A Nuclear War Against Russia Will Never Happen

German army tanks line up during the course of the NATO Noble Jump exercise on a training range near Swietoszow Zagan, Poland, June 2015. The German military has seen an increase in deployments for exercises in Eastern Europe and on Russia's borders since the start of the Ukrainian crisis in February 2014.Provoked NATO-Russia Conflicts’ Possible but ‘No One Needs Nuclear Apocalypse

13:24 22.08.2017(updated 15:18 22.08.2017) Get short URL
Occasional incidents between Russian and NATO military forces are fairly possible, and some of them may be intentionally provoked, Russian International Affairs Council expert Prokhor Tebin told Sputnik.

“Our relations with the US and NATO will certainly remain tense  and I do not expect any reset like the one we had after the 2008 conflict in Georgia happening any time soon. Limited local-scale military incidents between Russia, the US and NATO, or its individual members, with real fighting and losses,” Tebin said while presenting a report in Euro-Atlantic stability at the recent meeting of the Valdai Discussions Club.

“Moreover, some of these incidents could be intentional,” he added.
Prokhor Tebin highlights the November 2016 incident when Turkey shot down a Russian warplane in Syria as an example of such a conflict.

Tebin added that “both sides have a chance to pragmatically resolve such conflicts before they spill over to full-blown war confrontation or a Cold War.”

He proposed closer dialogue between politicians, diplomats, experts and military men on both sides and the need “to outline their priorities and national interests they will not budge on and the “red lines” they’re not willing to let each other cross.
Tebin continuedsaid that “a major war between Russia and the West is “extremely unlikely because no one needs a nuclear apocalypse.”
US and Canada Institute’s deputy director Pavel Zolotarev likewise ruled out the possibility of Russia and the West actually coming to blows.

“Even if we imagine that [the US] goes to war with Russia, it would have to enlist the help of its NATO allies in Europe, which is unrealistic,” Zolotarev said.

He mentioned how reluctantly America’s fellow NATO members in Europe supported Washington’s military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“Where was NATO when the US was preparing to invade [Iraq]? The Americans were forced to cobble together the so-called ‘Coalition of the Unwilling’. In Afghanistan Russia acted as a partner, but NATO didn’t,” he added.

Zolotarev believes that aside from the post-Soviet territory, there is really nothing Russia and NATO can’t agree on.

NATO-Russia relations have been complicated over the past few years, as NATO has set a sustainable course for the alliance’s expansion by engaging Eastern European states since 2014.
NATO justified its eastward expansion as a response to Russia’s alleged meddling in the Ukrainian conflict.
Moscow has repeatedly and vehemently refuted these allegations.

