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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks 398

Posted by Unknown Lamer
from the mox-not-bombs dept.
Lasrick (2629253) writes A fascinating account of why China is so worried about Japan's excessive plutonium stocks: combined with its highly sophisticated missile program, "Chinese nuclear-weapons specialists emphasize that Japan has everything technically needed to make nuclear weapons." It turns out that Japan has under-reported a sizable amount of plutonium, and there have been increasing signs that the country might be moving toward re-militarization. This is a particularly worrying read about nuclear tensions in Asia.
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Why China Is Worried About Japan's Plutonium Stocks

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  • Hmm... (Score:5, Insightful)

    by Nexion (1064) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:29PM (#47264289)

    Not too worried about Japan... I wouldn't cut off their fuel supply however.

    • Re:Hmm... (Score:4, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:46PM (#47265045)

      Sad thing is I bet there are a good number of younger people around here who don't understand why you worded that sentence in the way you did and why you got a +5 as a result.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:30PM (#47264293)

    China worried about the logical consequences of its own provocations against Japan as well as failing to heel those of North Korea (who essentially only China has open lines of communication).

    • by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:48PM (#47264483) Homepage

      Yeah, this seems a bit silly.

      Japan is already protected by the US nuclear program, so nothing really changes. But Japan has long had a policy of being "ready" for quick weaponization if needed. And it was already the case that the US position is generally that Japan has served their probation and can change their Constitution whenever they're ready to pick up their own defense bill. Recent regional provocation by China only strengthens that.

      If China is so "concerned," maybe they should only claim legal maritime borders according to internationally agreed formulas, instead of trying to claim the whole Champa Sea.

      They can pretty much guarantee that their provocative stance will increase the militarization of their neighbors. It could destroy the WTO, too, since they're members now. If they push too far, sanctions against them might prove very popular in the US because of the effect it would have on US manufacturing. The only way to avoid these consequences is not antagonize their neighbors.

      • by beelsebob (529313) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:03PM (#47264605)

        Japan are probably worried that they are not in any way protected by the US nuclear program. They worry that the US would stop short of getting involved in world war 3 if China really did want to invade Japan. By building their own nuclear arsenal, they remove that possibility and maintain MAD with China.

      • by MightyMartian (840721) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:04PM (#47264621) Journal

        Exactly. China's claims over disputed waters with its neighbors is creating the conditions in which those neighbors either cozy up to the US, or, in the case of a heavily industrialized and wealthy nation like Japan, begin to reconsider their position so far as military position and investment.

      • by adamgundy (836997) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:17PM (#47264765)

        Yeah, this seems a bit silly.

        Japan is already protected by the US nuclear program, so nothing really changes.

        so was the Ukraine, in exchange for giving up their ex-Soviet nukes. see how well that worked out for them?

        when push comes to shove, the US may, or may not, honor its commitments. it all depends on how much they want to go to war with China.

        • by Megol (3135005)

          No. There were no deals involving military intervention in any way and form.

          • Re: (Score:3, Insightful)

            by adamgundy (836997)

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/N... [wikipedia.org]

            they were put under a 'nuclear umbrella' - but only in response to nuclear threats. and since Russia has not used nuclear weapons, the US, UK etc are free to 'ignore' the problem. Ukrainians are understandably upset that they gave up their nukes.

            see how Japan might interpret this action? what if China does something that upsets Japan? will the US get involved, or come up with reasons to ignore the problem? would China be much more careful around Japan if they were nuclear ar

          • by Charliemopps (1157495) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:47PM (#47265053)

            No. There were no deals involving military intervention in any way and form.

            http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/B... [wikipedia.org]

            However, Russian Ministry of Foreign Affairs argued that the Budapest memorandum does not apply to the 2014 Crimean crisis because separation of Crimea was driven by an internal political and social-economic crisis. Russia was never under obligation to force any part of Ukraine's civilian population to stay in Ukraine against its will.

            Russia knew the US would look for any conceivable way to avoid living up to their obligations. So they created one and the US bit. Don't get me wrong, I don't think we should be involved in any of this nonsense. We shouldn't be signing such things if we're not willing to live up to our obligations, but if in the event we do... like we did with Ukraine, we should be following through. Because we failed to, our other treaty partners don't trust us to live up to our agreements and develop their own weapons.

