Informal Institute for National Security Thinkers and Practitioners

Quotes of the Day:

“Men, be kind to your fellow men; This is your first duty, kind to every age and station, kind to all that is not foreign to humanity. What wisdom can you find that is greater than kindness?”
- Jean Jacques Rousseau

 "Science knows no country, because knowledge belongs to humanity, and is the torch which illuminates the world. Science is the highest personification of the nation because that nation will remain the first which carries the furthest the works of thought and intelligence." 
- Louis Pasteur

“Americanism is a question of principle, of idealism, of character. It is not a matter of birthplace, or creed, or line of descent.”
- Theodore Roosevelt




1. Yoon meets with S. Korean, foreign veterans ahead of Korean War anniversary
2. Unification minister warns N. Korea against provocations aimed at upping ante
3. Peace forum sheds light on Pyongyang's brinkmanship, regional diplomatic challenges
4. Rason takes action amid reports of children collapsing from hunger
5. N.Korea Mulls Aggressive New Military Plans
6. South Korea Stares Into the Nuclear Abyss
7. A lack of smuggled oil is complicating North Korea’s efforts to catch smugglers
8. Seoul dismisses China's objection to Korea attending NATO summit
9. 7 in 10 S. Koreans only support non-lethal aid for Ukraine: survey
10. In key party meeting, N. Korea approves strengthening 'war deterrent,' state media says
11. Experts: North Korea’s New Foreign Minister Part of Pyongyang’s Nuclear Test Strategy
12. Kim Jong Un Convenes 3rd Enlarged Meeting of WPK’s Military Commission




1. Yoon meets with S. Korean, foreign veterans ahead of Korean War anniversary

72 years ago tomorrow the Korean War began. We must never forget.


Yoon meets with S. Korean, foreign veterans ahead of Korean War anniversary | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · June 24, 2022
By Lee Haye-ah
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- President Yoon Suk-yeol met with a group of South Korean and foreign veterans of the Korean War on Friday to thank them for their service.
The event -- a luncheon at Hotel Shilla in Seoul -- was held one day before the country marks 72 years since the war broke out.
More than 200 veterans and their family members, including 12 veterans from nine countries that fought alongside South Korea under the U.N. flag, were present.
"The freedom, peace and prosperity that the Republic of Korea enjoys today were built on the foundation of the blood, sweat, sacrifice and dedication of our veterans and veterans under the U.N. flag," the president said during the event.

"The Republic of Korea will uphold your courage and noble spirit and do its part to defend freedom as a responsible member of the international community," he said.
Yoon acknowledged some of the veterans in attendance, including three South Koreans who escaped from North Korea 50 years after they were captured during the war.
He also expressed his sympathy for those who remain captured in North Korea and the families who have yet to receive the remains of their loved ones.
"Our government will not stop our efforts to recover the remains of those killed in the Korean War," the president said. "We will do our best until the day every last person is returned to the arms of their families."
Recalling this week's successful launch of the homegrown Nuri space rocket, Yoon said such an honor would not have been possible without the veterans.
"You are the heroes that made possible the Republic of Korea of today," he said.
Yoon awarded "Apostles of Peace" medals to five veterans from the Philippines, the United States, Canada and Ethiopia.
hague@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 이해아 · June 24, 2022

2. Unification minister warns N. Korea against provocations aimed at upping ante

I wish South Korea would change the name of the Ministry of Unification to the "Ministry of Inter-Korean Affairs". The ROK needs an organization that will focus solely on developing the policies and conducting the comex planning for unification. The Ministry of UNification spends too much time on other issues and is not solely focused on unification as it should be.



(3rd LD) Unification minister warns N. Korea against provocations aimed at upping ante | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 24, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with unification minister's speech, details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo)
By Yi Wonju
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- South Korea's unification minister on Friday warned North Korea not to continue provocative acts, saying it has nothing to gain from brinkmanship that would only lead to tougher sanctions.
Kwon Young-se, who is in charge of inter-Korean affairs, was delivering a keynote speech at an annual symposium, co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and his ministry. It was held under the main theme of "U.S.-China-Russia Competition for Hegemony in the President Yoon Suk-yeol Era," bringing together senior government officials and national security experts. It was meant to pool their wisdom on ways to deal with multiple challenges facing the Korean Peninsula, ranging from Pyongyang's unrelenting saber-rattling to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and a growing rivalry between the United States and China.
"North Korea has refused to engage in dialogue, repeating provocations. But there is nothing it can gain from the provocations," the minister emphasized.
If Pyongyang is seeking to raise its bargaining power and create more favorable conditions through provocative acts, it is a "very wrong" idea, he added.
Kwon made clear the conservative Yoon administration will take a different approach toward the Kim Jong-un regime from that of the previous Moon Jae-in government. He reaffirmed the government will push for "practical and flexible dialogue" with the North in a "responsible" manner, as he urged it to accept Seoul's offer of talks.
He raised the need for the two Koreas to respond to an intensifying global hegemony war through their cooperation to maintain peace and stability on the peninsula.
He said it is not impossible for the two sides to launch a "considerable level" of joint infrastructure projects on the basis of the international community's consensus.

During a panel discussion session, meanwhile, Daniel Russel, vice president for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute, warned that North Korea is likely headed for another period of "fire and fury."
He said the recalcitrant regime's leader Kim Jong-un is well aware that he can now "count on China and Russia to tolerate and protect him more than ever before," as he virtually joined the meeting.

The North is apparently keeping close tabs on the international community's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Moscow-Beijing ties and the Washington-Beijing stand-offs, he added.
Touching on South Korea-U.S. relations in light of the Joe Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, Russel said Seoul can be an "active partner" for Washington in various fields. He is known for expertise on regional issues, having worked as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under former President Barack Obama from 2013-2017.