Why Nuclear Missile Shields Are A Misnomer

Congress is currently considering expanding the U.S. national missile defense system, despite the fact that — nearly 15 years after the Bush administration began deploying it — it has not been demonstrated to work under real-world conditions and is not on a path to do so.
What’s the problem? According to a new report by the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS), it’s that old adage, “haste makes waste.” Lack of accountability, UCS found, doesn’t help, either.
In its rush to get the system up and running, the George W. Bush administration exempted the program from standard Pentagon oversight protocols. That ill-advised decision has not only run up a $40-billion price tag for the Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program, it also has produced a system that is incapable of defending the United States from a limited nuclear attack.
“The missile defense system is one of the most expensive and complex military systems in history, yet it is the only major defense program not subject to standard ‘fly before you buy’ performance standards,” said UCS Senior Scientist Laura Grego, the report’s lead author. “Fifteen years of this misguided, hands-off approach has resulted in a costly system that won’t protect the homeland.”
A Record of Failure
The goal of the GMD system is to defend all 50 states from an attack by a limited number of nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The presumed culprit? Iran or North Korea.
Testing began at a methodical pace at the tail end of the Clinton administration, but in the wake of the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, there was a greater sense of urgency to deploy a system. Using North Korea’s embryonic ballistic missile program as a pretext, the Bush administration withdrew the United States from the Anti-Ballistic Missile Treaty with Russia, which prohibited each side from fielding a missile defense system to protect its entire territory. That opened the door for then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld to exempt the Missile Defense Agency from customary procurement rules and testing standards to field a system within two years.
The results have been abysmal. Since the system was initially fielded in 2004, the Missile Defense Agency has conducted nine tests pitting an interceptor against a target. The system failed to destroy its target in six of them, even though operators knew ahead of time when and where the target missile would be launched, its expected trajectory, and what it would look like to sensors. Despite that record of failure — which has worsened over time — the Missile Defense Agency currently fields 26 interceptors at Fort Greely in Alaska and four at Vandenberg Air Force Base in Santa Barbara County, California, and plans to install 14 more at Fort Greely.
That less-than-reassuring 33 percent success rate, however, doesn’t tell the whole story. Not only would U.S. missile defense operators not know the coordinates of an incoming missile in the event of a real attack, but any country capable of launching a long-range missile also would be able to outfit it with decoys and other countermeasures that could fool the GMD system’s sensors and interceptors. Analysts at UCS and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology pointed out that inconvenient fact in a joint report they published back in 2000.
Unfortunately, the Obama administration insists on continuing this charade. It has not reinstituted normal oversight and accountability standards, and continues to claim the GMD system could destroy future, hypothetical long-range missiles from Iran or North Korea. Earlier this year, for example, Brian P. McKeon, principal deputy undersecretary of defense for policy, told the Senate Armed Services Committee that the “U.S. homeland is currently protected” against such attacks.
Likewise, as the UCS report points out, a number of Pentagon officials have made “unsubstantiated claims about the system’s effectiveness,” but at least one insider — Pentagon chief weapons tester J. Michael Gilmore — has acknowledged the program’s serious limitations. His 2015 report on the GMD system concluded that that the tests have been “insufficient to demonstrate that an operationally useful defense capability exists.”
In plain English, there’s no proof the system would work against a real attack.
Making a Bad Situation Worse
Instead of demanding better performance, some members of Congress want to broaden the dysfunctional program’s scope. Among other things, they want to build a third missile defense installation, which the Pentagon has not requested. They also want to develop a space-based defense system, despite the fact that a 2012 National Academy of Sciences study concluded that one with only a limited capability would still cost at least $300 billion.
Some even want to resurrect the idea of a building a missile shield that would defend the nation from a massive attack. The 1999 National Missile Defense Act called for deploying an “effective” system that would protect the United States from a “limited” nuclear attack. It was purposely defined that way to avoid provoking Russia or China into expanding their nuclear forces as a counterweight. The current fiscal 2017 draft defense authorization bill in the Senate includes an amendment proposed by Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) that would delete the word “limited” from the legislation. Rep. Trent Franks (R-Ariz.) went even further in the House version of the 2017 authorization bill, tacking on an amendment that would strip both “limited” and “effective” from the 1999 law.
“Given the missile defense system’s sorry track record, it would be reckless to expand it,” said Grego, “not to mention the fact that it would only serve to exacerbate tensions with China and Russia. What Congress needs to do now is demand accountability, not promote a technologically and economically unrealistic pipe dream. And that means putting the missile defense system back under rigorous oversight. We still have serious doubts it would ever work in a real-world situation, but until there’s some accountability, we will never know.”
Elliott Negin is a senior writer at the Union of Concerned Scientists.

