Preparing for the South Korean nuclear horn: Daniel 7

South Koreans walk past replicas of missiles at the Korean War Memorial.

Talk of a Nuclear Deterrent in South Korea

North Korea’s resumed activity at Yongbyon has reawakened calls for Seoul to go nuclear.

September 9, 2021, 11:50 AM

SEOUL—Recent resumption of activity at North Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear complex, which is suspected of producing the plutonium needed for the country’s nuclear weapons, has fueled existing convictions among some conservative South Korean politicians that Pyongyang will never agree to give up its nukes so Seoul needs a nuclear deterrent of its own.

The issue has stormed into the early days of the upcoming presidential election, with primary candidates openly pushing for South Korea to host nuclear weapons. Yoo Seong-min, a former lawmaker and primary candidate for the People Power Party, said he would “persuade the U.S. government to sign a nuclear-sharing agreement” with Seoul if he became president. Such an agreement would again allow the deployment of tactical and nonstrategic nuclear weapons on South Korean soil for the first time since the end of the Cold War. Another conservative contender, Hong Joon-pyo, has also argued that a nuclear-sharing agreement is needed lest South Korea end up “slaves to North Korea’s nuclear weapons.”

For some in South Korea, it’s not just about hosting U.S. weapons but also about developing their own. Lee Jong-kul, a representative from the Liberal Party, has said South Korea should “choose tactical nuclear weapons as the last negotiating card” against North Korea. In 2017, a conservative group, the Korean Patriotic Citizens’ Union, organized protests that included chants like “South Korea should immediately begin to arm itself with nuclear weapons.” Nuclear boosterism has grown so much that the leading primary candidate for the Liberal Party, Lee Jae-myung, decried it as “dangerous populism.”

South Korea, which suffered an invasion by its northern neighbor in 1950, is regularly taunted by Pyongyang’s nuclear capabilities, tests, and parades of increasingly capable missiles.

“The idea of nuclear weapons in South Korea, in contrast to Japan, has never been fringe. The argument is something like: If North Korea has it, we should have it too,” said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

According to polls, almost half of all South Koreans surveyed support the development of their own nuclear weapons to deter North Korea’s threat. The urge to unfurl their own nuclear umbrella has grown in recent years due to both Pyongyang’s fissile and missile advances and after four years of former U.S. President Donald Trump disparaging the Korean alliance and urging the country to develop its own nuclear shield.

But it’s not just politicians and polls. South Korea is the latest member of an exclusive club: countries that have successfully firedsubmarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Seven other countries have done that, but they all have nuclear warheads to stick on top. So what are Seoul’s ambitions? 

South Korea “is the only country to develop SLBMs without first developing nuclear weapons, so it makes one wonder,” said Vipin Narang, a professor of nuclear security and political science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

SLBMs are hidden underwater, so they offer survivability that could ensure South Korea can hit back against a first strike. But hit back with what? 

“Even with a heavy conventional warhead or multiple warheads on each SLBM, does six tubes on a submarine really provide a credible conventional retaliatory capability if all of South Korea’s land-based missiles were wiped out?” Narang asked.

South Korean President Moon Jae-in
North Korea's leader Kim Jong Un listens to US President Donald Trump (not pictured) during a meeting at the Sofitel Legend Metropole hotel in Hanoi on February 27, 2019. (

It’s not the only nuke-adjacent technology being advanced. With the removal of the country’s range cap on its missiles, South Korea is pushing for missiles that can carry bigger payloads for longer distances. Those “would be good delivery vehicles” if Seoul ever thought about developing nuclear weapons, Narang said.

The problem is nuclear weapons would not actually deliver security for South Korea. Pyongyang has an arsenal of its own and knows it can poke and prod—whether through cyberattacks or other conventional provocations—with little fear.

“In terms of South Korea’s security, nuclear weapons do very little,” Lewis said. “A nuclear-armed North Korea can be much more aggressive in terms of conventional provocations because [North Korean leader] Kim Jong Un knows he is safe from being invaded by the United States or South Korea. South Korean nuclear weapons don’t solve this problem.”

It’s much like the problem facing Israel, which is widely believed to have its ownnuclear capability yet has fought vehemently for years to constrain Iran’s ability to enrich enough uranium to build a bomb.

“Israel has nuclear weapons but is terrified of Iran getting them. Why don’t the Israelis believe deterrence will protect them? Because they are worried that a nuclear-armed Iran will be much more aggressive in terms of using proxies to attack them,” Lewis said. “It’s a very similar problem for South Korea.”

In addition to not delivering deterrence, South Korean nuclear weapons could end up blowing up the Korean economy. It’s one of the most trade-dependent countries on Earth, with trade making up about 70 percent of the country’s GDP; those export industries are dependent on its status as a proliferation-limiting state. A particular concern could be the country’s successful civilian nuclear energy program. South Korea is halfway through a 20-year plan to export 80 nuclear reactors worth $400 billion—deals that could be jeopardized if South Korea opts for proliferation. 

“South Korea is very much a trade-dependent country, basically an economy based on the international economy, and the repercussions from developing nuclear weapons will damage this,” said Yim Man-sung, director of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Education and Research Center at the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology in Seoul. 

