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North Korea, from Peter Myers (collection)

*(1) 'Regime Change' Wars against Iraq and Libya led to Korea Crisis - Robert Parry*
*(2) North Korea's race to become a nuclear power has one aim: Regime Survival **(3) North Korea would use nuclear weapons if backed into a corner**(4) North Korea's other nuclear option: Bombing the South's atomic power plants **(5) North Korea could hit nuclear reactors in South - there are 30 close to the border **(6) Putin: North Korea should halt missile programme; and US & South Korea stop war games **(7) The US just gave North Korea a new threat to worry about -- F-35 stealth jets**(8) North Korea's luxury Ski Resort**(9) North Korea now largely a market economy ****(1) 'Regime Change' Wars against Iraq and Libya led to Korea Crisis - Robert Parry***From: Sadanand, Nanjundiah (Physics and Engineering Physics) [] Sent: Wed, 6 Sep 2017 19:30:14 +0000 'Regime Change' Wars Led to Korea CrisisThe U.S.-led aggressions against Iraq and Libya are two war crimes that keep on costing, with their grim examples of what happens to leaders who get rid of WMDs driving the scary showdown with North Korea.By Robert Parry, Consortium NewsSeptember 05, 2017- It is a popular meme in the U.S. media to say that *North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is "crazy"* as he undertakes to develop a nuclear bomb and a missile capacity to deliver it, but he is actually working from a cold logic dictated by the U.S. government's aggressive wars and lack of integrity.Indeed, the current North Korea crisis, which could end up killing millions of people, can be viewed as a *follow-on disaster to President George W. Bush's Iraq War and President Barack Obama's Libyan intervention*. Those wars came after the *leaders of Iraq and Libya had dismantled their dangerous weapons programs*, leaving their countries virtually *powerless when the U.S. government chose to invade.***In both cases, the U.S. government also exploited its power over global information to *spread lies about the targeted regimes as justification for the invasions *- and the world community failed to do anything to block the U.S. aggressions.And, on a grim personal note, *the two leaders, Saddam Hussein and Muammar Gaddafi, were then brutally murdered*, Hussein by hanging and Gaddafi by a mob that first sodomized him with a knife.So, the neoconservatives who promoted the Iraq invasion supposedly to protect the world from Iraq's alleged WMDs - and the liberal interventionists who pushed the Libya invasion based on false humanitarian claims - may now share in the horrific possibility that millions of people in North Korea, South Korea, Japan and maybe elsewhere could die from real WMDs launched by North Korea and/or by the United States.Washington foreign policy "experts" who fault President Trump's erratic and bellicose approach toward this crisis may want to look in the mirror and consider how they contributed to the mess by ignoring the predictable consequences from the Iraq and Libya invasions.Yes, I know, at the time it was so exciting to celebrate the Bush Doctrine of preemptive wars even over a "one percent" suspicion <> that a "rogue state" like Iraq might share WMDs with terrorists - or the Clinton Doctrine hailed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton's acolytes enamored by her application of "smart power" <> to achieve "regime change" in Libya.However, as we now know, both wars were built upon lies. Iraq did not possess WMD stockpiles <> as the Bush administration claimed, and Libya was not engaged in mass murder <> of civilians in rebellious areas in the eastern part of the country as the Obama administration claimed.Post-invasion investigations knocked down Bush's WMD myth in Iraq, and a British parliamentary inquiry concluded that Western governments misrepresented the situation in eastern Libya where Gaddafi forces were targeting armed rebels but not indiscriminately killing civilians.But those belated fact-finding missions were no comfort to either Saddam Hussein or Muammar Gaddafi, nor to their countries, which have seen mass slaughters resulting from the U.S.-sponsored invasions and today amount to failed states.There also has been virtually no accountability for the war crimes committed by the Bush and Obama administrations. Bush and Obama both ended up serving two terms as President. None of Bush's senior advisers were punished - and Hillary Clinton received the 2016 Democratic Party's nomination for President.As for the U.S. mainstream media, which behaved as boosters for both invasions, pretty much all of the journalistic war advocates have continued on with their glorious careers. To excuse their unprofessional behavior, some even have pushed revisionist lies, such as the popular but false claim that Saddam Hussein was to blame because he pretended that he did have WMDs <> - when the truth is that his government submitted a detailed 12,000-page report to the United Nations in December 2002 describing how the WMDs had been destroyed (though that accurate account was widely mocked and ultimately ignored).Pervasive DishonestyThe dishonesty that now pervades the U.S. government and the U.S. mainstream media represents another contributing factor to the North Korean crisis. What sensible person anywhere on the planet would trust U.S. assurances? Who would believe what the U.S. government says, except, of course, the U.S. mainstream media?Remember also that North Korea's nuclear program had largely been mothballed before George W. Bush delivered his "axis of evil" speech in January 2002, which linked Iran and Iraq - then bitter enemies - with North Korea. After that, North Korea withdrew from earlier agreements on limiting its nuclear development and began serious work on a bomb.Yet, while *North Korea moved toward a form of mutual assured destruction*, Iraq and Libya chose a different path.In Iraq, to head off a threatened U.S.