Iran-North Korea Military Link Suspected by Pentagon

(screengrab of Fox News video post)

Newsmax, by Karl Nelson, May 5, 2017:

Pentagon suspicions of a military connection between Iran and North Korea have been heightened by Tuesday’s attempted Iranian launch of a cruise missile from a type of “midget” submarine operated only by North Korea.

The missile test – which failed – provided the Pentagon with more evidence into North Korea’s influence in Iran, according to Fox News.

The same type of submarine sunk a South Korean warship back in 2010.

While others have worried about a North Korean missile capable of reaching the U.S., experts worry that if Iran or North Korea can launch nuclear warheads into Earth orbit they can knock out all power grids and communication lines below.

It’s suspected that North Korea could “place a satellite into orbit with a nuclear payload,” yet again this year, which is being viewed right now as the number one threat to U.S. security, said Henry Cooper, former director of the Pentagon’s Strategic Defense Initiative Organization, per The Daily Star.

“Both nations could deliver an EMP attack on the United States by simply detonating a nuclear weapon carried by one of their satellites as it passes over the United States,” said Cooper.

“I believe we have had a clear warning of the nature of this threat for years, and are collectively continuing to ignore and take ineffective countermeasures to deal with it,” he added. “We are essentially defenseless against this plausible threat.”

Adm. Harry Harris, head of American forces in the Pacific, said the U.S. has no “short- or medium-range” missiles located on any land because it endorses the Intermediate Range Nuclear Forces (INF).

However, Iran and North Korea aren’t under any such treaty.

“We are being taken to the cleaners by countries that are not signatories to the INF,” said Harris.

In January, Iran tested a ballistic missile the Pentagon believes was based on a North Korean design, and last summer Iran conducted another launch similar to a North Korean design, which was apparently successful.

“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, per Fox News. “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.”

“In the past, we would see things in North Korea and they would show up in Iran,” Lewis said. “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.”

North Korea’s Latest Missile Test was a Warning, Not a Failure

Center for Security Policy, by Frank Gaffney, May 4, 2017:

Last week’s dramatic congressional briefings on the threat from North Korea apparently failed to address its single most worrisome feature. That serious oversight was highlighted, though, by the North’s missile test on Saturday, in which a ballistic missile flew to an altitude of 71 kilometers, then exploded.

Initially, the test was depicted as yet-another in a long line of failures. But it actually demonstrated the North’s capability to use a single nuclear warhead to unleash a devastating electromagnetic pulse (or EMP) attack against our friends and forces in South Korea, destroying unprotected electric grids and electronic devices.

Experts have long warned against such an attack against our country, too – perhaps launched from a tramp steamer off our coast or an orbiting satellite. We must protect our grid against such threats – and the world against the North’s pathological despot, Kim Jong-Un.

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VP Mike Pence from Korean Demilitarized Zone: ‘Era of Strategic Patience Is Over’

Breitbart, by Michelle Moons April 17, 2017:

Speaking from Freedom House within the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ), Vice President Mike Pence delivered strong words to American and Republic of Korea (ROK) military troops, reassuring South Korea of U.S. commitment to denuclearization and warning North Korea that every option is on the table.

“The patience of the United States and our allies in this region has run out, and we want to see change,” Pence warned.

Pence made clear that the U.S. wants to see the Democratic Peoples’ Republic of Korea (DPRK), or North Korea, abandon “its nuclear program and its ballistic missile program” and that the U.S. hopes to see China take actions necessary to achieve this change.

The Vice President recalled more than a quarter-century ago, when the U.S. became aware North Korea’s attempts at developing a nuclear weapon:

We want to see North Korea abandon its reckless path of the development of nuclear weapons. And also its continual use of and testing of ballistic missiles is unacceptable. That clarity we hope will be received in North Korea, and that they will understand that the United States of America, the people of South Korea, our allies across the region are resolved to achieve our objectives through peaceable means or ultimately by whatever means are necessary to protect the interest, the security of the people of South Korea and to bring stability to the region.

He went on to tell the group:

We are heartened by the support of allies across the Asia Pacific, including China, who will continue to advance this objective on the Korean Peninsula. And I’m here to express the resolve of the people of the United States and the President of the United States to achieve that objective through peaceable means, through negotiations, but all options are on the table as we continue to stand shoulder-to-shoulder with the people of South Korea for the denuclearization of this peninsula and for the long-term prosperity and freedom of the people of South Korea.

