As more than 46.2 million eligible Iranian voters choose their president in elections on Friday, senior Israeli defense officials who closely watch Iran stress that the outcome is unlikely to have any impact on Teheran's continued race toward nuclear power.
Whether the winner is incumbent President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad or his reformist challenger, the former prime minister Mir Hossein Mousavi, the consensus in the Israeli defense establishment is that the centrifuges in the underground bunker at Iran's Natanz facility will continue spinning and enriching uranium.
In contrast to Israel, where the focus when it comes to Iran is overwhelmingly on the nuclear program, domestically, the elections are more about growing unemployment - estimated at close to 20 percent - and runaway inflation, which recently topped 30%.
In a country where 70% of the population is under the age of 35, the future is not bright for Iran's youth, analysts note. Every year 1.2 million people graduate from the country's universities. Out of those, only about a third are able to find jobs. The price of basic commodities has also spiked over the past year by more than 150%.
The Mousavi-Ahmadinejad showdown also focuses on Islamic law. The incumbent has expanded the reach of the Shari'a since his election in 2005. Mousavi, on the other hand, appears at election rallies together with his wife and promises equality for women.
While all of this is important for understanding the Iranian people, Israel's attention is not on the cost of bread and meat but on the future of Teheran's nuclear and ballistic missile programs, the defense officials stress. For this reason, there are some in the defense establishment who are silently praying that despite Mousavi's recent climb in the polls, Ahmadinejad wins Friday's vote.
Due to his radical character and extremist remarks, Ahmadinejad helps garner world support for stopping the nuclear program. Due to his reformist and moderate image, Mousavi - who when he was prime minister from 1981 to 1989 helped lay the foundations of the country's atomic program - may succeed in "laundering" the program in a dialogue with the United States, the officials fear.
The concern in Israel is that the dialogue US President Barack Obama plans to hold with Iran after the elections will lead to a deal in which Teheran will be allowed to develop nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.
In some Israeli defense establishment circles this possibility is referred to as the "Japanese Model."
Under such an agreement Iran would be allowed to build and operate nuclear reactors like Japan - which has reactors but no weapons. This would put the Islamic republic a turn of the dial on the centrifuges and mere months away from an atomic bomb.
Obama himself hinted in his speech in Cairo last week at such an arrangement when he said that "any nation - including Iran - should have the right to access peaceful nuclear power if it complies with its responsibilities under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty."
If Iran is offered such a deal, the assessment in Israel is that both front-runners will go for it, leaving Israel in something of a Catch-22 situation, since if it does nothing Iran will go nuclear, but if it decides to attack Teheran's nuclear sites it will undermine Obama's deal and ruin the already severely strained relations between Washington and Jerusalem.
Iran has rebuffed a bid from the UN nuclear monitoring agency to beef up its monitoring ability at an important atomic site as it tries to keep track of the country's rapidly growing uranium enrichment capabilities, diplomats said Thursday.
The diplomats said the Islamic Republic in recent weeks turned down a request from the International Atomic Energy Agency to place one or more additional surveillance cameras at the Natanz enrichment site.
In addition, they said, the agency was concerned Iran would use its recent denial of access to Natanz to agency inspectors seeking a surprise visit as a precedent, further hampering the UN agency's need to increase its oversight.
IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said the agency would have no comment.
The Israeli defense establishment is also not overly impressed by reports from Washington that Obama has asked Rep. Howard Berman of California to prepare legislation - in case the dialogue fails - to ratchet up sanctions against Iran. Without securing a guarantee first from Russia that it would support additional sanctions, the new legislation is considered by some in the Defense Ministry to be an empty threat.
One way to recruit Moscow for effective sanctions would be for Obama to declare publicly that the US recognized Russia's status as a world superpower and for Washington to cancel its plans to deploy a missile defense system in Europe.
For these reasons, there are a growing number of voices in Israeli defense corridors quietly saying that Jerusalem needs to prepare for the possibility that Iran will go nuclear.
While some say that Iran would be inclined to test a nuclear weapon to demonstrate its newfound capability to the world, others - particularly within Military Intelligence - believe that Iran might adopt a policy of ambiguity regarding its nuclear status, similar to Israel's.
Available at: http://www.jpost.com/servlet/Satellite?cid=1244371078382&pagename=JPost%2FJPArticle%2FPrinter
2. Sources: Iran Denies UN Nuke Agency Camera Request
(for personal use only)
Iran has rebuffed a bid from the U.N. nuclear monitoring agency to beef up its monitoring ability at an important atomic site as it tries to keep track of the country's rapidly growing uranium enrichment capabilities, diplomats said Thursday.
The diplomats said the Islamic Republic in recent weeks turned down a request from the International Atomic Energy Agency to place one or more additional surveillance cameras at the Natanz enrichment site.
In addition, they said, the agency was concerned Iran would use its recent denial of access to Natanz to agency inspectors seeking a surprise visit as a precedent, further hampering the U.N. agency's need to increase its oversight.
IAEA spokesman Marc Vidricaire said the agency would have no comment.
The three diplomats — all from IAEA member nations — said it was possible Iran would reconsider, emphasizing that talks continued between the agency and Iranian officials. They demanded anonymity because their information was confidential.
Still, Iran's reluctance to allow the agency to upgrade its monitoring is troubling at a time of rapid expansion of the number of uranium enriching machines and their ability to produce material that could be upgraded into weapons-grade uranium.
Since Iran's clandestine enrichment efforts were revealed more than six years, ago, the country has steadily expanded activities at its cavernous underground facility at Natanz, a city about 300 miles (500 kilometers) south of Tehran.
An IAEA report circulated last week said nearly 5,000 centrifuges were now enriching at Natanz — about 1,000 more than at the time of the last agency report, issued in February — with more than 2,000 others ready to start enriching.
Iran says it is interested in producing only low-enriched uranium for fuel use, not highly enriched material for the fissile core of nuclear weapons, and the international nuclear agency has detected no effort at Natanz to contravene its assertion.
