U.S. Sends Nuclear Sniffer Plane to Korea

The U.S. Air Force dispatched a nuclear sniffer aircraft Thursday to the east of the Korean Peninsula amid the possibility of North Korea’s imminent nuclear test, a government source said.

“The WC-135 Constant Phoenix, a special-purpose U.S. plane, made an emergency sortie today over the East Sea,” the source said, requesting anonymity.

Its mission is to collect samples from the atmosphere in order to detect and identity a nuclear explosion.

It arrived at Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan, early this month amid indications that the North is preparing for another nuclear test.

Thursday’s flight appears meant to check whether the secretive communist nation has detonated a nuclear bomb.

It also tests operational readiness in the event of an actual provocation by the North, added the source.

There was an unconfirmed rumor that North Korea has notified China of its nuclear experiment plan.

South Korea’s military said earlier the North seems all set to conduct what would be its sixth nuclear test at its Punggye-ri site in its northeastern region anytime on the leadership’s decision.

Source: Yonhap News Agency

Russian Spy Ship Returns Off U.S. Coast

A Russian spy ship has reappeared off the U.S. eastern seaboard, sailing just 20 miles south of the U.S. Navy submarine base at King’s Bay, Georgia, and heading north.

CBS News correspondent David Martin reports the Viktor Leonov, known as an AGI (Auxiliary, General Intelligence) trawler, has a port call scheduled in Jamaica for mid-April, and the assumption among U.S. officials is that it will make one more run up and down the east coast before heading to Jamaica.

They Leonov made a similar journey along the East Coast in February, sailing close to a U.S. naval base in Virginia and Naval Submarine Base New London in Connecticut, which the Navy describes as the “Home of the Submarine Force.”

During its February patrol of the East Coast, the closest the ship came to land was 17 miles, which is still in international waters, Martin reported.

Its voyages are the latest in an alarming string of incidents involving the Russian military. In February, a group of Russian jets buzzed a U.S. destroyer in the Black Sea and the U.S. accused Russia of secretly deploying cruise missiles capable of carrying a nuclear warhead in violation of a major arms-control treaty.

Read More at CBS News.

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NATO puts 300,000 ground troops on ‘high alert’ as tensions with Russia mount

M1A2 Abrams LataviaUp to 300,000 NATO troops have been put on alert amid rising tensions between Russia and the Baltic states.

Jens Stoltenberg, the secretary-general of NATO, said the alliance hoped to speed up the response time of thousands of its troops to allow it to react to a combat situation more effectively.

In October, it was reported NATO was preparing to station 4,000 troops on the Russian border with the Baltic states in its biggest military build-up since the Cold War. The troops will be summoned from nations across the alliance, including the UK.

“We have seen Russia being much more active in many different ways,” Mr Stoltenberg told The Times.

“We have seen a more assertive Russia implementing a substantial military build-up over many years – tripling defence spending since 2000 in real terms; developing new military capabilities; exercising their forces and using military force against neighbours.

“We have also seen Russia using propaganda in Europe among NATO allies and that is exactly the reason why NATO is responding. We are responding with the biggest reinforcement of our collective defence since the end of the Cold War.”

Read More at the Independent UK.

Russians Conduct Nuclear-Bomb Survival Drills as Cold War Heats Up

rusnukeexcRussian authorities have stepped up nuclear-war survival measures amid a showdown with Washington, dusting off Soviet-era civil-defense plans and upgrading bomb shelters in the biggest cities.

At the Kremlin’s Ministry of Emergency Situations, the Cold War is back.

The country recently held its biggest civil defense drills since the collapse of the U.S.S.R., with what officials said were 40 million people rehearsing a response to chemical and nuclear threats.

Videos of emergency workers deployed in hazmat suits or checking the ventilation in bomb shelters were prominently aired on television when the four days of drills were held across the country. Students tried on gas masks and placed dummies on stretchers in school auditoriums.

The capital’s civil-defense plans are also being upgraded, said Andrey Mishchenko, deputy head of the ministry.

“An inventory was taken in Moscow of the city’s underground spaces, in order to allow us to plan for sheltering 100% of the city’s population,” he said, as reported by state news agency RIA Novosti.

In parallel, commentators on state-dominated airwaves issued some of the shrillest anti-American rhetoric in years. “Russia is sick of America’s arrogant lies,” influential commentator Dmitry Kiselyov said this month after a Syrian peace plan collapsed.

Read More at the Wall Street Journal.

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