            • by rahvin112 (446269)

              Russia signed the same treaty that agreed to honor and defend Ukrainian territorial integrity. The US signature didn't agree to come to Ukraine defense with American troops, it agreed to keep the US out of the Ukraine.

              At the time this was signed the US was seen as a potential threat (the cold war had just ended) and the Russians as the potential solution to that threat. The intent of the treaty was that the US and their allies wouldn't invade Ukraine and if they did the Russians would defend them. For all i

        • by Luckyo (1726890)

          It's pretty unlikely that US would have destabilized Ukraine to the extent it did in the first place if it had nukes. In this regard, Ukraine was a very good lesson in that if you're an independent country in which large empires have interests, you should probably get nuclear weapons and delivery systems sufficient to hit said empires.

        • by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @04:03PM (#47265693) Journal

          I don't know if you're just trying to be histrionic or what, but to be clear:

          http://www.un.org/en/ga/search... [un.org]

          - The context of the Ukrainian "surrender of it's nukes" was that after the dissolution of the Soviet Union, they ended up with the ownership of a number of nuclear warheads.
          - Given the context of the time, and granting the facts that they could neither secure them properly nor likely even use them as the arming codes were in Russian hands, the US, UK, and Russia signed a memo of understanding with Ukraine in exchange for their sending the warheads for reprocessing.

          In the first place, this memo stated that the signatories: "...respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine..." and "...refrain from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of Ukraine...." Further, they agreed to seek UN security council action "...if Ukraine should become a victim of an act of aggression or an object of a threat of aggression in which nuclear weapons are used;"

          As far as I can tell, there is absolutely no guarantee of territorial integrity (as has been implied heavily by media reporting). No terms of mutual defense, or assistance.

          Finally, that this was a MEMO and not a ratifiable treaty lies at the heart of the matter: it was a dead-letter the moment it was signed, not worth the ink used to print it. Without treaty status it was merely an agreement in principle, of the moment, and utterly without binding power by the long-accepted standards of geopolitics.

          By the letter of the memo, the US and UK have in fact fulfilled their obligations. (Russia clearly didn't "...respect the independence and sovereignty and the existing borders of Ukraine.")

          It should be clear, then, that Ukraine wasn't exactly beating its swords into plowshares; more accurately they were giving away their swords that they couldn't use anyway, in return for a tepid, unenforceable agreement that only was relevant in the event of an actual nuclear exchange. Was it worth it? It's been 20 years during which - pretty much - Russia has paid Ukraine's bills, sold them cheap gas, and largely subsidized their entire existence.

          I'd agree that the spirit of the thing was much more broadly (and inaccurately) celebrated; on whose responsibility that rests, I'll leave to others. The fact is that in geopolitics and diplomacy, details MATTER.

          Don't get me wrong; I don't believe Putin's seizure of the Crimea was legitimate by ANY standard. He's an old school Soviet (if not Tsarist) Man who has adroitly outmaneuvered the severely-outclassed US and EU administrations with a coup akin to Munich 1939.

          Neither am I giving Obama a pass. The US was never going to (nor should it reasonably ever consider) become directly involved in a territory adjacent to Russia. Any rational view would recognize that Ukraine is substantially within the Russian sphere of influence. NEVERTHELESS, the US has ample tools in its toolbox to deal with "bad actors" in many indirect ways, and reassure our actual allies of our firm commitment to their security. Yet the US response has been confused, dilatory, impotent, and in many ways strengthened Putin's propaganda hand (The US sent the head of the CIA to a state where Russia accused the public movements of being 'inspired' by the west....seriously?). That Russia has - by most measures - pulled this off without lasting diplomatic consequence is shameful.

          My point is this: the characterization of the Memo in the media has been deeply flawed. For all the criticisms that can be fairly laid at the doorstep of the west on this matter, failing to live up to that memo is NOT one of them.

