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Nuclear Policy News - September 19, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 19, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.N. chief seeks to avoid war with North Korea, takes digs at Trump
Reuters

Spain becomes fourth country to expel North Korean envoy over nuclear program
Washington Post

Trump lashes out at North Korea: ‘Rocket man is on a suicide mission’
Politico

EAST ASIA

US and China agree to ‘maximise pressure’ on North Korea
The Guardian
9/19/17
Trump and Xi held the latest in a series of phone conversations about North Korea on Monday as American and South Korean warplanes responded to Pyongyang’s most recent missile launch with a show of force near the heavily-armed border separating the two Koreas.

U.N. chief seeks to avoid war with North Korea, takes digs at Trump
Reuters
9/19/17
In his first address to the annual gathering of world leaders at the 193-member U.N. General Assembly since taking office in January, Guterres said the North Korea crisis must be solved through a political process.

Six-party talks “efficient platform” to address Korean Peninsula nuclear issue: Chinese FM
Xinhua
9/19/17
Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang made the remarks at a routine press briefing, saying China is open to all efforts that are conducive to solving the issue peacefully via political and diplomatic means.

MIDDLE EAST

US and Iran argue over inspections at nuclear watchdog meeting
The Daily Star
9/18/17
The United States and Iran quarreled over how Tehran's nuclear activities should be policed at a meeting of the U.N. nuclear watchdog on Monday, in a row sparked last month by Washington's call for wider inspections.

IAEA’s Amano: Iran subject to most robust nuclear verification regime
Tehran Times
9/18/17
“The nuclear-related commitments undertaken by Iran under the JCPOA are being implemented. Iran is now subject to the world’s most robust nuclear verification regime,” [Yukiya Amano] said in his statement to sixty-first regular session of IAEA general conference.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Spain becomes fourth country to expel North Korean envoy over nuclear program
Washington Post
9/18/17
Spain has given the North Korean ambassador assigned to Madrid until the end of September to leave, becoming the fourth country this month to expel Pyongyang’s representative in the wake of the regime’s sixth nuclear test.

France defends Iran nuclear deal, which Trump calls deeply flawed
Reuters
9/18/17
France made a new plea on Monday for the United States to preserve the 2015 Iran nuclear deal and suggested its provisions expiring after a decade could be strengthened, as U.S. President Donald Trump again criticized the agreement as “deeply flawed.”

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

In first speech at U.N., Trump to single out North Korea, Iran
Reuters
9/19/17
U.S. President Donald Trump will urge United Nations member states on Tuesday to turn up the pressure on North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, using his maiden speech to the world body to address what he considers the top global challenge.

Trump lashes out at North Korea: ‘Rocket man is on a suicide mission’
Politico
9/19/17
President Donald Trump mockingly referred to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un as "Rocket Man" during his first United Nations speech, warning that the U.S. “will have no choice but to totally destroy” the country if it continues to build up its nuclear arsenal.

Pentagon chief says he was asked about reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea
Washington Post
9/18/17
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged Monday that his South Korean counterpart inquired recently about reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, a move that could take tensions with North Korea to a new high.

Feinstein pushes back on Trump’s N. Korea policy
The Hill
9/17/17
Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-Calif.) pushed back Sunday on President Trump's tough talk about squashing North Korea's nuclear missile program without open lines to have diplomatic dialogue, calling it the wrong approach to a grave issue.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why a freeze deal, despite its flaws, is the only remedy for N. Korea’s nukes
NK News, Andrei Lankov
9/19/17
However, if denuclearization is a dead end and this sad reality is increasingly understood in Washington, what is the alternative? The answer is simple but rather disconcerting: the only alternative is a freeze of the North Korean nuclear program.

What’s the U.S.’s Best Chance With North Korea? Russia
New York Times, Dmitri Trenin
9/18/17
Russia, in other words, is not simply the spoiler it has often been described as in recent years. It plays its hand with Washington much more subtly than that — often adopting an adversarial pose, especially of late, but sometimes a cooperative one. And it has good reason to help with North Korea.

Memorandum to President Trump on the Iran Nuclear Deal
Defense One, Christopher J. Bolan
9/18/17
Here's what the U.S. president should know going into his meeting with Israeli Prime Minister Netanyahu, who wants to scuttle the agreement.

Pyrrhic Victories and Draws
Arms Control Wonk, Michael Krepon
9/18/17
What would the world be like without the norms of not testing or using nuclear weapons on battlefields? You don’t want to know. It would be like starting from scratch after Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

SPECIAL INTEREST

No nuclear weapon is safe from cyberattacks
Wired Security
9/18/17
Any vulnerability in a nuclear weapon system could be potentially catastrophic, says Beyza Unal, who researchers nuclear weapons and cybersecurity for the UK-based think tank Chatham House. The risk isn’t limited to the possibility of hackers launching a missile remotely, she says. Cyberattackers could tamper with a system so it thinks it’s being attacked, or gives humans misleading information about the status of its nuclear weapons, reducing their ability to use those weapons effectively if they needed to.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - September 18, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 18, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.S. Ambassador Haley: U.N. has exhausted options on North Korea
Reuters

The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea’s Weapons
New York Times

Iran’s supreme leader warns U.S. against making a ‘wrong move’ on the nuclear deal
Los Angeles Times

Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Officer Who Helped Avert Nuclear War, Is Dead at 77
New York Times

EAST ASIA

The Rare, Potent Fuel Powering North Korea’s Weapons
New York Times
9/17/17
Intelligence officials believe that the North’s program has advanced to the point where it is no longer as reliant on outside suppliers, and that it may itself be making the potent fuel, known as UDMH. Despite a long record of intelligence warnings that the North was acquiring both forceful missile engines and the fuel to power them, there is no evidence that Washington has ever moved with urgency to cut off Pyongyang’s access to the rare propellant.

After missile test, Moon says dialogue with Pyongyang is ‘impossible’
Korea JoongAng Daily
9/15/17
Stung by the Kim Jong-un regime’s firing of another ballistic missile over Japan just hours after his offer of humanitarian aid, President Moon Jae-in declared Friday that dialogue with North Korea is impossible – and warned that the South has the power to destroy it beyond recovery. 

Defiant N. Korea Leader Says He Will Complete Nuke Program
Associated Press
9/16/17
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country is nearing its goal of "equilibrium" in military force with the United States, as the United Nations Security Council strongly condemned the North's "highly provocative" ballistic missile launch over Japan on Friday.

More nuke, missile tests by N. Korea possible: ministry
Yonhap News Agency
9/18/17
North Korea may conduct another nuclear or missile test going forward as it aims to advance its defense capabilities through nuclear armament, Seoul's defense ministry said Monday.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran’s supreme leader warns U.S. against making a ‘wrong move’ on the nuclear deal
Los Angeles Times
9/17/17
Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei warned Sunday that Iran would respond strongly to “any wrong move” by the United States on the multilateral nuclear deal struck in 2015.

Trump: Fate of Iran Nuclear Deal Hangs on Tough UN Policing
Associated Press
9/18/17
U.S. President Donald Trump warned Monday that Washington will walk away from a nuclear deal it agreed to with Iran and five other nations if it deems that the International Atomic Energy Agency is not tough enough in monitoring it.

Rouhani: Nuclear deal benefits entire world
Tehran Times
9/17/17
President Hassan Rouhani of Iran said on Sunday that there is an international consensus that the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and great powers is beneficial to the “security”, “stability” and “development” of the entire world.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia to call on US to refrain from pulling out of Iran nuclear deal, says ambassador
TASS
9/16/17
Russia plans to call on the U.S. to refrain from pulling out of the agreement on Iran's nuclear program when the P5+1 countries five permanent members of the UN Security Council and Germany meet with Iran next Wednesday in New York, Russia's Ambassador to the UN, Vasily Nebenzya told reporters on Friday.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Sen. Warren: Don’t rush to develop new nuclear missile
Los Angeles Times
9/12/17
Sen. Elizabeth Warren is introducing legislation aimed at preventing the development of a new intermediate-range missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead.

U.S. Ambassador Haley: U.N. has exhausted options on North Korea
Reuters
9/17/17
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Sunday the U.N. Security Council has run out of options on containing North Korea’s nuclear program and the United States may have to turn the matter over to the Pentagon.

McMaster: We have to move with ‘great deal of urgency’ on North Korea
The Hill
9/17/17
President Trump's national security adviser, H.R. McMaster, said on Sunday the U.S. needs to move "with a great deal of urgency" in response to the North Korean threat.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Shinzo Abe: Solidarity Against the North Korean Threat
New York Times, Shinzo Abe
9/17/17
They are an important step, but the leadership in Pyongyang has consistently ignored previous resolutions. The international community must stay united and enforce the sanctions.

Twitter Man vs. Rocket Man
Global Politico, Susan B. Glasser
9/18/17
All of which means that, whether he calls it one or not, Trump now has a red line – a move that a number of U.S. national security hands I’ve spoken with recently consider to be a serious and even “self-inflicted” escalation of what has become a genuine crisis with North Korea.

What North Korea Means – and Doesn’t – for Nuclear Deterrence
The Diplomat, John Borrie, Tim Caughley, and Wilfred Wan
9/15/17
Rather than underscoring the enduring logic of nuclear deterrence, the case of North Korea highlights its flimsiness.

What to expect if Trump undoes the Iran nuclear deal
Los Angeles Times, Seyed Hossein Mousavian
9/14/17
If the United States scuttles the deal, the consequences will be drastic, not least for the cause of nuclear nonproliferation and America’s global credibility. As I learned in meetings with Iranian political figures during a trip to Iran last month, an about-face will also lead to a shift in that country’s foreign policy.