Pence again recalled his father’s military service in the Korean War. “People across the world should know that the bonds between our people are not simply strategic and military and economic, but they are personal, and they span generations of Americans and South Koreans,” he said.

Asked about what role China could have in denuclearizing North Korea, Pence stated that he and the President are “heartened by some initial steps that China has taken in this regard, but we look for them to do more.”

The Vice President said that he and the President hope to achieve denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula “through peaceable means” with the cooperation of China, South Korea, Japan, and other allies in the region.

“All options are on the table to achieve the objectives and ensure the security of the people of this country and the stability of this region,” said the Vice President, who was clear that the Administration stands by its policy of not talking about military tactical decisions. He also reaffirmed that the U.S. stands with the people of South Korea.

Asked what message he had for the “people on the other side of this line,” Pence responded, “We seek peace, but America has always sought peace through strength. And my message here today standing with U.S. Forces Korea, standing with courageous soldiers from the Republic of Korea, is a message of resolve.”

“The alliance between South Korea and the United States is ironclad.  We will fulfill that alliance for the sake of our people and the people of South Korea,” Pence continued. He went on to say, “As the President has made very clear, either China will deal with this problem or the United States and our allies will.”

Follow Michelle Moons on Twitter @MichelleDiana 

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The miniaturization myth

North Korea Satellite Technology Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

North Korea Satellite Technology Illustration by Greg Groesch/The Washington Times

 April 24, 2016

On March 9, North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un, a paranoid psychopath, displayed a nuclear missile warhead he threatens to launch against the United States and its allies.

The public is being misled by the White House, some so-called “experts” and mainstream media casting doubt on whether the Great Leader’s threat is real. They claim North Korea has not demonstrated sufficient “miniaturization” of a nuclear weapon to be delivered by a missile.

However, defense and intelligence community officials warn North Korea probably already has nuclear armed missiles. The Defense Department’s 2016 report “Military and Security Developments Involving the Democratic People’s Republic of North Korea” warns that, in addition to medium-range missiles, they have six KN-08 mobile nuclear-armed intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) that can strike the U.S. mainland.

Recently, the Pentagon warned North Korea rolled out a new longer-range ICBM, the KN-14, that can probably deliver a nuclear warhead to Chicago.

So the notion that we don’t have to worry about North Korean nuclear missiles because they cannot “miniaturize” warheads is a myth. Adm. William Gortney, Commander of North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) is correct to presume that is the case and to prepare to defend against that threat, as he said last October.

Technologically, “miniaturizing” a nuclear warhead is much easier than developing an atomic bomb or a multi-stage missile for orbiting satellites — as North Korea has already done. Ever since the USSR orbited Sputnik in 1957, analysts have rightly credited any nation that has tested nuclear weapons and orbited satellites with the capability to make a nuclear missile warhead.

Miniaturization was no huge obstacle to the United States.

According to the “Nuclear Weapon Archive” just a few years after destroying Hiroshima with an A-Bomb weighing 9,700 pounds, the U.S. Army had the T-1, a man-carried atomic landmine weighing 150 pounds.

In 1958, the United States developed its first ICBM warhead, the W49 for the Atlas, in about one year. Development could have been faster without USAF stalling because it preferred bombers, according to Edmund Beard’s book “Developing the ICBM.”

A major problem with warhead miniaturization was the bulky, heavy vacuum tube electronics of the 1950s. Microelectronics resulted in part from programs to miniaturize nuclear weapons.

The microelectronics revolution solved most technological challenges of warhead miniaturization long ago for North Korea and for all nuclear missile aspirants.

A nuclear missile warhead also needs shock absorbers to soften forces of acceleration during launching and deceleration when re-entering the atmosphere. A heat shield to penetrate the atmosphere, in order to blast a city, is also necessary — these are technologically simple and within North Korea’s capability.

Indeed, 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.

The president and the press is missing, or ignoring, the biggest threat from North Korea — their satellites. On February 7, North Korea orbited a second satellite, the KSM-4, to join their KSM-3 satellite launched in December 2012.

Both satellites now are in south polar orbits, evading many U.S. missile defense radars and flying over the United States from the south, where our defenses are limited. Both satellites — if nuclear armed — could make an electromagnetic pulse (EMP) attack that could blackout the U.S. electric grid for months or years, thereby killing millions.

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. Senior Russian generals warned EMP Commissioners in 2004 that their EMP nuclear warhead design leaked “accidentally” to North Korea, and unemployed Russian scientists found work in North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

The 2004 EMP Commission report warns: “Certain types of relatively low-yield nuclear weapons can be employed to generate potentially catastrophic EMP effects over wide geographic areas, and designs for variants of such weapons may have been illicitly trafficked for a quarter-century.”

