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Thursday, December 17, 2009

S. Korea probing N. Korea's alleged hacking into war plan

December 18, 2009

South Korea is probing suspicions that North Korean hackers extracted details of a classified joint South Korean-U.S. war plan designed to deal with possible aggression by the communist state, a defense official in Seoul said Friday.

The suspected breach occurred late last month via an Internet Protocol address registered in China, a route North Korea is believed to use when collecting computer files from foreign networks, the official at the Ministry of National Defense said.

A South Korean officer has been reprimanded after he used an unsecured portable storage device to transfer the file explaining Operational Plan 5027 to a wired computer, said the official, who requested anonymity citing the sensitivity of the issue.

"The file did not contain the nuts and bolts of the plan, but we're continuing with our probe because we haven't ruled out the possibility that other files were tampered with," he said.

OPLAN 5027, crafted jointly by South Korea and the U.S., allows for the dispatch of nearly 700,000 U.S. troops to the Korean Peninsula should a full-fledged conflict arise here.

It also sets out wartime operational guidelines for the troops of the two countries. South Korea remains technically at war with North Korea after the 1950-53 Korean War ended in a truce.

The U.S., which has 28,500 troops stationed in South Korea, is working with the ally to adopt a new plan that better accounts for instabilities in North Korea, including nuclear-related ones.

No palpable details concerning North Korea's hacking unit have come to light, but South Korea believes the North has military personnel that specialize in overseas hacking.

When the Web sites of major U.S. and South Korean government agencies sustained attacks in July, officials here pointed to North Korea as a highly likely suspect.

The attacks hastened South Korea's plan to launch a command dedicated to preparing the military for cyber warfare, which will be set up on Jan. 1.

By Sam Kim

Seoul rebuffs Pyongyang's claim of West Sea provocation

December 17, 2009

The South Korean military Thursday dismissed North Korea's claim that it engaged in provocative military exercises in the West Sea.

Pyongyang claimed in a report of its official Korean Central News Agency that the South Korean army committed an "unpardonable military act" in waters of the West Sea on Dec. 17.

A spokesman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff said the training was conducted in "our waters" and not the area near the northern limited line as claimed by North Korea, adding the incident referred to was routine training by an artillery unit stationed in South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island.

North Korea's claim stated that "at about 14:20 that day, they staged an underwater explosion exercise three times close to the waters of the north side southeast of Kuwol Hill, Kangryong County, South Hwanghae Province." And added that "the exercise conducted under the very nose of the north is a threat to it and an unpardonable criminal act against it."

North Korea threatens South Korea over naval drills

December 17, 2009

North Korea threatened retaliation against South Korea over what it claimed were naval drills around their disputed sea border, accusing Seoul on Thursday of attempting to escalate tension.

The North's Korean Central News Agency cited an unidentified source as saying that the South Korean military staged underwater explosive exercises around the border — the scene of a naval clash last month that left one North Korean sailor dead and three others wounded.

The drills represent "a threat and an unpardonable act of crime against us," KCNA said.

"We cannot but view this as a premeditated provocation aimed at raising tension in the militarily sensitive waters," it said. "We will deal a merciless retaliatory blow if the South Korean warlike forces keep staging military provocations" near the border.

A South Korean Defense Ministry official could not immediately confirm whether the military conducted such drills but said he was checking.

North Korea has often made such accusations and the South has rejected them. Pyongyang, known for its use of fiery rhetoric, also regularly threatens South Korea with destruction.

The communist North does not recognize the sea boundary, drawn by the United Nations at the end of the 1950-53 Korean War, and has long claimed that it should be redrawn farther south. The dispute led to deadly skirmishes in 1999, 2002 and last month.

Relations between the two Koreas soured badly after conservative South Korean President Lee Myung-bak took office early last year and halted unconditional aid to the North in line with his pledge to get tough on the communist neighbor over its nuclear weapons development.

The two sides are still technically at war as the Korean War ended in a truce, not a peace treaty.

OPLAN 5027 compromised?

N.Korea 'Hacks into S.Korea-U.S. Defense Plans'
December 18, 2009

Suspected North Korean hackers may have gained access to a war plan devised by South Korea and the U.S. in preparation for an emergency, including details of specific operational scenarios, intelligence agencies believe.

According to the January issue of the Monthly Chosun published Friday, the National Intelligence Service and the Defense Security Command in mid-November discovered that an officer with the Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command had used an unsecured USB memory stick and in that process some contents of the plan, dubbed OPLAN 5027, contained in his PC was accessed by a hacker with a Chinese IP address.

