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.

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.

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.

China speaks on real war

Global Times, the Chinese Communist Party’s mouthpiece, is often used to speak on behalf of the Government on sensitive topics. This piece is saying that if the US strikes North Korea first, China will prevent them (presumably by attacking the US B-1 bombers), whereas if North Korea strikes Guam first, they will not intervene.

Meanwhile Australia’s Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull, says the US-Alliance (ANZUS Treaty) means that if Australia is attacked the US will come to Australia’s aid. This is incorrect as the Treaty only requires there to be consultations, and who knows what Trump would do under such circumstances? Turnbull has not yet got the Australian Government’s permission to go to war, so presumably Australia has been encouraged to say this by a phone call from VP Pence, obedient little Australia (militarily) immediately obeys.


Global Times10 August 2017

http://www.globaltimes.cn/content/1060791.shtml

Reckless game over the Korean Peninsula runs risk of real war

2017/8/10

The US and North Korea have both ramped up their threatening rhetoric. The Pentagon has prepared plans for B-1B strategic bombers to make preemptive strikes on North Korea’s missile sites. US Secretary of Defense James Mattis issued an ultimatum to North Korea on Wednesday to “cease any consideration of actions that would lead to the end of its regime and destruction of its people.”

Meanwhile, North Korea issued plans to fire four intermediate-range missiles to land 30-40 kilometers from Guam and claimed it would finalize the plan by mid-August.

Some people in Guam have already expressed panic for the first time after the end of the Cold War. The US has already got the worst of the confrontation with North Korea.

Many people believe the possibility of war is very low. If war really breaks out, the US can hardly reap any strategic harvest and North Korea will face unprecedented risks. North Korea aims to propel the US to negotiate with it, while the US wants to put North Korea in check. Neither can achieve its goal, so they compete to escalate tensions, but neither wants to take the initiative to launch a war.

The real danger is that such a reckless game may lead to miscalculations and a strategic “war.” That is to say, neither Washington nor Pyongyang really wants war, but a war could break out anyway as they do not have the experience of putting such an extreme game under control.

In the near future, it would be highly sensitive if US B-1B fighter jets fly over the Korean Peninsula or North Korea launches missiles in the direction of Guam. Both sides would upgrade their alert to the highest level. The uncertainty in the Korean Peninsula is growing.

Beijing is not able to persuade Washington or Pyongyang to back down at this time. It needs to make clear its stance to all sides and make them understand that when their actions jeopardize China’s interests, China will respond with a firm hand.

China should also make clear that if North Korea launches missiles that threaten US soil first and the US retaliates, China will stay neutral. If the US and South Korea carry out strikes and try to overthrow the North Korean regime and change the political pattern of the Korean Peninsula, China will prevent them from doing so.

China opposes both nuclear proliferation and war in the Korean Peninsula. It will not encourage any side to stir up military conflict, and will firmly resist any side which wants to change the status quo of the areas where China’s interests are concerned. It is hoped that both Washington and Pyongyang can exercise restraint. The Korean Peninsula is where the strategic interests of all sides converge, and no side should try to be the absolute dominator of the region.

… and the inevitable NK response

The meaning behind this announcement is not absolutely clear, but what I think it means is they will fire 4 missiles that will land north, east, south, and west of the island of Guam, each about 30 to 40 Km away from the island, in international waters – an “enveloping fire”. It doesn’t say they will be armed with nukes, but who knows? In any case, they will have to be shot down, presumably with THAAD missiles, which target the incoming missiles at high altitude (above the atmosphere).

This will pose a problem for the US as handling 4 simultaneously could prove difficult, certainly harder than the stage-managed tests done previously, and the humiliation if one actually arrives intact would be hard for the Pentagon to live down . It also uses up 4 THAAD missiles, which are expensive and hard to keep the supply up.

So don’t laugh just yet.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-09/furious-north-korea-mocks-trump-vows-complete-plan-nuke-guam

“Furious” North Korea Threatens “Simultaneous Strike” On Guam By Mid-August


Tyler Durden
Aug 9, 2017

So much for Rex Tillerson’s tepid attempt to de-escalate Trump’s “fire and fury” statement.

Moments ago, the state run-KCNA news agency issued a statement in which it cited a commander of the Korean People’s Army according to whom President Donald Trump’s threat was a “load of nonsense,” it failed to grasp the “grave situation,” and said that “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him,” referring to Trump’s comments about unleashing “fire and fury.”

