The China Nuclear Horn Continues to Grow: Daniel 7

Why China Is Embracing ‘Underwater’ Nuclear Weapons (On Submarines)

Amid stiffening military competition between Beijing and Washington, China’s People’s Liberation Army Navy (PLAN) is enhancing its ability to strike the United States mainland with submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs).

The Type 094A, or modified Jin-class nuclear ballistic missile submarine (SSBN), was showcased late last month as part of a celebration marking PLAN’s 72nd anniversary, according to a report by the South China Morning Post. At least two such variants were commissioned in 2020, bringing the total number of Jin-class submarines to six. The Type 094A revision brings sonar and radar upgrades, improved acoustics performance, and an expanded armament suite.

“The Type 094A is an upgraded version of the Type 094 that overcame one of the key problems—noise—by improving hydrokinetic and turbulent systems, allowing it to carry the more powerful JL-3,” a defense insider source told the South China Morning Post. The JL-3, or Julang, SLBM reportedly has a range of over ten thousand kilometers and can support multiple independently targetable re-entry vehicle (MIRV) payloads. The JL-3 will also be featured on the Type 096, the upcoming successor to the Jin-class. Fully fitting the Type 096 class with the JL-3 could take years, with defense sources estimating that the process could drag out into the mid 2020’s. “Before the upgrade, the submarine was armed with the inferior JL-2 that could only hit the northeast United States, but now it’s able to cover the whole American continent,” the source added. The Type 094 platform can reportedly carry up to sixteen 16 JL-3 missiles, while the next-generation Type 096 submarines will support up to twenty-four of these SLBM’s. “The new SLBM with MIRVs with a firing range over 10,000 kilometers is the basic technical requirement for an upgraded Type 094 SSBN to cause nuclear deterrence,” Former PLA instructor Song Zhongping told the South China Morning Post. “China promises not to use a nuke first but a powerful SSBN fleet will help the PLA strengthen their second-strike power against rivals.”

Like their Russian Cold War-era counterparts, China’s second-generation SSBNs have lagged behind U.S. submarines in noise generation and detectability. The Type 094A revision is PLAN’s next major attempt to remedy this problem, though the full extent of improvements it brings over the original Type 094 platform remains unclear.

As with its other submarine categories, PLAN has been making large investments to field a modernized SSBN force into the coming decades. There are six Type 094 submarines, with two more planned units to make for a total of eight. At least one 1980s-era Type 092 “Xia” class submarine, armed with the older and less capable JL-1A SLBM’s, will remain in service until it is phased out by additional Type 094A models. As many as six Type 096 submarines are currently planned, with construction work to begin in the early 2021s. Beijing is likewise forging ahead with an ambitious plan to field a total of six aircraft carriers, supported by a coterie of new advanced destroyers, by 2035.

Mark Episkopos is a national security reporter for the National Interest.

Image: Reuters

The Hegemony of the Chinese Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

DIA: China capable of mounting nuclear weapons to planes to dominate northeastern, Western Africa

OAN Newsroom
UPDATED 10:40 AM PT – Friday, April 30, 2021

The Defense Intelligence Agency, or DIA, found China has been rapidly expanding its military force. DIA Director Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier told the Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, China appears to have developed the capability to mount nuclear missiles to its warplanes.

“Is China capable of arming its hypersonic glide vehicles with nuclear warheads, and if so, what kind of risk does that pose to the united states and our interests?” Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) asked.

“The answer to that question is yes, and that poses a significant risk,” Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier answered.

Berrier added, hypersonic glide vehicles are Russian technology, which Moscow has improved in recent years. For its part, China is seeking a similar modernization of its nuclear forces by the year 2030. Berrier went on to say, China is working to establish a base in Djibouti, which is a country in northeastern Africa, to threaten U.S. interests.

“Senator, I believe the Chinese — in order to safeguard their Belt and Road Initiative — will emplace military forces where they see they need that kind of capability,” Berrier continued. “Africa is certainly one of those places they have done that.”

The DIA director also confirmed previous reports that Beijing has bought political influence in western Africa, as well, in order to begin building a naval base there.

“The way they look at Africa is sort of this long-term developmental approach, which will allow them over a long period to put more forces there,” Berrier said. “So, I do agree with General Townsend, but in the extent that Africa is one area where strategic competition will play out, it will also play out in Latin America, in South America and wherever they extend their markets, you will find that activity.”

