How a Nuclear North Korea Threatens America


William C. Triplett II

Regnery Publishing, 2004, 246 pp.   ISBN 0-89526-068-9


Veteran national security specialist William C. Triplett II exposes just how dangerous the mad North Korea regime has become—a rogue state dedicated not just to developing nuclear weapons but to proliferating them (from the flyleaf). 


Although highly partisan, the author criticizes administrations of both parties for failures with the North Korean situation.  According to Triplett, Beijing is the power and shield over North Korea and the situation will not be defused without convincing the Chinese communist government it is in their best interest to stop supporting North Korea.  There are 30 pages of endnotes and references to support his research.


In October 2002, the U.S. knew about North Korea’s secret plan to build nuclear weapons.  The U.S. discovered North Korea had traded long-range ballistic missile technology to Pakistan in exchange for nuclear weapons-making equipment. (1)


“The North Korean and Chinese communist parties have been mutually supportive military and political allies for almost sixty years.”  “The North Korean economy is always in a state of imminent collapse, but communist China serves as its life support system.  Beijing will not let the regime in North Korea die.” (3)


“The fact is: communist China is central to all North Korean issues, from human rights to weapons proliferation.” (4)


“In the midst of a famine, the regime spent almost a billion dollars glorifying the Great Leader after his death in 1994.” (6)


“The Kim family dictatorship has elements of an organized crime family that has taken over a country.”  They have taken to narcotics and arms trafficking to sustain themselves. (6)


“For the last fifty-five years, Pyongyang and Beijing have operated one of the most successful denial and deception operations ever mounted.”  “The two nations have been able to hide their joint participation in many projects involving weapons of mass destruction programs and missile proliferation.”  (10)


“It is clear that Beijing serves as an ‘enabler,’ if not co-conspirator and participant, in all of North Korea’s crimes.  The bottom line is this: As a rogue state, North Korea serves the larger purposes of the Chinese Community Party.  Beijing knows that a free and democratic Korea on its border would be a serious threat to the regime.”  “By using North Korea as its front man in weapons of mass destruction and missile sales, Beijing can participate in this lucrative business without openly getting its hands dirty.” (11)


“Only when the ‘borrowed knife’ linkage between Beijing and Pyongyang is recognized will it be possible to consider feasible solutions to North Korea.” (12)


In 1949-1950, Mao and Kim engaged in a massive conspiracy of conquest.  Mao would take Tibet and Taiwan.  Kim would conquer South Korea with troops from Mao and arms from Stalin.  Ho would take Indochina backed by arms and training from Mao.  Stalin, Mao, Kim and Ho, communist revolutionaries all, dream ed of first regional, then world conquest.  “The reign of terror they helped unleash is directly responsible for the death and continuing misery of millions of Tibetans, Koreans, Vietnamese, Cambodians, and others.  The dangers we face in Asia today derive from what they put in motion over fifty years ago, and nowhere more so than on the Korean Peninsula.”  (31-4)


In 1950 all of the North Korean Army’s heavy weapons came from Moscow, but after that Moscow handed the baton to Beijing.  “Beijing assumed influence and responsibility for North Korean, an unholy alliance the People’s Republic of China affirms to this day.”  (37)


“Today, Kim Jung Il’s regime is preparing to wage modern warfare against the South while carrying on a constant campaign of murder, provocation, and threats.  Beijing has been secretly engaged in a military buildup in Manchuria, designed to support North Korea in the event of war.” (57)


“The region surrounding the southern edge of the Korean DMZ is the most heavily fortified and dangerous frontier in the world.” (59)


“The South Koreans have discovered four North Korean tunnels under the DMZ—the earliest in 1974 and the latest in 1989.  ...estimates say that there are at least twenty undiscovered tunnels.” (61)


“The U.S. has 37,000 troops in Korea.” (67)


In terms of numbers of troops, the North Korean armed forces are massive, more than 1 million armed men on active duty and almost 5 mission reserves, the fourth largest armed force in the world.  (70)


“No one outside of North Korea or communist China really knows how many ballistic missiles the North Koreans have produced, how many have been sold abroad, or how many have been retained.  Estimates by U.S. military leaders run as high as one thousand, a large increase in the last decade.” (71)


