Korea: The Chinese Coup Plot

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November23, 2006: In a move typical of North Korea, the government up there refuses to allow an aid group to set up a health and nutrition program for babies and young children, unless the South Korean government, or the aid group, first pays it a bribe of some $13 million, to build a factory. Caught in the middle of this, the aid group has halted its efforts to start the health and nutrition program.

November 22, 2006: The current price, to bribe a North Korean border guard to let you enter China, is about twenty dollars. Chinese intelligence constantly talks to many of these line crossers, some of whom are Chinese agents, and the reports are grim. It's going to be a hard Winter, with more food and fuel shortages. People are too cold and hungry to be rebellious, but there is a sense of dread and despair. Rumors abound of China supporting North Korean Communist Party officials who back a Chinese style economic reform. This would include either removing Kim Jong Il from power, or forcing him to implement the Chinese plan. The hard liners opposing this are mostly senior military people. But they are having increasing problems maintaining their ancient weapons, and insuring that their hungry soldiers will obey orders. The big question mark is, which way will the secret police go?

November 21, 2006: A South Korean intelligence official said that North Korea did not have the resources to build smaller and lighter nuclear weapons, ones that could fit into bombs or missile warheads.

November 18, 2006: South Korea continues to refuse joining the Proliferation Security Initiative (PSI), an organization of nations that will stop ships (especially North Korean ships) on the high seas, and search them for illegal materials (some types of weapons, drugs, counterfeit currency.) The PSI was begun three years ago, and, currently, 70 nations participate. The U.S. has been pressuring South Korea to join the PSI since the North Korean nuclear tests last month.

November 17, 2006: For the first time, South Korea voted against North Korea in the UN. The resolution condemned North Korea's bad treatment of its own people (which included letting two million of them starve to death, and locking several hundred thousand up in prison or slave labor camps.) In the past, South Korea had sought to avoid criticizing North Korea, in the hope that this would persuade the northerners to mellow. Since North Korea's nuclear test, public opinion in the south has shifted against being nice to the north.

A UN nuclear inspector, just returned from a visit to North Korea, believes that the shabby state of North Korean nuclear facilities means that they can produce enough nuclear material for one atomic bomb a year. It is believed that the North Koreans currently have enough material for six bombs.

November 13, 2006: A North Korean merchant ship was detained at the French Pacific island of Mayotte, and searched for illegal weapons, drugs or other items. Nothing was found, and the ship, carrying cement to Singapore, was released. This was the first time the French had enforced the new UN sanctions on North Korea.

 

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