Iran and North Korea deepen relations
Under the framework of a recent agreement, North Korea has increased its sale of scientific technology and arms to Iran in return for cash and oil. While the agreement provides for cooperation “in research, student exchanges, and joint laboratories,” as well as “information technology, engineering, biotechnology [and] renewable energy,” it is unclear if Iran is transferring centrifuge components to North Korea. Indeed, potential transfer of nuclear material or technology between the two countries has exacerbated international concerns over the budding relationship.
Britain, France, Germany call for new Iran sanctions
Catherine Ashton, the European Union’s foreign policy chief, has reportedly received letters from representatives of Britain, France, and Germany calling for new EU sanctions to be imposed on Iran. One source indicated that while the EU is committed to a negotiated settlement, “we cannot accept nuclear weapons in the hands of Iran.” The possibility of new sanctions will be discussed during a meeting of European foreign ministers on October 15.
Nuclear Security and Nonproliferation
U.S., New Zealand seek to end nuclear standoff
During his recent trip to New Zealand Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta rescinded the decades-old ban on New Zealand ships docking at U.S. military bases. The ban was initially enacted in response to New Zealand’s refusal to allow any American naval ship carrying nuclear weapons or powered by nuclear energy to dock at its ports. Although the ban on American ships persists, Panetta remarked, “We are embarking on a new course that will not let these differences stand in the way of greater engagement on security issues.”
Continued fallout from Y-12 breach
As the reverberations from the security breach at the Y-12 complex continue to work their way through Washington, Representative Mike Turner, chairman of the House Armed Services Committee, has proposed legislation that would transfer responsibility for securing the facility from the private sector to the Department of Defense. Thus far the bill has six other Republican cosponsors. As Turner stated, “The fact that this vulnerability is so widely known has got to be addressed.”
Nuclear smugglers receive reduced sentences for aiding CIA
Three Swiss engineers who participated in an international nuclear smuggling ring will receive reduced punishments because of their role in helping the CIA unravel the illicit proliferation network of Pakistani scientist A.Q. Khan. Although the three individuals participated in Khan’s network, in 2003 they notified the CIA of an impending nuclear transfer to Libya, which was seized and eventually motivated Libya to renounce its nuclear program.
United Nations General Assembly
Iranian nuclear chief at UNGA
Speaking before the IAEA’s general conference last week Fereydoun Abbasi, Iran’s nuclear chief, asserted that “terrorists and saboteurs” have infiltrated the U.N. nuclear agency; citing two alleged acts of sabotage at Iranian nuclear facilities as justification for his claim. Abbasi also stated that Iran has improved its defenses against cyber and conventional attacks. IAEA director Yukiya Amano met with Abbasi following Abbasi’s criticism of the agency and reaffirmed the IAEA’s commitment to “continued dialogue.”
UNSC agrees not to nuke…Mongolia?
Last week the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council reaffirmed their October 2000 pledge not to use nuclear weapons. In return, Mongolia has been a member to the Non-Proliferation Treaty and has strictly observed all of its provisions. The UNSC also recognized Mongolia as a nuclear weapons free state.