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Tuesday, January 11, 2011

`Direct' North Korean Threat to U.S.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates said North Korea is becoming a “direct threat” to the U.S. and advocated working more closely with China to contain the regime of Kim Jong Il.

While the North doesn’t pose an immediate problem, the totalitarian country probably will develop an intercontinental ballistic missile within the next five years, Gates told reporters today during a three-day visit to Beijing.

“North Korea is becoming a direct threat to the United States and we have to take that into account,” he said, also citing its development of nuclear technology. Intercontinental ballistic missiles most often carry nuclear warheads.

Gates is seeking stepped-up military cooperation from China, which he said has been more helpful in recent months in pressuring North Korea to refrain from further conflict with the South after two attacks last year. U.S. concerns about North Korea in the past have focused mostly on nuclear-technology transfers to Pakistan and Iran, and on its threat to South Korea, which the U.S. is obliged to protect by treaty.

His assessment today differs from comments he made during a June 2009 stop at Fort Greely, Alaska, to visit an 800-acre missile-defense site. Asked then whether North Korea’s weapons program was a threat to the U.S., Gates said: “Not yet, no.”

Earlier that week, Marine Corps General James Cartwright, vice chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said North Korea would need at least three to five years to develop a missile that could reach the U.S.

‘Increasingly Real’
Gates’s comments today carry particular weight because they come from the defense chief, said Kim Yong Hyun, professor of North Korean studies at Dongguk University in Seoul.

“The U.S. is highlighting the increasingly real threats posed by North Korea, which had previously been seen as just potential concerns,” Kim said. “Gates is also sending a message to China that it needs to play a bigger role in containing North Korea.”

It’s unclear how unified the Chinese leadership may be on relations with the U.S. Gates was forced to challenge Chinese President Hu Jintao in their meeting today over a reported test of a new aircraft, the J-20, intended as a stealth fighter.

“I asked President Hu about it directly,” Gates told reporters after his meeting. “He said the test had absolutely nothing to do with my visit and had been a preplanned test.”

The surprise timing of the test during Gates’s visit and just before Hu travels to Washington for a Jan. 19 state dinner at the White House runs counter to the Obama administration’s expressed desire for China to be more forthcoming about its military plans and intentions.

Signal to U.S.? The test may have served as a signal to the Americans or as a message from the Chinese military to its civilian leaders. None of the civilians in the meeting at which Gates brought up the test, including Hu, seemed to be aware of the flight, a U.S. defense official said on condition of anonymity because he wasn’t authorized to speak publicly.

Gates said last year that he sensed China’s civilian leaders are more interested in improving contacts with the U.S. than the country’s armed-forces leadership.

He proposed to his Chinese counterpart yesterday, and to the foreign minister and Hu today, that the two sides begin a strategic-security dialogue this year that would include discussions of each side’s nuclear-weapons strategy.

‘Long Game’
“It was clear from President Hu that they’re taking the proposal seriously,” Gates said today. “I think they’re trying to work their way through how it would relate to the other mechanisms of dialogue that we have in the military-security arena and what the agenda would be.”

The process of improving military relations with China will take time, Gates said.

“This is an arena where we have to play the long game,” he said. “This is not an arena where I think you will see dramatic breakthroughs or big headlines.”

One of the biggest obstacles has been U.S. arms sales to Taiwan, which usually result in China putting contacts with the Americans on ice. Gates held out the prospect that the U.S. may change the practice over time with an improvement in security for Taiwan and continuing improved relations between the island and the mainland.

“Perhaps that would create the conditions for examining all of this,” he said.

Domestic Pressure
On the Korean Peninsula, South Korean leaders are under rising domestic pressure to take more action against North Korea after attacks last year that killed 50 people. The civil war foes have traded threats to escalate their military responses to what both describe as provocations from the other side.

The U.S. and China can work together to prevent an escalation of tensions into conflict on the Korean peninsula, Gates said today in an interview with Bloomberg Television in Beijing.

“The Chinese have exercised a constructive influence to damp tensions and to try and bring about greater restraint in Pyongyang,” he said. “We have a common interest” in heading off provocative acts and getting “the relationship between the North and the South on a more positive track.”

