Did Trump Nuclearize the Saudi Horn: Daniel 7

Trump, Classified Nuclear Files, Saudis: What We Do Know, What We Don’t

By Tom Norton On 8/12/22 at 3:10 PM EDT

Claims that FBI agents who searched Donald Trump‘s Mar-a-Lago estate were looking for classified documents concerning nuclear weapons have heated up speculation about the bureau’s extraordinary investigation into the former president.

A Washington Post story, which relied on unnamed sources, followed earlier statements published in Newsweek that agents were seeking “national defense information,”according to two senior government officials.

Meanwhile, an exclusive report by Newsweekcited sources in the U.S. intelligence communitythat said the top secret materials could contain documents dealing with intelligence sources and methods—”including human sources on the American government payroll.”The search warrant issued to Donald Trump to search his Mar-a-Lago estate in Florida is expected to be unsealed. Above, Trump greets supporters during a rally on August 5 in Waukesha, Wisconsin.Scott Olson/Getty Images

Regardless, after the FBI raided the former president’s Florida residence on Monday, it has remained tight-lipped about its investigation.

That may be about to change, with details of the warrant expected to be released later on Friday, after Attorney General Merrick Garland said Thursday the Department of Justice (DOJ) was seeking to unseal it.

In the days following the raid, Trump has urged the DOJ to release the warrant immediately, even though he has refused to do so himself.

Whether the DOJ does release the warrant—and whether other revelations come out—Newsweekhas investigated what information could be revealed, Trump’s history on nuclear technology and the protocol surrounding the FBI search.

According to former federal prosecutor Gene Rossi, Trump would have received a search warrant with “the list of the statute or statutes that they’re looking at” and a list of items that were taken from Mar-a-Lago.

He said: “He’s been given a copy, it’s not sealed, there’s no court order that says you can’t divulge it. Donald Trump has the absolute right to tell the whole world what the documents say. So he could do that right now.”

However, Rossi said, there could be implications if he released the warrant, the list of seizures or both.

“It could hurt Trump politically [if he released the list of seizures] because the public would then know what was taken from his house and there could be incriminating items,” he said.

“The first page in a warrant could list more than one statute that they think was violated, and that could include, possibly, insurrection, rebellion, obstruction of a congressional proceeding. It could be a lot of things other than just a records violation.

“So politically, that’s probably why he hasn’t done it now,” Rossi said.

He continued, “Legally, if it’s unsealed and exposed to the world, in the event that he is charged, and we don’t know yet, but if he is ever charged, it could affect the jury pool when he goes to trial.

“Potential jurors will read in the paper that they executed a search warrant on his home, they see certain individual items. That can be all prejudicial in the minds of potential jurors.

“And the other thing is, although embarrassment doesn’t seem to be something that he is always concerned about, it’s embarrassing to let the world know exactly what they took out of your house,” Rossi said.Donald Trump leaves Manhattan’s Trump Tower to meet with New York Attorney General Letitia James’ lawyers for a deposition on Wednesday.James Devaney/GETTY

The search warrant itself would have little information on it, with a list of the statute or statutes and the date when the warrant was approved.

Rossi said that a judge could still publish these documents “even if Trump doesn’t agree.”

The speculation that Trump may have withheld documents relating to nuclear secrets appeared to raise questions about his administration’s links to the transfer of U.S. nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

In 2019, Senate Democrats said the administration had approved the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia on at least two occasions following the killing of U.S. resident and Washington Post journalist Jamal Khashoggi, allegedly at the hands of a Saudi-linked kill squad, in Turkey.

These transfers were not revealed to Congressby Trump Cabinet officials until months after they took place.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, who has accepted responsibility for the killing of Khashoggi (although he says he was not directly to blame), said in March 2018 that the kingdom would create a nuclear weapon to counter a perceived nuclear threat from Iran.

Republican staff of the House Oversight Committee said in July 2019 that there was no wrongdoing in the transfer of nuclear technology to Saudi Arabia.

Democrats previously alleged the Trump administration may have broken federal laws and guidelines in its numerous transfers of U.S. nuclear technology to the Middle Eastern country and was “rushing” the transactions.President Donald Trump holds up a chart of military hardware sales as he meets with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in the Oval Office on March 20, 2018.Kevin Dietsch-Pool/Getty Images/Getty

A GOP report concluded that the Trump White House was “not rushing nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” “not conflicted from deliberations to transfer nuclear energy technology to Saudi Arabia,” and has “not skirted requirements for congressional notification about nuclear energy technology transfers to Saudi Arabia.”

Trump’s links to the Saudi elite were reestablished—and came under scrutiny—recently when he held the Saudi-funded LIV Golf tour at his club in Bedminster, New Jersey.

This was not the only major decision on nuclear technology or armaments that Trump is connected to. There was also the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, which Trump pulled the United States out of during his time in office.

The INF, signed in 1987 by Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev and President Ronald Reagan, banned missiles with ranges of between 310 and 3,400 miles.

Before the withdrawal from the INF, Russia said it had plans to launch 4,000 war games in preparation.

Addressing the U.S. withdrawal, Russian President Vladimir Putin said: “I think it was a mistake…and that they could have gone a different path.”

He added, “I do understand the U.S. concerns. While other countries are free to enhance their defenses, Russia and the U.S. have tied their own hands with this treaty. However, I still believe it was not worth ruining the deal. I believe there were other ways out of the situation.”

Trump followed up by saying that Putin should back a new Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) to restrict a nuclear arms race.

An extension to START was later approved by President Joe Biden. Russian President Vladimir Putin and Donald Trump shake hands before a meeting in Helsinki on July 16, 2018.BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP/Getty Images

Crucially, however, the details of the search warrant would not have information about whether the FBI’s search was related to security risks surrounding nuclear weapons. That information would be contained in the affidavit that accompanied the warrant, which is likely to remain sealed for some time.

Rossi told Newsweek that if Trump faces a trial following the search, the court would likely unseal the affidavit “because before trial…he would have the opportunity to move to suppress the search warrant because it violated the Fourth Amendment.”

According to a Cornell Law School article, the Fourth Amendment “originally enforced the notion that ‘each man’s home is his castle,’ secure from unreasonable searches and seizures of property by the government.” It also “protects against arbitrary arrests and is the basis of the law regarding search warrants, stop-and-frisk, safety inspections, wiretaps, and other forms of surveillance.”

Rossi said, “Even then, the judge may say, I’m going to unseal it only for the purpose of allowing the defendant to file a motion to suppress the search warrant, and he may issue a protective order even then, to prevent disclosure to the public.”

Backlash against the FBI’s raid on Mar-a-Lago has led many Trump supporters to question whether the bureau’s actions were too heavy-handed or even warranted.

Notwithstanding that no details of the search have been formally revealed, Rossi said that if there were fears that the former president had material that could threaten national security, authorities would “probably” need less probable cause to get a search warrant.

“I would suspect that if they had reason to believe that he was continuing to withhold, allegedly, nuclear secrets, military secrets, I think a judge would have an easier time to approve that search warrant,” Rossi said.