Still, if Iran decided to risk an international crisis by reconfiguring its centrifuge setup, it would have the ability to process its low-enriched material into weapons-grade uranium.
Most experts estimate that the over 1,000 kilograms — 2,200 pounds — of low-enriched uranium Iran had accumulated by February was enough to produce enough weapons-grade material through further enrichment for one nuclear weapon.
And as it expands its operations at Natanz, its potential capacity to produce highly enriched uranium is also growing.
Last week, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security estimated that, with the nearly 5,000 centrifuges now fully operating, Iran could accumulate enough material to produce weapons-grade uranium for two warheads by February 2010 — or sooner, if it brought the more than 2,000 additional machines on line immediately.
Iran steadfastly refuses to stop enriching despite the imposition of three rounds of economic, trade and financial sanctions by the U.N. Security Council. Even if hardline President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad loses Iranian presidential elections starting Friday, expectations are low that the country will change its nuclear stance.
Last week's IAEA report — prepared for a meeting starting Monday of the agency's 35-nation board of governors — touched on concerns about being able to keep track of Natanz operations.
It said the agency had informed Iran that, due to the growth in enrichment capacity and output, it was seeking "improvements to the containment and surveillance measures" it now had at hand. And a senior U.N. official said expansion at Natanz "makes it increasingly difficult to do the surveillance" needed to ensure none of the material produced is being diverted.
To do its work at Natanz, the agency relies in part on monitoring by cameras and on inspections meant to give the Iranians a minimum of time between the announcement of the visit and the arrival of the inspectors — methods the agency would like to expand, said the diplomats.
They said that Iran's refusal to allow any additional cameras was a setback, along with its recent denial of an IAEA spot inspection.
Last week's report referred to that denial, noting that — while Tehran allowed 25 unannounced inspections at Natanz since 2007, it blocked the request last month arguing the facility was off-limits because of a security drill.
"The agency is pushing to make sure Iran does not use this incident as a precedent" to deny further access to Natanz, said one of the diplomats, who is regularly briefed on the IAEA's Iran file.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5gODK4WyI04gVjnabOevtEzeWBdKAD98OIRH00
A little-noted fact about the second nuclear test conducted on May 25 by the Kim Jong-il administration of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) is that it was a highly successful fission trigger test for multi-megaton warheads.
These types of warheads can be detonated in outer space, far above the United States, evaporating its key targets. This is a significant indication of the supreme leader's game plan for nuclear war with the crippled superpower and its allies, Japan and South Korea.
The North Korean Foreign Ministry on April 29 announced its plan to test-fire what it termed a long-awaited "intercontinental ballistic missile" (ICBM), the first public ICBM test after numerous missile tests, short-range, medium-range, and long-range, were conducted without notice.
On March 9, the General Staff of the nuclear-armed Korean People's Army had begun preparing to launch simultaneous retaliatory strikes on the US, Japan and South Korea in response to their act of war.
Although no appropriate test site for a thermonuclear bomb is available on the Korean Peninsula, North Korean scientists and engineers are confident, as a series of computer simulations have proved that their hydrogen bombs will be operational. The North Korean message is that any soft spots of the US, Japan and South Korea's defense lines will be used as the testing grounds for their thermonuclear weapons.
The Korean Central News Agency said on May 25 that the underground nuclear test was carried out at the request of nuclear scientists and engineers and reported: The current nuclear test was safely conducted on a new higher level in terms of its explosive power and technology of its control and the results of the test helped satisfactorily settle the scientific and technological problems arising in further increasing the power of nuclear weapons and steadily developing nuclear technology.
John Pike, the founder and director of globalsecurity.org, told the Weekly Standard on October 19, 2006, that the North Korean nuclear test that year may have been a test of a "trigger device" for a much larger hydrogen bomb. Writing in the New York Times on April 7, 2009, he revealed that "North Korea's low-yield nuclear test in October 2006 did "coincide with the sub-kiloton tests of the fission trigger for a hydrogen bomb". He added, "possibly North Korea's hydrogen bombs can be easily fitted on missiles".
The Kim Jong-il administration has developed its global nuclear strike capability primarily as a deterrent to US invasion to keep the Korean Peninsula out of war. Secondly, it needs operational nuclear missiles targeted at US and Japanese targets in the event of a DPRK-US war.
The North Korean state-run newspaper, Minjo Joson, vowed on June 9 to use nuclear weapons in war as "merciless means of offense to deal retaliatory strikes" against anyone who "dares infringe upon the dignity and sovereignty of the DPRK even a bit".
Scenario for nuclear war
After shifting to a plan B, Supreme Leader Kim Jong-il has put in place a nuclear game plan as a part of the plan's military first policy to deal with nuclear rogue state America and its allies South Korea and Japan. (See Kim Jong-il shifts to plan B, Asia Times Online, May 21)
The nuclear game plan is designed firstly to militarily prevent the US from throwing a monkey wrench into the plans of the Kim Jong-il administration for economic prosperity by 2012 - the centenary of the birth of founding father Kim Il-sung - in a bid to complete its membership of the three elite clubs of nuclear, space and economic powers.
Its second aim is to win the hearts and minds of the 70 million Korean people, North, South and abroad, and leave little doubt in their eyes that Kim Jong-il has what it takes to neutralize and phase out the American presence in Korea. This will hasten the divided parts of ancestral Korean land - bequeathed by Dankun 5,000 years ago and Jumon 2,000 years ago - coming together under a confederal umbrella as a reunified state.
It is designed to impress upon the Korean population that Kim Jong-il is a Korean David heroically standing up to the American Goliath, that he can lead the epic effort to settle long-smoldering moral scores with the US over a more than 100-year-old grudge match that dates as far as the 1905 Taft-Katsura Agreement and the 1866 invasion of Korea by the USS General Sherman.