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.

Are EMP warheads on those North Korean satellites?

The immediate focus should be on Senate passage of the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act to protect the U.S. electric grid — not on the miniaturization problem myth.

R. James Woolsey was director of the Central Intelligence Agency and is chairman of the Foundation for the Defense of Democracies. Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the Task Force on National and Homeland Security.

Underestimating Nuclear Missile Threats from North Korea and Iran

Korea

Naïve reliance on their transparent disavowals could end up costing millions of American lives.

National Review, By R. James Woolsey, William R. Graham, Henry F. Cooper, Fritz Ermarth & Peter Vincent Pry — February 12, 2016

North Korea launched its second satellite on Saturday, yet the national press continues to ignore this existential threat. The White House has not recognized that a nuclear-armed North Korea has demonstrated an ability to kill most Americans with an electromagnetic-pulse (EMP) attack. And White House spokesmen and the media have misled the public with unjustified assurances that North Korea has not yet miniaturized nuclear warheads for missile or satellite delivery.

We, who have spent our professional lifetimes analyzing and defending against nuclear-missile threats, warned years ago that North Korea’s Unha-3 space launch vehicle could carry a small nuclear warhead and detonate it a hundred or so miles over the United States to create an EMP, leading to a protracted nationwide blackout. The resulting societal chaos could kill millions.

Indeed, the trajectory and altitude of North Korea’s last satellite orbited three years ago, the KSM-3, could have evaded detection by U.S. missile-tracking radars in its initial orbit and evaded interception by our National Missile Defense, exposing the 48 contiguous United States to an existential EMP attack.

Last year, Admiral William Gortney, commander of North American Aerospace Defense (NORAD), acknowledged the nuclear-missile threat from North Korea:

On April 7, 2015, he warned that North Korea has mobile intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) called KN-08, armed with nuclear warheads, that can strike the U.S. mainland.  He revealed that critical assets hardened against EMP are moving back into an underground command post inside Cheyenne Mountain at a cost of $700 million.

On October 8, 2015, he warned the Atlantic Council:

I agree with the intelligence community that we assess that they [the North Koreans] have the ability, they have the weapons, and they have the ability to miniaturize those weapons, and they have the ability to put them on a rocket that can range the [U.S.] homeland.

Iran is also being underestimated as a nuclear-missile threat. The press accepts Obama-administration assertions that its recent nuclear deal will keep Iran from developing nuclear weapons for a decade. The administration and the press both celebrate Iran’s shipping of enriched uranium to Russia and its filling the core of the Arak plutonium reactor with cement. We are supposed to believe that these acts signify Iran’s good faith, and that the nuclear deal is working. We do not.

Apparently forgotten are North Korea’s equally dramatic gestures to deceive President Bill Clinton while cheating on his “nuclear deal” called the Agreed Framework. North Korea stopped its Yongbyon plutonium reactor, allowed the United Nations to install cameras and seals to monitor nuclear activities, and acceded to virtual occupation of Yongbyon by U.N. inspectors. All the while, North Korea’s clandestine underground nuclear-weapons program continued unimpeded — indeed, its nuclear weapons existed before the Agreed Framework was signed.

The Congressional North Korea Advisory Group saw through this deception and warned that the Agreed Framework was not working. But while North Korea developed long-range missiles and nuclear weapons, President Clinton and the press preferred to believe otherwise.

Iran is following North Korea’s example — as a strategic partner allied by treaty and pledged to share scientific and military technology. Iran sacrificed its overt civilian nuclear program to deceive the Obama administration, to lift international sanctions, to prevent Western military action, while a clandestine military nuclear program no doubt continues underground. That is why Iran, under the nuclear deal, will not allow inspection of its military facilities and prohibits interviewing scientists — it is concealing the dimensions and status of Iran’s nuclear-weapons program.

We assess, from U.N. International Atomic Energy Agency reports and other sources, that Iran probably already has nuclear weapons. Over 13 years ago, prior to 2003, Iran was manufacturing nuclear-weapon components, like bridge-wire detonators and neutron initiators, performing non-fissile explosive experiments of an implosion nuclear device, and working on the design of a nuclear warhead for the Shahab-III missile.

Thirteen years ago Iran was already a threshold nuclear-missile state. It is implausible that Iran suspended its program for over a decade for a nuclear deal with President Obama.

