April 01, 2021

U.N.: ‘Highly Likely’ North Korea Can Mount Nuclear Warheads on Missiles

Thomas Maresca | UPI

A report from a United Nations panel of experts found that North Korea has continued to fund its weapons program through illicit means such as smuggling and cyberattacks and concluded that the secretive state can probably arm its ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads. “[I]t is highly likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on the intercontinental ballistic missiles, and it is also likely that a nuclear device can be mounted on the medium-range ballistic missiles and short-range ballistic missiles,” the report, released Wednesday, said. However, the report said it remains uncertain whether North Korea “had developed ballistic missiles resistant to the heat generated during re-entry.”

 

Iran Adds Advanced Machines Enriching Underground at Natanz: IAEA

Francois Murphy | Reuters

Iran has begun enriching uranium with a fourth cascade, or cluster, of advanced IR-2m machines at its underground Natanz plant, a report by the U.N. atomic watchdog showed, in a further breach of its 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. It was the latest of many steps by Iran raising pressure on U.S. President Joe Biden with the two sides in a standoff over who should move first to salvage a deal that was meant to curb Iran’s ability to develop a nuclear bomb, if it so intended.

 

U.S. Seeks to Revive Iran Talks by Working Through Allies

David Wainer | Bloomberg

Secretary of State Antony Blinken is discussing options with European allies to revive the Iran nuclear accord “through a series of initial and mutual steps,” State Department spokesman Ned Price told reporters Wednesday. Blinken explored the possibilities with the allies during meetings in Brussels last week, Price said, adding that the U.S. remains committed to a joint return to the multinational nuclear deal that President Donald Trump abandoned. “Those discussions have been ongoing about the best way to achieve compliance,” Price said. “We have been looking at options of doing so, including through indirect conversations with European partners.”

 

Satellite Image Shows Renewed Activity at North Korean Nuclear Lab

Andrea Mitchell, Dan De Luce and Abigail Williams | NBC News

Satellite images show renewed activity at a North Korean nuclear facility, suggesting that Kim Jong Un’s regime is preparing to start or has already started reprocessing plutonium for nuclear weapons, experts say. The commercial satellite photos show steam or smoke rising from a small building at the Yongbyon Radiochemistry Laboratory and from an adjacent thermal plant. The lab reprocesses spent fuel rods to extract plutonium for nuclear bombs.

 

Australia to Build Guided Missiles to Boost Defense Capacity

Nick Perry | AP

Australia announced Wednesday it would begin building its own guided missiles in close collaboration with the U.S. as it seeks to boost its defense capabilities. The news comes amid growing unease in the Pacific region about China’s increasing assertiveness and military abilities. Citing the “changing global environment,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison said it would partner with a weapons manufacturer to build the missiles in a plan that would create thousands of jobs as well as export opportunities. Morrison said it would initially spend 1 billion Australian dollars ($761 million) on the plan as part of a huge 10-year investment in defense and the defense industry.

 

The Unavoidable Technology: How Artificial Intelligence Can Strengthen Nuclear Stability

Jessica Cox and Heather Williams | The Washington Quarterly

Despite the potential risks inherent with adopting AI in nuclear systems, many of the potential benefits to both deterrence and arms control have been overlooked or ignored. Additionally, many in the nuclear policy community rely on the most extreme negative examples to make the case that AI is too dangerous to adopt into nuclear policies and practices. These views are short-sighted and ignore the reality that AI will increasingly play a role in all aspects of our civil and military policies—and that potential great power competitors such as China and Russia are investing heavily in AI-related military technology. The broader nuclear policy community should therefore start thinking now about how to harness the power of AI as a tool for greater stability, transparency, and security as well as steps that can be put in place to mitigate the most significant risk factors.