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  • Posts Tagged ‘confucian cold war’

    Game-Changer: North Korea’s Surprise Missile and Satellite Launch [Int’l Security]

    December 12th, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    North Korea’s Launch a Surprise:
     
    As of yesterday, the consensus was that the DPRK’s Eunha 3 (Galaxy) ballistic missile was being dismantled due to a “technical” problem. This was a relatively easy-to-accept narrative, given North Korea’s four previous similar, but failed, missile launch attempts in 1998, 2006, 2009, and April 2012. But to the surprise of most in the international community, this morning the world saw evidence of a potentially concerning possibly “game changing” event – in the form of the DPRK’s first successful intercontinental ballistic missile launch. This clearly shows just how truly little the world knows about one of the world’s most closed and secretive states. 
     
    DPRK Missile Launch Implications:
     
    The international community may consider further sanctions, but the PRC (a permanent UNSC member with veto power) may or may not support another sanction against its ally, the DPRK. Alternatively, certain states may opt to enforce domestic sanctions against North Korea unilaterally.
     
    Even with further UN or domestic-based sanctions, it is also unclear how much more influence more sanctions will have on the reclusive DPRK, given that it is currently one of the most sanctioned countries in the world. The US will put more pressure on the PRC to compel the DPRK that it should refrain from further such acts, although this will probably have relatively little effect. Japan, may react most noticeably, in the form of greater internal public and political sentiment and pressure to revamp its constitution to allow its “self-defense” forces to be used in a broader way for self protection against possible future North Korean provocative acts.This will continue to further aggravate the ongoing “Confucian Cold War.” between Japan, the Korean peninsula, and mainland China.
     
    Missile Launch as Strategic Timing:
     
    The North’s missile launch (and possible satellite orbit) was purposely timed to fall within the timeline trifecta of (1) the centennial of the birth of North Korea’s founder, Kim Il-Sung; (2) year anniversary of Kim Jong-il’s death; and (3) upcoming presidential elections on December 19 (possibly shifting support to conservative Saenuri candidate, Park Geun-hye, given her relative hawkish stance relating to the DPRK). Kim Jong-un essentially “doubled down” on his political capital with the launch, and subsequently his political power base has been solidified–at least in the short term–through the North’s successful launch within (rather than past) its original pre-December 22nd trifecta timeline.

    South Korea’s Possible Response:

     
    South Korea will work with the U.S. to possibly push for more UN sanctions, given that North Korea’s missile launch would be in violation of UN Resolution 1718 and 1874. Now that the North has demonstrated its successful intercontinental missile launch technology (and apparent satellite orbit), this will also put South Korean military forces on further edge, given past provocations. In contrast to the North, South Korea has yet to successfully launch a satellite into orbit, which will further compound a possible “satellite gap” perception–somewhat similar to the “missile gap” and space technology gap that pervaded during the U.S.-USSR Cold War period.
     
    North Korea’s Next Move:
     
    North Korea is predictably unpredictable, generally to its benefit. Kim Jong-un has employed a “one step forward, one step back” policy of modernization on the one hand, counterbalanced by seemingly provocative acts to placate its military. The NLL border region is likely the next area where possible conflicts in the future may occur. Cyberattacks is also another increasingly used option by the DPRK against South Korea, although this could be used against any other perceived foe in the future.
     
    To view a related op-ed piece written by him on Global Times (China’s English newspaper), click HERE.
     
    To view Jasper Kim (Founder/CEO) discuss this issue with CNN, click HERE or view BELOW.
     

     
    To view a separate CNN TV interview clip with accompanying online report click HERE and VIEW below:

     

     
    For a Bloomberg/Businessweek interview clip, see below (December 12, 2012):


           

    U.S.-ROK missile pact revision – 5 Implications

    October 3rd, 2012  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) What has been revised in the joint military pact between Korea and
    the U.S.? (in terms of the country’s missile capabilities?)

     
    The recent missile range pact between the U.S. and ROK allows for the extension of South Korea’s ballistic missile range from the current striking distance of 300km to 800 kilometers.
     
