Sunday, April 14, 2013

Matt 24 watch, 205: Klyman and Kahlili ask, could a Nuke end game be in sight at both ends of Asia -- North Korea and Iran?

Since this is not likely to be on our usual newscasts or in our usual headlines, I think it useful to draw attention to a current Larry Klyman column, and to some further remarks by Reza Kahlili, by way of concern.

Klyman first. He notes how "Thursday, Obama Defense Department officials let it slip during a congressional hearing that, based on a Defense Intelligence Agency assessment, North Korea likely already possesses missiles armed with nuclear-tipped warheads."

He then clips an AP article that I will cite from Japan Times:
A U.S. intelligence report concludes that North Korea has advanced its nuclear knowhow to the point that it could arm a ballistic missile with a nuclear warhead, a jarring revelation in the midst of bellicose threats from the unpredictable communist regime . . . . The new American intelligence analysis, disclosed Thursday at a hearing in Congress, says the Pentagon’s intelligence wing has “moderate confidence” that North Korea has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles but that the weapon is unreliable.
Rep. Doug Lamborn read aloud what he said was an unclassified paragraph from a secret Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report that was supplied to some members of Congress . . . . 
The DIA conclusion was confirmed by a senior congressional aide who spoke on condition of anonymity because the Pentagon had not officially released the contents. The aide said the report was produced in March.
It looks like, without saying why in explicit details, the US has been acting on the substance of the DIA analysis. As the article continues:
Since the beginning of March, the U.S. Navy has moved two missile defense ships closer to the coast of the Korean Peninsula, in part to protect against a potential missile launch aimed at Guam, a U.S. territory in the Pacific. The Pentagon also has announced it will place a more advanced land-based missile defense on Guam, and Hagel said in March that he approved installing 14 additional missile interceptors in Alaska to bolster a portion of the missile defense network that is designed to protect all of U.S. territory.
On Thursday, the Pentagon said it had moved a sea-based X-band radar — designed to track warheads in flight — into position in the Pacific . . .
There was of course the usual official damage control and pooh-poohing. However, unfortunately, that may well be an excellent explanation for the mystifying sustained bellicosity and threats by the North Koreans. It is to be noted that both Japan and the US seem to be taking steps to  bolster anti ballistic missile defences (the fruit of the much derided Reagan "Star Wars" initiative of the 1980's).

That there may indeed be merit to the report can be seen through a comparison with the Wikipedia summary of the Feb 12, 2013 apparent North Korea nuclear bomb test:
 On 12 February 2013, a spokesman for North Korea's army command said it had successfully conducted a third underground nuclear weapons test, according to the Yonhap.[7][8] North Korea also said the test had used a miniaturized nuclear device with greater explosive power.[9] 
Before North Korea announced they had conducted the test, seismic activity had already been detected in North Korea by the USGS, near the site of previous nuclear tests at Mantapsan in Kilju County. A large tremor, first estimated at magnitude of 4.9, was detected in North Korea and governments in the region were trying to determine whether it was a third nuclear test. The USGS upgraded the magnitude of the possibly nuclear tremor from 4.9 to 5.1, located 24 kilometres (15 mi) east-northeast of Sungjibaegam, North Korea.[10] The tremor occurred at 11:57 local time (02:57 UTC) and the USGS said the hypocenter of the event was only one kilometer deep . . . . 
South Korea's defense ministry said the event reading indicated a blast of 6–7 kilotons,[10][14][15][16] later revised to 6–9 kilotons using the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty Organization’s calculation method.[17] The Korea Institute of Geosciences and Mineral Resources estimated the yield as 7.7–7.8 kilotons.[2] 
Some experts estimate the yield to be up to 15 kilotons, since the test site's geology is not well understood.[18] . . . .
In comparison, the atomic (fission) bombs dropped by the Enola Gay on Hiroshima (Little Boy, a "gun-type" atomic bomb) and on Nagasaki by Bockscar (Fat Man, an "implosion-type" atomic bomb) had blast yield equivalence of 16 and 21 kilotons respectively.[17]
Sobering, both on the statement on a miniaturised weapon, and on the level or estimated yield. Such would definitely fit in with a missile-loadable weapon.

{UPDATE, Apr 15: A news report on the Dec 2012 North Korea rocket launch and recovery of parts of the rocket support the concern about a miniaturised warhead. Clipping:

When North Korean engineers launched a satellite into space December 12, it seemed like business as usual, with the familiar cycle of condemnations from the West and statements of defiance from the Hermit Kingdom. But that launch also led many U.S. intelligence analysts to assess that Pyongyang possessed the ability to miniaturize the components necessary to yield a nuclear explosion for a crude warhead that would sit atop a ballistic missile.