-led invasion, Hussein's government sought to convince the international community that it had lived up to its commitments regarding the destruction of its WMD arsenal and programs. Besides the detailed declaration, *Iraq gave U.N. weapons inspectors wide latitude to search* on the ground.But Bush cut short the inspection efforts in March 2003 and launched his "shock and awe" invasion, which led to the collapse of Hussein's regime and the dictator's eventual capture and hanging.Gaddafi's GesturesIn Libya, *Gaddafi* also sought to cooperate with international demands regarding WMDs. In late 2003, he *announced that his country would eliminate its unconventional weapons programs*, including a nascent nuclear project.Gaddafi also sought to get Libya out from under economic sanctions by taking responsibility for the 1988 bombing of Pan Am 103 over Scotland, although he and his government continued to deny carrying out the terror attack <> that killed 270 people.But these efforts to normalize Libya's relations with the West failed to protect him or his country. In 2011 when Islamic militants staged an uprising around Benghazi, Gaddafi moved to crush it, and Secretary of State Clinton eagerly joined with some European countries in seeking military intervention to destroy Gaddafi's regime.The United Nations Security Council approved a plan for the humanitarian protection of civilians in and around Benghazi, but the Obama administration and its European allies exploited that opening to mount a full-scale "regime change" war.Prominent news personalities, such as MSNBC's Andrea Mitchell, cheered on the war with the claim that Gaddafi had American "blood on his hands" over the Pan Am 103 case because he had accepted responsibility. The fact that his government continued to deny actual guilt - and the international conviction of Libyan Abdelbaset al-Megrahi was a judicial travesty - was ignored. Almost no one in the West dared question the longtime groupthink of Libyan guilt.By October 2011, Gaddafi had fled Tripoli and was captured by rebels in Sirte. He was tortured, sodomized with a knife and then executed. Clinton, whose aides felt she should claim credit for Gaddafi's overthrow as part of a Clinton Doctrine <>, celebrated his murder with a laugh and a quip, "We came; we saw; he died." But Gaddafi's warnings about Islamist terrorists in Benghazi came back to haunt Clinton when on Sept. 11, 2012, militants attacked the U.S. consulate and CIA station there, killing Ambassador Christopher Stevens and three other Americans.The obsessive Republican investigation into the Benghazi attack failed to demonstrate many of the lurid claims about Clinton's negligence, but it did surface the fact that she had used a private server for her official State Department emails, which, in turn, led to an FBI investigation which severely damaged her 2016 presidential run.Lessons LearnedMeanwhile, back in North Korea, the young dictator Kim Jong Un was taking all this history in. According to numerous sources, he concluded that his and North Korea's only safeguard would be a viable nuclear deterrent to stave off another U.S.-sponsored "regime change" war - with him meeting a similar fate as was dealt to Hussein and Gaddafi.Since then, Kim and his advisers have made clear that the surrender of North Korea's small nuclear arsenal is off the table. They make the understandable point that the United States has shown bad faith in other cases in which leaders have given up their WMDs in compliance with international demands and then saw their countries invaded and faced grisly executions themselves.Now, the world faces a predicament in which an inexperienced and intemperate President Trump confronts a crisis that his two predecessors helped to create and make worse. Trump has threatened "fire and fury" like the world has never seen, suggesting a nuclear strike on North Korea, which, in turn, has vowed to retaliate.Millions of people on the Korean peninsula and Japan - and possibly elsewhere - could die in such a conflagration. The world's economy could be severely shaken, given Japan's and South Korea's industrial might and the size of their consumer markets.If such a horror does come to pass, the U.S. government and the U.S. mainstream media will surely revert to their standard explanation that Kim was simply "crazy" and brought this destruction on himself. Trump's liberal critics also might attack Trump for bungling the diplomacy.But the truth is that many of Washington's elite policymakers - both on the Republican and Democratic sides - will share in the blame. And so too should the U.S. mainstream media.Investigative reporter Robert Parry broke many of the Iran-Contra stories for The Associated Press and Newsweek in the 1980s.*(2) North Korea's race to become a nuclear power has one aim: Regime Survival *** Korea: Is it time to accept Pyongyang will remain a nuclear threat forever?By chief foreign correspondent Philip WilliamsNorth Korea's obsession with becoming a fully nuclear armed intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM)-capable state is surely upon us, or close to it.The race to join the nuclear club has *one aim: Regime survival*. And the narrative is simple 'If the North has the weapons and the delivery systems, then it is far too dangerous to attack.'Successive Kims have long feared the US would attempt to overthrow their cult kingdom.Which brings us to North Korea's latest provocation and advancement of their nuclear arsenal.Does the risk Pyongyang could possibly hit mainland USA with a hydrogen bomb now mean any military option is virtually unthinkable?Not to mention the shocking devastation such a war could have on South Korea and Japan.Kim Jong-un in risky territoryHow far can North Korea push the United States before it reacts with anything other than words?Is this the moment we have to accept the North Koreans will remain a nuclear threat forever? That no UN sanctions or fear of a military response will change their course?Over the past three decades successive US presidents have hoped for a negotiated end to a nuclear north.At various times along the way huge financial carrots have been offered, and delivered, only to find the North Koreans revert to type and continue their quest for this most deadly of powers.And if it is to be, what will their neighbours do?Will South Korea decide it too needs a counter-deterrent of its own, separate from the United States that may not always be by Seoul's side?Tokyo too may come to the conclusion it needs a revised constitution that would allow it to develop nuclear weapons.There will be more international condemnation to come. The UN may tighten sanctions. US President Donald Trump will no doubt allude to "all options being on the table".But that options list grows smaller with every missile fired or bomb tested.Kim Jong-un may just have reached the point of preservation coveted by his family for generations. If so, it's a dangerous lesson for every other despot looking for longevity.