Slow Centrifuge March Continues
Iranian state media reports that Iran is building 3,000 advanced centrifuges to be installed in its Natanz enrichment facility. Iran has for years been attempting to replace its outdated and obsolete centrifuges at Natanz but has been delayed by technical flaws.
Iran’s refusal to allow IAEA inspectors access to the Parchin military facility, suspected site of past explosives research, is hindering the IAEA investigation of Iran’s nuclear program, Yukiya Amano, head of the IAEA, told the agency’s governing board. Meanwhile, in travels to the Middle East, Secretary of State John Kerry said “there is a finite amount of time” for the P5+1 and Iran to come to an agreement through negotiations.
Who Drills Better?
North Korea has begun preparing military exercises in reaction to drills that are simultaneously occurring between South Korea and the U.S. The fake war games, which occur annually, have typically induced condemnation from North Korea. Both sides are more on edge due to the North’s recent nuclear test which provoked international criticism. North Korea is reportedly preparing for its largest display of conventional weaponry to date, and will most likely be the third incident to incite the international community (following its December missile launch and February nuclear test).
Playing Both Sides
Despite its quick and resolute condemnation of North Korea’s third nuclear test in February, China has continued its plans of a bilateral free trade zone with its neighbor. North Korea’s biggest trading partner and only powerful diplomatic ally, China has managed to appease the international community by joining the condemnation for the nuclear test, but has maintained domestic relations with Pyongyang. The free trade zone called Rason (or Ranjin-Songbong) has expansive plans to include a power grid, cement manufacturing, and railways, though construction of these projects has not yet been implemented.
Resetting the Russian Relationship
The White House has confirmed that President Obama will attend the G-20 summit in St. Petersburg in September and will meet with Russian President Putin in June for the G-8 talks in Ireland. The two countries have had an unsteady relationship for the past year, yet there is hope that the goal of nonproliferation will bring the two leaders together.
Modern Day Trojan Horse
“Nuclear challenges have changed over the past twenty years, but they have not disappeared. The likelihood of nuclear conflict between the Cold War superpowers has decreased, but the threat of nuclear terrorism is very real”, says ASP’s Kevin Lalama. A full outbreak of nuclear war is not a future that many foresee, however, a terrorist organization with its hands on a nuclear weapon is much more plausible. The U.S.’s main vulnerability? Our ports. Under current government monitoring agencies, fewer than half of all incoming shipping containers were scanned for nuclear devices.