US Finally Honest About Its Defenses

Russian servicemen watch the launch of the S-300 air defense system missile during the International Army Games 2016 at the Ashuluk military polygon outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 7, 2016.
© Maxim Shemetov/Reuters Russian servicemen watch the launch of the S-300 air defense system missile during the International Army Games 2016 at the Ashuluk military polygon outside Astrakhan, Russia, August 7, 2016.
The U.S. could be vulnerable in the face of the threat posed by nuclear-capable Russian cruise missiles deployed by Moscow last month, according to the head of the U.S. Strategic Command.Air Force Gen. John Hyten, who was the chief commander of the U.S. missile and nuclear warhead arsenal, told members of Congress Tuesday that Moscow’s deployment last month of at least two battalions of the SSC-8 cruise missile, also called the RK-55 Relief, violated a 1987 arms treaty and put most of Europe at risk. Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Moscow’s latest move left the U.S. and its NATO allies off guard.”We have no defense for it, especially in defense of our European allies,” Hyten told the Senate Armed Services Committee, according to the Agence France-Presse. “That system can range and threaten most of the continent of Europe depending on where it is deployed. … It is a concern and we’re going to have to figure out how to deal with it as a nation.”The ground-launched missiles could be fitted with nuclear warheads and had a range of at least 1,200 miles, according to Popular Mechanics. They were reportedly similar to the Kalibr cruise missiles that have been fitted on a number of Russian warships and submarines. At least two battalions of SSC-8 cruise missiles were deployed in the southern Russian city of Volgograd and another unknown location, according to a report by The New York Times. The missile was reportedly tested as far back as 2008 and Russia pursued its production despite protests from the administration of former President Barack Obama. Last month, Vice Chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff Air Force Gen. Paul Selva said Russia’s deployment of the SSC-8 was a threat to U.S. and allied facilities in Europe. His remarks came after U.S. officials said in January that the missiles violated the “spirit and intent” of the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty signed between the U.S. and the Soviet Union. Moscow has argued that the SSC-8 does not break the agreement, according to Defense News, and has charged the U.S. and NATO with threatening Russia’s national security through its own military build-up along Russia’s borders.

Israel Displays Its Antinuclear System

Israel deploys ‘Star Wars’ missile killer system

Israel’s upgraded ballistic missile shield became operational on Wednesday, in a “Star Wars”-like extension of its capabilities to outer space where incoming missiles can be safely destroyed.
The Defence Ministry said the U.S.-funded Arrow 3 system, jointly developed by state-owned Israel Aerospace Industries and U.S. firm Boeing Co. (BA.N), was handed over the Israeli Air Force.
The Arrow 3, together with the Arrow 2, which has been operational since 2000, would “significantly reduce the possibilities of ballistic missiles” hitting Israel, the ministry said in a statement.
The Arrow 2 is designed to intercept projectiles high and low within the atmosphere. Arrow 3 missiles will fly into space, where their warheads detach to become “kamikaze” satellites that track and slam into their targets.
Such high-altitude shoot-downs are meant to safely destroy incoming nuclear, biological or chemical missiles. Israel has frequently voiced concern about a ballistic missile threat posed by its arch-foe, Iran.
The United States has its own system for intercepting ballistic missiles in space, Aegis.
Arrow serves as the top tier of an integrated Israeli shield built up to withstand various potential missile or rocket salvoes. The bottom tier is the already-deployed short-range Iron Dome interceptor, which was used extensively with high success rates in a 2014 Gaza war against Hamas militants.
Another Israeli system called David’s Sling is being developed to shoot down mid-range, lower-altitude missiles, such as those in the arsenal of Iranian-backed Hezbollah, a Lebanese group which last fought a war with Israel in 2006.
Reporting by Jeffrey Heller; Editing by Ori Lewis and Alison Williams

