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    BIOTERRORBIBLE.COM: Despite the fact that the United States and its European Union allies have been researching, planning and drilling for a major bio-terror attack and the subsequent pandemic, the nations of Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Libya, North Korea and Syria have been quietly set up over the last decade as potential bio-terror scapegoats. Based on the evidence available, it appears that the U.S., Israel and South Korea may be the future victims of major false-flag bio-terror attacks.

    While the world is distracted by the rhetoric and propaganda in respect to North Korea's missile program, North Korea has been quietly been set up as a bio-terror state that will likely play a pivotal role in the upcoming war of bio-terror. Based on recent news and events, it is highly likely that North Korea will attack South Korea with a bio-terror agent possibly causing a pandemic in the region.


    Title: U.S. Report Finds Active Biological Weapons Programs In Iran, North Korea, Russia And Syria
    Date:
    September 7, 2005
    Source:
    NTI

    Abstract: The U.S. State Department has found that Iran, North Korea, Russia and Syria are maintaining biological weapons programs, the Associated Press reported last week (see GSN, March 29).

    The State Department also found that China still has “some elements” of a biological weapons program, while experts failed to agree on Cuba’s bioweapons production capacity, AP reported.

    The findings were outlined in the State Department’s “Adherence to and Compliance with Arms Control, Nonproliferation, and Disarmament Agreements and Commitments” report. The congressionally mandated report, covering the two-year period ending in December 2004, details individual country’s WMD capabilities and missile proliferation efforts, according to AP.

    According to the report: Based on available intelligence, Iran is believed to have an offensive biological weapons program; North Korea has a “dedicated, national-level effort to develop a BW capability; Russia “continues to maintain” a weapons program; and Syria would be in violation of the Biological Weapons Convention if it was a member.

    China “maintains some elements of an offensive BW capability,” while Cuba has at least a “limited offensive BW research and development effort,” the report found (George Gedda, Associated Press/Baltimore Sun, Aug. 30).

    China rejected the report’s findings, according to Voice of America.

    “These statements are far from the truth, and are irresponsible,” said Zhang Yan, director general of the Chinese Foreign Ministry's arms control department. “We hope that the U.S. side will stop such erroneous practices, and we also express our strong dissatisfaction” (Luis Ramirez, Voice of America, Sept. 1).

    Russia has also challenged statements made in the report regarding its weapons programs, RIA Novosti reported last week.

    “Those are not new accusations,” the Russian Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The Russian Foreign Ministry has had to comment on similar points in other ‘research papers’ that put Russia in a group of countries violating nonproliferation agreements without providing any evidence many times before.”

    The Foreign Ministry said the report presents “a one-sided and distorted picture of the implementation of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.”

    Russia said the State Department offered no evidence that it has failed to honor its Chemical Weapons Convention and Biological Weapons Convention commitments (NTI, 2005)

    Title: N Korea 'Tests Weapons On Children'
    Date: July 24, 2009
    Source: Al Jazeera

    Abstract: Ex-special forces captain says biological and chemical weapons tested on human guinea pigs.

    When Im Chun-yong made his daring escape from North Korea, with a handful of his special forces men, there were many reasons why the North Korean government was intent on stopping them.

    They were, after all, part of Kim Jong-il's elite commandos - privy to a wealth of military secrets and insights into the workings of the reclusive regime.

    But among the accounts they carried with them is one of the most shocking yet to emerge – namely the use of humans, specifically mentally or physically handicapped children, to test North Korea's biological and chemical weapons.

    "If you are born mentally or physically deficient, says Im, the government says your best contribution to society… is as a guinea pig for biological and chemical weapons testing."

    Even after settling into the relative safety of South Korea, for 10 years Im held on to this secret, saying it was too horrific to recount.

    But with Kim's health reportedly failing, and the country appearing increasingly unpredictable, Im felt it was time he spoke out.

    Daughter Given Up

    The former military captain says it was in the early 1990s, that he watched his then commander wrestle with giving up his 12-year-old daughter who was mentally ill.

    The commander, he says, initially resisted, but after mounting pressure from his military superiors, he gave in.

    Im watched as the girl was taken away. She was never seen again.

    One of Im's own men later gave him an eyewitness account of human-testing.

    Asked to guard a secret facility on an island off North Korea's west coast, Im says the soldier saw a number of people forced into a glass chamber.

    "Poisonous gas was injected in," Im says. "He watched doctors time how long it took for them to die."

    Other North Korean defectors have long alleged that the secretive nation has been using political prisoners as experimental test subjects.

    Some have detailed how inmates were shipped from various concentration camps to so-called chemical "factories".

    'Widespread Practice'

    But Im's is the first account of mentally-ill or physically challenged children being used.

    Security analysts believe Kim oversees one of the most aggressive and robust biochemical weapons programmes in the world.

    A member of the special forces' Brigade No.19, Im says he was trained on how to use biochemical weapons against the "enemy" – including how to fire them from short-range "bazooka-style" weapons.

    He says such training was normal practice for all elite units.

    Today it is estimated the country has accumulated a stockpile of more than 5,000 tonnes of biochemical weaponry; from mustard gas, to nerve agents such as sarin, to anthrax and cholera.

    The extent of the stockpile is a concern to Kim Sang-hun, a retired UN official who has spent years investigating the North's chemical and biological weapons programme.

    He believes over the past 20 years, the programme has advanced at a startling pace, specifically because the country’s rulers approve and support the use of human test subjects.

    "Human experimentation is a widespread practice," Kim says.

    "I hoped I was wrong, but it is the reality and it is taking place in North Korea and it is taking place at a number of locations."

    There are some who question claims that the North conducts human trials. But Kim says he has interviewed hundred of defectors who, more times than not, volunteer personal vivid accounts.

    "The programme is now a commonly known fact in the North Korean public," he says.

    As a former member of the elite special forces, Im agrees.

    While the government may be secretive about a lot of things, he says "when it comes to human experimentation, most know it happens".

    Investigating what he says are serious UN violations regarding the rights of children and prisoners, Kim Sang-hun has amassed a vast amount of evidence.

    Compiled in folders at his home in Seoul are reams of testimonies and documents.

    Some bear what appear to be official government stamps approving the transfer of prisoners from camps to chemical "factories".

    He says he believes these are, in reality, experimental weapons sites.

    He has pinpointed at least three to five labs that he believes are situated in different parts of the country, including one just a few kilometres north of the capital, Pyongyang.

    Security analysts suspect there are as many as 20 such plants across the country.

    Biochemical Threat

    As the world's attention focuses on the North's nuclear programme, Im is worried the international community will miss what he believes is the more imminent threat posed by the country's biochemical arsenal.

    Arms experts say at least 30 per cent of North Korea's missile and artillery systems are capable of delivering such weapons. With each successive test, they warn the North's accuracy improves, and so too its range.

    The UN Security Council now says it believes three of the seven missiles tested by the North on July 4 were Scud-ER missiles, which are known to be more accurate and have a range of 1,000km.

    Tokyo is roughly 1,160km from the base on North Korea's east coast from where the missiles were fired, while other parts of Japan are closer.

    Im believes the government would not hesitate to use such arms, saying he has seen the "ruthlessness" of the country’s leaders.

    During his escape from North Korea in December 1999, Im says he and his men battled their way out, chased by dozens of members of other commando units.

    "I myself killed three men," he says. "Then after swimming across the half frozen Tumen river into China, we sold our guns, and left that life behind."

    Im now devotes his time to gathering intelligence about the North's military capabilities.

    Even a decade after his escape, the threat he still poses to the North Korean government means that he now lives under the constant protection of South Korea's National Intelligence Service (Al Jazeera, 2009).

    Title: North Korea's Biochemical Threat
    Date: October 1, 2009
    Source: Popular Mechanics

    Abstract: While its nuclear test spurs outrage, North Korea has grown a vast biochemical weapons arsenal in secrecy. We investigate Kim Jong Il's deception, plus his rogue nation's human trials and its deadly harvest's terror potential.

    Fifty miles south of the Chinese border lies the rural town of Chongju. Like many North Korean towns, it is a small, impoverished place where people scratch a bare existence from government-controlled farms. What photographs exist of Chongju reveal a brown landscape of depleted-looking fields and shanty-style houses. It is hard to believe anything of value grows here.

    But, according to intelligence reports, something precious to the North Korean regime may be under cultivation in Chongju. Beyond the shacks stands an installation suspected of being a component in North Korea's bioweapons (BW) research and development program. The effort is steeped in a level of secrecy possible only in a totalitarian state, but it is thought to encompass at least 20 facilities throughout the country. Another 12 plants churn out chemical weapons.

    In late November, delegates of the signatory countries to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention (BTWC) met at the United Nations office in Geneva for the sixth review of the treaty since its inception in 1972. The meeting took place just weeks after North Korea publicly added the third prong to its capacity for weapons of mass destruction (WMD) by testing a nuclear device.

    On day one, the U.S. delegate, Assistant Secretary of State John C. Rood, charged North Korea, along with Iran and Syria, with violating the ban on researching and developing biology for war. "We have particular concerns with the activities of North Korea ... in the biological weapons context, but also because of their ... support for terrorism and their lack of compliance with international obligations," Rood said. Internationally, it is widely agreed that the country is aggressively developing several weapons of mass destruction.

    North Korea has been a signatory to the BTWC since March 1987. But, according to defectors, South Korean intelligence agencies and other sources, the nation's Fifth Machine Industry Bureau has led a successful effort to build one of the world's most extensive biochemical warfare programs. The weaponry is thought to have the potential to decimate North Korea's southern neighbor and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there, and to disrupt the regional economy. The gravest danger may be that North Korean dictator Kim Jong Il could sell his weapons to terrorists.

    In contrast to the global frenzy triggered by North Korea's nuclear weapons test, the threat of biochemical WMDs has prompted a muted response from the West. The reason may be what former weapons inspector Christopher Davis has dubbed "nuclear blindness," which he defines as "the tunnel vision ... brought on by the mistaken belief that it is only the size of the bang that matters."

    Dual-Use Deception

    North Korea’s Chemical and Bioweapons (CBW) program appears to be modeled on that of the former Soviet Union, which covertly constructed a massive biological weapons infrastructure within the shell of a civilian research organization called Biopreparat. Inside Biopreparat, the Soviets developed deadly agents that included weaponized forms of anthrax and pneumonic plague.

    Intelligence reports from the United States and South Korea list anthrax, smallpox, pneumonic plague, cholera and botulism toxins as leading components of North Korea's bioweapons projects. "Information from U.S. government sources indicates that North Korea is capable of growing several biological agents," says Michael Stebbins, head of Biology Policy at the Federation of American Scientists. And, he says, the country "has the infrastructure to weaponize them."

    Anthrax is believed to be one of North Korea's most fully developed biological weapons. Growing anthrax on a large scale is relatively easy: It can be done with basic brewing equipment. Sources indicate that North Korea also has developed the ability to mill anthrax (grinding the cake into microscopic powder), and to treat it to form a lethal and durable weapon. An attack might use a modified missile that cruises at low altitude to spray a fine mist of weaponized germs over its target area. The resulting deaths and injuries could number in the thousands.

    Following the same model that it employs in its BW program, the North Korean regime has folded a chemical weapons (CW) initiative into its civilian chemical industry. A 2003 CIA report stated: "Pyongyang continue[s] to acquire dual-use chemicals that could potentially be used to support [its] long-standing CW program. North Korea's CW [can] produce bulk quantities of nerve, blister, choking, and blood agents, using its sizable, although aging, chemical industry." An example is mustard gas, famously employed during World War I. It is made using 2-chloroethanol, a byproduct of carbide production.

    Daniel Pinkston, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies in Monterey, Calif., says most assessments of North Korea's WMD capabilities point to a chemical weapons stockpile of some 5000 tons of agents, including large amounts of sarin, mustard gas and hydrogen cyanide. That would make it one of the largest chemical arsenals in the world. Up to 30 percent of the country's missile and artillery stocks is capable of delivering such chemicals, according to the Nuclear Threat Initiative, an organization that monitors nuclear, biological and chemical weapons proliferation.

    North Korea is the only world government that has never signed, acceded to or even responded to invitations to join the Chemical Weapons Convention. There appears to be a good reason for that: Unlike the BTW Convention, the chemical weapons treaty mandates independent inspections.

    Human Trials

    North Korea’s biological and chemical weapons have never been deployed against outside enemies. According to defectors, however, they have been used inside the country on human test subjects. The victims: political prisoners.

    Former prisoner Lee Sun Ok described one such test before the U.S. House Committee on International Relations: "In February 1990, I was asked by the chief guard to follow him to an administration warehouse ... He ordered me to check out six bundles (five pairs in each bundle) of gas masks with rubber gowns, which looked like a sea diver's kit. When I returned to my prison chamber, a total of 150 prisoners, several from each unit, were selected and separated from the other[s]. The selected prisoners were mostly crippled and weak women who had less labor value."

    Later, said Lee, "I saw many prisoners lying on the slope of a hill, bleeding from their mouths and motionless, enveloped by strange fumes and surrounded by scores of guards in the gas masks ... I delivered earlier in the morning."

    Additionally, a South Korean human rights activist has obtained what he claims are documents authorizing the transfer of prisoners for WMD experimentation. "The above person is transferred ... for the purpose of human experimentation with liquid gas for chemical weapons," one document reads.

    The Terror Potential

    Tens of thousands of American troops and millions of civilians reside within range of North Korea's missiles. However, Robert Templer, Asia Program director for the International Crisis Group, says the most threatening scenario may not be a direct attack by North Korea, but rather what might happen to the weapons during the chaos that would erupt if the regime crumbles.

    "Over the past 10 years we Templer says. "If the country collapses, then in the vortex created by the lack of command and control and restraint on these weapons, some general may have seen different parts of the state beginning to operate with a greater level of freedom," decide to sell them to a middleman, to someone in China, to an arms dealer with enough money."

    And it wouldn't take a change in the power structure for the North Korean government to begin selling such weapons to terrorist groups. Ironically, North Korea's WMD threat may be sharpest when the weapons move beyond the control of Kim Jong Il, the world figure who has come, perhaps more than any other, to symbolize the dangers of WMD proliferation (Popular Mechanics, 2009).

    Title: N Korea Said To Have 13 Types Of Biological Weapons.
    Date: October 5, 2009
    Source: Free Library


    Abstract: North Korea is thought to have 13 types of viruses and germs which can be used in biological weapons, as well as up to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, South Korea s defence ministry said Monday.

    In a report to parliament, the ministry said the communist North has one of the world s largest stockpiles of chemical and biological weapons.

    The list of diseases that could be caused by the biological weapons includes cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, eruptive typhus typhus, any of a group of infectious diseases caused by microorganisms classified between bacteria and viruses, known as rickettsias. Typhus diseases are characterized by high fever and an early onset of rash and headache. , typhoid fever and dysentery dysentery (dĭs`əntĕr'ē), inflammation of the intestine characterized by the frequent passage of feces, usually with blood and mucus. , it said. The ministry estimated its neighbour s stockpile of chemical weapons at between 2,500 to 5,000 tons.

    The assertions that the North has chemical and biological weapons, in addition to its nuclear and conventional weaponry, are not new. But Monday s report gave more details of the alleged biological arsenal.

    The International Crisis Group said in a report in June that PyongyangEoe1/4aos nuclear capabilities are the greatest threat, but it also has a large chemical weapons stockpile and a suspected biological weapons programme.

    The chemical weapons could be deliverable by artillery or missile to cause massive civilian casualties in South Korea, the Brussels-based think-tank said.

    The stockpile includes between 2,500-5,000 tons of mustard gas, phosgene phosgene (fŏs`jēn), colorless poison gas, first used during World War I by the Germans (1915). When dispersed in air, the gas has the odor of new-mowed hay. , blood agents, sarin sarin (zärēn`), volatile liquid used as a nerve gas. It boils at 147°C; but evaporates quickly at room temperature; its vapor is colorless and odorless. , tabun tabun (tä`bən), liquid chemical compound used as a nerve gas. It boils at 240°C; with some decomposition. The liquid is colorless to brownish; its vapors have a fruity odor similar to that of bitter almonds. and persistent nerve agents and can be delivered by long-range artillery, missiles, aircraft and naval vessels, it said.

    The North and South have remained technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended only in an armistice and not a peace treaty. The South s 655,000-strong military, backed up by 28,500 US troops, faces off against the North s 1.2 million-member armed forces (Free Library, 2009).

    Title: Forget N. Korean Nukes, There Are Sarin And Typhus, Says Seoul
    Date: October 6, 2009
    Source: 
    RT

    Abstract: North Korea has stockpiled up to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons and has thirteen types of biological agents, the South Korean Defense Ministry has said. Experts are taking the claims with caution.

    The DPRK chemical arsenal is estimated at 2,500 to 5,000 tons and includes mustard gas, phosgene and sarin, Minister Kim Tae Young told members of the South Korean parliament.on Monday. Among the microbial weapons are cholera, yellow fever, smallpox, typhus, typhoid fever and dysentery.

    “I would be very cautious towards any statements made by South Korea about the North. Frankly speaking, South Korean intelligence knows little about the North,” commented Evgeny Kim, from the Centre for Korean Studies at the Institute of Far East of the Russian Academy of Sciences to RT. He cited a recent embarrassing mistake when South Korean officials reported that North Korean leader Kim Jong-il had chosen his third son as his “successor”, but managed to name him erroneously.

    Chemical & Biological WMD
    Chemical weapons like mustard gas and chlorine were used extensively throughout WWI, but by WWII, lethal poisons had become an unpopular weapon, both due to their inefficiency against protected troops and the indiscriminate nature of their effects. Conflicting parties stockpiled more advanced chemical agents and developed biological weapons during the Cold War, but they were not used. The arsenals were very costly to dismantle later, and the work to destroy them is still ongoing.

    The production, storage, use and transfer of biological and chemical WMDs were banned by the 1972 Biological Weapons Convention and the 1993 Chemical Weapons Convention. North Korea assented to the former, but not to the latter.

    To date there is no documented instance of the use of either kind of weapon by North Korea.

    Seoul receives almost all its knowledge about the on-ground situation in its neighbor from defectors, and this information cannot be double-checked, the expert added. “This information is just information. Nobody can say how reliable it is. Ten years ago they claimed that North Korea has eight nuclear bombs.”

    The parliamentary report brings up questions about the credibility of the information, as well as the professionalism of the intelligence officers who provided them, agrees Kim’s colleague Konstantin Asmolov.

    “North Korea is a very secretive country, especially when it comes to its defense projects. I have a strong belief that the report was based on data provided by unreliable sources and tells more about the lack of competence of South Korean intelligence and their desire to produce information, which fits an outdated demonized image of North Korea, rather than an objective reality.”

    “There are people [among the South’s officials] who faithfully believe that Kim Jong-il’s only dream is to conquer the South and that the nuclear weapon was created for this only purpose. It’s the level of awareness of reality similar to that of some hard-headed generals in the North, who also seem to be living on some other Earth than ours,” he added.

    Asmolov says Pyongyang’s official policy is to rely on its nuclear capabilities in case of a military conflict and as a deterrent, while other weapons of mass destruction the DPRK likely possesses, are more or less irrelevant. “Of course I can assume that the North Korea has something in that line, but most of its neighbors have it too,” he said.

    The report coincided with a three-day visit to North Korea by Chinese Premier Wen Jiabao. During the visit Pyongyang announced its willingness to restart six-party talks, which it withdrew from earlier this year. This will be possible if bilateral negotiations with the United States proof fruitful.

    There is discontent in the South about its possible sidelining as the dialogue between DPRK and other parties intensifies. Seoul wants the negotiations with Pyongyang to proceed under their control and is reluctant to let anyone, especially the Americans, to take the initiative (RT, 2009).

    Title: Army Questions Preparedness In Face Of N. Korean Bio-Threat
    Date: February 4, 2010
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: Senior U.S. officials, noting North Korea’s biological and chemical weapons as well as nuclear warheads and long range missiles, announced that U.S. ground forces may not, in the case of an emergency situation in North Korea, be able to arrive in South Korea in time.

    "We could not get the Army units required for South Korea into South Korea on the time line required by the plan," Secretary of Defense Robert Gates told a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee. "That’s not to say they wouldn’t get there. It’s just that they wouldn’t get there as quickly because of the commitments that we have in Iraq and Afghanistan. And so certainly initially we would be especially dependent on the Navy and the Air Force."

    If the proposed troop withdrawal in Iraq in 2011 were to occur, Michael Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff has said, extra ground troops could arrive in South Korea in time.

    If North Korea were to collapse, a report issued by the Council on Foreign Relations issued last year said, 460,00 troops, or approximately three times the number deployed in Iraq, would be needed to maintain stability in the country.