Korean American Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) said, also speaking via videoconferencing, that the North Korean human rights issue should be handled together with other pending issues, including denuclearization. She stressed that South Korea and the U.S. should ratchet up pressure on the North's leader to abide by universal values.
Rep. Sung Il-jong of the ruling People Power Party and Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo from the main opposition Democratic Party, shared their own views as well on South Korea's relations with the U.S. and China in the midst of their intensifying hegemony war.
The second session set the stage for discussions on the Yoon administration's strategies on inter-Korean relations and the Seoul-Washington alliance, and how to bring the North back to the negotiating table.
Former Ambassador to Russia Wi Sung-lac, who served as Seoul's chief nuclear envoy, stressed the importance of finding the "ideal point of balance" in a rapidly changing geopolitical environment amid the growing rivalry among the U.S., China and Russia.
"The important point for South Korea is to what level of alliance it will boost cooperation with the U.S., and how it will manage the counterreaction from China and Russia," he said. "North Korea will clearly become more provocative if South Korea strengthens cooperation with the U.S."
Ahn Ho-young, former South Korean ambassador to the U.S., delivered a presentation on the 70-year history and future of the alliance.
Other attendees at the forum included Kim Hyung-suk, former vice unification minister, and Jung Sung-chun, vice president at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy.

Seong Ghi-hong, CEO and president of Yonhap News Agency, expressed hope the forum will provide an opportunity to "tackle the challenges facing us and gain wisdom to build the future fate of the Korean Peninsula."
"It is time to thoroughly assess the security and economic impact of the ever-changing security situations of the Korean Peninsula and the international community," he said.
On the role of Yonhap in its capacity as a public news agency, he said it will support South Korea's efforts to overcome the wave of diplomatic, security and economic crises, and contribute more to freedom, peace and prosperity worldwide.
This year's forum was livestreamed at https://www.onekorea2022.co.kr.
julesyi@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 24, 2022


3. Peace forum sheds light on Pyongyang's brinkmanship, regional diplomatic challenges


Excerpts:

During the first session, Daniel Russel, vice president for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute, warned that North Korea is likely headed for another period of "fire and fury."
He said the recalcitrant regime's leader Kim Jong-un is well aware that he can now "count on China and Russia to tolerate and protect him more than ever before," as he virtually joined the meeting.
The North is apparently keeping close tabs on the international community's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Moscow-Beijing ties and the Washington-Beijing stand-offs, he added.



(2nd LD) Peace forum sheds light on Pyongyang's brinkmanship, regional diplomatic challenges | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 24, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with participants' remarks, other details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photos)
By Yi Wonju
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- Senior government officials and national security experts gathered at a Seoul forum Friday to pool their wisdom on ways to deal with multiple challenges facing the Korean Peninsula, ranging from Pyongyang's unrelenting saber-rattling to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, and a growing rivalry between the United States and China.
The symposium, co-hosted by Yonhap News Agency and the Ministry of Unification, opened at Lotte Hotel earlier in the day under the main theme of "U.S.-China-Russia Competition for Hegemony in the President Yoon Suk-yeol Era."
In his message to the event, Yoon said his government will respond firmly to North Korea's provocations while keeping the door open for dialogue.
"We will respond strictly and firmly together with the international community to North Korea's provocative actions that threaten people's lives and safety, and freedom and peace, in line with principles," he said in the remarks read by senior presidential secretary for communication Choi Young-bum. "However, we will always leave the door open for dialogue."
Unification Minister Kwon Young-se, who serves as Seoul's top point man on Pyongyang, is scheduled to deliver a keynote speech.

During the first session, Daniel Russel, vice president for International Security and Diplomacy at the Asia Society Policy Institute, warned that North Korea is likely headed for another period of "fire and fury."
He said the recalcitrant regime's leader Kim Jong-un is well aware that he can now "count on China and Russia to tolerate and protect him more than ever before," as he virtually joined the meeting.
The North is apparently keeping close tabs on the international community's response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine, the Moscow-Beijing ties and the Washington-Beijing stand-offs, he added.
Touching on South Korea-U.S. relations in light of the Joe Biden administration's Indo-Pacific strategy, Russel said Seoul can be an "active partner" for Washington in various fields. He is known for expertise on regional issues, having worked as assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs under former President Barack Obama from 2013-2017.

Korean American Rep. Young Kim (R-CA) said, also speaking via videoconferencing, that the North Korean human rights issue should be handled together with other pending issues, including denuclearization. She stressed that South Korea and the U.S. should ratchet up pressure on the North's leader to abide by universal values.
Rep. Sung Il-jong of the ruling People Power Party and Rep. Hong Ihk-pyo from the main opposition Democratic Party, shared their own views as well on South Korea's relations with the U.S. and China in the midst of their intensifying hegemony war.
The second session will set the stage for discussions on the Yoon administration's strategies on inter-Korean relations and the Seoul-Washington alliance, and how to bring the North back to the negotiating table.
Ahn Ho-young, former South Korean ambassador to the U.S., will deliver a presentation on the 70-year history and future of the alliance. Former Ambassador to Russia Wi Sung-lac, who served as Seoul's chief nuclear envoy, plans to analyze the South's new policy direction unveiled at the Seoul summit talks between Yoon and his U.S. counterpart Joe Biden last month.
Other attendees will include Kim Hyung-suk, former vice unification minister, and Jung Sung-chun, vice president at the Korea Institute for International Economic Policy (KIEP).

