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back to article How I nearly sold rocket windows to the crazy North Koreans

The North Koreans are rattling the war drums and claiming that they're about to drop the odd bomb on either South Korea or the US (and possibly Japan as well). And so El Reg asks the resident metals wide-boy (me) to explain it all to you, something that might seem odd until you realise quite how wide this boy is. For I've some …

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Mushroom

The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

I trailed up many, many steps to get to a small building on a hill overlooking part of the DMZ. If you squinted you could just about make out the blue UN flag of a UN building.

The (reasonably senior, although in an army of three million that doesn't mean much, and he was on tour guide duty) military bod at the top highlighted on a map the big giant wall he told us the stooges in the south had built, and at first he seemed quite reasonable. As time went on, he got more and more excited and worked up, and by the end he was declaring loudly that even if the American Imperialists had a thousand nuclear bombs in the south (as I understand it there are zero) the DPRK will vanquish all enemies and the Imperialists need to know that the DPRK can STRIKE ANYWHERE, ANYTIME. By the end of it I thought he was going to do himself an injury. He really, really did seem to believe it all.

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Mushroom

Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

Absolutely: I got the same rhetoric on a visit there. Even the civilian tour guides told us they would CRUSH THE ENEMY. They even showed us a desk with a UN flag on it, saying that the US chose to sign the treaties under the UN flag rather than their own because they were humiliated by the loss.

So, this is a country which shamed the Americans, and is still technically at war with the puppet government of the South.

Not a pretty situation to be in, really.

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Mushroom

Civ tour guides too?

Now that's interesting; my civilian tour guides were remarkably sedate on the whole question of conflict with the south/US/imperalism in general, and seem far more level-headed about everything. Maybe their constant exposure to foreigners (and for some of them, trips to Beijing now and then) gives them another view; it must be at least slightly jarring to spend your childhood being told about the evils of the rest of the world but when you start guiding them around they turn out to be thoroughly nice, as everyone on my tour was, barring an alcoholic from central Europe. That said, I wonder if yours were the outliers, or mine? When did you go?

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Anonymous Coward

Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

"He really, really did seem to believe it all."

But you didn't need to go all the way to North Korea to see that. Unless you missed Anthony Blair's 45-minute claim, that is.

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Unhappy

Re: The military guide on the DPRK side overloking the DMZ

Never been there myself, but maybe it was one of the old gents in this picture:

http://www.abc.net.au/news/2013-04-06/north-korea-issues-foreign-embassy-warning/4613432

That picture for me sums up a lot of the issues. Some gormless young ex-playboy being sheparded around by a couple of old soldiers who are still reliving the Korean War in their heads. Look at them. You can just imagine these old geezers thinking that as their clock winds down, they'll take the south with them into the long dark.

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Bronze badge

Mixed lessons from history?

On one hand, the US dropped nuclear weapons on Japan to avoid a ground war involving lots of military deaths (and also -according to some - to find out if an atom bomb was really as devastating as a British scientist had calculated for them ).

On the other the US and its allies had a stand-up fight back and forth across the Korean peninsular without using atomic weapons on the enemy.

So what's an unworldly regime suppose to work out from these two events - that the US hate Japanese facism more than the Asian communism?

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Technically the Korean War was not the US and its allies vs the North + China but the UN vs the North and China, and maybe some Soviets. So the question of using nuclear weapons was more complicated as you'd have to get UN approval which depending on their mood might include the Soviets.*

Although to be fair MacArthur was relieved of his command for suggesting it.

*It's been a while but I seem to remember the Soviets didn't veto the UN getting involved in the conflict, hence it happening, but I can't remember if they played any part in the overall UN strategy regarding North Korea.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

At the time the US dropped the a-bombs on Japan, the US was in sole possession of such weapons. (It had also, for what it's worth, burned out great swaths of Japanese cities with napalm incendiaries during the preceding months.) By the time of the Korean War, Russia had its own bomb, which meant that everyone had to think a good deal harder about the use of them.

