Iran Unveils Next Generation Missile
Iran asserts that “this missile is one of the most precise and advanced land-to-land ballistic missiles using solid fuel,” but experts are skeptical given Iran’s history of embellishing its missile capabilities.
Clean Up or Cover Up?
Military personnel at Parchin, the Iranian military base that has been the subject of repeated IAEA inquiries, seem to be in the midst of a sanitation effort designed to obscure past nuclear activity at that installation. IAEA Director General Yukiya Amano has warned that the cleanup at Parchin may potentially “hamper our future verification activities.”
The IAEA and Iran failed on Friday to reach an agreement on Iran’s nuclear program. “The discussions today were intensive,” asserted IAEA chief inspector Herman Nackaerts, “but important differences remain.” Iran’s Ambassador to the IAEA Ali Asghar Soltanieh stated that “undoubtedly some progress” was made, though Nackaerts stated that “at the moment we have no plans for another meeting.”
More to Qum
The IAEA is expected to report soon that Iran has increased the number of centrifuges at the Qum facility from 700 to 1,500, according to U.S. officials. In the context of the latest talks between the U.N nuclear watchdog and Iran, the report could contribute to international concerns over Iran’s nuclear program.
Projecting North Korea’s Future Nuclear Arsenal
As the international community focuses on Iran’s nuclear program, experts have asserted that North Korea may have enough fuel for 48 nuclear warheads by 2015. The Institute for Science and International Security explores the scenarios, which range from 25 weapons, two more than the North’s present arsenal, to nearly twice that amount with the help of additional centrifuges.
North Korea Making Strides on Nuclear Reactor
Satellite imagery has confirmed that North Korea is moving ahead with the construction of a light-water reactor. Located at the Yongbyon complex, the reactor has been under construction for the past two years and many western analysts are concerned that the reactor may be used to enrich uranium for nuclear weapons. Still, Allison Puccioni, an analyst at IHS Jane’s Defense Weekly, notes that “it may take several more years for the facility to be completed and brought into full operation.”
The New York Times reports that China is moving ahead with plans to develop a next generation of intercontinental ballistic missiles. The planned expansion of U.S. missile defense in Asia are said to influence China’s strategic planning, though the U.S. insists that the missile defense shield is directed at North Korea.
Putin’s Quid pro Quo
Last Friday Russian President Vladimir Putin indicated that he would be open for future nuclear reductions, beyond what is envisaged by the New Start treaty. However, he made clear that the U.S. must first reassess its plans for an expanded missile defense system in Europe.
State Department Panel: Improve Ties with Russia
In a report published last Tuesday, the State Department’s International Security Advisory Board recommended that the U.S. should seek a relationship with Russia “in which nuclear weapons are no longer a central feature for their security.” While the report notes that achieving this goal will be difficult, it envisions a future relationship based upon economic integration and a “mutual understanding of each other’s motivation for the possession of nuclear weapons.”