Monday, May 21, 2012

Again, Pyongyang May be Planning to Mar US Memorial Day

Next N. Korean Nuclear Provocation Could be Set for Monday, May 28

North Korea may be preparing to again attempt to overshadow the long U.S. Memorial Day weekend, traditional start of the summer vacation season in the United States, by again detonating an atomic device on the holiday, which will be observed this year on Monday, May 28. Simply signaling that a nuclear explosion is imminent would mar the holiday for the Obama administration, which has tried to engage the North, but, like its predecessor, the Bush administration, has failed to put an end to Pyongyang's provocations, including illegal nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests and acts of armed aggression against U.S. ally South Korea.  

Formerly known as Decoration Day, Memorial Day is a U.S. federal holiday that is observed annually on the last Monday of May. The holiday originated after the American Civil War to commemorate the fallen Union soldiers (although there is evidence that organized women's groups in the South were decorating graves of Confederate soldiers before the conflict's end). Memorial Day has since been extended to honor all Americans who have died while serving in the U.S. armed forces.

The U.S. suffered 33,686 battle deaths, along with 2,830 non-battle deaths during the Korean War and 8,176 missing in action, according to the U.S. Department of Defense.

The U.S. keeps some 30,000 U.S. troops in South Korea as a deterrent against a North Korean attack on the South.

North Korea's second and last confirmed, or overt, nuclear test took place on a U.S. Memorial Day, May 25, 2009. The North's first nuclear test, on October 9, 2006, was timed to spoil the U.S. Columbus Day holiday. [EDITOR'S NOTE: The North is believed to have conducted two covert nuclear tests in 2010. According to published accounts from EU scientists, the explosions bore all the radio-isotope signatures of uranium-based fusion devices, which could be used in electromagnetic pulse, or EMP, attacks.]

Endnote: A new North Korean provocation this Memorial Day or this Fourth of July--it hardly matters. What matters most is the failure of the international community to prevent the Kimist regime from defiantly continuing to commit nuclear and missile crimes. To paraphrase Henry Kissinger, the impotence of the international community makes the term seem meaningless. If it can't contain impoverished North Korea, a country (or country-sized concentration camp) with few natural resources that survives on smuggling, counterfeiting and foreign aid--China supplies most of the North's food, fuel and weapons--what reason is there to believe that the international community can contain Pyongyang's partner in proliferation, oil-rich Iran?

Iranian Nuclear Experts Ready to Observe Blast?

On that note, Foreign Confidential™ analysts say Iranian nuclear experts will observe the North's next nuclear test, just as they have witnessed previous blasts (and just as Iranian missile experts have observed the North's ICBM launches). Foreign intelligence services might have already detected the presence of an Iranian delegation in the North; hence, a flurry of activity aimed at persuading Pyongyang to cancel the test. VOA reports that Glyn Davies, Washington's special envoy for North Korea policy, and other U.S. officials plan to meet Tuesday in Beijing with China's chief nuclear envoy, Wu Dawei. The U.S. delegation will then head to Japan on Wednesday for talks in Tokyo. Also on the Asia trip: the Deputy Assistant Secretary of State for Japan and Korean Affairs, Jim Zumwalt; Ambassador Ford Hart, the State Department's envoy in charge of the long-stalled six-party talks about North Korea's nuclear programs; and the Korea policy chief at the White House, Syd Seiler, who spent nearly 30 years in the intelligence community focused on North Korea.

Meanwhile, there are escalating tensions between Tokyo and Seoul--at the worst possible time, given the North Korean threat--and the development constitutes a major setback for the Obama administration's foreign policy "pivot" towards Asia. Click here for the report.

Related: US Warns N. Korea Against Another Nuke Test 

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