Iran probably has nuclear warheads for the Shahab-III medium-range missile, which they tested for making EMP attacks. Two recent tests violate UN agreements, demonstrating that Iran is brazenly developing its nuclear-capable missiles. Iran already has the largest medium-range ballistic-missile force in the Middle East.

Iran could be building a nuclear-capable missile force, partly hidden in tunnels, as suggested by its dramatic revelation of a vast underground missile-basing system last year. Iran is building toward a large, deployable, survivable, war-fighting missile force — to which nuclear weapons can be swiftly added as they are manufactured.

And at a time of its choosing, Iran could launch a surprise EMP attack against the United States by satellite, as they have apparently practiced with help from North Korea.

We live in a very dangerous time, and we urge that the Senate immediately pass the Critical Infrastructure Protection Act (already passed by the House) to safeguard U.S. life-sustaining critical infrastructures against EMP attack. We also recommend that a Congressional Iran Advisory Group be formed to objectively assess the Iran deal.

— Ambassador R. James Woolsey, former director of central intelligence, is the chancellor of the Institute of World Politics and the chairman of the Leadership Council of the Foundation for Defense of Democracies; William R. Graham was President Reagan’s science adviser, and acting administrator of NASA, and is the chairman of the Congressional EMP Commission; Ambassador Henry Cooper was the director of the Strategic Defense Initiative and chief negotiator at the Defense and Space Talks with the USSR; Fritz Ermarth was chairman of the National Intelligence Council; Peter Vincent Pry is executive director of the EMP Task Force on National and Homeland Security and served in the Congressional Strategic Posture Commission, the House Armed Services Committee, and the CIA.

North Korea’s Nuclear Advance–With Or Without The Hydrogen Bomb

960x0 (1)Forbes, by Claudia Rosett, Jan. 6, 2016:

President Obama waited, under the rubric of “strategic patience.” Now we get to see. North Korea says it has just tested a hydrogen bomb.

If true, this means a big jump in the destructive power of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal. An H-bomb, also known as a thermonuclear device, can pack far more explosive force than the atomic bombs North Korea has previously tested.

Pyongyang’s claim that it has mastered the H-bomb has yet to be confirmed. But coincident with North Korea’s announcement, the U.S. Geological Survey did record a significant seismic event near North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site. This suggests that whether or not it was an H-bomb, North Korea probably did carry out some kind of underground nuclear test.

Let’s be clear on what this means: For America and its allies this is not just a setback. It is a debacle. This goes beyond even the highly unpleasant prospect of North Korea becoming ever more capable of directly threatening South Korea and the U.S. with nuclear strikes. In an increasingly tumultuous 21st century, North Korea is demonstrating to the entire world — notably the terror-spawning and blood-soaked Middle East — that it is quite possible for a state to ignore the rules, and illicitly acquire and brazenly test nuclear weapons. There were abundant signs of a looming nuclear arms race in the Middle East before North Korea announced this test. Now, brace for the deluge.

What are the great powers of the world doing about it? The answer these days (now that the Israelis are enjoined not to fly to the rescue) is that they wait and see.

This is North Korea’s fourth nuclear test since 2006. North Korea has carried out three of those tests on President Obama’s watch, in 2009, 2013 and now 2016 — the last two of those tests conducted under the rule of current hereditary tyrant Kim Jong Un. For young Kim, nuclear weapons are clearly central to his reign. North Korean television, which exists to sustain and glorify his rule, showed him personally signing the order for this latest test, which was carried out on Wednesday morning, Jan. 6, local time.

North Korea has also been toiling away at missile systems to deliver the bombs. Along with beefing up its Sohae launch site, North Korea’s Kim regime has paraded road-mobile missile launchers, and advertised its interest in developing the ability to launch missiles from submarines. Last year, a number of senior U.S. military officials warned that North Korea has acquired the ability — as yet untested — to miniaturize a nuclear warhead, mount it on a ballistic missile and target the United States.

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Did North Korea Really Test an H-Bomb?

783680434Center for Security Policy, by Fred Fleitz, Jan. 6, 2016:

After reports of a small, magnitude 5.1 seismic event in the vicinity of North Korea’s Punggye-ri nuclear test site on Tuesday, the state-controlled North Korean news service announced a successful test of a miniaturized hydrogen bomb — which it called a “hydrogen bomb for justice.” A North Korean television anchor said the test elevated North Korea’s “nuclear might to the next level.”

