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Author: Subject: KOREA, North and South
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[*] posted on 1-8-2018 at 12:05 PM


Two Koreas Kick Off General-Level Military Talks

(Source: Korea Herald; issued July 31, 2018)

The two Koreas’ militaries kicked off general-level talks at the truce village of Panmunjom on Tuesday to discuss measures for implementing a summit pledge to build trust in military issues for possible arms reduction.

The South Korean and North Korean delegates met at the Peace House, the South Korean building inside Panmunjom. The meeting began at 10 a.m. after the North Korean delegates crossed the border with South Korea.

South Korean chief delegate Maj. Gen Kim Do-gyun said the meeting aimed to implement the military component of the Panmunjom Declaration, in which President Moon Jae-in and North Korea’s leader Kim Jong-un agreed to cease cross-border hostilities and build trust for arms reduction.

“Through the meeting, we will do our utmost to reduce military tensions between the two Koreas and come up with practical measures for building trust,” Maj. Gen Kim told reporters before heading to Panmunjom.

South Korean chief delegate Maj. Gen Kim Do-gyun shakes hands with his North Korean counterpart An Ik-san during a general-level military talks held at Panmunjeom Tuesday. Yonhap

The meeting came more than a month after the two Koreas held military talks for the first time in 11 years. The previous meeting, however, failed to come up with a significant breakthrough in confidence-building measures and arms reduction.

Expectation has been heightened that the two Koreas will discuss the withdrawal of troops and equipment from guard posts inside the Demilitarized Zone as part of efforts to transform the heavily fortified area into a symbol of peace between the two Koreas.

In a briefing to lawmakers last week, the Ministry of National Defense said the withdrawal plan would be sought “on a trial basis” until the conditions are in place for a complete withdrawal, following environmental and historical research on the cross-border region.

The five-member South Korean delegation is led by Maj. Gen. Kim, who deals with inter-Korean relations at the Ministry of National Defense. Officials from the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Unification Ministry and presidential office Cheong Wa Dae are also attending the meeting.

Sitting down with Kim is North Korean Lt. Gen. An Ik-san, whose rank is equivalent to his South Korean counterpart. An’s five-member delegation includes officers from the army and navy.

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[*] posted on 2-8-2018 at 02:50 PM


North Korean Denuclearization Potentially Moving In ‘Positive Direction’: Gen. Hyten

"Things are moving (in) a positive direction," Gen. Hyten said of North Korean, while Russia's new 2-megaton underwater drone "does not change" the strategic balance.

By Colin Clark

on August 01, 2018 at 6:41 PM


North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong-un.

OMAHA: Gen. John Hyten, the man who might wage nuclear war should North Korea strike, says the prospects for “the potential denuclearization” of North Korea are moving “in a positive direction” since the Singapore summit.

“From my perspective, the belief in a potential denuclearization of North Korea has changed,” Hyten told me at a press roundtable during Strategic Command’s annual deterrence conference. “The direction that things are moving is a positive direction. I don’t think anyone can deny that.”

That is a stark contrast to what we heard last year ago from Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats, who said Kim Jong-un “does not intend to negotiate those (nuclear) capabilities away at any price.”

One of the indicators is that Kim has not launched a ballistic missile test since November 17 last year. As Hyten noted, “2017 was a whole lot busier year than 2018.” The Air Force general had to abandon his July 4 holiday, for instance, when North Korea tested its first ICBM last year and declared it “a gift for the American bastards.”

However, Hyten was careful to balance his positive message with a clear strategic message for North Korea and its sponsors, Russia and China: “The force is fully ready fully postured to deal with any threat that comes from North Korea. The missile defense capabilities in Alaska are fully prepared, California is fully prepared. And our deterrent force is on alert and fully prepared right now.”

In another clear bit of messaging, Hyten noted later in his roundtable that North Korea had made its rapid progress in building ICBMs by following the old standard of build, test, upgrade, test, build etc. “When you don’t launch, you don’t learn,” he noted, pointing to yesterday’s unsuccessful test of a US ICBM.

he general would not discuss what we know about what we know about what North Korea is doing on the ground to improve its missiles because that would reveal intelligence sources.

