Pine Gap ‘on standby’ as tensions rise between the US and North Korea’s Kim Jong-un
MM hopes that the kid from the north understands that bad children can get a good hiding if they keep being bad. However there is no sign that he even understands the repercussions from his, lets say, dumb tantrums. The real problem is if he does do something really stupid lots of people will get hurt. Not the least millions of North Koreans.IF Kim Jong-un is planning to launch a missile at Australia or US interests there’s one strategic intelligence facility that should know all about it.
And it’s right in the centre of our own country.
The secretive Pine Gap spy base has a vast array of signals intelligence capabilities and you can bet it will be monitoring Kim Jong-un’s every word.
Run by both Australia and the United States, the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is located about 20km from Alice Springs.
The remote site is considered strategically vital by both the US and Australian governments and it is used to collect a wide range of signals intelligence as well as providing information on early warning of ballistic missile launches. The flat landscape away from any city ensures the secretive site has a lack of interference.
It also contributes to and collects data used for US drones in the Middle East and Pakistan and it has access to satellites that could spy on most continents, bar the Americas and Antarctica.
And while personnel based there are always searching for intelligence, they are now understood to be on standby following escalating tensions between North Korea and the US, according to the NT News.
According to the report, the US has notified Australia that it’s prepared to shoot down any missiles launched as North Korea escalates its threats.
Richard Tanter, a professor in the School of Political and Social Studies at the University of Melbourne, said the report was entirely plausible given Pine Gap’s strategic importance to both the US and Australia and the ongoing tensions in the region.
Prof Tanter, who has conducted years of research into the facility, said communication was regularly shared between the two allies on matters of defence.
He said intelligence gathered here could be used to target nuclear weapons and is also used to support US and Japanese missile defence.
“In both Syria and the Korean peninsula, Pine Gap is critically important in terms of its signals intelligence,” he said.
Pine Gap’s early warning defence system is vital in detecting a potential North Korean missile.
“In the case of North Korea and any missiles being launched, the early warning system will be watching everything” he said.
“This (information) is very important to the US. If it wants to shoot down any North Korean missile it actually has to capture that information first.
“The US navy and Japanese destroyers will then use powerful radars to find the DPRK missiles and shoot them down.
“But if they are to have any chance of finding them, they depend on Pine Gap to detect the initial launch and its trajectory.”
The Australian Department of Defence has been contacted for comment over reports the facility is on standby and news.com.au is awaiting a response.
Reports that Pine Gap is on standby comes as the acting US ambassador to Australia said he held “extreme concerns” that North Korea could strike the west coast of the US and Australia with nuclear missiles within two years.
James Carouso, the US charge d’affaires based in Canberra, told The Australian it was clear that North Korea was a problem.
“They’ve (North Korea) gone from using these (weapons) tests to get attention, to now really making these tests to do tests. The question has been: what do we want to do about it?” he said.
North Korea last week tested a mid-range ballistic missile, which prompted US President Donald Trump to send a US naval fleet to the western Pacific in response.
The Americans believe the North Korean leader has the capabilities to deliver a nuclear warhead to the US within four years.
The US sent an aircraft carrier loaded with fighter jets towards North Korea, sparking a furious response from Pyongyang which warned the country was “ready for war”.
The US ambassador wasn’t the only one to voice concerns over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions.
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull yesterday urged ally China to exercise its “undoubted influence” over Pyongyang, to pull back the threats.
“The reckless and dangerous conduct of the North Korean regime is threatening peace and stability not just in the region but the whole world,” Mr Turnbull said during a visit to New Delhi.
“We continue to call on China to exercise the undoubted influence to has over the North Korean regime to pull it back from further reckless conduct.”