    Locating, safeguarding, and disposing of materials and stockpiles of the North’s estimated six to eight nuclear weapons, four thousand tons of chemical weapons, and any biological weapons, as well as its ballistic missile program, would be a high priority, especially for the United States," the report said.

    North Korea is also believed to be in possession of ballistics missiles that would be capable of reaching western parts of the United States (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).

    Title: N. Korea 'Plotting Biochemical Attack'
    Date: August 13, 2010
    Source: Chosun Ilbo


    Abstract: North Korea is trying to launch a biochemical attack against the South prior to the G20 Summit in Seoul in November, a conservative activist claimed Thursday citing a North Korean source.

    Choi Sung-yong, the head of Family Assembly Abducted to North Korea said the North is preparing to send 20 different deadly biochemical weapons attached to balloons and parachutes across the border. He said the campaign is led by Gen. Kim Kyok-sik, who commands the North's frontline fourth corps, at the orders of leader Kim Jong-il's heir apparent Jong-un.

    Choi said the story came from "an active soldier in the North Korean Army." Kim Kyok-sik was chief of the General Staff of the People's Army before being demoted to his current post and is thought to have masterminded the torpedo attack on the South Korean Navy corvette Cheonan.

    Choi also claimed a number of North Korean mines found south of the border after recent floods were deliberately floated down the Imjin River by Kim Kyok-sik's men at Kim Jong-un's orders.

    "The source said the frontline fourth corps is collecting mines from all over North Korea, not only in Hwanghae Province where the fourth corps is located but from as far afield as North Hamgyong Province. It floated the mines down intentionally but blamed it on floods," Choi claimed.

    Asked about the claim, a National Intelligence Service spokesman was noncommittal, saying, "It's possible to imagine a number of scenarios, but we can't draw any conclusions at the moment." The Joint Chiefs of Staff declined to comment. (Chosun Ilbo, 2010)

    Title: North Korea Has Capability To Mass Produce Chemical Weapons, Expert Says
    Date: October 14, 2010
    Source: Bio Prep Watch


    Abstract: Officials with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses have said that they believe that North Korea has the ability to produce up to 12,000 tons of chemical weapons.

    In a recent report, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses Kwon Yang-Joo said this capability could cause unprecedented civilian casualties in South Korea, AFP reports. Amidst concerns over North Korea’s nuclear capabilities, Yang-Joo told AFP that the North Korea's chemical weapons stockpile is South Korea’s number one security priority.

    “The international community must show its strong will in seeking disarmament of North Korea's chemical weapons along with its denuclearization,” Yang-Joo told AFP.

    South Korea Defense Ministry officials estimate that North Korea possess approximately 2,500 to 5,000 tons of mustard gas, blood agents and nerve gas, according to the AFP report. Yang-Joo said North Korea could easily manufacture up to 12,000 tons of chemical weapons that could be deliverable by aircraft, missiles or artillery shells.

    Yang-Joo estimated that 5,000 tons of chemical agents could contaminate 950 square miles, an area that is about four times the size of Seoul. He also said that if North Korea was to use all of its chemical stockpile at once, it would have the ability to produce upwards of 1.25 million chemical bombs, AFP reports (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).

    Title: Concerns Raised About Potential North Korean Bio Attack
    Date: November 12, 2010
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: British diplomats have recently announced some concern that North Korea may strike South Korea with biological weapons during the G20 summit in order to create an attention grabbing event.

    Among possible scenarios, diplomatic sources revealed, are an incursion into South Korean waters, missile testing in South Korean airspace and even the use of biological weapons filled balloons against Seoul, according to the Telegraph.

    “There has been some speculation that North Korea would try to disrupt the summit,” a diplomatic source revealed, according to the Telegraph. "They are in the midst of a succession. The leadership must want to demonstrate it's more than business as usual."

    Last month, Kim Tae-Young, South Korea’s defense minister, warned that North Korea could potentially launch attacks he called provocative during the succession period.

    U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton voiced concerns ahead of the G20 meeting that U.S. President Barack Obama will attend. She reportedly went as far as to ask Chinese State Councilor Dai Bingguo to ensure that North Korea abstain from such displays, the Telegraph reports.

    British officials said on November 10 that the U.K. position remains that it hopes to see the six party talks concerning North Korea’s nuclear program continue, as well as the firm pressure of international sanctions (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).

    Title: South Korea Claims North Korea Possesses Mass Chemical, Biological Weapons
    Date: December 31, 2010
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: In a recently published defense white paper, South Korea claimed that North Korea is in possession of and continues to develop chemical, biological and nuclear weapons.

    According to the white paper, North Korea has 2,500 to 5,000 tons of various chemical weapons and has extracted approximately 40 kilograms of plutonium by reprocessing spent fuel rods from a 5 MW nuclear reactor it has run since the 1980s.

    Additionally, according to the paper’s details as reported by English.Chosun.com, the North has increased the number of its special forces troops by 20,000 over the past two years, reaching a total of approximately 200,000, mostly deployed in a light infantry division under an Army Corps that is stationed near the frontline. A light infantry regiment has also been added to an Army division nearby.

    The force of 200,000 is reportedly ready to carry out combined operations aimed at attacking major South Korean facilities, assassinating important people and infiltrating the South by using a network of underground tunnels.

    A 2006 defense white paper estimated the North’s special forces to number approximately 120,000. By 2008, that number had increased to 160,000, English.Chosun.com reports. Currently, they account for 17 percent of the total number of North Korea’s 1.19 million soldiers (Bio Prep Watch, 2010).

    Title: North Korean Anthrax Attack Could Kill 600,000
    Date: October 27, 2011
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: An American defense expert recently warned that North Korea could kill between 20,000 and 600,000 South Koreans if it released anthrax over Seoul, depending on the dispersion method.

    Bruce Bennett, a senior policy analyst at the RAND Corporation, said that approximately 40 percent of those infected in such an attack would die within 10 days. Bennet made the comments at an international symposium on North Korea’s biochemical capabilities held at the Korean Military Academy, according to Donga.com.

    A North Korean attack using an aerosolized form of anthrax would leave many with respiratory anthrax, the most difficult form of the illness to treat. Most of the affected would show symptoms of exposure by the third day and begin dying on the fourth day.

    Bennett said that because North Korea would most likely use several means of dispersing anthrax spores, including missiles, aircraft and special forces equipped with specialized equipment, South Korea should take action now to bolster its detection capabilities.

    Bennett suggested that aircraft that could potentially carry anthrax should be destroyed, if at all possible, over North Korean airspace because the virus could reach the ground even after the planes are intercepted. Bennett also encouraged South Korea to investigate domestic groups with connections to North Korea that would be capable of spreading chemical materials over a large area.

    Overall, Bennett said that the use of biological weapons by North Korea would occur as a prelude to an attack, adding that it would change the nature of any conflict on the Korean Peninsula (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: Exercise Focuses On Potential N. Korea Biological, Chemical Attack
    Date: November 10, 2011
    Source: Stripes

    Abstract:
    U.S. and South Korean military officials huddled in operations centers over the past two weeks going over, in great detail, how they would respond to a chemical or biological attack from North Korea.

    While many details of the exercise are classified, 2nd Infantry Division officials said the computer-based Warpath III exercise, which was scheduled to end Thursday, gave 1,000 servicemembers from eight American and South Korean brigades experience in how the alliance would react with the “full spectrum” of its manpower and equipment in the event the North made good on threats it has made over the years.

    “That threat is real,” 2ID spokesman Lt. Col. Joe Scrocca said. “The regime in North Korea … they claim to have those weapons (and) they’ve threatened to use those weapons.

    “I think it would be irresponsible not to take that threat seriously. If we don’t practice, we will not be ready if they use those weapons. We’re practicing for a real-world threat on the peninsula.”

    After getting an operations center update Tuesday from participants in the exercise, 2ID commander Maj. Gen. Edward C. Cardon said U.S. and South Korean officials should not be lulled into a false sense of security by conciliatory gestures the North has made in recent months toward the alliance and the rest of the outside world.

    “I’m in the security business, where you constantly get surprised,” he said. “So, the best thing you can do is be ready. All we can do is remain as ready as possible and show that we are capable.”

    Earlier in the day, as he flew by helicopter between exercise bases of operation at Camp Casey and at a Korean army base near Gimpo, Cardon said it is “an unknown unknown” whether North Korea will continue to present itself as open to negotiations with the U.S. and the South, and to continue to try to distance itself from last year’s sinking of a South Korean warship and shelling of an island near the disputed maritime border between the two Koreas – events that left 50 people dead.

    “Our job is to be ready for whatever comes,” the commander said. “We’re in the business of conducting operations with the least … loss of life.”

    While North Korea’s developing nuclear weapons program has grabbed the lion’s share of headlines in recent years, those familiar with the North believe its chemical and biological capabilities would be key elements of any all-out attack on the South.

    A 2007 Popular Mechanics investigative report stated that, according to defectors, South Korean intelligence agencies and other sources, North Korea has built “one of the world’s most extensive biochemical warfare programs.”

    “The weaponry is thought to have the potential to decimate [South Korea] and the 28,000 U.S. troops stationed there,” the story said.

    In 2009, The Associated Press reported that it is “widely believed the North has a chemical capability that it could unleash in the early stages of a land war to demoralize defending forces and deny the use of mobilization centers, storage areas and military bases.”

    In September, the Yonhap News Agency reported that South Korean lawmaker Shin Hak-yong called for greater efforts to expand the South’s defense against potential biological warfare, saying that North Korea is prepared to spread 13 kinds of biological agents, including anthrax bacterium, the smallpox virus and cholera.

    And last month, The Dong-A Ilbo newspaper reported that Bruce Bennett – a senior policy analyst at the U.S.-based RAND Corp. think tank – said as many as 240,000 people would die if North Korea managed to release 10 kilograms of anthrax over Seoul.

    Speaking at an international symposium at the Korea Military Academy, Bennett reportedly said the North would use a variety of methods – including missiles, aircraft or special forces – to spread anthrax as the prelude to an attack on South Korea.

    Cardon — who recently took over as 2ID commander after serving in Iraq — said the North’s chemical and biological capabilities “bring their own set of complexities” the U.S. military has not had to deal with in Afghanistan or Iraq.

    “Our job is to be ready for whatever comes,” he said.

    Commenting on the Warpath III exercise, Scrocca said, “We’re just about the only ones in the Army doing this full-spectrum-type stuff against all possible type threats. This is all computer-based … but we’re working on the strategies that would be used in a full spectrum of operations.

    “If they were to come across the border, how would we (defend) against that?” he said. “We’re practicing the identification, detection and defense against chemical-biological weapons — How would we be able to detect (chemical-biological weapons)? What would happen once they are detected? How would we decontaminate soldiers and equipment if that happened?” (Stripes, 2011).

    Title: North Korea’s Other Weapons Threat
    Date: November 12, 2011
    Source: Diplomat


    Abstract: International attention is usually focused on North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. But Pyongyang’s growing chemical and biological weapons capabilities are worrying Seoul.

    North Korea’s latent nuclear weapons program is rightfully the main point of concern for its neighbors and the international community. But far less publicized is Pyongyang’s ongoing efforts to build upon its capabilities to produce and maintain chemical and biological weapons (CBW).

    North Korea’s expansion of these programs is no secret to intelligence agencies around the world, and there are a number of reports detailing sites across the country dedicated to the production of CBW. The question, though how, is has Pyongyang been able to circumvent the international CBW regime so easily?

    On the question of chemical weapons, this problem is easier to understand – North Korea isn’t a state party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) and has never been subject to inspections of its chemical industry facilities or sites believed associated with its CW program. Regardless, there’s little debate about the existence of the North’s CW program, with intelligence assessments from Russia, Britain, the United States and South Korea all indicating that Pyongyang continues to produce CW stocks.

    Much less clear is the scope of the CW program and its level of advancement. Most assessments concur that the North has produced all of the main chemical agents such as nerve (including VX gas), blood, blister and choking agents. There’s less certainty regarding the amount of chemical agents stockpiled by the regime, although estimates range from 1,000 to 5,000 tons. However, even if the North’s program is at the low end of estimates, its capacity is bolstered by the fact that its military has a variety of sophisticated delivery vehicles for CW attacks including missiles, artillery and airborne bombs.

    While Pyongyang publicly denies the need for transparency on its CW program, its production of biological weapons is muddied and concealed by weak international non-proliferation standards. Unlike the Organization for the Prohibition of Chemical Weapons (OPCW), which has robust verification standards, the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC) is plagued by the failure of its members to agree on a universal verification mechanism that would adequately ensure that all state parties are held to account for their treaty commitments.

    States at the BWC have been engaged in talks to come to an agreement on a suitable verification arm, but these efforts were cut short after the United States withdrew its support back in 2001. At the time, George W. Bush’s administration insisted that such a mechanism would require considerable financial capital with little pay off in security terms. The Pentagon also stressed that it was concerned about diverting precious resources on combating BW to a multilateral organization that would in turn take away funds from its successful biodefense programs. But perhaps the largest hurdle is to overcome U.S. and other members’ concerns that a strict verification regime may impose heavy restrictions on the biotech industry (Diplomat, 2011)

    Title: Greece Seized Anti-Chemical Weapons Suits From North Korea In 2009
    Date: November 17, 2011
    Source: Bio Prep Watch


    Abstract: Greek authorities seized almost 14,000 anti-chemical weapons suits from a North Korean ship potentially headed for Syria but did not disclose the finding for close to two years, diplomats said on Wednesday.

    The seizure was reported to the U.N. Security Council, which discussed monitoring nuclear sanctions against the isolated North. The Greek operation was carried out in November 2009 but was only reported to the United Nations in September, a diplomat told AFP on condition of anonymity. The diplomat also confirmed the number of suits to protect against chemical weapons that were involved, AFP reports.

    "It seems the shipment was headed for Latakia in Syria," a second diplomat said, according to AFP. "There is increasing concern because more and more of the violations before several sanctions committees seem to involve Syria."

    Syria has already been connected to breaches of an arms embargo against Iran.

    Both diplomats spoke on condition of anonymity as the report by Jose Filipe Moraes Cabral, the chairman of the North Korea sanctions committee and Portugal's U.N. Ambassador, was given behind closed doors. The U.N. Security Council ordered tough sanctions against North Korea after the country staged nuclear weapons tests in 2006 and 2009.

    The North pulled out of nuclear talks with South Korea, Russia, Japan, China and the United States in 2009 and efforts to kick start negotiations are struggling. The United States and its allies are saying that North Korea is not serious about disarmament.

    "(There are) strong concerns in council about the ongoing proliferation efforts," a German diplomat said, according to AFP (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: North Korea Remains Chemical Attack Threat
    Date: December 20, 2011
    Source: Bio Prep Watch


    Abstract: The next North Korean leader will take over an impoverished country that supports a large military armed with massive amounts of chemical weaponry and a small nuclear arsenal.

    The Korean military is thought to have an annual budget of between $4 to $7 billion. The country’s population is thought to be approximately 24 million people, 1.2 million of whom are currently serving in its armed forces, according to France24.com.

    U.S. and allied military planners believe that South Korea would ultimately win in a conventional war, but fear Pyongyang would seek to inflict mass numbers of casualties and cause panic by using its chemical and biological arsenal.

    South Korean defense estimates are imprecise, but the general consensus is that the Korean People’s Army is in possession 2,500 to 5,000 tons of chemical weapons, including mustard, phosgene, blood agents, sarin, tabun and V-agents. The chemical agents could be delivered by long-range artillery, multiple rocket launchers, ballistic missiles, aircraft or naval vessels.

    Experts are unsure of the extent of Pyongyang’s biological weapons development program, but believe they have stockpiles of botulinum toxin and anthrax.

    North Korea has not signed the Chemical Weapons Convention but is a signatory to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention and the Geneva Protocol, which prohibits the use of chemical or biological weapons in war. Pyongyang denies having programs to create such weapons, according to CrisisGroup.org (Bio Prep Watch, 2011).

    Title: North Korea’s Chemical and Biological Weapons (CBW) Programmes
    Date: 2012
    Source: IISS


    Abstract: Deciphering the chemical and biological weapons capabilities of any country is a challenge. Chemical weapons (CW) programmes are difficult to trace because many of the facilities potentially involved in military activities are dual-use, with legitimate peaceful purposes, and are relatively easy to conceal. With biological weapons (BW), this is even more the case. With regard to North Korea, assessments are especially difficult due to the fact that – in comparison to other countries suspected of pursuing chemical and biological weapons – the country has remained less accessible in terms of economic and political contacts. Since North Korea is not a party to the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC), there have never been any official declarations and international inspections of its chemical infrastructure, much less suspect facilities that might be associated with a chemical weapons programme. Also, although North Korea is officially a party to the Biological Weapons Convention (BWC), the Convention lacks a strong verification and inspection mechanism. Another major hindrance to comprehensive insight on North Korea’s presumed chemical and biological weapons programmes is that its research and industrial facilities in these areas are relatively isolated from the outside world, so much so that even basic questions of science and infrastructure are uncertain.

    In these circumstances, an analysis of North Korea’s possible chemical and biological weapons programmes has to rely on public information provided by governments, defectors, and secondary source publications. Such an analysis, made using sources that by their very nature are not comprehensive, will contain many gaps and uncertainties. There are very few details on these suspect programmes that can be specified with confidence. Nonetheless, an analysis based on a variety of sources, particularly official US, Russian and South Korean statements and reports, concludes that North Korea probably has developed chemical weapons to be part of its deployed military capabilities (although there is little authoritative information on the type and amount of agent or delivery means). It is also probable that North Korea has a biological weapons programme at least at the research and development stage. North Korea has dual-use facilities that could be used to produce biological agents as well as a munitions industry that could be used to weaponise such agents. However, there is not enough information to determine whether Pyongyang has progressed beyond the research and development stage for a biological weapons programme and actually possesses stocks of biological weapons.

    Chemical Weapons Programme

    Since the early 1990s, official US, Russian and South Korean government publications have all described North Korea as having an active chemical weapons (CW) programme that has gone beyond research and development and includes the actual production and stockpiling of chemical weapons.2 There is considerable uncertainty, however, over the composition of that stockpile. Given its large – though ageing – chemical industry, North Korea is generally thought to be capable of producing all of the traditional chemical warfare agents (nerve, blister, blood and choking), although it may require imports of some specific precursors to produce nerve agents which are relatively more difficult to fabricate than the first generation blister, blood and choking agents. However, the exact size of the North Korean chemical weapons stockpile remains unknown. Recent South Korean government reports estimate a range of between 2,500–5,000 tonnes, but it is unclear whether these estimates concern the weight of chemical agent or the overall munitions stockpile and even whether they include biological agents. In any event, these figures are highly speculative. There is little authoritative information on the types of chemical munitions that have been stockpiled, but North Korea is capable of using a variety of delivery systems to disseminate chemical agents, including artillery, multiple rocket launchers, mortars, aerial bombs, and missiles, as well as Special Forces. The role of chemical weapons in North Korea’s military planning is unknown, but it may be based partially on old Soviet doctrine. US and South Korean forces operate on the assumption that North Korea would use chemical weapons against both military and civilian targets as part of either offensive operations or in retaliation for an attack on North Korea.

    Origins and Development

    In 1954, the North Korean army reportedly established regular chemical and biological defence units, which were most likely modelled on Soviet nuclear, biological, and chemical (NBC) units. According to some press accounts, North Korea’s offensive chemical weapons programme also began at this time, relying primarily on assistance from the Soviet Union, but the reliability of these reports cannot be determined. In any event, in the late 1950s, North Korea began to develop an extensive chemical industry. The First Five Year Plan (1957–61) placed great emphasis on developing a robust organic and inorganic chemical industry, building on facilities constructed during the Japanese occupation. At the end of 1961, Kim Il Sung issued a ‘Declaration of Chemicalisation’. This called for greater efforts to develop various chemical production facilities to support different sectors of the North Korean economy. According to the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, the 1961 declaration reflected North Korean recognition of the importance of chemical warfare. As a result of its large chemical infrastructure, North Korea can produce a number of dual-use chemicals, such as compounds of phosphate, ammonium, fluoride, chloride and sulphur, that could be diverted from civilian chemical uses to support a chemical weapons programme.

    By the late 1960s, according to the US Department of Defense, North Korea was believed to have begun experiments with the production of offensive chemical agents. In May 1979, the US Defense Intelligence Agency reported that North Korea possessed only a defensive chemical weapons capability, although it noted that development of offensive chemical weapons would be the next logical step. Several press reports from the 1980s continued this speculation. The first publicly available official report, to the effect that North Korea had produced chemical weapons agents, was published in January 1987. This publication, by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, reported that North Korea possessed up to 250 tonnes of chemical weapons – including mustard and nerve agents – designed for delivery by artillery shells.

