Korea May Have More Iranian Uranium Than Thought

http://media.interaksyon.com/wp-content/uploads/2017/07/north-korea_yongbyon-nuke-plant_reuters-640x479.jpgNorth Korea may have more nuclear bomb material than thought: U.S. think tank

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Thermal images of North Korea’s main nuclear site show Pyongyang may have reprocessed more plutonium than previously thought that can be used to enlarge its nuclear weapons stockpile, a U.S. think tank said on Friday.

The analysis by 38 North, a Washington-based North Korean monitoring project, was based on satellite images of the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon nuclear plant from September until the end of June, amid rising international concerns over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

The think tank said images of the uranium enrichment facility at Yongbyon could also indicate operation of centrifuges that could be used to increase North Korea’s stock of enriched uranium, its other source of bomb fuel.

There were signs too of at least short-term activity at North Korea’s Experimental Light Water Reactor that could be cause for concern, 38 North said.

The images of the radiochemical laboratory showed there had been at least two reprocessing cycles not previously known aimed at producing “an undetermined amount of plutonium that can further increase North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile,” something that would worry U.S. officials who see Pyongyang as one of the world’s top security threats.

It was unclear if the thermal activity detected at the uranium plant was the result of centrifuge operations or maintenance

A thermal image of the radiochemical laboratory at the Yongbyon nuclear plant in North Korea is seen which 38 North says was taken in June 2017 and released on July 14, 2017. Courtesy Thermal data available from the US Geological Survey/38 North/Handout via REUTERS

It said the thermal patterns at the plant’s isotope/tritium production facility suggested it was not operational and was therefore not producing tritium, an essential isotope used in boosted yield and hydrogen weapons.

North Korea manufactures atomic bombs using uranium and plutonium and has tested five nuclear bombs. Officials and experts say it could test a sixth at any time, despite U.S.-led international efforts to curb its program.

Pyongyang said its penultimate test in January 2016 was of a hydrogen bomb, something experts have treated with skepticism.

North Korea has been working to develop a nuclear-tipped missile capable of hitting the United States and last week tested its first intercontinental ballistic missile, which experts said could hit all of Alaska and parts of the U.S. Pacific Northwest.

Frustrated that China, North Korea’s main trading partner, has not done more to rein in Pyongyang, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other companies doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior U.S. officials told Reuters this week.

U.S. ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has been seeking to overcome resistance from China and Russia to a U.N. Security Council resolution imposing stiffer international sanctions on Pyongyang.

Experts at 38 North estimated in April that North Korea could have as many as 20 nuclear bombs and could produce one more each month.

Reporting by David Brunnstrom and Matt Spetalnick; Editing by Peter Cooney

The Nuclear Reality of North Korea and Iran

North KoreaJohn Bolton: Every Time You Hear North Korea Think of Iran

by John Hayward6 Jul 2017585

Former U.N. Ambassador John Bolton talked about North Korea’s Fourth of July missile test launch on Thursday’s edition of Breitbart News Daily with SiriusXM host Alex Marlow.

Bolton said intercontinental ballistic missiles are a goal North Korea has been working towards since the early 1990s, as part of the outlaw regime’s quest for “deliverable nuclear weapons,” but it was still surprising to many observers that a missile with true intercontinental capability was successfully launched this week.

“It’s capable of hitting Alaska. It can’t hit the Lower 48 yet, but that’s only a matter of time,” he said. “The only other thing we need to find out, and I don’t want to be on the receiving end of it, is whether North Korea has miniaturized its nuclear devices – of which it’s already detonated five – to the point they can put it under an ICBM nose cone.”

“I’ve been talking about this for 20 years, and so have many other people. And yet, for the last three U.S. administrations – eight years of Clinton, eight years of Bush, eight years of Obama – people have tried to negotiate with North Korea to talk them out of their nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs. It’s failed consistently for 25 years,” he said.

“That’s why Trump has inherited this mess. The issue is whether he can find a way out of it, or whether he succumbs to what I know the State Department, and much of the Defense Department, and much of the intelligence community are telling him: just keep doing what we’ve been doing before. Because that will result in a nuclear North Korea,” Bolton warned.

