In The Media

Pyongyang likely preparing even more dramatic demonstrations, say experts

by Murray Brewster (feat. George Petrolekas)

CBC News
September 6, 2017

It was called the South Atlantic Flash.

It remains one of the most enduring mysteries of the Cold War and was believed to have been intended as a message.

Early on Sept. 22, 1979, a dual burst of light was picked up over an empty patch of ocean by a U.S. satellite, an event many intelligence agencies believed was a demonstration of Israeli and possibly South African nuclear capability.

Nobody ever owned up to it.

While South Africa eventually dismantled its nuclear bombs, Israel's program has been an open secret since the mid-1980s with officials pointedly, even today, never confirming or denying its existence.

Both countries were understated, even shrewd about displaying nuclear ambitions.

There is no such subtlety with North Korea.

It almost gleefully advertised the claim it had detonated a hydrogen bomb.

'More gift packages'

On Tuesday, one of North Korea's top diplomats told a United Nations conference in Geneva his country was ready to send "more gift packages" to the United States.

What Han Tae Song meant, precisely, is unclear.

He dismissed the international uproar, including criticism from Israel, over the nuclear test.

Seismic monitors confirm some kind of large explosion took place last weekend at North Korea's test range, but international experts choose their words carefully and filter the precise details of their analysis through the lens of North Korea's official statements.

Unarmed test possible

Defence specialists say, at the moment, Pyongyang is all about showing what it can do and fears of nuclear-tipped missiles raining down on a U.S. or even Canadian city remain a remote possibility.

Within the Canadian military establishment, the fear is the regime of Kim Jong-un will "hurl a hunk of metal across the Pacific."

That, according to two defence analysts, is a loose way of saying there is concern the rogue state will want to demonstrate it can hit North America by dropping an unarmed missile on some empty patch of ocean or ground, possibly in the Arctic.

"They want to unambiguously be able to say they can do it," said Danny Lam, an analyst in environmental engineering and defence issues who has studied North Korean military capability.

He said "landing a hunk of metal in Hudson's Bay, for example, would prove the point."

Sending a message 

Retired colonel George Petrolekas took the notion a step further.

He said the world should not be surprised to see, sometime in the near future, a small segment of the North Pacific suddenly declared a "no-go area" and that Pyongyang would fire a missile into the sea and detonate a hydrogen bomb in order to prove what they can do.

"And at some point the North Koreans will demonstrate that they have that capability," said Petrolekas, who advised two of Canada's chiefs of the defence staff during the war in Afghanistan.

The entire provocative show is meant to send a message to the U.S. and its allies: Don't even think about trying to invade us.

"The question has always been: Can they deliver it? I would not be surprised at some point in the next two years that get exposed to a demonstration that it can be delivered."

30 km from Guam

That scenario has some supporting evidence.

As Washington and Pyongyang traded threats over Guam in early August, the official newspaper of the Central Committee of the Workers' Party of Korea printed a statement from the commander of the country's strategic rocket forces.

On Aug. 11, Rodong Sinmun made reference to a plan to fire Hwasong-12 rockets that would "cross the sky above Shimane, Hiroshima and Kochi Prefectures of Japan" and "hit the waters 30 to 40 [km] away from Guam."

Nations across the globe have called for tighter sanctions, but Russian President Vladimir Putin said Tuesday he doesn't believe an even tighter regime would work.

He called for diplomacy.

The Canadian conundrum

Canada, aside from having few military forces in the region, has little in the way of diplomatic pull, said Petrolekas.

China is the country with the most sway over North Korea and the Trudeau government is not in the position where it can be too forceful with Beijing, he said. The Chinese government does not respond well to lecturing, and there is the Canadian conundrum.

"How do you put pressure on China with without hurting yourself economically?" said Petrolekas. "I don't think we know what we want to do other than announcing with the world that it has got to stop."


Be the first to comment

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.
SUBSCRIBE TO OUR NEWSLETTERS
 
SEARCH
PODCAST

An Update on the NAFTA Renegotiations

May 21, 2018


On today's Global Exchange Podcast, we touch base with CGAI's North American trade experts in light of a busy week on the NAFTA file in Washington. After months of hard-pressed negotiations, and 6 weeks of 'perpetual' discussions in Washington, the deal has reached its next turning point, with Congressional leadership signalling that they'd need a new deal by May 17th in order to have it passed before U.S. mid-term elections in the Fall. With no deal in sight, and the Congressional deadline now in the rear-view mirror, we sit down with Sarah Goldfeder, Laura Dawson, and Eric Miller to ask where we go from here.


IN THE MEDIA

Between Trump, Iran and North Korea, Canada’s G7 has a high potential for chaos

by Chris Hall (feat. James Trottier & Colin Robertson), CBC News, May 18, 2018

The struggle Trudeau could face if Kinder Morgan walks away from Trans Mountain

by Robert Tuttle & Michael Bellusci (feat. Dennis McConaghy), Bloomberg News, May 18, 2018

Canada 'a laughing stock': Experts react to Trans Mountain indemnity

by April Fong (feat. Dennis McConaghy), BNN Bloomberg, May 18, 2018

AUDIO: NAFTA update

with Danielle Smith (feat. Sarah Goldfeder), Global News Radio, May 18, 2018

VIDEO: NAFTA Deadline Day (@ 3:00)

with Don Martin (feat. John Weekes), CTV Power Play, May 17, 2018

VIDEO: Deal or no deal on NAFTA: Canada and U.S. send mixed messages

with Rosemary Barton (feat. Colin Robertson), CBC The National, May 17, 2018

Trump’s 'submission' strategy is not working so expect NAFTA talks to drag on

by Kevin Carmichael (Feat. Eric Miller), Financial Post, May 17, 2018

Backstop deal may be last hope for TransMountain pipeline, says former oil executive

by CBC News (feat. Dennis McConaghy), CBC News, May 17, 2018

Stuck with limited oil export options, Liberals may regret B.C. tanker ban

by John Ivison (feat. Dennis McConaghy), National Post, May 17, 2018

Feds OK early start to construction of navy’s new supply ships

by Lee Berthiaume (feat. Dave Perry), The Canadian Press, May 17, 2018


LATEST TWEETS

HEAD OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Suite 1800, 421-7th Avenue SW
Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2P 4K9

 

OTTAWA OFFICE
Canadian Global Affairs Institute
8 York Street, 2nd Floor
Ottawa, Ontario, Canada K1N 5S6

 

Phone: (613) 288-2529
Email: contact@cgai.ca
Web: cgai.ca

 

Making sense of our complex world.
Déchiffrer la complexité de notre monde.

 

© 2002-2018 Canadian Global Affairs Institute
Charitable Registration No. 87982 7913 RR0001

 


Sign in with Facebook | Sign in with Twitter | Sign in with Email