Posts

AXIS OF EVIL: The Iran-North Korea military connection

This is more of the malignant spawn of Obama’s pro-jihad foreign policy. Mike Pence recently warned North Korea that this is not the Obama era any longer and that President Donald Trump wouldn’t hesitate to go bold. But North Korea doesn’t look as if it is hesitating, either, and is now aiding the Islamic Republic of Iran and benefiting from the billions that Obama showered upon the Iranian mullahs.

quassem sulemani iran“Pentagon eyes Iran-North Korea military connection,” by Jennifer Griffin, Fox News, May 5, 2017:

When Iran attempted to launch a cruise missile from a “midget” submarine earlier this week, Pentagon officials saw more evidence of North Korean influence in the Islamic Republic – with intelligence reports saying the submarine was based on a Pyongyang design, the same type that sank a South Korean warship in 2010.

According to U.S. defense officials, Iran was attempting to launch a Jask-2 cruise missile underwater for the first time, but the launch failed. Nonproliferation experts have long suspected North Korea and Iran are sharing expertise when it comes to their rogue missile programs.

“The very first missiles we saw in Iran were simply copies of North Korean missiles,” said Jeffrey Lewis, a missile proliferation expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey. “Over the years, we’ve seen photographs of North Korean and Iranian officials in each other’s countries, and we’ve seen all kinds of common hardware.”

When Iran tested a ballistic missile in late January, the Pentagon said it was based on a North Korean design. Last summer, Iran conducted another missile launch similar to a North Korean Musudan, the most advanced missile Pyongyang has successful tested to date.

Defense analysts say North Korea’s Taepodong missile looks almost identical to Iran’s Shahab.

“In the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran. In some recent years, we’ve seen some small things appear in Iran first and then show up in North Korea and so that raises the question of whether trade — which started off as North Korea to Iran — has started to reverse,” Lewis added.

Iran’s attempted cruise missile launch from the midget submarine in the Strait of Hormuz was believed to be one of the first times Iran has attempted such a feat. In 2015, North Korea successfully launched a missile from a submarine for the first time, and officials believe Tehran is not far behind.

Only two countries in the world deploy the Yono-class submarine – North Korea and Iran. Midget subs operate in shallow waters where they can hide. The North Korean midget sub that sank a 290-foot South Korean warship in 2010 — killing over 40 sailors — was ambushed in shallow water.

North Korea denied any involvement in the sinking.

“When those midget subs are operating underwater, they are running on battery power—making themselves very quiet and hard to detect,” said a U.S. defense official who declined to be identified.

During testimony last week, Adm. Harry Harris, the head of American forces in the Pacific, warned the United States has no land-based short- or medium-range missiles because it is a signatory to the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, treaty signed in 1987 between Russia and the United States. But Iran and North Korea are under no such constraints.

“We are being taken to the cleaners by countries that are not signatories to the INF,” Harris told the House Armed Services Committee late last month.

Perhaps most worrisome for the United States is that Iran attempted this latest missile launch from a midget sub Tuesday in the narrow and crowded Strait of Hormuz, where much of the world’s oil passes each day.

Over a year ago, Iran  fired off a number of unguided rockets near the USS Harry Truman aircraft carrier as she passed through the Strait of Hormuz in late December 2015. The U.S. Navy called the incident “highly provocative” at the time and said the American aircraft carrier was only 1,500 yards away from the Iranian rockets.

In July 2016, two days before the anniversary of the nuclear agreement between Iran and world powers, the Islamic Republic attempted to launch a new type of ballistic missile using North Korean technology, according to multiple intelligence officials.

It was the first time Iran attempted to launch a version of North Korea’s BM-25 Musudan ballistic missile, which has a maximum range of nearly 2,500 miles, potentially putting U.S. forces in the Middle East and Israel within reach if the problems are fixed….

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in The Geller Report.

VIDEO: How President Trump can deal with the North Korean threat

General HR McMaster

President Trump’s National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster.

Trump National Security Adviser, U.S. Army Lt. Gen. H.R. McMaster, had an interview with ABC’s Martha Raddatz on  the network’s “This Week” program on Easter Sunday, April 16, 2017. The issue de jour was what to do about bellicose hermit state North  Korea . On the 105th anniversary of the birth of the founder of the dynastic Communist regime , grandfather Kim Il Sung,  a massive military parade was held in Pyongyang ,  Saturday April 15th. There with televised images of huge goose stepping marching formations  and displays of both mobile Musdan intermediate range and submarine launched missiles. As if on cue, North Korea attempted another missile launch following the celebratory parade that blew up on the launching pad, prompting a muted response from the White House.

This followed demonstrations of force with a US Navy Tomahawk missile strike on an airbase in Syria, allegedly the site from which gas attacks were launched against civilians and opposition in Idlib province. That was followed this week by the dropping of a MOAB,  so-called massive ordnance air burst bomb, from a USAF C-130 in Afghanistan. It allegedly  aimed destroyed  caves and tunnels used by ISIS, with conflicting reports as to casualties ranging from 36 to upwards of 100 casualties.

The parade in the vast Pyongyang square was held before hereditary leader Kim Jong-un and what passes for the North Korean Comintern leadership.  McMaster speaking from Kabul, Afghanistan said in response to Raddatz’s question about the Trump Administration would do against this threat overarching that of ISIS and Syria in the Middle East:

While it’s unclear and we do not want to telegraph in any way how we’ll respond to certain incidents, it’s clear that the president is determined not to allow this kind of capability to threaten the United States.

I think there’s an international consensus now, including the Chinese and the Chinese leadership, that this is a situation that just can’t continue. And the president has made clear that he will not accept the United States and its allies and partners in the region being under threat from this hostile regime with nuclear weapons. He said the National Security Council is working with the Pentagon and the State Department, and intelligence agencies  working on providing options “and have them ready” for President Donald Trump “if this pattern of destabilizing behavior continues.”

McMaster said it is the consensus of the US, along with allies in the region,that “this problem is coming to a head. And so it’s time for us to undertake all actions we can, short of a military options, to try to resolve this peacefully.”

Watch the ABC This Week  Martha Raddatz Interview  with National Security Adviser Lt. Gen. McMaster:

Trump tweeted Thursday that he had “great confidence” in China’s ability to “properly deal with North Korea.” He indicated openness to possible US intervention if China can’t convince North Korea to stand down in its nuclear and missile program saying, “If they are unable to do so, the U.S. with its allies, will!!”

Perhaps he was referring to the USS Vinson carrier battle group that was dispatched to the peninsula bristling with missiles, squadrons of carrier based attack aircraft and possibly nuclear warhead missiles  submarines.

Trump dispatched Vice President Pence to South Korea to confer with our ally on the front line of any threat, conventional or non-conventional , that Pyongyang might unleash if the US undertook a preemptive attack.

Japan’s  Premier Abe was concerned about the ability of North Korea to launch a missile with a Sarin gas warhead. That was eerily reminiscent of the domestic  Japanese terrorism attacks of the 1990’s by an apocalyptic cult Aum Shinrikyo, whose chemical laboratory produced the deadly nerve agent that killed over two dozen and in a subway attack exposed thousands to its effects. Doubtless, Abe was prompted by the recent assassination of Kim’s half brother in Kuala Lumpur by two women who administered the deadly nerve agent VX.

Abe and tens of millions of Home Island Japanese are also concerned about possible delivery of a nuclear warhead equipped existing North Korean Missile with a range of 800 miles like the Nodong 1. Equally concerned are the 20 million residents of Seoul South Korean and tens of thousands of U.S. forces on the DMZ. Then there are US Air and Naval assets in Japan, Okinawa and the American Territory of Guam within the 2,000 mile range of those Musudan mobile missiles on display in Pyongyang.

We chanced to watch the PBS Charlie Rose Show on April 14th when he interviewed former acting CIA director Mike Morell about the North Korean threat conundrum.  When queried by Rose about what might Trump ask China President, Xi-Jinping Morrell,  said negotiate with China to intervene with North Korea’s Kin Jong-un  about the consequences of not standing down.

Gordon Chang said it best  in an April 4, 2017 Daily Beast article about what Trump might discuss with Xi-Jinping  just prior to the Mar a-Lago meeting  with President Trump. China should stop selling North Korea those mobile erector TEL launchers for the Musudan and future KN-08 and KN-14 intercontinental ballistic missiles, plans for the Chinese Jl-1 submarine  missile, uranium hexafluoride, pumps   and other components for its nuclear program. We would  also include the sale of  Chinese alumna power and technology used to mix solid propellant for those missiles.

The reality is that none of this is going to persuade  Kim Jong-un, a man who doesn’t stint for murdering his own family, relatives and  senior  Comintern members and  senior officers of North Korea’s military. Trillions of dollars of bribes wouldn’t suffice. Sanctions haven’t worked. What it suggests is some means of removing Kim and perhaps key Comintern leaders from that dias overlooking  the massive parade in Pyongyang on April 15th.

In all seriousness, the China syndrome is not something we want to trigger. Rather it is using the China opening to prevent that from happening along with whatever nuclear missile threat that North Korea has under looming development. The other suggestion was accelerating more effective anti-ballistic missile defense in the critical boost rather than mid-course or terminal phases.  We may know shortly if North Korea has mastered the re-entry shield for deployment of possible multiple targeted  warheads.

Trump has very limited options and time available to do something to stop North Korea before the 2018 midterm election if not the before 2020. He doubtless  will  request that  National Security Adviser H.R. McMaster, Pentagon chief Mattis and others on the NSC Principals Committee vet some plausible military and diplomatic  options to deny the hermit kingdom from a preemptive attack on our allies and US military assets in the region. Perhaps they might follow  Chang’s suggestions about what to negotiate with China to forestall North Korea achieving nuclear ICBM hegemony.

RELATED ARTICLE: Pence: ‘Era of strategic patience’ on North Korea is over

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Cyber Warfare — A Clear and Present Danger

In a January 2014 column titled “The Cyber Attacks are coming, the Cyber Attacks are coming!” I wrote:

According to experts like John Jorgenson, CEO and founding partner of the Sylint Group, our government is woefully behind the times in capability and capacity to deal with the threat of cyber attacks let alone the cyber warfare being conducted on a global scale by nation states such as China, Russia, North Korea and Iran.

[ … ]

“Nothing of substance to protect commercial industry, the countries infrastructure, or the citizen has come out of the [Obama] White House. From the attacks being made on the United States on the Cyber Battlefield our advisories are taking Cyber Warfare seriously while we can’t find a credible Field Marshall let alone decide what needs to be done,” notes Jorgenson.

Read more…

On February 26th, 2016 I was interviewed by Denise Simon on The Denise Simon Experience regarding the issue of cyber warfare. I spoke about the clear and present dangers of enemies, both foreign and domestic, using technology to commit crimes, steal national secrets and impact our way of life.

Denise called cyber attacks “the poor man’s nuclear weapon.”

I talked about the current threat (attacks from nation states, cyber hackers and groups like Anonymous) to the looming future threat of cyborgs, chipping and Internables.

Internables are internal sensors that measure well-being in our bodies may become the new wearables. According to Ericsson’s ConsumerLab eight out of 10 consumers would like to use technology to enhance sensory perceptions and cognitive abilities such as vision, memory and hearing.

Fast forward to December 2016 and the media’s obsession with the successful phishing of the DNC and release of John Podesta’s emails. What they are missing is:

  1. As technology has become ubiquitous, cyber warfare has become the preferred method of attacking one’s enemies.
  2. President Obama turned over control of the Internet to the United Nations in October of 2016, which increases the cyber warfare threat against U.S. public and private entities.
  3. All nation states, with the exception of the U.S., conduct offensive cyber warfare as a matter of public policy including: China, Russia, North Korea, Iran, and ISIS to name a few.
  4. The Obama administration has made neither cyber security nor cyber warfare a priority during the past 8 years.

My greatest concern is that the United States government is only conducting defensive operations against the threat, and not doing that very well. The Obama administration does not conduct effective offensive operations against our enemies which include: China, Russia, Iran, the Islamic State, North Korea and many others.

Our warnings went unheeded by the U.S. House of Representatives, the U.S. Senate and the White House.

So who really is to blame for these unrelenting cyber attacks?

Why its U.S.!

Have Obama’s Sanctions Stopped Iran/North Korea Nuclear ICBM Development? Answer: NO!

This has been a banner year for North Korea and its partner, the Islamic Republic of Iran. They have demonstrated the failure of the JCPOA, UN Res. 2231 and “tougher” March 2, 2016 UN sanctions to deter, let alone stop, provocative violations by both Iranian and North Korean ballistic missile development and nuclear tests in North Korea. As if to underline this brazen defiance of international efforts, North Korean released on March 27, 2016 a propaganda video, “Last Chance,” proclaiming its armament prowess culminating in a fictional ICBM attack on Washington, DC. Watch the “Last Chance” video:

Gordon Chang in a Daily Beast article commented:

“If the American imperialists provoke us a bit, we will not hesitate to slap them with a pre-emptive nuclear strike,” the video’s Korean-language subtitles said. “The United States must choose! It’s up to you whether the nation called the United States exists on this planet or not.”