Third, Kim Jong-il has described the shift to plan B as a stern notice for the governments of the US and its junior allies that they cannot get away with their hostile behavior any longer, unless they are prepared to leave their booming economies consumed in a great conflagration of retaliatory thermonuclear attacks.
The game plan assumes that the US is unlikely to shake off its aggressive behavior until it is wiped off this planet. The Barack Obama administration has not taken much time to reveal its true colors, which are no different from the George W Bush administration. There have been four compelling signs:
First, the March 9-20 Key Resolve (Team Spirit) joint war games between the US and South Korea.
Second, the US-led United Nation Security Council's (UNSC) condemnation of an innocuous April 5 satellite launch.
Third, the rehashing of counterfeit money charges that the US has failed to produce compelling evidence to support. As Newsweek wrote in its June 8 issue, "The Treasury Department couldn't find a single shred of hard evidence pointing to North Korean production of counterfeit money."
Fourth, the presence of Bush holdovers in the Obama administration, such as Stuart Levy, the architect of Bush-era financial sanctions intended to criminalize the DPRK.
Four types of hydrogen bomb raids The game plan for nuclear war specifies four types of thermonuclear assault: (1) the bombing of operating nuclear power stations; (2) detonations of a hydrogen bombs in seas off the US, Japan and South Korea; (3) detonations of H-bombs in space far above their heartlands; and (4) thermonuclear attacks on their urban centers.
The first attack involves converting operating nuclear power plants on the coastline of the three countries into makeshift multi-megaton H-bombs.
The New York Times on January 24, 1994, quoted Paul Leventhal, president of the Nuclear Control Institute, warning that North Korea could easily launch de-facto hydrogen bomb attacks on South Korea.
"North Korean retaliation to bombing could result in vastly more fallout in the South than in the North ... North Korean retaliatory bombing could bring Chernobyls multiplied."
If bombed, one average operating nuclear power station is estimated to spew out as much deadly fallout as 150-180 H-bombs. Bombing one nuclear power station would render the Japanese archipelago and South Korea uninhabitable. Doing the same to the US may require bombing one plant on its west coast and another on its east coast.
Nothing is easier than bombing a power plant on a coastline. There is no need to use a ballistic missile. Primitive means will do the job.
The US has 103 operating nuclear power stations with onsite storage of a huge quantity of spent fuel rods and Japan has 53 operating atomic power stations. Japan has a stockpile of weapons-grade plutonium - enough to assemble more than 1,000 atomic bombs in a short period of time. South Korea has 20 operating nuclear power stations with onsite storage of a huge quantity of spent fuel rods.
The detonation of sea-borne or undersea H-bombs planted on the three countries' continental shelves will trigger nuclear tsunamis with devastating consequences.
A 2006 RAND study of a ship-based 10-kiloton nuclear blast on the Port of Long Beach had some harrowing conclusions: "Within the first 72 hours, the attack would devastate a vast portion of the Los Angeles metropolitan area. Because ground-burst explosions generate particularly large amounts of highly radioactive debris, fallout from the blast would cause much of the destruction. In some of the most dramatic possible outcomes: Sixty thousand people might die instantly from the blast itself or quickly thereafter from radiation poisoning.
One hundred and fifty thousand more might be exposed to hazardous levels of radioactive water and sediment from the port, requiring emergency medical treatment.
The blast and subsequent fires might completely destroy the entire infrastructure and all ships in the Port of Long Beach and the adjoining Port of Los Angeles.
Six million people might try to evacuate the Los Angeles region.
Two to three million people might need relocation because fallout will have contaminated a 500-square-kilometer area.
Gasoline supplies might run critically short across the entire region because of the loss of Long Beach's refineries - responsible for one-third of the gas west of the Rocky Mountains. RAND projects that the economic costs would exceed $1 trillion. The third possible attack, a high-altitude detonation of hydrogen bombs that would create a powerful electromagnetic pulse (EMP), would disrupt the communications and electrical infrastructure of the US, the whole of Japan, and South Korea.
Many of the essential systems needed to survive war would be knocked out, as computers are instantly rendered malfunctioning or unusable. Military and communications systems such as radars, antennas, and missiles, government offices, would be put out of use, as would energy sources such as nuclear power stations and transport and communications systems including airports, airplanes, railways, cars and cell phones.
Ironically the ubiquity of high-tech computing gadgets in the US, Japan and South Korea has made them most vulnerable to EMP attacks.
The last and fourth attack would be to order into action a global nuclear strike force of dozens of MIRVed ICBMs - each bearing a thermonuclear warhead on a prefixed target.
The Yongbyon nuclear site has always been a decoy to attract American attention and bring it into negotiations on a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. Since as far back as the mid-1980, North Korea has assembled 100-300 nuclear warheads in an ultra-clandestine nuclear weapons program. The missiles can be mounted on medium-range missiles designed to be nuclear capable.
A prototype ICBM was assembled by the end of the 1980s. Two prototype ICBMs were test-fired on May 29, 1993, with one splashing down off Honolulu and the other off Guam. The Kim Jong-il administration gave an advance notice to the US government of the long-range missile test. But the American reaction was skeptical.
In April 2001, the Associated Press quoted Navy representative Mark Kirk's "terrifying encounter in 1993 with what seemed possible nuclear attack" from North Korea. He recalled: It was a no notice, no warning missile launch out of North Korea, and for the first and only time in my career in the NMJIC [National Military Joint Intelligence Center], I got to see all of the panoply of the United States military wake up in a few seconds.
We did not know what kind of missile it was, so the impact area, at the beginning, was the entire United States, and you thought about what we might be doing in the next 12 minutes: would we be notifying the president that we had lost an American city? We were going to know the answer in 12 minutes.
At first it still included the Pacific Coast, then it included Hawaii. AP added: "Little was made of the 1993 launch at the time because it wasn't determined until later that it likely flew over Japan and landed in the Pacific Ocean, Kirk said."