Seong Ghi-hong, CEO and president of Yonhap News Agency, expressed hope the forum will provide an opportunity to "tackle the challenges facing us and gain wisdom to build the future fate of the Korean Peninsula."
"It is time to thoroughly assess the security and economic impact of the ever-changing security situations of the Korean Peninsula and the international community," he said.
On the role of Yonhap in its capacity as a public news agency, he said it will support South Korea's efforts to overcome the wave of diplomatic, security and economic crises, and contribute more to freedom, peace and prosperity worldwide.
This year's forum was livestreamed at https://www.onekorea2022.co.kr.
julesyi@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 이원주 · June 24, 2022

4. Rason takes action amid reports of children collapsing from hunger

Obviously these reports have to be taken with a grain of salt. But they do provide some insights into what might be happening inside north Korea. I am growing increasingly concerned about the potential for internal instability andI fear the conditions could be much worse than we saw in the Arduous March and great famine of 1994-1996.


Rason takes action amid reports of children collapsing from hunger - Daily NK
Low-level officials are frustrated about the impossibility of resolving food shortages under challenging economic conditions, a source told Daily NK
By Jong So Yong - 2022.06.24 3:00pm
dailynk.com · June 24, 2022
FILE PHOTO: Vendors and customers at the Rason Market in North Hamgyong Province. (Daily NK)
Children have been collapsing from malnutrition even in Rason, a North Korean city that was regarded as being in decent economic shape despite the prolonged closure of the country’s borders during the pandemic. Following reports of the collapses, Rason’s party committee has decided to provide children with two pieces of bread each day.
“Rason’s party committee passed a measure under which all children between the ages of three and six will be provided with two pieces of bread each day,” a source in North Hamgyong Province told Daily NK on Wednesday.
According to the source, a crucial factor behind this decision was reports from lower level officials that an increasing number of children are severely malnourished.
As a special economic district on the border with China, Rason has long been home to brisk trade that has given it an economic advantage over other regions. However, this decision shows that the party committee recognizes that conditions in Rason have deteriorated during the border closure, which has now lasted for more than two years.
Rason’s party committee immediately swung into action, handing down specific instructions about what should be produced by the city’s food processing facilities, including the Seonbong Bread Factory. At the same time, every department of Rason’s people’s committee resolved to take charge of supplies, including wheat flour, corn, sugar and oil.
In the end, these efforts once again emphasized “self-sufficiency,” with the people’s committee and officials at various levels taking responsibility for work, rather than Rason’s party committee.
In fact, the party committee “established the principle of mobilizing privately-held fields and other sources to find wheat flour or alternate ingredients for bread until trade reopens, instead of asking the central government for handouts,” the source said.
The committee also decided to “expand the program to elementary school students once trade [restrictions] are eased,” he said. In short, the committee made clear that lower level officials can expect to take on greater burdens going forward.
In addition, the party committee called on officials to exercise creativity in resolving not only the bread issue but various other issues to improve the people’s quality of life. It further promised that there would be thorough performance assessments on all these activities in the second half of the year.
The committee warned that officials may be punished if they fail to find a decent solution for the food shortages.
Low-level officials are frustrated about the impossibility of achieving results under such challenging economic conditions, the source said, adding that they are also flummoxed about how to feed children when so many elderly people are starving as well.
Translated by David Carruth. Edited by Robert Lauler.
Please direct any comments or questions about this article to dailynkenglish@uni-media.net.
dailynk.com · June 24, 2022


5. N.Korea Mulls Aggressive New Military Plans

A lot of speculation. But I do not think we really know. And we have seen people get all excited about the photo of a map of the east coast of Korea. That said, updating plans is normal for all militaries. We have seen the nKPA develop new military capabilities and perhaps they are now fielding these systems and that may require updating of operational plans.

That said, the reports we are getting from KCNA (and the Propaganda and Agitation Department) may be for strategic influence and in support of the regime's political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy.


N.Korea Mulls Aggressive New Military Plans
June 24, 2022 13:17
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un and his top brass have discussed aggressive frontline reinforcements along the border with South Korea, state media said Thursday.
At a meeting of Workers Party's powerful Central Military Commission on Wednesday, Kim "discussed expanding operational missions of frontline Army units and revising operational plans and organization accordingly," the North's Korean Central News Agency said.
Kim expressed "the strategic view and determination of the Party Central Committee, which has taken crucial military measures to enhance the operational capabilities of the front-line units," it added.
It is unusual for the regime to make its military planning public. A Unification Ministry official here said, "Normally, they keep military plans under wraps. We think that they'll likely ramp up military threats since they made it public and also deliberately showed an image of a map of the eastern part of South Korea."
North Korean leader Kim Jong-un (second from left) speaks during a meeting of the Central Military Commission of the Workers' Party in Pyongyang on Wednesday, in this photo from the [North] Korean Central News Agency on Thursday.
There are fears that the fresh deployments could eventually include tactical nuclear weapons. On April 16, the North tested two new tactical missiles that flew about 110 km at a maximum speed of Mach 4.0 and an altitude of some 25 km in their trajectory.
At the time, state media said, "The new-type tactical guided weapon system... is of great significance in drastically improving the firepower of the frontline long-range artillery units and enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nuclear weapons."
Nine days later, the regime unveiled four new tactical missiles carried on mobile launch vehicles during a military parade, and on June 5 it fired eight short-range ballistic missiles of four different types from different locations.
Pundits speculate that they are supposed to carry tactical nuclear warheads, and the launches were aimed at testing the efficiency of multiple launches of short-range missiles aimed at South Korea.
State media also showed an image of the North Korean chief of staff briefing Kim with a military operation map. Though pixelated, the shape of the map looks like the eastern coast of South Korea, including the industrial hub of Pohang in North Gyeongsang Province. It seems the map was marked with major targets which North Korea could strike in a war.