This may sound like bluster, but only part of it is. In fact, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) can incinerate the American city of its choice. …It will not have that ability for about a half decade, South Korea estimates. Other nations think longer.

Perhaps not that long, if you listen to US intelligence ballistic missile defense commanders and independent experts. We wrote about the failure of the US interceptor program in the March  2016 New English Review article, “Can Our Ballistic Missile Defense System Shield Us from Rogue Regime ICBMs?” We noted the US failed to successfully test an effective kill vehicle against the North Korean ICBM threat. The only defense we have according to remarks by the  Obama White House are “tougher sanctions.”

North Korean Submarine Missile Launch 4-24-16.jpg

North Korean Submarine Missile Launch, April 23, 2016. Source: AP

The Chronicle of North Korean Missile and Nuclear Test Provocations since February 2016

In March and April 2016, North Korea conducted tests of ballistic missiles and made preparations for a possible fifth nuclear test, rattling South Korea, Japan, the US and the UN. On March 17th, North Korea launched two ballistic missiles from its west coast into the China Sea. March 21st, North Korea fired five short range missiles east of the Korean Peninsula that splashed down 124 miles in the Sea of Japan. A test of a BM25 Musudan medium-range missile blew up on the birthday of grandfather Kim il-Sung, founder of the hermit state, on April 15th. That was preceded on April 13th by analysis of digital satellite imagery from 38 North. That confirmed preparations for a possible fifth nuclear test were advancing at the Punggye-ri  underground test site. On April 23rd Kim’s grandson Jong-un peered through a pair of binoculars while allegedly a submarine launched missile flew a fraction of its 300km range, 30 kilometers or 18 miles. On April 28th, North Korea failed to launch not one but two 1,800 mile range Musudan missiles within less than an hour from the port of Wonsan directed at either Japan or the US territory of Guam. Both missiles failed to rise more than 200 meters from the launching pad. This makes three Musudan missile launch failures in less than two weeks in April 2016 alone. Because of the intensity of North Korean violations of missile tests sanctions, the UN Security Council, at the request of the US, held discussions. China’s UN Ambassador Lieu Jieyi said he was looking to the Council for a “response.” Analysis of digital imagery from North Korea detected preparations for a possible fifth nuclear test at the underground Punggye-ri site, possibly timed to coincide with the Seventh Party Congress, the first in several decades, scheduled for May 6, 2016. That prompted South Korean President Park Geun-hye to comment, following the announcement of Pyongyang’s missile launch failures, “signs for an imminent nuclear test by North Korea are being detected ahead of the Seventh Party Congress.”

The North Koreans announced on April 24th via Ri Su-yong, their representative at the UN in Manhattan, a willingness to stop a projected fifth nuclear test in exchange for cancelling the annual joint Key Resolve 2016 maneuvers. Those began March 3rd composed of 300,000 South Korean, 17,000 US and small detachments of Australian and New Zealand  troops. Pointedly, Su-yong said in the BBC report, “If they believe they can actually frustrate us with sanctions, they are totally mistaken.”

Kim Jong-Un gave orders to the Military on March 3rd to develop nuclear warheads as standby national defense. These declarations were repeated as part of a “preemptive nuclear strike of justice” in response to the March 2nd UN Sanctions to address the provocative nuclear and missile test actions of the DPRK. That meant it was time to review the credibility of both strategic and tactical nuclear threats by the North Koreans. Those were stepped up in the wake of January 6, 2016 fourth nuclear test and the February 7th space launch at the Sohae site of a second satellite in a polar orbit circling the U.S. every 95 minutes.

North Korean Nuke in a Satellite Source Greg Groesch-Washington Times.jpg

Illustration of Possible North Korea Nuclear Weapon in a Satellite. Source: Greg Groesch, Washington Times

North Korean EMP Threat by Satellite or Ship-Borne Means

The payloads of both satellites, less than 200 kg., indicate they are primarily for observational purposes. Some analysts, like Dr. Peter Pry, formerly with the CIA, executive director of the Congressional chartered Task Force on National and Homeland Security and director of the U.S. Nuclear Strategy Forum, speculate that these North Korean satellites may demonstrate a future atomic weapon satellite threat. The satellites according to the World Net Daily G-2 Forum report  “the KMS 3-2 and KMS 4 – are orbiting at an altitude of 300 miles, with trajectories that put them daily over the U.S. KMS 3-2 was launched in December 2012 and KMS 4 was launched Feb. 7.”  Pry suggested that the January 2016, fourth nuclear test by North Korea may have achieved a single stage hydrogen bomb capability sufficient to generate gamma radiation to produce an EMP effect. Both David Albright of the Washington, DC Institute for International Security and Science and Former Reagan era defense official Dr. Stephen Bryen in our January New English Review article suggested that the January 6th North Korean nuclear test may have resulted in a boosted fission device suitable for development of nuclear warheads. We wrote:

That was reflected in a comment in a Wall Street Journal, analysis, “North Korea Test Shows Technical Advance:”

By advancing its warhead technology while refining its missiles, Pyongyang could eventually threaten the U.S. mainland and American allies South Korea and Japan. Pentagon officials had said last year that North Korea likely had the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon.

This latest nuclear test, the fourth since 1996 according to nuclear inspection experts, probably produced a yield in the range of 6 to 9 kilotons, below that of a Hiroshima type bomb, 11 plus kilotons. Nonetheless, if missiles fitted with miniaturized nuclear warheads are launched against urban targets, they could produce significant casualties from blast and radiation effects.

Ambassador R. James Woolsey and Dr. Pry in an April 24, 2016, Washington Times opinion article further deepened the concerns over the nuclear weapon in a satellite EMP Threat:

In 2013, a publicity photo by state media of North Korea’s KSM-3 satellite interior shows a shock absorber cage, allegedly for an earth observation camera but suitable for a small nuclear weapon. North Korea recently conducted another illegal missile test demonstrating a re-entry vehicle and heat shield. Technologically, such an EMP attack is easy — since the weapon detonates at high-altitude, in space, no shock absorbers, heat shield, or vehicle for atmospheric re-entry is necessary. Since the radius of the EMP is enormous, thousands of kilometers, accuracy matters little. Almost any nuclear weapon will do.

Moreover, North Korea probably has nuclear weapons specially designed, not to make a big explosion, but to emit lots of gamma rays to generate high-frequency EMP. Russian generals warned US EMP Congressional Commissioners in 2004 that Russian EMP nuclear warhead designs were leaked “accidentally” to North Korea. Unemployed Russian scientists allegedly found work in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

[…]

Such an EMP nuclear warhead could resemble an Enhanced Radiation Warhead (ERW, also called a Neutron Bomb), a technology dating to the 1950s, deployed by the U.S. in the 1980s as the W48 ERW artillery shell, weighing less than 100 pounds.

However, both Iran and North Korea may have other ship-borne capabilities of launching provocative threats against US, South Korea and Japan. The co-authors wrote about the Russian developed K-Club cruise missile in a container system that could be used by both Iranian and North Korean commercial vessels capable of hitting US targets in our vulnerable Gulf of Mexico. Equipped with a low yield nuclear warhead of the type that Ambassador Woolsey and Dr. Pry suggest, North Korea might be capable of producing a devastating EMP effect.

North Korean Rocket Artillery Source 38 North.jpg

North Korean Mobile Rocket Artillery. Source: 38 North JHU SAIS

North Korean Tactical Nuclear Threat

38 North in a March 15, 2016 analysis drew attention to North Korean development of rocket boosted artillery equipped with low-yield tactical nuclear warheads that might trigger US military action if fired at South Korea. The author noted:

The question is whether the Kim regime believes that nuclear weapons can be used for something other than survival. The answer, unfortunately, may well be that North Korea believes employing nuclear-armed artillery, rockets, landmines or anything else that would result in low-yield nuclear detonations against localized targets in South Korea will not trigger massive alliance retaliation.

North Korea’s early use of even one low-yield nuclear device may be sufficient to trigger a full-scale US or alliance invasion. Therefore, North Korean employment of tactical nuclear weapons would pose a greater risk of miscalculation and conflict escalation on the Korean peninsula.

North Korea Missile Map Sources Reuters, NBC and 38North JHU SAIS.jpg

Increasing concern over North Korean Nuclear Warheads and ICBM Development

On March 8th, Kim Jong-un was shown in pictures with a silvery spherical device, which might have been a propaganda promotion of a possible warhead. There is increasing evidence reflected in a CNN report about the event. Experts in both the US and South Korea believe that the DPRK may have that capability:

David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security told CNN’s Brian Todd that his group thinks the North Koreans had probably already miniaturized a warhead.

A South Korean Defense White Paper from 2014 also noted that its neighbor’s ability to miniaturize nuclear weapons seemed, at the time, “to have reached a considerable level.”

Karl Dewey, a proliferation expert with IHS Jane’s said the photos suggest that North Korea fit something onto a KN-08 ballistic missile.

“And it is possible that the silver sphere is a simple atomic bomb. But it is not a hydrogen bomb, also known as a thermonuclear bomb,” he said, explaining that a thermonuclear device probably would be a different shape because of its two stages.

Admiral William Gortney of the US Northern Command, concerned about ballistic missile defense, believes the North Koreans may have successfully miniaturized nuclear warheads to fit on its growing inventory of missiles. He was cited speaking before Congress in a CNN report on intelligence information:

It’s the prudent decision on my part to assume that [North Korea] has the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon and put it on an ICBM.

The development of an advanced version of the KN-8, the KN-14, was the subject of a Bill Gertz intelligence report in the Washington Free Beacon. The KN-14 was first displayed publicly in 2012:

Rick Fisher, a senior fellow at the International Assessment and Strategy Center who has studied the two missiles’ Chinese launchers, said Russia has estimated the KN-14 could have a range between 5,000 and 6,200 miles.

From the far northern corner of North Korea, [6,300-mile] range is sufficient for the KN-14 potentially to reach Chicago or Toronto.

North Korean missile analyst Scott LaFoy, writing in NKNews.com, said the KN-08 shown in October 2015 appears similar to the Russian SSN-18 submarine-launched ballistic missile.

Note this comment from Adm. Gortney about the KN-14:

I agree with the intel community that we assess, they have the weapons, the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can reach US homelands.

China is the supplier of the mobile launchers for the intermediate range Musudan, the K-08 and K-14 longer range ballistic missiles. This despite both the US and China behind the alleged tougher UN sanctions released on Match 2nd. Gertz noted:

The Obama administration has not taken action against China for its significant contribution to the KN-08 and KN-14, namely the Chinese-made transporter erector launchers that carry the missile and appear to have been exported in violation of United Nations sanctions.

North Korean Cargo Vessel Jin Teng Subic Bay Phillipines, March 4 2016 AP.jpg

North Korean Cargo Vessel Jin Teng, Subic Bay Philippines, March 4, 2016. Source: Associated Press

The apparent failure of US Sanctions to stop North Korean – Iran Joint Development

Claudia Rosett wrote an April 26, 2016 Wall Street Journal opinion article, “The Failure of Sanctions Against North Korea.” The bottom line is the sanctions look like the proverbial Swiss cheese. No surprise there, given the failure to stop the Iran nuclear deal. Further, Rosett discloses the US has sanctions against Iranians involved with North Korean missile testing. That means our government believes that Tehran and Pyongyang are cooperatively developing nuclear warheads to fit on missiles that North Korea may be shipping via its merchant fleet to Iran.

North Korea has also threatened a fifth nuclear test, the second one this year, perhaps timed to coincide with the seventh party congress on May 6th. So what did President Obama threaten in the wake of the April 26 announcement from North Korea? According to Reuters, “The United States warned …it would consider “other” options, which could include new sanctions or security steps, if North Korea continued nuclear and ballistic missile testing.”

Note what Rosett wrote:

In the latest push to stop North Korea’s rogue nuclear and missile programs, the United Nations Security Council on March 2 passed a sanctions resolution widely hailed as the toughest in decades. U.S. UN Ambassador Samantha Power said “this resolution is so comprehensive, there are many provisions that leave no gap, no window.” But when it comes to North Korea’s merchant shipping ventures, these sanctions are a sieve.

[…]

These ships may be carrying legitimate cargo. But they have links to two rogue states that have cooperated for years on weapons smuggling and missile development. North Korea, which carried out its fourth illicit nuclear test this January, was caught proliferating nuclear technology to Iran’s mascot state, Syria, in 2007. The Iran nuclear deal implemented in January hasn’t stopped Iranian arms smuggling.

Both countries continue to defy U.N. sanctions by testing ballistic missiles. In January, the U.S. Treasury Department designated Sayyed Javad Musavi, a senior official in Iran’s missile program, for working “directly with North Korean officials in Iran” and overseeing Iranian missile technicians who in recent years “traveled to North Korea to work on an 80-ton rocket booster being developed by the North Korean government.”

