October 19, 2007

US to begin disabling North Korean nuclear program in three weeks

US experts are to begin disabling North Korea's nuclear weapons arsenal in about three weeks, the State Department said Thursday following talks in Pyongyang.

The timeframe was given by Sung Kim, the head of the US State Department's Korea desk, who completed talks with North Korean officials on the nuclear disablement mission, said Tom Casey, a department spokesman.

North Korea agreed earlier this month to disable key facilities at the Yongbyon complex and declare all other nuclear programs by the end of the year.

In exchange for these actions, China, South Korea, the United States, Japan and Russia would supply North Korea with energy and other aid and offer up diplomatic concessions to the isolated nation. [ via Yahoo! News]

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October 18, 2007

Russia plans new nuclear weapons

President Vladimir Putin said on Thursday that Russia was working on new types of nuclear weapons as part of a "grandiose" plan to boost the country's defenses.

"We will develop missile technology including completely new strategic (nuclear) complexes, completely new." Putin said in an annual televised question-and-answer session with Russian citizens. "Work is continuing and continuing successfully."

"We have plans that are not only big, but grandiose, they are fully realistic. Our armed forces will be more compact but more effective and better ensure Russia defense," Putin said. [via Yahoo! New]

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August 03, 2007

Podcast: The Atomic Bazaar: The Rise of the Nuclear Poor

In his book `The Atomic Bazaar`, Langewiesche investigates the burgeoning global threat of nuclear weapons production. As more unstable and undeveloped nations find ways of acquiring the ultimate arms, the stakes of state-sponsored nuclear activity have soared to frightening heights. Even more disturbing is the likelihood of such weapons being manufactured and deployed by guerrilla non-state terrorists. Langewiesche also recounts the recent history of Abdul Qadeer Khan and examines in dramatic and tangible detail the chances for nuclear terrorism. Access the podcast here.

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July 22, 2007

Iran-IAEA Agreement Postive Sign

The head of the UN's atomic energy agency, Mohamed ElBaradei, has welcomed Iran's decision to allow inspections of its heavy water reactor at Arak. He said that after recent talks with IAEA experts, Iran had for the first time agreed to discuss concerns which remain over its nuclear program.

More talks are expected at the agency's headquarters in Vienna this month. [via ]

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North Korea: Nuclear talks end without timeline

Talks aimed at shutting down North Korea's nuclear weapons program ended Thursday with no concrete timeline and a host of difficult questions obscuring the road ahead.

But a year-end deadline proposed by the US delegation for North Korea to come clean on its nuclear weapons stockpile, atomic research programs, stored components, secret facilities, and other capabilities proved elusive.

North Korea pledged in February to dismantle its atomic weapons capability in return for aid, trade, and diplomatic recognition.

US Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said he still believed a full North Korean disclosure was possible by late December. "But obviously it's going to be difficult," Hill, the chief US negotiator, told reporters before leaving Beijing.
Chinese officials said the parties agreed to convene working groups on several technical issues by the end of August.
They also agreed to hold another round of six-nation talks by September and move to schedule a ministerial meeting as soon as possible thereafter in a bid to maintain momentum.

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China Reorganizes Northern Nuclear Missile Launch Sites

From the Strategic Security Blog,
China has significantly reorganized facilities believed to be launch sites for nuclear ballistic missiles near Delingha in the northern parts of Central China, according to commercial satellite images analyzed by the Federation of American Scientists.
The images indicate that older liquid-fueled missiles previously thought to have been deployed in the area may have been replaced with newer solid-fueled missiles. From the sites, the missiles are within range of three Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) fields and a bomber base in the southern parts of central Russia.

I'm currently reading Dr. Jeffery Lewis' , The Minimum Means of Reprisal so this post was very interesting. [via FAS]

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May 29, 2007

Physicists, the Bomb and the Development of U.S. Science Policy

Last Thursday, the University of California, San Diego, Division of Physical Science, hosted a event entitled "Physicists, the Bomb and the Development of U.S. Science Policy". It was a discussion with UCSD professors Herbert York and Marvin Goldberger. I arrived a bit early to get a good seat as you never know what San Diego traffic can be like. They were just finishing testing the microphones and a few other pre-recording checks. Once the production folks were finished, I had moment to talk with Dr. York. Being the collector that I am, I did bring along copy of The Advisors, which he graciously signed. We chatted a bit about his other book, Making Weapons, Talking Peace, which I told him was back on the bookshelf. I wish I had more time to into depth on so many topics; working with E.O. Lawrence, arms control negotiations, running a weapons lab.

Soon the theater began to fill up. The event was moderated by Mark Theimens, Dean of the Division of Physical Sciences. The evening started with Dr. Goldberger reflecting on his time at the University of Chicago. He worked as an S.E.D. (Special Engineering Detachment), assisting in the development of designing the production reactors that were being built at Site W. After the war, he continued his education with Enrico Fermi serving as his advisor. He warmly remembered Dr. Fermi. I wished we could have heard more about his interactions with Fermi.

