North Korea has advanced its indigenous atomic capabilities so much that it is not realistic to expect international sanctions and export controls to constrain its progress in developing a nuclear weapon, Agence France-Presse reported on Wednesday, citing the findings of experts.
Analysts speaking at a Seoul forum organized by the Asan Institute were of mixed views on just how far the North had progressed toward acquiring a credible nuclear weapon. Still, they agreed it was past time for the international community to develop a new plan of action for dealing with the isolated nation’s atomic work.
North Korea is “not at the start of this process anymore,” Asan Institute Science and Technology Policy Center Director Park Jiyoung said. “They’ve been at it a long time.”
A new analysis by experts Joshua Pollack and Scott Kemp this week concluded Pyongyang had developed the ability to domestically produce uranium centrifuges. North Korea has one known uranium enrichment plant at the Yongbyon nuclear complex. Uranium enrichment plants are less energy intensive than plutonium-producing reactors, so uranium sites are more difficult to detect via satellite. That means there could be uranium plants established elsewhere that the world does not know about.
Because of the difficulty in confirming the exact scope of North Korea’s uranium-enrichment program and whether it is really honoring potential future aid-for-denuclearization agreements, the world should concentrate on convincing Pyongyang not to carry out a fourth atomic test, Pollack told conference participants.
Li Bin, a nuclear researcher at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, noted that in the most recent February test, “they could not finish the task of miniaturization … but if they have a chance for more nuclear tests, maybe one more, they would be able to have small and more reliable device for their missile,” the Yonhap News Agency reported.
North Korea is thought to be developing long-range ballistic missiles, and achieved its first successful three-stage rocket launch in December. A particularly difficult question to answer is how far the Kim Jong Un regime has progressed in producing a warhead small enough to mount on an ICBM.
Global concerns about the North’s progress toward acquiring a credible nuclear-armed missile reached a crescendo point this spring after Pyongyang threatened repeatedly to carry out nuclear strikes on South Korea and the United States and deployed missile launchers on its coast. The United States responded by announcing it would field more long-range interceptors in Alaska and by posting additional antimissile systems on Guam.
All of that earlier worry, though, was not in evidence when U.S. President Obama addressed the U.N. General Assembly on Tuesday. In a speech that focused heavily on prospects for diplomacy with Iran and the Syrian chemical-weapons crisis, the president did not mention North Korea and its continued nuclear weapons progress once, Yonhap reported.
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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.”
The team behind the bestselling "Clinton Cash"—author Peter Schweizer and Breitbart's Stephen Bannon—is turning the book into a movie that will have its U.S. premiere just before the Democratic National Convention this summer. The film will get its global debut "next month in Cannes, France, during the Cannes Film Festival. (The movie is not a part of the festival, but will be shown at a screening arranged for distributors)." Bloomberg has a trailer up, pointing out that it's "less Ken Burns than Jerry Bruckheimer, featuring blood-drenched money, radical madrassas, and ominous footage of the Clintons."