    What this means is that – with a strike range of 800 kilometers – South Korea’s missiles would have the capability to strike most, if not all, targets within North Korea, including its Yongbyon nuclear facility.
     
    North Korea’s ballistic missiles have the potential to strike most, if not all, targets within South Korea. The DPRK is also developing its Taepodong-2 ballistic missile technology, which some estimate to have a strike range of up to 10,000 kilometers. This range would make a strike target as far away as Hawaii possible.
     

    2) Why has Seoul strongly called for the revision?
     
    South Korea has wanted the ballistic missile pact revision to broaden its missile protection capabilities. Other related reasons could include:
     
    – Recent North Korean aggressions in and around the DPRK-ROK border, including attacks/aggressions against Yeonpyeong Island in 2010 and an earlier attack on a South Korean warship, the Cheonan, which killed 46 servicemen
     
    – Increasing inter-Korean political uncertainty regarding Kim Jong-Un, North Korea’s recently appointed leader. Little is known about him. And given his relative lack of military experience and youth (late 20s), the likelihood of potential internal insurrection may be seen as uncertain and thus riskier. Based in part on such uncertainty, the ROK’s defense ministry has called for a 5.1% military budget increase
     
    – From a domestic political perspective, a push for greater missile capabilities before South Korea’s upcoming December 19 presidential elections may be a strategic pre-emptive move to mitigate the risk that South Korea’s next president may not be from the same conservative ruling party (Saenuri). Of the three top presidential candidates, two of the three (Moon Jae-in of the DUP party, and Ahn Chul-soo an independent candidate) would most likely support a relatively more dovish/pro-DPRK policy stance.
     
    3) Washington has been reluctant to alter the pact for a significant
    period of time. Could the revised agreement undermine Japan and the U.S.’s initiatives of non-proliferation and arms control?

    First, from the U.S. perspective, on the one hand, it is in the process of increasing its security pivot more towards Asia, which serves as a notable security presence to Pyongyang and Beijing.
     
    Second, yes, the revised agreement could undermine Japan and the U.S.’s initiatives towards non-proliferation and arms control in the region (which has been especially tumultuous recently, due to increased tensions based on disputed island territories involving China, South Korea, and Japan).
     
    What the U.S. wants to avoid is an Asian arms race – what can be called a twenty-first century “Confucian Cold War” in which Japan decides to reconstitute its nuclear technology for military use. This would mean that Tokyo’s leadership would put forth the process towards amending its post-War constitution, which at present, provides for its military to be used for defensive purposes only, or alternatively, taking a relatively broad interpretation of “defensive purposes” to include, but not be limited to, such things as protecting its national interests abroad (rather than purely domestically).
     
    It is important to not understate the potential for Japan to convert its nuclear capabilities for military use in a relatively short time period, if provoked to do so.

    4) Briefly tell us about North Korea’s missile capabilities and how
    strong of a threat it is to the security of the Northeast Asian region
    as well as the Korean peninsula.

     
    – BALLISTIC MISSILES: 800 (estimated total)
     
    – POTENTIAL LONG-RANGE MISSILE CAPABILITIES: TAEPO-DONG 2 (which can conceivably reach targets as far as 10,000 kilometers from the missile’s launch pad)
     
    – NUCLEAR WARHEADS: 6 to 8 (as publicly announced by the DPRK). Speculation exists that the DPRK has the capability to produce more nuclear warheads, which it may be doing at present.
     
     – ARMY: 1,000,000-plus (estimated). Although the sheer size of the DPRK’s military is noteworthy, it is highly possible that most of its army are not as well-equipped as ROK and U.S. military forces that it will meet in the event of a conflict.
      
     5) What is North Korea’s likely reaction to the revision?
     
    One of North Korea’s greatest weapons is an invisible one – being predictably unpredictable and unpredictably irrational.
     
    Although no one really can know with great specificity, given that the DPRK is a black box of sorts in terms of available information, what can be said is that it is more a question of “when” than “if” North Korea will antagonize South Korea and its allies. Such behavior may come in the form of military and/or paramilitary and/or cyberattacks, particularly before, during, and possibly after South Korea’s upcoming presidential elections.
     
    See the Global Times op-ed piece here by Jasper Kim on this topic.