 “A key to determining Beijing’s true intentions in Korea is to follow the money.  ...most of China’s defense money has gone into applications that would have value if Beijing should invade Taiwan.  However, ...Beijing is also preparing for the possibility of another Korean War.” (75)


“Short of an imminent and confirmed threat to the United States or its allies, America should not initiate hostilities in Korea.  One strong reason is that North Korea has enough forces in place, particularly missiles and long-range artillery with chemical warheads, to devastate Seoul and cause enormous damage to large part of South Korea.  In addition, the likelihood is very high that China would stand behind North Korea.”  (80)


“Not only must Pyongyang be convinced it cannot succeed in a surprise offensive, Beijing must be convinced as well.  The temptation to use North Korea as a ‘borrowed knife’ to distract the United States while it moves against Taiwan or some other target might become too enticing.  Making certain that Beijing does not bless a North Korean attack should be a priority on Washington’s agenda.” (81)


Kim Jung Il has set up the most extensive and sophisticated training facilities for his terrorists, criminals, and spies in the world. (86)


On October 9, 1983, North Korea’s Dear Leader made an audacious attach on the president of South Korea, his cabinet and about 50 top South Korean business leaders.  A huge bomb was detonated as this group was visiting Rangoon, Burma.  An error in timing spared the president, but South Korea lost one fifth of its cabinet.  This occurred the day after North Korea initiated a new peace move.  “This has been a very common North Korean negotiating tactic—to lull the enemy to sleep with peace offerings just before striking.”  (89-91)


South Korean national intelligence discovered that North Korea was responsible for the bombing of KAL 858.  The surviving witness “told investigators that Kim Jung Il had personally directed the murder of innocent people aboard KAL 858 and his motive was to disrupt the preparations for the 1988 Seoul Olympics.”  “The Reagan administration responded to this outrage by putting North Korea on the list of countries that engage in state-sponsored terrorism.” (92-3)


North Korean diplomats turned to crime because it was an easy way to make money.  With diplomatic immunity, if caught, they were sent home. (94)


In 1992 North Korean farmers were forced to convert land normally set aside for food production and to growing poppies.  By the end of the 1990s, North Korea was producing about 45 tons of opium per year.  (95)


The United States Forces Korea estimates North Korea makes half a billion dollars per year on drug trafficking.  (98)  In 2003, a former high-ranking North Korean official testified before a U.S. Senate Subcommittee that narcotics trafficking accounts for 60 percent of north Koreas’ yearly foreign exchange earnings.  (99)


Very high quality counterfeit U.S. one-hundred-dollar bills are made in North Korea.  Ordinary bank currency detectors cannot distinguish them. (102)


“The Kim Jong Il regime resembles a cult-based, family-run criminal enterprise rather than a government.”  It is “an outlaw regime whose leadership is cunning, brazen, and absolutely ruthless.”  “It is also a regime against which a policy of appeasement, sometimes called a ‘sunshine’ policy, is spectacularly inappropriate.” (103)  “The choice is stark: be firm for become a victim.” (104)


North Korea is a dagger pointed at Japan.  (105)


“Kim Jung Il orchestrates the kidnapping of innocents and the training of agents from Pyongyang.  When the Dear Leader decided North Korean films needed improvement, his agents kidnapped the leading South Korean movie director and his wife, the leading actress in South Korean films.” (112)


The U.S. has about 40,000 military personnel stationed in Japan.  It also has air bases, Navy bases and most of entire Marine Division on nearby islands.  (119)


Japan has 50 nuclear generating plants, all along the coast.  They are vulnerable to attach from the sea.  (121)


“By some estimates the North Koreans have been able to insert hundreds of ‘sleeper’ agents into Japan.”  (121)  If there were a Chernobyl-type accident in Japan, millions of people would be at risk for there is no place for them to evacuate. (122)


“North Korea is worse off than the Soviet Union ever was during Stalin’s reign.  It is built on a foundation of lies—about the country’s leadership, North Korea itself, and the world beyond its borders.  The cult personality surrounding the Kims, father and son, seems to have no limits.  In a country without enough resources even for children’s school supplies, no expense is pared to glorify the Kims.” (128)


“It is estimated that Kim has two to four billion dollars stashed away abroad.” (133)

The bulk of the North Korean population lives like serfs.  North Korea has the most rigid class system in the world. (134)  What sustains the system is terror. (135)


