Monday, July 10, 2006
North Korea: The Python strategy http://www.timesonline.co.uk/article/0,,2089-2261782,00.html
A PROGRAMME of covert action against nuclear and missile traffic to North Korea and Iran is to be intensified after last week’s missile tests by the North Korean regime.
Intelligence agencies, navies and air forces from at least 13 nations are quietly co-operating in a “secret war” against Pyongyang and Tehran.
more excerpts on the flip.
It has so far involved interceptions of North Korean ships at sea, US agents prowling the waterfronts in Taiwan, multinational naval and air surveillance missions out of Singapore, investigators poring over the books of dubious banks in the former Portuguese colony of Macau and a fleet of planes and ships eavesdropping on the “hermit kingdom” in the waters north of Japan.
“Diplomacy alone has not worked, military action is not on the table and so you’ll see a persistent increase in this kind of pressure,” said a senior western official.
In a telling example of the programme’s success, two Bush administration officials indicated last year that it had blocked North Korea from obtaining equipment used to make missile propellant.
The Americans also persuaded China to stop the sale of chemicals for North Korea’s nuclear weapons scientists. And a shipload of “precursor chemicals” for weapons was seized in Taiwan before it could reach a North Korean port.
According to John Bolton, the US ambassador to the United Nations and the man who originally devised the programme, it has made a serious dent in North Korea’s revenues from ballistic missile sales.
But the success of Bolton’s brainchild, the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), whose stated aim is to stop the traffic in weapons of mass destruction, might also push North Korea into extreme reactions.
In the past 10 months, since the collapse of six-nation talks in Beijing on North Korea’s nuclear weapons, the US and its allies have also tightened the screws on Kim’s clandestine fundraising, which generated some $500m a year for the regime.
Robert Joseph, the US undersecretary for arms control, has disclosed that 11 North Korean “entities” — trading companies or banks — plus six from Iran and one from Syria were singled out for action under an executive order numbered 13382 and signed by Bush.
For the first time, the US Secret Service and the FBI released details of North Korean involvement in forging $100 notes and in selling counterfeit Viagra, cigarettes and amphetamines in collaboration with Chinese gangsters.
The investigators homed in on a North Korean trading company and two banks in Macau. The firm, which had offices next to a casino and a “sauna”, was run by North Koreans with diplomatic passports, who promptly vanished.
The two banks, Seng Heng bank and Banco Delta Asia, denied any wrongdoing. But the Macau authorities stepped in after a run on Banco Delta Asia and froze some $20m in North Korean accounts.
much more - 3 pages in fact - at the full article. Well worth a read.
DiscussionPost a Comment
Obama 2008 - I want my country back
Nation-Building was founded by Aziz Poonawalla in August 2002 under the name Dean Nation. Dean Nation was the very first weblog devoted to a presidential candidate, Howard Dean, and became the vanguard of the Dean netroot phenomenon, raising over $40,000 for the Dean campaign, pioneering the use of Meetup, and enjoying the attention of the campaign itself, with Joe Trippi a regular reader (and sometime commentor). Howard Dean himself even left a comment once. Dean Nation was a group weblog effort and counts among its alumni many of the progressive blogsphere's leading talent including Jerome Armstrong, Matthew Yglesias, and Ezra Klein. After the election in 2004, the blog refocused onto the theme of "purple politics", formally changing its name to Nation-Building in June 2006. The primary focus of the blog is on articulating purple-state policy at home and pragmatic liberal interventionism abroad.