Night Watch

North Korea: Update. Commercial imagery shows North Korea is close to completing its restoration of the graphite-moderated reactor at Yongbyon. The group 38 North judged this reactor could be operational within 2 months, depending on the availability of fuel rods for the core. This is the reactor used to supply materials for reprocessing as weapons-grade plutonium for North Korean nuclear weapons.

It also is making steady progress on the experimental light water reactor that is under construction. This reactor is a year or more from operational status. This will supply material for uranium enrichment.

Comment: The activity at Yongbyon is evidence of high national priority. That stems from the new law on the nuclear industry and the new party line that calls for simultaneous economic and nuclear weapons development.

Pakistan: Update. On Saturday, the new National Assembly members took their oaths of office. Today they elected the Speaker and Deputy Speaker of the assembly. Nawaz Sharif submitted his nomination papers for the position of prime minister. The election of the prime minister will take place on Wednesday, 4 June. The cabinet should be installed by the evening of the 4th.

Turkey: Protests occurred in Istanbul and other cities for a fourth day. Prime Minister Erdogan blamed them on an extremist fringe and on outside meddling. After decrying the protests, he departed for Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia.

Meanwhile the public workers unions confederation announced a two-day warning strike on 4 and 5 June in support of the protestors.

Comment: The main casualty of the protests is the government's carefully cultivated image of Turkey as a model of a successful Islamic democracy with a capitalist economy. The union that announced the warning strike is one that is not favored by the Erdogan government. That explains its support for the protests while much larger unions remain on the sidelines.

Syria announced a travel warning that Syrians should avoid traveling to Turkey because it is too dangerous.

Syria: Government and Hizballah forces continued attacks against al Qusayr on the Lebanon border. Several news services reported that government and Hizballah forces also are preparing to begin operations to recover those parts of Aleppo under the control of rebel groups.


Night Watch

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