Dr. York also commented on time spent with Fermi, and it seemed he loved to ask rhetorical questions. He then spoke about one of the other giants of the time, Ernest Lawrence. He painted a picture of Lawrence as an optimist, and more of an incredible inventor rather than a physicist. He spoke of his graduate days, working in the evenings on the calutron at Berkeley, when Lawrence would stop by and ask how it was going. The best analogy I could give would be if you were a simple programmer at Apple and Steve Jobs would stop by your office to see how things were progressing. Later he commented on how he had about 10 hours a week on one of the most expensive experimental machines in the world at the time, and how today it take massive groups just to perform similar experiments.

The discussion then turned to Oppenheimer. Dr. York had him as a teacher, and remembered his distinctive cough, the ever present smoking, and the pork pie hat. He knew Oppy's brother Frank quite well. He spoke of the great leaps that Oppy would make during lecturing. You would start with something simple like, "1 - 1 = 0";, then the next line would be on alpha decay.

Dr. Goldberger also knew Oppy, mostly while serving as director of the Institute for Advanced Study at Princeton. He recalled hosting a New Year's Eve party at a firehouse near campus, when Oppy, Kitty, Niels Bohr and his wife, Margrethe, came in and the whole party turned toward them. He also added his comments about his dislike of Kitty.

He also spoke of the events of 1954, the security hearings of Oppenheimer. He supported Oppenheimer, as most did, but felt he made some poor choices along the way.

Dr. York provided some insight from his role as the first director of the Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. There he worked both with Lawrence and Edward Teller, both of whom had a dislike for Oppenheimer. He decided to try to stay out of the fray, and focus on getting the new lab up and running, but mostly sided with Oppenheimer. He saw the fallout of the hearings, many scientists refused to come to the lab, even for a visit because of Teller's testimony (and to some degree Teller's bashing of Los Alamos as well). He commented that Teller continued to be bitter about his treatment after the hearings and this bitterness continued to grow over time.

The discussion then turned toward their roles in science policy. One remembered Luis Alverez commenting after a visit to Washington, D.C. "They wanted me to bring it [money] home in a wheelbarrow."- They talked about the state of science today, how it takes multiple universities working together in order to get funding. Dr. York commented on when this change occurred. He said, when the "War Time" leaders (those who lived by the "just get it done" attitude), retired, then leadership by committee began to take hold.

Dr. Goldberger did speak briefly about forming Jason, a group of academic scientists from top universities who get together for a few weeks every summer to work on government projects. Dr. York also spoke briefly about his involvement.

The evening quickly drew to a close, with Dr. Goldberger commenting on the down turn of the role of science in policy making. Dr. York spoke of the need for science to take the lead on three main issues; Climate Change, Energy, and Proliferation.

The event was video taped and should be available at http://www.ucsd.tv/ at some later date.

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April 27, 2007

Physicists, the Bomb & the Development of US Science Policy

I am planning on attend a lecture on the campus of UCSD entitled "Physicists, the Bomb & the Development of US Science Policy " Here is the description of the event. If you are in the southern California area, you might want to attend.

A discussion with UCSD physics professors Herbert York, UCSD's first chancellor, and Marvin “Murph” Goldberger, former president of Caltech, about their personal recollections of the major figures in 20th century physics and the development of science policy since the Manhattan Project. Moderated by Mark Thiemens, dean of the Division of Physical Sciences, and filmed for later broadcast on UCSD-TV.

The event is free and open to the public. A reception will follow. Please rsvp attendance.

PARKING: Parking located across from theatre; lots P102, P103, & P104. Parking permit required; issued by UCSD Parking Attendants, prior to event. Parking fee $3.00.

For more information, click go to http://physicalsciences.ucsd.edu/development/newsletter/issues/0704/0704.calendar.htm

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March 22, 2007

Pakistan Test Fires Nuke-Capable Missile

Pakistan on Thursday successfully test-fired a nuclear-capable cruise missile with the capability to avoid radar detection, the military said.

The missile, named Babur or Hatf VII, has a range of 434 miles and is capable of carrying various types of warheads, including nuclear, the military-run Inter-Services Public Relations Directorate said. [via Defense Tech]

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March 14, 2007

ElBaradei upbeat on N. Korea talks

Mohamed ElBaradei, head of the Vienna-based International Atomic Energy Agency, described the talks on how North Korea will close its main atomic reactor as "quite useful."

"They said they are fully committed to the February 13 agreement, that they are ready to work with the agency to make sure that we monitor and verify the shutdown of the Yongbyon facility," he said, adding officials in Pyongyang also "reiterated they are committed to the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula." [via CNN.com]

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We're a footnote...