    According to official and secondary reporting, North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal expanded in the early 1990s. However, it is difficult to determine the extent to which such statements reflected actual developments on the ground, or whether they resulted from outside factors affecting public reports of North Korea’s programme. Political factors have had an impact. For instance, in 1992, as negotiations for the Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) were drawing to a close, Seoul sought to publicise the extent of North Korea’s chemical weapons programme in a bid to pressure Pyongyang to sign the CWC. In October 1992,

    for example, Seoul reported that North Korea had 1,000 tonnes of chemical agent held in six storage facilities, a four-fold increase over the 1987 assessment of 250 tonnes of agent.10 Pyongyang denied these claims, and countered that the US was storing chemical weapons in South Korea. On 14 January 1993, South Korea signed the CWC when it was opened for signature, and later declared a small stock of chemical weapons, which are being destroyed in accordance with the Convention. North Korea, on the other hand, issued a formal statement on 13 January 1993 denying that it possessed a chemical weapons programme, but it refused to join the CWC.

    A second factor, in the mid-1990s, that influenced the public reporting of North Korea’s chemical weapons capabilities was the appearance of several prominent defectors, who publicised purported details about North Korea’s chemical weapons arsenal, along with related research, production and storage facilities. The most influential of these was Sergeant Yi Chung Kuk, who worked in the Nuclear-Chemical Defence Bureau of the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and defected in March 1994. He did so, he said, in order to warn South Korea about the dangers posed by North Korea’s chemical weapons programme. Sergeant Yi provided first-hand information on the organisation and equipment of North Korea’s chemical defence units, which he was directly involved in, but he also reported secondhand information on offensive chemical weapons activities and facilities. Another key defector was Colonel Choi Ju Hwal, who also worked in the KPA and defected in 1995. Colonel Choi said that he did not have direct knowledge of North Korea’s chemical weapons programme, though he claimed to have obtained information from other officials in the Ministry of Defence. Much of Colonel Choi’s testimony is identical to information from other defectors, press accounts, and official South Korean government documents, and it is difficult to determine how much is original and how much is derivative. Finally, Hwang Chang Yop, the Secretary of North Korea’s Workers Party, defected in August 1996 and said that he had heard from other senior North Korean officials that North Korea had an arsenal of high-grade chemical weapons capable of ‘scorching’ South Korea and Japan. Mr Hwang did not claim any direct knowledge of chemical weapons production or deployment. Most of the information provided by these North Korean defectors cannot be independently verified, and the usual caveats about information from defectors applies. Nonetheless, their accounts were widely reported in the South Korean media and may have influenced official assessments by Seoul.

    Arguably, Pyongyang had a strong incentive to enhance its chemical weapons programme in the mid­1990s, to compensate for the limits on its nuclear capabilities imposed by the October 1994 Agreed Framework. In addition, the financial limits on modernising its conventional forces may have given Pyongyang more reason to build up its CW capabilities. This speculation cannot be confirmed by direct evidence, but Seoul began to report a greater North Korean chemical weapons capability in the mid-1990s. In 1995, for example, the South Korean Foreign Ministry, the National Unification Board and South Korean military sources reported that North Korea had a stockpile of 1,000–5,000 tonnes of chemical and biological agents, including blister agents, nerve agents, choking agent, blood agent, and tear gas, which could be delivered by artillery, multiple rocket launchers, FROG rockets, and Scud missiles. The most recent South Korean Ministry of National Defense report on North Korea’s CBW capabilities, from 2001, lists but does not identify by name four research, eight production, and seven storage sites for chemical weapons, and estimates the size of the Pyongyang’s stockpile at between 2,500–5,000 tonnes. There is some uncertainty as to whether the various South Korean estimates are for agent or munitions tonnes, and whether they include biological as well as chemical agents.

    Official US sources agree on the existence of a North Korean chemical weapons programme, including the stockpiling of agents that could be delivered by a variety of weapons, but Washington has tended to report fewer details than Seoul. In general, US analysts tend to be cautious about the reliability of human information on North Korea’s CW programme, and it is extremely difficult to quantify issues concerning potential production rates and possible stockpiles because North Korean chemical facilities are not subject to international inspections, and satellite intelligence has little value in distinguishing between chemical production for military or civilian purposes. A 2001 US Department of Defense report identifies nerve, blister, blood, choking and tear gases as among the agents the North Koreans can produce and assesses that North Korea possesses a ‘sizeable stockpile’ of these agents, without estimating a specific quantity of agent. According to the US, there may be limits on the North’s production capacity. For example, the senior US military official in Seoul, General Schwartz, has testified that the North is capable of independently producing components only for first generation (i.e. World War I­-type) chemical agents (e.g. phosgene and mustard). Imports of some precursors may be necessary for the production of more advanced nerve agents. Official US sources agree with South Korean reports that North Korea has weaponised chemical weapons agents for deliver by artillery, missiles, and aircraft, as well as unconventional means, but US public reports generally do not discuss suspect or possible research, production, and storage sites associated with chemical weapons.

    North Korean defectors and various secondary sources have provided detailed information about facilities purportedly involved in research, production, and storage of chemical precursors, agents and munitions.22 According to these sources, North Korea’s chemical weapons stockpile includes first generation blister agents (lewisite and mustard), various nerve agents (sarin, soman, tabun, and V-agents), and blood agents (hydrogen cyanide and cyanogen chloride). Chemical weapons research is said to take place at various universities and at a number of institutes under the aegis of the Second Natural Science Academy. Chemical weapons production facilities are reported to include the Kanggye Chemical Factory and Factory No. 108 in Chagang Province, the Sakchu Chemical Factory in North Pyongan Province, the Ilyong Branch of the Sunchon Vinalon Factory in South Pyongan Province and Factory No. 297 in Pyongwon, South Pyongan Province.

    In addition, a number of civilian chemical facilities have been implicated in chemical weapons production, such as the Manpo Chemical Factory and Aoji-ri Chemical Complex. Defectors and press stories also report that chemical agent storage sites are located in the cities of Masan-dong, Samsan-dong, and Sariwon, and in the greater Pyongyang area. These facilities are reportedly comprised of storage tanks housed in warehouses and buildings above ground, partially buried structures, and underground tunnels. It is alleged that chemical weapons agents are transferred to facilities at Sakchu or Kanggye for loading into munitions, which include 80mm artillery shells, 240mm rockets, aerial bombs, and aerial spray tanks. Following final assembly and filling, chemical munitions are reportedly stored at the Maram Materials Corporation and the Chiha-ri Chemical Corporation, located in Masan-dong, Pyongyang, and Anbyon, Kangwon Province, respectively. Most of this information cannot be independently confirmed.

    Potential Military uses for Chemical Weapons

    Assuming that North Korea maintains a stockpile, chemical weapons agents and munitions could play a role in complementing Pyongyang’s conventional military power in offensive or defensive operations. In theory, North Korean forces could use chemical weapons against US and South Korean forces to reduce these forces’ combat effectiveness, deny the use of mobilisation centres, storage areas, and military bases, and hinder the arrival of reinforcements from overseas. Non-persistent chemical agents could be used to help break through defensive lines or to hinder an allied counterattack. Persistent chemical agents could be used against fixed targets, including command and control centres, logistics hubs, and airbases. North Korean forces appear to be prepared for operations in a contaminated environment. Chemical defence battalions are reportedly integrated into larger ground force units, and many troops are reportedly equipped with chemical protection equipment, including masks, suits, detectors and decontamination systems. North Korean troops are also said to participate in chemical exercises in an attempt to develop mission capability under chemical warfare conditions.

    Of course, these defensive measures could reflect North Korean expectations that their forces may be subjected to a chemical attacks. Nonetheless, US and South Korean military commanders assume that North Korean offensive military plans include the use of chemical agents delivered by a variety of traditional means, such as ballistic missiles, artillery rockets and shells, mortars, and aerial bombs and sprays, against both military and civilian targets. Delivery by Special Forces is also a possibility. Aside from their potential role in offensive operations, chemical weapons presumably contribute to North Korea’s deterrent posture, especially since North Korea’s conventional capabilities have eroded relative to US and South Korean forces. Although Pyongyang officially denies that it possesses chemical weapons, the widespread belief that North Korea has a substantial chemical weapons arsenal – noted in official US and South Korean government reports – only serves to reinforce the view in the US, South Korea and Japan that a conflict on the Korean Peninsula would result in the use of chemical weapons against civilian and military targets.

    Biological Weapons Programme

    There is less public information on North Korea’s biological weapons programme than on its chemical weapons programme. Official US, Russian and South Korean reports agree that North Korea has conducted biological weapons research, but there is considerable uncertainty as to whether Pyongyang possesses biological weapons and, if so, the types of agents involved. While official South Korean sources claim that North Korea has weaponised one or two biological agents, official US and Russian sources characterise North Korea as ‘capable’ of producing a variety of agents, including anthrax, cholera and plague without judging that North Korea has actually produced biological weapons. Given the dearth of information, it is impossible to make a firm judgement either way. Various defectors and press reports give details of biological weapons research, testing and production, but such information cannot be confirmed. There is no authoritative information on the potential role of biological weapons in North Korean military strategy, beyond speculation that biological weapons may be relatively less significant than chemical weapons, which have more utility as a battlefield weapon, and nuclear weapons, which are a more capable mass destruction weapon.

    Virtually nothing is known about the history of North Korea’s biological weapons programme. Official US sources state that North Korea has pursued a biological warfare capability since the 1960s. During this time, according to press reports, a laboratory was established under the authority of the Academy of National Defence and 10–13 different pathogens were investigated, including anthrax, cholera, bubonic plague, smallpox and yellow fever, some of which reportedly were imported from culture collections in Japan. According to another secondary source, construction of an underground biological weapons research and development facility was completed in the 1970s. This facility was located in Onjong-ri, South Pyongan Province and conducted research, development, and testing of biological weapons agents on small laboratory animals.

    A 1998 White Paper released by the South Korean Ministry of National Defense, reported that, ‘by 1980, [North Korea] had succeeded in its experiments in bacteria and virus cultivation to produce biological weapons, and by the late 1980s had completed live experiments with such weapons.’ This is generally consistent with a 1993 report by the Russian intelligence service on proliferation, which stated that North Korea was performing ‘applied military-biological research’ with anthrax, cholera, bubonic plague and smallpox at a number of institutes and universities and testing biological weapons on North Korean islands. South Korean press and other unofficial sources go even further, claiming that, in the early 1980s, North Korea began actual production of biological agents and obtained a turnkey plant for agar (growth media) from East Germany in 1984 to further the biological weapons programme. In contrast, a 1997 US Department of Defense report judged that North Korea’s biological weapons programme was probably still at the level of research and development.

    Whatever the status of its biological weapons efforts, North Korea has developed a number of dual­use biotechnology facilities that could be used to research biological weapons agents and produce militarily significant quantities of biological agents. But this infrastructure is not highly developed and there is no definitive evidence that it is being used for this purpose. North Korea joined the BWC on 13 March 1987 (followed by South Korea on 25 June 1987), but the convention has no provisions for mandatory declarations or inspections of civilian or suspect military biological facilities.

    The most recent official US and South Korean reports agree that North Korea has a biological weapons programme, although only Seoul reports that it has advanced beyond the research and development stage. In 2001, for example, a South Korean defence White Paper described the North Korean threat as including ‘chemical and biological weapons such as anthrax of which North Korea is believed to hold a stockpile of 2,500–5,000 tons.’ The report does not address the issue of delivery systems, other than to note that North Korean Special Forces could launch attacks with biological weapons. Another South Korean Ministry of National Defense report from 2001 claims that North Korea possesses three research and six production facilities to support its biological weapons programme and has weaponised one or two types of biological agents. In contrast, the most recent public US government report, from 2001, says that ‘North Korea is believed to possess a munitions-production infrastructure that would allow it to weaponize biological warfare agents, and may have biological weapons available for use’. According to press accounts, the US intelligence community has assessed with ‘medium’ confidence that North Korea possesses stocks of smallpox virus, but the evidence is not definitive.

    Most of the detailed information about North Korea’s biological weapons programme has come from defectors and other secondary sources of unknown reliability. According to Choi Ju Hwal, the Germ Research Institute in the General Logistic Bureau of the Armed Forces Ministry is responsible for developing biological weapons. Yi Chung Kuk, meanwhile, claims that biological weapons research and development is carried out at the Microbiological Institute and that there are other facilities in North Korea for producing and storing biological weapons. Yi Sun Ok, who was an inmate at a North Korean prison camp, claims she witnessed biological weapons experiments in mid-1980s, which resulted in the deaths of some 50 inmates. However, none of these reports can be confirmed.

    A number of secondary sources provide additional details on facilities and suspected agents said to be involved in North Korea’s biological weapons programme. According to one report, research on anthrax, bubonic plague, smallpox, yellow fever, cholera and other pathogens is carried out at the National Defence Research Institute and Medical Academy (NDRIMA). Another report says that North Korea’s inventory of biological agents includes anthrax, botulism, cholera, haemorrhagic fever (Korean strain), bubonic plague, smallpox, tuberculosis, typhoid, typhus, and yellow fever. Another claims that 13 types of biological weapons agents are produced at the Workers Party’s Central Biology Research Institute, the Preventive Military Medical Unit, and the February 25th Plant in Chongju, North Pyongan Province. But these reports also cannot be confirmed. To date there is no reliable information available to confirm whether North Korea has engaged in the development of genetically modified biological agents.

    In conclusion, there is not enough information to reach a firm judgement on the progress of, or possible effectiveness of, North Korea’s biological weapons programme. This is understandable, given North Korean secrecy and the inherent difficulties of detecting and assessing biological weapons programmes, compared to nuclear or even chemical weapons activities. US, South Korean, and Russian official sources agree that North Korea has conducted research on a variety of biological agents, but only Seoul reports that North Korea has actually produced stocks of one or two types of biological weapons. The basis for this assessment is unspecified. Given its biotechnical infrastructure, North Korea is capable of producing significant amounts of common biological agents, such as anthrax, and delivering these agents through a variety of conventional and unconventional means, but it is not known how important Pyongyang views the development and deployment of a biological weapons capability. In any event, the possibility that North Korea may have biological weapons contributes to deterrence.

    Conclusion

    The available evidence suggests that North Korea probably possesses both a chemical and biological weapons programme, although they may differ in terms of scope and state of advancement. The chemical weapons programme probably involves some chemical weapons production and stockpiling, although the amount and types of agents that have been produced, the number and types of munitions that have been stockpiled, and the location of key research, production, and storage facilities cannot be assessed with high confidence. North Korea is thought to be capable of producing a variety of traditional blister, blood, choking and nerve agents, although there may be limits on what it can produce in its ageing chemical industry. Meanwhile, given its munitions industry, North Korea is thought capable of producing a variety of delivery systems for chemical weapons, including artillery, multiple rocket launchers, mortars, aerial bombs, and missiles. The extent to which Pyongyang has chosen to deploy these capabilities is unknown, but US and South Korean forces prudently assume that North Korea possesses chemical weapons and is prepared to use them against military and civilian targets in offensive operations or in retaliation for an attack on North Korea. By comparison, less is known about North Korea’s presumed biological weapons programme. While there is general agreement that North Korea has conducted research and development on biological agents, there is not enough information to conclude whether it has progressed to the level of agent production and weaponisation, although North Korea is most likely technically capable of both.

    Whatever the actual status of North Korea’s chemical and biological capabilities, the perception that it has, or likely has, chemical and biological weapons contributes to Pyongyang’s interest in creating uncertainties in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo and raises the stakes to deter or intimidate potential enemies. From Pyongyang’s perspective, chemical and biological weapons could have utility both on the battlefield and at the strategic level. US and South Korean military commands have to operate on the assumption that North Korea maintains a large stockpile of chemical and possibly biological munitions integrated with its conventional forces and deployed for use on the battlefield. This complicates allied military planning for defence against any North Korean attack or for conducting offensive operations against the North. Some measures have been taken to strengthen allied troops’ CBW defences, but it is difficult to accurately assess their effectiveness without knowing the size, composition, or delivery means of North Korea’s presumed chemical weapons arsenal. At the strategic level, the potential delivery of large quantities of chemical or biological agents to nearby targets (such as Seoul) and smaller quantities to more distant targets (such as Tokyo) could cause significant civilian casualties, depending on the amount and type of agent, the delivery means, the extent of civilian defence measures, and many other factors. In any event, the plausible threat that North Korea might use chemical or biological weapons, if the survival of the regime was at stake, contributes to deterrence and discourages Seoul and Tokyo from pursuing policies that could increase the risk of conflict and drive Pyongyang to take desperate measures (IISS, 2012).

    Title: U.N. To Consider North Korea’s Attempts To Export Chemical Weapons Reagents
    Date: January 6, 2012
    Source: Bio Prep Watch

    Abstract: The United Nations will look into allegations that North Korea attempted to export ampules of reagents for chemical weapons to Syria in 2009.

    The investigation will be a rare probe into the reclusive communist country's arm trade related to chemical weapons. The case may bring into focus a close relationship between North Korea and Syria in the production and development of weapons of mass destruction, the Yomiuri Shimbun reports.

    Greek authorities seized a container from a Liberia-registered freighter heading toward Syria in November 2009. In the container they found wooden boxes stuffed with multiple types of ampules believed to be made of glass, each allegedly containing powdered or liquid reagents. Reagents are used to identify chemical substances that become airborne after the use of chemical weapons. They can be used in during a chemical weapons attack or in the defense against them.

    Greek authorities also seized approximately 14,000 anti-chemical weapons suits from the vessel. The Greek government reported the seizures of the ampules and suits in September as a violation of the U.N. Security Council's Sanctions Committee resolution banning North Korea from exporting arms-related materials, according to the Yomiuri Shimbun.

    According to estimates by South Korea's National Defense Ministry, North Korea has 2,500 to 4,000 tons of chemicals weapons, including sarin and mustard gases. Diplomatic sources said that the attempted export of chemical weapons reagents may have been conducted through China. It is unclear whether or not China has strictly inspected North Korea's cargo shipments (Bio Prep Watch, 2012).

    Title: Meet North Korea’s Latest Drone
    Date:
    February 6, 2012
    Source:
    DefeseTech

    Abstract: As Iran and China and who knows who else scrambles to unlock the secrets of the U.S. Air Force’s stealthy RQ-170 Sentinel drone, North Korea is moving to reverse engineer some 1970s-vintage target drones.

    Yup, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency is reporting that the North has bought up old MQM-107D Streaker target drones from Syria with the intent of developing high speed attack drones based on the tech. The hilariously named Streaker (its replacement, the BQM-167 Skeeter has a similarly amusing name if you’ve listened to hip hop anytime in the last decade) was developed in the 1970s for the U.S. Army to tow gun and missile targets. IN the late 1980s, Beechcraft proposed making a version of the Streaker that could carry electronic countermeasers and serve as a flying decoy over combat zones.

    North Korea is developing unmanned attack aircraft using U.S. target drones purchased from the Middle East, a military source in Seoul said Sunday, indicating the aircraft will likely target the South.

    “North Korea recently bought several U.S. MQM-107D Streakers from a Middle Eastern nation that appears to be Syria, and is developing unmanned attack aircraft based on them,” the source said on condition of anonymity.

    The MQM-107D Streaker is a high-speed target drone used by the U.S. and South Korean militaries for testing guided missiles.

    North Korea has conducted numerous tests on high-speed target drones mounted with high explosives, but has yet to master the technology, the source said, citing South Korean intelligence sources.

    If it succeeds in developing the attack aircraft, the North appears likely to deploy them near the inter-Korean border to target South Korean troops stationed on border islands in the Yellow Sea (DefenseTech, 2012).

    Title: North Korea Vows To Launch 'Sacred War' Over US-South Naval Exercises
    Date: February 25, 2012
    Source:
    Telegraph

    Abstract: The North's National Defence Commission (NDC) described the exercise as "unpardonable war hysteria" and said its army and people would "foil" the US and South Korean moves with "a sacred war of our own style".

    The threat is the latest instance of Pyongyang taking a hostile tone towards Seoul since Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of the late leader Kim Jong-il, took over following the death of his father in December.

    Last week the North vowed "merciless retaliatory strikes" if any shells landed in waters claimed by Pyongyang during a live-fire artillery exercise near the disputed Yellow Sea border.

    But in the event it took no military action in response to the drill.

    The United States and South Korea are to mount two major annual joint military exercises, one in the coming week and the other in March.

    Key Resolve, a computerised command post exercise, will start on Monday and continue until March 9. Separately, the joint air, ground and naval field training exercise Foal Eagle will be held from March 1 to April 30.

    "Key Resolve and Foal Eagle are unpardonable war hysteria kicked up by the hooligans to desecrate our mourning period and an unpardonable infringement upon our sovereignty and dignity," the NDC said in a statement.

    Kim Jong-il died of a heart attack on December 17.