  • Copyright © Chosunilbo & Chosun.com

6. South Korea Stares Into the Nuclear Abyss

A crisis in waiting? I think not. A nuclear test, while a bad thing, will also be an opportunity for the alliance to show Kim that his strategy will not succeed. We should not show fear of a nuclear test. We must demonstrate alliance strength before and after a test. And most important as President Yoon has said there can be no appeasement of north Korea ever again.

Excerpts:
There are two signs worth noting here that indicate a nuclear test is likely imminent: The first, and possibly clearest, sign is a steady drumbeat of satellite imagery tracking new construction activity and refurbishment at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility.
The second, and perhaps more fuzzy, sign is North Korea’s appointment of Choe Son Hui as new foreign minister. Choe has extensive experience negotiating with the Americans on nuclear talks (including joining North Korea’s delegations at the summits between Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019), and experts believe her appointment signals that Pyongyang is putting her on standby to blunt the universal international condemnation and diplomatic fallout from a nuclear test.
The looming North Korean nuclear test is set to be a first major foreign-policy challenge for the conservative Yoon administration, which has sought to distinguish itself from the former Moon government by taking a more hawkish approach to North Korea and strengthening security ties with Washington.
It has also preemptively become a crisis-in-waiting for the Biden administration, which is currently laser-focused on the geopolitical fallout from the war in Ukraine.



South Korea Stares Into the Nuclear Abyss
Foreign Policy · by Robbie Gramer, Jack Detsch · June 23, 2022
A weekly digest of national security, defense, and cybersecurity news from Foreign Policy reporters Jack Detsch and Robbie Gramer, formerly Security Brief. Delivered Thursday.
Stare, and the abyss stares back into you.
By Robbie Gramer, a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy, and Jack Detsch, Foreign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter.
NEW FOR SUBSCRIBERS: Click + to receive email alerts for new stories written by Jack Detsch Jack Detsch, Robbie Gramer Robbie Gramer
A missile is fired.
North Korea’s intermediate-range strategic ballistic rocket Hwasong-12 lifts off from a launching pad at an undisclosed location near Pyongyang on Aug. 29, 2017. AFP PHOTO/KCNA VIA KNS VIA GETTY IMAGES
Welcome back to Foreign Policy’s SitRep! Your two jetlagged hosts, Robbie and Jack, are here. Robbie is toasting cups of soju with South Korean journalists tonight (their time) while Jack is trying to turn back the clock to Eastern time after traveling around the world with U.S. Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin—and looking for basketball player Klay Thompson’s lost Golden State Warriors NBA championship hat at the bottom of the San Francisco Bay.
Alright, here’s what’s on tap for the day: South Korea is sitting in limbo for North Korea’s expected nuclear test, NATO is set to beef up its defense forces amid Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, and U.S. President Joe Biden picks a half-dozen new ambassadors.
P.S. Check out Flash Points, a curated selection of our very best long reads, in your inbox every Wednesday and Sunday.
If you would like to receive Situation Report in your inbox every Thursday, please sign up here.
Seoul Waits on North Korea’s Nuclear Test
SEOUL—There’s a palpable sense of foreboding here in Seoul, where the consensus in foreign-policy circles is that North Korea launching a new nuclear test is a matter of when, not if.
North Korea’s latest test comes after months of radio silence between Washington and Seoul despite their public protestations that they are ready to talk. And the kicker, unsurprisingly, is there’s really nothing that the Biden administration or new South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol can do to stop it.
To update a phrase often used regarding the war in Afghanistan, Washington and its allies may have the watches, but North Korea has the time. Each new ballistic missile test and nuclear test brings North Korean leader Kim Jong Un closer to having a full-fledged nuclear weapons deterrent and the capability to strike U.S. allies in the region or even the U.S. homeland.
While Jack is covering things in Washington, Robbie has spent the week in Seoul meeting with officials and experts on the security situation in East Asia. Out here, there’s broad agreement that Kim has no plans to pump the brakes on his country’s nuclear weapons program despite the country’s dire COVID-19 outbreak and looming food crisis from a prolonged drought.
“Internal variables will not affect North Korea’s plan to move forward with another nuclear test,” said Chung-in Moon, who was a top advisor to former South Korean President Moon Jae-In and is currently chairman of the Sejong Institute think tank.
There are two signs worth noting here that indicate a nuclear test is likely imminent: The first, and possibly clearest, sign is a steady drumbeat of satellite imagery tracking new construction activity and refurbishment at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test facility.
The second, and perhaps more fuzzy, sign is North Korea’s appointment of Choe Son Hui as new foreign minister. Choe has extensive experience negotiating with the Americans on nuclear talks (including joining North Korea’s delegations at the summits between Kim and former U.S. President Donald Trump in 2018 and 2019), and experts believe her appointment signals that Pyongyang is putting her on standby to blunt the universal international condemnation and diplomatic fallout from a nuclear test.
The looming North Korean nuclear test is set to be a first major foreign-policy challenge for the conservative Yoon administration, which has sought to distinguish itself from the former Moon government by taking a more hawkish approach to North Korea and strengthening security ties with Washington.
It has also preemptively become a crisis-in-waiting for the Biden administration, which is currently laser-focused on the geopolitical fallout from the war in Ukraine.
New South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin, in a visit to Washington this month, said any North Korean nuclear test would be met with a “firm response” from both the United States and South Korea. “Pyongyang’s continuous provocations will only lead to strengthened deterrence of the alliance and stronger international sanctions measures,” he said.
North Korea has already shattered records for the number of ballistic missile tests this year, launching 31 missiles so far, compared to the past all-time high of 25 missiles in 2019. The steady pace of tests is the latest indication that North Korea’s nuclear and missile program is steadily advancing despite damaging international sanctions. If North Korea does end up conducting a nuclear test, it would be the country’s seventh such test since 2006 and its first test since 2017.
As one advisor to Yoon’s presidential campaign put it: “Kim Jong Un is not likely to let up any time soon.”
Let’s Get Personnel
U.S. President Joe Biden has nominated Arati Prabhakar to head up the Office of Science and Technology Policy, which would also make her the commander in chief’s top science advisor. Prabhakar previously headed up the National Institute of Standards and Technology and the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency.
Biden has also tapped a smorgasbord of new ambassador picks—all of them career diplomats: Kristina Kvien as U.S. ambassador to Armenia, Robert Forden as U.S. ambassador to Cambodia, Lucy Tamlyn as U.S. ambassador to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, Randy Berry as U.S. ambassador to Namibia, Pamela Tremont as U.S. ambassador to Zimbabwe, and Manuel Micaller Jr. as U.S. ambassador to Tajikistan.
On the Button
What should be high on your radar, if it isn’t already.
Supersize me. NATO appears ready to agree to the biggest expansion of its 40,000-troop alert force in the post-Cold War era at the 30-nation alliance’s Madrid summit next week, Sky News reports. The meetings could sextuple the size of NATO’s response force, giving the alliance added heft on its eastern flank and in the southeast as Russia’s saber-rattling has increased near Kaliningrad in recent weeks. Also potentially on tap: aid for Ukraine.
Grisly end. Ukrainian photojournalist Maks Levin and his bodyguard were likely executed by Russian troops in a forest near Kyiv in the first two weeks of the war after possible interrogation and torture, according to an investigation conducted by Reporters Without Borders.
Levin’s Ford pickup truck was still on the scene when investigators arrived more than two months after his murder as well as DNA traces indicating the presence of Russian troops. At least 15 journalists have been killed in Ukraine since Russia’s full-scale invasion on Feb. 24, according to the Committee to Protect Journalists.
Snapshot
A Royal Moroccan Armed Forces tank drives in the Grier Labouihi region in Agadir, southern Morocco, during a joint military exercise with the United States and a dozen other countries on June 21.FADEL SENNA/AFP via Getty Images
Put On Your Radar
Today: China hosts a virtual summit of the BRICS countries. That’s Brazil, Russia, India, China, and South Africa, in case you’re not tracking.
Sunday, June 26: The G-7 summit hosted by Germany is set to begin. Also making guest appearances: Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky and Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi.
Tuesday, June 28: NATO’s summit in Madrid is set to kick off.
Quote of the Week
“Summer will be hot for Russian occupiers. And the last one for some of them.”
—Ukrainian Defense Minister Oleksii Reznikov welcomes the arrival of U.S.-provided multiple launch rocket systems to Ukraine today.
Whiskey Tango Foxtrot
War yogis. Ukraine’s war-torn city of Kharkiv rang in International Day of Yoga on Tuesday in style, Russian bombs and all.
Robbie Gramer is a diplomacy and national security reporter at Foreign Policy. Twitter: @RobbieGramer
Jack Detsch is Foreign Policy’s Pentagon and national security reporter. Twitter: @JackDetsch