He went on, “But I have to stress, this affidavit that they submitted to the judge, I would be very surprised if it was not incredibly detailed, deep in evidentiary foundation and filled with corroborating documents and witnesses to support the search warrant.

“In other words, they’re not going to go in there with a five-page affidavit and say, ‘Hey, we guess we’re speculating. We don’t have to do beyond a reasonable doubt…[but] Judge, approve it.

“I think they probably submitted a 100- to 200-page affidavit that was incredibly comprehensive and detailed,” Rossi said.

So the search warrant is unlikely to contain a great amount of detail and is very unlikely to contain any information that would corroborate the claims made in the Washington Post report.

We also don’t know whether Trump’s reasoning for not releasing the warrant himself is wholly truthful, as there may be either political or legal implications associated with it.

We won’t know until later whether the DOJ will unseal both the warrant and the list of seized items, although the latter may be less likely.

And, of course, there’s the affidavit, which is unlikely to be released unless Trump is indicted. Even then, sections of it may be redacted or otherwise withheld from the public.

In any case, it’s a remarkable conclusion to a week filled with allegations, rumors and speculation that is unlikely to end anytime soon.

Newsweek has examined a number of the claims and narratives surrounding the Mar-a-Lago search, as well as Trump’s possible motivation for pleading the Fifth Amendment, allegedly more than 440 times, during his deposition Wednesday before lawyers from the New York attorney general’s office in connection with another investigation.

UK Trains the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

Submarine Training

Midshipmen assigned to the Yale University Naval Reserve Officers’ Training Corps (NROTC) program receive training in the Naval Submarine School’s damage control wet trainer. (U.S. Navy photo by Charles E. Spirtos)

UK To Train Australian Nuclear Sub Sailors


September 4, 2022

By Ben Westcott (Bloomberg) Australian sailors will be trained by the UK Navy on board its nuclear-powered submarines, the next step toward Canberra fielding its own fleet of the vessels under the landmark AUKUS security agreement.

Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles joined British Prime Minister Boris Johnson at the commissioning of the HMS Anson Astute-class nuclear submarine in the UK on Wednesday. Johnson said Australian sailors would train on the HMS Anson. 

Marles said in a statement Thursday that Australia was “working hand in glove” with the UK on building the skills which would allow them to one day field their own fleet of nuclear submarines. The timeline for the training wasn’t disclosed. 

“The technology, capability and lethality on show is truly impressive and Australia looks forward to progressing our talks through the AUKUS partnership,” Marles said.

Australia, the UK and the US struck a pact in September last year to deepen defense ties and increase sharing of intelligence and technology in the face of growing competition from China in the Asia-Pacific. 

Under the deal, known as AUKUS, the UK and the US agreed to help Australia build and operate its own fleet of nuclear-propelled submarines by 2040, greatly increasing Canberra’s military reach.

Also Read: Australian Shipbuilders Debate Nuclear Reactor Safety In Wake Of Submarine Deal

While the training of Australian sailors is the next step toward fulfilling the AUKUS agreement, many details still have to be resolved. Australia has yet to announce whether it will model its submarines on the UK or the US models or when the new vessels might be ready for service.

Marles said in June it would be “optimistic in the extreme” to expect the submarines to be ready by 2030.

Related Book: The Hunt for Red October By Tom Clancy

© 2022 Bloomberg L.P.

UK Warns of Sudden Nuclear War with the Chinese Horn: Daniel 7

UK National Security Adviser Warns of Sudden Nuclear War with China

UK National Security Adviser Warns of Sudden Nuclear War with China

Britain’s official National Security Advisor has warned that the risk of nuclear escalation is greater today than it was during the Cold War.

Britain’s official National Security Advisor has warned that the risk of nuclear escalation is greater today than it was during the Cold War, particularly with respect to China.

Britain’s official National Security Advisor has warned that the risk of nuclear escalation is greater today than it was during the Cold War.

29 Jul 2022Britain’s official National Security Advisor, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, has warned that the risk of nuclear escalation is greater today than it was during the Cold War, particularly with respect to China.Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C., the former top bureaucrat at the Ministry of Defence

China’s ‘breathtaking’ nuclear arms push a rising challenge, Stratcom chief saysChina is expanding its nuclear forces at a “breathtaking” pace, the commander of the U.S. Strategic Command warned in urging for strengthened U.S. nuclear deterrence against the danger.

Jack Montgomery 29 Jul 2022 Britain’s official National Security Advisor, Sir Stephen Lovegrove, has warned that the risk of nuclear escalation is greater today than it was during the Cold War, particularly with respect to China.”likely succeeded in making tactical advances in the Donbas around the Vuhlehirska Power Plant,” adding that some Ukrainian forces have”likely withdrawn from the area.“We must acknowledge that existing nuclear states are investing in novel nuclear technologies and developing new warfighting nuclear systems, which they are integrating into their military strategies and doctrines and into their political rhetoric to seek to coerce others,” U.Follow Us.

Speaking to the Center for Strategic and International Studies (CSIS) in Washington D.C. — Blinken to speak with Russian counterpart about Brittney Griner and Paul Whelan release Jim Watson | AFP | Getty Images US Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks about US policy towards China during an event hosted by the Asia Society Policy Institute at George Washington University in Washington, DC, on May 26, 2022., the former top bureaucrat at the Ministry of Defence argued that the West “face[s] a much broader range of strategic risks and pathways to escalation” than during the Cold War, not least because, during that long-simmering conflict, the Soviet Union and its satellites reached something of a “shared understanding of doctrine” which made the threat of nuclear conflict more manageable — some notable flirtations with destruction notwithstanding. “For example, we have clear concerns about China’s nuclear modernization program that will increase both the number and types of nuclear weapon systems in its arsenal. He highlighted both “Russia’s repeated violations of its treaty commitments” and, perhaps more significantly, “the pace and scale with which China is expanding its nuclear and conventional arsenals and the disdain it has shown for engaging with any arms control agreements” as particularly dangerous, saying that nuclear doctrine today “is opaque in Moscow and Beijing, let alone Pyongyang or Tehran” — referring to the capitals of North Korea and the Islamic Republic of Iran.S. A report by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute said China is pursuing a “substantial expansion” of its nuclear arsenal, including the development of new delivery systems and the construction of hundreds of additional missile silos.

Kim Jong Un Slams South Korean Nuclear Horn: Revelation 8

Kim Jong Un Slams South Korean President’s ‘Suicidal’ Military Moves
In this photo provided by the North Korean government, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un delivers his speech during a ceremony to mark the 69th anniversary of the signing of the ceasefire armistice that ends the fighting in the Korean War, in Pyongyang, North Korea Wednesday, July 27, 2022. Credit: Korean Central News Agency/Korea News Service via AP

Kim Jong Un Slams South Korean President’s ‘Suicidal’ Military Moves

Responding to Seoul’s hawkish action against the country, the North Korean leader said his country is ready to mobilize its nuclear war deterrent.

