North Korea Blows Up Cooling Tower At Main Nuke Site

Something is up with North Korea’s very quick Nuclear breakdown… Yesterday they release their disclosure as part of the lifting of sanctions and today they blow up the cooling tower at Yonbyon, with pictures and everything.

It would seem almost desparate in nature. Especially with the pictures and video being released by this secretive governemnt.  Is the country that bad off from the tryranical rule they have endured? Is this some sort of show? Are they creating a distraction? Only time will tell. I just hope those in power tread carefully and don’t take things at face value.

PYONGYANG, North Korea (CNN) — North Korea on Friday destroyed a water cooling tower at a facility where officials acknowledge they extracted plutonium to build nuclear weapons, CNN’s Chief International Correspondent Christiane Amanpour reported from the scene.

The cooling tower is demolished at the Yongbyon nuclear complex near Pyongyang, North Korea.

The cooling tower is demolished at the Yongbyon nuclear complex near Pyongyang, North Korea.

The massive implosion, which came at about 5pm local time Friday at the Yongbyon facility, was intended to be a powerful public symbol of a move to end nuclear activities by the Communist nation once branded a member of an “axis of evil” by U.S. President George W. Bush.

The destruction of the highly visible symbol of North Korea’s long-secret nuclear program came just a day after the country released details of its program.

A signal flare gave a three-minute warning as U.S. State Department officials and observers from the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) watched from a reviewing stand.

“The whole thing came tumbling down,” Amanpour said.

“This is a very significant disablement step,” the U.S. envoy to North Korea, Sung Kim, said.

Nuclear experts say that the plant’s destroyed central water-cooling tower would take a year or longer to rebuild if North Korea were to try using the plant again.

“This is a critical piece of equipment for the nuclear reactor,” said analyst John Wolfsthal, of the Center for Strategic and International Studies, who has been following North Korea since the 1980s. “Without this facility, the reactor can’t operate and can’t produce more plutonium for weapons.” Watch the tower being demolished Video

North Korea has been dismantling other parts of the facility under the watchful eyes of representatives of the five other nations, including the U.S., that have been involved in six-party talks aimed at ending Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program.

On Thursday, North Korean officials turned over to China a 60-page declaration, written in English, that details several rounds of plutonium production at the Yongbyon plant dating back to 1986. Video Watch President Bush claim progress over the N. Korea nuclear issue »

In it, North Korea acknowledges producing roughly 40 kilograms of enriched plutonium — enough for about seven nuclear bombs, according to the U.S. State Department.

In response, Bush said he would lift some U.S. sanctions against North Korea and remove the country from the State Department’s list of state sponsors of terrorism.

But he made clear that other sanctions remained in place on North Korea — which has been on the terrorism list since its alleged involvement in the 1987 bombing of a South Korean airliner which killed 115 people.

“The United States has no illusions about the regime in Pyongyang,” Bush said. “We remain deeply concerned about North Korea’s human rights abuses, uranium enrichment activities, nuclear testing and proliferation, ballistic missile programs and the threat it continues to pose to South Korea and its neighbors.”

U.S. analysts will pore over the document to resolve Washington’s outstanding concerns, which include questions about the extent of North Korea’s proliferation of nuclear technology and the status of any uranium enrichment program. Video Watch what’s still unknown after Pyongyang’s declaration »

Friday’s event at the nuclear plant marked at least an effort by North Korea — dubbed “The Hermit Kingdom” in the international community for its isolationist tendencies — to show the world a good-faith effort to end its nuclear weapons program.

Media outlets from the five other nations involved in the talks were invited to view the tower’s implosion, a rare move in North Korea. CNN was among the media outlets present.

But there appeared to be no mention of the declaration or planned implosion at Yongbyon on the Web site of North Korea’s state-run news agency on Thursday. And an article Wednesday noted the 58th anniversary of the Korean war, calling it “a war of aggression started by the U.S. imperialists in an attempt to occupy the whole of Korea.”

 

 

China Hands Over Intel Regarding Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

China, a long time defender of Iran over it’s potential nuclear weapons program, has turned over intel regarding the program. China is probably in a good position to actually reveal what Iran’s intentions are as it is believed they helped Iran develope their nuclear program.  This is a turning point for Iran, as one of their staunchest allies is afraid enough of what Iran’s plans are, they are releasing their information on it.

VIENNA, Austria —  China, an opponent of harsh U.N. Security Council sanctions against Iran, has nonetheless recently provided the International Atomic Energy Agency with intelligence linked to Tehran’s alleged attempts to make nuclear arms, diplomats have told The Associated Press.

Beijing, along with Moscow, has acted as a brake within the council, consistently watering down a U.S.-led push to impose severe penalties on Tehran for its nuclear defiance since the first set of sanctions was passed in late 2006.