I just finished read Bomb Scare: The History and Future of Nuclear Weapons, and we are listed in the notes section! When I started this project so many years ago, I never thought that this site could be as vaulable as it seems to be.

The book is a wonderful summary of the nuclear world and a path to a safer future. If you ever have heard Joe speak, you will know the passion he has on this topic.

I plan to do a more complete review shortly. I've been busy with other projects, so I am a but behind in book reviews in general. One of the biggest take-aways I had was that the world is at an interesting crossroads, overall the world is in less danger of complete nuclear annilihation (now the climate is another story), but the risks of a nuclear attack via terror seems to greater.

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February 21, 2007

Safety alarms raised at Pantex

In an article in today's Los Angeles Times, the safety at the Pantex plant is examined. Federal investigators are looking into deteriorating conditions at the Pantex plant in Texas. Energy Department officials say there's no danger. {via Los Angeles Times

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Iran and IAEA face off

Despite the threat of sanctions and a looming deadline, the Iranian president again scoffed Wednesday at a U.N. Security Council demand that the Islamic republic halt its uranium-enrichment program.

On December 23, the 15-member Security Council unanimously approved a resolution imposing sanctions on Iran. Russia and China, two veto-wielding members of the Security Council, voted in favor of the resolution despite previously expressing their aversion to imposing sanctions.

Under Resolution 1737, the council requested that International Atomic Energy Agency Director-General Mohamed ElBaradei report within 60 days on whether Iran has suspended its nuclear activities.

It was initially reported that the deadline expired Wednesday -- 60 days after the December 23 resolution passed -- but an IAEA official told CNN the deadline is Friday. ElBaradei is scheduled to deliver his report Thursday, the official said.

ElBaradei said in Monday's Financial Times that he expected to report that Iran had not complied with the resolution. However, ElBaradei noted, the Security Council will not take any action until he reports to the IAEA board of governors next month. [via CNN.com]

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February 15, 2007

Russia MIght Leave the INF Treaty

A top Russian general said Thursday that Moscow may unilaterally opt out of a Soviet-era arms reduction treaty with the United States, Russian news agencies reported.

Gen. Yuri Baluyevsky, the chief of the Russian military's General Staff, was quoted by ITAR-Tass and Interfax as saying that Russia could pull out of the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, negotiated between Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and U.S. President Ronald Reagan in 1987.

He said the decision would depend on the United States' actions with its proposed missile defense system, parts of which Washington is seeking to deploy in Poland and the Czech Republic. [via ABC News]

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February 13, 2007

North Korea Deal Reached

The White House on Tuesday said the six-party deal on North Korea's nuclear program was an important first step toward Pyongyang's denuclearization.

North Korea agreed to move on nuclear disarmament under a pact that will bring it about $300 million worth of aid.

"We think it's a very important first step toward the denuclearization of North Korea and the Korean peninsula," White House spokesman Tony Snow said.

North Korea will shut the Yongbyon reactor complex at the heart of its nuclear program and allow international inspectors onto the site as part of a disarmament plan reached at six-party talks among the two Koreas, United States, China, Japan and Russia. [via Yahoo!]

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February 12, 2007

North Korea Deal?

Negotiators reached a tentative agreement on initial steps for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, the U.S. envoy to the talks said Tuesday.

Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill said the agreement outlined specific commitments for North Korea and would set up working groups to implement those goals to begin meeting in about a month. He declined to give other details. [via MSNBC.com]

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Nuclear Detectives Podcast from the BBC

This two-part series examines the work of scientists - acting as nuclear detectives - seeking to identify and control the spread of radioactive materials.

Part One: Theft and Smuggling
Given that just one nuclear device in the wrong hands would cause untold devastation and loss of life, keeping track of nuclear material is a top priority.

Where do radioactive materials come from? And how do these become available to the "wrong hands"?

This first program examines theft, smuggling and what happens next.
via BBC

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February 08, 2007

6 Party Talk underway

China has distributed a draft agreement to the countries at international talks seeking to persuade North Korea to abandon its nuclear weapons programs, a South Korean official said early Friday. The official, speaking on condition of anonymity due to the ongoing diplomacy, gave no details of the draft. However, other delegates said earlier the agreement would outline initial steps for implementing a September 2005 agreement from the six-nation talks where Pyongyang pledged to disarm in exchange for aid and security guarantees.

"We had a good first day today," Assistant Secretary of State Christopher Hill told reporters Thursday evening after North Korea agreed in principle to take initial steps toward dismantling its nuclear programs.

"We hope we can achieve some kind of joint statement here," he said. [via Yahoo! News]

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January 26, 2007

New North Korean Talk?

The next round of the six-party talks to end North Korea's nuclear weapons program is likely to open in the second week of next month, with optimism for a substantial agreement, as both the United States and North Korea appear positive on future negotiations. [via Yahoo! News]

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