Taiwan Will Not Get Nuclear Weapons To Deter China

Does Taiwan Need Nuclear Weapons To Deter China?

ByJames Holmes

Back in August in the Washington Examiner, American Enterprise Institute senior fellow Michael Rubin (and a 1945 Contributing Editor) contended that Taiwan must go nuclear in the wake of the disastrous American withdrawal from Afghanistan. It can no longer count on a mercurial United States to keep its security commitments to the island. To survive it should obey the most primal, bareknuckles law of world politics: self-help.

Set aside Rubin’s claim that the Afghan denouement wrought irreparable harm to America’s standing vis-à-vis allies. He could be right, but I personally doubt it. The United States gave Afghanistan—a secondary cause by any standard—twenty years, substantial resources, and many military lives. That’s a commitment of serious heft, and one that gave Afghans a chance to come together as a society. That they failed reflects more on them than the United States. I suspect Taiwan would be grateful for a commitment of that magnitude and duration.

Yet Rubin’s larger point stands. One nation depends on another for salvation at its peril. Wise statesmen welcome allies . . . without betting everything on them. Taiwan should found its diplomacy and military strategy on deterring Chinese aggression if possible—alone if need be—and on stymieing a cross-strait assault if forced to it. This is bleak advice to be sure, but who will stand by Taiwan if the United States fails to? Japan or Australia might intercede alongside America, but not without it. Nor can Taipei look for succor to the UN Security Council or any other international body where Beijing wields serious clout. These are feeble bulwarks against aggression.

Deterrence, then, is elemental. But does a deterrent strategy demand atomicdeterrence? Not necessarily. It’s far from clear that nuclear weapons deter much apart from nuclear bombardment—the type of aggression least likely to befall Taiwan. After all, the mainland longs to possess the island, with all the strategic value it commands. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP) has little use for a radioactive wasteland.

CCP overseers are vastly more likely to resort to military measures short of nuclear arms. China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) could launch a naval blockade or a conventional air campaign against Taiwan in a bid to starve out the populace or bludgeon them into submission. And even a direct cross-strait amphibious offensive—the PLA’s surest way to seize prime real estate on a tight timetable—would preserve most of Taiwan’s value to China.

So, it seems, a nonnuclear onslaught is what Taipei mainly needs to deter. History has shown that nuclear weapons stand little chance of deterring nonnuclear aggression. A threat to visit a Hiroshima or Nagasaki on, say, Shanghai in retaliation for low-level aggression would be implausible. Breaching the nuclear threshold would do little good strategically while painting the islanders as amoral—and hurting their prospects of winning international support in a cross-strait war.

An implausible threat stands little chance of deterring. Think about Henry Kissinger’s classic formula for deterrence, namely that it’s a product of multiplying three variables: capability, resolve, and belief. Capability and resolve are the components of strength. Capability means physical power, chiefly usable military might. Resolve means the willpower to use the capabilities on hand to carry out a deterrent threat. A deterrent threat generally involves denying a hostile contender what it wants or meting out punishment afterward should the contender defy the threat.

Statesmen essaying deterrence are in charge of capability and resolution. They can amass formidable martial power and steel themselves to use it. That doesn’t mean their efforts at deterrence will automatically succeed, though. Belief is Kissinger’s other crucial determinant. It’s up to the antagonist whether it believes in their combined capability and willpower.

Taiwan could field a nuclear arsenal, that is, and its leadership could summon the determination to use the arsenal under specific circumstances such as a nuclear or conventional attack on the island. In other words, it could accumulate the capacity to thwart acts the leadership deems unacceptable or punish them should they occur. But would Chinese Communist magnates find the island’s atomic arsenal and displays of willpower convincing?

Against a nuclear attack, maybe. If Taipei maintained an armory that could inflict damage on China that CCP leaders found unbearable, then Beijing ought to desist from a nuclear attack under the familiar Cold War logic of mutual assured destruction. The two opponents would reach a nuclear impasse.

Kissinger appends a coda to his formula for deterrence, namely that deterrence is a product of multiplication, not a sum. If any one variable is zero, so is deterrence. What that means is that Taiwan could muster all the military might and fortitude in the world and fail anyway if China disbelieved in its capability, resolve, or both. And it might: Chinese Communist leaders have a history of making statements breezily disparaging the impact of the ultimate weapon if used against China. Founding CCP chairman Mao Zedong once derided nukes as a “paper tiger.” A quarter-century ago a PLA general (apparently) joked that Washington would never trade Los Angeles for Taipei.

The gist of such statements: nuclear threats cannot dissuade China from undertaking actions that serve the vital interest as the CCP leadership construes it.

Again, though, nuclear deterrence ought to be a peripheral concern for Taipei. Beijing is unlikely to order doomsday strikes against real estate it prizes, regardless of whether the occupants of that real estate brandish nuclear arms or not. Far better for the island’s leadership to refuse to pay the opportunity costs of going nuclear and instead concentrate finite militarily relevant resources to girding for more probable contingencies.

Contingencies such as repulsing a conventional cross-strait assault.

Wiser investment will go to armaments that make the island a prickly “porcupine” bristling with  “quills” in the form of shore-based anti-ship and anti-air missiles along with sea-based systems such as minefields, surface patrol craft armed to the teeth with missiles, and, once Taiwan’s shipbuilding industry gears up, silent diesel-electric submarines prowling the island’s environs. These are armaments that could make Taiwan indigestible for the PLA. And Beijing could harbor little doubt Taipei would use them.

Capability, resolve, belief. Deterrence through denial.

So Michael Rubin is correct to urge Taiwan not to entrust its national survival to outsiders. But it can take a pass on nuclear weapons—and husband defenses better suited to the strategic surroundings.

Dr. James Holmes, a 1945 Contributing Editor, is J. C. Wylie Chair of Maritime Strategy at the Naval War College and a Nonresident Fellow at the University of Georgia School of Public and International Affairs. The views voiced here are his alone

South Korea WILL build its own nuclear bomb: Daniel 7

Should South Korea build its own nuclear bomb?

The once-strong alliance between South Korea and the U.S. is weakening.

October 7, 2021 at 1:45 p.m. EDT

In fact, the alliance is in trouble — pulled apart by powerful geopolitical forces. The only way to save it might be for South Korea to move in a direction that much of Washington considers unthinkable: to develop an independent nuclear arsenal.

The Trump years certainly damaged the relationship; President Donald Trump made clear that he thought South Korea was taking advantage of the United States. But the true root of the problem lies in two long-term trends. First, the rise of China is creating a rift between American and South Korean foreign policy priorities. Managing the growth of China’s power has become America’s primary national security goal. As the costs and dangers of countering China rise, Washington increasingly expects its allies to join in this effort.

But the South Koreans never signed up for that deal. Their alliance with the United States has always been about North Korea. A counterbalancing effort against China would poison South Korea’s relations with its No. 1 trading partner — which is also the most powerful country in the region. Fear of offending China partly explains South Korea’s reluctance to join “the Quad,” a U.S.-led alignment that includes India, Australia and Japan. The United States is an important player in East Asia right now; China, Koreans know, will be their neighbor forever.

The situation is made worse by a second trend: the growing sophistication of North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. Pyongyang has made major strides toward developing high-yield thermonuclear weapons and missiles that can carry them to the continental United States. This development fundamentally changes the alliance’s risk-reward calculus. For decades, American leaders accepted that defending South Korea could be very costly, possibly claiming the lives of thousands of U.♠S. soldiers. But now the costs of a conflict in Korea could be truly catastrophic for the United States.

In the event of war, leaders in Pyongyang would have powerful incentives to use nuclear weapons to stalemate South Korea’s conventional military superiority. Should the United States retaliate, the American homeland would become a target. War on the Korean Peninsula could thus lead to the destruction of multiple American cities — and the political, economic and social chaos that would follow. The American people never signed up for that deal.

As a result the alliance faces credibility problems. South Korea can’t be sure it can depend on its U.S. ally for protection. At the very moment that the two countries’ strategic priorities are diverging, the risks that the United States must bear to defend South Korea are growing a thousand-fold. North Korea, too, may question whether Washington would rush to Seoul’s aid during a war when doing so would threaten the survival of the United States.

Washington and its allies faced a similar credibility problem during the Cold War. In the early 1950s, NATO members wondered whether the emerging Soviet nuclear threat to the U.S. homeland meant they could no longer rely on the United States. Would the Americans really sacrifice Boston to protect Bonn? The allies addressed this credibility problem with three partial solutions. Britain and France acquired their own nuclear arsenals. For others, NATO implemented nuclear sharing: storing some U.S. weapons on allied bases in Europe, to be transferred to the allies if war erupted. And the U.S. military stationed large ground and air forces on the continent, deploying troops with their families, to intertwine the United States in any major war from the outset. 

The United States has shown no interest in creating a Korean nuclear sharing agreement — for good reason. An agreement premised on plans to give nuclear weapons in a time of war to nonnuclear allies is legally questionable, given that the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) prohibits their transfer. (Indeed, NATO’s nuclear sharing exists in a legal gray area.)

Additionally, with modern locks, such weapons would still be firmly in the control of American leaders, and hence no more credible than other elements of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. Nor does the United States seem likely to increase the size of its conventional deployments on the Korean Peninsula or intertwine them with the Korean forces on the border. In fact, the number of American troops there has declined, with the forces positioned farther from the demilitarized zone.

That leaves the first option, however distasteful it may seem: South Korea may choose to acquire its own nuclear arsenal. Such a move would protect South Korea against the North Korean threat — more securely than today’s arrangement — and help the country manage its other long-term security problem: how to retain political independence in a region where China wields ever-greater power and influence

Some analysts see nuclearization as a nonstarter, fearing it would make South Korea — an NPT member — a pariah like the North. But North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons was illegal, violating multiple United Nations Security Council resolutions. South Korea’s would be legal and justified. The NPT’s Article X was written for precisely the circumstances that South Korea faces today. It offers a withdrawal option if a member faces “extraordinary events” that “have jeopardized the supreme interests of its country.” North Korea’s illegal development of nuclear weapons and its threats against the South certainly qualify as extraordinary circumstances. South Korea’s development of nuclear weapons would be a proportional response to North Korea’s actions.

Seoul may already be heading in this direction. Former foreign minister Song Min-soon has said that South Korea “taking its own measures to create a nuclear balance on the peninsula” is an idea “widely touted” by leaders and analysts. Seventy percent of the South Korean public endorses the move. And Seoul’s new fleet of ballistic missile submarines is an unusual acquisition: a vastly expensive way to deliver a handful of conventional missiles. Those subs, however, would make an ideal platform for a future nuclear deterrent.

A South Korean nuclear arsenal is not what Washington prefers — indeed, it goes against a core U.S. policy of preventing nuclear spread. But it might be the best course given the weakened foundation of the alliance. If Seoul decides to take this step, the United States should focus blame where it belongs — on Pyongyang’s illegal nuclear program — and render political support to a valued ally.

Trying to prevent the inevitable nuclear war: Revelation 16

Preventing an accidental nuclear crisis in Iran and beyond

By Samuel M. Hickey | October 11, 2021

There has been no sign as to when nuclear talks with Iran may recommence. But after weeks of consultations, Iran and the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) have reached a deal on “the way and the timing” for UN nuclear inspectors to service cameras installed at Iran’s nuclear facilities. This patchwork agreement has kept alive the possibility of recovering a complete picture of Iran’s nuclear program and of reviving the Iran nuclear deal since Iran cut inspector access in February. It is also the first real sign of cooperative engagement by Iran since President Ebrahim Raisi came to power in August.

The Iran nuclear deal, also known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, is the latest experiment in how much UN nuclear inspector access states will tolerate. However, it is under exceptional stress from those who believe military coercion is more effective than systems of denial in stemming proliferation. Days after the least competitive presidential election in the Islamic Republic’s history, a drone attack at a centrifuge production facility on June 23 damaged the IAEA’s monitoring and surveillance equipment. While the Israeli government did not comment on the attack, the Iran Centrifuge Technology Company, located in the city of Karaj, was reportedly“on a list of targets that Israel presented to the Trump administration early last year.” Now, Iran has allowed the IAEA to service cameras in every location but the Karaj site.

Acts of sabotage are diametrically opposed to the global nuclear verification regime because states need to believe that punishment will cease if they comply with the agreed-to framework. Further, failure to revive the nuclear deal could remove the possibility of applying the verification tools gained to other proliferation challenges like North Korea or the next nuclear threshold state. The loss of these techniques would undermine efforts to improve the global nonproliferation regime. As the United States’ experiences in leaving Afghanistan make clear, accurate intelligence is critical to making informed decisions and avoiding a crisis. The wrong assumptions can have dire consequences.

Verification evolution: Iraq and the old gold standard. The current nuclear verification protocols are the strongest in history and prioritize the non-diversion of nuclear materials over sovereign jurisdiction; however, many of these legal instruments were born out of crisis and remain voluntary, not mandatory. For instance, the investigative powers of the IAEA were substantially expanded by the creation of the Additional Protocol in 1997 to ensure that states’ declarations are both correct and complete.

This protocol has its origin in the Middle East. In the aftermath of the 1991 Persian Gulf War, the IAEA realized it could not detect if nuclear material used in a civilian nuclear program was diverted to a covert nuclear weapons program. International inspectors were stunned to find Iraq’s nuclear program, under Saddam Hussein, could produce enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon in 12-18 months, instead of the previous prediction of four to five years. This revelation was the impetus to create the Model Additional Protocol in May 1997, which substantially increased the IAEA’s oversight of a comprehensive safeguards agreement.s

The United States used unsubstantiated and incorrect intelligence claims to back its assertion that Iraq had resurrected its nuclear weapons program despite the assessment of the IAEA. The 2003 invasion would prove that Iraq had not, in fact, reconstructed its weapons program.Today, 137 states have brought an Additional Protocol into force, but for those countries that have not accepted the protocol—like Argentina, Brazil, Egypt and Saudi Arabia—no one can be sure whether their civilian nuclear programs divert materials for weapons use. In the case of Iran, the Additional Protocol was implemented in 2015 on a provisional basis as outlined in the Iran nuclear deal and planned to be fully adopted in 2023. It has not been fully implemented since late February.The additions of the Iran nuclear deal. The consistent revision and evolution of the global nuclear order is arguably its greatest success. The adoption of the comprehensive safeguards agreement, Additional Protocol, and the numerous multilateral institutions to protect, restrict, and monitor all nuclear commerce have strengthened the confidence in IAEA assessment. But those mechanisms were not enough to satisfy concerns about the Iranian nuclear program. Despite its politicization in Congress, the Iran nuclear deal represents the next-generation nuclear verification design to prevent any country from cheating its way to a nuclear weapon in a hurry.Specifically, the Iran nuclear deal caps the quantity and level of enrichment of uranium as well as the number and sophistication of the centrifuges that are operating and limits heavy water production. It also provides continuous monitoring of centrifuges and centrifuge rotor tubes, continuous access to Natanz, the monitoring of the production or acquisition of any uranium ore concentrate and enhanced managed access, meaning the IAEA can inspect a suspected violation.RELATED: US courts say Iran owes terrorism victims billions. That’s an obstacle to a new Iran nuclear deal.The deal also instilled two key principles that should be universalized. First, a civilian nuclear program should be commensurate to its energy or related needs. Second, the IAEA has the right to monitor a ban on “weaponization” activities, which are activities related to developing or procuring equipment for developing nuclear weapons. This is the first agreement ever that defines a set of prohibited activities associated with weaponization, and it set up a procurement channel to monitor the materials and technologies Iran seeks to acquire that could be diverted to a secret program. These blocking efforts and verification tools are the most robust in the world, but extending the timeline for these activities, known as the sunset clauses, or applying them to other countries will require reviving the nuclear deal and preventing further acts of nuclear sabotage.These measures, at least until the deal expires, will provide a high degree of confidence that weapons-related activity is not occurring. They could also be promoted as a model for other countries wanting to give confidence in the peaceful nature of their own nuclear facilities. Presently, the IAEA is investigating several locations for the presence of nuclear particles of “anthropogenic” origin, meaning materials that have been processed beyond their natural state, but this should not be sufficient grounds for losing monitoring altogether. Iran could assuage such concerns in the future through voluntary transparency, if it is sincere in its contention that it has halted progress toward nuclear weapons. It is in Iran’s national self-interest to assure the world they have no secret nuclear agenda.Politicization of technical assurances. Imagine if every country in the world were subject to continuous monitoring of sensitive nuclear facilities and provided access upstream in the fuel cycle to activities such as mining, milling and conversion. Such access would demonstrably reduce the likelihood that materials gained for ostensibly civilian purposes could be siphoned off to a clandestine program. However, failure to revive the deal risks relegating these additional measures to history.If the politics of the Iranian nuclear program are too challenging, then the new verification tools will not be useful to solve a real crisis if one crops up in Iran or elsewhere. The great arms control theorist and developer of game theory Thomas Schelling opened his book Arms and Influence with the reflection: “One of the lamentable principles of human productivity is that it is easier to destroy than to create.” Let’s hope the groundbreaking verification and monitoring tools of the Iran nuclear deal are not a casualty of human initiative.

The Growing Iranian Nuclear Horn

Iran Has 120 Kg of 20% Enriched Uranium: Atomic Agency

The Iran nuclear program’s Arak heavy water reactor. Photo: Nanking2012 via Wikimedia Commons.

i24 News – Iran has enriched more than 120 kilograms of 20% enriched uranium, the head of the country’s atomic energy agency said on state television Saturday evening.

“We have passed 120 kilograms. We have more than that figure,” said Mohammad Eslami, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran.

“Our people know well that they (Western powers) were meant to give us the enriched fuel at 20% to use in the Tehran reactor, but they haven’t done so,” he added

“If our colleagues do not do it, we would naturally have problems with the lack of fuel for the Tehran reactor.”

In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) reported that Iran had boosted its stocks enriched above the percentage allowed in the 2015 deal with world powers.

It estimated that Iran had 84.3 kilos of uranium enriched to 20% (up from 62.8 kilos when the IAEA last reported in May).

Under the deal, Iran was not meant to enrich uranium above 3.67%, well below the 90% threshold needed for use in a nuclear weapon.

Under the 2015 agreement China, France, Germany, the United Kingdom, and the United States had agreed to lift some sanctions against Iran if Tehran cut back its nuclear program.

US president Donald Trump pulled Washington out of the deal in 2018, and Tehran has progressively abandoned its commitments under the agreement, while the United States has imposed fresh sanctions in response.

On Friday, Iran’s Foreign Minister Hossein Amir-Abdollahian said he was optimistic that talks on reviving the 2015 deal would make progress, provided Washington fully resumed its commitments.

How Khan Nuked up the Horns: Daniel

How Pakistan’s A.Q. Khan Helped North Korea Get the Bomb

Islamabad and Pyongyang exchanged technology, cash, and expertise.

By Mike Chinoy, a nonresident senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute.

OCTOBER 11, 2021, 2:13 PM

In light of A.Q. Khan’s death on Sunday, the following is an adaptation from the 2008 book Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis.

A.Q. Khan, who died on Oct. 10 of COVID-19 at age 85, is celebrated in Pakistan as a national hero who built the country’s nuclear bomb program. Internationally, though, he became infamous not as a nuclear scientist but as a nuclear smuggler—including playing a key role in boosting North Korea’s weapons program.

As the head of Khan Research Laboratories, A.Q. Khan presided over his own nuclear fiefdom, which in the late 1980s and early ’90s spearheaded Pakistan’s development of highly enriched uranium. In 1998, Pakistan carried out a successful test of a nuclear bomb. Yet, confronted with the nuclear prowess of its neighbor and rival India, Pakistan still urgently needed a missile to deliver its bomb, and it was looking for a shortcut to avoid having to develop one on its own.

It is widely believed that a visit to Pyongyang by Pakistani Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto in December 1993 was the critical first step in an accelerating pattern of cooperation between Islamabad and Pyongyang. Bhutto reportedly returned home with design details for a North Korean Rodong missile. She consistently maintained it was purely a cash transaction—Pakistani money for North Korean missile technology.

Following her visit, defense contacts between the two countries multiplied, leading, in either 1996 or 1997, to the delivery by North Korea’s Changgwang Sinyong Corp. of key missile components—or possibly an entire missile. The Pakistanis eventually rechristened the 900-mile intermediate-range missile the Ghauri, after a medieval Muslim conqueror in northern India, and successfully tested it in 1998. Western analysts noted that the Ghauri was a close replica of the Rodong, although with some modifications.

By the mid-1990s, however, Pakistan was facing a financial crisis as its foreign exchange reserves plunged. It was at this point that the first real evidence emerged that Khan was offering nuclear know-how to the North Koreans. Khan reportedly visited North Korea 13 times and appears to have proposed a barter deal, under which Pakistan would compensate North Korea for ballistic missiles with uranium-enrichment technology. Some of the equipment was then transported on Pakistani military aircraft, with the flights cleared by Pakistani air controllers.

At the time, U.S. intelligence was monitoring the flights and at least some of Khan’s visits. Aware of the expanding contacts, Washington did not yet have sufficient details to put all the pieces of the puzzle together. Moreover, with the more immediate threat of Pyongyang’s plutonium weapons program frozen under the 1994 Agreed Framework deal, a possible North Korean uranium effort—which at this stage appeared to be more at the level of research and development rather than full-scale production—was not a top priority. The Clinton administration, according to officials who handled nonproliferation matters at the time, did decide, in the context of a broader thaw, to address the uranium issue with the North Koreans, but time ran out before it could do so.

In the final year of the Clinton administration, however, enough alarm bells had begun to sound about Khan’s proliferation activities that it triggered an ambitious joint U.S.-British intelligence operation to target the Pakistani nuclear scientist. The effort involved not just access to an incriminating paper trail but actually placing agents inside the Khan proliferation network.

After George W. Bush took office as U.S. president, the intelligence operation intensified. The initial target was Libya, which had become the focus for Khan’s most elaborate effort thus far, involving an order from Muammar al-Qaddafi for large numbers of centrifuges and 1.87 tons of uranium hexafluoride. Penetration of the network would lead Qaddafi to abandon his nuclear ambitions in return for better ties with the United States and Britain in 2003. Qaddafi’s turnabout also yielded an intelligence bonanza, giving the United States enough incriminating details to force Pakistan’s President Pervez Musharraf to place Khan under house arrest in early 2004 and assist in the dismantling of what was known of Khan’s network.

In 2002, however, the investigation was still at an earlier stage. But it was already giving the CIA a better understanding not just of Khan’s dealings with Libya but of the alarming fact that his network had other clients—including North Korea and Syria.

“Once we got inside that network it gave us windows into all of these countries, including North Korea,” former CIA Deputy Director John McLaughlin confirmed in an interview.

In his book At the Center of the Storm, former CIA Director George Tenet wrote, “Patiently, we put ourselves in a position to come in contact with individuals and organizations that we believed were part of the overall proliferation problem. … We discovered the extent of Khan’s hidden network, which stretched from Pakistan, to Europe, to the Middle East, to Asia. We pieced together a picture of the organization, revealing its subsidiaries, scientists, front companies, agents, finances, and manufacturing plants. Our spies gained access through a series of daring operations over several years.”

One sinister episode from 1998 provides a revealing glimpse of the murky netherworld in which North Korea’s nuclear acquisitions operatives—and their adversaries in Western intelligence services—operated. On June 7, 1998, 10 days after Pakistan’s first underground nuclear test, a North Korean woman named Kim Sa Nae was shot to death a few yards from Khan’s official residence in an upscale neighborhood of Islamabad. Officially, Kim was identified as the wife of Kang Thae Yun, a midlevel diplomat at the North Korean Embassy.

More than a year later, though, Pakistani officials leaked word to Paul Watson and Mubashir Zaidi of the Los Angeles Times that Kim had actually been a member of a 20-person delegation of North Korean experts invited by Khan to witness the nuclear test and learn more about the construction of uranium-based nuclear bombs. Her supposed husband, Kang, officially the North Korean Embassy’s economic counselor, worked for North Korea’s state-run Changgwang Sinyong Corp., a company that continually featured in U.S. assessments of Pyongyang’s missile export business. His presence in Pakistan appears to have been linked to the trade of North Korean missiles for Pakistani uranium-enrichment technology.

Publicly, the Pakistani authorities said almost nothing about Kim’s death. When pressed, they offered vague and unconvincing accounts. One suggested she’d been accidentally killed when a gun belonging to a neighbor’s cook went off. Another said that a different neighbor had accidentally discharged a firearm while cleaning it. Privately, Pakistani intelligence sources told the journalists from the Los Angeles Times that Kim had been suspected of spying for the United States. Her contact with unnamed Western diplomats caught the attention of Pakistan’s Inter-Services Intelligence military intelligence service, which shared its suspicion with the North Korean Embassy. Her killing soon followed.

Pakistani officials told the reporters that three days after Kim’s death, her body was flown back to Pyongyang on a U.S.-built C-130 military cargo plane—the same kind of aircraft whose repeated flights into and out of North Korea from 1997 to 2002 had set off alarm bells among U.S. intelligence officials. The reporters were told that along with Kim’s body, the plane carried both P-1 and the more sophisticated P-2 centrifuges, drawings, sketches, and technical data for centrifuges and warhead designs, as well as depleted uranium hexafluoride gas, which can be converted into weapons-grade material in centrifuges.

Reportedly, the plane was a charter flight operated by Shaheen Air International, a company set up in 1993 and run by retired officers from the Pakistani Air Force. It may not have been a coincidence that one of Pakistan’s ballistic missiles was also called the Shaheen. Named after a white falcon celebrated in Persian literature, the medium-range missile could carry conventional or nuclear payloads of up to 2,200 pounds.

By June 2002, it became clear that the Khan network had provided North Korea with the “designs for Pakistan’s older centrifuges, and for newer, more efficient models,” Tenet wrote in At the Center of the Storm.

“What was happening was, we had massive amounts of raw intelligence—signals intelligence, human intelligence … on North Korea’s massive procurement efforts to buy everything they needed to develop nuclear weapons through uranium enrichment, based on the A.Q. Khan P-2 centrifuge model,” said one former senior official with access to the information. “And so the A.Q. Khan piece tipped us off that the North Koreans had gotten the blueprints to make one of these things, including a shopping list of what you need to make it.”

“He gave them designs,” added a senior U.S. military intelligence official. “He gave them actual functioning centrifuges, both type one and type two. I think that the deal was not just to give them the technology but also the drawings and all the components of the program as well as the know-how.”

In 2006, Musharraf confirmed that Khan had given the North Koreans “nearly two dozen” centrifuges, both the P-1 and the more advanced P-2. The designations P-1 and P-2 refer to two Pakistani types of centrifuges, one more sophisticated than the other.

The designs for both had been stolen by Khan when he was working at the Dutch company Urenco in the 1970s. While such a small number of centrifuges was far short of the thousands required for the cascades necessary for nuclear weapons, with Khan’s detailed list of the remaining components, North Korea was now in a position to procure the necessary equipment to produce a uranium bomb.

Mike Chinoy is a nonresident senior fellow at the University of Southern California’s U.S.-China Institute and a former senior Asia correspondent at CNN. He is the author of four books, including Meltdown: The Inside Story of the North Korean Nuclear Crisis, and has visited North Korea 17 times.

Iran on the threshold and nuclear war is next: Revelation 16

Iran on the threshold, but what next?

Israel must stop fighting the wars of the past and instead formulate a new approach, out of the box, in light of the new reality and Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state.

By Prof. Eyal Zisser Published on 10-10-2021 12:18 Last modified: 10-10-2021 12:18

While the world is still wondering if Iran will return to the negotiating table and sign a new nuclear deal; and while here, in Israel, the argument continues to rage over whether such an agreement serves Israel’s interests or not – Iran has already become a nuclear threshold power, a short distance of mere weeks from producing a bomb.

According to the most renowned experts, the only thing separating Iran from a nuclear weapon is a political decision from its leaders. Indeed, in recent years Iran has enriched enough uranium to make a bomb, and even if it hasn’t done so yet and hasn’t developed the ability to launch one on a ballistic missile, this is still just a technical matter requiring just a few weeks of effort, rather than an actual obstacle.

Iran could also choose not to declare it has a nuclear bomb, and suffice instead with a situation where everyone knows it is capable of building one. This would provide it the deterrence it desires, along with a whip to menace its enemies. And in the future, the moment it senses the time is right, it can turn its capabilities into an operational weapon.

Israel must stop fighting the wars of the past. The clandestine campaign Israel has waged, despite significantly delaying the Iranian project, has failed to stop it. Generally speaking, meanwhile, we need to admit that Iran has found counters to all of Israel’s moves – attacking ships under Israeli ownership in response to attacks attributed to Israel on Iranian oil tankers, or targeted attacks against Israeli businessmen across the globe in response to attacks on Iranian scientists on Iranian soil.

What’s needed, of course, is a new approach, out of the box, in light of the new reality and Iran’s status as a nuclear threshold state. Israel must also prepare for the moment that Iran declares, publicly for the world to hear, that it has a nuclear weapon.

A nuclear Iran is a problem, even an existential one. Israel, however, has dealt with deadlier threats before. We must keep in mind that Israel is ahead of Iran, and according to foreign reports acquired these capabilities in the 1960s. This is a significant gap, which led Shimon Peres, the father of Israel’s nuclear program, to say in the past that by flaunting the nuclear option Iran is first and foremost putting itself and its citizens in danger.

On the other hand, it’s important to emphasize Israel’s network of relations with Gulf states and other countries surrounding Iran, all of which feel threatened by the ayatollah regime. It’s not for nothing that the Iranians decried the possible Israeli security presence in Azerbaijan. Iran might be tough in Gaza or Yemen, but it too has a soft underbelly along its borders.

Unlike the cases in Iraq or Syria, it’s hard to know if it’s true that destroying Iran’s nuclear program is impossible militarily, as its facilities are dispersed, hidden and well protected across the country. The current challenge for the Israeli government, however, is to change its way of thinking and formulate a new strategy against Iran, and this will be its greatest test.

The Dangerous New Nuclear Race: Revelation 16

The Hypersonic Arms Race Is Ramping Up and That’s Dangerous

North Korea’s recent announcement that it test-launched a hypersonic missile brought hypersonic weapons back into the news. On the latest episode of Press the Button, Shannon Bugos, Research Associate at Arms Control Association, sats down with Michelle Dover to discuss the report “Understanding Hypersonic Weapons: Managing the Allure and the Risks,”  which she co-authored with Kingston Reif. They review the state of development for hypersonic missiles around the world and propose steps that would reduce the threats that these weapons pose.

Hypersonic weapons specifically refer to weapons that can reach speeds five times the speed of sound. Bugos and Reif’s report highlights the importance of examining hypersonic weapons’ role in the United States arsenal and the need to put these weapons under greater scrutiny. There is high uncertainty and a major lack of transparency around the need, risks, costs, and alternatives to these weapons.

 “Ultimately, what news of this test should do is highlight the need for more conversation about the hypersonic weapons capabilities under development and those already deployed among the nations who are pursuing these weapons,” says Bugos. Bugos questions the motivations behind the pursuit of hypersonic weapons. She says officials have focused less on the military benefits and more on the need to win the competition with China and Russia on the development of the technology.

“These different motivations raise questions about whether specific military requirements are driving U.S. development decisions,” Bugos continued.

The development of hypersonic weapons is turning into a new arms race between the nations developing them.

“This can surely be described as like a growing arms race, as each tries to best the other. This is dangerous,” Bugos continues. “Hypersonic weapons pose even further upsetting this already tense offense-defense relationship and perpetuating a competitive cycle of one-upmanship.” In other words, countries continuously introduce new weapons to defend themselves from an adversary, which leads the adversary to develop new weapons, and the cycle continues.

Bugos highlights other risks with hypersonic weapons. She mentions the risk of warhead ambiguity, when it is difficult for a country on the receiving end of a missile strike to know what type of warhead—nuclear or conventional—is likely to be on the missile. Such ambiguity risks turning a conventional war into a nuclear one. This is not unique to hypersonic weapons but is a particular challenge with these weapons because of their incredibly short flight times. Hypersonic weapons also increase target ambiguity (where a missile is intended to hit) and make it more challenging to manage the threats posed by other emerging technologies.

Shannon Bugos outlines steps to create more stability in this growing arms race. She argues “the pursuit of hypersonic arms control is increasingly important” especially “as these weapons transition from an emerging technology and are deployed in greater numbers and more diverse delivery platforms.” She proposes several potential steps, including confidence-building measures in which conventional and nuclear weapons are not located at the same site. Countries could also explore an agreement that caps the number of weapons allowed in each arsenal, similar to that of the New START Treaty. She also suggests canceling the Army’s hypersonic program, the Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon, given it is not a useful weapon for their mission. Lastly, she highlights that none of the arms control concepts will gain traction in “the absence of an active and productive dialogue and ultimately negotiation about hypersonic weapons.” In that case, it’s crucial that Russia, the United States, and China engage in regular, productive dialogue surrounding the nature of hypersonic weapons.

Bugos calls on Congress to demand answers about the pursuit of hypersonic weapons capabilities and suggests action steps Congress can take. One way Congress can affect change would be including the cancellation of the Army’s Long-Range Hypersonic Weapon program into the NDAA amendment process. She also suggests Congress requests reports from the Pentagon and Congressional Budget Office in order to analyze the effectiveness and costs of these systems. Altogether, it’s a timely conversation worth the listen.

Image: Reuters

A new war between America and Iran looms: Revelation 16

A new crisis between America and Iran looms

Talks to restore a nuclear deal are going badly. The alternatives are grim

Oct 10th 2021

THE FORMER French president, Nicolas Sarkozy, probably summed it up best: tough nuclear diplomacy with Iran, he said in 2007, was the best way to avoid the catastrophic choice between “an Iranian bomb or the bombing of Iran”. To escape this dilemma, President Joe Biden has been trying to revive the nuclear agreement with Iran that Barack Obama negotiated in 2015 and Donald Trump tore up three years later.

But Iran is not making it easy. It has refused to speak directly to American officials in the six rounds of talks in Vienna that ended in June (it negotiated instead with European, Russian and Chinese intermediaries). It has dragged its feet since—citing the presidential election in June that brought to power Ebrahim Raisi, a hardliner (pictured, during a visit to the Bushehr nuclear power plant); and the need to appoint new ministers and a negotiating team. Talks could resume in November, Iran says.

As though taunting America, Iran has stepped up its nuclear programme. On October 9th Iran said it had produced more than 120kg of 20% enriched uranium, sharply up from the 84kg reported by UN inspectors last month, and approaching the 170kg required to make a bomb after further enrichment. It is already spinning up a growing stock of 60% enriched fissile material, a hair’s breadth away from bomb-grade stuff. The acceleration has been helped by Iran’s deployment of more, and more sophisticated, centrifuges to purify the fissile material. Other alarming developments include the conversion of enriched uranium hexafluoride gas into uranium metal—for which the most likely use is in bombs—and the hampering of inspections by the UN’s International Atomic Energy Agency.

All told, Iran’s “breakout time”—the time it would need to make one bomb’s-worth of highly enriched uranium—has shrunk to about a month, calculates David Albright of the Institute for Science and International Security, a think-tank. American officials put it at “a few months”. Either way, it is much shorter than the year or more that the world enjoyed when the nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), was in force. (Putting a nuclear warhead on a missile would take perhaps another two years.)

Among Iran-watchers in Washington, there is a sense of foreboding about an approaching showdown. “The runway is getting shorter,” says Antony Blinken, the secretary of state. Unless progress is made soon, American officials say, they will have to turn to “other options”—without saying what these might be. Israel’s prime minister, Naftali Bennett, is blunter: “Iran’s nuclear programme has hit a watershed moment. And so has our tolerance,” he told the UN General Assembly last month. Israel makes little secret of its covert campaign to assassinate Iran’s nuclear scientists and sabotage its facilities. “Operations to destroy Iranian capabilities will continue—in various arenas and at any time,” said Israel’s military chief, Aviv Kochavi; Israel would always have “an effective and timely military response.”

The looming crisis was predictable from the day Donald Trump, Mr Biden’s predecessor, withdrew from the JCPOA, calling it “the worst deal ever”. The deal restricted the Iranian nuclear programme in exchange for the lifting of many, but not all, international economic sanctions. Mr Trump’s barrage of sanctions was intended to exert ”maximum pressure”. But it failed to compel Iran to accept more stringent terms. Nor did it halt its development of ballistic missiles, or its support for client militias around the Middle East.

Mr Biden campaigned on a promise to restore the JCPOA. In office, he retained most of Mr Trump’s sanctions in the hope of preserving America’s bargaining power. But as the nuclear programme accelerates, it is Iran that is now exerting “maximum pressure” on Mr Biden, argues Mark Fitzpatrick of the International Institute for Strategic Studies, a think-tank.

In Iran’s view, America has proven itself to be untrustworthy, as the supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei, has long warned. The economic benefits of the JCPOA were short-lived, and felt only in the cities. And Iran thinks it has withstood the worst economic pressure that America can apply. Sanctions, compounded by low oil prices and the covid-19 pandemic, have exacted a painful cost. Iran’s GDP contracted by 6% in 2018 and 7% in 2019. The rial has lost 85% of its value since 2017. Inflation is high and living standards have plunged.

This did not bring about the collapse of the clerical regime, as some in the Trump administration hoped. If anything it reinforced hardliners as the champions of “resistance”. As private firms floundered, those linked to the powerful Islamic Revolutionary Guards Corps (IRGC) flourished. The Guards have tried to boost their popularity through charitable work such as distributing food to the needy. But the regime has also resorted to the iron fist. Security forces shot dead hundreds of people to put down nationwide protests over the economy in 2019.

Now the economy is improving. The IMF estimated in April that Iran’s GDP would grow by 3% this year, and that was before the latest spike in oil prices. China has become the biggest buyer of Iran’s oil, and is unlikely to bow to America’s wishes. If anything, Iran is being incorporated into China’s globe-spanning Belt and Road infrastructure projects. Russia is talking of integrating Iran into a Eurasian trade group.

Regionally, too, Iran has become more powerful. To the west, it helped to save Bashar al-Assad’s regime in Damascus, and defended its friends in Baghdad from the jihadists of Islamic State. To the south, its Houthi allies in Sana’a have forced a Saudi-led military coalition to seek a way out of the war. And to the east, in Afghanistan, the Americans have been chased away by the Taliban, who are now on friendly terms with Iran.

President Biden has vowed that “Iran will never get a nuclear weapon on my watch”. Yet Iran knows that he wants to disentangle America from the “forever wars” in the Muslim world, and will be loth to fight a new one over Iran’s nukes. Gulf kingdoms have started trying to patch up relations with Iran.

Iran claims it seeks to build only a nuclear-power industry. But it seems determined at least to develop the wherewithal to make nuclear bombs at short notice. The JCPOA was hardly a permanent solution to the problem. It sought to postpone the reckoning. It allowed Iran to continue enrichment and experiment with more sophisticated centrifuges, but under tight limits. “Sunset clauses” would remove most of these restrictions after eight, ten and 15 years (a tightened inspection regime would go on indefinitely). These compromises provoked intense opposition by the Republicans and parts of the Democratic Party, whipped up by Mr Bennett’s predecessor, Binyamin Netanyahu.

The Biden administration at first sought an agreement that would be “longer and stronger” than the original JCPOA. Iran, arguing that America had to make up for its reneging on the deal, has also demanded better terms, not least that America should move first by lifting all Trump-era sanctions and that it should guarantee that the deal will not be repudiated again.

Such a more-for-more deal seems beyond reach. The likeliest option is what Mr Blinken calls “a mutual return to compliance with the JCPOA”. But that is losing its appeal, too. Even if stocks of highly-enriched uranium are shipped out of Iran, and centrifuges are dismantled, Iran has acquired valuable know-how that cannot be unlearnt. Mr Albright thinks the JCPOA can no longer restore the one-year breakout time. Moreover, the sunset clauses mean that Iran would be allowed to expand its enrichment programme starting in 2025. Iran knows that the Democrats could lose control of Congress next year, and of the White House in 2024.

Although the Biden administration does not intend to submit any agreement with Iran for congressional approval (just as the Obama administration skirted Congress with the JCPOA), hawkish congressmen are trying to find ways to oblige it to do so. Mr Biden will be hoping that some opponents, having seen the dangerous consequences of an unconstrained Iran, will support a deal. And if the talks fail after a good-faith effort to revive the accord, it thinks it will be easier to secure European support to tighten sanctions. Under Mr Bennett Israel has acquiesced to the talks for now; some Israeli officials even see merit in the JCPOA. But some are privately expressing dismay about the apparent lack of an American Plan B, including military options. One idea floated by Israel is a strategy of “death by a thousand cuts”—conducting many small military and diplomatic actions, short of overt air strikes on Iran.

Jim Risch, the senior Republican on the Senate foreign-relations committee, warns Mr Biden that a revived JCPOA is bound to be repudiated by a future Republican president. His answer? Tighten the economic noose, and prepare for the worst. “If the Iranians get close to getting nuclear weapons, this administration needs to think: what are they going to do when they get the call from the Israelis?”

The Iranian nuclear horn continues to grow: Daniel 8

Iran Claims Larger Than Expected Stockpile Of 20 Percent Enriched Uranium

Iran’s nuclear chief has said Tehran has far more enriched uranium than what the UN’s nuclear inspectors reported just last month.

Speaking on Iranian state television late on October 9, Mohammad Eslami said Iran has 120 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium.

In September, the International Atomic Energy Agency estimated Iran’s stockpile to be 84.3 kilograms.

It takes about 170 kilograms of 20 percent enriched uranium to build a nuclear weapon. Most nuclear weapons, however, use enriched uranium above 90 percent.

Under the terms of a 2015 deal between Iran and the international community, Tehran is barred from enriching uranium beyond 3.67 percent. In return, the other signatories agreed to provide Iran with 20 percent enriched uranium for its research reactor.

“But it was not delivered,” Eslami said. “If we did not produce it by ourselves, this would have become a problem.”

The nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), gave Iran sanctions relief in exchange for limits on its nuclear program. Tehran insists its nuclear program is peaceful.

In 2018, the United States unilaterally withdrew from the agreement and reimposed sanctions, saying the JCPOA failed to address Iran’s ballistic-missile program or Tehran’s support for terrorist groups in the Middle East.

Since the U.S. withdrawal, the other signatories — Britain, France, Germany, China, and Russia — have tried to preserve it.

U.S. President Joe Biden has said he is open to rejoining the JCPOA, but talks with Iran have not produced clear results.

The father of the Pakistani nuclear bomb dies

Abdul Qadeer Khan, father of Pakistan’s nuclear programme, passes away

A.Q. Khan, a scientist known as the father of Pakistan’s clandestine nuclear programme, passed away here on Sunday after a brief illness. He was 85.

The nuclear physicist faced criticism in 2004 when he was forced to accept responsibility for nuclear technology proliferation and was forced to live a life of official house arrest.

Khan, who was born in 1936 in Bhopal and migrated to Pakistan along with his family after the Partition in 1947, breathed his last at about 7.00 a.m. (local time) at Khan Research Laboratories (KRL) Hospital.

Geo News reported that Khan was brought to the hospital early in the morning after he faced difficulty in breathing.

According to doctors, Khan’s health deteriorated after bleeding in his lungs. He could not survive after his lungs collapsed.

Interior Minister Sheikh Rasheed said that all efforts were made to save his life.

Condoling his death, President Arif Alvi said on Twitter: “Deeply saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. Abdul Qadeer Khan. Had known him personally since 1982. He helped us develop nation-saving nuclear deterrence, and a grateful nation will never forget his services in this regard…”.

Prime Minister Imran Khan said that he was “deeply saddened by the passing of Dr A Q Khan”.

“He was loved by our nation bec of his critical contribution in making us a nuclear weapon state. This has provided us security against an aggressive much larger nuclear neighbour. For the people of Pakistan he was a national icon (sic),” he said in a tweet.

Defence Minister Pervez Khattak said he was “deeply grieved” over his death and called it a “great loss”.

“Pakistan will forever honour his services to the nation! The nation is heavily indebted to him for his contributions in enhancing our defence capabilities,” he said.

Khan, considered as the father of Pakistan’s nuclear bomb, is revered at home as a hero.

Radio Pakistan reported that Khan played an important role in making Pakistan a nuclear power and that his services for defence of the country will be remembered for a long time.

Khan lived as semi-secluded in Islamabad’s posh neighbourhood of E-7 sector under the watch of security agencies since 2004.

Later, he retracted his statement, which he said was made under duress exercised by then military dictator Gen. Pervez Musharraf.

He said Pakistan would never have achieved the feat of becoming first Muslim nuclear country without his “services”.

Referring to the treatment meted out to him during under Gen. Musharraf, Khan said nuclear scientists in the country have not been given the respect that they deserve.

In 2009, the Islamabad High Court declared Khan to be a free citizen of Pakistan, allowing him free movement inside the country.

In May 2016, Khan had said that Pakistan could have become a nuclear power as early as 1984 but the then President, General Zia ul Haq —who was Pakistan’s President from 1978 to 1988 — “opposed the move”.

In a 2018 book “Pakistan’s Nuclear Bomb: A Story of Defiance, Deterrence And Deviance”, Pakistani-American scholar and academic Hassan Abbas has highlighted Khan’s involvement in nuclear proliferation in Iran, Libya and North Korea.

He wrote that the origins and evolution of the Khan network were tied to the domestic and international political motivations underlying Pakistan’s nuclear weapons project.

The writer also examined the role of China and Saudi Arabia in supporting its nuclear infrastructure. Khan is reported to have intimate links with China’s nuclear establishment.

Funeral prayers will be offered at 3 p.m. (local time) at the Faisal Mosque in Islamabad, according to officials.