Jim Geraghty of National Review and Greg Corombos tackle the latest accusations of Christine Blasey Ford against Brett Kavanaugh, leaving Republicans with the unpleasant choice of ditching a Supreme Court nominee over an eleventh hour allegation missing many specifics or confirming a nominee who many Americans now believe to be a sex offender just one month before the midterms. They also get a kick out Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez flailing and failing to explain how she would pay for $40 trillion in new government programs over ten years. And they sigh as evidence mounts that North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un hasn’t stopped his nuclear or missile programs but just isn’t boasting about it anymore.
North Korea is bristling at American the verification demands for the dismantling of its nuclear program, but one prominent expert believes the Trump administration’s hardball tactics got Kim Jong-Un to the negotiating table and will likely lead to him truly abandoning his nukes as well.
Over the weekend, North Korea accused Secretary of State Mike Pompeo of engaging in “gangster” tactics for making a number of unilateral demands for North Korean disarmament.
The negotiations themselves followed international reports that North Korea was upgrading its primary enrichment site at Yongbyon and two other facilities. There is also evidence that North Korea is moving forward with its ballistic missile program.
Population Research Institute President Steven Mosher doesn’t see North Korean cheating as evidence that the deal is collapsing but as proof the Trump administration intends to see the entire nuclear program reduced to rubble.
“I think the Trump administration is leaking intelligence reports to the media in order to put Kim Jong-Un on notice that we are watching,” said Mosher.
“We’re putting Kim and his people on notice that if they do not tell us exactly where all the missile launch and manufacturing sites are, all the centrifuges are, all the nuclear sites, all the nukes they may have in storage somewhere,” said Mosher.
And despite the North Korean pushback on Trump’s tactics, Mosher is confident Kim will ultimately comply.
“My guess is that he is (going to go along with nuclear disarming). I hope he understands that the sanctions will not be lifted unless he denuclearizes. He knows, I think, that the president has his number. I think that’s why the U.S. has the upper hand in these negotiations,” said Mosher.
Mosher says Trump caught Kim off guard by not communicating in the same manner as his predecessors. He says Trump’s threatening Kim with “fire and fury” and comparing the sizes of their nuclear buttons appears to have rattled Kim.
He also asserts that Trump promising to help revitalize the North Korean economy once the nukes are gone is a major attraction for Kim. But even if all of that happens, Mosher says the Kim regime’s days are numbered.
“[Trump] made clear in Singapore that he can make life in North Korea much easier. Kim Jong-Un can stay in power. His economy can develop and his people will be much better off.
“Now think about his other options. I believe we’ll see other steps taken to lock up the North Korean regime inside the hermit kingdom that it really is. That will eventually lead to the collapse of the regime,” said Mosher.
One of the other options is for Kim to demonstrate the power of his arsenal with a desperate pre-emptive strike on the U.S. or one our allies in the region. Mosher says that would be a colossal mistake.
“If he tries some sort of pre-emptive strike against the South, that would only accelerate this process. He would be driven back. The Chinese would be forced to intervene again. He would be signing his death warrant and all but inviting China to absorb his half-kingdom,” said Mosher.
Even though China keeps North Korea afloat economically, there’s no great love for the Chinese in Pyongyang. Mosher points out that the government forces women impregnated by Chinese men to undergo abortions so as not to pollute the race.
But China is another reason Mosher thinks Kim will eventually play ball and get rid of his nuclear program. He says Trump has China in a position of weakness as well.
“We’ve caught China cheating on the sanctions a half dozen times already. We caught them cheating on land when the trucks and the trains were still going into North Korea carrying Chinese goods. We caught them at see when they were doing at-sea fuel transfers and goods transfers. Satellite photos showed they were Chinese ships doing the cheating.
“And we caught them again just a couple of weeks ago, when Chinese businesses were rushing into North Korea, anticipating the lifting of the sanctions. We said, ‘Wait a minute. The sanctions are still in place.’ Beijing has ordered all the companies and their representatives back to China,” said Mosher.
Mosher says China is also cautious about flouting sanctions due to the resurgent American economy.
“The American economy may grow faster than the Chinese economy this year. They’re claiming six percent growth but that probably a 30 percent exaggeration. The real growth is about four percent. They have an aging population because of the one-child policy, a shrinking workforce.
“They have huge government corruption and they have off the books debt that is just enormous, probably 300 percent of GDP,” said Mosher.
So what are the demands that have North Korea so upset over the past few days? Mosher hopes Pompeo is leaving no wiggle room for Kim to cheat on his promises.