Lt. Gen. Berrier also said China is following a simple scheme by investing millions of dollars into poor countries first and then deploying its military there as part of a global power play.

Quad Strategy against China’s nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Quad Strategy against China’s military and economic ascent

April 28, 2021

China’s military and economic rise has had a great impact on the geopolitics of the world, as well as on in East Asia. However, China’s overall rise changed the political and nuclear dynamics of East Asia and South-east Asia, and has also influenced the strategies of the USA and its global strategic partners in the world order.

Mao Zedong’s and Deng Xiaoping’s strategic thought relies more on the goal of economic development, which the USA sees as harmful for the global economic order. China, as one of the largest states, is seen by the USA and its allies as the emerging power, threatening the US hegemony and creating adverse implications in the region. However, China argues it does not want to become a superpower; its national military, foreign and economic strategies are more directed towards its development and modernization goal.

The China’s People’s Liberation Army has achieved its goal in modernizing the Military Industrial Complex and nuclear development to become a national power. China’s modernization in its armed forces and military capabilities has created a far greater threat perception of China than of Russia by the USA and its allies.  China’s rise has an impact on the strategic dynamics and stability of East and South-east Asia, as China is a veto power ans permanent member of the UN Security Council and the founding member in many multilateral treaties and export control regimes.

The USA’s strategy towards neo-authoritarian China is more adversarial as the US-India’s strategic partnership’s main goal is to counter China. China with the world’s largest army modernizes its conventional forces and is now the leading air and naval power. China’s steady rise andits impact has threatened the US hegemony and changed the global hierarchical order.

China’s rise has impacted Taiwan, South Korea, Vietnam and India, through its economic and defense policies. China’s military rise in the South China Sea has impacted the USA, Japan, North Korea, India and South Korea but also Indonesia which does not even share a border with it.

Since Mao’s economic and military development, China’s rise has been seen as an East Asian theatre in global politics; because of its focus on Taiwan, Hong Kong and the South China Sea. China’s nuclear strategy is more significant as any miscalculation between China and the USA can lead them to the nuclear threshold; while China defines its economic and military rise as peaceful since Mao.

US President Trump’s strategy towards China, included every factor countering China in every aspect. That strategy focuses on hastening India’s rise in South East Asia to counter China, as, during the global covid-19 pandemic, China and India had skirmishes in the Aksai-Chin Ladakh region. That US strategy also includes supporting Taiwan.

China’s economic and developmental initiative includes most likely the infrastructure, roads, bridges and technological advancement which somehow create the biggest difference to the USA’s educational and other initiatives. In December 2020, China stated that it would continue the dialogue with NATO. The reason was the 30-member North American and European security block identified China as a rising threat beside Russia.

The Trump Administration’s strategy also stated that India will be predominant in South-east Asia while countering the China, and North Korea will no longer pose any threat to the USA and its allies, while the USA will work with strategic partners to resist and counter China in its economic, military and national rise by undermining China’s sovereignty and territory.

That declassified document clearly shows the US strategy towards China is all about countering and resisting it in its rise while using all the coercive means and allies; the strategy also stated it would support any independent and free movement in South East China to counter China such as, resisting one nation and two system theory in Hong Kong and Taiwan, as well as anti-authoritarian protests.

Biden’s strategy towards China is a continuation of Trump’s strategy, and now it includes the strategic partnership while strengthening security ties with the Quad ally; the Australia-Japan-India-US anti-China nexus. All these strategies are designed to counter China’s economic and military rise as it is undermining the US security and hegemony in the global world order.

The Quad naval alliance sends aircraft, submarines and warships to the Indian Ocean. This shows the Quad’s strategy to counter China’s military rise in the South Asian and Indo-Pacific region. This happened in this global pandemic and China responds only with a statement to condemn the Quad’s Malabar naval exercises.

Quad countries do not have good ties with China individually as well; India and China had border skirmishes in the Galwan valley since after 1975, and Japan and China have a territorial dispute in disputed waters of the East China Sea.

The four democratic countries of the Quad tried their own strategies to counter China’s military and economic rise as they envision China as challenging the status quo, US hegemony in the Indian Ocean and the South China Sea. These Quad countries also see China’s growing interdependencies with Southeast Asian states as exploitation of the economic order.

