Moon of Alabama Brecht quote
February 21, 2013

Withheld Intelligence Shows Mistrust Between Allies

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 news 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 hardline Japanese 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.

Posted by b on February 21, 2013 at 10:06 UTC | Permalink


A fascinating ‘blip’ in the financial news regarding the Koreas (sorry can’t remember the source); Russia has gas and oil pipes and Tran Siberian rail hook-ups ready to go to South Korea if some sort of an agreement can be reached between the North and South. The economic implications for the South are said to be very significant and they very much want to get at that energy supply and the trade links to Asia and Europe via the railroad.

Posted by: TomV | Feb 21 2013 13:29 utc | 1

I would like to know how one would reroute rocket launches? Is this a hacking/tech thing, or something more akin to an EMP?

I want to know, for personal reasons. That's what I've secretly been up to all this time, plotting how to re-route those infernal rocket launches.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 21 2013 14:31 utc | 2

That would no doubt benefit North Korea too. Nothing like a little mutual trade to facilitate reconciliation.

Posted by: scottindallas | Feb 21 2013 14:33 utc | 3

This article by Steven Gowans puts Korea in a good historical perspective.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 21 2013 15:31 utc | 4

This, news about Syria, is interesting too:

Posted by: bevin | Feb 21 2013 15:34 utc | 5

I would like to know how one would reroute rocket launches? Is this a hacking/tech thing, or something more akin to an EMP?

Rockets have in the launch phase command and control connections to the ground station. Those can be disconnected, overridden or just distorted by electronic warfare means. The Russians case with the satellite was different. They suggested that it was fried by some electromagnetic energy force. That could have been a large radar or something similar.

Posted by: b | Feb 21 2013 17:25 utc | 6

With nukes and an 'offensive' defense force Japan is a world power likely even above UK and France given their manufacture capabilities. Without them it's just a colony/protectorate. Another matter if what would be our, or the world, preference given the savage Japanese imperialism of old and the extreme-right leanings of their elites.

It's obvious what is US preference.

Posted by: ThePaper | Feb 21 2013 17:52 utc | 7

#1 TomV. The possibility of a pipe line and direct rail connections between South Korea and China and Russia is a very interesting development. It would basically pull S. Korea into an even stronger economic alliance with China and Russia. N. Korea would benefit from this too, with the transit fees. But it will require some kind of reconciliation between N and S Korea. Peace between those two is so obviously beneficial. Of course that will be difficult because the big loser would be the US.

Posted by: ToivoS | Feb 22 2013 0:49 utc | 8

At least 'we' have 'Over the Horizon Radar, for starters.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 22 2013 1:28 utc | 9

Oops, it's .PDF file [just in case].

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 22 2013 1:28 utc | 10

Back in 1996 we had North Korean Submarine Lands Near Gangneung Sparking Deadly 49-Day Manhunt and the words of one of the North Koreans who survived.

NK does have nuclear power plants [or at least one that I've seen - on TV], but I'm not convinced it does posses nuclear weapons, because in order to build them, you need the financial means, the capacity and technology to centrifuge high grade weapons material and given NK' sorry state of finances, I simply don't believe they've been able to do that. I also believe various parties have vested interests in keep this 'NK is about to nuke us angle' alive and kicking [see my 'hamster wheel' comment].

Back in 2006 this news hit the stands: On October 9, 2006, the North Korean government issued an announcement that it had successfully conducted a nuclear test for the first time. Both the United States Geological Survey and Japanese seismological authorities detected an earthquake with a preliminary estimated magnitude of 4.3 in North Korea. Link

In 2009: On May 25, 2009, North Korea conducted another nuclear test, which is believed to have been the cause of a magnitude 4.7 seismic event.Link

In 2013: On February 11, 2013, the USGS detected a magnitude 5.1 seismic disturbance,[13] reported to be a third underground nuclear test. Link

North Korea and weapons of mass destruction

Nuclear power in North Korea

So far, we've been told that seismic detection is the fastest way to detect an underground, nuclear explosion. However, as you can see if you click on the provided link, there are many more and almost fireproof ways to do so. Underground you can explode anything and make it look like something you desire to be 'true.' I still believe the North Korean Regime is playing poker [until proven wrong].

As per usual, the North Korean population suffers immensely as they're nearly starved to death. Stories of killing and cannibalism during harsh winter times are stories told by those who defect. I haven't seen proof, but given the nature of cannibalism and the many instances of people having had to resort to it [Cannibalism along the Oregon Trail Term Paper 44689 | El Milagro de los Andes] I'm tempted to believe it.

