Showing posts with label Korea. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Korea. Show all posts

4 January 2020

To Successfully Denuclearize North Korea, Washington Should Make it Think Like South Africa

by Andrea Stricker

After Kim Jung Un declined to deliver on his promised “Christmas gift,” North Korea watchers are turning their attention to the New Year and the possibility of more than the usual fireworks display over Northeast Asia. In October, Pyongyang gave Washington a year-end deadline to make progress on bilateral negotiations before canceling a voluntary two-year moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

President Donald Trump’s negotiators and their South Korean counterparts are seeking to convince Kim to talk instead of test, but what they should be doing is recalling the lessons of a previous case of nuclear dismantlement. The 1991 decision by South Africa to abandon nuclear weapons shows that the regime in North Korea may not yet face adequate pressure to denuclearize.

Of ten total countries that have possessed nuclear weapons, only South Africa verifiably gave them up. The longtime holdout surprised the world when it announced it would sign the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Two years later, President F.W. de Klerk revealed that Pretoria had decommissioned six nuclear weapons, halted progress on a seventh, and dismantled his country’s nuclear weapons infrastructure and robust space launch and missile delivery programs.

26 December 2019

North Korea and the Threat of ICBMs

Rumors have been swirling that North Korea is about to test an intercontinental ballistic missile. The source for this latest rumor is U.S. intelligence, though North Korea has been warning it will perform such a test. North Korea tested three ICBM boosters in 2017. Those tests didn’t prove mastery of missile reentry capabilities or an effective guidance system, but if North Korea does successfully demonstrate such capabilities for an ICBM, it will change the dynamic between the North and the United States. Pyongyang has demonstrated its ability to field a nuclear weapon and to successfully test-fire non-intercontinental weapons. That means that the continental United States is not at risk of a nuclear attack from the North. But if an ICBM is successfully tested, that means that, regardless of intentions, North Korea has the ability to strike the United States. That would force the U.S. to rethink its strategy.

U.S. Strategy

The U.S. has accepted the idea that North Korea has the ability to strike neighboring countries allied with the United States, including Japan and South Korea. The United States had no strategy for neutralizing the North’s nuclear capability. An attack on nuclear facilities with non-nuclear weapons would have probably eliminated the weapons, but its success would have depended on two things. First, that the intelligence the U.S. had on the location of these facilities was completely accurate. Second, that all facilities that needed to be struck were vulnerable to air attack or possibly attack by special operations forces. Some, particularly those housing key facilities and storage, might have been buried deep underground or hardened in some way to render them minimally vulnerable to non-nuclear military action.

24 December 2019

The Top Ten Geopolitical Risks for 2020 (North Korea, Elections, China and Much More)

by Robert A. Manning, Mathew Burrows

What will happen next year in global politics? We have some ideas.

2019 did not offer any great surprises or ‘Black Swans,’ but the fragile world order did move further down the path of unraveling. 2020 will likely bear more resemblance to the 1930s, as some of the developments which did not reach a denouement in the past year cross the finish line. Several simmering conflicts, symptoms of a global system under strain from US President Donald J. Trump’s “anti-globalist” America First doctrine, could well reach breakpoints in 2020. This may include a shift from the mere corroding of multilateral institutions and US alliances toward total dysfunction. Growing global populist and nationalist outbursts are likely to dampen the potential for global cooperation, despite authoritarians facing more pressure from their citizens. 2020 could also see US allies and partners continuing to move beyond just hedging against US uncertainty towards pursuing global diplomacy and establishing new institutions without the United States following a potential Trump reelection.

18 December 2019

South Korea Attempts to Deal With the Dark Web

By Troy Stangarone

In October, law enforcement officials in South Korea, the United States, and the United Kingdom announced that over 300 individuals had been arrested in cooperation with 35 other countries in connection with an investigation into a shuttered child pornography site on the dark web. Authorities were able to take down the site by tracing the bitcoin transactions that were used as payment. They were also able to rescue 23 underage victims.

The shuttered website, Welcome to Video, has been described as the largest child pornography site discovered to date and explicitly only allowed users to upload child pornography. It contained more than 250,000 unique videos and is estimated to have distributed over a million videos.

