June 09, 2022

U.S. Warns North Korea Preparing Nuclear Test, Considering Use of Tactical Nuclear Weapon

Olivia Gazis, Elizabeth Palmer, and Tucker Reals | CBS News

The top U.S. diplomat tasked with handling the standoff with North Korea said Tuesday that the isolated regime of Kim Jong Un was “preparing” to conduct its seventh nuclear weapons test. The U.S. State Department’s Special Representative, Sung Kim, told reporters he had no “specific information about the exact timing” of the test. South Korean media have speculated it could happen by the end of the week. Some analysts point to June 12 as a potential date — the anniversary of the first meeting between Kim Jong Un and former President Donald Trump. Special Representative Sung Kim declined to specify how the U.S. or its allies might react to a new nuclear test, but said Washington would take action in close cooperation with its partners and the U.N. Security Council. Earlier this week, while traveling in the region, Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman said any response would be “swift and forceful,” but she also declined to elaborate.

Iran Removing 27 Surveillance Cameras at Nuclear Sites: IAEA

Al Jazeera

Iran has started to remove 27 surveillance cameras from nuclear sites in the country, according to the head of the United Nations nuclear watchdog, who warned that the move could be a near-fatal blow to chances of reviving the 2015 Iran nuclear deal Rafael Grossi, the director general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), made the comments at a suddenly called news conference in Vienna on Thursday, standing next to an example of the cameras installed across Iran. Grossi said the move poses a “serious challenge” to its efforts, warning that in three to four weeks, it would be unable to maintain a “continuity of knowledge” about Iran’s programme.

New US Nuclear-Missile Submarines Hobbled by Billions in Growing Costs and Delays

Anthony Capaccio | Bloomberg

The US Navy’s two newest submarine programs have been hampered by growing costs, poor contractor performance and delays in the last year, according to an assessment by congressional auditors. Costs for the 12-vessel Columbia class, the US’s next nuclear-missile submarine, have grown by $3.4 billion to a projected $112 billion before the first planned deployment in 2031, the Government Accountability Office said in its latest annual report on major US weapons systems.

Cotton Nominated to Lead US Strategic Command, Two New Leaders Tapped for MAJCOMS

Greg Hadley | Air Force Magazine

Less than a year after he was nominated to head Air Force Global Strike Command, Gen. Anthony J. Cotton is in line for another promotion, as President Joe Biden has nominated him to be the next leader of U.S. Strategic Command, the Pentagon announced June 8. If confirmed, Cotton would succeed Adm. Charles “Chas” A. Richard in commanding STRATCOM, which is responsible for strategic deterrence, nuclear operations, joint electromagnetic spectrum operations, and missile defense, among other mission areas.

Defence Faces Budget Blowout With Aukus Nuclear Submarines to Cost More Than Scrapped French Project

Daniel Hurst | The Guardian

The Albanese government faces the prospect of a blowout in defence spending, with analysts warning that the nuclear-powered submarines will cost “significantly more” than the cancelled $90bn French project. A new report has also questioned whether the Australian defence force would be able to meet a target to increase the number of uniformed personnel by 20,000 over the next 20 years, given that it is averaging net annual growth of only 300. Australia’s total defence funding stood at $48.6bn this financial year, or 2.11% of GDP.

US Seeks $4.3 Billion for Uranium to Wean Off Russia Supply

Ari Natter | Bloomberg

The Biden administration is pushing lawmakers to support a $4.3 billion plan to buy enriched uranium directly from domestic producers to wean the US off Russian imports of the nuclear-reactor fuel, according to a person familiar with the matter. Shares of uranium companies surged. Energy Department officials have met with key congressional staff, where they said such funding is urgently needed, said the person, who wasn’t authorized to publicly discuss the information. Energy officials made the case that any interruption in the supply of enriched Russian uranium could cause operational disruptions at commercial nuclear reactors, the person said. US nuclear energy industry participants have also been briefed on the proposal, said a second person familiar with the details. The plan requires approval from Congress.