“And by the way, you can already see the mainstream media and academia preparing us to live in a world where North Korea has nuclear weapons,” he added, citing a New York Times op-ed to that effect from Wednesday.

Bolton judged that Japan would continue to be a reliable ally against North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, since the Japanese are well aware their cities lie within range of North Korea’s missiles. On the other hand, he said “all of the evidence points to China and Russia as, at best, turning a blind eye to what the North has been up to, and more likely facilitating the North’s nuclear and missile programs.”

He said his support from China and Russia was kept low-profile to avoid sanctions, but there was no way to conceal that China supplies North Korea with much of its oil and food, giving Beijing more than enough leverage to halt Pyongyang’s nuclear missile program if it truly wanted to.

“China is playing a double game. They say they don’t want the North Koreans to have nuclear weapons but they haven’t shut it down,” Bolton charged. “It’s a very dangerous situation. Nobody should underestimate it.”

“One other point I would make: Every time you hear the words ‘North Korea,’ think of the word ‘Iran,’” he added. “Because whatever North Korea can do, Iran can do the next day by sending them a check in the appropriate amount. We have stovepiped these two nuclear proliferation threats for a very long time. We need to stop doing that because every day that goes by brings us closer to the day when one or both of them can hit the United States.”

Bolton cited North Korea’s five known nuclear test detonations, and its successful test of ballistic missile technology, to say it is a “more imminent threat” than Iran, but stressed that North Korea and Iran have been working “extremely closely on ballistic missiles” since the Nineties, “and there’s every reason to think they have worked extremely closely on the nuclear program as well.”

“It wouldn’t surprise me if a big chunk of Iran’s uranium enrichment program is not in Iran, where we know where it is, but under a mountain in North Korea,” he said. “We have very poor intelligence on North Korea, so it’s a big advantage for Iran to work with them.”

“When the Israelis destroyed that reactor in Syria in September 2007, it was being built by North Koreans,” he recalled. “Well, who paid for that? North Korea doesn’t do anything for free. I doubt that Syria had the resources to do it. Quite likely it was Iran. When that reactor was found by the Israelis and destroyed, the lesson I think to Iran was, ‘Build it someplace where the Israelis can’t find it.’ That’s why they may well have turned to North Korea.”

Bolton noted that U.S. and South Korean military officials have been warning for the past year that North Korea was on the verge of developing missiles that could hit the West Coast of the United States, perhaps as early as 2018.

“In public testimony three or four months ago now, the head of the U.S. Strategic Command told Congress that the only thing he had any doubt about was whether North Korea had fully conquered the miniaturization tasks to take a nuclear device and make it small enough to put under an ICBM nose cone. So even just three or four months ago, he didn’t have any doubt about the range,” he noted.

“There are a lot of other technical steps to overcome here. You can put the nose cone and the warhead up, you can bring it back down, but it’s a pretty rocky ride. You have to make sure that the warhead will detonate at the appropriate time,” he explained.

“We don’t know whether the North has mastered that technology, but I would be very cautious about intelligence that says they can’t do this, and they can’t do that, and they can’t do the other thing, because the first American reaction to this launch was ‘it was an intermediate range ballistic missile, not an ICBM,” and we were wrong. And we didn’t detect this one before the launch. I think we’ve had enough lessons in intelligence being imperfect,” he said.

“Don’t count on our lack of knowledge meaning that the North doesn’t have the capability,” he advised. “They may well have the capability. We may simply not have detected it.”

John Bolton is a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute and head of his own political action committee, BoltonPAC.

The Sixth Seal: Real Risk, Few Precautions (Revelation 6:12)

Eastern Quakes: Real Risk, Few Precautions

1989 San Francisco Earthquake

1989 San Francisco Earthquake

By WILLIAM K. STEVENS
Published: October 24, 1989

AN EARTHQUAKE as powerful as the one that struck northern California last week could occur almost anywhere along the East Coast, experts say. And if it did, it would probably cause far more destruction than the West Coast quake.

