New developments with the Korean nuclear horn

A look at developments surrounding North Korea’s nuclear test
By Paul Elliott Jan 11, 2016
Tri-County Sun Times

Secretary of State John Kerry has told his Chinese counterpart Wang Yi that the U.S. has decided China’s North Korea strategy is a failure and that they must abandon “business as usual” after this week’s apparent nuclear test. “But today in my conversation with the Chinese I made it very clear that that has not worked and we can not continue business as usual”. North Korea said it had detonated a hydrogen bomb, a vastly more powerful weapon than the nuclear devices it has tested three times before, but experts were extremely skeptical of that claim. South Korea’s initial retaliation to the North’s latest nuclear test was a mix of K-pop, scathing commentary on its nuclear programme and derision of the ruling family’s penchant for costly clothes and luxury handbags. North Korea is thought to have a handful of rudimentary nuclear bombs and has spent decades trying to ideal a multistage, long-range missile to carry smaller versions of those bombs. The U.N. Security Council held an emergency session and pledged to swiftly pursue new sanctions against North Korea, saying its test was a “clear violation” of previous U.N. resolutions. “Our military is at a state of full readiness, and if North Korea wages provocation, there will be firm punishment”. North Korean government officials told CNN’s Will Ripley, who is in Pyongyang, that they are not afraid of more sanctions; they said that they’ve lived for years with the crippling measures levied against them and are prepared to tighten their belts even more. “We urge South Korea to exercise restraint”, British Foreign Secretary Philip Hammond said during a visit to Japan, after the South resumed the broadcasts. Japan is considering reinstating some of its own sanctions against North Korea while working with the United States for an global response to Pyongyang’s latest nuclear test. North Korea’s declaration that it had tested a hydrogen bomb fo… Kerry rejected a reporter’s suggestion that the Obama administration had neglected the North Korean threat as it focused on curbing Iran’s nuclear program. He adds that North Korea seems to look down on the South “because we are always in a defensive position”. South Korean companies – mostly small- and medium-sized – make products such as watches and fashion goods with cheap labor from North Korea. South Korean officials cranked up banks of loudspeakers near the demilitarized zone with North Korea, blaring pop music, news reports and other information into the isolated country. Officials refused to elaborate, but the assets likely are B-52 bombers, F-22 stealth fighters and nuclear-powered submarines. “Broadcasts from South Korea can reach deep and far into North Korea’s society, imbuing the minds of its people with the images of a free nation and hurting the oppressive personality cult”. The United States is highly unlikely to restore the tactical nuclear missiles it removed from South Korea in 1991, experts said. It can not have escaped the notice of North Korea that after Saddam Hussein’s nuclear program was ended after the first Gulf War and Muammar Ghadafi voluntarily gave up his nuclear weapons program, one wound up dead in a hole in the ground and the other in a sewer pipe. The North’s 2013 test produced an estimated yield of 6-7 kilotons of explosives, according to South Korean officials. Obama also discussed options with President Park Geun-hye of South Korea. Tri-County Sun Times

Iran May Already Have Nuclear Weapons (Dan 8:4)


