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Message #6

Embassy Moscow reports that President Putin told U.S. Ambassador that Russia has indications North Korea planning a large-scale military assault against the South within the next month. Putin told Ambassador Russia is doing everything it can to dissuade North Korea, including consultations with China.

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Comments

I'm just gonna go ahead say I called this one I guess, although it was pretty obvious from the set-up.

We should send whatever carrier group we have in the area towards the Korean peninsula immediately. Our forces in the area should be put on alert.

Graham,

I'm not convinced what we are seeing is what is really happening. We must remain cautious. Lets look at the endgame. What does North Korea want/need? Probably food and fuel. I've seen reports which suggest that the food shortages in North Korea are at an all time high. If that is the case, North Korea can rattle the war drum to get negotiations goings ... and then pull back their troops for food/fuel from interested parties. It is the only card they have (besides the Nuclear program). We probably need more information to determine if this is correct.

Yet in the meantime, we should play our part and increase our readiness, and get South Korea to do the same. And of course, let Russia (N Korea's old ally) do their part. More later.

Dean M.

(Note: This message was also sent via email)
This message contains:

1) Response to Message 6: Analysis (Reasons for North Korean action and alternative explanations of North Korean military activities.)

2) Action Items: Dirs. Vogt, Roseen, and Henry

3) Request for feedback on Action Items


Good Evening,

The first report of North Korean activities was sufficiently vague to not warrant immediate outward action. Now we have more evidence, or at least a purported motive for the troop and fuel movements. We still need to be cautious though.

History shows that whenever North Korea wants to be heard, or if it seeks leverage on any issue, it performs an audacious act. This certainly qualifies. In 1993 and 2006 Pyongyang launched missiles in the direction of Japan. In 1998 they launched a missile that flew past Japan and landed in the Pacific ocean.

On the surface, the timing of this seems at odds with current events, but if you look deeper there may be motivation for this action. Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill is currently touring Asia and is scheduled to travel to North Korea on Monday. Two days ago, Hill said he thought North Korea was "Days away" from fully declaring all it's nuclear programs. This includes declaring all nuclear material. Intelligence says Pyongyang has about 50kg of Plutonium, but there is a mystery surrounding a possible Highly Enriched Uranium project. Some intelligence says North Korea has significant stockpiles, while other intelligence refutes this.

The language of the latest agreement of the six party talks left little room for ambiguity from the north regarding declaring their nuclear program, but the one area that was unclear was declaring nuclear material. North Korea may be trying to play the brinksmanship card to gain leverage in anticipation of evidence of (Or lack thereof) their Uranium project.

Putin told our Russian ambassador that North Korea is planning an attack. If North Korea did indeed tell Putin they intend to attack, North Korea would have complete certainty that Putin would tell the U.S.
Pyongyang may have leaked this rumor to get us to listen. Or Putin may have gotten his information from his own operatives. If so, the threat may be more credible (Or North Korea is more subtle in passing information.)

That being said, we need to find out how Putin got his information. That will tell us a lot about the validity of the threat. We also need to know what China and South Korea knows.


Action Items:

Contact Chinese officials to determine what they know. Have they been contacted by North Korea? (Angela Vogt, Director for Asian Affairs)

Conduct follow up with Russian officials to find out where they got their information. (Cassandra Roseen, Director for Russian Affairs)

Contact South Korean officials to see what they know. With an understanding of strict secrecy, we should share with South Korea general threating news regarding North Korea's military buildup, but we need not share all at this time.

We also need to inform Pacific Command of the threat. Putting them on higher alert is advised.

Having already issued a travel warning, no further action is advised regarding warnings to the public or the press.

(Matt Henry, Director for Asian Affairs)


Please Advise.

Matt Henry
Director for Asian Affairs
612-978-2956

On 30 Nov 2007, Steven Andreasen wrote:
> Embassy Moscow reports that President Putin told U.S. Ambassador that
> Russia has indications North Korea planning a large-scale military
> assault against the South within the next month. Putin told
> Ambassador Russia is doing everything it can to dissuade North Korea,
> including consultations with China.

To all,

I second Kathryn's request for working groups. I think having these groups in place before Thursday will make us much more effective for coming to decisions and being prepared.

ACTION STEPS:
I propose these groups for the rest of our staff. Whether or not they meet before Thursday, I suggest we use these assignment to break into smaller discussion groups at the beginning of our Thursday "meeting" (class) for 20-30 min. to prepare and outline the major issues and approaches. Obviously since one of us will be coordinating, one or two groups may shift slightly.

If this seems like too many groups, then I propose the following combos: Group 1 & 8; Group 2 & 3; Group 4 & 5; Group 6 & 7.

Group 1:
Ben Marcy, Director for African Affairs
Will Wilson, Director for African Affairs
Tony Gertz, Director for International Economics

Group 2:
Angela Vogt, Director for Asian Affairs (China, Taiwan)
Matt Henry, Director for Asian Affairs (NK, SK, Japan)
Sky Satterstorm, Director for Asian Affairs (everything else)

Group 3:
Graham Lampa, Director for European Affairs (EU, NATO)
Curt Yoakum, Director for European Affairs (Europe, Balkans, Baltic States)
Cassandra Roseen, Director for Russian Affairs

Group 4:
Mohamed Bakri, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon)
John Grill, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (Iraq)
Millie Suk, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (Iran, Persian Gulf)

Group 5:
Pouya Najamie, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (Saudi Arabia, Isreal, Palestine, West Bank, Gaza)
Lolyann Stoffel, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (Afghanistan, Central Asia, Caucuses)
Megan Rozowski, Director for Near East and South Asia Affairs (India and Pakistan)

Group 6:
Will Morton, Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control (Defesne, WMD, Nuclear Weapons)
Kathryn Quam, Director for Defense Policy and Arms Control (Homeland Security)
Parker Cohen, Director for Congressional Affairs and Communications
Chris Farrell, Director for Intelligence Affairs

Group 7:
Brent Ruter, Director for Transnational Threats (Global Health)
Emily Waymire, Director for Transnational Threats (Global Climate)
Carrie Callaway, Director for Transnational Threats (Global Energy)

Group 8:
Sarah Crowell, Director for Inter-American Affairs (Canada, Cuba, Mexico)
Dean Mitchell, Director for Inter-American Affairs (Central and South America)
Laura Hammond, Director for Mulitlateral Affairs

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