(Reuters) – Bitter rivals North and South Koreaheld a second round of “constructive and useful” dialogue on Wednesday as momentum builds for a resumption of six-party talks on dismantling Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program. Read the rest of this entry »
The U.S. missile defense shield will cover the entire territory of Europe, including all Bulgaria, according to U.S. Undersecretary of State Ellen Tauscher.
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Opinion piece written by E. Thomas McClanahan for the Kansas City Star.
When President Barack Obama came into office, many people (this writer included), expected him to mothball the nation’s missile defense program, much as President Bill Clinton had done. During his campaign, Obama gave lip service to the concept but promised to slice funding for “unproven” systems.
President Obama warned President Hu Jintao that if China did not step up its pressure on North Korea, the United States would have to redeploy its forces in Asia to protect itself from a potential North Korean strike on American soil, a senior administration official said Thursday.
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Speaking before the United Nations Wednesday, North Korea’s Vice-Minister of Foreign Affairs Pak Kil Yon said Pyongyang is, however, ready to join nuclear nonproliferation efforts in its capacity as a nuclear weapon state.
“As long as the U.S. nuclear aircraft carriers sail around the seas of our country, our nuclear deterrent can never be abandoned but be should be strengthened further,” Pak said. “This is the lesson we have drawn.”
Pak defended Pyongyang’s development of nuclear weapons, saying it has succeeded in preventing the Korean peninsula from being “turned into a war field scores of times.”
The Obama administration’s hopes for rapid, bipartisan approval of its new arms-control treaty with Russiaratification without iron-clad assurances of future spending to maintain the U.S. nuclear arsenal have dimmed, with Republican senators making clear that they will not support.
Sen. John F. Kerry (D-Mass.), chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee, announced Tuesday that he will delay a key vote on the New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (New START) until after the summer recess. That will pitch the treaty into the politically charged period just before the November elections.
Although the world’s fifth-largest oil exporter, Iran lacks the refining capacity to meet domestic fuel demand and relies on imports to meet up to 40 percent of its gasoline needs.
“Companies with operations in the United States are having to be very careful indeed,” said Mehdi Varzi, of independent oil and gas consultancy Varzi Energy.
“The sanctions can be interpreted in any way Congress likes, so anything, even a trade of just a few million dollars, could be seen as abetting the other party.”
World powers led by Washington want Tehran to suspend its uranium enrichment activity which they suspect masks a nuclear weapons drive.
Enriched uranium can be used as fuel to power nuclear reactors as well as to make the fissile core of an atom bomb.
Tehran says its nuclear programme is entirely peaceful.
“We have produced around 20 kilograms of 20 per cent enriched uranium and we are working to produce the (fuel) plates,” Iran’s atomic chief Ali Akbar Salehi told ISNA news agency.
Foreign Ministry spokesman Andrei Nesterenko said in a statement that “it is already clear” that the Obama administration’s revised antimissile plan “in essence posits the deployment in Europe of a missile defense architecture without taking into account Russia’s justified interests and concerns.”
Last fall, Washington announced that it was scrapping a Bush-era program for missile defense in favor of a “phased adaptive approach” that would entail fielding sea- and land-based version of the Standard Missile 3 interceptor around the continent as a hedge against potential short- and medium-range missiles fired from Iran. Moscow has worried that the location of shield infrastructure in nations along its borders would threaten the Russian nuclear deterrent.
In 2005, the State Department told Congress that Russia had not reported that a road-mobile intercontinental ballistic missile launcher had left its production plant and therefore should have become an entry under the accountability section of the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty.
The State Department then said that “Russia continues to violate START provisions relevant to these obligations,” according to the State Department Compliance Report. In that report, State also said Russia had “hampered” U.S. inspectors from determining that covered objects in the nose cones of Russian ICBMs were not nuclear warheads.