We now know that all communist regimes have forced labor camps for political prisoners.  North Korea also has such a gulag system, built on the Chinese model but including child political prisoners.  They are designed to exploit the prisoners’ labor until they die.  Political prisoners are never released.  Beating, torture, and executions are common.  Some estimate that 200,000 are currently being held and 400,000 have perished over the past decades. (136-37)


“According to the official newspaper of North Korea, the Army-first strategy ‘calls for giving priority to military issues over everything.’  This announcement came in the middle of the worst part of the North Korean famine (1995-1998).”  “This terrifying ideology has made serfs of north Korea’s civilian population.”  (138-39)


“In one instance, the North Korean military commandeered five thousand tons of food aid at gun point right in front of WFP officials.” (142)  Meanwhile, Kim imported 40,000 bottles of wine, ordered a bigger and faster ski jet, etc. (143)


A substantial portion of the older generation simply disappeared during the famine.  “Sadly, it may be that the international food aid program saved the North Korean regime at a moment when it was most vulnerable.” (144)


On December 1, 1994, “North Korea had agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program and, in return, the United States had agreed to pay for substitute forms of energy in North Korea.”  (147)  “Over the next several years, billions of taxpayer dollars from the United States, South Korea, and Japan flowed to North Korea to provide heating oil and to construct two nuclear power plants in North Korea for electrical production.” (149)


In the 1980s it became obvious to allied intelligence that North Korea’ newer and larger power reactors were meant to reprocessing plutonium to weapons grade and therefore, a serious nuclear weapons program was underway. (153)  A North Korean defector reported that dozens of Pakistani nuclear engineers with to North Korea. 


The Chinese began assisting the Pakistani nuclear weapons program in 1974.  (156)  “The Chinese were repeatedly caught selling missiles, missile technology, critical parts, and even an entire missile-producing factory to Pakistan throught the 1990s. (157)


“North Korea also has advanced chemical and biological weapons programs their origins going back several decades.” (159)  “Pyongyang also has a large germ warfare program.” (160)


“Like clockwork, every six months the CIA reports to Congress that there is continued missile trading among North Korea, China, and Libya.” (168)  “For several years American intelligence had watched Chinese cruise missiles go to North Korean ports and thence to Iran, which was at war with Iraq.”  “The communist Chinese have been partners with the North Koreans on WMD and missile sales to Iran for at least sixteen years.” (170)


Within the last year allied intelligence pointed Atomic Energy Agency inspectors to Natanz in Iran where they found two giant underground complexes under construction where a massive uranium enrichment facility was being built. (171) 


“Syria has all of the ambitions of the others but it does not have the oil revenues of Libya or Iran....” (173)  In the mid-90s Beijing shipped missile guidance systems to Syria.  In 1999 Syria was receiving missile technology through an Iran-Pakistan-North Korea deal with China. (174)


“The largest problem facing American diplomats on the North Korean issues is Beijing.” (177)


“Remaining silent on human rights in North Korea earned them nothing but contempt from Pyongyang and confusion abroad.” (181)


“North Korea is China’s knife, doing the violent bidding of its master.” (184) “Beijing controls 70 percent of North Korea’s energy supply, an enormous leverage over Pyongyang.” (184)


“For Beijing, regime survival means above all keeping the democracy virus away from its borders.”  “Beijing these days wants to keep the world a safe haven for dictatorships.”  “Beijing also has territorial ambitions.  It wants to keep the vast Tibetan Plateau it conquered in 1950 as well as to conquer Taiwan.” (185-6)


“North Korea has proven that it could hit American soil (Alaska) with a North Korean-Chinese hybrid missile.” (187)


“The international response to the North Korea threat has been fragmented and ineffectual.”  “For its part, the Kim dynasty has shown itself to be incorrigible.”  “Putting an end to this regime must be the ultimate goal for the U.S., South Korea, Japan, and Russia.”  This group must convince Beijing to put pressure on Pyongyang. (188)


“North Korea is still on the dole.  President Bush has declared the food will not be used as a weapon and U.S. aid continues to flow to North Korea.”  In 2003, the U.S. was the leading international donor to North Korea, behind only communist China. (190-91)


So long as the issue remains isolated to North Korea, it is unlikely that a solution will be found.  Reframing the issue to include North Korea and communist China is a first step.


* * * * *