Reaffirming its intentions to strike Guam, N. Korea said it is “seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.” Noting that it is getting exhausted and angry with Trump’s “load of nonsense”, the General said that Trump’s threats are “extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA.”

“The KPA Strategic Force will finally complete the plan until mid August and report it to the commander-in-chief of the DPRK nuclear force and wait for his order” and N. Korea will closely watch U.S. “speech and behavior.”

Turning the tables on Trump’s statement that only harsh language can work on Kim Jong Un, N.Korea responded that “sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him.”

The North Korean statement also says the military action its army “is about to take” will be effective for restraining America’s “frantic moves” in and near the southern part of the Korean Peninsula. Hinting that Pyongyang will continue planning an attack, the General adds that “the military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity. ”

It said that North Korea will complete a plan by mid-August for the “historic enveloping fire at Guam,” convey it to the commander in chief of its nuclear force and then “wait for his order.” North Korea says it will “keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S.” The army General explains that “this unprecedented step is to give stronger confidence in certain victory and courage to the Korean people and help them witness the wretched plight of the U.S. imperialists.”

And, in a surprising tangent, the statement goes so far as to give details of the flight plan its ICBMs will take, which will be right above Japan, hardly a detail that Tokyo will be excited about:

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 3 356.7 km for 1 065 seconds and hit the waters 30 to 40 km away from Guam.

Finally, the KPA Strategic Force said it will finally complete the Guam attack plan by mid-August, so it may be the case that North Korea will launch one if not more Hwasong-12 rockets in the coming weeks.

* * *

The full KCNA statement is below:

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:

As already clarified, the Strategic Force of the KPA is seriously examining the plan for an enveloping strike at Guam through simultaneous fire of four Hwasong-12 intermediate-range strategic ballistic rockets in order to interdict the enemy forces on major military bases on Guam and to signal a crucial warning to the U.S.

On Tuesday, the KPA Strategic Force through a statement of its spokesman fully warned the U.S. against its all-round sanctions on the DPRK and moves of maximizing military threats to it. But the U.S. president at a gold links again let out a load of nonsense about “fire and fury,” failing to grasp the on-going grave situation. This is extremely getting on the nerves of the infuriated Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA.

It seems that he has not yet understood the statement.

Sound dialogue is not possible with such a guy bereft of reason and only absolute force can work on him. This is the judgment made by the service personnel of the KPA Strategic Force.

The military action the KPA is about to take will be an effective remedy for restraining the frantic moves of the U.S. in the southern part of the Korean peninsula and its vicinity.

The Hwasong artillerymen of the KPA Strategic Force are replete with a strong determination to fully demonstrate once again the invincible might of the force, which has developed into a reliable nuclear force of the Workers’ Party of Korea and the world, strongest strike service, through the planned enveloping strike targeting the U.S. imperialist bases of aggression.

The Strategic Force is also considering the plan for opening to public the historic enveloping fire at Guam, a practical action targeting the U.S. bases of aggression.

This unprecedented step is to give stronger confidence in certain victory and courage to the Korean people and help them witness the wretched plight of the U.S. imperialists.

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 mid August and report it to the commander-in-chief of the DPRK nuclear force and wait for his order.

We keep closely watching the speech and behavior of the U.S.

The bottom line is that while Trump expects Kim to relent, the North Korean leader clearly has no plans to do that, and demands the same from Trump, which also won’t happen. How this crisis is resolved in a peaceful, diplomatic way under these conditions remains unknown, if not impossible.

Trump: US nuclear arsenal stronger than ever after I ordered modernization

This is clearly nonsense – how much “modernisation” of nuclear weapons do you think the Pentagon could have managed since Trump came to power in January? They are probably still evaluating design tenders and nothing has been completed yet. A budget of a trillion Dollars has been talked about for a full modernisation program, but we have seen no signs of an Appropriations Bill in Congress.

Tillerson’s attempts to calm things down after Trump’s off-the-cuff Twitter tirades, has been seen before. However Tillerson knows that saying “no imminent threat” will not cool the tensions felt in the US as the media have been stirring up fears non-stop since the first ICBM test on 4th July (which was probably only an IRBM).

We know that Kim’s response to the B-1B Lancers flyover was to do nothing militarily, but what were China and Russia thinking/doing at the time? They are certainly doing something in case the B-1s divert to another attack target.

It would certainly have been possible to scramble a group of their best Chengdu J-20 fighters and be up there over the East Korean Sea to meet the B-1s and their escorts. There would be plenty of time to spot the B-1s on their long journey from Guam. Also plenty of options for anti-aircraft missiles from naval ships at sea south of Japan.

