So that’s it! Now we know everything. The Great Explanation, long hidden from us for national security reasons, has suddenly been brought to our attention just when we need it. All we need to do is read about the rocket engines for North Korea in the flagship New York Times, NYTs.
All we need to know is written, with quotes technical report about the missiles, engines, etc.
We don’t often see International Institute for Strategic Studies, IISS reports in mainstream media. Like this one, they are very technical, and make a lot more sense to existing experts, who don’t need the technicalities explained to them, than they do to the reading public. This one however has been publicised by the NYTs. This is a newspaper with a complex.
The NYT has been relentlessly anti-Trump, and initially justified this position. Now it is feeling the heat, and wants to climb down without actually climbing down.
According to the report North Korea, the latest threat, acquired the missiles it is threatening to launch against the West from Ukraine. They were apparently developed in the Yuzhnoye factory, which is conveniently close to Russian-held territory.
However, it doesn’t mention Viktor Yanukovych and when the engines may have been transferred. The report does clear the present Ukrainian government of blame: it is suggesting that the missiles were somehow smuggled out of the factory by disgruntled workers, without the factory’s knowledge, and sent to North Korea via Russia in exchange for payments distributed down the line.
Yuzhmash, the company which owns Yuzknoye, says that it “has never before, and does not now have anything to do, with North Korean missile programmes of a space or defence nature.” But it would, wouldn’t it?
Yanukovych was removed because he was declared an outlaw. Therefore the Great Explanation for his removal is that his supporters at Yuzknoye are somehow smuggling ICBM engines, or perhaps whole rockets, to North Korea without anyone noticing, and this justifies removing him from power.
Could this possibly have something to do with the fact that Americans don’t want war with North Korea, but supported the revolt in Ukraine? With people now openly saying Trump is as bad as Kim Jong-un, as was cited in a recent head line Trump Proves He’s as Dangerous as Kim Jong-un with Threat to Unleash “Fire and Fury” on North Korea.
Could this be an attempt to get the public to back some crazy nuclear intervention to rescue Trump from impeachment and his many other domestic woes? Nobody is talking as why there is such bad blood between the US and North Korea in the first place.
What a tangled web we weave
Yuzhmash is a state-owned company which fulfills state defence contracts. If its products are being smuggled out on the black market through Russia, the Ukrainian state is guilty by association. Perhaps Poroshenko is secretly in league with the same Russians who are supposedly sponsoring armed conflict against his own people.
The idea that North Korea has obtained its nuclear weapons from another source is a credible one. The idea that the engines which power them are Ukrainian RD-250s, or clones of them, is also credible. But we now know that a lot of such “technology transfers” between Western and Soviet-allied countries took place in Cold War times, officially or otherwise. No Western government was accused of being complicit in these at the time, because this would have caused it problems at home. Implying Ukraine has given missiles to North Korea is a blatant attempt to cause its Western-allied government exactly those problems.
Missing pieces which will never fit
The IISS report states that if the new rockets North Korea has tested had been set to a different trajectory, they would have hit US territory during those tests. The apogees of their flight paths indicate that if they had been aimed at targets 5,000 kms away they would have hit them.
But rockets also need fuel. There is no evidence that North Korea has the technology to produce the proper rocket fuel. The two countries which possess the technology to provide the fuel the RD-250 needs are Russia and China.
Ukraine has confirmed that missiles the IISS is talking about were made in Ukraine for Russia prior to 2001. Russia also has the fuel technology needed to make them operational. So where is the story about Russia supplying the fuel?
If these rockets were legally supplied to Russia years ago, with certain Western knowledge, why is Ukraine being treated as the source country now?
If the rockets North Korea is using did come from Ukraine they were manufactured as part of this arrangement with Russia. Ukraine didn’t manufacture them for its own use, because it can’t launch them without the fuel it is unable to manufacture. So the story should be that Russia has tricked poor Ukraine into making these rockets, and is now supplying them to North Korea, along with the fuel, to threaten the Western world.
Every American now living has been brought up to believe this is what Russia does, so this accusation would find a receptive audience in the US. But Trump is now under pressure as a result of his alleged Russian connections, which are striking a chord with the same receptive audience. The conclusion would be drawn that if Russia supplied these rockets, Trump himself approved of this and is thus responsible for the nuclear threat the world faces. He would be out of office within days.
Nor can China, the other fuel supplier, be dragged into the allegation. The US is trying to protect the South China Sea from it, and has a long history of disputes with this growing, and ever-more threatening, economic power . The narrative is that tiny North Korea, run by a mad boy, is a real threat to the US. Hollywood has even climbed on the bandwagon with the Interview.
But if enormous, increasingly powerful China is the source of the threat, there will be much greater demands on the White House to do something about it, in the country where people went running to the hills when Orson Welles told them the Martians had landed.
Somehow, Ukraine has fallen out of US favour, but the US doesn’t want to admit it publicly to avoid compromising its own support for the pro-Western state it created. North Korea is the enemy and Viktor Yanukovych is the enemy. This story is about telling Poroshenko that he is the same as Yanukovych, and that he will go the same way.
The allegation also gets Trump and the New York Times off the hook for now, by replacing North Korea with an enemy more Americans understand. But it does nothing to identify, or protect us from, any real threat—and as such simply makes nuclear destruction more likely, and willfully so.
Yellow press and red lines
The best way the MSM can maintain its public position whilst doing the opposite behind the scenes is to publish articles which improve Trump’s position whilst still publicly attacking him. The IISS report puts Trump on the right side of public opinion, exactly where he wants to be, at least when the impeachment goons come calling.
Yuzhmash maintains that the New York Times article is “provocative”. Articles attacking Trump no longer provoke, as both the appearance of such articles and their content are now expected. Provocative articles have more weight, and thus leave the NYT free to write its usual fodder and maintain it hasn’t changed its position. If Trump himself didn’t order these articles, he probably should have done if he knew what he was doing, though the NYT doesn’t have that excuse.
Depart from me, I never knew you
The references to Ukraine make the report more shocking, because Ukraine can do no wrong in the eyes of the US. Poroshenko’s chocolate soldiers are protecting the country from Russian conquest by being unequivocally pro-American. So any claim of Ukrainian wrongdoing demonstrates that this report is scientific, unbiased, non-political, and therefore we have to accept the views of these experts.
It is more likely, just another red herring report for the sake of domestic political consumption. Poroshenko announced an investigation into those deliveries, as if he had no clue … as to be expected. North Korea is likely just another convenient distraction from Trump’s domestic woes.
It seems that Ukraine is no longer worth protecting. And what good is a high power rifle without a scope to bring the target into the cross hairs, and at best, NK, has a smooth bore lacking even basic iron sights and powder.
Henry Kamens, columnist, expert on Central Asia and Caucasus, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.