Crossfire War – Pacific Theatre -Pyongyang Threatens to Launch Nuclear Missiles

Crossfire War – TEHRAN WATCH – Pacific Theatre: Tehran – Pyongyang – Beijing/Tokyo – Seoul – Moscow – Washington; Japan – US Advocate Severe Sanctions – Inspections of North Korean Shipping – Pyongyang Threatens to Launch Ballistic Missiles – Tehran – Beijing Could Provide Them – Tehran Wants US Involved in Another War

Night Watch: PYONGYANG – Debka reports, Tokyo – Washington have prepared an extremely severe Sanctions Resolution to be presented to the United Nations Security Council Tuesday night. It will call for the inspections of all North Korean shipping entering and leaving North Korean ports and freeze transfers of technology and materials that could be used for Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD).

Tokyo actually wants to go one step further, ban all North Korean ships and aircraft carrying nuclear weaponry and ballistic missiles. The Security Council will not agree entirely due to the obvious opposition coming from Beijing but I assume Tokyo-Washington are prepared to act jointly. Previous agreements Tokyo-Washington have made with Pyongyang for more than 10 years have accomplished nothing. South Korea President Roh Moo Hyun is even considering abandoning his “sunshine” policy with the North, Seoul’s attempt to improve relations. [DEBKA]

Pyongyang is now threatening to retaliate by launching ballistic missiles armed with nuclear warheads. Though they do not have smaller nuclear warheads they can easily obtain them from Tehran and perhaps also Beijing, which could ship them through Tehran in order for China to maintain the myth of working with the international community. There is a small nuclear warhead I believe is called the W-88, China has manufactured them for quite some time. It is possible that is the warhead Beijing placed on the 50-60 CSS-2 intermediate range ballistic missiles they sold to Riyadh 20 years ago and that is probably why the House of Saud has refused Washington permission to have the missiles inspected. The CSS-2 has a range of 2,500 miles (4,000km).

If North Korea is provided with some missiles with that range then every U. S. military base from the ones they use in Japan plus Okinawa and Guam would be in range. Tehran has long been constructing the Shahab 3, 4 using engine technology from North Korea. Iran could easily send a few Shahab-4’s to North Korea to enable Pyongyang to follow up on its threat. I would not be surprised if they are already enroute. Tehran would love to see Washington caught up in another war and this one, in the Pacific theatre, would also involve Japan, which has been pressuring Tehran to solve its nuclear crisis peacefully. War in the Pacific would obviously reduce the military forces the Pentagon could use against Iran.

The reason for Tokyo’s extremely serious insistence is because two years ago Tehran announced they wanted China to be the main importer of Iranian oil and gas instead of Japan. Tokyo then changed its military posture overnight to offensive instead of defensive for the first time in nearly seventy years. No industrialized nation is more dependent on Persian Gulf oil fields than Japan.

That is why in the past two years Tokyo-Tehran have maintained, at Tokyo’s initiative, very serious diplomatic contact. Tokyo must have explained, right away, that the Persian Gulf is Japan’s most strategic energy lifeline and they cannot tolerate not doing without it, even if it means using military measures to maintain or regain their access to it. Japan is heavily involved in at least one of Iran’s oil fields but it seems to be in question as to how long Tehran will permit them to continue their involvement.

Based on statements from Tokyo, Japan seems to be quite willing to act unilaterally, with or without the Security Council’s approval. Other industrialized societies are fortunately prepared to help, especially Washington and quite possibly Moscow. Earlier this year commented on an article that stated for quite some time there has been a secret war waged against North Korea, becase of their weapon exports, that involved the services of intelligence agencies in 13 governments.

Russia’s reasons for action against the Iran-China Axis is that Moscow does not trust either of them due to their historical relations of mutual suspicion if not outright warfare and hostility with China and Iran’s designs on controlling the resources of Central Asia. With Tehran’s enormous economic and energy relations with every Central Asian capital Beijing is certain to be the main beneficiary of any new pipeline like the one recently constructed in Kazakhstan.

Moscow is also aware that Tehran has been the main supporter of Islamic units in the North Caucasus that defeated Russia 10 years ago and last week, to make further inroads in the region, Iran invited Georgia’s Foreign Minister to visit Tehran to support Tbilisi in its military impasse with Moscow. For these reasons China has made certain that North Korea continues to export advanced weaponry and technology to Iran because Beijing knows that with Tehran’s offensive foreign policy it could weaken at least three of China’s rivals, the West – India- Russia and with war in the Pacific, a fourth rival Japan.