Hoever, the Quad informal alliance has faced challenges to deter and counter China. The US policy towards China in the Trump era was like a Cold-War style, where the strategy was containment. This containment strategy can be seen in the events happened in Trump’s tenure such as the Covid-19 pandemic, the false propaganda which the Doomsday clock triggers too, and the disagreements over trade. But the problem lies here in the Quads informal alliance; Japan and Australia are one step back in the US’s strategy, as Australia and Japan are the largest and second largest trading partners of China, respectively.

China said that Quad was the ‘Asian NATO’ with Japan, the USA, India and Australia lled by the USA to counter China. The Quad alliance viewed the countering of China meeting their strategic interest in their informal alliance, as the South China Sea and Indian Ocean are significant for India, while the East China Sea and South China Sea are significant to both the USA and Japan, while the Western Pacific is significant to Australia, So, the lack of the mutual interest between the Quad countries; such as between Japan, the USA, India and Australia, led to the failure of their informal alliance to counter China.

The Quad held a discussion in 2018 about the China’s economic initiatives, such as the BRI (Belt Road Initiative), but the Quad was unable to make progress in this discussion. In response, China did not adopt the policy the USSR did in the Cold war. instead Deng Xiaoping stated that China will go for free trade with more countries with a strategy of cooperation and openness. Deng also stated China would enthusiastically cooperate with all countries, regions and enterprises around the world that are also willing.

China’s economic and developmental initiative includes most likely the infrastructure, roads, bridges and technological advancement which somehow create the biggest difference to the USA’s educational and other initiatives. In December 2020, China stated that it would continue the dialogue with NATO. The reason was the 30-member North American and European security block identified China as a rising threat beside Russia.

NATO also added China to its list of the countries that needed internal reform. It stated that China needs to change its policies, such as spending highly on its defence budget, and the interdependences and influence China is creating on other countries through its strategy of infrastructure investment such as the Belt Road Initiative.

China is about to eat America’s spoils in the Middle East

China is about to eat America’s lunch in the Middle East

By Rachel Marsden 8 hrs ago 0

PARIS — China signed a 25-year, $400 billion cooperation agreement with Iran late last month that could result in Chinese bases in the Middle East and increase Beijing’s global economic hegemony. All because the Washington establishment couldn’t bring itself to stop drinking its own anti-Iran Kool-Aid.

There are few special-interest causes in Washington as persistent as the anti-Iran lobby. Journalists are regularly bombarded with rhetorically loaded press releases, statements and op-eds from think tanks and former establishment fixtures about the so-called dangers of even engaging with the Iranian “regime” — which would simply be labeled a “government” if these insiders weren’t so hell-bent on marginalizing Tehran because perhaps one day it could have nukes. Meanwhile, these same anti-Iran critics — better known as neoconservatives, whose identity is rooted in 1960s leftist interventionism, which has now infected both sides of the political aisle — don’t seem to mind that Iran is surrounded by foes that are already well-equipped in that regard. Israel has nuclear weapons, and it’s widely assumed that Saudi Arabia does, too. Ty processed l ml Look, if the Iranians ever did manage to develop a nuclear weapon, it’s not like Iran could ever use it without being turned into a parking lot by the U.S. and Israel. Why does everyone in Washington assume that Iran is that suicidal?

Why doesn’t China care about Iran’s nuclear potential as much as the U.S. does? Some might answer that China isn’t a target of Iran’s ire, while America is. But why is the U.S. so much more fearful of Iran when it’s on the opposite side of the planet, whereas China, which is almost next door, not only shrugs it off but considers Iran a potential military partner? Iran could have become a strategic partner of the U.S. after the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks. Most of the terrorists responsible for those attacks were from Saudi Arabia, which is Iran’s sworn enemy. Instead, the U.S. buddied up to the nation from which most of the terrorists hailed, invaded Afghanistan and overstayed its welcome so long that Iran started to think that it was turning into a foreign occupation. China doesn’t have the same complicated history of Middle East military adventurism, which the U.S. has long used as a lever to pry open the door to the ultimate goal of expanding its economic footprint. Not only will China benefit from doing business with a resource-rich nation with an educated population whose literacy rate has exploded in recent years, but it will create a new foothold for China — not just economically but militarily. Have U.S. leaders considered the full implications of this? China and Russia, whose space agencies are linked to their militaries, announced plans last month to build a joint base on the moon. What makes anyone think they won’t cooperate with Iran to counter the many U.S. bases in the Middle East? Normalizing relations with Iran in light of the existential threat of Chinese economic dominance was one of the few praise-worthy accomplishments of former President Barack Obama’s administration. Then, Donald Trump canceled Obama’s Iran policy when Trump bought into the neocon propaganda himself. It’s inexcusable that establishment Washington is still giving in to the warped mindset of neocons, to the detriment of much more critical American interests.