Stalin and Mao had Kim Il Sung's back. But I doubt the Russian Federation cares, and the PRC is now trading partner and creditor to the US. Our generals are also (that I can tell) not quite so self-obsessed as MacArthur, so even in the event of a war I can hardly imagine the RoK and US troops going within a considered difference of the Yalu, or the PLA sending hundreds of thousands of troops south.

All this is mighty speculative, and I hope and trust that it will remain so.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Quite. The Soviets were just then boycotting the UN over the question of whether the PRC should be admitted.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Both cases were more complicated than that, which just makes the lesson more mixed.

In the case of Japan, at the tail-end of a war where at least forty million people had died, killing a couple of hundred thousand to end the war and prevent another five million casualties seemed like a reasonable choice. Seriously, take a moment to think about this - Japan refused to negotiate, and the experiences of Guadalcanal and Okinawa showed that they weren't kidding about fighting to the last round and then the last man. What options did the Allies really have at that stage? Conventional bombing until surrender (which actually killed more people than the atomic bombs)? Invasion? Either one would cause millions more deaths.

For Korea, neither MacArthur nor Truman had any real preference for using nuclear weapons. Several were put on standby for use, but not under MacArthur's command. It was MacArthur making public statements about overall war policy that got him removed from post, not the specific nuclear weapons issue.

Returning to North Korea - I concur with Tim that the Norks are fanatical and clueless enough to actually start something. My wife is Korean, and I speak Korean (badly). The Korean character has been warped into something pretty horrible in the North, and those calling the shots really do believe their own propaganda.

My 16-year-old niece in Seoul is pretty scared. :(

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Pint

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"Stalin and Mao had Kim Il Sung's back. But I doubt the Russian Federation cares, and the PRC is now trading partner and creditor to the US."

China has a 1961 agreement with North Korea to back it in a war. Ultimately that still holds a degree of weight.

However, despite the Norks 'formally declaring war', neither they nor China have mobilised so much as a Division.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

> and maybe some Soviets

And a lot of British---Mig's were equipped with Rolls-Royce Nenes at the time (which Sir Stafford Cripps was all too happy to provide together with licences).

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Silver badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The story I heard was that the Russians bought one Nene engine (legally) and said, thank you very much, we will copy them, without bothering about licences, but I might well be wrong. Both stories are equally believable: A government cynically copying stuff developed elsewhere or an arms manufacturer cynically selling military gear to anybody with enough cash.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them, there is nothing the Chinese could possibly win in a war that would compensate for the economic losses were they to fight the USA.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"So what's an unworldly regime suppose to work out from these two events"

That having dropped a couple of nukes and seen the results, the USA is highly reluctant to do it again.

Which makes it pretty easy for the NPK to be the belligerant clown - up to the point where Beijing tells them to knock it off or they'll shut down the oil and power feeds.

I'd lay even money on all those millions in the army not having many actual bullets outside the NPK version of the Republican Guard, in case they try to raise a coup - and it's well known by now that much of the hardware in Red Square parades was actually made of cardboard, so it may be safe to assume the same for the NPK.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

China only got involved when McArthur pursued NPK troops into Chinese territory.

If the dickhead had stood his ground on the korean side of the river the chinese would have taken care of the problem themselves. They didn't want foreign armies of any flavour on their doorstep. Instead they had to go to the aid of the NPK and they've been honourbound to keep helping them ever since.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

MacArthur pursued them close to Chinese territory, that was enough.

After all the Chinese had warned the USA to keep, at least, 20 miles from the frontier, Truman ordered MacArthur to do so, he disobeyed.

He should have court marshalled and sent to prison but, being a hero, he was simply retired.

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Stop

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The Chinese aren't going to militariliy intervene in North Korea, short of some avowed and impossible South Korean/U.S. ethnic cleansing campaign to drive the North Korean population into Manchuria and then take over the vacated north.

Right now, if war came basically the North Koreans will have pissed off the U.S., South Korea and Japan. (besides the threats to nuke Japan, the North kidnapped hundreds and thousands of Japanese in some kind of bizarre attempt to understand the Japanese psyche and train sleeper agents to go back into Japan). So now China is uniting and fighting three of it's most important trade partners to save a strategically valuable but economically worthless buffer state.