*(3) North Korea would use nuclear weapons if backed into a corner*** North Korea: surely Donald Trump couldn’t be that foolishApril 12, 2017 2.40pm AESTBenjamin HabibAs the USS Carl Vinson and its carrier battle group steam through the Pacific toward the Korean Peninsula, many are wondering if the Trump administration could be so rash as to attack North Korea.Regardless of how this latest move plays out, the international community will ultimately have to accept and learn to manage a nuclear North Korea. This is because:North Korea will not relinquish its nuclear program for any price;the economic sanctions placed on it by the UN Security Council have had minimal impact in compelling North Korea’s denuclearisation; andmilitary options for denuclearising North Korea carry unacceptably high risks of a disastrous cascade to full-scale war.The Trump administration appears to agree with the first two assertions. However, it has reached a contrary view on the threat or use of military force to tame North Korea.The end of strategic patience?North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test in September 2016, and has since embarked on several missile tests. The reasons for these tests include advancing the technological development of its nuclear weapons program, signalling displeasure about the annual US-South Korea joint military exercises, and testing the new Trump administration’s mettle.In response, the US is doubling down on abrasive posturing and military threats. During his recent visit to South Korea, US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said “the policy of strategic patience has ended” with North Korea, and “all options are on the table” to denuclearise it. And Donald Trump has since declared on Twitter:In the past, US leaders have deployed stealth fighters and bombers to the Korean Peninsula as a signal to North Korea of the consequences of continued provocation. Trump, however, has deployed an aircraft carrier group in a move that goes beyond signalling a declaration of intent to attack.In the context of US air strikes against the Assad regime in Syria, the North Korean government would have little choice but to take the threat seriously. The risk of escalation to full-scale war has intensified.Surgical air strikes“Surgical air strikes” – similar to those conducted last week in Syria – are likely to be the US’s preferred military option. Such a proposal is not new.In July 2006, former defence officials Ashton Carter and William Perry suggested that the US could prevent further missile tests and send a strong message to the North Korean leadership by surgically attacking the country’s missile launch platforms. Such proposals have never been followed through: the assumption North Korea would not retaliate is a high-risk bet.Targeting missile facilities is one thing. Bombing North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure is a different proposition. For surgical air strikes to be successful, the US needs to be sure the most critical sites have been destroyed.During the early phase of its development, North Korea’s nuclear program was centred on the reactors and reprocessing facilities at Yongbyon. Since then, several clandestine processes within North Korea’snuclear fuel cycle have been uncovered, or been intentionally declared by the Kim regime.The nuclear program’s crown jewels – the bombs themselves, and the stockpiles of fissile material – are likely to be buried deep in secret, reinforced underground facilities, protected from aerial attack. If there were good options for surgical air strikes, these would have been more viable during the nuclear program’s earlier phase.Should air strikes successfully target nuclear facilities, there is a risk of toxic radioactive fallout contaminating surrounding regions both inside North Korea and in neighbouring countries. The fallout risk has long been recognised as one of the reasons discounting air strikes against North Korea as a viable military option.It is possible that surgical air strikes may instead target sites associated with the North Korean leadership, in an attempt to mortally wound the Kim regime and facilitate denuclearisation through regime change.There is precedent for this: the initial attack on Iraq in 2003. US-led coalition forces targeted presidential palaces, government buildings and other “targets of opportunity” in an attempt to eliminate Saddam Hussein and expedite the conclusion of the invasion.Let’s assume for the sake of argument that an air strike successfully killed Kim Jong-un. Does the Trump administration have a contingency plan for securing a post-Kim North Korea?There is a clear risk of mission creep should the US be drawn into an extended pacification and nation-building campaign. Its experience in Iraq should offer a cautionary tale about the risks of regime change by force in the absence of a plan to win the peace.Cascade to full-scale warLet’s say, however, that Kim survives a targeted attack. The North Korean leadership’s strategic culture and the political capital invested in decades of anti-US domestic propaganda has created a path dependency that virtually locks in an escalation to full-scale war, should North Korea be attacked.This is one of the reasons why South Korea has not retaliated against any North Korean provocations over the past two decades – even attacks as brazen as the shelling of Yeonpyeong-do and the sinking of South Korean naval corvette Cheonan.The South Korean capital, Seoul, is acutely vulnerable to North Korean attack because of its proximity to the demilitarised zone. It is virtually indefensible against artillery and missile barrage. Is the Trump administration willing to risk a cascade into full-scale war that would jeopardise the lives of millions of South Koreans in Seoul and its