Recently taken surveillance satellite photographs suggest that North Korea in late August tested an engine for one of its long-range rockets, according to a Monday analysis by the expert website 38 North.
The belief that a new test was carried out at the Dongchang-ri missile launch complex is predicated upon a number of factors “including the presence of a probable rocket stage, a crane necessary to mount and remove the rocket engine and propellant tanks on the test stand, instrumentation used to monitor tests as well as changes in the appearance of vegetation in front of the flame trench [from green to brown] and instead the flame trench,” reads the analysis by image expert Nick Hansen.
38 North said it could not determine which type of engine was tested. North Korea is developing several different kinds of rockets, including the Unha 3 that can be adapted to act as ICBMs. The country carried out its first successful long-range rocket launch last December, clearing an important hurdle in the march toward a credible intercontinental-ballistic missile.
Meanwhile, Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi at a Friday forum in Washington insisted Pyongyang is “ready to come back to” a September 2005 joint statement with the United States, which would commit North Korea to gradually shuttering its nuclear-weapons programs in exchange for phased infusions of foreign economic assistance and international security guarantees, Kyodo News reported. He said his country also is prepared to return to a February 2012 agreement with Washington in which Pyongyang agreed to implement a moratorium on nuclear weapons testing and the enrichment of uranium in return for U.S. food assistance.
Beijing has been pushing for a return to formal aid-for-denuclearization negotiations with Pyongyang. However, other participants in the frozen six-nation process — namely South Korea, the United States and Japan — have said they do not see any point in holding new talks right now as North Korea has not shown any willingness to stop its nuclear weapons development.
Onetime head U.S. nuclear negotiator to North Korea, Christopher Hill, in an interview with the Yonhap News Agency said even though the North has not shown any interest in stopping its nuclear activities, the United States has no other choice but to engage with Pyongyang.
Separately, China on Monday published a 236-page list of names of “dual-use technologies” that it will not sell to North Korea as they could potentially be adapted for use developing weapons of mass destruction, Reuters reported. The list contains a number of dangerous pathogens such as Ebola as well as products that might be used to construct and fuel atomic reactors.
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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."