The DSC carried out sweeping security checks after the Monthly Chosun reported in November that the military Internet network had been breached by a North Korean hacking unit, and that in the process the agency confirmed that OPLAN 5027 had been hacked.

The monthly in November reported that North Korean hackers stole information from the Chemical Accidents Response Information System built by the National Institute of Environmental Research under the Ministry of Environment after infiltrating the Third Army headquarters' computer network and using a password to access CARIS's Center for Chemical Safety Management.

OPLAN 5027 is the CFC plan formulated in preparation for a preemptive strike or provocation by North Korea. Commander of the U.S. Forces Korea Gen. Walter Sharp has recently said a new joint draft operational plan has been worked out to replace OPLAN 5027 ahead of the transfer of full operational control of Korean troops to Seoul. But one retired general pointed out that the new joint operational plan will be based on OPLAN 5027. "Our conceptual framework has been laid bare if it's true that OPLAN 5027 was leaked," he said.

Based on No. 110 Research Center under the North Korean Army General Staff's Reconnaissance Bureau, the North Korean hacking unit has an impressive staff, range of operations, technologies, and overseas branches. There is speculation that 500-600 hackers are working in North Korea, including the Ministry of State Security.

Kim Heung-kwang, a former professor at Pyongyang Computer Technology University, said, "We have information that the North Korean hacking unit will soon attack the computer network in South Korea, which could throw databases of financial institutions, the Military Manpower Administration and hospitals and other institutions into chaos."

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

On December 12, National Surveys on Public Opinion Are Initiated by City (County) Party Officials Regarding Currency Revaluation

North Korean government "listening" to the people's opinion?

One explanation is that this could be an evidence for (albeit somewhat circumlocutory) the inability of the North Korean government to exert the kind of control over its population that it had been able to in the past.

The other is that the North Korean leadership is actually concerned about the state of the nation's economy. Speaking of economy, Kim Jong-il recently visited Rason (which was his first visit since Rason was named a free trade zone). That's somewhat interesting as well.


North Korea Today, No. 316 – Hot Topics (Good Friends)
12/17/2009

The Central Party issued a directive, “to listen to the people’s opinion as to what would be the best the government could do with food supply to the people and market prices.” Accordingly, beginning December 12, all the city and county party administration officials initiated national surveys on public opinion by selecting three households at random within each neighborhood unit. They paid visits to the randomly selected households and asked the heads of the households of their opinion on the currency revaluation. Questions were centered on whether laborers were compensated properly and whether the market prices were set appropriately. They also asked for frank and honest opinions about the national policies. They tried to persuade people hesitant to speak out that nothing would happen to them for their opinions. Information on the trends of public opinion collected in this manner by the propaganda section of city (county) party was sent to the central party through the provincial party. A party official made a comment, “City propaganda section listened to the words on the appropriateness of national policies and what people’s interests are. They found that presently, all the prices including grain price are going up too fast and closure of markets are causing hard times to people.”

Official Government-set Prices are publicly announced in the Markets

North Korea Today, No. 316 – Hot Topics
12/17/2009

North Korean authorities publicly announced the official national prices in the markets. Contents of announcement are as follow: 22 to 23 won per Kg for rice, 8 won for corn, 12 won for crushed maize, 10 won for corn noodle, 22 won for flour, 9 to 13 won for tofu soy, 50 won for soy oil, 12 won for red bean, 10 Won for string bean, 21 to 22 won for potato starch, 15 to 18 won for millet, 45 won for pork, 50 won for chicken, 40 won for dog meat, 45 won for rabbit meat, 30 to 50 won for whiting fish, 35 to 45 won for sea bass (a set of 2), 50 to 100 won for clams, 60 to 100 won for Atka mackerel, 3 won for an egg, 30 to 40 won for dried pepper, 40 won for powdered-sugar (sugar), 3 won for a cake of tofu, 30 to 40 won for a fresh octopus, 3 won for cabbage, 5 won for radish, 35 to 45 won for a package of food seasoning, 300 to 550 won for a ready-made men’s suit, 350 to 500 won for a ready-made women’s dress, 200 to 300 won for men’s underwear, 250 to 350 won for women’s underwear, 35 won for a pair of men’s jogging shoes, 30 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 200 to 300 won for a pair of men’s shoes, 250 to 400 won for a pair of women’s shoes, 10 50 15 won for market fee, 0.5 won for bicycle storage at market.

