Russia could achieve Ukraine incursion within 3-5 days
Adrian Croft, Reuters – April 2, 2014
Russia has placed all the forces it needs on Ukraine’s border if it decided to carry out a successful “incursion” into the country. NATO’s top military commander, U.S. Air Force General Philip Breedlove said the situation is “incredibly concerning” and said Russia could carry out its objective within 3 to 5 days. As of now, NATO military chiefs have estimated 40,000 Russian soldiers stand on the Ukrainian border, potentially posing a threat to eastern and southern Ukraine. The Russian force has aircraft and helicopter support as well as field hospitals and electronic warfare capabilities. President Vladimir Putin has said he has no intention of invading its neighbor, though since the toppling of Ukrainian President Viktor Yanukovich in February, he has asserted the right to intervene and protect ethnic Russians if necessary.
North Korea Signals a New Missile Launch is Coming
Global Security Newswire – April 1, 2014
North Korea has declared a no-sail area in the East Sea, suggesting another missile launch is in the works. An unidentified South Korean defense official said that “North Korea has internally set the no-sail zone in waters near Wonsan this week to control its vessels. It is highly likely that the North may fire ballistic missiles.” On Monday Pyongyang exchanged fire with the South, which comes on the heels of the North’s test-launch last week of two medium-range Rodong ballistic missiles. North Korea also announced vague plans for further drills aimed at enhancing its ability to strike medium- and long-range targets, and threatened to carry out a new kind of nuclear test. “North Korea has prepared an underground explosion at a horizontal tunnel dug deep inside of a mountain. To conduct a real atomic test, additional equipment and devices are needed. But no such movement has been detected yet,” said a ministry official.
U.S. missile defense system could see an increase in costs
Andrea Shalal, Reuters – April 1, 2014
The U.S. missile defense system could see additional costs and delays after several test failures and technical challenges in 2013. The U.S. Government has already spent $98 billion since 2002 to develop a complex, layered system to defend against enemy ballistic missile attacks and plans to spend $38 billion more through fiscal year 2018. But despite these already high costs, continued problems with key aspects of the program– including the ground-based mid course defense managed by Boeing Co. — could drive the costs of the missile defense system even higher in coming years.
Lawmakers again call on Obama to keep MOX open
Meg Kinnard, The Telegraph – April 1, 2014
Lawmakers are still calling on the Obama administration to keep open a South Carolina facility to process weapons-grade plutonium into commercial reactor fuel, arguing that plans to abort the plan would jeopardize international nonproliferation agreements and could trigger millions in federal penalties. House members including all of South Carolina’s representatives wrote to Energy Secretary Moniz stressing the importance of the MOX facility. The MOX plant is managed by the National Nuclear Security Administration, an agency within the Energy Department. Last month, the Department of Energy announced its budget plans, with a note to put the facility on “cold standby” given the increasing costs.
Senators want U.S. to reject Iran’s new ambassador to the U.N.
Mario Trujillo, The Hill – April 1, 2014
A number of U.S. senators are urging President Obama to deny a VISA to the man Iran has picked as its new ambassador to the U.N. The senators say Hamid Abutalebi– who was handpicked by Iranian President Hassan Rouhani– has links to the group involved in the 1979 Iranian hostage crisis. Senator Ted Cruz (R-Texas) introduced legislation that would prevent the UN Ambassador from entering the U.S. if he was a known terrorist. “It is unconscionable that, in the name of international diplomatic protocol, the U.S. would be forced to host a foreign national who showed a brutal disregard for the status of our diplomats when they were stationed in his country,” said Cruz. Abutalebi was apparently part of the group that occupied the U.S. embassy in Iran during the hostage crisis; however, he was not one of the members who held the hostages during that time. Abutalebi has previously said that he only acted as a translator and negotiator during the hostage crisis. The State Department has not responded to the VISA application yet. A controversy over Abutalebi could potentially hamper progress towards a comprehensive agreement to curb Iran’s nuclear program.