Then you have Taiwan, which will jump at the chance to send missions to Seoul, Tokyo and Washington to tell the locals "See! We told you that the mainland are the "evil Chinese" and we are your friends!!" A diplomatic coup for Taiwan that under the best of circumstances will take the PRC decades to recover from.

Then you have the Aussies, who the Chinese rely on for raw materials. Are the Aussies going to join the war--who knows?? But I can assure you that Canberra is not going to ship mineral ores to China to be turned into tanks and shells to defend the North Korean police state and kill Australia's Pacific friends.

Then you have the Southeast Asians like India, the Phillipines, Vietnam and Singapore. They probably won't join the war, but they will be happy to do the same thing that Taiwan will do above--portray themselves as the "good Asians" at the expense of the dictator-enabling PRC.

If it comes to war, the Chinese will give some materials to the North and try to mediate a peace agreement somehwere short of the DPRK being assimilated into South Korea.

As for Europe, they might send some token military forces under the guise of helping the UN maintain it's 60 year old charter of defending South Korea, but in any case they certainly aren't going to love or support China for intervening to save what is probably the most odious human rights regime in the world and putting at risk a great deal of Europe's Asian trade traffic in the process.

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Pint

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Generally, they didn't worry about licencing anything back in the Cold War.

The backward-engineered AIM-9 sidewinders even had the serial numbers of the captured original etched onto each and every copy.

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Devil

scared

16-year-old nieces are scared everywhere.

And rightly so!

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

At least we had the decency to hire the Nazi scientists and get them to build copies of their rockets instead of doing the copying ourselves.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"The Chinese aren't going to militariliy intervene in North Korea"

I hope you're right. Unfortunately history provides many lessons where parties who have little skin in the game today, and parties who don't particularly want to fight each other, get sucked into conflict on opposing sides tomorrow. Contrary to earlier comments, the North have been making troop movements. The International Institute for Strategic studies points out that thought their army is technologically stunted, they have the fifth ranked army in the world and stand a good chance of being able to overrun Seoul before being stopped. As someone noted above, instability within a country's borders easily translates into the aggressive promulgation of war outside it's borders. The paranoiacs have severed the god damn hotline to the sane external world. Now a small skirmish could all too easily start the domino effect and the result could easily end up with the US and China sucked into the worst kind of situation without wanting to be there in the first place.

Hypothetical - but this is one possible path to illustrate how it could go wrong.

1. North Korea shells South Korea, as they are wont to do and have done several times before.

2. The South have ignored outrages in the past, but have also been very close to retaliating. The North go a little too far. It only takes one image of a fresh faced child bombed to pieces to force a governments hand. The South retaliate with a surgical strike.

3. The North get a bloody nose, and fat Kim, his fresh young face all red, comes under pressure from the old guard and feels he has to give a show of greater strength. He knows they stand a good chance of being able to take Seoul (using the "secret" tunnels they have dug into South Korea - the South knows they have these but doesn't know where they all are), and is starting to feel he is between a rock and a hard place if he is not to be deposed and end up some generals f**k puppet. He issues instruction to for a rapid storming of Seoul, calculating a comprehensive win will give him all the home brownie points he needs and he calculates, he might be able to get a ceasefire in exchange for a deal on Seoul. Even that foreign body, the International Institute for Strategic Studies points out they have a good chance of success, and his own generals are saying it's near 100%.

Multiple possible further scenarios a and b now have the domino dynamic.

4.a. The South are rightly particularly paranoid about scenario 3. They know geographically they are at a strategic disadvantage and facing one of the world's largest armies. Also, though the North may be technologically falling behind, they are well trained and motivated. Additionally the South are aware the North doesn't really have to move troops into position for such a strike, because they have always been there threatening to strike since the last Korean war. Either because they determine 3. is about to happen OR because they think for whatever reason there is a good chance 3 is about to happen, they launch a pre-emptive conventional forces excursion into the North, with the intention of incapacitating the North's own "quick strike" capability.

4.b. The South plan 4.a and move troops into a defensive position but initiate air-strikes to pre-emptively degrade the North's capacity for a fast strike. Because airstrikes alone won't stop a well dug in army, they need heavy gear only the US can provide.