The China Nuclear Horn Expands Her Horn: Daniel 7

China To Conduct Most Rapid Expansion Of Nuclear Weapons & Delivery Mechanism Ever — US Report

April 15, 2021

China will continue its efforts to spread its influence, undercut that of the United States, drive wedges between Washington and its allies and partners, and foster new international norms that favor the authoritarian Chinese system, according to a US intelligence report.

It, however, adds that Chinese leaders will probably seek opportunities to reduce tensions with the US when such opportunities suit their interests.

The 2021 Annual Threat Assessment report was released by the US Office of the Director of National Intelligence on Tuesday.

The report, a copy of which has been reviewed by The EurAsian Times, said the China-India border tensions remain high, despite some force pullbacks this year. On the India-Pakistan issue, it says although a general war between India and Pakistan is unlikely, crises between the two are likely to become more intense, risking an escalatory cycle.

“Under the leadership of Prime Minister Narendra Modi, India is more likely than in the past to respond with military force to perceived or real Pakistani provocations, and heightened tensions raise the risk of conflict between the two nuclear-armed neighbors, with violent unrest in Kashmir or a militant attack in India being potential flashpoints,” it read

Referring to the India-China border row, the report said China’s occupation since May 2020 of contested border areas in eastern Ladakh is the most serious escalation in decades and led to a deadly clash between the two armies. India lost 20 of its soldiers, while China officially claimed only four casualties.

“As of mid-February, after multiple rounds of talks, both sides were pulling back forces and equipment from some sites along the disputed border,” it said.

In the South China Sea, Beijing will continue to intimidate littoral states and will use its military assets and maritime law enforcement platforms to send out a message to Southeast Asian countries that China has effective control over contested areas. “China is similarly pressuring Japan over contested areas in the East China Sea”.

Referring to the China-Taiwan tensions, the intelligence report says, the communist country will press Taiwan authorities to move toward unification and will condemn what it views as increased US-Taiwan engagement.

“We expect that friction will grow as Beijing steps up attempts to portray Taipei as internationally isolated and dependent on the mainland for economic prosperity, and as China continues to increase military activity around the island.”

Beijing will continue to promote its ambitious Belt and Road Initiative (BRI) to expand China’s economic, political, and military presence abroad. China will try to increase its influence using “vaccine diplomacy,” giving countries favored access to the COVID-19 vaccines it is developing.

China also will promote new international norms for technology and human rights, emphasizing state sovereignty and political stability over individual rights, the report highlighted.

Sounding an alarm over WMD (weapons of mass destruction), the intelligence assessment revealed that China will continue the most rapid expansion and platform diversification of its nuclear arsenal in its history, intending to at least double the size of its nuclear stockpile during the next decade and to field a nuclear triad.

“Beijing is not interested in arms control agreements that restrict its modernization plans and will not agree to substantive negotiations that lock in US or Russian nuclear advantages.”

In the cyber domain, China presents a “prolific and effective cyber-espionage threat”, it said. The report underlined that Beijing possesses substantial cyber-attack capabilities, and presents a growing influence threat.

“China’s cyber pursuits and proliferation of related technologies increase the threats of cyber attacks against the US homeland, suppression of US web content that Beijing views as threatening to its internal ideological control, and the expansion of technology-driven authoritarianism around the world.”

The Nuclear Horns Grow in Asia: Daniel

Asia’s growing missile arsenals demand a response

Brad Glosserman

Apr 6, 2021


Missiles are everywhere. Increasingly accurate technology combined with a plummeting cost curve have made missiles the weapon of choice for defense ministries around the world. Historically, however, missiles have been an afterthought when governments weigh arms control options. That indifference must end: It is time for a real push to rein in the spread of such weapons, especially in Asia.

In a 2020 report, the U.S. Defense Intelligence Ballistic Missile Analysis Committee bluntly explained the logic behind missile proliferation: They’re viewed “as cost-effective weapons and symbols of national power.” The technology has become so cheap that it’s hard to find a defense establishment that doesn’t have its own inventory and the number of countries building indigenous production capabilities is expanding as well. Ominously, arsenals aren’t just growing but missiles themselves are becoming more capable — faster, more mobile, survivable, reliable, and accurate while traveling ever longer distances.