Foreign Policy · by Robbie Gramer, Jack Detsch · June 23, 2022


7. A lack of smuggled oil is complicating North Korea’s efforts to catch smugglers

north Korean Catch-22? I need smuggled oil to stop smuggling?


A lack of smuggled oil is complicating North Korea’s efforts to catch smugglers
Patrol boats that trawl the seas to catch illegal shipments use illegally imported fuel themselves.
By Hyemin Son for RFA Korean
2022.06.23
North Korea has been forced to cut the number of patrol boats it sends out to catch smugglers and illegal border crossings–due to a shortage of smuggled fuel, sources in the military told RFA.
Pyongyang has long sought to prevent people from leaving the country. But its level of vigilance was heightened when North Korea and China closed their border during the start of the pandemic in 2020.
According to reports, some of the patrol boats that monitor the seas for illegal movements or shipments were themselves relying on smuggled fuel from China, as international sanctions aimed at curbing Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program have reduced the country’s legal supplies.
Now China is stepping up sea patrols to prevent that smuggling, which in effect has made it harder for North Korea to operate its anti-smuggling patrols, a military official from Sinuiju, across the border from China’s Dandong, told RFA’s Korean Service on condition of anonymity for security reasons.
“The Chinese border guards are increasing the number of maritime patrol boats significantly and controlling maritime smuggling to block the spread of COVID-19 from North Korea,” he said.
The result for the North Korean border guards is a reduction in available fuel supplies.
“The North Korean border guards are facing a significant reduction of maritime patrol boats due to a complete halt in fuel smuggling and a lack of fuel to operate the patrol boats,” the source said.
“North Korea is a poor country, and officials in the border guard are seeing the reality of how each country is dealing with the coronavirus issue. I don’t know what will happen if things go on like this at the sea border,” he said.
Instead of going out once every one or two hours during the day, the North Korean boats now can go out only every three hours, according to the source.
Patrol boats relied on smuggled fuel in part because the coronavirus lockdown has caused domestic supplies to dwindle.
A border guard official told RFA that only one or two patrol boats per day were coming out of Sindo and Ryongchon counties, downstream from Sinuiju. These boats are supplied with fuel from the military’s reserves located in the town of Paekma, according to the second source.
“Originally around four boats would patrol the area in the lower Yalu River where it empties into the West Sea at one to two-hour intervals to strengthen border security,” the source said, using the Korean name for the sea.
“Due to the COVID-19 crisis, the fuel supply has decreased and freight train operations and maritime trade have been completely suspended since the end of April. With fuel imports cut off, it is difficult to operate even one or two patrol boats,” he said.
Fuel shortages were common before the pandemic, even in the military, which usually is among the front of the line for resources.
International nuclear sanctions passed in September 2017 limited North Korea’s oil imports to 4 million barrels of crude and 2 million barrels of refined petroleum products per year in response to Pyongyang’s sixth nuclear test.
When North Korea launched the Hwasong-15 intercontinental ballistic missile in November that year, its refined petroleum allotment was further reduced to 500,000 barrels.
Gasoline shortages and price fluctuations are not only affecting the military.
RFA reported in March that North Korean merchants were making money by buying fuel coupons from areas of the country where gasoline was less expensive, then selling them for a markup in areas where gas was more expensive.
According to another RFA report in April, the North Korean government began cracking down on black-market fuel sellers, confiscating their stockpiles. Private ownership of fuel supplies is technically illegal, but tolerated under normal circumstances.
Translated by Claire Lee. Written in English by Eugene Whong.

