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NightWatch 20100906


For the Night of 6 September 2010

South Korea-US: The Allies announced that a typhoon has prompted them to postpone the anti-submarine warfare exercise in the Yellow Sea for safety reasons.

North Korea-South Korea: The Korean Central News Agency said on 6 September that North Korea will release the South Korean fishing boat and its crew which the North captured last month for violating the exclusive economic zone. The announcement described the release as made "from the compatriotic and humanitarian points of view."

Comment: Like the release of the US citizen to former President Carter, this is further confirmation that the North wants no grievances with neighbors and enemies to cast a shadow over the Party Conference -- most likely this week - that might be exploited to disrupt it.

North Korea: Party Conference Update. The Party newspaper Rodong Sinmun reported on 6 September that delegates from the Workers' Party are arriving in Pyongyang for the 3rd Party Conference. The leadership has not announced the date the conference begins or how long it will last. Often for security purposes, the North withholds that information for significant internal events until after they have concluded their work.

Comment: More than 1,300 delegates attended the 1966 conference. Accommodation is a significant burden, but delegates will have been arriving most likely for weeks before now. If the Conference has not already begun, it is likely to this week, based on today's announcement.

Kim Chong-il is not likely to designate in public his third son as his successor. Instead he is likely to appoint him to a post that will point to his succession. Kim's brother-in-law and the youth's uncle, Chang Song-taek, has been promoted to party and government positions that supposedly will enable him to act as regent and tutor for Kim Chong-eun, whom Japanese sources say is only 27.

The public appearance of the third son would be a sign that the speculation about his succession to leadership is accurate.

India-Russia: Indian defense scientists claim they created a world record on 5 September when they successfully test-fired the BrahMos supersonic cruise missile off the Orissa coast from the integrated test range launching complex-3 (LC-3) at Chandipur, according to a report in the Times of India on 6 September. This is the first time that the missile performed a steep dive while traveling at nearly three times the speed of sound. During the flight the advanced version of a BrahMos Block-II carried a conventional warhead weighing 200-300 kg (440-660 lbs), the scientists said.

Comment: Defense scientists said the test was a "user's trial" by the defense forces. This missile was developed jointly with the Russians and has navy, air force and army versions. The joint venture plans to produce 2,000 of the missiles and sell about half of them to friendly countries. The BrahMos Block-II has a low radar cross section and is capable of attacking a single discrete small target amid a group of targets. The Indians describe it as a precision strike weapon.

Since mid-2007, the Indian Army has fielded one operational battalion of 67 land attack missiles, with five Tatra 12x12 launch vehicles and two command posts, in Rajasthan. The Army is to get two more battalions.

The Indian Navy has been arming surface ships with anti-ship and land attack BrahMos Block I missiles since 2005, according to Indian defense science sources. A submarine-launched version is under development and reportedly ready for testing, possibly from an Indian KILO-class submarine.

The air force is to receive air-launched anti-ship and land attack versions of the BrahMos by 2012.

End of NightWatch for 6 September.

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