Is this the first unfiltered threat out of North Korea?

Determining what's a credible threat out of North Korea is something of a fool's errand. Official ultimatums by Pyongyang routinely evaporate into nothing. But what happens when U.S. spies uncover threats never intended for mass consumption? CNN's Jethro Mullen, Barbara Starr, and Joe Sterling appear to have picked up on such a red flag:

Communication intercepts in recent days also seem to show that Pyongyang could be planning to launch a mobile ballistic missile in the coming days or weeks, another official said.

The story notes that this communication intercept comes as the North moved a missile of "considerable range" to its east coast for a potential strike or test launch. There are conflicting reports about the capability of that missile: Japanese media reports suggested it was a KN-08, a long-range missile that if operable could reach the United States, but South Korean Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said the missile was not capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.

Either way, the uncovering of an actual threat as opposed to a telegraphed threat marks a new development in this month-long East Asian standoff.

But that doesn't mean it's time to batten down the hatches. For starters, North Korea doesn't have a nuclear bomb small enough to mount on a long-range missile even though it's working on such a weapon, reports the Associated Press. Other experts say Pyongyang doesn't have enough bomb fuel to back up its nuclear threats. And despite the announcement that it's restarting its nuclear plant, it could be years before North Korea actually churns out more weaponized fuel. So while the regime can still further inflame tensions -- which it appears dead set on doing -- the nuclear threat only holds so much plausibility. 


Is China secretly hoarding the world's fish?

It looks like rare earth elements aren't the only commodity China has been allegedly keeping to itself. According to a recent study published in the journal Fish and Fisheries, the Chinese have been drastically underreporting the number of fish that Chinese ships catch in other countries' waters every year.

While China tells the UNFAO, the U.N. agency that tracks global fishing data, that Chinese distant-water fishing vessels take in roughly 368,000 tons of fish a year, the Fish and Fisheries report estimates that the actual weight of the collective catch is more than 12 times that number -- around 4.6 million tons a year. At the same time, China exaggerates its domestic catch.

The report claims that the majority of the haul (64 percent) comes from off the coast of West Africa, where Chinese fishing practices could have a serious impact on the local population. "The study shows the extent of the looting of Africa, where so many people depend on seafood for basic protein," Daniel Pauly, a professor at the University of British Columbia and one of the authors of the study, told the Guardian. "We need to know how many fish have been taken from the ocean in order to figure out what we can catch in the future. Countries need to realize the importance of accurately recording and reporting their catches and step up to the plate, or there will be no fish left for our children."

It's important to note that just because the fishing goes unreported doesn't mean it's illegal. The Chinese government may have negotiated special (and usually secret) agreements with certain African coastal states allowing Chinese vessels to fish in the waters.

It's also true that the Chinese are not alone in exploiting West Africa's abundant fishing grounds. But, if these estimates are correct, Chinese fishermen are doing it on a much larger scale than anyone else, catching as much as 22 West African coastal countries and the other 38 countries fishing in the region combined. The long-term consequences for food security could be quite severe.

Dirk Zeller et al / Journal of Fish and Fisheries