In a speech on Wednesday, North Korea’s supreme leader Kim Jong Un denounced South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol and his military for their actions in confronting his country’s nuclear and missile threats, calling his approach “suicidal.”

“If the south Korean regime and military ruffians think about confronting us militarily and that they can neutralize or destroy some parts of our military forces preemptively by resorting to some special military means and methods, they are grossly mistaken!” the North’s state-controlled media Korea Central News Agency (KCNA) quoted Kim as saying in his speech at the 69th anniversary of the armistice for the 1950-53 Korean War.

Since he took office in May, Yoon has reiterated the importance of strengthening military ties with the United States and its allies to cope with North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats. During his presidential campaign, Yoon brought up the possibility of striking North Korea preemptively when there is an explicit sign of Pyongyang launching missiles toward the South’s soil. Also, he once said that he would ask the U.S. to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea or sign a nuclear-sharing agreement. However, Washington killed this initiative right away and Yoon has not spoken about tactical nuclear weapons or nuclear sharing again.

Such remarks were interpreted as political rhetoric to garner support from South Korean conservatives as the U.S. has not supported such moves on the basis of its extended deterrence policy. Also, it is impossible for South Korea to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons or develop its own indigenous nuclear programs as it is a member state of the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

However, Yoon’s military has been working to readopt the “three-axis” defense system, which includes preemptive strike scenarios against North Korea. Kim directly called this a “very dangerous self-destructive action.”

“Such a dangerous attempt will be punished at once by a powerful force and Yoon Suk Yeol regime and its army will be annihilated,” Kim said.

Hours after KCNA published the transcript of Kim’s speech, the South Korean Presidential Office of National Security expressed “deep regret” over Kim’s direct criticism of Yoon, saying that the government is holding a strong and effective readiness posture against any provocation from North Korea. While reiterating its stance to strengthen its self-defense under the ironclad military alliance with the United States, Seoul urged Pyongyang to return to dialogue for denuclearization and peace construction.

Washington and Seoul have not ruled out diplomatic overtures on North Korea issues. However, since then-U.S. President Donald Trump walked out of his 2019 summit with Kim in Hanoi, North Korea has been crystal clear that it will only consider returning to the negotiating table once Washington makes concessions first.

Yoon has said that his administration will be ready to propose an “audacious plan” to help North Korea revive its devastated economy if Pyongyang steps forward to denuclearize the country. He also expressed his willingness to coordinate this plan with the U.S.

However, Kim likely views denuclearization as a suicidal move, as there is no reason to fear a Pyongyang with no nuclear weapons. Kim has never expressed interest in Yoon’s “audacious plan” but ignored it by continuing the power game.

American and South Korean negotiators urged Pyongyang to return to the table without any conditions, but the leaders of the two countries have implied that the dovish overtures could be made when North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons – which is the old school policy that has long failed to entice North Korean leaders to denuclearize the country.

Kim pointed to the South Korea-U.S. joint military exercises as proof of the so-called “double standard” of the United States. He also accused the U.S. of demonizing his country to justify its “hostile” policies toward his country.

The South Korea-U.S. joint military drills, one of the “hostile” policies that North Korea has demanded Washington withdraw, are expected to be held in late August. Compared with the previous military drills for the past few years, the upcoming military drills are going to be conducted on a larger scale. Both Seoul and Washington have raised the necessity of reinvigorating the drills in a bid to respond to the unprecedented spate of the North’s missile tests this year.

Months ago, U.S. F-35 stealth fighter jets were deployed in the region and conducted drills with the South Korean military. As more and more powerful U.S. weapons are expected to be deployed for the joint military drills, even while North Korea is preparing to conduct its seventh nuclear test, the arms race on the Korean Peninsula will intensify in the coming months.Authors

Mitch Shin

Mitch Shin is Chief Koreas Correspondent for The Diplomat and a non-resident Research Fellow of the Institute for Security & Development Policy (ISDP), Stockholm Korea Center.

The Saudi and South Korean Nuclear Horns: Daniel 7

Will Seoul and Washington make Riyadh nuclear-weapons ready?

By Henry Sokolski | July 26, 2022

Iran’s nuclear program, oil, and human rights dominated Biden’s much-anticipated first presidential trip to the Middle East earlier this month. But there is one topic President Biden chose not to showcase during his visit with Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman Al Saud—the Kingdom’s most recent interest in nuclear energy—and the nuclear weapons proliferation concerns that come with it.

Only weeks before Biden’s visit, Riyadh invitedSouth Korea, Russia, and China to bid on the construction of two large power reactors. On that bid, Korea Electric Power Company (KEPCO) is the most likely winner. KEPCO has already built four reactors for Riyadh’s neighbor, the United Arab Emirates, and is the only vendor to bring a power reactor of its own design online in the Middle East. South Korea also is the only government to provide reliable, generous financing, free of political strings—something neither Moscow nor Beijing can credibly claim.

And then, there’s this: Any Korean sale would be covered by a generous 2011 South Korean nuclear cooperative agreement with Riyadh that explicitly authorizes the Saudis to enrich any uranium it might receive from Seoul. Under the agreement, Riyadh could enrich this material by up to 20 percent, without having to secure Seoul’s prior consent.

That should set off alarm bells.

