Night Watch

China: At today's Foreign Ministry press conference, two separate questioners asked about China's position on Japanese nuclear stock piles of weapons grade plutonium and separated plutonium. The Chinese press spokesman hinted that Japan had sinister motives for storing large quantities of plutonium and related those motives to World War II.

Comment: Concern about Japanese stocks of fissile material, especially plutonium, became headline news after the Fukushima power plant disasters in 2011. New leaks of radioactive water in 2014 revived the concern.

A published report from a symposium on managing spent nuclear fuel in January 2014 in Tokyo indicated that,

"Japan has nearly 10 tons of plutonium on its own soil alone. That is enough to make 1,500 or so nuclear warheads. In addition to the risk of terrorists attacking the storage facilities and stealing plutonium, if Japan continues to accumulate plutonium without any economic rationale, and without firm plans for its immediate use in power generation, this can sow doubts about Japan's intentions, " according to an expert at the symposium.

The Chinese are following-up on the questions raised at the symposium. One expert said that experts in other East Asian countries - presumably China - interpret the Japanese plutonium stockpile as a nuclear deterrent becasue it shows Japan has the capability and the option to weaponize its plutonium quickly in the event of a crisis.

Japan is the only country without nuclear arms and a member of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty that is permitted to reprocess spent nuclear fuel into plutonium.

Japanese delegates assured the symposium that Japan has no intention of weaponizing its plutonium because that would mean withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT). On the other hand, in the event Japan came under the threat of a nuclear attack by North Korea, the NPT would be the least of Japan's concerns.

In the post-war era, Japan has adhered strictly to its self-defense and non-nuclear doctrines as matters of public policy. What is now emerging bit-by-bit is that Japanese leaders also have made prudent investments in infrastructures and capabilities that would help ensure Japan's security in the event of a future existential threat.

Ukraine: Separatist activities are increasing in Crimea. Crimeans have held rallies calling for secession to Russia. Locals are organizing self-defense militias.


Night Watch

NightWatch is an internationally acclaimed nightly newsletter that tracks and assesses threats to US national security. It has an edgy, executive style unlike any other summary of its kind.
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