surrounds?It would be difficult to see the US-South Korea alliance surviving such a disaster – especially if such a crisis was precipitated by a clumsy American intervention.Such an escalation would be a disaster for the region. Picture the humanitarian tragedy and toxic politics of the Syrian refugee crisis superimposed on Northeast Asia. Does the Trump administration have a plan for managing the regional humanitarian fallout of an escalated war?This is the nightmare scenario for the Chinese government. It is one of the primary reasons for its continued – though increasingly lukewarm – backing of the Kim regime. It is also why China will inevitably veto any resolution put to the UN Security Council for military action against North Korea.Why deterrence has prevailedThe idea that a discrete, surgical air strike could be deployed in the Korean context is a mirage. North Korea is not Syria. There is a good reason successive US presidents have settled on deterring North Korea as their default strategy. The menu of possible military options all carry unacceptably high risks.North Korea has the means to retaliate against targets in South Korea and Japan with conventional weapons, as well as weapons of mass destruction. North Korea’s capacity to attack South Korea has helped preserve a balance of deterrence on the Korean Peninsula since the Korean War armistice in 1953.While the balance of terror overwhelming favours the US, the balance of deterrence in Korea sits at a rough equilibrium. As the more powerful player, the US does not have to act aggressively to maintain this equilibrium and preserve regional stability.In this context, the threat posed by a nuclear North Korea has been exaggerated through intellectually lazy analysis based on assumptions of the Kim regime’s irrationality. More careful analysis of North Korea’s actual behaviour suggests otherwise.The overriding priority underpinning North Korean foreign policy remains *regime survival *and the perpetuation of the Kim family dynasty. To this end, North Korea sees hard military power as the only reliable means of guaranteeing its security in what it perceives as a hostile strategic environment.North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile capabilities are the ultimate practical expressions of this worldview. But, more importantly, they are the North Korean leadership’s only real levers of power internationally.Trump’s foreign policy team would do well to think through the logic of their escalation. A North Korean first-strike nuclear attack against the US or its regional allies makes little sense for North Korea. From this perspective, it is a strategic restraint on America’s part based on deterrence – rather than unnecessary unilateral muscle-flexing – that’s more likely to preserve regional stability.Back in 2002, North Korea expert Victor Cha pointed out North Korea was most likely to *use nuclear weapons if backed into a corner *where the perpetuation of the Kim regime was directly threatened. It is a disturbing irony that *by deploying the USS Carl Vinson battle group, Trump has increased the possibility of that scenario* coming to pass.*(4) North Korea's other nuclear option: Bombing the South's atomic power plants ***'s other nuclear option: Bombing atomic power plantsSouth Korea has 24 nuclear reactors vulnerable to attack from North KoreaBy ASIA TIMES STAFF AUGUST 31, 2017 9:35 AM (UTC+8) 98 3 As the United Nations imposes more sanctions on North Korea to try and stop its development of nuclear weapons, a Russian diplomat argues Pyongyang wouldn't need an atomic device in a conflict on the Korean Peninsular.Instead, North Korea could rain its missiles down on South Korea's atomic power plants, causing widespread radiation contamination that would turn South Korea into a desert, devoid of life, Georgy Toloraya, who served in North Korea, said in an interview with the Russian news service Korea operates 24 nuclear reactors, most of them on it's east coast facing Japan, according to the World Nuclear Association.Toloraya, who is also East Asia Director at the Institute of Economics of the Russian Academy of Sciences, made the comment as part of his argument that there isn't a military solution to the crisis on the Peninsular, only a diplomatic one.'Everyone understands perfectly well that *for North Korea*, if it initiates an aggressive strike, a *military conflict will mean a complete and immediate destructio*n, because no one can deny the US military might,' Toloraya said in the interview.However, *if the US attempts to solve this problem militarily it will prompt a retaliatory strike* by North Korea and Pyongyang's missiles 'even without nuclear warheads' could target nuclear facilities in the South, he said.If the current situation in East Asia is not resolved, a number of countries ‚'will be living under a threat of a nuclear volcano erupting,' Toloraya said.Japan will suffer damage, too, and diplomacy and negotiations are the only way out of the crisis because pressure on Pyongyang over many years, including sanctions, have not changed North Korea's position, he said.'The thing is, the most bloody wars sometimes begin by accident or by mistake, this has happened in history. The higher the level of armament and the hotter the tensions in the Korean Peninsula, the bigger a chance of an accidental turn of events, with the subsequent escalation,' he said.