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Satellite images may show reprocessing activity at North Korea nuclear site
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - Satellite images from last week show movement at North Korea's main nuclear site that could be associated with the reprocessing of radioactive material into bomb fuel, a U.S. think tank said on Tuesday.
Any new reprocessing activity would underscore the failure of a second summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un in Hanoi in late February to make progress toward North Korea's denuclearization.
Washington's Center for Strategic and International Studies said in a report that satellite imagery of North Korea's Yongbyon nuclear site from April 12 showed five specialized railcars near its Uranium Enrichment Facility and Radiochemistry Laboratory.
It said their movement could indicate the transfer of radioactive material.
A view of what researchers of Beyond Parallel, a CSIS project, describe as a probably 20-foot shipping container near the uranium enrichment plant at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in North Pyongan Province, North Korea, in this commercial satellite image taken April 12, 2019 (Reuters/CSIS/Beyond Parallel/DigitalGlobe 2019)
"In the past, these specialized railcars appear to have been associated with the movement of radioactive material or reprocessing campaigns." the report said. "The current activity, along with their configurations, does not rule out their possible involvement in such activity, either before or after a reprocessing campaign."
The U.S. State Department declined to comment on intelligence matters, but a source familiar with U.S. government assessments said that while U.S. experts thought the movements could possibly be related to reprocessing, they were doubtful it was significant nuclear activity.
Jenny Town, a North Korea expert at the Stimson Center think tank, said that if reprocessing was taking place, it would be a significant given U.S.-North Korean talks in the past year and the failure to reach an agreement on the future of Yongbyon in Hanoi.
"Because there wasn't an agreement with North Korea on Yongbyon, it would be interesting timing if they were to have started something so quickly after Hanoi," she said.
A view of vehicles near what researchers of Beyond Parallel, a CSIS project, describe as being the Experimental Light Water Reactor at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in North Pyongan Province, North Korea, in this commercial satellite image taken April 12, 2019 (Reuters/CSIS/Beyond Parallel/DigitalGlobe 2019)
Trump has met Kim twice in the past year to try to persuade him to abandon a nuclear weapons program that threatens the United States, but progress so far has been scant.
The Hanoi talks collapsed after Trump proposed a "big deal" in which sanctions on North Korea would be lifted if it handed over all its nuclear weapons and fissile material to the United States. He rejected partial denuclearization steps offered by Kim, which included an offer to dismantle Yongbyon.
Although Kim has maintained a freeze in missile and nuclear tests since 2017, U.S. officials say North Korea has continued to produce fissile material that can be processed for use in bombs.
A view of what researchers of Beyond Parallel, a CSIS project, describe as specialized rail cars at the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center in North Pyongan Province, North Korea, in this commercial satellite image taken April 12, 2019 and released April 16, 2019 (Reuters/CSIS/Beyond Parallel/DigitalGlobe 2019)
Last month, a senior North Korean official warned that Kim might rethink the test freeze unless Washington made concessions.
Last week, Kim said the Hanoi breakdown raised the risks of reviving tensions, adding that he was only interested in meeting Trump again if the United States came with the right attitude.
Kim said he would wait "till the end of this year" for the United States to decide to be more flexible. On Monday, Trump and his Secretary of State Mike Pompeo brushed aside this demand with Pompeo saying Kim should keep his promise to give up his nuclear weapons before then.
Town said any new reprocessing work at Yongbyon would emphasize the importance of the facility in North Korea's nuclear program.
"It would underscore that it is an active facility that does increase North Korea's fissile material stocks to increase its arsenal."
A study by Stanford University's Center for International Security and Cooperation released ahead of the Hanoi summit said North Korea had continued to produce bomb fuel in 2018 and may have produced enough in the past year to add as many as seven nuclear weapons to its arsenal.
Experts have estimated the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal at anywhere between 20 and 60 warheads.
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Former Marine Commandant tells Trump that pardoning troops accused of war crimes 'relinquishes the moral high ground'
Former Marine Commandant Gen. Charles Krulak has issued a statement urging President Donald Trump and members of Congress to oppose pardons for those accused or convicted of war crimes since, he argued, it would "relinquish the United States' moral high ground."
"If President Trump follows through on reports that he will mark Memorial Day by pardoning individuals accused or convicted of war crimes, he will betray these ideals and undermine decades of precedent in American military justice that has contributed to making our country's fighting forces the envy of the world," said Krulak, who served in the Marine Corps for more than three decades before retiring in 1999 as the 31st Commandant.
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Associated Materials, a residential and commercial siding and window manufacturer based in Ohio, employs people from a variety of backgrounds. The company gives them an opportunity to work hard and grow within the organization. For Tim Betsinger, Elizabeth Dennis, and Tanika Carroll, all military veterans with wide-ranging experience, Associated Materials has provided a work environment similar to the military and a company culture that feels more like family than work.
President Donald Trump will nominate Barbara Barrett to serve as the next Air Force secretary, the president announced on Tuesday.
"I am pleased to announce my nomination of Barbara Barrett of Arizona, and former Chairman of the Aerospace Corporation, to be the next Secretary of the Air Force," Trump tweeted. "She will be an outstanding Secretary! #FlyFightWin"
The Trump administration is trying to assure Congress that it does not want to start a war with Iran, but some lawmakers who fought in Iraq are not so sure.
Acting Defense Secretary Patrick Shanahan and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford both briefed Congress on Tuesday about Iran. Shanahan told reporters earlier on Tuesday that the U.S. military buildup in the region has stopped Iran and its proxies from attacking U.S. forces, but the crisis is not yet over.
"We've put on hold the potential for attacks on Americans," Shanahan said. "That doesn't mean that the threats that we've previously identified have gone away. Our prudent response, I think, has given the Iranians time to recalculate. I think our response was a measure of our will and our resolve that we will protect our people and our interests in the region."
WASHINGTON (Reuters) - President Donald Trump warned on Monday Iran would be met with "great force" if it attacked U.S. interests in the Middle East, and government sources said Washington strongly suspects Shi'ite militias with ties to Tehran were behind a rocket attack in Baghdad's Green Zone.
"I think Iran would be making a very big mistake if they did anything," Trump told reporters as he left the White House on Monday evening for an event in Pennsylvania. "If they do something, it will be met with great force but we have no indication that they will."