A few curated defense and security links to close off the week:
North Korea is reportedly developing Very Slender Vessels (VSV), a type of high-speed stealth-capable ship designed for infiltration operations. VSVs have a low profile and traverse waves by cutting through them. South Korean officials are describing the VSVs as a “new threat” to their security. If the North manages to develop a traditional VSV, it could plausibly use it to allow its special forces to infiltrate South Korean territory. North Korea already possesses semi-submersible boats that offer similar infiltration and stealth advantages — they simply lack the speed and maneuverability of a VSV. Fortunately, South Korea has been investing quite a bit in its navy and coastal surveillance capabilities.
The top nuclear envoys of the United States, South Korea, and China will meet in Beijing to discuss reactions to North Korea’s recent belligerent posturing. As The Diplomat reported recently, this meeting comes on the heels of a U.S.-Japan-South Korea trilateral meeting on the same issue. Cooperation between these four countries on North Korea represents the closest we might get to “five-party unity” — they represent four out of the five states on the other side of North Korea at the long-stalled Six-Party Talks (Russia is the other member, but has recently grown closer to Pyongyang).
Another nuclear-related meeting to keep an eye on will come next week in Washington: Pakistan’s foreign secretary, Aizaz Ahmad Chaudhry, will meet with Rose Eilene Gottemoeller, the U.S. undersecretary of state for arms control and international security, to discuss nuclear non-proliferation and strategic stability in South Asia. The safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons remains a major concern for U.S. leaders.
There have been a lot of convoluted and contrived comparisons between the ongoing negotiations on Iran’s nuclear program and the 1994 Agreed Framework between the U.S. and North Korea. Writing for 38 North, Jeffrey Lewis explains why the comparisons aren’t accurate or particularly instructive. George Perkovich had perhaps the most thorough take on this topic a month ago at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace.
U.S. Secretary of Defense Ashton Carter will visit India next month — his first trip to the country since assuming office. Notably, Carter will visit the headquarters of the Indian Navy’s Eastern Naval Command. Carter, who played a major role in launching the Defense Trade and Technology Initiative (DTTI) with India, is likely to discuss India’s ongoing naval modernization and possible avenues for bilateral cooperation. Carter noted that Vizag port in Visakhapatnam is “an Indian installation which is important to India’s ‘act east’ strategy, which is one of the ways they express their role and their residence in the Asia-Pacific theater.” Carter has recently taken an interest in China’s growing assertiveness in the South China Sea, as well.