The right question to ask about the Iran nuclear deal
Washington Post, David Ignatius
9/14/17
The right question to ask is the same one as when the deal was being negotiated: Does this agreement, with all its flaws, make the United States and its allies safer than they would be with no agreement? This security metric, it seems to me, still favors keeping the deal.

NY meeting golden opportunity for Iran-US de-escalation
Al-Monitor, Mohammad Ali Shabani
9/15/17
After months of escalating hostile rhetoric about the 2015 Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is set to sit down next week for his first face-to-face encounter with Mohammad Javad Zarif, his Iranian counterpart. The two sides will meet in New York Sept. 20 at a ministerial-level meeting of the Joint Commission, the body established by the nuclear deal to resolve disputes among its signatories.

ELN Group Statement: Sustaining the Iran Nuclear Deal
European Leadership Network
9/18/17
The statement’s signatories, who include George Robertson, former British Defence Secretary and former NATO Secretary General, Wolfgang Ischinger, Chair of the Munich Security Conference, Javier Solana, former EU High Representative and NATO Secretary General, and Igor Ivanov, former Russian Foreign Minister, argue that not certifying Iran’s compliance on spurious grounds would damage not only US interests but also US international standing. They express their support for the nuclear deal arguing that it has improved global and European security and losing it would be particularly damaging to Europe.

Cooperative Threat Reduction or: How I Stopped Worrying and Got Rid of the Bomb
Nukes of Hazard Podcast
9/15/17
When the Cold War ended, four separate countries suddenly inherited the former Soviet nuclear arsenal. Destroying and removing those weapons was a herculean effort, and it couldn’t have been done without the bipartisan leadership of two U.S. Senators. We tell the story with Senators Nunn and Lugar, as well as former Assistant Secretary of Defense Andrew Weber.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Stanislav Petrov, Soviet Officer Who Helped Avert Nuclear War, Is Dead at 77
New York Times
9/18/17
Early on the morning of Sept. 26, 1983, Stanislav Petrov helped to prevent the outbreak of nuclear war. A 44-year-old lieutenant colonel in the Soviet Air Defense Forces, he had begun his shift as the duty officer at Serpukhov-15, the secret command center outside Moscow where the Soviet military monitored its early-warning satellites over the United States, when alarms went off.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - September 15, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 15, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.S. nuclear commander says assuming North Korea tested hydrogen bomb
Reuters

North Korea fires missile over Japan in longest-ever flight
Associated Press

Mattis’ message: US is not intimated by North Korea
Associated Press

Iran says nuclear deal “not renegotiable"
Xinhua

EAST ASIA

North Korea fires missile over Japan in longest-ever flight
Associated Press
9/15/17
The growing frequency, power and confidence displayed by these tests seem to confirm what governments and outside experts have long feared: North Korea is closer than ever to its goal of building a military arsenal that can viably target both U.S. troops in Asia and the U.S. homeland. This, in turn, is meant to allow North Korea greater military freedom in the region by raising doubts in Seoul and Tokyo that Washington would risk the annihilation of a U.S. city to protect its Asian allies.

North Korea Launches Another Missile, Escalating Crisis
New York Times
9/14/17
North Korea fired another ballistic missile over Japan on Friday, a direct challenge to the United States and China just days after a new sanctions resolution adopted by the United Nations Security Council that was intended to force the country to halt its accelerating nuclear and missile tests.

Nuke envoys of S. Korea, U.S., Japan vow strong response to N.K. missile test
Yonhap News Agency
9/15/17
Kim Hong-kyun, special representative for Korean Peninsula peace and security affairs at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, held emergency telephone talks respectively with his American and Japanese counterparts, Joseph Yun and Kenji Kanasugi, to discuss countermeasures to North Korea's missile launch earlier in the day, according the Ministry of Foreign Affairs. 

DPRK accuses U.S. of planning to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in S. Korea
Xinhua
9/15/17
The spokesman for the Institute of American Studies at the DPRK's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said the Trump Administration is publicizing through the media the "possibility of redeploying tactical nuclear weapons" into South Korea and developing an up-to-date miniaturized nuclear bomb.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran says nuclear deal “not renegotiable"
Xinhua
9/15/17
"The #JCPOA is not (re)negotiable. A 'better' deal is pure fantasy," [Iranian Foreign Minister Javad] Zarif tweeted on Thursday, adding that it was time for the U.S. to "stop spinning and begin complying, just like Iran."

Zarif, Putin meet to discuss nuclear deal, Syria
Al-Monitor
9/14/17
“In consideration of America’s policies with regard to the nuclear deal, coordination between Russian and Iran is needed,” Zarif told reporters upon arriving at Putin’s summer residence in Sochi near the Black Sea. “We have had good coordination in the past on this issue, and the two countries have supported each other’s positions at international organizations, and Russia has supported Iran well in the discussions on the nuclear deal.”

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Putin discusses N. Korean missile test with his security council – agencies
Reuters
9/15/17
President Vladimir Putin has discussed North Korea’s latest missile launch with Russia’s security council, Russian news agencies reported on Friday.

British PM May outraged at North Korea’s ‘reckless provocation’: spokesman
Reuters
9/15/17
Prime Minister Theresa May is “outraged” by North Korea’s firing of a missile that flew over northern Japan on Friday and Britain will keep pressing China to increase the pressure on the state, her spokesman said.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

U.S. nuclear commander says assuming North Korea tested hydrogen bomb
Reuters
9/14/17
Air Force General John Hyten, head of the U.S. military’s Strategic Command, however, said he had a responsibility, as a military officer responsible for responding to the test, to assume that it was a hydrogen bomb, based on the size of the blast.

Mattis’ message: US is not intimated by North Korea
Associated Press
9/15/17
A subtle, unspoken message of Defense Secretary Jim Mattis’ visit to this nuclear weapons base Wednesday was that America is a mature nuclear power not intimidated by threats from an upstart North Korean leader who flaunts his emerging nuclear muscle.

U.S. extends Iran sanctions relief while bemoaning behavior
USA Today
9/14/17
The extensions of the waivers on nuclear sanctions, first issued by the Obama administration, were accompanied by new penalties imposed against 11 Iranian people and companies accused of supporting Iran’s ballistic missile program or involvement in cyberattacks against the U.S. financial system.

U.S. wants to see North Korea sanctions bite, no options ruled out
Reuters
9/15/17
The United States wants to exhaust every diplomatic option on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs and wants to see loopholes in the North Korean sanctions regime closed, U.S. disarmament ambassador Robert Wood said on Friday.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Command and Control in North Korea: What a Nuclear Launch Might Look Like
War on the Rocks, Vipin Narang and Ankit Panda
9/15/17
As the mountain of dust settles after North Korea’s purported thermonuclear bomb, intermediate-range ballistic missile, and intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM) tests this summer and it becomes an increasingly operational nuclear state, one of the many deadly serious challenges it faces is how it manages its nuclear forces, or what command and control arrangement it erects. 

Can America Live With a Nuclear North Korea?
The Atlantic, Uri Friedman
9/14/17
The Trump administration claims “all options are on the table” for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear-weapons program—from using military force, to pressuring China to punish its North Korean ally, to Donald Trump negotiating directly with Kim Jong Un. But what do those options look like? And what consequences could they have? This series explores these questions, option by option by option.

North Korea’s Sept. 15 Missile Launch over Japan
Union of Concerned Scientists, David Wright
9/14/17
North Korea conducted another missile test at 6:30 am September 15 Korean time (early evening on September 14 in the US). Like the August 28 test, this test appears to have been a Hwasong-12 missile launched from a site near the Pyongyang airport. The missile followed a standard trajectory—rather than the highly lofted trajectories North Korea used earlier this year—and it flew over part of the northern Japanese island of Hokkaido.

How Russia Sees a Nuclear North Korea
National Public Radio, Rachel Martin and Andrei Lankov
9/15/17
Seoul-based Korea expert Andrei Lankov tells NPR's Rachel Martin why Russia fears an unstable North Korea more than it fears a nuclear North Korea.

SPECIAL INTEREST

‘Is There Something Going On?’: Onscene at STRATCOM As North Korea Launches Missile
Defense One
9/15/17
Late on Thursday afternoon, Gen. John Hyten was sitting at the head of a conference table talking to reporters who had accompanied Defense Secretary James Mattis to the headquarters of U.S. Strategic Command. Eight minutes into the discussion, an aide interrupted the STRATCOM commander. “Is there something going on?” Hyten asked.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - September 14, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 14, 2017

TOP NEWS

No nuclear weapons in South Korea, says President Moon
CNN

May stressed importance of Iran nuclear deal to Tillerson – spokesman
Reuters

US set to extend Iran sanctions relief under nuclear deal
ABC News

2017 UK PONI Papers
UK PONI and RUSI

 

EAST ASIA

No nuclear weapons in South Korea, says President Moon
CNN
9/14/17
South Korean President Moon Jae-in has dismissed the possibility of deploying nuclear weapons in his country, warning it could "lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia."

North Korea threatens to ‘sink’ Japan, reduce U.S. to ‘ashes and darkness’
Reuters
9/14/17
The Korea Asia-Pacific Peace Committee, which handles the North’s external ties and propaganda, also called for the breakup of the Security Council, which it called “a tool of evil” made up of “money-bribed” countries that move at the order of the United States.

China appeals for response to its proposals on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue
Xinhua
9/14/17
China on Thursday appealed for consideration and a response to its proposals of "suspension for suspension" and "dual track approach" to solve the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue.

North Korea Resumes Work at Nuclear Test Site, Analysts Say
New York Times
9/13/17
North Korea has resumed work at its underground nuclear testing site, defense analysts said, as the country vowed to keep expanding its nuclear arsenal despite the latest United Nations sanctions.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Washington will be isolated if it quits nuclear deal: Iran
Tehran Times
9/13/17
Government spokesman Mohammad Baqer Nobakht on Tuesday warned the U.S. government of the consequences of quitting the nuclear deal, saying by doing so, Washington would isolate itself.