    "Our army and people will foil the moves of the group of traitors to the nation and warmongers at home and abroad for a new war with a sacred war of our own style," the NDC said, indicating it will stage a counter exercise.

    "War manoeuvres ... are, in essence, a silent declaration of a war. The declaration of the war is bound to be accompanied by a corresponding physical retaliation," it said.

    "Now that a war has been declared against us, the army and people are firmly determined to counter it with a sacred war of our own style and protect the security of the nation and the peace of the country," the NDC said (Telegraph, 2012).

    Title: N. Korea Calls Criticism Of Its Nuclear Program ‘Declaration Of War’
    Date: March 23, 2012
    Source:
    Russia Today

    Abstract: Right ahead of the Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, North Korea announced that it will consider a statement about its nuclear program a direct “declaration of war”. This comes as the USA has condemned the country’s planned rocket launch in April.

    The US administration announced on Thursday that President Barack Obama considers the North Korean “space experiment”, involving the launching of a ballistic missile with a mounted satellite, a “provocation” and direct violation of the international agreements. 

    According to national security official Daniel Russel, Obama will discuss the issue with the Chinese and Russian leaders in the near future.

    North Korea, officially the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, is gearing for the missile satellite launch scheduled for April 2012. The West condemns the move, saying that it comes in violation of the UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, prohibiting the development of ballistic missiles by the country, as well as the conducting of nuclear tests.

    The Western states, as well as South Korea, fear that the launches could be part of Pyongyang’s effort to build intercontinental missiles, while nuclear tests might be aimed at providing them with nuclear warheads. 

    Ex-MEP Glyn Ford however explained to RT that both sides of the conflict – the US and its allies South Korea and Japan on the one hand, and North Korea on the other – seem to be wrong.

    “If you have the technology to launch a satellite – and this would be North Korea’s third attempt to launch a satellite – it clearly shows that you are developing a potential, if you want long range intercontinental ballistic missiles,” he said. “But at the same time South Korea and Japan are both doing exactly the same thing. South Korea attempted to launch a satellite just after the last North Korean attempt and Japan has put satellites into orbit. So, there is a little bit of double standards floating around here”.

    He added that North Korea, in fact, alleviates the risk to Japan as it is shifting the launch from the east coast to the west coast, so it will not fly over Japan.

    The country’s nuclear program and missile launches have long been a bone of contention for the country’s relations with much of the world, leading to its increased isolation.

    Back in 2009, North Korea exited the six-party nuclear talks after the UN had condemned its first ballistic launch. The country carried out two successful nuclear tests back in 2006 and 2009, which the West condemned.  

    On Wednesday North Korean state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported that the adoption of any statement against its nuclear program at the upcoming Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul would be an “extreme insult”.

    “Any provocative act would be considered a declaration of war against us and its consequences would serve as great obstacles to talks on the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” said the agency.

    It is expected that the Seoul conference will pay some attention to the North Korean nuclear program. South Korean president Lee Myung-bak said that the meeting might play a “big role in expanding the international community's support for the denuclearization of the North." 

    In its latest report, the KCNA said that Lee Myung-bak and his “group of traitors” are trying to provoke “nuclear war”. It added that in order to resolve the tense situation in the region, it is necessary to talk denuclearization of the whole peninsula, instead of speaking of the “non-existent” North’s nuclear issue.

    The Nuclear Security Summit in Seoul, due on March 26-27, will gather heads of states and representatives of 58 countries and international organizations. US leader Barack Obama and Chinese president Hu Jintao are expected at the meeting (Russia Today, 2012).

    Title: North Korea Threatens 'Merciless Punishment' As It Readies Rocket Launch
    Date: April 7, 2012
    Source: Telegraph

    Abstract: Japan and South Korea have put their armed forces on standby in response to North Korea's plans, prepared to shoot down the missile if it passes over their territory.

    North Korea was this weekend believed to be at the first stage of launching the rocket, expected between April 12 and 16, claiming that it is part of the centenary celebrations for the birth of the state's founder Kim Il Sung.

    However, the United States, Japan and South Korea believe that in reality it will be a ballistic missile test in violation of UN resolutions.

    It is against such a backdrop of rising regional tensions surrounding the Korean peninsula that David Cameron, the Prime Minister, will arrive in Japan on a two-day visit this week.

    His arrival may, by good fortune, coincide with the blooming of the capital's cherry blossoms, but flower appreciation will take a back seat to regional security issues.

    During his visit to Japan on Tuesday and Wednesday, Mr Cameron is expected to meet with both the Emperor at the Imperial Palace as well as his counterpart the prime minister Yoshihiko Noda.

    One issue that is expected to top the agenda at his meeting with Mr Noda is a discussion about joint development of defence equipment between Japan and the UK, an opportunity for British business after Japan liberised its weapon export laws

    The discussions, which will potentially help bolster Japan's military presence in the region, will be timely: it is among a number of Asian nations currently reinforcing its security in response to both a major military build-up of China and instability in North Korea.

    The issue is likely to top the agenda this weekend as the foreign ministers from Japan, China and South Korea meet for annual tri-lateral discussions in the eastern Chinese city of Ningbo.

    As well as calling on Pyongyang to show restraint over the coming week, Japan and South Korea are likely to urge China – a key benefactor of the renegade North Korean state – to coordinate closely in response with them to the launch.

    Meanwhile, satellite images have shown how North Korea's preparations for its rocket launch are already under way, complete with a mobile radar trailer and rows of apparently empty fuel and oxidiser tanks.

    In Japan, hundreds of Self-Defence Force personnel have been dispatched to southern Ishigaki in the Okinawa region, which the second stage of the rocket is expected to fly over.

    Japan has deployed missile interceptors to seven locations in Okinawa and the Tokyo region, following orders from Naoki Tanaka, Japan's defence minister, to intercept the rocket if necessary to prevent it from falling onto Japanese soil.

    Behind the expected appreciation of the cherry blossoms, the green tea and the polite bows for the cameras during Mr Cameron's visit to Japan this week, the North Korea issue is one that will loom constantly in the background (Telegraph, 2012).

    Title: US Officials Warn Failed North Korea Missile Launch Paves Way For Future Tests
    Date: April 16, 2012
    Source: Fox News

    Abstract: The very public failure of North Korea's latest missile launch lays the groundwork for more testing and potentially more provocative acts by the budding regime of Kim Jong-un, U.S. officials told Fox News. 

    The rocket tested last week failed about a minute after it was deployed. 

    Kim Jong-un, in his first public speech, went on to declare that his "first, second and third" priorities are to strengthen the military -- as the regime unveiled a huge display of weapons in a Pyongyang military parade including a purportedly new missile. 

    "The botched rocket launch is clearly a setback for the North Koreans," one U.S. official told Fox News, while warning that the regime probably will not be deterred. 

    "The acknowledgment of failure was unprecedented, but it lays the groundwork to say more testing is needed to validate research. We probably haven't seen the last North Korean provocation," the official said. 

    The public display on Sunday was seen by regional observers as another example of the importance North Korea's leaders place on their weapons-development program, though it's unclear whether the missile on display was real. 

    Significantly, U.S. officials are not denying that preparations have begun for a third nuclear weapon test. They do not deny that activity had been picked up through satellite imagery -- that shows North Korean workers digging tunnels into the existing mines that were used for tests in 2006 and 2009 (Fox News, 2012).

    Title: The 100 Most Influential People In The World: Kim Jong Un
    Date: April 18, 2012
    Source: TIME

    Abstract: Villainy is often in the eye of the beholder, and sometimes the more heinous the crime, the more clinging the adulation. It should be no surprise that the four rogues in this year's TIME 100 have supporters. That is a measure of their influence: the willingness to defend partisan ideologies with weaponry.

    Spellbound North Koreans see Kim Jong Un, 29, as the incarnation of the tenets of self-sufficiency established by his grandfather and father, the first and second emperors of the communist dynasty. But autarky and a war footing are not paths to prosperity. Hence gulags, famine and privation; hence nuclear arms and military adventurism to wrest what Pyongyang calls concessions (what others would construe as aid) from friend and foe. Might the Swiss-educated Lil' Kim, in power just four months, detour from the way of his forebears? Prosperous northeastern Asia will remain unpredictable until he provides the answer (TIME, 2012).

    Title: N. Korea Threatens War As Seoul Unveils Missile
    Date: April 19, 2012
    Source: AFP

    Abstract: North Korea demanded Thursday that South Korea apologise for what it called insults during major anniversary festivities, or face a "sacred war", as Seoul unveiled a new missile to deter its neighbour.

    Regional tensions have risen since Pyongyang went ahead with a long-range rocket launch last Friday, defying international calls to desist.

    The event was to have been a centrepiece of celebrations marking the 100th anniversary Sunday of the "Day of the Sun", the birthday of Kim Il-Sung who founded the communist nation and the dynasty which still rules it.

    But the rocket, which the North said was designed to launch a satellite, disintegrated after some two minutes of flight.

    "The puppet regime of traitors must apologise immediately for their grave crime of smearing our Day of Sun festivities," said a government statement on Pyongyang's official news agency.

    Otherwise, it said, the North Korean people and military "will release their volcanic anger and stage a sacred war of retaliation to wipe out traitors on this land".

    The North has several times demanded that the South apologise for perceived slights or face war since its longtime leader Kim Jong-Il died in December. Under his son and new leader Kim Jong-Un, it has struck a hostile tone with the South.

    South Korea announced Thursday it has deployed new cruise missiles capable of destroying targets such as missile and nuclear bases anywhere in the North.

    "With such capabilities, our military will sternly and thoroughly punish reckless provocations by North Korea while maintaining our firm readiness," Major General Shin Won-Sik told reporters.

    Yonhap news agency said the new cruise missile could travel more than 1,000 kilometres (625 miles).

    Cross-border tensions have been high since conservative President Lee Myung-Bak took office in Seoul in 2008 and scrapped a near-unconditional aid policy.

    "If our power is strong, we can deter enemy provocations," Lee said Thursday, describing the North as "the world's most hostile force".

    The North hit back at critical comments by Lee and by conservative media, which questioned the overall cost of the celebrations in a nation suffering acute food shortages.

    Lee had said the estimated $850 million cost of the launch could have bought 2.5 million tons of corn.

    "Traitor Lee Myung-Bak took the lead in vituperation during the festivities," said a joint statement by the North's government, party and social groups.

    "This is an intolerable insult to our leader, system and people and a hideous provocation that sparked seething anger among the whole people."

    The North said its only aim was to launch a peaceful satellite, but the United States and its allies said this was a flimsy excuse for a test by the nuclear-armed nation of ballistic missile technology.

    On Monday the United Nations Security Council including Pyongyang's ally China strongly condemned the launch. Washington said it also breached a bilateral deal and suspended plans for food aid.

    The North has warned of unspecified retaliation. Some experts believe it will conduct a new nuclear test or further long-range missile tests, while others predict a border clash with the South.

    An unrepentant Pyongyang last Sunday displayed an apparently new medium-range missile at a parade featuring thousands of goose-stepping troops and almost 900 pieces of weaponry.

    A leading defence journal said Thursday that UN officials are investigating whether China supplied technology for its launcher vehicle, in a possible breach of UN sanctions.

    IHS Jane's Defence Weekly quoted a senior official close to a United Nations Security Council sanctions committee as saying that an associated panel of experts was "aware of the situation and will pursue enquiries".

    IHS Janes's reported earlier that China appeared to have supplied either the design or the actual vehicle to the North.

    It said the 16-wheel transporter-erector-launcher (TEL) is apparently based on a design from the 9th Academy of the China Aerospace Science and Industry Corporation.

    China said it had actively abided by UN resolutions while practising "strict export control of proliferation materials".

    "China is always against the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and the carrier equipment for such weapons," foreign ministry spokesman Liu Weimin said in Beijing  (AFP, 2012).

    Title: US Denies Reports It Parachuted Soldiers Into North Korea
    Date: May 29, 2012
    Source:
    Telegraph

    Abstract: Brigadier General Neil Tolley was quoted in a Japan-based foreign affairs magazine as telling a conference in Tampa, Miami, last week that elite US troops are conducting "special reconnaissance" missions in the North.

    The Diplomat magazine reported that the troops have been dropped behind North Korean lines to identify and map the locations of Pyongyang's extensive network of underground bases.

    The network includes munitions factories and underground artillery positions, all of which are linked by hundreds of miles of tunnels that have been excavated all the way up to the heavily fortified Demilitarised Zone that separates the two Koreas.

    "The entire tunnel infrastructure is hidden from our satellites," Tolley was quoted as saying. "So we send (South Korean) soldiers and US soldiers to the North to do special reconnaissance.

    "After 50 years, we still don't know much about the capability and full extent" of the underground facilities, Tolley was reported as saying on the website of the magazine of the National Defense Industrial Association.

    The sites reportedly include 20 airfields that are partly underground and thousands of artillery emplacements.

    He added that the special forces troops were dispatched with minimal equipment in order for them to be able travel quickly and keep the risk of detection by North Korean troops to a minimum.

    The US and South Korea are aware of four invasion tunnels that were excavated beneath the DMZ and were apparently intended to allow the North to avoid the static defences and to have thousands of troops emerge without warning and within striking range of Seoul.

    Some of the tunnels have since been turned into tourist attractions and visitors can descend a steep intersecting tunnel from the South Korean side and explore the invasion route.

    One end terminates in a rock face where small holes had been drilled for the next round of demolition charges for the tunnel. The other is plugged with a concrete block with a small aperture that looks towards the exit in North Korea.

    Tolley suggested that there may be more such infiltration routes beneath the border.

    "We don't know how many we don't know about," he was quoted as saying.

    A spokesman for US forces in South Korea has dismissed the media report.

    "Some reporting has taken great liberal licence with his comments and taken him completely out of context," Colonel Jonathan Withington, of the public affairs office of US Forces Korea, said in a statement.

    "No US or ROK (Republic of Korea) forces have parachuted into North Korea," he said. "Though special reconnaissance is a core special operations force mission, at no time have SOF forces been sent to the north to conduct special reconnaissance.

    "The use of tunnels in North Korea is well documented," he added. "Several of the known tunnels along the DMZ are visited by tourists every day" (Telegraph, 2012)

    Title: Kim Warns Troops To Prepare For 'Sacred War' During US-South Korea Exercises
    Date: August 18, 2012
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: North Korean leader 
    Kim Jong Un told his troops to be vigilant during upcoming training exercises between South Korea and the United States, saying they should be ready to lead a "sacred war," state media reported Saturday.

    Kim's comments came during a visit on Mu Island with troops who participated in the 2010 shelling of South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island, an attack that North Korea at the time said South Korea provoked by holding war games off their shared coast.

    "He ordered the service persons of the detachment to be vigilant against every move of the enemy and not to miss their gold chance to deal at once deadly counter blows at the enemy, if even a single shell is dropped on the waters or in the area where the sovereignty of (North Korea) is exercised," the state-run KCNA news agency reported.

    The warning followed an announcement by the United States and South Korea that their joint "Ulchi Freedom Guardian" training exercises would begin Monday and conclude by August 31.

    North Korea was informed of the dates of the exercises by the U.N. armistice commission.

    The Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, which was established by the Korean Armistice Agreement that brought about an end to the Korean War, will supervise the exercise, South Korea and the United States military said in a joint statement. The commission includes representatives from Switzerland, China and other nations selected by the United Nations.

    Washington and Pyongyang have no diplomatic relations. North and South Korea have no formal ties and remain technically in a state of war since a 1953 truce that ended the Korean War.

    During the visit with troops, Kim observed Yeonpyeong Island "clearly visible from the post," KCNA reported.

    The Yeonpyeong attack in November 2010 was the first direct artillery assault on South Korea by North Korea since 1953, when an armistice ending the fighting.

    Two civilians and two South Korean marines died in the attack, which South Korea's government at the time called a "definite military provocation" by North Korea.

    South Korea arrest activist after he visits North Korea

    The sparsely populated Yeonpyeong is located just south of the Northern Limit Line, the line drawn in 1953 by the United Nations at the end of the Korean War. The United Nations drew the line three nautical miles from the North Korean coast and put five islands close to the coast under South Korean control.

    That was supposed to be a temporary arrangement. But in the absence of a full peace agreement, the Northern Limit Line remains in place.

    North Korea has been virtually isolated from the world by international sanctions over its development of a nuclear program (CNN, 2012).

    Title: US-S. Korea War Games Prompt Pyongyang Declaration: Ready For Final Battle
    Date: August 26, 2012
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: North Korean leader Kim Jong-un says Seoul and Washington are really trying his country’s patience with an unceasing caravan of joint military drills. This summer the Korean Peninsula has already witnessed two major US-led war games.

    Overall more than 30,000 US troops, practically all the American military contingent in South Korea, reinforced by 3,000 troops from overseas, are taking part in joint war games with the South Korean army that started on August 20.

    Despite the stated defensive nature, the annual drill known as Ulchi Freedom Guardian has predictably roused the attention of ever-wary Pyongyang.

    The new North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, believed to be in his late 20s, acknowledged the great threat to his country and claimed the war games are in fact training for a preemptive nuclear attack.

    The leader assured North Korean army is ready to meet "deadly blows" in “an all-out counter-offensive” in case the country’s territory is violated or even a single shell falls on North Korean soil, reports Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

    “There is a limit to our patience," warned Kim Jong-un, saying the army is only waiting for the final order to engage in a“life-and-death battle.”

    The last time Washington and Seoul were flexing military muscles together was only in June. Back then Pyongyang slammed the US military for leading South Korea, Japan and the US joint drills conducted close to North Korea’s borders and called those war games a reckless provocation putting the region under the threat of a new military conflict.

    Technically, North and South Korea remain in a state of war, since no peace treaty was signed after the conflict of 1950-1953 ended with a ceasefire that is still in effect. That is why a constant sharpening of swords has become an everyday habit for both nations.

    Cross-border tensions have been particularly high since the South accused the North of torpedoing one of its warships with the loss of 46 lives in March 2010.

    The North angrily denied involvement but went on to shell Yeonpyeong Island in the November. The attack resulted in the deaths of four people, two of them civilians, on a South Korean island.

    The two countries exchange threats of military action quite often, fortunately thus far avoiding a full-scale conflict. Pyongyang has proven nuclear capabilities while the US military bases in South Korea are rumored to possess nuclear weapons stockpiles, which means a military conflict between Pyongyang and Seoul could escalate into a local nuclear war (RT, 2012).

    Title: In One Trench: Iran And N. Korea Unite Against 'Enemies'
    Date: September 1, 2012
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: Iran and North Korea have signed an agreement to collaborate in the fields of science and technology, showing that nearly a decade of US efforts to isolate the two states internationally might have actually pushed them closer together.

    Iranian state television said President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad and North Korea's nominal head of state Kim Yong Nam were both present in Tehran for the signing of the agreement on Saturday.

    The two states will cooperate in biotechnology, engineering, renewable energy, sustainable development, research, joint laboratories and the environment, and facilitate more student exchanges, Reuters cites Iranian Labor News Agency (ILNA) as saying.

    On the same day, Iran's First Vice President Mohammad Reza Rahimi called for the strengthening of economic ties between the two states, the agency cites Iranian state TV as reporting.

    North’s Korea’s No. 2 was in Tehran along with 119 other world leaders for the 16th Summit of the Non-Aligned Movement. The summit, whose agenda included nuclear disarmament, human rights and the korean conflict, is one of the few multilateral forums in which Pyongyang participates. It had previously been speculated that North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong-un would be in attendance.

    Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei met with Kim Yong Nam and was quick to underscore the force underpinning growing collaboration between the two states.

    "The Islamic Republic of Iran and North Korea have common enemies, because the arrogant powers do not accept independent states," the ILNA quoted Khamenei as saying.

    Khamenei’s harsh rebuke was most almost certainly targeted at the United States, which vilified the two states as being part of an "Axis of Evil" (along with Iraq) in 2002 despite the lack of any overt ties between the three states.

    Iranian and North Korean officials have previously characterized their countries as being in "one trench" in the fight against the United States and the West. Western powers have accused them, meanwhile, of being close partners in nuclear and missile technologies.

    In April, an Iranian delegation comprising more than 10 ballistic missile engineers reportedly traveled to North Korea to observe Pyongyang’s failed attempt to send a long-range rocket into space, Kyodo News reported. The failed launch sparked widespread condemnation in the West.

    The Japanese news agency said the two countries pledged to deepen cooperation on bilateral “strategic projects”later in July, which analysts argue could include efforts to develop high-altitude missile and nuclear development.

    The United States has regularly accused Tehran and Pyongyang of being state sponsors of terrorism, though the US removed North Korea from the lists of states involved in terrorist activity in 2008.

    Both states have also incited Western ire for their nuclear weapons programs, both alleged and proven. North Korea for its part withdrew from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in 2003, with Pyongyang publicly announcing two years later it had developed nuclear weapons.