“You have to have verified, irreversible denuclearization of North Korea. We have to have American teams of inspectors going in there, unrestricted by any conditions of when you can visit a site and how often you can visit a site and where you can go.
“We’ve denuclearized countries before. We went into Ukraine after the collapse of the Soviet Union and de-nuked that country in a couple of years. We know how to do it if we have access,” said Mosher.
If North Korea fails to allow that kind of access or reneges on it’s promises, Mosher says the consequences should be severe.
“I think the sanctions can be tightened even further. We have to make sure that China’s not cheating. Russia needs to be sidelined as well. They’re both spoilers. They’ve violated the sanctions regime in the past. If we’re not watching and putting pressure on them, they’ll violate the sanctions regime in the future.
“I think we also have to ask countries to send the North Korean workers home who are working in their countries. That’s a big source of revenue for Pyongyang,” said Mosher.
He also says the U.S. could put the North Korean economy in a vise grip to compel compliance.
“Finally, I think we need to consider blockading North Korean ports to stop North Korean trade through the oceans. If we do that, we can then sit back and watch the North Korean economy gradually grind to a halt. That, if anything, will bring Kim Jong-Un back to the negotiating table to get serious this time,” added Mosher.
Iranian ballistic missile tests are seen as blatant evidence that the regime there continues to pursue nuclear weapons and the Iranian resistance is now detailing the scope and aggressiveness of the missile program.
On Tuesday, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, or NCRI, unveiled new evidence to explain that far from Iran ratcheting down it’s threat to the Middle East and the world, it has been accelerating its effort ever since it became clear the West was committed to making a deal back in 2015.
“Tehran had decided (before the the nuclear deal was finalized) to step up their efforts on the missile side of their rogue behavior, namely expanding both the production of the missiles but their readiness to deploy them and make them operational,” said Alireza Jafarzadeh, deputy director of the NCRI’s U.S. office.
Jafarzadeh says the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, is taking a bigger role in the missile program through the Aerospace Force.
“It used to be called the Air Force of the IRGC, basically having helicopters control airports and all of that. Since a few years ago, they changed the whole structure into Aerospace Force, meaning the dominance is with the missile program. Most of their work is the expansion of the missile program,” said Jafarzadeh.
The new report, gathered through intelligence sources in Iran who are hostile to the regime, shows a vast network of facilities working on the missile program.
“We managed to identify, so far, 42 different locations around the country that are dedicated to their missile program, and they include sites that are engaged in the design, production, testing, and launching their missiles,” said Jafarzadeh.
The 2015 Iran nuclear deal did not force Iran to make any concessions with respect to ballistic missiles, but Jafarzadeh says the current efforts do violate United Nations Security Council resolutions against Iran missile development.
He also asserts that the revelations expose violations of the nuclear deal since many of the ballistic missiles only serve one purpose – to carry nuclear warheads.
“One of the troubling things we found out during our investigation was that there was a direct connection between the nuclear weapons program of Iran and their missile program. These are not two separate entities,” said Jafarzadeh.
Jafarzadeh says one of the bases on the list, Semnan, is a smoking gun of collaboration between the nuclear weapons program and the advancement of missile capability. He says the agency tasked with weaponizing nukes, STND, is joined at the hip with the missile program at Semnan.
“We found out that every week there is a high-level delegation from STND going from Tehran to Semnan, doing some activities and coming back. So that’s a very troubling thing,” he said.
He also says the new intelligence sheds even more light on just how cozy Iran is with North Korea.
“The other element we found out was the extensive connection and collaboration between North Korea and Iran on their missile programs, to the extent that North Korean experts, when they travel to Iran to help the missile program, they stay at the private residence area that the regime has allocated for the North Koreans. They don’t check into some hotel,” said Jafarzadeh.
“Vice versa, the Iranian missile experts travel to North Korea and spend time and exchange ideas and views and expertise,” he added.
The locations of these missile bases are also very suspicious, according to Jafarzadeh.
“Most of the sites focusing on production were in the central part of the country near Tehran. All the sites related to launching and operations were either on the western border of the country, which brings them closer to their targets in Europe and the western side of the world, or the southern part of the country near the Persian Gulf,” said Jafarzadeh.
“That makes the Iran regime much more accessible to the Persian Gulf countries, making very clear the objective of their entire missile program. It’s not for defensive purposes. This is meant to intimidate. This is meant to dominate,” he said.
“And most importantly, on top of all of these things, it is meant to give the Iranian regime the ability to build the bomb and to be able to carry it. That is to say building a nuclear warhead. That is their ultimate objective,” said Jafarzadeh.