A Chinese decision to provide information for use in the agency’s attempts to probe Iran’s purported nuclear weapons program would appear to reflect growing international unease about how honest the Islamic republic has been in denying it ever tried to make such arms.

The new development was revealed by two senior diplomats who closely follow the IAEA probe of Iran’s nuclear program. One commented late last week and the other Wednesday.

The IAEA declined comment, and nobody was picking up phones at the Iranian and Chinese missions to the IAEA.

John Bolton, the previous U.S. ambassador to the United Nations and before that the U.S. undersecretary of state in charge of the Iran nuclear dossier, said any such Chinese move would be “potentially significant” because of Beijing’s former military ties to Tehran. /**/

In a telephone call from Washington, Bolton said America believed that the Chinese had helped Iran develop its nuclear program, particularly in one area of uranium enrichment, “plus they had cooperation on ballistic missile programs as well.”

The diplomats said Beijing was the most surprising entry among a fairly substantial list of nations recently forwarding information to the agency that adds to previously provided intelligence, and which could be relevant in attempts to probe Iran for past or present nuclear weapons research.

But they said several other countries not normally considered to be in the anti-Iran camp had also done so in recent weeks.

The diplomats — who demanded anonymity because their information was confidential — declined to name individual nations. But they attributed a generally increased flow of information to the U.N. nuclear watchdog to concerns sparked by a multimedia presentation to the 35 IAEA board members by the agency in February about intelligence previously forwarded by member states on Iran’s alleged clandestine nuclear arms program.

One of the diplomats said the agency also was on the lookout for misleading information provided it, either inadvertently or in attempts to falsely implicate Iran.

One example, he said was a document showing experiments with implosion technology that can be used to detonate a nuclear device. While the document appeared genuine, it was unclear whether it originated from Iran, said the diplomat.

Suspected weapons-related work outlined in the February presentation and IAEA reports preceding it include:

—uranium conversion linked to high explosives testing and designs of a missile re-entry vehicle, all apparently interconnected through involvement of officials and institutions;

—procurement of so-called “dual use” equipment and experiments that also could be used in both civilian and military nuclear programs; and

—Iran’s possession of a 15-page document outlining how to form uranium metal into the shape of a warhead.

A U.S. intelligence estimate late last year said Tehran worked on nuclear weapons programs until 2003, while Israel and other nations say such work continued past that date.

Tehran continues uranium enrichment, which can generate the fissile core of nuclear warheads, and has led to three sets of Security Council sanctions but insists it is developing the technology only for its other use — power generation.

It denies ever trying to make atomic arms and last month declared the issue of its purported nuclear weapons strivings — and any attempt to investigate them — closed, asserting that information suggesting it ever had a nascent nuclear arms program is fabricated.

But the agency has signaled it is not giving up on its efforts to investigate purported military aspects of Tehran’s nuclear activities. Other diplomats told the AP that deputy director general Olli Heinonen planned to meet in the next few days with Ali-Ashgar Soltanieh, Iran’s chief delegate to the agency, to press for answers.

Ahead of that tentative meeting, Gregory L. Schulte, the chief U.S. delegate to the IAEA, urged Tehran to end its stonewalling. He told the AP that with the next IAEA report due in about two months, time was running out for Iran to “explain these serious indications of troubling activities.”

An IAEA report in February said suspicions about most past Iranian nuclear activities had eased or been laid to rest. But it also noted that Iran had rejected the information provided by IAEA member nations to the agency for its probe of suspected weapons research as false and irrelevant.

It also noted that Iran had blocked agency requests to talk to key officials suspected of possible involvement in past military nuclear programs, among them one identified by diplomats as nuclear engineer Mohsen Fakhrizadeh.

They told the AP that he and others active as academics in Iran’s civilian nuclear faculties are suspected by the agency of key roles in secret nuclear activities with a possible military dimension, including the procurement of “dual use” equipment.

In a summary recently forwarded to the AP, the National Council of Resistance of Iran, an opposition group that claims to have informants inside the Iranian government, identified three others as Revolutionary Guard commander Fereydoon Abbasi, Seyed Jaber Safdari and Mohammed Mehdi Nejad-Nouri.

It said the three and others are involved in clandestine nuclear weapons-related research at three Iranian universities: Beheshti; Malek Ahstar and Imam Hossein.

Asked for verification, a senior diplomat of an IAEA member state said that a fact check run by his country’s relevant agency showed the claims to be generally accurate. Another senior diplomat also said the information appeared to be fairly reliable.

Pakistan’s Fool Proof Nuclear Weapons Security

Pakistan is quite delusional if they think that their nukes are secured and the rest of the world in insane if they are going to believe them.

