South Korea Needs Its Own Nuclear Weapon

https://media.npr.org/assets/img/2016/10/25/n.-korea-missile-10-25-16_wide-a0e32c830d8f31cccf9621c0e0d04e375c9b2e98.jpgMaybe South Korea Needs Its Own Nuclear Weapon

By Doug Bandow

Four decades ago South Korea’s President Park Chung-hee, father of the current president, launched a quest for nuclear weapons. Washington, the South’s military protector, applied substantial pressure to kill the program.

Today it looks like Park might have been right.

The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea continues its relentless quest for nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. Its Special Forces and unconventional tactics — such as tunnels under the Demilitarized Zone — threaten to disrupt allied operations. While most of its conventional weapons are decrepit, Pyongyang still could wreak havoc in Seoul with artillery and Scud missiles.

The South is attempting to find an effective response. It closed Kaesong industrial complex, which provided the North with nearly $100 million in hard currency annually. Seoul also is talking with the U.S about installing the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense, or THAAD system. Nevertheless, neither of these steps is likely to much affect Pyongyang’s behavior.

Although the DPRK is unlikely to attack since it would lose a full-scale war, the Republic of Korea remains uncomfortably dependent on America. And Washington’s commitment to the much more populous and prosperous ROK likely will decline as America’s finances worsen and challenges elsewhere multiply. Seoul could find itself ill-prepared to deter the North.

In response, talk of reviving the South’s nuclear option is growing. Won Yoo-cheol, parliamentary floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, told the National Assembly: “We cannot borrow an umbrella from a neighbor every time it rains. We need to have a raincoat and wear it ourselves.”

Won is not alone in this view. Chung Moon-jong — member of the National Assembly, presidential candidate, and Asan Institute founder — made a similar plea two years ago. He told an American audience “If North Korea still refuses to surrender its nuclear weapons then we have to make the ultimate choice.” That is, “if North Korea keeps insisting on staying nuclear then it must know that we will have no choice but to go nuclear.” He suggested that the South withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and “match North Korea’s nuclear progress step-by step while committing to stop if North Korea stops.”

The public seems inclined to follow such advice. Koreans’ confidence in America’s willingness to use nuclear weapons in defense of the ROK has declined, while support for a South Korean nuclear program is on the upswing, hitting 66 percent in 2013. Nearly a third of people “strongly support” such an option.

While President Park Geun-hye’s government remains formally committed to the NPT, Seoul has conducted nuclear experiments and resisted oversight by the International Atomic Energy Agency. Like Japan, the ROK could develop a weapon quickly if it chose to do so, perhaps in a matter of months.

Of course, the idea triggers a horrified reaction in Washington and among those committed to nonproliferation.

Unfortunately, in Northeast Asia today nonproliferation operates a little like gun control in the U.S.: only the bad guys end up armed. China, Russia, and North Korea all have nuclear weapons. America’s allies, Japan and South Korea, do not, and expect Washington to defend them. To do so the U.S. would have to risk Los Angeles to protect Seoul and Tokyo — and maybe Taipei and Canberra as well, depending on how far Washington extends the “nuclear umbrella.”

While America’s overwhelming nuclear arsenal should deter anyone else from using nukes, conflicts do not always evolve rationally. If Washington’s nuclear commitment is triggered, even inadvertently, the U.S. would find itself wandering down a completely unexpected and dangerous path. South Korea and Japan are important international partners, but their protection is not worth creating an unnecessary existential threat to the American homeland. Indeed, the potential price of initiating nuclear war actually reduces the credibility of Washington’s commitment and thus its deterrent value.

Better to create a balance of power in which the U.S. is not a target if nukes start falling. And that would be achieved by independent South Korean and Japanese nuclear deterrents. Such a prospect would antagonize, perhaps even convulse, China. But then, such an arsenal would deter the People’s Republic of China as well as DPRK. Which also would serve American interests.

Moreover, the mere threat of spreading nuclear weapons might end up solving the problem. That is, when faced with the prospect of Japanese and South Korean nuclear weapons, China might come to see the wisdom of applying greater pressure on the North — most importantly, cutting off energy and food shipments. The U.S.-ROK discussions over THAAD appeared to touch a nerve in Beijing, and Xi Jinping’s government indicated its willingness support a UN resolution imposing more pain on the North for its latest nuclear launch. That declaration might end up being mostly for show, but maybe not. And the prospect of having two more nuclear neighbors would concentrate minds in Zhongnanhai.

Abandoning nonproliferation is not a decision to take lightly. No one wants a nuclear arms race. More nuclear powers mean more possibilities of misuse or mistake. Moreover, China might retaliate by accelerating its own nuclear development

But the PRC already is improving its nuclear forces to diminish Washington’s edge. And allowing North Korea to enjoy a unilateral advantage creates a different, and even greater, set of dangers. The right trade-off isn’t obvious.