Gates told reporters later that China appears to have persuaded officials in Pyongyang not to retaliate against military exercises that South Korea and the U.S. staged in response to the North Korean attacks. North Korea could also ban missile and nuclear testing to demonstrate it’s serious about changing its behavior include, he said.

Pressing Iran
The defense secretary also is seeking Chinese support for pressure on Iran to curb its nuclear program in a way that would ensure it couldn’t develop atomic weapons. Technical glitches and sanctions that have delayed Iran’s nuclear program give the U.S. and its partners more time to exert pressure without resorting to military action, Gates said in the interview.

“As we say, all options are on the table and we prepare for all options,” he said. “If we have bought some additional time, it does give greater opportunity to the political-economic strategy.”

After further meetings in Beijing and a visit to the Great Wall, Gates travels to Tokyo tomorrow for meetings with Japanese officials to discuss North Korea and potential weapons purchases.

“The Japanese government is considering the purchase of its next generation of fighter aircraft,” he said. “That would give the Japanese the opportunity, if they bought the right airplane, to have a fifth-generation capability. I might have a few suggestions for them.”

To contact the reporters on this story: Viola Gienger in Beijing at; Michael Forsythe in Beijing at

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Peter Hirschberg at

Your feedback is always welcome.
Thank you!

What kind of arsenal/weapons does North Korea have?

Big Fan Art !


Advanced Taepodong-2:  Under development. Potential range of about 5,000 miles, putting the U.S. west coast, Hawaii, Australia and eastern Europe within striking distance. North Korea says this, and all Taepdong missiles, are launch vehicles for satellites, though satellite and missile technologies are considered interchangeable.

Taepodong-2:   Three-stage rocket with potential range of more than 4,100 miles, putting Alaska within striking distance. First two stages are liquid-fueled, while the third is believed to be solid-fueled. Similar to Iran’s Safir-Omid space launch vehicle, the rocket suggests extensive cooperation between the two nations. U.S. and South Korean officials say the North launched a Taepodong-2 rocket in April but it landed in the ocean. South Korean officials said the rocket’s second stage splashed down about 1,900 miles from its launch pad. That is far better than a 2006 launch of a missile that fizzled 42 seconds after liftoff.

Taepodong-1:   Estimated range of 1,550 miles. A missile launched in August 1998 flew over Japan and shocked the world because it was well beyond North Korea’s known capability at the time. Both lower stages are liquid-fueled, with a potential solid-fuel third stage. Accuracy is believed poor, with no meaningful strike capability.

New missile:   North Korea has fielded a new intermediate-range ballistic missile with a range of 1,800 miles, according to South Korea’s Defense Ministry. It reportedly used Russian SS-N-6 submarine-launched ballistic missile technology for the mobile, land-based missile. It is believed to be liquid-fueled with one or two stages. Some reports say North Korea put the new missile on display during a 2007 military parade. Accuracy is unknown.

Rodong:   Japan is the likely target of this short-range missile. Rodong is almost identical to Iran’s Shahab-3 and Pakistan’s Ghauri II (Hatf V), the strongest evidence of the countries’ collaboration and of North Korea’s sale of technology and missile equipment to others. All three countries continue to refine the design. Estimated range of 620 to 930 miles and maximum payload of 2,200 pounds. They are single-stage, liquid-fuel missiles on mobile launchers. Most have fairly poor accuracy, though some may have been fitted with warhead separation and more modern guidance systems.

SCUD:   Single stage, liquid-fueled missile with a range of up to 500 miles. Known in North Korea by the name Hwasong, the SCUD B and SCUD C can reach only South Korea, but the SCUD D could target Japan. Accuracy is extremely poor. Ballistic missile programs in Pakistan and Iran were built on SCUD technology, which originated in the Soviet Union.
Sources: STRATFOR global intelligence, South Korea’s Defense Ministry, AP reports.

Keep in mind that they have said they tested a nuclear weapon underground. We have recorded a weapons test at Atomic levels, and they are most likely on their way to becoming a nuclear state if they haven’t already. I think they are and are trying to get an intercontinental missile that will be able to hold a nuclear warhead, but that’s just speculation. The reason why we haven’t done anything about it before is because they couldn’t reach us. It was like hes the bad kid in the back seat of the minivan. Whatever he did to try and touch you in the front seat would fail. Now they are closer to slapping us in the face.

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