      • by Dorianny (1847922)
        In the Budapest Memorandum the United States and several other countries, laughably including Russia, gave security guarantees to Ukraine in exchange for it getting rid of the worlds 3d largest nuclear weapons stockpile. Following the Russian annexation of Crimea, the US went on to say that these guarantees did not specify military intervention. International agreements are enforced only when it is in the signatories best interest, otherwise a "loophole" is found or they are simply ignored. Relying on anoth
    • by Zontar_Thing_From_Ve (949321) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:23PM (#47265391)

      China worried about the logical consequences of its own provocations against Japan as well as failing to heel those of North Korea (who essentially only China has open lines of communication).

      Actually, I think you're wrong on both accounts. The military in China is a little bit crazy. Did you know that they are pledged by the constitution to support the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) rather than China itself? Think about that for a while. The civilian CCP government does control the PLA (People's Liberation Army), but for years now the PLA has been gaining in influence. I'm not sure even the CCP government really cares all that much about its provocations any more because they don't believe anybody will stand up to them, not even the USA.

      China and North Korea are stuck with each other. Russia had the good sense to get out of that crazy game of financially supporting them early in Yeltsin's presidency, and that left China holding the bag. China doesn't have as much influence as you might think, nor do they use what little they have as well as they could. It's not well known by the public, but China has a lot of business deals with North Korea where basically they get rare earths and other minerals for below market rates. These deals are very important to China and are the main reason they prop up North Korea. China is really tired of North Korea behaving badly and causing trouble in its backyard, but they fear even more a united democratic Korea that might (who knows?) have US troops stationed in it near the Chinese border. So like it or not, they are committed firmly to the status quo because it represents a "least evil" option to them. When China says that they want a nuclear free Korean peninsula, they are quite sincere about that. They don't trust North Korea to maybe not use a nuke against them in anger or by mistake as their missile systems might simply go the wrong way and blow up in China by accident. But they aren't willing to do anything to get rid of the Kims and the Kims aren't getting rid of their nukes because they believe that their family survival depends on it. The only ways that North Korea is ever going to be nuclear free is that either the US is going to attack them and gamble that they can destroy their few nuclear missiles before they leave North Korean airspace or (much less likely) the regime will collapse quickly for some unforeseen reason and the new government will get rid of the nukes.

      • by steelfood (895457) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @08:04PM (#47268087)

        There are parts of your rather thoughtful assessment that I agree, and parts that I disagree with.

        they fear even more a united democratic Korea that might (who knows?) have US troops stationed in it near the Chinese border.

        I'm not sure that's the fear. A unified Korea, assuming from the South, would no longer require U.S. troop presence. And if the South managed to unify Korea, they'd be more likely to kick the U.S. troops out than to keep them there. The only reason the South Koreans tolerate the U.S. is because that keeps North Korea out. Keep in mind that South Korea (and Japan) are not grateful for the U.S. presence. They tolerate it and only because they have to. Taiwan is the only one who's amicable to the relationship, and they're growing closer and closer to the mainland every day (they'll still like Americans, but they know the money's in China). But there's no U.S. base in Taiwan either.

        They don't trust North Korea to maybe not use a nuke against them in anger or by mistake as their missile systems might simply go the wrong way and blow up in China by accident.

        You have to understand that China's need is economic growth at the moment. China is afraid of North Korea provoking war against the South. They're not so afraid of a unified Korea under the North regime if it just ended there. However, if the North ever took over the South, the next logical step would be to attack Japan. And this is especially true if North Korea had nukes. There would be absolutely no restraint from the rabid war dogs in the North against Japan. You do not understand hatred until you speak to a Korean about the Japanese (even the South Koreans, who are friendlier than their batshit crazy cousins up north).

        Such an action (the war, obviously) would destabilize the region enormously. The U.S. would be involved. China would be involved. Russia would be involved. Even India and much of Western Europe would be dragged into the conflict. That's the last thing China wants to see, because there's a lot of risk there with little to no reward. The risk is greater U.S. or Soviet--I mean Russian--influence in the area after the war concludes, or even of MAD.

