The bamboo bends but does not break ~ Vic ‘the brick’ Jacobs
A Tale of Two Koreas
To know North Korea is to know South Korea and their relation or lack thereof. In South Korea there is commerce and prosperity, a nation packed full of people from worldwide nations going about their business on a daily basis much like a day in any other first world nation like the USA. South Korea is not just the home to fake designer goods, it is an industrial powerhouse placing 17th in worldwide GDP. Inhabited by huge companies like Samsung, Hyundai, Kia Motors, Steel Maker Posco a monster of a worldwide hub of an Airport in Incheon and deep water ports for shipping. Their infrastructure is top notch whether it be road, rail or air. Their national food Korean BBQ is cherished by travelers, business people and tourists. The South Koreans love Western food and nightlife, their biggest worry is where to find the best burrito. The THAAD Nuclear Defense Battery you’ve heard about that protects the South from the North’s missiles is deployed at an appropriated private Lotte country club on a golf course. They are faced with the taunts of North Korea on a daily basis, so much so that they’ve learned to ignore it and they are hardly afraid. Their only real issue is the fact that they have relatives in the North and they’re concerned with the welfare of the people they’ve long never met. That is it!
Missile defense from a golf course. Surreal much? ~ Former Lotte Sky Hill Seongju Country Club, South Korea
The THAAD Battery is deployed at the end of the former 1st hole and the Control Center is on the former green of the 3rd which at 500 meters from the men’s tee I’m going to call a solid par 5; then again I don’t play Golf. They’ve also turned the former 9th green into a spacious helipad. All in a first world country; you literally cannot make this stuff up.
In North Korea they have none of the of the accouterments of their southern counterparts. They toil in the cities and the country side in simple jobs, growing rice in the country and sweeping streets in Pyongyang with straw 19th century brooms overseen by soldiers where no small talk is allowed without punishment. Their diet is essentially the same as that of the South if they can find the ingredients. Most are deficient in caloric intake and their size & height post the Korean conflict and famine of 1994 has declined compared to those in the South. There is very little wildlife as most of it was eaten long ago, even dogs are long gone from use as food. The leadership like most smart dictatorships has been proficient at keeping the citizenry from knowing what the outside world looks like. Foreign foods, the internet, television.. anything that might link them to the knowledge of the 21st century is absent so they are ignorant by nature that a better life exists outside of their tiny world.
The end of North Korea and how fatal it would be. Removing the Kim trilogy doesnt just make things go away. 1) The nuclear aspect: There are 2 reactors, the first called the IRT DPRK built long ago as a ‘research’ reactor that is operable and occasionaly used to make medical isotopes and the outdated Yonbyon British Magnox style graphite moderated gas cooled reactor that hasn’t had fresh fuel since 2005. It is a Gen 1 reactor and the only Magnox Reactor still operational on the planet. It uses unenriched Uranium, is in a constant state of refueling and its spent fuel contains an excess of Plutonium, the prime ingredient in a nuclear weapon. Capable of generating 5Mw it has never been to connected to the electrical grid and even if it was its contribution to the generation of electricity would be negligible. Nothing that couldn’t be accomplished with the equivalent of 50 plus acres of solar panels. In all current satellite pics the general consensus is that the Yongbyon reactor is devoid of any signs of heat exchange i.e. steam rising from it and that it is most likely shut down and has been since early 2017 which could indicate a lack of fuel or an extensive reprocessing of spent fuel. In ’07 the GW Bush Administration made a deal to disassemble the cooling capability at Yongbyon and then had them destroy it as you can see in this video which was nothing more than a publicity stunt, the piping had already been removed. All they did to restore its operation once they violated the terms of that agreement was to install an underground pipeline network that pumps cooling water from the reactor by running it through some kind of underground cistern to and from the river right next to the reactor. There is still steam that rises from one side of the complex when it’s operating although well disguised. These characters are clever.
They are currently building a second reactor right next door claiming it is an experimental light water reactor when in all likelihood it could be no different than the original reactor and just updated. It is well known they’ve been deficient in bomb grade fissile fuel for many moons. 2) Behind the demilitarized zone on the northern side it is lined with tanks and artillery, conventional weapons… right behind the DMZ.
A quiet strike on Kim Jong Un at a Kimchi buffet back in Pyongyang or his family compound is very doable but then what happens? Does the Army call it good and cave in or do they start firing indiscriminately on Seoul. We don’t even know what the command and control scheme of their nation is. This kind of dilemma is one that we cant gamble on. Just to put things in perspective the Samsung Bldg is within ten miles of the DMZ, The Kia Bldg twenty miles, Sokcho Harbor & Incheon airport 17 miles. The amount of lives at risk under a potential onslaught of Seoul would be unimaginable. Can we risk this outcome?
The Chinese Connection
The President often tweets about the Chinese somehow controlling the keys to the North Korean kingdom. Unfortunately movie quotes from the Godfather like ‘keep your friends close and your enemies closer’ are more apropos when it comes to this relationship. The reality is that the Chinese and the North Koreans aren’t really friends. The Chinese have nuclear weapons deployed near the border and pointed towards Pyongyang along with a huge contingent of soldiers but NK provides a buffer to the South. The South is full of US Soldiers and any collapse of the North means that ultimately reunification run by the wealthy South moves US Forces closer to China and that’s not a scenario the Chinese sleep well at night with. Counting on the Chinese to defuse the current situation is akin to waiting for the Sun’s nuclear core to burn out.
