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Science

Nuclear warning: Toxic waste equivalent to 2,000 Hiroshima bombs could be leaking in sea

Enewetak Atoll is a series of small islands in the South Pacific which the US government used to test its nuclear weapons following World War 2 from 1948 to 1958. Over a ten year period, 30 megatons of weapons – equivalent to 2,000 Hiroshima bombs – were dropped on the islands during the Cold War. When the US had finished its testing, it built a concrete barrier known as the Runit dome to store the debris of 43 nuclear explosions in a clean-up operation lasting from 1977 to 1980.

However, employees who worked on the clean-up believe the dome could be leaking radioactive waste into to the ocean.

In response, the US has invested $1,689,000 (£1.32m) in a mission to analyse the dome, but there are claims that it could be too late as the waste could have seeped into the ocean, which would have an effect on the marine ecosystem.

Paul Griego, a former radiochemist who worked on the cleanup operation from June 1977 to October 1978, said: “We need the very same funding and for the very same analysis – the dome can wait for radiochemical analysis but we are human and we cannot wait.

“As we continue to suffer and to die off the evidence is either buried or cremated.”

While the US government said staff were subjected to just low-levels of radiation and wore all the necessary protective gear, Mr Griego has said this was not the case.

The 62-year old added: “We are certain we have the very same radionuclides in our bodies that that would be found in the dome.

“We were bombarded with radiation while building the dome, we drank the contaminated water, inhaled the dust-filled air, absorbed contaminates though our skin, ate the fish we caught and more.

“We are not only denied the diagnostic resources, we are denied healthcare to cover our radiation and toxin-related illnesses.

“The government’s refusal to provide radiochemical resources is malicious and feeds into the status quo.

“It places the burden of proof of an illness on the individual rather than the moral responsibility of our government.”

The mission saw more than 1,000 employees tasked with collecting contaminated soil and radioactive debris, which was then mixed with concrete and placed in a nuclear test crater, which was sealed in a concrete dome.

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However, people who were on the scene said that the dome was not lined with concrete, and warn it could be seeping into the ocean.

For this reason, the US will embark on an 18 month mission to analyse the dome to see if needs to be reinforced or perhaps completely removed.

Doug Domenech, Assistant US Secretary of the Interior for Insular and International Affairs, said: “The US Departments of the Interior and Energy are partnering on this important analysis of Runit Dome so that we can be responsive to both Congress and concerns expressed by the Enewetak community in the Marshall Islands.”

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World News

Trump denies claim that he wanted to drop nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from hitting the U.S.

President Trump adamantly denied on Monday that he wanted to use nuclear bombs to stop hurricanes from striking the U.S.

“The story by Axios that President Trump wanted to blow up large hurricanes with nuclear weapons prior to reaching shore is ridiculous,” he wrote on Twitter. “I never said this. Just more FAKE NEWS!”

The president’s rebuttal comes after the news site reported that he had repeatedly suggested to senior Homeland Security and national security officials that they look into nuking hurricanes as a way to prevent them from reaching the country. 

“I got it. I got it,” Trump once said at a hurricane briefing at the White House, according to a source. “Why don’t we nuke them?”

“[The hurricanes] start forming off the coast of Africa, as they’re moving across the Atlantic, we drop a bomb inside the eye of the hurricane and it disrupts it,” the source vaguely recalled the president saying. “Why can’t we do that?”

Trump’s recommendation purportedly stunned those in the room. 

“You could hear a gnat fart in that meeting,” the source told Axios. “People were astonished. After the meeting ended, we thought, ‘What the f—? What do we do with this?”

The leader of the free world had also suggested something similar in 2017, the news outlet notes. A memo from the National Security Council that year claimed that Trump had recommended using bombs to stop hurricanes from reaching the U.S., though it also pointed out that he did not use the word “nuclear.”

As absurd as it may sound, the idea of nuking a hurricane is nothing new. The concept, in fact, has been so widespread that the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) had to explain why it was not scientifically possible to deter hurricanes from reaching the homeland by bombing them. 

“The main difficulty with using explosives to modify hurricanes is the amount of energy required,” the agency explains on its website. 

“If we think about mechanical energy, the energy at humanity’s disposal is closer to the storm’s, but the task of focusing even half of the energy on a spot in the middle of a remote ocean would still be formidable,” the NOAA further says. “Brute force interference with hurricanes doesn’t seem promising.”

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World News

Russia to nuclear test ban monitor: the test accident is not your business

Moscow: Russia told an agency that verifies a ban on nuclear tests that a military test accident in the country's north this month was none of its business and that handing it any radiation data was voluntary, Interfax news agency reported on Tuesday.

People gather for the funerals of five Russian nuclear engineers killed by a rocket explosion in Sarov.Credit:Russian State Atomic Energy Corporation ROSATOM via AP

The Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organisation (CTBTO) said on Monday that two Russian monitoring sites closest to the mysterious explosion went offline days after the blast, soon followed by two more, fuelling suspicions that Russia tampered with them.

The CTBTO said on Tuesday the radioactive-particle sensors of at least one of the four Russian monitoring stations in question were transmitting again.

Lassina Zebro, the organisation's executive secretary, said on Tuesday on Twitter that the two Russian stations reported to be offline are back in operation and are now backfilling the data. He lauded Moscow for its "excellent cooperation."

Russia's state nuclear agency, Rosatom, has acknowledged that five of its nuclear workers were killed in the August 8 explosion during a rocket engine test near the White Sea in far northern Russia. Two Russian military personnel were also reported to have been killed.

Russian President Vladimir Putin.Credit:AP

There has been contradictory information about the accident's consequences. The Defence Ministry initially said background radiation remained normal after the incident, but Russia's state weather agency said radiation levels in the nearby city of Severodvinsk had risen by up to 16 times.

Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov said on Tuesday that the accident was not a matter for the CTBTO, which first reported that the radiation monitoring stations went silent, according to Interfax.

"It's essential to keep in mind that handing over data from our national stations which are part of the international monitoring system is entirely voluntary for any country," Interfax cited Ryabkov as saying.

The CTBTO's mandate only covered the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty or national testing moratoriums, Ryabkov added. The treaty was adopted by the UN General Assembly in 1996, but has not yet entered into force due to some countries either not signing or ratifying it.

The August 8 accident "should have no connection" to CTBTO activities, Ryabkov said, adding that the agency's mandate did not extend to weapons development.

"Exhaustive explanations about what happened and what the consequences were have been given by the relevant structures," said Ryabkov, and the mysterious accident had posed no risks to the environment or people.

Separately, the Kremlin said there was nothing to worry about and that it was confident that government agencies in charge of the relevant radiation monitoring stations had been doing their job correctly.

President Vladimir Putin said on Monday there was no risk of increased radiation levels, but that all necessary safety measures were being taken.

The Defence Ministry, which oversees the work of the monitoring stations, has not responded to a Reuters request for comment.

William Tobey, a former deputy administrator at the U.S. National Nuclear Security Administration, said it was "at least an odd coincidence" that the Russian sensors stopped transmitting data about the same time as the explosion occurred.

"Power outages, other failures, can knock down a particular place, but if more than one site is out, it would seem that that is a less likely explanation," said Tobey, a senior fellow at the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government.

Reuters, AP

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Science

A US-Russia nuclear war could ‘plunge Earth into a 10-year winter’

A US–Russia nuclear war could ‘plunge Earth into a 10-year winter’ causing plummeting global temperatures and constant darkness, scientists find

  • Fires started by nukes would inject 147 million tons of soot into the atmosphere
  • Blanketing the globe within weeks this soot would blot out light from the sun  
  • As a result global temperatures would decrease by an average of around 16°F
  • The results highlight the disastrous consequences of nuclear war, experts said

Were the United States and Russia to engage in full-out atomic warfare, the consequences would plunge the Earth into a 10-year nuclear winter.

Fires ignited by nuclear detonations would likely inject around 147 million tons (150 billion kilograms) of soot into the atmosphere.

Winds in the stratosphere would cause these soot aerosols to encircle the entire globe within weeks, plunging the Earth into an enduring nuclear winter.

Blotting out the light of the sun, the soot clouds would cause average surface temperatures to drop by almost 16.2°F (9°C). 

The experts predict that it would take around seven years for the curtain of soot to begin to visibly clear — and three more for light to return to normal levels.  

The war’s atmospheric effects would also see the monsoon collapse and a significant increase in the variability of the El Niño cycle.

