April 3, 2012

News Briefs April 3, 2012

New satellite images show North Korea launch work

New satellite imagery shows that North Korea has ramped up preparations for a rocket launch that the U.S. and others call a cover for a long-range missile test.
An analysis provided to The Associated Press by the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies says the images show a mobile radar trailer. The trailer is essential for a launch scheduled April 12-16 and rows of what appear to be empty fuel and oxidizer tanks.
Joel Wit, the editor of the institute’s North Korea website “38 North,” says the pictures provide important evidence that North Korea’s work on the planned launch is progressing according to schedule.
North Korea says the launch will fire an observational satellite into orbit. AP


Russian FM warns against strike on Iran

Russia’s foreign minister has strongly warned against a military attack on Iran, saying that a pre-emptive strike would violate international law.
Sergey Lavrov said Monday on a visit to Armenia that an attack on Iran would destabilize the region.
Israel and the United States have warned that all options remain open, including military action, to prevent Iran from obtaining nuclear weapons.
Iran insists its uranium enrichment program is aimed at civilian power generation and research, but Israel and Western nations believe it is a cover for a nuclear weapons bid.
Russia, which built Iran’s first nuclear power plant, backed some of the previous U.N. sanctions against Tehran, but in recent months has firmly rejected imposing new sanctions and called for dialogue. AP


Hill Air Force Base defends handling of mercury

Utah’s Hill Air Force Base is defending its response to a massive mercury spill in 2007, saying it went above and beyond ordinary requirements to clean it up.

The base could face millions in fines after a whistleblower last fall told regulators that base officials failed to report the spill and instead ordered untrained workers to remove the hazardous material with vacuum cleaners.

Base environmental management division chief Robert Elliott told The Salt Lake Tribune that he responded March 29 by letter to a notice of violation sent by the Utah Division of Solid and Hazardous Waste.

He says the response not only addresses violations alleged by regulators, but also seeks to ensure there will be no repeat of them in the future.

The cleanup was finished in January. AP


Lockheed Martin to lay off more than 150 in Virginia

More than 150 Lockheed Martin employees in Hampton Roads, Va., will be laid off in April.

Notices posted by the defense contractor on the Virginia Workforce Network website say 92 workers in Norfolk and Suffolk will be laid off April 6. Another 65 workers in Hampton will be laid off April 30.

The Virginian-Pilot reports that the company attributed the Norfolk and Suffolk layoffs to the closure of U.S. Joint Forces Command. The Hampton layoffs are due to the loss of a contract at NASA Langley Research Center. AP

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