sheet on nuclear war

Everyone on Guam is “perfectly safe”, just don’t look at the flash.

Guam.Fact Sheet

North Korea says it will prepare a launch of 4 missiles that will land 40 Km from the island in international waters, demonstrating an “enveloping fire” by mid-August. Then Kim can order the launch at any time IF the US starts another provocation.

Trump has deliberately misinterpreted this moderate threat as a direct nuclear attack threat, and has vowed retaliation.

Kim must be enjoying having the US do his work for him.