    "We had already taken the resolute action of pulling out of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and have manufactured nuclear arms for self-defense to cope with the Bush administration's evermore undisguised policy to isolate and stifle the DPRK,” a foreign ministry statement at the time read.

    Iran remains a party to the NPT, and has denied any attempts to actively acquire or develop a nuclear weapon, insisting that its uranium enrichment program is for civilian purposes only, a view shared by the majority of experts around the world. However, repeated charges that the Islamic Republic’s nuclear program has fallen short of the country’s NPT obligations have made Iran the target of an increasingly harsh sanctions regime, and a potential strike by neighbor Israel (RT, 2012).

    Title: N. Korea Accuses US Of Attempting To Spark War
    Date: October 2, 2012
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: A top North Korean diplomat lays the blame for unceasing tensions between the Koreas solely on the US. The Korean peninsula is the world’s biggest hotspot, he acknowledged, mentioning thermonuclear conflict as a possibility.

    Speaking at the final session of the UN 193-member General Assembly, North Korean Deputy Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon announced that, “Due to the continued US hostile policy towards the DPRK [Democratic People's Republic of Korea], the vicious cycle of confrontation and aggravation of tension is an ongoing phenomenon on the Korean Peninsula, which has become the world's most dangerous hotspot where a spark of fire could set off a thermonuclear war."

    North Korean diplomat focused on the relations between Pyongyang and Washington, for 60 years co-existing without a peace treaty since the war in 1950-1953 which ended with an armistice. The diplomat accused the US of nourishing an idea of total destruction of his country since the day it was founded, in order to “occupy the whole of the Korean Peninsula and to use it as a stepping-stone for realizing its strategy of dominating the whole of Asia.”

    The State Department of the US has offered no comment on the speech so far.

    North Korea’s statement in the UN is notable for at least two reasons. Pyongyang conducted two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009, but has so far never mentioned or hinted that it possesses military thermonuclear technology – a real step-up from uranium- and plutonium-based nuclear weapons. In July, though, North Korea warned its southern neighbor and the US that it is going to “re-examine its nuclear capabilities” after perceiving new threats. That warning came after Seoul, Washington and seven other countries conducted 80,000-person war games in South Korea in June.

    The six-party nuclear talks with Pyongyang commenced in 2003, but were interrupted several times. For nearly a decade the US, Russia, China, Japan and South Korea have been negotiating with North Korea in order to stop its nuclear program. But Pyongyang took one step forward, two steps back, pulling out of the six-party talks on April 14, 2005, saying it would resume its nuclear enrichment program in order to boost its nuclear deterrent. The country also expelled all nuclear inspectors from its territory. 

    On October 9, 2006, Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test, which finally led to UN sanctions against the country and discontinuation of the six-party talks.

    In August 2011, after a meeting with Russia’s President Dmitry Medvedev, North Korean leader Kim Jong-il said he is ready to resume the six-party talks on the settlement of the nuclear problem on the Korean Peninsula without preconditions. But the death of North Korea's longtime leaderon December 17, 2011, drew the proposal to a halt.

    Since the death of Kim Jong-il, the DPRK’s representative in the UN has been silent – until the angry speech on Monday. It appears that the transfer of power to Kim Jong-il’s son, Kim Jong-un is over, as the North Korean diplomat addressed to his country’s new leader as to “our dear respected marshal.” 

    The military title of the new North Korean leader might serve as evidence that the country’s policies are not subject to change and the role of the army in the country’s life has even grown up. The young leader Kim Jong-un is very fond of visiting army units throughout the country.

    Deputy Foreign Minister Pak Kil-yon said Pyongyang is aware of US “plans” to implement finalized scenarios for a new Korean War and impose military rule over whole Korean Peninsula after an invasion. 

    However, Pak Kil-yon warned, “The DPRK's patience does not mean it is unlimited," with obvious reference to his country’s proven nuclear capabilities, which prevent the US military “from turning into an all-out war on the Korean Peninsula”.

    North Korea has always stressed that it needs nuclear arms to deter the threat by the US, which maintains a number of military bases in South Korea and Japan, with dozens of thousands of troops and rumored nuclear arms stockpiled on those territories (RT, 2012).

    Title: Isolated North Korea Says Its Rockets Can Hit U.S. Mainland
    Date: October 9, 2012
    Source:
    Reuters

    Abstract: Isolated 
    North Korea has rockets that can hit the U.S. mainland, it said on Tuesday, two days after South Korea struck a deal with the United States to extend the range of its ballistic missiles.

    North and South Korea have been technically at war since their 1950-53 conflict ended in a truce, not a peace treaty, and regional powers have for years been trying to rein in the North's nuclear weapons program.

    North Korea is believed to be developing a long-range missile with a range of 6,700 km (4,160) miles) or more aimed at hitting the United States, but two recent rocket tests both failed.

    Its neighbors fear the North is using rocket launches to perfect technology to build a missile capable of delivering a nuclear warhead to the United States.

    North Korea's National Defence Commission said in a statement that the North was prepared to counter any U.S. military threats, its KCNA news agency said.

    "We do not hide (the fact) that the revolutionary armed forces ... including the strategic rocket forces are keeping within the scope of strike not only the bases of the puppet forces and the U.S. imperialist aggression forces' bases in the inviolable land of Korea, but also Japan, Guam and the U.S. mainland," KCNA said.

    South Korea on Sunday unveiled an agreement with the United States that extends the range of its ballistic missiles by more than twice its current limit to 800 km (497 miles) as a deterrent against the North.

    North Korea is under heavy U.N. sanctions that have cut off its previously lucrative arms trade and further isolated the state after its failed 2009 missile test drew sharp rebukes, even from its one major ally, China.

    The United States has denied it has any intention to strike North Korea. It has more than 20,000 troops stationed in the South in defense of its ally against the North.

    In April, under its new leader Kim Jong-un, North Korea again launched a rocket that flew just a few minutes covering a little over 100 km (60 miles) before blowing up over the sea between South Korea and China (Reuters, 2012).

    Title: Inside The Ring: North Korean Missile Launch Set
    Date: November 28, 2012
    Source:
    Washington Times                   

    Abstract: The Pentagon is preparing to activate global missile defenses for an expected test launch of another long-range missile by North Korea, U.S. defense officials said.

    Intelligence agencies are closely watching a North Korean missile launch site amid signs a test-firing will take place in the next two months, U.S. officials said, echoing reports from South Korea and Japan.

    One official said the indicators from the launch site appear to be “a replay of the April launch, hopefully with the same success.”

    North Korea’s last Taeopodong-2 missile was test-fired April 13 in what defense officials said was a failure shortly after the first stage lifted off.

    Commercial satellite images from Friday and made public by DigitalGlobe revealed increased activity associated with a forthcoming missile launch at the North Korea’s Dongchang-ri launch site in the northwestern part of the country.

    The Taepodong-2 is a liquid-fueled missile capable of reaching parts of the United States, depending on the size of its warhead. It is not known if North Korea has nuclear missile warheads, but it has conducted at least two underground nuclear test blasts.

    U.S. missile defenses are being prepared to counter the test-firing, should the missile threaten U.S. allies such as Japan or U.S. military forces in the region. The defenses include Aegis warships equipped with SM-3 anti-missile interceptors. Ground-based long-range interceptors based in Alaska and California also are being readied.

    Other components of the missile-defense network include ground-, sea- and space-based sensors and radar used to detect missile launches and help guide interceptors to make high-speed hits on warheads.

    Pentagon spokesman George Little declined to comment on the defense preparations.

    The missile defense system was last activated prior to the test-firing in April.

    North Korea signaled its intention to conduct another missile test in October in response to a U.S.-South Korea agreement that permits Seoul's military to develop its own longer-range missile force.

    After the Oct. 7 missile agreement was announced, North Korea's National Defense Commission denounced it and stated three days later that it would “strengthen missile capabilities in every way.”

    A Pyongyang government statement also said that new missile developments would “not leave the U.S. mainland safe” from attack.

    For this reason, U.S. intelligence analysts believe the next test will be announced as a missile and not a satellite launch.

    North Korea’s announcement in October also stated that its Strategic Rocket Forces are now capable of hitting U.S. and South Korean military targets on the Korean Peninsula.

    The saber-rattling of its missile capabilities coincides with the first emergence of current leader Kim Jong-un in September 2010.

    Officials said it does not appear that North Korea plans to test its new long-range road-mobile ICBM.

    Intelligence reports from December 2011 revealed that Pyongyang was developing its first road-mobile ICBM capable of hitting the United States.

    In June 2011, then-Defense Secretary Robert M. Gates said North Korea was becoming a “direct threat” to the United States as a result of the new mobile ICBM.

    The Taepodong-2 is a launch-pad missile that North Korea has described as a space-launch vehicle to put satellites into orbit.

    The Pentagon, however, considers the Taepodong-2 a long-range missile.

    Tibetan protest

    The number of Tibetans who have burned themselves to death protesting Chinese rule in Tibet increased sharply this month with 19 people immolating themselves.

    Few of the protest burnings have captured public attention in the United States, but the actions demonstrate the seriousness of Tibetans in seeking an end to Chinese occupation of the Buddhist-dominated region west of China.

    According to U.S. officials, 19 Tibetans carried out self-immolation protests so far this month, coinciding with the meeting of the Chinese Communist Party Congress that saw the shift in leadership from Hu Jintao to Xi Jinping.

    The most recent was the case of Tibetan herder Dazheng who set himself on fire in Dageri Village, in Qinghai Province on Friday.

    A day earlier Japan’s Kyodo news agency reported that Tibetan Tadin Kyab, 23, a former monk at the Shitsang Monastery died in Luqu Country in Gansu Province after setting himself on fire to protest Chinese rule.

    There were 10 self-immolations in October, one in September, seven in August, and fewer than five per month from July to April. In March, coinciding with the 2008 protests in Tibet and western China, there were 11 self-immolations.

    There have been what U.S. officials called an “unprecedented” series of burnings in Gansu Province, Qinhuai Province, Sichuan Province, and in what China calls the Tibet Autonomous Region.

    Chinese troops took over Tibet in the late 1950s, forcing the government into exile in neighboring India.

    According to human rights advocates, Tibetans were angered by Chinese authorities’ distribution of a booklet that criticized the Tibetan language and attacked the exiled Tibetan Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama. The Chinese have called the self-immolations “acts of stupidity.”

    Earlier this month, the Dalai Lama called on Beijing to investigate the causes of the self-immolations.

    He stated during a visit to Japan that the protest suicides reflected the desperation and frustration of Tibetans who are suffering under Chinese rule and from the lack of religious freedom.

    “I always ask the Chinese government: Please, now, thoroughly investigate. What is the cause of these sort of sad things?” the spiritual leader told a group of Japanese politicians Nov. 13, according to reports from Japan.

    A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Hong Lei, denounced the comments.

    “The Dalai Lama is a political exile who has long engaged in anti-China separatist activities in the guise of religion,” he said.

    “The Japanese government has been conniving with the separatist activities of the Dalai Lama and Japanese right-wing forces, which goes against the principle and spirit of China-Japan strategic relations of mutual benefit.”

    The Army’s Criminal Investigation Command this week warned against being taken in by online romance scams by “thugs claiming to be U.S. servicemen.”

    Army special agents investigating the crimes said Internet users worldwide are being duped by the ruse. A statement by the CID said the offers are “promising true love, but only end up breaking hearts and bank accounts.”

    CID agents have received hundreds of reports from victims around the world who were taken in by criminals pretending to be U.S. soldiers deployed in Afghanistan or other locations.

    “The victims are most often unsuspecting women, 30 to 55 years old, who think they are romantically involved on the Internet with an American soldier, when in fact they are being cyber-robbed by perpetrators thousands of miles away,” the command said in a statement.

    “We cannot stress enough that people need to stop sending money to persons they meet on the Internet and claim to be in the U.S. military,” said Army spokesman Chris Grey.

    “It is heartbreaking to hear these stories over and over again of people who have sent thousands of dollars to someone they have never met and sometimes have never even spoken to on the phone.”

    Most of the swindles involve offers of romance perpetrated through social media and dating websites. They mainly target women.

    The criminals who carry out the scams use the names and ranks of servicemen in combat areas, match it with photos of soldiers obtained from the Internet and then build false identities used to lure unsuspecting women.

    “We have even seen instances where the soldier was killed in action, and the crooks have used that hero’s identity to perpetrate their twisted scam,” said CID Special Agent Matthew Ivanjack.

    Romantic requests have involved “carefully worded” appeals from victims to help buy laptop computers, international telephones or other items that will be used by the fake deployed troops. The victims are asked to send money, sometimes thousands of dollars, to third-party addresses.

    Other cybercrimes involving the impersonation of U.S. soldiers have even involved the bogus sale of a vehicle through wire transfers of funds.

    “These perpetrators — often from other countries, most notably from West African countries — are good at what they do and quite familiar with American culture, but the claims about the Army and its regulations are ridiculous,” said Mr. Grey, the CID spokesman.

    In one case, a New York woman took out a second mortgage on her home to send money in one scam that cost her $60,000.

    Another woman in Britain was taken for more than $75,000 by con artists (Washington Times, 2012).

    Title: Report: North Korea Could Launch Rocket By Next Week
    Date: December 5, 2012
    Source:
    CBS News DC

    Abstract: With all stages of a long-range rocket apparently complete, North Korea could be ready to launch as early as next week.

    South Korea’s Yonhap News agency cites unnamed officials in the latest sign that preparations to fire off a rocket are imminent. According to the report by the agency, the rocket could be launched between December 10-12.

    The launching is contingent on support equipment being installed and fueling the device, which could occur over the weekend.

    A South Korean expert told Yonhap the rocket could potentially reach a distance of about 10,000 kilometers, reaching as far as Los Angeles.

    The launch would be North Korea’s second launch attempt under leader Kim Jong Un, who took power after his father’s death almost a year ago. The embarrassing misfire failure of its last rocket in April earned the country widespread international criticism.

    U.N. Secretary General Ban Ki-moon pressed North Korea, “not to take any further provocative actions that will heighten tension in the region” after the misfire in April, and U.N. spokesman Martin Nesirky said Monday “his view has not changed on the matter.”

    South Korea has warned it will take North Korea to the U.N. Security Council and press for new sanctions if the rocket launch occurs, but it is unclear whether China, the only major ally of the North, would agree to such sanctions (CBS News DC, 2012).

    Title: World On Edge Ahead Of N. Korea's Pending Satellite Launch
    Date: December 7, 2012
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: The eyes of the world are on North Korea, as the rogue republic counts down to a provocative launch U.S. officials believe is aimed at showing the world its missiles can strike anywhere.

    U.S. warships were on the move in the Western Pacific, as Pyongyang  readied the satellite launch, expected to take place between Monday and Dec. 22. Pacific forces commander Adm. Samuel Locklear said it is unclear whether the secretive dictatorship has corrected the problems of a failed launch of a similar long-range rocket in April.

    "This would be very destabilizing not only to the region, but to the international security environment," Locklear told The Associated Press.

    New satellite images indicate that snow may have slowed launch preparations, but that Pyongyang could still be ready for liftoff starting Monday. South Korean media reports said North Korea has mounted all three stages of the Unha rocket on the launch pad. But snow may have prevented Pyongyang from finishing its work by then, according to satellite images that were scrutinized by analysts.

    Locklear said the U.S. is moving ships with missile defense capabilities to the region to have the best "situational awareness" — and to reassure allies.
                    
    Two South Korean destroyers will be deployed in the Yellow Sea in the coming days to track the North Korean rocket, defense officials in Seoul said Friday. They spoke on condition of anonymity because ministry rules bar them from releasing information about defense movements over the phone.
                                    
    The commander of American troops in Japan, Lt. Gen. Salvatore Angelella, said this week that his troops are closely monitoring activity in North Korea as it prepares for the launch. Speaking in Tokyo, he described the situation ahead of the planned launch as "very dangerous." He said American troops are working closely with the Japanese to protect the country's citizens and territory, but declined to give details.

    North Korea says it has only peaceful intentions, but the impoverished and chronically belligerent nation has a long history of developing ballistic missiles. In four attempts since 1998, North Korea has not successfully completed the launch of a three-stage rocket. It has also conducted two nuclear tests, intensifying concern over how its rocket technology could be used in the future, particularly if it masters how to attach a nuclear warhead to a missile.

    That launch window comes as North Korea marks the Dec. 17 death of leader Kim Jong Un's father, Kim Jong Il. North Korea is also celebrating the centennial of the birth of Kim Jong Un's grandfather, national founder Kim Il Sung.
               
    North Korea may have chosen a 12-day launch period, which is more than twice as long as the April period, because it was worried about possible weather complications, experts said.

    The U.S., Japan and South Korea say they'll seek U.N. Security Council action if the launch goes ahead in defiance of existing resolutions. Key to the world body's endorsing any further punishments will be winning the support of China, which is North Korea's main ally and economic partner, and Russia.

    The council condemned April's launch and ordered seizure of assets of three North Korean state companies linked to financing, exporting and procuring weapons and missile technology (Fox News, 2012).

    Title: North Korean Rocket Launch Signaling Real-Life 'Red Dawn'?
    Date: December 12, 2012
    Source:
    WND

    Abstract: North Korea’s apparently successful launch of a three-stage rocket with a range that could reach the United States has U.S. officials concerned about the Hermit Kingdom’s potential to launch an electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attack.

    North Korea is not assessed to be able to miniaturize a nuclear weapon to fit on a long-range rocket – at least not yet – even though it has an active nuclear weapons development program.

    The concern over North Korea’s potential to develop the capability to launch an EMP attack is due to the country’s instability and isolation and the defiance it has shown – even to  close friends China and Russia. Beijing and Moscow have been unable to influence the behavior of North Korea’s leaders.

    China already has expressed concern with North Korean officials over the launch, and the United Nations Security Council, on which China is a permanent member, already has condemned it.

    After the North’s failed launch last April, the Security Council demanded that Pyongyang stop further launch attempts using what amounts to ballistic missile technology. North Korea has been a member of the U.N. since 1991.

    Sources say that North Korea is steeped in symbolism, and the launch was to coincide with the one-year anniversary of the death of dictator Kim Jung Il, father of the current leader, 28-year-old Kim Jung Un. It also comes before the South Korean presidential election on Dec. 19 and Japan’s next general election scheduled for Dec. 16 to elect members of its parliament, or Diet.

    The missile launched, the Unha-3, is a three-stage Taepodong-2 missile.

    Its technology is a little better than North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, since the country is actually an exporter of missile technology to nations such as Iran, Syria, Libya and Egypt.

    The success of the launch of its Taepodong-2 also may help bolster the potential for future missile sales. Informed sources say that representatives from the four Middle East countries were on hand for the latest rocket launch.

    While the North Koreans said that the launch was to put a satellite into orbit, Western experts agree that the same technological know-how provides the capability to send a warhead as far as the United States.

    With the knowledge of orbiting capability, experts say, such a power projection could could give North Korea the ability to reach even beyond California. An orbiting warhead could be placed anywhere and released on command to de-orbit and hit any location within the U.S.

    Or, North Korea could explode an orbiting warhead in the atmosphere some 150 miles above a target, creating an electromagnetic pulse that could knock out the highly vulnerable grid system of the U.S.

    Experts agree that such an EMP exploding high above Kansas, for example, would knock out a majority of America’s national grid system.

    This scenario, which isn’t too far-fetched given the latest technical demonstration, recently was depicted in the popular movie “Red Dawn,” in which the North Koreans use an EMP to knock out the U.S. electrical grid system in the Northwest.

    In the movie, the North Koreans knock out all electricity as well as all command and control and communications and the ability to detect such a threat.

    With the help of the Russians, as shown in the movie, the North Koreans are able to stage a land invasion on the U.S.

    For years, U.S. experts have expressed concern about the catastrophic impact of an EMP event either from a nuclear attack or a massive solar storm, as revealed in the comprehensive 2008 congressional report by the Commission to Assess the Threat to the United States from Electromagnetic Pulse (EMP) Attack. The EMP commission pointed out:

    The electromagnetic pulse generated by a high altitude nuclear explosion is one of a small number of threats that can hold our society at risk of catastrophic consequences.

    The increasingly pervasive use of electronics of all forms represents the greatest source of vulnerability to attack by EMP. Electronics are used to control, communicate, compute, store, manage, and implement nearly every aspect of United States (U.S.) civilian systems. When a nuclear explosion occurs at high altitude, the EMP signal it produces will cover the wide geographic region within the line of sight of the detonation.

    This broad band, high amplitude EMP, when coupled into sensitive electronics, has the capability to produce widespread and long lasting disruption and damage to the critical infrastructures that underpin the fabric of U.S. society.