8. Seoul dismisses China's objection to Korea attending NATO summit

Excellent. No kowtowing to China. Xi is feeling the pressure of all the like minded countries that want to stand up for the rules based international order and for security in the region and around the world. 


Seoul dismisses China's objection to Korea attending NATO summit
The Korea Times · June 24, 2022
NATO flag / gettyimagesbank US, China clash over Korea's participation
By Nam Hyun-woo

The presidential office has dismissed China's apparent objection to President Yoon Suk-yeol's attendance at next week's North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) Summit, saying his participation has nothing to do with any "anti-China policy."

"There is no change to our stance in regard to President Yoon's attendance at the summit," an official at the presidential office told The Korea Times when asked about China's objection, Friday. "As we stated earlier, Yoon's attendance has zero relation with suspicions that Seoul may veer toward anti-China or anti-Russia policies."

China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin speaks during a press conference, Thursday. Captured from China's Ministry of Foreign Affairs website 

The comments came after China's foreign ministry spokesperson Wang Wenbin on Thursday expressed Beijing's objection to four Asia-Pacific countries ― Korea, Japan, Australia and New Zealand ― participating in the summit as partner nations.

"The Asia-Pacific is beyond the geographical scope of the North Atlantic," Wang said during a press conference. "Countries and people in the Asia-Pacific are strongly opposed to anything said or done to extend the military bloc to this region or stir up division and confrontation."

Wang said NATO has been "flexing its muscles" in the Asia-Pacific to replicate "the kind of bloc confrontation seen in Europe," adding the attempt is "highly dangerous."

Yoon will be the first Korean president to participate in the summit, slated for June 29 to 30. There, he will deliver a speech at a session between NATO member countries and the four observer nations. Also, four-way talks are anticipated between the leaders of the four countries and a trilateral meeting between Seoul, the U.S. and Japan on the sidelines of the meeting.

The upcoming NATO summit is largely described as an event to enhance the U.S. and its allies' countering of China's assertion, as the organization is poised to adopt a new strategic concept on containing Beijing's growing influence.

Due to this, there has been speculations that Yoon's NATO summit attendance may give a signal that Seoul may join the U.S.-led campaign to contain China.

However, the presidential office has been explaining that Yoon's attendance does not mean Korea is joining NATO, and the country seeks to promote its presence in the global community, rather than containing a certain country.

"We are not a NATO member country," another senior official at the presidential office said earlier this week. "NATO's concept of collective defense has no relation with us, while we are focusing on improving our partnerships with NATO members on broader ideas for comprehensive security, climate change, new technology and other values."

As the officials at the presidential office said, Yoon is anticipated to focus on having bilateral meetings with NATO member countries, rather than talking about China. The office is now preparing for about 10 bilateral meetings with European nations during Yoon's stay in Madrid, Spain.

U.S. National Security Council coordinator John Kirby responds to a question during a daily briefing in the White House briefing room, Thursday. UPI-Yonhap 

The U.S. also took a similar stance on Seoul's attendance at the summit, but used stronger rhetoric.

John Kirby, U.S. National Security Council coordinator, said in a press briefing Thursday that China does not have the authority to veto which international meetings Korea should attend, adding that the summit is not "about an Asian version of NATO."

Kirby said that the planned summit is not about creating an Asian version of NATO, stressing that NATO is a security alliance among countries in the Atlantic region. He also said the U.S. is excited about South Korea's participation in the summit.

Against this backdrop, a number of multilateral meetings that will involve Korea are gaining greater attention.

President Yoon is likely to attend four-way talks with Japan, Australia and New Zealand. Since Japan and Australia have already showed their clear stance against China, there are chances that the two countries may want to discuss Beijing. Also, a potential meeting between Seoul, Washington and Japan at the summit may provide a test for Yoon, experts said.
The Korea Times · June 24, 2022


9. 7 in 10 S. Koreans only support non-lethal aid for Ukraine: survey



​My Korean friends disappoint me here. They do not ant to step up as President Yoon envisions.

