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Report #124 08/01/16

The big news this month was the apparent resumption by North Korea of transmitting Numbers messages. North Korea stopped sending out such coded messages by shortwave radio after the Koreas held a summit meeting in 2000, agreeing to de-escalate the Cold War-era intrigue on the divided peninsula. The ENIGMA designator for this communications activity is V15. Recently the broadcast was heard twice. For 2 minutes on 23 June and 14 minutes on 14 July. The schedule was at 1545 UTC on a frequency of 3320 kHz. It thus appears that the schedule is possibly every third Thursday. It will be interesting to see if the next transmission takes place on 4 August.
The format consisted of 3 spoken digits followed by a slight pause then 2 spoken digits. Popular belief is that this is a so-called "Book Code" or "Dictionary Code" and the digits represent page and word numbers. The latter could be either a single letter or a word. This recent North Korean activity resulted in a flurry of articles from various Internet news sources. Three I noted were the New York Times, July 22nd; Reuters, July 20th; and the Daily Mail, July 20th.
Of related interest is the mention in the NY Times article of South Korea stating that North Korean spies communicated with their Headquarters using Steganography. This is a technique for enciphering a message into a text, or image, or video file transmitted online. Steganography was also recently noted in a 28 July PCWorld on-line article which described a malicious advertising operation which infected thousands of computers with malware on a daily basis. The operation which ran since the Fall of 2015 ceased on 20 July 2016 due to action by advertising industry members.

Per a recent request from Ary Boender, Editor of the Numbers and Oddities web publication, I checked the 1000 UTC HM01 schedules. The previous use of dual frequency transmissions has apparently been discontinued. Frequency use for that schedule is now on 9155 kHz on Mon, Wed, Fri & Sun and on 12180 kHz on Tue, Thu & Sat.

In Report #114 08/01/15 I mentioned the old FAPSI (Federal'naya Agenstvo Pravitel'stvennoy Svayazi i Informatsii --- Russian Federal Agency for Government Communications & Information) communications activity where net control was in Cuba and the out stations were at various Western Hemisphere locations. Because of recent reports of suspected similar activity, I again looked at a list of Soviet COMINT and SIGINT posts. A notation on the list indicated the information referred to the late 70s. There were 14 large centers in the USSR and 41 installations in various parts of the world. According to the list those in the Western Hemisphere were as follows: Washington Embassy, Washington Embassy Residential complex, and another unspecified Washington DC site. In New York at the Soviet UN Legation, Long Island Residence, and another unidentified NY location. Two sites in San Francisco. One each in Montreal, Mexico City, Brazil, Nicaragua, Havana & Lourdes, Cuba. The callsigns observed were: BAR BPO GMN HZW JMS KAC KRN MIG NDO PSN SPK WFO WNY YBU. It was noted that there were 14 WH stations on the list and there were 14 callsigns observed on the network. WFO had been identified as the Russian Embassy in Managua, Nicaragua and MIG had been identified as being in Cuba. GMN was suspected of being the callsign for the Russian Embassy in Mexico City but this was not confirmed.
Only a few of the stations in the rest of the world could be heard at my location so coverage of those communications was extremely limited. I always wondered if the quantity of callsigns matched the quantity of the 28 designated list locations .

End of Report

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2016 Don Schimmel.