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Fires ignited by an all-out nuclear war detonations would likely inject around 147 million tons of soot into the atmosphere. These soot aerosols would encircle the entire globe within weeks, plunging the Earth into an enduring nuclear winter

WHAT IS THE IMPACT OF A NUCLEAR BOMB? 

A nuke’s impact would depend on factors like the weather, weapon design and the blast zone’s nature.

About 35 per cent of the bomb’s energy would be released as heat.

Flash blindness from a 1 megaton nuke could be triggered up to 13 miles away on a clear day and 50 on a clear night.

Those within a 5-mile-radius would receive third degree burns.

The blast of air pressure generated would destroy nearby buildings.

Winds of up to 158 mph would affect people up to 3.7 miles away, causing objects to fly around.

Source: AsapSCIENCE

Atmospheric scientist Joshua Coup of Rutgers University in New Jersey and colleagues simulated how the climate would respond to all-out nuclear war using the cutting-edge, so-called Whole Atmosphere Community Climate Model version 4.

They compared their findings with that of the results from the only other comprehensive climate model for an atomic war scenario — one  which was undertaken in 2007 by NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies.

The researcher’s new model operates at a higher resolution, however, and considers the effects on the atmosphere going up to 87 miles (140 kilometres) above the Earth’s surface — 37 miles (60 kilometres) more that the NASA model.

It can also create a more advance simulation of aerosol behaviour and stratospheric chemistry.

‘The models agree that a nuclear winter would follow a large scale nuclear war between the United States and Russia,’ the researchers wrote in their paper.

The findings, they note, also broadly support the predictions of a wide range of far less sophisticated models that had been run in the 1980s.

Dr Coup and colleagues found that their new model, with its more sophisticated representation of aerosol behaviour, sees the soot cloud fade faster than the older NASA model — however, the extent of the climate response remained the same.

However, the higher resolution model did predict larger drops in both temperature and global precipitation in the first few years following the nuclear attacks.

In addition, the northern polar vortex — the fast-flowing steam of air that circles the north pole — would be strengthened in the first year after the war, generating above normal, but below freezing, temperatures in both the Arctic and northern Eurasia.

Were the United States and Russia to engage in full-out atomic warfare, the consequences would plunge the Earth into a 10-year nuclear winter 

‘A full-scale nuclear attack would be suicidal for the country which decides to carry out such an attack,’ the researchers concluded.

‘The use of nuclear weapons in this manner by the United States and Russia would have disastrous consequences globally.’

It is vital, Dr Coup and colleagues added, that political decision makers have a full understanding of the climate consequences of nuclear war to inform their actions. 

‘Ultimately, the reduction of nuclear arsenals and the eventual disarmament of all nuclear capable parties is needed.’

The full findings of the study were published in the Journal of Geophysical Research: Atmospheres.

HOW TO SURVIVE A NUCLEAR BOMB 

Experts have detailed a number of tips to improve your chances of survival in the event of a nuclear disaster, including: 

Pack an emergency supply kit containing water and non-perishable food items.

When a nuclear bomb goes off, it sends out radiation that can ruin your mobile phone and laptop, so preparing battery-powered radios for communication is wise. 

For the blast, it is important to get as much concrete between you and the blast as possible. 

For the fall-out it’s important to have thick walls and a thick roof, he says, and in a house it is a good idea to blockade all the windows. 

Scientists have devised the Svalbard Global Seed Vault (pictured) as a way to protect the world’s food supply in the event of a global disaster. It’s located in Norway

But if you are outside and know the blast is coming, you might have time to get to a better shelter.

First you should get on the ground with your hands behind your head and brace yourself for the blast.

Never look at the blast, because it can cause you to go blind temporarily.

The, after the blast, you have 30 minutes to get to the best place.  

Once you get inside remove your clothes and clean yourself straight away and blow your nose, to stop the radioactive materials from spreading, and do not use conditioner.

If you cannot have a shower, wipe yourself with a wet cloth. 

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Technology

Russia blamed for nuclear accident which sent a radioactive cloud across Europe

Russia has been blamed for a nuclear accident which caused a huge cloud of radioactive material to float across Europe.

In 2017, scientists across the continent detected a plume containing the isotope ruthenium-106 in a number of countries.

Now a study has traced the cloud back to a site in the southern Urals, which is where Russia’s Majak nuclear facility is located.

It’s likely the material leaked from a reprocessing planet, although its exact origin is ‘difficult to determine’.

A total of 70 experts contributed to the report, which was published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the USA (PNAS) journal.

Professor Georg Steinhauser from the University of Hanover said: ‘We measured radioactive ruthenium-106.

‘The measurements indicate the largest singular release of radioactivity from a civilian reprocessing plant.’

In the autumn of 2017, a cloud of ruthenium-106 was measured in ‘many European countries’ with a maximum radiation level of 176 millibecquerels per cubic meter of air, which were up to 100 times higher than the total level measured in Europe after the Fukushima incident.

Even though it was the most serious release of radioactive material since Fukushima in 2011, the public ‘took little notice of it’ and Russia has not admitted responsibility.

The Majak facility was already involved in the second-worst release of nuclear material in history, which took place in 1957 and was second only to Chernobyl in severity.

During the incident, a  tank containing liquid waste from plutonium production exploded and caused ‘massive contamination of the area’.

The latest accident is now believed to have taken place at some time between 6pm on September 25 and noon the next day – which is almost 60 years from the 1957 leak.

‘This time, however, it was a pulsed release that was over very quickly,’ added Professor Steinhauser, pointing out that the releases from Chernobyl or Fukushima lasted for days.

‘We were able to show that the accident occurred in the reprocessing of spent fuel elements, at a very advanced stage, shortly before the end of the process chain.

‘Even though there is currently no official statement, we have a very good idea of what might have happened.’

Nuclear reprocessing involves separating usable scraps of fuel from waste.

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World News

North Korea demands Mike Pompeo is replaced as US envoy

North Korea demands Mike Pompeo is replaced as US envoy by someone who is more ‘careful and mature’ as officials say he talks ‘nonsense’ and question his intelligence

  • The North’s foreign ministry said U.S. Secretary of State was ‘talking nonsense’
  • They also questioned ‘whether he is indeed able to understand words properly’
  • The latest provocation comes after Kim Jong-un oversaw a new weapons test 

North Korea has demanded that Mike Pompeo stand down from talks with Pyongyang to be replaced by someone who is more ‘careful and mature in communicating’. 

The country’s foreign ministry said Pompeo was ‘talking nonsense’ amid failing efforts to reach a peace deal over Kim Jong-un’s nuclear ambitions. 

Pyongyang called Pompeo ‘reckless’ and questioned his intelligence, questioning ‘whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly’. 

The latest provocation comes after North Korean leader Kim oversaw the testing of a new tactical guided weapon.  

Happier times: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un meets U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo in Pyongyang last year. Kim’s regime has demanded that Pompeo is replaced as envoy 

The KCNA news agency quoted Kwon Jong Gun, an official at the North’s foreign ministry, as saying today that ‘no one can predict’ the situation if the United States does not abandon the ‘root cause’ of the nuclear stand-off. 

‘I am afraid that, if Pompeo engages in the talks again, the table will be lousy once again and the talks will become entangled,’ Kwon said. 

‘Therefore, even in the case of possible resumption of the dialogue with the U.S., I wish our dialogue counterpart would be not Pompeo but… (another) person who is more careful and mature in communicating with us.’ 

‘We cannot be aware of Pompeo’s ulterior motive behind his self-indulgence in reckless remarks; whether he is indeed unable to understand words properly or just pretending on purpose.’ 

Pompeo had insisted on Monday that Kim should keep his promise to give up nuclear weapons sooner than Pyongyang was offering. 

Kim had said he would wait ’till the end of this year’ for the United States to decide to be more flexible.  

Asked about Kim’s statement last week that he was only interested in meeting Trump again if the United States came with the right attitude, Pompeo said the U.S. was ‘determined to move forward diplomatically.’ 

Pompeo said Kim had made a commitment to denuclearize and ‘we collectively need to see that outcome move forward.’ 

It is not the first time North Korea has singled out Pompeo for special criticism.

When the secretary of state met with North Korean officials in Pyongyang in July last year, he was condemned for his ‘gangster-like’ insistence that the North move towards unilateral disarmament. 

The latest military operation marked the North’s first public weapons test since a second summit with the United States ended without agreement in February.  

