Why North Korea is not a Nuclear Horn

Dec 9, 2016 10:13 AM EST
The official said it appears that North Korea can mount a nuclear warhead on a missile, but may not have the re-entry capabilities for a strategic strike. That would include the ability of the weapon to get back through the atmosphere without burning up and the ability to hit the intended target. The official said North Korea continues to try and overcome those limitations.
The Pentagon continues to revise its contingency plans regarding a North Korean strike, said the official, who was not authorized to discuss the issue publicly so spoke on condition of anonymity. The military routinely develops plans for all threat possibilities.
“It is the threat that keeps me awake at night,” the official said, “primarily because we don’t know what the dear leader in North Korea really is after. Truthfully, they have the capability, right now, to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon. They’re just not sure about re-entry and that’s why they continue to test their systems.”
U.S. officials have steadily expanded their assessments of Pyongyang’s nuclear abilities. Adm. William Gortney, then-head of U.S. Northern Command, said in March that Pyongyang may have figured out how to make a nuclear warhead small enough to fit on a long-range missile.
Under Kim Jong Un, who rose to power following his father’s death in 2011, North Korea has seen steady progress in its nuclear and missile programs, including two nuclear tests this year.
The country recently claimed a series of technical breakthroughs in its goal of developing a long-range nuclear missile capable of reaching the continental United States.
North Korea is now “fully equipped with nuclear attack capability,” leader Kim announced proudly after the August launch of a submarine-launched missile.
He was exaggerating, but the strings of tests indicate that North Korea may have medium-range missiles capable of striking American military bases in the Pacific in the next couple years, experts say. Some believe Pyongyang may be able to hit the western United States as early as 2020.
South Korean defense officials say North Korea doesn’t yet have such a weapon, but some civilian experts have said they believe the North has the technology to mount warheads on shorter-range Rodong and Scud missiles that can strike South Korea and Japan.
“I think that they’re struggling with getting the (intercontinental ballistic missile) program up and operational,” U.S. Gen. Vincent Brooks, the head of U.S. forces in Korea, said in Senate hearings earlier this year. But “over time, I believe we’re going to see them acquire these capabilities if they’re not stopped.”
“So we are in a very tenuous situation, with not a lot of leverage, not a lot of initiative in terms of negotiations,” the official who briefed Pentagon reporters said Thursday. “As you might imagine we’re preparing for contingency operations at the degree we need to.”

India Aware of Growing Pakistan Horn (Daniel 8:8)

India aware of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal expansion, says Parrikar
Updated: Dec 09, 2016 17:23 IST
Indo Asian News Service, New Delhi
“The government is aware of reports on the expansion of Pakistan’s capability for fissile material production for nuclear weapons,” he informed the Lok Sabha. “The government continues to monitor development in this regard and is committed to taking all necessary steps to safeguard national security and respond to any threat suitably and adequately.”
According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, Pakistan has 110-130 nuclear warheads while India possesses 100-120.
Meanwhile, a paper by renowned American scholars Tom Dalton and Michael Krepon ‘A Normal Nuclear Pakistan’ argues that Pakistan could have the third-biggest nuclear stockpile within a decade and could end up producing 20 nuclear warheads annually.
The 48-page report warns that if Pakistan continues on its current path, in 10 years it could possess a nuclear arsenal nearing 350 weapons.
The report said Pakistan operates four plutonium production reactors while India operates one.
Pakistan has the capability to produce perhaps 20 nuclear warheads annually. India appears to be producing about five warheads annually.
The report added that given its larger economy and sizable nuclear infrastructure, India can outpace Pakistan in fissile material and warhead production if it chose to.