The dark web was originally conceived in the 1990s as an encrypted and anonymized network inaccessible by ordinary internet users that would allow for sensitive communications between U.S. spies. While that initial vision didn’t come to fruition, there was hope that it could provide human rights activists and others an anonymous means of communications — particularly those who face monitored communications in authoritarian states. But it has also become a source of criminal activity, especially with the advent of means of payment outside of the control of national governments in the form of cryptocurrency.

17 December 2019

Why the US should increase cyber pressure against North Korea

by Mark Pomerleau

A new report offers several recommendations, including cyber and influence campaigns, for maintaining and even ratcheting up pressure on the North Korean regime.

The report, released Dec. 13 by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, explains that the Trump administration must do more to deter and impose costs on the regime of Kim Jong Un. The report is issued under the guise of coaxing more concessions from the hermit kingdom regarding its nuclear program.

The report calls for a more aggressive cyber approach, to include more offensive cyber action, as well as an increased information operations campaign aimed at three sets of internal targets: the regime elite, the second-tier leadership and the North Korean people.

On the cyber operational front, the report argues that Washington should engage in cyber operations that restrict North Korea’s adversarial cyber capabilities, such as dismantling networks used for hacking.

16 December 2019

How Much Is the US-South Korea Alliance Worth?

By Kyle Ferrier

The Trump administration’s heightened emphasis on the cost of the U.S.-South Korea alliance is shaking the foundations of the security relationship. To best illustrate what is potentially at stake, this new approach should similarly be met with a shift in how the merits of the alliance are represented, namely by putting in dollar terms what may otherwise be taken for granted.

Washington’s demand for Seoul to increase military cost-sharing contributions by 400 percent has raised questions and concerns about the future of the alliance in South Korea. Renegotiations of the Special Measures Agreement (SMA) – outlining how much South Korea contributes to the non-personnel costs of hosting American troops – have taken place between the two allies every few years since 1991, but have never been as contentious as they have been under Trump. When the previous SMA was set to expire at the end of 2018, the United States initially asked for South Korea to double its 960 billion won ($840 million) contribution – quadruple the highest past increase in 2002. The two sides reached a compromise in February after the deadline, with South Korea agreeing to pay 8.2 percent more, but only in a one-year deal. Washington then revealed its new asking price of $4.7 billion this summer, which has been met with a public backlash in South Korea. The SMA negotiations, however, are not the only area in the alliance where the White House has stressed costs. Trump has questioned joint military exercises and even the presence of U.S. military forces in South Korea over expenses.

15 December 2019

Courting Disaster: How Not to Manage Existential Threats to National Security

by Robert Gallucci
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There are a small number of threats to our nation’s security, involving truly catastrophic consequences, which may be managed by good public policy. Some of these involve uncertainties over scientific or technological developments that could lead to good, as well as very bad outcomes. Think designer biology, quantum computing and artificial intelligence. But two stand out both for the certainty and magnitude of their destructive impact: climate change and nuclear weapons.

Climate change is happening to us now and some of its consequences are evident. Glaciers are melting, sea levels are rising, and species are being lost to us forever. If we were the frog in that pot, then we would have noticed a warming trend. Indeed, we seem to have improved in recent years in both our awareness of the many ways in which climate change will badly damage our lives and exactly what kinds of things we should be doing now if we want to limit that damage. But we, in the United States, are not doing them, or at least our government is not doing what it should be doing. Our government is behaving as if we had an option to “put America first,” as though we had our own climate and had no need to share the planet. We have approached the Paris Agreement as though it were the Trans-Pacific Partnership, opting out to make a better deal with . . . the climate. We are acting as though we did not have children and grandchildren. We are not pursuing a public policy appropriate to manage the existential threat of climate change.

TrickBot gang is now a malware supplier for North Korean hackers

By Catalin Cimpanu
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A report published today reveals that North Korea's government-backed hacking units are renting access to elite hacking tools and access to hacked networks from the operators of the TrickBot botnet.

The revelation comes to confirm a trend observed in recent years -- namely that the lines between regular cybercrime and nation-state cyber-espionage operations are blurring.

This trend came to light in 2017 when a report revealed how the mastermind behind the GameOver Zeus malware botnet had been helping Russian intelligence gather sensitive documents from the computers he was infecting.