Considerable attention is paid to North Korea’s growing arsenal and its modernization efforts –Japan is threatened by a widening array of missiles and the U.S. homeland can now be hit, too — as well as that of China. The CSIS Missile Defense Project credits China with “the most active and diverse missile development program in the world.” Worryingly, its researchers conclude that Beijing’s missile modernization efforts “degrade the survivability of foundational elements of American power projection like the aircraft carrier and forward air bases.”

India and Pakistan, two nuclear-armed neighbors and adversaries, continue to update their missile inventories, and while Southeast Asian nations have abjured the nuclear capability of those two rivals, they are expanding their missile arsenals as well. The Philippines, Indonesia, Thailand and Vietnam have expressed interest in acquiring a supersonic cruise missile jointly developed by India and Russia. And Hanoi last year unveiled a locally produced cruise missile (made under license from Russia).

Australia announced last year that it planned to acquire long-range missiles, a decision that Japan continues to debate. South Korea has increased the range and payload size of its missile systems (with U.S. agreement), and Taiwan, after getting Trump administration approval to buy new U.S. missiles, endorsed the acquisition of strike capabilities in its newest Quadrennial Defense Review, released just last month. Former U.S. Secretary of Defense Mike Esper described the situation well in 2019 when he said that missile threats are “growing disproportionately to other capabilities” and “writ large, the rest of the world is not developing new fighter and bomber aircraft; they are developing missiles.” Nothing has changed since then.

Despite this proliferation — or perhaps because of it — missiles have not been a focus of arms control efforts. Negotiations have addressed payloads — not delivery systems -— most notably whether warheads carried nuclear weapons or other weapons of mass destruction.

One of the few exceptions is the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), established in the 1980s by Western governments to try to halt the proliferation of nuclear-capable delivery systems; it was supplemented by the 2002 Hague Code of Conduct, which provided a set of confidence-building measures. The proliferation of missiles is proof of the limits of the MTCR.

The only successful missile arms control effort was the 1987 U.S.–Soviet Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which banned cruise missiles, land-based ballistic missiles and missile launchers with ranges between 500 and 5,500 km. That deal collapsed in 2019 under the weight of charges that Russia was cheating and that it did not include China, whose vast missile inventories — 95% of which were asserted to fall under the terms of the treaty had it been a signatory — undermined the Asian military balance.

Trump administration officials insisted that new INF nuclear discussions would have to include China, a position that Beijing flatly rejected. In that case, those same U.S. officials reasoned, the U.S. should deploy its missiles among allies in the region. Those allies have been reluctant to do so, although debates about strike options in Tokyo, Canberra and Taipei indicate that the problem is not a divergence in threat perceptions.

Defense officials argue that missiles are needed to deter. But missile proliferation is dangerous, especially as those weapons become more capable. Greater accuracy will reduce collateral damage, lowering restraints on use. Higher speeds and the prospect of “use it or lose it” dilemmas will put a premium on quick decision-making. Increasing mobility and a need for dispersion (because of the above factors) will require ever-more robust command and control capabilities. All make escalation more likely.

Proliferation and the resulting rising dangers should put missiles high on the agenda of regional security conferences. That hasn’t happened. Notably, however, the London-based International Institute for Strategic Studies, with support from the German government, launched in 2019 the Missile Dialogue Initiative (MDI) to focus attention on this issue. It has held two international conferences and published a series of papers that address elements of the missile proliferation problem.

David Santoro, a colleague who directs the nuclear policy program at Pacific Forum, my old home, and I last month authored a paper for the MDI, which, after providing considerably more depth and detail than is here, calls for an Asian missile initiative in which regional governments would discuss this problem, share perspectives and try to reach consensus on a set of norms and principles about missile developments and deployments.

While an arms control agreement would be ideal, it is too much to expect now. Confidence building measures are possible, however, although it will take considerable time to reach what many might consider common sense measures. Any agreement will likely be facilitated by the fact that we are proposing regional discussions — rather than a global conversation — in which participants will have more similar assumptions and outlooks (although differences even among them can be profound).

Our proposal is easy to criticize. Defining a ballistic missile is increasingly difficult. Identifying who belongs at even this smaller table will be a challenge. Some countries straddle regions — China, Russia, the United States — and even a subregional dialogue, which Santoro endorses, will be problematic.