The weapon has a ‘peculiar mode of guiding flight’ and ‘a powerful warhead’, KCNA said.

North Korea has demanded that Mike Pompeo (pictured) stand down from talks with Pyongyang to be replaced by someone who is more’ careful and mature in communicating’

Kim said ‘the completion of the development of the weapon system serves as an event of very weighty significance in increasing the combat power’ of the North Korean army.

Experts said the description that the test was ‘conducted in various modes of firing at different targets’ likely meant that it could be launched from the ground, sea and air. 

A second summit between Kim and U.S. President Donald Trump in Hanoi in February failed to make any progress towards denuclearization of the Korean peninsula.  

The first historic meeting in Singapore last year had sparked hopes of a deal but relations have deteriorated again since then.  

Sanctions against the North over its nuclear and missiles programs remain in place.  

Satellite images from last week showed movement at Yongbyon, North Korea’s main nuclear site, that could be associated with the reprocessing of radioactive material into bomb fuel, according to a U.S. think tank. 

‘Kim never promised to stop testing all weapons in his military arsenal, just nuclear weapons and ICBMs that have the potential to hit the U.S. homeland,’ said Harry Kazianis of the Washington-based Center for the National Interest.  

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World News

Terrified-looking aide sprints down carpet to catch up to Kim Jong Un

Bizarre moment terrified-looking aide sprints down red carpet after missing cue and leaving Kim Jong Un unaccompanied on exit from bullet-proof train in Hanoi for second nuclear summit with Trump

  • King Jong Un stepped out onto a red carpet after arriving in Hanoi on Monday
  • The North Korean leader embarked on a 2,800 train journey from Pyongyang
  • He becomes the first leader of the socialist state to visit Vietnam since 1964
  • His motorcade included an armored personnel carrier with mounted gun turret
  • An attendant rushed to be by his side after failing to accompany Kim 
  • Dozens of guards scurried after him as he reached his final destination 
  • President Trump boarded Air Force One on Monday afternoon after a speech
  • Trump was upbeat and positive, tweeting he’s looking forward to the summit
  • Kim and Trump met in 2018, which ended in a stalemate over denuclearization 
  • They will again sit down in Hanoi this week as diplomatic negotiations continue 
  • Trump and Kim are set to have dinner Wednesday evening 

Kim Jong Un crossed into Vietnam with fanfare and a red carpet Tuesday – as an attendant scurried looking like his life depended on it to catch up to be by the absolute leader’s side.

The North Korean dictator later drove to Hanoi after a 2,800 mile train journey, accompanied by dozens of security guards who sprinted to surround him as he entered the Hotel where he will stay until his summit with President Trump.

Included in his lengthy motorcade that snaked its way through the Vietnamese capital was an armored vehicle complete with a mounted gun turret on top. It later parked itself around the corner from Kim’s hotel, while locals on scooters made their way through the city’s packed streets.

As he reached his final destination, Kim’s team of protective agents jumped out of a line of black SUVs to enter Kim’s hotel. They could be seen riding with vehicle doors open, then rushing to the heavily-guarded leader.

ALL ALONE: Kim Jong Un arrives in Vietnam after a marathon train journey from North Korea without anyone by his side

HIT IT! An attendant sprints down the red carpet to accompany the North Korean dictator

People hold the national flags of North Korea, US, and Vietnam as they wait for the motorcade in Hanoi 

Vietnamese military and police blocked off streets for hours before his arrival, with onlookers bearing Vietnamese, U.S., and North Korean flags waiting to catch a glimpse of the leader of the hermetic nation. 

Kim’s arrival turned out to be inconvenient for traveling American media, who had been preparing to make use of a media file set up by the White House travel office, who had spent days organizing it – even setting up a podium for potential press briefings with four American flags. The entire location was scrapped, at least temporarily, with Kim’s arrival. 

It turned out that Kim had booked the same hotel that was to have been used as a base of operations for reporters who cover the White House.  

Vietnam’s ministry of foreign affairs tweeted: ‘The American Media Center will be relocated’ from the hotel where Kim was staying to an International Media Center.


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Tweeted CNN’s Jim Acosta in response: ‘Translation: The US press is being booted out of the hotel where we have spent days setting up our workspace.’ 

The Washington Post quoted a person inside the hotel who witnessed a ‘tense standoff’ between a North Korean official who chewed out Vietnamese security and hotel staff, demanding journalists not take pictures from the lobby.  

On Wednesday evening, President Trump is set to hold his first meetings with Kim since their June summit in Singapore.

They are scheduled to have a brief one-on-one greeting, followed by a dinner, where Trump will be joined by Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and his acting chief of staff, Mick Mulvaney. Kim is expected to be accompanied by Kim Yung Chol, the general and senior leader who delivered a letter to Trump from Kim, as well as by another associate. 

Translators also will be there. 

Arrival in Hanoi: Kim’s motorcade rolls up after the journey from Dong Dang, where he had traveled by train 

The American and North Korean flags are waved in front of Kim’s motorcade as the North Korean dictator arrives in Hanoi 

Vietnamese policemen escort North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s motorcade in Hanoi on Tuesday ahead of the summit 

An armored vehicle equipped with a gun turret was part of Kim Jong Un’s security package. It parked itself near a hotel where Kim is staying for the summit

North Korean bodyguards run along a limousine transporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un upon his arrival at the border town with China in Dong Dang, Vietnam

Outriders escort a limousine transporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un past the Opera House in Hanoi

An armored police vehicle drives behind North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s motorcade in Hanoi today 

The motorcade of North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un travels enroute to his hotel

Trump took off for Hanoi Monday facing new pressure to demonstrate he can secure concrete pledges from Kim Jong-un after repeatedly gushing about the riches that await if the North Korean dictator backs away from his nuclear weapons program.

Trump’s previous summit with Kim, held in Singapore in June, resulted in a vague joint statement that critics blasted for lacking specific measurable stapes – it pledged the two sides would ‘work toward complete denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.’

Trump set an optimistic tone on Twitter as prepared to head east: ‘Meeting for breakfast with our Nation’s Governors – then off to Vietnam for a very important Summit with Kim Jong Un. With complete Denuclearization, North Korea will rapidly become an Economic Powerhouse. Without it, just more of the same. Chairman Kim will make a wise decision!’ Trump wrote.

He also mocked his critics – including security experts who have raised alarms Trump will make concessions on the diplomatic front without requiring much of substance of Kim in return other than the continued cessation of missile launches. 

 Kim Jong Un crossed into Vietnam on Tuesday after a 2,800 mile journey from Pyongyang on his olive-green train 

The iconic train had previously been used by Kim Jong Il before his death. It’s bulletproof and has an average speed of 37 mph

His journey from Pyongyang was shrouded in secrecy but numerous sightings of the train were made over the past few days

Schoolchildren waving North Korean flags and a military guard of honor greeted Kim as he stepped onto the platform, draped in a red carpet

Hundreds of onlookers and Vietnamese soldiers lined a pathway for Kim on Monday

The 35-year-old wound down his window to wave at the thousands gathered outside as he headed to Hanoi 

North Korean bodyguards run along a limousine transporting North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un upon his arrival at the border town with China in Dong Dan 

North Korean security escorting a car carrying Kim Jong-Un at Dong Dang railway station near the border with China

‘So funny to watch people who have failed for years, they got NOTHING, telling me how to negotiate with North Korea. But thanks anyway!’ Trump tweeted Sunday.

A senior administration official acknowledged as recently as Friday the two sides had yet to agree on what denuclearization even means.

Kim arrived in Vietnam after train journey that took him through China ahead of his second historic showdown with President Trump. 

His bulletproof olive green train pulled into the Vietnamese station of Dong Dang following a two-and-a-half-day secrecy-shrouded odyssey from Pyongyang.

Schoolchildren waving North Korean flags and a military guard of honor greeted Kim as he stepped from his carriage onto the red carpet-draped platform. 

The 35-year-old is the first North Korean leader to visit Vietnam since his grandfather Kim Il Sung in 1964.

Security around the station was extremely prevalent, as armed guard and soldiers surrounded the area

People wait for the motorcade with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un ahead of the US-North Korea summit in Hanoi

Kim’s arrival brought out the young and old, with this child carrying the North Korean and American flags 

Vietnamese authorities blocked off streets and roped off pedestrians to allow for Kim’s arrival in Hanoi

An armored vehicle accompanied the motorcade

This scooter is outfitted with the U.S., Vietnamese, and North Korean flags

A Vietnamese soldier stands guard at a street in Hanoi ahead of the second U.S.-North Korea summit

Security across the Vietnamese city is fervent, with legions of armed soldiers and police surrounding the train station.

