Skip to main content


After a significant period of patience and diplomacy, the United States government has warned that no option is off the table when it comes to dealing with North Korea after the notoriously volatile and secretive state launched a sudden series of ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan. 

Now it appears that North Korea have taken this warning to heart and an unusual radio broadcast seems to suggest that the Hermit Kingdom is gearing itself up for a pre-emptive strike.


At midnight at local time, a radio station called Pyongyang Radio addressed ‘members of the remote education university’ and announced a series of what are believed to be coded messages. T

he broadcast said, “From now on, we announce tasks of mechanical engineering review for the Unit 21 expedition members of the remote education university. Number 69 on page 602, number 79 on page 133, number 18 on page 216.” It is believed that this coded message contained instructions to North Korean sleeper cells lying undercover in foreign nations. 

Presumably, the undercover agents are already well aware of what this coded message means and will be able to follow the instructions. It is also worth noting that a similarly coded message went out at around the same time that the North Korean military launched the ballistic missiles. 

The practice of using coded radio broadcasts in order to communicate with undercover agents based in hostile foreign nations was common during the Cold War when North Korea housed a number of sleeper agents in their neighbors in the South. After the year 2000, relations between the two nations on the Korean Peninsula improved to a great extent and these coded messages ceased along with persistent threats and attacks on the South Korean people. 

The re-emergence of the messages at this time suggests that under the auspices of Kim Jong-Un that the Hermit Kingdom is preparing itself for another period of hostile activity. 


Popular posts from this blog

Why States Still Use Barrel Bombs

Smoke ascends after a Syrian military helicopter allegedly dropped a barrel bomb over the city of Daraya on Jan. 31.(FADI DIRANI/AFP/Getty Images)

Barrel bombs are not especially effective weapons. They are often poorly constructed; they fail to detonate more often than other devices constructed for a similar purpose; and their lack of precision means they can have a disproportionate effect on civilian populations.

However, combatants continue to use barrel bombs in conflicts, including in recent and ongoing conflicts in Africa and the Middle East, and they are ideally suited to the requirements of resource-poor states.


Barrel bombs are improvised devices that contain explosive filling and shrapnel packed into a container, often in a cylindrical shape such as a barrel. The devices continue to be dropped on towns all over Syria. Indeed, there have been several documented cases of their use in Iraq over the past months, and residents of the city of Mosul, which was recently …

Russia Looks East for New Oil Markets

Click to Enlarge

In the final years of the Soviet Union, Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev began orienting his foreign policy toward Asia in response to a rising Japan. Putin has also piloted a much-touted pivot to Asia, coinciding with renewed U.S. interest in the area. A good expression of intent was Russia's hosting of the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation summit in 2012 in Vladivostok, near Russia's borders with China and North Korea. Although its efforts in Asia have been limited by more direct interests in Russia's periphery and in Europe, Moscow recently has been able to look more to the east.

Part of this renewed interest involves finding new export markets for Russian hydrocarbons. Russia's economy relies on energy exports, particularly crude oil and natural gas exported via pipeline to the West. However, Western Europe is diversifying its energy sources as new supplies come online out of a desire to reduce its dependence on Russian energy supplies.

This has forced…

In Yemen, a Rebel Advance Could Topple the Regime

Shia loyal to the al-Houthi movement ride past Yemeni soldiers near Yaz, Yemen, in May. (MOHAMMED HUWAIS/AFP/Getty Images)


The success of a rebel campaign in northern Yemen is threatening to destabilize the already weak and overwhelmed government in Sanaa. After capturing the city of Amran, a mere 50 kilometers (30 miles) from the capital, in early July, the rebels from the al-Houthi tribe are in their strongest position yet. The Yemeni government is developing plans to divide the country into six federal regions, and the rebels believe this is their chance to claim territory for the future bargaining.

The central government is nearly powerless to fend off the rebels; its forces are already stretched thin. Neighboring Saudi Arabia has intervened in Yemen before and still supports Sunni tribes in the north, but the risk of inciting a Shiite backlash or creating space for jihadists to move in could deter another intervention.


Followers of Zaidi Islam, a branch of Shiism, rul…