Which is why policymakers should consider the possibility of a nuclear South Korea. The NPT does not necessarily triumph over other security concerns. Keeping America entangled in the Korean imbroglio as Pyongyang develops nuclear weapons is a bad option which could turn catastrophic. Blessing allied development of nuclear weapons might prove to be a better alternative.

Park Chung-hee was a brute, determined to stifle political freedom while focusing on economic development. But his desire for an ROK nuclear weapon looks prescient. Maybe it’s time for the good guys in Northeast Asia to be armed as well.

Iran Nukes Up North Korea

North Korea nuclear weapon progress ‘down to secret support from Iran’ UK officials fear

By SAM SHOLLI
01:40, Sun, Sep 10, 2017 | UPDATED: 02:45, Sun, Sep 10, 2017

Iran is reportedly top of the list of countries suspected of assisting North Korea
Senior Whitehall sources have told The Sunday Telegraph it is not credible that North Korean scientists alone brought about the technological advances.

One Government minister reportedly said: “North Korean scientists are people of some ability, but clearly they’re not doing it entirely in a vacuum.”

Another Foreign Office source reportedly added: “For them to have done this entirely on their own stretches the bounds of credulity.”

Whilst Iran is reportedly top of the list of countries suspected of assisting North Korea in some form, Russia is also suspected of doing so.

North Korea threatens USA with ‘miserable end’
UK Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson also hinted at his department’s concerns last week as he took questions from MPs about the North Korea crisis.

Mr Johnson said: “There is currently an investigation into exactly how the country has managed to make this leap in technological ability.

“We are looking at the possible role that may have been played, inadvertently or otherwise, by some current and former nuclear states.”

It comes amid rising fears of World War 3 after North Korea conducted its sixth and most powerful nuclear weapon test last week – describing it as an advanced hydrogen bomb for a long-range missile.

Donald Trump has warned Kim Jong-un he will regret forcing the US to take military action against North Korea.

The Republican President has refused to rule out a strike against the reclusive state as tensions between Pyongyang and Washington reach boiling point.

During a news conference Mr Trump said military action is “an option” against Kim’s hermit nation.

Although the US President admitted he would “prefer” not to use force against North Korea, he fired an ominous warning to the country’s dictator.

Trump says military solution ‘not inevitable’ in North Korea crisis

He said: “Military action would certainly be an option.

“Is it inevitable? Nothing is inevitable.

“I would prefer not going the route of the military.

“If we do use it on North Korea, it will be a very sad day for North Korea.”

The 6th Seal Awaits, New York Quake

https://i1.wp.com/a.abcnews.com/images/Technology/abc_earthquake_graphic_2_dm_110823_ssh.jpg

East Coast vs. West Coast Earthquakes: Same Disaster, Different Creatures

The sixth seal is the New York Earthquake.[/caption]

First Posted: 08/23/11 10:26 PM ET Updated: 10/24/11 06:12 AM ET

WASHINGTON (Associated Press)– The East Coast doesn’t get earthquakes often but when they do strike, there’s a whole lot more shaking going on. The ground in the East is older, colder and more intact than the West Coast or the famous Pacific Ring of Fire. So East Coast quakes rattle an area up to 10 times larger than a similar-sized West Coast temblor.

“They tend to be more bang for the buck as far as shaking goes,” said Virginia Tech geology professor James Spotila.

Tuesday’s 5.8-magnitude quake was centered in Virginia and was felt up and down the Eastern seaboard for more than 1,000 miles. There hasn’t been a quake that large on the East Coast since 1944 in New York.

While this was a rarity for the East, a 5.8 quake isn’t unusual for California, Oregon, Washington and Alaska, where one occurs about once a year. Those states have had 103 quakes 5.8 or bigger since 1900, compared to now two in the East.

The tiny island of Trinidad is more quake-prone than the East Coast, said U.S. Geological Survey seismologist Paul Earle.

“In all the years I was at FEMA, there didn’t seem to be a concern for earthquakes on the East Coast,” former Federal Emergency Management Agency chief James Lee Witt said.

Because of geology, earthquakes on the coasts have different triggers and act differently in some ways. And they definitely are felt differently.

One glaring East versus West disparity: When a quake happens in California, geologists usually know what fault ruptured. Tuesday’s quake happened on an unknown fault, and it is likely to remain a mystery.

Because the quake didn’t break the surface “we may never actually map this fault from this earthquake,” Earle said.

The only thing that will help scientists figure out where the break truly occurred are the aftershocks which could help highlight or outline the fault line, said Cornell University seismologist Rowena Lohman.

Most of the times, quakes occur when Earth’s floating giant plates shift, rub against or slip past each other. That’s what happens along California’s San Andreas fault when quakes happen there.

Tuesday’s thrust earthquake was far from the edge of a plate – the nearest are thousands of miles away in the mid-Atlantic or California, said seismologist David Applegate, associate director of natural hazards for the USGS in Reston, Va.

The stresses that cause these kinds of quakes come from far away and mount ever so slowly over time, even building up from the retreat of glaciers at the end of the Ice Age, he said.