Russia obviously has its S-400 system in the surrounds of Vladivostok, and it would be very surprising if China did not have something similar. Flying B-1s around the Korean Peninsular is a very dangerous thing to do and only forces China and Russia to think about their tactics and practice their defensive posture.

https://www.rt.com/usa/399072-trump-powerful-nuclear-arsenal/

Trump: US nuclear arsenal stronger than ever after I ordered modernization


9 Aug, 2017

Donald Trump tweeted that his first order as president was to renovate and modernize the American nuclear arsenal, which is now stronger “than ever before,” adding that Washington will never allow any nation to surpass US power.

Trump also said that he hopes the US will never have to use its nuclear weapons.

The remarks follow recent verbal sparring between Washington and Pyongyang. Earlier, Trump warned North Korea that any threat to the US would be repelled with brutal force.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said on Tuesday in widely televised broadcast.

Hours later, North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency delivered the threat of launching a missile strike on the US Pacific island of Guam, warning Washington not to go too far in its aggressive stance.

In the message, a North Korean military spokesman described the recent flypast by US strategic bombers near the Korean Peninsula as an “actual nuclear drill” that is “driving the regional situation to an extreme pitch.”

The North Korean military is “carefully examining the operation plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range ballistic rocket Hwasong-12,” the spokesman added.

The US mainland is not protected against retaliatory strikes, the North Korean military said, urging the US to immediately halt “reckless military provocations” against Pyongyang. Otherwise, it said, North Korea will make “an unavoidable military choice.”

On Tuesday, the US Pacific Air Forces [PACAF] said that two B-1B bombers “joined their counterpart from the Republic of Korea and Japanese air forces” for a 10-hour flight mission the previous day. The supersonic bombers took off from an airbase in Guam.

In an apparent attempt to calm rising tensions, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Wednesday that there was no “imminent threat” from North Korea, adding that “Americans should sleep well at night,” AP reported.

Trump is sending “the wrong message” with his bellicose rhetoric, according to Victor Gao, international affairs expert and director of China National Association of International Studies.

“You cannot have the US President warmongering against the DPRK [North Korea] whereas Secretary of State Tillerson is calling it not an enemy of the United States,” Gao told RT.

It is time for the US to join the international community and seek a political solution to the Korean nuclear issue, he said.

“Launching a war against the DPRK would be a disaster, both for [North Korea] and eventually for the United States… people in this region cannot afford another catastrophe in the form of total war in the peninsula,” Gao said, urging the president to stop calling for coercive actions.

WaPo: and they have nukes on those ICBMs!!

WaPo dutifully confirms the tentative Japanese opinion that North Korea has miniaturized nuclear war heads that can go on their ICBMs. Why would they want to do that? – to raise tensions in the US, and improve the political climate for more Pentagon budget. By endless repetition, they have got everyone believing in NK’s ICBMs, and now they are piling THIS horror story on top – are you scared yet?

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-08/us-confirms-nkorea-has-icbm-ready-nuclear-warheads

US “Confirms” N.Korea Has ICBM-Ready Nuclear Warheads


Tyler Durden
Aug 8, 2017

First thing this morning we reported that according to a 500-page report by the Japanese Defense Ministry, North Korea may now be in possession of a miniature nuclear warhead. That said, the report did not move the market because the Japanese report was largely inconclusive and did not claim with certainty that this is the case.

Now, moments ago, the exact same narrative escalated when the WaPo echoed what Japan said, only it now “confirms” that North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, “crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.”

As the WaPo adds, the analysis completed last month by the Defense Intelligence Agency comes on the heels of another intelligence assessment that sharply raises the official estimate for the total number of bombs in the communist country’s atomic arsenal.

“The IC [intelligence community] assesses North Korea has produced nuclear weapons for ballistic missile delivery, to include delivery by ICBM-class missiles,” the assessment states, in an excerpt read to The Washington Post. The assessment’s broad conclusions were verified by two U.S. officials familiar with the document. It is not yet known whether the reclusive regime has successfully tested the smaller design, although North Korean officially last year claimed to have done so.

Of course, another vivid instance of “confirmation” of weapons being present, not nuclear so much as of “mass destruction” is the following.

In any case, the U.S. calculated last month that up to 60 nuclear weapons are now controlled by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Some independent experts believe the number of bombs is much smaller.

