The John Batchelor Show

Wednesday 2 May 2018

Air Date: 
May 02, 2018

Photo, above: 
Co-hosts: Gordon Chang,; Thaddeus McCotter, WJR, the Great Voice of the Great Lakes
Hour One
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 1, Block A: Bruce Kligner, senior research Fellow Northeast Asia at the Heritage Foundation, in re:  the latest on North Korea.  We’ve seen this dance before; however the South Koreans seem almost euphoric with the chance to [create peace].  ROK opinion polls reflect a lot of fickleness.  Moon’s ofc said the Kim told Moon he’d give up his most destruct weapons f: US pledged not to attack DPRK and if DPRK and ROK signed a peace treaty. However, nether was part of the Panmunjon memo.  Just as he did provocations faster than his father, he’s also moving toward normalization faster than his father would have.   Is this a clever search for money?  Sanctions had an effect, but it's a perfect storm, as multiple events lead to the overall situation. Dominoes falling.  [Hawks; doves; and “pythons” who advocate squeezing DPRK economy.] Trump has thrown out the historical “bottom-up” approach, instituted a top-down approach, John Bolton: Either [Kim comes around]  or we’re back to talking military options.
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 1, Block B:  Rick Fisher, senior Fellow on Asian Military Affairs at the International Assessment and Strategy Center in re:   the Kuala Lumpur air show.  Fiber optic laser weapon: the silent hunter, Venezuela has hitherto bought Chinese weapons for suppressing its own population; but  this is to bring down stuff larger than drones. The PLA has access to it; dunno how widely deployed. Reporter on a PLA conf on the Chinese militarization of the Moon.  Editor of Kanwa Asian Defense Review:  eventual place m t of manned and unmanned bases - US unable to deploy satellites.  We rely on satellites for deep-space  . . .  With radar and rangefinders based on the Moon, China can find them. US sats are large and easy to find; Chinese sats are smaller, and now dvpg large constellations of micro-satellites.  My info largely comes from Chinese companies, which are mfg them on their website.
What’s the US doing about this?  Nothing.
Chinese are also quite open about their Mon-based plans. Dvpg shelters and vehicles to have bases on the Moon. (See: memoranda at the end of this schedule.)
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 1, Block C:  Eli Lake, Bloomberg View, in re:   Denuclearizing North Korea.  Now that we have the results of the N-S conference?  Political will;  you can get a photo of a handshake. . .  Chamberlain coming back from Munich . . . Possible to get a durable, comprehensive, verifiable and complete dismantling of DPRK nukes? I doubt it since he problem is not so much the nukes as the Kim family.  Can Trump really cut off all money to the regime? China wd have to go along with that. True; and the US cd designate all four of China’s major banks or, lesserly, put sanctions on a more modest range.  It’s not as much a Kim question as a Trump question: is Trump willing to use all elements of American power to force Kim to do what he doesn't want to do?
Anecdotes say that Iranian physicists have been present at DPRK missile tests for more than a decade. Are JCPOA and denuclearization of North Korea a big tangle? A Q Khan was embedded in both. Another similarity: do we think it's possible to get a deal w the current leadership in Iran and North Korea?
The US does have overwhelming leverage, which we haven't used in previous Administrations.
If the Israelis cd find those vaults, why couldn't the IAEA find them?  It's an intl organization, a bureaucracy, whereas the Mossad is one of the premier intell agencies in the world. Also, to find something,  you’ve got to look for it.  Physicists can find traces of atoms by the side of the road, but these guys can’t find huge installations in the middle of Teheran.  . . . We want to cauterize DPRK from the int’l system because they have a track record of [fraud].
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 1, Block D:  Gordon Chang, in re: To China go Secy Steven Mnuchin, Secy Wilbur Ross, chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, Trade Rep Leitheiser, and Peter Navarro (Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, and the Director of the White House National Trade Council.  China will see such an eminent delegation on their own turf as a sign of American weakness.  . . .