It was not until 1998 that the US notified the Japanese government of the flyover of a North Korean long-range missile before splashing down off Hawaii. The US National Aeronautics and Space Administration quietly labeled the 1998 satellite launch a success.
According to a February 12, 2003, AP report, US intelligence had concluded a few years earlier that North Korea has a ballistic missile capable of hitting the western United States and possibly targets farther inland.
Available at: http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Korea/KF12Dg01.html
The UN Security Council was expected to adopt tougher sanctions targeting North Korea's atomic and ballistic missile programs in response to the Stalinist state's nuclear defiance.
The 15-member body was to meet at 11:00 am (1500 GMT) for a likely vote on a draft resolution agreed by its five veto-wielding permanent members - Britain, China, France, Russia and the United States - plus Japan and South Korea.
The text calls on UN member states to slap biting sanctions on North Korea.
They include tougher inspections of cargo suspected of containing banned items related to North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile activities, a tighter arms embargo with the exception of light weapons and new financial restrictions.
Passage is a foregone conclusion - nine votes in favour are required with no veto - after more than two weeks of intensive bargaining among the seven sponsors.
The compromise text seeks to punish Pyongyang for its May 25 underground nuclear test and subsequent missile firings in violation of UN resolutions.
US Ambassador to the United Nations Susan Rice has said the resolution will send the message that "North Korea's behaviour is unacceptable."
It would also signal that North Korea "must pay a price, return without conditions to a process of negotiation and that the consequences they will face are significant."
Despite the escalating showdown, the US envoy on North Korea Thursday voiced hope for a diplomatic solution with Pyongyang and predicted it would eventually return to the negotiating table.
US special envoy Stephen Bosworth told a Senate hearing that Washington was using a variety of tools with North Korea, ranging from sanctions to diplomatic engagement - "if North Korea shows seriousness of purpose."
"In the interest of all concerned, we very much hope that North Korea will choose the path of diplomacy rather than confrontation," he added.
The draft "condemns in the strongest terms" the North Korean nuclear test and "demands that the DPRK (North Korea) not conduct any further nuclear test or any launch using ballistic missile technology."
It declares that Pyongyang "shall abandon all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs in a complete, verifiable and irreversible manner and immediately cease all related activities."
But US intelligence officials have reportedly warned President Barack Obama that North Korea intends to respond to a UN resolution condemning its actions with another nuclear test.
Former South Korean foreign minister Song Min-Soon warned this month that the North would continue to test nuclear weapons.
He forecast that the communist state was likely to carry on test-launching missiles of various ranges in a bid to improve their accuracy.
The development of nuclear weapons "is usually completed after five to six tests," he told a meeting of his opposition party.
Japan said Friday that North Korea's only path to "survival" in the global community was to comply with the UN resolution expected later in the day and to cease its missile and nuclear programs.
"Giving serious thought to the UN Security Council resolution is the only way that North Korea can survive in the international community," Japan's top government spokesman Takeo Kawamura said in Tokyo.
The draft resolution requires the Stalinist regime to "immediately retract its announcement of withdrawal from the NPT (Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty)" and return immediately to the six-party talks on a nuclear-free Korean peninsula without precondition.
It also calls on member states to prevent the transfer of financial or other assets that could contribute to North Korea's nuclear or ballistic missile programs.
And it extends an assets freeze and travel ban decreed in a 2006 resolution to additional North Korean entities, goods and individuals.
North Korea launched a long-range missile in April, which was roundly condemned by the Security Council. Pyongyang then retaliated by announcing May 25 that it had staged a second nuclear weapons test, following one in 2006.
It also has declared the armistice ending the 1950-53 Korean War as void.
Available at: http://www.channelnewsasia.com/stories/afp_asiapacific/view/435485/1/.html
The two Koreas held rare talks lasting 50 minutes Thursday on the fate of a troubled industrial park, set up jointly as a symbol of reconciliation that is now a major source of friction amid fears about North Korea's nuclear and missile programs.
The talks at the factory park in the North Korean border town of Kaesong came as the U.N. moved closer to imposing new sanctions on North Korea for testing an atomic device on May 25 in defiance of a U.N. ban.
South Korean officials at the talks demanded the release of a compatriot detained at the Kaesong Industrial Complex since late March for allegedly denouncing the North's political system, South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Chun Hae-sung said. He did not disclose any details of North Korea's response.
The communist regime has rejected South Korea's repeated requests for his release, and details of his status remained unclear.
Thursday's talks are only the second meeting between civilian officials from the two sides in more than a year, a reflection of the deeply frayed relations and mistrust between the nations struggling to push ahead reconciliation efforts.
Chun said the two sides were consulting whether to continue the talks in the afternoon.
Bilateral relations worsened after a pro-U.S., conservative government took office in Seoul last year, advocating a tougher policy on the North. In retaliation, the reclusive regime cut off ties, halted all major joint projects except the Kaesong complex and significantly restricted border traffic. The nuclear test further damaged ties.
Before leaving on a two-hour road trip to Kaesong, the head of Seoul's 14-member delegation, Kim Young-tak, said they hope to "solve the problems with an open heart."
The Kaesong complex, where 106 South Korean companies operate with some 40,000 North Korean workers, is the Koreas' last remaining reconciliation project. It makes everything from electronics and watches to shoes and utensils, providing a major source of revenue for the cashapped North.
But the park's fate was thrown into doubt after the North said last month it was canceling what it calls "preferential" contracts for its occupants and writing new rules for them. The North said the South must accept them or pull out.
On Wednesday, Western powers reached agreement with North Korea's allies on a proposal to punish Pyongyang for its latest nuclear test. The new sanctions would put tough restrictions on Pyongyang's exports and financial dealings, and allow inspections of suspect cargo in ports and on the high seas.
The agreement awaits approval by the U.N. Security Council.
The South Korean government says it is committed to developing the Kaesong Industrial Complex despite the problems between the two countries.