But Bogatchev wasn't an isolated case. Just last week, the US charged the administrator of the Dridex malware botnet, accusing him of the same thing -- of collaborating with Russia's state intelligence in their search for sensitive data.

These two cases show a direct contact between the creators of popular malware and a country's intelligence apparatus.

6 December 2019

Korea Wakes up to the Deadly Consequences of Spy Cams and Cyberbullying

By Jenna Gibson

In the last two years, the Me Too movement sparked tough conversations in South Korea about the role of women in society, and thousands of women took to the streets to protest against leniency for spy cam crimes. Now, three high-profile deaths have highlighted three interconnected problems facing Korean women: assault, online harassment, and hidden spy cameras. These recent tragedies have called attention to the need for serious, societal change to address these problems, which disproportionately affect women, galvanizing a growing movement in South Korea to improve protections for its citizens — especially women.

On November 28, K-pop star Goo Hara was found dead in her home in a suspected suicide. Hara had been in the public eye for over a decade as a member of the popular girl group Kara. Earlier this year, the singer, who went by the stage name Hara, sued her ex-boyfriend for abuse and for blackmailing her with threats to release a sex tape he had taken of the two of them. The man, Choi Jong-bum, was convicted on several charges including assault, threats, and property damage, but found not guilty of sexual assault. He received a suspended sentence of just one year and six months, with three years’ probation. Both sides have appealed the verdict.

5 December 2019

What Hides Behind South Korean Cryptocurrency Regulation Policy?

By Valentin Voloshchak
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South Korea has achieved a high level of national informatization in recent years. The country is a world leader in internet access speed, some 92 percent of population is internet users, and, in 2005, South Korea was the first nation to complete the transition from dial-up to broadband internet access. The government is pursuing an active ICT development policy by adopting master-plans for national informatization and initiating the establishment of various institutions in the field of cybersecurity and internet regulation.

One could assume that South Korea should be at the vanguard of cryptocurrency introduction as well, and to some degree, this is correct, inasmuch as South Korea is the world’s third largest bitcoin trade market and therefore has a great potential to attract digital currency investment. However, since 2017 the Korean government maintains an ICO (Initial Coin Offering) ban policy, i.e. it prohibits any forms of receiving investments in exchange for cryptocurrency sale from domestic companies. Many consider such a stance counterproductive and say it seriously affects cryptocurrency trade by making prices volatile and thus undermining the market. 

4 December 2019

What South Korea, Japan, and Germany Think of American Troop Demands

U.S. demands for huge payment increases from three of its major allies, South Korea, Japan and Germany, for basing military forces on their territory could cause significant shifts in the global U.S. military footprint. The centrality of the United States and its military to South Korea's and Japan's security strategies means Washington is in a strong position to extract more money. But the effort could push Germany further away from the United States.

Reports emerged this month that U.S. President Donald Trump and his administration have demanded that South Korea pay $4.7 billion next year — or 400 percent more than what it currently pays — for continued U.S. military protection. Then a report emerged that in July, the United States had requested that Japan increase its own share of military cost-sharing fourfold to $8 billion after their bilateral Special Measures Agreement expires in March 2021. These reports came as the United States was already preparing to press its NATO allies in Europe, in particular Germany, to pay more for the presence of U.S. troops on the Continent.

2 December 2019

Why China Would Never Help North Korea Make a Deal with Trump

by Anny Boc
Source Link

With every new North Korean missile – such as the one launched on Tuesday November 28 – or nuclear test, all eyes are on China. Like previous American presidents, Donald Trump believes that the road to a diplomatic solution on North Korea runs through Beijing. He holds the view that, of any country, China has the most leverage over North Korea and therefore could “quickly and easily” solve the problem with the Kim Jung-un regime – but is just not willing to do so.

For Washington, North Korea has become a top national security priority, in particular because of Pyongyang’s unexpectedly fast progress in developing intercontinental nuclear capabilities that may be able to reach the US mainland. Since assuming office, Trump has made North Korea the main focus of US-China relations. His main strategy has been to use trade issues as a bargaining chip to pressure China on North Korea, convinced that exerting enough economic pressure on Beijing will eventually force China to do what he wants.