    Because of the ubiquitous dependence of U.S. society on the electrical power system its vulnerability to an EMP attack, coupled with the EMP’s particular damage mechanisms, creates the possibility of long-term, catastrophic consequences. The implicit invitation to take advantage of this vulnerability, when coupled with increasing proliferation of nuclear weapons and their delivery systems, is a serious concern. A single EMP attack may seriously degrade or shut down a large part of the electric power grid in the geographic area of EMP exposure effectively instantaneously. There is also a possibility of functional collapse of grids beyond the exposed area, as electrical effects propagate from one region to another.

    The launch is giving the North Koreans the ability to glean valuable information about launching an EMP to wreak havoc on the U.S. national grid system.

    It also represents a serious U.S. intelligence failure of North Korean capabilities, according to informed sources. The failure comes in the surprise that such a launch had occurred, according to sources.

    U.S. satellites had detected the possibility of a launch, but at one point the North Koreans stood down from launch preparations, claiming technical problems. But they had concealed last-minute launch preparations in what sources say was probably a serious North Korean deception and disinformation effort.

    For years, it has been known to the U.S. intelligence community that the North Koreans are experts in the art of deception and concealment.

    Experts believe that in addition to a new military capability, the launch was designed to give the North Koreans greater influence in diplomatic talks and to obtain more humanitarian assistance.

    In a country in which vast numbers of the population are starving, the government has devoted its limited resources to ambitious missile and nuclear weapons programs. The effort gives the leadership greater leverage in future international discussions along with its symbolic value.

    Officials also see the launch as a means for Kim Jong Un to consolidate his own power grip and display North Korea’s military capabilities.

    North Korea today has a million troops opposite across the Demilitarized Zone, which isn’t far from South Korea’s capital of Seoul. There are some 34,000 U.S. troops sandwiched between the South Korean capital and the DMZ (WND, 2012).

    Title: North Korea Video Shows New York In Ruins After Missile Attack
    Date: February 5, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: North Korea, already gearing up for yet another nuclear test, has posted a bizarre online video depicting New York under an apparent missile attack with "We Are the World" serving as a soundtrack.

    The three-minute video posted on YouTube on Saturday was released by Uriminzokkiri, which distributes news and propaganda from North Korea’s state-run media. It features a young man in a dream sequence in which he sees himself aboard a North Korean space shuttle launched into orbit by the same type of rocket Pyongyang successfully launched in December. A densely populated city, which is shrouded in a U.S. flag, is then depicted to the tune of “We Are the World,” the charity single recorded in 1985.

    “Somewhere in the United States, black clouds of smoke are billowing,” reads a caption translated from Korean. “It seems that the nest of wickedness is ablaze with the fire started by itself.”

    The video concludes with the young man saying his dream will “surely” come true. As of early Tuesday, it had been viewed more than 60,000 times.

    “Despite all kinds of attempts by imperialists to isolate and crush us … never will anyone be able to stop the people marching toward a final victory,” a final caption reads.

    Former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations John Bolton, in a statement to FoxNews.com, said the video is another "disturbing reminder" of what a nuclear-capable North Korea would mean to the world.

    "The film is yet another disturbing reminder that a nuclear-capable North Korea is a threat in its region and worldwide."

    - John Bolton, former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations

    "The film is yet another disturbing reminder that a nuclear-capable North Korea is a threat in its region and worldwide," Bolton said. "We should not delude ourselves by thinking that Pyongyang will ever be negotiated out of that capability."

    Doug Bandow, a senior fellow for Cato Institute specializing in foreign policy, said the “weird” video is proof that Pyongyang has entered the digital age.

    “My first reaction is they are getting with the Internet age,” Bandow told FoxNews.com. “For years, they have used vivid imagery in their rhetoric — they once threatened to turn Seoul into a lake of fire — so they’ve figured out a way to put pictures to the rhetoric. But it doesn’t look to me to be more than an amplification of what they’ve said for years.”

    The video is little more than “bluster,” Bandow said, and should not be seen as a threat to the United States.

    “I think this is bluster,” he said. “The good news here is that while they’re evil, they’re not stupid. They know they would lose.”

    Bruce Klinger, a senior research fellow for northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, said the “strange, amateurish” video does not directly warn of an impending attack, but rather suggests that “wouldn’t it be nice” if an assault on the United States were to occur.

    “In a way, it’s very similar to all those North Korean propaganda posters of Uncle Sam being bayoneted or the U.S. Capitol dome being blown up,” Klinger told FoxNews.com. “In North Korea, death to Americans is a common theme.”

    The video, Klinger said, is also yet another indication that Kim Jong Un’s regime will not be much different than that of his father and grandfather.

    “It’s very consistent with decades of North Korean propaganda,” he said. “Things will not change under Kim Jong Un.”

    U.S. State Department officials declined to comment on the video Tuesday.

    Meanwhile, South Korea's U.N. ambassador said on Monday that a North Korean nuclear test is believed to be imminent. Ambassador Kim Sook said there are "very busy activities" taking place at North Korea's nuclear test site "and everybody's watching."

    North Korea announced last month that it would conduct a nuclear test to protest Security Council sanctions toughened after a satellite launch in December that the U.S. and other critics said was a disguised test of banned missile technology. The council ordered North Korea in the sanctions resolution to refrain from a nuclear test or face "significant action."

    Pyongyang's two previous nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, both occurred after it was condemned by the United Nations for rocket launches.

    The sanctions — designed to derail the country's rogue nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs — bar North Korea from testing or using nuclear or ballistic missile technology, as well as from importing or exporting material for those programs.

    The latest sanctions resolution again demanded that North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons program and cease launches. It slapped sanctions on North Korean companies and government agencies, including its space agency and several individuals (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: N. Korea Conducts 3rd Nuclear Test, Warns More ‘Measures’ May Come
    Date: February 12, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: A defiant North Korea has conducted its third nuclear test, prompting a wave of international criticism from governments and other organization. It also said that more “measures” may follow, raising concerns that more nuclear devices may be exploded.

    ­Track LIVE UPDATES on the fallout of the North Korean nuclear test.

    Pyongyang said the Tuesday morning explosion was part of an effort to protect its national security and sovereignty, citing US opposition to the recent North Korean space launch.

    "It was confirmed that the nuclear test – that was carried out at a high level in a safe and perfect manner using a miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously – did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment," North Korea's KCNA state news agency said.

    The UNSC has condemned the test by North Korea, calling it a “great violation of Security Council resolutions,” which poses “continuously a clear threat to international peace and security.”

    The UN Security Council has unanimously approved the non-binding statement. The 15-member council "will begin work immediately on appropriate measures".

    The move came in defiance of the UN and individual nations, which have pressured North Korea not to proceed with its plan. After the test sparked condemnation, Pyongyang threatened that if the US responds to the test “with hostility,” then unspecified “second and third measures” may follow. This corresponds with earlier speculation that Pyongyang seeks to detonate more than one nuclear device.

    North Korean diplomat Jon Yong Ryong also told the UN disarmament forum in Geneva that his country "will never bow down to any resolution," in respondr to criticisms that the nuclear test violated several UN Security Council resolutions banning such actions.

    South Korean President-elect Park Geun-hye strongly condemned the new test. She said her incoming administration would not tolerate a nuclear-armed North Korea “under any circumstances,” and pledged to enact strong deterrence measures against Pyongyang's nuclear program.

    The Chinese Foreign Ministry has urged all parties involved to reduce tensions and solve the issue through dialogue in the framework of six-party talks. It also expressed “firm opposition” to the test, called on North Korea not to take any actions that would aggravate the situation, and to “honor its commitment to denuclearization”.

    US President Barack Obama warned that both Tuesday’s test and the earlier satellite launch are provocations, and that “far from achieving its stated goal of becoming a strong and prosperous nation, North Korea has instead increasingly isolated and impoverished its people through its ill-advised pursuit of weapons of mass destruction and their means of delivery.He threatened"further swift and credible action" against Pyongyang.

    UN chief Ban Ki-moon has condemned the nuclear test, calling it “deplorable” and a “grave violation of the relevant Security Council resolutions.” The statement released by Ban’s spokesperson voiced concern over the “negative impact of this deeply destabilizing act on regional stability as well as the global efforts for nuclear non-proliferation.”

    The test was also criticized by Britain, Russia, Japan, France, Germany, the EU, the IAEA and NATO.

    The likely response to the nuclear test will be a new round of sanctions from the UN. But no matter how many sanctions other nations impose on Pyongyang, it is unlikely to yield to demands voiced by Washington, Asia specialist Tim Beal explained.

    “No country really changes policy under sanctions if the alternative, what is being required, is worse than the sanctions,” he told RT. “And that is the case with North Korea. North Korea in a sense could surrender to American demands, but that in fact in their eyes would be worse that what the Americans can do to them with sanctions. So they will persevere until the Americans come to the negotiation table.”

    ­The United States Geological Survey confirmes an earthquake in North Korea's northeast of between 4.9- and 5.1-magnitude, at a depth of about one kilometer.

    The Japanese Meteorological Agency reports that the tremor's epicenter was located in Kilju county, at exactly the same place and depth as the quake caused by North Korea's last known underground nuclear test in 2009. North Korea’s first nuclear test in 2006 was also carried out at the Punggye-ri test site.

    Pyongyang informed the US and China of its plans for a nuclear test on Monday, Yonhap reported. North Korea said it would continue with the test despite pressure from the UN Security Council and its non-UNSC neighbors.

    The South Korean military estimate that the yield of the nuclear explosion was between six and seven kilotons. Russia’s defense ministry says the size of the blast was over seven kilotons. The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization said the yield was roughly twice as big as the previous nuclear test in 2009.

    Further investigation into the nature of the explosion is underway. The evidence gathered – including seismic data, satellite images and data from spy planes detecting radioactive fallout – could allow researchers to deduct the status of North Korea’s secretive nuclear program. So far, the isolated country was believed to be unable to build a nuclear device small enough to fit onto one of its long-range ballistic missiles, making its nuclear capabilities virtually useless for offensive warfare.

    Concerns over the claimed miniaturization effort were fueled by North Korea's rocket launch last December. Pyongyang said it put a satellite into orbit for civilian purposes, and for national prestige, but many countries claimed it was a clandestine rocket weapons test. The UN Security Council condemned the launch, which it said was carried out in violation of a UNSC resolution banning the development of ballistic technology by North Korea.

    An hour after the test, Japan said that it is considering leveling further sanctions against North Korea.

    "I have ordered that we consider every possible way to address this issue, including our own sanctions, while cooperating with other countries," Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe told reporters after a meeting of Japan's security council.

    The news of the suspicious seismic activity in North Korea came days after South Korea and the US threatened that they may carry out a pre-emptive strike at North Korean facilities to halt its nuclear program.

    China, North Korea’s main economic partner and only ally, said Pyongyang would pay a “heavy price” and threatened to scale down aid should it carry out a nuclear test.

    But war correspondent Eric Margolis has told RT that now is the time for “diplomacy on the issue not empty threats,” because Pyongyang does not feel threatened having a powerful military.

    “Nobody is going to take any military measures against them.” Meanwhile Magolis argues “North Korea is important to China strategically,” saying that if the communist regime in Pyonyang would collapse, South Korea would take over the state and place US troops on China’s border. Therefore, China’s response will concentrate on doing everything to keep the communists in power in N. Korea.

    ­The timing of the test makes it difficult to ease tensions, and a lot of uncertainty surrounds the situation, independent news editor James Corbett said.

    “I certainly couldn’t have happened at a worse time internationally speaking,” Corbett told RT. “It’s the Lunar New Year in China, so basically the entire country is holiday. And in the US there is no confirmed defense secretary or central intelligence director.”

    “Throw into that the wildcard of Xi Jinping – we don’t know much about him or how he is going to lead China – and the fact that Kim Jong-un is a relatively new leader as well," he said. "You also have the new Abe government in Japan. There is a lot of wildcard in this mix” (RT, 2013).

    Title: N. Korea Threatens South With 'Final Destruction'
    Date: February 19, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: North Korea has threatened the South with 'final destruction' during a debate at the UN Conference on Disarmament on Tuesday following an underground nuclear test, Reuters reports.

    The North has warned that it could take "second and third steps" after a nuclear test conducted on February 12.

    "As the saying goes, a new born puppy knows no fear of a tiger. South Korea's erratic behavior would only herald its final destruction," North Korean diplomat Jon Yong-ryong was cited by Reuters.

    The North Korean diplomat has stressed that Pyongyang had recently taken a "resolute step for self-defence" that Jon described as "strong counter-actions to a foreign aggressor."

    "If the US takes a hostile approach toward the DPRK to the last, rendering the situation complicated, it (North Korea) will be left with no option but to take the second and third stronger steps in succession," he said.

    North Korea’s statement has been met with criticism from other states.

    US Disarmament Ambassador Laura Kennedy called the language of the statement “incredibly inconsistent with the goals and objectives.”

    "I also was particularly struck by the phrase 'heralding the destruction of the Republic of Korea' and find that language incredibly inconsistent with the goals and objectives that this body is intended to pursue," Kennedy said.

    Britain’s Ambassador Joanne Adamson also described the statement "completely inappropriate" saying that the discussion with North Korea was heading in the wrong direction.

    “It cannot be allowed that we have expressions which refer to the possible destruction of UN member states," Adamson said.

    Last week UNSC held an emergency meeting called by South Korea and issued strong condemnations of the North Korean nuclear test, calling it “grave violation of Security Council resolutions."

    The council said it would take "significant action," saying that members of the Security Council would begin work immediately on appropriate measures in a resolution.

    Russia will oppose new economic sanctions on North Korea, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Gennady Gatilov stated Tuesday.

    "We are against measures that would affect normal trade and economic relations with North Korea. We understand our Chinese colleagues have similar views," he said at a news conference.

    Gatilov at the same time stressed that “measures of pressure on North Korea” should be first of all focused at limiting nuclear proliferation of “nuclear arms and rocket launches" (RT, 2013).

    Title: New North Korean Propaganda Video Shows Obama In Flames
    Date: February 20, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: A new North Korean video portrays President Barack Obama and American troops in flames and says the North conducted its recent nuclear test because of U.S. hostility.

    The video posted on YouTube follows a string of critical rhetoric against the United States and another video this month showing an American city being attacked by missiles.

    Sunday's video overlaps the image of a blazing fire over Obama walking near his helicopter and shaking hands with congressmen. The one-and-a-half-minute video ends with a generic simulation of a nuclear device exploding underground.

    The United States is currently negotiating in the Security Council for stronger U.N. sanctions against Pyongyang for the Feb. 12 nuclear blast that was its third test since 2006 (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Warns US To Cancel South Korea Drills
    Date: February 23, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract:  North Korea warned the top American commander in South Korea on Saturday of "miserable destruction" if the U.S. military presses ahead with routine joint drills with South Korea set to begin next month.

    Pak Rim Su, chief of North Korea's military delegation to the truce village of Panmunjom inside the Demilitarized Zone, sent the warning Saturday morning to Gen. James Thurman, Pyongyang's official Korean Central News Agency said, in a rare direct message to the U.S. commander.

    The threat comes as the U.S. and other nations discuss how to punish North Korea for conducting an underground nuclear test on Feb. 12 in defiance of U.N. Security Council resolutions banning Pyongyang from nuclear and missile activity.

    North Korea has characterized the nuclear test, its third since 2006, as a defensive act against U.S. aggression. Pyongyang accuses Washington of "hostility" for leading the charge to punish North Korea for a December rocket launch that the U.S. considers a covert missile test.

    The U.S. and North Korea fought on opposite sides of the three-year Korean War, which ended in a truce in 1953, not a peace treaty, and left the Korean Peninsula divided by a heavily fortified border monitored by the U.S.-led U.N. Command.

    Washington also stations 28,500 American troops in South Korea to protect its ally against North Korean aggression.

    South Korea and the U.S. regularly conduct joint drills such as the Key Resolve and Foal Eagle exercises slated to take place next month. North Korea calls the drills proof of U.S. hostility, and accuses Washington of practicing for an invasion.

    "You had better bear in mind that those igniting a war are destined to meet a miserable destruction," KCNA quoted Pak as saying in his message to Thurman. He called the drills "reckless."

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, meanwhile, has been making a round of visits to military units guiding troops in drills and exercises since the nuclear test, KCNA said (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: N. Korea Slams U.N. Resolution, Vows Nuclear Buildup
    Date: March 10, 2013
    Source:
    Korea Herald

    Abstract: Flaring up already heightened tension on the Korean Peninsula, North Korea slammed tougher sanctions against its nuclear test and continued ramping up war rhetoric on Saturday.

    An unidentified spokesman for the North‘s foreign ministry denounced the U.N. Security Council’s toughened sanctions to punish the North‘s third nuclear test, calling them “clear proof” that the U.N. is “abused” by the United States that aims to bring down the Pyongyang regime “by disarming and suffocating it economically.”

    The U.N. Security Council unanimously adopted Resolution 2094 on Friday (Eastern Standard Time), which is aimed at punishing the North for carrying out an underground nuclear test on Feb. 12. The blast came two months after it carried out a banned long-range rocket launch.

    “The DPRK vehemently denounces and totally rejects the resolution on sanctions against the DPRK, a product of the U.S. hostile policy toward it,” said the spokesman in the statement published by the North‘s Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

    Bristled at the international move, the North on Friday threatened that it will sever its emergency hotline with Seoul and nullify non-aggression agreements between the two countries.

    Reiterating its long-standing argument that rocket launches and nuclear tests aim to “defend its sovereignty and vital rights,” the North warned that the resolution will “only result in bolstering of its nuclear deterrent qualitatively and quantitatively.”

    Vowing to take “stronger countermeasures in succession and a great war for national reunification,” Pyongyang also said it will “reinforce (itself) as a nuclear weapons state and satellite launcher” in response to the U.N. resolution.

    A commentary moved by the North‘s Cabinet newspaper Minju Joson also warned the U.S. of facing “deadly blows that it had never experienced” for the annual Seoul-Washington military exercises.

    Calling the joint exercise “nuclear war maneuvers and the most disguised military provocation to mount a preemptive strike at it,” the North said it will “fight a real war” with the U.S, according to the separate KCNA report citing a bylined commentary by the newspaper.

    The two-month field training exercise Foal Eagle kicked off last week and computer-simulated drills known as Key Resolve will be held from March 11-21. The South has said the joint war drills are only defensive in nature.

    “We have already taken up posture for an all-out action according to the operational plan finally signed by Supreme Commander Kim Jong-un to annihilate the enemies,” it said, adding the belligerent action aims to “defend the sovereignty and dignity of the country.”(Yonhap News) (Korea Herald, 2013)

    Title: North Korea: ‘If The US Has Nuclear Weapons, Why Can’t We?’
    Date: March 10, 2013
    Source:
    Independent

    Abstract: News of North Korea’s third nuclear test has been received with widespread condemnation and United Nations sanctions, and brought a significant deterioration of relations between Pyongyang and Seoul. Yet when the test was announced on 12 February, I saw the people of Pyongyang celebrating.

    Convinced that South Korea has over 800 nuclear warheads pointing their way, people in the North believe nuclear weapons are essential for the safety of their country.

    For the world, concern grew over whether the device had used plutonium rather than enriched uranium – a major technological advance if true. But for our North Korean guides, the capacity to have nuclear technology was a point of pride. It was also a point of fairness. If others have nuclear weapons and power, why can’t they?

    My Scandinavian travel companions and I (an Australian) put forward the view that, in our countries, we see it as a sign of strength to be free of the weapons. “But what about the Americans?” came the reply from our guides. The people of North Korea share some of their sense of security with policymakers in China, France, the US and UK – all nuclear-armed states. It is one of the few things we have in common with the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.

    Outside Pyongyang airport, the differences are marked. I told myself the lack of cars on the road must have been due to the lunar new year holiday. But I was surprised over the next five days to find the roads were the busiest of the trip.

    Our guide told us the government encourages people to walk or cycle.

    “How much do cars cost here?” one of our group asked. “Cost?” the guide asked, bewildered. “Well, the state gives them,” he said.

    Successful athletes, artists, actors or senior bureaucrats are given cars as rewards for service to Kim Jong-un’s regime. It is not possible for ordinary people to buy them, even if they had the money.

    Aid agencies estimate that up to two million people have died since the mid-1990s because of food shortages caused by economic problems and natural disasters.

    Both Kim Il-sung, the father of Communist North Korea, and his son Kim Jong-il, who died in 2011, lie in state in the former’s “ office”, which looks more like a palace or fortress. It serves as a grand demonstration of the inequality of dictatorship.

    When I arrived at Pyongyang’s shrines to its departed leaders, I did not anticipate the gentle sobbing of the people who looked upon their images. For most North Koreans, brought up on a diet of propaganda extolling the semi-divine nature of the Kims, their rule is like a religion.

    Though they lived in acres of marble lit by millions of dollars’ worth of chandeliers while much of the country starved, the emotion shown by mourners is real.