Hour Two
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 2, Block A:  Alan Tonelson, independent economic policy analyst who blogs at RealityChek and tweets at @AlanTonelson, in re:   The upcoming trade talks in Beijing.  To China go [doves] Secy Steven Mnuchin, Secy Wilbur Ross, chief economic advisor Larry Kudlow, [and two hawks;] Trade Rep Leitheiser, and Peter Navarro (Assistant to the President, Director of Trade and Industrial Policy, and the Director of the White House National Trade Council.  Two red flags:  the US delegation is anything but unified in its approach to US trade issues – a formula for failure; China will spend its time exploiting the differences.  US Chamber of Commerce involved in backchannel negotiations to set up this mtg – worrisome.
Reports from the conference we most reeling: clearly a top-level Chinese govt move to spin the atmosphere – and that’s hardball. Why is the US delegation going at all?  If they want to come to DC to talk about trade, they’ve gotta fly American or United; and if they don’t have a lost of  major concessions, stay home. And Chinese have said they won’t meet with Peter Navarro!!
US has laid out its positions hat its up to China to [cease its perfidious activities]; next move is China’s. As has been the case for decades, the US has no ally in trade policy. Euros hope this problem magically goes away, or to interfere w US politics. Note that Germany exports billions of euros of eqpt that fill Chinese export factories.  Expect to se e the US huffing and puffing but not quite blowing the house down.
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 2, Block B:  Stephen Yates, CEO of D.C. International Advisory, former advisor to Vice President Dick Cheney and candidate for the Republican nomination for lieutenant governor of Idaho, in re:   How the Trump Administration is preparing for the upcoming Kim summit and if the president is really prepared to walk away in the face of possible Kim duplicity or intransigence. There’s a critical mass of Idaho voters choosing to have Idahoans decided on statewide policies rather than let the federal govt dictate.  Primary election 15 May. Where I live, in Bonneville Co, voting began [several weeks ago].  How much of Idaho land is owned by the Feds?  A vast amt compared to anything east of the Mississippi. We don't seem to have equal rights under the Constitution if we can't access our own lands. We hold that this is God’s Creation and it's our responsibility to use everything wisely, including oil and gas reserves.  [Previous Adm acted as though O&G people were villains.]
Condoleezza Rice’s book tour: I have much personal respect for her but disagree with Bush Adm policies – incl esp North Korea. We’re in uncharted waters now but I have higher confidence in this round. 
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 2, Block C:   Andrew C McCarthy, NRO, in re: Mueller and Congress.  . . .  Mens rea or mental intentions.   . . . President has certain executive responsibilities and privileges that he can exercise and are not reviewable by the courts. These powers can be abused, but that must be addressed by Congress under the Constitutional process of impeachment.  . . .  Mueller does not have a criminal case against the president.
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 2, Block D:  Monica Crowley, London Center for Policy Research, in re:  Israeli security
Hour Three
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 3, Block A:  Salena Zito,  Washington Examiner and author, The Great Revolt, and Dr Lara M Brown, Georgetown University, in re: Small-town politics
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 3, Block B:  Bill MGurn, WSJ, in re: Population
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 3, Block C:  Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ, in re: Mexico
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 3, Block D:  Mary Anastasia O’Grady, WSJ, in re: Mexico
Hour Four
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 4, Block A:  Nine Days in May: The Battles of the 4th Infantry Division on the Cambodian Border, 1967, by Warren K. Wilkins
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 4, Block B:  Nine Days in May: The Battles of the 4th Infantry Division on the Cambodian Border, 1967, by Warren K. Wilkins
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 4, Block C: Cliff May, president, Foundation for the Defense of Democracies, in re: Kazakhstan
Wednesday  2 May 2017 / Hour 4, Block D:   Joe Pappalardo, Popular Mechanics, in re:  Robot air taxis.
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Trip Report: Defense Services Asia, 16-19 April, 2018, Kuala Lumpur; by Richard D. Fisher, Senior Fellow, International Assessment and Strategy Center
Introduction     After host country Malaysia, China likely provided the second largest number of displaying companies for the 16-19 April Defense Services Asia (DSA) military exhibition in Kuala Lumpur.  A new sector represented internationally was the Chinese electric drone sector, featuring new large helicopter drones and new companies specializing in counter-drone systems.  But while Malaysia’s longstanding ambivalence about China may be demonstrated by the large number of companies, it is not clear that China will have quick success establishing itself as a major Southeast Asian regional arms supplier.  In terms of aircraft and ships there are local qualms about China’s production and logistic standards, which differ greatly from the European and U.S. systems most regional militaries are used to.  This is a barrier to arms sales success for China in Latin America as well. 