        Even if North Korea magically discovers the ICBM and hits the U.S. with nukes, China would have lost, because the U.S. is really fueling the majority of China's economic growth. Now, when China has entered a period of economic self-sufficiency, their tune with regards to a nuclear North Korea may change. But for now, North Korea is a massive sore point for China.

        the Kims aren't getting rid of their nukes because they believe that their family survival depends on it.

        After Bush put Iran, North Korea, and Iraq in the so-called "Axis of Evil", are you surprised? Iran is also seeking nukes. And don't forget Pakistan, which is probably more unstable and more hostile to the U.S., was not included in this list for one very big, radioactive reason. The survival of the North Korean (as well as Iranian) state does depend on it. Hell, if Libya or Egypt or Syria had nukes, the western powers would have been helping the government, not helping rebels fight against it.

        The only ways that North Korea is ever going to be nuclear free is that either the US is going to attack them and gamble that they can destroy their few nuclear missiles before they leave North Korean airspace or (much less likely) the regime will collapse quickly for some unforeseen reason and the new government will get rid of the nukes.

        I'm not sure you get how other countries feel about the U.S., in particular those under the "Axis of Evil" label. The only way North Korea will not seek the bomb is if the U.S. implodes and collapses on itself. Full stop. Same with Iran.

  • Do they actually think Japan... of all the countries in the world... would actually build a nuclear weapon, much less use it?

    • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Insightful)

      by Shatrat (855151) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:36PM (#47264363)

      A lot more people died from conventional bombs in WWII than nuclear ones, even in Japan, and we're all still building and dropping those.

      • The difference between a conventional explosive and a nuclear one is that in one case, when the damage is done and minutes later the region is inhabitable again... in the other, add a dozen orders of magnitude and it *may* be safe to return.
        • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Informative)

          by Maxo-Texas (864189) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:05PM (#47264629)

          Actually deaths from conventional firebombings were of similar in magnitude of lives lost and destruction.

          And (like coal), burning things produces a lot of long term pollutants that raise the cancer and early mortality rate. It is more what you are "used" to. Coal actually kills 167.5 people per terrawatt each and every year than nuclear. Coal deaths number in the thousands and when coal seams get set on fire- the area can be uninhabitable for decades (like nuclear) and be polluted for centuries with mercury and dioxins (very similar to radiation). Fukishima made 780 square kilometers uninhabitable. The Jhaqira coal fire has made 700 square kilometers uninhabitable. And the smoke affects 400,000 people continuously day in day out.

          Conventional bombs from world war I are polluting water in france and belgium and killed two belgium workers in march.

          We have some weird reaction to nuclear because we are not used to it. Conventional mines have left some areas uninhabitable and are still killing and maiming people decades later.

          The after effects of acoustic shock from "ordinary" bombing can linger until a persons premature death years later.

          I agree nukes are terrible. But I think your "comfort" and familiarity with conventional weapons leads you to overestimate their long and short term safety.

          • Maybe I missed the memo... Have we figured out how to rapidly mobilize a coal mine to wherever we want to make a statement?

            Yes, conventional weapons can cause serious deaths too, there is no debating that, and we as a species are getting ever more effective at making even more ingenious ways of killing each other.

            Let's say that a bomb goes off in downtown Tokyo killing everyone. No potential for "long term injuries or complications from flying debris", everyone. If that explosion was a conventional ch
            • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Informative)

              by Grishnakh (216268) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @03:15PM (#47265307)

              You do realize that both Hiroshima and Nagasaki are currently inhabited, don't you? In fact, they were inhabited shortly after the bombs there exploded.

              Nuclear weapons are not designed to render areas uninhabitable. They're designed to make a gigantic explosion, and that's it. Making the area uninhabitable, sorta like the Romans did with Carthage, is not one of the design goals.

          • There are some important parts you are leaving out. Decent tools can be used for evil or for good, like how conventional explosives can save thousands of lives a years by taking away much of the effort of mining. And they can be used in warfare in a reasonably safe fashion against an enemy's military. Yes, killing hundreds, thousands, or millions, but exclusively adult male military personnel. Sure, you add in some small margin of error but it is still minimal. And yes you can carpet bomb an entire continen

        • by Shatrat (855151)

          I'm not saying they're not worse, I'm saying that being the victim of something doesn't make people less likely to do that to someone else. I'll bet you that right now as we speak there is a 1 legged guy somewhere in Africa setting a land-mine.

