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  • Posts Tagged ‘Pyongyang’

    North Korea’s Nuclear Test – predictably unpredictable (4 Impacts)

    February 12th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    1) North Korea’s motivation for the nuclear test
     
    North Korea’s objective with today’s nuclear missile test is to put the international community on edge vis-a-vis its predictably unpredictable acts. By such acts, North Korea will garner the attention, frustration, and fear of the international community, which the DPRK hopes it can convert into diplomatic talks, either bi- or multilateral, which is a forum in which it can solicit economic and non-economic aid, a critically important factor given the dire internal conditions of North Korea today.
     
    2) What to look for now that North Korea has gone through with its nuclear test

    This is North Korea’s third missile test since 2006. There are two things that could be of potential risk going forward. First, whether the DPRK’s nuclear test was based on plutonium or uranium enrichment technology. While North Korea’s plutonium stockpile is relatively fixed and limited–thus placing a potential ceiling on the number of nuclear warheads it can produce with plutonium–a successful uranium enrichment nuclear test would signal that North Korea could continue with producing more weapons grade nuclear material for many years to come. Second, expect the DPRK to continue its saber rattling and brinksmanship, especially in the early days of South Korea’s new incoming president, Park Geun-hye, given the unique history between her father, Park Chung-hee (South Korea’s president from 1962-79) and the DPRK’s leadership in the 1960s and 1970s. In short, North Korea will test President Park’s mettle early.
     
    3) What to expect from North Korea now that it has conducted its third nuclear test?
     
    Expect North Korea to follow-up its nuclear test with further provocative acts, up to the very limit of what it thinks can be done without military repercussions. North Korea’s confidence in this respect is based on the international community’s interest in keeping the Northeast Asian region peaceful and stable. After all, if socio-political conditions deteriorate, international security as well as economic conditions can spiral downward quickly and rapidly, given that the Asian markets could turn into another “Asian contagion” effect based on such “black swan” event. The risk of North Korea’s stance is that things may go over the edge, purposely or accidentally, since the two Koreas are on high alert, akin to two sprung traps ready to snap at any given moment.
     
    4) More sanctions against a super-sanctioned state
     
    Several UN resolutions have been enacted against North Korea with little effect. This is not entirely surprising given that North Korea is a super-sanctioned state–that is, one of the world’s most sanctioned states. So more sanctions on top of a plethora of already existing sanctions will not likely be effective. As a Stalinist state, North Korea is seeking legitimacy and respect among its neighbors. Yet it also harbors a deep fear and suspicion of such neighbors. A carrot and stick approach of, for instance, a Reaganesque ramping up of military defense spending along with strategic carrots in the form of performance-based incentives and aid through verifiable and sustainable calibrated expected future behavior, for the benefit of both Koreas, among others, could be one step in the right direction.
     
     
     

    re: North Korea and cyberattacks – 4 Factors

    January 17th, 2013  by  Asia-Pacific Global Research Group - Jasper Kim

    The Q&A below is taken from a radio interview with a local South Korean broadcaster (interview date: Jan. 17 ’13).

     
    1) How come North Korea is frequently accused of targeting South Korea’s cybersphere? What have been some of the major online attacks
    so far and what?

     
     For North Korea, engaging in cyberattacks represents a greater strategic advantage compared to traditional military or paramilitary attacks using armed military personnel, bombs, and aircraft.
     
     Today, South Korea’s JoongAng Daily (JAD) newspaper concluded that the hacking of its servers was in fact linked to North Korea. This was the fifth time an alleged North Korean cyberattacks were detected, following distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks on websites of government agencies and financial institutions in July 2009 and March 2011; the hacking of Nonghyup’s banking network in April 2011; and additional hacking of email accounts belonging to students at Korea University in November that year. There were also alleged cyberattacks from the DPRK targeting South Korea’s Incheon International Airport that could have potentially caused confusion with the airport’s heavy air traffic as well as a relatively recent cyberattack on the GPS systems many Seoulites depend upon to navigate Seoul’s busy and often complicated street ways. More concerning, cyberattacks were also aimed at the Blue House and National Assembly. One estimate by the Hyundai Research Institute puts the loss value for FY 2009 alone at $33.7-50.5 million.
     
    2) How big of a threat is it to be attacked by North Korean hackers, assuming that their internet technology is far behind that of South Korea’s? Describe North Korea’s internet culture.
     
    No one really knows for sure, but as far as we can tell, there’s not much internet technology to speak of in North Korea, apart from a couple of universities, which are most likely closely monitored by the North Korean government. North Korea, much like South Korea, actively recruits top students to become part of the governments’s military cybercommand units. So it seems, in a sense, that all those hours of video gaming could actually pay off, since some overlapping skill sets exist.
     
    3) Cyberattacks are perceived by some to be less harmful than conventional military attacks. So should the public be fearful?
     
    Yes, since cyberattacks can often inflict just as much damage as attacks using “kinetic” weapons such as missiles, bombs, and bullets. For instance, a cyberattack could be aimed at an electric grid, which could then cut off the power source for hospitals in a city or country, wreaking havoc on the system.
     
    4) How does the global community or the international law under the UN Charter, specifically, properly address such cases of cyberattacks and cyberwar?
     
    As of now, little legal infrastructure exists to reflect the burgeoning capabilities of cyberattacks and cyberwar.
     
    Article 51 of the UN Charter, originally drafted right around the end of WWII, states that a state has the right to collective self-defense if “an armed attack occurs.” But this language was written when PCs and the internet did not exist. So the question becomes: Does a cyberattack inflicting military and/or non-military personnel constitute an “armed attack” under Article 51 of the UN Charter? If yes, then a state can in theory preemptively attack another state for purposes of collective self-defense, as was the case in the Middle East in the past when one state pre-emptively attacked another state
    s nuclear weapons production facilities, claiming self-defense.
     
    Expect more cyberattacks in the Korean peninsula for 2013–leading to greater potential economic and non-economic losses – it is the future of warfare in the 21st century, for better or worse.