September 21, 2006: South Korea has developed a cruise missile, similar to the U.S. Tomahawk. The Cheon Ryong missile has a range of 500 kilometers, a half ton warhead and the ability to fly at about 200 feet altitude (to evade radar) and hit targets with great precision. The Cheon Ryong is small enough to be launched from the torpedo tubes of South Korean submarines, as well as from aircraft and ground based launchers. The missiles are to be used to destroy North Korean missile launchers.
September 19, 2006: Japan and Australia joined the U.S. in imposing new sanctions on North Korea. The latest sanctions are directed against companies that try to provide North Korea with equipment for its nuclear weapons program. The sanctions make it illegal to deal with a list of companies known to be working with the forbidden North Korean programs. The growing number of sanctions is making it more difficult for North Korea to buy military related equipment, and smuggle it into the country. North Korea protested these sanctions, which is a good sign.
September 16, 2006: Chinese officials admit that they find the North Korean government stubborn and irrational, but are reluctant to impose sanctions because they fear retaliation. For example, North Korea could loosen its border controls, and allow hundreds of thousands of its citizens more easily get into northern China. There, the number of illegal North Korean refugees could easily double in a few weeks, providing China with all manner of economic and political problems. A major breakdown in North Korea would put millions of North Korean refugees in northern China.
September 15, 2006: American commanders believe North Korean military capabilities continue to decline because of increasing economic problems and more effective sanctions. American troops at the DMZ are amazed as how small the younger North Korean troops are. These soldiers are the first of the "famine generation" from the 1990s to reach military age, and they are noticeably shorter and smaller than those a few years older. Severe food shortages in the 1990s stunted the growth of a generation of North Koreans.
In another example of growing hostility of South Koreans to the presence of American troops in the country, the U.S. Air Force has threatened to move its fighter aircraft out of South Korea if the South Koreans do not, as they agreed to, start construction on a new bombing range (off the coast) within 30 days. The government agreed to this last year, but construction has been delayed by politicians opposed to the deal. As a result, American pilots must leave the country for training. The treaty covering U.S. forces in South Korea, obliges South Korea to provide these training areas. The old one was closed on the condition that a new one would be built. If the Americans go through with their threat, airpower available to defend South Korea will be cut by about twenty percent. In the event of a North Korean attack, the U.S. fighters could return within a week or so.