Does Iran Already Have Nuclear Weapons?
By Stephen Bryen and Shoshana Bryen
What happens to the Iran nuclear deal if Iran already has a nuclear weapon?
Both Iran and North Korea were part of the A.Q. Kahn proliferation network, and bilateral trade in oil and weapons has continued despite UN resolutions designed to stop it. Ballistic missile cooperation is documented, and nuclear cooperation has been an unspoken theme in Washington. Pyongyang helped Damascus, Iran’s ally, build a secret reactor. There are reports that North Korean experts visited Iran in May to help Iran with its missile program. Pressed by reporters on the subject of North Korea-Iran nuclear cooperation a few weeks ago, even the State Department acknowledged that it takes reports of such cooperation seriously.
In 2006, again in 2009, and more recently in 2013, North Korea carried out what appear to have been nuclear tests. The tests were all small, well below the blast that was achieved by the first Hiroshima atomic bomb and the subsequent Nagasaki explosion.
When America dropped a uranium-fueled simple bomb on Hiroshima (August 1945) it achieved a blast rated at about 15 kilotons (KT). The plutonium bomb with a sophisticated triggering system, used at Nagasaki three days later, had a yield of about 20 KT. The most recent North Korean nuclear explosion, by contrast, was approximately 6 KT, much smaller and it was detonated underground. Such a bomb is not trivial: its fireball would cover about four Manhattan blocks. It is, by itself, not sufficient to destroy the city of New York, but it would do a lot of damage.
Experts think the North Koreans have been developing small nuclear warheads, which they believe explains why the blasts were so small. DIA expressed “moderate confidence” that North Korea had mastered a nuclear weapon small enough to mount on a ballistic missile, and other senior American officials agree. But in May, an NSC representative said, ““We do not think that they have that capacity.” Both sides caveat their views with the fact that there is no direct, observable evidence — only extrapolations from events in a closed country.
If North Korea can make a small nuclear weapon, why would it?
The main threat for North Korea lies to its south. If Pyongyang wanted to use its ballistic missiles to attack South Korea with atomic warheads, U.S. spy satellites would surely pick up the preparation and preemptive action could be taken to make sure they were never launched. Thus the better nuclear option for North Korea is to do it in a more stealthy way: perhaps by using a mini submarine or a fishing boat in a key South Korean harbor. In that case, the bigger the bomb the better.
Of course, the North Korean ambition does not stop at South Korea and perhaps it wants a nuclear capability to threaten the United States and Japan, two archenemies.
On the other hand, North Korea desperately needs cash to prop up a regime that has been teetering for a long time. A good part of that cash comes from abroad, and outside of illicit activities the big money seems to be from Iran.
Given relations between the two and North Korean capabilities, it is quite possible that the North Korean tests have either been of Iranian-made warheads or of warheads made for Iran by North Korea. Which may mean Iran is shipping uranium (and possibly plutonium) to North Korea and the North Koreans are developing the warheads and testing them.
If Iran already has nuclear weapons, the agreement with the United States, Europe, and Russia is a canard, enabling Iran to bring in a lot of cash and technology while continuing to expand its nuclear program outside its borders. Ending the UN arms embargo against Iran would also allow it to ship items (warheads?) into the country without international inspection.
There is nothing new about Iran operating outside its borders. On September 5, 2007, Israeli aircraft and commandos attacked and destroyed Deir al-Zor in Syria and the nearby complex of Kibar. The complex was confirmed by the IAEA as a nuclear weapons development site, operated by Iran with the participation of North Korea.
It was not the only nuclear site in Syria. Marj as-Sultan, a facility near Damascus, is believed to be a uranium enrichment facility. With fighting taking place around this town, the German magazine Der Spiegel reports that the uranium and other material and equipment have been moved “to a well-hidden underground location just west of the city of Qusayr, not even two kilometers from the border with Lebanon.” And Der Spiegel believes that yet another nuclear facility was built this year at a secret location. According to Der Spiegel, Assad’s goal is nuclear capability, but how would this help him deal with the civil war raging in Syria? A more likely explanation is that this is an Iranian operation supported by North Korea.
Countries developing nuclear weapons often follow multiple tracks and build significant redundancy into their program so that a single point of failure won’t block progress in development. The U.S. pursued both uranium and plutonium weapons and created multiple facilities and different processes to get to its goal. Ditto for Russia, Britain, France, Iraq, India, and Pakistan. Iran is pursuing multiple paths to weaponization, but it is doing it with a twist. Because it needs a deal for sanctions relief, Iran is pursuing both domestic and extraterritorial nuclear weapons development. There is no doubt about its close ties to North Korea, and Syria provides concrete evidence of the convergence of the main players.
The nuclear deal with Iran does not consider these external relationships, or even officially recognize that they exist. Nor does it take into account that the explosions in North Korea could have been Iranian bombs. Although American intelligence is not completely confident on the matter, it is clear that the administration has heard voices of concern from within its own establishment.
This is another example of the ardor with which the Obama administration has pursued the Iran nuclear deal without regard for Iranian behavior before and during the negotiation.
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The New Middle East Nuclear Race (Rev 16)

North Korea Could Be Nuclear Weapon Genie for Middle East
17:44 23.06.2015

While Iran consistently insists it has never pursued the development of a nuclear bomb, “what if” speculations regularly stir up the internet; now one US magazine has come up with the idea that if Iran actually takes steps to create one, Saudi Arabia will want one too. And if that happens, North Korea will be willing to provide one.