However, the absence of flight testing is “a significant change in the missile defense program.” While the US launch itself went well, the missile exhibited “an anomaly” and was destroyed. But the US will learn from that test.


Russian slide of the Status-6 Poseidon, a new submarine-launched transoceanic drone with a 2-megaton warhead, “accidentally” leaked by the Kremlin

Hyten wasn’t just sending signals on North Korea, either. He was also asked about Russia’s new Poseidon nuclear weapon, now entering sea trials. Formally known as Ocean Multipurpose System Status-6, it’s an underwater drone designed to cross the oceans undetected, with no humans aboard, carrying a two-megaton warhead, and detonate with the force of 133 Hiroshimas in a naval base or coastal city.

“I’ll just say that I would hate to be the Russian operator who have to operate those capabilities,” Hyten replied wryly. “Those are pretty frightening capabilities to keep safe, secure and reliable.”

When it comes to the fundamental calculus of nuclear deterrence, Hyten said, Poseidon “does not change those equations at all.”
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[*] posted on 7-8-2018 at 02:40 PM


North Korea ‘has not stopped nuclear and missile programmes’, says report

Gabriel Dominguez, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

06 August 2018

Gee, I'm shocked and surprised...........NOT!

North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile programmes and is violating UN Security Council resolutions through a “massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products as well as through transfers of coal at sea during 2018”, according to a report drafted by a UN panel of experts and seen by the Associated Press on 3 August.

The report also said that Pyongyang has continued military co-operation with Syria and attempted to sell small arms and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers in the case of Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen as well as Libya and Sudan.

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[*] posted on 23-8-2018 at 07:01 PM


Seoul introduces procurement transparency initiatives

Jon Grevatt, Bangkok - IHS Jane's Defence Industry

22 August 2018

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) announced on 22 August reforms to introduce greater levels of transparency in military procurement.

The MND said the measures are intended to support the Defense Reform 2.0 initiative, which was announced by the MND recently and is aimed at streamlining the Republic of Korea (ROK) Armed Forces.

In a statement, the MND said the new transparency measures included the establishment of a defence integrity council, the appointment of integrity ombudsman, and to invite greater levels of public scrutiny in procurement programmes.

The new integrity council will include stakeholders from various public, government, and industry agencies and will review anti-corruption policies in defence procurement and recommend changes.

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[*] posted on 28-8-2018 at 04:18 PM


Donald Trump Sorrowfully Cancels Another North Korea Meeting

By Uri Friedman
The Atlantic

August 25, 2018


AP Photo/Andrew Harnik

For the first time since his summit with Kim Jong Un, the president acknowledged that nuclear talks aren’t going well.
It was almost like the last time. Preparations were underway for another high-stakes meeting between old adversaries desperately seeking a way out of their nuclear standoff. And then, suddenly, they weren’t.

A day after Secretary of State Mike Pompeo sunnily announced that he would travel to Pyongyang next week alongside a new U.S. special representative for North Korea to make progress on removing Kim Jong Un’s nuclear weapons, Pompeo’s boss got on Twitter to call the whole thing off. “I have asked Secretary of State Mike Pompeo not to go to North Korea, at this time, because I feel we are not making sufficient progress with respect to the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula,” Donald Trump wrote on Friday. It was the first time that the president, who just a couple months ago boastedthat he had eliminated the “Nuclear Threat from North Korea,” has acknowledged so plainly that nuclear negotiations with North Korea aren’t going well.

Trump didn’t blame himself or even North Korea explicitly for the lack of progress. Instead he singled out China, with which the United States is currently engaged in an escalating trade war and with which North Korea conducts most of its trade, for not “helping with the process of denuclearization as they once were,” despite international sanctions against the North remaining in place. “Secretary Pompeo looks forward to going to North Korea in the near future, most likely after our Trading relationship with China is resolved,” Trump added. “In the meantime I would like to send my warmest regards and respect to Chairman Kim. I look forward to seeing him soon!”