Kim emerged from the train station doors issuing the cheering crowd a beaming smile and a series of waves, before being shepherded into a black limousine. 

A 170 km stretch of highway has been completely closed off by authorities, which Kim and his entourage will travel on to get to Hanoi for Wednesday’s meeting. 

An entourage secret service agents jogged alongside the dictator’s black-out car as it set off on its two hour journey.

President Trump opted for a more conventional means of travel as he boarded Air Force one on Monday afternoon. He’s expected to arrive late on Tuesday.  

Before his departure, the President offered an optimistic tune regarding the week ahead.

‘I think we could have a very good summit,’ he told the nation’s governors during their meeting at the White House on Monday morning. ‘I think we’ll have a very tremendous summit. We want denuclearization, and I think he’ll have a country that will set a lot of records for speed in terms of an economy.’ 

He also tweeted from inside the presidential plane that he was looking forward to a ‘productive’ meeting with Kim.

President Trump jetted off to Vietnam for what he predicted will be a ‘very productive summit’ with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un

Air Force One touched down in Mildenhall, England on Monday evening for a refueling stop. Sarah Sanders posed for a photo with US military personal stationed at the base

The President touched down in Mildenhall, England late Monday night to refuel at a Royal Air Force Base.

Trump’s press secretary Sarah Sanders posed for a photo in front of Air Force One with a large contingent of US military personnel stationed at the Suffolk base.

‘Got off AF1 for a refuel stop at RAF Mildenhall. Thankful for the amazing men and women in our military,’ his Instagram caption read. 

He still has another 12 hours left on his journey and will likely land in Hanoi at 7pm local time on Tuesday. 

24 hours earlier, Trump hosted the Governor’s Ball in the White House’s State Dining Room where he sought to cool expectation ahead of the summit.

 ‘What’s going to happen, I can’t tell you,’ Trump teased.

‘I’m not in a rush, I don’t want to rush anybody, I just don’t want testing.

‘As long as there’s no testing, we’re happy.’  

The president has been promoting denuclearization – expected to be the main topic on the agenda of his sit down with Kim – as a way for North Korea to become an ‘Economic Powerhouse.’    

‘Chairman Kim realizes, perhaps better than anyone else, that without nuclear weapons, his country could fast become one of the great economic powers anywhere in the world,’ Trump tweeted on Sunday.

‘Because of its location and people (and him), it has more potential for rapid growth than any other nation.’  

President Trump touted the economic benefits of denuclearization as he prepares to jet off to Vietnam for his second summit with Kim Jong Un

President Trump and Kim will meet on Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi, Vietnam as they sit down for the second time to discuss nuclear disarmament and the possibility of the US lifting sanctions on North Korea


The summit wasn’t the only thing on the President’s mind during the flight. He tweet in angst against the democrats blocking a late-term abortion bill in the Senate 

Trump’s enthusiasm is in contrast to his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, who said Sunday there may have to be a third summit because Trump and Kim ‘may not get everything done this week.’

‘There may have to be another summit,’ he said on ‘Fox News Sunday. ‘We may not get everything done this week. We hope we’ll make a substantial step along the way.’ 

While President Trump tweeted about the possibility of denuclearization on Sunday, his secretary of state offered a more measured set of expectations for the second meeting between the two leaders this week in Hanoi, Vietnam.

‘The U.N. Security Council has demanded, not the United States, but the U.N. Security Council has demanded that Chairman Kim give up these weapons systems. It’s in the best interest of his country and I hope we can make a real substantive step forward this week. It may not happen but I hope that it will,’ Pompeo said. 

President Donald Trump and North Korean Leader Kim Jong Un, seen here at their first summit in Singapore in July

Kim Jong Un’s mammoth journey from Pyongyang to Hanoi took a staggering two-and-a-half days

Trump and Kim will meet Wednesday and Thursday in Hanoi. Kim left for their summit via train while Trump flies out Monday. 

On the agenda is denuclearization. 

Washington is looking for concrete steps from North Korean that progress has been made on that front after Kim pledged to eliminate his country’s nuclear weapons’ program at his and Trump’s first summit in Singapore last summer.  

Trump said last week that North Korea must do ‘something that’s meaningful’ on denuclearization before he would consider lifting economic sanctions.

North Korea has pushed for those sanctions to be reduced before it makes major changes to its nuclear program. 

But Pompeo cautioned real progress on denuclearization could take time.  

Mike Pompeo arrived shortly after Kim. In interviews this week, the Secretary of State appeared less enthusiastic than Trump in his expectations for the summit

He told Fox News there might be another summit because Trump ‘may not get everything done this week’

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    ‘We have always known this would take time and it would be a step forward, and slower than the world has demanded, right? This is a U.N. Security Council resolution that we’re attempting to achieve by getting North Korea fully denuclearized,’ he said Sunday on CNN’s ‘State of the Union.’

    ‘I’m hopeful that, when President Trump and Chairman Kim get together, they will make a big step towards realizing what Chairman Kim promised. He promised he would denuclearize. We hope he will make a big step towards that in the week ahead,’ he added. 

    He declined to get into the specifics of what the U.S. wanted from Pyongyang.

    ‘There are many things he could do to demonstrate his commitment to denuclearization. Our negotiating team was on the ground the last three days. And they will be on the ground again today. I will be there tomorrow to continue these discussion,’ Pompeo said.

    ‘I don’t want to get into the details of what’s being proposed, what the offers and counteroffers may be. But a real step, a demonstrable, verifiable step is something that I know President Trump is very focused on achieving,’ he added.  

    CNN anchor Jake Tapper also called out Pompeo for contradicting President Trump on whether or not North Korea remains a nuclear threat. 

    ‘Do you think North Korea remains a nuclear threat?,’ Tapper asked Pompeo when the secretary of state appeared on ‘State of the Union.

    ‘Yes,’ Pompeo responded.

    ‘But the president said he doesn’t,’ Tapper pointed out. 

    CNN anchor Jake Tapper also called out Pompeo for contradicting President Trump on whether or not North Korea remains a nuclear threat

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      After his first summit with Kim in Singapore, Trump claimed  ‘there is no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea.’

      ‘Just landed – a long trip, but everybody can now feel much safer than the day I took office,’ Trump tweeted last June. ‘There is no longer a Nuclear Threat from North Korea. Meeting with Kim Jong Un was an interesting and very positive experience. North Korea has great potential for the future!’ 

      Pompeo took issue with Tapper’s characterization of Trump’s remarks.  

      ‘That’s not what he said,’ Pompeo noted.  

      ‘He tweeted: ‘There’s no longer a nuclear threat from North Korea,” Tapper said in response.


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      ‘What he said was that the efforts that had been made in Singapore, this commitment that Chairman Kim, may have substantially taken down the risk to the American people. It’s the mission of the secretary of state and the president of the United States to keep the American people secure. We’re aiming to achieve that,’ Pompeo argued. 

      ‘OK. I mean, that’s just a direct quote, but I want to move on,’ Tapper said.   

      Harry Kazianis of the Center for the National Interest said Trump and Kim need to take ‘at least one step forward on denuclearisation’ in Hanoi.

      ‘Nothing would be worse than for either side to come out of the meeting as if it was a waste of time,’ he said.

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U.S. says to withdraw from arms control treaty in six months

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States announced on Friday it will withdraw from the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty with Russia in six months unless Moscow ends its alleged violations of the landmark 1987 arms control pact.

The United States would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia, which denies violating the treaty, came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe.

Announcing the move, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said the United States would cease to regard itself as being bound by the treaty starting Saturday, which is when Washington will formally inform Moscow of its intent to withdraw, a senior U.S. official told reporters.

The announcement may aim to pressure Russia to come to terms during the next six months but it also raised fears of a new U.S.-Russian nuclear arms race in Europe as well as one between the United States and China in Asia.

U.S. President Donald Trump repeated U.S. allegations that Russia had violated the INF treaty, which limited only U.S. and Russian arsenals, and he held out the prospect of negotiating a wider agreement, possibly including other nations.

“I hope that we’re able to get everybody in a big and beautiful room and do a new treaty that would be much better. Certainly I would like to see that,” Trump told reporters.