*(5) North Korea could hit nuclear reactors in South - there are 30 close to the border *** Explains Why We Can't Pre-emptively Strike North Korea: "North Would Turn South Into A Desert"Aug 31, 2017 11:50 PMAuthored by Mac Slavo via,Following North Korea's recent missile test, which ominously flew over Japan, the specter of war with the hotheaded nation was raised once again.As time goes on, it seems less and less likely that the Kim regime will back down from its nuclear program. All forms of diplomacy and appeasement have failed, and not even threats of war from the US seem to have an effect on the regime.There's a very good reason for that. North Korea knows something that the United States, the most powerful nation on the planet, would absolutely hate to admit. Our country is is no position to engage in a preemptive strike on north Korea, because any attack would result in unimaginable devastation. The days when Americans would tolerate massive war casualties over a short period of time are long gone, and North Korea knows it. There simply isn't anything we can offer or threaten that will stop their nuclear program.And that's understandable once you know how much destruction North Korea could really bring about if the Kim regime ever decided to let its military loose on South Korea.If the current situation in East Asia is not resolved, a number of countries ‚'will be living under a threat of a nuclear volcano erupting,' Russian diplomat and an expert in Asian studies, professor Georgy Toloraya told understands perfectly well that for North Korea, if it initiates an aggressive strike, a military conflict will mean a complete and immediate destruction, because no one can deny the US military might,' Toloraya said.'However, for the US, attempts to solve this problem militarily also bring on a retaliatory strike by North Korea that would*turn South Korea into a desert*,' he warned, saying the North doesn't even need nuclear weapons for that.While Pyongyang's artillery is able to reach Seoul, the entire territory of South Korea will also ‚'be no good for life,' as Pyongyang's missiles ‚'even without nuclear warheads' might *hit nuclear facilities in the South*, he explained. He said there are some 30 such sites close to North Korea's border.Obviously, the destruction of nuclear facilities could have more of an impact than any other attack, by causing widespread radiation leaks. If anything, it could be more devastating than dropping a nuclear weapon, since the radioactive materials in these facilities often have a significantly longer half-life than what we see in atomic bombs.It's threats like that which make it clear that no military option is capable of reigning in North Korea. That's a sentiment that former White House Chief Strategist Steve Bannon expressed earlier this month.Contrary to Trump's threat of fire and fury, Bannon said: ‚'There's no military solution [to North Korea's nuclear threats], forget it. Until somebody solves the part of the equation that shows me that ten million people in Seoul don't die in the first 30 minutes from conventional weapons, I don't know what you're talking about, there's no military solution here, they got us.'And let's not forget that North Korea has one of the largest chemical weapon stockpiles in the world, and is suspected of maintaining a bio-weapons program since the 1960's. Given those possibilities, Bannon's belief that North Korea could kill ten million people may be a gross understatement, and that doesn't even consider the chances that war with North Korea could trigger another world war.It's time to accept the truth. We can bargain with the Kim regime, appease it, threaten it, and lay down sanctions on it, but nothing will actually stop that government from continuing its nuclear program without causing mass casualties. The only thing we can do is try to keep a lid on that country until their citizens rebel, or until the Chinese decide that they've had enough with their ally.*(6) Putin: North Korea should halt missile programme; and US & South Korea stop war games *** 2 2017 - 12:04PMNorth Korea and United States on brink of war, warns Vladimir PutinAndrew Osborn and Dmitry SolovyovMoscow: Russian President Vladimir Putin has warned that the standoff between North Korea and the United States is close to spilling into a large-scale conflict, and said it was a mistake to try to pressure Pyongyang into halting its nuclear missile programme.Mr Putin, due to attend a summit of the BRICS nations (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) in China next week, said the only way to de-escalate tensions was via talks, and Sergei Lavrov, his foreign minister, said Washington ‚Äì not Pyongyang ‚Äì should take the initiative."It is essential to resolve the region's problems through direct dialogue involving all sides without advancing any preconditions (for such talks)," Mr Putin, whose country shares a border with North Korea, wrote on the Kremlin's website."Provocations, pressure, and bellicose and offensive rhetoric is the road to nowhere."The Russian leader, whose nuclear-capable bombers recently flew over the Korean Peninsula in a show of force, said the situation had deteriorated so badly that it was now "balanced on the verge of a large-scale conflict."Pyongyang has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and recently threatened to land missiles near the US Pacific territory of Guam.US President Donald Trump issued a tweet on Thursday saying that "talking is not the answer" to the situation with North Korea.*(7) The US just gave North Korea a new threat to worry about -- F-35 stealth jets*** LOCKIESEP 2, 2017, 9:24 AMIn a demonstration of ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies, U.S. Marine Corps' F-35B Lightning II fighters assigned to the Marine Corps Air Station Iwakuni, Japan are joined by Republic of Korea Air Force F-15K fighters during a 10-hour mission from Andersen Air Force Base, into Japanese airspace and over the Korean Peninsula, August 30th. As North Korea grows increasingly bold by threatening US territories and flying missiles over Japan, the US has broke out for the first time its most advanced fighter, the F-35.In a trilateral show of force with South Korean and Japanese fighter jets, the US responded to North Korea's recent provocations with its usual flight of B-1 strategic bombers, but this time it added US Marine Corps F-35Bs.The US frequently flies the high-endurance, high-capacity B-1 with Japan and South Korea's fighter jets nearby, but the addition of the F-35 sends a message: While North Korea's military capability is growing, so is the US's.'North Korea's actions are a threat to our allies, partners and homeland, and their destabilizing actions will be met accordingly,' Gen. Terrence J. O'Shaughnessy, the commander of the US Pacific Air Forces, said in a statement. ‚'Our forward-deployed force will be the first to the fight, ready to deliver a lethal response at a moment's notice if our nation calls.'The F-35B in the hands of US Marine aviators has excellent stealth characteristics that means North Korea won't even know if