So, yes, I do hope some prosperity will trickle down that [possible] trail of tainted pipelines and reach NK citizens.

Posted by: Daniel Rich | Feb 22 2013 2:14 utc | 11

The cannibal story sounds like the typical Israeli-American "Cubans eat babies" level of Goebbels tripe.

A few years ago Parenti wrote a sane description of North Korea when the former leader was still alive. I believe what he wrote pretty much still applies to NK now.

North Korea: "Sanity" at the Brink
(posted in 2009)

"Nations that chart a self-defining course, seeking to use their land, labor, natural resources, and markets as they see fit, free from the smothering embrace of the US corporate global order, frequently become a target of defamation. Their leaders often have their moral sanity called into question by US officials and US media, as has been the case at one time or another with Castro, Noriega, Ortega, Qaddafi, Aristide, Milosevic, Saddam Hussein, Hugo Chavez, and others.
So it comes as no surprise that the rulers of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK or North Korea) have been routinely described as mentally unbalanced by our policymakers and pundits. Senior Defense Department officials refer to the DPRK as a country “not of this planet,” led by “dysfunctional” autocrats. One government official, quoted in the New York Times, wondered aloud “if they are really totally crazy.” The New Yorker magazine called them “balmy,” and late-night TV host David Letterman got into the act by labeling Kim Jong-il a “madman maniac.”

To be sure, there are things about the DPRK that one might wonder about, including its dynastic leadership system, its highly dictatorial one-party rule, and the chaos that seems implanted in the heart of its “planned” economy.

But in its much advertised effort to become a nuclear power, North Korea is actually displaying more sanity than first meets the eye. The Pyongyang leadership seems to know something about US global policy that our own policymakers and pundits have overlooked. In a word, the United States has never attacked or invaded any nation that has a nuclear arsenal.

The countries directly battered by US military actions in recent decades (Grenada, Panama, Iraq, Libya, Somalia, Yugoslavia, Afghanistan, then again Iraq), along with numerous other states that have been threatened at one time or another for being “anti-American” or “anti-West” (Iran, Cuba, South Yemen, Venezuela, Syria, North Korea, and others) have one thing in common: not one of them has wielded a nuclear deterrence—until now..."

Posted by: вот так | Feb 22 2013 3:25 utc | 12

"The New Yorker magazine called them “balmy,.."

I suspect that they called them "barmy."

In either case it was simply channeling propaganda which is what it does.

Posted by: bevin | Feb 22 2013 5:08 utc | 13

*There must be many secrets between the United States and North Korea that Japan does not know about," a Japanese government source said*

i wouldnt be surprised nk going the way of myanmar, nepal....soon

Posted by: denk | Feb 22 2013 5:28 utc | 14

*To further tighten the knot around China, Washington is now working on a rapprochement with North Korea. Some analysts believe that North Korea is now eager for a bilateral peace agreement with the U.S. They view last month's armed intrusion into the DMZ by North Korean troops as a bizarre overture by Pyongyang to the U.S.
Once again, as earlier in Vietnam, the search for the remains of some long-forgotten U.S. soldiers -- in this case 8,000 missing from the Korean War -- offers a convenient pretext for starting talks
The misuse of MIA funds and the high fees paid to the Vietnamese government have raised some questions in the U.S. But these current monetary costs and the earlier costs in human lives and money of the Korean and Vietnam wars were spent for the same objective: to contain communist expansionism in South East Asia
In war, it appears, it is often difficult to identify winners and losers. North Vietnam, which won the Vietnam War, used the remains of American MIA's as a tool for extracting economic and political gains from the U.S. Ironically, the U.S., the loser in that war, is now using MIA remains to achieve what it could not achieve through war: halting Chinese expansionism [sic]

Posted by: denk | Feb 22 2013 5:50 utc | 15

Cloaked in the supposed effort to account for American servicemen still missing from the Vietnam War, the U.S. government established the Joint Task Force for a Full Accounting (JTF-FA). Instead of experienced intelligence analysts and personnel familiar with and equipped to deal with searching for MIAs, JTF-FA was staffed with veteran Operation Desert Storm officers and men experienced only in infantry, artillery, and logistics operations.

Posted by: denk | Feb 22 2013 7:23 utc | 16

*It is believed that the delegation included officials from the U.S.
Pacific Command. *

pacom means china
pacom c i c means troubles !!

PACOM: China is America's biggest threat in Asia Pacific

There have been numerous incidents in recent years in which
admirals conspired to provoke conflicts with the Soviet Union,
Iran, and Libya. Admiral Blair, head of the Pacific Command,
had increased the number of EP-3 flights in recent months and
the planes began to fly closer to China than during the Cold war.