But some companies appear to be losing patience. Earlier this week, a South Korean fur-garment manufacturer announced that it was pulling out of Kaesong citing security concern for its employees.
Since the inauguration of South Korean President Lee Myung-bak's government in February 2008, the two Koreas have met at a government level only once before, on April 21 at Kaesong. The meeting, however, lasted only 22 minutes following hours of wrangling over procedural issues, with the North refusing to release the detained southern worker, Yu Song-jin.
Experts say Thursday's meeting would not achieve much as the North will likely use the case to show how badly relations between the two sides have frayed because of Seoul's hard-line policy on Pyongyang.
"I think the North is trying to show that it cannot free Yu unless the South drops its hostile policy and turns back toward a reconciliation and cooperation policy," said Paik Hak-soon, a senior analyst at the Sejong Institute, a South Korean think tank.
The North has also been preparing to test-fire an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S., and appears to be readying for short- and medium-range missile tests. This has prompted South Korea to step up its military preparations.
Intensifying tensions, North Korea handed down 12-year prison terms to two detained American journalists on Monday. Analysts have said Pyongyang is expected to use the reporters as bargaining chips in nuclear and other negotiation with the U.S.
Some experts say the North's recent saber rattling is largely aimed at mustering support for the country's absolute leader Kim Jong Il as he reportedly prepares to announce his successor — his third and youngest son Jong Un.
Kim, 67, is said to have suffered a stroke, and underwent brain surgery last summer.
Little is known about the workings of the insular nation, and most of the information comes out through occasional defectors, South Korea's spy agency and South Korean media sources in the North.
Available at: http://www.google.com/hostednews/ap/article/ALeqM5jFoJSL1TdsqcmxTABYNX3ENr1_TwD98O8O1G0
4. Source: N. Korea May be Preparing for New Nuclear Test
(for personal use only)
North Korea may be preparing for a new atomic bomb test a month after its last test, a U.S. official said Thursday.
The official, who is not authorized to speak on the record, told CNN that Washington has "indications" that North Korea may be planning another test, which would be its third since 2006. The official would not provide any details, however.
The possible preparations come as the U.N. Security Council debates whether to impose additional sanctions on the communist state in response to its May 25 test of a nuclear device, as well as several subsequent missile tests. Susan Rice, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, said Wednesday that North Korea "must pay a price" for its defiance of the international community, which has demanded Pyongyang halt those tests.
In July 2008, U.S., Russian, Chinese, Japanese and South Korean negotiators reached an agreement with North Korea for it to resume the disablement of its nuclear facilities. But the deal has faltered over plans to allow the other parties to verify whether Pyongyang has revealed all of its nuclear secrets.
North Korea has since threatened to restart its nuclear fuel plant at Yongbyon.
Stephen Bosworth, the Obama administration's special representative for North Korea, told the Senate Foreign Relations Committee on Thursday that all parties -- including China, long North Korea's major ally -- have agreed to "coordinated steps" to get North Korea to reverse its recent moves away from the six-party agreement.
"On our recent trip, we find that China shared a deep concern about North Korea's recent actions and a strong commitment to achieve denuclearization," Bosworth said. "Our challenge now is to work with China to turn that commitment into effective implementation of the U.N. Security Council resolutions."
But Victor Cha, the former Asia director at the U.S. National Security Council, told the committee that additional sanctions could result in a new North Korean test.
"When the Bush administration undertook some of these financial measures, many people argued it led to North Korea's first nuclear test," Cha said. "And the question arises whether these financial measures will then lead North Korea to their third nuclear test. And I don't think we know the answer to that."
Earlier this month, the eldest son of North Korean leader Kim Jong Il, in a rare television interview, shed some light on who might eventually take over the secretive Communist nation. Kim Jong Nam told TV Asahi, a Japanese television network, in Macau that he does not care about politics or about succeeding his father.
Kim Jong Il is widely reported to have suffered a stroke in August and has been absent from many public functions in recent months. In April, he named his son, Kim Jong Un, and brother-in-law, Jang Song Thaek, to the country's powerful National Defense Commission, suggesting his third son may be his heir.
"I hear that news in the media," Kim Jong Nam said. "I think it's true ... however, it is my father's decision. So once he decides, we have to support him."
Available at: http://edition.cnn.com/2009/WORLD/asiapcf/06/11/north.korea.nuclear/index.html
Both India and the United States have been quite vocal in the recent past voicing ‘concerns’ about Pakistan’s nuclear security and raising false alarms about Pakistan’s nuclear weapons ‘falling to the Taliban’. In an ironic twist, the nuclear safeguards of both these nations have been breached within days of each other, raising fresh doubts about the safety of their own nuclear weapons. Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system, on the other hand, continues to be one of the most advanced in the world.
The governments and media of the two most vocal countries raising false alarms about the safety of Pakistan’s Nuclear Program have some home truths to contend with first.
After the recent US nuclear security blunder, reports are coming in from India that a top nuclear scientist – with access to sensitive information – has been missing for FOUR days.
L Mahalingam, a top nuclear scientist working at the Kaiga nuclear facility in the Karwar district of Karnataka has been missing since Monday morning.
Mahalingam, who hails from Anna Nagar in Chennai, had gone for his usual morning walk on Monday and has not returned ever since. Although no ransom note or call has been received till now, his wife Vinayaka Sundari is not ruling out kidnap and has since filed an FIR at the Mallapur police station.
The missing nuclear scientist is one of the top officials working in the training section – with access to sensitive documents – of the very important facility tucked away in the remote Karwar region bordering Goa, near to the where the Indian armed forces are building one of their biggest bases – Project Seabird.
“Intensive search is being carried out round the clock by a 40-member team comprising the CISF and local police personnel to trace N Mahalingam, missing since June 8 from the Kaiga township,” Superintendent of Police, Uttara Kannada Raman Gupta told.