It is very unlikely that this was a test of a true H-bomb, a thermonuclear device in which a primary fission reaction ignites a much larger secondary fusion/fission reaction. The technical challenges of constructing a true H-bomb, which could be over 1000 times more powerful than North Korea’s previous three nuclear tests, are far beyond North Korean capabilities. The real meaning of this nuclear test, regardless of its type, may be an attempt by North Korea to get a nuclear deal similar to Iran’s before President Obama leaves office.

It is possible this was a test of a “boosted-fission” nuclear weapon. In such a device, a small fusion reaction of two hydrogen isotopes, deuterium and tritium, is initiated in the core. This reaction releases a flood of high-energy neutrons that causes a more efficient fission reaction by the weapon’s enriched uranium or plutonium fuel resulting in an explosive yield several times higher. Boosted fission enables states to construct smaller and lighter nuclear weapons and to make more efficient use of scarce nuclear fuel.

North Korea has been claiming for several years that it was engaged in nuclear-fusion research. In 2010, North Korean officials even said that their nation had mastered nuclear fusion. In January 2013, the Japanese newspaper Asahi Shimbun reported that a “new higher level nuclear device” that North Korea was threatening to test might be a boosted-fission nuclear device. Last month, North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un said his country had developed a hydrogen bomb.

Although most experts dismissed North Korea’s nuclear fusion claims as bravado, a boosted-fission nuclear test would be the next step in the development of a North Korean nuclear-weapons program. Building such a device would be technically challenging. India, which has a more advanced nuclear-weapons program than North Korea, reportedly conducted a failed test of a booted-fission nuclear device in 1998.

Determining what type of nuclear device this was will be difficult. The United States and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) will try to analyze air samples for evidence of xenon gas, a by-product of nuclear explosions. This will help determine whether the explosion was nuclear and possibly whether enriched uranium or plutonium fuel was used. It probably will not determine whether North Korea detonated a boosted-fission device.

The small 5.1 magnitude of Tuesday’s seismic event suggests either this was not a boosted-fission device or that the boosted-fission reaction failed. 5.1 was the same magnitude of the seismic event that accompanied North Korea’s February 12, 2013 nuclear test and North Korea’s 2009 and 2006 nuclear tests caused seismic events measuring 4.3 and 4.7, respectively.

North Korea’s nuclear tests appear to represent a pattern of trying to get the world’s attention in order to force a resumption of multilateral talks that can be used to extract concessions from the United States and regional states. This could be the case with the North’s latest nuclear test. The North Korean regime knows President Obama entered office hoping to get nuclear agreements with both North Korea and Iran. The North Korean government probably views the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran as a great victory for Tehran and is hoping this test will lure the Obama administration into resuming nuclear talks so it can get a similar deal.

Regardless of North Korea’s motivations for Tuesday’s nuclear test and whether it was a test of a boosted-fission nuclear device, this is still a very dangerous development. Every time North Korea conducts a nuclear test, it gains more experience and data for its effort to construct nuclear warheads for its ballistic missiles. North Korea has made major strides in its missile program over the last ten years, including the December 2012 launch of a rocket to place a satellite in orbit, which most experts believe was actually a test of an ICBM capable of hitting the United States.

I believe there is a strong possibility that North Korea and Iran are collaborating on their nuclear-weapon programs and that Tehran will benefit from any knowledge gained from this nuclear test. Iranian observers reportedly were present at previous North Korean nuclear and long-range missile tests. Determining Iran’s possible role in the recent North Korean nuclear test will be a priority for U.S. intelligence agencies.

Former CIA director James Woolsey and former CIA analyst Peter Pry believe North Korea and Iran may be developing small nuclear warheads to use as electromagnetic pulse (EMP) weapons to target the U.S. electrical grid. I agree with these concerns since EMP weapons are a way that rogue states with small nuclear-weapons programs could actually attack states with far superior military capabilities by greatly amplifying the destructive power of these weapons. Ted Koppel recently wrote about how devastating an EMP attack on the United States would be in his new book, Lights Out: A Cyberattack, A Nation Unprepared, Surviving the Aftermath.

Making this situation worse is the absence of American global leadership under President Obama. “Leading from behind,” the disastrous nuclear deal with Iran, the deteriorating security situation in Afghanistan, the president’s dismissal of the global threat from ISIS, and numerous red lines drawn — and later ignored — have severely undermined America’s credibility on the world stage. The North Korean regime knows this. Its latest nuclear test may be an attempt to take advantage of Mr. Obama’s weakness before he leaves office.

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