As Jeff Bezos’ paper of record adds, the findings are likely to deepen concerns about an evolving North Korean military threat that appears to be advancing far more rapidly than many experts had predicted. The “conclusion” will also accelerate US plans, already in place, to intervene “preemptive” in North Korea, just as the neo-con/warhawks in Washington desire, once again binding Trump in the process.

The WaPo report has certainly impacted the market, well the FX market if not the S&P which just keeps rising as CTAs are buying because other CTAs are buying, and the USDJPY has slumped on the news, revealing the latest divergence between it and the S&P.

and the NK response

After Trump’s lurid “fire and fury” threat, and his claim to be “tough and decisive”, North Korea fires straight back with a threat to target Guam, the US forward base, 9,765 km from the US mainland.

http://www.zerohedge.com/news/2017-08-08/north-korea-responds-trump-threat-says-it-seriously-considering-pre-emptive-strike-g

North Korea Responds To Trump Threat, Says It Is “Seriously Considering” Pre-Emptive Nuclear Strike On Guam


Tyler Durden
Aug 8, 2017

Challenge accepted.

If Trump thought that his bluff would be sufficient to finally shut up North Korea, and put an end to Kim’s provocative behavior, well… bluff called because North Korea’s state-run KCNA news agency reported moments ago that not only did N.Korea escalate the tensions up another notch, but explicitly warned that it could carry out a “pre-emptive operation once the US shows signs of provocation”, and that it is “seriously considering a strategy to strike Guam with mid-to-long range missiles.”

And the full report:

http://knca.co [site currently blocking access or being blocked]

U.S Should be Prudent under Present Acute Situation: Spokesman For KPA Strategic Force


Pyongyang, August 9 (KCNA)

A spokesman for the Strategic Force of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) released the following statement on August 8:

Recently, the U.S. test-fired ICBM Minuteman-3 at its Vandenberg Air Force Base in Califrnia State targeting the DPRK, the fourth one this year, openly staged an actual nuclear strike drill targeting the strategic objects of the DPRK by mobilizing its nuclear strategic bombers formation stationed at its Anderson Air Force Base on Guam in the Pacific. It is driving the regional situation to an extreme pitch by bringing various kinds of nuclear strategic hardware before the very eyes of the DPRK. The Strategic Force of the KPA has taken special note of such maneuvers.

Such military maneuvers of the U.S. may provoke a dangerous conflict under the present extremely acute situation prevailing on the Korean peninsula.

Typically, the nuclear strategic bombers from Guam frequent the sky above south Korea to openly stage actual war drills and muscle-flexing in a bid to strike the strategic bases of the DPRK. This grave situation requires the KPA to closely watch Guam, the outpost and beachhead for invading the DPRK, and necessarily take practical actions of significance to neutralize it.

In the morning of August 8 the air pirates of Guam again appeared in the sky above south Korea to stage a mad-cap drill simulating an actual war.

Supreme Commander of the revolutionary forces of the DPRK Kim Jong Un, estimating the nature of the military action taken by the U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region, once recommended examination of a powerful and effective action plan for containing the U.S. imperialists’ aggression hardware as the U.S. forces are resorting to inappropriate and reckless military actions in the sensitive area, while going on the rampage in the waters off the Korean peninsula and the Pacific waters.

The KPA Strategic Force is now carefully examining the operational plan for making an enveloping fire at the areas around Guam with medium-to-long-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 in order to contain the U.S. major military bases on Guam including the Anderson Air Force Base in which the U.S. strategic bombers, which get on the nerves of the DPRK and threaten and blackmail it through their frequent visits to the sky above south Korea, are stationed and to send a serious warning signal to the U.S.

It should immediately stop its reckless military provocation against the state of the DPRK so that the latter would not be forced to make an unavoidable military choice.

The plan is to be soon reported to the Supreme Command soon after going through full examination and completion and will be put into practice in a multi-concurrent and consecutive way any moment once Kim Jong Un, supreme commander of the nuclear force of the DPRK, makes a decision.

The execution of this plan will offer an occasion for the Yankees to be the first to experience the might of the strategic weapons of the DPRK closest.

Explicitly speaking again, the strategic weapons which the DPRK manufactured at the cost of blood and sweat, risking everything, are not a bargaining thing for getting acknowledgement from others and for bartering for anything, but they serve as substantial military means for resolutely countering the U.S. political and economic pressure and military threat as what has been observed now.

Will only the U.S. have option called “preventive war” as is claimed by it?

