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

20 September 2019

The Last Time the United States Sought to Withdraw from South Korea

by Robert E. Kelly

President Donald Trump has hinted for years that he is dissatisfied with the U.S. alliance with South Korea. Will he try to withdraw troops from South Korea if he is re-elected? Former President Jimmy Carter tried to do so but failed in the face of heavy bureaucratic and congressional resistance. Would Trump want to take up such a fight? And does he have the persistence to push it through?

Trump has been a tough critic of South Korea since nearly the beginning of his presidency. Trump has repeatedly criticized U.S. allies, including but not limited to South Korea, for free- or cheap-riding. Trump wants Seoul to bear nearly the entire cost of U.S. Forces Korea (USFK). He has complained about the cost of U.S. military exercises with the South Korean army. He has often framed these complaints in aggressive, mercenary terms, where U.S. security allies “owe” the U.S. payment, otherwise the United States is being “ripped off.”

Trump also called the South Korean president an “appeaser” in his 2017 rhetorical war campaign against the North. He has cozied up to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and he has tacitly sided with Japan in South Korea-Japan trade war. I now hear fairly regularly on the East Asian conference circuit that Trump, if re-elected, might seek to withdraw the U.S. military from South Korea, perhaps in the context of a larger peace deal with the North.

17 September 2019

Will a Re-Elected Donald Trump Withdraw the U.S. Military from South Korea?

by Robert E. Kelly

Would he really do it? And would Moon actually welcome it? 

It is now pretty widely accepted that the United States and South Korea are drifting apart on the central security issues of Northeast Asia. Much of this is motivated by the unique leadership configuration of the two countries – an unconventional U.S. president prone to see U.S. allies as free-riders, coupled with a South Korean president deeply ambivalent about the U.S. role in South Korea.

Their varying initiatives - sometimes coincidentally aligned, other times at cross-purposes – are pushing toward a reckoning.

I keep hearing at conferences in East Asia, that the big break may occur if U.S. President Donald Trump is re-elected. He may then feel free to go where he seems to wish to go: a U.S. retrenchment from South Korea. And South Korean President Moon Jae-In, unable to gather much alliance enthusiasm among his own leftist electoral coalition, may offer little resistance. The U.S. structure in South Korea may end more with a whimper than a bang.

North Korea’s Sanctions-Busting Gets More Sophisticated—and More Lucrative

Neil Bhatiya 
Source Link

As a United Nations report revealed earlier this month, North Korea continues to dodge international sanctions and raise money for its nuclear weapons program, despite attempts to bar it from the global financial system. The report from the panel of experts charged by the U.N. Security Council with overseeing enforcement of U.N. sanctions on North Korea conclusively shows how Pyongyang capitalizes on an old method of sanctions-busting—smuggling—and a much newer one: hacking. In both cases, its tactics are getting more innovative.

When it comes to smuggling, North Korea’s use of ship-to-ship transfers continues to circumvent sanctions “unabated,” including through previously unreported methods. North Korea has been so successful in importing refined petroleum that the U.N. report said there are no current shortages of gasoline or diesel fuel within the country. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has used increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks “to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges,” the report warned, allowing it “to evade financial sanctions and generate income in ways that are harder to trace.” In both cases, North Korea relies on jurisdictions that lack either the will or the ability to stop it.

16 September 2019

North Korea’s Sanctions-Busting Gets More Sophisticated—and More Lucrative

Neil Bhatiya
Source Link

As a United Nations report revealed earlier this month, North Korea continues to dodge international sanctions and raise money for its nuclear weapons program, despite attempts to bar it from the global financial system. The report from the panel of experts charged by the U.N. Security Council with overseeing enforcement of U.N. sanctions on North Korea conclusively shows how Pyongyang capitalizes on an old method of sanctions-busting—smuggling—and a much newer one: hacking. In both cases, its tactics are getting more innovative.

When it comes to smuggling, North Korea’s use of ship-to-ship transfers continues to circumvent sanctions “unabated,” including through previously unreported methods. North Korea has been so successful in importing refined petroleum that the U.N. report said there are no current shortages of gasoline or diesel fuel within the country. Meanwhile, Pyongyang has used increasingly sophisticated cyberattacks “to steal funds from financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges,” the report warned, allowing it “to evade financial sanctions and generate income in ways that are harder to trace.” In both cases, North Korea relies on jurisdictions that lack either the will or the ability to stop it.