Yes, Al Qaeda is not likely to break into a nuclear installation and steal weapons, however that is not the real threat. If Al Qaeda and the Taliban can overthrow the Pakistani Government, they will have control of the nuclear arsenal. That is were the real threat is.

To make Pakistan’s nuclear weapons security program fool proof, the have to either remove the fool who thinks it is and replace them them someone willing to dismantle the program for everyone elses protection or the current regime must do so.

Pakistan Calls Nuke Program Security ‘Foolproof’

But Some Question Whether More Needs to Be Done to Keep Arms From Terrorists

pakistan
Pakistan’s medium-range Shaheen-1 (Haft-IV) ballistic missile takes off during a test flight from undisclosed location in Pakistan January 25, 2008. Pakistan’s army chief dismissed on Friday fears that the country’s nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of Islamic militants as the military test fired a nuclear-capable missile. (Reuters/Stringer)
Pakistan’s nuclear program has “foolproof” and “second to none” security, the head of the program insisted today, calling doubts about the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal “inaccurate” and “based on a lack of understanding.”
Retired Lt. Gen. Khalid Kidwai, the director-general of Pakistan’s Strategic Plans Division, did acknowledge that as militants have increased their attacks in the last six months “the state of alert has gone up,” but insisted there were no specific threats to the nuclear program.

His assertions come as politicians in the United States and the head of the United Nations’ nuclear watchdog have questioned the safety of Pakistan’s nuclear weapons. Mohammed ElBaradei, director of the International Atomic Energy Agency, told the pan-Arab newspaper Al-Hayat that he feared “nuclear weapons could fall into the hands of extremist groups in Pakistan or Afghanistan.”

Today Kidwai said that ElBaradei had “no business to talk like that. If you open and shoot your mouth without any information — that is very bad.”

“The security mechanism in place is functioning efficiently and we are capable of thwarting all types of threats — whether these be insider, outsider, or a combination,” he told a group of mostly foreign journalists.

In the last year militants based along the volatile border with Afghanistan have launched a string of assaults aimed mostly at the military and the police, but also politicians and civilians. That has fueled fears that the militants may have their eyes on a larger goal: nuclear sabotage.

But the man who Pakistan blames for masterminding the attacks, most notably the one that killed former Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto, said on Friday that he had no intention of attacking the nation’s nuclear institutions.

“We are afraid on the American bomb, not the Pakistani bomb. At least the Paksitani bombs are in the hands of Muslims,” Baitullah Mehsud, the head of a coalition of militant groups known as the united Taliban of Paksitan group, told Al-Jazeera in his first television interview.

In response, Kidwai warned that “words mean nothing. [Mehsud] could change his mind tomorrow. He has a capability. We are ready for him.”

But the government has some doubters. Pervez Hoodbhoy, the chairman of the physics department at Islamabad’s Quaid-e-Azam University, says the program’s safeguards are not foolproof.

“They may well have taken good care of certain things like electronic locks and safety devices, and they probably do keep the weapons disassembled. But they cannot know for sure that, in the times ahead, the custodians of the weapons will always be responsible to the government,” he told ABC News.

“Following U.S. practices, they now do psychological screening of personnel,” he said. “But I would find it hard to believe that such tests can spot the difference between those men who are merely strong in faith versus those who believe, in addition, that nuclear weapons are needed for defending the faith.”

Before ElBaradei made his comments, which he later backed away from, Sen. Hillary Clinton suggested that Pakistan should be willing to give up control over its own nuclear program.

“I would try to get [President Pervez] Musharraf to share the security responsibility of the nuclear weapons with a delegation from the United States and, perhaps, Great Britain, so that there is some fail-safe,” she said during a debate last month.

The Pakistani government has responded angrily to such proposals, and Kidwai said that Pakistan would “never” give up control over its nuclear facilities, saying there was “no conceivable scenario, political or violent, in which Pakistan will fall to the extremist.”

Pakistan’s weapons, he said, are “not on hair trigger alert,” and are safer because of that than they would otherwise be, though he did mention that they could be ready in “no time.”

For nearly two hours inside a barracks in Rawalpindi, the headquarters of Pakistan’s military, Kidwai used a PowerPoint presentation to describe exactly how the nuclear program is run and safeguarded.

He said that ultimate control of the program is held by a group known as the National Command Authority, whose chairman is the Pakistani president and whose vice-chairman is the prime minister. The Strategic Plans Division, which he heads, then handles “anything and everything that has to do with the nation’s nuclear capability,” including storage, safety, security, training, even running its own counter intelligence service.

A third tier, known as the Strategic Forces Commands, is the chain of command within the air force, army and navy that is responsible for actually launching the weapons.