The Terrible Korean Nuclear Horn

The terrifying truth about North Korea’s nuclear weapons
Alex Lockie
“North Korea just stated that it is in the final stages of developing a nuclear weapon capable of reaching parts of the US,” President-elect Donald Trump tweeted on January 2. “It won’t happen!”
However, the terrifying truth is that North Korea, the only country to have tested nuclear weapons in the 21st century, has just as much of a say in whether its potential nuclear arms can or will reach the US as Trump and the US do.
“It can be difficult to make assessments about North Korea’s nuclear capabilities given that we have very little access to North Korea’s missile facilities,” Kelsey Davenport, the director of nonproliferation policy and a North Korea expert at the Arms Control Association, told Business Insider.
“But it’s clear that North Korea has made significant advances both with nuclear warheads and with ballistic missiles,” Davenport said.
North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is still in its early phases, but Kim Jong Un, the country’s leader, commands about 100 missile launchers with several missiles for each, according to Jeffrey Lewis, the founding publisher of Arms Control Wonk.
While there’s some debate about North Korea’s stockpile of nuclear materials, “you’re looking at a few tens of warheads, but that number’s going to keep going up every year,” Lewis told Business Insider.
In comparison, the US has 1,796 nuclear missiles deployed, another 4,500 stockpiled, and 2,800 retired and waiting to be dismantled, according to the Arms Control Association.
Furthermore, North Korea presently has no way of reaching any part of the US with a missile of any sort, but Pyongyang is “likely at the point now where it could mount a nuclear warhead on a medium-range missile, and that would put South Korea, Japan, and US military installations in range of the North Korean nuclear threat,” Davenport said.
north koreaNorth Korean leader Kim Jong Un.Reuters
North Korea is a tiny, poor, backward nation with limited missile capabilities and a small nuclear stockpile, but it poses a very serious threat to the US and its allies. Ultimately, there’s extremely little the US could do to stop the rogue nation should it chose to strike.
missile defense THAADA THAAD battery fires an interceptor.Missile Defense Agency
Could the US stop a North Korean nuclear attack?
It’s complicated.
The US and its allies have three major forms of missile defense against North Korea.
“Missiles come in a variety of ranges,” Lewis said. “Every missile defense system is set to deal with a small subset of missiles in a particular range and at one stage in flight.”
For the short- and medium-range missiles with which North Korea could look to strike a nearby foe – or the 25,000 US troops stationed in South Korea – the US has Aegis radar-equipped Navy destroyers.
“That’s good for medium-range missiles,” Lewis said.
Next, Patriot Advanced Capability-3 interceptors defend against missiles at their final, or terminal, stage. These are “mostly good at short- and medium-range ballistic missiles,” said Lewis. The PAC-3 “would cover a city or an airfield,” he added.
Finally, the biggest and perhaps best system is the Terminal High-Altitude Area Defense system. “THAAD could cover all of South Korea, including everything up to a Nodong missile,” North Korea’s medium-range system, Lewis said.
thaad south koreaThe Heritage Foundation
On maps and graphics, you can see the overlapping areas of protection provided by these three systems, but looks can deceive; with missile defense, all systems deal in probabilities, not certainties.
“You actually have to see the thing get launched, understand where it’s heading, and pass the information along to battlefield management software, the brain that makes all of this work,” said Lewis.
Of all the steps in the process, not one is immune to distortion.
“Radars can be defeated by chaff or clutter,” Lewis said. “North Korea could launch a radar blackout attack, where a nuke detonates in the atmosphere and can black out a radar for a few seconds. Those could be the few seconds you need.”
north korea missiles”Missile defense is not a surefire way to negate the threat posed by another country’s nuclear-capable ballistic missiles,” said Kelsey Davenport.Agence France Presse
Davenport said, “It’s important to note that this THAAD system will only cover North Korea, but North Korea could evade that by launching a nuke from a submarine from outside of THAAD radar.”
And North Korea may “try to confuse the THAAD system by launching multiple missiles at once or launching decoys,” she said.
But could North Korean missiles overwhelm the US’s defenses in its homeland? Experts say we have every reason to believe Kim when he says he’s working toward an intercontinental ballistic missile, and the US’s defenses suffer from the same uncertainties as systems abroad.
The US protects its western coast from a fixed site in Alaska, where interceptor missiles would theoretically strike an incoming ICBM “midtrajectory, while it’s traveling through space,” Lewis said.