 

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

May stressed importance of Iran nuclear deal to Tillerson – spokesman
Reuters
9/14/17
British Prime Minister Theresa May stressed the importance of a 2015 international agreement on Iran’s nuclear programme to U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Thursday during a brief meeting at her London office.

Moscow confirms fulfilment by Teheran of its nuclear program obligations
TASS
9/13/17
Moscow states full execution by Iran of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action for its nuclear program, Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said on Wednesday.

 

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US set to extend Iran sanctions relief under nuclear deal
ABC News
9/14/17
The Trump administration is poised to extend sanctions relief to Iran, avoiding imminent action that could implode the landmark 2015 nuclear deal. But the move expected Thursday comes as the White House seeks ways to find that Tehran is not complying with the agreement.

RPT – Under Trump, future of U.S. nuclear arsenal slowly taking shape
Reuters
9/14/17
But in the latest sign that places like Hewuse’s Cold War-era missile alert facility will be around for years to come, Mattis said on Wednesday he believed all three portions of the triad were vital.

 

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

2017 UK PONI Papers
UK PONI and RUSI
9/14/17
The 2017 UK PONI Papers examine contemporary civil and military nuclear issues and are written by emerging experts from academia, government and industry who presented at the 2017 UK Project on Nuclear Issues (UK PONI) Annual Conference.

Saving the INF Treaty – but not by repeating history
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Thomas Graham Jr. and Bernadette Stadler
9/13/17
But even if the United States retraced all the steps it took during the initial INF Treaty negotiations—including the deployment of intermediate-range missiles in Europe—it could not recreate the underlying conditions that allowed the negotiations to succeed in the first place. Only a clear understanding of today’s underlying conditions can shape an effective response to Moscow’s treaty violation.

SAR Image of Punggye-Ri
Arms Control Wonk, Jeffrey Lewis
9/13/17
While seismic signals can tell us about the size of the explosion, determining the location of the explosion is much more difficult.  It is, however, possible to use Synthetic Aperture Radar (SAR) satellites to observe environmental changes as a result of this explosion and to locate where the explosion may have occurred. 

Breaking the Impasse with North Korea
Lawfare, James Davis
9/13/17
But if the question confronting the international community in the Iranian deal was determining the price at which Tehran was no longer willing to pay to acquire nuclear weapons, the problem in North Korea is establishing a price for which Pyongyang would be willing to relinquish an existing nuclear arsenal. And all other things being equal, the price demanded will be higher than North Korea would have accepted to forgo the program in the first place. Because of the endowment effect, North Korea values the weapons it now has more than it did the prospect of acquiring them.

Verifying the nuclear ban: Lessons from South Africa
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Hassan Elbahtimy and Christopher Eldridge
9/13/17
Several key lessons about the design and implementation of a verification regime can be drawn from the example of South African disarmament.

Does Trump have an Option B ready for Iran?
Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin
9/11/17
What is the administration’s plan if it were to walk away from the JCPOA? You got me. The administration hasn’t, to our knowledge, being laying the groundwork with the other negotiating partners. It hasn’t produced evidence of any material breach. And, as critics of the JCPOA have pointed out, Iran has gotten sanctions relief upfront, so ending the deal would only mean that Iran reaped the benefits of the deal and got rid of the restrictions the JCPOA imposes.

IAEA Inspections in Iran under the JCPOA
Foundation for Defense of Democracy, Olli Heinonen
9/14/17
Advocates of the JCPOA have interpreted this new statistic as evidence consistent with President Barack Obama’s statement that the agreement would entail “the most comprehensive and intrusive inspection and verification regime ever negotiated.” However, a closer examination of the new data suggests there may be aspects of the inspection program that have become less comprehensive and less intrusive since the implementation of the JCPOA.

Netanyahu maintains battle against Iran deal ahead of UN meeting
Al-Monitor, Ben Caspit
9/13/17
Katz's speech, Netanyahu's comments and the Reuters quotes reveal a sharp disagreement between Israel's political and military leadership over the Iranian issue. It is not a strategic argument, either. The top brass of the IDF, Military Intelligence and Mossad all realize that the Iranians have not shelved their ambition to become a nuclear power, nor will they. The difference is that the defense establishment has accepted the nuclear deal as a fact and managed to find certain positive opportunities in it.

 

SPECIAL INTEREST

23 years old, and responsible for the nation’s nukes
Military Times
9/14/17
It’s just one of the many unusual tasks that the men and women of the 91st Missile Wing take on. Above ground, the security forces teams here could help move snow; helicopter squadrons providing protection of the silos from overhead may also provide an overwatch of a maintenance technician when the weather gets threatening, to make sure they get back inside safely.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - September 13, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 13, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea defiant over U.N. sanctions as Trump says tougher steps needed
Reuters

Arms Control Experts Urge Trump to Honor Nuclear Deal
New York Times

Russia, US start consultations on extending START treaty – diplomat
TASS

Mattis: US to keep nuclear triad for deterrence
Military Times

EAST ASIA

North Korea defiant over U.N. sanctions as Trump says tougher steps needed
Reuters
9/12/17
North Korea showed trademark defiance on Wednesday over new U.N. sanctions imposed after its sixth and largest nuclear test, vowing to redouble efforts to fight off what it said was the threat of a U.S. invasion.

South Korea confirms traces of radioactive gas from North Korea’s nuclear test
Reuters
9/12/17
The Nuclear Safety and Security Commission (NSSC) said its land-based xenon detector in the northeastern part of the country found traces of xenon-133 isotope on nine occasions, while its mobile equipment off the country’s east coast detected traces of the isotope four times


MIDDLE EAST

Arms Control Experts Urge Trump to Honor Nuclear Deal
New York Times
9/13/17
Alarmed that President Trump may soon take steps that could unravel the international nuclear agreement with Iran, more than 80 disarmament experts urged him on Wednesday to reconsider and said the accord was working.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia, US start consultations on extending START treaty – diplomat
TASS
9/12/17
Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov said the issue of extending the START-III treaty was discussed at his consultations with US Under Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.

Moscow envoy says talks with US counterpart not without disputes on issues like INF
TASS
9/11/17
Russia and the United States remain divided over the Intermediate Nuclear Force Treaty, Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergey Ryabkov told the media after two days of consultations with US Under-Secretary of State Thomas Shannon.


U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Mattis: US to keep nuclear triad for deterrence
Military Times
9/13/17
The nation’s nuclear deterrent posture will remain triad-based, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday in his strongest support to date of the vast modernization spending underway to develop next-generation nuclear submarines, bombers and ground-based nuclear missiles.

The U.S. Is Testing Support for Extending Iran Nuclear Limits
Bloomberg Politics
9/13/17
U.S. diplomats have approached European officials to see if they would join in demanding an extension to limits on Iran’s uranium enrichment that are set to expire in 2025 and 2030 under the nuclear accord reached in 2015, according to people familiar with the discussions.

Trump officials call out China, Russia for helping N. Korea evade sanctions
The Hill
9/12/17
The Trump administration on Tuesday called out Russia and China for helping North Korea evade international sanctions, publicly detailing how the two countries help Pyongyang smuggle coal.

U.S. lawmakers want ‘supercharged’ response to North Korea nuclear tests
Reuters
9/12/17
Frustrated U.S. lawmakers called on Tuesday for a high-powered response to North Korea’s nuclear tests, saying Washington should act alone if necessary to stiffen sanctions on companies from China, Russia and any country doing business with Pyongyang.

Amid NKorea crisis, Mattis focuses on US doomsday arsenal
Washington Post
9/13/17
On Wednesday he is dropping in on ground zero of American nuclear firepower: Minot Air Force base in North Dakota, home to more than 100 land-based nuclear missiles as well as nuclear bomb-toting aircraft. He also will receive briefings at Strategic Command, whose top officer would command nuclear forces in war.

Navy’s nuclear fleet shipyards in bad shape, report finds
Navy Times
9/12/17
The naval shipyards in Norfolk, Virginia, and Portsmouth, Maine, and the shipyard and intermediate maintenance facilities at Puget Sound, Washington, and Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, are vital to maintaining the nuclear fleet, the Government Accountability Office report states. But while they are critical to maintaining the Navy’s nuclear-powered fleet — 10 carriers and 70 boats — “their overall condition remains poor,” according to the report.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

More Than 80 Nuclear Nonproliferation Experts Reaffirm Support for the Iran Nuclear Deal
Arms Control Association
9/13/17
The statement is endorsed by former U.S. nuclear negotiators, former senior U.S. nonproliferation and intelligence officials, a former director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), a former member of the UN Panel of Experts on Iran, and leading nuclear specialists from the United States and around the globe.

The Case Against the Iranian Nuclear Deal is One Big Lie
Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt
9/11/17
When facts and logic fail them, opponents of the JCPOA resurrect the myth of a “better deal.” Having failed to stop Obama’s original negotiation, they now claim decertifying the deal is the first step to persuading Iran and the other members of JCPOA to agree to major revisions or new restrictions.

More than ever, South Koreans want their own nuclear weapons
Washington Post, Michelle Ye Hee Lee
9/13/17
It seemed like a fringe idea not too long ago, but the proposal for South Korea to have its own nuclear arms is gaining steam here.

We should worry more about Pakistan than North Korea
The Hill, former Sen. Larry Pressler
9/13/17
North Korea’s brazen and defiant nuclear tests last week have been keeping our leadership up at night, and for good reason. Meanwhile, Pakistan’s unsecured nuclear weapons program is even more dangerous and should keep all of us up at night.

