Senior North Korea diplomat flees to South in highest ranking diplomat to escape since 2016

People-look-at-North-Korea-from-Paju

Important Takeaways:

  • Without giving any further details, South Korea’s spy agency the National Intelligence Service confirmed an earlier report by the Chosun Ilbo newspaper, which said that a counsellor responsible for political affairs at the North Korean embassy in Cuba had defected.
  • Among Ri Il-kyu’s jobs at the embassy was to block North Korea’s rival South Korea and old ally Cuba from forging diplomatic ties
  • Details on North Koreans defections often take months to come to light, with defectors needing to be cleared by authorities and going through a course of education about South Korean society and systems.
  • “Every North Korean thinks at least once about living in South Korea. Disillusionment with the North Korean regime and a bleak future led me to consider defection,” he told the paper.
  • “In fact, North Koreans yearn for reunification even more than South Koreans. Everyone believes that reunification is the only way for their children to have a better future. Today, the Kim Jong-un regime has brutally extinguished even the slightest hope left among the people.”
  • He said he flew out of Cuba with his family but he did not elaborate further on how he pulled off the high-risk escape.

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North Korea’s failed launch was possible hypersonic weapon

Missile-Vapor-Trail

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea might have launched a hypersonic missile, South Korea has said, as intelligence agencies investigated a ballistic missile test that failed early on Wednesday
  • The latest missile test came days after North Korea signed a comprehensive strategic cooperation treaty with Russia and as the US aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt arrived in Busan to take part in joint military drills with South Korea and Japan.
  • Such missiles are seen as harder to detect because they can travel at speeds in excess of five times the speed of sound and are designed to be maneuverable, posing a challenge to regional missile defense systems.
  • Tensions in the region have risen as Kim has accelerated North Korean testing of missiles and other weapons.
  • The United States and South Korea have responded by expanding their combined training and trilateral drills involving Japan, and sharpening their deterrence strategies.

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North Korean troops being sent to Ukraine shortly after Putin met with Kim Jong Un

North-Korea-Troops

Important Takeaways:

  • World on the brink as North Korea sends ‘cannon fodder’ troops to Ukraine
  • The North Korean unit is expected to arrive in Ukraine as soon as next month, raising fears that Pyongyang is becoming an active combatant in the war.
  • Last week, Putin made an official state visit to North Korea, the first time in 24 years that he had travelled to the country.
  • The Russian leader and his host Kim Jong Un signed a defense pact on June 19 in Pyongyang, promising military assistance to one another.
  • Within days of signing the agreement, North Korea has announced it will be sending a unit of military engineers to join Russia’s army on the ground in the Donetsk region.
  • The country is already supplying Russia with ammunition and missiles and is reported to have shipped as many as 1.6 million artillery shells to Putin’s army.
  • A spokesman for the Pentagon said North Korean troops would be sent to their slaughter and questioned the wisdom of the deployment.
  • The military alliance between Putin and Kim states: “In case any one of the two sides is put in a state of war by an armed invasion from an individual state or several states, the other side shall provide military and other assistance with all means in its possession without delay.”

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Putin has warned South Korea it would be making “a big mistake” if it arms Ukraine in the war against Russia

Putin gives warning

Important Takeaways:

  • His comments come after Seoul said it was considering such a possibility, in response to Russia and North Korea’s new pact to help each other in the event of “aggression” against either country.
  • Moscow “will… [make] decisions which are unlikely to please the current leadership of South Korea” if Seoul decides to supply arms to Kyiv
  • Mr. Putin also warned that Moscow is willing to arm Pyongyang if the US and its allies continue supplying Ukraine with weapons.
  • Following Mr. Putin’s remarks, South Korea’s presidential office said on Friday it would consider “various options” in supplying arms to Ukraine and its stance will “depend on how Russia approaches this issue.”
  • The two Koreas are still technically at war and maintain a heavily guarded border, where tensions have worsened in recent weeks.