the planes are overhead. Furthermore, the jets can takeoff almost vertically and land on a dime, making them perfect for quick, surprise strikes.With advanced radars and sensors, F-35s can alert legacy jets used by Japan and South Korea to threats on the ground and in the air, potentially increasing their efficacy against already overmatched North Korean forces.Soon, South Korea will get F-35As, the Air Force version of the jet meant to takeoff from runways, and Japan will load its fearsome Izumo-class aircraft carriers with F-35Bs.And while North Korea grows its nuclear threat, the US is preparing a new block of software that will enable the F-35 to carry tactical nuclear weapons, matching the secrecy and potency of any offensive capability North Korea could dream of.The US built the F-35 to *penetrate the most heavily guarded airspaces *on earth and to fool the most advanced anti-aircraft systems for decades to come. But the F-35, built to counter superpowers like China and Russia, handily overpowers anything North Korea can throw at it.North Korea won't stop its military provocations towards its neighbours and the US's allies, but with the horrifying possibility that F-35s are lurking overhead, don't expect North Korea to kill anything more than fish with its missile forces.*(8) North Korea's luxury Ski Resort*A Rare Look Inside North Korea And Its Luxury Ski Resort*(9) North Korea now largely a market economy *** 1, 2017 / 5:14 AM / 4 DAYS AGOSixty-four years after North Korea and the United States signed an armistice to suspend the Korean War, the U.S. State Department has forbidden American citizens from traveling to the hermit state. The notice was put in the federal register on August 2; it becomes effective on Friday.The travel ban is a relatively easy picking amongst a platter of bad choices for President Donald Trump. The U.S. president has not yet elaborated on his warning to North Korea that ‚'all options are on the table' after Pyongyang fired a missile over Japan on Tuesday, but something like the travel curb could be a small sign of what is to come.The restriction on visits to North Korea came about because over the last decade it has for various reasons detained around 15 U.S. citizens, all of whom have become bargaining chips and leverage for Pyongyang in its dealings with Washington. It's a pattern that forces U.S. officials to expend resources, time and political capital to try to secure the release of these Americans.Most tragically, in July Pyongyang returned one detainee ‚Äì Michigan college student Otto Warmbier ‚Äì in a coma. His death a few days later gave impetus to the State Department's push for a travel ban. Separate from this initiative and before Warmbier's death, a bipartisan-sponsored bill to stop Americans traveling to North Korea began wending its way through Congress. It is not clear yet what that will end up including or how this State Department ban will affect that legislation.But what will the travel ban accomplish? Washington has three main goals: to prevent American visitors being used as bargaining chips by Pyongyang, to deny the regime tourist dollars and to send a message about the unacceptability of Pyongyang's behavior.The first goal will be partially achieved. The ban immediately eliminates the risk of any one of the up to 1,000 Americans who visit each year on a tourist visa from falling afoul of the authorities.On closer inspection, however, it appears as if only four of the 15 to 17 Americans that have been detained since 2009 were tourists. (Different sources have different numbers on Americans detained.) Several cases involved individuals who crossed the China-North Korea border illegally for religious or journalistic reasons. Others held were Americans conducting humanitarian, development, health or education work in the country.The State Department has made clear that U.S. citizens visiting for ‚'limited humanitarian or other purposes may apply to the Department of State for a special validation passport.' Perversely, such people may now be more vulnerable: if Pyongyang is looking for political pawns, there will be a smaller pool to choose from.Still, the need for a special passport may allow the U.S. government to vet who can travel to North Korea for work. Many humanitarians or educators focused on North Korea appear to have deep religious convictions that make them vulnerable to breaking some of the country's rules, written or unwritten. The ability to deny a 'special validation passport' may allow the State Department to protect some of these people from themselves.There are currently three Americans detained in Pyongyang: Kim Hak-song, Kim Sang-duk and Kim Dong Chul. They were all detained in separate incidents: Kim Dong Chul had projects in the Rason Special Economic Zone and was accused of espionage; Kim Hak-Song was leaving a teaching post at an evangelical Christian-funded university in Pyongyang, the Pyongyang University of Science and Technology. Kim Sang-duk was doing the same 18 months later. The latter two were both stopped at the airport as they were about to fly out and accused of engaging in ‚'hostile acts.'In the end, a travel ban will probably reduce the number of detainees the United States has to deal with, but it is unlikely to eliminate them altogether.The second and third goals are more closely related. The roughly 1,000 U.S. tourists a year indeed do contribute to the growing North Korean economy. However, the average Western tourist spends around $2,000 per trip, so their impact is small. Even if all tourism stopped tomorrow ‚Äì including from China ‚Äìand Pyongyang lost out on the roughly $30 million this industry provides its nuclear and missile programs would be unaffected.Nor do profits from tourism go into some central regime coffer. The major misunderstanding about North Korea today is the assumption that it is a command economy, with everything done by and for the state. In fact, it is largely a market economy with multitudes of companies connected to different institutions, paying individual wages, buying input materials from suppliers, and when possible even hiding earnings from the authorities. Tourist dollars get spread around to some extent.That isn't to say that tourists can entirely avoid