The ABCs of Deterring North Korea
War on the Rocks, Joshua Rovner
9/13/17
For now, there is bad news and good news. Unfortunately, it will be very hard to deter North Korea from expanding its arsenal, as the last decade has shown. It will also be difficult, though not impossible, to deter North Korea from selling its nuclear knowledge. The good news is that it is much easier to deter the things we fear most: the use of nuclear weapons as cover for conventional aggression and the use of nuclear weapons in war.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Strengthening the Counter-Illicit Nuclear Trade Regime in the Face of New Threats: A Two-Year Review of Proliferation Threats Associated with the Middle East
Institute for Science and International Security
9/12/17
The review found that U.S. policy goals should include strong efforts to restrict the flow of sensitive technologies to the Middle East where proliferation and security concerns are currently high. This includes examining its own export control reforms and repairing new or ongoing deficiencies that contribute to the spread of sensitive military or other technologies.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - September 12, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – September 12, 2017

TOP NEWS

Oil will keep flowing, but UN sanctions hit North Korea hard
Associated Press

N. Korea condemns sanctions, warns U.S. of ‘greatest pain’
Yonhap News Agency

Amano says Iran is implementing nuclear deal
Tehran Times

How Russia quietly undercuts sanctions intended to stop North Korea’s nuclear program
Washington Post

EAST ASIA

Oil will keep flowing, but UN sanctions hit North Korea hard
Associated Press
9/12/17
Though the United States had proposed a complete ban, the sanctions by the U.N. Security Council to punish North Korea for its sixth nuclear test cap Pyongyang’s annual imports of crude oil at the same level they have been for the past 12 months: an estimated 4 million barrels. Exports of North Korean textiles are prohibited, and other nations are barred from authorizing new work permits for North Korean workers, putting a squeeze on two key sources of hard currency.

N. Korea condemns sanctions, warns U.S. of ‘greatest pain’
Yonhap News Agency
9/12/17
North Korea on Tuesday condemned the U.N. Security Council's new sanctions resolution and warned the United States that it will face the "greatest pain" for leading the action, according to a news report.

Japan, S Korea welcome new UN sanctions on North Korea, China calls for dialogue
Hindustan Times
9/12/17
Japan and South Korea said after the passage of the US-drafted Security Council resolution they were prepared to apply more pressure if Pyongyang refused to end its aggressive development of nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles.

IAEA says indications show DPRK’s nuclear reactor could be operating
Xinhua
9/11/17
In a statement to the board [of] governors meeting in Vienna, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said it was concerned over the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK)'s latest nuclear test. "There were indications at the Yongbyon Experimental Nuclear Power Plant suggesting that the reactor was being operated. At the Yongbyon Nuclear Fuel Rod Fabrication Plant, there were indications consistent with the use of the reported centrifuge enrichment facility," said Yukiya Amano, head of IAEA.

MIDDLE EAST

Egypt unwavering to US pressure over North Korea
Al-Monitor
9/11/17
The ongoing cooperation between Egypt and North Korea under Egyptian President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi has led Washington to reiterate calls on Egypt to freeze such ties. This comes amid leaks that the US State Department's suspension of military aid to the Egyptian government was not linked to Egypt’s human rights record as stated, but to these specific ties, especially at the military level, as Pyongyang failed to respond to US pressure not to conduct a long-range missile test. 

Amano says Iran is implementing nuclear deal
Tehran Times
9/11/17
Yukiya Amano, chief of the United Nations’ International Atomic Energy Agency, reconfirmed on Monday that Iran is honoring its commitments under the 2015 nuclear deal, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

How Russia quietly undercuts sanctions intended to stop North Korea’s nuclear program
Washington Post
9/11/17
Russian smugglers are scurrying to the aid of North Korea with shipments of petroleum and other vital supplies that could help that country weather harsh new economic sanctions, U.S. officials say in an assessment that casts further doubt on whether financial measures alone can force dictator Kim Jong Un to abandon his nuclear weapons program.

Schroeder: S. Korea should keep door open for dialogue with N. Korea
Yonhap News Agency
9/12/17
Former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder advised South Korea Tuesday to continue efforts to bring North Korea to dialogue and resolve the nuclear issues peacefully and diplomatically.

SOUTH ASIA

India’s second indigenous nuclear submarine to be launched soon
Economic Times
9/12/17
India's second indigenous nuclear submarine is likely to be launched in less than a month's time, towards the end of September or the beginning of October, government sources said.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

U.S. House committee to hold hearing on N. Korea
Yonhap News Agency
9/12/17
Rep. Ed Royce (R-CA), chairman of the House Foreign Affairs Committee, will convene a hearing at 10 a.m. Tuesday to discuss "Sanctions, Diplomacy, and Information: Pressuring North Korea." The hearing will be attended by Susan Thornton, acting assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs, and Marshall Billingslea, assistant secretary of the Treasury for terrorism and financial intelligence.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

What the Iran Deal Can Teach America About North Korea
Defense One, Ariane Tabatabai
9/11/17
The United States shouldn’t make military or diplomatic decisions based solely on what will maintain its credibility. After all, credibility should be a means, not an end in itself. But the United States can’t continue to lead international processes designed to sanction countries and bring them to the table—and thereby avoid using force—without it.

Trump playing a risky game on Iran nuclear deal
CNN, Thomas Countryman
9/11/17
But the Trump administration's approach to Iran is dangerous. Good American foreign policy is not made with alternative facts, but that is all they offer when it comes to rationalizing their approach to Iran -- as we heard Tuesday from Ambassador Haley, who tried to build a case against staying in the deal by citing violations that didn't happen, implying that there are hundreds of suspicious sites left uninspected when there aren't, and brushing off the security concerns of our allies.

Iran deal devotees vain to save a sinking ship
The Hill, John Bolton
9/11/17
Staying in a bad agreement sends confusing signals to the Europeans, who are confused enough already on this issue, about how America intends to address the Iran threat. Similarly, it shows weakness and indecisiveness to Russia and China at precisely the point when President Trump should project clear-eyed resolve.

Time to Accept Reality and Manage a Nuclear-Armed North Korea
Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, Michael D. Swaine
9/11/17
[P]olicymakers should aim to develop a less urgent, long-term strategy designed to minimize North Korea’s capacity and willingness to utilize those weapons and related technologies in threatening ways, while also continuing to work toward eventual denuclearization. In particular, the United States, China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia must focus not only on deterring and containing Pyongyang through clear, strong, consistent, and common diplomatic and military signals. 

Commentary: The North Korean nuclear ‘crisis’ is an illusion
Reuters, John Mecklin
9/11/17
But even if the North acquires those technical capabilities, the likelihood it might attack the United States with a nuclear missile will remain exceedingly low, for one overriding reason: North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is, as former Obama administration arms control director Jon Wolfsthal has explained in authoritative detail, neither crazy nor suicidal. 

North Korea’s nuclear progress isn’t the only bad news
Japan Times, Ramesh Thakur
9/12/17
Before the revisionists blame it all on the new U.N. treaty banning nuclear weapons, it is worth emphasizing that this crisis point has been reached from entirely within the NPT. The logic of proliferation cascade is built into the logic of nuclear deterrence that evades calls for abolition. For decades some of us have insisted that without disarmament, proliferation is inevitable. Instead of conceding how right we have been proven, already those on the other side claim that North Korea’s nuclearization proves how naive we have been in calling for controlled disarmament. Go figure.

Time to Restrict the President’s Power to Wage Nuclear War
New York Times, Jeffrey Bader and Jonathan D. Pollack
9/12/17
Congress should therefore amend the War Powers Act to cover the possibility of preventive or pre-emptive nuclear strikes. This would ensure that the president could not simply provide the codes to his military aide carrying the nuclear “football” and launch such an attack on his own authority.

These Women Are the Last Thing Standing Between You and Nuclear War
Marie Claire, Danielle McNally
9/8/17
At any given moment, 90 missileers are sitting on alert, or "pulling crew," as it's known in Air Force parlance. Though women are notoriously underrepresented in the U.S. Military, the Air Force is better at gender equality than the other branches—there's a disproportionally high number of women in this role. By March 2016, the Air Force had enough of them to schedule an all-female alert.

North Korea: In Deterrence We Trust
The Diplomat, James Acton
9/12/17
The right question is not whether North Korea can be deterred, but rather how the risks of trying to do so compare to the risks of the alternative – a preventative war. When these risks are weighed up, deterrence turns out to be the less dangerous option.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 31, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 31, 2017

TOP NEWS

US nuclear bombers, Japan and South Korea fighter jets stage show of force days after Pyongyang launched missile
The Straits Times

U.S. pressure or not, U.N. nuclear watchdog sees no need to check Iran military sites
Reuters

U.S. Test Successfully Intercepts Ballistic Missile
The New York Times

After Missile Tests, North and South Korea Wage War of Pictures
The New York Times

EAST ASIA

US nuclear bombers, Japan and South Korea fighter jets stage show of force days after Pyongyang launched missile
The Straits Times
Japanese and South Korean fighter jets conducted separate drills with US nuclear-capable bombers and F-35 stealth fighters in skies south of the Korean peninsula, two days after North Korea launched a ballistic missile over northern Japan.

Japan Defense Ministry Seeks missile interceptors in budget
The Washington Post
Japan’s Defense Ministry is seeking a record-high budget to add missile interceptors and other equipment to defend the country from more North Korean weapons launches.

US lines up North Korea expert as ambassador to Seoul
The Guardian
An academic expert on North Korea is reported to be Donald Trump’s pick for US ambassador to Seoul in what could be a sign the White House believes further pressure on China is the best diplomatic route to prevent a nuclear conflagration in the region.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. pressure or not, U.N. nuclear watchdog sees no need to check Iran military sites
Reuters
The United States is pushing U.N. nuclear inspectors to check military sites in Iran to verify it is not breaching its nuclear deal with world powers. But for this to happen, inspectors must believe such checks are necessary and so far they do not, officials say.