Did Obama send a personal letter to North Korea's Kim Jong Il?

Christian Science Monitor
12/17/2009 (12/16/2009 EST)
By Peter Grier

Washington - The US envoy who traveled to Pyongyang for the Obama administration’s first high-level talks with North Korea did not get to meet Kim Jong Il, the mercurial North Korean leader.

But he says that he’s not offended. After all, only two American officials have met Kim Jong Il, ever. And those were Secretary of State Madeleine Albright and ex-President Bill Clinton.

“He does not meet with a lot of people. He meets with non-North Koreans very rarely,” said US Special Representative for North Korea Policy Stephen Bosworth at a Dec. 16 briefing for reporters.

Ambassador Bosworth would not confirm news reports that he carried a personal letter from President Obama to North Korea’s leader.

“I was the message,” said Bosworth.

Glimpse of a better future?

The main point of the message was that the relationship between North Korea and the US, and between North Korea and its East Asian neighbors, could be very different, and more positive, than it is today.

Of course, that is “provided that North Korea proceeds down this road to denuclearization,” said the US envoy.

North Korean officials agreed with him on the need to restart stalled six-party talks involving the United States, North Korea, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. But they did not set a time when they might return to the negotiating table.

In 2005, North Korea promised to begin dismantling its nuclear efforts in exchange for aid and political concessions. But that was the high point. Negotiations deadlocked shortly thereafter.

US message: don't test again

This June, the UN Security Council tightened sanctions against North Korea in response to Pyongyang’s second nuclear test. Since then North Korea has refused even to engage in substantive discussions.

Bosworth said that he urged the North Koreans not to set off a third nuclear test. In addition, he told them that their newly revealed uranium enrichment program will have to be included in any future disarmament talks.

North Korea’s existing nuclear devices are thought to be produced with plutonium as their fissile cores. The plutonium came from reprocessing spent fuel rods from a nuclear power reactor.

The US has long suspected that North Korea also had a uranium enrichment program, giving them two ways to produce fissile material. That was confirmed this fall, when Pyongyang announced that it had completed a first phase of uranium enrichment.

“They put it on the agenda,” said Bosworth, by publicly announcing its existence.

Obama sends letter to North Korea's Kim, no moves on talks

Reuters
12/16/2009 EST

WASHINGTON - President Barack Obama has written a personal letter to North Korean leader Kim Jong-il, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, but Washington's envoy offered no sign of progress in persuading Pyongyang to return to nuclear disarmament talks.

The letter was delivered by U.S. special envoy Stephen Bosworth during his three-day trip to North Korea last week. A U.S. official confirmed the letter was sent but would not discuss its contents.

Asked about the letter, Bosworth declined to comment, saying only that "I was the message" and that he had carried no letter back from Pyongyang and had not discussed the idea of him meeting with the North Koreans a second time.

"I was conveying very directly to the North Korean leadership a vision for the future which would be a lot different than the present or the past," he told a news conference in Washington.

On offer for North Korea was improved relations with the United States and the North's Asian neighbors if Pyongyang follows through on denuclearization pledges made in earlier rounds of six-party nuclear negotiations.

North Korea hinted on Friday following the talks with Bosworth that it could end its year-long boycott of the six-party nuclear negotiations with the United States, China, Japan, Russia and South Korea.

Bosworth told reporters, however, that while North Korea said it recognized the importance of the six-party process, Pyongyang had made no commitment to return to talks and further consultations among the parties would be needed.

It was unclear whether the North had made a decision to shed its nuclear weapons programs, Bosworth said.

"I am unable to say whether they've made that strategic decision or they've not made that strategic decision," he said.

Bosworth's meetings capped months of maneuvering to reduce tensions after North Korea test-fired missiles and set off a nuclear device, triggering U.N. sanctions.

It is relatively rare for a U.S. president to send a personal letter to the North Korean leader, though President George W. Bush sent one to Kim in December 2007. Bush's letter raised the possibility of normalized relations in exchange for North Korea's full disclosure of its nuclear programs.

Monday, December 14, 2009

Treaty of Friendship, Co-operation and Mutual Assistance Between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

Source: Peking Review, Vol. 4, No. 28, p.5.
Transcribed/HTML: Max, B. and Mike B.

