Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor Vol. 27 No. 11
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Nuclear Security & Deterrence Monitor
Article 8 of 8
March 17, 2023

Wrap up: North Korean nukes; lost Libyan uranium; Manhattan project obit; NNSA in Kazakhstan and more

By ExchangeMonitor

Any deployment by North Korea of a nuclear weapon would mean the fall of the Kim regime, Pentagon spokesman Air Force Brig. Gen. Patrick Ryder said this week. 

The reclusive nation fired a Hwasong-17 intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Thursday and later announced it has the capability to mount a nuclear warhead on the launcher. 

Asked at a March 14 Pentagon press briefing whether the U.S. is ready to counter such provocations, Ryder said, “I think we’ve been very clear that were North Korea to employ a nuclear weapon, it would be the end of the North Korean regime.”

About 2.5 tons of unenriched, natural uranium has gone missing from a site in Libya that is no longer under government control, Reuters reported

International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) inspectors recently noticed the missing uranium during an inspection originally planned for 2022 but was postponed “because of the security situation in the region,” IAEA Director Rafael Grossi said in the statement.

Inspectors found that 10 drums of uranium ore concentrate that Libya previously declared were missing. That form of uranium, often called yellowcake, requires further processing and enrichment before it can be used in nuclear reactors or weapons. 

Ruth Huddleston, a veteran of the Manhattan Project who helped to separate the uranium 235 used in the “Little Boy” bomb dropped on Hiroshima in 1945, has died. 

Huddletson was a resident of Oak Ridge, Tenn., and worked on the California University Cyclotrons, calutrons for short, at the Y-12 plant. She was initially proud that the uranium used in the bomb dropped on Hiroshima was supplied by Oak Ridge, according to an obituary in the Oak Ridger

“But when I got home that night and heard on the radio how many people we had killed, I became so depressed I could not sleep for a week!” she is quoted as saying.

In February, the NNSA and the Kazakhstan Ministry of Energy’s Committee for Atomic and Energy Supervision and Control (CAESC) signed a joint statement on cooperation in emergency preparedness and response.

The agreement will help improve Kazakhstan’s emergency preparedness and response capabilities, the NNSA said in a press release

The joint statement highlighted previous cooperation between the two countries, such as radiological and nuclear detection equipment NNSA loaned to Kazakhstan, and areas for future collaboration, including offers of radiation detection and telecommunications equipment to establish an Emergency Operations Center for CAESC in Astana. 

The NNSA’s Nuclear Incident Policy and Cooperation team recently participated in a workshop with NATO counterparts at the Crisis Management and Disaster Response Centre of Excellence in Sofia, Bulgaria. 

A future course titled “Disaster Response and Consequence Management for a Radiological Incident” will be offered for an audience of emergency management specialists and those focused on chemical, biological, radiological, and nuclear threats. The course includes lectures, hands-on activities, radiological equipment demonstrations, and a tabletop simulation exercise capped off by a practical field exercise hosted by a local Bulgarian military unit.

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