The chances of such an occurrence are much less in the East than on the West Coast. Geologic stresses in the East build up only a hundredth to a thousandth as fast as in California, and this means that big Eastern quakes are far less frequent. Scientists do not really know what the interval between them might be, nor are the deeper-lying geologic faults that cause them as accessible to study. So seismologists are at a loss to predict when or where they will strike.

But they do know that a temblor with a magnitude estimated at 7 on the Richter scale – about the same magnitude as last week’s California quake – devastated Charleston, S.C., in 1886. And after more than a decade of study, they also know that geologic structures similar to those that caused the Charleston quake exist all along the Eastern Seaboard.

For this reason, ”we can’t preclude that a Charleston-sized earthquake might occur anywhere along the East Coast,” said David Russ, the assistant chief geologist of the United States Geological Survey in Reston, Va. ”It could occur in Washington. It could occur in New York.”

If that happens, many experts agree, the impact will probably be much greater than in California. Easterners, unlike Californians, have paid very little attention to making buildings and other structures earthquake-proof or earthquake-resistant. ”We don’t have that mentality here on the East Coast,” said Robert Silman, a New York structural engineer whose firm has worked on 3,800 buildings in the metropolitan area.

Moreover, buildings, highways, bridges, water and sewer systems and communications networks in the East are all older than in the West and consequently more vulnerable to damage. Even under normal conditions, for instance, water mains routinely rupture in New York City.

The result, said Dr. John Ebel, a geophysicist who is the assistant director of Boston College’s Weston Observatory, is that damage in the East would probably be more widespread, more people could be hurt and killed, depending on circumstances like time of day, and ”it would probably take a lot longer to get these cities back to useful operating levels.”

On top of this, scientists say, an earthquake in the East can shake an area 100 times larger than a quake of the same magnitude in California. This is because the earth’s crust is older, colder and more brittle in the East and tends to transmit seismic energy more efficiently. ”If you had a magnitude 7 earthquake and you put it halfway between New York City and Boston,” Dr. Ebel said, ”you would have the potential of doing damage in both places,” not to mention cities like Hartford and Providence.

Few studies have been done of Eastern cities’ vulnerability to earthquakes. But one, published last June in The Annals of the New York Academy of Sciences, calculated the effects on New York City of a magnitude 6 earthquake. That is one-tenth the magnitude of last week’s California quake, but about the same as the Whittier, Calif., quake two years ago.

The study found that such an earthquake centered 17 miles southeast of City Hall, off Rockaway Beach, would cause $11 billion in damage to buildings and start 130 fires. By comparison, preliminary estimates place the damage in last week’s California disaster at $4 billion to $10 billion. If the quake’s epicenter were 11 miles southeast of City Hall, the study found, there would be about $18 billion in damage; if 5 miles, about $25 billion.

No estimates on injuries or loss of life were made. But a magnitude 6 earthquake ”would probably be a disaster unparalleled in New York history,” wrote the authors of the study, Charles Scawthorn and Stephen K. Harris of EQE Engineering in San Francisco.

The study was financed by the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research at the State University of New York at Buffalo. The research and education center, supported by the National Science Foundation and New York State, was established in 1986 to help reduce damage and loss of life from earthquakes.

The study’s postulated epicenter of 17 miles southeast of City Hall was the location of the strongest quake to strike New York since it has been settled, a magnitude 5 temblor on Aug. 10, 1884. That 1884 quake rattled bottles and crockery in Manhattan and frightened New Yorkers, but caused little damage. Seismologists say a quake of that order is likely to occur within 50 miles of New York City every 300 years. Quakes of magnitude 5 are not rare in the East. The major earthquake zone in the eastern half of the country is the central Mississippi Valley, where a huge underground rift causes frequent geologic dislocations and small temblors. The most powerful quake ever known to strike the United States occurred at New Madrid, Mo., in 1812. It was later estimated at magnitude 8.7 and was one of three quakes to strike that area in 1811-12, all of them stronger than magnitude 8. They were felt as far away as Washington, where they rattled chandeliers, Boston and Quebec.

Because the New Madrid rift is so active, it has been well studied, and scientists have been able to come up with predictions for the central Mississippi valley, which includes St. Louis and Memphis. According to Dr. Russ, there is a 40 to 63 percent chance that a quake of magnitude 6 will strike that area between now and the year 2000, and an 86 to 97 percent chance that it will do so by 2035. The Federal geologists say there is a 1 percent chance or less of a quake greater than magnitude 7 by 2000, and a 4 percent chance or less by 2035.

