IAEA chief “unable to report any progress” with Iran
Speaking before the IAEA governing board Yukiya Amano, head of the U.N. nuclear agency, stated that he is “unable to report any progress on clarifying the issues relating to possible military dimensions to Iran’s nuclear program.” Amano focused specifically on the Parchin military complex, stating that “extensive activities” have impeded the agency’s inquiry. The IAEA chief did reaffirm his desire to “seize the opportunity for a diplomatic solution” with Iran.
A diagram purported to show computer simulations of a nuclear detonation augmented international suspicions that Iran was seeking to develop a nuclear weapon. Allegedly created between 2008 and 2009 the diagram illustrates an explosion three times as powerful as the nuclear weapon detonated on Hiroshima. Independent analysts however, doubt the authenticity of the diagram. Two such experts suggest that the diagram indicates “either slipshod analysis or an amateurish hoax” and compare it to work found in an undergraduate-level physics course. As they write, “the world can keep calm and carry on.” The Associated Press did issue a correction of their original story.
The IAEA reported last week that information was stolen from of one of its old servers and posted online. It was not immediately clear who was responsible for the hacking. During a press conference IAEA head Yukiya Amano called the incident “regrettable” but assured the public “We believe confidential safeguards information has not been compromised.”
North Korea constructing new nuclear reactor
According to the IAEA, North Korea has continued to construct a new “light water reactor.” IAEA director Yukia Amano has stated that the agency “remains unable to determine the reactor’s design features or the likely date for its commissioning.” The IAEA has been monitoring the construction of this facility for some time and this summer noted that “significant progress” had been achieved. Amano told the IAEA governing board that he is “seriously concerned” about the North Korean nuclear program.
North Korea to launch rocket
North Korea reportedly plans to launch a long-range rocket in mid-December. As of Monday the first stage of the rocket was already positioned on the Sohae launch pad. China and Russia have voiced their concerns and urged the North to forgo the launch. The planned launch precedes the December 19 presidential elections in South Korea, in which two candidates have campaigned on increased engagement with the North. The North maintains that the launch is strictly “peaceful” and “scientific.”
Symposium celebrates 20 years of Nunn-Lugar program
A symposium will be held at the National Defense University on Monday marking twenty years of the Nunn-Lugar Cooperative Threat Reduction program. President Obama will provide the keynote address which “will note the extraordinary progress that’s been made in securing nuclear material.” Senators Richard Lugar and Sam Nunn will receive the Department of Defense Medal for Distinguished Public Service.
Brzezinski on containing Iran
Last week Zbigniew Brzezinski called a military strike on Iran “the worst option” and “an act of utter irresponsibility.” Brzezinski suggested that a policy “modeled on” a containment strategy may prove a more prudent course of action, noting that it was “the least bad” option should negotiations fail. The former national security advisor also reaffirmed his support for a diplomatic solution to the standoff with Iran.
DoD to upgrade nuclear bomb
Recently the Department of Defense agreed to a 3 year, $178 million contract with Boeing to upgrade the tail of the B61 nuclear bomb. The total cost for modernizing the entire weapon is estimated to be $10 billion. This, as Noah Shachtman of Danger Room notes, as “the Pentagon is facing its worst cash crunch in more than a decade.”