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Dismantling North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program Starts with Understanding Its History

Published with Permission by:
Irajpanah, Katherine, “Dismantling North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program Starts with Understanding Its History”, In Homeland Security, 04 July 2018, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/nuclear-weapons-program-history/

By Katherine Irajpanah
Writer, Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc., and Special Contributor, In Homeland Security 

On June 12, President Trump and Chairman Kim Jong-un of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea met in Singapore for a historic summit. During the meeting, the United States and North Korea established the diplomatic foundation for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The Singapore summit followed a year of intensified vitriol between the two countries and decades of unsuccessful attempts at halting North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons.

The summit and forthcoming diplomatic talks highlight the need to understand the history of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The program, which has developed over the course of approximately six decades, has perplexed the past several presidential administrations. That suggests that the United States must approach the negotiating table cautiously and be prepared for lengthy, technical discussions.

The Beginnings of North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program

North Korea’s nuclear weapons program dates to the 1950s in the aftermath of the Korean War. The war, which pitted South Korea and the United States against North Korea and China, created a great sense of insecurity in the regime of the DPRK’s founder, Kim Il-sung.

DPRK nuclear ambitions largely grew from those insecurities. Weapons of mass destruction, including biological, chemical and nuclear weapons, presented the Kim regime with a potential guarantor of its security as well as a means of deterring the United States from invading North Korea.

Although North Korea’s nuclear program has largely been indigenous, Pyongyang received external technical assistance during its early years. In the 1960s, for example, the Soviet Union helped the North Koreans develop early nuclear reactors, which can provide a source of fissionable material to make a hydrogen bomb. Moreover, in the 1970s, North Korea modeled its short-range missiles on Soviet Scud missiles it had acquired from Egypt.

By the 1980s, North Korea had developed its own nuclear research institutions, uranium mining facilities, a fuel rod fabrication complex and a five-megawatt nuclear reactor. After signing the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985, Kim secured further Soviet assistance to develop light water reactors (LWRs). With these facilities and other projects in place, Kim Il-sung successfully developed a nuclear bomb option and the foundation of North Korea’s current nuclear weapons program.

The Rise and Fall of Diplomatic Agreements

North Korea’s nuclear threat reached a flashpoint in 1994, when the United States and North Korea faced the risk of war as a result of the North’s provocations. After the 1994 crisis abated, Washington and Pyongyang held diplomatic talks that led to the 1994 Agreed Framework.

In that agreement, the United States promised security assurances and proliferation-resistant LWRs to North Korea. Also, North Korea promised to freeze and dismantle its nuclear reactors and submit to inspections by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

Both parties, however, failed to live up to the agreement. As a result, the Agreed Framework fell apart.

North Korea Gradually Builds Nuclear Bomb Program

By late 2003, under Kim’s son, Kim Jong-Il, North Korea likely had acquired a nuclear bomb. To stem the North’s continued pursuit of nuclear weapons, the United States convened a new diplomatic channel, the Six-Party Talks. That channel involved North Korea, South Korea, the United States, Japan, Russia and China.

In 2005, the North Koreans announced that they would abandon their nuclear program. Nonetheless, North Korea reneged on its statement and conducted its first nuclear weapons test in 2006. In April 2009, after much back-and-forth communication over proposed arrangements, North Korea withdrew from the Six-Party talks.

Kim Jong-un and the DPRK Nuclear Program

In 2011, Kim Jong-un succeeded his late father, Kim Jong-Il, as “Supreme Leader” and accelerated the nuclear weapons program. To the young leader’s way of thinking, nuclear weapons would ensure the regime’s security and afford him a level of international prestige.

Under Kim Jong-un, North Korea conducted four new nuclear tests. On September 3, 2017, the official North Korean news agency, KCNA, reported the successful testing of a hydrogen bomb.

According to the Council on Foreign Relations, North Korea now has an estimated 15 to 20 nuclear weapons, “while U.S. intelligence believes the number to be between thirty and sixty bombs.” Experts also believe that Kim has a functioning intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). Some reports suggest that North Korea has the capability to miniaturize its nuclear weapons and mount them on an ICBM, the final element needed to bring about a nuclear holocaust.

International Community’s Response to North Korea’s Behavior

The international community has responded to North Korea’s behavior with intensified economic sanctions and diplomatic isolation. Even China, which has always served as a key economic and political ally of North Korea across the decades, has joined the international efforts to use sanctions to bring Kim to the negotiating table.