It does not matter how hard Iran insists that it has never gone about developing a nuclear bomb, the mass media won’t give up its ‘what if’ speculations.

In its most recent issue, an American bi-monthly international affairs magazine, The National Interest, published by the Center for the National Interest, has not only speculated as to which power would be the next to acquire the bomb, but which would be the next to sell one as well.
“No country is seen as more likely to go nuclear in response to Iran doing so than Saudi Arabia, Iran’s long-standing rival in the region,” the magazine states.

It goes on to suggest which country would be the one to sell.

“The general consensus has long held that Saudi Arabia would purchase off-the-shelf nuclear weapons from Pakistan,” it says.

However, it gives reasons why Islamabad won’t sell the weapon to Riyadh:

“To begin with, Pakistan already worries that its arsenal is too small to survive an Indian or American counterforce strike,” it reasons.

“Moreover, selling Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons would result in an unprecedented backlash from most of the international community, including both the United States and China, Pakistan’s major patrons. It would also enrage Iran, which is well-positioned to retaliate against Pakistan in numerous ways, from supporting separatists in Balochistan to further cozying up to India.”

The magazine however is convinced that the Saudis won’t drop the idea to obtain the bomb. And the next in line of potential sellers is…North Korea.

And give its “number of compelling reasons to believe North Korea might be amenable to such a request.”

The magazine assumes that “North Korea has a long track record of selling advanced military technology, like ballistic missiles, to numerous pariah nations” though based on “persistent (albeit largely unconfirmed) rumors that North Korea has provided Iran with nuclear technology, and Pyongyang also helped Syria build a nuclear reactor (which Israel destroyed in airstrikes in 2011).”
It also gives its reasons why, in its turn, “Saudi Arabia would be an extremely valuable patron for North Korea.

“It explains that while China has turned to a “more hardline stance against North Korea ever since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012, Pyongyang has been scrambling to find suitable replacements for China.”

The magazine easily discounted Russia, as “its growing financial woes will limit its ability to provide North Korea with enough economic assistance to offset the loss of Chinese aid”.

And South Korea, which “appears intent on limiting its economic relationship with North Korea absent significant concessions from Pyongyang on the latter’s nuclear program.”

And there Saudi Arabia steps in.

“Unlike South Korea, Saudi Arabia is not overtly threatened by North Korea’s nuclear program. And unlike Russia, it does not face enormous financial difficulties.”

Besides, “Saudi Arabia is awash in petrodollars” which is enough to provide significant support to Pyongyang.

Another source of hard currency for Pyongyang could be a North Korean work force, sent to Saudi Arabia in exchange for bulk cash inflow. And Saudi oil and natural gas could significantly reduce North Korea’s reliance on China for its energy needs.

All the above have led the magazine’s political analysts to believe that North Korea will be the one to balance nuclear power in the Middle East.

Read more:

Another Way Saudi Arabia Could Go Nuclear (Dan 7:7)


The Ultimate Nightmare: North Korea Could Sell Saudi Arabia Nuclear Weapons

Zachary Keck
June 23, 2015

One of the gravest concerns about Iran acquiring a nuclear weapon is that it will set off a nuclear arms race in the region, whereas Iran’s acquisition of the bomb prompts its neighbors to follow suit. As President Obama warned in 2012, if Iran gets nuclear weapons, “It is almost certain that other players in the region would feel it necessary to get their own nuclear weapons.”

No country is seen as more likely to go nuclear in response to Iran doing so as Saudi Arabia, Iran’s long-standing rival in the region. Saudi officials have done little to tamp down such fears, instead indulging them repeatedly. Just last month, Prince Turki bin Faisal, Saudi Arabia’s former intelligence chief, told a South Korean conference: “Whatever the Iranians have, we will have, too.”
With a few exceptions, nearly everyone who fears that Saudi Arabia will acquire a nuclear weapon nonetheless concedes Riyadh wouldn’t build a bomb itself. Instead, the general consensus has long held that Saudi Arabia would purchase off-the-shelf nuclear weapons from Pakistan. Indeed, concerns about a secret Saudi-Pakistani nuclear pact date back to the 1970s and 1980s, and have become especially prevalent over the past decade and a half.