Do the Saudis want a bomb? In 2018, Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman announced that “if Iran developed a nuclear bomb, we will follow suit as soon as possible.” As if to prove the point, late in 2020, word leaked that the Saudis have been working secretly with the Chinese to mine and process Saudi uranium ore. These are steps toward enriching uranium—and a possible nuclear weapon program.Unlike the Emirates, which legally renounced enriching uranium or reprocessing spent fuel to separate plutonium, the Kingdom insists on retaining its “right” to enrich. Also, unlike most members of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), Saudi Arabia refuses to allow intrusive inspections that might help the IAEA find covert nuclear weapons-related activities, if they exist, under a nuclear inspections addendum known as the Additional Protocol.Will Putin go nuclear? A timeline of expert commentsSaudi Arabia’s enrichment program and refusal to adopt the Additional Protocol, doubled with a possible permissive South Korean reactor sale, could spell trouble. South Korea currently makes its nuclear fuel assemblies using imported uranium, which mainly comes from Australia. This ore is controlled by Australia’s uranium export policy, which requires that the uranium be monitored by the IAEA and that materials derived from it not be retransferred to a third country without first securing Australia’s consent. Yet, if Seoul decides to pass Australian uranium on to Riyadh, the Saudis are free to enrich it up to 20 percent at any time without having to secure anyone’s approval. In addition, Riyadh could proceed to enrich this material without having to agree to intrusive IAEA inspections under the Additional Protocol, making it easier for Riyadh to enrich beyond 20 percent uranium 235 without anyone knowing.Can Washington block the reactor export? In Washington, the US nuclear industry understandably is miffed that Riyadh excluded Westinghouse from bidding on the Saudi reactors. Meanwhile, State Department officials say that KEPCO can’t sell Riyadh its APR-1400 reactor because it incorporates US nuclear technology that is property of Westinghouse. KEPCO, they insist, would first need to secure US Energy Department approval under US intangible technology transfer controls (known as Part 810 authorizations). This requirement, they argue, gives Washington the leverage it needs to impose nonproliferation conditions on South Korea’s reactor export to Riyadh.This sounds fine. But there’s a catch. South Korean officials insist that its APR-1400 design, which uses a Combustion Engineering data package that Westinghouse now owns, is entirely indigenous. Focusing on the matter of technology transfer authority also begs a bigger question: Does the Republic of Korea need Washington’s blessing to begin enriching uranium itself or to transfer enrichment technology to other countries, such as Saudi Arabia?Why the Ukraine war does not mean more countries should seek nuclear weaponsThe short answer is no.South Korea has always been free to enrich uranium and transfer uranium enrichment technology to other countries so long as the uranium it enriched or the enrichment technology it shipped wasn’t of US origin. America’s veto over South Korean enrichment only applies to uranium that comes from the United States. As I learned from a recent interview of the two top negotiators of the 2015 US-Republic of Korea civilian nuclear cooperation agreement, Seoul has always known this. Yet, South Korea asked that Washington explicitly grant it authority to enrich uranium in the 2015 agreement—something Washington has yet to grant. According to the negotiators, South Korean officials preferred to have political permission from Washington to do so, even though they did not legally need it.South Korea and the United States have a choice. South Korea’s previous administration under President Moon Jae-in announced in 2021 that South Korea would not export reactors to countries that had not yet agreed to adopt the IAEA’s Additional Protocol. Is this pledge one that President Yoon Suk-yeol will uphold? Or will Yoon reverse this policy in his effort to go all outto secure the reactor sale to Riyadh?Similarly, how committed is the Biden Administration to prevent Saudi Arabia from enriching uranium and reprocessing spent reactor fuel? Previous administrations have tried to keep Riyadh clear of such activities. Will Washington keep Seoul’s and Saudi Arabia’s feet to the fire on this or will the administration’s desire to close ranks with South Korea and Saudi Arabia push these nonproliferation concerns to the sidelines? Anyone interested in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons in the Middle East should want to know the answers.

The pros and cons of the South Korean Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

American missiles on display at the war museum in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: AFP / Philippe Lopez

The pros and cons of a nuclear South Korea

Polls show South Koreans strongly support having a nuclear deterrent but the risk of irking the US and China still weighs against the move

by Andrew Salmon July 25, 2022

SEOUL – Few nations look as vulnerable to nuclear strikes – or threats – as South Korea.

The country lies directly south of fierce rival North Korea, which has been nuclear-capable since 2006. Since 2021, Pyongyang has been expanding its existing long-range strategic deterrent – which most believe is aimed at the US – by developing shorter-range tactical capabilities.

Off-peninsula developments are equally sobering. Russia has successfully ring-fenced its February invasion of Ukraine by threatening nuclear use against any nation that dares to cross its red lines. As a result, while Kiev receives moral, financial and arms support from Western partners, it stands alone on the battlefield.

South Korea, unlike Ukraine, has a national insurance policy: The US is treaty-bound to defend it. However, there is the question of US resolution: The credibility of that insurance is untested in the face of real-world nuclear aggression. 

Some fret that – if push came to shove – Washington would be unwilling to risk losing one or more of its cities to a North Korean reprisal, leaving South Korea exposed to potential perdition. 

Against this fraught backdrop, a simmering issue is now heating up again: The possibility of South Korea joining the nuclear club by developing a home-grown deterrent.

One of the highest-profile proponents of that possibility put a stark question to Asia Times on the sidelines of a recent conference. “How can we sleep at night?” asked political heavyweight and Hyundai Heavy Chairman Chung Mong-joon.

Currently, institutes are churning out research showing that the public overwhelmingly supports the national acquisition of nuclear arms. It is increasingly a hot topic at conferences and in media.

But with the Yoon Suk-yeol administration cleaving tightly to a US that is still strongly attached to non-proliferation, there is no tangible momentum. And any South Korean leader who decided to go critical would need to first answer the multiple questions that hang over the issue.

Politically: What sanctions might South Korea face and how would the development affect Seoul’s security relationship with its key ally the US? Moreover, how might China and Japan react?

Technically: Is South Korea capable of creating both nuclear arms and their delivery systems? And if it built a nuclear weapon, where would it test it?Intercontinental ballistic missiles at a military parade celebrating the 70th founding anniversary of the Korean People’s Army in Pyongyang. North Korea’s nuclear arsenal is a key – but not the only – issue prodding South Korea to follow suit. Photo: KCNA via Reuters

The case for going nuclear

That the Korean public is in favor of a domestic nuclear deterrent is clear.

A Chicago Council on Foreign Relations poll in February found that 71% of Koreans favored developing a domestic nuclear deterrent. A May poll conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies found that 70.2% were in favor – with 63.6% favoring an independent nuclear deterrent even if led to sanctions.

The matter was in the open at this month’s Asian Leadership Conference 2022 in Seoul, with a dedicated discussion panel. 

“People are talking about this now,” said panelist Robert Kelly, an American professor of political science at Pusan National University. “It is more blunt and open than ever before.”

A key reason to proceed would be to directly deter North Korea, which has defied all efforts by all parties to halt its nuclear arms programs. 

“Despite decades of efforts to denuclearize North Korea, we are faced with what looks like an imminent seventh nuclear test…and that may not be the end of it,” said Lee Jung-hoon, a professor of international relations at Seoul’s Yonsei University who moderated the ALC discussion.

“So that begs the question: ‘If North Korea does go ahead, what are we to do? More condemnation, more UNSC resolutions, more sanctions?” Lee continued. “That has not worked for two decades.”

America is strongly attached to the Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty, or NPT, raising worries that Washington would crack down if Seoul decided to go nuclear. But other friendly power players would not be likely to sanction Seoul beyond lip service. 

“I see no appetite in the EU to sanction South Korea for going nuclear, and the same with Japan and Taiwan,” Ramon Pacheo Pardo, a professor of international relations at Kings College London told Asia Times. “I don’t see the EU doing anything other than official condemnation.”

Moreover, Article 10 of the treaty would allow South Korea to exit the NPT in good faith.

“Acquiring nuclear weapons is not a violation of international law – only for those countries who are members of the NPT,” said Daryl Press, an associate professor at Dartmouth College. “South Korea could do it in a legal fashion by exercising its Article 10 legal rights to withdraw…there is no need to be a pariah.”

For a South Korean diplomat, explaining the necessity of the step would be “an easy day on the job,” Press suggested.

In fact, signaling an NPT withdrawal could be a legitimate step on Seoul’s response ladder, Lee proposed. “If [North Korea] conducts a seventh nuclear test, the least we can do is withdraw from the NPT,” he said. “That would put a lot of pressure on the international community to do more.”