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Reminiscent of the Cold War Russia and North Korea sign deal to come to each other’s aid if either faces aggression from the West

Russia and North Korea new agreement in 2024

Important Takeaways:

  • Russian President Vladimir Putin and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un signed an agreement Wednesday that pledges mutual aid if either country faces “aggression,” a strategic pact that comes as both face escalating standoffs with the West.
  • Details of the deal were not immediately clear, but it could mark the strongest connection between Moscow and Pyongyang since the end of the Cold War. Both leaders described it as a major upgrade of their relations, covering security, trade, investment, cultural and humanitarian ties.
  • The summit came as Putin visited North Korea for the first time in 24 years and the U.S. and its allies expressed growing concerns over a possible arms arrangement in which Pyongyang provides Moscow with badly needed munitions for its war in Ukraine, in exchange for economic assistance and technology transfers that could enhance the threat posed by Kim’s nuclear weapons and missile program.
  • Tensions on the Korean Peninsula are at their highest point in years, with the pace of both Kim’s weapons tests and combined military exercises involving the U.S., South Korea and Japan intensifying in a tit-for-tat cycle. The Koreas also have engaged in Cold War-style psychological warfare.

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Global count of Nuclear Warheads is accelerating as North Korea adds to its stockpile

new-nuclear-attack-submarine

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea Added 20 Nukes to Its Arsenal in 2023
  • SIPRI’s “Yearbook 2024 Armaments, Disarmament and International Security” report assesses the known arsenals of nuclear states as well as global military development. It once again found that the vast majority of known nuclear weapons are in the possession of America and Russia, but that communist China is making significant efforts to expand and modernize its own arsenal. Notably, the report documented “the first time China is believed to have some warheads on high operational alert” in 2024.
  • In its section on North Korea, SIPRI warned that evidence suggests communist dictator Kim Jong-un is “putting new emphasis” on Pyongyang’s nuclear assets.
  • North Korea’s 50 warheads were counted alongside a complete global nuclear tally of 12,121 existing warheads as of January 2024. About a third of these – 3,904 – are believed to be actively deployed. Over 90 percent of them belong to Russia – whose leader Vladimir Putin is expected in Pyongyang this week – and America.
  • ‘While the global total of nuclear warheads continues to fall as cold war-era weapons are gradually dismantled, regrettably we continue to see year-on-year increases in the number of operational nuclear warheads,’ SIPRI Director Dan Smith said in a statement. ‘This trend seems likely to continue and probably accelerate in the coming years and is extremely concerning.”

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South Korea, U.S. sound alarm over possible impending visit by Putin to North Korea

Putin-with-Kim-Jong-Un

Important Takeaways:

  • A possible impending visit by Russian President Vladimir Putin to North Korea could deepen military ties between the two countries in violation of U.N. Security Council resolutions, officials of South Korea and the United States warned on Friday.
  • On Wednesday, a senior official at Seoul’s presidential office said Putin was expected to visit North Korea “in the coming days”.
  • North Korea and Russia have denied arms deals but vowed to deepen cooperation across the board, including in military relations.
  • The U.S. intelligence community assesses, however, that these relationships – including that between Moscow and Pyongyang – will remain “far short” of formal alliances because parochial interests and wariness of each other will most likely limit their cooperation, Haines said.

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Experts say North Korea is at a new stage launching multiple ballistic missiles at once in attempt to overwhelm the enemy

NK-Missile-launch-on-TV

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korea fired at least 10 apparent short-range ballistic missiles toward the waters off its eastern coast on Thursday, Seoul said, days after its attempt to put another spy satellite launch into orbit ended in a ball of fire.
  • South Korean officials said the short-range weapons had been fired from the Sunan area of Pyongyang, traveling around 350 kilometers (215 miles) before splashing down into the Sea of Japan.
  • Speaking at a news conference later Thursday, Chief Cabinet Secretary Yoshimasa Hayashi said more “provocations” by Pyongyang were likely in store.
  • “We believe that North Korea may continue to launch various types of missiles and other provocations in the future,” Hayashi said. “The government will continue to work closely with the United States and South Korea to collect and analyze necessary information and do its utmost to monitor the situation.”
  • While the North has in the past launched multiple missiles in a single volley — apparently training for conducting so-called saturation strikes that overwhelm enemy defenses — the sheer number Thursday was unusual.
  • Decker Eveleth, an analyst with the CNA research group, said these types of saturation drills could become a new normal for the North.
  • “We will likely see more big salvo launches out of DPRK going forward”