====================================================================

July 11, 1967

THE Chairman of the People's Republic of China and the Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, determined, in accordance with Marxism-Leninism and the principle of proletarian internationalism and on the basis of mutual respect for state sovereignty and territorial integrity, mutual non-aggression, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit, and mutual assistance and support, to make every effort to further strengthen and develop the fraternal relations of friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance between the People's Republic of China and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, to jointly guard the security of the two peoples, and to safeguard and consolidate the peace of Asia and the world, and deeply convinced that the development and strengthening of the relations of friendship, co-operation and mutual assistance between the two countries accord not only with the fundamental interests of the two peoples but also with the interests of the peoples all over the world, have decided for this purpose to conclude the present Treaty and appointed as their respective plenipotentiaries:

   The Chairman of the People's Republic of China: Chou En-lai, Premier of the State Council of the People's Republic of China.

   The Presidium of the Supreme People's Assembly of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea: Kim Il Sung, Premier of the Cabinet of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea,

Who, having examined each other's full powers and found them in good and due form, have agreed upon the the following:

Article I

The Contracting Parties will continue to make every effort to safeguard the peace of Asia and the world and the security of all peoples.

Article II

The Contracting Parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either of the Contracting Parties by any state. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states jointly and thus being involved in a state of war, the other Contracting Party shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.

Article III

Neither Contracting Party shall conclude any alliance directed against the other Contracting Party or take part in any bloc or in any action or measure directed against the other Contracting Party .

Article IV

The Contracting Parties will continue to consult with each other on all important international questions of common interest to the two countries.

Article V

The Contracting Parties, on the principles of mutual respect for sovereignty, non-interference in each other's internal affairs, equality and mutual benefit and in the spirit of friendly co-operation, will continue to render each other every possible economic and technical aid in the cause of socialist construction of the two countries and will continue to consolidate and develop economic, cultural, and scientific and technical co-operation between the two countries.

Article VI

The Contracting Parties hold that the unification of Korea must be realized along peaceful and democratic lines and that such a solution accords exactly with the national interests of the Korean people and the aim of preserving peace in the Far East.

Article VII

The present Treaty is subject to ratification and shall come into force on the day of exchange of instruments of ratification, which will take place in Pyongyang. The present Treaty will remain in force until the Contracting Parties agree on its amendment or termination. Done in duplicate in Peking on the eleventh day of July, nineteen sixty-one, in the Chinese and Korean languages, both texts being equally authentic.


(Signed)
CHOU EN-LAI
Plenipotentiary of the
People's Republic of China

(Signed)
KIM IL SUNG
Plenipotentiary of the
Democratic People's Republic of Korea

Wednesday, December 2, 2009

Group Sues North Korea for Its Support to Terrorist Attack in 1972

A group called Shurat HaDin has filed a suit against North Korea in a U.S. district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico. The suit charges North Korea of supporting the 1972 terrorist attack on Lod Airport.

During the assault on Lod Airport, 26 people were killed and 80 others were injured by the attackers alleged to have been trained by North Korea. The attack was attributed to the Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

This is the first time North Korea is being held to account in a U.S. court for its support of terrorism.

Group sues North Korea for 1972 terror attack
World Tribune
12/02/2009

WASHINGTON — Families of victims have filed suit against North Korea on charges of supporting a major attack by the Japanese Red Army in Israel.

The group, Shurat HaDin, has filed a suit in a U.S. district court in San Juan, Puerto Rico for the families of the victims of the 1972 attack.

During the assault on Lod Airport, 26 people were killed and 80 others were injured by attackers alleged to have been trained by North Korea. The attack was attributed to the Japanese Red Army and the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine.

"This will be the first time North Korea is being held to account in a U.S. court for its support of terrorism over many decades," Shurat HaDin said on Dec. 1.

Most of the victims in the 1972 shooting were Catholic pilgrims from Puerto Rico who had come to visit the Holy Land for the first time. The court complaint alleged that Pyongyang had trained and financed the three attackers, who used automatic weapons, ammunition and grenades. Two of the three attackers were killed and the third was captured and sentenced to prison in Israel.

"North Korea was behind the attack," Shurat HaDin said. "As the trial will show incontrovertibly, in the months leading up to the massacre the leaders of the JRA and PFLP met each other and with North Korean officials, who provided funding, intelligence, training, and other material support for the terrorists."

The trial was scheduled to begin on Dec. 3 in the U.S. federal district court in San Juan. The plaintiffs have argued that North Korea supported JRA's plan to target Israel as part of its campaign to promote communist revolution.

