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However, an analysis of weather patterns in the region contradicts Pyongyang’s rain and flood claims. It found that severe drought in May and June was eased by the rain, rather than it causing massive damage.

Heavy rains in July also were shorter in duration and produced lower rainfall totals than heavy rains in 2011 and 1995. Yet Pyongyang reported three times the casualties, which the diplomatic official said was “drastically” overstated.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un appears not to have visited the flood-damaged regions. Instead, he was reported to have visited a North Korean amusement park during the floods.

Also, his order to repair flood damage came 10 days after the flooding, a indication the rainfalls did not produce a major natural disaster.

Reports from North Koreans living outside the country also stated that Mr. Kim issued special orders to officials in late July to exaggerate casualties from the floods as a way to extract more aid from the international community.

International inspectors who traveled to North Korea could not confirm the high casualty totals claimed by the government.

Said one diplomat: “North Korea is squandering enormous amounts of money on pointless projects,” including weapons of mass destruction and construction of a palace for the embalmed bodies of past leaders Kim Il-sung and Kim Jong-il, along with a large amusement park.

Foreign aid sent to help flood-damaged regions in North Korea has had “negatives effects,” such as allowing the communist regime to avoid having to build costly flood-prevention measures, the diplomat said. As a result, North Koreans continue to fall victim to recurring floods.

“The international community must be discreet in providing support to the North Korean regime,” giving aid only when the regime’s efforts to cope with floodwaters have failed and it is left with no other option but to seek emergency assistance, the diplomat said. “That way the international community will help North Korea to enhance its ability to manage natural disasters.”

Poland moving away from U.S.

The Obama administration’s conciliatory policies toward Russia on missile defense are prompting one NATO ally to rethink its reliance on the United States.

Polish President Bronislaw Komorowski announced Aug. 15 that Poland must replace its aging Soviet air and missile defenses with a “Polish shield” that will be part of NATO missile defenses.

Reports from Poland said Mr. Komorowski’s announcement represents a strategic shift from the U.S. in the aftermath of the Obama administration’s 2009 decision to cancel a long-range interceptor base in Poland as part of its “reset” policy of seeking closer ties to Moscow.

Polish military analyst Artur Bilski wrote recently that Poland’s plan for its own missile defense was prompted by President Obama’s overheard conversation in April with then-Russian President Dmitri Medvedev. Mr. Obama promised the Russian leader that he would have “more flexibility” to negotiate a missile defense agreement after he is re-elected.

The comment was widely interpreted by congressional Republicans as plans for further concessions to the Russians, who are demanding legally binding restrictions on U.S. missile defenses in Europe, a position so far rejected by the United States.

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