    As we took photographs, most people fled. We waved, and a few small children waved back, but they were quickly grabbed by their parents and stopped. Yet, under all the reservation and fear, some did reach out and say hello. There is friendliness held back by indoctrination.

    At the Study House, we were shown the hall where students were allowed to access “the internet”. In reality, they only have access to a local area network with pre-saved sites, mainly in Korean.

    In the age of Twitter and Facebook, I would have liked to have stayed in touch with our guide. But there is no option to do so by electronic means.

    So here we have it: two potential friends reaching across political and cultural divides, separated by politics with no way of staying in touch. That, more than nuclear weapons, is the tragedy of North Korea (Independent, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Scraps Armistice, Cuts Hotline With South Following Threats
    Date: March 11, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: Pyongyang has nullified the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, also cutting a communication hotline with the South on Monday. US-South Korean military drills and fresh UN sanctions against North Korea were cited as reasons for the move.

    The Korean armistice agreement has been “scrapped completely,” North Korea’s ruling party official newspaper said on Monday, citing a senior military spokesman.

    There was no formal announcement confirming the report, nor has the North Korean government openly declared its hotline with the South cut.

    But according to Seoul’s Unification Ministry, attempts to contact the North by telephone at 9am failed. The hotline is used to communicate between Seoul and Pyongyang, which do not have diplomatic relations.

    The news comes after the communist state said last week it was ending all non-aggression pacts with South Korea and threatened to sever a hotline with UN forces in the South, at the border truce village of Pammunjom.

    On Sunday Pyongyang threatened all-out nuclear war with the US and South Korea as the two countries started joint military drills on Monday. The military exercise involves 10,000 South Korean and 3,500 American troops and will continue until the end of April.

    "Our front-line military groups, the army, the navy and the air force, the anti-aircraft units and the strategic rocket units, who have entered the final all-out war stage, are awaiting the final order to strike," Yonhap reported, quoting North Korean media.

    North Korean government has repeatedly asked for the South-Korea-US drills to be halted, claiming they are a preparation for invasion. Pyongyang wants security guarantees and US troops to be removed from South Korea.

    North Korea’s demands also include its recognition as a nuclear weapons state and direct talks with Washington. However, the Obama administration views such demands as contradictory.

    “The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state,” the US president’s national security adviser Tom Donilon said on Monday, adding that his country won’t “stand by while it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States.”

    Washington is willing to negotiate with North Korea, but only if it takes some “meaningful steps” to meet international obligations first, the US senior official said.

    On Friday, the UN Security Council adopted a resolution expanding sanctions against North Korea tightening financial restrictions and cargo inspections against Pyongyang. The document, drafted by the US and China, was a response to Pyongyang's third nuclear test.

    The resolution passed by the UN Security Council on Friday is the fifth of its kind since 2006, when the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) conducted its first nuclear test (RT, 2013).

    Title: Rodman: I'm Going On Vacation With Kim In August
    Date: March 12, 2013
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: NBA Hall of Famer Dennis Rodman plans to return to North Korea in August, CNN affiliate KXJB reported Monday.

    Rodman, who recently visited the communist nation, said he plans to vacation with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

    "I don't condone what he does, but he's my friend," Rodman told KXJB while in Fargo, North Dakota, for a promotional appearance.

    Rodman, who was giddy throughout the interview, insisted the North Korean leader doesn't want war.

    A spokesman for Rodman said Kim extended the offer during Rodman's visit a few weeks ago.

    Rodman and Kim sat next to each other February 28, watching an unusual basketball exhibition in Pyongyang, North Korea.

    The visit came at a time of heightened tension between the United States and North Korea, a result of Pyongyang's pursuit of a nuclear program.

    Kim has made it clear that his country's nuclear test in February signals a new phase of confrontation with the United States, which Pyongyang has described as "the sworn enemy of the Korean people."

    On Monday, the North Korean military scrapped the Korean War armistice agreement, according to Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party.Kim is known to be a big basketball fan and one of his favorite players was Chicago Bulls legend, and Rodman teammate, Michael Jordan.

    Rodman, 51, was one of the greatest rebounders in NBA history, ranking 11th all-time in average rebounds per game.

    The defensive star helped the Detroit Pistons and Bulls win five NBA championships.

    The flamboyant Rodman frequently dyed his hair (sometimes many colors), sported multiple tattoos and facial piercings. One of his autobiographies is "I Should Be Dead By Now" (CNN, 2013).

    Title: Pyongyang Scraps Armistice Amid Heightened Saber Rattling
    Date: March 12, 2013
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: Saber rattling rose to new levels Monday on the Korean Peninsula as Pyongyang officials "scrapped" the armistice credited for nearly 60 years of uneasy peace and then failed to answer a hotline phone.

    "The Korean Armistice Agreement is to be scrapped completely just from today," said a spokesman for the North Korean military -- the Korean People's Army Supreme Command -- according to Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of North Korea's ruling Workers' Party.

    North Korea cited the U.N. Security Council's unanimous passage Thursday of tougher sanctions against Pyongyang for carrying out missile and nuclear tests.

    "The collective sanction is precisely a declaration of war and an act of war against the DPRK," said the newspaper, using the initials of North Korea's formal name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

    U.S.-South Korean Drills
    North Korea's announcement came as military drills involving South Korea and the United States were taking place. The exercises, called Key Resolve, are in conjunction with the Foal Eagle joint exercises that began March 1 and are scheduled to last two months. More than 3,000 U.S. forces are taking part in Key Resolve, according to U.S. Forces Korea.

    North Korea also has called the annual training exercises "an open declaration of a war."

    "Under the cloak of the UNSC, the U.S. seeks to realize its aggressive purpose against the DPRK by threatening its right to existence as well as its sovereignty," the newspaper continued. "What is graver is the fact that the U.S. cooked up the resolution on sanction timing to coincide with the 'Key Resolve' and 'Foal Eagle' joint military exercises."

    The U.N. Command notified the North Korean military on February 21 of the exercise dates, noting they are annual joint exercises defensive in nature and not related to current events on the Korean Peninsula.

    In his inauguration speech on Monday, South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se called the security situation "very grave," South Korea's government-backed Yonhap News Agency reported.

    "The security situation on the Korean Peninsula for now is very grave as the unpredictability surrounding North Korea is rising following its third nuclear test," Yun said. "However, my aim is to turn this era of confrontation and mistrust into an era of trust and cooperation with North Korea."

    Two weeks after her inauguration, President Park Geun-hye presided over her first cabinet meeting.

    "If we are going to get North Korea to give up its nuclear programs and make the right choice, what is more important than anything else is to cooperate closely with the international community," she said, according to Yonhap.

    She ordered the government to take measures to keep safe South Korean workers at a joint industrial complex in the North Korean city of Kaesong and residents on the border island of Yeonpyeong, which was targeted by the North Korean artillery in 2010, according to her spokesman, Yonhap said.

    In remarks delivered Monday at the Asia Society in New York, national security adviser Tom Donilon said, "The United States will not accept North Korea as a nuclear state; nor will we stand by while it seeks to develop a nuclear-armed missile that can target the United States."

    He added, "The international community has made clear that there will be consequences for North Korea's flagrant violation of its international obligations."

    He announced that Park has accepted President Barack Obama's invitation to visit Washington in May.

    Donilon attended Park's inauguration in Seoul. "When we met, I conveyed to President Park President Obama's unwavering commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea," he said.

    He cited "provocations and extreme rhetoric" from the impoverished North. "To get the assistance it desperately needs and the respect it claims it wants, North Korea will have to change course," he said. "Otherwise, the United States will continue to work with allies and partners to tighten national and international sanctions to impede North Korea's nuclear and missile programs."

    Donilon cited the Treasury Department's imposition of U.S. sanctions against the Foreign Trade Bank of North Korea, the country's main foreign exchange bank, "for its role in supporting" Pyongyang's weapons of mass destruction program.

    "North Korea's claims may be hyperbolic, but as to the policy of the United States, there should be no doubt: We will draw upon the full range of our capabilities to protect against, and respond to, the threat posed to us and our allies by North Korea," he said.

    Concern over 'bellicose rhetoric'
    In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Pyongyang's "bellicose rhetoric" had raised concerns. "The DPRK will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in northeast Asia," he said.

    Also Monday, North Korea did not answer its hotline with Seoul, South Korea's Unification Ministry said, according to the Yonhap news agency.

    The ministry said the North did not answer two attempts to communicate by telephone at 9 a.m. and 4 p.m. local time.

    The military hotline was set up in 2004 with the goal of easing tensions along the heavily fortified border between South and North, the world's last Cold War frontier.

    Last week, Pyongyang said it planned to terminate its military telephone line with the United States.

    But Andre Kok, deputy public affairs officer for U.S. Forces in Korea, said reports that the North's Korean People's Army, known as the KPA, cut off communication often arise when military training exercises are taking place.

    "When we place a call on the direct phone line and the KPA does not answer, we have no way of knowing if the KPA has actually disconnected the phone lines or are just not answering the phone," he said.

    North Korea's nuclear warning
    North Korea had previously warned it could carry out strikes against the United States and South Korea.

    But analysts say North Korea is years away from having the technology needed to mount a nuclear warhead on a missile and aim it accurately at a target.

    And, analysts say, North Korea is unlikely to seek a direct military conflict with the United States, preferring instead to try to gain traction through threats and the buildup of its military deterrent.

    Its problems are also internal: a U.N. Human Rights Council report dated February 1 cited "grave, systematic and widespread violations of human rights" in the country.

    The Koreas are still technically at war because the 1950-53 war ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

    In 2002, then-U.S. President George W. Bush labeled Pyongyang part of an "axis of evil" with Iraq and Iran (CNN, 2013).

    Title: As Rhetoric Heats Up, North Koreans Ready To 'Rain Bullets On The Enemy'
    Date: March 13, 2013
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: The 80-year-old North Korean war vet says he's been holding onto a bullet he didn't get to fire when his country declared a truce with its neighbor 60 years ago.

    Now -- if North Korean state media is to be believed -- the man is itching to do so.

    "I am still keeping a bullet that I failed to fire at a trench in the 1950s because the U.S. imperialists and their stooges signed an armistice agreement," the man is quoted as saying in Rodong Sinmun, the official newspaper of the ruling Workers' Party.

    "Send me to the trench. Give me a rifle. I want to rain bullets on the enemy to my heart's content."

    Like him, the newspaper said, North Koreans across the country are begging to join the army after the United Nations slapped the country with new sanctions.

    It's the latest hyperbole coming out of the repressed country after the North reneged Monday on a 60-year-old armistice that had maintained an uneasy peace with South Korea since the Korean War in the 1950s.

    "All people who can take rifle are petitioning to be allowed to join or rejoin the People's Army in all provinces and towns," the newspaper said.

    For its part, South Korea said it's keeping a close watch and making sure its combined forces with the United States are prepared for moves by the North.

    "There are possibilities that these activities could lead to provocations," defense ministry spokesman Kim Min-suk said.

    If they do, he added, "We will respond in a more resolute and destructively manner."

    The ever-ratcheting war of words between the two sides reached new heights after Pyongyang scrapped the agreement and then followed it up by ignoring Seoul's calls to a military hotline the two sides set up in 2004 to ease tensions.

    'An act of war'

    North Korea said its decision was a direct response to the U.N. Security Council, which passed tougher sanctions against the country after it carried out a nuclear test last month.

    The sanctions, North Korea's ruling Workers' Party said, are "a declaration of war and an act of war."

    The United States followed the U.N.'s sanctions with its own Monday after North Korea scrapped the armistice agreement.

    The new U.S. sanctions target North Korea's Foreign Trade Bank for its role in supporting the country's weapons of mass destruction program, the Treasury Department said Monday.

    The sanctions effectively cut the North's primary foreign exchange bank off from the U.S. financial system.

    'Break the waists of ... enemies'

    Pyongyang is also furious at joint military drills taking place between the South and the United States. The annual training exercises are scheduled to last two months.

    Leader Kim Jong Un lambasted the drills, taking place near the Korean peninsula.

    "As the saying goes ... a guy who is fond of playing with fire is bound to perish in flames" Kim told soldiers, according to the state-run Korean Central News Agency. "All the enemies quite often playing with fire in the sensitive hotspot should be thrown into a cauldron once I issue an order."

    "Once an order is issued," Kim told the troops, "you should break the waists of the crazy enemies, totally cut their windpipes and thus clearly show them what a real war is like."

    In Washington, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that Pyongyang's "bellicose rhetoric" has raised concerns -- but won't help the North's situation.

    "The DPRK will achieve nothing by threats or provocations, which will only further isolate North Korea and undermine international efforts to ensure peace and stability in northeast Asia," he said (CNN, 2013).

    Title: Official: Cyberattacks, N. Korea, Jihadist Groups Top U.S. Threats
    Date:
    March 13, 2013
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: Cyberattacks pose more of a threat to the United States than a land-based attack by a terrorist group, while North Korea's development of a nuclear weapons program poses a "serious threat," the director of national intelligence told Congress on Tuesday.

    The warning by Director of National Intelligence James Clapper came in his annual report to Congress on the threats facing the United States.

    "Attacks, which might involve cyber and financial weapons, can be deniable and unattributable," Clapper said in prepared remarks before the Senate Select Committee on Intelligence. "Destruction can be invisible, latent and progressive."

    The Internet is increasingly being used as a tool both by nations and terror groups to achieve their objectives, according to Clapper's report.

    However, there is only a "remote chance" of a major cyberattack on the United States that would cause widespread disruptions, such as regional power outages, the report says. Most countries or groups don't have the capacity to pull it off.

    While Clapper emphasized possible cyberthreats, committee members raised questions about the potential nuclear dangers posed by North Korea and Iran, the increasing prevalence of al Qaeda in Syria and the effect of cuts to the U.S. budget on intelligence activities.

    'Belligerent rhetoric'
    Angered by U.N. Security Council sanctions over its nuclear test, North Korea threatened for the first time to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States and South Korea.

    Even by North Korean standards, the threat of a nuclear strike and the scrapping of a 1953 truce that effectively ended the Korean War have been incredibly provocative, Clapper said.

    "The rhetoric, while it is propaganda laced, is also an indicator of their attitude and perhaps their intent," he said, adding he was concerned what, if any, provocative action North Korea would take against its southern neighbor.

    Sen. Angus King, I-Maine, quizzed Clapper about what, if any, deterrence, works with North Korea and Iran, who have been slapped with numerous U.N. Security Council sanctions over the development of a nuclear program.

    "Mutually assured destruction? Are they responsive to that kind of rational thinking that has guided U.S. policy for 50 years? Are these countries like the (former) Soviet Union, that we can have some confidence that they're gonna make a rational decision knowing that if they do something crazy they are going to be wiped out?" King asked.

    Clapper told the committee he believed that both North Korea and Iran understand that.

    North Korea, for whatever reason, believes the United States would use a nuclear weapon against it, Clapper said.

    "They certainly respect the capability for our military," he said.

    "They've gone to school on what we've done starting with Desert Storm. I know that for a fact. So I think deterrence in this broadest context does work and does have impact on decision-making calculus of those these two countries."

    Al Qaeda's influence in Syria
    Clapper also warned the committee that Syria's chemical weapons program has the potential to inflict mass causalities.

    "It adds to our concern that the increasingly beleaguered regime, having found its escalation of violence through conventional means inadequate, might be prepared to use the chemical weapons against the Syrian people," he said.

    He said the obvious question is how long embattled Syrian President Bashar al-Assad can hang on to power. Syria has been mired in a civil war for more than two years.

    "And our standard answer is his days are numbered. We just don't know the number," he told the committee.

    "I think our assessment is, he is very committed to hanging in there and sustaining control of the regime."

    Perhaps the bigger concern is the rising influence and strength of the al-Nusra Front, an "al Qaeda in Iraq" offshoot, among the Syrian rebels, he said.

    The potential of the core of al Qaeda to "launch a coordinated, massive attack" against the United States, according to Clapper, has diminished, while the global jihadist movement is more decentralized and, therefore, more of a threat.

    "Lone wolves, domestic extremists and jihadist-inspired groups remain determined to attack Western interests as they've done most recently in Libya and Algeria."

    The threat assessment describes an environment where jihadist terrorists are increasingly decentralized, creating challenges for the prevention of attacks.

    Al Qaeda vs. jihadist groups
    Many of these groups have gained a foothold in the Arab Spring countries, where a spike in threats to U.S. interests has been recorded, the threat assessment report said.

    "The dispersed and decentralized nature of the terrorist networks (that are) active in the region highlights that the threat to U.S. and Western interests overseas is more likely to be unpredictable," it states.

    It cites the Benghazi, Libya, attack that killed four Americans, and an attack on an Algerian oil field as examples of how splinter groups or individuals with jihadist sympathies can act, even without direction from higher in the terrorist chain, Clapper told the committee.

    'Cyberespionage and cyberattacks'
    For the first time, the emphasis of Clapper's report was on cyberthreats, in the form of cyberattacks or cyberespionage.

    Already, foreign intelligence and security services have "penetrated numerous computer networks" in the United States belonging to the government and private sector alike, the report says.

    Although classified networks have been targeted, the majority of these attacks have involved unclassified networks, it states.

    The United States has enjoyed a technological edge over other nations, but advances in information technology and business practices are evening the playing field, according to the report.

    "This is almost certainly allowing our adversaries to close the technological gap between our respective militaries, slowly neutralizing one of our key advantages in the international arena," it said.

    However, there is only a "remote chance" of a major cyberattack on the United State that would cause widespread disruptions, such as regional power outages, the report says. Most countries or groups don't have the capacity to pull it off.

    The report names China and Russia as two of the most "advanced cyber actors," but says they are unlikely to launch an attack (CNN, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Reportedly Conducts Military Drill Near South Korean Border
    Date: March 14, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: Kim Jong Un has supervised a live artillery drill amid heightened rhetoric against the United States and South Korea, North Korea’s state news agency says.

    KCNA did not mention when the drill took place, but said two artillery units on islands near a disputed sea border with South Korea had hit their targets, according to Reuters.

    North Korea has been threatening a nuclear war with the United States after it was targeted by the U.N. for sanctions over a long-range missile test.

    South Korean workers also have reported seeing North Korean soldiers wearing camouflage webbing this week. But observers doubt that North Korea could stage a nuclear attack on the U.S., Reuters reports (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Accuses US, South Korea Of Cyber Attacks
    Date: March 15, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract: North Korea on Friday blamed South Korea and the United States for cyberattacks that temporarily shut down websites this week at a time of elevated tensions over the North's nuclear ambitions. Experts, however, indicated it could take months to determine what happened and one analyst suggested hackers in China were a more likely culprit.

    Internet access in Pyongyang was intermittent on Wednesday and Thursday, and Loxley Pacific Co., the broadband Internet provider for North Korea, said it was investigating an online attack that took down Pyongyang servers. A spokesman for the Bangkok-based company said Friday that it was not clear where the attack originated.

    North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency blamed the shutdown on the United States and South Korea, accusing the allies of expanding an aggressive stance against Pyongyang into cyberspace with "intensive and persistent virus attacks."

    South Korea denied the allegation and the U.S. military declined to comment.

    Loxley Pacific, which has provided broadband Internet service in North Korea through a joint venture with the government since 2010, said the Internet was back to normal Friday. AP journalists in Pyongyang also were able to access the Internet again Friday after two days of disruptions. Most North Koreans do not have access to the Internet, which remains restricted to a select group.

    The cyberattack accusation comes amid a torrent of North Korean criticism against the U.S. and South Korea for holding routine joint military drills that Pyongyang considers preparations for an invasion. North Korea also is incensed by U.N. sanctions punishing Pyongyang for testing a nuclear device that it claims to need as a defense against U.S. aggression.

    "The U.S. thinks that only it can have nuclear weapons. But we have nuclear weapons for justice, and for the sovereignty of our country," Lt. Ri Yong Kwon of the North's Korean People's Army said Friday at the heavily militarized border dividing the Korean Peninsula.

    Increasingly, many nations see cyberspace as a new front for warfare. China and the U.S. have accused one another of state-backed cyberspying.

    Accusations of cyberattacks on the Korean Peninsula are not new, but it is usually South Korea accusing the North of unleashing hackers on its computer networks. Seoul believes Pyongyang was behind at least two cyberattacks on local companies in 2011 and 2012.

    South Korean security experts questioned North Korea's quick blame of Washington and Seoul because it can take months to trace the source of a cyberattack and hackers can easily disguise their locations.

    Individual hackers in China, where information about North Korea's cyberspace and computer software is more widely available than in the U.S. and South Korea, are more likely to blame in this case, said Lim Jong-in, dean of Korea University's Graduate School of Information Security in Seoul.

    "There are many Chinese Internet users who have expressed their hatred of North Korea these days. I think it's more likely that some of them launched cyberattacks on North Korean websites," said Lim. "Many in China know much more about North Korea's IT environments."

