Unexpected Threats From North Korea And Russia

Grind for August 2nd, 2018
“In life you need either inspiration or desperation.”

– Tony Robbins

Not Again

The Headline

Russia infiltrates US power grid

The Grind

While the Trump Administration has promised to do its best to block any Russian interference in the upcoming midterm elections, reports suggest Moscow might be more interested in the US power grid.

Last week, the Department of Homeland Security claimed Russia had implanted malware in “hundreds” of power plant control rooms throughout the country. In theory, this could give Russia control over a section of the US power grid.

The Details

At this point, Russia’s infiltration of power plant control rooms seem to be more of a demonstration than an attempt to disrupt the power grid.

In other words, Russia is just showing off.

“There is no evidence that the hackers tried to take over the plants, as Russian actors did in Ukraine in 2015 and 2016,” reports The New York Times.

Meanwhile, only two political candidates have experienced attacks from Russia. One of them, Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MI), acknowledged the attack after she was identified by The Daily Beast.

“Russia continues to engage in cyber warfare against our democracy,” said McCaskill. “While this attack was not successful, it is outrageous that they think they can get away with this. I will not be intimidated.”

US officials said it was unclear whether the attack on McCaskill’s online account was related to her re-election campaign. McCaskill serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and it is possible the hackers were after classified military information.

It’s Not Over Yet

The Headline

Missile activity detected in North Korea as regime holds talks with South Korea

The Grind

US officials this week detected what appears to be renewed missile activity in North Korea.

Imaging from US spy satellites shows vehicles moving in and out of the same factory that was used to produce the Hwasong-15 (the first North Korean ICBM capable of reaching the United States).

The news is at odds with recent reports about North Korea dismantling a key rocket launch site and with Kim Jong-un’s promise to work towards denuclearization.

“[The Sanumdong facility] is not dead, by any stretch of the imagination,” says nuclear expert Jeffrey Lewis. “We see shipping containers and vehicles coming and going. This is a facility where they build ICBMs and space-launch vehicles.”

The Details

On Tuesday, North Korea held military talks with South Korea designed to improve trust and ease tensions. The two sides were expected to discuss joint excavation of soldiers killed during the Korean War, reductions in weapons and personnel at the border, and replacing the 1953 armistice with a peace treaty.

Putting an end to the Korean War is not possible without cooperation from the United States. And while Kim Jong-un views the peace treaty as a way to ensure his family’s position, the US sees it as a reward to be given after the North gives up its nukes.

“If a peace treaty to replace the armistice agreement that ended the Korean War did not ensure the survival of the current North Korean regime, it could be the end of denuclearization talks,” reports CNN.

Meanwhile, the North is pressuring the South to restart jointly-run programs that could help boost the North’s economy. The South, which has so far refused to lift sanctions on North Korea, says it will restart those programs only after it sees progress on denuclearization.

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