        • by compro01 (777531)

          in the other, add a dozen orders of magnitude and it *may* be safe to return.

          Actually, the sites of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings are inhabitable today, or would be. Both sites are public parks (the Hiroshima Peace Memorial Park [wikipedia.org] and the Nagasaki Peace Park [wikipedia.org]), which were opened in the 1950s.

        • I sat in a cafe along a river in Hiroshima a couple of years ago wondering where the mutant and clouds of dry ice blowing about were. Very disappointing as a 'Forbidden Zone', very pleasant as a place to eat dinner.
    • by TWX (665546)
      I wouldn't put anything past any government in this world.

      Based on the content of lots of Japanese pop culture, I don't think that the Japanese feel a lot different about their government either.

      As long as there are belligerent nations in close proximity to each other there will be interest in powerful weapons, even if the persons that would be responsible for such developments might find them in distaste. Do recall that Nobel thought that Dynamite would make war so horrible that no one would want to
      • by gstoddart (321705)

        Sometimes I wonder if Japan surrendered so unconditionally because they thought that we had a lot more of them ready to drop.

        Wouldn't you?

        When that happened I suspect it was a big giant moment of "oh, crap, we're all gonna die".

        A nuke is a pretty compelling argument when nobody has ever used one before.

      • by Stargoat (658863)

        Japanese pop culture

        Yeah, I liked that manga too.

    • Re:Serously? (Score:5, Interesting)

      by Ralph Wiggam (22354) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:37PM (#47264371) Homepage

      It's pretty widely believed that Japan essentially *has* nuclear weapons. But by not completing the final assembly of the warheads, they don't violate the nuclear nonproliferation treaty. Estimates on how much time it would take to assemble the warheads should they decide to violate that treaty range from hours to months.

      • by Aighearach (97333)

        No, their position is not that they could violate the Treaty. The theory is that if they want to withdraw from the Treaty, then they could weaponize ASAP, with the only bottleneck on manufacturing.
        And no, that doesn't mean they already "have" them. I know tenses are hard, but come on. If that means they "have" them already, and they turn out not to build them for decades, then when they do finally build them, by your logic they'd have already had them for decades!

    • Absofuckinglutely (Score:3, Insightful)

      by Anonymous Coward

      Japan lives in a dangerous neighborhood, China is an expansive power making threats in the South China Sea, and the Obama Administration has proven feckless at supporting allies (see also: Ukraine, Iraq).

      The fact that nuclear weapons offend the tender sensibilities of Western liberals doesn't enter into their political calculations.

      • Nice troll. Ukraine isn't a US ally, and Iraq refused to sign an agreement with the US to keep US forces in country unless we allowed our troops to be subject to Iraqi law (fat chance of that!)..

    • by Aighearach (97333)

      What is the theory, here? Do you think they'd have some sort of irrational fear based on things that happened before they were born, or would they just feel awkward? I really don't see how this is a valid theory of military behavior...

    • Yes. Japans aging population against China's 1.x billion people.
      Long standing animosity between the two countries.
      The Japanese probably see Weakening US resolve to stand up to China over Taiwan and realize that it might not be an isolated phenomenon.
      Tensions with Russia over the Kurile islands.
      North Korea has not only fired rockets over Japan, but also shown time and time again the desire to develop nuclear weapons of their own.

      Why WOULDN'T Japan want a nuclear deterrent?

    • I think if Japan were sufficiently provoked, yes, I think they would build a nuclear bomb. I have a pretty good suspicion, considering Japans technical sophistication, that a nuclear weapons program would not be hard to achieve, and clearly China knows this.

    • by X0563511 (793323)

      Why not? Nobody else has such a sharp understanding of exactly how effective they are...

    • Anything's possible with Japanese Reagan in charge...

  • by discord5 (798235) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:34PM (#47264341)

    At the request of the international community they'll stop sticking harpoons in whales, but the request didn't mention anything about nuking the whales.