The decision to abruptly and dramatically walk away from talks, mixed with wistful and conciliatory language about his desire to walk right back into negotiations should circumstances allow, mirrors Trump’s move in May to cancel his summit in Singapore with Kim Jong Un. Trump’s problem at the time was the North Korean government’s fiery rhetoric against the United States and flaky behavior as U.S. officials sought to prepare for the historic meeting. In his letter to North Korea’s leader then, Trump veered from reminding Kim of America’s “massive and powerful” nuclear-weapons arsenal to urging him to “not hesitate to call me or write” if “you change your mind.”

The approach back then, which the nuclear expert Vipin Narang refers to as the “‘call me maybe’ strategy,” actually worked to an extent. North Korea didn’t instantly surrender its nukes and ship them off to Tennessee. But it did adopt a friendlier tone toward the United States and more seriously engage with U.S. negotiators, prompting Trump to declare the summit on again and eventually, in Singapore, to sign a statement with Kim in which North Korea vaguely promised to “work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.”

The problem is that since then, North Korea hasn’t done a whole lot in the way of working toward that denuclearization. The North has observed a suspension of nuclear- and long-range-missile tests, begun making good on its pledge in Singapore to return what it claims are remains of American soldiers killed during the Korean War, and partially dismantled a missile-engine-test site that Kim told Trump he would destroy. But as commercial satellite images, leaked U.S. intelligence assessments, and most recently a study by the International Atomic Energy Agency have made clear in recent months, North Korea is otherwise proceeding with business as usual on developing its nuclear program. Even its work on taking apart the missile-engine-test site has stalled, according to a report this week by the website 38 North.

The speculation was that Pompeo was headed to North Korea to overcome the stalemate with some big breakthrough—perhaps a vow by North Korea to disclose the various components of its nuclear program in exchange for a vow by the United States to join with the two Koreas in finally declaring an end to the Korean War, which concluded in an armistice in 1953. Trump’s cancellation of the trip suggests that the administration might have gotten cold feet about whether North Korea was ready to deliver the kind of breakthrough the United States had in mind.

It’s unclear, however, whether Trump’s call-me-maybe gambit will prove as potent as it did last time, when Kim was thirsting for a long-sought sit-down with the American president and when the sanctions arrayed against him were firmer than they are today. In the interim, countries such as China and South Korea have begun prioritizing diplomatic engagement over economic pressure. “I’m much more skeptical this time because last time Kim wanted the summit just as badly,” Narang observed on Friday. “This time he’s in a much stronger position.”

Even Trump seemed to recognize that his move might not pay off as swiftly as it did before. After all, he said Pompeo would reschedule his visit “after our Trading relationship with China is resolved”—during a week in which the world’s two largest economies imposed billions of dollars in tariffs on each other in a titanic economic showdown whose resolution doesn’t seem to be coming any time soon.
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[*] posted on 29-8-2018 at 11:10 AM


Here’s why Mattis won’t cancel upcoming maneuvers with South Korean forces

By: Aaron Mehta   8 hours ago


Marines of South Korea, right, and the U.S aim their weapons near amphibious assault vehicles during U.S.-South Korea joint landing military exercises as part of the 2015 joint military exercise Foal Eagle. That event appears to be on schedule to occur again in 2019. (Lee Jin-man/AP)

WASHINGTON – Just days after a planned high-level summit between the U.S. and North Korea was called off, the Pentagon’s top official said Tuesday that no decision has been made to cancel major joint military exercises between the U.S. and South Korea planned for 2019.

Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis told reporters that there are “no plans, at this time, to suspend any more exercises” on the Korean peninsula, a sign that the department is expecting to go forward with major events that North Korea has historically decried as provocative.

“We will work very closely, as I’ve said, with the Secretary of State, and what he needs done, we will certainly do to reinforce his efforts, but at this time there is no discussion of further suspensions,” Mattis said.

He later added that the department has “done no planning for suspending” future exercises.

Following the Singapore Summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, the U.S. put off several planned exercises, including Ulchi Freedom Guardian. Those maneuvers had been scheduled for this month.

Ulchi Freedom Guardian is the largest annual autumn event. Its counterpart in the spring is Foal Eagle, which occurred in April following the Olympic Games.

North Korea considers both exercises provocative and halting them has been a longstanding goal of the Kim regime.