Pakistan holds preliminary JF-17 sales talks with Malaysia, may not be a big deal     Jane’s Defence Weekly reporter Jon Grevatt broke the story that Malaysia and Pakistan have held “preliminary level talks” regarding the sale of the Chengdu-Pakistan JF-17/FC-1 fighter to Malaysia.  This is apparently a different tune from the December 2015 announcement by the former Malaysia Defense Minister that Malaysia would purchase the JF-17, only to have that denied the next day.  This time discussions include industrial cooperation, which would necessary mean that China would have the controlling interest in any Malaysian co-production program.  Pakistani officials refused to confirm this story.
However, a Malaysian Air Force procurement officer was quick to pour on cold water, saying the talks were indeed not deep and that Malaysia may not have the money for the JF-17. An industry observer, however, cautions that Malaysia is looking for a low cost fighter.  Strangely, the Malaysian official seemed more interested in the JF-17B as a training platform rather than the single seat fighter. 
Such a sale of the JF-17 to Malaysia would represent a significant new military industrial foothold for China in Southeast Asia.  Malaysia has been perhaps been the most sympathetic to a strategic relationship with China in Southeast Asia, though Chinese consolidation of control over the South China Sea places significant PLA forces at Malaysia’s doorstep. 
 Chinese LHD Proposal being considered for Malaysian Multirole Support Ship (MRSS)     Since 2015 the Royal Malaysian Navy (RMN) has been considering a Chinese Landing Helicopter Dock design to meet its Multi Role Support Ship (MRSS) program requirement, part of a much larger RMN transformation program.  The Chinese LHD is a smaller version of a 23,000 LHD design first revealed at a 2012 military exhibit in Bangkok. The smaller Chinese design may be about 15,000 tons and carry up to eight helicopters. 
The MRSS program will comprise three Landing Platform Dock (LPD) or LHD ships and is expected by RMN officials to be funded in 2018 with a design selection in 2019.  However, RMN officials were quite frank in their negative inclination toward the Chinese design, with one making a clear linkage to difficulties in absorbing the much smaller Littoral Mission Ship, a cooperation program with China.  RMN officials made clear their difficulty in accepting Chinese production standards, having been used to working with Western standards.  But they did make clear that China could emerge with low cost bid, which would increase their chances of success. 
As in the case of the JF-17, selection of the Chinese LHD design would constitute a major breakthrough for China is the Southeast Asian arms market. 
Pakistan likely first customer of HHQ-16/LY-80 Naval Sam     An official from China Aerospace Long March International (ALIT) confirmed that Pakistan will be the first customer for the HHQ-16 SAM, the naval version for its LY80 medium range SAM, influenced by the Almaz Antey BUK design obtained for Chinese destroyers.  This SAM will apparently equip a new frigate being built for Pakistan.  It has a range of 40km and four can be guided at a time from the Type 054A frigate.  It is fired from a “hot launch” tube for safety reasons. 
More Advanced PLA Naval SAM On the Way     This ALIT official also disclosed that a more advanced medium size naval SAM is on the way for the Type 054B frigate, which likely will emerge soon.  The new SAM will have a longer range and employ guidance from a phased array radar, and have an active-guided seeker.  The latest version of the LY80, also called HQ-16B, has a 70km range.  The ALIT official seemed to indicate the new SAM will have an even longer range. 
Laser Weapon Advances     China’s Poly Industries, marketer of the Silent Hunter 30kw fiber optic laser weapon, claims that development of Silent Hunter will be limited to its current anti-drone mission, but that it is also working on more advanced laser weapons.  A Poly official declined to confirm a Chinese web report from late March that Silent Hunter was marketed to a group of visiting Venezuelan Army officers in December 2016.  While Poly acknowledged that it has tested and is developing more powerful laser weapons, these will be different from the mission set of Silent Hunter.  This Poly official acknowledged that development of a podded laser weapon for aircraft defense is something they have considered for future development.  But this official also noted that developing a more powerful system, more than 100 kw, would take some time. 
Interestingly, the Poly official noted that “many” private laser development companies in China are working on laser systems with weapons applications and that a breakthrough in developing more powerful lasers might first emerge from one of these companies.
Also on display was a model of the Huazhong Institute of Electro-Optics ECOS-2 Laser Suppression Interference System.  A low power laser “dazzler” system it combines a 6 kw laser with a thermal sensor and laser rangefinder to target TV, IR and IIR seekers on incoming bombs and missiles.  It claims a 10km effectiveness against TV guidance systems and a 6 to 8km effectiveness against IR guided weapons.  Hangzhou officials claimed a system was sold to Egypt in 2012.  Brochures show a land-based system but the company says it can be fitted to naval platforms. 
PLA Ground Force gets a Rocket Force     Ever since the PLA Army, then Ground Forces, began to adopt modern 300mm artillery rocket systems, first from Russia, there has been an expectation that the Army would come to re-obtain a long range tactical ballistic missile capability.  In the 1990s at least the PLA Army had a small number of early DF-11 short-range ballistic missiles (SRBMs), while the then Second Artillery, now PLA Rocket Forces, built up a considerable force of China Aerospace Science and Industry Co (CASIC) DF-11A and China Aerospace Science and Technology Co (CASC) DF-15 solid fuel mobile SRBMs. 
By the mid-2000s the Army apparently lost its DF-11s but was taking delivery of Norinco’s new 300mm multiple launch rocket (MLR) artillery rocket systems.  But by the mid-to-late 2000s it was apparent that CASIC and CASC in addition to Norinco were developing new families of 300+mm guided artillery rocket systems that approached the range of the larger SRBMs but could be just as accurate and cheaper.  These new artillery rocket based SRBMs could then be combined with new larger, what one Chinese official called larger guided and maneuverable “4th generation” SRBMs that could quickly increase the PLA’s inventory of SRBMs.  Both CASIC, with its BP-12A large SRBM and SY400 artillery rocket SRBMs and CASC, with its M20 large SRBM and smaller A200 and A300 artillery rocket based SRBMs, can replace single missile DF-11A and DF-15 missile carriers with launchers carrying up to 8 SRBMs. While both families of SRBMs have been available for the PLA for nearly a decade, it is not clear that either has formally entered PLA service.  
But at DSA, it was Norinco’s revelation of its new Fire Dragon 280A 4th generation large SRBM, and the indication from Norinco officials that it may be entering PLA Ground Force service, which may spark competitive acquisition by the Rocket Forces of the new generation CASIC and CASC SRBMs.  The Fire Dragon 280A is a 750mm diameter solid rocket with a less than 300km range, but in addition to INS/GPS guidance, can use optical and millimeter wave radar guidance systems, the later which Norinco claims allows for the targeting of moving ships.  CASC officials at the show said their M20 does not yet have a MMW radar guidance system but they could develop one quickly. 
KANWA: PLA working on military exploitation of the Moon    The lead article in the May issue of the Kanwa Asian Defence Monthly by Yihong/Andre Chang claims that a US source disclosed that the PLA recently held a conference on how advance the military exploitation of the Moon.  According to this source, Chang claims the PLA conference considered the placement of sensors and weapons on the Moon to better target the Low Earth Orbit and deeper space satellites of the United States and other countries. 
The revelation of such a PLA conference would be consistent with what is known about the strictly Dual Use mission of China’s PLA controlled space program.  The satellite, scientific and manned space programs have all stressed the development of military benefits for the PLA, so it would be consistent that the Moon and Deep Space programs would be designed to create military benefits as well. 
All of this gives much greater urgency to the various programs of the democracies to undertake direct exploration of the Moon and to urge their private sectors to rapidly develop the means to both reach and exploit to Moon for broad economic benefits.  During periods of technological parity, advantage can still be gained by being the first to secure strategic position.  This should be an accelerated near-term goal for the democracies to help deny China its goal of controlling the Earth-Moon System. 
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