So with either scenario 4.a or 4.b there is a high chance the US will provide Stealth Bombers for such air strikes. The US after all have promised to stand security guarantor to the South.

5. The North are now fully paranoid and ready for action. They are sweating in their bunkers as the reality bites and they know there are nuclear capable Stealth Bombers flying over god knows which parts of their country and that they might be above them at any given moment. There is no dialogue with the outside parties (the idiots severed the hotline remember). They have no sense of proportion, no way of knowing if the conflict is a limited air campaign designed to stymie their capacity to invade, or something more. Those damned stealth bombers could be anywhere. Kim is really feeling the heat - not knowing at any moment if the US are about to use tactical nuclear weapons or other means to attempt to disable his ace card, his nuclear arsenal. Under pressure he goes for broke, and hits the big red button marked Seoul. Now even Apple would be unhappy at how they are about to gain the advantage over Samsung.

6. The bomb has hit. This is where no matter how friendly or advanced or intelligent the various parties involved are, the playbook has gone out the window and "strike first to ensure survival" takes over. Perhaps the US hits all areas of North Korea with tactical nuclear weapons in an attempt to prevent an even worse nightmare, perhaps the nukes they use aren't of the tactical variety. Whatever, they know they have to strike hard and fast as Japan or even possibly Hawaii are at risk if they don't. Who can say what the playbook is now or what China would do. China itself, though it will have plans, may not even know what it would do come such an eventuality. One day they are worrying about harrying Apple on consumer TV programs and producing cheap Android phones, the next they are in a situation where there is nuclear war on their doorstep with the US, South Korea and Japan a united force attacking a strategically important country on their doorstep they have previously declared a military Ally.

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Bronze badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

No. When the Korean war happened, Russia had nuclear weapons. Japan didn't have any, and Germany was already defeated, when Hiroshima was bombed.

Atomic weapons definitely would have been used in Korea if doing so wouldn't have invited a Soviet nuclear attack on the U.S..

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Really?

I agree that China would have no wish to fight alongside NK if a war should start, but to jump from that to assume that China would fight against NK is an impossible leap.

Why on earth would they? What could they possibly gain from this?

Sit back and let everyone else exhaust themselves.

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Black Helicopters

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Perhaps. It is conceivable that the Norks are being used as a yapping dog irritant to enable the Chinese to do to USA what USA did to USSR. Spend it to exhaustion, fortuitously helped along by the USAs' own lack of currency policy. USA currency is currently inflating. Massive continuing overspending over decades means USA has strong incentive to be nice to China at all costs, whatever the rhetoric.

For China, the issue is controlling their terrier and walking a fine line on controlling an unstable leadership versus keeping serious pressure on USA. The end goal is ensuring all the other disputes which China has with the rest of SE Asia wont get other external powers involved. No conspiracy, just follow the money and ask who gains from the apparent mess. Or have I assumed that Chinas leaders are unlike the remains of the western democracies, capable of long term thiking ?

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Meh

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Ah, no. Pre-WW2, prime minister Menzies acquired a nickname Pig Iron Bob because he shipped lots of iron to Japan. As a colony of USA business, Oz has learned to ship anything to anyone if there is money in it. Mea while, Oz governments of any persuation give the USA access to bases locally to keep the local peasants believing the USA gives a stuff about Oz.

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Happy

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Do we actually have any mixed lessons from history. Trade, folks!!, is the lesson, from history. Cuba is still, I suppose, a communist state, and just because of a trade embargo. Without the quest for trade north america would still be a isle in the sea somewhere between Europe and India, History is a bitch. As far as NK, or whatever, is concerned, there are several alternatives, like do nothing (wait and see), nuke them or trade with them. Trade is a "Trojan horse", the Norks (some) know it too, but there is no way for them to fight it. Simple, no, but it has always worked.

Cook, what about a Apple factory in NK, you could do it, need some help from McDonalds or ,Schmidt just ask for it.

Am I kidding or drunk, either, neither or both. The Norks remind me of a lady with the possible fate of becoming a president of the USA (years ago). Scary stuff, Very Very scary, not because of the lack of intelligence perhaps, but because of the total lack of knowledge/education.

