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.
What We're Following See More »
"Two chief fundraisers for the Clinton Foundation pressed corporate donors to steer business opportunities to former President Bill Clinton as well, according to a hacked memo published Wednesday by WikiLeaks. The November 2011 memo from Douglas Band, at the time a top aide to Mr. Clinton, outlines extensive fundraising efforts that Mr. Band and a partner deployed on behalf of the Clinton Foundation and how that work sometimes translated into large speaking fees and other paid work for Mr. Clinton."
House Oversight Committee Chairman Jason Chaffetz plans to spend "years, come January, probing the record of a President Hillary Clinton." Chaffetz told the Washington Post: “It’s a target-rich environment. Even before we get to Day One, we’ve got two years’ worth of material already lined up. She has four years of history at the State Department, and it ain’t good.”
Priorities USA, the super PAC aligned with the Clinton campaign, which has already gotten involved in two Senate races, is now expanding into House races. The group released a 30 second spot which serves to hit Donald Trump and Iowa Rep. Rod Blum, who is in a tough race to win re-election in Iowa's first congressional district. The super PAC's expansion into House and Senate races shows a high level of confidence in Clinton's standing against Trump.
Republican House leaders are planning on taking up a vote to renew the Iran Sanctions Act as soon as the lame-duck session begins in mid-November. The law, which expires on Dec. 31, permits a host of sanctions against Iran's industries, defense, and government. The renewal will likely pass the House, but its status is unclear once it reaches the Senate, and a spokesman from the White House refused to say whether President Obama would sign it into law.
Just two weeks from Nov. 8, Donald Trump's campaign is not scheduling anymore high-dollar fundraisers, the type which usually benefit the Republican Party as a whole. The move comes as a surprise and could be a big blow to the GOP's turnout operations. Many down-ballot candidates are relying on the party apparatus to turn out voters in their districts and/or states, something that could be compromised. The last formal fundraiser occurred on Wednesday, Oct. 19.