Asked specifically if Foal Guardian would go forward, Mattis reiterated that “We have not made decisions on that at this time, and we will do that with consultation with State.”


The South Korean and American flags fly next to each other at Yongin, South Korea, Aug. 23, 2016. (Staff Sgt. Ken Scar/Army)

The retired four-star Marine general added that several smaller exercises have continued between the U.S. and South Korean forces, in part because there is no way Pyongyang could interpret those as provocative.

“We turned off several to make a good faith effort, we’re going to see how the negotiations go and then we will calculate the future how we go forward,” Mattis said.

When announcing his intention to cancel Ulchi Freedom Guardian, Trump described the regular exercises “war games” and called them “provocative.” On Tuesday, Mattis dodged the question of whether resuming those maneuvers should be seen as a provocative move by the Americans.

“Let’s see how the negotiations go. Even answering a question in that manner could influence the negotiations," he said. "Let’s let the diplomats go forward. We all know the gravity of the issue they’re dealing with, and we’ll deal with supporting the diplomats.”
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[*] posted on 30-8-2018 at 09:20 AM


South Korea increases defence spending to support military reforms

Jon Grevatt, Seoul and Craig Caffrey, London - IHS Jane's Defence Industry

29 August 2018

South Korea’s Ministry of National Defense (MND) has proposed a 2019 defence budget of KRW46.7 trillion (USD42 billion) to support its new military reform programme.

The MND said in a statement on 28 August that the expenditure would represent a year-on-year (y/y) increase of 8.2% and the highest rate of annual growth in a decade.

The increase in the 2019 budget, which will now be sent to the National Assembly for approval, is almost “double the average growth rate of 4.4% [registered] between 2010 and 2017”, according to the MND.

Simultaneously, the South Korean Ministry of Economy and Finance (MEF) released additional details of the 2019 budget proposal, including spending plans for the 2018–22 period.

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[*] posted on 4-9-2018 at 11:31 AM


New Military Intelligence Unit Launched

(Source: The Korea Times; issued Sept 02, 2018)

The defense ministry launched its new military intelligence unit Saturday, with its authority reduced and a ban on it from engaging in any political issues.

Under an amended military ordinance, the Defense Security Support Command (DSSC) began operations Sept. 1, the Ministry of National Defense said. The DSSC replaces the former scandal-tainted Defense Security Command.

The launch of the DSSC occurred about a month after President Moon Jae-in ordered Defense Minister Song Young-moo to disband the former security command and create a "wholly new" organization with limited authority.

The decision was part of countermeasures after it was revealed that the unit planned to deploy armed forces last year to quell pro-democracy protestors who called for the ouster of former President Park Geun-hye.

The military intelligence unit has in recent months come under a harsh public backlash for its multiple engagements in political activities. The unit is also suspected of forming a 60-member taskforce to manage the aftermath of the 2014 Sewol ferry disaster by trying to manipulate public sentiment.

"We have prohibited the DSSC from carrying out any background checks on soldiers and civilian military personnel when it is aimed at finding out about their private lives," DSSC Commander Nam Young-sin said in a press conference.

The remark is in line with the new ordinance under which the DSSC disallowed any of its officials to collect private information on other soldiers.

The DSSC begins its work with a reduced workforce. The former security command consisted of 4,100 but after restructuring, the defense ministry cut the number to 2,900.

The DSSC chief also pledged to cut long-lasting political ties between the organization and Cheong Wa Dae.

The military intelligence unit has for decades been regarded as a "privileged organization," as it was able to bypass the defense minister and directly present reports to the president.

"Our role is to assist the defense minister for national security and the prevention of espionage," Nam said. "We are going to report anything to the defense minister first and, when necessary, to the presidential office afterward."

Nam also promised to do his best to serve the public and tighten military discipline at the DSSC.

"I do not have a keen sense in handling political affairs," Nam said. "I only think of performing my duty for the public and the military. I swear on my honor that the DSSC will be a decent organization which never betrays the public."

The defense minister also called for the need to transform the security command into a scandal-free and transparent organization without any sense of entitlement.

"Now is the time to reflect deeply on the past and move to the future," Song said during the launch ceremony for the DSSC.

The ruling and opposition parties have called for the need for the DSSC to remain politically neutral.