North Korea, removed from the State Department's list of terrorist sponsors in 2008, has been identified as a leading weapons supplier to Iran and Syria. Israel has asserted that Pyongyang helped build the huge underground network for Hizbullah in southern Lebanon. Shurat HaDin has filed two other lawsuits against North Korea.

"It is widely known that one of the world's most oppressive regimes [North Korea] is also a consistent support of terrorism, including providing weaponry, training bases, and funding for Palestinian terrorist organizations," Shurat HaDin said.

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Game Theorists hope to solve World's Crises

What can I say about this... other than... things that make you go...hmmm.... interesting, especially since I just finished a term paper that used game theory modeling....


Agence France-Presse
12/01/2009
By Andrew Beatty

WASHINGTON - North Korea will mothball its nuclear weapons for a billion dollars a year, Iran will not build nukes at all and Middle East peace is just round the corner, at least according to one game theorist courted by the CIA.

For someone who admits he is not an expert in the topics he studies and to "piggybacking" on predecessors' work, Bruce Bueno de Mesquita has become surprisingly influential.

A New York University professor, Mesquita has for decades been making predictions for the Central Intelligence Agency and the Department of Defense. He has even co-authored a book on political campaigns with former secretary of state Condoleezza Rice.

Today his predictive models are helping to reignite debate about the use of game theory beyond its normal habitat of mathematical and economic theory.

"It seemed to me, and others, quite natural to think about politics from game theory point of view," he told AFP, recalling his early steps into the field more than four decades ago.
Between 1982 and 1986 the CIA used his "Policon" model to make forecasts for over 30 countries.

In a now unclassified report, the agency said Mesquita's model "got the bull's-eye" twice as often as its traditional analysis. Taken together the two methods were accurate about 90 percent of the time, the agency said.

Two decades on Mesquita still has his sights on the world's hot button issues.

"My prediction on Iran is that they will not develop a nuclear weapon," he said with disarming confidence, "but they will develop enough weapons-grade fuel so that they can persuade people that they could build a bomb."

As he explains the relatively simple basis of his system -- listing actors and assigning each numerical values according to their policy stance and influence -- other predictions come thick and fast.

"I am quite optimistic that around the end of (President Barack) Obama's first term that there will be a serious peace agreement between the Israelis and the Palestinians, leading to the formal creation of Palestine.

"The contingency is that the current (Israeli) government, sometime in the next three years, will need to be replaced."

But he is less optimistic about the chances of a deal to reduce climate-changing carbon emission at Copenhagen in December.

Even if a deal can be reached, it will not work, he said, although the race to corner green technology markets may save the planet anyway.

The key to the model, he said, is understanding the self-interest of the parties concerned.

To convince North Korea to disassemble its nuclear weapons there is only one question, he said: "How much, quote 'aid' will be transferred to North Korea... to bribe the leadership into sticking to the agreement.

"The number that my model indicated was optimal was somewhere around one to 1.2 billion dollars a year."

Despite the obvious allure of predicting the future, some theorists urge caution.

Behind the apparent simplicity of Mesquita's work are the complex theories pioneered by John Nash, the Nobel-Prize-winning mathematician made famous in popular culture by the Oscar-winning film "A Beautiful Mind."

Nash's genius, according to his one-time colleague Avinash Dixit, was devising "a central organizing concept for games in which binding contracts cannot be reached."

In practical terms that means devising a status quo that is painful for actors to diverge from, despite the absence of a binding contract.

But Dixit, an economics professor at Princeton -- who has himself been tipped as a future Nobel Prize winner -- says some of the outstanding theoretical problems of game theory should limit practitioners' hubris.

"The theoretical analysis often assumed that every player was totally selfish, caring only for his or her own outcome," Dixit said.

"Increasingly we see in psychology and sociology that individuals have multiple goals, one of which might be concern for fairness."

He said practitioners should avoid black and white predictions, clearly marking out the range of possible outcomes in much the same way that meteorologists predict the path of hurricanes.

"Game theorists should be more humble or more careful and insist on producing these kind of cones of uncertainty around their forecasts," he said.

Another problem is the quality of data that goes into the model. In politics this means assigning quantities to abstract motives.

"The science tells you how to solve your model," said Dixit, "but what you put into your model is considerably an art."

For Mesquita the answer to this problem is simple: "If you put in garbage, you get out garbage."

"If you are looking at Israel-Palestine and your first cut of the data says Hamas is very eager for Israel to get whatever it wants, then there is something wrong with this data, you would know its garbage."

In the end, the only sure-fire way of testing game theory's usefulness may be to wait and see.