What if North Korea is being cut off from world markets to shore up big mining businesses in the west? As crazy as this sounds, one was of explaining the crazy logic and policy moves from Pyongyang is to think outside the box. In a geopolitical world where nothing is as it seems, anything is possible. Could Kim Jong-un just be playing his role in a game of good cop – bad cop?
“What if” scenarios can tell us a lot about today’s foreign policy strategies. So, what if North Korean leader Kim Jong-un takes periodic calls from some 007 Spectre character? It’s not hard to imagine a sinister figure calling to give the order, “Okay Kim, stir up the chickens with some more rocketry like we discussed”. Yes, like I said, it’s a crazy world. But there is some circumstantial evidence if we look into markets.
An article about North Korea’s untapped mineral wealth on MENAFN caught my eye this morning. The piece entitled “The $10 Trillion Resource North Korea Can’t Tap” reminded me of something my Dutch research colleague, Holger Eekhof brought to my attention some months ago. Enter a man named Hans Werner Truppel, a German business man convicted in German courts for attempting to provide aluminum tubes to North for the country’s nuclear program back in 2003. This Seattle Times story lays out the voyage of the French cargo ship Ville de Virgo, and black-market business of supplying strategic materials and weapons to North Korea. The story uncloaked a CIA operator named Truppel, owner of a tiny German export company called Optronic, in a village about 85 miles northwest of Munich. Author Mike Chinoy also outlined the clandestine effort to build up North Korea’s nuclear capability in his book “Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis”, but his account frames US and European intelligence communities as the “good guy” investigators in the case. But this notion was manufactured subterfuge and only for plausible deniability if the US Senate should get involved.
When I asked Eekhof about the connection in between Truppel, the North Koreans, and the US agencies, he pointed out that Truppel’s wife Elisabeth had managed Optronic while he was in the German prison. Eekhof also pointed me in the direction of Optronic’s current operations, supplying temporary personnel to the US Army in Germany for situational drills involving so called COB’s, Civilians on the Battlefield, and represent the civilian population in conflict regions. These “extras” are apparently intended to serve as Russian, Polish, Czech, and Afghan civilians on some future battlefield. Optronic’s Facebook contingent links the German business with Joint Multinational Readiness Center Command (JMRC). From what I can gather, the company of the man convicted of trying to supply illegal nuclear weapons components is now working with the Pentagon for deploying multinationals with the western alliance. By all outward appearances, the 7th Army’s Joint Training Command is using international criminals to train for incursions into Ukraine, Russia, Poland, or anywhere in Eastern Europe. Or, Truppel’s company in cahoots with the Pentagon is the most fascinating coincidence in the history of journalism. Optronic’s Twitter profile was created back in 2010, and Elisabeth Truppel is was listed as the head of the company as recently as 2014. A story in German from neues deutschland also confirms Truppel’s company as the same one that tried to ship 22 tons of aluminum to the North Koreans. Beyond crazy coincidence, inquiring minds have to wonder if Truppel worked with the Pentagon before the French and Germans caught him shipping centrifuge parts to Pyongyang? Again, “what if” questions may provide more answers.
All this coincidence and loose information begs the question “Why would the United States help the North Koreans get nukes?” This brings us back to the MENAFN story, and what I believe is the answer to almost every geo-political crisis in the world. Markets and business are the only friction points the 21st century politics reveal. Take for example the raw material molybdenum, which is used to create so-called super-alloys used in making jet engines and other high temperature/high stress applications. The reader may be surprised to discover that North Korea possesses some of the largest remaining molybdenite deposits in the world. As it happens, the market for this fairly rare raw material is controlled by a US company Freeport McMoran, which is headquartered in Senator John McCain’s home state of Arizona, USA. I won’t go into a market summary on what happens when supply is controlled, I think the reader can make this connection in between molybdenum, or zinc, or copper, iron, graphite, or gold that North Korea has. Another “coincidence” looms large as I research this “what if” query.
Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold Inc.’s CEO is a man named Richard Adkerson, who as it so happens serves on the advisory council of the Kissinger Institute on China and the United States, and as a member of the Clinton Global Initiative. This last happenstance sets me thinking about Hillary Clinton’s Secretary of State dealings with selling off US strategic uranium reserves too. Once again, “what if” seems to churn up items of fact that most people would never be aware of. Heck, Adkerson does hang out with Lynn Forester de Rothschild, so maybe my crazy Kim Jong-un puppet fantasy is not so nutty after all? I can just hear Nathan Rothschild barking orders at manservant Renfield now, “I say Renfield, get that North Korean chap on the blower and have him shoot another rocket over those Japs.” Strategy like that will lift copper shares a tidbit I bet, so imagine what bashing Putin and Russia does for Wall Street and London.
But “what if” is not reality, now is it?
Phil Butler, is a policy investigator and analyst, a political scientist and expert on Eastern Europe, exclusively for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook”.