However, as a recent Bloomberg article noted, the office that tests this system concluded it had “limited capability to defend the US homeland from small numbers of simple” ICBMs, according to its last report.
Lewis echoed this, saying it has “a spotty test record” and that there are multiple questions about how well it would perform. Unlike THAAD, the Alaska site fires salvos, a series of interceptor missiles for each incoming threat, which serves as an admission that the system falls short of perfection, according to Lewis.
“The system in Alaska needs to be redesigned,” Lewis said. “They plan to salvo-fire it, so every interceptor has a 50-50 chance of hitting. … If they fire five, they’re gonna be up in the high-confidence territory” for intercepts.
But this high ratio of interceptors to threats means that a North Korean salvo could possibly exhaust the US’s supply of interceptors with decoys, leaving the US defenseless.
So for now, the only guarantee the US has against North Korean ICBMs is that such a threat doesn’t exist.
air forceUS Air Force
So why doesn’t the US just destroy North Korea’s nuclear capabilities?
Each day, North Korea gets closer to issuing a real threat to the US, and it already significantly endangers the lives of millions within its range. Yet the US can’t exactly swoop in and stop it.
“A preemptive strike on North Korea would carry an enormous risk of retaliation on South Korea or US assets in the area,” Davenport said.
“The big dynamic that’s a problem is that, I think, North Korea plans to use those missiles armed with nuclear weapons at the early part of the conflict to destroy US forces in the region and those coming in,” said Lewis, adding that Kim’s strategy would likely be to “impede an invasion and shock us.”
“The problem the US and South Korea faces is that the options for defense are not all that appealing,” said Lewis.
US pilots currently train in mock North Korean airspace with stealth planes like the F-22 and F-35 to destroy surface-to-air missiles, or SAM, and nuclear sites. While the fifth-generation aircraft would likely succeed and overwhelm North Korean forces, the nuclear sites are just too spread out and mysterious to knock out before Pyongyang would have a chance to strike back.
f22An F-22 Raptor flies in formation behind a KC-135 Stratotanker.US Air Force
“There are so many unknowns about the number of warheads North Korea has, where it stores them. … It would be incredibly difficult to ensure that a preemptive strike would neutralize the North Korean threat or even the conventional threat posed to Seoul,” said Davenport, alluding to the huge artillery installations North Korea has fixed on the South Korean capital that are ready to blast away.
When it comes to using jets to hunt down SAM and nuclear sites, “the US tried this in Iraq in 1991, and it was a total failure,” Lewis said. The US’s considerable losses of aircraft to antiaircraft batteries during the Gulf War was a “searing experience for the US Air Force,” Lewis said.
While there’s plenty of reason to think that today’s F-22s and the coming F-35s would far outmatch North Korea’s technology and air defenses, the terrain of North Korea plays well for Kim.
Iraq’s countryside is defined by flat desert expanses, where road-mobile antiaircraft batteries can easily navigate but have nowhere to hide. North Korea, on the other hand, has mountains and forests, though the country is smaller – therefore, the road-mobile missile launchers and antiaircraft batteries would have more opportunities to hide but less space to do so.
In any case, the landscape presents difficulties in hunting down sensitive sites, even with the best jets the US has to offer.
gulf war air force iraq military defenseThe landscapes of Iraq and North Korea couldn’t be more different.Wikimedia Commons
And unlike the US, North Korea has road-mobile missile launchers that can hide anywhere.
“One hundred launchers, so it would be a pretty big lift, and you have to do it pretty fast” to avoid a North Korean counterattack, said Lewis. Many have suggested that instead of disarming North Korea with a lightning-quick blitz from the air, forces decapitate the regime by striking Kim himself.
In fact, South Korea recently announced plans to form a small “decapitation brigade” that would surgically destroy the leader and his top leadership – but that’s a best-case scenario.
The terrifying truth about North Korea’s nuclear threat is that it can’t be stopped by one system or even multiple systems. It can’t be blitzed from the sky. It can’t be effectively debilitated by sanctions, as time has proven, and it only strengthens over time.
North Korea missile BI graphicsAP Images / Business Insider
Several possible solutions circulate in the national-security arena, all with strengths and weaknesses, all risking innocent lives. And each side appears set on striking first and ending the conflict before it begins.
“The US and North Korean war plans are to go first,” Lewis said. “South Korea plans to go first. All three independent parties plan to go first, and two of them are wrong. It’s a dangerous situation people haven’t thought through.”