Another East versus West contrast: The ground is different in the East in a way that makes the shaking travel much further, allowing people to feel the quake several states and hundreds of miles away.

The rocks in the Earth’s crust in the East are colder, older and harder, which means seismic waves travel more efficiently and over greater distances. Rocks on the West Coast are relatively young and broken up by faults.

“An intact bell rings more loudly than a cracked bell and that’s essentially what the crust is on the East Coast,” USGS seismologist Lucy Jones told a news conference in Pasadena, Calif.

In the East, hurricanes are the worry far more than quakes. Former FEMA chief Witt said people on the West Coast know what to do in an earthquake: drop to the floor, cover their heads and hold on to something sturdy until the shaking stops.

That’s what USGS’s Applegate did in Virginia.

“It’s seared in our heads,” said USGS seismologist Susan Hough in Pasadena. “People back East don’t get that kind of preparedness message.”

Alicia Chang contributed from Los Angeles

The Antichrist Separates from the Large Horn (Daniel 8:8)

Image result for moqtada al saddrProminent Iraqi Shiite clerics move out of Iran’s shadow

Mina Aldroubi
September 9, 2017
Updated: September 9, 2017

Iraq’s Shiite political scene is witnessing significant shifts ahead of parliamentary elections next year that could affect Iran’s influence in the country.

The rising tensions between pro-Tehran Shiite alliances have been worrying enough to prompt Iranian supreme leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei to send an envoy to Iraq last week on a mission to unite the disputing parties.

The extent of the differences became clear in July when Ammar Al Hakim stepped down from his position as leader of the Islamic Supreme Council of Iraq, the dominant party in Iraq’s ruling Shiite alliance, and founded the National Wisdom Movement, also known as Al Hikmah.

Mr Khamenei’s envoy, Mahmoud Shahroudi, held talks with Mr Al Hakim and Iraqi prime minister Haider Al Abadi, but did not manage to meet Iraq’s two most influential Shiite clerics, Moqtada Al Sadr and Ayatollah Ali Al Sistani.

Although there has been no explanation of why Mr Shahroudi failed to meet the two clerics, both Mr Al Sadr and Mr Al Sistani are seen as opponents of Iranian influence in Iraq. Mr Al Sadr made surprise visits last month to Saudi Arabia and the UAE, predominantly Sunni nations that are also wary of Tehran’s attempts to expand its influence in the region.

There has been speculation that some of Iraq’s Shiite blocs are looking to pull away from Iran’s influence, and the latest developments could be seen as an attempt to form an Iraqi Shiite movement open to Sunni Arab countries.

 

Michael Rubin, resident scholar at the Washington-based American Enterprise Institute, said Mr Shahroudi, the chairman of Iran’s expediency council, has long been thought of as Mr Khamenei’s puppet in the holy city of Najaf where Mr Al Sistani is based, and “hopelessly corrupted by politics”.

“So, it’s not surprising that Al Sistani refused to see him,” Mr Rubin said. “All the more so since Iran is pushing Shahroudi as Al Sistani’s eventual successor, and so Iran would have painted any meeting as an endorsement.”

Renad Mansour, academy fellow at the British think tank Chatham House, said the move was not surprising as “there has always been an internal Shiite conflict in Iraq over the role of Iran”.

Moqtada Al Sadr and Ali Al Sistani have been most critical of Iran’s influence in the country,” Mr Mansour said.

Mr Al Sadr, who has denounced Iran’s influence in Iraq, commands a large following in Iraq’s urban areas and is a critic of Mr Al Abadi’s government. He has also called for the dissolution of the Hashed Al Shaabi, a coalition of militias dominated by Iranian-backed Shiite fighters which have gained strength in Iraq after the country’s army collapsed confronting ISIL in 2014.

Mr Rubin said Tehran had been a “corrupting influence among some of Iraq’s Shiite clerics”, although “many others strike for theological independence and resent Iran”.

“While America always underestimates the psychological importance of occupation, Iranians consistently underestimate the importance of Iraqi nationalism among Iraqi Shiites. This is what Mr Al Sadr is now pandering to,” he added.

Michael Knights, Iraq analyst at the Washington Institute for Near East Policy, said it was natural for Tehran to have some influence over Iraq as a neighbouring country and would be extremely interested in the nature of the Shiite religious leadership in Najaf.

He said the recent visits of Mr Al Sadr and Mr Al Abadi to Saudi Arabia and Mr Al Sistani’s decision not to meet with Mr Shahroudi suggested “further backing for a neutral Iraqi foreign policy that will allow Iraq to finally break free from regional wars for the first time since 1980”.

However, such a course is likely to meet with opposition from Tehran, according to Mr Ruben.

“Just as in Lebanon, Syria, Yemen and Bahrain, Iran is not willing to give up in Iraq no matter what the citizens of that country, let alone the outside world, might think,” Mr Rubin said.