Trump’s tenure has been dogged by allegations that Russia interfered in the 2016 U.S. election to help his candidacy, which Moscow denies. The dispute over INF has contributed to U.S.-Russia frictions, now at their worst since the Cold War ended in 1991 despite Trump’s stated desire for better ties.

“If Russia does not return to full and verifiable compliance with the treaty within this six-month period by verifiably destroying its INF-violating missiles, their launchers, and associated equipment, the treaty will terminate,” Pompeo told reporters.

(Graphic: U.S. nuclear arsenal – tmsnrt.rs/2sYZOpw)

RUSSIA SEES FALSE PRETEXT

Russian officials accused the United States of inventing a false pretext to exit a treaty that it wants to leave anyway so it can develop new missiles.

Speaking before the announcement, Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov said Russia regretted the expected U.S. move and accused Washington of failing to negotiate to avoid such an outcome.

“The unwillingness of the Americans to listen to any arguments and to hold substantive negotiations with us shows that the decision to break this treaty was taken in Washington a long time ago,” Peskov told reporters.

The United States alleges a new Russian cruise missile violates the pact. The missile, the Novator 9M729, is known as the SSC-8 by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

The treaty required the parties to destroy ground-launched ballistic and cruise missiles with ranges of between 500 and 5,500 km (310 to 3,420 miles). Last week, the head of Russia’s military’s missile and artillery forces said the new missile’s maximum range fell short of the treaty’s lower limit.

Russia has rejected the U.S. demand to destroy the new missile.

NATO “does not have any intention to deploy new land-based nuclear weapons to Europe,” Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg told Reuters on Friday, saying the Western security alliance had intelligence from the United States and other allies confirming that Russia had violated the treaty.

“We don’t have to mirror what Russia does. But at the same time we have to make sure that we maintain credible and effective deterrence,” he said, without giving specifics on military options NATO is considering.

France and Germany both emphasized the importance of using the six-month window to keep talking.

Formal U.S. withdrawal could give the Pentagon new options to counter Chinese missile advances but experts warn the ensuing arms race could greatly escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific.

The United States will notify Russia on Saturday of its plan to pull out in six months, a senior U.S. official said, describing this as “one final chance” to comply with the agreement but saying Washington doubted Moscow would do so.

He said the administration is weighing whether to extend the “New Start” arms control treaty, which went into effect in 2011 and required both nations to cut deployed strategic nuclear warheads to no more than 1,550, the lowest level in decades.

That treaty, which also limits deployed land- and submarine-based missiles and nuclear-capable bombers, expires in February 2021, can be extended by five years if both sides agree.

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Russia suspends nuclear arms treaty after U.S. says to pull out

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia has suspended the Cold War-era Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty, President Vladimir Putin said on Saturday, after the United States said it would withdraw from the arms control pact, accusing Moscow of violations.

Moscow’s relations with the West are strained over issues including Russia’s annexation of Crimea from Ukraine, allegations of meddling in the U.S. presidential election and being behind a nerve agent attack in Britain.

The United States announced on Friday it will withdraw from the INF treaty in six months unless Moscow ends what it says are violations of the 1987 pact.

It would reconsider its withdrawal if Russia came into compliance with the agreement, which bans both nations from stationing short- and intermediate-range land-based missiles in Europe. Russia denies violating the treaty.

“The American partners have declared that they suspend their participation in the deal, we suspend it as well,” Putin said during a televised meeting with foreign and defense ministers.

(For a graphic on U.S. nuclear arsenal – tmsnrt.rs/2sYZOpw)

Putin said Russia will start work on creating new missiles, including hypersonic ones, and told ministers not to initiate disarmament talks with Washington, accusing the United States of being slow to respond to such moves.

“We have repeatedly, during a number of years, and constantly raised a question about substantiative talks on the disarmament issue,” Putin said. “We see that in the past few years the partners have not supported our initiatives.”

The row over the treaty has drawn a strong reaction from Europe and China.

European nations fear the treaty’s collapse could lead to a new arms race with possibly a new generation of U.S. nuclear missiles stationed on the continent.

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China urged the United States on Saturday to resolve its differences with Russia through dialogue.

During the meeting with Putin, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov accused the United States of violating the INF and other arms deals, including the non-proliferation treaty.

Putin said Russia would not deploy its weapons in Europe and other regions unless the United States did so.

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Russia ready to work with U.S. to save INF arms treaty: Lavrov

MOSCOW (Reuters) – Russia is ready to work to save the landmark Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces Treaty (INF) despite numerous problems and hopes Washington will take a responsible approach to arms control treaties, Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday.

Washington has threatened to pull out of the 1987 pact, alleging that a new Russian missile violates the treaty, which bans either side from stationing short and intermediate-range, land-based missiles in Europe.

Russia says the missile’s range puts it outside the treaty altogether and is not as long as Washington alleges, meaning that it is fully compliant with the INF.

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U.S. to host Iran-focused world summit next month: Pompeo

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – The United States plans to host a global summit focused on the Middle East, particularly Iran, next month in Poland, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo told Fox News in a report published on Friday.

In an interview with the news network, Pompeo said the international gathering would be held Feb. 13 to Feb. 14 in Poland to “focus on Middle East stability and peace and freedom and security here in this region, and that includes an important element of making sure that Iran is not a destabilizing influence”.

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France, Germany taking charge of EU-Iran trade move but oil sales in doubt

PARIS/BRUSSELS/VIENNA (Reuters) – France and Germany are to take joint responsibility for an EU-Iran trade mechanism to minimize the risk of U.S. punishment but few now believe it will cover oil sales, heightening fears for the fate of the landmark international nuclear deal with Iran.

Diplomats said the French-German gambit is a “safety-in-numbers” tactic to overcome the refusal of individual EU states to host the mechanism to sidestep the risk of being targeted by the revived U.S. sanctions regime against Iran.

But with U.S. threats of retribution for sanctions-busting unrelenting, they told Reuters that the goals of the nascent trade mechanism could be scaled back to encompass only less sensitive items such as humanitarian and food products.

That may well fall short of what Iran’s moderates wish for to fend off anti-Western hardliners demanding Tehran ditch the 2015 nuclear deal which they opposed in the first place.

“The SPV (Special Purpose Vehicle for trade) is important, but what’s more important to the Iranians is oil and ensuring their exports in the long term,” said a senior French diplomat.

“None of the measures that we’re trying to put in place will perform miracles, but what we’re trying to do is a series of measures to convince the Iranians to keep to their nuclear commitments. That is our objective,” he said.

France, Germany and Britain – European signatories to world powers’ 2015 deal with Iran that curbed its disputed nuclear programme – have scrambled to come up with measures to preserve its economic benefits for Tehran after U.S. President Donald Trump denounced the accord as weak and withdrew from it in May.

The European Union has so far enabled its lending arm, the European Investment Bank, to add Iran to a list of countries with which it does business and introduced a law to shield European companies from U.S. sanctions.

Both measures are part of a wider package meant to show European good faith to Iran and would be complemented with the so-called SPV, a clearing house that avoids monetary transfers in dollars between the EU and Iran.

The goal was to have the SPV legally in place by the time Trump reimposed oil sanctions on Iran on Nov. 5, though not operational until next year.

However, after no countries came forward to host the SPV and only Austria and Luxembourg – small states with solid financial systems – refused for fear of incurring U.S. sanctions, France, Germany and Britain were forced to go back to the drawing board.

“What’s in the air now is that France or Germany would host or preside over the SPV,” said an EU diplomat. “The French are the most pushy and the Germans are more prudent, but at the same time France doesn’t want to bear the brunt for everyone else.”

Two other diplomats said that if Paris and Berlin took joint control of the SPV it could deter the Trump administration from directly confronting two major U.S. allies.

Britain is still considering how to contribute, but is restrained by the distracting process of its pending departure from the EU and by the fact the SPV would be trading in euros, not Britain’s sterling currency.

French Foreign Minister Jean-Yves Le Drian told the bloc’s ministers in a closed-door meeting in Brussels on Nov. 19 that the Paris and Berlin were working closely together to achieve something by year-end, two other EU diplomats said.

The French, German and British finance ministers will discuss the SPV on the sidelines of this weekend’s G20 summit, according to a French Finance Ministry source.

NO MIRACLES

Under the 2015 deal, Iran restricted its declared civilian nuclear power programme, widely seen in the West as a front for developing the means to make atomic bombs, in exchange for an end to international sanctions against it.