France sees talks on post-Iran nuclear deal, ballistic missile use
Reuters
France suggested on Wednesday that the nuclear deal Iran struck with world powers in 2015 could be supplemented through “future consultations” to include the post-2025 period and tackle Iran’s development of ballistic missiles.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia Opposes Hitting North Korea With More Sanctions, Military Action
Radio Free Europe
In a telephone call with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged the United States to refrain from military action or pursuing further sanctions in the wake of North Korea's launch this week of a ballistic missile capable of carrying a nuclear warhead over Japan's island of Hokkaido, the Russian Foreign Ministry said.

Theresa May arrives in Japan to allay Brexit fears and show solidarity against North nuclear threat
Japan Times
On Theresa May’s first official visit to Japan starting Wednesday, the British prime minister is expected to provide words of encouragement to dispel investors’ doubts about headwinds caused by Brexit and condemnation against North Korea’s missile launches and nuclear tests.

SOUTH ASIA

What China Learned About India at Doklam
The Diplomat
The months-long border standoff between China and India on the Doklam plateau, an obscure patch of disputed land near Bhutan in the Himalayas, came to a sudden close in the final days of August – days before Indian Prime Minister Narendra Modi meets Chinese President Xi Jinping at the Xiamen BRICS nations summit.

Pakistan National Assembly condemns Trump’s ‘hostile’ comments
Reuters
Pakistan’s National Assembly passed a resolution on Wednesday condemning U.S. President Donald Trump’s accusations that Islamabad was prolonging the war in Afghanistan, denouncing them as “hostile” and “threatening”.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

U.S. Test Successfully Intercepts Ballistic Missile
The New York Times
The United States conducted a missile-defense test on Wednesday off the coast of Hawaii and intercepted a medium-range ballistic missile, just days after North Korea’s bold missile test over Japan.

Lockheed will not protest U.S. decision on ICBM replacement contract
Reuters
Lockheed Martin Corp said on Wednesday it would not protest the U.S. Air Force’s decision to eliminate the weapons maker from competition for a contract to replace the aging Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) system.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The Quite Rational Basis for North Korea’s Japan Overfly
The Atlantic, Ankit Panda
Every North Korean ballistic missile test is provocative and illegal. The overfly was certainly both, but for North Korea, it was about far more than theatrical provocation.

Trump’s Next Self-Inflicted Crisis Is a Nuclear Iran
Foreign Policy, Jeffrey Lewis
Oct. 15, 2017. Put it in your calendar. By that date, President Donald Trump must yet again certify that Iran is in compliance with the terms of the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

SPECIAL INTEREST

After Missile Tests, North and South Korea Wage War of Pictures
The New York Times
Tit-for-tat tension on the Korean Peninsula is often described as “a war of words,” but just as frequently it is a war of pictures, too.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 30, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 30, 2017

TOP NEWS

Japan seeks new U.S. missile radar as North Korea threat grows
Reuters

Russia Fears New U.S. Nuclear Arms Make Bombing More Likely
Newsweek

Guterres urges all countries to join legally-binding treaty against nuclear tests
UN News Centre

Can the world live with a nuclear North Korea?
BBC, Jonathan Marcus

EAST ASIA

Japan seeks new U.S. missile radar as North Korea threat grows
Reuters
Japan is worried the United States has so far declined to arm it with a powerful new radar, arguing the decision makes the U.S. missile defense system it plans to install much less capable of countering a growing North Korean threat, three sources said.

Trump says ‘all options on the table’ after North Korea fires missile over Japan
CNN
US President Donald Trump has warned Pyongyang that "all options are on the table" after North Korea fired a missile over Japan early Tuesday.

N Korea accuses U.S. of driving peninsula to ‘extreme level of explosion’
Japan Today
North Korea accused the United States on Tuesday of driving the Korean peninsula towards "an extreme level of explosion" and declared that it was justified in responding with "tough counter-measures".

U.N. Condemns North Korea’s Latest Missile Tests, but Takes No Action
The New York Times
The United Nations Security Council condemned on Tuesday North Korea’s recent missile tests, including one that sent a ballistic missile soaring over Japan, as “outrageous actions.” But it gave no indication that it was prepared to take tougher measures against Pyongyang, which called the latest launch a “curtain-raiser.”

MIDDLE EAST

EU reiterates support for Iran nuclear deal
Tehran Times
Addressing the opening session of the 2017 EU Ambassadors Conference in Brussels on Monday, Federica Mogherini spoke in favor of the deal and said it represents “the European way to foreign policy.”

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia Fears New U.S. Nuclear Arms Make Bombing More Likely
Newsweek
Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs fears updated, high-precision U.S. models of nuclear bombs will lower inhibitions to use nuclear weapons in combat, Russian state news agency Itar-Tass reported on Tuesday.

Weapons & War Analysis: Russian Military vs US & NATO
Scout Warrior
Current tensions between Russia and NATO are leading many to carefully assess this question and examine the current state of weaponry and technological sophistication of the Russian military -- with a mind to better understanding the extent of the kinds of threats they may pose.

SOUTH ASIA

India’s Air Force Interested in 36 More Rafale Fighter Jets from France
The Diplomat
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is interested in placing a follow-up order for 36 additional fourth-generation Dassault Rafale multirole fighter jets, according to Indian Ministry of Defense (MoD) sources.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

This military base is training to shoot down a North Korean nuclear missile
CNN
Located in a desolate section of Alaska's wilderness 150 miles outside of Fairbanks, missile silos lie buried deep in the ground. Thirty-eight missiles, hidden under clamshell openings, point to the sky and sit ready for launch. An additional six missiles are slated to be in place at Fort Greely by the end of the year.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL

Guterres urges all countries to join legally-binding treaty against nuclear tests
UN News Centre
United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres has urged all countries to sign and ratify a global treaty that bans nuclear explosions on the Earth's surface, in the atmosphere, underwater and underground.

IAEA Launches Low-Enriched-Uranium Bank in Eastern Kazakhstan
Radio Free Europe
A new reserve bank for low enriched uranium (LEU) designed to discourage new countries from enriching the nuclear fuel was inaugurated in eastern Kazakhstan on August 29 -- the UN International Day Against Nuclear Tests.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

North Korea’s calculated chaos ought to make Trump think again on Iran
The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor
The strategic complexity of dealing with the nuclear-armed regime in Pyongyang ought to warn off Trump from sleepwalking into another potential geopolitical showdown.

Can the world live with a nuclear North Korea?
BBC, Jonathan Marcus
Launching a rocket over Japanese territory - with at least the possibility that it could break up and deposit debris on Japanese soil - shows that Pyongyang is intent on maintaining its brinkmanship - this was only the third missile test to over-fly Japan within the past two decades. However, this may perhaps be brinkmanship only to a point.

Backseat Driver: Moon Jae-in’s Struggle to Revive Inter-Korean Relations
38 North, John Delury
In contrast with his sure footing with the South Korean public, Moon has struggled to get his North Korea policy of engagement and reconciliation off the ground.

The Trump Administration’s Evolving Rhetoric on North Korea
The Atlantic, Krishnadev Calamur
Trump’s missives about North Korea can be classified into two broad categories: threats against the North for its actions and frustration at what he perceives to be China’s failure to pressure Pyongyang to change its behavior.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 29, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 29, 2017

TOP NEWS

In a 1st, NKorea fires missile over Japan in aggressive test
Associated Press

North Korea’s latest launch designed to cause maximum mayhem, minimal blowback
Washington Post

France's Macron says no alternative to Iran nuclear deal
Reuters

Want to Avoid Nuclear War? Reject Mutual Vulnerability with North Korea
Vince Manzo and John Warden, War on the Rocks

How It Works: Detecting a North Korean Missile Strike on Guam
Center for Strategic and International Studies

EAST ASIA

In a 1st, NKorea fires missile over Japan in aggressive test
Associated Press
In a first, North Korea on Tuesday fired a midrange ballistic missile designed to carry a nuclear payload that flew over Japan and splashed into the northern Pacific Ocean, officials said.

North Korea’s latest launch designed to cause maximum mayhem, minimal blowback
Washington Post
North Korea’s latest missile launch seemed, as Stephan Haggard of the University of California at San Diego described it, “perfectly calibrated to create political mischief.”

North Korea’s Missile Over Japan Bolsters Abe’s Quest for Stronger Defense
Bloomberg Politics
Kim Jong Un might have done Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe a little favor.

MIDDLE EAST

France's Macron says no alternative to Iran nuclear deal
Reuters
French President Emmanuel Macron on Tuesday said there was no alternative to the 2015 deal struck between Iran and a group of world powers aimed at curbing the country’s nuclear program.

Iran rejects U.S. demand for U.N. inspector visit to military sites
Reuters
Iran has dismissed a U.S. demand for U.N. nuclear inspectors to visit its military bases as “merely a dream” as Washington reviews a 2015 nuclear agreement between Tehran and six world powers, including the United States.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russian Navy gets go-ahead for design of new nuclear-powered destroyers
Asia Times
The Independent Barents Observer reports that Russia’s Navy has been given the go-ahead for the design of a new generation of nuclear-powered destroyers.

SOUTH ASIA

Indian nuclear expansion can lead to ‘deterrence failure’
The Express Tribune
Dr Mansoor Ahmed said that India was aiming to become a major nuclear player in the world and was thus exponentially expanding its nuclear and delivery capabilities.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

New LRSO Nuclear-Armed Cruise Missile vs High-Tech Air Defenses
Scout Warrior
US Air Force weapons developers believe the emerging nuclear-armed Long Range Stand-Off weapon will enable strike forces to attack deep within enemy territory and help overcome high-tech challenges posed by emerging adversary air defenses.