Why China Is One of Ten Nuclear Horns

8 Dec 2016
Armed Chinese paramilitary policemen stand guard on a road in Kashgar, northwest China’s Xinjiang Uygur Autonomous Region, 2 September 2015.(Imaginechina via AP Images)
The increasing Islamic terrorism threat facing China is prompting the communist country to question its military support to its ally Pakistan given the South Asian country’s “complicated relationship” with jihadi groups, reports the U.S.-China Economic and Security Review Commission.
In its latest annual report to Congress, the commission notes:
China’s security concerns in South Asia historically have centered on its desire to enable Pakistan to thwart India’s rise as a challenger to China’s dominance in broader Asia. While this remains the most important determinant of Chinese security support to Pakistan, the rise of terrorism as a major perceived threat to China’s security may be prompting a shift in this calculus as Beijing grows more concerned about Pakistan’s complicated relationship with terrorist groups.
Terrorist activities, primarily stemming from Pakistan and to a lesser extent Afghanistan, “have become more frequent and high profile,” adds the report.
Citing Andrew Small, senior transatlantic fellow at the German Marshall Fund of the United States, the commission warns of the creeping “Islamization” of Pakistan’s military.
“According to one expert, the inability or unwillingness of Islamabad to eradicate Pakistan-linked terror threats against Chinese targets is leading some Chinese analysts to conclude that the creeping ‘Islamization’ of the Pakistani armed forces (particularly ISI) it has long supported is beginning to undermine China’s strategic interests,” it reports.
The ISI refers to Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence, which has been linked to various terrorist groups, including the Afghan Taliban. Pakistan has been accused of serving as a sanctuary for various terrorist groups by the United States, Afghanistan, India, and now China.
China, the world’s third-largest arms supplier, provides more weapons to Pakistan than any other country and builds the Muslim-majority country’s nuclear reactors. The communist country enabled Pakistan’s indigenous ballistic missile capability and also assisted the South Asian nation in building its first nuclear bomb.
Moreover, the U.S. commission notes that “although China’s relationship with Pakistan continues to be primarily based on shared security concerns, it has recently expanded to encompass economic and diplomatic components.”
Meanwhile, the Islamic terrorism threat facing China, primarily rooted in Pakistan, is reportedly intensifying.
China’s autonomous province of Xinjiang, home to the country’s largest concentration of the Muslim Uighur minority, borders Pakistan-occupied Kashmir and neighboring Afghanistan.
According to the U.S. military, the Afghanistan-Pakistan region is home to the largest concentration of Islamic terrorist groups — 20 of the 98 U.S. or UN-designated terrorists organizations.
The U.S. commission notes:
As the threat of extremism and terrorism facing China grows, counterterrorism has become an increasingly important facet of Beijing’s engagement with South Asia. Chinese leaders have for decades been concerned about Islamic extremism and terrorism in Xinjiang, China’s westernmost region and home to the majority of China’s Uighurs, a mostly Muslim ethnic group.
The extent and nature of this threat is difficult to assess given the Chinese government’s tendency to conflate and crack down on religious expression, political dissent, extremism, separatism, and terrorism. Nevertheless, open source reporting clearly demonstrates a rise in terrorist attacks in China in recent years
News outlets from India, considered a regional rival by both China and Pakistan, have accused the communist country’s military of conducting regular patrols inside war-ravaged Afghanistan. China has denied the claims.
Nevertheless, the U.S. commission reports:
China has slowly expanded its diplomatic and security engagement with Afghanistan in recent years. China’s recognition that it must shoulder greater responsibility in shaping Afghanistan’s future is driven by the following factors: First, China seeks to ensure Afghanistan does not provide a safe haven for extremists who might target China.
As of early 2016, the Asian giant has reportedly pledged $70 million in military aid to Afghanistan.