As I and others have long argued, this notion is far-fetched. While Saudi Arabia would want to buy a nuclear arsenal from Pakistan, Islamabad has no reason to sell nuclear weapons to Riyadh.

To begin with, Pakistan already worries that its arsenal is too small to survive an Indian or American counterforce strike. Moreover, selling Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons would result in unprecedented backlash from most of the international community, including both the United States and China, Pakistan’s major patrons. It would also enrage Iran, who is well positioned to retaliate against Pakistan in numerous ways, from supporting separatists in Balochistan to further cozying up to India.
Any remaining concerns about whether Pakistan would sell Saudi Arabia nuclear weapons were seeming put to rest back in April, when Islamabad refused to participate in the Saudi-led military campaign in Yemen. If Pakistan refused to send in even a symbolic contingent of troops to participate in the Saudi-led mission, it certainly wouldn’t give Riyadh its most valuable military assets.
But while Saudi Arabia couldn’t purchase a nuclear weapon from Pakistan, it might have more luck with North Korea. In fact, there are a number of compelling reasons to believe North Korea might be amenable to such a request.

Most obviously, North Korea has a troubling history of proliferating nuclear technology, including to the Middle East. There have long been persistent (albeit largely unconfirmed) rumors that North Korea has provided Iran with nuclear technology, and Pyongyang also helped Syria build a nuclear reactor (which Israel destroyed in airstrikes in 2011). More generally, North Korea has a long track record of selling advanced military technology like ballistic missiles to numerous pariah nations.
Moreover, Saudi Arabia would be an extremely valuable patron for North Korea. Currently, Kim Jong-un is trying to improve the economy especially for North Korean elites in order to shore up support for his rule. This effort has been made extremely difficult by the more hardline stance China has taken against North Korea ever since Xi Jinping came to power in 2012.

Pyongyang has been scrambling to find suitable replacements for China, but so far it has had little luck. Russia appears to want to improve ties with North Korea, but its growing financial woes will limit its ability to provide North Korea with enough economic assistance to offset the loss of Chinese aid. Meanwhile, South Korea appears intent on limiting its economic relationship with North Korea absent significant concessions from Pyongyang on the latter’s nuclear program.

Saudi Arabia would face none of these constraints. Unlike South Korea, Saudi Arabia is not overtly threatened by North Korea’s nuclear program. And unlike Russia, it does not face enormous financial difficulties.

In fact, Saudi Arabia is awash in petrodollars, boasting the third largest foreign currency reserves in the world after only China and Japan. Although it has been using these to soften the impact of lower oil prices, it still has $708 billion in FX reserves, more than enough to provide significant support for North Korea.

Saudi Arabia could also provide North Korea with other kinds of valuable assistance. For instance, foreign workers make up over half of Saudi Arabia’s labor force, and North Koreans working in Saudi Arabia could provide the Hermit Kingdom with another significant source of hard currency. Indeed, this is one of the Kim regime’s favorite tactics for skirting international sanctions. As the Asan Institute of Policy Studies has explained: “Earnings are not sent back as remittances, but appropriated by the state and transferred back to the country in the form of bulk cash, in clear violation on UN sanctions.”

Some estimate that as many as 65,000 North Koreans are working abroad in 40 different countries, and that this number has doubled or even tripled since Kim Jong-un took power. Yet, according to Asan, Saudi Arabia doesn’t even rank in the top ten nations in terms of North Korean laborers. Changing that would be a huge boon to the Kim regime.

Finally, besides hard cash, North Korea faces a chronic energy shortage, with China accounting for nearly 90 percent of North Korea’s energy imports in recent years. Saudi oil and natural gas could significantly reduce North Korea’s reliance on China for its energy needs, while also helping to stimulate the North Korean economy.

All of this suggests that if Saudi Arabia purchases off-the-shelf nuclear weapons, they are more likely to come from North Korea than Pakistan.

Zachary Keck is the managing editor of The National Interest. You can find him on Twitter: @ZacharyKeck.

Why North Korea is not a horn of prophecy (Dan 8:8)


North Korea says nukes defensive in nature
Published: 2015-05-24 11:38

North Korea defended its possession of nuclear weapons Sunday, saying it is “a means to protect peace and security in the region, not an object of contention.”