"The DSSC launch is a big leap-forward in that it has institutionalized the military's political neutrality," Hong Ik-pyo of the ruling Democratic Party of Korea said.

The main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) also welcomed the launch of the new intelligence unit.

"Securing political neutrality should be the top priority of the new organization," LKP spokesman Yoon Young-seok said. "The DSSC should become a key organization for national security amid growing concerns that the rapid disbandment of the former intelligence unit could have created a security vacuum."

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[*] posted on 5-9-2018 at 11:02 AM


South Korea completes development of indigenous DIRCM system

Gabriel Dominguez, London and Neil Gibson, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

04 September 2018

South Korea has completed the development of a directional infrared countermeasure (DIRCM) system designed for use by military aircraft to deceive a hostile missile’s infrared (IR) seeker, the country’s Defense Acquisition Programme Administration (DAPA) said in a 3 September statement.

Development of the system, which was led by South Korea’s Agency for Defense Development (ADD) in co-operation with local defence company Hanwha Systems, took place between December 2014 and August 2018, said DAPA, pointing out that the DIRCM was tested on several occasions against IR-guided missiles fired from manportable air defence systems (MANPADS) during that time while mounted on a helicopter.

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[*] posted on 13-9-2018 at 09:09 AM


Australia, New Zealand to deploy MPAs to monitor North Korean vessels

Gabriel Dominguez, London - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

12 September 2018

The governments of Australia and New Zealand announced on 7 September that they will deploy maritime patrol aircraft (MPA) to Japan to monitor North Korean vessels suspected of transferring goods banned by UN Security Council (UNSC) resolutions.

Canberra will deploy two AP-3C Orion MPAs “to conduct maritime surveillance in support of the international effort to enforce United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea,” said Australian Defence Minister Christopher Pyne in a statement, pointing out that the move is “a continuation of our strong stand to deter and disrupt illicit trade and sanctions-evasion activities by North Korea and its associated networks”.

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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 09:26 AM


US clears P-8, Patriot missile sales for South Korea

By: Aaron Mehta   3 hours ago


P-8A Poseidon aircraft takes off from a Boeing facility in Seattle, Wash. (U.S. Navy photo courtesy of Boeing Defense/Released)

WASHINGTON— The U.S. State Department has ok’d a package of potential sales for South Korea, including six P-8 maritime surveillance aircraft and 64 Patriot Advanced Capability-3 missiles.

The P-8 deal has a potential price tag of $2.1 billion, while the Patriot weapons could cost $501 million, a $2.6 billion overall deal for American military contractors.

The potential sales were announced by the Defense Security Cooperation Agency on Sept. 13. All DSCA notification are not final; if cleared by the Senate, procurement quantities and costs can still change in final negotiations.

If completed, the sales would boost South Korea’s military with capabilities aimed directly at Seoul’s two most concerning neighbors in North Korea, always of concern, and China, which has been increasing its military submarine fleet.

Included in the P-8 package are nine Multifunctional Information Distribution System Joint Tactical Radio Systems; 42 AN/AAR-54 Missile Warning Sensors; and assorted engines, Electro-Optical acoustic systems, counter measures and software.

“The ROK procured and has operated U.S.-produced P-3 Maritime Surveillance Aircraft (MSA) for over 25 years, providing interoperability and critical capabilities to coalition maritime operations,” the DSCA wrote.

“The ROK has maintained a close MSA acquisition and sustainment relationship with the U.S. Navy over that period.

The proposed sale will allow the ROK to modernize and sustain its MSA capability for the next 30 years. As a long-time P-3 operator, the ROK will have no difficulty transitioning its MSA force to P-8A.”

Primary work will be done by Boeing in Seattle, but the DSCA solicit includes an unusually detailed breakdown of sub-tier suppliers. Listed by the agency are ASEC; Air Cruisers Co LLC; Arnprior Aerospace, Canada; AVOX Zodiac Aerospace; BAE; Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC)/EMS; Compass; David Clark; DLS or ViaSat, Carlsbad, CA; DRS; Exelis, McLean, VA; GC Micro, Petaluma, CA; General Dynamics; General Electric, UK; Harris; Joint Electronics; Lockheed Martin; Martin Baker; Northrop Grumman Corp, Falls Church, VA; Pole Zero, Cincinnati, OH; Raytheon, Waltham, MA; Raytheon, UK; Rockwell Collins, Cedar Rapids, IA; Spirit Aero, Wichita, KS; Symmetries Telephonics, Farmingdale, NY; Terma, Arlington, VA; Viking; and WESCAM.