Korea Has Enough Plutonium For 10 More Nukes

N. Korea has plutonium for 10 nuclear bombs: S. Korea


North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests and is seeking to develop a ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland   © Provided by AFP North Korea has carried out five nuclear tests and is seeking to develop a ballistic missile capable of hitting the US mainland 
North Korea now has enough plutonium to make 10 nuclear bombs, South Korea said Wednesday, a week after leader Kim Jong-Un said it was close to test-launching an intercontinental ballistic missile.The isolated communist state, which has carried out five nuclear tests and numerous missile launches, is thought to be planning a nuclear push in 2017 as it seeks to develop a weapons system capable of hitting the US mainland.Analysts are divided over how close Pyongyang is to realising its full nuclear ambitions, but all agree it has made enormous strides since Kim took over as leader from his father Kim Jong-Il who died in December 2011.Seoul’s defence ministry said the North is believed to have some 50 kilogrammes (110 pounds) of weapons-grade plutonium as of the end of 2016 — enough to make about 10 weapons — up from 40 kilogrammes eight years earlier.

The North also has a “considerable” ability to produce weapons based on highly-enriched uranium, it said in a two-yearly white paper, but did not estimate weapons-grade uranium stocks, citing impenetrable secrecy in the state’s uranium programme.
US think tank the Institute for Science and International Security estimated in June that the North’s total nuclear arsenal was more than 21 bombs, up from 10-16 weapons in 2014, based on estimates of plutonium and uranium.
The North has boosted plutonium supplies by reactivating its once-mothballed nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, the defence ministry said.
North Korea deactivated the Yongbyon reactor in 2007 under an aid-for-disarmament accord, but began renovating it after Pyongyang’s third nuclear test in 2013.
The type of plutonium suitable for a nuclear bomb typically needs to be extracted from spent nuclear reactor fuel.

Obama Takes His Last Shot Against Putin

Kremlin: U.S. military in Poland threatens Russia, destabilizes Europe
By Andrew V. Pestano Follow @AVPLive9 Contact the Author 
Jan. 12, 2017 at 9:40 AM
MOSCOW, Jan. 12 (UPI) — The Kremlin said the United States’ increased military presence in Poland as part of a larger NATO operation is a threat to Russian security that destabilizes Europe.
Dmitry Peskov, spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, said the arrival of U.S. troops in Poland as part of the largest armed military brigade deployed in Europe since the end of the Cold War threatens Russia’s “interests and our security,” while Alexei Meshkov, Russia’s deputy foreign minister, said the NATO operation is a “factor destabilizing European security.”
The U.S. troops reached Poland on Monday after a three-day journey through Germany. The show of force falls under NATO’s Operation Atlantic Resolve, designed to show the United States’ commitment to its European allies in the face of what NATO sees as Russian aggression.
The U.S. troops will spend about a month training in Poland before moving to Germany and Romania for additional training exercises. The troops will rotate training in Bulgaria, Estonia, Hungary, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Romania and Slovakia for the next nine months. The regional training exercises are also designed to test how U.S. forces respond on short notice to a possible conflict with Russia.
The troops from the U.S. Army’s 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division in Poland will spend the next several days organizing vehicles and conducting maintenance checks to prepare equipment for the next nine months of operation.
On Jan. 20, the troops will begin conducting live-fire exercises.
“The soldiers are excited for gunnery,” Capt. Joshua Causie, a member of the U.S. operation, said in a statement. “There is nothing better than being in a tank and shooting big bullets. It’s fun.”

North Korea prepares for more nuclear tests

By Carlo Muñoz – The Washington Times – Sunday, January 1, 2017
The tests are focused on the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile, North Korean President Kim Jong-un said in a nationally televised speech on New Year’s Day, according to South Korean news agency Yonhap News
“Research and development of cutting edge arms equipment is actively progressing and … test launch preparation is in its last stage,” Mr. Kim said.
The new weapon, he said, could be used to launch nuclear strikes against neighboring South Korea and the U.S. if both nations refuse to cut military ties.
Ongoing military exercises between Seoul and Washington, which retains a significant troop presence on the peninsula, have ratcheted up in recent years as Pyongyang’s actions have become more belligerent since Mr. Kim took power last year.
While North Korea’s repeated nuclear saber-rattling has raised tensions in the Asia-Pacific region, its test record for its burgeoning nuclear stockpile has yet to pose a tangible threat to the U.S.
North Korea’s military leaders have achieved only a single successful test-fire of its Musudan intercontinental ballistic missile since its development in early 2000, despite numerous tests.
In October alone, North Korea conducted two failed weapons tests of the Musudan, a nuclear-capable missile with an anticipated range of between 1,800 to 2,500 miles, within a single week.
The failed tests prove that Pyongyang has “shown their limits” in development of nuclear weapons, South Korean Defense Minister Han Min Koo said at the time.
But the tests may be less about nuclear weapons development and more about firing a warning shot at the incoming Donald Trump administration, a former North Korean diplomat said Sunday.
“Due to domestic political procedures, North Korea calculates that South Korea and the U.S. will not be able to take physical or military actions to deter North Korea’s nuclear development,” Thae Yong Ho told Yonhap News.
“North Korea believes that relentless provocations must shift new [South Korean and U.S.] governments’ policy lines into more stability-focused ones,” he added.
On the campaign trail, Mr. Trump stunned U.S. military officials and the defense policy establishment with his suggestion that the U.S. should stop trying to prevent South Korea and Japan from obtaining nuclear weapons.