Earlier this week, Pyongyang claimed it has developed nuclear warheads small enough to fit on a missile, further escalating tensions with Seoul.

“The North’s nuclear weapons can never be an object of accusations as it is a means to protect the dignity and sovereignty of the nation,” an unnamed spokesman for the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea was quoted as saying by the North’s state media.

“South Korea should at least recognize that the treasured nuclear sword of North Korea can never be dismantled.”

The statement came after U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry hinted at the possible deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system, which can shoot down ballistic missiles at a higher altitude, in South Korea.

The nuclear deterrence of the DPRK has not posed any threat to anybody but has performed the most just and responsible mission to check the U.S. wild ambition for hegemony on the forefront and preserve regional peace and stability,” the spokesman was also quoted as saying by the Korean Central News Agency.

DPRK is the acronym for North Korea’s official name, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The spokesman warned South Korea to “stop acting recklessly” and vowed “catastrophic consequences” should it continue to take issue with the North’s nuclear weapons.
The two Koreas are technically at war since the 1950-53 Korean War ended in an armistice, not a peace treaty. (Yonhap)

North Korea has miniaturized nuclear missiles (Dan 7)

North Korea cancels visit by UN chief, claims nuclear breakthrough

North Korea said Wednesday it has the technology to make nuclear missile warheads, less than two weeks after announcing it had launched a ballistic missile from a submarine.

It also cancelled a visit by United Nations chief Ban Ki-moon, a day after he accused it of fuelling regional tensions.

“It has been a long time since we began miniaturising and diversifying our means of nuclear strike,” Pyongyang’s powerful National Defence Commission (NDC) said in a statement on the official news agency.

“We have also reached the stage where the highest accuracy rate is guaranteed, not only for short- and medium-range missiles but long-range missiles as well.”

Earlier this month the North claimed it successfully test-fired a submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM), a development which ─ if confirmed ─ would allow the deployment of nuclear weapons far beyond the Korean peninsula.

Ban Tuesday had urged the North to avoid any actions that could escalate military tensions.

A day later, he announced that Pyongyang had cancelled his invitation to visit the Kaesong industrial zone inside the North this week.

“No explanation was given for this last-minute change,” the UN chief, a former foreign minister of South Korea, told a forum in Seoul.

“This decision by Pyongyang is deeply regrettable,” Ban said.

“However, I as the secretary-general of the United Nations, will not spare any efforts to encourage the DPRK (North Korea) to work with the international community for peace and stability on the Korean peninsula and beyond.”

The NDC, which is chaired by leader Kim Jong-Un, said the SLBM test “represents a higher stage in our efforts to develop strategic striking forces “as part of strengthening its defences.”

The United States and its cronies must stop kicking up a ruckus over our measures to strengthen self-defence capabilities,” it said.

The North has conducted three atomic tests and has long had nuclear weapons. But it was unclear whether it possessed the technology to deliver them by missile.

However the US top homeland security commander, Admiral William Gortney, said last month the North is capable of mounting a miniaturised nuclear warhead on its new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile.

Ban had planned to travel Thursday to the Kaesong industrial estate, a joint enterprise between Pyongyang and Seoul 10 kilometres over the border inside North Korea.

It hosts around 120 South Korean firms employing some 53,000 North Korean workers.

Had the visit gone ahead, Ban would have become the first UN secretary-general to set foot in the communist state for more than 20 years, since Boutros Boutros-Ghali in 1993.

But he was not expected to have any high-level talks during his brief visit.

The Korean Nuclear Horn Extends Its Arms (Daniel 7:7)

S. Korea claims Pyongyang has nuclear missiles that could reach US

South Korea says its northern neighbor has developed compact nuclear warheads that could reach mainland America. Seoul also alleges Pyongyang shows no signs of stopping its nuclear program and has gained access to tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

The South Korean Ministry of Defense published the revelations in a white paper, which states that North Korea has achieved significant technological progress in their attempts to create nuclear warheads for ballistic missiles.

The missiles could allegedly reach mainland America. Pyongyang has carried out a series of tests on long-range missiles, but no signs have been detected that Pyongyang has put such missiles into service, Seoul said.

