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NightWatch 20091102

NightWatch

For the Night of 2 November

North Korea-US: The Korean Central News Agency published the following statement from the Foreign Ministry:

The delegation led by the director general of the U.S. Affairs Department of the Foreign Ministry is staying in the U.S. to attend the 20th Session of the Northeast Asia Cooperation Dialogue sponsored by the University of California Institute on Global Conflict and Cooperation and the exchange of views between the DPRK and the U.S. organized by the National Committee on American Foreign Policy.

While staying there the delegation responded to the request made by the ambassador of the U.S. Department of State for contact.
This contact was not a preliminary one for the DPRK-U.S. talks and, accordingly, no discussion has been made there on any substantial issue concerning the bilateral dialogue.

It is the stand of the DPRK already known to the world that it will go out for multilateral talks depending on the outcome of the DPRK-U.S. talks to be kicked off before anything else and the six-party talks are included in the multilateral talks.

This stand of the DPRK proceeded from the principled and reasonable assertion that if the Korean Peninsula is to be denuclearized the hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. should be settled to give priority to the process of totally removing the root source that spawned the DPRK's access to nukes. …

It is the conclusion drawn by the DPRK that the DPRK and the
U.S., the parties concerned, should sit at a negotiating table, to begin with, to seek a reasonable solution.

If the hostile relations between the DPRK and the U.S. are settled and confidence is built between them, there will be meaningful progress in realizing the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

As the DPRK was magnanimous enough to clarify the stand that it is possible to hold multilateral talks including the six-party talks depending on the talks with the
U.S., now is the U.S. turn. If the U.S. is not ready to sit at a negotiating table with the DPRK, it will go its own way.

Comment: The statement clarifies the status of Li Gun's talks at the UN as not being a precursor to the bilateral talks the North Koreans seek. The bilateral talks have not begun. Second it restates for the third time that progress toward "denuclearization" hinges on an end to the hostile relations with the US. This is the North's euphemism for conclusion of a final peace agreement, normalization of diplomatic relations with exchanges of accredited ambassadors and withdrawal of US forces from South Korea.

This is the first time a North Korean official outlet has clarified that "multilateral talks" include the six-party talks, which the North heretofore had declared "dead" on multiple occasions. The North will demand high compensation for rejoining talks it announced as dead.

The significance of the statement is that the North Korean Foreign Ministry finally has confirmed statements that only Chinese Premier Wen previously said the North Koreans made, attributing them to Kim Chong-il. It is bad form for one communist leader to quote another in public and attribute it; at least North Korea thinks so.

Thus, North Korea delayed any statement backing up Wen as a sign of displeasure. The Dear Leader's name was not mentioned anywhere in the Foreign Ministry statement, as is the North Korean custom.

Pakistan: A suicide bomb detonated outside a bank and a hotel in the garrison city of Rawalpindi. A spokeswoman for the rescue services told Agence France-Presse that "Thirty-four people were killed and 32 wounded in the attack. We are still in the process of confirming the nature of the blast." A senior police officer said the attack was carried out by a suicide bomber on a motorbike.

During this Watch, the Daily Times reported the death toll reached 35 and 63 injured. The majority of the blasts victims were military personnel and employees of the Defence Ministry who had queued up at the National Bank of Pakistan's Shalimar Plaza Branch to draw their salaries.

It was the second terrorist attack in the Red Zone area of the garrison city within a month, as the Daily Times described the location.

In Lahore, according to eyewitnesses, a second suicide attack was thwarted by an alert police constable. The attacker was traveling in a car with a passenger. Upon being stopped by police for a routine inspection, the man got out of the car's passenger seat and detonated his suicide jacket, injuring 25 people, including the car's driver.

Civil Defense District Officer Mazhar Hussain told Daily Times that eight to 10 kg of explosive material had been used in the attack. Mazhar said the terrorist's head was found some 30 yards from the blast site. He said the attacker's face was scarred but recognizable, adding the attacker seemed to be 18. Police officials said the car was packed with huge quantities of explosives and "could have caused a catastrophe" had it entered the city, AFP reported.

Afghanistan: Update. Afghanistan's election commission proclaimed President Karzai the victor of the presidential election on Monday, canceling the planned runoff. The chief of the Independent Election Commission, Daoud Ali Najafi, confirmed the weekend runoff had been canceled.

Russia-Poland: The Polish government and press have obtained "documents" about the scenario in the month-long, large-scale Russian-Belarus exercise Zapad (West) 2009 staged in Belarus, Kaliningrad and the Baltic Sea during September. Publicized as a defensive exercise, the documents show that Poland was the aggressor.

The Russians and Belarus forces beat back the Poles in the center of the war zone with the help of nuclear-armed combat aircraft. On the Baltic flank, forces from the Russian enclave of Kaliningrad supported by the Russian Navy seized a Polish beach and blew up a pipeline, in the scenario, according to Wprost, a Polish news magazine, as reported by the London Daily Telegraph.

The Poles are upset and relations with Russia are strained. Karol Karski, an MP from Poland's Law and Justice Party, protested to the European Commission. His colleague, Marek Opiola, said: "It's an attempt to put us in our place. Don't forget all this happened on the 70th anniversary of the Soviet invasion of Poland."

There is no independent open source corroboration of the published details, but the Zapad series of exercises date back to the Cold War and they always featured NATO as the aggressor. NATO was different then.

If the Russian Air Force practiced dropping nuclear weapons as described, Zapad 2009 would be the first exercise to test the new nuclear doctrine which Ria Novosti reported last month that the Russians have been considering during the past year. Nikolai Patrushev, Secretary of the Security Council said in an interview that Izvestia published on 15 October that a new concept of Russia's military doctrine would be submitted to the president by the end of the year. He said it would list situations in which preemptive nuclear strikes can be delivered to repel external threats to Russia and contain aggressions.

The timing of Zapad 2009 before Patrushev's interview suggests the exercise involved a successful test of the concept, but that is an inference, not confirmation.

According to the Telegraph report, "One man, identified only as Ted, told Polskie Radio, 'Russia has laid bare its real intentions with respect to Poland. Every Pole most now get off the fence and be counted as a patriot or a traitor. The blood enemy of our ancestors has begun the confrontation.'

"Ted's" statement is a bit of an exaggeration but not by much. If the Russians can reverse the eastward expansion of NATO, they will. The Russians would have chosen Poland as the aggressor because Poland is the only NATO member in Eastern Europe that has an army the Russians respect.

The Ukraine, Georgia and the Baltic members of NATO all become indefensible if Poland is defeated.

Honduras: No update to the political situation because Monday was a holiday. The Wall Street Journal published an opinion piece by O'Grady on 3 November describing the most hated man in Tegucigalpa as a man named Hugo … the US ambassador. This is the first analytical news piece that identifies ambassador Hugo Llorens as the "architect" of the US policy of opposition towards the Micheletti government. Apparently Llorens' interventionist program was implemented irrespective of a US promise that the US would end its historic practice of meddling in Honduran internal affairs.

Rope a dope: A brilliant and attentive Reader provided the following more accurate description:

"The technique Ali used was to cover up and lean back against the ropes and let his opponent wear his arms out in a fruitless attempt to hurt him. After fatigue set in, Ali would beat the hell out of his weary opponent. The Rope- a-Dope was something nearly unique to Ali. Very, very, few other fighters had his tolerance of pain."

Thanks! The description above fits the Iranians and the nuclear standoff.

End of NightWatch for 2 November.

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