supporting Kim Jong Un's goals. When visitors fly into the country on Air Koryo ‚'as most do' they are paying money to a military-owned company. And that military is, of course, now dedicated to developing weapons that can hit the U.S. mainland. After the State Department announced in late July it would seek a travel ban, several North Korean missile tests and multiple rounds of rhetoric were launched across the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang, fond of symbolism, referred to ‚'the powerful nuclear hammer' it could inflict ‚'at the heart of the U.S.' if it thought Washington was trying to oust Kim.This travel ban is also a form of symbolism. In a real sense, it is a statement that North Korea's behavior is so far outside acceptable norms that the U.S. government is willing to forbid its own citizens from traveling there. It also signals U.S. intent to clamp down on North Korea's economy, even in small ways.There will be costs, too. Person-to-person exchanges can influence how people think, even in a controlled state like North Korea. Exposure to foreign people and ideas has changed how Pyongyang middle and upper-middle class residents see the world. Observers of North Korea also learn a surprising amount from the tourism industry, as tourists frequently spot changes and trends in-country. Some of this will be lost if the tourist industry contracts.The ban is an exceptionally rare action for the United States. It will go down as one more marker in the long history of conflict between the United States and North Korea. It is sobering to think that the men who signed the armistice in 1953 are long gone, while this tortured relationship endures.ABOUT THE AUTHOR Andray Abrahamian is a Visiting Fellow at the Jeju Peace Research Institute and at the Center for Korean Studies, UC Berkeley. @draylien The views expressed in this article are not those of Reuters News.*(10) North Korea may have acquired Rocket Motors from Ukraine* Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators SayBy WILLIAM J. BROAD and DAVID E. SANGERAugust 14, 2017North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by *black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory* with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.The studies may solve the mystery of how North Korea began succeeding so suddenly after a string of fiery missile failures, some of which may have been caused by American sabotage of its supply chains and cyberattacks on its launches. After those failures, the North changed designs and suppliers in the past two years, according to a new study by Michael Elleman, a missile expert at the International Institute for Strategic Studies.Such a degree of aid to North Korea from afar would be notable because President Trump has singled out only China as the North’s main source of economic and technological support. He has never blamed Ukraine or Russia, though his secretary of state, Rex W. Tillerson, made an oblique reference to both China and Russia as the nation’s “principal economic enablers” after the North’s most recent ICBM launch last month.Analysts who studied photographs of the North’s leader, Kim Jong-un, inspecting the new rocket motors concluded that*they derive from designs that once powered the Soviet Union’s missile fleet*. The engines were *so powerful that a single missile could hurl 10 thermonuclear warheads between continents*.Those engines were linked to only a few former Soviet sites. Government investigators and experts have focused their inquiries on a missile factory in Dnipro, Ukraine, on the edge of the territory where Russia is fighting a low-level war to break off part of Ukraine. During the Cold War, t*he factory made the deadliest missiles in the Soviet arsenal*, including the giant SS-18. It remained one of Russia’s primary producers of missiles even after Ukraine gained independence.But since Ukraine’s pro-Russian president, Viktor Yanukovych, was removed from power in 2014, the state-owned factory, known as Yuzhmash, has fallen on hard times. The Russians canceled upgrades of their nuclear fleet. *The factory is underused, awash in unpaid bills and low morale*. Experts believe it is the most likely source of the engines that in July powered the two ICBM tests, which were the first to suggest that North Korea has the range, if not necessarily the accuracy or warhead technology, to threaten American cities.“It’s likely that these engines came from Ukraine — probably illicitly,” Mr. Elleman said in an interview. “The big question is how many they have and whether the Ukrainians are helping them now. I’m very worried.”Bolstering his conclusion, he added, was a finding by United Nations investigators that North Korea tried six years ago to steal missile secrets from the Ukrainian complex. Two North Koreans were caught, and a U.N. report said the information they tried to steal was focused on advanced “missile systems, liquid-propellant engines, spacecraft and missile fuel supply systems.”Investigators now believe that, amid the chaos of post-revolutionary Ukraine, Pyongyang tried again.Mr. Elleman’s detailed analysis is public confirmation of what intelligence officials have been saying privately for some time: The new missiles are based on a technology so complex that it would have been impossible for the North Koreans to have switched gears so quickly themselves. They apparently fired up the new engine for the first time in September — meaning that it took only 10 months to go from that basic milestone to firing an ICBM, a short time unless they were able to buy designs, hardware and expertise on the black market.The White House had no comment when asked about the intelligence assessments.Last month, Yuzhmash denied reports that the factory complex was struggling for survival and selling its technologies abroad, in particular to China. Its website says the company does not, has not and will not participate in “the transfer of potentially dangerous technologies outside Ukraine.”American investigators do not believe that denial, though they say there is no evidence that the government of President Petro O. Poroshenko, who recently visited the White House, had any knowledge or control over what was happening inside the complex.On Monday, after this story was published, Oleksandr Turchynov, a top national security official in the government of Mr. Poroshenko, denied any Ukrainian involvement.