7 in 10 S. Koreans only support non-lethal aid for Ukraine: survey | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 김나영 · June 24, 2022
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- Seven out of 10 South Koreans believe the government should only provide non-military aid to Ukraine, a survey showed Friday.
In the survey of 1,000 people aged 18 or above conducted by Gallup Korea from Tuesday to Thursday, 72 percent said the government of President Yoon Suk-yeol should only send medical, food and other non-lethal aid.
Only 15 percent said the government should also provide weapons.
Eighty-four percent said they are interested in the Ukraine-Russia war while 13 percent said they are not.
The survey also showed that 69 percent of respondents are willing to fight if a war breaks out on the Korean Peninsula. Another 22 percent said they will not participate in a war and the remaining 9 percent did not give an answer.
The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 3.1 percentage points at a 95 percent confidence level.

nyway@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 김나영 · June 24, 2022





10. In key party meeting, N. Korea approves strengthening 'war deterrent,' state media says

Is this all about tactical nuclear weapons in accordance with the queries I am getting from the press?

It is likely north Korea views nuclear weapons simply as another tool with which to win a war and does not associate it with the same kind of nuclear taboo we in the US do. The regime likely plans to incorporate nuclear use from the time Kim decides to initiate an attack on the South in order to achieve its objective of rapid occupation of the South before South Korea can mobilize its forces and the U.S. can reinforce the peninsula. The regime likely believes the use of all capabilities, to include tactical nuclear weapons, as well as the possible use of nuclear weapons against the seven UN bases in Japan, will improve the chances of victory.

In addition, these capabilities may also support the regime's political warfare strategy and blackmail diplomacy by increasing tension to coerce political and economic concessions.

Lastly, I would say that what Kim Jong Un needs to know is that the use of any weapon of mass destruction, to include especially a nuclear weapon of any type, will result in a decisive response from the US that will lead to the end of the Kim family regime.



(LEAD) In key party meeting, N. Korea approves strengthening 'war deterrent,' state media says | Yonhap News Agency
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · June 24, 2022
(ATTN: UPDATES throughout with details; CHANGES headline; ADDS photo, byline)
By Chae Yun-hwan
SEOUL, June 24 (Yonhap) -- North Korea approved an "important issue" to strengthen its "war deterrent" during a three-day high-profile party session on defense policies and strategies earlier this week, state media said Friday.
Also decided was to "supplement the operation duties" of frontline troops with an "important military action plan," according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA), which carried a report on the results of the third enlarged meeting of the eighth Central Military Commission (CMA) of the Workers' Party of Korea that finished the previous day. It did not provide details such as what the duties are and whether the nuclear issue was on the agenda.
The session, chaired by leader Kim Jong-un, came amid widespread speculation that the reclusive North may be pushing for another underground nuclear test following a string of ballistic missile launches.
As he "guided" the meeting, Kim stressed the need for the entire armed forces to "consolidate in every way the powerful self-defence capabilities for overwhelming any hostile forces and thus reliably protect the dignity of the great country and the security of its great people," the KCNA said in an English-language article.
Attendees at the meeting "approved an important issue of providing a military guarantee for further strengthening the country's war deterrent, true to the strategic plan of the Party Central Committee, and ratified the plan for reorganization of military organizational formations," it added.

They also decided to create another vice chair post at the CMA and elect Ri Pyong-chol, secretary of the party's Central Committee, for the position.
The Kim regime earlier openly hinted at deploying tactical nuclear weapons in front-line artillery units.
After the North test-fired a new tactical guided weapon in April, it stated that the weapon has "great significance" in "enhancing the efficiency in the operation of tactical nukes of the DPRK and diversification of their firepower missions." DPRK stands for the North's official name, the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.
yunhwanchae@yna.co.kr
(END)
en.yna.co.kr · by 채윤환 · June 24, 2022


11. Experts: North Korea’s New Foreign Minister Part of Pyongyang’s Nuclear Test Strategy
Perhaps. Still too early to assess in my opinion.


Experts: North Korea’s New Foreign Minister Part of Pyongyang’s Nuclear Test Strategy
June 22, 2022 1:50 AM
Washington —
As North Korea gears up in ways that satellite images suggest are preparations for a nuclear test, experts said Pyongyang is also getting ready to deal with the aftermath of such a test – to blunt global condemnation likely to follow and defend its nuclear position while pressuring the U.S. to make concessions.
North Korea has been getting ready to conduct a nuclear test for several months, as suggested by satellite images of its only nuclear site in Punggye-ri, which the regime closed in 2018. Activity at the site was first detected by satellite imagery analyzed by the California-based James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies in early March.
Activities continued to be detected at the site every month since, according to satellite images analyzed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies' (CSIS) research group Beyond Parallel.
Any such test would likely be met with international outcry, and the June 11 announcement of the appointment of seasoned diplomat Choe Son Hui as foreign minister indicates North Korea is preparing post-nuclear test strategies of offsetting international condemnation, experts say.
Choe has extensive experience dealing with the U.S. She served as the interpreter for a North Korean delegation in four-party nuclear talks in 1997, joining the six-party talks in the early 2000s. Choe was formerly the director of the North America department at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, focusing on the U.S. She participated at North Korea’s two summits with the U.S. in 2018 and 2019 and was a vice-foreign minister before being promoted to head the foreign ministry.
With her appointment, North Korea is “laying the groundwork for being able to deal with the blowback from North Korean actions probably coming in the future” after it conducts a nuclear test, said Ken Gause, director of the Adversary Analytics Program at CNA, a think tank.
Gause noted Choe can send an “articulate and very forceful” message to the international community that North Korea is a sovereign country with the right to test and possess nuclear weapons to defend itself.
As North Korea announced Choe’s new position, Kim “set forth the militant tasks to be pushed forward,” emphasizing “the right to self-defense” and “defending sovereignty,” according to its state media outlet, Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) on June 11, the day of Choe’s appointment.
Gause said Choe is "also able to effectively deflect U.S. arguments for additional sanctions" and "engage with China to try to make sure that China keeps continuing to have North Korea's back."
A U.S.-led resolution calling for additional sanctions on North Korea in response to its ballistic missile launches was blocked by China and Russia on May 26 in support of North Korea.
Pyongyang conducted 18 rounds of non-nuclear weapons tests this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) capable of targeting the U.S.
At the same time, Choe can take the “off ramp” from “the escalatory ladder” and “pivot very quickly” toward engagement with the U.S. if Pyongyang feels the need, Gause added.
Preparations complete
South Korean Foreign Minister Park Jin said after meeting with Secretary of State Antony Blinken in Washington on June 14 that North Korea now appears to have completed preparations for another nuclear test.
Park said it is only a matter of a political decision by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un as to when to detonate the explosives.
It would be the regime’s seventh nuclear test since 2006 and its first since September 2017.
According to the research group Beyond Parallel, preparation for a possible nuclear test at Punggye-ri’s tunnel number 3 is complete. The group said on June 15 that new activities were detected at tunnel number 4 to make it ready for a possible nuclear test.