*In April 1999, in the face of escalating violence in East Timor by
the military and its militia proxies, Admiral Dennis Blair of the US
Pacific Command, visited Jakarta. Rather than telling
Indonesia's General Wiranto "to shut the militias down, [Blair]
instead offered him a series of promises of new US assistance,"
according to a classified cable on the meeting. Blair's visit took
place just days after at least 59 refugees sheltering in a church
in Liquicia were murdered. Shortly after Blair's visit, militia
rampaged through Dili, killing at least a dozen pro-independence
supporters. During these massacres, Indonesian security
officials either actively participated or stood by. *

*The involvement of the US in this ethnic and geopolitical
tinderbox has complicated the situation. The US Congress
provides US$2 million a year to the Tibetan exile government
and is stepping up its rhetoric on the Tibet issue. This year, the
US military has started to extend its presence in Nepal through a
UN training program for South Asian peacekeepers. Along with
US legislators and other military officers, pacom cic Admiral
Dennis Blair visited Kathmandu in January*

was pacom cic involved in the nepalese palace massacre was he ?
[he’s the same guy who propped up Gen. Wiranto with special
training while the good general was committing genocide in East Timor]

Posted by: denk | Feb 23 2013 6:23 utc | 17

Th LA Times is now the first in (late) reporting on the issue. They were tipped of by the Asahi Shimbun pieces even as they try to hide it and only mention it in the last graph:

Secret U.S.-North Korea diplomatic trips reported

WASHINGTON — A White House official made two secret visits to North Korea last year in an unsuccessful effort to improve relations after new ruler Kim Jong Un assumed power, according to former U.S. officials familiar with the trips.

The brief visits in April and August were aimed at encouraging the new leadership to moderate its foreign policy after the death of Kim's father, longtime autocrat Kim Jong Il, in December 2011.

The ruling elite apparently spurned the outreach effort, however. This month, after a surge of fierce anti-U.S. rhetoric, the government in Pyongyang defied international warnings and conducted its third and most powerful underground nuclear test.

The former U.S. officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity because the back-channel trips have not been formally disclosed, said the first visit was an unsuccessful attempt to persuade Pyongyang not to launch a long-range rocket.

North Korea carried out the launch April 12. The missile flew only a few minutes before it exploded and crashed into the sea. A subsequent test of another long-range rocket in December was successful.

Posted by: b | Feb 24 2013 16:39 utc | 18

The American secret "negotiations" were likely the usual threats, bribes and false promises. It looks like the Koreans rightfully saw them for what they were, judging from what North Korea has done since. IE: they have continued to view the USA as a predator about to lunge and have maintained policies designed to dissuade the American fascists.

Posted by: вот так | Feb 24 2013 19:12 utc | 19

Withheld Intelligence Shows Mistrust Between Allies

*xinhua reporters persona non grata at
the rodman basket ball pageant* :-(

Posted by: denk | Mar 7 2013 6:43 utc | 20

after myanmar [1], nepal [2]....would the next nasty jolt come from nk, the writings has been on the wall for some time now.

[1] aung san
*i prefer to deal with *responsible* investors like total n chevron, who *care about humanrights*, over the chinese, they dont give a fuck about *hr*’s-role-in-the-geopolitics-of-empire/

Indian design: Making Nepal a Bhutan

for the uninitiated, this is what happened to bhutan n...sikkim
from none other than.....

Baburam Bhattarai
*In Sikkim, a small state that adjoins Nepal to the east, India established a “protectorate” in 1950, and in 1973 the King was deposed in a coup crudely engineered by the Indian intelligence agency. Sikkim was thereupon annexed by India. Bhutan, a kingdom next in line to the east of Sikkim, like Nepal and Sikkim borders both India and China. When, in 1964, the Prime Minister of Bhutan moved to have a balanced foreign policy between China and India, he was assassinated by Indian operatives and the king’s younger brother, Lendrup Dorje, was put in his place. Bhutan has kept its formal independence, but ever since there have been Indian army posts inside Bhutan at the border crossings with China. Nepal has been a harder nut to crack.*

but fukusi[ndia] has finally cracked this nut n irony of irony....
Baburam Bhattarai, the current pm , is in the pocket of the indian imperialist he so despised.

Posted by: denk | Mar 7 2013 16:47 utc | 21

in case there's still any doubt about
which way the wind is blowing in *maoists* ruled kathmandu
this should settle it...

*they'r our kind of guys now* ;-)

Posted by: denk | Mar 8 2013 3:44 utc | 22

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