America no longer sees Kim Jong Un as a joke

A TV screen in South Korea shows North Korean leader Kim Jong Un with superimposed letters that read: “North Korea’s nuclear warhead” during a news program at Seoul Railway Station on March 9, 2016. North Korea claimed last year the pictured orb was a miniaturized nuclear weapon, a claim that was widely mocked. U.S. intelligence officials have now concluded North Korea has successfully miniaturized such a warhead, according to a report in the Washington Post. Ahn Young-joon AP

 

WASHINGTON Commentators laughed last year when a photograph emerged of Kim Jong Un standing next to an orb, which a North Korean newspaper stated was a miniaturized nuclear weapon. “That’s a weird looking disco ball,” joked one intelligence contractor on Twitter.

Not many are laughing anymore. Continue reading

Iran Expands Covert Ballistic Missile Program, Dismisses US Sanctions

Iran is covertly expanding an underground network of ballistic missile construction and testing sites, despite new U.S. sanctions aimed at deterring the Islamic Republic’s illicit program, which is believed to be focused on the delivery of a nuclear warhead.

Iran’s Revolutionary Guard Corps, or IRGC, has clandestinely moved to expand a network of front companies that primarily fuel the underground construction of ballistic missiles, according to sources following the country’s procurement system.

Iranian military leaders—who have recently dismissed new U.S. sanctions—are now focused on perfecting intercontinental ballistic missile technology, which would enable Iran to fire a nuclear-tipped warhead over great distances.

Iran maintains the “largest inventory of ballistic missiles in the Middle East,” according to U.S. intelligence assessments. The country has recently been moving materials to underground sites via a complex network of IRGC-controlled companies, according to a brief on the procurement activity released by the Foundation For Defense of Democracies’ Center on Sanctions and Illicit Finance. Continue reading

China’s Space Activities Raising U.S. Satellite Security Concerns

The United States is concerned about China’s expanding ability to disrupt the most sensitive U.S. military and intelligence satellites, as Beijing pursues its expanded ambitions in space, according to multiple sources in the U.S. government and outside space experts.

A classified U.S. intelligence assessment completed late last year analyzed China’s increasing activities in space and mapped out the growing vulnerability of U.S. satellites that provide secure military communications, warn about enemy missile launches and provide precise targeting coordinates, said the sources, who were not authorized to speak publicly. Continue reading