[…]

Against this background, a pattern of North Korea-flagged ships visiting Iran should raise questions. While U.N. sanctions now require all member states to inspect cargoes of North Korea-flagged ships, this means that Iran is in charge of any such inspections at its own ports. When I asked Treasury if these North Korea-flagged ships are cause for concern, a spokesperson replied, “Treasury does not comment on the activity of entities that are not designated.”

Conclusion:

North Korea and Iran have been joint partners in developing nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles capable of reaching the U.S. by the start of the next decade. Since March 2014, the co-authors and Shoshana and Stephen Bryen argued in July 2015 what better place to conduct those developments than in the hermit state of North Korea? Assessments by the U.S. Northern Command, South Korean, U.S. intelligence and independent experts have confirmed the likely development of nuclear warheads and the technical feasibility of fitting them to ICBMs within the next half decade.

What investigative journalist Claudia Rosett has revealed are the significant loopholes in U.S. and UN sanctions that have enabled the joint development projects of both countries to continue unabated.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

U.S. Congress Unanimously passing Sanctions won’t stop North Korea from building Nuclear ICBMs

What a week it has been. No, we are not talking about the New Hampshire primary results or Saturday’s South Carolina debate, but rogue North Korea stealing the oxygen out of the international media’s lungs. It started with the second successful satellite launch since 2012 on Sunday, February 7, 2016 nearly over shadowing the Broncos victory in the 50th Super Bowl.  As we wrote in an NER Iconoclast post on February 8, 2016, this game changer demonstrating the rogue regime’s ICBM technology and America’s inadequate ballistic missile defense, especially on our vulnerable heartland coast on the Gulf of Mexico:

Launched in a southerly direction, the 200 kg observational satellite is in polar orbit. That means it passes over the US every 95 minutes, perhaps providing imagery and GPS coordinates for possible later use. Yesterday, it missed the window of opportunity, by an hour, to pass over the stadium for 50th Super Bowl Championship game with tens of thousands of fans intent on watching the Denver Broncos beat the North Carolina Panthers for the title

“it’s great that the US has THAAD and ship borne X band radar floating in the Pacific and both ship and shore based Aegis installations in Eastern Europe (Romania) protecting us from missiles fired towards the East Coast. However, we have nothing in place to provide missile defense our vulnerable Gulf of Mexico coast.”  Ambassador Hank Cooper, the Reagan era SDI chief, warned about the absence of Aegis missile defense installations on our Gulf coast in November 2015 and most recently in a Feb.2, 2016 High Frontier alert.

He argues that that our ballistic missile defense shield  on the Gulf coast lacks the means to combat the threat of a possible North Korean bomb in a satellite (Fractal Orbital Bomb) or missiles launched from either ships in the Gulf or those silos that allegedly Iran has been building in the Paraguana Peninsula in Venezuela. Ex-CIA director R. James Woolsey and Dr. Peter Pry discussed in a July 2015 article the threat from FOBS that could trigger an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) effect over the US sending us back to the dark ages of the 19th Century before the advent of electricity.

north korean missile distance chartOn Friday, February 12, 2015 CNN reported the rotund Kim Jong Un played another round of the Pyongyang version of the Games of Thrones with the dramatic execution of another high military officer, General Ri Yong-gil for, “factionalism, misuse of authority and corruption.”  The young Kim family successor may yet set the record for summary execution of North Korean military officials surpassing that of his father and grandfather.   The same day in Washington, the US Senate and House overwhelmingly passed a new round of North Korean sanctions. Reuters reported:

Lawmakers said they wanted to make Washington’s resolve clear to Pyongyang, but also to the United Nations and other governments, especially China, North Korea’s lone major ally and main business partner.

The package includes sanctions targeting North Korea and “secondary sanctions” against those who do business with it.

The vote was 408-2 in the House, following a 96-0 vote in the Senate on Wednesday.

Impatient with what they see as Obama’s failure to respond to North Korean provocations, many of his fellow Democrats as well as the Republicans who control Congress have been clamoring for a clampdown since Pyongyang tested a nuclear device in January.

Pressure for congressional action further intensified after last weekend’s satellite launch by North Korea.

Obama is not expected to veto the bill, given its huge support in Congress.

Earlier Fox News reported Gordon Chang expressing skepticism that more sanctions would not achieve the end of punishing North Korea for violating UN and US sanctions against missile development. We wrote:

Chang holds that sanctions don’t work with North Korea. Instead He suggested that we might control the aid to North Korea endeavoring to separate the people from the autocratic ruling Kim family. He also suggested that South Korea move 143 companies out of the Kaesong industrial shared with North Korea.  He noted that after the January 6, 2016 nuclear test, no further sanctions were proposed at the UN because China would effectively block them. China he pointed out does a fair amount of banking with North Korea.

North Korea must have paid attention to Chang’s comments, as they seized jointly owned companies in the Kaesong industrial park.  Deutsche Welle reported South Korea cutting off the power to the Kaesong complex on Friday, February 12, 2015.  Effectively it was shutting the cross border industrial park down in retaliation for the North’s nuclear and missile tests in January and February 2016.  South Korean News agency, Yonhap, reported on Sunday, February 14, 2014 the South Korean Unification Minister accusing the Hermit State of using funds to develop weapons systems:

In a television appearance, Unification Minister Hong Yong-pyo said “70 percent” of the money that flowed into the Kaesong Industrial Complex has been used by the ruling Workers’ Party to bankroll weapons development.

“Workers at Kaesong are paid in cash (U.S. dollars), but the money doesn’t go directly to these workers. It goes to the North Korean government instead,” Hong said.

“Any foreign currency earned in North Korea is transferred to the Workers’ Party, where the money is used to develop nuclear weapons or missiles, or to purchase luxury goods.”

Last week, South Korea shut down the industrial park in response to the North’s recent nuclear test and long-range rocket launch. Opened in 2004, the complex had long been a big cash cow for North Korea.

North Korea, in turn, expelled all South Korean nationals on Thursday from the complex and froze factory assets by South Korean firms, further driving the last remaining symbol of inter-Korean reconciliation to the brink.

For the last two weeks, the National Security Task Force of America (NSTFA) of the Lisa Benson Show has been running twitter rallies directed at the media and Republican Presidential hopefuls on one issue: our vulnerable Ballistic Missile Defense. The NSTFA sent out tweets and retweets at the rate of 400 to 600 an hour.   The first NSTFA twitter rally, occurred before the New Hampshire primary debates, caught the attention of a South Carolina supporter of Texas Senator Ted Cruz who relayed the information to his campaign staff.  Those NSTFA tweets focused on the most vulnerable area of the US exposed to a possible North Korean ICBM launch, the lack of any missile defense on our Gulf of Mexico.  The result was that Cruz raised the issue during the debates.  The second NSTFA twitter rally occurred Thursday, February 11th producing more than 6,000 twitter impressions.  One of those Republican hopefuls targeted by the NSTFA twitter rally was Florida Republican Senator Rubio. Rubio’s platform statement on rebuilding and modernizing our military noted his missile defense proposals:

  • Expand missile defense by speeding up deployment of interceptors in Europe, deploying a third site in the United States, and ensuring that advanced programs are adequately funded.
  • Work interoperably with allies on missile defense – we should encourage the spread of missile defense technology as a solution to the spread of ballistic and cruise missiles.
  • Increase the Missile Defense Agency’s Research & Development budget and create a rapid-fielding office to focus on fielding directed energy weapons, railguns, UAV-enabled defenses, and other means to defeat a threat missile across its entire flight trajectory.

The  Wall Street Journal  (WSJ) lead editorial in the  Presidents Weekend edition on February 13-14, 2016, “The Rogue-State Nuclear Missile Threat,“ resonated some of the Rubio and others concerns about the US vulnerability to North Korean  and possible Iranian missile strikes.   The WSJ editorial noted, “North Korea can now threatens most of the continental US:”

Americans have been focused on New Hampshire, Iowa [and South Carolina}, but spare a thought for Los Angeles, Denver and Chicago. Those are among the cities within range of the intercontinental ballistic missile tested Sunday by North Korea. Toledo and Pittsburgh are still slightly out of range, but at least 120 million Americans with the wrong zip codes could soon be targets of Kim Jong Un.

The WSJ editorial went on to contrast the Bush versus the Obama Administration actions on missile defense:

You can thank the George W. Bush Administration for the defenses that exist, including long-range missile interceptors in Alaska and California, Aegis systems aboard U.S. Navy warships and a diverse network of radar and satellite sensors. The U.S. was due to place interceptors in Poland and X-Band radar in the Czech Republic, but in 2009 President Obama and Hillary Clinton scrapped those plans as a “reset” gift to Vladimir Putin.

Team Obama also cut 14 of the 44 interceptors planned for Alaska and Hawaii, ceased development of the Multiple Kill Vehicle (an interceptor with multiple warheads) and defunded the two systems focused on destroying missiles in their early “boost” phase, when they are slowest and easier to hit. By 2013 even Mr. Obama partially realized his error, so the Administration expanded radar and short-range interceptors in Asia and recommitted to the 14 interceptors for the U.S. West Coast. It now appears poised to install sophisticated THAAD antimissile batteries in South Korea.

Yet the Administration has failed to support a third East Coast site (to protect against Iranian and Russian threats) and provide adequate funding. Budgets are down about 25% from the Bush Administration’s roughly $10 billion a year. Mr. Obama’s final budget proposal released Tuesday would cut another $800 million from the Missile Defense Agency, nearly 10% from last year’s total.

The WSJ editorial concluded:

The overarching lesson of North Korea is the folly of arms control, starting with the 1994 Agreed Framework that first tried to buy off Pyongyang with energy and food aid. The U.S. would be safer today if it had moved to topple the Kim regime before it got the bomb. But having failed to act when the costs were lower, it is now necessary to buttress defenses in East Asia and the U.S. in what is fast becoming a new age of nuclear and missile proliferation.

From last Sunday’s Super Bowl game in Denver to Valentine’s Day, the evidence is piling up that Chang presciently opined; unanimous sanctions passed by Congress this past week will not deter North Korea from building nuclear ICBMs.  Rather, it is the ironical proposal for a preemptive strike against North Korean missile launches by present Obama Pentagon chief Ashton Carter and former Clinton Era Secretary of Defense William Perry in a 2006 Time Magazine article.

The conclusion in our February 8, 2016 NER/Iconoclast post appears equally prescient:

The North Korean satellite launch coupled with the January 6, 2016 nuclear test exposes the vulnerability of the US to possible missile attack by rogue regimes like North Korea and ally Iran. The lack of a Ballistic Missile Defense demonstrated by this latest successful North Korean satellite launch now vaults the issue to the top of national security issues along with Islamic terrorism for serious discussion in the 2016 Presidential campaign.

RELATED ARTICLE: North Korea Set to Deploy KN08 Ballistic Missile

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Is the North Korean Satellite Launch a Game Changer?

FoxNews reported these developments following the success of North Korea’s satellite launching confirmed by the Pentagon:

We’ve been able to determine that they were able to put a satellite or some space device into orbit,” Pentagon spokesman Peter Cook said.

He said the Pentagon will, in light of this, begin “formal consultations” with South Korea over improvements to their own missile defense systems.

“We’d like to see this move as quickly as possible, but we’re beginning the consultations now in the coming days with the South Koreans and we expect that this will move in an expeditious fashion,” Cook said.

The U.S. and other world powers have condemned the launch of a long-range rocket, describing it as a banned test of ballistic missile technology.

At an emergency meeting Sunday of the U.N. Security Council which includes the U.S., all 15 council members approved a statement condemning the launch and pledging to “expeditiously” adopt a new resolution with “significant” new sanctions.

U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Samantha Power said a new U.N. resolution targeting North Korea over its rocket launch and recent nuclear test must be adopted very quickly and include “unprecedented measures” that its leader, Kim Jong Un, doesn’t expect.

The United States and China have been trying to agree on a new sanctions resolution since North Korea conducted a nuclear test on Jan. 6.

Gordon Chang in a Fox News interview said the North Korean satellite launch is something to worry about. Chang is a veteran North Korea and China analyst, Forbes columnist  author of Nuclear Showdown: North Korea Takes On the World.  He said the Hermit State “demonstrated the mastery of missile technology.” He was referring to the three stage Unha-3 space vehicle launcher (SLV) that successfully placed a satellite in orbit. Chang further commented that the North Koreans demonstrated they have the means to successfully develop a true ICBM. An ICBM  , as we wrote in an NER/Iconoclast post, yesterday, that  both North Korea and its ready customer Iran could use at attack both coasts of this country. Where yesterday, we posted the news of the North Korean satellite launch with the question“is this a game changer?”  Chang’s comments and the reaction from the Obama White House suggest maybe it is.  US UN Ambassador Samantha Power, called it a missile launch because the SVL and a true ICBM she shared the same technology. That meant in the Administration’s view the successful satellite launch violated UN sanctions against missile testing. However, given the track record will the UN Security Council do anything about this latest North Korean action?

