Night Watch

South Korea: The government in Seoul announced that it will soon confirm a new air defense zone that expands farther southward.

Comment: South Korea is no longer intimidated by China or North Korea. The Chinese and North Korean leaders continue to replay old tapes, meaning South Korea today is not the South Korea of 1953.

North Korea: South Korean intelligence authorities and defector sources have reported that Chang/Jang Sung-taek, the uncle of Kim Jong Un, has been stripped of his party rank and positions. They also report that two of Jang's aides have been executed for corruption.

At this point the reports are not confirmed. The timing of these actions also is not clear, supposedly sometime in mid-November.

Comment: The late Kim Chong-il appointed his brother-in-law Chang/Jang Sung-taek as the regent and guide for Kim Jong Un. Chang has long been associated with impulses to open North Korea to more foreign investment and capitalist practices. For reasons not clear, Kim Jong Un appears to have vacillated between Chang's advice and that of more doctrinaire communist advisors.

However, the announcement of more than a dozen development zones last month seemed to indicate Chang's development strategy prevailed. Today's report indicates Chang got caught up in a Party backlash and counteraction.

A North Korean defector radio station analysis is that the Party cadre across the nation refused to implement Chang's scheme to break North Korea out of poverty through foreign investment. Chang paid with his position but probably was spared execution because he is married to Kim's aunt. His aides paid with their lives.

The significance of this anecdote is that the leadership is not stable in North Korea. It also appears increasingly more doctrinaire. If so, the economic development zone scheme will be still-born and vanish. That will be a strong indicator that the hard line communists dominate Kim Jong Un's administration.

Iran: For the record. Iran and major powers will meet on 9 and 10 December in Vienna for the next phase of negotiations on Iran's nuclear program, Iranian Foreign Ministry spokeswoman Marzieh Afkham said 3 December.

Saudi Arabia-Russia: For the record. At his out-of-town residence in Novo-Ogarevo, President Putin received Saudi Prince Bandar Bin-Sultan, secretary-general of the Council of National Security and director of general intelligence of Saudi Arabia.

Night Watch

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