When Iranian leaders called last week's nuclear deal a "poisoned chalice," they may have meant it literally. The LA Times is reporting that America got the talks started by returning a 7th century BC silver ceremonial chalice believed to have been looted from an Iranian cave. US Customs seized it in 2003, and Iran had been calling for its return ever since.
Declaring that North Korea's "nuclear armed forces represent the nation's life which can never be abandoned as long as the imperialists and nuclear threats exist on earth," Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un announced today that the country would be restarting a nuclear reactor it had shut down in 2007, reneging on an agreement it had reached in multilateral talks at the time. The news that the Yongbyon nuclear complex would "restart all nuclear facilities" comes a day after the U.S. sent the destroyer U.S.S. John S. McCain on patrol in the region, and reflected the bellicose tone that Pyongyang has taken since its third successful nuclear test in February. Luckily we're still a ways away from war; all threats between North and South Korea have been conditional ("we will turn your country into a sea of fire... if you provoke us"), and the relaunch of Yongbyon is unlikely to make a huge difference to the country's arsenal. Nonetheless, top U.S. commander in South Korea Gen. James Thurman expressed concern on Good Morning America that an "impulsive decision" by the DPRK leadership could cause "kinetic provocation." [CNN, The Atlantic Wire, NBC]
North Korea, a famine-ridden kingdom ruled by a chubby 20-something cult leader's grandson, is going to launch a pre-emptive nuclear strike against the United States, its state media announced on Thursday. (It's mad because the UN is prepared to vote for harsher sanctions, aimed at stopping cash transfers into the already impoverished country.) North Korea does not, actually, have the ability to put a nuclear device on a ballistic missile, and if it did it wouldn't use one—it can't afford to alienate its main trading parter, China—but it wouldn't be a Thursday if there wasn't a poetically-worded threat out of Pyongyang:
North Korea dropped a bomb underground yesterday, conducting its third successful nuclear test since 2006 and creating a small seismic event. The explosion was about twice as large as the last test, in 2009, though the bomb is thought to have been made with plutonium, and not the much scarier uranium. U.S. officials had been expecting such a test, and the president has already issued a statement condemning it—as has China, North Korea's only regional ally—though it likely won't stop North Korea from conducting a fourth test in the coming days. North Korean officials remain unbowed, literally: "The DPRK will never bow to any resolutions," a top diplomat told the Conference on Disarmament.
To celebrate its Independence Day, Ukraine yesterday officially opened the first, and most likely only, nuclear missile museum
in the world there, the Pervomaisk Strategic Missile Forces Museum. Visitors can check out intercontinental ballistic missiles like "Satan" and "Sandal", as well as have a look around original bunkers. In the ITN video tour above, you also see a Soviet shitter that was used when the present day museum site was an active nuke silo. I'd go.
If there's one thing that Americans learned from the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear disaster, it's that giving some guy in California $50,000 for a one person space in his nuclear fallout shelter is a good idea. Robert Vicino is CEO and founder of "underground shelter network" Vivos and he's making a lot of money off of
stupid concerned people, according to Asahi Shimbun:
A wildfire in New Mexico is now less than one mile from the Los Alamos National Laboratory — where nuclear weapons and other fun things are developed — and a spokesman from the Santa Fe National Forest called it a "very, very big concern, not only locally but nationally and globally." That sounds bad.