Chang holds that sanctions don’t work with North Korea. Instead He suggested that we might control the aid to North Korea endeavoring to separate the people from the autocratic ruling Kim family. He also suggested that South Korea move 143 companies out of the Kaesong industrial shared with North Korea.  He noted that after the January 6, 2016 nuclear test, no further sanctions were proposed at the UN because China would effectively block them. China he pointed out does a fair amount of banking with North Korea.

The success of the North Korean orbit prompted GOP hopeful Texas Senator Cruz at Saturday night’s to raise the question of whether we should pre-emptive attack North Korea’s missile launches.  Ironic, as this proposal was suggested by the current Administration Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter and former Clinton Pentagon Chief William Perry, a decade ago.

DS-north-korea-13000-km-769x1024

The Administration is scrambling now that the Pentagon confirmed that the North Koreans successfully launched a satellite. Launched in a southerly direction, the 200kg.observational satellite is in polar orbit. That means it passes over the US every 95 minutes, perhaps providing imagery and GPS coordinates for possible later use. Yesterday, it missed the window of opportunity, by an hour, to pass over the stadium for 50th Super Bowl Championship game with tens of thousands of fans intent on watching the Denver Broncos beat the North Carolina Panthers for the title.

The Pentagon is talking about providing South Korea with Theater High Altitude Air Defense (THAAD) system to complete the shorter range missile defense umbrella that the Republic of Korea has in place.

As we said on the Sunday Lisa Benson Show yesterday “it’s great that the U.S. has THAAD and ship borne X band radar floating in the Pacific and both ship and shore based Aegis installations in Eastern Europe (Romania) protecting us from missiles fired towards the East Coast. However, we have nothing in place to provide missile defense our vulnerable Gulf of Mexico coast.”  Ambassador Hank Cooper, the Reagan era SDI chief, warned about the absence of Aegis missile defense installations on our Gulf coast in November 2015 and most recently in a Feb.2, 2016 High Frontier alert. He argues that that our ballistic missile defense shield  on the Gulf coast lacks  the means  to combat the threat of a possible North Korean bomb in a satellite (Fractal Orbital Bomb) or missiles launched from either ships in the Gulf or those silos that allegedly Iran has been building in the Paraguana Peninsula in Venezuela. Ex- CIA director R. James Woolsey and Dr. Peter Pry discussed  in a July 2015 article the threat from FOBS that could trigger an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) effect over the US sending us back to the dark ages of the 19th Century before the advent of electricity.

This issue came up in the ABC GOP New Hampshire debates, Saturday night. Sen. Cruz raised the matter of a preemptive attack against a future North Korean ICBM launch during those debates. We may have had a hand in prompting it. A twitter rally was held last week by the Nation Security Task Force of America (NSTFA) of the Lisa Benson Show on the missile defense issue. The twitter rally sent out messages at the rate of 400 an hour, one of which caught the attention of a South Carolinian with a close connection to the Senator’s campaign staff. Another NSTFA twitter rally is on deck this Thursday night on the same issue.

The irony is the preemptive attack proposal originated a decade ago in 2006 in a Time Magazine article co authored by then Deputy Defense Secretary Ashton Carter, now Pentagon Chief and former Clinton Pentagon chief William Perry. Four nuclear and several space launches and missile tests later, we have a President whose response is to hold more UN sanctions talks with China at the UN that North Korea continually violates.

Meanwhile the North Korean satellite launch coupled with the January 6, 2016 nuclear test exposes the vulnerability of the US to possible missile attack by rogue regimes like North Korea and ally Iran. The lack of a Ballistic Missile Defense demonstrated by this latest successful North Korean satellite launch now vaults the issue to the top of national security issues along with Islamic terrorism for serious discussion in the 2016 Presidential campaign.

Watch, the Fox News report with the Chang interview:

RELATED ARTICLE: In One Graphic, What Countries North Korea’s New Missile Could Hit

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

When North Korea Tests a Nuke, Assume It’s Iran’s as Well

North Korea briefly reclaimed the global press’ attention again by claiming to have tested a hydrogen bomb. While coverage focused on whether that was an exaggeration, the press missed a much more important question: Was this test only for Kim Jong-Un or was it also for the Iranian regime?

The North Korean and Iranian nuclear and ballistic missile programs should be seen as a single entity, as should be their shared cyber warfare programs. The advance of one is an advance of the other. Differences in their activity should be seen as a common-sense division of labor. Gordon Chang, a prominent expert on Asian affairs, has written about the likelihood that this is the case.

Last May, an Iranian opposition group that has accurately identified hidden nuclear sites in the past reported that it had specific intelligence about North Korean nuclear and missile experts secretly visiting Iran. Intelligence analyst Ilana Freedman said in January 2014 that her sources said a relocation of major parts of Iran’s nuclear program to North Korea began as early as December 2012.

For Iran, it is best to let the North Koreans put the finishing touches on the most provocative nuclear and missile work. Whereas the Iranian regime does suffer from sanctions and must always keep the 2009 Green Revolution in the back of its mind, North Korea thrives off isolation and international provocation.

North Korea has nothing to lose and can only gain by such an arrangement. Kim Jong-Un’s regime has already crossed the nuclear pariah threshold, so it might as well let its Iranian allies take the lucrative deal offered by the West. It has been content to spend $1.1-$3.2 billion each year on it. Plus, the deal puts Iran in a moreadvantageous position  and its economic improvements can help it invest more in North Korea’s activity.

The good news is that this latest test—North Korea’s fourth— does not appear to be more powerful than its last one, indicating no significant advance in technology. RAND Corporation analyst Bruce Bennett says North Korea is still working on the “basics” of a nuclear fission bomb.

It is hard for some to accept that an Islamist theocracy like that in Iran would work with a cultish communist dictatorship like North Korea, but there is nothing in either one’s ideology that would prevent such cooperation. In fact, North Korea’s success in building a nuclear arsenal actually encourages Iran to see nuclear weapons as a key lesson for the Islamic Revolution.

“The entire world may well consider North Korea a failed state, but from the view point of [Iran], North Korea is a success story and a role model: A state which remains true to its revolutionary beliefs and defies the Global Arrogance,” Ali Alfoneh, an expert on the Iranian regime, told the Washington Free Beacon.

Given the spotty record of U.S. intelligence assessments (to say the least), the West must operate under the assumption that there isn’t an Iranian WMD problem and a North Korean WMD problem, but an Iranian-North Korean WMD problem.

ABOUT RYAN MAURO

Ryan Mauro is ClarionProject.org’s national security analyst, a fellow with Clarion Project and an adjunct professor of homeland security. Mauro is frequently interviewed on top-tier television and radio. Read more, contact or arrange a speaking engagement.

RELATED ARTICLES:

Iran Captures and Releases US Sailors: the Back Story

Pakistan Cautiously Backs Saudi Arabia

Iran Arrests Poet as Part of Crackdown on Dissenters

No More Shadow Boxing – It’s for Real now

EDITORS NOTE: The featured image is of a previous nuclear Test made by North Korea. Photo: Video screenshot.

Exposed: The link between North Korea’s H-bomb test and Iran’s ICBM program

At 10:00 AM local time (6:00 PM EST in the U.S.) on January 6th North Korea conducted its fourth nuclear test at the Punggye-ri, underground test site in the east of the hermit state. The blasted registered 5.1 on the Richter scale recorded by seismographic agencies in China, South Korea, Japan and the US Geological Service, effectively a mini-earthquake. The North Korea news agency declared that it was the test of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb, which met with both skepticism, yet concerns from China, Russia, US, UK and especially the UN. According to a Guardian report:

Pyongyang said the test and was “self-defense against the US having numerous and humongous nuclear weapons”. In a TV announcement it also said the test went “perfectly”.

Secretary General Ban ki-Moon convened an emergency meeting at the UN Headquarters in Manhattan at 11:00 AM to discuss this latest provocation. China, heretofore a supporter of North Korea, immediately ordered evacuation of schools in communities adjacent to the blast site for fear that it might unleash excessive radiation. China, Russia, the US and other Permanent Members of the UN Security Council, condemned North Korea’s defiant nuclear test suggesting the possibility of new sanctions against the hermit state.

What might “sniffer” planes reveal of this latest North Korean nuclear test?

The Japanese Defense Force launched so-called “sniffer” tactical aircraft from three different locations to determine the extent of any radiation material released by the underground blast with results to be reported. The US has contemplated sending sniffer aircraft, a WC-135, the “Constant Phoenix” to detect radioactive materials that may have been released in the atmosphere.

CNN noted the background and use of U.S. sniffer aircraft:

The Air Force has two of the WC-135 jets that operate out of Offutt Air Force Base in Nebraska. Officials said the United States also has ground stations in the area that will also be taking samples to verify or debunk North Korea’s claim.

The Constant Phoenix program originated with Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower in 1947. The then-Army Air Forces, which would later become the US Air Force, used WB-29s, variants of the B-29 bomber model, to try to detect evidence of Soviet nuclear tests, according to the Air Force. The WB-29s were replaced by WB-50s beginning in 1950, with the current WB-135s coming on line in 1965.

The radiation-sniffing planes have been used to monitor compliance with nuclear weapons treaties, and also monitored effects of the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear power plant disaster in the Soviet Union, the Air Force says.

Informed sources tell us if a Xenon isotope is detected in the samples taken by the Constant Phoenix sniffer aircraft mission it might confirm a possible game changer, test of a miniaturized nuclear warhead. Some believe these miniaturized warheads may have been cooperatively developed by Iran in North Korea enabling them to be fitted on existing missiles in the possession of both North Korea and Iran. Thus, if the sniffer flights of both Japan and the US detect this radio-isotope it would mark an upgrade in the threat posed not only towards Israel, but to the Middle East as a whole, East Asia, possibly Europe and the West. That was reflected in a comment in a Wall Street Journal, analysis, “North Korea Test Shows Technical Advance:”

By advancing its warhead technology while refining its missiles, Pyongyang could eventually threaten the U.S. mainland and American allies South Korea and Japan. Pentagon officials had said last year that North Korea likely had the capability to miniaturize a nuclear weapon.

This latest nuclear test, the fourth since 1996 according to nuclear inspection experts, probably produced a yield in the range of 6 to 9 kilotons, below that of a Hiroshima type bomb, 11 plus kilotons. Nonetheless, if missiles fitted with miniaturized nuclear warheads are launched  against urban targets of 250,000 or more in population it could produce significant casualties from blast and radiation effects.

The North Korean nuclear device might have been a test of a possible one stage hydrogen device.

David Albright is the executive director of the private nuclear watchdog agency, the Washington, DC-based Institute for Science and International Security. He was among a chorus of technical experts who, while dismissive of the North Korean assertions, indicated what might have been tested were elements of a one-stage thermonuclear boosted fission explosion. In Albright’s analysis, ”North Korea’s Nuclear Test 2016,” released just after the North Korea report, he noted:

It is likely that this was not a test of what in the popular literature is interpreted as an H-Bomb, namely a two-stage fission-fusion weapon developed by the major nuclear-weapon states capable of obtaining explosive yields of hundreds or thousands of kilotons.

First, the explosive yield of the test did not match the expected yield of the H-Bomb. If North Korea had indeed tested this type of H-bomb, the device’s yield would be expected to be many tens of kilotons, at least. However, the need to contain the underground explosion and prevent radioactive releases from its test site may have led North Korea to limit the yield of this test device. Thus, if it tested an H-bomb, it is possible that it did not test the device at its full potential yield. Nonetheless, the explosive yield of a two-stage H-Bomb test would have been expected to be far higher than reported so far. Second, the development of a two-stage thermonuclear weapon is very challenging. It is assessed as beyond North Korea’s capabilities at this stage. On balance, it is not believed that North Korea tested a two-stage H-bomb.

What could it have tested? On one side, North Korea may be bluffing about this test, meaning it tested a fission implosion device similar to the ones it previously detonated. This possibility should be carefully considered. On the other, another thermonuclear weapon design, also developed by the major nuclear-weapon states, should also be considered, namely a one-stage thermonuclear device. This design is easier to achieve than a two-stage H-bomb and can achieve very high explosive yields. There are many types of such weapons. Several are very complicated, involving plutonium, large amounts of weapon-grade uranium, and thermonuclear materials, and can achieve explosive yields of hundreds of kilotons. However, relatively simple variants exist that can achieve many tens of kilotons.

Even at relatively low yields, North Korea may have tested aspects of such a one-stage design, namely the ignition of the thermonuclear material in a predominately fission nuclear explosion.

Moreover, success in developing simple thermonuclear devices is likely a matter of time and a relatively small number of additional tests.