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Unhappy

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"Although to be fair MacArthur was relieved of his command for suggesting it."

I dimly recall something about "50 atomic bombs should be enough to get the job done" was his assessment.

Fat boy would do well to remember the US is unlikely to be on a leash this time round.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

But if you remember later footage of say Brehznev in the 1970s or his successors overlooking drivepasts of UR-100 (990 mobile launchers by 1972), or later RT-2PM Topol (288 mobile launchers by 1992) , both had the "necessary" range of about 10,500km.... no need to fake mobile ICBM launchers by that point (which no-one else had anyway), plus they had the world's biggest ICBM in silos: R-36 (1967 to present) and supersonic launch platforms like the bombers Tu-22, Tu-22M and the current Tu-160.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them..."

...or the Chinese might just fail to assist North Korea in any conflict. That the Chinese co-wrote the last UN resolution, instead of abstaining in a vote on North Korea suggests that the Chinese government is getting tired of the Norks and their behaviour.

Perhaps the big question for the Chinese would be what would follow a collapse of the Nork dynasty. They probably wouldn't be too chuffed to have a unified Korea, run from Seoul and friendly with the USA, right on their border. On the other hand, it is questionable whether the South Koreans would want reunification with the North if they have to pay for it.

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Mushroom

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

Graeme,

The Yanks did let off a test Bomb in the Desert to check if a Plutonium Bomb would work.

They were sure that the Uranium Bomb would work

The test Bomb was a bit of a surprise, as I think the yield was about 4 times that calculated.

Don't know if the sums were entirely British.

Peace be with us all.

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Paris Hilton

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

SkppyBing,

The reason that the Russians did not veto the vote on UN gettting inolved was that they had walked out and they were not repressented at the time the vote was taken

They learned their lesson and never again let having a hissyfit get in the way of being able to throw a spanner in the works.

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Thumb Down

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

It's not at all believable that a modern jet engine can be copied. James Follett wrote a great book "Mirage" about the Israeli theft of the blueprints after France refused delivery of the planes. http://www.amazon.co.uk/Mirage-James-Follett/dp/0749300035 It has a nice scene where an engineer explains how hard it is to reverse-engineer something as apparently simple as a cigarette lighter, let alone a jet engine.

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Re: Mixed lessons from history?

"Perhaps the big question for the Chinese would be what would follow a collapse of the Nork dynasty."

I'm sure they'd be more than welcome to readmit North Korea back into the middle kingdom. By force if necessary (and let's admit it, the people would still be far better off than they are now)

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"If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them"

I thought that myself. China wouldn't want the combined armies of the Western World and esp the US to have an excuse to rock up on it's doorstep so it would make sense for them to preemptively and unilaterally invade it, throw out the incumbent govt, and turn it into another "principality", giving it legitimacy to have it's own military presence there.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The japanese tested their biological weapons on the Chinese a couple of times and never went to full deployment. They never deployed their chemical weapons either. During the UN vs North Korea + China conflict neither biological nor chemical weapons were subject to consideration.

Thatr is not the case now. By the way, if NORKS use it as someone holding passports from 2 countries with nuclear arsenals I am voting for both of "my" governments to nuke 'em till they glow. As a lesson to others.

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Mushroom

"as a lesson to others"

Like, as a lesson to the only nation to have ever used nukes on civilian targets? That kind of lesson?

It may well be a problem that the North Koreans live in an insular fantasy realm, where they are likely to start a war they cannot win purely on the basis of ignorance about not being able to win. What the author misses in this article is that it is also a problem that certain nations in this world KNOW with absolute assurance that they will win any war they start (or at least wont lose in any way that seriously damages them or their political class).

That, too, is a logic trap the West has fallen into a number of times, and very recently.

When was the last time North Korea fell into that trap, again?

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Silver badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

China has a 1961 agreement with North Korea to back it in a war. Ultimately that still holds a degree of weight.

However, despite the Norks 'formally declaring war', neither they nor China have mobilised so much as a Division.

