It looks like China is seriously worried about North Korea's nuclear warheads
North Korea is the wild card in world politics, ruled by a basketball-loving young dictator who executed his uncle to secure his power base, and in possession of missiles capable of launching space satellites with nuclear warheads that can be fitted on them. China, almost the only nation on earth that the North could call friendly, has taken an unprecedented step that seems to be a warning to the regime, or possibly even a tacit encouragement for its overthrow.
A few days ago, the US news leaked out that the US believes the North has succeeded in miniaturizing its nuclear weapons to the point where they could be fitted on its ICBMs. Bill Gertz of the Washington Free Beacon summarizes:
The Obama administration is seeking to hide the fact that North Korea possesses nuclear missile warheads, according to a report by Mark Schneider, a former Pentagon strategic analyst and director for forces policy at the office of the secretary of defense. Schneider’s statement came in a report published April 28 in the journal Comparative Strategy.
According to the 16-page report, “The North Korean Nuclear Threat to the United States,” the Defense Intelligence Agency stated in an unclassified assessment made public a year ago that “DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North [Korean government] currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles.”
“This is disturbing news,” the report says. “The North Korean regime is one of the most fanatic, paranoid, and militaristic dictatorships on the planet. … While North Korea has long made occasional nuclear attack threats, the scope, magnitude, and frequency of these threats have vastly increased in 2013.”
North Korea has in the recent months issued provocative threats to carry out nuclear strikes on U.S. cities and against American allies.
According to the report, the Obama administration has sought to hide the alarming intelligence because it undermines efforts to eliminate nuclear weapons.
China, meanwhile, has taken an extraordinary step: leaking its own planning for the fall of the Pyongyang regime. Julian Ryall of the UK Telegraph reports:
China has drawn up detailed contingency plans for the collapse of the North Korean government, suggesting that Beijing has little faith in the longevity of Kim Jong-un’s regime.
Documents drawn up by planners from China’s People’s Liberation Army that were leaked to Japanese media include proposals for detaining key North Korean leaders and the creation of refugee camps on the Chinese side of the frontier in the event of an outbreak of civil unrest in the secretive state.
The report calls for stepping up monitoring of China’s 879-mile border with North Korea.
Any senior North Korean military or political leaders who could be the target of either rival factions or another “military power,” thought to be a reference to the United States, should be given protection, the documents state.
According to Kyodo News, the Chinese report says key North Korean leaders should be detained in special camps where they can be monitored, but also prevented from directing further military operations or taking part in actions that could be damaging to China’s national interest.
Leaking this to Japanese media is a slap at the face of the North’s regime. They hate Japan with a passion, and have repeatedly provoked Japan with missile launches over Japanese territory. In fact, Tokyo is building up its defense capabilities, much to the distress of both North Korea and China, in reaction to these provocations and those of the Chinese as well.
The protection for North Korean leaders could be read as a signal that a coup is being encouraged by the Chinese. Beijing has already been tightening the screws on North Korea by cutting the supply of oil for the first three months of the year. North Korea faces a critical energy shortage that has hobbled its economy for years.
China earlier directly warned North Korea about nuke testing:
The release of the study comes just days after Beijing issued a thinly veiled warning to Pyongyang, ahead of a fourth anticipated nuclear test, that China would “by no means allow war or chaos to occur on our doorstep.”
Hat tip: The American Interest