Albright’s policy implication given his assessment is:

A priority must be to find ways to both further pressures on North Korea to limit its nuclear weapons capabilities and engage it diplomatically to halt and eventually end its nuclear weapons program. Recently, U.S. and Chinese efforts have failed to either increase pressure or achieve negotiations. Whether a lame duck U.S. administration or a reluctant China can limit North Korea’s growing nuclear capabilities remains to be seen. In this environment of North Korean advancements and little prospect of negotiations, as it did in the case of Iran several years ago, Congress should act. It should pass bipartisan financial and secondary sanctions legislation that increases the costs on North Korea and on those suppliers who support or turn a blind eye to its nuclear weapons endeavors. After establishing a new, more effective level of pressure, negotiations may have a better chance of bearing fruit.

This analysis does not consider the ongoing collaboration between North Korea and Iran, and seems to assume that North Korea is working independently, with all of the technical limitations that this might imply. Informed sources advise that there may be an estimated 5,000 Iranian scientists, technicians, intelligence assets and a small complement of IRGC troops, working  in North Korea on joint projects. When considered in conjunction with that collaboration with Iran, a supporter and purveyor of terrorism around the globe, the threat to the rest of the world grows exponentially.

What is significant is the possibility that the Iranian-North Korean collaboration may have achieved a breakthrough in the miniaturization of a hydrogen bomb. Although this might make it less powerful, it could render it small enough to be mounted on existing ICBMs. If this is true, then the parameters, which are guiding the experts evaluating the importance of this test, have changed dramatically.

The mounting threat of Iranian North Korean nuclear and missile development.

The matter of joint North Korean Iranian nuclear weapons development and missile technology  has been addressed by the authors and others. In March of 2014, we published an article indicating North Korean testing of nuclear warheads for Iran as part of a cooperative program bent on evasion of UN and US sanctions, “Has Iran Developed  Nuclear Weapons in North Korea.” In April 2015, we published reports discussing intelligence findings during the Iran pact negotiations violating UN resolutions banning acquisition of such technology for ballistic missile testing, see, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran during Talks.” In a July 2015, American Thinker article, “Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?”, Stephen and Shoshana Bryen raised the issue of whether Iran engaged in cooperative development of weapons with North Korea that might upend the nuclear pact with Iran. In a September 2015 NER/Iconoclast post we noted the concerns of CIA Director John Brennan expressed about joint Iranian North Korean nuclear cooperative developments, “CIA Director Brennan Worried about Iran and North Korea Nuclear Cooperative Development?

The authors, Ilana Freedman, Stephen and Shoshana Bryen, Israeli Missile defense expert Uzi Rubin, DIA and Office of Naval Intelligence reports been warning for five years about cooperative nuclear weapons and ICBM developments between these partners. They may already have developed a small number of nuclear weapons, tested warheads to be fitted on Shahab 3 missiles, and launched missiles with disposable boosters for satellite bombs and ICBMs.

Former CIA-Director, Ambassador R. James Woolsey and Dr. Peter Pry drew attention to the possibility that both North Korea and Iran might have the capability to launch a small nuclear device in a satellite into a polar low orbit. That could be capable of producing an Electronic Magnetic Pulse (EMP) effect. That bomb in a satellite weapon would be difficult to detect and if exploded over the US would devastate the economy sending it back to the pre-electrical era of the 19th Century.

The recent Iranian tests of Emad and other precision ballistic missiles in October and November 2015, in patent violation of the 2010 UN Resolution 1929 barring such developments and tests, forced the hand of the Administration to consider promulgating additional sanctions. Those efforts came to a virtual halt on the cusp of the fourth North Korean nuclear test on January 6, 2016. The implication being that the Administration doesn’t want to jeopardize the lifting of $100 billion in Iranian sequestered funds under prior sanctions. Allegedly, this holdback was to support election of moderate elements to the Iranian parliament next month in furtherance of diplomatic outreach to Iranian President Rouhani.

What might the North Korean nuclear test reveal about Iran’s capabilities?

The threat of illegally tested Iranian missiles equipped with miniaturized warheads emerged in a discussion with former Pentagon official and noted national security analyst, Dr. Stephen Bryen. We were discussing a scenario that Israeli missile expert Uzi Landau had expressed in a 2011 NER article, “The Iranian Missile Threat.“ That scenario involved the possible Iranian launch of conventional and nuclear warhead equipped missiles against targets in the Middle East and Europe. Bryen’s views both confirmed Rubin’s Iranian missile capabilities and what the North Koreans had likely tested:

In regard to Iran’s missiles I think Uzi Rubin is correct as to what they have. One big problem, if Iran were to launch any long range missiles at a NATO target, it would have to be assumed they were nuclear since there is no way to know what weapons are on them.  The danger will increase exponentially if North Korea is able to demonstrate a nuclear warhead on a missile because I see the nuclear programs of both countries as linked. In fact we really don’t know whether  the latest Korean nuclear test was for Iran. If it was, it was a small test (6KT compared to the Hiroshima bomb of roughly 10 to 11 KT). A small weapon means a small fission atomic weapon (not a hydrogen bomb). Either it means they don’t have enough uranium or plutonium, or they are trying to make a small weapon to be used by missiles or perhaps by artillery.

The big constraint on North Korea is having sufficient fissile material (uranium or plutonium). I suspect Iran is involved in this, perhaps providing centrifuge equipment to the North Koreans. This past year North Korea is said to have significantly increased its uranium enrichment facility. As you remember both countries cooperated on putting together a facility in Syria that Israel destroyed in Operation Orchard (September 2007). This was a nuclear reactor under construction for producing plutonium. The Iranians needed it to hide their plutonium production. Where else to get plutonium? North Korea is the only outside source of plutonium if the Iranian Arak reactor is under tight inspection. (Plutonium is produced primarily from U-238, but also from U-235. Moderately enriched uranium is ideal for plutonium production.)

If my speculation is right about the North Korea-Iran test, then the story about a hydrogen bomb was a cover for what they really were doing, and convenient propaganda for the North Korean people, since the test was widely broadcast and promoted by NK TV.

A final note: Israel has some missile defense thanks to Arrow and the forthcoming David’s Sling. (Iron Dome is for short range missiles.) Europe hasn’t any missile defense outside of the Patriot which is questionable against a heavy ballistic missile. Ditto for Saudi Arabia.

Obama’s furtherance of the nuclear pact with Iran brings to mind Winston Churchill’s quote about the Russians in late August 1939 just after Stalin inked a non-aggression pact with Hitler, “[Russia] is a riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma; but perhaps there is a key. That key is Russian national interest.” Substitute Iran for Russia and you may have an explanation as to the dangers inherent in Obama’s foreign policy and national security legacy. A legacy left with the US, NATO members, South Korea, Japan, Israel, Saudi Arabia and other Middle East allies facing the threat of an emboldened Islamic Regime in Tehran equipped with nuclear tipped missiles developed in cooperation with North Korea.

Remember comments by Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman, a member of the US negotiations team that produced the Iran nuclear pact, in a US Senate hearing in early 2014? Sherman said, “That if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Obama’s Dangerous Spin on the Iran Nuclear Deal

There was a spirited panel discussion on  the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show for National Security stemming from President Obama’s  remarks on the Iran nuclear deal  during  his interview on CNN’s Farid Zakaria’s Global Public Square (GPS) Sunday morning program.  Panelists Barry Shaw in Israel, Shoshana Bryen of The Jewish Policy of the Washington, D.C. based Jewish Policy Center and this writer. The interview was recorded last Thursday following the President’s speech at American University and contentious meeting with a select group of American Jewish leaders. It was alleged that he told them that “if they left  off criticizing his deal, he would leave off criticizing them. That was a warning to the major American Jewish lobby group , the American Israel Political Action Committee. (AIPAC) and an affiliate, Concerned Citizens for a Nuclear Free Iran have funded a multi-million ad campaign opposing the President’s Iran nuclear deal up for a vote in Congress in  Mid-September.

President Obama  also asserted during the interview that the Republican opposition to the Iran nuclear deal was ideological and political and not dissimilar from so-called hardliners in Iran. In response to a question on this from Zakaria he said:

The reason that Mitch McConnell and the rest of the folks in his caucus who oppose this jumped out and opposed it before they even read it, before it was even posted, is reflective of an ideological commitment not to get a deal done. And in that sense they do have a lot in common with hard- liners who are much more satisfied with the status quo. What I said was that there are those who, if they did not read the bill before they announced their opposition, if they are not able to offer plausible reasons why they wouldn’t support the bill or plausible alternatives in preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon other than potential military strikes, then that would indicate that they’re not interested in the substance of the issue, they’re interested in the politics of the issue.

Zakaria asked, “Is it appropriate for a foreign head of government ( a reference to Israeli Pm Netanyahu] to inject himself into a debate that is taking place in Washington?“  The President  responded:

You know, I’ll let you ask Prime Minister Netanyahu that question if he gives you an interview. I don’t recall a similar example. Obviously the relationship between the United States and Israel is deep, it is profound, and it’s reflected in my policies because I have said repeatedly and, more importantly, acted on the basic notion that our commitment to Israel security is sacrosanct. It’s something that I take very seriously, which is why we provided more assistance, more military cooperation, more intelligence cooperation to Israel than any previous administration.

But as I said in the speech yesterday, on the substance, the prime minister is wrong on this. And I think that I can show that the basic assumptions that he’s made are incorrect. If in fact my argument is right that this is the best way for Iran not to get a nuclear weapon, then that’s not just good for the United States, that is very good for Israel. In fact, historically this has been the argument that has driven Prime Minister Netanyahu and achieved consensus throughout Israel.

So the question has to be, is there in fact a better path to preventing Iran from getting a nuclear weapon than this one? And I’ve repeatedly asked both Prime Minister Netanyahu and others to present me a reasonable, realistic plan that would achieve exactly what this deal achieves, and I have yet to get a response. So, as I said yesterday, I completely understand why both he and the broad Israeli public would be suspicious, cautious about entering into any deal with Iran.

Notwithstanding the President remarks in the CNN Zakaria interview, New York Democratic Senator Charles E. Schumer and Bronx New York House Member, Elliott Engel, Ranking Member of the House Foreign Relations Committee and several other leading Democrat members of both the New York and California delegations have also opted to oppose the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action announced in Vienna on July 14th and unanimously endorsed by the UN Security on July 22nd.  Congress will reconvene after Labor Day for more Hearings and a vote to either approve or reject the Iranian nuclear deal. President Obama has threatened veto it if a majority of both the Houses of Congress vote to reject it.

Watch these CNN Video clips of President Obama interview with Farid Zakaria on August 9, 2015

On Israeli PM Netanyahu

On Iran’s Supreme Leader, Ayatollah Khamenei

On his American University Speech

LBS Soundcloud August 9 correctedThe following were important takeaways from  the August 9th Lisa Benson Radio Show:

Israel’s History of Unilateral Actions against Iraqi and Syrian nuclear programs despite US Objections.

Barry Shaw speaking from Israel drew attention to Israeli attacks on the Osirak reactor in Saddam Hussein’s Iraq in 1981 and Syria’s al-Kibar reactor in September 2007. He noted that Israeli PM Menachem Begin suggested that  his order for the so-called Raid on the Sun in Iraqi would set a precedent for future similar actions by his successors.  Shaw noted the objections by the Reagan Administration and even US media  characterizations of Israel’s actions  as state sponsored terrorism . However a decade later in the 1990’s Dick Cheney , then Secretary of Defense expressed  the thanks of the US  for Israel’s action in 1981 during the Gulf War in 1991.  Following, the 2007 Syria reactor raid, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice criticized Israel for not exhausting diplomatic efforts. Shaw noted that following the raid Syria let in the IAEA to inspect the reclaimed site of the former Al-Kibar nuclear bomb factory Shaw also reflected the views of a  significant majority of Israelis backing PM Netanyahu’s intervention criticizing the Iran nuclear pact.

The Dangers of Obama’s Withdrawal of US Assets in the Region.

Shoshana Bryen drew attention to the dangers of withdrawal of US military assets in the Persian Gulf abetting the hegemonic objectives of Supreme Ayatollah Khamenei  and the Islamic Regime IRGC. As of the fall, the US will have no carrier battle group in the Persian Gulf for the first time in decades. She went to note  the President postulated that Saudi Arabia and Iran might find themselves coming closer on certain issues. If the Gulf States see their future with Iran, rather than with the US, we will not have a base in the Persian Gulf. The US Fifth Fleet in Bahrain and US facilities in Kuwait and Oman may not be able to use those facilities to attack Iran if, in fact, their governments see Iran as the key power for the future.

Military Option  may have been  taken Off the Table with Iran Weapons Purchases from Russia and China.

This  writer  drew attention to the Moscow trip of Quds Force commander Qasem Soleimani to meet with Russian President Putin and Defense Minister Shogui to speed up deliveries of the S-300 air defense system and the $10 billion oil barter deal with China for delivery of stealth fighters.  He suggested that this was a breach of both UN travel bans on the Quds Force Commander as well as the UN resolution 1929 sanctions against purchase of conventional  weapons and missile technology precluded on both five and eight sunsets under the JCPOA.  It makes any military option harder by orders of magnitude. While both the US and Israel  aren’t without resources of our own, Iran breaches  of  sanctions  makes the decision to use American military power more complicated.