Working in the Allies’ favor is the observation made by a high level North Korean defector who stated, in a Wall Street Journal interview in early 2003, that North Korea’s military has not been well maintained and that a lot of its troops are demoralized. He added that he still had a lot of contacts there. As an indication, during a recent apparent incursion along the North-South demilitarized zone by North Korean soldiers, the news admitted they may have been merely North Korean soldiers who were actually trying to go fishing in a nearby river. Knowing the desperate conditions in the country that is not surprising.

Reuters mentioned today that for years the North Korean economy has been mismanaged, coupled with natural disasters. Perhaps North Korea’s military could hold out for a month. The shows of mass support and military might is just that. How old is the video networks keep showing of Pyongyang’s military parades? My guess is nearly 10 years. The Kim Jong-il viewing them looks a lot younger than current news clips. The unity in the country is extremely fragile. There is no guarantee Pyongyang can even still afford the luxury of parading.

Analysts admit that Beijing does not want to confront a flood of refugees, but they may have to. If Beijing refuses to accept North Korean refugees and starts firing at them to prevent their entry, that could lead to a war between China/North Korea and that is definitely not news Tehran wants to hear, but they may have to. [SWISSINFO]

What is even more significant is that there have been signs of no real, absolute, unquestioning “friendship” between Beijing and North Korea’s leadership. Early in 2004 Kim Jong-il was returning from a trip to China by train and what was particularly interesting is that he wanted to see one of China’s stock exchanges. Kim Jong-il has no problems with luxury, therefore he might not mind if North Korea’s economy became as open to foreign investment as is South Korea’s, dramatically raising the standard of living of his highly educated population. But as his train was entering North Korea an explosion just missed it. Beijing wants Pyongyang to continue to export the nuclear and ballistic technology to Iran for the strategic reasons mentioned above. If Tehran is successful then the Iran-China Axis would be the dominant presence in the Eurasian economy.

What also works in the Allies’ favor is the enormous, established corruption in China’s military leadership. For years countless articles mentioned the Peoples Liberation Army (PLA) leadership was more concerned about their investments in hotels and resorts not to mention their villas around Mandalay in Burma (Myanmar), an unofficial province of China. China President Hu Jintao has made resort investment illegal, but what General or Admiral obeys it, especially with the demands of their lifestyle, not to mention needs and wants of their wives-daughters-mistresses-girlfriends? All they need to circumvent that order is a contact outside the military, their banker. I suspect they see Hu Jintao as more of a threat than Washington – Tokyo – Moscow-Seoul-Delhi. With such divided loyalties and tenuous social fabric, China is in no position to assist North Korea militarily in even a minor war.

Another element in the Allies favor is one of Beijing’s most closely guarded secrets, the number of demonstrations in the country. In 2004 there were 87,000, what are sometimes referred to as “mass incidents,” caused by serious disputes over pollution, layoffs, corruption, dislocation and overtaxation by corrupt Communist Party officials. Corruption here is working in the Allies favor and quite possibly the best weapon against Beijing.

But today Russia Defense Minister and Deputy Prime Minister Sergei Ivanov confirmed, again, that North Korea has in fact become the world’s ninth nuclear power. When asked by reporters how Moscow knew he replied, “We have our secret methods, but I will not discuss them.” I suspect Moscow has multi-level contacts with North Korea’s military and scientific establishment. Pyongyang’s initial military-industrial supporter, after World War II, was Moscow, including North Korea’s ballistic missile program, which intially revolved around the Scud missile, first supplied by Russia.

Despite Moscow ending most of its military and economic assistance to Pyongyang, after the end of the Cold War in 1990, some of that high level, “old-boy network” of scientific – military contact probably remains including some well placed agents. Ivanov stated that Russian experts had precisely calculated the magnitude of the explosion, though the public statement they released yesterday said 5-15 kilotons of TNT (5,000-15,000 tons). [RIA]

Willard Payne

Willard Payne is an international affairs analyst who specializes in International Relations. A graduate of Western Illinois University with a concentration in East-West Trade and East-West Industrial Cooperation, he has been providing incisive analysis to NewsBlaze. He is the author of Imagery: The Day Before.