  • by penguinoid (724646) <spambait001@yahoo.com> on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:35PM (#47264353) Homepage Journal

    I'd be worried too if a country who had invaded mine in living history, was under-reporting plutonium.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:39PM (#47264389) Homepage

      And, yet, China seems to be the one annexing islands and redefining boundaries.

      By some standards, China is more or less invading both Japan and Vietnam now.

      Who is the bigger threat? The closed communist government whose every public statement is a deluded fit of lies gets my vote. Have you ever read a press release out of China? It reads like bad fiction written by a delusional psychotic.

      Maybe if China is 'worried' about Japan, they need to look at their own actions and understand why Japan might be feeling the need to be able to protect themselves.

    • Re: (Score:2, Interesting)

      by Chris Mattern (191822)

      "Living History". Japan invaders were thrown out of China some *75 years ago*. Not too many people left who have personal memories of it, any more.

      • Re: (Score:2, Insightful)

        by Savage-Rabbit (308260)

        "Living History". Japan invaders were thrown out of China some *75 years ago*. Not too many people left who have personal memories of it, any more.

        I'm neither Japanese nor Chinese so the closest I can get to relating to the way the Chinese might feel about the Japanese and WWII (and at the same time unfortunately Godwining this thread) is that my great uncle spent years in a Nazi KZ camp, and my grandfather was arrested and worked over by the Gestapo for treason. No living memory there but I was raised by people who experienced the Third Reich first hand and it still makes my skin crawl whenever I hear one of the latest crop of European right-wing pop

    • by Aighearach (97333) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:55PM (#47264537) Homepage

      While true, if you look at Japanese and Chinese history, the Chinese did the vast majority of the invading-and-pillaging. That gives additional context for the current illegal claims that China is making over Japanese, Vietnamese, Philippine, and others' territory.

  • This is one reason why everyone is worried about China's military assertiveness lately. It is not just because of the threat China poses, but the greater threat of a military Japan. Historically Japan kicks China's butt in military contests. Then, in the case of WWII, Japan careens out of control. Don't be a bully China if you don't want to get bloodied.
    • by Xaedalus (1192463)
      Historically, that was only true in the 20th century. The only reason Japan survived as long as it did was due to two factors: 1) remarkably lucky bad weather drowning Kublai Khan's invasion fleet, and 2) A shogunate that decided to isolate itself from the world to avoid drawing further Chinese invasions plus focus on eliminating all foreign influences. China historically has had the manpower and the naval power to take on and defeat Japan. The 20th century was when that changed. Now Japan's got an aging so
      • by timeOday (582209)
        The balance of power between China and Japan is reversing with incredible speed. There's no need to go back to Kublai Khan to explain this. In 1995 Japan's GDP was 733% that of China's. In 2012 it was 72% of China's. What else do you need to know?
  • by serviscope_minor (664417) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:45PM (#47264453) Journal

    The trouble is that making nuclear bombs is mid 1940s technology.

    Not only that, but medium range ballisistic missiles are also mid 1940s tech.

    The main difficulty is that currently enrighment facilities are large and easy to spot provided a country doesn't already have a vibrant reprocessing industry (necessary for efficient use of nuclear fuels).

    Many of the things useful for figuring out how to make both of those (e.g. computer simulations, high speed measuring equipment) are nor vastly more advanced and cheaper, the physics is better understood and the basic research is done and dusted.

    Pertty much any highly industrialised nation could easily develop nukes and an almost unstoppable delivery system if they wanted to, provided no one threatened them enough to make them stop.

  • by Joe Gillian (3683399) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:48PM (#47264477)

    The idea that Japan could enrich plutonium and turn it into nuclear weapons, which China is trying to push here, is full of "mights". Their logic is essentially:

    - Japan didn't report 640kg of Mixed Oxide Fuel in an offline reactor because they didn't believe they had to. MOX is useless for making nuclear weapons by itself without further processing.

    - Plutonium can be extracted from MOX, and Japan is doing this, but they reported all of the plutonium they extracted from MOX to the IAEA.