Iran North Korea Nuclear and ICBM Development Cooperation may already have developed a bomb

Host  Lisa Benson drew attention to a recent American Thinker article co-authored by Bryen and her husband,  Stephen, “Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?”  The Bryens suggest that Iran may already have developed a nuclear weapon in cooperation with North Korea.  This writer interviewed analyst Ilana Freedman regarding the same issue in a March 2014  NER article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea ?”   The Bryens postulate that Iran may already have a small nuclear bomb that might be used  as a threat in the region to provide a nuclear cover for hegemonic objectives. The motivation on the part of the North Korean, who earn hard currency through illicit transactions is receipt of funds from Iran, a member of the same original A.Q. Khan network that provided techno logy for the North Korean bomb making and Iran’s uranium enrichment centrifuges.

Plan B –Restoring Military Funding in support of National Security Objectives in the Middle East and NATO Allies in Eastern Europe and the Baltic States Threatened by Putin’s Russia

Notwithstanding , a possible veto of a Congressional  resolution rejecting the Iran nuclear deal, Bryen and Gordon suggested that the Congress has to stop the hollowing out of our military capabilities under sequestration. That should be addressed in September when National Defense Act Appropriation bills come up for approval in both chambers.  Bryen noted Plan B is precisely to end sequestration – which has to happen for American national security reasons including Iran and beyond Iran. The size of the Army has to increase (it is projected to decrease by another 40,000) and the drain of mid-level officers (Captains, Majors and LT Colonels) has to stop. Our Navy has to begin to restore ship building. She noted the fleet size is he smallest since WWI.

Poland and the Baltic States have requested a stronger NATO presence out of fear that Russia will do to them what it did to Ukraine. Ukraine was NOT a member of NATO, so there were mixed ideas about what to do, but Poland and the Baltic States are. If Russia thinks it can intimidate or even occupy parts of those states, simply because it sees the US as a waning power, NATO will be finished. With that, the remnants of American influence will be finished. We have to put troops in those places and do exercises in those places and we should reconsider installing the radars that President Obama declined to place in Poland and the Czech Republic when he first took office.

Listen to the Soundcloud of the August 9, 2015 Lisa Benson Radio Show

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Kerry’s Double-talk on Iran

On Tuesday, June 16, 2015, Secretary of State John Kerry held a video conference with a number of news media journalists on prevailing issues. Less than fourteen days remain till a definitive Joint Plan of Action might be available for Congress review under the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act (INARA). That is, if there isn’t a delay.This video conference revealed still yet another stunning concession on the critical element of Iran’s previous military developments (PMD): perfect knowledge of all prior nuclear developments making IAEA verification virtually impossible. Kerry was backtracking on his November 2013 and April 2, 2015 statements.

Watch the State Department video conference with Secretary Kerry:

Witness this exchange with Michael Gordon of the New York Times:

QUESTION: Sir, I’m Michael Gordon, New York Times. You mentioned that possible military dimensions, which is the term of art for suspected nuclear design work and testing of nuclear components, has to be addressed as part of a prospective Iran agreement. Do these concerns need to be fully resolved before sanctions are eased or released or removed or suspended on Iran as part of that agreement? Is that a core principle or is that also negotiable? Thank you.

SECRETARY KERRY: Michael, the possible military dimensions, frankly, gets distorted a little bit in some of the discussion, in that we’re not fixated on Iran specifically accounting for what they did at one point in time or another. We know what they did. We have no doubt. We have absolute knowledge with respect to the certain military activities they were engaged in.

What we’re concerned about is going forward. It’s critical to us to know that going forward, those activities have been stopped, and that we can account for that in a legitimate way. That clearly is one of the requirements in our judgment for what has to be achieved in order to have a legitimate agreement. And in order to have an agreement to trigger any kind of material significant sanctions relief, we would have to have those answers.

Armin Rosen, writing in Business Insider considered Kerry’s answer contradictory to what the Secretary had said back in April:

This is a crucial question. Without Iran divulging the degree of its past work on nuclear weaponization, inspectors will have a harder time establishing a baseline for assessing Iranian compliance with the terms of a deal.

Disclosure on the nuclear program’s military dimensions is also an early yardstick of Iranian good faith.

The International Atomic Energy Agency submitted 12 queries to Iran about its weaponization work in 2011. Tehran had only responded to one of them as of February 2013, and the IAEA’s leadership has acknowledged that it doesn’t think Iran will come clean before the June 30 deadline.

That makes some sense from Iran’s perspective, as the country’s negotiators have deftly used the ambiguities surrounding the country’s weaponization work for negotiating leverage. But that rationale disappears once a deal is signed, at which point the sides will have spent whatever leverage they had while theoretically having a mutual incentive to make the agreement work. And it won’t work as well if inspectors don’t have an understanding of the full extent and history of Iran’s nuclear program.

Here’s why Rosen thought Kerry’s answer contradictory and problematic in understanding how a definitive JPOA was verifiable:

Kerry’s answer is puzzling for a number of other reasons. The administration’s assessment of the nuclear dimensions of Iran’s program is not just secret, but non-disprovable for anyone who hasn’t seen US or allied intelligence on Iranian weaponization.

Kerry’s answer doesn’t mesh with repeated IAEA claims that the Agency can’t verify “that all the activities in Iran are for peaceful purposes.”

And Kerry doesn’t elaborate about “what they did.” Was Iran testing nuclear detonators, or diverting fissile material to a weapons program? Is the extent of Iranian weaponization work greater or less than the public record — which establishes that Iran may have tested nuclear weapons triggers at the Parchin facility up until 2003, andmaintained a research group dedicated to weaponization activities?

Kerry’s statement raises more questions than it answers. But it appears that the Obama administration isn’t going to insist on full Iranian disclosure of the extent of its nuclear program as part of a comprehensive deal.

Here’s why:

That’s a shift from just two months ago; right after the parties reached a preliminary deal, when Kerry told PBS that Iran would need to divulge its past nuclear activities as part of any final deal.

“They have to do it. It will be done. If there’s going to be a deal; it will be done,” he said.

Whether it is collaborative research with North Korea on nuclear warheads or ICBM technology or another country in the axis of resistance, Iran will not permit any verification of prior military developments by the IAEA through inspection of the known military sites in country.  Going forward on that basis is impractical and unsafe.  Iran doubtless may already have achieved nuclear weapons capabilities.   Moreover upon lifting upwards of $50 billion in sanctioned funds, Iran may accelerate the means of delivering them, as well as, funding more chaos in neighboring Afghanistan and Iraq.  The days are running down towards a debacle with an untrustworthy Iran, increasing the unease of Congress on the cusp of reviewing it under the INARA.  A negative vote which may trigger a veto by President Obama that the Congress may not have the votes to override.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Anthrax Released: Should we be concerned?

US Army Dugway Proving Ground Main GateThe abrupt news that live anthrax samples  had been shipped from the U.S. Army Dugway proving ground to laboratories in the U.S., an air base in South Korea and possibly Australia came as a reminder to Americans and the world that biological warfare  training exercises might lead to troubling inadvertent releases. Fortunately, 22 military personnel exposed at the south Korean  airbase are being treated with the antibiotic Cipro. However, this latest release of a BW agent has caused both the U.S. Army bio-warfare directorate and the CDC to review safety precautions, packaging and procedures for the transmission of possible live anthrax spores and why samples had not been made inert?

The BBC reported that the U.S. military has ordered a review of how it handles anthrax after discovering more cases of live samples being accidentally sent to labs:

Live anthrax samples were believed to have been sent to a total of 24 labs, in 11 U.S. states as well as South Korea and Australia, the Pentagon said.

The Pentagon says that there is no known risk to the general public.

Experts in bio-safety have heavily criticized the lapse and called for improved precautions.

Symptoms of anthrax exposure include skin ulcers, nausea, vomiting and fever, and can cause death if untreated.

News of the live shipments first emerged on Wednesday, as the U.S. said it had accidentally shipped live anthrax spores from Utah to labs in Texas, Maryland, Wisconsin, Delaware, New Jersey, Tennessee, New York, California and Virginia, as well as an air base in South Korea.

Those shipments took place between March 2014 and April 2015, a U.S. official said, according to Reuters.

On Friday, the Department of Defense said it had identified “additional inadvertent live anthrax shipments”, including a suspect sample sent to Australia from a batch of anthrax from 2008.

It is not clear when that sample was shipped to Australia.

The military has ordered all of its labs that have previously received inactive anthrax samples to test them. In addition it is advising all labs to cease working with these samples until told otherwise.

Shortly after 9/11, the American public concern over bio-terrorism was raised  by the release of Anthrax in powdered form in letters sent to members of Congress and randomly to private persons. 22 persons were sickened, 5 died, the U.S. Senate building was shut down and inspected.  Anthrax exists naturally, but more powerful variants have been developed synthetically by dual use laboratories in rogue states like Iran, North Korea and Assad’s Syria.  Bio-warfare laboratories have been established by Al Qaeda and ISIS has been rumored to have obtained access to materials in Syria, as well. Remember the arrest in Afghanistan, prosecution and conviction in the U.S. of Brandeis University and MIT trained scientist, “Lady Al Qaeda”, Aafia Siddiqui .  There is also evidence that Iran’s terrorist proxy, Hezbollah may have been transferred BW capabilities and agents  by Syria that could be deployed against America’s ally , Israel and globally through major transportation nodes in Europe.

Jill Bellamy van Aalst(3)

Dr. Jill Bellamy

We asked Dr. Jill Bellamy, noted expert on biological warfare and threat reduction about this latest incident.  We have published articles by Dr. Bellamy on Syrian, Hezbollah, Al Qaeda and Iranian BW programs in both the NER and our blog the Iconoclast.

She commented:

Clearly from a bio-safety perspective this is a very serious breach of protocol and demands a full and transparent investigation. As anyone who works with inactivated anthrax would be routinely vaccinated with AVA, exposure from a clinical perspective is probably not as much of a concern as the general public may believe. Of course if anyone outside military labs the live anthrax was sent to and persons who have not been routinely vaccinated were exposed, this would be concerning. I would worry about the time frame from exposure. It appears from the reports that we are talking about several weeks or months during which the anthrax was shipped. It is probably a good sign that none of the labs has reported a laboratory acquired disease or LAD. If exposure is known Cipro (ciprofloxacin hydrochloride) is given for inhalation anthrax and usually a 60 day course is advised. The lab workers in these labs  would surely  have all been vaccinated, so how much of a health risk it poses is debatable.

The bio-safety side is more worrying. CDC and a number of other labs have previously had exposures from the accidental handling of live anthrax. There are very stringent regulations in place for the shipping and transport of live agents. It is doubtful there was any risk to public health during the transport as this would be handled by the military. What is more problematic is that the research done  at US Army labs and Dugway proving ground  are critical to national security.  Incidents like this feed an uninformed section in non-proliferation circles who then call for the closing of these labs or hype the danger they pose to the general public. It makes it more difficult to assure the public that such labs are a vital aspect to protecting citizens from BW attacks and ensuring vaccines and therapeutic countermeasures are available and stockpiled in the event of a deliberate attack. Hopefully this is an incident we will learn a great deal from in terms of bio-safety training, protocols and bio-security.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is of  microscopic anthrax spores. Source: Reuters.

Is the U.S. State Department Taking Reports of North Korea-Iranian Nuclear Cooperation Seriously?

At today’s State Department Daily Press Briefing, spokesperson Jeff Rathke was asked by Matt Lee, AP White House correspondent about reports by the Paris-based Iranian dissident group, the National Council of Resistance in Iran (NCRI) about alleged North Korean meetings in Iran alleging discussions over nuclear program cooperation an ICBM developments.  Reuters reported the NCRI group allegation that:

Citing information from sources inside Iran, including within Iran’s Revolutionary Guards Corps, the Paris-based NCRI said a seven-person North Korean Defense Ministry team was in Iran during the last week of April. This was the third time in 2015 that North Koreans had been to Iran and a nine-person delegation was due to return in June, it said.

“The delegates included nuclear experts, nuclear warhead experts and experts in various elements of ballistic missiles including guidance systems,” the NCRI said.

In response to AP’s Lee question Rathke said, “We are taking these allegations very seriously” citing various UN Security Council Resolutions sanctioning the proliferation behavior of the DPRK. That led Lee and other correspondents to inquire whether this would impact the current P5+1 negotiations in Vienna seeking to conclude a comprehensive Joint Plan of Action by June 30th.  We posted  yesterday that France’s Foreign Minister demanding that Iran agree to  UN IAEA inspectors be  given  full access to military facilities for verification of prior developments.