As a probable consequence of the mounting economic pressure of these sanctions and the rogue nation’s increasing international isolation, Kim Jong-un has turned away from bombastic rhetoric to diplomatic overtures. At the recent Singapore summit, Kim affirmed “his firm and unwavering commitment to the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

Beyond the Singapore Summit

The history of North Korea’s nuclear program suggests that the diplomats involved in the forthcoming negotiations must now proceed deliberately and in a clear-eyed manner. To work toward the dismantlement of the North’s nuclear arsenal, the United States will need to consider some form of security reassurance for the Kim regime.

Furthermore, many details about North Korea’s nuclear program remain unknown, and North Korea has reneged on agreements in the past. Any agreement with North Korea will need to emphasize intrusive, on-the-ground verification to both monitor its progress on denuclearization and close the information gap on DPRK nuclear assets.

Finally, the world at large must understand that, as nuclear expert Siegfried S. Hecker estimated, DPRK disarmament could take over a decade to complete due to the technical demands of dismantling its nuclear complex.

Overall, the best path forward in addressing the North Korean nuclear threat is one that emphasizes diplomacy and recognizes the historical challenges associated with Pyongyang’s nuclear program.

About the Author

Katherine Irajpanah is an intern and writer at the Lint Center for National Security Studies. She is currently studying for her bachelor’s degree in international relations at Stanford University and works as a research assistant at the Center for International Security and Cooperation.

North Korea’s June 25 Surprise Attack: An Important Lesson in Battle Preparation

Published with Permission by:
Lint, James R., “North Korea’s June 25 Surprise Attack: An Important Lesson in Battle Preparation”, In Homeland Security, 23 June 2016, Web, https://inhomelandsecurity.com/north-koreas-june-25-surprise-attack-important-lesson-battle-preparation/

By James Lint
Faculty Member, American Public University System

June 25 is a day that all military planners and intelligence professionals should remember as a lesson in proper battle preparation. On that date in 1950, North Korea surprised the U.S. military with an attack that swept U.S. and South Korean forces into the Pusan Perimeter and almost off the Korean peninsula. Defeat appeared quick and sudden.

It was only nine years after the devastation at Pearl Harbor and no one believed that a surprise attack could happen to U.S. forces ever again. But it did.

For the United States, intelligence focus on a former small Japanese-occupied territory was a low priority. The mistake was missing the buildup of Communist support and the large amount of combat equipment in North Korea compared to South Korea, obvious indicators of battle preparation that we can see in hindsight. Because the U.S. overlooked these signs of impending combat, North Korea’s invasion led to a long, bloody civil war.

How Did This Surprise Attack Happen?

There are several reasons why North Korea’s invasion came as a surprise to the U.S. military:

  • The U.S. was a budding world power and had many places to focus. For example, there were Cold War activities in Europe and Africa. The U.S. had a small intelligence force, with the CIA’s founding in September 1947. By 1950, the CIA was still prioritizing areas to watch and spend assets.
  • The U.S. had won World War II, creating a sense of false confidence that no country would have the audacity to attack the U.S. America was the strong victor who had beaten the Germans, Italians and Japanese. But the U.S. did not take into account that other countries saw the massive drawdown and shrinkage of our active military after WWII.
  • Military and government leaders did not rigorously review intelligence collection management or intelligence collection requirements. The Army was otherwise occupied with disarming former WWII foes. Korea ended the war as occupied Japanese territory and later broke up into North and South Korea. Russia gained influence in North Korea after this division.
  • U.S. military and civilian intelligence services were unprepared for an imminent battle. There was a prevailing sense among intelligence leaders that “a new battle cannot happen,” which proved to be wrong. Even during peacetime, it is wise to be aware of potential combat possibilities and probabilities.

Insufficient Military Forces and Logistics Failure Contributed to US Failure to Anticipate Invasion

Military planners should remember that the military manning the Korean peninsula was insufficient to quickly deploy and logistics had degraded. The 1st Marine Division was not fully prepared to deploy from California and newly recruited Marines had to do their training on the ships that conveyed them to the battlefield. Also, combat personnel had inappropriate footwear for the climate; there were stories of people with dress shoes in wintertime combat.

History shows that most drawdowns go too far. Often, enemies see the possibility for them to advance due to a recent drawdown, especially during the early period of a new war.

Constant Vigilance Against Enemies is Always Vital

This invasion was also an important lesson to intelligence professionals, especially in the military. They must always be energetic and alert for the next December 7 or June 25. Being in the military is not an easy profession. No one hears about the minor successes, but everyone knows mistakes can be costly.