12. Kim Jong Un Convenes 3rd Enlarged Meeting of WPK’s Military Commission


Still a lot to assess.  


Kim Jong Un Convenes 3rd Enlarged Meeting of WPK’s Military Commission
Kim Jong Un discussed major agendas of his country’s military with his officials, raising speculation that a seventh nuclear test is imminent.
thediplomat.com · by Mitch Shin · June 23, 2022
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North Korea’s state media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) reported on Thursday that the second day of the third Enlarged Meeting of the Eighth Central Military Commission (CMC) of the Workers’ Party of Korea (WPK) was held on June 22.
“The respected Kim Jong Un, General Secretary of the Workers’ Party of Korea and Chairman of the Central Military Commission of the Party, guided the second-day sitting,” KCNA reported.
This meeting came a year after Pyongyang held its second Enlarged Meeting of the Eighth CMC in June 2021. Such meetings have normally lasted a single day. However, this week’s meeting was scheduled for more than two days, implying that major agenda items for Kim’s five-year military modernization plan were being discussed – possibly including the timeline and the details for North Korea’s seventh nuclear test.
The meeting “discussed issues on additionally confirming the operation tasks of the front-line units of the Korean People’s Army and revising operational plans according to the military strategic plan of the Party and on reorganizing major military organizations,” KCNA reported.
“Expressing the strategic view and decision of the Party Central Committee which is taking crucial military steps to enhance the operational ability of the front-line units, Kim Jong Un emphasized the importance of the work and made clear the principles, tasks and ways for the implementation,” KCNA said.
North Korean state media have not reported details on the issues and agendas Kim and his officials discussed during the meeting on Wednesday.
Washington and Seoul officials have warned that Pyongyang may conduct its seventh nuclear test at any time. Based on satellite footage monitoring Pyongyang’s restoration activities in its Punggye-ri nuclear site, outside experts also said it may test a nuclear device in the coming weeks or months.
Although the state media did not share the details of “the crucial military steps” to enhance the capabilities of “the front-line unit,” it has demonstrated that Pyongyang will not step back from the “strength to strength” power game with Washington, which has been implemented since the end of the failed Hanoi summit between then-U.S. President Donald Trump and Kim in 2019.
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North Korea has already tested various ballistic missile programs this year, including intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), short-range ballistic missiles, reconnaissance satellites, hypersonic missiles, cruise missiles, and a submarine-launched ballistic missile. North Korea has already set a new record for the number of missile tests in a year – and it’s only June. Considering the spate of recent missile testing, Kim and his officials might have evaluated the missile tests with an eye toward deploying the tested missiles in the field.
Also, as the latest meeting was held on the same day that South Korea successfully launched a satellite into orbit with its first homemade rocket on Tuesday, Kim might have ordered his officials to set the timeline for a reconnaissance satellite test in the coming weeks as a corresponding measure. Washington viewed North Korean reconnaissance satellite tests in March as a cover for testing its new ICBM system.
It is also possible that Pyongyang could test its miniaturized nuclear warheads as one of “the crucial military steps” to enhance the capabilities of the front-line units.
Kim has reiterated his plan to deploy tactical nuclear weapons. During the military parade on April 25, Kim implied the possibility of using nuclear weapons as a preemptive strike option, not as a self-defense measure.
“Just as Kim conducted a nuclear test on February 13, 2013, after holding his first Enlarged Meeting of the Central Military Commission of the WPK days before the nuclear test, the seventh nuclear test is expected to be taken place soon after this Enlarged Meeting,” Cheong Seong-chang, director of the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute in South Korea, told The Diplomat.
Thursday’s report by the KCNA included limited information on the outcomes of the meeting, but implicit nods to the seventh nuclear test could be found in the report, such as “revising operational plans according to the military strategic plan of the Party,” Cheong said.
thediplomat.com · by Mitch Shin · June 23, 2022










De Oppresso Liber,
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow, Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Senior Fellow, Global Peace Foundation
Senior Advisor, Center for Asia Pacific Strategy
Editor, Small Wars Journal
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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V/R
David Maxwell
Senior Fellow
Foundation for Defense of Democracies
Phone: 202-573-8647
Personal Email: david.maxwell161@gmail.com
Web Site: www.fdd.org
Twitter: @davidmaxwell161
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FDD is a Washington-based nonpartisan research institute focusing on national security and foreign policy.

If you do not read anything else in the 2017 National Security Strategy read this on page 14:

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