Watch this C-SPAN video clip on the exchanges between State Department Jeff Rathke and AP’s Lee and other reporters at today’s Press Briefing:

Satellite Image of the Sohae Launch Facility, North Korea

North Korean Sohae Missile Launch site, November 2012. Source: Space.com

The Reuters report gave indications of previous unverified reports about such cooperation between the DPRK and Iran:

The NCRI said the North Korean delegation was taken secretly to the Imam Khomenei complex, a site east of Tehran controlled by the Defense Ministry. It gave detailed accounts of locations and who the officials met.

It said the delegation dealt with the Center for Research and Design of New Aerospace Technology, a unit of nuclear weaponization research, and a planning center called the Organization of Defensive Innovation and Research, which is under U.S. sanctions.

Reuters could not independently verify the allegations.

“Tehran has shown no interest in giving up its drive to nuclear weapons. The weaponization program is continuing and they have not slowed down the process,” NCRI spokesman Shahin Gobadi said.

U.N. watchdog the IAEA, which for years has investigated alleged nuclear arms research by Tehran, declined to comment. North Korean officials were not available for comment.

Several Western officials said they were not aware of a North Korean delegation traveling to Iran recently.

A Western diplomat said there had been proven military cooperation between Iran and North Korea in the past.

North Korean and Iranian officials meet in the course of general diplomacy. On April 23, Kim Yong Nam, North Korea’s ceremonial head of state and Iran’s president held a rare meeting on the sidelines of the Asian-African summit in Jakarta.

My colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer have reported on Iranian and DPRK on both nuclear and ICBM developments and nuclear tests in NER and Iconoclast posts.  In a March 2014, NER, article, “Has Iran Developed Nuclear Weapons in North Korea”, we cited Freedman reporting:

According to my sources, Iran began moving its bomb manufacturing operations from Iran to North Korea in December 2012. Two facilities near Nyongbyon in North Pyongan province, some 50 miles north of Pyongyang, have become a new center for Iran’s nuclear arms program.

Over the last year, Iran has been secretly supplying raw materials to the reactor at Nyongbyon for the production of plutonium. At a second facility, located about fifteen miles north and with a code name that translates to ‘Thunder God Mountain’, nuclear warheads are being assembled and integrated with MIRV platforms. MIRVs are offensive ballistic missile systems that can support multiple warheads, each of which can be aimed at an independent target, but are all launched by a single booster rocket. Approximately 250-300 Iranian scientists are now reported to be in North Korea, along with a small cadre of IRGC personnel to provide for their security.

According to the reports, the Iranian-North Korean collaboration has already produced the first batch of fourteen nuclear warheads. A dedicated fleet of Iranian cargo aircraft, a combination of 747′s and Antonov heavy-lifters, which has been ferrying personnel and materials back and forth between Iran and North Korea, is in place to bring the assembled warheads back to Iran.

In a June 2014, Iconoclast post, “Does Iran/ North Korean Nuclear & ICBM Development Preclude A P5+1 Agreement?” we cited a Wall Street Journal report by  Claudia Rosett, journalist in residence at the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, Iran Could Outsource Its Nuclear –Weapons Program to North Korea. Rosett commented:

The pieces have long been in place for nuclear collaboration between the two countries. North Korea and Iran are close allies, drawn together by decades of weapons deals and mutual hatred of America and its freedoms. Weapons-hungry Iran has oil; oil-hungry North Korea makes weapons. North Korea has been supplying increasingly sophisticated missiles and missile technology to Iran since the 1980s, when North Korea hosted visits by Hasan Rouhani (now Iran’s president) and Ali Khamenei (Iran’s supreme leader since the death of Ayatollah Khomeini in 1989).

Rosett in the WSJ oped lays out the case for what the NER article demonstrated was a plausible means of evading sanctions. The evidence for that we noted was North Korean/ Iranian cooperation with Assad’s Syria creating a plutonium reactor on the Euphrates at Al Kibar destroyed by Israel’s Air Force in September 2007. We drew attention to Iranian/ North Korean joint development of large rocket boosters sufficient to loft nuclear MIRV warheads and the likelihood that Iran might have that capability within a few years. In June 2014, The Algemeiner reported an Iranian official announcing that it possessed a 5,000 kilometer (approximately 3,125 miles) range missile that could hit the strategic base of Diego Garcia in the Indian Ocean:

“In the event of a mistake on the part of the United States, their bases in Bahrain and (Diego) Garcia will not be safe from Iranian missiles,” said an Iranian Revolutionary Guard adviser to Iranian leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, Majatba Dhualnuri.

In an April 15, 2015, Iconoclast post, “Obama Administration Knew of Illegal North Korea Missile Technology Transfers to Iran During Talks” we reported:

Bill Gertz has a blockbuster expose in today’s Washington Free Beacon of something we have been hammering away for years: the technology transfer of missile and nuclear technology between North Korea and the Iran, “North Korea Transfers Missile Goods to Iran During Nuclear Talks.”  The stunning disclosure was that U.S. intelligence has known about the illegal transfer in violation of UN arms sanctions, as apparently did the Obama Administration. You recall the statement that Undersecretary of State Wendy Sherman made before a Senate hearing in early 2014. Sherman said, “that if Iran can’t get the bomb then its ballistic missiles would be irrelevant.”

Gertz went on to report:

Since September more than two shipments of missile parts have been monitored by U.S. intelligence agencies as they transited from North Korea to Iran, said officials familiar with intelligence reports who spoke on condition of anonymity.

Details of the arms shipments were included in President Obama’s daily intelligence briefings and officials suggested information about the transfers was kept secret from the United Nations, which is in charge of monitoring sanctions violations.

While the CIA declined to comment on these allegations claiming classified information, others, Gertz queried said that “such transfers were covered by the Missile Technology Control Regime, a voluntary agreement among 34 nations that limits transfers of missiles and components of systems with ranges of greater than 186 miles.”

One official said the transfers between North Korea and Iran included large diameter engines, which could be used for a future Iranian long-range missile system.

The compilation of these reports and today’s exchange at the State Department Press Briefing clearly raises the ante as to why in one reporter’s query, ‘our negotiators” haven’t simply asked  Foreign Minister Zarif in Vienna  is there such cooperation going on, backed up by the intelligence reports cited by Gertz and others?  Our suspicion is that French Foreign Minister Fabius has better feed on Iranian nuclear and ICBM developments than our CIA.  Or more likely is the Obama West Wing suggesting not to believe those lying reports in the President’s  Daily Intelligence Briefing? After all, President Obama, Secretary Kerry and Undersecretary of State for Political Affairs Wendy Sherman want nothing to stand in the way of an agreement with Iran, even it means evading the truth. Stay tuned for developments.

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review. The featured image is from the official site of the President of The Islamic Republic of Iran.

Thinking About China

Napoleon Bonaparte purportedly said “Let China sleep, for when China wakes, she will shake the world.”

Cover - China ChallengeAs Thomas J. Christensen, the author of his recently published “The China Challenge: Shaping the Choices of a Rising Power”, reminds us, “For millennia China was arguably the greatest civilization on the planet and for many previous centuries its most powerful empire.”

China is no longer an empire, but it remains a huge nation geographically and huge in terms of its population.

From the website worldometers.info, we learn:

Christensen is a former Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs. Currently he is the William P. Boswell Professor of World Politics and director of the China and World Program at Princeton University. After reading his book, you might well conclude that there is little about China and Asia he does not know.

We are mostly dependent on various news stories about China to have any idea what is occurring, but the fact remains that just as the U.S. has its optimists and pessimists, conservatives and liberals who influence policy the same exists for China, so a lot depends on who is being quoted. Generally, though, it is only the top leaders who are. That means we are getting the Chinese “party line” and the occasional general or admiral warning against any aggression.

China did not begin to awaken as a modern nation until after the death of Mao Zedong, the founder of the People’s Republic of China, a Communist with a capital “C.” Christensen notes that, while keeping its political ideology, the leader that followed him made a “peaceful transformation launched under CCP leader Deng Xiaopping in 1978 and the collapse of the superpower Soviet Union thirteen years later that made China appear to stand tall again among the great powers.” The transitition was to a capitalist-based economy.

These days the Chinese and the Russians are making efforts to achieve areas of cooperation and, in particular, their militaries. They hold drills together for common defense strategies.

Christensen believes that “China’s return to great power status is perhaps the most important challenges in twenty-first century American diplomacy”, but to put that in context he points out that “China’s per capita income is only one fifth that of the United States” and “though a true trade superpower, many of its exporters are controlled at least in part by foreign investors.”

“Still, the pessimists do not give enough credit to the sustainability of U.S. leadership in Asia,” says Christensen. “For example, they often underestimate the value of American’s unparalleled network of allies and security partners.” You can be sure that the Chinese leadership does not.

They also have, as one would expect, concerns about U.S. military power in their area of the world, but they feel the same about Japan and South Korea as well. “China is not currently an enemy of the United States,” says Christensen, nor is it likely to be for a long time to come.

“It does not need to be contained like the (former) Soviet Union. Nor should China become the kind of regional or global adversary that we have faced in the past, although that outcome, unfortunately, is still a distinct possibility.” That possibility depends on China’s leadership now and in the future. For now they are concentrating on their economy and are likely to do so for many years to come.

Chinese Money“China’s economic clout is real and growing rapidly, especially since the 2008 financial crisis. China has been the main engine of growth for the world’s economy since that time and, by some measures, has become the world’s number one trading state.” There is only one reason why the U.S. has not yet recovered from the financial crisis and his name is Barack Obama.

I suspect that Obama is held in disdain by the Chinese leadership despite all the public handshakes. For one thing, China weathered the financial crisis far better than the U.S. “One of the burdens the new Obama administration inherited in early 2009 was a China bearing a mix of cockiness and insecurity that would negatively influence its policies in 2009-2010,” says Christensen and as the U.S. foundered in Afghanistan and Iraq “American power inspired less awe.”

“Sometime in 2012, the ‘Asia pivot’” of the Obama administration “would be jettisoned in Washington for the more subtle ‘Asia rebalance.’” If you get the feeling that the Obama administration has no real China policy or one that will have little influence, you are right.

With regard to China, It likely does not matter what the Obama administration does for its remaining one and a half years in office.

Various scholars and diplomats will continue to keep a watchful eye on China and most surely many corporate leaders and U.S. entrepreneurs will do so as well given its huge population as a marketplace. It’s already a great tourist destination.

Napoleon was right.

© Alan Caruba, 2015

RELATED ARTICLES:

China’s Belt and Road Initiative: Globalization as Imperialism

“Risk of War”: China Repeatedly Warns U.S. Surveillance Plane Over Artificial Island

Can the U.S. Defend Itself against North Korean and Iranian Nuclear ICBMs?

This weekend, Israel National News-Arutz Sheva published a thought provoking article reflecting a sea change in U.S. Anti-Missile Defense against North Korean and Iranian ICBM developments, U.S. Admits N. Korea, Maybe Iran, Can Now Target it with EMP-Nukes.”

The center piece of the INN article was an April 7, 2015 briefing by U.S. Admiral Bill Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command (USNORTHCOM) the anti-missile command charged with the responsibility of protecting the nation against the ICBM threat. Admiral Gortney confirmed what my colleague Ilana Freedman and this writer, the Heritage Foundation and the U.S.-Korea Institute of the John Hopkins University, School for Advanced International Studies, maintained that North Korea and Iran have mastered the miniaturization of nuclear warheads and may be on the verge of operational ICBMs capable of hitting U.S. military targets in the Western Pacific and within a few years targets across the U.S., perhaps in a devastating EMP attack.

As long ago as August 2011, we discussed this in an NER article, “The Iranian Missile Threat.” In 2012, we participated in an awareness webinar sponsored by the Congressionally chartered EMP Commission that featured nuclear and intelligence experts. In 2013, we broached the question of whether Iranian missiles positioned in missile sites being prepared in the Paraguana Peninsula of ally Venezuela could reach Florida by 2015. In both March 2014 and in April 2015, this writer and Ilana Freedman raised the matter of North Korean and Iranian cooperative development and test of nuclear weapons including the development of MIRV warheads for ICBVMs.

At issue is whether Admiral Gortney’s briefing was the long awaiting admission by the Pentagon that this ICBM threat from rogue regimes North Korea and Iran is both real and compelling. However, the questions still remains, that with the effects of sequestration and the hollowing out of the anti-missile program whether this country is truly prepared to counter it.

Admiral Gortney’s Disturbing Revelations

The INN disclosed these warnings from Admiral Gortney:

That the Pentagon now believes North Korea has mastered the ability to miniaturize its nuclear bombs so they can be fitted onto their latest mobile KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), which are capable of reaching the continental United States.

At the news conference, Adm. Gortney flatly stated, Pyongyang has “the ability to put a nuclear weapon on a KN-08 and shoot it at the homeland [the continental United States].” He expressed confidence that the U.S. could knock down such a missile if launched by North Korea or its ally, Iran.

He also admitted, however, that it is “very difficult” for the U.S. to counter the threat, because its intelligence is unable to follow the mobile ICBMs and give an efficient warning before they are launched.

