Saturday, December 31, 2011

N. Korea in the News

Dec 27, 2011: Appearing on the LANL website ( under the heading "Media Coverage" (normally  containing only LANL-related news) is an entry entitled "N. Korea closer to nuclear-tipped missile: U.S. expert". This is a reprint of an article appearing on the Reuters website (, written by the Reuters national security correspondent Jim Wolf. In turn, Wolf quotes from a "recent" publication by the Congressional Research Service's Larry Niksch who opined that N. Korea may be one to two years away from being able to place a nuclear weapon atop an intermediate range ballistic missile. Ostensibly, LANL is reprinting Wolf's story because it mentions LANL ex-Director Sig Hecker and his trip, ~1 year ago, to N. Korea. But, it seems to me that by carrying this story LANL engages in some unsavory self-promotion. That is, by calling attention to Wolf's interpretations of Niksch's ruminations, LANL places itself in the position of seeming to advocate for more support for its own R&D on nuclear weapons, the management of which, as we know, has become a lucrative for-profit business.

Interestingly, the most recent article on N. Korea by Larry Niksch, listed on the CRS website (, is dated Feb. 24, 2009. Is this the article to which Jim Wolf referred? If so, then Niksch's predictions are hardly "recent". What's more, according to the Federation of American Scientists, Larry Niksch has not worked for CRS since Feb., 2010.