Experts are divided regarding how much or little pressure Beijing has exerted over the years on Pyongyang to denuclearize – and how much leverage it realistically possesses. But any proposed Seoul withdrawal from the NPT – and the additional possibility that Tokyo would follow Seoul’s lead and tip over the nuclear threshold – would certainly trigger alarm bells in Beijing.

“China will strongly oppose this step,” Press said. “But the South Korean position is eminently reasonable: South Korea should hold open other options and say, ‘If there is some way the international community, perhaps led by China, [could] get North Korea to denuclearize, we would happily rejoin the NPT.’”

He added, “I would not phrase this as a threat to the Chinese, but a reach out of the hand.” 

Others say that not even Beijing – a key source of fuel, food and medicine for North Korea – can reign in Pyongyang. 

“North Korea has already demonstrated that they don’t give a damn about the US, the UN and China,” Chun In-bum, a retired South Korean general told Asia Times. “The North Koreans will eat each other before they give up nuclear weapons.”

A key argument for Seoul’s nuking up is the possibility of the US backing down if faced with a truly locked-and-loaded North Korea. 

“The core issue is that North can strike US with an ICBM and in doing so you introduce the classic dilemma: [French President Charles] De Gaulle asked [US President John] Kennedy if he would exchange New York for Paris,” Kelly said of the 1961 discussion between the two leaders. “Kennedy waffled. I think the answer is probably ‘no.’” I don’t believe the US would fight a nuke war solely for non-Americans.”

In this sense, South Korean nuclearization would not just aim a close-to-home deterrent at North Korea but could also lower risks for the US. And the nuclearization of US allies France and UK during the Cold War provides a European benchmark that could be applied to Asian allies South Korea and Japan, Kelly said – warning the US not to act in “hegemonic” fashion.

America’s public, he guessed, would be supportive. “My sense is that the issue of North Korea is so obvious it will move US public opinion, and the US foreign policy community will come around,” he said.

Policy cleavages between Seoul and Washington provide another rationale for independent nukes, according to Press. The rise of China and the “wedge” being driven “between South Korean and US priorities” is not yet “catastrophic” but is a “growing strain,” the American scholar said.

Rising fears are also hovering over not American strengths but rather its weaknesses.  

In war, Washington is acutely casualty-sensitive and in recent conflicts has arguably lacked the political will to win. Moreover, US society and politics are deeply – some say dangerously – polarized. These chinks in America’s armor may be leveraged by a wily foe.

“[South] Korea needs a very stable US, but right now the US is trying to find itself or to be reborn,” Chun said. “As they do this, enemies will see an opportunity.”

Cheong Seong-chang, who directs the Center for North Korean Studies at the Sejong Institute think tank, argued that the nuclearization of South Korea and/or Japan would rebalance Northeast Asia’s off-center strategic geography.

“There is tilted ground that will be more and more tilted…Russia, China and North Korea all have nuclear weapons,” he told the ALC. Conversely, among Japan, South Korea and the US, only the latter possesses a nuclear deterrent.

Chun agreed. “The US faces such a variety of challenges now,” he said. “It is only natural that Korea should have the ability to help the US in whatever situation.”

So could South Korea pull it off?President Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the construction site of a nuclear power plant. Yoon is upping atomic power production, but has made any move on nuclear arms. Image: Twitter

Nuclear feasibility

There is no question about the “what” of the issue. South Korea, a highly-educated G10 economy that is home to a competitive nuclear power sector that exports reactors, could independently create atomic arms. 

One method of producing the core of a nuclear weapon is by reprocessing plutonium fuel rods. Using spent fuel from the Wolseong nuclear plant, “We can create 4,000 nuclear weapon units,” Cheong said.

While Cheong did not specify kilotonnage, that would be a massive armory: World leader Russia is believed to field fewer than 6,000 nuclear warheads. The six-reactor Wolseong, in the country’s southeast, started operations in 1983.

It is not just plutonium South Korea could leverage. “Korea also has uranium enrichment technologies held by only a handful of countries in the world,” Cheong said.

In 2000, the Korea Atomic Energy Research Institute tested laser enrichment technology, according to a 2016 article in the Chosun Ilbo, that was reproduced by the Non-Proliferation Policy Education Center. Using that, 1 kilogram of highly enriched U-235 could be produced in around four hours. The article also reported that the country already produces the kind of industrial alloys needed to encase fissile materials.

The question then is “when” – how long would the process take if the political will was mustered? Experts differ on the question.

The 2016 article estimated it would take six months to produce fissile materials and six-nine months to develop a detonation device – an overall timeline of approximately 18 months.

Others believe it could be done more quickly. In a widely quoted comment, Suh Kune-yull, a professor of nuclear engineering at the elite Seoul National University told the New York Times in 2017, “If we decide to stand on our own feet and put our resources together, we can build nuclear weapons in six months…the question is whether the president has the political will.”

A more recent June 2022 commentary in the military website War on the Rocks by Lami Kim, who directs the Asian Studies Program at the US Army War College, found, “Although South Korea has advanced nuclear technologies…Seoul would still need three to five years to acquire a workable nuclear arsenal.”

It was unclear if Kim was discussing device production or a full nose-to-tail system. The latter would include the development of nuclear doctrine and leadership protocols; the creation of a dedicated command-and-control net; and the marriage of atomic devices with delivery systems.

Addressing a full-program scenario, Cheong was more optimistic. “If we pursued it at very high speed, we could have fully usable and deployable weapons within two years,” he said. “At slow speed, three years would be enough.”

In terms of delivery systems, South Korea looks to be good to go. Given that North Korea borders the country, tactical nuclear devices could be fired via tube or rocket artillery. But Seoul has ex-peninsular reach, too.

The country has successfully tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles. More recently, the June launch of the Nuri space rocket proved that the country is de facto intermediate-range ballistic missile-capable, given the dual use of booster technologies.

There is one hole in this otherwise impressive armory of capabilities. To be a credible deterrent, any nuclear device must be physically tested. So where could South Korea potentially conduct one?

North Korea has tested devices in underground tunnels in a remote, mountainous area. That is near-impossible for South Korea for reasons of population densities and politics.

The South has nearly double the population of its northern rival – 52 million versus the North’s 26 million – all compressed into a smaller land area – 100,210 square kilometers versus the North’s 120,540 square kilometers.

And authoritarian Pyongyang does not have to consider popular push back against its policies, while democratic Seoul must contend with street politics and NIMBYism related to defense, energy and other issues.

In recent years, there have been high-profile protests against a naval base on Jeju Island, nuclear reactors and the placement of a US anti-missile battery.

Still, Cheong hinted – tantalizingly – that the issue has been discussed.

“Where a nuclear test would be done is a very sensitive question – there are few candidate [locations] where tests are possible,” he said. “If this was tabled, the residents would protest, so I cannot disclose.”

One possibility could be a Bikini Atoll-style seafloor test off of one of the uninhabited islands that ring South Korea’s coast. 

