The “new strategic weapon” mentioned by North Korea leader Kim Jong Un at the end of last year is likely to be a new 3,000-ton submarine equipped with multiple submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs), the South Korean and U.S. intelligence authorities said. Such estimation is based on numerous signs, including underwater injection tests for SLBMs near Shinpo shipbuilding yard in South Hamgyong Province.
The South Korean National Intelligence Service (NIS) has reported on Wednesday that underwater injection equipment used for the development of SLBMs has been consistently identified at Shinpo shipbuilding yard in South Hamgyong Province, North Korea’s submarine building base. “As nahang-class submarines and underwater injection equipment have been consistently detected at Shinpo shipbuilding yard, we are keeping a close eye on developments on the preparation for the launch of a new ship revealed by North Korea last year,” said a member of the NIS.
After all the media huffing and puffing about the supposedly “grave illness” of North Korean leader Kim Jong-un come the assessment of South Korea’s National Intelligence Service (NIS):
The NIS said Kim has no health problem related to his heart, citing experts’ explanation that even a mild procedure would take four to five weeks of rehabilitation. The agency said Kim’s public activity so far this year represents a 66 percent fall in the average of 50 public appearances in previous years. “Even when Kim did not appear in public, he was managing state affairs as usual,” the NIS was quoted as saying.
Based on a true story, The Man Standing Next depicts the turbulent 40-day period leading up to the assassination of South Korea’s ex-president Park Chung-hee on October 26, 1979, by his intelligence chief at the height of pro-democracy protests. Lee played the role of intelligence head Kim Kyu-pyeong in the movie.
As it is such a famous historical event, it’s easy for him to provide the agony and perspective of a real person who once headed the Korean Central Intelligence Agency (KCIA). However, he said that he decided to star in the movie because the director promised to make it with an objective view.
The NIS has played an important role in assessing the state of North Korea’s nuclear arsenal and supporting President Moon Jae-in’s campaign to coax North Korea and the United States to reach an agreement to denuclearize the Korean peninsula and end the Korean war.
The agency has also been embroiled in South Korean politics, with allegations that the intelligence service interfered in the 2017 presidential election on behalf of a conservative candidate.
The NIS has a variety of functions including:
collection, coordination and distribution of South Korea’s strategy and security;
the investigation of crimes related to national security:
maintenance of materials, documents and facilities related to the nation’s classified information;
and the planning and coordination of classified and public information.
The NIS director is Suh Hoon. The agency’s budget is classified.
Despite what Washington hawks wish for, the Korea nuclear talks are not dead. The idea of a deal to end the Korean war, de-escalate the military confrontation between North and South, and denuclearize the Korean peninsula is opposed by John Bolton and, oddly, by many Washington Democrats.
Still, South Korean President Moon Jae-in seeks to bridge the differences between the two. Moon is a liberal, elected in 2017 in a campaign featuring allegations that the National Intelligence Service favored his conservative rival.
Last month Moon met with Dan Coats, director of National Intelligence. Next week Moon is coming to Washington to meet with Trump who also seems determined to save the talks. After the failure of the Hanoi summit in February Trump overruled his advisers and rolled back newly imposed sanctions on North Korea.
Yesterday, Kim Hyun-chong, deputy chief of Moon’s National Security Office (NSO) met with Trump’s deputy National Security Adviser Charles Kupperman at the White House, to discuss ways to break the stalemate.
From the Korea Times
“One of the main issues at the Kim-Kupperman meeting was how to define denuclearization and to narrow the differences between the U.S. and North Korea,” one official said requesting anonymity. “It appears they also touched briefly on the possibility of sending a special envoy to North Korea.”
The official didn’t specify who the envoy would be, but sources said National Intelligence Service chief Suh Hoon may fill the role.