“North Korea’s capabilities of miniaturizing nuclear weapons appear to have reached a significant level,” the ministry said in a statement adding that North Korea has stored 40 kilograms of weapons-grade plutonium by reprocessing spent nuclear fuel rods and that it’s working on a highly enriched uranium program.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People's Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This is not the first time that Seoul has made such statements and it is difficult to confirm the information. North Korea is a closed country and occasionally does like to boast about its missile capabilities. In June, Pyongyang tested what it says were new precision-guided missiles.

Speaking in May 2014, the South Korean Defense Minister, Kim Kwan-jin, told journalists that Pyongyang had reached the final stages of preparations to conduct a nuclear test. However, North Korea has yet to conduct a test, adding to the theory that Pyongyang enjoys keeping its rivals on edge through a series of veiled threats.

This undated picture released from North Korea's official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People's Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

This undated picture released from North Korea’s official Korean Central News Agency on June 30, 2014 shows launching of a tactical rocket during a firing drill by the Korean People’s Army Strategic Force at an undisclosed place in North Korea. (AFP/KCNA)

After South Korea latest statement, Pyongyang demanded that Washington, who is committed to defending South Korea in the event of aggression from the north, should think carefully if it wishes to further antagonize Pyongyang.

“If Washington does not make the correct choice regarding the Korean question, then there will continue to be a period where Pyongyang will strengthen its war capabilities. If the US decides to stop being hostile and meddling in North Korea’s internal affairs, Pyongyang will look favorably on this decision,” the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) reported.

Relations between North Korea and the US have become even more strained after Washington introduced further sanctions, designed to impede access to the US financial system in the wake of a cyberattack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, which the Obama Administration has said was supported by the reclusive country.

China has meanwhile urged North Korea and South Korea to improve their relations through dialogue in order to maintain peace and safety in the region.
“As a near neighbor of the Korean peninsula, China has always supported the process of improving relations between North and South Korea through dialogue,” the TASS news agency quoted the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs on Tuesday.

In October 2014, North Korean officials held talks with their South Korean counterparts in Incheon, the first time such a high level meeting has taken place since 2007. Both parties agreed to resume high-level talks, which have been strained by military tensions on the peninsula.



During his New Year’s address last week, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who was absent from that meeting in Incheon in October, said that there was “no reason” not to hold a high-level summit with neighboring South Korea. This came days after South Korea made a similar offer to resume dialogue with Pyongyang.

“If South Korean authorities sincerely want to improve relations between North and South Korea through talks, we can resume stalled high-level meetings,” he said, as reported by Reuters.

The Asian Nuclear Horns Are Racing To THE END (Revelation 15:2)

‘Asia is the centre of a new nuclear arms race’


Nuclear arms race in Asia
 By: Sandip Dighe]
 Mirror speaks to nuclear arms expert and award-winning scientist Manpreet Sethi on the logistics of weaponry in the subcontinent

Pakistan is way ahead in the race — it could possess up to 200 nuclear weapons by 2020; roughly equivalent to the United Kingdom’s nuclear arsenal,” said Dr Manpreet Sethi, project head on Nuclear Security for the Centre for Air Power Studies of New Delhi. In the city to deliver a lecture on ‘India’s Nuclear Challenges’, organised by the Centre for Advanced Strategic Studies (CASS) and Science Forum of MES Abasaheb Garware College, Sethi waxed eloquent on her area of expertise. She was awarded the prestigious K Subrahmanyam Award for 2014, conferred on an Indian scholar, journalist or analyst, who has made an outstanding contribution in the area of strategic and security studies. Between 2002 and 2005, Sethi carried out a research project for the Department of Atomic Energy on ‘Nuclear Energy for India’s Energy Security at the Centre for Strategic and International Studies in New Delhi’; she has also authored Argentina’s Nuclear Policy, coauthored ‘Nuclear Deterrence and Diplomacy’, and has written several academic articles in national and international journals.

Q: How fast is Pakistan’s nuclear weapons stockpile growing? It recently tested two missiles capable of carrying nuclear warheads: the 900-km range Shaheen 1A and 1,500-km range Shaheen II.

While there are significant uncertainties about the scope and sophistication of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons programme, the country, apparently, has the most aggressive one in the world for producing nuclear material for military purposes. By 2020, it could have sufficient weapons grade uranium and plutonium to manufacture more than 200 nuclear weapons, roughly equivalent of the size of UK’s nuclear arsenal.

