Skip to comments.Ship seizure fuels fears North Korea in nuclear market
Posted on 08/17/2003 2:48:49 PM PDT by optimistically_conservative
A ship quietly intercepted in the Egyptian port of Alexandria was carrying aluminium tubes destined for North Korea, authorities say, increasing fears that Pyongyang is stepping up efforts to buy nuclear weapons materials.
French and German authorities were said to have tracked the ship, Ville de Virgo, to the eastern Mediterranean and to have seized the tubes on April 12.
German police arrested the owner of a small export company and said they had uncovered a scheme to acquire up to 2000 such pipes.
Investigators said they had concluded that that amount of aluminium in North Korean hands could have yielded about 3500 gas centrifuges for enriching uranium.
A Western diplomat said the intentions "were clearly nuclear". "The result could have been several bombs' worth of weapons-grade uranium in a year."
German prosecutors charged three people on Saturday with contravening arms export regulations involving the attempted shipment. Eckhard Maak, a spokesman for prosecutors in Stuttgart, said the manager of a firm called Optronic was charged with trying to export 214 aluminium tubes to China for eventual delivery to a uranium processing plant in North Korea. Two Hamburg exporters were also charged with helping with the shipment.
In recent months North Korea has stepped up efforts to buy parts and technology in Europe, United States and European intelligence officers. They said they hoped the shipment would give them clues about the design and origins of North Korea's enrichment program.
There appeared to be nothing unusual about the the French-flagged Ville de Virgo when it sailed from Hamburg on April 3. But one container on the deck held aluminium tubes, authorities said, which German intelligence officials had been tracking for several months.
Measuring about 2.5 metres in length and about 23 centimetres in diameter, the tubes were made of a special alloy, 6061-T6, known to be both light and exceptionally strong.
Similar tubes are used in a wide range of commercial products, from bicycle frames to aircraft parts. But they are also useful in building gas centrifuges that enrich uranium into the key material for nuclear weapons.
While French and German officials decided how best to deal with the Ville de Virgo, the ship was in the eastern Mediterranean, far beyond the territorial reach of the two countries, steaming south-east towards the Suez Canal.
It was eventually decided that the aluminum pipes should be removed, quickly and quietly, at the first possible port. The ship's French owner endorsed the plan, and the ship made an unscheduled stop in the Egyptian port of Alexandria.
As the ship docked there on April 12 a special crew and cargo crane was waiting at the dock. Another vessel returned the tubes to Hamburg on April 28.
Try saying this phrase aloud fast, five times.
Whatever happened to that ship that was refusing to identify itself - while it tracked a nonsensical course?
What are the chances that we've missed a lot more than we've intercepted (think WOD)?
Rabid dogs are shot, not negotiated with. Time is growing shorter.
North Korea (nK) can't afford an overt nuclear program, financially or diplomatically. The threat of one is more beneficial than actually having one. Covertly experimenting with one, on a small scale, is the only realistic option. The threat really is not an arms race with nK, but the proliferation of nuclear technology, along with nK's missile exportation.
Regime change in nK is the only answer in the long term. How Russia, China, Japan, South Korea and US manage the mini-Kim's survival/collapse, without the deaths of several 10,000s is the tough question.
MacArthur was right when he said. "There is no substitute for victory."
But once war is forced upon us, there is no other alternative than to apply every available means to bring it to a swift end. War's very object is victory, not prolonged indecision.Sun Tzu's Art of War:
In war there is no substitute for victory.
There are some who for varying reasons would appease Red China. They are blind to history's clear lesson, for history teaches with unmistakable emphasis that appeasement but begets new and bloodier war. It points to no single instance where this end has justified that means, where appeasement had led to more than a sham peace.
The military values victory.MacArthur's quote has been interpreted many ways based on his plans for attacking China, using atomic bombs if necessary, to his speeches in Congress and at West Point. For MacArthur, Korea became a battlefield to be won, with the defeat of the communists in China (and Russia given their involvement) necessary for complete victory in Korea. Korea also became a proxy for the larger struggle between communism and the West. Truman won public opinion and we substituted the Cold War for victory. Korea is the last vestige of that war. The Cold War Bushido hold outs, although I doubt they'd appreciate that analogy.
It does not value prolonging.
The victorious military is first victorious and after that does battle.
The defeated military first does battle and after that seeks victory.
One who takes position first at the battleground and awaits the enemy is at ease.
One who takes position later at the battleground and hastens to do battle is at labor.
Thus one skilled at battle summons others and is not summoned by them.
Taking a state whole is superior.
Destroying it is inferior to this.
There were many Generals that felt the sooner we fought the Soviets, the less bloody the war would be. Turns out, we won without a direct confrontation. Were the proxy wars less bloody over 50 years than a direct assault in the late 40s early 50s? Would Machiavelli appreciate the reduced social impact of a limited war with the cost in lives and treasure spread over so many years? Did the consideration of a push through China in the 50s work in our favor? Would a push into Baghdad in 91 been less bloody than the war we fought, and the occupation/nation building today?
Of course, justifying war in Korea depends on whether you believe the Cold War is really over, whether the Russians are still a threat and/or the Chinese are the next guy on the block in our continuing fight against communism. Unlike Iraq, I do think jumping into a fight in Korea now is the wrong war at the wrong time. Regardless whether you think the Cold War is over or not, arguably we are engaged in a hot war against Islamists and can afford to put the remnants of the Cold War on the back burner.
BTW, I think MacArthur suffered the calamity Sun Tzu warned against:
And so for the general there are five dangers.
Resolved to die, one can be killed.
Resolved to live, one can be captured.
Quick to anger, one can be goaded.
Pure and honest, one can be shamed.
Loving the people, one can be aggravated.
All five are the excesses of the general,
A calamity in employing the military.