14 September 2019

We Are Teetering on the Edge of a Hinge Point With North Korea

SIEGFRIED S. HECKER, ROBERT L. CARLIN
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It is a hair-raising fact that since 2001, North Korea has gone from zero nuclear weapons to an arsenal that is likely between 30 and 60. The common wisdom is that the efforts by the George W. Bush and Barack Obama administrations to halt the North’s nuclear program through diplomacy or sanctions were circumvented by the North’s repeated violations of diplomatic agreements. There is another way of looking at the problem, however, and that is what we have described in a study as “hinge points” — moments when bad decisions had bad consequences for U.S. national security. We are teetering on the edge of another such hinge point, perhaps the most serious yet. For that reason, it’s well worth looking more closely at what is at risk, how not to repeat previous flawed decisions and what a path through this perilous moment might look like.

By any measure, the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi in February failed. For a month or so afterward, it looked as if that failure could lead to decisions on both sides that would reignite the tensions of 2017 when the North tested what was likely a hydrogen bomb and several intercontinental-range missiles and President Trump threatened North Korea with “fire and fury.” The clear danger following Hanoi was that by resuming testing, the North could perfect its ability to mate a nuclear warhead (in the worst case, an H-bomb) to an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of hitting the continental U.S.

11 September 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.

3 September 2019

Why the Japan-South Korea Dispute Just Got Worse

By Scott A. Snyder

Seoul’s decision to abandon an important military intelligence-sharing agreement with Tokyo could hurt regional security and U.S. interests related to China and North Korea.

In the wake of months-long campaigns of economic coercion, the Japan-South Korea relationship has entered a dangerous new stage with Seoul’s decision to not renew a vital intelligence-sharing pact with Tokyo.

Why is this intelligence-sharing agreement important?

The General Security of Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA) allows the Japanese and South Korean governments to share sensitive intelligence, including information related to North Korea’s nuclear and missile activities. It went into effect in 2016 and provides assurances that information will remain confidential. Now it’s set to expire in November.

Although GSOMIA is a bilateral agreement, its nonrenewal makes trilateral cooperation with Washington less efficient. Without it, only limited intelligence on North Korea will be shared between the two countries via the United States, at a time when Pyongyang is testing missiles at a furious pace.
How bad is the Japan-South Korea relationship?

South Korea’s decision marks the latest deterioration of the Japan-South Korea relationship following disagreements over a 2015 agreement on women forced into sexual slavery during World War II, known as comfort women. The situation worsened when the South Korean Supreme Court ruled that Japanese companies must compensate South Korean workers for forced labor during the war.

Korea's Future Is Dying (Thanks to Demographics)

by Anthony Fensom

South Korea's demographic decline could lead to a structural slowdown that puts a permanent brake on growth.

Threats to South Korea’s survival are not only from the North. Even as Seoul seeks detente with its communist neighbor while engaging in an increasingly bitter row with Japan, the nation’s demographic decline could see its economy facing a similar structural slowdown that puts a permanent brake on growth. 

The challenge facing Korean policymakers was highlighted by a recent government report, which showed that its falling fertility rate could see its population start declining as early as 2020.

Previous estimates in 2016 suggested the population would peak in 2023 under only the most pessimistic scenario.

Released in March this year, the report by Statistics Korea predicted South Korea’s population could peak at around fifty-one million this year, before dropping to the 1972 level of around thirty-four million by 2067 under the most pessimistic scenario.

Seniors aged sixty-five and older would account for nearly half the population by 2065 under even the medium-growth scenario, making it the grayest developed nation in the world and potentially threatening its military capabilities. 

2 September 2019

James Schoff: Japan and Korea 'Have Given up on Each Other'

By Ankit Panda

In August, Japan and South Korea both upped the ante in their intensifying trade dispute. Japan made good on its threat to remove South Korea from a “white list” of trusted export destinations, meaning extra hoops to jump through for the export of sensitive technologies to its neighbor. South Korea responded in kind, removing Japan from its own “white list.”

Tokyo has repeatedly claimed that the new trade restrictions are the result of concerns over South Korean export controls, which Japan insists could let sensitive materials cross into North Korea or China. But many believe the restrictions are the result of a far more toxic brew of nationalism and historical issues, which is being reciprocated in South Korea.

To help sort through the root causes of today’s dispute, The Diplomat’s Ankit Panda spoke to James L. Schoff, a senior fellow in the Carnegie Asia Program. In the following conversation, Schoff explains 2019’s trade tensions in light of longstanding fractures in the Japan-South Korea relationship, and what that legacy means for 21st century geopolitics.

1 September 2019

A Japan-South Korea Dispute Hundreds of Years in the Making

by Harry J. Kazianis 
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Tensions between Japan and South Korea spiked once more last Thursday when the Blue House announced their intention to step out of the General Security Military Information Agreement (GSOMIA)—a military information-sharing pact that allows Japan and South Korea to share intelligence on matters of mutual security concerns, such as North Korean missile launches. 

