It was on its face disturbing, even shocking news – two military officials in charge of the nation's nuclear arsenal sacked within days of each other.
But Major General Michael Carey and Vice Admiral Tim Giardina (fired amidst rumors of misbehavior involving alcohol and gambling) are just the latest in a recent rash of firings in the military's top ranks.
The firings come as leadership in the military try to send a message of "zero tolerance" when it comes to bad behavior.
The military has been here before – last fall a string of incidents involving improper behavior among top brass resulted in then Defense Secretary Leon Panetta ordering a review of ethics standards.
Officials tell CNN that in the case of the nuclear commander fired Friday that no sensitive nuclear weapons operations were impacted.
By Barbara Starr, Shirley Henry and Larry Shaughnessy
Another U.S. military officer with high-level oversight responsibility for the nation's nuclear arsenal has lost his job - the second in the past week.
Maj. Gen. Michael Carey, the two-star general in charge of three Air Force nuclear wings, was "relieved" of command "due to a loss of trust and confidence in his leadership and judgment," the Air Force said in a statement on Friday.
Carey was fired by his boss Lt. Gen James Kowalski, head of the Air Force's Global Strike Command, several months after Kowalski requested an inspector general investigation.
Brig. Gen. Les Kodlick, the chief spokesman for the Air Force, told reporters the inspector general's office began its investigation after multiple "reports of misbehavior" but declined to be specific.
By Jamie Crawford
None of the 107 nuclear facilities in the United States are protected against a high-force terrorist attack, and some are still vulnerable to the theft of bomb-grade nuclear fuel, or sabotage intended to cause a nuclear meltdown, a new report says.
The Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project (NPPP) at the LBJ School of Public Affairs at the University of Texas released the report Thursday. It wants to shine a light on the security gaps that still exist more than 10 years after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001.
"It would be a tragedy if the United States had to look back after such an attack on a nuclear reactor and say that we could have and should have done more to prevent the catastrophe," said Prof. Alan J. Kuperman, co-author of the report.
The study was done at the request of the Defense Department after the Pentagon commissioned an academic study of the security vulnerabilities of the nation's 104 commercial nuclear power reactors and three civilian research reactors.FULL STORY
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea may be increasing its ability to enrich uranium at its Yongbyon nuclear complex, according to an analysis of recent satellite imagery.
The Institute for Science and International Security report concluded that North Korea appears to have greatly expanded a building in the fuel fabrication complex that is used for gas centrifuges in the uranium enrichment process at the reactor facility.
The development amounts to a doubling in size of the complex from its original construction.
Construction on the building expansion appears to have preceded an announcement by the North Korean government earlier this year that it planned on restart all the nuclear facilities at the previously mothballed site.
North Korean and Chinese officials have called for the resumption of six-party talks on Pyongyang's nuclear program, Chinese authorities said Wednesday.
The announcement came as North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Kye Gwan, was in Beijing for bilateral talks.
Kim and China's Vice Foreign Minister Zhang Yesui issued statements Wednesday calling for the resumption of the talks to "peacefully solve nuclear issues through dialogue" with all relevant parties.
North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, the United States and Russia met last decade to deal with North Korea's nuclear weapons program but those meetings had been discontinued.FULL STORY
By Holly Yan, CNN
President Barack Obama will ask Russia to join the United States in slashing its supply of strategic nuclear warheads by about one-third, a senior administration official said.
Obama will announce the goal during a speech Wednesday in Berlin - a city rife with Cold War history.
The president will also outline his goal to reduce U.S. and Russian tactical nuclear weapons in Europe, the official said. The president hopes to work with NATO allies on proposals toward that goal.
It's all part of Obama's "vision of achieving the peace and security of a world without nuclear weapons," the official said.
"We will seek to negotiate these reductions with Russia to continue to move beyond Cold War nuclear postures," the official added.
Obama's speech will take place almost exactly 50 years after President John F. Kennedy delivered his "Ich bin ein Berliner" - or "I am a Berliner" - speech in the city that was divided by Western and Soviet occupations during the Cold War.FULL STORY
By Barbara Starr
In an unprecedented action, an Air Force commander has stripped 17 of his officers of their authority to control and launch nuclear missiles.
The 17 are being sent to undergo 60 to 90 days of intensive refresher training on how to do their jobs. The action comes after their unit performed poorly on an inspection and one officer was investigated for potential compromise of nuclear launch codes, according to Lt. Col. John Dorrian, an Air Force spokesman.
The story was first reported by The Associated Press.
The action was taken by the deputy commander of the 91st Operations Group, Lt. Col. Jay Folds, whose officers run launch control centers for the Minuteman III nuclear missiles from Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota.
By Pam Benson and Chris Lawrence
Despite the uproar over a disclosure this week of Pentagon intelligence concluding North Korea may be able to deliver a nuclear weapon on a ballistic missile, it's not the first time the Defense Intelligence Agency has suggested Pyongyang had that capability.
Since 2005, two former DIA chiefs have raised the possibility during congressional testimony.
At a Senate Armed Service Committee hearing in April 2005, then-DIA director Vice Admiral Lowell Jacoby acknowledged the possibility in response to a question about whether North Korea had the capability to put a nuclear device on a missile.
"The assessment is that they have the capability to do that," Jacoby said.
By Elise Labott
In the days before North Korea’s latest round of threats and provocations, US and North Korean officials met in New York, although nothing came of the meeting, said a source familiar with what transpired. The source described the meeting as part of regular backchannel exchanges between the countries.
Clifford Hart, the US envoy for six party talks aimed at North Korean denuclearization, met with North Korea’s Deputy UN Ambassador Han Song-ryol in mid March, according to the source.
Hart repeated the Obama administration’s call for North Korea to avoid provocative actions and urged a return to diplomacy. Han promised to communicate the message back to Pyongyang, the source said.
The meeting was held as part of the so-called “New York channel,” a backchannel typically used to communicate and pass messages between Washington and Pyongyang in the absence of normal relations. In February, North Korea used the New York channel to warn the State Department about its third nuclear test.
The meeting was first reported by the Foreign Policy magazine blog, The Cable.
By Ivan Watson, CNN
Representatives from six world powers and Iran returned to the negotiating table Friday in Kazakhstan for fresh talks aimed at breaking the deadlock over Iran's controversial nuclear program.
When negotiators from the six-nation diplomatic bloc last sat down with Iran's envoy in the Kazakh city of Almaty in February, they delivered what they characterized as a "fair and balanced offer" to defuse tensions over the Iranian nuclear program.
"We are waiting to see how Iran responds to the proposal we put on the table," Michael Mann, a European Union spokesman, told journalists shortly after negotiations resumed on Friday.
Details of the offer from the six governments have not yet been made public. EU foreign policy chief Catherine Ashton described it as a "very clear and concise proposal" for confidence building measures.
Last March, technical experts from Iran and the so-called "P5+1" countries, which consist of the United States, France, Britain, Germany, China and Russia, met for more than 12 hours in Istanbul to discuss the proposal.FULL STORY