South Korea, a signatory to the nuclear nonproliferation treaty, could withdraw from the accord. But that would create a cascade of legal liabilities, especially for the multibillion-dollar exports of civilian nuclear technology. And that, once realized, could take the wind out of the South Korean public’s push for nukes of their own.

“Initially, when people know nothing about the implications, they may say, ‘oh, we should develop nuclear weapons.’ But once they realize the implications, repercussions of that decision, most of them say no,” Yim said.

North Korea expands her nuclear Horn

New satellite images show development is underway at a uranium enrichment plant in North Korea, which might enable the regime to enhance manufacturing of weapons-grade nuclear materials.
Revealing the images, CNN reported Thursday that the latest renovations at the facility located within the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Facility complex, could allow the North to increase production of weapons-grade nuclear materials by as much as 25 percent.
Citing a weapons expert, it also noted the latest development is in line with the regime’s previous efforts to expand the facility’s floor space, so it can house more centrifuges.
This, CNN says, could ultimately enable the regime to enrich more uranium on a yearly basis.
The article also says U.S. government officials were aware of the latest activities, but the National Security Council, Department of Defense, Office of the Director of National Intelligence and CIA all declined to comment.
Signs that Pyeongyang is moving to ramp up production of nuclear material could also heighten concerns stemming from a recent report by the International Atomic Energy Agency, which explained the regime appears to have restarted a nuclear reactor within the same complex.
Adding these were the first signals of activity at the reactor since late 2018, the report described the new developments as “deeply troubling.”
Kim Hyo-sun, Arirang News.Reporter :

The European Nuclear Horns threaten Iran: Daniel

Europe Demands Iran End High Enrichment As Daily Calls For NPT Exit

France, Britain, and Germany issued a statement Wednesday calling on Iran to return to the limits of its 2015 nuclear agreement by immediately ending the enriching uranium at or above 20 percent, and stopping developing or installing more advanced centrifuges.

Hossein Shariatmadari, the editor of the flagship hardliner Kayhan newspaper, in a commentary Wednesday advocated Iran leaving the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), as it had gained nothing from the 2015 deal, the JCPOA (Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action), or from the NPT, which guarantees signatories access to a civil nuclear program.

While Shariatmadari has opposed nuclear talks over limiting the program for decades – he wrote an editorial in 2006 urging withdrawal from the NPT – his arguments have gained force since the United States, after signing the JCPOA and voting for it in the United Nations Security Council, left the deal in 2018 and imposed ‘maximum pressure’ sanctions on Iran.

Under the headline “IAEA Is An Irate Camel, Descend From It!” the veteran editor lambasted the United Nations monitoring body, the International Atomic Energy Agency.

The three European signatories of the JCPOA – dubbed the ‘E3’ – have called in vain on Washington to return to the deal and also on Iran to reverse the measures it has taken since 2019 in expanding the nuclear program beyond JCPOA limits. The E3 have become increasingly concerned over Iran acquiring additional knowledge and experience that cannot simply be put back in the JCPOA box.

“Collectively, these steps present a pressing nuclear proliferation risk, have irreversible consequences for Iran’s nuclear capabilities, and undermine the non-proliferation benefits” of the JCPOA, said Wednesday’s statement, issued by the E3 to the IAEA Board of Governors.

Some principlists in Iran have this week reacted against a monitoring arrangement reached during IAEA chief Rafael Mariano Grossi’s visit to Iran Monday to replace memory cards in IAEA cameras in Iran’s nuclear site.

Mohammad Rashidi, a member of parliament’s presidium, said Wednesday that a motion had been proposed to amend existing legislation on the nuclear issue that would bar voluntary measures such as the latest IAEA agreement, which goes beyond Iran’s safeguards requirements as an NPT signatory.

The arrangement extends a temporary one Grossi reached in February under which IAEA cameras not required by safeguards were kept in place without the agency having immediate access. This followed parliament legislation passed December, after the killing of an Iranian nuclear scientist, limiting IAEA monitoring to NPT safeguards if US sanctions were lnot removed within two months from ratification.

In their statement, the E3 accused Iran of deepening “systematic violations of the JCPOA at a time when all JCPOA participants and the United States are engaged in substantive discussions, with the objective of finding a diplomatic solution to restore the JCPOA.” Talks in Vienna with remaining JCPOA signatories − China, the E3, Iran and Russia – and the US indirectly have been underway since April but were suspended for the Iranian presidential election in June and no date has been set for resumption.

The E3 called on Iran to “constructively reengage in negotiations without further delay.”

The statement was issued after Grossi reported Monday that Iran had increased its stockpiles of 60 percent and 20 precent enriched uranium to over 10kg and 84kg respectively. The E3 said in their statement that the production of highly enriched uranium – uranium enriched to 20 percent or more – was “unprecedented in a non-nuclear weapons state” and “a critical step for nuclear weapons production” that gave “irreversible nuclear weapons–related knowledge gains.”

The E3 noted in their statement that since the last IAEA board meeting in June, Iran had continued to producing uranium metal enriched to 20 percent, which is banned by the JCPOA. The metal is scheduled for use as fuel in the ageing Tehran Research Reactor, which Iran previously imported.