The Japan-South Korea dispute initially began to escalate in July, when Japan imposed export controls on Seoul for three chemicals crucial to semiconductors and displays—key components of the South Korean electronics industry. Shortly afterward, Tokyo removed South Korea from its “white-list” of trading partners, ending both preferential treatment and eased trade restrictions with Japan. Seoul responded in turn, slashingJapan from its own preferred trading list and placing the nation in a newly-formulated “third category” trade status.

Why the world should be watching the diplomatic crisis between Japan and South Korea

A geopolitical crisis is unfolding in Asia. It is not one which comes immediately to mind: the confrontation with Iran in the Gulf, India’s abolition of Kashmiristatehood, the continuing protests in Hong Kong, America’s trade war with China, or North Korea’s latest missiles launch. It is, instead, one which is unexpected and surprising between two states; democracies which should be natural, intrinsic allies against totalitarian neighbours: Japan and South Korea.

The confrontation, which is escalating, has had only sporadic coverage in the west. The consequences, however, are serious, with the strategic balance being shifted and bringing instability to the region. Neither side seemingly wants to be seen to be backing down, and the pace of diplomatic and economic sanctions against each other have risen in tempo along with combative rhetoric.

From trade issues to security pacts, what is unfolding at present is part of a bitter harvest of the past – but more on that later. The latest diplomatic salvo came from Seoul on Thursday, terminating an intelligence deal between the nations because of an earlier decision by Tokyo to downgrade South Korea’s preferential trade status.

18 August 2019

UN probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries

By: Edith M. Lederer

U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs — and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

The lengthier version of the report, recently seen by the AP, reveals that neighboring South Korea was hardest-hit, the victim of 10 North Korean cyberattacks, followed by India with three attacks, and Bangladesh and Chile with two each.

Thirteen countries suffered one attack — Costa Rica, Gambia, Guatemala, Kuwait, Liberia, Malaysia, Malta, Nigeria, Poland, Slovenia, South Africa, Tunisia and Vietnam, it said.

16 August 2019

UN probing 35 North Korean cyberattacks in 17 countries

By EDITH M. LEDERER

FILE - In this Sunday, Aug. 11, 2019, file photo, visitors watch the North side from the Imjingak Pavilion in Paju, South Korea. U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for its nuclear program, and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country. (AP Photo/Lee Jin-man, File)

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — U.N. experts say they are investigating at least 35 instances in 17 countries of North Koreans using cyberattacks to illegally raise money for weapons of mass destruction programs — and they are calling for sanctions against ships providing gasoline and diesel to the country.

Last week, The Associated Press quoted a summary of a report from the experts which said that North Korea illegally acquired as much as $2 billion from its increasingly sophisticated cyber activities against financial institutions and cryptocurrency exchanges.

15 August 2019

North Korea: Geopolitics and War

Aaron Farley
Source Link

The North Korean conflict has been one of the most intractable – and opaque – issues on the international stage for decades. Analysts attempt to read into every new development like a haruspex interpreting so many chicken entrails. The internal politics of the regime are only dimly grasped, and the occasional glimpses the world receive into its inner workings often raise as many questions as they answer. North Korea can – and does – exploit its reputation for unpredictability. Renewed armed conflict with “the hermit kingdom” is a daunting prospect, and policymakers often go to great lengths to minimize this risk.

Due to the closed nature of the regime, it is extremely difficult to make precise assessments about its intentions in any given instance. Nonetheless, enough information is available to make broad guesses about the factors driving North Korean behavior and that of its neighbors. Although nothing is certain, some contingencies are significantly more likely than others. Every major actor in the conflict is constrained by certain geopolitical imperatives which nudge its decision-making in particular directions. These imperatives are significant enough that it is possible to calculate the most likely circumstances under which renewed war is likely, and, to some degree, what the most likely outcome of that war would be.

This analysis is written under the assumption that all parties to the conflict are rational actors. Rational actor is a term whose definition is not always clear. For purposes of this paper, a rational actor is defined as someone whose decision-making is driven by the desire for self-perpetuation i.e. to maintain, and if possible, increase, their own wealth, power, status, etc.

Toward a Better Understanding of North Korea’s Cyber Operations

BY: ROBERT POTTER

The cybersecurity capabilities of the North Korean government are certainly more advanced than a country with such a small economy would traditionally field and should not be underestimated. The commitment of the regime to acquire cybersecurity capacities is consistent with its broader efforts to pursue disruptive technologies such as nuclear, chemical and biological weaponry. While it is assumed that much of the information on North Korea’s cyber capabilities is classified, there is a large amount on their attacks in the public domain, making it relatively easy to unpack and discuss these capabilities abilities (also known as the Lazarus Group, APT37 or Hidden Cobra). A careful reading of this information suggests that while North Korean cyber operations are broadly reported and studied, they are often treated separately from other issues on the peninsula, increasing the risk that decision makers will produce an incomplete analysis of the strategic environment.