To circumvent renewed U.S. sanctions, the SPV was conceived as a possible way to help match Iranian oil and gas exports against purchases of EU goods, an effective barter arrangement.

However, those ambitions appear to have been toned down with four diplomats saying the SPV could realistically only be used for smaller trade that might be tolerated by the Trump administration, for example humanitarian or farm products.

Asked whether the mechanism would be able to handle oil sales after all, EU Energy and Climate commissioner Miguel Arias Canete said only that work was continuing.

“We are developing a very sophisticated special purpose vehicle. It is not easy,” Canete said in an interview with Reuters on Tuesday.

The SPV’s legal and technical aspects, such as ownership structure, jurisdiction and what banking infrastructure to use if any, were still being finalised, diplomats said.

A person informed of the discussions also said the European Commission was sounding out Washington on the SPV. U.S. officials have repeatedly warned that European banks and firms who engage in the mechanism would be at risk.

IRANIAN OIL PRIORITIES

Continued oil sales to mega-energy consumers India and China could be enough for now to satisfy Iran, easing the need for the SPV to immediately cover crude trade, the French diplomat said.

But another EU diplomat was more blunt, arguing that European efforts were symbolic and ultimately any decision by Iran to stay in the nuclear deal would be political and not based on European measures.

“You can’t do big business with pistachios,” he said, referring to one of Iran’s major, but less lucrative, exports.

Highlighting just how sensitive the issue is in Tehran and the possible disconnect between what the EU can do and Iran’s aspirations, Iranian officials have repeated to European counterparts in recent meetings that they are under pressure by clerical and security hardliners and cited the possibility and consequences of Iran exiting the deal in the coming weeks.

“Our priority is to be able to enjoy some banking system for financial transactions and to be able to sell our oil,” Ali Akhbar Salehi, head of the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran, told Reuters in an interview on Tuesday.

“If the SPV answers the two priorities that I just mentioned…, then yes it could be a workable proposal, it can be helpful in keeping the deal alive.”

But a senior Iranian official close to influential hardliners in the Iranian leadership said the Islamic Republic was losing time “by betting on the wrong horse”.

“The EU will think about its own interests. The amount of trade with Iran is like a drop compared to the (EU’s) ocean of trade with America. They will eventually leave us. Besides, what have we gained so far? Just words.”

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Threat of all-out nuclear war between US and China is much greater than people realise, expert claims

The warning comes days after Donald Trump clamped down on the export of nuclear technology to China, amid fears it will be stolen or diverted to military use.

Newsweek reports that Caitlin Talmadge, a security expert at Georgetown University in Washington DC, has elaborated on how a military escalation between the US and China could occur.

In an article for Foreign Affairs, she writes that a war between the two countries is currently unlikely, but “no longer seems as implausible as it once did”.

“The odds of such a confrontation going nuclear are higher than most policymakers and analysts think.

“As China’s power has grown in recent years, so, too, has the risk of war with the United States,” she warns.

Pointing out the US military tactics employed in Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya and Serbia, she said that the American strategy in such conflicts was to go “deep into enemy territory in order to rapidly knock out the opponent’s key military assets at minimal cost”.

Should the United States inadvertently or purposefully target Beijing’s nuclear capabilities, China might consider using the country’s nuclear arsenal to minimise the chance it could be taken out.

Instances that could prompt this include conflict breaking out over territorial rights in the South China Sea.

The US Navy routinely draws China’s ire by sailing past Chinese-held islands in what are known as “freedom of navigation operations”.


On October 10, Taiwan president Tsai Ing-wen vowed to boost national security, saying her government would not submit to Chinese suppression as Beijing ramps up pressure to assert its sovereignty over the self-ruled island, reports Reuters.

The US State Department last month approved the sale of spare parts for F-16 fighter planes to Taiwan, and other military aircraft worth up to £252million ($330m) – a move that China said risked Sino-American cooperation.

China is also pitted against smaller neighbours in multiple disputes over islands, coral reefs and lagoons.

In May this year, Washington warned that Beijing would face unspecified “consequences” over its militarisation of the South China Sea after China reasserted its right to build “defence” facilities in the disputed area.

And on October 11, Energy Secretary Rick Perry said that the US “cannot ignore the national security implications of China’s efforts to obtain nuclear technology outside of established processes of US-China civil nuclear cooperation.”

America said it would increasingly restrict exports of civilian nuclear technology to China, as intelligence experts are seriously concerned the valuable information will be diverted to power new generations of Chinese submarines and warships.


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North Korea adds new twist to big parade: Reporter’s notebook

I’ve seen many military parades around the world, but nothing that rivals the spectacle of Sunday’s parade in Pyongyang.

Interested in North Korea?

There were tens of thousands of North Korean troops — goose-stepping under leader Kim Jong Un’s viewing balcony in Pyongyang’s Kim II Sung Square. And tens of thousands of civilians in the parade marking the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding as well.

We were in the massive square named after Kim’s grandfather, the country’s founding leader. Kim was just above us, waving at the adoring crowds below, whose emotions seemed genuine as they sat in the hot sun waiting for a glimpse of their “Supreme Leader.”

Despite the display of military might, which included tank battalions, rocket launcher and military aircraft that formed the number 70th above the square, there was no display of intercontinental ballistic missiles, something everyone was watching for.

Just seven months ago, a similar parade was held in the same square on the eve of the Winter Olympics in neighboring South Korea. That parade featured ICBM’s believed capable of reaching the United States and a speech from Kim declaring North Korea a “world-class military power.”

But that was before Kim and President Donald Trump had their historic June summit in Singapore and signed a joint statement committing to denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

But given what we have seen in the past few days, the emphasis has been far more on economic development, science and technology, and modernization.

Since I and the ABC News crew have been here, we have been with a government guide at all times, and can only go where they choose to take us. But in every place we’ve visited there were plaques showing that Kim or his father, or his grandfather had been here before. Their images have mostly been done with mosaics and are featured in the hallways of most government buildings.

Also, the chairs and benches where Kim Jong Un had sat are now encased in glass.

But you could see changes from years ago. From a teacher’s college where the students used virtual reality to study planets to a cosmetics factory where my guide told me they are trying to rival some of the name brand cosmetics of the West such as Gucci and Estee Lauder.

The guide said Kim Jung Un “appreciates beautiful women and wants North Korean women to be the most beautiful of all.”

On Sunday night, we were invited to attend the Mass Games, another extravaganza.

Part Olympic opening ceremony, part Super Bowl halftime show, the games were relaunched by Kim after a five-year hiatus.

The event was held in May Day stadium, the largest stadium in the world with a capacity to hold 150,000 people. There were marching bands and thousands of singers, dancers and gymnasts who told the history of the 70 years since the nation’s founding.

Kim Jong Un was there again, and he was the climax of the show.

During the event, a video was played of Kim meeting with South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

The two leaders are scheduled to meet again later this month in Pyongyang and Kim seems determined to pursue economic development after his quest for nuclear proliferation prompted both the United States and South Korea to the negotiating table.

Clearly, he is all in on the peace deal with South Korea, although he has shown little movement since meeting with Trump in June on denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.

When the video was shown of Kim and Moon meeting, the crowd erupted in cheers. But in this country, anything Kim does is met with applause and adulation.

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Science

China has tested a hypersonic aircraft called Starry Sky-2

China successfully tests its hypersonic Starry Sky-2 aircraft that will fire nuclear missiles capable of travelling at 4,563 miles-per-hour to evade existing anti-missile defence systems

  • The hypersonic weapon rides on the shockwaves it generates, reports suggest
  • It can travel at six times the speed of sound – around 7,344km/h (4,563mph)
  • The flight test was deemed a ‘huge success’ by scientists involved in the project
  • Experts say it could signal China is now neck-and-neck with Russia and the US 
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China has successfully tested a hypersonic aircraft capable of carrying nuclear weapons that evade existing anti-missile defence systems, according reports.

The next-generation weapon, known as Xingkong-2 or Starry Sky-2, will ride the shockwave generated by the initial launch, which is handled by a rocket, to travel at six times the speed of sound, or Mach 6 – around 4,563mph (7,344kmph). 

Starry Sky-2 will purportedly be able to switch direction during its flight, making it harder to track and intercept.

When the aircraft fires its missiles, these will also travel at top speeds of 4,563mph (7,344kmph) and will easily defeat conventional anti-missile defence systems. 

