July 01, 2021

Don’t Panic About China’s New Nuclear Capabilities

James Acton | Washington Post

Wednesday morning, new evidence emerged that China is expanding its nuclear arsenal. Specifically, researchers at the Center for Nonproliferation Studies have identified the construction of about 119 new silos, most likely for China’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile, known as the DF-41. Previously, only 16 silos at a different site had been identified. The news is likely to fuel the narrative that China is expanding its nuclear capabilities dramatically. But worst-case assumptions have usually been wrong when it comes to China’s nuclear weapon program. There are good reasons to suppose that they’ll also be off-the-mark in this case.

 

Satellite Photos Show China Expanding Its Mysterious Desert Airfield

Geoff Brumfiel | NPR

It inspires comparisons to Area-51: A massive, three-mile-long runway in a remote patch of Chinese desert, hundreds of miles from any cities. Now, it looks like the site is undergoing an expansion. Satellite imagery from the commercial company Maxar supplied exclusively to NPR shows around a dozen large concrete buildings under construction near the landing strip. The buildings mark a significant change at the airfield, which up until now lacked much in the way of permanent accommodation. “I think we’re observing what appears to be a pretty important facility for China's military space activities that appears to be growing,” says Ankit Panda, a senior fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace who tracks space issues there.

 

Iran Diplomacy Nerves Fray as Atomic Talks Run Into Summer

Jonathan Tirone | Bloomberg

Diplomats negotiating for months over Iran’s nuclear program now face the prospect of new delays and rising risk that they’ll fail to resurrect a landmark deal between the Islamic Republic and world powers. Envoys won’t reconvene as planned this week in Vienna and aren’t sure when a seventh round of diplomacy will be scheduled, according to four officials who asked not to be identified discussing the talks.

 

Iran Restricts IAEA Access to Main Enrichment Plant After Attack -Diplomats

Josh Irish and Francois Murphy | Reuters

Iran has been restricting U.N. nuclear inspectors’ access to its main uranium enrichment plant at Natanz, citing security concerns after what it says was an attack on the site by Israel in April, diplomats say. The standoff, which one official said has been going on for weeks, is in the course of being resolved, diplomats said, but it has also raised tensions with the West just as indirect talks between Iran and the United States on reviving the Iran nuclear deal have adjourned without a date set for their resumption.

 

NK Leader Vows to Elevate Relations With China to New Strategic Point

Koh Byung-joon | Yonhap News Agency

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un vowed to elevate relations with China to a new strategic point as he sent a congratulatory message to Chinese President Xi Jinping to mark the 100th anniversary of the Communist Party of China, state media said Thursday. In an apparent reference to the deepening Sino-U.S. rivalry, Kim also said in the message that “hostile forces” are engaged in “vicious slander and all-round pressure” upon China, but they can “never check the on-going advance of the Chinese people,” according to the Korean Central News Agency (KCNA).

 

Nuclear Weapon Skeptics Face Turbulent Path to Rein in the Pentagon

Sara Sirota | The Intercept

The Pentagon is hell-bent on securing funds to develop a brand new suite of nuclear weapons to replace its Cold War-era arsenal, with the federal government projecting expenditures of $190 billion through 2030 to modernize powerful missiles, warheads, bombers, and submarines originally conceived at the height of a nuclear arms race with the Soviet Union. The few Democrats who stand opposed to the nuclear spending frenzy have so far struggled to drum up support with their colleagues on Capitol Hill.