North Korean Cyber Operations

12 August 2019

Review – Thucydides on the Outbreak of War

By Seth N. Jaffe

Drums of war have not sounded in Iran but tensions with the United States are dangerously rising after the recent tanker attacks in the Gulf of Oman (13/6/2019). Relations between the nuclear armed adversaries, North Korea and the United States, remain strained despite the proclaimed détente following the 2018 Singapore Summit between the leaders of the two countries. The future of the United States-China relationship is replete with dangerous uncertainties that might spiral into conflict. War is again more thinkable than it was in the optimistic years following the end of the Cold War.

In Thucydides on the Outbreak of War: Character and Contest Seth Jaffe offers an eminently readable analysis of Thucydides’ classic work on the History of the Peloponnesian War that addresses the million-dollar question: why do wars break out? Interestingly, he focuses on the relative importance of the opposing national characters of Athens and Sparta, much like the opposing characters of the United States and China or Iran or North Korea, to explain the outbreak of the Peloponnesian War. His analysis adds value to contemporary debates about war by virtue of being less deterministic and more psychological than other accounts. His approach departs significantly from (and offers an implicit critique of) recent dominant analyses of Thucydides, like Graham Allison’s thesis that the United States and China are in danger of falling into ‘Thucydides’ Trap’; hence, sleepwalking into a conflict. Jaffe avoids such quasi-deterministic metaphors, and opts for a more holistic analysis of Thucydides’ understanding of history, the specific causes of the Peloponnesian War, and the causes of war in general as a guide for public policy. The whole volume revolves around the elusive concept of the national character of great powers, what shapes it, and how, in turn, it shapes war. Crucially, this can be approximated partly subjectively and partly objectively.

10 August 2019

Kim says North Korean launches were warning to US, South

By KIM TONG-HYUNG

This Tuesday, Aug. 6, 2019, photo provided by the North Korean government shows what it says a new-type tactical guided missile launched from an airfield in the western area of North Korea landing in an islet in waters off the country's eastern coast. Independent journalists were not given access to cover the event depicted in this image distributed by the North Korean government. The content of this image is as provided and cannot be independently verified. Korean language watermark on image as provided by source reads: "KCNA" which is the abbreviation for Korean Central News Agency. (Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP)

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire demonstration of newly developed, short-range ballistic missiles intended to send a warning to the United States and South Korea over their joint military exercises.

The official Korean Central News Agency said two missiles launched from a western airfield flew across the country and over the area surrounding the capital, Pyongyang, before accurately hitting an island target off its eastern coast.

Kim says North Korean launches were warning to US, South

By KIM TONG-HYUNG

SEOUL, South Korea (AP) — North Korea said Wednesday leader Kim Jong Un supervised a live-fire demonstration of newly developed, short-range ballistic missiles intended to send a warning to the United States and South Korea over their joint military exercises.

The official Korean Central News Agency said two missiles launched from a western airfield flew across the country and over the area surrounding the capital, Pyongyang, before accurately hitting an island target off its eastern coast.

Its four rounds of weapons demonstrations in two weeks come during a stalemate in nuclear negotiations and after President Donald Trump repeatedly dismissed the significance of the tests, even though the weapons show North Korea’s ability to strike at U.S. allies South Korea and Japan and its military bases there.

Experts say Trump’s downplaying of the North’s weapons displays allowed the country more room to advance its capabilities and build leverage ahead of negotiations, which could possibly resume sometime after the end of the allies’ drills later this month.

9 August 2019

North Korea took $2 billion in cyberattacks to fund weapons program: U.N. report

Michelle Nichols

UNITED NATIONS (Reuters) - North Korea has generated an estimated $2 billion for its weapons of mass destruction programs using “widespread and increasingly sophisticated” cyberattacks to steal from banks and cryptocurrency exchanges, according to a confidential U.N. report seen by Reuters on Monday.

Pyongyang also “continued to enhance its nuclear and missile programmes although it did not conduct a nuclear test or ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile) launch,” said the report to the U.N. Security Council North Korea sanctions committee by independent experts monitoring compliance over the past six months.

The North Korean mission to the United Nations did not respond to a request for comment on the report, which was submitted to the Security Council committee last week.

7 August 2019

Not Your Father’s Bots

By Sarah Kreps And Miles McCain 


Surveillance images from a U.N. sanctions report purportedly showing a North Korean vessel engaged in illegal trading United Nations Security Council / REUTERS