As usual, a curated list of some of the stories you may have missed this week and some of the more interesting writing on security and defense issues from around the web:
U.S. Director of National Intelligence James Clapper confirmed that a cyber attack against the Las Vegas Sands Corporation last year was carried out by the Iranian government. The Sands Corporation, the world’s largest gambling company, is led by Sheldon Adelson, a prominent supporter of Israel and major contributor to Republican political candidates. The confirmation that Iran was behind this attack comes shortly after the U.S. government formally accused North Korea of sponsoring an attack against Sony Pictures. These incidents will only confirm U.S. fears that hostile nations will focus on commercial targets to cause both economic and political damage. “While both of these nations have lesser technical capabilities in comparison to Russia and China, these destructive attacks demonstrate that Iran and North Korea are motivated and unpredictable cyber-actors,” Clapper noted.
Writing on the U.S. Naval Institute’s blog, Kyle Mizokami details the consequences of Japan’s relaxation of its self-imposed ban on arms exports. Over the past year, Tokyo has pushed ahead with several defense sales and deals the world over. Australia, India, Thailand, Vietnam, Indonesia, and the United Kingdom are some of the budding partners and would-be customers for Japanese military hardware.
China’s Chengdu J-20 prototype stealth fighter was recently included in a recruitment video for the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Air Force (PLAAF). The J-20 is a twin-engine fifth generation prototype jet with a focus on stealth that is expected to become fully operational sometime before 2020.
Norway and Australia will cooperate in the development and production of an “advanced maritime strike missile for the Lockheed Martin F-35A joint fighter,” according to Defense News. The Diplomat’s own Franz-Stefan Gady has more.
North Korea’s been getting around international sanctions on its maritime trade with a simple but effective solution: renaming its ships.
An Indian Defense Ministry source has told Defense News that India and Israel will jointly develop a medium-range surface-to-air missile (MRSAM) system. The system will replace the Indian Army’s aging Russian SAM systems. The agreement was finalized during Israeli Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s visit to New Delhi.
Also, if you missed it, 38 North has the first papers in the North Korea’s Nuclear Futures Project available on its website as of yesterday. Joel Wit announced the findings of the project earlier this week, generating considerable buzz. Shannon and I were lucky enough to speak to Joel about the report and North Korea’s nuclear program on The Diplomat‘s Asia Geopolitics podcast yesterday.