Iran is Nuclear Ready! Daniel 8

Iran Can Have Enough Uranium For A Nuke In One Month – Report

In a worst-case scenario, the Islamic Republic of Iran has produced enough weapons-grade uranium to produce one nuclear weapon in as little as one month, a non-proliferation thin tank, Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS) said in a report released on September 13.

ISIS based it estimate on a report by the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) on September 7 that listed the amount of enriched uranium Iran has stockpiled since 2019 after it disregarded limits set by the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), or the 2015 Iran nuclear deal. Iran’s decision was a retaliation against US sanctions, when the Trump administration pulled out of the agreement in May 2018.

“Iran has enough enriched uranium hexafluoride in the form of 2 to 5 percent low enriched uranium (LEU), near 20 percent enriched uranium, and 60 percent enriched uranium, to produce weapon-grade uranium (WGU) for over two nuclear weapons without using any natural uranium as feedstock, a fact that reduces breakout timelines,” ISIS said in its report.

To produce a second nuclear bomb, Tehran would need just three months. IAEA’s estimate is that as of August 30, Iran produced 10 kilograms of near 60 percent enriched uranium, while it would need 40 kilograms to make one bomb. It takes longer to purify uranium to 60 percent than to achieve 90 percent enrichment needed for a nuclear weapon.

ISIS says in its report says that Iran is learning shortcuts in its uranium enrichment process by directly enriching from low levels (below 5%) to 60 percent in one cascade of centrifuges, instead of first enriching to 20 percent and then increasing purity to 60 percent.

In the meantime, Iran has also increased its stockpile of 20 percent enriched uranium to 84 kg, which it can continue to purify to 60 and then 90 percent. But what is also important is that Iran has been able to produce uranium metal which is essential in making a nuclear weapon.

An explosion, which was apparently a sabotage attack on its Natanz enrichment facility in April, slowed down operations, but the report says Iran has recovered the number of IR-1 and IR-2 centrifuges and the enrichment cycle has not suffered a permanent damage.

The estimate by ISIS is not about Iran producing a weapon in one month but its ability to produce sufficient fissile material to do so. Making a deliverable weapon needs a different set of skills and technology than enriching uranium. A rough comparison would be with producing gunpowder and making a rifle that can use it to fire a bullet at a target.

The Israeli Defense Forces have estimated that the process would take at least several months and potentially as long as one year. On the other hand, once a country has the fissile material for a bomb, it is a matter of time before it can master the know-how to make a weapon and fit it on a missile.

Meanwhile, Iran has limited IAEA’s monitoring access to its nuclear facilities that can prevent detection of diverting material from enrichment locations to other installations.

“Overall, the IAEA’s latest report shows Iran’s rapidly advancing nuclear activities and steps to limit IAEA monitoring, while inspectors have a diminishing ability to detect Iranian diversion of assets to undeclared facilities. The IAEA is sounding an alarm to the international community accordingly,” the ISIS report concluded.

North Korea Threatens the South Korean Horn

Viewers watching a TV news program in Seoul on Monday showing a handout image from the North Korean government of the North’s long-range cruise missiles tests.
Viewers watching a TV news program in Seoul on Monday showing a handout image from the North Korean government of the North’s long-range cruise missiles tests. Lee Jin-Man/Associated Press

North Korea Fires 2 Ballistic Missiles as Rivalry With the South Mounts

The launch on Wednesday was the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months, and violated multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions.

Sept. 15, 2021Updated 5:12 a.m. ET

SEOUL — North Korea launched two ballistic missiles off its east coast on Wednesday, the country’s first ballistic missile test in six months and a violation of multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions that ban North Korea from conducting such tests.

Hours after the missiles were launched, South Korea announced that its president, Moon Jae-in, had just attended the test of the country’s first submarine-launched ballistic missile, making South Korea ​the seventh country in the world to operate S.L.B.M.s, after the United States, Russia, China, Britain, France and India.

​The missile tests by both Koreas on the same day dramatically highlighted the intensifying arms race on the Korean Peninsula as nuclear disarmament talks between Washington and North Korea remained stalled. They also underscored the growing concern over regional stability, with Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga of Japan calling the North Korean missile launch “outrageous” and a threat to peace.

In its announcement, South Korea revealed that it had successfully developed a supersonic cruise missile and a long-range air-to-land missile to be mounted on the KF-21, a South Korean supersonic fighter jet, and that it had developed a ballistic missile powerful enough to penetrate North Korea’s underground wartime bunkers.

The North’s missile launch occurred a day after the special envoy from the United States urged the country to resume nuclear disarmament talks, saying that the United States had no “hostile” intent toward Pyongyang. Neighboring countries have also stepped up efforts to get North Korea to return to the negotiating table.

North Korea conducted its  previous ballistic missile test in March and test-fired what it called newly developed long-range cruise missiles over the weekend. But the United States has not imposed fresh sanctions against the North for weapons tests in recent years. When North Korea resumed testing short-range ballistic missiles in 2019, Donald J. Trump, then the president, dismissed them for being short range.