Scientists involved in the latest test flight have heralded it as a ‘huge success’, with experts saying the aircraft signals China is now neck-and-neck with Russia and the United States in the race to create hypersonic warheads.

China has long been suspected of building an arsenal of hypersonic weapons, but this new test flight is the first proof the technology is actively being developed.

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China has tested a hypersonic aircraft called Starry Sky-2 (pictured) that could carry nuclear weapons and evade anti-missile defence systems, reports suggest 

The China Academy of Aerospace Aerodynamics (CAAA) said in a statement the latest test flight – carried out at an undisclosed location in northwest of the country – was a ‘huge success’, writes South China Morning Post.

The Starry Sky-2 aircraft was carried into space before separating from the launcher rocket and flying on its own power.

Known as a ‘waverider’, these hypersonic aircrafts uses the shockwaves from its own flight as a lifting surface to travel through the air at fast speeds.

In the latest tests, the aircraft was able to maintain speeds greater than five-and-a-half times the speed of sound for 400 seconds at an altitude of 30km (19 miles).

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Local reports suggest it also achieved a top speed of Mach 6.

‘The test … has laid a solid technological foundation for engineering applications of the waverider design,’ the CAAA statement claimed.

Hypersonic weapons can defeat existing anti-missile defences as they are designed to switch direction during their flight.

These missiles do not follow a predictable ballistic arc like conventional projectiles, making them much harder to track and intercept.

According to the CAAA, the aircraft landed ‘whole’ in the designated target zone.

However, this technology is not ready to be rolled-out yet.


The next-generation weapon, known as Xingkong-2 or Starry Sky-2, will ride the shockwave generated by the initial launch, which is handled by a rocket, to travel at six times the speed of sound, or Mach 6 – around 4,563mph (7,344kmph)


Starry Sky-2 (pictured) will purportedly be able to switch direction during its flight, making it harder to track and intercept

‘I think there are still three to five years before this technology can be weaponised,’ said Beijing-based military analyst, Zhou Chenming.

‘As well as being fitted to missiles, it may also have other military applications, which are still being explored.’

Russia is widely-tipped to be developing a hypersonic weapon known as ‘Zircon’.

The Zircon cruise missile purportedly travels between 3,800mph (6,115kph) and 4,600mph (7,400kph) – five to six times the speed of sound – putting Russia ‘half a decade ahead of the US’.

According to Russian news agency Tass, it is set to go into production this year.


When the aircraft fires its missiles, these will also travel at top speeds of 4,563mph (7,344kmph) and will easily defeat conventional anti-missile defence systems


Known as a ‘waverider’, these hypersonic aircrafts uses the shockwaves from its own flight as a lifting surface to travel through the air at fast speeds


In the latest tests, the aircraft was able to maintain speeds greater than five-and-a-half times the speed of sound for 400 seconds at an altitude of 30km (19 miles)

In June, it was also revealed a US hypersonic missile had taken a step closer to reality.

Defence firm Lockheed Martin revealed details of a $928 million (£661 million) contract to make a radical new weapon that will travel more than five times the speed of sound.

The aerospace firm is working on an air-launched weapon system, dubbed the Hypersonic Conventional Strike Weapon (HCSW), under a new deal with the US Air Force.

In the first phase, the team will finalise the system requirements before moving on to design, flight tests, and initial production and deployment. 

Work on the ultra-fast missile is taking place in Huntsville, Alabama, Valley Forge, Pennsylvania, and Orlando, Florida, according to Lockheed Martin.


Russia is believed to be developing a hypersonic weapon called the Zircon. The missile is capable of travelling twice as fast as the Royal Navy’s Sea Ceptor missile (pictured), which would be responsible for shooting it down were it to attack British troops or mainland UK

WHAT ARE HYPERSONIC AIRCRAFT AND WHO IS DEVELOPING THEM?

Hypersonic aircraft are those capable of a hitting speeds five times the speed of sound or more.

The vehicles could be used to deliver missiles, including nuclear weapons, to targets around the world in a fraction of the time achieved by current craft.

Hypersonic vehicles travel so rapidly and unpredictably they could provide an almost-immediate threat to nations across the globe.

Once developed, the gap between identifying a military threat and launching an attack on it will drop from hours to minutes, even at long distances. 

Since 2013, China has conducted seven successful test flights of its hypersonic glider DF-ZF.

The vehicle will be capable of speeds of between Mach 5 and Mach 10, or five to 10 times the speed of sound.

US officials tested tested HTV-2 in 2011, an unmanned aircraft capable of Mach 20, but the hypersonic flight lasted just a few minutes before the vehicle crashed.

Additional expertise in Denver, Colorado, and Sunnyvale, California will also be involved in the project.

The US Air Force will grant Lockheed Martin up to $928 million for development of the weapon through early operational capability.

‘Our goal is rapid development and fielding of the HCSW system, and this contract is the first step in achieving that goal,’ said John Snyder, vice president of Air Force Strategic Programs at Lockheed Martin.

‘Design, development, production, integration and test experts from across Lockheed Martin will partner with the Air Force to achieve early operational capability and deliver the system to our warfighters. 

‘We are incredibly proud to be leading this effort.’ 

It was first revealed back in April that the Pentagon pushed through development of the highly maneuverable weapons, which are designed to outpace detection and defensive capabilities.

The move follows repeated warnings from senior officials about rapid advances by China and Russia, who have unveiled their own versions in recent months.


Defence firm Lockheed Martin revealed details of a $928 million (£661 million) contract to make a radical new weapon that will travel more than five times the speed of sound. This 2010 file photo shows rival Boeing’s X-51A WaveRider hypersonic vehicle under a B-52 bomber


Hypersonic weapons can beat regular anti-missile defences.  This artist’s impression, courtesy of the US Air Force, shows Boeing’s hypersonic X-51A Waverider cruise missile currently under development

Arsenals of the ultra-fast intercontinental weapons could also be equipped with nuclear warheads with the capability of delivering devastating strikes across the planet. 

In a statement, the Pentagon said Lockheed will receive up to $928 million to build a new, non-nuclear missile it is calling the ‘hypersonic conventional strike weapon.’

‘This contract provides for the design, development, engineering, systems integration, test, logistics planning, and aircraft integration support of all the elements of a hypersonic, conventional, air-launched, stand-off weapon,’ the statement read. 

Mike Griffin, the Pentagon’s new defense undersecretary for research and engineering, said China had built ‘a pretty mature system’ for a hypersonic missile to strike from thousands of kilometres (miles) away.

‘We will, with today’s defensive systems, not see these things coming,’ Mr Griffin said.

WHAT DOES RUSSIA CLAIM TO HAVE IN ITS MILITARY ARSENAL?

The Russian Ministry of Defence has been keen to promote a range of new super weapons currently believed to be in development.

President Putin unveiled a catalogue of doomsday weaponry as part of his annual ‘State of the Nation’ speech in March 2018.

However, questions remain about the true nature of their capabilities, how far into development the weapons truly are, and when they will be combat-ready.

RS-28 Sarmat ICBM

The RS-28 Sarmat is intended to replace the Soviet-designed SS-18 Voyevoda, the world’s heaviest ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile).

It is known as ‘Satan’ in the West and carries 10 nuclear warheads.

Sarmat can unleash ten large thermonuclear warheads, 16 smaller ones, or a combination of both, according to the Russian Ministry of Defence.

Each warhead is purportedly capable of taking aim at a different target.


The hypersonic glide vehicle, dubbed Avangard, launches atop an intercontinental ballistic missile (IBM) before sailing on top of the atmosphere toward its target. Russia tested its latest IBM, the Sarmat missile, for the first time last year (pictured)

The (ICBM) weapons can strike targets via both the North and South poles.

TV broadcaster Zvezda, which is run by the Russian Ministry of Defence, has previously claimed the missile will be capable of wiping out areas the size of Texas or France. 

It is also capable of carrying up to 24 of Russia’s new Avangard hypersonic glide vehicles, designed to sit atop of an ICBM.

Putin says both weapons will be combat-ready in 2020. 

Avangard Hypersonic Glide Vehicle 

Russia is also believed to be developing a hypersonic weapon that can breach even the world’s most advanced missile defence systems.

The Avangard hypersonic glide vehicle purportedly travels at 20 times the speed of sound and can hit targets anywhere in the world within half an hour.

