Testimony Before the Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development, June 4, 2013

[On June 4, 2013, I was called as a witness to testify before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs and International Development. Below is the entirety of my prepared statement – I believe, there were some off the cuff remarks that probably drove the French language interpreters nuts.]

Jack KimGood afternoon, ladies and gentlemen of the Committee. Thank you for inviting me today to speak. As I wear several hats when it comes to North Korea, whether it is HanVoice, www.cankor.ca, or the North Korean Human Rights Film Festival Toronto, on behalf of all these organizations, I again extend my thanks.

Canada’s DPRK Policy: Controlled Engagement

Canada’s response to North Korea has been, at least rhetorically, aggressive. Since 2010 our government has pursued what has been termed a “Controlled Engagement” policy. The Controlled Engagement (“CE”) policy restricted bilateral contact with the regime except to four distinct areas: regional security concerns, human rights and the humanitarian situation, inter-Korean relations, and consular issues. It also forbid Canadians from importing and exporting anything into North Korea, and also introduced strict technology and investment sanctions. Read the rest of this entry »

Conflicting Messages: Whipping Out The Crystal Ball

When it comes to message control, our current Prime Minister’s office has nothing compared to the likes of Pyongyang. The rulers of the DPRK have for the last seventy years been quite fastidious when it has come to shaping the regime’s official message. After all, when you enjoy the benefits of controlling both the media and your diplomats abroad, the only thing you really have to worry about are the folks who decide to leave your tightly-controlled society.

It’s surprising that despite some extreme shocks to the system, including the famine and the death of the only leader the country had ever known in 1994, the regime’s grip did not grow any “looser.” Perhaps the areas around the country’s northern provinces have become a little more porous after the famine, but despite the relative free flow of knowledge that appears to be growing in the borderlands between China, the number of people (successfully) fleeing the country has dwindled, especially after the recent power succession.

This makes the conflicting messages coming out of the country quite surprising. Read the rest of this entry »

Security in Korea – the DPRK view, by Korean National Peace Committee

[On Tuesday, 12 March 2013 we received the following letter from the (North) Korean National Peace Committee. Naturally, CanKor neither corroborates nor endorses any of the facts or judgments made in this letter. As is our practice, we make the document available to our readers without comment. –CanKor]

Dear friends,

Warm greetings from Pyongyang.

You know that recently the U.S. and its followers are persisting in anti-DPRK stifling racket calling that the DPRK’s third nuclear test for defending our sovereignty became a nuclear threat.

North-Korea-nuclear-weapons-nationalturk-0344Nevertheless, they can never cover up or hide the truth.

You can be aware of the truth of the nuclear threat on the Korean Peninsula and the criminal nature of the U.S. and the south Korea through the memorandum(gist) released by the Korean National Peace Committee on 8 March.

The U.S. imperialists, which provoked the war for aggression of Korea in June 1950, shipped nuclear weapons to south Korea in August that year and at the end of the year openly disclosed its plan to drop 30~50 A-bombs in Korea – China border areas. Read the rest of this entry »

So far DPRK doing what it said, by Chris Nelson

[The war of words has already started. North Korea has declared the Armistice Agreement inoperative, has cut off the hot line at exactly the time hot lines are most needed to prevent an inadvertent slide into accidental hot wars. Large military exercizes are currently being conducted on both sides of the DMZ. How will South Korea and/or the USA respond to an intended or unintended skirmish around disputed border islands at the sensitive Northern Limit Line, as happened in Yeonpyeong in 1999, 2002 and 2010? A “kinetic” response has been threatened by all three parties. Could this devolve into a tit-for-tat escalation towards an all-out war? As he is wont to do, Chris Nelson has been following developments from an American perspective in the Nelson Report. With his permission, we reprint sections of the 11 March 2013 edition. –CanKor]

In this March 11, 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed March 12, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at military officers after inspecting the Wolnae Islet Defense Detachment, North Korea, near the western sea border with South Korea.

In this 11 March 2013 photo released by the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) and distributed March 12, 2013 by the Korea News Service, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un waves at military officers after inspecting the Wolnae Islet Defense Detachment, North Korea, near the western sea border with South Korea.

So the 11th arrived and as the annual US-S. Korea joint military exercises continue, the DPRK seems to be keeping to its “schedule” of doing things to rachet-up tensions, but not (yet) actually shoot anything or anybody. However, that, we can authoritatively report, is seen by both US and S. Korean involved experts as likely not a question of “if”, but “when/what”.

Speculation…nothing on this can be called “informed”…but speculation by folks whose responsibility it is to try and predict: many expect some kind of kinetic action near or along the Northern Limits Line, rather than against Seoul or a military base…perhaps carried out in a way which cannot be immediately ascribed to direct DPRK aggression. (See discussion, below.)

