February 07, 2019

UN Experts: North Korea Nukes Intact, Dispersing Missiles

Edith Lederer | Miami Herald  

North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programs “remain intact” and its leaders are dispersing missile assembly and testing facilities to prevent “decapitation” strikes, U.N. experts said in a new report. The experts' report to the Security Council, seen Tuesday by The Associated Press, says the country continues to defy U.N. economic sanctions, including through “a massive increase in illegal ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products and coal.” The Democratic People's Republic of Korea — the country's official name — also continues to violate an arms embargo, a ban on luxury goods and financial sanctions, the experts said.

Russia Conducts Test of Nuclear-Powered Cruise Missile

Ankit Panda  | Diplomat

Russia conducted a partially successful test of its developmental nuclear-powered cruise missile, the Burevestnik, on January 29, 2019, according to U.S. government sources with knowledge of Russia’s weapons programs who spoke to the The Diplomat. The test took place at Russia’s Kapustin Yar missile test range and is the thirteenth to date involving the missile. The test marks the first involving the Burevestnik in nearly one year. The missile had not been tested since February 2018. According to one source, U.S. intelligence assesses that Russia’s development efforts on the missile continues. The United States intelligence community internally calls the missile the KY30 or the SSC-X-9 SKYFALL. The Burevestnik was first tested at Kapustin Yar in June 2016. According to U.S. military intelligence, only one test of the missile has been moderately successful to date. That test took place in November 2017 from Russia’s Pank’ovo test site in Novaya Zemlya and resulted in recovery mission involving specialized Russian ship crews to retrieve the missile’s debris and nuclear materials from the Barents Sea after a crash.

The INF Quandary: Preventing a Nuclear Arms Race in Europe: Perspectives from the U.S., Russia, and Germany

William Tobey, Pavel Zolotarev, and Ulrich Kuhn | Russia Matters

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces, or INF, Treaty, signed by U.S. President Ronald Reagan and Soviet Communist Party General Secretary Mikhail Gorbachev in 1987, was a profound achievement. It was the first bilateral nuclear arms control treaty to ban an entire class of weapons. It contained verification innovations such as continuous perimeter-portal monitoring. The diplomatic and technical experience gained from the treaty made possible the first Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START I) and the Treaty on Conventional Armed Forces in Europe, or CFE. Most importantly, the INF Treaty reversed dangerous military trends in Europe that had left both sides less secure than they had been before such systems were deployed.

Russian Official: Another Nuclear Pact with U.S. in Trouble

Vladimir Isachenkov | Associated Press

Another U.S.-Russian nuclear pact is in danger following the U.S. move to withdraw from a Cold War-era arms control treaty, a senior Russian diplomat said Thursday. Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov charged that the U.S. refusal to negotiate an extension to the New Start treaty signals Washington’s intention to let it expire in 2021. He warned that time is running out to save the pact, which was signed in 2010 by U.S. President Barack Obama and Russian President Dmitry Medvedev. Ryabkov said that the U.S. has shown “no readiness or desire” to engage in substantive talks on extending the pact, which limits each country to no more than 1,550 deployed nuclear warheads and 700 deployed missiles and bombers.

Is China About to Abandon its ‘No First Use’ Nuclear Weapons Policy?

Minnie Chan and Kristin Huang | South China Morning Post

Nuclear competition is brewing between the two countries as China makes gains in weapons development and Washington tries to limit Beijing’s military build-up in the South China Sea. The United States is still decades ahead in nuclear weapons development but a successful test late last year of China’s new submarine-launched ballistic missile, the JL-3, is cause for concern in Washington. The test signals that China is moving ahead with a new class of strategic submarines called SSBNs, vessels that could be equipped with nuclear-armed JL-3s and that would be more difficult to detect than conventional land-based nuclear weapons.

Russia Bids Farewell to INF Treaty with Fresh Nuclear Development Plans

Matthew Bodner | Defense News

It didn’t take long following the United States' announcement that the country would suspend its participation in a major Cold War arms treaty for Russia to move in kind. Now, freed of its obligations under the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, Moscow is wasting no time in developing new, once-prohibited weapons systems. In a meeting of Russian military leaders in Moscow on Tuesday, Defence Minister Sergei Shoigu passed down the word from the Kremlin: Develop, by 2020, “a ground-based version of the sea-based Kalibr system with a long-range cruise missile,” Shoigu said, “and in the same period, we will create a ground-based missile system with a long-range hypersonic rocket.”Kalibr, a Russian cruise missile analogous to the American Tomahawk missile, has seen effective use in Syria and is being deployed across a wide variety of Russian naval platforms. As for the hypersonic system, there has been confusion as to which weapons project he was referring — Shoigu described the system in two different ways