I wonder if that agreement covers the war between North and South Korea, which technically started in 1950 and still hasn't ended. Any recent 'declaration' of war from North Korea is meaningless in this context, it's a bit declaring that from now on water will be wet, and fire will be hot.

I would imagine that when the Chinese representatives signed that agreement, it would include clauses limiting them to the defence of North Korea (i.e. not backing them in an offensive war), and would not cover any wars the Norks were nominally already fighting. Obviously, I've not read the document, which is probably written in one or more languages that I certainly couldn't read if I wanted to, but this sort of thing would make sense; diplomats generally aren't stupid.

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Silver badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

The japanese tested their biological weapons on the Chinese a couple of times and never went to full deployment.

Actually, if you do your research, you'll find that during WW2, the Japanese had an extensive and horrific biological weapons research program based in China, experimenting on the Chinese. I recently attended a presentation by the chief biological weapons expert from the HPA about the history of germ warfare, and a good part of the talk was about what the Japanese got up to, along with the stuff we (the British) had prepared for the Germans if the war had gone on much longer. Nobody came out of it looking particularly good, which is probably why we have treaties against that sort of thing now.

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Bronze badge

Re: Mixed lessons from history?

>>> If the Norks were to start something, I am pretty sure the Chinese would fight against them <<<

On the contrary, China would be forced to go in and occupy the north if the regime were to be attacked, because it most definitely does not want chaos, or worse, a US client state, right on its border.

The US has consistently failed to stop NK's nuclear and missile activities because, aside from the obvious lack of oil wealth, it knows that China would would be forced to move in. And China is a lot stronger than it was during the last Korean war. And the US is arguably a lot weaker.

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Big Brother

On the other foot ....

'But once the actual fighting was over it wouldn't take long for normality to return.'

Might glow in the dark, but hey just think of the benefits that might bring.

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Silver badge

Fingers crossed...

Granted that the norks are crazy as a bag of frogs, I'm still not sure about the bit about 'the Nork Army could do a lot of damage' - it's probably true that they could if they were given free rein, but realistically if they do start getting seriously aggressive and violent what would the Merkins do? Just sit back, or perhaps drop a few little bombs to try and calm them down, or do they decide they can't take any risks with a barking mad nutter with nuclear bombs and missiles? If the latter then the sensible thing is to plaster every possible military or politically important site in N Korea with everything they have short of nuclear - cutting off the head of the army may well rather limit their ability to act further. Proportionate response is rather inappropriate if the loony you are responding to has nukes.

RIP Nork if they do kick off.

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Gold badge

Re: Fingers crossed...

North Korea has some stupidly large number like 20,000 artillery tubes pointed at Seoul. Although it would be interesting to see where that oft-quoted number came from, and how much maintenance gets done as in a normal army you'd expect to need over 100,000 troops to run 20,000 artillery pieces and that would be a tenth of their army after mobilisation, so a ridiculous chunk of the regular army. Anyway, you don't need much command and control to fire that lot, and basically wipe Seoul off the map. Even with communications buggered up, it would be very difficult to stop the junior commanders on the ground from firing that lot off, and killing a million or so people.

It's an interesting point whether the only possible defence against that is tactical nukes. You're not going to be able to do enough damage, quickly enough, with conventional weapons. Although first-use of nukes is a no-no, if it's a choice between that and massive casualties, what is the right thing to do?

It's a particularly nasty situation for the South Korean and US staffs to work on. Stopping North Korea from getting far into South Korean territory is probably easy. Weakening the North from the air, ditto. Attacking into the North on the ground, with lots of bunkers and difficult terrain would be extremely hard. Moving armoured formations and conducting mobile warfare yes, but taking and holding ground would lead to very heavy casualties.

Unless you get plenty of warning of war, you can't evacuate a place the size of Seoul in time, and even if you did, it's a shame to get your capital city blown up.

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Re: Fingers crossed...

And what makes you think NK doesn't have 'jihaddi'-type loyalists operating outside of NK?

Chemical, biological - possibly even "dirty" nuclear weapons - could all be unleashed by NK "Sleeper Cells" in London, New York and Macclesfield.

Terrorism/"freedom-fighting" is not uniquely Arabic.