Elsewhere in the East, scientists are limited in their knowledge of probabilities partly because faults that could cause big earthquakes are buried deeper in the earth’s crust. In contrast to California, where the boundary between two major tectonic plates creates the San Andreas and related faults, the eastern United States lies in the middle of a major tectonic plate. Its faults are far less obvious, their activity far more subtle, and their slippage far slower. 

Any large earthquake would be ”vastly more serious” in the older cities of the East than in California, said Dr. Tsu T. Soong, a professor of civil engineering at the State University of New York at Buffalo who is a researcher in earthquake-mitigation technology at the National Center for Earthquake Engineering Research. First, he said, many buildings are simply older, and therefore weaker and more vulnerable to collapse. Second, there is no seismic construction code in most of the East as there is in California, where such codes have been in place for decades.

The vulnerability is evident in many ways. ”I’m sitting here looking out my window,” said Mr. Silman, the structural engineer in New York, ”and I see a bunch of water tanks all over the place” on rooftops. ”They are not anchored down at all, and it’s very possible they would fall in an earthquake.”

Buildings of reinforced masonry, reinforced concrete and steel would hold up much better, engineers say, and wooden structures are considered intrinsically tough in ordinary circumstances. The best performers, they say, would probably be skyscrapers built in the last 20 years. As Mr. Silman explained, they have been built to withstand high winds, and the same structural features that enable them to do so also help them resist an earthquake’s force. But even these new towers have not been provided with the seismic protections required in California and so are more vulnerable than similar structures on the West Coast.

Buildings in New York are not generally constructed with such seismic protections as base-isolated structures, in which the building is allowed to shift with the ground movement; or with flexible frames that absorb and distribute energy through columns and beams so that floors can flex from side to side, or with reinforced frames that help resist distortion.

”If you’re trying to make a building ductile – able to absorb energy – we’re not geared to think that way,” said Mr. Silman.

New York buildings also contain a lot of decorative stonework, which can be dislodged and turned into lethal missiles by an earthquake. In California, building codes strictly regulate such architectural details.

Manhattan does, however, have at least one mitigating factor: ”We are blessed with this bedrock island,” said Mr. Silman. ”That should work to our benefit; we don’t have shifting soils. But there are plenty of places that are problem areas, particularly the shoreline areas,” where landfills make the ground soft and unstable.

As scientists have learned more about geologic faults in the Northeast, the nation’s uniform building code – the basic, minimum code followed throughout the country – has been revised accordingly. Until recently, the code required newly constructed buildings in New York City to withstand at least 19 percent of the side-to-side seismic force that a comparable building in the seismically active areas of California must handle. Now the threshold has been raised to 25 percent.

New York City, for the first time, is moving to adopt seismic standards as part of its own building code. Local and state building codes can and do go beyond the national code. Charles M. Smith Jr., the city Building Commissioner, last spring formed a committee of scientists, engineers, architects and government officials to recommend the changes.

”They all agree that New York City should anticipate an earthquake,” Mr. Smith said. As to how big an earthquake, ”I don’t think anybody would bet on a magnitude greater than 6.5,” he said. ”I don’t know,” he added, ”that our committee will go so far as to acknowledge” the damage levels in the Scawthorn-Harris study, characterizing it as ”not without controversy.”

For the most part, neither New York nor any other Eastern city has done a detailed survey of just how individual buildings and other structures would be affected, and how or whether to modify them.

”The thing I think is needed in the East is a program to investigate all the bridges” to see how they would stand up to various magnitudes of earthquake,” said Bill Geyer, the executive vice president of the New York engineering firm of Steinman, Boynton, Gronquist and Birdsall, which is rehabilitating the cable on the Williamsburg Bridge. ”No one has gone through and done any analysis of the existing bridges.”

