December 05, 2017

Why an Oil Embargo Won't Stop North Korea

Tong Zhao
With North Korea’s testing of what appears to be a more advanced intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), China is under great pressure to impose crippling economic sanctions against Pyongyang, including cutting off its oil supply. After the most recent UN Security Council resolution over North Korea, China has already pledged to reduced its export of crude oil and oil products to North Korea.

S. Korea, U.S. Begin Massive Air Combat Drills

Lee Chi-dong | Yonhap News
South Korea and the United States kicked off a major air force exercise here Monday against North Korea's threats, with two dozen U.S. stealth jets mobilized. The five-day Vigilant air combat exercise (ACE) comes less than a week after the North fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and declared the completion of its "nuclear force." The annual training has drawn keen media attention, although it was scheduled before the provocation. It's known as the largest-ever combined air force drill between the allies, involving more than 230 warplanes and around 12,000 personnel. They include six F-22 Raptors and six F-35As, which have been deployed temporarily to Korea for the practice.

North Korea's New ICBM Likely Broke Up Upon Re-Entry, U.S. Official Says

Barbara Starr and Ray Sanchez | CNN
An intercontinental ballistic missile that North Korea said could reach the "whole" mainland of the United States likely broke up upon re-entry into Earth's atmosphere, a US official said Saturday. North Korea on Tuesday broke a two-month lull in weapons testing. It launched an advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15, that state-controlled media described as the "most powerful ICBM" carrying a "super-large heavy warhead" to unprecedented heights of almost 4,500 kilometers (2,800 miles).

North Korea’s Submarine-Launched Ballistic Missile Program Advances: Second Missile Test Stand Barge Almost Operational

38 North
Commercial satellite imagery from November 11, 16 and 24 show that North Korea’s second submersible ballistic missile test stand barge—a platform that allows for underwater missile launches outside of submarines—located at the Nampo Navy Shipyard is being prepared to enter service, a strong indicator that Pyongyang is advancing its submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) program.[1] During this time, the barge was moved from the construction way and berthed alongside the nearby fitting-out dock. This is where vessels are positioned when their hulls are sound yet require systems (e.g., pumps, electrical, communications, etc.) to be installed, modified or repaired, or to have minor work completed on their superstructures before becoming operational. Once in service, this barge will help facilitate a broader SLBM testing regime and potentially establish a SLBM capability within the West Sea Fleet.

The Hypersonic Arms Race Heats Up

Jason L. Sherman | Daily Beast
James Acton, senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and expert in hypersonic weapons development, noted the U.S. has now twice demonstrated experimental hypersonic boost-glide payloads from Hawaii to the Reagan Test Site on Kwajalein Atoll in the Marshall Islands, a range significantly greater than the 2,100 kilometer distance China has reportedly been testing. “So I remain skeptical of the 'China has leaped ahead of the U.S. in hypersonics' narrative,” Acton tweeted on Nov. 3.

Did American Missile Defense Fail in Saudi Arabia?

Max Fisher, Eric Schmitt, Audrey Carlsen, and Malachy Browne | New York Times
The official story was clear: Saudi forces shot down a ballistic missile fired by Yemen’s Houthi rebel group last month at Saudi Arabia’s capital, Riyadh. It was a victory for the Saudis and for the United States, which supplied the Patriot missile defense system. “Our system knocked the missile out of the air,” President Trump said the next day from Air Force One en route to Japan, one of the 14 countries that use the system. “That’s how good we are. Nobody makes what we make, and now we’re selling it all over the world.”