South Korean Post-War Economy Recovers with US Support

U.S. troops have been in Korea since 1945, when they accepted the surrender of Japanese troops at the end of WWII. Many people wonder if remaining in Korea is worth it.

Seoul is a noteworthy story of economic recovery and success after a devastating war. It is an economic power and a member of a vibrant, international business community. The American military assisted in that growth by providing military protection and support. Early on, U.S. support fed a starving population in South Korea. Later, the U.S. helped South Korea to create a strong military for defending the country.

American military support, the Peace Corps and foreign aid all built Korea into a strong country that is now a world-recognized economic power. The Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) ranks South Korea as the 11th most powerful economy in the world.

The United States took over 200 years to get to our strong economic position. Korea did it in 60 years, going from abject poverty to economic strength with U.S. support.

Strategic Lessons to Be Learned From Korean War

We rarely talk about North Korea’s surprise attack at the start of the Korean War. But it is important to remember our failures and avoid repeating our mistakes. We should remember, that in an attack, the enemy has a vote in the outcome of a battle. Adequate battle preparation can be a decisive factor in combat and can defeat unexpected invasions.

About the Author

James Lint recently retired as the (GG-15) civilian director for intelligence and security, G2, U.S. Army Communications Electronics Command. He is an adjunct professor at AMU. Additionally, James started the Lint Center for National Security Studies, a nonprofit charity that recently awarded the 40th scholarship for national security students and professionals. He has 38 years of experience in military intelligence within the U.S. Marine Corps, U.S. Army, contractor, and civil service. James was also elected as the 2015 national vice president for the Military Intelligence Corps Association. He has served in the DHS Office of Intelligence and Analysis and at the Department of Energy’s S&S Security Office. James had an active military career in the Marine Corps for seven years and also served 14 years in the Army. His military assignments include South Korea, Germany and Cuba in addition to numerous CONUS locations. James has authored a book published in 2013, “Leadership and Management Lessons Learned,” and a new book “8 Eyes on Korea, A Travel Perspective of Seoul, Korea.”

New McAfee Study on North Korean Malware

800px-North_Korea-Pyongyang-Computer_class_at_a_school-01

According to news reports, there is a new piece to the Dark Seoul puzzle. A new Malware is on the loose and it’s after information on South Korean and U.S. Military secrets. The report does not identify which government networks have been targeted specifically, just that it’s looking for information on the two specific countries. The researchers have found it’s been gathering information since 2009, but the attack wasn’t discovered until March 20, 2013. It’s called Operation Troy, after the historic city in which the Trojan War took place. A significant reference considering how much of a historic impact the war had on Greek literature. Not to mention that the city of Troy fell due to the enemies breaking through with the famous Trojan horse. All familiar references in modern day hacking and hackers love their references.

McAfee Labs stated that the first attack found was named Dark Seoul, in which they discovered the hard drives wiped of critical data. But Operation Troy is a second attack but may have been implemented by the same group. The Malware was programmed to seek out certain keywords in varying versions of ‘military secrets’.

“This goes deeper than anyone had understood to date, and it’s not just attacks: It’s military espionage,” said Ryan Sherstobitoff, a senior threat researcher at McAfee who gave The Associated Press a report the company is releasing later this week. He analyzed code samples shared by U.S. government partners and private customers.”

My advice would be for the McAfee researchers to keep looking, as in the case of the Trojan horse, the city forces were looking in the wrong direction. McAfee already found two parts to this attack, perhaps there are more.


About the Author:

Kana Kennedy is a third year Information Security and Forensics major at Rochester Institute of Technology in Rochester, New York. Her specific interest is in Policy Writing and Procedure.She is also a Lint Center volunteer.


Sources:

  1. http://www.japantimes.co.jp/news/2013/07/09/asia-pacific/malware-hunts-military-secrets-in-south-korea-mcafee/#.UeBfgz9jfq4
  2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Trojan_War
  3. http://www.lignet.com/ArticleAnalysis/Is-North-Korea-Poised-to-Launch-a-Cyber-Attack-#ixzz2Z8bByzev

Image Courtesy of Wikicommons.

*Disclaimer: The opinions expressed by the Lint Center Bloggers and those providing comments are theirs alone, and do not reflect the opinions of the Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc. or any employee thereof. The Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc. is not responsible for the accuracy of any of the information supplied by the Lint Center Bloggers.