The Reality of our Response
Some people in the legislature say well you can’t keep kicking the can down the road with these guys. Reality wise is you have to; no nation has ever gone backwards in the nuclear weapons game so our choice is clear; a nuclear weaponized nation in North Korea is something we have to live with until their ultimate demise, and like all true communist dictatorships it will come. The President constantly threatening them with a military response only gives them more power and legitimacy and they like that. Kim Jong Un acts on pragmatism in his own strange way and our President acts on emotion? The situation has gone every which way but forward. We need to talk to these people face to face not through social media or the worldwide news networks with divisive and offensive speech of military options. If no one wants to go then I will be a representative of the leadership of the USA, I’d be on the first plane to Seoul, and they leave everyday, to meet my translator. I might even take Dennis Rodman. Is this type of thought really outside the box or is it the true type of cleverness that the USA is known for? I would go as friend not foe and without fear. I’d say lets eat some bibimbap and soju and then show me the YongByun reactor, the two light water reactors and their state of disrepair negotiated in President Clinton’s agreed framework of ’94, show me the missle, the nose cone, the heat shield, the guidance, the rocket engine and lastly the warhead. My message would be clear, cool the rhetoric, chill on the testing of weaponry, live in peace and feed your kids.
Where North Korea hides its Nukes, no national secrets here.
Courtesy of the guru, Jeffrey Lewis PhD and Senior Fellow at the Middlebury Institute of Monterey.
Testing Sites: Iha-Ri/Kusong Proving Grounds, Sinpo, Magunpo, Sohae Satellite Launching Ground, Chamjin/Taesung, Tonghae Satellite Launching Ground, Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site (complete demolition unlikely) , Kangson, formerly covert and newly discovered, Highly Enriched Uranium facility.
Other North Korean places of interest: The current condition of the two 1000Mw Sinpo Nuclear Reactors NK would’ve received under the Agreed Framework of ’94. NK’s only Ballistic Submarine Sinpo 1, The USS Pueblo the world’s most famous unfinished Ryugyong Hotel, aka the Hotel of Doom, and the most likely site of the next US airstrike the Kim Compound 10Km from downtown Pyongyang.
North Korean Nukes and are they a threat to the USA
I have to answer this separately 1) As an example of their weapons advancement, their test of Sept 9 2016 yield estimates were of 20-30 kilotons, similar to the yield of our Nagasaki bomb. On their test almost a year later of Sept 3 2017 yield estimates were from 140 kilotons to upwards of 250 kilotons by US sources. 2) Is it a weapon than can be deployed in an Intercontinental Ballstic Missle? At this point I want to believe no. 3) Is this missile capable of hitting the US Mainland? After calculations of the current test of what’s claimed to be an ICBM it is believed that the missiles fired have a range potential of upwards of 9000 – 13,000 Km putting the entirety of the USA ‘in range’ . Although speculative as the Koreans have ‘lofted’ missiles in tests shooting them straight up to 3 times the heights in excess of those the International Space Station flies at. There are unknown intangibles of the tests. Are they testing with a heavier payload than one that’s needed, are they running the throttles at 100% of their capacities? Unfortunately until we know we won’t know but they have successfully succeeded in deterring the USA of a military strike with a Nuclear response to our homeland.
There is no doubt the North Koreans have shown improvement in their delivery systems as far as height and distance goes but for me to believe they have miniatiurized a weapon to fit it I say no chance. Everything with North Korea is hype and a photo op. If Kim Jong Un is looking at a miniaturized implosion device that looks too big to fit in the missile behind it it’s most likely fake. Frankly I don’t think they’re smart enough nor do they have the resources but they are experts at propagandizing their mission, whatever that may be, to get what they want which is most likely something for free whether it be food, respect, energy etc.. Whether the weapon is boosted ergo it uses Tritium gas, a radioactive isotope of Hydrogen, to increase the efficiency of the explosion and therefore increase the yield or whether it is a true two stage Thermo Nuclear weapon it doesn’t matter because its boom is big.
With NK its a perpetual game of tit for tat and our President happily obliges them. This is a nation that sank a South Korean Navy ship and killed 40 plus members of its crew with impunity in 2010. If we say you can’t make a bomb, they test a bomb. If we say they don’t have an ICBM, they test an ICBM. If our intel gets out that we watched them for 70 minutes on the ground prior to a missile launch they launch the next missile at midnight from a different location. Now we goad them about their re-entry vehicle not working so dont be surprised if they kill a bunch of fish in the Pacific, because they are no longer signatory to atmospheric testing treaties, to show us they have the capability.
The aspect of taking care of these characters should have been handled during the Clinton Administration once their ambition and ability to build and proliferate weapons in as much as their intentions to not follow the rules of the Agreed Framework became clear. What really hurts me and I hope other Americans is the living conditions of the people and the forced labor camps. It absolutely makes me sick to my stomach but now that we’re in the position of violence no longer being an option because we continuously underestimated a guaranteed nuclear response we have run out of military choices.
For now my position is clear our sanctions strategy may have worked elsewhere but its not working here, Kim doesn’t care about his people so for now we have to learn to live with his nuclear deterrent and he with ours. The repercussions of guess work gone horribly wrong are not worth risking and our history of relations with North Korea exemplify the consequences of refusing to deal realistically with an enemy.
Excellent video on North Korea
How the GW Bush White House bungled North Korea policy.
What’s wrong with a few free roaming neutrons and gamma rays between friends.
Please purchase this book, read it and send your copy to:
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Washington DC 20500
Dennis Rodman’s Big Bang in Pyongyang
The best movie you’ll ever see about North Korea. Grace, intrigue, men of color with extreme integrity, a plot twist, lots of laughs and a good deed gone horribly wrong. The best $5 you’ll ever spend to see what its like behind Kim’s Iron Curtain. Stick with me on this one and you can thank me later.