28 November 2019

Why North Korea Denuclearization Is Such a Long Shot

North Korea denuclearization efforts have been at the forefront of the international agenda for more than two years, but there is little progress so far. Critics say the Trump administration has a flawed approach to the negotiations—and the U.S. trade war with China isn't helping. Meanwhile, North Koreans continue to suffer.

Ending North Korea’s nuclearization efforts has been at the forefront of the international agenda for more than two years now. But despite improved relations between North and South Korea and two unprecedented face-to-face meetings between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, there has been no clear progress toward North Korea denuclearization.

Trump has framed the meetings and his personal relationship with Kim as a promising start to a potential breakthrough, but critics point to the lack of headway so far, which they blame on the Trump administration’s flawed approach to the negotiations. For his part, Kim refuses to even begin drawing down the program that is essentially his regime’s only bargaining chip unless the international community drops its sanctions. Hard-liners in Washington, on the other hand, would like to see meaningful steps toward denuclearization before they lift any restrictions.

27 November 2019

Assessing North Korea’s Cyber Evolution

By Ali Crawford

Ali Crawford has an M.A. from the Patterson School of Diplomacy and International Commerce where she focused on diplomacy, intelligence, cyber policy, and cyber warfare. She tweets at @ali_craw. Divergent Options’ content does not contain information of an official nature nor does the content represent the official position of any government, any organization, or any group.

Author and / or Article Point of View: The author believes that the international community’s focus on addressing North Korea’s nuclear capability sets the conditions whereby their cyber capabilities can evolve unchecked.

Summary: Despite displaying a growing and capable cadre of cyber warriors, North Korean cyber prowess has been overshadowed by threats of nuclear proliferation. While North Korea remains extremely isolated from the global community, it has conducted increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks over a short span of time. In a relatively short period of time, North Korea has cultivated a cyber acumen worth recognizing as threatening as its nuclear program.

26 November 2019

South Korea and America Do Not Share the Same Interests

by Olivia Schieber

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea, a legacy of the Korean War and a deterrent to North Korea. The costs of that deployment are shared by both the US and the ROK, with Seoul carrying close to $1 billion annually, roughly 40 percent of the total cost. But Donald Trump wants South Korea to pay more. Specifically, 400 percent more. That’s unlikely to happen.

While policymakers and defense experts generally agree that South Korea can and should shoulder more of the burden, Seoul reacted with anger to the $5 billion ask US Defense Secretary Mark Esper relayed during a surly meeting earlier this week. Not only that, but the same day talks dissolved with the US, South Korea signed a defense agreement with China. A $5 billion request is certainly a shock to the system, but the larger issue is that increasingly, South Koreans don’t believe their interests align with those of the US.

This week, they took to the streets to protest US demands. Some argue that Washington is using South Korea as part of its plan to contain China. The notion seems bizarre after nearly seven decades of American commitment to peace and security in the South. But for many South Koreans, even the threat of the North is not enough of a convincing justification when it comes to the US-ROK alliance. President Moon Jae-in has placed peace and inter-Korea relations at the forefront of his North Korea policy, at times putting South Korea at odds with the US and Japan, who favor sanctions and pressure over engagement. Moon Chung-in, a close senior adviser of President Moon, expressed frustration that South Korea had “sacrificed” North-South Korea relations in favor of the US-South Korea alliance, concluding that the US position on these matters has been “harmful.”

25 November 2019

Newly Declassified Documents Reveal the Story of Why America Sent Nuclear Weapons to South Korea

by Daniel R. DePetris

"The deliberations within the U.S. national security bureaucracy leading up to Eisenhower's final call, however, was far more spirited than previously understood. The State Department may have lost the battle to the Pentagon, but not without a fight."

The day was January 17, 1957, and Assistant Secretary of State Walter Robertson had a nagging worry that his boss, Secretary of State John Foster Dulles, wouldn’t go toe-to-toe with the Pentagon on the subject of introducing nuclear weapons into South Korea. The State Department, Robertson wrote in a memo to Dulles, remained unequivocally opposed to deploying atomic weapons on the Korean Peninsula. “In my opinion the introduction of atomic weapons into Korea, whether accompanied by nuclear components or not, in this time of world tension would have serious adverse repercussions throughout the Far East...,” Robertson opined. The military benefit was simply not worth the political costs.