B61-12 Continues to Meet Qualification Test Schedule
NNSA News
The Department of Energy’s National Nuclear Security Administration (DOE/NNSA) and U.S. Air Force completed two qualification flight tests of B61-12 gravity bombs August 8 at Tonopah Test Range in Nevada.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL

Supporting Nuclear Non-Proliferation: Ghana Converts Research Reactor from HEU to LEU Fuel
IAEA News
Ghana has successfully completed the conversion of its only research reactor from the use of high enriched uranium (HEU) fuel to low enriched uranium (LEU) fuel, in an international project supported by the IAEA to help decrease the proliferation risks associated with HEU fuel.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Want to Avoid Nuclear War? Reject Mutual Vulnerability with North Korea
Vince Manzo and John Warden, War on the Rocks
By rejecting vulnerability to a North Korean nuclear strike and improving damage limitation capabilities, the United States and its allies can challenge North Korea’s theory of coercive nuclear escalation, inducing caution in both crisis and conflict.

The North Korean Threat Beyond ICBMs
Graham Allison, The Atlantic
There is another, even more likely way that a North Korean nuclear weapon could explode in a U.S. city: Kim could sell one to terrorists.

How Russia Can Help the United States Defuse the Korean Crisis
Georgy Toloraya, 38 North
Russian politicians and experts alike are bewildered by how the leaders of both the United States and North Korea have allowed incendiary and irresponsible rhetoric after North Korea’s ICBM tests in July[1] to put both countries on a path toward conflict.

Analysis: Is North Korea winning deterrence war with US?
Associated Press
Conventional wisdom says that if North Korea were ever to use its nuclear weapons, it would be an act of suicide. But brace yourself for what deterrence experts call the "theory of victory."

How to Get Out of the Iran Nuclear Deal
John Bolton, National Review
Trump can and should free America from this execrable deal at the earliest opportunity.

SPECIAL INTEREST

How It Works: Detecting a North Korean Missile Strike on Guam
Center for Strategic and International Studies
In early August, North Korea threatened to launch four ballistic missiles towards Guam, targeting waters less than 30 kilometers off the island’s coast. How and when would U.S. missile defense forces respond if an attack like this were to take place?

The Nuclear Triad: Submarines
Department of Defense News Videos
Ohio-class nuclear submarines are the most survivable leg of the nuclear triad.

Worried About Nuclear War? Here’s How to Buy Yourself an Underground Shelter
The Washingtonian
One shelter manufacturer says 50 percent of his business comes from the Washington area.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 28, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 28, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea Used Multiple-Rocket Launchers to Test Missiles
The New York Times

Nuclear inspectors should have access to Iran military bases: Haley
Reuters

US Nuclear Weapons Center unveils new nuke weapons contracts
The Washington Post

How North Korea Shocked the Nuclear Experts
Nicholas Miller and Vipin Narang, Politico

EAST ASIA

North Korea Used Multiple-Rocket Launchers to Test Missiles
The New York Times
North Korea used multiple-rocket launchers off its east coast on Saturday to fire three short-range missiles that could strike United States military bases deep in South Korea, officials in Seoul said.

Increased activity, new construction seen at N. Korea’s Yongbyon nuclear research site: IAEA
Yonhap News
North Korea is continuing to produce fissile material for its nuclear weapons at its main nuclear research site in Yongbyon and new construction is underway to readjust the facilities, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in an annual report.

China says nuclear safety law ready to be passed
Reuters
A new nuclear safety law in China is ready to be passed, state media said on Monday, adding that the legislation will help prevent and deal with accidents and promote development of the industry.

Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force Flight Tests Older DF-4 ICBM
The Diplomat
On Wednesday, the Chinese People’s Liberation Army Rocket Force (PLARF) carried out a flight test of a Dong Feng 4 (DF-4; known by the United States as the CSS-3) intercontinental-range ballistic missile, a U.S. government source with knowledge of China’s strategic weapons programs told The Diplomat.

MIDDLE EAST

Nuclear inspectors should have access to Iran military bases: Haley
Reuters
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley on Friday pressed the International Atomic Energy Agency to seek access to Iranian military bases to ensure that they are not concealing activities banned by the 2015 nuclear deal.

If Report Says Iran Is Abiding by Nuclear Deal, Will Trump Heed It?
The New York Times
Within days, international monitors will send an inspection report on Iran’s nuclear facilities to governments around the world, touching off a chain of events that could lead to another clash between President Trump and congressional Republicans, or even his own top advisers.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Space, nuclear security, polar bears: Russia and the U.S. still agree on some things
The Washington Post
Russia and the United States are so at odds right now — trading insults, sanctions and retaliatory moves on a regular basis — it might appear that the two nuclear superpowers have stopped cooperating altogether.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US Nuclear Weapons Center unveils new nuke weapons contracts
The Washington Post
The U.S. Air Force Nuclear Weapons Center in Albuquerque has announced billions of dollars in nuclear weapons contracts aimed at modernizing the ground- and air-based legs of the country’s nuclear triad.

Trump Forges Ahead on Costly Nuclear Overhaul
The New York Times
During his speech last week about Afghanistan, President Trump slipped in a line that had little to do with fighting the Taliban: “Vast amounts” are being spent on “our nuclear arsenal and missile defense,” he said, as the administration builds up the military.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How North Korea Shocked the Nuclear Experts
Nicholas Miller and Vipin Narang, Politico
For decades, the United States and international community have worked hard to prevent the spread of nuclear weapons; we’ve put in place a series of increasingly strong policies built on what we know, or what we think we know, about how countries manage to construct their own bombs.

Can Germany Be Europe’s Nuclear Bridge Builder?
Ulrich Kühn, Carnegie Europe
Nuclear weapons policies have reached the 2017 German federal election. In a last-ditch effort to narrow Chancellor Angela Merkel’s impressive lead in the polls, Martin Schulz, her contender from the Social Democrats, called on August 22 for the removal of the last remaining assets of U.S. extended deterrence from German soil—some estimated twenty B61 nuclear gravity bombs.

Parallel Crises
Michael Krepon, Arms Control Wonk
Crises are usually singular events, but on rare occasions they come in pairs. A third pairing might be in the offing. My intention here is not to further overload circuits. The U.S.- North Korean standoff will more than suffice, but I believe a heads-up is warranted.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 24, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 24, 2017

TOP NEWS

Chinese entrepreneur aided North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, U.S. lawsuit says
Washington Post

US ambassador meets atomic energy head on Iran nuclear issue
Associated Press

Russia sends nuclear-capable bombers on mission near South Korea, Japan
Reuters

Here's How North Korea Could Accidentally Trigger A Volcanic Supereruption
Forbes

EAST ASIA

Chinese entrepreneur aided North Korea’s nuclear weapons program, U.S. lawsuit says
Washington Post
Chi Yupeng, a 48-year-old Chinese accountant, controls a network of companies that in recent years imported $700 million of North Korean coal, according to a lawsuit in the United States.

S. Korea to continue efforts to reconcile with N. Korea
Yonhap News
South Korea will continue efforts to reset ties with Pyongyang by restoring dialogue channels and providing humanitarian assistance despite heightening tensions over its weapons programs, its top North Korea policymaker said Wednesday.

South Koreans want their own nuclear weapons but doing so risks triggering a wider war
CNBC
North Korea has nuclear weapons — and a majority of South Koreans support getting them too, but the consequences of doing so could be far reaching.

Kim Jong Un Shows Little Interest in Diplomacy
VOA News
The prospect of reaching any diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear threat remains unclear as its leader Kim Jong Un has shown little willingness to compromise with adversaries in Washington or even to engage with allies in Beijing.

Civilian drills grow lax among South Koreans used to threats
Associated Press
Once or twice a year, activity on the streets of South Korea’s capital freezes as a wailing siren marks a nationwide drill aimed at preparing against a North Korean attack. Cars stop on roads. Pedestrians move into buildings and subway stations. Government buildings are evacuated.

MIDDLE EAST

US ambassador meets atomic energy head on Iran nuclear issue
Associated Press
The United States is determined to ensure the International Atomic Energy Agency has the resources it needs for “robust verification of nuclear-related activities in Iran,” the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations said Wednesday.

Amid Iran Nuclear Fears, Israel to Bolster its Fighter Jet Arsenal
The Jerusalem Post
Israel will take delivery of two more stealth F-35 “Adir” fighter jets by the end of the month, joining the five already undergoing tests at IAF bases.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia sends nuclear-capable bombers on mission near South Korea, Japan
Reuters
Russian nuclear-capable strategic bombers have flown over the Pacific Ocean, the Sea of Japan, the Yellow Sea and the East China Sea, prompting Japan and South Korea to scramble jets to escort them, Russia said.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Iran nuclear agreement review procedures similar to Russian sanctions process
The Hill
For those who notice a similarity between the congressional review process enacted earlier this month for lifting sanctions against Russia and the procedures utilized in the 2015 Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act, congratulations: you have just earned your “deep-weeds, procedural wonkery” merit badge.

Senator seeks answers on LANL’s nuclear safety
Santa Fe New Mexican
A U.S. senator has asked the National Nuclear Security Administration to report to Congress by Thursday on the costs and safety of Los Alamos National Laboratory’s weapons production program and, in particular, the potential for critical accidents.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

I’m a nuclear weapons expert. Trump’s presidency is my personal nightmare.
Jeffrey Lewis, Washington Post
My greatest fear is a reality: A lunatic has gained control of nuclear-armed missiles that could reach halfway around the globe. And, to make matters worse, Kim Jong Un has them, too.