In general, he said, the large suspension bridges, by their nature, ”are not susceptible to the magnitude of earthquake you’d expect in the East.” But the approaches and side spans of some of them might be, he said, and only a bridge-by-bridge analysis would tell. Nor, experts say, are some elevated highways in New York designed with the flexibility and ability to accommodate motion that would enable them to withstand a big temblor.

Tunnels Vulnerable

The underground tunnels that carry travelers under the rivers into Manhattan, those that contain the subways and those that carry water, sewers and natural gas would all be vulnerable to rupture, engineers say. The Lincoln, Holland, PATH and Amtrak tunnels, for instance, go from bedrock in Manhattan to soft soil under the Hudson River to bedrock again in New Jersey, said Mark Carter, a partner in Raamot Associates, geotechnical engineers specializing in soils and foundations.

Likewise, he said, subway tunnels between Manhattan and Queens go from hard rock to soft soil to hard rock on Roosevelt Island, to soft soil again and back to rock. The boundaries between soft soil and rock are points of weakness, he said.

”These structures are old,” he said, ”and as far as I know they have not been designed for earthquake loadings.”

Even if it is possible to survey all major buildings and facilities to determine what corrections can be made, cities like New York would then face a major decision: Is it worth spending the money to modify buildings and other structures to cope with a quake that might or might not come in 100, or 200 300 years or more?

”That is a classical problem” in risk-benefit analysis, said Dr. George Lee, the acting director of the Earthquake Engineering Research Center in Buffalo. As more is learned about Eastern earthquakes, he said, it should become ”possible to talk about decision-making.” But for now, he said, ”I think it’s premature for us to consider that question.”

India Prepares For Chinese Nuclear Horn

India modernising its nuclear arsenal with eye on China instead of Pakistan: US nuclear experts

By: PTI | Washington | Updated: July 13, 2017 11:03 am

India Nuclear, India nuclear arsenal, atomic arsenal, India, China, Pakistan, Sikkim, US nuclear experts, After Midnight, World news, Indian Express news

India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China, the two experts claimed. (File photo)India continues to modernise its atomic arsenal with an eye on China and the country’s nuclear strategy which traditionally focused on Pakistan now appears to place increased emphasis on the Communist giant, two top American nuclear experts have said. An article published in the July-August issue of the digital journal ‘After Midnight’ has also claimed that India is now developing a missile which can target all of China from its bases in South India.

India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150–200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 120–130, wrote Hans M Kristensen and Robert S Norris in the article-“Indian nuclear forces 2017″. India’s nuclear strategy, which has traditionally focused on Pakistan, now appears to place increased emphasis on China, the two experts claimed. While India has traditionally been focused on deterring Pakistan, its nuclear modernisation indicates that it is putting increased emphasis on its future strategic relationship with China,” they wrote.

“That adjustment will result in significantly new capabilities being deployed over the next decade that may influence how India views nuclear weapons’ role against Pakistan,” they said.

Noting that India continues to modernise its nuclear arsenal with development of several new nuclear weapon systems, the two experts estimate that New Delhi currently operates seven nuclear-capable systems: two aircraft, four land-based ballistic missiles, and one sea-based ballistic missile. “At least four more systems are in development. The development program is in a dynamic phase, with long-range land- and sea-based missiles emerging for possible deployment within the next decade,” it said.

India is estimated to have produced approximately 600 kilograms of weapon-grade plutonium, sufficient for 150–200 nuclear warheads; however, not all the material has been converted into nuclear warheads, it said. Based on available information about its nuclear-capable delivery force structure and strategy, we estimate that India has produced 120–130 nuclear warheads, the article said adding that the country will need more warheads to arm the new missiles it is currently developing.

Kristensen and Norris said that the two-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile Agni-2, an improvement on the Agni-1, which can deliver a nuclear or conventional warhead more than 2,000 kilometres is probably targeted on western, central, and southern China. Although the Agni-4 will be capable of striking targets in nearly all of China from northeastern India (including Beijing and Shanghai), India is also developing the longer-range Agni-5, a three-stage, solid-fuel, rail-mobile, near-intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) capable of delivering a warhead more than 5,000 kilometres (3,100-plus miles), it said.

“The extra range will allow the Indian military to establish Agni-5 bases in central and southern India, further away from China,” the research article said.