North Korea Evades Sanctions
Choe Sang-Hun, NY Times – March 11, 2014
A panel of experts to the U.N. Security Council reported that recent inspections have proven that North Korea is using deceptive techniques to go around international sanctions. Despite growing international vigorous sanctions against North Korea in an attempt to cripple the dictatorship’s capability to build and test WMDs, Pyongyang has defied these sanctions by not only continuing nuclear and ballistic missile programs but also by engaging in illegal arms trade. The panel explained how a North Korean cargo ship was stopped by Panamanian authorities while carrying undeclared weapons that were hidden under 10,000 tons of sugar from Cuba. This instance confirmed that one of North Korea’s most profitable sources of revenue remains weapons exports, as Cuba has acknowledged that it was indeed sending Soviet-era weapons to be repaired in North Korea.
North Korea: No Additional Sanctions Needed
Jonathan Cheng, Wall Street Journal – March 11, 2014
A report written by a U.N. panel of experts argued that the current sanctions are not working (see above), however it also argued that we do NOT need to add any new, tighter sanctions either. Instead of additional sanctions, the panel argued that simply better enforcement of the current ones would be the key to controlling more of Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. The report noted that part of the difficulty of enforcing current sanctions is that countries “suffer from a lack of awareness and insufficient understanding of the resolutions,” where not paying attention to basic measures such as cargo inspections and denial of entry into ports allows North Korea to evade sanctions. “Eight years into the sanctions and…[North Korea] continues to benefit from a lack of understanding.”
Japan’s Rokkasho Plant: Irresistible Terrorist Target?
Douglas Birch, R. Jeffrey Smith & Jake Adelstein, The Center for Public Integrity – March 11, 2014
A month ago, Japan’s leaders confirmed that the country fully intends to open one of the world’s “newest, largest and most controversial production plants” by October 2014. The $22 billion Rokkasho Plant will produce thousands of gallon-sized steel canisters containing a flour-like mixture of uranium and plutonium– enough to technically provide for the steps for a huge nuclear arsenal. This is partly why Western experts have been worried. The Obama Administration has said little publicly about Japan’s plans to enlarge its already substantial load of plutonium, but when Obama was first elected, Washington furiously lobbied behind the scenes, trying to persuade Japan that terrorists might find Rokkasho’s stockpile of plutonium as an irresistible target. The U.S. has attempted to persuade Japan to create a more stable security force at the plant with additional background checks on the 2,400 employed there, but Japan has refused, explaining that the “homogenous, pacifist nature of their [Japanese] society makes nuclear conspiracies unlikely.”
Iran: India has to cut Iranian oil imports
Nidhi Verma, Reuters – March 11, 2014
The Indian government has reported that the country must cut its Iranian oil imports by nearly two-thirds from the first quarter after the United States asked it to hold the shipments at end-2013 levels, in keeping with the nuclear deal easing sanctions on Tehran. Since the interim deal was signed, purchases of Iranian oil by its four top buyers—China, India, Japan, and South Korea—have been increasing and together they have taken 1.25 million barrels/day as opposed to the daily limit of 935,000 barrels/day for 2013. The increases mean Indian refiners have to cut their buys of Iranian oil to about 110,000 barrels/day over the April 1- July 20 period.
Increased NATO Nuclear Weapons Security Costs
Hans M. Kristensen, FAS Strategic Security Blog – March 11, 2014
Based on the Pentagon’s FY2015 budget request, the cost of securing U.S. non-strategic nuclear weapons deployed in Europe is expected to nearly double to meet increased U.S. security standards. Since 2000, NATO has invested over $80 million to secure nuclear weapons storage sites in Belgium, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, and Turkey. But according to the new DoD request, new U.S. security standards will require another $154 million to increase security measures at the six bases in the five countries. Although the Dutch government denied there were any security problems, an Air Force Blue Ribbon Review in 2008 claimed that “most” nuclear sites in Europe did not meet U.S. security standards.