The Biden administration has said it would explore “practical” and “calibrated” diplomacy to achieve the goal of the complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. But North Korea has yet to respond to the administration’s invitation to dialogue.

“Rather than strengthen sanctions and military exercises, the allies have emphasized a willingness for dialogue and humanitarian cooperation,” said Leif-Eric Easley, a professor of international studies at Ewha Womans University in Seoul. “The problem with less than robust responses to North Korea’s tests is that deterrence can be eroded while Pyongyang advances its capabilities and normalizes its provocations.”

The North Korean missiles on Wednesday — launched from Yangdok, in the central part of the country — flew 497 miles and reached an altitude of 37 miles before landing in the sea between North Korea and Japan, the South Korean military said. South Korean and United States defense officials were analyzing the data collected from the test to determine exactly what type of ballistic missiles were used, it said.

Japan’s Ministry of Defense issued a statement saying that it “assumed” the missile did not reach the country’s territorial waters or its exclusive economic zone.

The news of the North Korean missile test broke shortly after Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China, North Korea’s biggest supporter and only remaining major trading partner, finished a meeting with his South Korean counterpart, Chung Eui-yong, in Seoul.

“It’s not just North Korea, but other countries as well that engage in military activities,” Mr. Wang said when asked by reporters to comment on the North’s weekend cruise-missile test. “We must all work together to resume dialogue. We all hope to contribute to peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula.”

Mr. Wang didn’t elaborate, but appeared to be referring to the joint military exercises conducted by the United States and South Korea last month. North Korea has accused Washington and Seoul of preparing to invade the North, and usually counters joint military drills between the two allies with its own military exercise or weapons tests.Foreign Minister Wang Yi of China meeting with President Moon Jae-in of South Korea in Seoul on Wednesday.Yonhap, via Reuters

“The United States has no hostile intent toward” North Korea, Sung Kim, the Biden administration’s special envoy, said on Tuesday in Tokyo, where he met with representatives from Japan and South Korea to discuss the North’s arsenal. He said Washington hoped that North Korea would “respond positively to our multiple offers to meet without preconditions.”

The latest tests showed that North Korea continued to improve its arsenal of missiles despite a series of resolutions from the United Nations Security Council that banned North Korea from developing or testing ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons.

Tensions on the Korean Peninsula rose sharply in 2017, when North Korea tested three intercontinental ballistic missiles and conducted its sixth underground nuclear test, leading to the sanctions from the United Nations. After the tests, the country claimed an ability to target the continental United States with a nuclear warhead.

Mr. Trump met with Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, three times between 2018 and 2019, but the leaders failed to reach an agreement on lifting sanctions or rolling back the North’s nuclear and missile programs. Mr. Kim has since vowed to boost his country’s weapons capabilities.

With the recent tests, “North Korea is seeking to increase its leverage in coming talks” with Washington, said Lee Byong-chul, a North Korea expert at Kyungnam University’s Institute for Far Eastern Studies in Seoul.

By timing its latest test to Mr. Wang’s visit to Seoul, North Korea also appeared to “express discontent with Beijing” that it was not providing enough economic assistance during the global health crisis, Mr. Lee said.

North Korea’s economy, already battered by years of devastating international sanctions, has suffered greatly as trade with China has plummeted in the coronavirus pandemic

The Chinese Nuclear Horn large-scale buildup of nuclear forces: Daniel 7

China following Russian model with large-scale buildup of nuclear forces, says DIA

Intelligence leaders outline efforts to retool spy agencies to counter China

By Bill Gertz

China‘s large-scale buildup of nuclear forces is part of a Beijing strategy to emulate the nuclear forces of Russia, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency disclosed Tuesday.

Army Lt. Gen. Scott Berrier, the DIA chief, said Chinese military forces are advancing on both the conventional and nuclear front, with the nuclear elements among the most concerning aspects.

“When we talk about existential threats, the nuclear triad that the Russians have is credible and it’s effective, and I think the Chinese see that nuclear triad as a goal that they would like to have,” Gen. Berrier said.

Gen. Berrier made the comments during a conference Tuesday along with five other senior intelligence leaders who all said that U.S. spy agencies are retooling to confront the challenge of Communist China while continuing to support efforts against Islamic extremism. The panel offered a dramatic snapshot of the ways China‘s rise has posed new challenges for the U.S. on an increasing number of security, economic and political fronts.

Gen. Berrier said Chinese President Xi Jinping has launched a three-pronged strategy of disciplining leaders of both the ruling Communist Party and People’s Liberation Army, financing the national power with the Belt and Road Initiative, and pursuing a vigorous buildup of the military.

China‘s nuclear triad includes the deployment of up to 400 new long-range missiles in silos recently disclosed in commercial satellite photos in western China. The silos will house China‘s new DF-41 missile that is expected to be armed with up to 10 warheads for each missile.

Other elements of the Chinese nuclear triad include new missile submarines and new nuclear-capable stealth bombers.

The U.S. officials appeared at the Intelligence and National Security Summit hosted by the Armed Forces Communications and Electrons Association International and the Intelligence and National Security Alliance at the Gaylord Hotel at National Harbor.

The DIA and other spy agencies are monitoring the Chinese nuclear build-up “very carefully,” Gen. Berrier said. “So we have an eye on that and we’re watching it.”

Gen. Paul Nakasone, director of the National Security Agency and commander of Cyber Command, said Chinaremains a key focus of electronic spies, while threats posed by terrorists remain a priority as well. Gen. Nakasone said China in particular is engaged in influence operations aimed at creating divisions within American society and targeting efforts to battle the pandemic.

The Joint Task Force-Ares, an effort to combat Islamic extremism online, has shifted to countering cyberactivities by strategic competitors like China and Russia, he said.

Deputy CIA Director David Cohen revealed that the CIA is conducting a major review to revamp its spying efforts on China, hiring more Mandarin language speakers and moving more CIA officers closer to China.

“One of the things that we are looking to do as part of our review is to think about how we approach the China issue not specifically from the Beijing station but how we approach it globally,” Mr. Cohen said.

The competition with China involves economic, diplomatic, technological and other areas of confrontation that are global in scope, he said.

Moving more people — operations officers, analysts and technologists — closer to Chinaand other locations around the world is based on the CIA‘s past “playbook,” Mr. Cohen said.

While rapidly hiring new CIA officers, Mr. Cohen warned that Chinese intelligence “runs people at us” and noted the need for strong counterintelligence to prevent penetrations of the agency by Chinese agents. The CIA suffered a major setback starting in 2010 when a security compromise resulted in the loss of more than two dozen recruited agents in China.

“Part of our job in bringing people on board is to ferret out folks who are not there for good and patriotic reasons,” Mr. Cohen said.

The CIA is working to improve its ability to oversee networks of spies in the digital age, when it is difficult to provide cover for agents because of what is called ubiquitous electronic surveillance.

Looking to influence

Gen. Nakasone, the NSA director and Cyber Command chief, said foreign influence operations expanded beyond the Russians to include Chinese, Iranians and other adversaries.

China has sought to disrupt U.S. efforts to counter the COVID-19 pandemic by influencing public views of vaccines, Gen. Nakasone said. China also is targeting Australia with negative influence operations, he said.

“From our adversaries’ perspective, [influence operations] are cheap, easy and effective,” the general said.

Asked if the U.S. government is improving its ability to blunt such interference, Gen. Nakasone said, “Yes, we’re better at it not only for elections, but also better at recognizing other different spheres when it comes up.”

A number of unspecified “proxies” for foreign nations are preparing to intervene in the 2022 elections, he noted.

“The cast of characters is still to be developed and so we’re still watching that very carefully,” Gen. Nakasone said.

Deputy FBI Director Paul Abbate said Russian government-linked cyberattacks, including ransomware operations, have shown no sign of decreasing despite the Biden administration’s direct appeals to Moscow.

“Based on what we’ve seen, there is no indication that the Russian government has taken action to crack down on ransomware actors that are operating in the permissive environment that they’ve created there,” Mr. Abbate said.

Space threat

Chris Scolese, director of the National Reconnaissance Office (NRO), which builds and operates satellite systems, said Chinaposes a significant threat to space assets.

China clearly wants to be the leader in space,” Mr. Scolese said. “And they want to make sure that they erode our capabilities up there.”

China has ground-launched anti-satellite missiles as well as space-based weapons that can disarm satellites or hamper their operations, he said. The NRO is working with the Pentagon’s new Space Command to detect and counter space threats.

Advanced technology and new space architectures are among the ways of dealing with space threats. “We have to change our architecture so that it’s much more resilient to attack,” Mr. Scolese said.

One way of reducing the threat is to increase the number of satellites and support systems to make it more difficult for the Chinese to target them.

NRO officials are working with Space Command and American allies to promote norms of space operations that would be similar to those for maritime operations outlined in the U.N.’s Law of the Sea Treaty. The agency is also developing tactics and procedures for “if things get hot … we all know how to operate, what we’re going to protect and how we’re going to protect it,” Mr. Scolese said.

Army Maj. Gen. Charles Cleveland, associate director of operations for the National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency, which conducts imagery spying, said China is seeking to surpass the United States by deploying its own spy satellites.

China has set up its own version of the Global Positioning System that will provide the Chinese military with intelligence and precision military targeting capabilities, Gen. Cleveland said.

“In many ways, [the Chinese] have the ability now to do to us what we have been doing for quite a while, the ability to have very precise timing and targeting,” Gen. Cleveland said, noting China now is also observing U.S. military activities from space.

The NGA, as the imagery agency is called, is working to increase its ability to conduct imagery spying and analysis on China and its activities, he said.

Terror threat

Both Gen. Berrier and Mr. Cohen said the defeat of the American-backed government in Afghanistan has increased the danger that the al Qaeda terrorist group will launch another attack on the United States very quickly, the director of the Defense Intelligence Agency said Tuesday.

“The current assessment conservatively is one to two years for al Qaeda to build some capability to at least threaten the homeland,” said Gen. Berrier.

The chaotic withdrawal of U.S. and allied troops from Afghanistan last month in the face of a lightning Taliban offensive reduced the ability of the military and intelligence agencies to monitor terrorists in Afghanistan. Gen. Berrier said his agency is seeking ways to regain access into Afghanistan and is focusing on the problem of terrorist threats through a DIAcounterterrorism center.

Mr. Cohen agreed that the al Qaeda threat is increasing and that the group will be capable of new attacks within a couple of years.

“We are already beginning to see some of the indications of some potential movement of al Qaeda to Afghanistan,” Mr. Cohen said. “But it’s early days and we will keep a very close eye on that.”

Terror attacks could also be carried out in that time frame by the Afghan-based Islamic State offshoot known as the Islamic State-Khorasan, Mr. Cohen said. Both groups were already operating inside Afghanistan before the collapse of the 300,000-troop Afghan military.

The decision to pull American and allied troops out of Afghanistan also impacted the CIA, Mr. Cohen said, noting the spy agency’s capability in Afghanistan “is not what it was six months ago, or a year ago.”

But he also noted that the CIA has extensive experience gathering intelligence in locations that are difficult to access and is capable of intelligence work with or without a physical presence on the ground, Mr. Cohen said.

The CIA will work “from over the horizon, principally,” he said. “We will also look for ways to work from within the horizon” of Afghanistan.

Regarding invisible beam attacks on American diplomats and intelligence personnel around the world, Mr. Cohen, the deputy CIA director, said the agency is close to identifying the source of the attacks that have impacted between 200 officials.

“We’re not close enough to make the sort of analytical judgment people are waiting for,” he said of the so-called Havana Syndrome. “We’ll get there.”

Why the US WILL NEVER to go to war with China

Why US is afraid to go to war with China

Illustration: Liu Rui/GTGeneral John E. Hyten, vice chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, said on Monday, “Our goal should be to never go to war with China, to never go to war with Russia. Because that day is a horrible day for the planet, and a horrible day for our countries.” Retired US admiral and former head of US Pacific Command Harry Harris also said that “it’s very important that we do everything that we can to prevent an escalation and open warfare” with China.
Recently, there have been more voices in the US emphasizing that the US should not have military conflicts with China. This is obviously because the tensions in the relations between the two countries have been escalating. The frontline troops are getting closer and closer, and the US has had real worries of accidental and serious confrontation between the two militaries and even accidental discharge of fires. 

The risk of a China-US military confrontation has increased. The reason is that the two countries’ strategic hostility has continued to increase, and their mutual trust has dropped to almost zero. Metaphorically, if the wind blows the door shut now, both countries would believe that the other side is slamming the door. If an incident like the 2001 in-flight collision in the South China Sea happens again today, it is difficult for the two sides to cool the incident down and resolve it peacefully.

Who is to blame for such an awkward situation? 

China has absolutely no way to retreat. The one-China principle is the fundamental principle that we must insist on. When the Democratic Progressive Party authority wants to promote “Taiwan independence,” how can we not stop it? If the US really doesn’t want conflicts with the Chinese mainland in the Taiwan Straits, there are two ways. First, it should put pressure on the DPP authority, not allowing it to make trouble. If both the mainland and the US are against “Taiwan independence,” the DPP authority will chicken out. Second, the US should stop interfering. It should not intervene if the Chinese mainland launches attacks against Taiwan secessionists. In that case, no conflicts will erupt between China and the US in the Taiwan Straits.    

But the problem is: The US is instigating the DPP authority to provoke, continuously sending signals that Washington will offer support even if the island touches the bottom line, while at the same time, it asks the mainland to prevent the so-called competition between the mainland and the US falling into conflicts. We have to ask: Is what Washington has done in the Taiwan Straits “competition”? We advise Washington to straighten out its logic. Political hooligan tactics cannot work with the Chinese mainland. 

To prevent military conflicts between China and the US and ensure 100 percent security, the US must retreat from provoking China’s core interests. As the “freedom of navigation” in the South China Sea has never been a problem, why do US warships always sail so close to China’s islands and reefs? The South China Sea is so wide that lanes are everywhere. Why must they come to China’s islands and reefs to find trouble? This is not navigation at all, but undisguised provocations and threats.  

The Chinese people have already seen it through. There is no way that we can talk to the US with reason, we can only talk to the US with strength and actions. I noticed that when Hyten said the US should never go to war with China and Russia, he particularly mentioned that “a war with a nuclear power is a bad thing.” See? What the US is really afraid of are the nuclear weapons of China and Russia. 

So, my conclusion is strong military strength, especially strategic nuclear power, has made the US in deep awe of confronting China. Under the condition that China doesn’t proactively attack it, the US knows that it should stick to the bottom line and not push China into a life and death fight with it. Therefore, as long as what China is doing is defending its core interests, China has the morality and has nothing to fear.   

The author is editor-in-chief of the Global Times.

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction from the End

China's nuclear build-up: The great distraction

China’s nuclear build-up: The great distraction

By Rose Gottemoeller, Opinion ContributorSeptember 13, 2021 – 02:30 PM EDT

The views expressed by contributors are their own and not the view of The Hill 

President Biden is reviewing America’s nuclear posture. By January, we should know what he thinks about U.S. nuclear weapons, what policies should govern them and how many we need. Congress is watching closely, and the Senate and House of Representatives are sure to debate the results; they always do. 

But this year will be different. A new player has entered the field — China. 

China is modernizing its nuclear forces. The recent discovery of three intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) silo fields in remote regions west and north of Beijing point to a big build-up of weapons and a different strategy for their use. Since acquiring nuclear weapons from the Soviets, the Chinese have taken the stance that they would not build up a large and highly alert force but instead would be ready to retaliate. This “second strike deterrence posture” has served them well, but now the Chinese seem to have decided it is not enough. 

Which is why it is urgent that the Biden administration (and the Kremlin) get them to the table to ask them. Chinese nuclear force posture and strategy should be an equal concern in Washington and Moscow.

We can ask the Chinese separately, or together, but ask them we should. All three countries might even agree to take some early steps, such as exchanging deployment plans and information about nuclear doctrine. Such confidence-building measures would build mutual predictability and may stave off a nuclear arms race. 

Most importantly, we must not panic. Even if the Chinese deploy intercontinental ballistic missiles in each of their new silos, the U.S. will still have a large and capable nuclear force structure and many more nuclear warheads. Some authorities have predicted that the Chinese may be able to quadruple their warhead numbers in coming years. If one goes by the Stockholm Peace Research estimate of 350 Chinese warheads, then China would end up with 1,400 total warheads. That compares with over 4,000 warheads available for deployment in both the United States and Russia. We need to keep a sharp eye on what they are doing but not rush into making rash changes in our own nuclear forces. 

China may be a rising nuclear power, but its bigger agenda is building up its science and technology prowess. And this is where we need to focus as a competitor. We should ask ourselves: What is in the long-term U.S. national security interest? Where can we best spend our national treasure to ensure our future defense? Our defense budget funds are finite; we have to balance how best to spend them.

The focus should be not on nuclear weapons but on the new and emerging technologies that are rapidly maturing into military assets. Innovations in artificial intelligence, big data analysis, quantum computing and quantum sensing and biotechnology are where future defense capacity is being born. 

The Chinese have sworn to beat us at acquiring and exploiting every one of them. Their China 2025 and 2050 plans are designed to ensure that China will dominate the science and technology space at mid-century.

The United States needs to do everything it can to disrupt this Chinese rush to technological superiority. But we cannot do so if we let 100 ICBM silos distract us. These 70-year-old weapon systems have nothing to do with the future capabilities we must deploy if we are to maintain our national defense.

To achieve that goal, we must push the frontiers of science and innovation and prevent Chinese dominance. The U.S. has the talent and the institutions to do so — as long as we spend our resources wisely. 

But we are moving in the wrong direction. According to the National Science Foundation (NSF), between 2000 and 2017, the share of basic research funded by the federal government declined from 58 percent to 42 percent. Other NSF indicators, such as the number of patents granted, also show a decline in U.S. performance.

Putting more resources into science and innovation does not mean that we should fail to modernize our nuclear forces. The program of record for nuclear modernization first put in place by President Obamacontinued to develop momentum during the Trump presidency as we began to exchange new weapons systems for old.

Some of them, such the Ohio-class submarines, are nearly 50 years old. They need to be replaced with new, quieter and more capable nuclear-armed submarines. It is still true that, for as long as nuclear weapons exist, the United States must maintain a safe, secure and effective nuclear arsenal.

But let us not let the Chinese push us into pouring our national treasure into nuclear weapons that we do not need. They will continue to go for broke to dominate science and technology achievement in this century, and this is where our attention needs to be.

We must keep a sharp eye on China’s nuclear deployments. But we have a long head start on them and can ensure that they do not surprise us in the nuclear space. If we fail to stay focused, we may find one day that they have achieved strategic superiority with entirely new military systems that we can neither defend against nor match.

Rose Gottemoeller is the Steven C. Házy Lecturer at Stanford University’s Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies and its Center for International Security and Cooperation. Before joining Stanford, Gottemoeller was the deputy secretary general of NATO from 2016 to 2019. Prior to NATO, she served for nearly five years as the under secretary for arms control and international security at the U.S. Department of State.

Time Has Already Run Out: Revelation 16

Time Is Running Out: Israel Warns Iran’s Nuclear Program at ‘The Most Advanced Point Ever’

JERUSALEM, Israel – Israeli Prime Minister Naftali Bennett put the world on notice that time is running out to stop Iran from getting a nuclear weapon. 

Speaking at his Cabinet meeting on Sunday, Bennett sounded an international wake-up call.  

“I am calling on world powers: don’t fall into the trap of Iranian deception that will lead to additional concessions. You must not give up on inspecting sites and the most important thing, the most important message is that there must be a time limit,” he said.

“They (Iran) are dragging on, we must set a clear-cut deadline that says: until here. The Iranian nuclear program is at the most advanced point ever,” Bennett warned.

Israel remains clear – its military option to strike Iran’s nuclear facilities is open.

Earlier this month, the UN agency monitoring Iran’s nuclear program released a confidential report saying that for months, the regime hindered access to its nuclear sites by damaging surveillance cameras. The report said Iran is also expanding its nuclear program dangerously close to a weapons-grade level. To avert a political showdown, Iran invited the agency back this weekend, but it could be too late.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, Israeli Defense Minister Benny Gantz issued another warning with the release of images of an Iranian training base.   

“The Kashan base located north of the city of Isfahan is used to train terrorists from Yemen, Iraq, Syria snd Lebanon,” Gantz said. “Iran has developed ‘proxy terror’ which is perpetrated by organized ‘terror armies’ which are assisting Iran in achieving its economic, political and military goals.”

The camps include another weapon of terror – military drones.

“One of the most significant tools employed by Iran and its proxies is UAVs with a range of thousands of kilometers,” Gantz said. “Hundreds of these UAVs are spread across Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Lebanon. Iran is also attempting to transfer the know-how needed for UAV production to Gaza.”

Seth Frantzman, author of Drone Wars, says this is Iran’s war of the future today. 

“What it tells us is Iran is not just exporting drones and the blueprints, it’s bringing people into Iran, training them and sending them back,” Frantzman told CBN News. “I think that, of course, has big implications for the region because it means you [have] very skilled operators that can use drones that can target ships or energy facilities or whatever they want.”

The growing range of North Korea’s Nukes range of North Korea’s Nukes

North Korea test-fires new ‘long-range cruise missile’: KCNA

by Sunghee Hwang / AFP

SEOULNorth Korea test-fired a new “long-range cruise missile” over the weekend, state media reported Monday, with the United States saying the nuclear-armed country was threatening its neighbours and beyond.

Pictures in the Rodong Sinmun newspaper showed a missile exiting one of five tubes on a launch vehicle in a ball of flame, and a missile in horizontal flight.

Such a weapon would represent a marked advance in North Korea’s weapons technology, analysts said, better able to avoid defence systems to deliver a warhead across the South or Japan — both of them US allies.

The test launches took place on Saturday and Sunday, the official Korean Central News Agency said.

The missiles travelled 1,500-kilometre (about 930 miles), two-hour flight paths — including figure-of-8 patterns — above North Korea and its territorial waters to hit their targets, according to KCNA.

Its report called the missile a “strategic weapon of great significance”, adding the tests were successful and it gave the country “another effective deterrence means” against “hostile forces”.

North Korea is under international sanctions for its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programmes, which it says it needs to defend against a US invasion.

But Pyongyang is not banned from developing cruise missiles, which it has tested previously.

As described, the missile “poses a considerable threat”, Park Won-gon, professor of North Korean Studies at Ewha Womans University, told AFP.

“If the North has sufficiently miniaturised a nuclear warhead, it can be loaded onto a cruise missile as well,” Park said.

“It’s very likely that there will be more tests for the development of various weapons systems.”

The launch was a response to joint South Korea-US military drills last month, he said.

But Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi is due in Seoul on Tuesday and Park added: “By choosing cruise missiles, North Korea is trying not to provoke the US and China too much.”

Jeffrey Lewis of the Middlebury Institute for International Studies tweeted that the reported missiles would be capable of delivering a warhead against targets “throughout South Korea and Japan”.

“An intermediate-range land-attack cruise missile is a pretty serious capability for North Korea,” he added.

“This is another system that is designed to fly under missile defense radars or around them.”

The South Korean military — normally the first source of information on the North’s missile tests — had made no announcement of any launches over the weekend.

They said they were analysing developments.

In a statement, the US Indo-Pacific Command said the reports highlighted North Korea’s “continuing focus on developing its military programme and the threats that poses to its neighbours and the international community”.

It reiterated that the US commitment to defend South Korea — where it stations around 28,500 troops to protect it against its neighbour — and Japan “remains ironclad”.

‘Deeply troubling’

The reported launches are the first since March by the North, which has not carried out a nuclear test or an intercontinental ballistic missile launch since 2017.

They came days after a scaled-back parade in Pyongyang to mark the 73rd anniversary of the country’s founding.

Nuclear talks with the United States have been stalled since the collapse of a 2019 summit in Hanoi between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and then-president Donald Trump over sanctions relief — and what Pyongyang would be willing to give up in return.

Current US President Joe Biden’s North Korea envoy, Sung Kim, has repeatedly expressed his willingness to meet his Pyongyang counterparts “anywhere, at any time”.

But the impoverished North has never shown any indication it would be willing to surrender its nuclear arsenal, and has rebuffed South Korean efforts to revive dialogue.

Last month, the UN atomic agency (IAEA) said Pyongyang appeared to have started its plutonium-producing reprocessing reactor at Yongbyon, calling it a “deeply troubling” development.

Kim’s sister and key adviser Kim Yo Jong also demanded the withdrawal of US troops from the peninsula.

Last week, South Korea tested a homegrown submarine-launched ballistic missile — a technology the North has long sought to develop.

The North showed off four such devices at a military parade overseen by Kim in January, with KCNA calling them “the world’s most powerful weapon”. 

North Korea has released pictures of underwater launches, most recently in 2019.

But analysts believe that was from a fixed platform or submersible barge, rather than a submarine.