Q: Where is Pakistan getting the material it needs to develop these weapons?

Pakistan has a history of assistance from China. Over time, it has developed its own systems; now, it is capable of manufacturing on its own. But, we suspect China might be assisting it in certain areas.

Q: How dangerous, then, does the ongoing rivalry between India and Pakistan become?

After the Kargil War, India developed a new doctrine of rapid, limited conventional military operations designed to punish Pakistan but remain below Pakistan’s presumed nuclear threshold. At present, the risk that terrorists could breach Pakistan’s nuclear security is magnified by the strong presence of domestic extremists and foreign jihadist groups there.

Q: What is your forecast for India-Pakistan for the next 5-10 years, in terms of security and nuclear weapons development?

Although India lauded the democratic change of government in Pakistan in 2013, the latter’s army’s role in the domestic power structure limits this. Still, while we are hopeful of peaceful relations, India has to keep its borders safeguarded and intelligence on high alert to guard against mischief.

Q: Do you think Asia is witnessing a nuclear weapons build-up?

It would be a cliche to say that only four countries — China, India, Pakistan and North Korea — are currently expanding their nuclear arsenals. Russia, and for that matter USA as well, are building new missiles, upgrading and modernising their weaponry. Although each nation’s build-up is motivated differently, the combination does make Asia the centre of a new nuclear arms race.

Why North Korea Is Not One Of The Ten Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

North Korea May Have Shut Down Nuclear Reactors: Think Tank

12:24 05/10/2014
MOSCOW, October 5 (RIA Novosti) – North Korea may have partially or completely stopped the operation of its nuclear facility in Yongbyon, satellite pictures analyzed by a US think-tank appear to show, Reuters reported.

The Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security noted the absence of signs of steam discharges and cooling water outflows in satellite photos taken in September. It says that this has led it to conclude that “it is possible that the reactor is partially or completely shut down,” the source noted.

The institute has not ruled out that the shutdown may be related to refueling or repairs.

As late as last month, satellite photos analyzed by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) had shown that the reactor was probably operational. IAEA inspectors have had to rely on satellite imagery and other secondary information after losing access to the country in 2009.

The 5-megawatt facility had been powered down between 2007 and April 2013 under an aid-for disarmament accord, but went back online as tensions increased again last year.

Yongbyon is North Korea’s only major nuclear power generating facility. Its first, small scale experimental reactor went online in 1986, and was followed by several more by the early 1990s. It was shut down in 1994 in accordance with the US-North Korea Agreed Framework. The Agreed Framework had pledged to create light water reactors to replace the country’s graphite-based, weapons-grade plutonium-generating reactors at Yongbyon. However, the framework was abandoned in 2003 as distrust between the United States and North Korea grew.

In 2006, 2009 and 2013, the country conducted nuclear tests with plutonium generated at the facility, which is estimated to create 6 kilograms of the material per year. This is enough to allow the country to produce about one nuclear weapon annually. North Korea’s third and most recent nuclear test in 2013 produced an explosion which was estimated to have had a yield of 6-7 kilotons, according to the Russian Defense Ministry. The atomic bomb detonated by the United States over Hiroshima in 1945 yielded 16 kilotons. The biggest nuclear weapon ever detonated was the Soviet Union’s Tsar Bomb, which yielded 50-58 megatons when it was tested over Severny Island in 1961, 7,000-10,000 times the yield of the North Korean bomb.

UN Security Council resolutions have repeatedly demanded that North Korea stop its nuclear and ballistic missile testing activities, but it’s considered unlikely that the country will give up its nuclear ambitions, given the nuclear program’s status as its “treasured sword” against a potential foreign intervention.

Earlier this week, So Se Pyong, North Korea’s Ambassador to the United Nations in Geneva noted that Pyongyang was set to resume the six-party talks with the participation of North Korea, South Korea, Russia, the United States, China and Japan, the Guardian reported.

Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov, speaking with his North Korean counterpart RI Su Yong in Moscow on Wednesday, confirmed that the resumption of the talks was possible, despite difficulties.

North Korean officials made a surprise visit to the South Korean city of Incheon on Saturday, ostensibly to observe the closing ceremony of the Asian Games, where they also planned to speak with South Korean Unification Ministry officials.