It has long been rumored – but never proven – that Imperial Japan test-detonated a nuclear device on an island off the coast of northeastern Korea in the waning days of World War II.South Korea’s Nuri space rocket blasts into the sky. The boosters sending this peaceful projectile into the heavens could feasibly be converted to an intermediate-range ballistic missile. Photo: South Korean Ministry of Science and ICT

The case against

Despite energetic discussion in specialist circles, the acquisition of a nuclear deterrent is currently not on the national political agenda.

One reason – counter-intuitively – is that it has customarily been liberal Seoul governments that have pursued independent defense capabilities.

The process of moving wartime operational control (“OPCON Transfer”) of the South Korean military from Washington’s grip to Seoul’s was initiated by the leftist Roh Moo-hyun government that was in office from 2003-2008.

Subsequently, the Moon Jae-in administration (2017-2022) oversaw the lifting of US-set range caps on South Korean missiles and tested submarine-launched ballistic missiles. It also tabled the acquisition of an aircraft carrier, while pressing ahead with (still incomplete) OPCON transfer.

The latter program is costing the Korean taxpayer billions – and adding a nuclear capability would add to the burden.

“An indigenous nuclear program would consume and divert enormous funding from South Korea’s defense budget,” Bruce Klinger, senior fellow for Northeast Asia at US think tank The Heritage Foundation told Asia Times. “South Korea’s defense funding would be better spent augmenting conventional force requirements as stipulated in South Korea’s Defense Reform Plan 2.0 and the bilateral plan” for OPCON transfer.

Conservative administrations, such as Yoon’s, have historically been unadventurous on defense, preferring to place maximum trust in the US. Hence, Seoul is not courting Washington’s displeasure by initiating a nuclear deterrent.

“The Yoon administration, like its predecessors, has declared it will not pursue an indigenous nuclear weapons program,” Klinger said. 

This ambiance is reflected in the caution some feel. “We would lose more than we gain,” a person familiar with the topic told Asia Times.

It is sensitive: The moderator of this month’s ALC discussion, Lee, noted that the topic was “…politically controversial and, perhaps, not politically correct.”

Doubly so given that movement on the issue could so alarm Washington that it could spark the risk that has stalked South Korean politics since the Donald Trump administration: A withdrawal of US troops.

“An attempt by Seoul to keep a major military capability separate from the combined and integrated command structure would be antithetical to the foundation of the bilateral alliance as well as long-standing US counter-proliferation policy,” Klinger warned. 

“Such a step could lead to calls for reduction or withdrawal of US forces either due to concerns of possible independent South Korean actions or isolationist perceptions that Seoul could now go it alone.”

Kim wrote for War on the Rocks that if an irked US withdrew support, South Korea would be acutely vulnerable during the time it took to craft its deterrent.

A further risk is likely sanctions damage – such as the heavy hit Korea Inc suffered from Chinese retaliation after Seoul established a US THAAD anti-missile system on South Korean soil in 2017.

And there is one other issue – one that lurks deep below the surface.

“Advocacy for developing an indigenous South Korean nuclear capability seems grounded more on national prestige rather than strategic considerations,” Klinger said.

Pollsters admit it. “Public attitudes on nuclear weapons do not strongly align with rationales for armament offered by some South Korean politicians and analysts,” the Chicago Council conceded.

The Council found that acquisition of home-grown nuclear muscle in the Korean public mind is not aimed exclusively at North Korea.

“Threats other than North Korea” are a “main driver of support” the Chicago Council found – with 55% of respondents saying China will be the biggest threat to South Korea in ten years.

Meanwhile, 26% of South Koreans considered national prestige as the key reason for their support for nuclear arms, higher than those who see the aim being to counter North Korea, who came in at just 23%.

These findings may reflect deep-seated public emotion.

A 1993 South Korean novel, “The Rose of Sharon is Blooming Again” – the reference is to the national flower – became a best-seller and was turned into a movie in 1995. It depicts North and South Korea joint-developing nuclear arms to take on national bete noire, Japan.

Be that as it may, Chun puts forward a final rationale for going nuclear.

“It’s a volatile world with multiple challenges and we need multiple capabilities and flexibilities,” he said. “There is so much we can prepare for.”

Follow this writer on Twitter @ASalmonSeoul

China Horn’s nuclear-powered torpedoes capable of striking Australia

Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo / Getty Images
Russian President Vladimir Putin with Chinese President Xi Jinping. Photo / Getty Images

China’s military plans could see nuclear-powered torpedoes capable of striking Australia within a week

23 Jul, 2022 03:44 PM

Australia’s greatest defence — distance — is under threat.

China wants to build a nuclear-powered torpedo “swarm” capable of striking targets anywhere in the Pacific within a week.

The idea’s just a proposal at this stage. But it builds upon Russia’s ‘Poseidon’ nuclear-powered torpedo designed to trigger a tsunami off any coastal city with a nuclear warhead.

The state-controlled South China Morning Post reports Beijing is thinking smaller. But in greater numbers.

China is doing the same.

Australia has defended its intention to buy or build nuclear-powered submarines against accusations of nuclear proliferating by separating its use as a power source from that of a warhead.

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Like Australia, China finds the prospect of an almost unlimited reach appealing.

The institute wants to use tiny “disposable” nuclear reactors to power long-range submarine drones. This would drastically reduce the weapon’s size by eliminating the need for bulky fuel storage and making it harder to detect through a quiet, all-electric propulsion system.

Unlike Australia, China appears to be angling toward a large fleet of torpedo-sized, low-cost nuclear-powered “killer robots” that can be carried by any military vessel. Australia’s defence force aspires to a $170 billion force of 12 large, fully crewed submarines.

China’s researchers say they can deliver wolf-packs of the AI-controlled weapon within 10 years.

After 15 years of dithering over a replacement for the ageing Collins-class diesel-electric submarines, Australia’s earliest possible date for constructing nuclear replacements is in the 2040s.

Nuclear propulsion

Atomic power has been harnessed as a propulsion system since the 1960s. It drives enormous aircraft carriers. It allows submarines to stay underwater for as long as their air and food supplies hold out. It’s still powering the Voyager II space probe as it passes beyond the solar system’s edge after 45 years in space.

What’s changed is a fundamental redesign of the technology to make it more stable. And the ability for it to be miniaturised.

Guo says China will build the weapon with “mature and simple technology that is easy to use and maintain, inexpensive and suitable for mass production.”

“We need to think out of the box,” he added.

This involves removing most of the shielding around the reactor. As a result, only sensitive electronic components will be protected from radiation. The torpedo will operate on batteries for half an hour after launch. Only then will the reactor fire up to its 315C operating temperature.

The report also explains the reactor will not use expensive rare-earth minerals in its construction. Instead, it will be built with cheaper materials like graphite — which caught fire during the Chernobyl disaster and contributed to the radioactive fallout.

The result is a power pack needing just 4kg of low-grade uranium fuel. China says this will produce 1.4 megawatts of heat, of which only 6 per cent will be converted into electricity.

