Stop just blaming China for being the sole enabler for North Korea’s nuclear and missile program. It is beyond dispute that the moment of reckoning is here for Donald Trump, for he is having a Kennedy/Cuban Missile crisis point in history. But there are other countries that should be blamed and they include Pakistan, Iran and Russia.
When Putin traveled to North Korea for talks with Kim:
Interfax news agency quoted Putin as saying Kim had assured him Pyongyang’s rocket program was entirely peaceful.
Asked if Russia was prepared to offer its rockets for Korean space exploration, Putin said, “Why should only Russia pay? One should expect other countries, if they assert that the DPRK [North Korea] poses a threat for them, would support this project,” Interfax reported.
“One can minimize the threat by supplying the DPRK with its rocket boosters,” it quoted him as saying.
He also said Russia was prepared to do its utmost to improve the situation on the Korean peninsula, and expected other countries to do their part.
“We suggest that the efforts of the Russian Federation alone are not sufficient. We should all — the DPRK, South Korea, as well as the United States, China and Japan — support that process.”
Historically, Iran has bought a lot with its money. Mohsen Fakhrizadeh, thought to be Tehran’s chief nuclear scientist, was almost certainly in North Korea at Punggye-ri in February 2013 to witness Pyongyang’s third atomic test. Reports put Iranian technicians on hand at the site for the first two detonations as well.
Then there was a remarkable confession of Dr A Q Khan, Pakistan’s infamous ‘nuclear’ scientist. It was on 4 February 2004 when Khan appeared on the television and confessed to having supplied nuclear technology and components to North Korea, Iran and Libya. Khan accepted his crimes in English and not in Urdu, which is the language understood by most Pakistanis.
That telecast was actually for the international audience, especially the United States and the European intelligence agencies. Khan explicitly mentioned that this proliferation network was entirely his own and the Pakistani government or authorities were never involved. North Korea’s nuclear ambition started in the late 1950s and early 1960s. Erstwhile Union of Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) agreed to set up their first plutonium-based nuclear reactor at Yongbyon-Kun for peaceful use of nuclear technology. Later, North Korea set up more reactors, signed Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to get access to the latest technology and allowed International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors to inspect its nuclear facilities, but never gave up its desire to have ‘the bomb’.
Apart from China, Pakistan was the only major country in the world who not only maintained diplomatic relations with North Korea but received weaponry from them.
But the cooperation in nuclear and missile field started in the late 1980s. More here.
North Korea’s unprecedented level of testing and displays of strategic weapons in 2016 indicate that Kim is intent on proving he has the capability to strike the U.S. mainland with nuclear weapons. In 2016, the regime conducted two nuclear tests—including one that was claimed to be of a standardized warhead design—and an unprecedented number of missile launches, including a space launch that put a satellite into orbit. These ballistic missile tests probably shortened North Korea’s pathway toward a reliable ICBM, which largely uses the same technology. Kim was also photographed beside a nuclear warhead design and missile airframes to show that North Korea has warheads small enough to fit on a missile, examining a reentry-vehicle nose cone after a simulated reentry, and overseeing launches from a submarine and from mobile launchers in the field, purportedly simulating nuclear use in warfighting scenarios. North Korea is poised to conduct its first ICBM flight test in 2017 based on public comments that preparations to do so are almost complete and would serve as a milestone toward a more reliable threat to the U.S. mainland. Pyongyang’s enshrinement of the possession of nuclear weapons in its constitution, while repeatedly stating that nuclear weapons are the basis for its survival, suggests that Kim does not intend to negotiate them away at any price.
David Albright—a widely respected expert on proliferation and president and founder of the Institute for Science and International Security—estimated at the end of 2016 that North Korea’s nuclear programs had reached the following status:
• 33 kilograms of separated plutonium (median value of a distribution).
• 175-645 kilograms of weapon-grade uranium, where 175 kilograms corresponds to a median estimate for the case of one centrifuge plant and 645 kilograms corresponds to the median estimate for the case of two centrifuge plants.
• 13 to 30 nuclear weapons, where these values reflect the utilization of 70 percent of the available, estimated stocks of plutonium and weapon-grade uranium. The limits correspond to the median values for the cases of one or two centrifuge plants and each weapon contains either plutonium or weapon-grade uranium.
• Based on this cumulative estimate, North Korea is currently expanding its nuclear weapons at a rate of about three-five weapons per year.
• 30 percent of North Korea’s total stocks of plutonium and weapon-grade uranium are assessed as in production pipelines, lost during processing, or held in a reserve. More here.
Tillerson has pointed the finger of blame at Beijing and Moscow.
“As the principal economic enablers of North Korea’s nuclear weapon and ballistic missile development program, China and Russia bear unique and special responsibility for this growing threat to regional and global stability,” he said in a statement.
Tillerson’s comments are sure to anger Russia and China. Earlier this month Beijing rejected claims from US president Donald Trump that it had a responsibility to do more to rein in its ally. “I think this either shows lack of a full, correct knowledge of the issue, or there are ulterior motives for it, trying to shift responsibility,” Geng Shuang, a foreign ministry spokesman, told reporters.
Certain weapons, however, stand in stark contrast to the rest of North Korea’s aging weapons collection. One is what appears to be a copy of the Russian Kh-35 antiship cruise missile. Known in Russia as the Kh-35 Uran and to NATO as the SS-N-25 “Switchblade,” the Kh-35 has a range of seventy nautical miles and a 320-pound high-explosive warhead, flying above the wavetops to stay undetected as long as possible. Guided by active radar, the subsonic missile is roughly comparable to the American Harpoon antiship missile, earning it the nickname “Harpoonski.”
Although the Uran’s development predated the end of the Cold War, the missile never entered Soviet service, joining the Russian Navy only in 2003. The missile first surfaced in North Korea in June 2014, when it briefly appeared in a North Korean propaganda video. The missile, which appeared to be launched from a ship, was identical to the Uran, although the shipboard mounting hardware appeared different from Russian hardware. North Korea launched a volley of four Kh-35s on June 7 from the vicinity of Wonsan into the Sea of Japan.
A new rocket artillery system recently emerged in North Korea. Known as the KN-09 multiple-rocket launcher, the system consists of eight three-hundred-millimeter rocket-launcher tubes on a 6×6 HOWO 6×6 All-wheel Drive Cargo Truck chassis. The presence of fins on the rocket’s nose suggests each rocket is precision-guided, using either China’s Baidu or Russia’s GLONASS satellite-based global positioning systems. More here.