Trump’s Nuclear Crisis Was of His Own Making
Ned Price, Foreign Policy
For several days earlier this month, the world teetered on the brink of nuclear war. Or so the Trump administration wanted us to believe.

US misreads rhetoric for reality on North Korea
Michael Auslin, Nikkei Asian Review
The raging war of words between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may have quietened down, but the nuclear saber rattling between Washington and Pyongyang continues.

Why America Needs A Nuclear Air Launched Cruise Missile
Mark Gunzinger, Breaking Defense
The real alternative to foregoing fielding the LRSO would be the effective loss, in the long run, of the most flexible and stabilizing leg of the strategic triad.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Here's How North Korea Could Accidentally Trigger A Volcanic Supereruption
Forbes
Since North Korea is in the news a lot at the moment, it’s worth taking a look at the Hermit Kingdom’s sleeping dragon: a volcano named Mount Paektu.

The Secret Soviet Space Weapon Mistaken for a UFO
Popular Mechanics
During the late 1960s, a top secret Soviet program to sneak nuclear weapons around U.S. early warning radars was mistaken for a rash of UFO sightings by Moscow's citizens. The weapon, known as FOBS, created a mysterious pattern in the night sky that many mistook for signs of alien visitation.

Nuclear missiles were once ready to launch from Milwaukee's suburbs
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
There was a time the threat of nuclear annihilation was so great warheads were ready to launch essentially from the backyards of Waukesha homes, and other locations ringing the Milwaukee area.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 23, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 23, 2017

TOP NEWS

China demands U.S. immediately withdraw N. Korea sanctions, warns will hit ties
The Washington Post

U.S., North Korea clash at U.N. forum over nuclear weapons
Reuters

U.N. ambassador says Trump has not decided his next move on Iran nuclear deal
The Washington Post

What We Know About the U.S.’s New Nuclear Missile
Popular Mechanics

EAST ASIA

China demands U.S. immediately withdraw N. Korea sanctions, warns will hit ties
The Washington Post
The Treasury Department placed sanctions Tuesday on 10 companies and six individuals from China and Russia that it said had conducted business with North Korea in ways that advanced the country’s missile and nuclear weapons program.

U.S., North Korea clash at U.N. forum over nuclear weapons
Reuters
North Korea and the United States clashed at a U.N. forum on Tuesday over their military intentions towards one another, with Pyongyang's envoy declaring it would "never" put its nuclear deterrent on the negotiating table.

North Korea presses rocket program, but amid signs of drama easing
Reuters
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has ordered more solid-fuel rocket engines, state media reported on Wednesday, as he pursues nuclear and missile programs amid a standoff with Washington, but there were signs of tension easing.

Tillerson Suggests North Korea May Soon Be Ready for Talks
The New York Times
In some of the most conciliatory remarks to North Korea made by the Trump administration, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson complimented the government in Pyongyang for going more than two weeks without shooting any missiles or blowing up any nuclear bombs.

MIDDLE EAST

U.N. ambassador says Trump has not decided his next move on Iran nuclear deal
The Washington Post
The Trump administration is not looking for a pretext to junk the international nuclear deal with Iran, U.N. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday, despite the president’s sharp criticism of the agreement and reports that he has been reluctant to certify that Tehran is meeting its obligations.

U.S. asks if Iran military sites to be checked under nuclear deal
Reuters
The United States wants to know if the United Nations atomic watchdog plans to inspect Iranian military sites to verify Tehran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal, the U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, said on Tuesday.

IAEA Briefs U.S. Envoy On Iran Nuclear Deal
Radio Free Europe
The U.S. ambassador to the United Nations has met with International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) officials for what she has described as a fact-finding mission as part of the U.S. administration's review of the 2015 nuclear deal with Iran.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Martin Schulz wants US nuclear weapons out of Germany
Politico
Martin Schulz, the leader of the German Social Democrats (SPD), on Tuesday said that if he wins next month’s election he will ask the U.S. to withdraw its nuclear weapons from Germany.

Ukraine Rejects Claims It Supplied Rocket Engines To North Korea
Radio Free Europe
Ukraine’s National Security and Defense Council has rejected reports that Kyiv supplied missile technology to North Korea, saying that such claims amounted to Russian disinformation.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL

New App to Help Customs Officers Improve Radiation Detection for Nuclear Security
IAEA
A new smart phone application launched by the IAEA will help distinguish between alarms due to harmless amounts of naturally occurring radiation and alarms that might be a cause for concern from a security standpoint and warrant further investigation.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why the Russian Navy Is a More Capable Adversary Than It Appears
Michael Kofman and Jeffrey Edmonds, The National Interest
Russia still depends on the remnants of a blue-water navy inherited from the Soviet Union, but a new force is slowly rising to take its place both above and beneath the waves. This navy will be different, with a strategy of its own.

Japan’s response to North Korea
John Nilsson-Wright, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Kim Jong-un’s unbridled military aspirations, and Pyongyang’s desires to become a recognized nuclear power, risks provoking a spiraling arms race in Northeast Asia.

What We Know About the U.S.’s New Nuclear Missile
Popular Mechanics
The U.S. Air Force has awarded contracts to Northrop Grumman and Boeing to build a new long-range intercontinental ballistic missile. This new missile, called the Ground-Based Strategic Deterrent (GBSD), will replace the 45 year old Minuteman III.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 22, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 22, 2017

TOP NEWS

Countering North Korean threat is Trump’s ‘top priority’, envoy says
Reuters

Iran Says Only 5 Days Needed to Ramp up Uranium Enrichment
U.S. News and World Report

Pentagon narrows competition for the next big U.S. nuclear missile deterrent
The Washington Post

EAST ASIA

Countering North Korean threat is Trump’s ‘top priority’, envoy says
Reuters
President Donald Trump's top priority is to protect the United States and its allies against the "growing threat" from North Korea, and America is ready to use "the full range of capabilities at our disposal," a U.S. envoy said on Tuesday.

This Missile Could Reach California. But Can North Korea Use It With a Nuclear Weapon?
The New York Times
North Korea is speeding toward a goal it has sought for decades: the ability to hit a major American city with a nuclear weapon.

US-South Korea hold military drills amid tension
BBC News
The US and South Korea are conducting annual military drills which consistently infuriate Pyongyang, despite appeals to halt the exercise.

South Korea Faces an Uncomfortable Reality: A Nuclear Neighbor
The New York Times
As the United States debates the wisdom of military action against North Korea, its allies in South Korea have largely moved on and reached an uncomfortable conclusion — that they may have no choice but to live with a nuclear-armed neighbor.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran Says Only 5 Days Needed to Ramp up Uranium Enrichment
U.S. News and World Report
Iran's atomic chief warned Tuesday the Islamic Republic needs only five days to ramp up its uranium enrichment to 20 percent, a level at which the material could be used for a nuclear weapon.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Pentagon narrows competition for the next big U.S. nuclear missile deterrent
The Washington Post
A high-stakes competition to rebuild a critical component of America’s aging nuclear arsenal was narrowed down to two companies on Monday, as the Air Force awarded Boeing and Northrop Grumman the next phase of a contract to replace the Minuteman ground-based inter-continental ballistic missile.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Can China Curb North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions?
Son Daekwon, The Diplomat
Trump appears to assume that China is able, but not willing, to curb North Korea’s nuclear ambition. Is that assumption right? Does China really have enough influence to rein in North Korea? In fact, Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang is a lot more limited than he believes.

Cyberwar on Iran Won’t Work. Here’s Why.
John Glaser, Defense One
The Iran nuclear deal is increasingly at risk, with President Trump threatening to overrule his top national security advisers and defy the assessment of international monitors to declare Iran non-compliant with the agreement’s stipulations. The problem for the administration, however, is that no viable alternative is better than the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action.

SPECIAL INTEREST

How prepared are we for the impact of a nuclear war?
BBC
In the event of nuclear war, the British government has at its disposal at least one bunker hidden away in the very heart of London. It’s called Pindar. It shares its name with an ancient Greek poet – but the reference is chilling.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 21, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 21, 2017

TOP NEWS 

PACOM chief Harris arrives in South Korea as North likens joint war game to ‘pouring gasoline on fire’
Japan Times

Iran: Top priority to protect nuclear deal from US
Al Jazeera

Talk of ‘Preventative War’ rises in White House over North Korea
New York Times

 

EAST ASIA

PACOM chief Harris arrives in South Korea as North likens joint war game to ‘pouring gasoline on fire’
Japan Times
The head of the U.S. military’s Pacific Command (PACOM) arrived in Seoul on Sunday, the South Korean Defense Ministry said as the two allies readied for the start of an annual large-scale military exercise Monday amid soaring tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea.

How North Korea might respond to the US-South Korea war games
Associated Press
The war games set to begin Monday may hold more potential to provoke than ever, given President Donald Trump’s “fire and fury” threats and Pyongyang’s as-yet-unpursued plan to launch missiles close to Guam. Will the allies keep it low-key, or focus on projecting strength?

Japan faces obstacles to deploying new missile defense
Asian Review
Japan is readying its Ground Self-Defense Force for the planned deployment of a new U.S. missile defense system, despite logistical speed bumps and criticism from opposition parties.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Iran: Top priority to protect nuclear deal from US
Al Jazeera
Iran's President Hassan Rouhani said the top foreign policy priority for his new government was to protect the nuclear deal from being torn up by the United States. "The most important job of our foreign minister is first to stand behind the JCPOA and not to allow the US and other enemies to succeed," Rouhani told parliament on Sunday, using the technical name for the 2015 agreement that eased sanctions in exchange for curbs to Iran's nuclear programme.