The INN report drew attention to the KN-08 ICBM development and whether we can intercept it:

The KN-08 is a road-capable, highly mobile ICBM, which can be hidden anywhere throughout the North Korea and could be fired on a short-countdown virtually undetectable by American intelligence. As Adm. Gortney further explained about the North’s KN-08 ICBM, “It’s the relocatable [highly-mobile, can go anywhere – ML] target set that really impedes our ability to find, fix, and finish the [KN-08] threat. And as the [KN-08] targets move around and if we don’t have a persistent stare [i.e., the ability to monitor its location at all times – ML] and persistent [intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance] that we do not have over North Korea at this time, that relocatable nature makes it very difficult for us to be able to counter it.”

Despite Adm. Gortney’s concerns, he still believes that if a KN-08 was fired at the U.S. homeland, in the Admiral’s words – “Should one get airborne and come at us [the U.S. homeland], I’m confident we would be able to knock it down.”

Even if this is true, it is not clear if the U.S. ballistic defense could knock down an incoming North Korean ICBM in time, if the nuke is intended as an EMP weapon, which explodes soon after re-entering the atmosphere.

Watch Admiral Gortney’s Pentagon briefing:

The Heritage Foundation Raised Concern about U.S. South Korean Intelligence Assessments

In June 2014, the Washington, D.C. conservative think tank, The Heritage Foundation issued a report raising concern about whether U.S. and South Korean intelligence assessments about North Korean nuclear tipped ICBM developments, “Allies Should Confront Imminent North Korean Nuclear Threat.” The author of the Heritage report, Bruce Klingner is “Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia in The Heritage Foundation’s Asian Studies Center. Klingner’s analysis and writing about North Korea, South Korea, Japan and related issues are informed by his 20 years working at the Central Intelligence Agency and the Defense Intelligence Agency.” Klingner’s analysis found:

  • Experts predominantly assess that North Korea has developed several nuclear devices, but not yet mastered the ability to miniaturize a warhead or deliver it via missile. U.S. and South Korean policymakers presume they still have several years to constrain North Korea’s nuclear threat.
  • Yet available unclassified evidence indicates North Korea has likely already achieved warhead miniaturization, the ability to place nuclear weapons on its medium-range missiles, and a preliminary ability to reach the continental United States with a missile.
  • The United States and its allies face a greater threat today than is widely construed.
  • North Korea now claims that it can strike the United States and its allies with nuclear weapons. Pyongyang has declared it will never negotiate away its nuclear arsenal.
  • Washington and Seoul need to augment missile defenses to better protect against Pyongyang’s more credible and deadly nuclear arsenal.

Against these findings, Klingner offered the following recommendations to protect the U.S. against this threat:

  • Fund its defense commitment to Asia. While the Obama Administration has been stalwart in its rhetoric pledging an “Asia Pivot,” it has not provided the military budget necessary to honor fully American commitments to security in the Pacific. Massive defense budget cuts are already affecting U.S. capabilities in the region, increasing risk to allies, U.S. security and economic interests, and the safety of U.S. service personnel and American citizens living and working in the region.
  • Improve U.S. homeland ballistic missile defense. The U.S. should accelerate deployment of additional ground-based midcourse defense interceptors in Alaska and California to prevent an emerging gap between North Korean ballistic missile capabilities and U.S. defenses.
  • Accelerate development of advanced versions of the SM-3 interceptor for Aegis-capable ships, including restarting the SM-3 Block IIB program, which would give the Aegis system the ability to intercept long-range ballistic missiles.
  • Restart the boost-phase ballistic missile defense programs. During the boost phase, a missile is at its slowest, has not yet deployed decoys, and is therefore most vulnerable and easily intercepted. The Obama Administration cancelled all such programs in its first term, including the Airborne Laser and the Kinetic Energy Interceptor.
  • Restart the multiple kill vehicle program for ground-based interceptors to increase the probability of interception by only one interceptor, rather than requiring the launch of multiple interceptors.
  • Improve and modernize U.S. space-based sensors, including the Space Tracking and Surveillance System. This is a critical capability for detecting missile launches and tracking their trajectory.

icbm ner

The U.S.-Korea Institute of the John Hopkins SAIS Projections of North Korea ICBM Threat

At approximately the same time as Admiral Gortney’s briefing in early April 2015, the JHU SAIS Korea – U.S. Institute released a definitive study on the Nuclear tipped North Korean Missile Threat, the latest assessment of the North Korea’s Nuclear Futures. Among its findings were:

North Korea’s current delivery systems consist of about 1,000 ballistic missiles and a small number of light bombers able to reach most targets in South Korea and Japan. This force is comparatively more advanced than most countries at a similar early stage in the development of their nuclear arsenals since ballistic missiles have played an important role in Pyongyang’s conventional military strategy for many years. As a result, the current force is more than able to accommodate any future growth in the North’s nuclear weapons arsenal, including a worst-case projection of 100 nuclear weapons by 2020.

The North’s regionally-focused delivery systems include: 1) the Nodong medium-range ballistic missile (MRBM), a mobile liquid-fueled missile with a range of 1,200-1,500 km and accurate enough to attack cities, ports and military bases; 2) a large stockpile of Scud ballistic missiles—also mobile and liquid-fueled—that could carry a nuclear payload 300-600 km; 3) the mobile, solid-fuel KN-02 Toksa short-range ballistic missile (SRBM), based on the old Soviet SS-21 SRBM that was able to carry nuclear, chemical and conventional warheads; and 4) up to 60 Il-28 light bombers built on a 1950s Soviet design.

The SAIS Korea Institute report identified current North Korean developments:

  • The development of new road-mobile missiles with greater ranges—the Musudan intermediate-range ballistic missile (IRBM) and KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)—that signal an intention to withstand preemption, provide more significant retaliatory options and to target American bases in Guam and the continental United States;
  • An effort to develop short-range, sea-based, land-attack missiles that increase survivability, expand the threat to theater targets and complicate defense planning since mobile platforms can launch their weapons from any direction;
  • The development of a larger space launch vehicle than the existing Unha SLV—along with the upgrading of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station to launch a new system—as part of what may be an effort to deploy longer-range ballistic missiles; and
  • The development of solid-fuel rocket technology through enhancing the range of the KN-02 SRBM, which could yield greater mobility and survivability for future longer range solid-fuel missiles.

The JHU SAIS Korea-U.S. Institute report concluded:

The dangers posed by North Korea’s continuing effort to develop new nuclear delivery systems are clearly real, although more uncertain than nuclear weapons estimates, given the various technological hurdles Pyongyang will have to overcome in the future. Nevertheless, even if North Korea was severely limited in its ability to further develop a direct threat to the United States beyond probably a handful of ICBMs based on old Soviet technology, its existing inventory of approximately 1,000 missiles has sufficient reliability and range to cover most important targets in Northeast Asia. Moreover, the number of systems likely exceeds even the worst-case estimate for North Korea’s nuclear inventory in this study—that the North could field 100 nuclear weapons by 2020. In short, North Korea has already achieved a level of delivery system development that will allow it to establish itself as a small nuclear power.

Conclusions

These reports by the Heritage Foundation and the JHU SAIS Korea when coupled by U.S. Northern Command chief Admiral Gortney’s Pentagon briefing should raise questions by Congress in their quest this week to review and mark up the Senate Corker-Menendez legislation before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee. It is about the absence of and ability to obtain verification of Iran’s previous military developments whether in illicit clandestine locations in the Islamic Republic or the DPRK. Developments that we suggested in this writer’s and Ms. Freedman’s latest report lie beyond the capabilities of the UN IAEA, US CIA and DIA. Israel’s Operation Orchard in September 2007 demonstrated their invasive technical and HUMINT prowess in both identifying and taking out a North Korea plutonium reactor on the banks of the Euphrates River. Doing that in either or both North Korea and Iran would be a daunting task for Admiral Gortney’s Northern Command. Perhaps this is a matter for immediate attention for the Senate Armed Services Committee and its Chairman  Sen. John McCain.

Watch this YouTube video of a March 26, 2015 presentation by Senator McCain at the Washington, D.C. – based Center for Strategic and International Studies on Military Priorities to determine if Defense against the North Korean-Iranian nuclear missile threat was addressed:

EDITORS NOTE: This column originally appeared in the New English Review.

Iran military endorses a nuclear EMP attack on the U.S.

Iranian Military Documents endorsed an HEMP attack scenario on the U.S. What you are about to read sounds like science fiction; it is not. It is a 21st century weapon we must deal with. This article has not been written to frighten anyone; but we should all be frightened because it would be worse than a million ‘Pearl Harbor’ attacks.

AFP reports:

The U.S. military command that scans North America’s skies for enemy missiles and aircraft plans to move its communications gear to a Cold War-era mountain bunker, officers said. The shift to the Cheyenne Mountain base in Colorado is designed to safeguard the command’s sensitive sensors and servers from a potential electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack, military officers said.

The Pentagon last week announced a $700 million contract with Raytheon Corporation to oversee the work for North American Aerospace Command (NORAD) and U.S. Northern Command.

Admiral William Gortney, head of NORAD and Northern Command, said that “because of the very nature of the way that Cheyenne Mountain’s built, it’s EMP-hardened.”

Read more.

33 Minutes: Protecting America in the New Missile Age is a one-hour documentary produced by The Heritage Foundation that tells the story of the very real threat foreign enemies pose to every one of us. The truth is brutal – no matter where on Earth a missile is launched from it would take 33 Minutes or less to hit the U.S. target it was programmed to destroy. Watch the trailer to “33 Minutes” produced by the Heritage Foundation:

33 minutes logoIf the U.S. doesn’t destroy Iran’s ability to develop nuclear weapons civilization as we know it may be destroyed for hundreds of years. This is a frightening scenario but it can and may very well happen. Here’s why.

If Iran were to explode a high altitude nuclear bomb above the U.S., an HEMP (high altitude electro magnetic pulse) would be set off and it is estimated up to 90 percent of the U.S. population would end up dying. This is not science fiction; it is a fact. Iran’s military documents describe such a scenario.

What is nuclear HEMP? A nuclear device set off at high altitude would set off an electromagnetic pulse that would substantially damage or destroy the entire or most of America’s electric grid. The U.S. would be without electric for a year or more. This means we would have no electric, water service, sewer service, refrigeration, heat, communication, hospital service or anything else that requires electricity to operate. What would follow is starvation, chaos and anarchy on a level never before experienced by mankind.

The issue of a nuclear EMP attack was raised in the final hours of this week’s elections in Israel when U.S. authority Peter Vincent Pry penned a column for Arutz Sheva warning of Iran’s threat to free nations wrote:

“Iranian military documents describe such a scenario — including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.”

A knowledgeable source said that the textbook discusses an EMP attack on America in 20 different places.

Arizona Republican Rep. Trent Franks, who is leading an effort to protect the U.S. electric grid from an EMP attack, has recently made similar claims based on the document translated by military authorities.

Once sneered at by critics, recent moves by Iran and North Korea have given credibility to the potential EMP threat from an atmospheric nuclear explosion over the U.S.

Pry has suggested ways for Iran to deliver a nuclear attack: by ship launched off the East Coast, a missile or via satellite.

Either way the result could be destruction of all or part of the U.S. electric grid, robbing the public of power, computers, water and communications for potentially a year.

Iran armed with nuclear missiles poses an unprecedented threat to global civilization.

One nuclear warhead detonated at high-altitude over the United States would blackout the national electric grid and other life sustaining critical infrastructures for months or years by means of an electromagnetic pulse (EMP). A nationwide blackout lasting one year, according to the Congressional EMP Commission, could cause chaos and starvation that leaves 90 percent of Americans dead.

Iranian military documents describe such a scenario–including a recently translated Iranian military textbook that endorses nuclear EMP attack against the United States.

Thus, Iran with a small number of nuclear missiles can by EMP attack threaten the existence of modernity and be the death knell for Western principles of international law, humanism and freedom. For the first time in history, a failed state like Iran could destroy the most successful societies on Earth and convert an evolving benign world order into world chaos”. (end quote)

It is reported that Israel has protected much of its electric grid and if attacked by an HEMP it could restore electric within a few days. It has also set up a variety of defenses as well. If Israel can do it, why can’t we.

To protect America there are two things that should be a top security issue that Congress must address without delay.

First Iran should not be allowed to develop nuclear weapons or become a threshold nuclear State. Second Congress must quickly pass legislation and funding to ‘harden’ America’s electric grid against an HEMP attack. A nuclear attack can kill thousands; but and HEMP attack could kill millions. Bob Heller

Read more.

RELATED ARTICLES:

The Growing Iranian Threat to the Gulf 

Iran sends navy vessels near Yemen amid airstrikes: report

North Korea fires missiles into sea as U.S. defense chief visits region

French television network hacked by group claiming ties to ISIS

Iran Framework Silent on Key Nuclear Site