The BBC News is reporting that North Korea may resort to more direct attacks to achieve its political aims. So testified James Clapper who has been selected to be the new Director of National Intelligence.
At his confirmation hearing on Tuesday, Mr Clapper chose to highlight the growing concerns within the agencies about North Korea’s recent actions.
He said the sinking of the South Korean corvette Cheonan in March, which a South Korean-led inquiry found was the result of a North Korean torpedo attack, and unsuccessful attempts to assassinate a senior North Korean defector reminded him of the bombing of Korean Airlines Flight 858 in 1987.
“The most important lesson for all of us in the intelligence community from this year’s provocations by Pyongyang is to realise that we may be entering a dangerous new period when North Korea will once again attempt to advance its internal and external political goals through direct attacks on our allies in the Republic of Korea.”
“Coupled with this is a renewed realisation that North Korea’s military forces still pose a threat that cannot be taken lightly,” he added.
Analysis.We should also be reminded of 1994 when the last succession occurred. We got very close to nuclear war. We are entering another period of succession where the successor is even less prepared than Kim 2 was when he replaced daddy. And we are starting serious naval exercises in the Sea of Japan shortly. Depending on exactly where those exercises occur will tell us a lot about how hard we are poking Kimchee. If they remain south of the DMZ, they will probably not be considered as threatening as if they are held east of Wonsan.
I am also sure that there will be the appropriate number of land based exercises using the ranges near the DMZ. These probably will not have any effect on the North Koreans. Nor will the mobility exercises that practice bringing reinforcements into South Korea. Those are pretty normal things. However, if the normal number is exceeded that may cause an outcry from Kimchee about the US preparing to invade. If the number of Cope Strike exercises went from one every six weeks or so to one every three weeks or so, the North would take serious notice.
Then there are the sure to be held in the future exercises in the Yellow Sea. The North will bleat like a stuck pig over these. The People’s Republic of China will probably chime in also depending upon the US vessels involved. A surface action group probably won’t raise a lot of ire. The George Washington will send the PRC into apoplectic fits. We have already seen that. It was fun to watch.
But the North is a serious threat. They are a 30 day or so army. They have little logistics capability and few supplies even if they had a logistics system of note. But in those 30 days they can shoot off a lot of artillery shells and rockets and make a bloody awful mess of everything south of the DMZ to the Han River. That is what everybody fears.
Still, Kimchee’s health is not good. The government may not have a lot of time to build up Kim 3 to the stature where he might be acceptable to the Party and the Army. That will put additional stress on the government. The price of rice has gone up appreciably according to DailyNK. They opine that this is due to the appreciation of the Yuan versus the Won. That makes food more expensive and that does not make the North Korean people happy after the recent devaluation that really screwed a lot of people who had been participating in the local markets.
This is one of those “stay tuned” situations. We have little idea of the thought process that goes on in the DPRK. That makes this situation all the more dangerous.