After the North Korean launch, U.S. Navy ships managed to recover the front section of the rocket used in it, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation. That part of the rocket in turn provided useful clues about North Korean warhead design, should the next payload be a warhead rather than a satellite.
The same basic engineering and science needed to launch a satellite into space is also used in the multistage rockets known as intercontinental ballistic missiles. The front of the satellite rocket, according to three U.S. officials who work closely on North Korean proliferation, gave tangible proof that North Korea was building the missile’s cone at dimensions for a nuclear warhead, durable enough to be placed on a long-range missile that could reenter the earth’s atmosphere from space.

“Having access to the missile front was a critical insight we had not had before,” one U.S. nonproliferation official tells The Daily Beast. “I have seen a lot of drawings, but we had not seen the piece of that missile at that time.” This official continues: “We looked at the wreckage from the launch and we put it together with other kinds of intelligence and came to this judgment that they had figured out the warhead piece.” }
 Now, too, the pseudonymous Kahlili's beat is Iran, and he is warning, in addition to earlier concerns (noted here at KF Wed just past):
Iran ratcheted up its vitriol against Israel and the United States over the weekend, warning that an attack on the Islamic regime’s nuclear facilities could lead to global war.

The rhetoric eerily matched that currently coming out of North Korea against its perceived enemies.
“Iran will not stand by in the face of such aggression,” Ali Ahani, Iran’s ambassador to France, said Sunday, according to the Islamic regime’s PressTV. “This can entail a chain of violence that may lead to World war III. A potential Israeli attack against Iran with an objective of destroying its scientific and nuclear facilities is sheer madness. Its consequences are disastrous and uncontrollable.”

The deputy chief of staff of Iran’s armed forces, Brig. Gen Masoud Jazayeri, warned the United States on Saturday that Iran would continue its nuclear program.

“We would not trade off our rights,” he said, adding that Iran would stand with North Korea in its faceoff with America.
Notice, a clear link between the two tyrannies, to the point where I have to ask if the recent North Korean nuclear test was a joint effort with Iran.

No wonder, Klyman goes on to comment:
The nuclear situation and showdown with North Korea, which has aided an even more fanatical Islamic Iran to develop nuclear bombs and missiles of its own, underscores why these two rogue nations not only pose an immediate threat to world peace and stability, but will continue to attempt to threaten and blackmail the West well into the future, even if atomic weapons are not unleashed at this time. While North Korea may want to use the nuclear threat to try to extract more economic aid from the United States, the reality is that it has also always coveted taking over all of South Korea and reuniting the peninsula . . . [Where,] coupled with its nuclear arsenal, North Korea possesses a sophisticated 1 million-plus person military force, which clearly can easily overrun the South’s defenses short of our having to use tactical nuclear weapons to stem the advance. What is to stop the North, over 60 years after the end of the first Korean War? Only a nuclear exchange can stop such an advance, an exchange the United States does not want, as it would release deadly radiation across the Asian continent and bring China into the equation! This could trigger World War III. Checkmate!

As for Iran, the message is now even clearer. If North Korea already possesses nuclear-tipped missiles, then this radical Islamic state, which has likely paid “mucho dinero” to its cash-starved ally for this technology, must itself already possess a nuclear missile capability. And, given the Supreme Leader’s and President Ahmadinejad’s threats to use nuclear weaponry to wipe Israel and the “Great Satan,” the United States, off the face of the map, a second Holocaust against Jews and Christians now seems even more likely.
The United States, Israel and their Western allies are now caught in a vice, between the evil regimes of North Korea and Iran.
Klyman castigates twenty years of dithering by various US administrations of both parties -- he is very displeased, and quite understandably so.

Our concerns are a little closer to home, where just for starters, Venezuela is allied to Iran.

So, now, let us reflect on a situation where there is a nuke threshold standoff -- or worse, one or more shooting wars -- either end of Asia. 

The no. 1 global oil choke-point is at threat, with the Suez link and Horn of Africa in range. Japan and the US would be embroiled in the neighbourhood of Korea. And regionally, with Venezuela liable to be caught up, that is threatening oil lines to both Venezuela and Trinidad. 

What are we going to do as a region if oil instability doubles or quadruples oil prices, as happened after the 1973 war?

What about general trade dislocation?

Can we even feed ourselves?

And so forth? END