    Self-styled Chinese patriotic hackers have attacked the websites of foreign governments and private corporations at times of tension with Japan, France, Germany and others. Outrage might be sparked by territorial disputes, diplomatic snubs or perceived insults to China.

    Such hackers, working individually or in tight networks, with or without government knowledge, may have been similarly riled up over North Korea's latest provocations, including the Feb. 12 nuclear test.

    China had urged North Korea not to conduct the provocative test, and Beijing gave its support to U.N. sanctions punishing Pyongyang in the wake of the underground explosion, the North's third. The test has drawn vocal criticism from middle-class urban Chinese and even government-backed scholars (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: US To Boost Missile Defense Against North Korea
    Date: March 15, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: United States Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel says the US will have 14 missile interceptors up and running by 2017 in order to curb the threat of an attack from North Korea.

    Sec. Hagel, who joined President Barack Obama’s official cabinet earlier this year, said the interceptors will go up along the US West Coast as a precautionary measure while the threat of an assault from North Korea continues to climb.

    “The United States stands firm against aggression,” Sec. Hagel said during a Friday afternoon press conference.

    Announcing the decision during the briefing, Hagel said the decision will ensure that America “Maintains out commitment to our allies.”

    Earlier in the week, James Miller, defense undersecretary for policy, told reporters that that the Pentagon has the ability to deploy up to 14 additional missile interceptors "if needed,” but declined to say any plans had been set in stone. On Friday, however, Sec. Hagel and other Defense Department top-brass confirmed that the US would be installing the interceptors, citing a growing threat from both North Korean and Iran.

    The 14 interceptors will accompany 30 already in place at Vandenberg Air Force Base, California and Fort Greely, Alaska, and additionally the Pentagon says it plans to deploy a radar tracking station in Japan (RT, 2013).

    Title: North K. Leader 'Was Target Of Assassination Attempt' - Reports
    Date: March 15, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: Kim Jong-un was recently the target of an assassination attempt, according to media reports. The alleged murder plot may have been the work of a faction loyal to one of the North’s top military officials.

    The source though did not immediately reveal who was behind the attack or its exact timing, the JoongAng Ilbo newspaper reports in South Korea. 

    It alleged the assassination attempt appeared to be related to the recent fall and rise of a powerful four-star general Kim Yong-chol, who was demoted last year before being restored to his previous rank and rehabilitated.

    General Kim picked up a reputation for being an aggressive military official who was behind the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March 2010. Following promotion to a four-star general in February 2012, he was demoted to a two-star lieutenant general just nine months later because of the power struggle when the intelligence department of the Workers' Party and a division of the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces were merged into the Reconnaissance General Bureau. The General has since been restored to his four-star status and even appeared alongside Kim Jong-un at a musical recital in Pyongyang last month.

    "It appeared that disgruntled people inside the North moved before the time of the demotion of Kim Yong-chol," British newspaper the Express has quoted a source as saying.

    The source said an internal power struggle took place last year at the Reconnaissance General Bureau, which was run by General Kim and oversees South Korean operations.

    The South Korean newspaper also reports that an exchange of gunfire in Pyongyang last November may have signaled the attempt.

    The power struggle even involved an exchange of gunfire, the source said, and it is believed those involved were also behind the attempt on the life of Kim Jong-un.

    “The people who were purged after the gunfight could be related to the assassination attempt,” the source added.

    There were reports saying that North Korea ‘test fired’ two short-range missiles into the East Sea on Friday.

    "The launch was seen as testing its capability for short-range missiles. It seemed to be conducted on a military-unit level, not at a national level," Yonhap news agency has quoted a source in the form of an unnamed military officer.

    It’s not tensions between North and South Koreas, but a breakdown between the country’s generals and their young leader Kim Jong-Un which seem to imply that the dictator did not order the test, according to the source.

    However, there has been a direct escalation of tension between North and South following the successful test of a nuclear weapon by Pyongyang in February 2013. Earlier, in December 2012, North Korea also successfully launched a rocket carrying a satellite. South Korea then carried out military exercises, with the United States. In turn, the US and the UN have imposed new economic sanctions against North Korea.

    North Korea announced its withdrawal from the 60-year armistice agreement with Seoul on Wednesday.

    On March 11 the North Korean leader visited artillery positions on the DPRK border and said that North Korea was ready to strike at a small South Korean island of Baengnyeong and turn it into a "sea of flames" (RT, 2013).

    Title: Seoul Official Says North Korea Test-Fired 2 Short-Range Missiles During US-SKorean Drills
    Date: March 16, 2013
    Source:
    Fox News

    Abstract:  A South Korean official says North Korea test-fired a pair of short-range missiles into its eastern waters this week in a likely response to ongoing routine U.S-South Korean military drills.

    A military official in Seoul said Saturday the North launched what appeared to be KN-02 missiles during its own drills. He won't say on what day it happened. He declined to be named citing intelligence rules.

    North Korea routinely launches short-range missiles in an effort to improve its arsenal.

    The latest test comes at a time of rising tension. Pyongyang has threatened nuclear strikes on Seoul and Washington because of the drills and recent U.N sanctions over its third nuclear test.

    Analysts say Pyongyang's threats are partly an attempt to push Washington to agree to disarmament-for-aid talks (Fox News, 2013).

    Title: North Korean Video Shows Imagined Attack On Washington
    Date: March 19, 2013
    Source: CNN


    Abstract: A new North Korean propaganda video shows images of what appears to be an imagined missile attack on U.S. government buildings in Washington, including the White House and the Capitol.

    The roughly 4-minute video was posted Monday on the YouTube channel of the North Korean government website Uriminzokkiri.

    It carries a montage of clips of different weapons, including artillery guns firing and large missiles on display at military parades.

    Just before the three-minute mark, it cuts to footage of the White House in an electronic sight's crosshairs, and then a simulated explosion of the Capitol's dome.

    At the same time, the voice narrating the video says, "The White House has been captured in the view of our long-range missile, and the capital of war is within the range of our atomic bomb."

    Analysts say that North Korea is still years away from being able to target nuclear missiles at the United States.

    But the video's release comes amid spiking tensions between Pyongyang and Washington after the U.N. Security Council voted to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea following its latest nuclear test last month.

    In a slew of angry rhetoric in response to the U.N. vote, North Korea has threatened to carry out a pre-emptive nuclear attack on the United States and South Korea and said it was nullifying the armistice agreement that stopped the Korean War in 1953.

    Although U.S. officials say they don't believe North Korea is in a position to strike the United States at the moment, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel last week announced plans to deploy additional ground-based missile interceptors on the West Coast as part of efforts to enhance the nation's ability to defend itself from attack.

    This isn't the first time a North Korean propaganda video has evoked the prospect of an attack on the United States.

    A video posted on YouTube last month, before the North carried out its most recent underground nuclear test, depicted a city resembling New York with its skyscrapers on fire.

    That video was subsequently removed after the video game maker Activision said those scenes had been lifted from its top-selling game "Call of Duty" (CNN, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Threatens To Attack US Bases In Okinawa, Guam
    Date: March 21, 2013
    Source: RT


    Abstract: North Korea has threatened to target US airbases in Okinawa and Guam as it issued an air raid alert on Thursday and ordered its military to stand ready, the country’s state media reported.

    "The United States is advised not to forget that our precision target tools have within their range the Anderson Air Force base on Guam where the B-52 takes off, as well as the Japanese mainland where nuclear powered submarines are deployed and the navy bases on Okinawa," the North Korean command spokesman was quoted as saying by KCNA news agency.

    The threats came as a response to the use of nuclear-armed US B-52 bombers in joint war games South Korea held with the US. "We cannot tolerate the US carrying out nuclear strike drills, setting us as targets, and advertising them as strong warning messages," the spokesman said.

    The air raid alert was issued at 9:32 am local time (00:32 am GMT) with military units and civilians told to take cover, Korean Central Television said.

    A news report by South Korea’s Yonhap news agency suggested that the warning appears to be a part of a military drill, though this has not been confirmed by Pyongyang.

    This comes amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula and ongoing saber-rattling that followed the UN Security Council's imposition of strict sanctions on Pyongyang over its third underground nuclear test in February.

    On Monday, the US said that every military resource at its disposal, including its nuclear arsenal, would be available to South Korea in the event of a confrontation with the North.  

    Earlier in March, Pyongyang threatened all-out nuclear war with the US and South Korea after the two countries began joint military drills on the Korean Peninsula. The North also nullified the 1953 armistice that ended the Korean War, claiming the drills were preparations for an invasion (RT, 2013).

    Title: U.S. Officials Concerned Over North Korea's 'Ratcheting Up Of Rhetoric'
    Date:
    March 28, 2013
    Source:
    CNN

    Abstract: The Obama administration on Wednesday slammed North Korea's pugnacious rants toward South Korea and the West and a U.S. intelligence official called the strident remarks worrisome.

    "The ratcheting up of rhetoric is of concern to us," the official said.

    The question is whether this is "just rhetoric," he said. Or, "are things happening behind the scenes indicating the blustering has something to it."

    Another U.S. official said there is a lot of uncertainty about North Korea's intentions.

    "North Korea is not a paper tiger so it wouldn't be smart to dismiss its provocative behavior as pure bluster," that official said.

    "What's not clear right now is how much risk (North Korean leader) Kim Jong Un is willing to run, to show the world and domestic elites that he's a tough guy. His inexperience is certain -- his wisdom is still very much in question."

    North Korea earlier said it was cutting off a key military hotline with South Korea amid high tensions between the two sides.

    "Under the situation where a war may break out any moment, there is no need to keep north-south military communications," the head of a North Korean delegation told the South by telephone Wednesday, according to the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency.

    There are several hotlines between North and South Korea. Earlier this month, Pyongyang disconnected a Red Cross hotline that ran through the border village of Panmunjom and was used by officials on both sides, according to the South Korean Unification Ministry.

    And senior U.S. officials do not believe the cutting off of some communication by North Korea in itself is indicative of more dramatic action or is conclusive. The officials note that North Korea has cut these links before, some of them multiple times.

    "It's part of the current threat-of-the-day pattern. I wouldn't extrapolate it to anything more conclusive," one official said.

    "They want attention and they want to scare people both inside and outside their country."

    Officials see steps such as cutting off communication are more substitutes for doing other more dangerous things rather than precursors to more dangerous things.

    "That is certainly our fervent hope," the official said.

    At the same time, there is concern about a North Korean miscalculation during this time. The officials said the lack of communication could complicate and hamper the ability of all nations involved (including North Korea, South Korea and the United States) to control and moderate any action -- and cycle of reaction should one begin as the result of a North Korean miscalculation.

    The North linked its move to annual joint military exercises by South Korea and the United States, which it has cited in a string of threats against the two countries in recent weeks. Tougher sanctions approved by the U.N. Security Council also may have fueled its anger.

    "It is important the U.S. send a message. In terms of the military side, the U.S. has clearly sent a message," the intelligence official said. "When people engage in this sort of rhetoric, you can't appear as if you are not responding," the official said.

    The intelligence community has been providing the Obama administration with assessments of Kim Jung Un's control of the regime, but the official would not provide any details of that assessment.

    Administration officials also regretted the tough talk from Pyongyang. State Department spokesman Patrick Ventrell cited "more bellicose rhetoric and threats (that) follow a pattern designed to raise tensions and intimidate others."

    Josh Earnest, White House principal deputy press secretary, said the United States is committed to ensuring the security of its allies, such as South Korea.

    "The North Koreans are not going to achieve anything through these threats and provocations. They're only going to further isolate the North Koreans and undermine international efforts to bring peace and stability to northeast Asia," Earnest said.

    Pentagon spokesman George Little spoke on the government's nuclear threats to the United States and "its more achievable threats to attack South Korean military units and shell border islands."

    "We take their rhetoric seriously, whether it's outside the norm which it sometimes is, or seems to suggest a more direct threat. And if you look at what they've said recently, it's been extremely provocative, threatening and bellicose. And it's a complete mystery to me why they would deem it in their own interest to launch this type of rhetoric at us and our allies," Little said.

    The North's announcement Wednesday appeared likely to affect the movement of people in and out of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, a joint economic cooperation zone between the two Koreas situated on the North's side of the border.

    "The measure taken by North Korea is not beneficial for the stable operation of the Kaesong Industrial Complex, and we urge them to withdraw the measure," the Unification Ministry said.

    On Thursday morning, the day after the North said it was severing the line, South Korean workers were able to cross the border and enter the industrial zone, the semiofficial South Korean news agency Yonhap reported, citing the Immigration and Quarantine office in Paju, near the border.

    An initial group of 197 workers went over the border at 8:30 a.m. local time (7:30 p.m. Wednesday ET) after North Korea gave the regular approval for their movement by phone through the industrial district's management committee, Yonhap said.

    A total of 530 South Koreans were due to enter the Kaesong complex on Thursday, and 511 are scheduled to come back into South Korea, according to Yonhap.

    A symbol of North-South cooperation, the Kaesong complex is also seen as an important source of hard currency for the regime in Pyongyang.

    The North previously cut off the Kaesong military hotline in March 2009 -- also during annual U.S.-South Korean military exercises -- but later reinstated it, according to Yonhap.

    The slew of recent fiery rhetoric from Pyongyang has included threats of pre-emptive nuclear strikes against the United States and South Korea, as well as the declaration that the armistice that stopped the Korean War in 1953 is no longer valid.

    Behind the veil: A rare look at life in North Korea

    On Tuesday, the North said it planned to place military units tasked with targeting U.S. bases under combat-ready status.

    Most observers say North Korea is still years away from having the technology to deliver a nuclear warhead on a missile, but it does have plenty of conventional military firepower, including medium-range ballistic missiles that can carry high explosives for hundreds of miles.

    The heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula came after the North carried out a long-range rocket launch in December and an underground nuclear test last month, prompting the U.N. Security Council to step up sanctions on the secretive regime (CNN, 2013).

    Title: North Korea Threats Timeline
    Date:
    March 31, 2013
    Source:
    RT

    Abstract: The Korean Peninsula is experiencing a new period of high tensions, with both sides exchanging harsh rhetoric and promising retribution for any provocations. However, the roots of this conflict date back to the end of World War II in 1945.

    Up until 1945 Korea remained under Japanese colonial rule but after Japan surrendered to the Allied Powers, the land was divided along the 38th parallel, with American forces staying to the to the south of the demarcation line and Soviet troops to the north.

    In 1948, two states were established on the peninsula: the Republic of Korea (South Korea) and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (North Korea).

    As a result of political and military contradictions the Korean War was sparked on June 25, 1950. South Korea was getting military aid from the US and 15 other states, while the DPRK was backed by China and the USSR.

    On July 27, 1953 the conflicting sides signed a ceasefire agreement. A peace treaty agreement however has never been signed, so formally they have been in a state of war ever since.

    The 60s were marked by repeated attacks and armed provocations by both states, which led to the deaths of hundreds of Koreans. Tensions were also stoked between Pyongyang and Washington in 1968 when an intelligence ship, USS Pueblo, was seized by North Korean gunboats. In 1969 North Korea shot down a US reconnaissance plane killing 31 Americans.

    In the following decades, the North and South Koreas took steps to ease tensions. Following secret negotiations on July 4, 1972, the North and South even settled basic principles for reunification without interference from foreign powers.

    The 1980s were a period of relative calm which was punctuated by two notorious incidents purportedly carried out by North Korean agents.

    In 1983, three senior South Korean politicians and 18 others were killed in Rangoon, Burma, in a bomb attack targeting Chun Doo-hwan, the fifth President of South Korea. One of the captured bombers confessed to being a North Korean military officer.

    In 1987, a bomb detonated mid-air on a Korean Air flight from Baghdad to Seoul killing all 115 on board. The bombing, blamed on North Korea placed the country on the US list of Designated State Sponsors of Terrorism until 2008.

    Although the incidents deeply strained relations between the two states, in September 1990 the first high-level talks were held in Seoul, and in December 1991 North and South Korea signed the Agreement on Reconciliation, Non- aggression, Exchange and Cooperation.

    Also in 1991, both states joined the United Nations.

    In 1992, North Korea agreed to allow the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to inspect sites suspected of potential nuclear weapons development. However, over the next two years access to those sites was subsequently denied.

    In 1994, Kim Il Sung, known as the "Great Leader" of the DPRK since 1948 died. His son, Kim Jong-il, assumed power and was known as

    "Dear Leader." North Korea subsequently agreed to freeze its nuclear program in exchange for $5 billion worth of free fuel and two nuclear reactors.

    In 1996, during the severe famine that killed up to 3.5 million people according to different estimations, Pyongyang threatened it would scrap the armistice with the South.

    In 1998, North Korea launched a rocket over Japan, which landed in the Pacific Ocean. Pyongyang claimed it had successfully put a satellite into orbit.

    In June 2000, relations took a turn for the better when during the first Inter-Korean Summit Kim Jong-il agreed to stop all propaganda broadcasts against the South.

    Tensions on the peninsula began to sour significantly in 2002, after George W. Bush declared North Korea to be a part of the

    “Axis of Evil.” In June of that year, North and South Korean naval vessels clashed in the Yellow Sea, killing around 30 North and four South Korean sailors.

    In October the United States stopped oil shipments to DPRK in response to the country's secretive nuclear weapons program. The DPRK responded by kicking out international nuclear inspectors and reactivating its Yongbyon reactor.

    In January 2003, the DPRK withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), kicking off the ongoing nuclear crisis. That July, Pyongyang announced it had enough plutonium to start making nuclear bombs.

    The following month, Six-party talks – South Korea, North Korea, China, the US, Russia and Japan – kicked off in Beijing, though Washington and Pyongyang failed to reach a consensus.

    The next several years saw a series of failed negotiations, with North Korea claiming to test its first nuclear weapon in October 2006.

    But the following year, Six-nation talks resumed in Beijing, with North Korea agreeing to close its main nuclear reactor in exchange for fuel aid.

    Relations with Seoul also somewhat thawed, with the two sides signing a "Declaration on inter-Korean relations, peace and prosperity" during the second Inter-Korean Summit.

    The presidents of North and South Korea further promised to hold talks to formally end the Korean War.

    By 2008, relations once again soured between the two sides, and in January 2009 Pyongyang said it would scrap all military and political deals with the South.

    Despite conciliatory gestures, North Korea’s alleged sinking of a South Korean warship in March 2010 dramatically escalated tensions.

    In December 2011, Kim Jong-il died and his son Kim Jong-un was named his successor.

    The young North Korean leader quickly consolidated all the power into his hands. To commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of Kim Il Sung, in April 2012, Pyongyang launched a long-range ballistic rocket The rocket fell into the sea.

    In August 2012, ahead of the annual US-South Korean drills, Kim Jong-un announced that the North Korean army was ready to deal "deadly blows" in “an all-out counter-offensive” in case the country’s territory is violated or even a single shell falls on North Korean soil.

    A few months later North Korea announced to had developed ballistic missiles capable of reaching the US mainland and then revealed a plan to try again to send a satellite into space. The launch took place on December 12 and prompted further UN sanctions on the North.

    In January 2013 North Korea announced it was planning a new nuclear test, raising the confrontation with the US to a whole new level.

    On February 12, North Korea conducted its third nuclear test and warned that further measures would follow if the US continued its “hostility” against the North. The UN subsequently imposed more sanctions on the county.

    The rhetoric became even harsher in March with threats to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against South Korea and the US. The North further threatened to scrap the truce with the South and nullify the joint declaration on denuclearization.

    On March 29, following a mock bombing of North Korea by a US B-2 stealth bomber during a joint military drills, Pyongyang announced that “the time has come to settle accounts with the US imperialists” and ordered rocket units be put on standby to fire on US bases in the South Pacific.

    The following day, March 30, North Korea declared it was entering a “state of war” against its Southern neighbor, stating that from now on any issues between the two countries would be resolved in a "wartime manner."

    Pyongyang also warned it would retaliate against any provocations by the US and South Korea without "any prior notice."

    The decision by the US to deploy two nuclear-capable B-2 bombers to participate in joint military drills with South Korea prompted Pyongyang to harden its position in its long-term conflict with the United States, North Korea's State News Agency said in a report released on Saturday.

    North Korean rocket units are reportedly on standby to fire on US bases in the South Pacific.

    However, in the capital of Pyongyang, life was continuing normally despite the declared state of war, Itar-Tass reported. There was no observable mobilization of military forces in the city, or any changes in troop deployments to foreign embassies. Shops and restaurants remained open, and there were no interruptions to the city’s public transportation system.

    On April 1 the US upped the ante again by announcing deployment of several F-22 stealth fighter jets to the Korean peninsula. The advanced radar-evading F-22 Raptors were moved from Kadena Air Base in Okinawa to the Osan Air Base, the main US base in South Korea (RT, 2013).