The allure of such a small power pack is that it can potentially drive a torpedo or underwater drone at speeds of 30 knots (56km/h). However, the Post gave conflicting reports about how long (200 or 400 hours).

It stated the torpedo would have a 10,000km range — “about the distance from Shanghai to San Francisco”. And Sydney.

Poseidon junior

Russia this month put a nuclear-powered submarine weapon into service.

Dubbed “Poseidon”, the giant torpedo was unveiled by President Vladimir Putin in 2019 as one of six “super weapons” destined to return Russia’s military to greatness.

The first crewed submarine capable of carrying the enormous device — the K-329 Belgorod — entered service earlier this month.

Unlike the Chinese proposal, Poseidon is huge. But it is reportedly capable of loitering at sea for long periods or travelling great distances before striking its target. A two-megaton nuclear warhead (some 100 times more potent than that dropped on Hiroshima) will then trigger a tsunami large enough to level a coastal city.

This puts the likes of Pearl Harbour in Hawaii and Norfolk Naval Station in Virginia at risk of a surprise nuclear attack.

There’s no reason the standard-sized Chinese torpedo can’t also carry a small nuclear warhead.

But the Post reports China intends to use lurking swarms of the smart torpedo to “strike submarines as they leave a port in home waters that is difficult to reach by manned platforms.”

Its designers also reject any accusation of it being a “dirty bomb” or a nuclear weapon in disguise. Instead, the small reactor will be “ejected” to the seabed shortly before the torpedo strikes its target – with the final propulsion stage powered by the on-board battery.

This would leave the radioactive material outside any blast radius.

“Even if the hull is broken, the interior is filled with water, and the whole body falls into the wet sand on the seabed, the reactor will not have a critical accident. The safety is ensured,” argues Guo.

And the nuclear-powered submarine won’t only be a weapon, Guo says. Its high speed and endurance will enable it to inspect distant waters and track potential targets — such as nuclear-powered aircraft carriers and crewed submarines.

“When the manufacturing cost is low enough, even if the nuclear-powered device can only be used once, the overall cost will be low,” Guo says.

Ukraine could push S Korea to go nuclear: Daniel 7

South Korean Hyeonmu ballistic missiles on display at the Korean War Memorial Museum in Seoul. Photo: EPA-EFE / Jeon Heon Kyun / The Conversation

Ukraine could push Japan, S Korea to go nuclear

Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has upended assumptions of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty and provided new impetus to go nuclear

by Christoph Bluth July 24, 2022

The war in Ukraine called into question many of the fundamental pillars of the international order. The European security system that has developed since the dissolution of the Soviet Union and the Warsaw Pact has received a shattering blow. A war of aggression by a major power intent to destroy a neighboring state and annex significant territories has broken with major taboos, not to mention international law.

Apart from the obvious tragedy for the people of Ukraine, another potential casualty is the nuclear nonproliferation system which has existed since 1970. Putin’s blatant breach of the Budapest Memorandum, signed in 1994 by Russia, the UK and US relating to the accession of Belarus, Kazakhstan and Ukraine to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty (NPT), has upended security guarantees in Europe.

The memorandum was an assurance of territorial integrity for Ukraine after it agreed to dismantle the large nuclear arsenal that remained on its territory after the break up of the Soviet Union. By signing the memorandum, Russia – along with the US and the UK – agreed not to threaten Ukraine, Belarus and Kazakhstan with military force or economic coercion. This has proved to be worthless.

And there’s the danger. If we now live in a world where major powers are fully prepared to embark on a full-scale war to achieve their territorial ambitions, then the assumptions of the NPT, according to which non-nuclear states can rely on the security assurances from the major powers, may no longer be valid. Many countries may think it prudent to go nuclear to avoid Ukraine’s fate.

Anxiety in Asia

This doesn’t stop in Europe. Allies of the US in Asia are wondering the extent to which the principle of “extended deterrence” (the protection afforded by America’s nuclear umbrella) is still viable. China’s increasingly aggressive pursuit of its foreign policy aims in recent years has been a major concern for Taiwan, where many question Washington’s policy of “strategic ambiguity” about how and to what extent the US would support the country.

China’s activities in the South China Sea, where it pursues its claims on maritime territories not accepted in international law, have also raised major concerns throughout the region. Japan and China have been at loggerheads for some years over a number of disputed territories including the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands.

Another concern is obviously North Korea’s nuclear program and its regular testing of ballistic missiles which could carry nuclear warheads and have a range which could easily threaten Japan and South Korea. If and when Pyongyang develops the capacity to hit targets in the continental US, this could well test America’s nuclear guarantee in Asia.

A nuclear South Korea?

There is increasing support within South Korea for the development of its own nuclear deterrent. A survey taken earlier this year found that 71% approved of South Korea going nuclear. This was in line with similar polls over recent years.

While the new South Korean government led by Yoon Suk-yeoul does not endorse such a policy and remains committed to the US-ROK alliance, there have been persistent voices in South Korea supporting a shift towards nuclear self-reliance.President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol gives a speech at the construction site of a nuclear power plant. Image: Twitter

There is also considerable pressure in Japan to abandon the post-war “Peace Constitution” which banned the country from maintaining anything stronger than a self-defense force – and the country recently doubled its military budget. 

Japan has the technological capacity to develop nuclear weapons quickly – but the experience of US atomic attacks during the second world war remains a powerful restraint.

In March 2022 the late prime minister, Shinzo Abe, called for US nuclear weapons to be based on Japanese territory, presumably to deter both China and North Korea. This – predictably enough – provoked an angry reaction from Beijing, which asked Japan to “reflect on its history.”

Fragile security

For now, the US nuclear guarantee remains credible in the eyes of its Asian partners and the strategic situation on the Korean peninsula remains stable – despite the wrangling already described. It’s a very different situation from what is happening in Ukraine. The US already has forces on the Korean peninsula and is committed to South Korea’s defense.

North Korea is much more vulnerable than the US under any nuclear war scenario. If Pyongyang ever launched a nuclear strike, it would risk rapid and complete obliteration.

An obvious way to address the extended deterrence problem would be to redeploy US nuclear forces in South Korea, similar to Abe’s suggestion for Japan. 

That would considerably enhance the credibility of a US security guarantee and would complicate China’s calculations, even with respect to Taiwan – despite all the noises from Beijing about reunification.

But South Korea faces the European dilemma – which is that the more credible its own capabilities become, the less the US will feel the need to commit its resources. While South Korea’s conventional capabilities are more than a match for the North Korean army and its obsolete equipment, it has no answer to the North’s weapons of mass destruction.

So far South Korea seems to have struck a sensible balance – going nuclear could upend all of that as it may cause Washington to withdraw entirely.People at a railway station in Seoul on September 28 watch a television news broadcast showing file footage of a North Korean missile test. Photo: AFP / Jung Yeon-je

It seems that despite the flagrant violations of the security assurances by Russia and the increasing capabilities of the North Korean nuclear arsenal, the commitment to the NPT remains firm. 