North Korea Prepares for "The Fire"

WASHINGTON — North Korea confirmed on Tuesday that it had conducted its third, long-threatened nuclear test, provoking international rebukes, eliciting pledges of further punitive action from the United Nations Security Council and posing a new challenge for the Obama administration in its effort to keep the country from becoming a full-fledged nuclear power.

The official K.C.N.A. news service of North Korea said the country had used a “miniaturized and lighter nuclear device with greater explosive force than previously” and that the test “did not pose any negative impact on the surrounding ecological environment.”

Early Tuesday morning in Washington the office of the director of national intelligence, James R. Clapper Jr., issued a statement suggesting the North Koreans were, on their third try, beginning to produce nuclear devices with substantial explosive power. “The explosion yield was approximately several kilotons,” the announcement said, which was less specific than a South Korean Defense Ministry estimate of six to seven kilotons. That would be far greater than the yield of less than one kiloton detected in the North’s 2006 test, but it is unclear how it would measure up to the last test, in 2009, which had estimated yield of two to six kilotons. By comparison, the first bomb the United States dropped on Japan, which devastated Hiroshima in 1945, had an explosive yield of 15 kilotons.

The test drew a crescendo of international denunciations, with President Obama calling it a “highly provocative act” that demands “swift and credible action by the international community” against North Korea. Russia, Britain, South Korea and the United Nations also quickly condemned the blast. The head of the international nuclear watchdog called the test “deeply regrettable,” and the United Nations Security Council — which has already passed three resolutions aimed at punishing North Korea for its nuclear weapons-related work, met in emergency session to devise a fourth resolution.

Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan of South Korea, whose country holds the monthly rotating presidency of the Security Council, emerged from the meeting before noon to read a statement from all 15 members that they had “strongly condemned this test,” and were beginning to work immediately on “appropriate measures in a Security Council resolution.” He declined to specify what was envisioned but emphasized that all members, including North Korea’s ally and neighbor China, wanted action that would convince the north to “abandon its nuclear ambition.”

The South Korean foreign minister also said North Korea would “be held responsible for any consequences of this provocative act.”

Susan E. Rice, the United States ambassador to the United Nations, told reporters that the Security Council “must and will deliver a swift, credible and strong response.” She also declined to specify what a new resolution might do but said “we and others have a number of further measures that we will be discussing” that would tighten existing measures and “augment the sanctions regime.”

Preliminary estimates by South Korea suggested that the test was much more powerful than the previous two conducted by the North.

The test is the first under the country’s new leader, Kim Jong-un, and an open act of defiance to the Chinese, who had urged Mr. Kim not to risk open confrontation by setting off the weapon. In a relatively muted statement issued several hours after the blast, China expressed its “staunch opposition” to the test but called for “all parties concerned to respond calmly.” And it was unclear how China would act at the Security Council meeting on Tuesday.

The nuclear test, came the same day Mr. Obama is to use his State of the Union address to call for drastically reducing nuclear arms around the world, potentially bringing the number of deployed American weapons to roughly 1,000 from the current 1,700.

Even before the North conducted Tuesday’s test, the Obama administration had already threatened to take additional action to penalize the country through the United Nations. But the fact is that there are few sanctions left to apply against the most unpredictable country in Asia. The only penalty that would truly hurt the North would be a cutoff of oil and other aid from China. And until now, despite issuing warnings, the Chinese have feared instability and chaos in the North more than its growing nuclear and missile capability, and the Chinese leadership has refused to participate in sanctions.

Mr. Kim, believed to be about 29, appeared to be betting that even a third test would not change the Chinese calculus, and later Tuesday, the North Korean Foreign Ministry warned of “second and third measures of greater intensity” if Washington remains hostile.

The test set off a scramble among Washington’s Asian allies to assess what the North Koreans had done.

The United States sent aloft aircraft equipped with delicate sensors that may, depending on the winds, be able to determine whether it was a plutonium or uranium weapon. The Japanese defense minister, Itsunori Onodera, said Japan had ordered the dispatch of an Air Self-Defense Force jet to monitor for radioactivity in Japanese airspace.

Japan’s new prime minister, Shinzo Abe, told Parliament that the country was considering “its own actions, including sanctions, to resolve this and other issues.”