Ahmed Quraishi on the weak US and Indian Nuclear Safeguards
Just last week, Pakistanis were laughing as a sensitive list of U.S. nuclear sites was mistakenly posted on Internet, the latest in a series of American nuclear security breaches that Pakistanis say places the United States as the world’s most dangerous nuclear power.
In 2007 a U.S. air force jet flew across the country without the pilot realizing he was carrying nuclear warheads more than ten times the Hiroshima bombs.
Pakistan’s nuclear community is yet to commit any blunders of this scale, although a Pakistani newspaper reported last week that the U.S. government secretly recruited 12 Pakistani scientists and technicians in 1978 to plan sabotage from within designed to look like a nuclear accident. The ISI aborted the CIA plan. Pakistan’s President Zia telephoned President Carter and strongly protested.
So if Pakistan ever came close to a nuclear accident, it was because of American mischief.
The U.S. media has been running an anti-Pakistan demonization campaign since 2007 and has intensified it in recent weeks with deliberate official and intelligence leaks, portraying Pakistani nuclear safeguards as weak and trying to convince the world that Pakistan was unable to protect its weapons.
The U.S. campaign is based on lies and cooked intelligence at best. Pakistan’s nuclear command and control system is probably the most advanced in the world, building on the work of the earlier nuclear powers. In fact, independent nuclear experts realize that the Pakistani nuclear command structure is more advanced than the one India has. India is a late entrant to the nuclear safeguards debate. U.S. officials were stunned during the negotiations for the U.S.-India nuclear technology transfer deal to discover how inadeuqate Indian nuclear safeguards were.
Available at: http://www.daily.pk/local/other-local/10409-after-us-indian-nuclear-security-breached.html
2. Russian Nuclear Plants Targeted by 'Information Terrorists'
World Nuclear News
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Several Russian nuclear power plants have been the target of a so-called information terror campaign spreading false information about an alleged nuclear accident, according to the country's nuclear operator.
Reports circulated on the Internet and by SMS messaging claimed that major incidents had occurred at nuclear power plants at Kursk, Novovoronezh, Balakovo and Volgodonsk. However, Energoatom, the company responsible for operating all of Russia's nuclear power plants, was quick to refute the allegations.
"The reports ... saying that there have been accidents at some of the Russian nuclear power plants are not true. It appears to be one more information attack," Energoatom said in a release issued by its information and press centre. Stressing that all of its nuclear power plants were operating normally, the organisation pointed to a dedicated website, russianatom.ru, which provides detailed real-time information about background radiation levels at all Russian nuclear power installations.
By 6 June, Energoatom said that the information attack was "subsiding", with the number of enquiries to the russianatom.ru website having peaked.
Russian radiation and nuclear safety chief Valery Menshikov said in a press release that it was difficult to speculate on who was responsible for circulating the rumours. "I think this is very incompetent people or people who artificially create the motivation of fear," he said. He countered allegations that the authorities could be covering up an incident, as happened in the immediate aftermath of the Chernobyl nuclear accident in 1986, by reference to legal requirements introduced since Chernobyl to immediately disclose any emergency with possible health ramifications. "It should be understood that this [Chernobyl] was a completely different situation and another State", he said.
This is not the first time that Russian nuclear plants have suffered so-called information attacks, seemingly designed to cause panic. In June 2008, rumours were circulated about a spurious accident at the Leningrad nuclear power station, as were allegations of radiation releases from the Volgodonsk nuclear plant. A July 2007 campaign against Volgodonsk, which according to Rosatom involved emails, SMS messages and telephone calls urging people to evacuate, led to over 500,000 telephone calls to the emergency ministry and panic buying of canned food, red wine and iodine pills.
Such misinformation incidents do not seem to be limited to nuclear installations. At the same time as the information attack on the power plants, rumours were circulating on the Internet that a poisonous cloud was spreading over parts of Russia following the alleged explosion of a mercury-containing tank in Ukraine. These allegations were also dismissed by Russian environmental monitors as groundless.
The rumours seem to have been met with scepticism in some quarters, with contributors to some Russian-language blogs and forums seemingly keen to discover the veracity of the allegations before leaping into panic mode.
The Kursk nuclear power plant had hosted a visit by local journalists representing newspapers, magazines, TV companies and online news agencies on 5 June. As one contributor to a Russian forum commented, if anything had been amiss at the plant one might have expected the journalists to notice!
Available at: http://www.world-nuclear-news.org/RS-Russian_nuclear_plants_targeted_by_information_terrorists-1106097.html
3. U.S. and Ukraine Announce Completion of Radiation Detection System at Odessa Airport
National Nuclear Security Administration
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The National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) and the Administration of the State Border Guard Service of Ukraine (ASBGS) held a ceremony today to commission new radiation detection systems at Odessa’s International Airport. Today’s ceremony also recognized the continuing cooperation between the United States and Ukraine in preventing illicit trafficking of nuclear and radioactive material across Ukrainian territory.
“We appreciate Ukraine’s commitment to advancing our common interest in enhancing nuclear security by stopping the smuggling of dangerous nuclear and radiological materials,” said NNSA Principal Assistant Deputy Administrator for Defense Nuclear Nonproliferation Ken Baker. “The commissioning of the radiation detection system at Odessa International Airport represents another milestone in our joint nonproliferation effort. We will continue to strengthen our cooperation as we work together to equip over 70 of Ukraine’s points of exit and entry.”
Under a 2005 Implementing Agreement between the U.S. and Ukraine, NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program is working with the ASBGS to provide radiation detection equipment at more than 70 points of exit and entry, conduct training, and hold technical workshops. As a potential transit country for illicit nuclear and radiological materials moving between Europe and Asia, the radiation detection systems being installed across Ukraine will help increase transcontinental security by enhancing Ukraine’s ability to detect, deter, and interdict nuclear smuggling.
