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 Battle Stations! Battle Stations! This is not a drill!

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Join date : 2009-05-04
Posts : 151
Location : Pittsboro/Silk Hope
Age : 65

PostSubject: Battle Stations! Battle Stations! This is not a drill!   Tue Jun 16, 2009 2:41 pm

General Quarters, here we come!

U.S. to Confront, Not Board, North Korean Ships
WASHINGTON — The Obama administration will order the Navy to hail and request permission to inspect North Korean ships at sea suspected of carrying arms or nuclear technology, but will not board them by force, senior administration officials said Monday.

North KoreaThe new effort to intercept North Korean ships, and track them to their next port, where Washington will press for the inspections they refused at sea, is part of what the officials described as “vigorous enforcement” of the United Nations Security Council resolution approved Friday.

The planned American action stops just short of the forced inspections that North Korea has said that it would regard as an act of war. Still, the administration’s plans, if fully executed, would amount to the most confrontational approach taken by the United States in dealing with North Korea in years, and carries a risk of escalating tensions at a time when North Korea has been carrying out missile and nuclear tests.

In discussing President Obama’s strategy on Monday, administration officials said that the United States would report any ship that refused inspection to the Security Council. While the Navy and American intelligence agencies continued to track the ship, the administration would mount a vigorous diplomatic effort to insist that the inspections be carried out by any country that allowed the vessel into port.

The officials said that they believed that China would also enforce the new sanctions, which also require countries to refuse to refuel or resupply ships suspected of carrying out arms and nuclear technology. While China has said little in public about how it plans to deal with North Korea, once a close cold war ally, one official said the administration was told by their Chinese counterparts that China “would not have signed on to this resolution unless they intended to enforce it.”

The strategy of ordering ships to stop but not provoking military action by boarding them was negotiated among Washington, Beijing and Moscow. It is unclear to what degree South Korea or Japan, at various times bitter adversaries of North Korea, would order their naval forces to join in the effort to intercept suspected shipments at sea, largely because of fears about what would happen if North Korean ships opened fire.

A senior administration official said Monday evening that the United States believed that it already had sufficient intelligence and naval assets in the Sea of Japan to track North Korean ships and flights. The country’s cargo fleet is relatively small, and the North is wary, officials say, of entrusting shipments banned by the United Nations to Panamanian-flagged freighters or those from other countries.

Until now, American interceptions of North Korean ships have been rare. Early in the Bush administration, a shipment of missiles to Yemen was discovered, but the United States permitted the shipment to go through after the Yemenis said they had paid for the missiles and expected delivery. Under the new United Nations resolution, American officials said they now had the authority to seize such shipments.

The senior administration officials outlined Mr. Obama’s approach a day before the president was to meet for the first time on Tuesday with South Korea’s president, Lee Myung-bak, a conservative who has been far more confrontational in his dealings with North Korea than most of his predecessors.

The resolution authorizes nations to seek to stop suspect North Korean shipments on the high seas, but they do not authorize forcible boarding or inspections. “The captains will be confronted,” one official said, speaking on the condition of anonymity because he was discussing a security operation that America’s key allies had only been partially briefed on.

Even if they refused to allow inspections, the official said, “These guys aren’t going to get very far.”

While the captain of a ship may refuse inspection, as the North Koreans almost certainly would, the Obama administration officials noted that most North Korean vessels have limited range and would have to seek out ports in search of fuel and supplies.

American officials believe that previous North Korean shipments of nuclear technology and missiles have gone undetected. The North Koreans were deeply involved in the construction of a reactor in Syria until September 2007, when the reactor was destroyed in an Israeli air raid. But no ships or aircraft carrying parts for that reactor were ever found.

Mr. Obama’s decisions about North Korea stem from a fundamentally different assessment of the North’s intentions than that of previous administrations. Nearly 16 years of on-and-off negotiations — punctuated by major crises in 1994 and 2003 — were based on an assumption that ultimately, the North was willing to give up its nuclear capability.

A review, carried out by the Obama administration during its first month in office, concluded that North Korea had no intention of trading away what it calls its “nuclear deterrent” in return for food, fuel and security guarantees.

Mr. Obama’s aides have said that while the new president is willing to re-engage in either the talks with North Korea and its neighbors, or in direct bilateral discussions, he will not agree to an incremental dismantlement of the North’s nuclear facilities.

“There are ways to do this that are truly irreversible,” said one of Mr. Obama’s aides, declining to be specific.

North Korea is already working to reverse the dismantlement of some of its facilities negotiated in Mr. Bush’s last days in office.

In the weeks ahead of and after its second nuclear test, conducted May 25, North Korea has disavowed its past commitments to give up those weapons, and said it would never bow to the demands of the United States, its allies, or the United Nations. On Saturday the North said that it would reprocess its remaining stockpile of spent nuclear fuel into plutonium, adding to an existing stockpile believed sufficient to make six or eight weapons.

Such announcements have heightened fears that North Korea’s next step could be to sell more of its nuclear or missile technology, one of the few profitable exports of a broken, starving country. The result is that Mr. Obama, in his first year in office, is putting into effect many of the harshest steps against North Korea that were advocated by conservatives in the Bush White House, including Vice President Dick Cheney.

The new approach, officials said, will also exploit elements of the Security Council resolution to try to close down the subsidiaries of North Korean missile makers in China, Southeast Asia, and the Middle East, where the North has its biggest customers.
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Join date : 2009-04-22
Posts : 240
Location : Piedmont NC

PostSubject: Re: Battle Stations! Battle Stations! This is not a drill!   Tue Jun 16, 2009 11:37 pm

Much ado about nothing really. Shadowing ships and demanding someone else inspect their cargo is nothing more than a costly charade. Besides, why would North Korea use their ships to transfer banned or restricted cargo when they know they are being watched and subject to search? The ships flying other nation's flags are the ones we need to be checking...

Brilliant strategist that Obama.
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Battle Stations! Battle Stations! This is not a drill!
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