New satellite images suggest North Korea would not be ready to conduct a nuclear test before U.S. President Obama leaves the region this week.
Space-based surveillance photographs taken as recently as April 19 show an uptick in activity at the North’s Punggye-ri testing grounds compared to early March, according to a Tuesday analysis by the expert website 38 North. That has led to some media conjecture that Pyongyang intends to carry out its fourth atomic test while Obama visits South Korea on Friday and Saturday.
The 38 North analysis acknowledges “that may be possible but appears unlikely,” based on a reading of the commercial satellite images and takeaways from previous atomic detonations by the North.
“Recent operations at Punggye-ri have not reached the high level of intensity — in terms of vehicle, personnel and equipment movement — that occurred in the weeks prior to past detonations,” said 38 North, which is a project of the U.S.-Korea Institute at Johns Hopkins University. “Moreover, other possible indicators … such as communications vans and a satellite dish intended to transmit pre-test data, have not been spotted.”
According to the analysis, there is a chance the increased activity is related to maintenance work made possible by improved weather conditions.
Pyongyang has repeated threats in recent weeks that it is prepared to carry out a “new” kind of nuclear test, which might allude to a different form of device or multiple trial blasts.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, in a Wednesday phone conversation with Chinese President Xi Jinping, urged him to work harder to persuade Pyongyang not to carry out another nuclear test, Agence France-Presse reported.
However, the Kim Jong Un regime on Wednesday blasted Park’s lobbying efforts, the Yonhap News Agency reported.
Seoul “should not even dream that we will be coaxed into laying down our nuclear” weapon efforts by words alone, Pyongyang’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea said in a statement.
- 1 The 1 Easy Way Donald Trump Could Have Been Even Richer: Doing Nothing
- 2 Trump Couldn’t Possibly Win—Except That He Probably Will
- 3 The RNC’s Shifting Targets
- 4 How 3D-Printed Guns Violate International Arms Controls (or Maybe Not)
- 5 Poll: Majority of Republican Men Support Universal Background Checks on Gun Sales
What We're Following See More »
Foreign Policy takes a look at the future of mining the estimated "100,000 near-Earth objects—including asteroids and comets—in the neighborhood of our planet. Some of these NEOs, as they’re called, are small. Others are substantial and potentially packed full of water and various important minerals, such as nickel, cobalt, and iron. One day, advocates believe, those objects will be tapped by variations on the equipment used in the coal mines of Kentucky or in the diamond mines of Africa. And for immense gain: According to industry experts, the contents of a single asteroid could be worth trillions of dollars." But the technology to get us there is only the first step. Experts say "a multinational body might emerge" to manage rights to NEOs, as well as a body of law, including an international court.
Not to be outdone by Jeffrey Goldberg's recent piece in The Atlantic about President Obama's foreign policy, the New York Times Magazine checks in with a longread on the president's economic legacy. In it, Obama is cognizant that the economic reality--73 straight months of growth--isn't matched by public perceptions. Some of that, he says, is due to a constant drumbeat from the right that "that denies any progress." But he also accepts some blame himself. “I mean, the truth of the matter is that if we had been able to more effectively communicate all the steps we had taken to the swing voter,” he said, “then we might have maintained a majority in the House or the Senate.”
Ronald Reagan's children and political allies took to the media and Twitter this week to chide funnyman Will Ferrell for his plans to play a dementia-addled Reagan in his second term in a new comedy entitled Reagan. In an open letter, Reagan's daughter Patti Davis tells Ferrell, who's also a producer on the movie, “Perhaps for your comedy you would like to visit some dementia facilities. I have—I didn’t find anything comedic there, and my hope would be that if you’re a decent human being, you wouldn’t either.” Michael Reagan, the president's son, tweeted, "What an Outrag....Alzheimers is not joke...It kills..You should be ashamed all of you." And former Rep. Joe Walsh called it an example of "Hollywood taking a shot at conservatives again."
In a sign that she’s ready to put a longer-than-expected primary battle behind her, former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton (D) is no longer going on the air in upcoming primary states. “Team Clinton hasn’t spent a single cent in … California, Indiana, Kentucky, Oregon and West Virginia, while” Sen. Bernie Sanders’ (I-VT) “campaign has spent a little more than $1 million in those same states.” Meanwhile, Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR), Sanders’ "lone backer in the Senate, said the candidate should end his presidential campaign if he’s losing to Hillary Clinton after the primary season concludes in June, breaking sharply with the candidate who is vowing to take his insurgent bid to the party convention in Philadelphia.”