As for the Patriot missiles, Lockheed Martin is the primary contractor.

“The ROK will use the Patriot missile system to improve its missile defense capability, defend its territorial integrity and deter threats to regional stability,” the DSCA notes. “The proposed sale will increase the defensive capabilities of the ROK Military to guard against hostile aggression and shield the allies who train and operate within South Korea's borders. The ROK should have no difficulty absorbing this system into its armed forces.”

From FY 2013-2017, South Korea purchased more than $13 billion in defense articles, training and services, per a DSCA factsheet.
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[*] posted on 14-9-2018 at 11:38 PM


DX Korea 2018: RoKA outlines plans for new ‘Dronebot Warrior’ unit

Kelvin Wong, Goyang, South Korea - IHS Jane's Defence Weekly

14 September 2018


The RoKA’s new Dronebot Warrior unit will initially be equipped with small reconnaissance UAVs such as the Striker Drone. Source: IHS Markit/Kelvin Wong

The Republic of Korea Army (RoKA) aims to formally establish a specialised unit that will operate and develop new concepts of operation for unmanned aerial and unmanned ground vehicles (UAVs and UGVs) by 2019, an army spokesperson told Jane’s at the DX Korea 2018 exhibition.

The new unit – which is known locally as Dronebot Jeontudan (‘Warrior’) – was first announced in December 2017 to enable the service to create the necessary command and human resource infrastructure, such as a new military occupational specialty to recruit suitable candidates within its ranks. The unit is expected to be “battalion-sized” and will begin operations in October 2018, although it will only be fully staffed by 2019.

The unit nomenclature is a portmanteau word from ‘drone’ and ‘robot’, embodying the RoKA’s aim to develop and deploy unmanned platforms that incorporate advanced autonomy and cutting-edge capabilities.

“The preference is for troops who already possess considerable aptitude or experience in operating such systems,” the spokesperson said, noting that “those with formal training or qualifications related to drone operation and maintenance will be given priority.”

Jane’s understands that the Dronebot Warrior unit is presently staffed by conscript and professional soldiers but the service plans to recruit civilian experts to provide training and mentorship for the troops.

The spokesperson noted that current capabilities such as the Uconsystem RemoEye-002B and KAL-ASD KUS-FT tactical UAVs will remain with their respective units, and will not be reassigned to the Dronebot Warrior unit. Instead, it is expected initially to operate new types of surveillance and strike-capable mini- to tactical-class UAVs, with one example being the indigenously developed Striker Drone quadcopter manufactured by NES&TEC, which has a maximum take-off weight (MTOW) of 9 kg and can carry a 2.5 kg payload such as an electro-optic camera as well as a pair of small 500 g bombs.

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[*] posted on 22-9-2018 at 06:13 PM


Could political agreement between North and South Korea actually defuse tensions?

By: Mike Yeo   12 hours ago


South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un raise their hands after watching the mass games performance of "The Glorious Country" at May Day Stadium in Pyongyang, North Korea, Wednesday, Sept. 19, 2018. (Pyongyang Press Corps Pool via AP)

MELBOURNE, Australia — The agreements struck by leaders of North and South Korea at this week’s summit are important steps, which have the potential for significantly reducing tensions on the Korean Peninsula. But ongoing verification that the agreements are being adhered to will be needed, according to experts.

The agreements, which cover a range of security issues on the volatile Peninsula that is still technically at war in the absence of a formal peace treaty, will see both North and South Korea declare a buffer and no-fly zone around the demilitarized zone, or DMZ, and waters that separate the two Koreas.

At the same time, North Korea has also agreed to permanently dismantle its Dongchang-ri missile launch platform and rocket engine-testing facility in the presence of international experts, as well as flagging the possibility of taking further measures such as permanently dismantling its main Yongbyon nuclear complex if certain conditions are met.