North Korea must be invited, even if its refusal to participate is virtually ordained. A smart leadership in Pyongyang would take the chance to engage, however, both for the status benefits (a seat at the table) and the chance to get its views heard.

Getting China to the table will be a big challenge. Beijing resists all arms control proposals, wary of any obligation to provide transparency about its military. A dialogue about missiles sidesteps China’s loudest objection to nuclear arms talks: the claim that its nuclear arsenal is a fraction the size of that of the U.S. and Russia and those two superpowers must first come down to China’s level before it will join any negotiations. Missiles are one area in which it enjoys an advantage over regional adversaries so by its own logic China should be willing to talk, if not make cuts, but it’s far more likely that Beijing will be loath to discuss them, much less put them on the table.

Obstinacy makes sense when facing a limited missile threat. In a world of growing missile arsenals, however, one in which a good number of those proliferators might be targeting China, Beijing’s calculus may change. It’s a long shot, but one well worth trying.

Brad Glosserman is deputy director of and visiting professor at the Center for Rule-Making Strategies at Tama University as well as senior adviser (nonresident) at Pacific Forum. He is author of “Peak Japan: The End of Great Ambitions” (Georgetown University Press, 2019). His paper, with David Santoro, “Time for a reckoning: Missiles have flown under the radar for too long in Asia,” can be found here.

The North Korean Nuclear Horn Tests Babylon the Great

North Korea launched two ballistic missiles, U.S., Japanese officials say

News of the launch comes after it was reported that the country fired at least one missile over the weekend, an action the U.S. downplayed.

By Mosheh Gains, Abigail Williams, Olivier Fabre and Dartunorro Clark

March 24, 2021, 9:57 PM EDT / Updated March 25, 2021, 9:21 AM EDT

WASHINGTON — North Korea launched two ballistic missiles into the Sea of Japan on Thursday, a U.S. official and Japan’s prime minister said.

South Korea also confirmed the launch.

A U.S. official told NBC News on Wednesday evening Washington time that they were most likely short-range ballistic missiles. Japan’s prime minister, Yoshihide Suga, told reporters that the projectiles were ballistic missiles and that the action marked the first such provocation in a year.

The test “threatens the peace and security of the region and our nation. It is also against the U.N. resolution,” he said. “We strictly and strongly protest this launch.”

He added: “The government’s understanding is that the missile landed outside our exclusive economic zone — this has been confirmed — however, we will still need to remain vigilant. We have convened the National Security Council to assess the situation and are working with the United States and South Korea to protect the lives and the peaceful livelihoods of our citizens.”

In a statement, a spokesman for U.S. Indo-Pacific Command confirmed that the U.S. was “aware of North Korean missile launches this morning into the East Sea.”

“We will continue to monitor the situation and are consulting closely with our allies and partners. This activity highlights the threat that North Korea’s illicit weapons program poses to its neighbors and the international community. The U.S. commitment to the defense of the Republic of Korea and Japan remains ironclad,” said the spokesman, Navy Capt. Mike Kafka.

In a statement via text message, the office of the South Korean joint chiefs of staff said two short-range ballistic missiles were launched from the South Hamgyong Province area into the East Sea early Thursday morning.

According to the office, the projectile flew about 280 miles at the altitude of about 37 miles.

“Currently, SK military is closely monitoring related activities in preparation of possible additional launches,” the office added.

“South Korean military has strengthened surveillance and security measures and is preparing total military preparedness while maintaining close cooperation with the U.S.,” the joint chiefs’ office added. It said South Korea and the U.S. intelligence agencies were working on “detailed analysis for additional information.”

News of the launch came a day after it was reported that the country had fired at least one missile over the weekend. U.S. officials downplayed the action, which an official described as being from North Korea’s “familiar menu of provocations.”

North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s sister Kim Yo Jong issued a warning shot to the Biden administration in a statement last week, telling the new president not to proceed with planned joint military exercises with South Korea.

“If it wants to sleep in peace for [the] coming four years, it had better refrain from causing a stink at its first step,” she said of the U.S., according to The Associated Press.

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Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin were in South Korea last week as part of their regional tour to boost America’s Asian alliances. Blinken blasted Pyongyang’s history of human rights abuses. He also called North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs “a threat to the region and to the world.”

Senior administration officials confirmed Tuesday that President Joe Biden’s national security adviser, Jake Sullivan, will meet with his South Korean and Japanese counterparts at the end of next week.