The thinking behind that includes Pyongyang seeking to confuse ROK (and US) decision-makers on the critical “retaliation” question, especially given Pres. Park’s firm warnings that not only will she authorize a military response to a kinetic attack, but that a pre-emptive ROK attack cannot be ruled out, under certain circumstances. Read the rest of this entry »

I Thought Groundhog Day was Last Week

So North Korea continues its streak as the only country that has tested a nuclear weapon in the past fifteen years.

The official English statement that was released by KCNA is interesting for two reasons. The first is that Pyongyang elegantly stated that the weapon that it tested yesterday was a smaller version (“miniaturized” per the Korean language version) of the weapons that were tested in 2006 and 2009. This of course is a thinly veiled statement directed towards those worried about the DPRK building a bomb that could fit snugly on top of a Taepodong rocket. Pyongyang’s answer is “si, su puede.”

The other interesting part of the statement is North Korea’s claim that its nuclear deterrent has become “diversified.” The most orthodox interpretation of this is that North Korea now possesses a bomb different from those that it tested earlier: namely, one of the Highly Enriched Uranium (HEU) variety. This would be alarming in many respects: it means that the DPRK has, despite the myriad of sanctions lodged against it, acquired this technology. It means that the DPRK, with this technology, can continue to produce HEU type weapons en masse: since if there’s anything that’s remotely abundant in North Korea, it’s uranium. It also means that there has been some sort of cooperation between the DPRK and someone, whether it be China, or Pakistan, or Iran. Read the rest of this entry »

CSIS annual report worries about DPRK security threat

[Although we have not seen any of this in the Canadian press, this article by Lee Chi-dong appeared in Yonhap News Agency on 24 September 2012, and was reprinted by The Korea Times. –CanKor]

Canada ratcheting up pressure on N. Korea

Canada expressed worries Sunday over security risks from North Korea’s nuclear proliferation, the latest in a series of moves to put diplomatic pressure on the communist nation.

“North Korea’s nuclear proliferation has a destabilizing impact on the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia. Canada has significant economic and strategic interests in this region that could be at risk from North Korea’s activities in this regard,” Canadian Security Intelligence Service said in an annual report on global security threats.

The agency noted North Korea, which conducted two nuclear tests in the past, operates a uranium enrichment program on top of “sufficient plutonium for a small arsenal of nuclear weapons.”

“North Korea has shown no inclination to ‘denuclearize,’ as called for by the international community and, moreover, has been proven willing to export its nuclear technology to states such as Syria,” it said.

Canada, a G-8 member, has not been directly involved in the six-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program. But it has shown keen interest in the North Korea issue. Read the rest of this entry »

Why the “Satellite” Launch Will Be Successful – and Why That Should Worry Us

Well, that was fast.

Barely two weeks after what seemed to be a good first step in the right direction, the North Koreans announced that they would test-fire a satellite launching rocket sometime in mid-April.

Having taken a course called “Outer Space and Security” in grad school many moons ago (where my final term paper was coincidentally on the North Korean ballistic missile program), I happen to know a little bit about the vagaries of ballistic missile technology. As reported en masse over the weekend, ballistic missiles/space rockets happen to fall in the same “dual use” quandary as nuclear energy. Namely, that the same technologies that can help a country send a satellite into space can also help a country strike another country, such as the United States, thousands of miles away.

So really, what are the North Koreans thinking? Read the rest of this entry »

Appointment of NSC advisor points to Obama’s DPRK policy

Headquarters of the NSA at Fort Meade, Maryland.

NSA Headquarters

Sources confirm that Sydney Seiler has been appointed NSC advisor to President Obama.

Seiler is credited with being the true architect of the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI) approach, and then the program, especially the workings and vulnerabilities of the DPRK’s international banking connections.

The NSC posting is perhaps Seiler’s first direct policy-making position and makes clear the direction of Obama’s policy on North Korea.

Seiler’s Bio, from the Armed Forces Communications and Electronics Association (AFCEA.org):

Deputy North Korea Mission Manager, Director of National Intelligence [assistant to Joe deTrani]

Syd Seiler is a member of the Senior National Intelligence Service who has served as Deputy DNI Mission Manager for North Korea since mid 2007, having joined the Mission Manager office as in January 2006 as the office was stood up. Prior to joining the DNI, he was serving with the National Clandestine Service of the Central Intelligence Agency.

Mr. Seiler has spent over 27 years in the intelligence community following North Korean affairs, with assignments in both the collection and analysis fields in multiple intelligence disciplines. This includes working as a collector for the National Security Agency, an all-source analyst and manager with the Directorate of Intelligence and Directorate of Operations in the CIA, and as a senior media analyst and manager at the Foreign Broadcast Information Service. He spent over 12 years serving in the Republic of Korea in a variety of positions.

Mr. Seiler received his Masters of Arts degree in Korean Studies from Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies, and is a graduate of the Korean language programs of the Defense Language Institute in Monterey and Yonsei University. He is the author of the book, Kim Il Song 1941-1948: The Creation of a Legend, the Building of a Regime.

%d bloggers like this: