Entries in Nuclear (17)


North Korea Claims Nuclear Missiles 'on Standby'

Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images(SEOUL, South Korea) -- A leading general in North Korea claims the country has a long-range missile armed with nuclear warheads on standby. Pyongyang repeated its Thursday vow to ditch all non-aggression pacts with South Korea and again threatened a "preemptive nuclear attack" on the United States as well.

The regime also announced early Friday that it plans to cut off phone hotlines between North and South Korea. It was part of a defiant response to tough new sanctions imposed by the United Nations Security Council.

Colonel General Kang Pyo-yong was quoted in North Korea's party newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, as saying his soldiers are already positioned to launch a war of reunification -- taking over South Korea -- whenever the order is given by its leaders. "Our intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs) and other missiles are on standby position mounted with various nuclear warheads that have been developed lighter and smaller," he announced to tens of thousands gathered Thursday at a mass rally in Pyongyang.

North Korea had claimed success in making a lighter and smaller nuclear device after testing it last month, and in December successfully launched its Unha-3 long-range rocket with enough range to reach Alaska and, perhaps, the West Coast of the United States. But weapons experts in the region have said they believe it will still be several years before the North Koreans have a nuclear warhead small enough to be carried by one of their long-range missiles.

China, North Korea's staunchest ally, joined the U.S. and other members of the Security Council to make Thursday's vote at the U.N. unanimous. This is the third round of international sanctions against the North Korean regime.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Iran Claims Installation of New Centrifuges

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Iran says it has begun installing a new generation of centrifuges at one of its main nuclear facilities.

According to Iranian media, Iran's atomic energy organization chief, Fereydoon Abbasi-Davani, said Wednesday, that Tehran began installing the next generation of centrifuges at Natanz about a month ago.

"From last month the installation of the new generation of these machines started in the Shahid Ahmadi Roshan complex," Abbasi-Davani said, according to the Iranian Students' News Agency (INSA).

Officials in Iran say the centrifuges would be used to produce only low level enriched uranium, but the fear is advanced centrifuges could eventually produce weapons grade material.

The announcement comes during a visit by United Nations weapons inspectors, and ahead of planned negotiations later this month with world powers.

Senior U.N. investigators are in Iran to discuss with government officials allegations that Tehran may have carried out tests on triggers for atomic weapons.

Copyright 2013 ABC News Radio


Pakistan Tests Nuclear-Capable Missile

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(ISLAMABAD) -- Pakistan’s military says it has successfully fired a ballistic missile with a range of over 800 miles.

The test launch of the nuclear-capable Hatf V missile, reported Wednesday, was conducted at an undisclosed location.  

Neighboring India, much of which lies within the Hatf V’s potential launch radius, had recently tested its own Prithvi series missile.  Wednesday’s launch in Pakistan was widely seen as a response to those tests.

"The test consolidates and strengthens Pakistan's deterrence capability and national security," the Pakistani military said in a release.

The medium range weapon, also known as a Ghauri missle, can carry nuclear and conventional warheads.  The U.S. military has estimated that Pakistan possesses 90-110 nuclear warheads.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


US Beefs Up Presence Closer to Iran’s Shores

Hmera/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- Nearly 50 miles from Iran sails the nuclear-powered USS Eisenhower -- never before has the U.S. flexed so much muscle so close to the Muslim nation.

The move is a blunt warning to Iran: Don’t follow through on a threat to close the Strait of Hormuz, through which one-fifth of the world’s oil passes.

If Israel attacks Iran’s nuclear sites, Iran has promised to fill the strait’s waters with boats packed with explosives and mine the seabed.

“A $1,500 piece of explosive can take out hundreds of millions of assets in shipping and cargo,” said Rear Adm. Michael Manazir, commander of Carrier Strike Group Eight.

With more jets, ships and nations -- 30 -- involved than in previous exercises, the U.S. has sent two aircraft carriers into the region.

Each carries more than 40 F-18 fighter jets that could reach thousands of miles into Iranian air space. In addition, each fighter jet has more firepower than the entire Iranian Air Force.

The international show of force is meant to reassure Israel and persuade Iran to not try anything -- even if it is attacked.

The U.S. hopes that tensions will ease, but Israel has warned that Iran’s capital, Tehran, is only six months away from a potential nuclear weapon.

“As you can see, I can do a lot of damage with the airplanes that are onboard -- also the weapons that are in the strike group,” Manazir said. “But also, I can be a stabilizing influence.”

Even after the exercise ends, though, the troops and additional assets will remain in the region to remind Iran that the U.S. can act just a few miles from its shores.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Official: North Korea Missile Launch Expected in Next 24 to 48 Hours

File photo. iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- North Korea is expected to launch a long-range rocket in the next 24 to 48 hours, according to a U.S. official.

The official says that based on the amount of fuel the North Koreans have pumped into the rocket, the trajectory could be very long. The rocket is now expected to travel south by southeast, crossing over the Philippines and, if successful, splashing down in waters not far from Australia.

Many of the countries along the route have asked for U.S. assistance in tracking the missile’s trajectory, which has sophisticated radars and a number of antiballistic missile ships in the region.

The White House and the State Department have stayed in close contact with Asian nations.

The primary focus, however, has been putting pressure on China to rein in North Korea, which thus far has shown little willingness to cooperate. “It is fair to say that the Chinese are spending most of their time telling the U.S. to relax,” the official said.

But the missile launch is not expected to end the provocation by North Korea. Officials fear a nuclear test will soon follow. Large amounts of dirt and ground cover are being moved at one of North Korea’s nuclear sites, which experts believe indicates the North Koreans will test a nuclear device once the rocket test is complete. Even more alarming is that officials believe that, unlike the first two nuclear tests North Korea conducted with plutonium, this one could be a uranium device, which would indicate a secret uranium facility.

White House press secretary Jay Carney said Tuesday that the U.S. was continuing to work with its international partners.

North Korea claimed the planned rocket launch is just a satellite called Shining Star being put into orbit to celebrate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the regime’s founder, Kim Il Sung. Experts do not doubt there is a satellite attached to the rocket, but feel it is just cover to test a long-range missile that could be capable of hitting the U.S.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Obama to Move Forward with Iran Sanctions

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(WASHINGTON) -- President Barack Obama is moving closer to imposing sanctions on Iran’s oil exports after determining that there is enough crude oil in the global market to avoid buying from Iran.

Obama made the announcement on Friday in a statement to the departments of Energy, State and Treasury. Iran faced pressure over the last months over its nuclear program and any further sanctions would be imposed on entities that continue to purchase oil from Iran.

“I determine… that there is a sufficient supply of petroleum and petroleum products from countries other than Iran to permit a significant reduction in the volume of petroleum and petroleum products purchased from Iran by or through foreign financial institutions,” according to the statement.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


‘Israel Loves Iran’ Campaign Gains Force

Iranians Love Iran Campaign(TEL AVIV, Israel) -- As diplomats and journalists dissect every word spoken by top Israeli, Iranian and American officials for signs of a potential Israeli military strike on Iran’s nuclear program, an online campaign to prevent just that has gained steam in Israel.

On a sunny Friday in Tel Aviv, a few dozen Israelis gathered on tree-lined Rothschild Boulevard to shoot a video to be posted on YouTube. It was the latest effort in the “Israel Loves Iran” campaign that Israeli graphic designer Ronny Edry and his wife, Michal Tamirm, launched last week

“For there to be a war between us, we must first be afraid of one another, we must hate,” Edry says in a fundraising video already on the site.  “I’m not afraid of you. I don’t hate you. I don’t even know you. No Iranian ever did me … harm. I never even met an Iranian, just one in a museum in Paris -- nice dude.”

Sitting one by one in front of the camera, the mostly young Israelis took turns holding “Iranians, We Love You” placards and saying a few words to the camera in the same vein.

video platformvideo managementvideo solutionsvideo player

"The message of this campaign is people to people,” Moti Khemo, who manages the movement’s website, told ABC News.  “We believe that we’re not that different, and most people just want to live in peace.”

The site and its accompanying Facebook page are filled with photos of Israelis from all walks of life and the “Iranians, We Love You” slogan, with the subheader: “We will never bomb you.” On Friday evening, the page had almost 28,000 “likes,” and the campaign has raised more than $16,000 to print  posters and “keep the movement grow[ing].”

Organizers say responses from Iranians around the world have poured in.

"Unfortunately, the stupid politicians in both countries are trying to separate these two rich cultures!” wrote one responder.

One of the more popular posts ricocheting around Facebook is of a man and woman kissing, with him holding up his Israeli passport as she flaunts her Iranian passport.

According to a recent poll, 19 percent of Israelis support a unilateral strike on Iran.

"No one wants to live under any kind of nuclear threat,” said Shai, who was passing by the “Israel Loves Iran” shoot. “We don’t want war, we don’t want anybody to die. Not here, not there. But we are under a threat, what are we supposed to do?”

The participants recognized that it’s a simple message for a very complicated issue, and of course, they can’t promise “we will never bomb you.”

"In today’s world, it’s really more about public awareness, public consciousness,” participant Talia Gorodess told ABC News. “The more people join this campaign, the more, I hope, my government will think twice before doing anything foolish.”

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Iran Official Offers 'Permanent Human Monitoring' of Nuclear Sites

iStockphoto/Thinkstock(TEHRAN, Iran) -- A high-level advisor to Iran's supreme leader said his country is ready to allow "permanent human monitoring" of its nuclear program in exchange for Western cooperation but also warned Iran is prepared to defend itself against military strikes.

Mohammad Javad Larijani, who serves as secretary-general of Iran's Human Rights Council and key foreign policy advisor to Ayatollah Khamenei, said the West should sell Iran 20-percent enriched uranium and provide all the help that nuclear nations are supposed to provide to countries building civilian nuclear power plants. He also said the U.S. and the West should accept his country's right to continue what Iran calls its peaceful nuclear program. In return for cooperation from the West, he said, Iran would offer "full transparency."

Should negotiations fail and military strikes against nuclear sites in Iran begin, however, Larijani borrowed a phrase from President Obama's own policy when he said "every possibility is on the table" when it comes to Iran's response to such attacks. He did not discount the possibility of closing the strategic Strait of Hormuz or the firing of rockets into Israel.

Asked about an often-quoted statement by Iranian President Ahmadinejad about "wiping Israel from the face of the map," Larijani said it was "definitely not" Iran's intent to militarily obliterate Israel, adding that "neither the president meant that nor is it a policy of Iran."

Larijani also said that financial sanctions, which the White House has said are having a significant impact on the Iranian economy, were a "failure" if they were designed to halt Iran's nuclear ambitions.

"Does it stop Iran's capability for developing its nuclear facilities for peaceful means? Definitely not," he said. Even if the sanctions were hurting Iran, Larijani said, "the U.S. shouldn't enjoy hurting us."

While talk about a possible Israeli strike against Iran's nuclear facilities reached a fever pitch in the past few months, the six countries that negotiate with Iran over the nuclear program -- the U.S., U.K., France, Germany, Russia and China -- accepted last week an Iranian offer to return to negotiations after a year's standstill. Iran's nuclear negotiator, Saeed Jalili, had sent a letter to the European Union's top diplomat in February expressing Iran's willingness for the first time to return to negotiations without pre-conditions.

Pending more information on the kinds of inspections intended, Iran has rebuffed a request from the U.N.'s nuclear watchdog, the International Atomic Energy Agency, for access to the Parchin military site suspected of involvement in the past in the development of triggers for nuclear weapons. Larijani said such a visit before the talks would "not contribute to confidence."

Larijani reiterated his government's longstanding claim that "Iran is not after nuclear weapons" and said the country has an "honest to God right" under the Non-Proliferation Treaty to pursue nuclear energy for peaceful purposes.

Despite the announcement of new talks, Obama said in a press conference Wednesday that the "window for solving this issue diplomatically was shrinking."

Maintaining the nuclear program is worth the financial and potential military risk, Larijani said, because Iranians "are not secondary citizens of the world" and that they "want to enjoy exactly the same rights the United States and the United States' people are enjoying."

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


UK's Hague Warns of Cold War if Iran Proceeds with Nuclear Program

Stockbyte/Thinkstock(LONDON) -- The UK Foreign Secretary William Hague warned about an Iran with nuclear weapons.

Hague spoke with the Daily Telegraph saying an Iranian nuclear program could trigger a new Cold War with no safety mechanisms in place. He said other countries in the Middle East would rush to develop their own nuclear weapons if Iran proceeds with their program.

Tensions have escalated in the Middle East with Israel accusing Iran for last week's Israeli embassy attacks in India, Thailand and Georgia, reports BBC News.

While Iran insists that they are developing new energy programs, the EU and the United States imposed more sanctions on Iran in order to discourage the country from pursuing a nuclear program.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio


Doomsday is Now One Minute Closer

David Goldman/Getty Images(CHICAGO) -- As the iconic '80s band R.E.M once sang, “It’s the end of the world as we know it....”  Or is it?

The Doomsday clock, which represents a symbolic end of the world through a countdown to midnight, was moved one minute closer to midnight Tuesday.  The decision to move the hand back to where it was in 2007 was made because of what the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists said in a statements was “inadequate progress on nuclear weapons reduction and proliferation, and continuing inaction on climate change.”

The last time the clock’s hand was moved was 2010, when it was moved back from five minutes to six minutes to midnight.

Lawrence Krauss, co-chair of the BAS Board of Sponsors and professor at Arizona State University, said “it makes sense to move the clock closer to midnight” as the developments seen two years ago were not sustained.

“As we see it, the major challenge at the heart of humanity’s survival in the 21st century is how to meet energy needs for economic growth in developing and industrial countries without further damaging the climate, exposing people to loss of health and community, and without risking further spread of nuclear weapons, and in fact setting the stage for global reductions,” Krauss added.

Energy and climate was one issue close to the heart of the decision to move the hand.

“The global community may be near a point of no return in efforts to prevent catastrophe from changes in Earth’s atmosphere,” Allison Macfarlane, BAS chair said. “The actions taken in the next few years will set us on a path that will be impossible to redirect.”

Macfarlane cited International Energy Agency projections saying that societies need to start building alternatives to carbon-emitting energies in the next five years, otherwise “the world is doomed to a warmer climate, harsher weather, droughts, famine, water scarcity, rising sea levels, loss of island nations, and increasing ocean acidification.”

The other main issue cited by the BAS was the differences and disagreements recently seen between Russia and the United States, as well as failure to act on a Test Ban Treaty by leaders of nuclear states that would have cut off production of nuclear weapons materials.

“A world free of nuclear weapons is not at all clear, and leadership is failing,” said Jayantha Dhanapala, BAS Board of sponsors and former United Nations under-secretary for Disarmament Affairs. “The world still has approximately 19,500 deployed nuclear weapons, enough power to destroy the world’s inhabitants several times over.”

The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Board of Directors, along with consultation by its Board of Sponsors, which includes 18 Nobel Laureates, makes the decisions to move the clocks hand. The clock was created in 1947 by the board.

Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio

ABC News Radio