Today’s ceremony commemorated the successful installation and certification of radiation detection systems at Odessa’s International Airport. The work was performed by NNSA’s Second Line of Defense (SLD) Program, which works collaboratively with foreign governments at border crossings, airports, seaports, and other points of exit and entry to install specialized radiation detection equipment and associated communications equipment. The SLD Program also provides training to host government border guard officials and other personnel to detect smuggled nuclear and other radioactive materials. NNSA has installed similar equipment at 250 sites around the world.
A fact sheet on NNSA’s Second Line of Defense program is available at http://www.nnsa.energy.gov/news/2299.htm.
The NNSA also has a long history of collaborating with Ukraine in other important nonproliferation areas such as scientist engagement at former WMD facilities and export control training with the Ukraine's State Customs Service concerning the recognition of WMD-related commodities. Ukraine has also worked cooperatively under the Global Threat Reduction Initiative (GTRI) to upgrade the physical security at over 60 sites that store or use high activity radiological sources, including the Odessa State Interregional Special Combine, whose job it is to collect, transport, treat, store, and dispose of radioactive waste from the Odessa region.
Established by Congress in 2000, NNSA is a semi-autonomous agency within the U.S. Department of Energy responsible for enhancing national security through the military application of nuclear science in the nation’s national security enterprise. NNSA maintains and enhances the safety, security, reliability, and performance of the U.S. nuclear weapons stockpile without nuclear testing; reduces the global danger from weapons of mass destruction; provides the U.S. Navy with safe and effective nuclear propulsion; and responds to nuclear and radiological emergencies in the U.S. and abroad.
Available at: http://nnsa.energy.gov/news/2399.htm
4. Jordan, US Discuss Protecting Border Outlets from Nuclear Materials
Jordanian News Agency
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Officials at the Jordan Nuclear Regulatory Commission (JNRC) discussed with a delegation from the US Department of Energy the latest developments with regard to protecting Jordanian border outlets from illegal trade of nuclear materials, through providing these outlets with special gates and equipment to discover nuclear materials.
JNRC chairman Jamal Sharaf said talks touched on the final designs of the e-gates that will be adopted at the outlets as well as their installation locations. The project, he added, was in the frame of the commission's duty to protect the Kingdom from nuclear materials.
Sharaf said that both sides discussed the infrastructure of the project as well as training cadres on these state-of-the-art equipment, which will be delivered to Jordan before the end of this year.\
Available at: http://www.breitbart.com/article.php?id=upi20090610-223528-8637&show_article=1
5. Putin Says Russia Will Abandon Nuclear Arms if Others Do
(for personal use only)
Prime Minister Vladimir Putin said Wednesday Russia could get rid of its atomic weapons if other nuclear powers are ready to abandon them too. "What do we need nuclear arms for?" Putin said during talks with visiting German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier.
"Was it us that invented and ever used it?" he said in a thinly veiled reference to the United States, which became the world's first nuclear power when it bombed the Japanese cities of Hiroshima and Nagasaki in World War II.
"If those who made the atomic bomb and used it are ready to adandon it, along with -- I hope -- other nuclear powers that officialy or unofficially possess it, we will of course welcome and facilitate this process in every possible way."
US President Barack Obama is due in Moscow next month for talks with Russian counterpart Dmitry Medvedev on a successor to a Cold War-era disarmament pact, the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START), set to expire in December.
The outcome of their talks could have far-reaching implications for global security -- and a successful result would boost Obama's stated vision of a world without nuclear weapons.
Speaking on a visit to Ulan-Bator last month, Putin said he would meet Obama in Moscow "with pleasure."
The world's other declared and presumed nuclear powers include, China, Britain, France, Israel, Pakistan, India and North Korea.
Available at: http://www.spacewar.com/2006/090610165228.ccd7055r.html
The United States would launch an aggressive diplomatic effort to pursue countries like India, Pakistan and Israel to sign the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty (CTBT) and thus bring it into force, President Barack Obama's new trouble-shooter for non-proliferation said today.
Testifying before Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Ellen Tauscher, former Democrat Congresswoman from California, said if confirmed for the post of Under Secretary for Arms Control and International Security, she would work towards the ratification of CTBT.
"I share the administration's commitment to obtaining the Senate's advice and consent to ratify the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty and to launch a diplomatic effort to bring states that have not signed the treaty on board so that it can be brought into force," she said in her testimony.
So far China, Egypt, India, Indonesia, Iran, Israel, North Korea, Pakistan and the US have not ratified CTBT.
Ratification of CTBT, she argued is one way to persuade countries to permanently end nuclear testing and curb the proliferation of nuclear weapons.
She said the Obama Administration has developed a nuclear nonproliferation strategy based on multiple fronts.
Available at: http://www.business-standard.com/india/news/us-to-push-countries-to-sign-ctbt/64113/on
Russia's RIA-Novosti new agency has reported further delays to the completion of Iran's civilian nuclear plant in Bushehr. This time the excuse is the Russian banks' refusal to work with Iran. The way things have been going, one can almost begin to imagine a headline in 2050, reading crumbling structure causes more delays to Bushehr nuclear plant.
For the love of God, what on earth is going on with the russky contractors?
Does Russia want to finish this project or are we likely to see a picture of a broadly grinning President Ahmadinejad standing next to the structure with a headline saying something like, Yes We Can followed by the usual rhetoric about the achievements of Iranian scientists who managed to get the power plant on-line domestically and without foreign assistance while saving the nation a mountain of forex.
Because as things are going the latter scenario is becoming most probable.
In the absence of aircraft sales to Iran the strangest looking domestically produced contraptions have taken to the air with Iranian authorities falling over themselves with glee about how they managed to reverse engineer a pterodactyl and make it go supersonic.
And the same story has repeated itself with ships, cars, computers, household goods; you name it.
Iranian society just cannot understand how the West and Israel can be so hostile. Iran has not attacked anyone and has not stolen from anyone.
And Russia can hardly have a gripe with Iran over anything because the Islamic Republic has been spending good money on their third rate goods from under Western sanctions.