“This information is not based on any grounds, provocative by its content, and most likely provoked by Russian secret services to cover their own crimes,” Mr. Turchynov said. He said the Ukrainian government views North Korea as “totalitarian, dangerous and unpredictable, and supports all sanctions against this country.”How the *Russian-designed engines, called the RD-250, got to North Korea* is still a mystery.Mr. Elleman was unable to rule out the possibility that a large Russian missile enterprise, Energomash, which has strong ties to the Ukrainian complex, had a role in the transfer of the RD-250 engine technology to North Korea. He said leftover RD-250 engines might also be stored in Russian warehouses.But the fact that the powerful engines did get to North Korea, despite a raft of United Nations sanctions, suggests a broad intelligence failure involving the many nations that monitor Pyongyang.Since President Barack Obama ordered a step-up in sabotage against the North’s missile systems in 2014, American officials have closely monitored their success. They appeared to have won a major victory last fall, when Mr. Kim ordered an end to flight tests of the Musudan, an intermediate-range missile that was a focus of the American sabotage effort.But no sooner had Mr. Kim ordered a stand-down of that system than the North rolled out engines of a different design. And those tests were more successful.American officials will not say when they caught on to the North’s change of direction. But there is considerable evidence they came to it late.Leon Panetta, the former C.I.A. director, said on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday that the North Korean drive to get workable ICBMs that could be integrated with nuclear weapons moved more quickly than the intelligence community had expected.“The rapid nature of how they’ve been able to come to that capability is something, frankly, that has surprised both the United States and the world,” he said.It is unclear who is responsible for selling the rockets and the design knowledge, and intelligence officials have differing theories about the details. But Mr. Elleman makes a strong circumstantial case that would implicate the deteriorating factory complex and its underemployed engineers.“I feel for those guys,” said Mr. Elleman, who visited the factory repeatedly a decade ago while working on federal projects to curb weapon threats. “They don’t want to do bad things.”Dnipro has been called the world’s fastest-shrinking city. The sprawling factory, southeast of Kiev and once a dynamo of the Cold War, is having a hard time finding customers.American intelligence officials note that North Korea has exploited the black market in missile technology for decades, and built an infrastructure of universities, design centers and factories of its own.It has also recruited help: In 1992, *officials at a Moscow airport stopped a team of missile experts from traveling to Pyongyang*.That was only a temporary setback for North Korea. It obtained the design for the R-27, a*compact missile made for Soviet submarines*, created by the Makeyev Design Bureau, an industrial complex in the Ural Mountains that employed the rogue experts apprehended at the Moscow airport.But the R-27 was complicated, and the design was difficult for the North to copy and fly successfully.Eventually, the North turned to an alternative font of engine secrets — the Yuzhmash plant in Ukraine, as well as its design bureau, Yuzhnoye. The team’s engines were potentially easier to copy because they were designed not for cramped submarines but roomier land-based missiles. That simplified the engineering.Economically, the plant and design bureau faced new headwinds after Russia in early 2014 invaded and annexed Crimea, a part of Ukraine. Relations between the two nations turned icy, and Moscow withdrew plans to have Yuzhmash make new versions of the SS-18 missile.In July 2014, a report for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace warned that such economic upset could put Ukrainian missile and atomic experts “out of work and could expose their crucial know-how to rogue regimes and proliferators.”The first clues that a Ukrainian engine had fallen into North Korean hands came in September when Mr. Kim supervised a ground test of a new rocket engine that analysts called the biggest and most powerful to date.Norbert Brügge, a German analyst, reported that photos of the engine firing revealed strong similarities between it and the RD-250, a Yuzhmash model.Alarms rang louder after a second ground firing of the North’s new engine, in March, and its powering of the flight in May of a new intermediate-range missile, the Hwasong-12. It broke the North’s record for missile distance. Its high trajectory, if leveled out, translated into about 2,800 miles, or far enough to fly beyond the American military base at Guam.On June 1, Mr. Elleman struck an apprehensive note. He argued that the potent engine clearly hailed from “a different manufacturer than all the other engines that we’ve seen.”Mr. Elleman said the North’s diversification into a new line of missile engines was important because it undermined the West’s assumptions about the nation’s missile prowess: “We could be in for surprises.”That is exactly what happened. The first of the North’s two tests in July of a new missile, the Hwasong-14, went a distance sufficient to threaten Alaska, surprising the intelligence community. The second went far enough to reach the West Coast, and perhaps Denver or Chicago.Last week, the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists featured a detailed analysis of the new engine, also concluding that it was derived from the RD-250. The finding, the analysts said, “raises new and potentially ominous questions.”The emerging clues suggest not only new threats from North Korea, analysts say, but new dangers of global missile proliferation because the Ukrainian factory remains financially beleaguered. It now makes trolley buses and tractors, while seeking new rocket contracts to help regain some of its past glory.-- Peter Myerswebsite: