South Korean officials deny that the explosion was caused by a nuclear test, and this opinion was reaffirmed this morning by Secretary of State Colin Powell:
"We have seen reports of this explosion, but based on all the information that we have, it was not any type of nuclear event," he said. "We are trying to find out more about it, and what exactly it was, if anything, but it does not appear to be a nuclear event." ( VOA News)
There were hints of the possibility of sabotage in the Chosun Ilbo story, which noted that the blast in the vicinity of the missile base occurred on a national holiday, September 9, North Korea’s foundation day.
“When I activated a huge switching gear in the mountainside, the ground split open, and a missile appeared.”
The Daily Yomiuri quotes a North Korean defector:
”When I activated a huge switching gear in the mountainside, the ground split open, and a missile appeared.”
Recent success in wooing North Korean defectors was reported last May in The Weekend Australia to be the result of a highly secret plan nicknamed “Operation Weasel.”
Another [defector] is a military officer, Park Young-soo. His debriefing notes are marked "then I asked through intermediary to elaborate on his involvement in the nuclear/missile part on his initial request".
The [debriefing notes prepared on the preliminary interrogations of the four defecting senior military officers] say Park's response was: "Worked for the unit No583 under the Military Construction Bureau to build a missile launch base in Woltan-ri, Kimhyungjik-gun Ryanggando. Also for the unit No740, 4th corp as a special instructor in military martial arts."
The four men have all been targeted as part of a plan codenamed Operation Weasel, a smuggling plot ostensibly run by private citizens from 11 countries but with inspirations that stem from one of the Pentagon's most secretive and self-contained units.
"What you have in the US, more than ever before, is a factional Government.... You have the State Department that does one thing and you have the Pentagon that does the other."
The existence of Operation Weasel, revealed by Inquirer last month, was denied by the US State Department. However, no component of the operation fell under the State Department's ambit. "What you have in the US, more than ever before, is a factional Government," says a source intimately involved with the plan.
"You have the State Department that does one thing and you have the Pentagon that does the other."
In Washington this week, the leader of a key South Korea-based humanitarian organisation, Norbert Vollersten, sat down for lunch at the Mayflower Hotel with two of the biggest fish in the Bush administration, Vice-President Dick Cheney and Defence Secretary Donald Rumsfeld.
What was discussed is not known but what is clear is that an advocate for North Korean refugees with a track record for helping defectors is considered important enough to join their table.
“North's 'weasels' go West”, Martin Chulov, Inquirer Feature Column, The Weekend Australian, May 17, 2003, Pg. 23.