According to unconfirmed reports, two missile warheads capable of being armed with a nuclear weapon have been acquired by Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps.
North Korea has rejected South Korea’s offer to host leader Kim Jong Il at an international nuclear summit in Seoul next year.
South Korean President Lee Myung-bak made the proposal Monday in Berlin. He conditioned the offer on North Korea stopping its nuclear weapons program.
Returning from a trip to Pyongyang, former U.S. President Jimmy Carter said that North Korean leader Kim Jong Il ready for a summit with South Korean President Lee Myung-bak at any time.
Carter did not personally meet with Kim, but he said that as he and his delegation of former heads of state were on the way to Pyongyang airport to depart for South Korea, they were summoned back to their guesthouse, where a senior official read out a written message from the reclusive leader.
Pakistan’s military on Tuesday said it had successfully test-fired a newly developed short-range ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads.
The military said in a statement that the “Hatf 9″ missile with a range of 60 kilometres (40 miles) “could carry nuclear warheads of appropriate yields with high accuracy”.
North Korea is ready to conduct another nuclear test if its current approaches for dialogue fail although there are no current signs of preparations, South Korea’s spy chief said Tuesday.
“Another atomic test is always possible as (North Korea) has various nuclear test sites and construction of (new) sites is under way,” National Intelligence Service chief Won Sei-Hoon was quoted as telling a parliamentary intelligence committee.
The United States has signed an agreement with South Korea for the development of a missile defense system against North Korea, which is believed to have developed ballistic missiles carrying nuclear warheads capable of hitting the U.S. mainland.
“With South Korea, we have engaged in bilateral missile-defense cooperation discussions and have recently signed a Terms of Reference and an agreement that will enable our two nations to carry out a requirements analysis so that South Korea can make informed decisions about the utility of any future BMD program,” Bradley Roberts, deputy assistant secretary of defense for nuclear and missile defense policy, told a Senate Armed Services Committee Thursday, according to a transcript on the committee’s Web site.
North Korean leader Kim Jong-il is unlikely to bow to pressure to surrender his nuclear capability because he believes it is vital for “regime survival,” the U.S. commander in South Korea said on Tuesday.
The comments by General Walter Sharp at a Senate hearing came as a South Korean nuclear envoy visits Washington this week to discuss the nuclear standoff with Pyongyang, and ahead of a trip by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to Seoul.
Iran is proclaiming significant gains in its nuclear program, progress that Western officials and experts say could effectively erase setbacks from recent cyber attacks and shorten the timeline for acquiring nuclear weapons.
Scientists from Iran’s atomic energy program, in announcements over the past three days, said they have successfully tested advanced centrifuges for enriching uranium and are less than a month away from starting the country’s first commercial nuclear reactor. The announcements, linked to the observance of “nuclear technology day” in Tehran, underscore recent assessments by intelligence officials and Western nuclear experts suggesting that Iran is preparing to speed up its production of enriched uranium.
‘The North may now have several plutonium-based nuclear warheads that it can deliver by ballistic missiles and aircraft as well as by conventional means,’ Lieutenant General Ronald Burgess, director of the Defense Intelligence Agency, told a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
The U.S. government is concerned Iran may be working with Chinese companies to obtain sensitive technology that may be useful for developing a nuclear weapons capability, Robert Einhorn, the State Department’s special adviser for nonproliferation and arms control, said yesterday.
Einhorn’s comments are the latest reflection of unease among U.S. officials and proliferation experts that China remains a gap in enforcing United Nations sanctions on Iran, which the government in Beijing supported last year.