Trying to Keep the Antichrist’s Men Under Control

The military capability and reach of Islamic State has deteriorated so much over the past year that the Iraqi government will now need to think long and hard about the day after. Iraq’s Prime Minister Haider al-Abadi and his ministers in Baghdad have focused most of their resources and attention on the immediate priorities of pushing Islamic State out of Mosul, consolidating the gains made by the Iraqi security forces, and preparing the international community with the immense financial burden that will be required to reconstruct the country once the war is over.
The Iraqi Council of Representatives took a major step forward on the “day after” question last month when it passed a law that Sunni lawmakers are vehemently citing as further proof that the Shia-dominated parliament is intent on dragging Iraq towards a sectarian future. Thanks to the power of numbers, the Shia blocs were able to ram a law through the parliament that would incorporate [3] the roughly 140,000 fighters of the Popular Mobilization Units into the regular Iraqi armed forces. Prime Minister Abadi is fully supportive of the plan, calling it a much-deserved recognition of the PMUs’ instrumental success on behalf of the Iraqi state against ISIS. Sunnis who have been in the militias’ line of fire are naturally taking a much different position, a testament to the group’s often indiscriminate tactics on the battlefield and its habit of sweeping through liberated areas like a destructive freight train.
Human rights organizations inside and outside of Iraq have documented numerous times when PMU militias—the vast majority of which were formed after Grand Ayatollah Ali al-Sistani issued a call to young men to help the army take the country back—abused their authority and practiced vindictive harassment on Sunni civilians. Human Rights Watch has released several reports detailing the PMUs’ retributive behavior, primarily directed against Sunni towns and cities that once boasted an ISIS presence. Tikrit was the most illustrative example of how out of control these units can be; according to HRW [4], “militia forces looted, torched, and blew up hundreds of civilian houses and buildings in Tikrit and the neighboring towns of al-Dur, al-Bu ‘Ajil and al-Alam along the Tigris River, in violation of the laws of war.” Hundreds of residents were also detained, based on nothing more than their Sunni sectarian identity and the unfortunate fact that they happened to live under ISIS’s dominion.
In virtually every operation that the PMUs have participated in, chaos and war crimes have not only been conducted, but left unpunished. In Fallujah, up to seven hundred men and boys [5] streaming out of the city were detained by the militias, questioned, and presumably imprisoned or perhaps even executed. Months after these people were taken into custody, relatives and friends were still at a loss as to where they were being held or whether they were still alive. It’s the kind of track record that convinced Prime Minister Abadi that the PMUs should be left outside of Mosul’s city limits, and why the U.S. Air Force has refused to provide air support to militias outside of Baghdad’s command.
Yet as vicious as the PMUs have proven to be in the past, it would be foolish not to admit that they haven’t been detrimental to ISIS’s strength. When multiple divisions of the Iraqi Army and police force collapsed in 2014, it was the irregular militias that served as the crack force to stop ISIS’s ascent to Baghdad. Indeed, if it weren’t for the presence of these militias, it’s doubtful that the newly rebuilt and retrained Iraqi Army would have been able to drive ISIS away from Baghdad’s suburbs without high casualties. In fact, ISIS may have even been able to control the cities of Tikrit and Fallujah for a much longer period.
Like it or not, the PMUs provide the Iraqi government with critical manpower, just as the regular armed forces are hard at work attempting to finish ISIS off in Mosul.
There is therefore a certain logic to Prime Minister Abadi’s endorsement of reintegrating the PMUs into the Iraqi chain of command. The question, though, is whether this can be done without alienating the very Sunni community in Iraq that Baghdad will need if it genuinely wants to heal the sectarian fissures that have torn the country apart for the past thirteen years.
Before the militias are brought into the armed forces, Abadi should call on the parliament to clarify that any reintegration will only take effect if certain conditions are met.
First, before any PMU is formalized into Iraq’s security structure, these units must sever any and all contact with alternative lines of authority, particularly partnerships with Iran and Lebanese Hezbollah—two actors that have aided the more troublesome militias in the past. Financing for the PMUs should be controlled by the Iraqi government and not by a neighboring state with their own interests in mind.
Secondly, Abadi should appoint a technocratic commission supervised by his office that is responsible for overseeing the legalization of the PMUs. The duties of the commission should include a review of the units’ performance in the field, and whether those units are cooperating constructively with the Iraqi high command and following orders; the creation of a set of guidelines that will hold PMU commanders and fighters accountable if they misappropriate government funds; and the launching of investigations to ensure that any abuses against civilians are prevented and severely punished through prosecution, disbandment, or the withholding of state financing.
Thirdly, Prime Minister Abadi must make it clear that any unauthorized operations conducted by PMU units will result in censure. The Iraqi government cannot afford sectarian militias running amok and annexing specific parts of the country for their own parochial purposes. Iraq, in other words, need not return to 2004–08, when clerics like Muqtada al-Sadr were administering entire cities.
Finally, the Iraqi parliament should reopen the prospect of Sunni-majority provinces taking more ownership of their own security, perhaps through the establishment of tribal or provincial national guards (these national guards could also be legalized as an official branch of the Iraqi security forces). If this idea is too politically traumatizing for Shia MPs to consider, then they should at least amend the current PMU law in order to stipulate that Sunnis, Kurds, Turkmen, Christians and Yazidis have just as much of a right to be incorporated into the Iraqi security forces as the Shia.
Filling out the details will be the difference between rewarding militias that have engaged in violations of the Geneva Conventions (making reconciliation with Sunni populations in Iraq even more difficult in the process) and granting the PMUs the opportunity to become a responsible segment of Iraq’s security architecture.
This story was originally published by The National Interest
Daniel R. DePetris is an analyst at Wikistrat, Inc., a geostrategic consulting firm, and a freelance researcher. He has also written for CNN.com, Small Wars Journal and The Diplomat.

Korea Prepared To Nuke The US (Daniel 7)

Pyongyang has conducted a series of missile launches in the wake of its fourth nuclear test in January, despite international condemnation.
Experts have concluded North Korea is able to make nuclear warheads small enough to arm Scud missiles, but it is unclear if they can put weapons on larger rockets which travel further and can deploy warheads from space.
The defence official said: “Truthfully, they have the capability right now to be able to deliver a nuclear weapon, they are just not sure about re-entry, that’s why they continue to test their systems out there.”He added that he believed North Korea can already “mate” a missile with a warhead.
The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system will be operational within 10 months, according to the Pentagon, and has sparked strong objections from China and Russia.
Kim Jong-Un inspects the tip of a warhead after a simulated test earlier this year © Reuters Kim Jong-Un inspects the tip of a warhead after a simulated test earlier this year Pyongyang’s continued nuclear testing has generated concern in the US military, and the Pentagon has devised contingency plans to try and halt its atomic capabilities.
The official added: “It is the threat that keeps me awake at night.
“You’ve heard other senior leaders say the same thing, primarily because we don’t know what the ‘Dear Leader’ in North Korea really is after.”