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Nuclear Counterattack Drill as North Korea blames US and South Korea for ‘Extreme War Fever’

Kim-Jong-Un-simulated-counterattack

Important Takeaways:

  • North Korean leader Kim Jong Un led a tactical drill on Monday to simulate a nuclear counterattack, the country’s state media said on Tuesday, a day after neighboring militaries reported the launch of multiple ballistic missiles off the Korean Peninsula’s eastern waters.
  • The official Korean Central News Agency said Kim’s regime tested for the first time a nuclear force command and control mechanism known as “Haekbangashoe”—literally “nuclear trigger”—a combined management system it described as Pyongyang’s “greatest nuclear crisis alarm.”
  • KCNA blamed sky-high tensions on the peninsula on the “extreme war fever” of the United States and its ally South Korea, which are in the middle of their own combined air drill.
  • Images published by KCNA showed four missile launches for what it said were 600-millimeter “super-large multiple rocket units,” which the agency said would “play an important role” in any potential future nuclear counterstrike ordered through the Haekbangashoe system.
  • The projectiles accurately hit a ground target at a range of 352 kilometers, roughly 218 miles, the report said.

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Annie Jacobsen’s account of what nuclear war could look like based on facts sourced from exclusive interviews with presidential advisers

North-Korea-ICBM-Monster

Important Takeaways:

  • Nuclear war so devastating survivors will envy the dead: As newly declassified documents reveal what Armageddon would look like – how a lightning attack from North Korea would leave a US President six minutes to decide the fate of the world
  • Ballistic missile launches are not uncommon. As a general rule, nuclear-armed nations inform one another of ballistic missile tests, usually via diplomatic back channels, because no one wants to start a nuclear war by accident.
  • Even Russia continues to notify the U.S. of its test launches. The exception is North Korea. None of the more than 100 missiles it has test-launched since January 2022 — including nuclear-capable weapons — was announced beforehand.
    • 1-5 seconds after launch
      • Measurements reveal the missile is not heading into space, as it would be for a satellite launch, or towards the Sea of Japan, as is commonplace in a test. Is this a provocative test or a nuclear attack?
      • A vast, world-wide network of U.S. intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance assets begins churning out information.
      • In Colorado, combat pilots run towards fighter jets waiting on the Tarmac, ready to take to the air.
    • 15 seconds after launch
      • The ICBM has travelled far enough for satellite sensors to determine its trajectory more precisely. The outlook is catastrophic: the Monster is travelling towards the continental U.S.
    • Two minutes after launch
      • Beneath the Pentagon, inside the nuclear command bunker, the secretary of defense and the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff take charge.
      • Once ground radars provide secondary confirmation that an attacking missile is on its way to the East Coast, a perilous nuclear warfighting strategy comes to the fore: Launch on Warning.
      • This means that once its early-warning systems have warned of an impending attack, the U.S. will not wait to physically absorb a nuclear blow before launching its counterattack.
    • Three minutes after launch
      • The president now faces an inexorably small decision-making window of time. What must happen next has been rehearsed by everyone in attendance on satellite comms, except, most likely, the president himself. Like almost all U.S. Presidents since John F. Kennedy, he is entirely underinformed about how to wage nuclear war when it happens.
      • As Ronald Reagan lamented in his memoirs: ‘Six minutes to decide how to respond to a blip on a radar scope and decide whether to release Armageddon! How could anyone apply reason to a time like that?’
      • ‘Into the emergency bunker now,’ the special agent in charge shouts at the president. Two members of the Counter Assault Team (CAT) grab him by his armpits. He does not yet fully comprehend all that is going on, or how fast a counterattack must unfold.
    • Nine minutes after launch
      • At Clear Space Force Station in Alaska, the Long Range Discrimination Radar gets its first sight of the attacking missile as it comes over the horizon. A member of the Air Force picks up the red phone in front of her. ‘This is Clear,’ she reports. ‘Site report is valid. Number of objects is one.’
      • Now begins the attempt at interception, a feat ‘akin to shooting a bullet with a bullet’. But nine out of 20 hit-to-kill interceptor tests have failed. This means there is only a 55 per cent chance that the Monster will be shot down before it reaches its target.
      • Sure enough, the interception fails. So do three more consecutive attempts. The die is cast.
    • 16 minutes after launch
      • Satellite sensors have detected the exhaust on a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) which has breached the surface of the Pacific Ocean, 350 miles off the coast of California.
      • The dreaded SLBM can strike and hit a target inside the U.S. even faster than an ICBM.
    • 21 minutes after launch
      • The incoming submarine-launched missile races towards Diablo Canyon Power Plant, a 750-acre facility 85 ft above the Pacific. Diablo is the only nuclear power plant in California that remains active. When a nuclear weapon explodes in the air, the radiation released into the atmosphere will dissipate over time.
      • Attacking a nuclear reactor with a nuclear-armed missile is entirely different. It all but guarantees a core reactor meltdown, resulting in a nuclear catastrophe that will last for thousands of years.
      • The missile launched from the submarine explodes in Diablo Canyon. The nuclear power plant is consumed in a flash of nuclear light. There is a massive fireball. A facility-destroying blast. A nuclear mushroom cloud and a nuclear core meltdown.
      • Known to insiders as The Devil’s Scenario, the worst of the worst-case scenarios has come to pass.
    • 23 minutes after launch
      • As Marine One takes off, the president is told that a nuclear bomb has hit California. He removes the code card from his wallet and prepares to authorize a counterstrike against North Korea — one involving 82 nuclear warheads. This retaliatory strike will all but guarantee the deaths of millions of people — maybe even tens of millions of people — on the Korean peninsula alone.
    • 32 minutes after launch
      • The secretary of defense remains focused on getting the Russian President on the line. American ICBMs, launched from a missile field in Wyoming, must travel directly over Russia in order to reach North Korea.
      • A motherload of American ICBMs travelling through Russian airspace will almost certainly be interpreted as an incoming attack. Russia needs to be warned.
    • 33 minutes after launch
      • Hurtling towards the Pentagon, the North Korean ICBM enters Terminal Phase — its last 100 seconds before it detonates.
      • In the first fraction of a millisecond after detonation, a flash of light superheats the air to 180 million degrees Fahrenheit, creating a massive fireball that incinerates everything nearby in a holocaust of fire and death.
      • Ten seconds pass. The fireball rises three miles up into the air. Those who have survived the initial blast several miles from ground zero get trapped on melting roads and burn alive.
    • 42 minutes after launch
      • No one has heard from the U.S. president because when the nuclear bomb hit the Pentagon, Marine One experienced a system failure from the electromagnetic pulse and began to crash. The CAT operator tandem-jumped the president out of the open door of the aircraft in an attempt to save his life.
    • 43 minutes after launch
      • The Russian president is furious. The U.S. president has not reached out to him yet.
      • Faced with what he believes are hundreds of nuclear warheads bearing down on Russian soil — launched by the opportunistic Americans in a pre-emptive sneak attack — the Russian president chooses to launch a nuclear counterattack at the United States. One thousand ICBMs are now headed for America.
    • 72 minutes after launch
      • Across the U.S., Europe, and the Korean peninsula, hundreds of millions of people are dead and dying, while hundreds of military aircraft fly aimlessly in the air until they run out of fuel. The last of the nuclear-armed submarines move stealthily out at sea, patrolling in circles until the crews run out of food.
      • In the event of a nuclear war, he said: ‘The survivors will envy the dead.’

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