OPSEC-60 Years and Counting, Remembering the Korean Conflict

army.mil-76464-2010-06-16-140630By 1950, five years had passed since the U.S. Army achieved victory during World War II. The Army had a major drawdown and cut troop units and staff. Most of the remaining junior personnel had not served in World War II nor did the draftees have actual combat experience. June 25, 1950 was a picture perfect summer day, the sun was shining, spirits were high and Americans were preparing for a big installation softball event. It was a great day to leave the office behind, enjoy life, and relish downtime even if you were stationed in Korea.

June 25 was a day for great operational security practices, and a busy day for unwitting others. Motor pools were emptied covertly and troops by the masses trudged south. The North Korean invasion of South Korea was just about to commence and lemonade was still being poured at the big Post softball event.

There was no warning, just complete surprise. The U.S. Army’s focus was on softball. An Embassy Marine driving an orange painted jeep near the U.S. Embassy compound noticed a plane in the morning air flying lazy circles. He waved, and the North Korean Yak came in for a strafing run. The Marine barely survived, but the jeep was an early combat loss.

Even with the recent memories of 1941 Pearl Harbor still fresh in the minds of military and civilian personnel serving overseas, the obvious question was how yet another surprise attack could happen again. The better question is how this attack could have been prevented.

2North Korea’s use of intelligence and surveillance served them well in the attack of an organization not focused on operational security (OPSEC) in all working conditions, to include fun. The need to observe and implement good OPSEC practices is evident, and could have saved lives.

Our lack of OPSEC practices and the North Korean’s good use of OPSEC and intelligence information helped our enemies attack the U.S. military. Lesson learned’ When we lower our guard and our OPSEC practices, we create and expose our vulnerabilities for our enemies to exploit. Protecting our country, our servicemen and women and their families begins with good OPSEC behaviors.

June 25 holds a special place in the hearts and minds of security and intelligence professionals. For us, we see an intelligence failure that cost lives. There were no indications and no warnings presented to the command leadership that could have prevented the attack or at least allowed an evacuation of the area to save lives.

Then, there was little tracking because the Army was the victorious Army of World War II; who would dare attack us. Security stood at a readiness level best described as, hollow. When we need to, we will upgrade to meet the threat. Additionally, people believed that when the time comes, we will be ready, so let’s enjoy the day.

It is so easy to sit back 60 years later and see the errors in the ways of those professionals at the time. Even so, this assessment would do little to provide meaningful value to us today. Instead, I like to sit back and compare the intelligence and security operations of June 25, 1950 to today. We are better prepared. We have implemented a more robust and fine-tuned intelligence system.

However, first we must ensure that we maintain our focus and support the overall command mission. Through improved OPSEC behaviors and practices, we decrease opportunities for our enemies to exploit our perceived weaknesses.

As our military navigates its way through our present conflicts abroad, I challenge all of us to remember the valuable lessons of the past and move on with the new security requirements of daily life on the home front.

Bottom line- we must ensure we stay informed with the best intelligence information available and be vigilant concerning any security breaches, or imperfections. Minor security issues will most always exist; however, I charge our military communities to think of how we can improve our security practices. This is a group effort that requires each and every one of us to adhere to OPSEC with saving lives in mind.

We are in the same military community, and serve the same country, the United States of America. If we see problems with the regulations, we have a responsibility to raise these issues through the chain of command and report it to Department of the Army Headquarters. We have to balance security, risk, and mission accomplishment. Too much security can hamper mission accomplishment, just as too little can destroy a mission and possibly cause loss of life.

Having served seven years in Korea, both active duty and as a civilian, I have had the opportunity to see the history through the eyes of the people who were there that day. The 50-year anniversary of the Korean War brought the veterans of 1950 back to Korea. My conversations with them and the U.S. Forces Korea Historian Office, highly energized me to be a good professional in the security realm of operations at the brigade and headquarters levels. At any level, good security practices are essential.

I ask that as June 25 approaches, you will reflect on where our security capabilities were 60 years ago compared to the technology and security and intelligence operations we engage in today. As you reflect, perhaps you may find where improvements can be made within your organization and its operations.

Be informed, be safe, be secure!

Jim Lint, Chairman
Special Agent (Retired)
Lint Center for National Security Studies, Inc
IRS Approved 501 (c) (3) Charity

(Article first appeared: http://www.army.mil/article/40539/commentary-opsec-60-years-and-counting-remembering-the-korean-conflict/)