    - Japan has a surplus stock of plutonium that they're not really supposed to have, but this is understandable given that plutonium is probably a pain to move around, and they have plans to use it as fuel in breeder reactors in the future.

    - Japan has shown no inclination to produce nuclear weapons outside of a few studies, all of which are well over a decade old and have been known about for years.

    - In China's mind, all of these things, which are circumstantial at best, indicate that Japan MIGHT be considering the production of nuclear weapons.

    From what it sounds like, Japan could've had nuclear weapons years ago if they really wanted to. China merely doesn't want them to have the capability because it means they'd have a much harder time bullying Japan over things like the Senkaku islands.

    • by gstoddart (321705) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:55PM (#47264533) Homepage

      Of course it's FUD.

      Because, don't forget, China is rattling their sabre at Vietnam, the Phillippines, and Japan ... possibly others.

      China merely doesn't want them to have the capability because it means they'd have a much harder time bullying Japan over things like the Senkaku islands.

      Exactly. For China to be saying this is mostly just trying to mask the crap they're pulling and make it sound like they're only defending themselves, when what they're actually doing is a land grab.

      When they issue public statements, one does wonder if they believe these things, or just figure they might as well say something to make it sound good.

  • by Karmashock (2415832) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @01:54PM (#47264531)

    They have nuclear power plants... and all the industry to make nuclear bombs and missiles.

    It is quite likely they have a few that they don't talk about just as Israel has a few they don't talk about. And while we're at it, South Korea probably has a couple as well.

    The forces of our coalition are the superior military force. Do not doubt it.

    An enemy might sucker punch us or be so pitiful that we don't feel it sporting to slaughter them to a man... but we are stronger. And we shall remain stronger for generations to come. Too many generations came before that planned for wars and conquests for the fruits of that effort to be be gone so quickly.

  • Given that the Ukraine situation has just given the world an example of what nuclear-capable allies do when a nuclear-capable country invades a country without that capability (which is essentially to finger-wag and frown at the invader), could anyone really blame Japan if they did opt to arm themselves?
  • by gman003 (1693318) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:02PM (#47264601)

    It's been known for years now that Japan and Germany are "nuclear-capable" nations. They have everything they need to start a nuclear program, and could probably get there in a year if they wanted to.

    Up to now, they haven't wanted to. Japan, however, is threatened by not one but two nuclear-armed nations. China is looking to expand everywhere, and is particularly ready to fight over the Senkaku/Diaoyu islands (brief aside: if you look at them on a map, they're closest to Taiwan - let's give it to them and piss both China and Japan off, if they can't find a way to just share the oil). And then there's North Korea, which has practically made a cult out of hating America and Japan, and has been lobbing missiles towards Japan just to get attention. They haven't been stupid enough to actually attack them yet, but I certainly can't fault Japan for getting concerned about it.

    • by iggymanz (596061)

      it's even more fascinating to realize Japanese scientists and engineers are extremely gifted at optimizing and refining. I'm curious what improvements and innovations they can make to the ulam-teller system every other country with thermonuclear weapons use.

  • I would expect Japan to re-militarize. With China ever increasingly flexing its military power in the region it might be good to have a strong military in Japan. And notice it is the Chinese who are worried more then anyone else.
  • Curious (Score:4, Insightful)

    by argStyopa (232550) on Wednesday June 18, 2014 @02:27PM (#47264869) Journal

    Japan has had the technical know-how to build nuclear weapons since the 1970s, certainly.

    The concern China expresses over the Japanese nuclear program is precisely the same concern a bully expresses when some local kid starts taking karate lessons.

    My main concern is that this may motivate the Chinese to increase their timetable for local seizure of various contested properties, in order to establish them as Chinese by fait accompli before Japan actually nuclearises and freezes the situation into a status quo. Of course, that would only increase Japan's motivation to militarize..

    A vicious cycle indeed; unfortunately, to expect China to behave toward its neighbors as anything other than Fascist Italy is apparently unrealistic.

  • Let them open the vaults and show the world that they're not just imaginary robots seen in cartoon anymore.

Nothing is impossible for the man who doesn't have to do it himself. -- A.H. Weiler

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