It is a daydream for the U.S. to think that its mainland is an invulnerable Heavenly kingdom.

The U.S. should clearly face up to the fact that the ballistic rockets of the Strategic Force of the KPA are now on constant standby, facing the Pacific Ocean and pay deep attention to their azimuth angle for launch.

It should make a proper option so as not to regret today in the future.

Needless to say, with both leaders determined to keep escalating until the adversary folds, this seemingly inevitable military conflict will not have a happy ending.

The good news for Guam, is that the US has had a THAAD anti-ballistic missile battery on the Pacific island since 2015; in fact it was the first permanent deployment of THAAD outside continental United States.

On the American Territory of Guam in the western Pacific, is Task Force Talon, the world’s only deployed and active THAAD battery site. This is the world’s newest missile defense capability that can intercept missiles in lower space and in the upper atmosphere with its extremely powerful, long range X-Band radar that defends U.S. soil and American citizens in Guam against North Korean ballistic missiles. Equally important, Task Force Talon projects U.S. strategic air power into Asia through B-52 bombers deployed at Anderson Air Force Base and a U.S. submarine navy port as well as the largest American fuel and munitions depot in the Pacific. Last month, the B-52 squadron from Guam was used in power projecting flights over the internationally disputed artificial Chinese islands in the South China Sea. This squadron has also flown over the DMZ in warning to North Korea in the past. Task Force Talon in Guam remains indispensable not only for American power projection, but also delivering extended deterrence for U.S. allies in the Asia Pacific region.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the US”

“You must not threaten us, but we are still allowed to threaten you”


B1-Lancer flies over the Korean peninsular with Japanese and South Korean fighter escort.


THAAD missile system in South Korea


US/South Korea responds by practicing of “precision strikes”

That kind of logic will not bring North Korea to the negotiating table. Can they really be so “exceptional” that they can’t see that? The whole world is watching …
– and is not impressed.

https://www.rt.com/news/398977-trump-nkorea-crisis-efforts/

Trump warns North Korea new threats will be met with ‘fire & fury’


8 Aug, 2017

US President Donald Trump has yet again called for tough and decisive action over the “dangers posed by North Korea,” while praising the UN’s solidarity over the crisis. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is reportedly reviewing missile restrictions with Seoul.

“North Korea best not make any more threats to the US. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen,” Trump said on Tuesday afternoon.

Trump’s statement comes three days after the United Nations Security Council (UNSC) unanimously voted to impose a new round of sanctions on Pyongyang in response to its latest ballistic missile tests.

“After many years of failure, countries are coming together to finally address the dangers posed by North Korea,” Trump tweeted on Tuesday morning, adding that “we must be tough & decisive!”

Earlier, Trump expressed pleasure with “Russia’s and China’s cooperation” with the US against North Korea in adopting the UNSC resolution targeting key North Korean exports.

Washington has repeatedly pushed for the denuclearization and disarmament of North Korea, while it conducts joint drills with its allies in the region, including South Korea and Japan. The US is also reconsidering the size of missiles that South Korea can obtain as well as bolstering its defense capabilities, Reuters reports, citing the Pentagon.

“There is currently a limit on the warhead size and missiles that South Korea can have and yes, it is a topic under active consideration here,” Pentagon spokesman Captain Jeff Davis stated on Monday, as quoted by Reuters.

“I would tell you that we would be favorably inclined to do anything which furthers the defense capabilities of South Korea and we certainly have seen our alliance change and adapt over time before,” Davis said.

The Pentagon statement came following Seoul’s request to increase the cap on payloads to 1,000kg, voiced by South Korean President Moon Jae-in during a telephone conversation with Trump on Monday, South Korean Yonhap news agency reports.

Under the 2012 agreement with the US, South Korea is currently allowed to develop missiles with a range of up to 800km (497 miles) and a payload of 500kg, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI). The agreed guidelines, which increased the range of South Korean missiles by 500 km but did not increase the payload, are considered “controversial” by the NTI. The organization says the missiles can “contribute to tensions in Northeast Asia” and despite their ability to reach any part of North Korea, they wouldn’t protect from the North’s mobile missile forces and attacks from island territories.

Following what was believed to be the second intercontinental missile (ICBM) test conducted by North Korea on July 28, Moon Jae-in apparently changed his mind over American Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense systems. Seoul requested renewed talks with the US on deploying THAAD systems, while earlier the South Korean leader had criticized the decision of previous government to host the missiles and announced he would delay additional deployments until environmental concerns were addressed.