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Withheld Intelligence Shows Distrust Between Allies

February 21, 2013 Leave a comment Go to comments

Throughout the last two years U.S. airplanes landed several times in North Korea without the United States informing its allies about their missions. This and other interesting intelligence newsUS airplanes landed in N korea0 around Japan, North and South Korea was recently published in a series headlined “Left In The Dark” by the Japanese paper Asahi Shimbun. One would think that in a strongly partisan atmosphere such news would be politically explosive. Yet, to my knowledge, no major U.S. media has picked up on these stories.

First published on February 15 one piece asserts that the U.S. is withholding evidence of the recent North Korean nuclear test from its Japanese allies:

“There must be many secrets between the United States and North Korea that Japan does not know about,” a Japanese government source said.Among the data that the United States withholds is assessments of the outcome of North Korea’s nuclear tests.

When North Korea conducted its first nuclear test in 2006, Japan, the United States and South Korea learned from spies that the test site was at Punggyeri.

The United States dispatches intelligence agents to North Korea posing as tourists, for example. The agents may hold multiple passports.

The piece then demonstrates severe mistrust in the U.S. about Japan’s nuclear ambitions:

In September 2012, senior Japanese government officials visited the United States to explain the government’s goal at halting all nuclear reactors by the 2030s following the Fukushima nuclear disaster.U.S. officials repeatedly pressed them for details of how they planned to secure the plutonium generated in reprocessing spent fuel, material that is considered high risk because it could be used by terrorists to construct a basic bomb.

A Japanese government source said the Americans expressed doubt over whether Japan could be trusted to safeguard it.

Such experiences have led some in Tokyo to arrive at a painful assessment of the relationship.

“Japan and the United States are not allies when it comes to nuclear matters,” said a Japanese government source who was responsible for North Korean nuclear affairs.

The article then continues with asserting that the United States is underestimating the interior stability of the North Korean system as well as its technical capabilities.

Another piece, also published on the 15th, reveals secret U.S. flights to North Korea and high level contacts between U.S. and North Korean officials:

Senior U.S. administration officials held secret talks in North Korea on at least three occasions in 2011 and 2012, The Asahi Shimbun has learned.Although the visits had potential implications for Japan,Washington did not inform its security partner at the time and only informally confirmed one of them when the Japanese side pressed, government and other sources in Japan, South Korea and the United States said.

U.S. military planes flew from an air base in Guam to Pyongyang and back on April 7, 2012, and again on a longer visit lasting from Aug. 18-20, the sources said.

It is believed that those aboard included Sydney Seiler, director for Korea at the U.S. National Security Council, and Joseph DeTrani, who headed the North Korea desk at the U.S. Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

The North Korean delegation included Jang Song Thaek, vice chairman of the National Defense Commission and husband of Kim Jong Il’s sister. Jang is widely considered to serve as a mentor for Kim Jong Un, who succeeded his father as his nation’s leader.

The U.S. kept these contacts secret. Its Japanese allies were not informed about them and when they, by chance, found out and inquired were told to shut up.

Next to the very high U.S. officials (why is the DNI involved?) there was some interesting cargo on board of the U.S. planes:

The third visit that The Asahi Shimbun has confirmed is one that took place in November 2011. Sources said at least one military aircraft from the Guam air base loaded heavy equipment, including bulldozers, at Yokota Air Base in western Tokyo and flew to Pyongyang.It is believed that the delegation included officials from the U.S. Pacific Command.

There follows some speculation that the flights and contacts were about the remains of U.S. soldiers that were killed in the Korea War. There have been on and off efforts to recover such remains. North Korea gets paid for such efforts and the search seems to continue.

But one wonders why this would require such high level talks, such secrecy and why it would require the very expensive transport of U.S. bulldozers?

A third piece, published on February 16, asserts that the U.S. was ready to sabotage a North Korean satellite launch but fell for a ruse when the North Koreans pretended to move the launch date:

[A]n analysis of events leading up to the launch shows that North Korea kept the United States and its allies in the dark with a simple ruse: parking trailers near the launch pad and pretending to reconsider the launch window.

On Dec. 8, trailers that are used to transport missile parts were lined up around the launch pad. Spy satellite photos of one trailer led analysts to conclude the 22-meter-long vehicle had been used to transport the first stage of a rocket.Intelligence officers began speculating that North Korea might be removing missile parts from the launch pad.

Around this time, officials at the North Korean Embassy in Beijing began providing information to Chinese military and government officials that indicated the launch date was being pushed back.

South Korea intercepted the misinformation that North Korea was providing China, and also picked up communications at Tongchang-ri that seemed to indicate missile parts were being removed from the launch pad.

South Korean government officials began briefing reporters off the record about their prediction that the launch would be delayed.

The South Koreans have penetrated one of the communication channels between North Korea and China. The North Korean’s obviously knew about it and used the channel to provide disinformation.

According to sources knowledgeable about North Korean affairs, after the failed missile launch in April 2012, North Korean authorities told a group of party elite that “the United States used radio signals to interfere with our rocket launch.”The EA-18G Growler electronic warfare aircraft used by the U.S. military based in Japan has the capability of amplifying and jamming radio signals that North Korea transmits to guide its long-range missiles.

North Korea apparently decided to go ahead with the Dec. 12 launch after taking into consideration the weather and scheduled political events. It was forced into keeping that date a secret from Japan, the United States and South Korea to avoid a second failed launch.

In January 2012 a Russian official wondered if the U.S. sabotaged a Russian satellite on a Mission to Mars:

Mr. Popovkin’s remarks to the newspaper Izvestia were the first high-level suggestion of nefarious interference. A retired commander of Russia’s missile warning system had speculated in November that strong radar signals from installations in Alaska might have damaged the spacecraft.“We don’t want to accuse anybody, but there are very powerful devices that can influence spacecraft now,” Mr. Popovkin[, the director of Russia’s space agency,] said in the interview. “The possibility they were used cannot be ruled out.”

If the U.S. is really sabotaging satellite launches it should be ready for a blowback. There are other nations who also have such capabilities.

The distrust between the U.S. side, the Koreas and the Japanese seems to have increased since the new hardlineJapanese premier Shinzo Abe has taken office in December. The release of the above information was probably authorized to express misgivings about the state of affairs.

And while the U.S. is on one side in high level secret talks with North Korea it is also trying to sabotage its missile program. But North Korea, despite being seen by the U.S. as a third class regime ready to fall tomorrow, has proven to be robust and very apt in the intelligence business.

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Moon of Alabama

February 21, 2013

Related link – http://tinyurl.com/a5ktto6

 

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