But this could change if the security environment in Europe and Asia continues to deteriorate and Russia and China become increasingly perceived as serious and realistic military threats.

If the reliability of the US as a security guarantor is weakened it could result in a fatal erosion of the assumptions of the NPT. This would make the pressure for indigenous nuclear arsenals – both in Asia and the Middle East – irresistible. This is something the “Great Powers” have taken pains to prevent since 1945.

Christoph Bluth is Professor of International Relations and Security, University of Bradford

This article is republished from The Conversation under a Creative Commons license. Read the original article.

Australian Nuclear horn risks nuclear proliferation: Daniel 7

AUKUS submarine collaboration risks nuclear proliferation: report

BEIJING, July 21 (Xinhua) — A new research report released by Chinese academic entities says the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration has set a dangerous precedent for the illegal transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials and thus constitutes a blatant act of nuclear proliferation.

The United States and Britain said in last September that they would support Australia in acquiring nuclear-powered submarines under a newly formed trilateral security pact known as AUKUS.

The report, titled “A Dangerous Conspiracy: The Nuclear Proliferation Risk of the Nuclear-powered Submarines Collaboration in the Context of AUKUS”, was released Wednesday by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy. It is the first special report on AUKUS submarine collaboration published by Chinese academic entities.

The report says the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration runs counter to the spirit of the South Pacific Nuclear Free Zone Treaty and also undermines ASEAN countries’ efforts to establish the Southeast Asia Nuclear Weapon-Free Zone.

In addition, it ferments potential risks and hazards in multiple aspects, such as nuclear security and arms race in nuclear submarines, with a profound negative impact on global strategic balance and stability, says the report.

According to the report, though the AUKUS countries have been coy about the details of their nuclear-powered submarine collaboration, international arms-control experts have estimated that Australia’s eight planned nuclear submarines will need a total of 1.6 to 2 tonnes of weapons-grade HEU, which would be sufficient to build as many as 64 to 80 nuclear weapons.

“The United States and Britain are directly giving Australia tonnes of weapon-grade nuclear materials. This is without a doubt an act of nuclear proliferation,” said Zhang Yan, president of the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association.

Australia, a non-nuclear-weapon state under the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, openly accepted such a large quantity of weapons-grade nuclear materials. This is nothing short of “getting one foot across the nuclear threshold,” Zhang added.

After reviewing nearly 100 declassified nuclear files and related materials, the report finds that post-WWII Australian administrations were keen to develop nuclear weapons. In recent years, there have again been people in Australia arguing the case for nuclear possession, and the possibility of Australia seeking the development of nuclear weapons in the future may not be ruled out, it says.

The report urges the United States, Britain and Australia to immediately revoke their wrong decisions, stop their dangerous acts, and faithfully fulfill their international obligations in non-proliferation.

It also calls on the international community to take actions and urge the three countries to revoke their wrong decisions through multilateral platforms so as to jointly safeguard the integrity, authority and effectiveness of the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

(Web editor: Wu Chaolan, Liang Jun)

AUKUS sub deal and the Australian Nuclear Horn: Daniel 7

By Liu Xuanzun and Guo YuandanUSS Connecticut File photo: VCG

AUKUS sub deal could involve transferring tons of weapons-grade nuke material: Chinese report

USS Connecticut File photo: VCGChina on Wednesday released a research report entitled The Nuclear Proliferation Risk of the Nuclear-powered Submarines Collaboration in the Context of AUKUS, the first report published by Chinese academic institutes to objectively analyze the serious risks of nuclear proliferation and multiple hazards caused by the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration through detailed data and case studies.

Under AUKUS, the US and the UK are anticipated to provide Australia with eight nuclear-powered submarines involving the transfer of tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials which are enough to manufacture nearly a hundred nuclear weapons, experts warned.

Jointly released by the China Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA) and the China Institute of Nuclear Industry Strategy (CINIS), the report said that the AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration has seriously violated the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT), marking a blatant act of nuclear proliferation.

The AUKUS nuclear-powered submarine collaboration obviously serves a military purpose, making it a direct violation of the Statue of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), the report said.

The proposed AUKUS collaboration also has other baneful effects, including having higher nuclear security risks and fueling a potential arms race in nuclear submarines, plus weakening the existing international missile export control regime because of the transfer of Tomahawk cruise missiles, according to the report.

On the announcement of AUKUS, the three countries emphasized that the US and the UK would not only assist Australia in building nuclear-powered submarines, but also provide it with long-range precision-strike capabilities including Tomahawk cruise missiles. The Tomahawk is an offensive nuclear-capable weapon developed by the US and has been deeply marked by US militarism since its inception. The deal this time will involve the latest version of the Tomahawk, with a range of 1,700 kilometers, far exceeding the maximum limit of the Missile Technology Control Regime (MTCR), despite the US, the UK and Australia being members and major advocates of the MTCR.

The report called on the international community to take joint actions to safeguard the global nuclear nonproliferation regime.

AUKUS is a new political and military alliance jointly created by the US and a few countries following the Five Eyes Alliance and the QUAD serving the US’ “Indo-Pacific Strategy,” which aims to provoke regional confrontation and splitting-up. It is engaged in a geopolitical zero-sum game, bringing new destabilizing factors to the international and regional situation, said Zhang Yan, president of the CACDA, at a press conference for the release of the report on Wednesday.

AUKUS involves a major and highly sensitive issue, which is the transfer of weapons-grade nuclear materials, Zhang said.

Weapons-grade nuclear materials are the basis for nuclear weapons. Both the US and the British nuclear-powered submarines use weapons-grade highly enriched uranium, Li Chijiang, CACDA vice president and secretary-general, told the Global Times on Wednesday at the press conference.

According to experts’ analyses, the US and the UK will build eight nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, involving the transfer of tons of weapons-grade nuclear materials enough to manufacture nearly a hundred nuclear weapons, marking the first time since the NPT came into force that nuclear-weapon states will transfer a large amount of weapons-grade nuclear materials to a non-nuclear-weapon state, setting a bad example and creating a serious risk of nuclear proliferation, Li said.

The AUKUS collaboration will damage the global strategic balance and stability, encourage other countries to join the nuclear arms race, escalate geopolitical tensions and bring the Asia-Pacific region to a wrong path of confrontation and splitting-up, completely opposite to the common appeal for development and prosperity by countries in the region, Li said.

“It is our hope that this report will facilitate China and the international community to accurately and comprehensively understand the situation, and communicate from an academic perspective the concerns of Chinese think tanks and scholars over nuclear proliferation risks and their commitment to safeguarding world peace and stability,” said Pan Qilong, chairman of the CINIS, at the press conference.

The US, the UK and Australia should respond to the concerns of the international community, carry out international obligations of nuclear nonproliferation, and cancel the wrong decision for the collaboration on nuclear-powered submarines, said Wang Wenbin, a spokesperson at China’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, at a routine press conference on Wednesday, commenting on the research report.