Officials described the Biden administration’s review of its North Korea policy as being in its “final stages.”

Mosheh Gains and Abigail Williams reported from Washington, Olivier Fabre from Tokyo and Dartunorro Clark from New York.

Mosheh Gains

Mosheh Gains is a Pentagon producer for NBC News.

Abigail Williams

Abigail Williams is a producer and reporter for NBC News covering the State Department.

Olivier Fabre

Dartunorro Clark

Dartunorro Clark is a political reporter for NBC News.

Our Allied Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

When Allies Go Nuclear

How to Prevent the Next Proliferation Threat

By February 12, 2021

The year is 2030. Seismic monitors have just detected an unforeseen underground atomic explosion, signaling that yet another country has joined the growing club of nuclear-armed states. There are now 20 such countries, more than double the number in 2021. To the surprise of many, the proliferation has come not from rogue states bent on committing nuclear blackmail but from a group of countries usually seen as cautious and rule abiding: U.S. allies. Even though they had forsworn acquiring nuclear capabilities decades earlier when they signed the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), these allies changed their minds and withdrew from the agreement, a move that triggered yet more defections as nations across the world raced to acquire the bomb. And so the number of nuclear decision-makers multiplied, raising the odds of a terrifying possibility: that one of these powerful weapons might go off.

Far-fetched? Perhaps, but this scenario is more plausible now than

The Iranian Horn Never Halted Its Nuclear Program : Daniel 8

Signs Iran’s nuclear weapons program never halted

Traces of radioactivity were found recently at two Iranian sites where Tehran has reported no nuclear activity.

Raphael Ofek

(February 21, 2021 / BESA Center)

Samples collected by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) at two Iranian sites where Tehran has not reported any nuclear activity showed traces of radioactivity. Although the IAEA refrained from naming the sites in its quarterly report of June 5, 2020, they were identified last year by the Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) in Washington. The identification was based on information extracted from the Iranian nuclear archive smuggled out of Tehran and into Israel in January 2018.

The first site visited by IAEA inspectors in August 2020 was a pilot plant for uranium conversion, with an emphasis on the production of UF6 (uranium hexafluoride, a uranium compound which, in its gaseous phase, enables the enrichment of uranium by centrifuges). This site, located about 47 miles southeast of Tehran, operated under the aegis of the Amad military nuclear program. In documents from the Iranian nuclear archive, this location is referred to as the “Tehran Site.” The facility was dismantled in 2004.

The other site was Marivan, located near the town of Abadeh in central Iran. This facility, also part of the Amad program, was designed to conduct “cold tests” of nuclear weapons (that is, to simulate the activation of a nuclear explosive device using natural uranium rather than weapons-grade uranium). This included operating a multipoint explosive system for the activation of a nuclear weapon, as well as the development of its neutron initiator.

According to satellite imagery published by ISIS, Iran razed part of the Marivan facility in July 2019, more than a year before they allowed IAEA inspectors access to it. It is likely that this was done to prevent exposure to nuclear activities that had taken place there in the past. (This was not the first time the Islamic regime had razed nuclear sites: it did so at the Lavizan-Shian facility in Tehran in 2004 and the Parchin facility in 2012.) It is possible that the traces of radioactive materials found in samples taken by IAEA inspectors in August 2020 indicate renewed efforts to develop a neutron initiator for nuclear weapons previously conducted at the Marivan site.

The IAEA report of June 5, 2020, referred to a third location as well. Though its name was not revealed in the report, it was implied that it was the facility the regime had previously operated in Lavizan-Shian. This suspicion was based on the fact that between 2002 and 2003, a metallic natural uranium disc was found at the site that had been processed by drilling and hydriding (compressing hydrogen atoms inside uranium), an activity Iran neither reported to the IAEA nor provided an explanation for. This finding suggests that the regime had attempted to develop a UD3 neutron initiator at the site.

In addition to all of the above, Iran periodically intensifies its confrontation with the IAEA, causing great concern to the United States and the West. The following are examples:

• Iran began enriching uranium to 20 percent, a level that can serve as a springboard to 90 percent (weapons-grade). The regime announced on Jan. 28 that it had accumulated 17 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium and intends to reach an annual production capacity of 120 kg. Note that 150-200 kg of 20 percent enriched uranium are required to reach 15-20 kg of 90 percent enriched uranium. (According to other calculations, Iran could accumulate 90 percent enriched uranium for its first bomb within a matter of a few months.)