The latest Russian shenanigans on Bushehr would also better not have anything to do with Iran's completion of an oil platform to tap its fair share of the Caspian Sea's energy reserves. Because Iran's share of the riches beneath the waves is as important to Iranians as any other national point of pride like the nuclear energy or indeed the space program.
The head of the Russian state-run contractor Atomstroiexport that is constructing the Bushehr plant Chief Dan Belenky, has not named the uncooperative Russian banks, nor has he given a new schedule for the completion of the project.
We wonder what the Russians want to get out of poor lonely Iran this time around.
Russia is seriously pushing its luck because more excuses might just sway the leadership in Iran to perform the most beautifully choreographed about turn and reach out to other contractors.
It seems to all Iranians that Russia is taking Iran's goodwill for granted and in doing so is getting beside itself with notions of self satisfaction.
Atomstroiexport must be taught that orange is not the only fruit in this multi-polar world and national expediency for nations can bring about the most unlikely international alliances.
So instead of trying Iran's patience it will be wise for Russia to comply with terms of its contract and provide Iran with however many zillions of megawatts per hour nuclear generated electricity it is supposed to.
Available at: http://www.presstv.ir/detail.aspx?id=97776§ionid=3510303
The world will have to wait even longer to find out whether nuclear fusion will be a viable alternative energy source, it seems. Central experiments for the multibillion-dollar, yet-unbuilt International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), probably won't get underway until 2026, according to an Agence-France Presse (AFP) report, five years later than recent timelines indicated.
The ITER team has broken ground for the test site in Cadarache, France (near Marseille), which will run a smaller reactor "less complete than initially thought," a spokesperson for France's Atomic Energy Commission said in a press conference yesterday.
Even though construction is slated to start this year, plasma-driven experiments won't get going until 2018—and those would be lighter than planned, literally (using hydrogen rather than heavier tritium and deuterium, which will have to wait for 2026). Although fusing hydrogen is easier, the deuterium-tritium reaction has proved to be the most "efficient" in lab experiments (meaning the most energy is released at the lowest temperature), so it's the target combination. Temperatures will still need to be about 270 million degrees Fahrenheit (150 million Celsius) for the reaction to get going.
Fusion—the same process our sun uses to make energy—fuses together atoms using hot plasma, rather than breaking them apart (as in fission) or joining them at room temperature (as in cold fusion). Its proponents hail it as a safer and greener source of energy that would produce little hazardous waste.
Manufacturing for the reactor's nuts and bolts (or at least wires) is already under contract, notes World Nuclear News. A South Korean company has started making some of the 28 tons of niobium-tin wire it will supply for the reactor's magnets.
ITER is currently backed by seven governments and had an initial price tag of $13.8 billion—which may double by the time it's built, Nature reports. France and the E.U. will pick up half of the tab together, and the other partners (China, India, Japan, Russia, South Korea and the U.S.) will be divvying up the rest. The project, which had its first design more than 20 years ago, seems to be on the cusp of liftoff, but, writes the Principal Deputy Director-General Norbet Holtkamp, "the details of the plan remain to be hammered out."
Available at: http://www.scientificamerican.com/blog/60-second-science/post.cfm?id=iter-fusion-project-faces-more-dela-2009-06-09
4. Nuclear Fusion Power Project to Start in Slimmed-Down Version
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A multi-billion-dollar project to prove whether nuclear fusion, the power that fuels the Sun, can be a practicable energy source is to be scaled down in its early stages, sources said on Monday.
The test reactor, to be built at a site in southern France, will start its experiments in 2018 as scheduled but will initially be built in a slimmed-down form, they said.
"Discussions are underway about the best timetable," Catherine Cesarsky of France's Atomic Energy Commission (CEA) told journalists on the sidelines of a science conference here.
"There is a new commissioning strategy, a detailed discussion about the machine's deployment."
A decision approving the change will be put next week to the partners in the International Thermonuclear Experimental Reactor (ITER), she said.
Launched in 2006 after years of debate, the scheme aims at building a testbed at Cadarache, near Marseille, to see whether fusion, so far achieved in a handful of labs at great cost, can be a feasible power source.
Its seven backers are the European Union (EU), China, India, South Korea, Japan, Russia and the United States. Kazakhstan is poised to become the eighth member.
Nuclear fusion entails forcing together the nuclei of light atomic elements in a super-heated plasma, held in a doughnut-shaped chamber called a tokamak, so that they make heavier elements and in so doing release energy.
The process, used by the Sun and other stars, would be safe and have negligible problems of waste, say its defenders.
In contrast, nuclear fission, which entails splitting the nucleus of an atom to release energy, remains dogged by concerns about safety and dangerously radioactive long-term waste.
Cesarsky said the first experiments would begin on schedule in 2018 "but with a machine that will be less complete than initially thought."
"Technically, it is far more valuable to do the first plasma with an ITER that is not completely finished, because if there is a simple problem it can be detected."
A spokesman for ITER told AFP that the scaled-down version would entail using hydrogen initially.
Key experiments using tritium and deuterium, designed to validate fusion as a producer of large amounts of power, would not take place until 2026, the spokesman said.
This would be around five years later than previously scheduled.
The planned changes will be submitted to the ITER council, meeting in Mito, Japan, on June 17 and 18, he said.
The council will meet again in November to make a new assessment of costs, the official said.
Four years ago, ITER was priced at around 10 billion euros (13.8 billion dollars today), spread among its stakeholders, led by the EU, which has a 45-percent share.
Five billion euros (6.9 billion dollars) would go to constructing the tokamak and other facilities, and five billion euros to the 20-year operations phase.
Last month, the British science journal Nature said construction costs "are likely to double" and the cost of operations "may also rise."
If ITER is a success, the next step would be to build a commercial reactor, a goal likely to be further decades away.
Available at: http://www.canada.com/technology/Nuclear+fusion+power+project+start+slimmed+down+version/1678135/story.html
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