In addition, South Korean president Moon Jae-In also told reporters upon his return to the south that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is seeking a second summit with U.S. president Donald Trump, which Moon said should seek to produce a timeline for North Korea’s denuclearization. He also added that a peace declaration for the Korean Peninsula will be a step to build trust and not result in the withdrawal of U.S. forces in South Korea, with a full peace deal only possible after the North denuclearizes.

Korea watchers have cautiously welcomed the move by both sides to reduce their military presence at the DMZ and surrounding waters, which have seen several incidents and lethal clashes since the 1953 armistice. According to the agreement signed by both defense ministers, the two Koreas agreed to establish buffer zones along their land and sea borders to reduce military tensions and prevent accidental clashes, as well as to withdraw 11 guard posts from the DMZ by December with an aim to eventually withdraw all guard posts, where combat troops are stationed.

Speaking to Defense News, Kim Jae Yeop, visiting professor for defense & security issues at South Korea’s Hannam University Daejeon, Korea, said the agreements can be “substantially helpful for reducing military tensions and building trust in Korean Peninsula as long as Pyongyang faithfully honors the agreement, and therefore future verification [to ensure the agreement is being adhered to] will be very important.”


President Donald Trump meets with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un on Sentosa Island, in Singapore. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci, File )

He also spelt out some concerns in South Korea that the agreements may adversely affect its defense posture due to the need for artillery to be withdrawn from the West Sea islands.

Such a withdrawl would be required to comply with the maritime buffer zone and the curtailment of tactical surveillance and reconnaissance missions by smaller army units near the border due to the proposed no-fly zone. However South Korean military officials have said that more advanced strategic surveillance assets like the U.S. Air Force U-2 aircraft will not be affected due to their more powerful sensor suites.

Professor Kim also noted that given the North is estimated to have 6-8 times more artillery positioned near the agreed-upon maritime buffer zone, the agreements “will not negatively affect defense readiness at West Sea. On the contrary, it will be more effective to curb threats from North in the area.”

However, nuclear non-proliferation experts are more cautious about the agreements with regard to North Korean disarmament, noting that they still do not cover tests of the North’s mobile missiles or stop production or nuclear-related enrichment activities. Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia nonproliferation program at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies noted that while the offer to dismantle the nuclear facilities at Yongbyon “would be welcome, it wouldn’t stop North Korea from expanding its arsenal.”

Explaining, Lewis pointed out that there is nothing to “prevent ongoing [intercontinental ballistic missile] production at Sanum-dong and elsewhere nor would it prevent North Korea from resuming ICBM tests which are conducted from mobile launchers.”

He also added that any dismantling of the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon, which also contains North Korea’s 30-year old gas graphite reactor, would curtail the ongoing plutonium enrichment activities. He warned, however, that the North already has two other enrichment facilities elsewhere in the country with U.S. reports suggesting there may be a third that has yet to be identified. This could suggest the proposed closure of Yongbyon may not be as detrimental to the North’s nuclear program as was hoped, with Lewis suggesting that the North Koreans are “offering gestures that mimic disarmament [but] don’t meaningfully constrain North Korea’s nuclear program.”
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[*] posted on 19-10-2018 at 11:10 AM


Army Aims to 'Mechanize' All Squads by 2030

(Source: Korea Herald; issued Oct 17, 2018)

South Korea's Army unveiled an ambitious plan Thursday to equip all of its squads nationwide with advanced armored vehicles and other transportation by 2030.

The Mount Paektu Tiger project, worth 1.25 trillion won ($1.1 billion), aims to enable all ground troops to move by wheeled-armored carriers, such as the K200 armed vehicle and other small tactical vehicles, rather than on foot.

All vehicles will be installed with improved bullet-proof and remote controlled weapon station systems.

The Army, which has around 480,000 troops, is a key element in the country's 620,000-strong armed forces. The government plans to reduce the latter number to half a million by 2022 under a reform scheme.

The MPT program is designed to make infantry nimble but more powerful.

All combatants will be provided with the so-called warrior platform, composed of 33 kinds of tailored ICT-based devices, according to the Army.

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