The next day, Secretary Dulles met with Defense Secretary Charles Wilson and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Arthur Radford and delivered some of those same points. Dulles, no Cold War peacenik, told his colleagues that it would be very difficult to convince Washington’s allies that sending U.S. nuclear weapons into the South was an appropriate response to perceived North Korean violations of the Armistice Agreement. The Joint Chiefs didn’t buy the argument: Pyongyang, Radford claimed, was throwing the military balance off-kilter. The only way the United States could mitigate the situation was by flying in strategic weapons on the other side of the Armistice line. 

22 November 2019

South Korea Faces Major Decision Over Military Pact With Japan

A look at the General Security of Military Intelligence Agreement, or GSOMIA, which expires on Saturday unless Seoul renews it.

Squeezed between a growing North Korean threat and a shaky alliance with the United States, South Korea must decide this week whether its national pride and deep frustrations with Japan are worth killing a major symbol of their security cooperation with Washington.

After exchanging haymakers with Japan over history and trade, South Korea expanded the feud to military matters in August when it gave three-months’ notice on its plans to terminate a 2016 bilateral military intelligence-sharing agreement it signed after years of prodding by the United States.

The announcement drew unusually blunt criticism from Washington, which described Seoul’s decision to end the pact as detrimental to the security of its Asian allies and increasing risk to U.S. troops stationed in South Korea.

Seoul has since said it could keep the agreement if Tokyo reverses a decision to downgrade South Korea’s status as a trade partner.

Japan and South Korea: Headaches and Headlines

By Duncan Bartlett

The media in Japan show great enthusiasm in covering their country’s dispute with South Korea – but not all reports are credible.

The images of South Korea that appear in the Japanese media can be either friendly or frightening, depending on which articles you read. One of the most sensational recent stories suggested that, in the event of a war, a majority of South Koreans would side with North Korea in attacking Japan.

This wild claim was based on a completely unscientific survey, yet it nevertheless generated plenty of coverage – especially on social media, which cares little for credibility.

By contrast, South Korean pop stars, such as Twice, are wining positive press as they undertake a musical charm offensive. Next year, the girl group will play the Tokyo Dome, Japan’s largest venue. Tickets on secondary markets are already selling for the equivalent of $500.

The media coverage enjoyed by even most successful K-Pop stars, however, pales into comparison to the headlines generated by South Korea’s president, Moon Jae-in.

Does South Korea Still Need U.S. Troops? In Short, Yes

by David Axe

Trump’s demand for a few billion dollars could achieve what decades of military posturing by North Korea has failed to do: deeply undermine South Korea’s defenses.

Mutual-defense talks between the United States and South Korea abruptly broke down on Nov. 19, 2019 when the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump demanded that the government in Seoul increase, from $1 billion to $5 billion annually, what it pays to support the roughly 29,000 U.S. troops in the country.

The diplomatic row follows several years of increasing tensions between Trump and the South Koreans as Trump repeatedly has tried to secure a deal with North Korea whereby the North would give up its growing nuclear arsenal.

In a concession to North Korea, Trump ordered U.S. forces in South Korea to suspend major training exercises with their South Korean counterparts. With the six-decade U.S.-South Korean alliance seemingly on the verge of collapse, it’s worth asking just how much South Korea, the world’s 12th-largest economy, needs U.S. troops.

21 November 2019

Lips and teeth: Repairing China-North Korea relations

China has reset its ties with North Korea and repaired a relationship that had suffered its most severe downturn ever. The Beijing-Pyongyang relationship, long called as “close as lips and teeth,” took a decidedly negative turn in 2017 as Pyongyang’s confrontation with the United States appeared to be pushing the Korean Peninsula to the brink of war. Through its actions, North Korea seemed to willfully ignore China’s interests. Beijing responded with stark warnings and support for tougher U.N. Security Council sanctions.

The year 2018 brought a remarkable turnabout on the peninsula, including historic new U.S. and South Korean dialogues with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. But as diplomacy accelerated, concern was mounting in Beijing that China was being left out of the game and North Korea was drifting out of its orbit. China moved decisively to reassert itself and repair relations with North Korea through an unprecedented series of summits between President Xi Jinping and Kim Jong Un, the first visit by a Chinese leader to North Korea in 14 years, and renewed contacts between party and military officials.