After receiving a similar briefing earlier this month, Sen. Joseph Lieberman said he was “impressed by the specific explanation I had about the system that is in place here… Overall I felt reassured.”

Kidwai said 10,000 soldiers were deployed to defend nuclear facilities, and the 2,000 scientists working in particularly sensitive areas were subject to intense inspection, including their political beliefs, their financial situation and their moral backgrounds.

He acknowledged that two Pakistani scientists had met with Osama bin Laden before the terror attacks of Sept. 11, 2001, but he said they had ultimately been cleared of any wrongdoing. And he said one scientist had been fired after giving an anti-Musharraf speech in a mosque.

But the program is perhaps best known for the world’s most famous scientist-turned-proliferator.

Pakistan’s nuclear capabilities exploded into the public in May 1998, when the country announced it had conducted as many as six successful nuclear tests in response to Indian tests carried out just weeks before.

It took almost six years after that for the government to publicly acknowledge the actions of A.Q. Khan, known as the father of the Paksitani bomb. Khan sold nuclear technology to Iran, North Korea, and Syria, and was only caught, Kidwai said, when Pakistan created its nuclear controls in 1999.

Today, when asked about Khan, Kidwai was adamant that Pakistan had long since eliminated the loopholes Khan exploited to sell technology.

“A.Q. Khan happened in an era when there were no tight controls,” he said. When Khan headed the nuclear program, Kidwai said, “he was given the trust. He betrayed it. It’s as simple as that.”

Hide And Seek With Iran’s Nuclear Weapons Program

Another piece of missing NIE information. As many are already speculating, Iran is still running its nuclear weapons program. The NIE report surely seems damning of our government, but as the report states, Iran suspended its program in 2003. Key here is suspended. This is not the same as ended.

Well according to this report, which claims to have people inside Iran, the program is unsuspended and under the strictest covert cover. This is more believable than the complete dumping of the program. It would also indicate that diplomatic methods are not working. Have diplomatic efferts ever worked with Iran?

Iran needs to be shown force, that is the only thing this Jihadist regime understands. As for their 2003 suspension of their nuclear program, force is clearly their motive behind its suspension, the invasion of Iraq scarred the shit of the Iranians…

Since then threat of force has been deminished to nothing thanks to our liberal comrades in the US and UN. So Iran feels they are free to do as they please. The NIE report gives Iran just the cannon fodder they needed to through the anti-American and anti-Bush political movements into high gear.

In 10-15 years, hindsight will be 20-20 and people will be blaming Bush for not attacking Iran when he knew they were running this nuclear program all along.

Mr. Bush get some balls and turn up the pressure on Iran.

NEW YORK —  Iran did shut down its nuclear weapons program in 2003 but restarted it a year later, moving and hiding the equipment to thwart international inspectors, according to an Iranian opposition group, the Wall Street Journal reported Tuesday.

The group, the National Council of Resistance of Iran exposed the country’s nuclear-fuel program in 2002 and now believes a newly released U.S. analysis is giving the wrong impression that Iran’s nuclear program is not an urgent threat, the newspaper reported.

The U.S. National Intelligence Estimate published last week said Tehran shut down its weaponization program in 2003, contradicting an earlier report that the Islamic Republic was determined to build a nuclear bomb.

Read the Wall Street Journal report (subscription required)

The NCRI, considered by the United States and European Union to be a terrorist organization, has had a mixed record of accuracy with its claims about Iran’s nuclear ambitions in the past, the Wall Street Journal said.

The NCRI, however, says it was added to the EU terrorist list under pressure from Tehran at a time when Western countries were trying to improve relations with Iran.

The group agrees that Iran’s Supreme National Security Council decided to shut down its most important nuclear weapons research center in eastern Tehran, called Lavisan-Shian, in August 2003, the Journal said.

But the group, which claims it has sources inside Iran, told the paper the facility was broken into 11 fields of research, including projects to develop a nuclear trigger and shape weapons-grade uranium into a warhead.

“They scattered the weaponization program to other locations and restarted in 2004,” Mohammad Mohaddessin, NCRI’s foreign affairs chief, told the Wall Street Journal.

“Their strategy was that if the IAEA (International Atomic Energy Agency) found any one piece of this research program, it would be possible to justify it as civilian. But so long as it was all together, they wouldn’t be able to.”

By the time international inspectors were allowed to visit the Lavisan site, the buildings Iran claimed were devoted to nuclear research had been torn down and the ground bulldozed, the paper reported.

The NCRI said the equipment was moved to another military compound known as the Center for Readiness and Advanced Technology, to Malek-Ashtar University Isfahan and to a defense ministry hospital in Tehran.