Korea Prepares for Long Range ICBM

“Research and development of the cutting-edge tech weapons are actively progressing and strengthening our defense capabilities, including last stage preparation of tests for intercontinental ballistic rocket launch have been continuously succeeding,” Kim said in a televised address on New Year’s Day.
The speech was full of the North’s usual self-congratulatory, lofty proclamations and anti-Western rhetoric.
Kim referred to North Korea as a “nuclear and military power in the east that formidable enemy dare encroach on” and said “unless the US and its vassal forces stop nuclear threat and blackmail and unless they stop the war exercises which they stage right at our noses under the pretext of annual exercises, the DPRK would keep increasing the military capabilities for self-defense and preemptive striking capacity with a main emphasis on nuclear force,” according to state news agency KCNA.
But there’s reason to take Kim’s threats more seriously than those in years past.
In 2016 North Korea backed up its fiery rhetoric with two nuclear tests — the country had only conducted three before — and a handful of land and sea-based missile tests.
“Combining nuclear warheads with ballistic missile technology in the hands of a volatile leader like Kim Jong Un is a recipe for disaster,” Adm. Harry Harris, the head of the US military’s Pacific Command, said in a December speech.
Despite Pyongyang’s apparent progress on a warhead, it doesn’t have good enough missile and rocket technology to deliver a nuke — at least not yet, says Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the Rand Corporation think tank.
But Kim is determined to develop nuclear weapons by the end of 2017 “at all costs,” according to a high-profile North Korean who defected.
“Following the ruling party congress in May, Kim Jong-un made it a party policy to finish nuclear development within the earliest time possible,” Thae Yong-ho, formerly No. 2 at the North Korean Embassy in London, said in a news briefing, according to the Yonhap News Agency.
Thae said North Korea is betting that South Korea and the US won’t be able to deter the North’s nuclear ambitions due to domestic politics in both countries.
Copyright 2017 by CNN NewSource. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

North Korea Plans For More Nuclear Tests

Thae Yong-ho, formerly the deputy ambassador at North Korean’s embassy in London, told a South Korean Parliamentary intelligence committee meeting December 23 that Pyongyang has sent documents to its overseas missions reporting that the country wants to conduct its sixth and seventh nuclear tests next year, KBS reports.
UNSC Resolution Against North Korea Enables War – Pyongyang
“In particular, it calls for preparations, as North Korea would seek to conduct a nuclear test around the presidential election,” Thae said, according to lawmakers, the Korea Times reported.
Thae defected to South Korea in July, the most senior North Korean diplomat ever to do so. This was his first public appearance.
North Korean leader Kim Jon-un wants to be recognized as a nuclear state, Thae said, and then resolve its tangle of international tensions through dialogue. He’s aiming for this recognition by July 2017, when its next Workers’ Party Congress will be held, according to KBS.
The timing coincides nicely with the early days of a new presidential administration in the US and with likely South Korean presidential elections. South Korea is likely to hold a presidential election sooner than scheduled, as South Korean President Park Geun-hye was impeached earlier this month. Her term is scheduled to end in February 2018. South Korea’s Constitutional Court has six months to decide whether to unseat her or reinstate her, Korea Times reports.
S Korea Conducts Drills to Practice Repelling Potential Attacks by Pyongyang
North Korea is hoping for a change, Thae said. “Pyongyang hopes that doubts about the effectiveness of sanctions against North Korea gain traction in a short period of time. It wants South Korea to seek a new inter-Korean policy,” he said, Korea Times reports, citing a South Korean member of Parliament.
North Korea conduced its fifth nuclear test in September. The international talks on ending its nuclear program — involving North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US, have been on hold since 2008.