Weapons of Mass Destruction
President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un abruptly cut short their two-day summit Thursday amid contradictory accounts over why they were unable to reach an agreement to dismantle Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons.
The United States has no diplomatic relations with North Korea, so there is no embassy in Washington, but for years the two countries have relied on the “New York channel,” an office inside North Korea’s mission to the United Nations, to handle the unavoidable parts of our nonexistent relationship. The office has, among other things, negotiated the release of prisoners and held informal talks about nuclear tensions. In April, I contacted the New York channel and requested permission to visit Pyongyang, the capital of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
Firing back with ‘unprecedented’ provocations against joint South Korean and American annual military exercises, Kim Jung Un could make a dangerously wrong move.
North Korea said it successfully tested a powerful nuclear bomb on Wednesday, drawing criticism from world governments even though the United States and weapons experts voiced doubt the device set off by the isolated nation was as advanced as Pyongyang claimed. The underground explosion shook the earth so hard that it registered as a seismic event with U.S. earthquake monitors. It put pressure on China to rein in neighboring North Korea.
There's still plenty of doubt about whether North Korea did in fact detonate a sophisticated hydrogen bomb on Wednesday local time, or if the explosion that triggered a 5.1-magnitude earthquake was a nuclear test more akin to previous ones in 2006, 2009, and 2013. Even as the UN Security Council held an emergency session on Wednesday, the White House said initial US findings were "not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test"—something that would have represented a major ramp-up in North Korea's nuclear capabilities.
Fragments from mortars fired by Islamic State militants at Kurdish fighters in northern Iraq earlier this month tested positive in a U.S. military field test for the chemical weapons agent sulfur mustard, a U.S. general said on Friday.
Bells tolled and thousands bowed their heads in prayer in Hiroshima on Thursday at ceremonies marking the 70th anniversary of the world's first atomic bombing while survivors warned about Japan's moves away from its pacifist constitution. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his government are pushing security bills through parliament that could send Japanese troops into conflict for the first time since World War Two, sparking massive protests around the country.
I spent much of this spring obsessed with a question: Could the United States and Russia stumble into war, perhaps even nuclear war? It was a concern I'd first heard in late 2014, shortly after Russia's covert invasion of eastern Ukraine and its military harassment of neighboring NATO member states, which the United States is treaty-bound to defend.
It was in August 2014 that the real danger began, and that we heard the first warnings of war. That month, unmarked Russian troops covertly invaded eastern Ukraine, where the separatist conflict had grown out of its control. The Russian air force began harassing the neighboring Baltic states of Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania, which are members of NATO. The US pledged that it would uphold its commitment to defend those countries as if they were American soil, and later staged military exercises a few hundred yards from Russia's border.
In secret chemical weapons experiments conducted during World War II, the U.S. military exposed thousands of American troops to mustard gas. When those experiments were formally declassified in the 1990s, the Department of Veterans Affairs made two promises: to locate about 4,000 men who were used in the most extreme tests, and to compensate those who had permanent injuries.
For two and a half years, Air Force Capt. Blake Sellers donned a green U.S. Air Force flight suit, and motored across barren Wyoming grassland in sun, rain, sleet or blizzard, for 24-hour shifts, 60 feet below ground, in a fluorescent-lit buried capsule. Sellers was one of the roughly 600 officers, known as missileers, who are responsible for launching America's 450 nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. Each ICBM in the arsenal is capable of rocketing to the other side of the planet in 30 minutes or less and incinerating 65 square miles. Missileers are the human beings who have agreed to render whole cities — like Moscow, Tehran or Pyongyang, but really anywhere there is civilization— into, in the jargon of the base, smokin' holes.
It’s been a year since Russia annexed Crimea and the nuclear rumors are flying. Earlier this month, Russian officials speculated about whether or not Russia could place nuclear weapons in Crimea. Admitting ignorance about what weapons were there now or whether there were any plans to deploy such weapons there, Mikhail Ulyanov, an official in charge of arms control for the Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs stated that “in principle, Russia can do it.” And in a video apparently intended to mark the anniversary of the annexation, Russian President Vladimir Putin stated that he had considered putting Russian nuclear forces on alert at the time of annexation. When it comes to nuclear weapons, idle speculation is never a good idea.
Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu did President Obama an enormous favor Tuesday. Given the opportunity, on perhaps the world’s biggest political stage, to articulate the best possible case against the nuclear deal currently being negotiated with Iran, Netanyahu came up empty. He whiffed. His shot sailed so wide of the rim that it went up into the bleachers and struck a small child in the face. Given how much buildup the speech received—and how much of America’s time has been wasted with the controversy surrounding it—it’s simply amazing that Netanyahu didn’t use the chance to offer any new or interesting ideas, any viable path to achieving the prevention of an Iranian nuclear weapon—which he insists is a shared goal with the United States—other than the one we are on now.
In 1947, the specter of nuclear holocaust prompted the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists to come up with a “Doomsday Clock.” The clock was meant to highlight just how close humans had come to wiping ourselves off the map. Midnight on the clock represented global catastrophe—the end of civilization as we know it. Back then, the Bulletin set the clock to 11:53 p.m. The group has revisited the setting each year since, occasionally adjusting it forward or backward to reflect changes in world events.
Billions of dollars are needed in the next five years to ensure the security and effectiveness of the ageing U.S. nuclear deterrent, the Pentagon said on Friday, after reviews found evidence of neglect during years of conventional warfare. U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel, announcing an overhaul of the system, said Americans had never been endangered. "We have just kind of taken our eye off the ball here...(but) there's nothing here we can't fix," he said. "As long as we have nuclear weapons we must ensure that they are safe, secure and effective."
ALONG A LONELY STATE HIGHWAY on central Montana's high plains, I approach what looks like a ranch entrance, complete with cattle guard. "The first ace in the hole," reads a hand-etched cedar plank hanging from tall wooden posts. "In continuous operation for over 50 years." I drive up the dirt road to a building surrounded by video cameras and a 10-foot-tall, barbed-wire-topped fence stenciled with a poker spade. "It is unlawful to enter this area," notes a sign on the fence, whose small print cites the Subversive Activities Control Act of 1950, a law that once required communist organizations to register with the federal government. "Use of deadly force authorized."
India and Pakistan have fought four wars since 1947 and had several crises that went to the brink of war. Both tested nuclear weapons in 1998. Now tensions are escalating between the two again. It began in May, when a heavily armed squad of Pakistani terrorists from Lashkar e Tayyiba (Army of the Pure) attacked India’s consulate in Herat, in western Afghanistan. They planned to massacre Indian diplomats on the eve of the inauguration of India’s new Hindu nationalist prime minister, Narendra Modi. The consulate’s security forces killed the LeT terrorists first, preventing a crisis. Since LeT is a proxy of Pakistan's military intelligence service known as the ISI, Indian intelligence officials assume the Herat attack was coordinated with higher-ups in Pakistan.
he New York Times published an amazing story last night on the U.S. and Iraqi troops who discovered and were wounded by old and inoperable chemical weapons over the course of the Iraq war. In some cases, shoddy disposal tactics resulted in soldiers suffering injuries after being exposed to active chemical agents still inside the corroding munitions. The Pentagon withheld information about the weapons from soldiers on the front line, kept military doctors in the dark, and generally did everything it could to “suppress knowledge” about the injuries to U.S. personnel. It’s a remarkable piece of journalism. But for many conservatives, the real news broken by the Times is that BUSH WAS RIGHT ABOUT IRAQ.
For some time I have been researching the lives of a group of scientists who worked on the development of the atomic bomb during World War Two. Although there are several impeccably researched non-fiction works on the subject and a number of biographies, none of these really conveyed to me the emotions and convictions that drove their work - I simply could not connect with the personal principles of the scientists who collaborated with such energy to produce the period's ultimate weapon of mass destruction. In my search for understanding the motivation of those who joined the race to produce the bomb whose use at Hiroshima and Nagasaki appalled the world, I eventually decided to turn from fact to fiction.
Opposition activists accused President Bashar al-Assad's forces of a new poison gas attack in the Syrian capital on Wednesday, posting footage of four men being treated by medics. They said the chemical attack, the fourth the opposition has reported this month, was in the Harasta neighborhood. Reuters could not independently verify the footage or the allegation due to restrictions on reporting in Syria.