Monday, February 22, 2016

SHOULD WE SINK THE DAWN LIGHT, AS A FALSE FLAG OPERATION?




IMAGE FROM LINKED WASHINGTON POST ARTICLE< CREDITED TO Turkuaz Yacht & Ship Services via MarineTraffic

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EDITORIAL NOTE 12/26/2019 : When we first published this we were analyzing the question of sinking a vessel clearly working for our lawful enemy North Korea.  One of the things causing us hesitation in taking this enemy ship out was the fact that it was registered to a nation we are at peace with but which sells merchant ship registry to anyone willing to meet their price. We call the practice "Flags of convenience" and explain the concept below. The question to ask now is what can we do to flag of convenience vessels operating against our or international  sanctions against rogue states . The suggested solution in the case of the DAWN LIGHT  was unique to vessels carrying contraband to North Korea. What the DAWN LIGHT was doing was using a flag of convenience registry to cover what the law of armed conflict calls  "a false flag operation" . There is support in international and national law for capturing or sinking such vessels where a state of belligerency is recognized. Such a state exists between the United States and North Korea. Elsewhere, virtual false flag operations against sanctions against states for which  we have no recognized state of belligerency, sinking or capturing such vessels is not a  lawful option.  But we can conduct board and search operations and confiscate contraband. Moreover we have reliable intelligence on many of the merchant vessels conducting such operations. A word from our state department complaining of these practices along with the firm warning that we will take armed action against such ships will often be enough for the flag state to drop the offending ship from their registry. With a little coordination between the flag state and the US Navy we could board and take the ship while it is temporarily in a "stateless" condition. "Stateless ships" under existing international law are suspected of piracy or the slave trades and all navies have the right to board , search, or arrest such stateless ships. They also have the right to shoot warning shots, and if there is still no cooperation place a shot into the offending ship meant to disable its propulsion.  Boarding and inspection may then occur and if resisted , met with armed force. 

The DAWNLIGHT is a bulk carrier of no remarkable appearance among this class of large ships. There is nothing about its physicality that would distingusih it from any other of the same class of vessels moving in and out of the hub port of Singapore or out on any of the busy shipping lanes of the East , South China, or Yellow seas. The DAWNLIGHT however, is suspected of illegal trading with North Korea. In fact, the ship is blacklisted from trading with the US since it was owned by a company based in Singapore which US intelligence alleges to have assisted Pyongyang with its weapons program. The ship was sold to new owners a few months ago according to the original owner. The ship's movements are relatively easy to track since it enters and clears port as a regular merchant carrier. Its entrance and clearance records indicate that the ship routinely shuttles between Singapore and the Korean Peninsula, with occasional trips to other mainland China ports. The DAWNLIGHT has logged some mysterious meanderings in the last 32 months. On some trips where the officers logged a North Korean port as its' intended port of call, vessel traffic radar and satellite imagery indicates a turn off of the coast of South Korea, and then a return to a Chinese port. In our humble opinion, what that indicates is that the DAWNLIGHT met with a vessel that came out from the coast of either North or South Korea for nefarious purposes. Under international law the South Korean Coast Guard would have the  the legal authority to board and inspect the ship even if this visit with a "hoovering vessel" occurred outside of the South Korea's territorial sea. 

 One must keep in mind that the United States and South Korea are still in a legal state of war with North Korea, only a temporary armistice exists which has been broken by North Korea on occasion since it was agreed to in the 1950s. At any moment the United States could exercise the rights of a belligerent and begin to board and inspect inbound ship traffic to North Korea to prevent the entry of contraband. At the moment "contraband"certainly includes any of the makings of nuclear weapons, but could include any weapons, ammunition, or other implements of war. Indeed, ships owned or controlled by North Korean interests but flying open registry flags like those of Panama or Liberia could, given sufficient proof of North Korean actual control, be labeled a "false flag" operation and sunk on site by US or South Korean naval forces. We never seem to mention this to North Korea but continue to whine about their nuclear testing and weapons development. Remember that with a state of war in existence they are legally empowered to resume armed operations and hostility with no notice. Yet we paddy foot around and discuss sanctions far weaker than what we can use given the international legal circumstances. If we don't get tough with North Korea soon we will find ourselves with missiles raining down on Honolulu and Seattle. We have the legal right to instantly resume hostilities and totally destroy North Korea's war making capacity. We need a Commander in Chief who understands and knows how to make use of that fact set. 

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