The vehicle launches atop an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, before gliding on top of the atmosphere toward its target.

It is loaded with advanced countermeasure systems that allow it to skirt around the latest-generation of missile defence systems, Russia claims.


The vehicles are equipped with onboard countermeasure systems capable of dodging even the most advanced missile defence systems. This artist’s impression shows how the glider could manoeuvre at high speed to bypass missile defences

The gliders are also highly unpredictable thanks to their manoeuvrability, making them almost impossible to track using conventional systems.

Each weapon could be loaded with a nuclear warhead, however military experts say the sheer speed of the vehicles means they could do damage even without an explosive payload attached.

Putin described his hypersonic arsenal as ‘invincible’ during a state-of-the-nation address in March 2018.

He claimed Avangard strikes ‘like a meteorite, like a fireball’ and was capable of reaching targets at 20 times the speed of sound.

At this speed the weapon could circle the Earth in just over half an hour. 

Speaking to MailOnline, Neil Gibson, senior weapons analyst for Jane’s by IHS Markit, said: ‘I think the ability of hypersonic systems to defeat air-defence system is highly exaggerated.

‘They have advantages and disadvantages as per any other weapon system. 

‘The fact is, the vast majority of ballistic missiles are already hypersonic anyway, it’s the controlled flight when still hypersonic that we are talking about here.

‘If nuclear armed, they just come under ‘mutually assured destruction’ style posturing. Using them is always possible of course.

‘Conventionally-armed versions are more likely to be used, though any confusion with what they carry – nuclear or conventional warhead – could start an exchange of nuclear weapons if it is mistaken for a nuclear attack.’

Kinzhal Hypersonic Air Launched Missile

Another new missile, the hypersonic Kinzhal, travels at ten times the speed of sound, Putin says.

It is currently undergoing tests in southern Russia.

The hypersonic Kinzhal missile is launched from a high-altitude MiG-31 fighter jet and can be fitted with either nuclear, or conventional weapons.


This still shows the hypersonic Kinzhal, which travels at ten times the speed of sound and is currently undergoing tests in southern Russia

It has an effective range of 1,250 miles (2,000 km), although Putin claims its total range is actually ‘unlimited’.

Russia has already conducted some 350 training missions with the military unit tasked with testing the Kinzhal.

Putin claims the new missile would be capable of striking ‘anywhere in the world’, and that its high speed and manoeuvrability allowed it to pierce any missile defence.

However, despite Putin’s major promises, the missile has still not been able to stay airborne for more than a few minutes, according to US intelligence sources.

The new missile has purportedly been tested four times between November and February and crashed every time.

Burevestnik nuclear powered cruise missile

The burevestnik, or thunderbird, nuclear propulsion system for Russian cruise missiles aims to give them ‘unlimited range and unlimited ability to manoeuvre’, according to Sergey Pertsev, a developer.

 Ministry of Defence officials  said in July, 2018, that work on the unlimited-range missile is going according to plan.

Footage purported to show the missile in action, although it is unclear whether it was being powered by nuclear or conventional fuel.


The ‘Burevestnik’ nuclear propulsion system for Russian cruise missiles, pictured, is said to have ‘unlimited range and unlimited ability to manoeuvre’ 

‘Launching systems are also being designed, while technological processes to manufacture, assemble and test the missile are being improved,’ an official said at the time. 

However, experts have criticised the missile, including Jeffrey Lewis, a nuclear expert at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey.

He told Vice’s Motherboard: ‘The nuclear-powered cruise missile is new—and bats**t crazy.’

Poseidon Drone Submarine 

The Poseidon drone submarine is a sister project to burevestnik.

It is essentially a giant, nuclear-capable torpedo capable of carrying a two megaton nuclear warhead capable of obliterating military ports.

The Kremlin’s Poseidon torpedo sub is designed to destroy ‘enemy navy bases’ and will be able to travel up to 70 knots (80 miles per hour), it claims.

Russian state news agency TASS says it has not been able to confirm details of the weapon.


The Poseidon drone submarine – with a miniature nuclear propulsion system – is shown undergoing a static test

However, it quoted a military source as saying: ‘It will be possible to mount various nuclear charges on the ‘torpedo’ of the Poseidon multipurpose seaborne system, with the thermonuclear single warhead similar to the Avangard charge to have the maximum capacity of up to two megatonnes in TNT equivalent.’

With its nuke, the weapon ‘is primarily designed to destroy reinforced naval bases of a potential enemy,’ the report added.

Peresvet Combat Laser System 

Named after a medieval warrior monk, very little is known about this system.

Many believe Peresvet is a jamming system carried on the back of military lorries, which can be used to ‘blind’ optical electronic equipment inside enemy vehicles using a laser beam.

According to ex-Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yuri Borisov the ‘combat laser systems’ that Putin addressed in his State of the Nation speech back in March had already been delivered to the nation’s armed forces last year.


Many believe Peresvet is a jamming system carried on the back of military lorries (pictured), which can be used to ‘blind’ optical electronic equipment inside enemy vehicles using a laser beam  

Once found only in works of fiction, Mr Borisov said such devices were now a very real and necessary tool of modern warfare. 

‘We can talk a lot about laser weapons and movies were made about them a long time ago and fantastic books have been written, and everyone knows about this,’ Mr Borisov said in comments translated by the state-run Tass Russian News Agency.

But the fact that these systems have started entering service is indeed today’s reality.’

 

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North Korea has not halted nuclear programmes, UN warns

Kim Jong Un has NOT halted nuclear missile programmes despite Trump talks, warns UN

  • New report by the UN shows North Korea still flouting international sanctions 
  • Report found was ‘massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers’ of goods
  • North Korea illegally selling arms to foreign nations, and has relations with Syria

North Korea has not stopped its nuclear and missile production, a new report by the United Nations has warned.

A new report by the intergovernmental body said Pyongyang was violating sanctions, including ‘a massive increase in illicit ship-to-ship transfers of petroleum products’.

North Korea is also accused of violating sanctions by transferring coal at sea and is disregarding an arms and financial sanctions embargo, a summary of the report by experts looking into UN sanctions against Pyongyang found.

Kim Jong Un visits the Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory and the Bus Repair Factory in Pyongyang

Kim Jong-un is all smiles as he visits the Pyongyang Trolley Bus Factory and the Bus Repair Factory

Experts claim North Korea has tried to sell weaponry and other military equipment via foreign intermediaries, including Syrian arms traffickers, Houthi Shiite rebels in Yemen, as well as Libya and Sudan.

Military co-operation between North Korea and Bashar al-Assad’s regime were also continuing despite sanctions, they added.


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Companies, individuals and other bodies are still being investigated by the UN as they try to establish who procures centrifuges for North Korea’s nuclear programme.

The Security Council first imposed sanctions on North Korea following its first nuclear test in 2006. Since then, they have become tougher in an effort to clamp down on Pyongyang’s reckless behaviour.

Pictures of the North Korean leader at a bus factory were released around the time the UN released a new report into how Pyongyang is flouting sanctions

Diplomats have hailed the sanctions for helping to thaw relations between North Korea and South Korea, as well as with the US, although critics claim they do not go far enough. 

Ship-to-ship transfers for petroleum products, oil and coal are among some of the ‘increasingly sophisticated evasion techniques’ used by North Korea to side-step sanctions. 

They also include turning off Automatic Identification Systems, which are required to be on at all times under international regulations, physically disguising North Korean tankers, using small unregistered vessels, illegally changing names, carrying out night transfers and using additional vessels to trans-ship cargo, the report said.

Individuals empowered to act for North Korean financial institutions operate in at least five countries, which were not named, with ‘seeming impunity’.

North Korea is also using overseas companies and individuals to obscure income-generating activities for the government, the UN panel said. Pictured: Kim Jong-un talking to workers at the bus factory

Accounts closed in the European Union to comply with sanctions were simply reopened at financial institutions in Asia. 

North Korea is also using overseas companies and individuals to obscure income-generating activities for the government, the panel said. And the experts’ investigation of more than 200 joint ventures and/or co-operatives turned up a number that violated UN sanctions resolutions by maintaining links with companies and entities under sanctions.

The experts said North Korean diplomats also continue to play ‘a key role in sanctions evasion’, including by controlling bank accounts in multiple countries and holding accounts in the name of family members and front companies. 

The North Korean leader sits on a bus along with his advisors around the time news of the UN report broke

Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump shake hands during their meeting in Singapore in June

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