Iran recently installed three cascades at the Natanz uranium enrichment plant, each containing 174 advanced IR-2m centrifuges. They were scheduled to go into operation as early as Jan. 30, with the aim of reaching 1,000 operational centrifuges of this type at Natanz within three months. Iran also began installing two cascades, each with about 170 of the more advanced IR-6 centrifuges, at the Fordow enrichment facility.

• On Jan. 13, Iran informed the IAEA that it was researching the production of metallic uranium—an activity which, if true, is another violation of the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action nuclear agreement. Britain, France and Germany have expressed concern that the metallic uranium produced by Iran will be used for nuclear weapons development.

• Iran has not yet provided the IAEA with a plausible explanation for the low-enriched uranium particles found by agency inspectors in 2019 in samples taken from a warehouse at the Turquzabad site in Tehran. An IAEA report from last November said the particulate compounds were similar to particulates found in Iran in the past that turned out to have been from imported centrifuge components (purchased from Pakistan, according to earlier publications). This theory was backed up by the fact that the particles included (among other things) the uranium-236 isotope, which does not exist in nature but is formed as a result of neutron capture by the uranium-235 nucleus—a process that takes place inside a nuclear reactor. As far as is known, it is unlikely that the process of manufacturing the particulates containing uranium-236 took place in Iran.

The problem of Iran’s pursuit of nuclear weapons is now largely in the hands of Joe Biden, though he is not enthusiastic about taking it on. Biden stated during his election campaign that he intends to return the United States to the JCPOA, albeit with amendments, and remove the sanctions imposed on Iran by the Trump administration, but it is doubtful that he has formulated a clear policy on this issue so far. He did, however, announce on Feb. 8 that the United States will not lift sanctions until Iran fulfills its obligations under the JCPOA.

U.S. Secretary of State Tony Blinken said on Feb. 1 that the breakout time in which Iran might ramp up enrichment of uranium to weapons-grade “has gone from beyond a year [under the deal] to about three or four months.” He also said an agreement with Iran should be “longer and stronger.” However, many of Biden’s newly appointed officials (including Blinken) are former members of Barack Obama’s administration who were deeply involved in negotiating the JCPOA. The appointment of Robert Malley as the U.S. special envoy to Iran raises particular concerns. If the United States does return to a courtship of Tehran, the task of dealing with the Iranian pursuit of nuclear weapons may be left primarily to Israel.

IDF Lt. Col. (res.) Dr. Raphael Ofek, a BESA Center Research Associate, is an expert in the field of nuclear physics and technology who served as a senior analyst in the Israeli intelligence community.

Iran Repeats The Obama Tactics With Biden

Iran learning it can threaten Biden to get its way on nuclear talks: Ric Grenell

When Tehran makes threats, Biden ‘is going to hop to it and respond to them,’ ex-DNI tells ‘Your World’

David Rutz

Iran has already shown it can pressure the Biden administration into granting concessions related to its nuclear weapons program, former Acting Director of National Intelligence Richard Grenell told “Your World” Friday.

The Trump administration withdrew the U.S. from the 2015 Iran nuclear deal in 2018, but Biden campaigned on reentering it and rescinded Trump’s efforts to reimpose United Nations sanctions against Iran.

State Department spokesman Ned Price said Thursday that the Biden administration would “accept an invitation from the European Union High Representative to attend a meeting of the P5+1 and Iran to discuss a diplomatic way forward on Iran’s nuclear program.”

The announcement came days after a rocket attack on a U.S. airbase in northern Iraq that was claimed by an Iranian-linked Iraqi Shiite militia. However, the Biden administration has yet to formally blame any group for the attack.

We’ve seen with the Iranians over the last two days a threat,” Grenell told host Neil Cavuto. “They said that if we didn’t drop all the sanctions … that they would not allow the inspectors back in. We already have a very weak inspection regime there.”

Grenell noted that Europe’s foreign ministers have said Iran’s threatening rhetoric is not a good sign for the prospects of peace, but Secretary of State Antony Blinken and Biden have taken the opposite approach.

The lessons, I think, that the Iranians learn [is], when they use threats against the United States, the Biden administration is going to hop to it and respond to them,” he said. “I think it’s a really slippery slope.”

David Rutz is a senior editor at Fox News. Follow him on Twitter at @davidrutz.