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Pint

Re: Fingers crossed...

"Although first-use of nukes is a no-no, if it's a choice between that and massive casualties, what is the right thing to do?"

From a humanitarian perspective: Perhaps.

From a military perspective: Perhaps.

From a diplomatic and long term perspective: NO WAY.

And ultimately, long term diplomacy matters more than short-term casualties. South Korea being shelled senseless makes NK the bad guys. NK getting nuked makes the US the bad guys, regardless of the cause being anything less than a NK nuke.

"Unless you get plenty of warning of war, you can't evacuate a place the size of Seoul in time, and even if you did, it's a shame to get your capital city blown up."

Fortunately, you tend to get plenty of warning. NK got away with it last time because they faked a military exercise (which is a traditional ploy, and partly why they are making such a stink at present). Mobilising an army and moving up fuel and ammunition is bloody obvious. NK could not 'surprise' launch a sustained war. However, they could just fire off a bunch of shells and either then dig in, or doom themselves. It wouldn't be effective warfare, but it'd be moot to anyone sucking down some 155mm HE.

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Re: Fingers crossed...

"And what makes you think NK doesn't have 'jihaddi'-type loyalists operating outside of NK?"

They have plenty of fanatics. Unfortunately for them most of them get outside for 10 minutes before deciding that a South Korean jail is far nicer than North Korea. Or they are so obviously out-of-sync with the rest of the planet that they are obvious. Imagine an Armish agent trying to pass themselves off in Silicon Valley.

"Chemical, biological - possibly even "dirty" nuclear weapons - could all be unleashed by NK "Sleeper Cells" in London, New York and Macclesfield."

Just how small do you think those devices are, and how well do you think anyone wandering out of NK is searched?

"Terrorism/"freedom-fighting" is not uniquely Arabic."

In fact North Korea has a nice track record of blowing up civilian airliners via bombs already.

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Re: Fingers crossed...

"the norks are crazy as a bag of frogs"

Way, way crazier than that. Try the translated output of the Korean Central News Agency, available daily at http://www.kcna.co.jp/index-e.htm

"The responsibility for this grave situation entirely rests with the U.S. Administration and military warmongers keen to encroach upon the DPRK's sovereignty and bring down its dignified social system with brigandish logic... We formally inform the White House and Pentagon that the ever-escalating U.S. hostile policy toward the DPRK and its reckless nuclear threat will be smashed by the strong will of all the united service personnel and people and cutting-edge smaller, lighter and diversified nuclear strike means of the DPRK and that the merciless operation of its revolutionary armed forces in this regard has been finally examined and ratified."

In the same bulletin:

"In such numbers as female quintet "On High Hills and Rough Roads in This Land", male solo "We Will Never Forget" and dialogic poem "Daily Increasing Pleasure of the People" the performers sang high praises of the boundless reverence for Kim Jong Il, who pursued the original Songun politics, leading the army and people to victory and demonstrating the dignity and might of the country.

Some numbers gave audience deep impression as they helped the audience look back upon with deep emotion the life-long devotion made by the Generalissimos who dedicated themselves to the country and the people as well as the loyalty and persevering fighting traits displayed by the preceding generation.

In numbers like mixed chorus "Masters of This Land Say" and female solo "People Are Always Single-mindedly United" the performers sang of the ardent reverence for the dear respected Marshal Kim Jong Un and reflected the will of officials of the Union of Agricultural Workers of Korea and agricultural workers to devote their all to the prosperity of the country true to his leadership. "

Probably not available on iTunes, sadly.

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Anonymous Coward

Re: Fingers crossed...

Yes it's Macclesfield I'd be worried about...

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Re: Fingers crossed... Macclesfield

particularly if subject to a 'Resident Evil' style virus errm and nobody realises

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Re: Fingers crossed...

I'm not so worried about what North Korea might or might not do. What scares me is what the US might do. And then what China might do, in response. FFS, if you see a rabid dog, why go and poke it with a stick? Why fly bombers over North Korea? Seems a bit foolhardy. Hope this won't lead to some humanitarian catastrophe. But you could argue North Korea already is one.

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