 

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russian ambassador: Iran in full compliance with nuclear deal
Tehran Times
Russian Ambassador to Tehran Levan Dzhagaryan has said that Iran has acted fully in compliance with its commitments under the nuclear agreement, noting that the U.S. should not complain in this regard. “We will insist on our stance when talking with the Americans,” Dzhagaryan said in an interview with ISNA, stressing that the nuclear agreement must be fully implemented.

 

Russia hopeful US won’t scrap nuclear deal with Iran unilaterally
First Post
Moscow hopes the US will refrain from unilateral steps leading to the collapse of the 2015 nuclear agreement with Iran, the Russian Foreign Ministry said. "I hope that the US will not violate the obligations it has assumed," Xinhua news agency quoted Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov as saying on Wednesday.

 

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Talk of ‘Preventative War’ rises in White House over North Korea
New York Times
Like its predecessors, the Trump administration is trying to pressure North Korea through sanctions to dismantle its nuclear program. But both President Trump and his national security adviser, Lt. Gen. H. R. McMaster, have talked openly about a last-resort option if diplomacy fails and the nuclear threat mounts: what General McMaster describes as “preventive war.”

 

Mattis: Reduction in U.S. troops in S. Korea exercises was not caused by N.K. tensions
Yonhap                                   
"The numbers (of troops) are by design to achieve the exercise objectives and you always pick what you want to emphasize," Mattis told reporters en route to Jordan, according to a transcript released by his office. "Right now there is a heavy emphasis on command post operations, so the integration of all the different efforts."

 

At 7 years old, CYBERCOM becomes a full combatant Command
Defense One
An order by President Trump triggered its elevation from U.S. Strategic Command, which has been in the works for months.

 

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL

Kono seeks early CTBT ratification
Japan News
Foreign Minister Taro Kono requested Thursday the United States’ early ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty, or CTBT. “We hope the United States will take a positive approach such as an early ratification,” Kono said in talks with U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson.

 

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How to get rid of nuclear weapons
Sharon Squassoni, Teen Vogue
Fiery rhetoric and nuclear weapons are not a winning combination. North Korea’s recent threats to retaliate against increasingly tighter global sanctions have been met with speculation that the United States could preempt a North Korean nuclear attack. This state of affairs forces one to wonder how we ever got to this point. If nuclear weapons are so bad, why can’t we get rid of them?

 

North Korea could unleash the unthinkable: nuclear war between Russia and America
Dave Majumdar, The National Interest
In the event that North Korea tests another Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) or potentially launches an attack on the United States, the Pentagon could try to intercept those missiles with the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system. However, as many analysts have pointed out, the interceptors that miss their target could reenter the Earth’s atmosphere inside Russian airspace. Such an eventuality could prove to be a serious problem unless steps are taken to address the issue now.

 

How North Korea makes its missiles
Joshua Pollack, NK News
The basis for the intelligence community’s assessment has not been shared, but it is still possible to sketch out how North Korea makes its liquid-fueled rocket engines using open sources. It also is apparent why North Korea’s liquid-fueled engines have a Soviet technological heritage.

 

Escalating tensions with North Korea could prompt Trump to make a dangerous decision
Daniel L. Davis, The National Interest
In response to North Korea leader Kim Jong-un’s threat to target Guam with missiles, President Trump said that North Korea had better “get their act together or they’re gonna be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble in this world.” What military actions he had in mind are uncertain. Though U.S. conventional forces are considered a given by most of America’s foreign-policy elite, what is uncertain is how effective those forces would be if called upon to fight a major regional contingency in Korea. It’s not the slam-dunk scenario that you might think.

 

Here are 5 takeaways from Trump’s startling nuclear threats against North Korea
Mira Rapp-Hooper, Washington Post
Presidential and other high-level statements on nuclear policy help to deter adversaries and assure treaty allies of the United States’ commitment to their security. Recently, however, some of the most basic tenets of international nuclear signaling were scorched by President Trump’s threats of “fire and fury” toward North Korea. Here are five lessons from his war of words with Kim Jong Un.

 

Everything you need to know: How Japan could get nuclear weapons
Kyle Mizokami, The National Interest
It is perhaps China’s and even North Korea's greatest nightmare: a nuclear-armed Japan. Permanently anchored off the Asian mainland, bristling with nuclear weapons, a nuclear Japan would make China’s security situation much more complex than it is now, and force China to revise both its nuclear doctrine and increase its nuclear arsenal.

 

How Pakistan and Kashmir complicate India-China standoff over Doklam
Michael Krepon, India Today
The nuclear crisis between the US and North Korea could result in war, by choice or miscalculation. If Donald Trump truly means what he says - that he will not accept a relationship of mutual deterrence with Kim Jong-un - then a US war of choice might follow. A war by miscalculation is possible because Kim Jong-un is as much of a wild card as Trump. And as bad as this crisis is, another one could arise, with India in the middle of it.

 

SPECIAL INTEREST

Russia’s biggest submarine ever was armed with 200 nuclear weapons (more than North Korea)
The National Interest
The largest submarines ever built were not built in American shipyards, but Soviet ones. Named after sharks, these Cold War leviathans could devastate up to two hundred targets with warheads six times as powerful as those that exploded over Hiroshima. The Akula-class submarines were some of the most terrifying weapons ever created.

 

Fact: Russian cosmonauts carried a shotgun into space
The National Interest
To this day, the Russian Federal Space Agency refuses to talk about the weapon—though it’s an open secret. Astronauts heading to the International Space Station have trained with it, and some have even talked about it. And in case there’s any doubt about its existence, there’s one on display in a Russian museum.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 18, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 18, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea warns it won’t negotiate nukes if US is hostile
Military Times

Russian nuclear submarine successfully test fires Kalibr cruise missile
TASS

GAO: Nuclear command and control improving, but need long-term view
Defense News

EAST ASIA

North Korea warns it won’t negotiate nukes if US is hostile
Military Times
North Korea warned the United States that it will never put its nuclear weapons program on the negotiating table as long as the Trump administration keeps up its “hostile policy and nuclear threat.” The warning came from North Korea’s deputy U.N. ambassador Kim In Ryong in the transcript of his conversation with U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Tuesday.

What’s China worried about? Clue lies in where it’s holding navy drills
South China Morning Post
China has shifted the focus of its naval exercises from the South China Sea to the northeastern Yellow Sea amid simmering tensions over the nuclear crisis on the Korean Peninsula, military experts said. “The tension in the South China Sea has eased as Sino-Philippines relations have improved,” said Ni Lexiong, a Shanghai-based commentator on military affairs.

Japan seeks new missile defense ‘assets,’ increased cyber cooperation
Defense News
Japan is seeking new missile defense assets in light of the North Korean threat, while also looking at ways to expand a 2015 defense agreement with the United States. Japanese Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera, speaking Thursday at the State Department following a meeting with Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono, U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis, said that the threat from Pyongyang is driving Japan to look to accelerate certain defense decisions.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran denies appeal of jailed Princeton student: university
Reuters
Iranian authorities have denied the appeal of a Princeton University student who had been convicted on espionage charges and sentenced to 10 years in prison, the university and his wife said on Thursday. Xiyue Wang, a history doctoral student and U.S. citizen who was conducting dissertation research in Iran in 2016 when he was detained by Iranian authorities, was accused by Iran of "spying under the cover of research," a claim his family and university deny.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russian nuclear submarine successfully test fires Kalibr cruise missile
TASS
The multipurpose nuclear submarine Severodvinsk has successfully test fired Kalibr cruise missile on Friday, according to press service of the Russian Northern Fleet.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

GAO: Nuclear command and control improving, but need long-term view
Defense News
The U.S. Air Force has done a good job fixing near-term issues with the nuclear command and control structure but is still struggling to get a handle on long-term issues, according to a new Government Accountability Office report.

Mattis: Military option for North Korea open
Defense News
North Korea will face “strong military consequences” if it “initiates hostilities” with America or its allies in the Pacific, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis reaffirmed Thursday in an apparent break with a top White House adviser. Mattis also said that any North Korean launch toward territory controlled by the U.S., South Korea or Japan would result in “immediate, specific actions to take it down.”

Haley to press IAEA on Iran deal compliance
Al-Monitor
Nikki Haley, President Donald Trump’s envoy to the United Nations, will travel to Vienna next week to discuss the US government’s concerns about the Iran nuclear deal with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA). The high-profile visit comes as the former South Carolina governor has staked out a hard line on Iran and sharply pro-Israel positions, perhaps with an eye to her own future political ambitions.

Lockheed Martin takes missiles into new domains
Defense News
Lockheed Martin is investigating other domains where its wide variety of proven missiles might operate in the future, and how new capabilities could be brought to bear to fill missile defense needs across the services, according the integrated air-and-missile defense vice president for the company’s Missiles and Fire Control business.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The potential conflict between nuclear powers that Trump barely acknowledges
The Washington Post, Adam Taylor
The two most populous countries in the world are dangerously close to armed conflict. Both are fast-growing and ambitious nations with something to prove — and they have nuclear weapons. Yet you’ll find surprisingly little discussion of the issue in Washington, where President Trump's ongoing controversies and the threat of terrorist attacks (more on the horrific attack in Barcelona later in the newsletter) continue to dominate the discussion.

There is no Trump administration
The Hill, Richard Klass
In both the sense of a coherent set of policies and in the sense of having a full structure underpinning national security decision making, there is no Trump administration. There is an undisciplined president who does not have the background, attention span or curiosity to dig into issues, ask for contrary opinions, and listen to experts. He tweets or uses loose language without recognizing the nuanced importance of words. And the result is "fire and fury" and a mad scramble to mitigate the damage.

The danger of Congress’s arms control agenda
The Hill, Kevin Laiveling
A Russian missile system that violates the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty has raised alarm since testing began in 2008, but while the previous administration was accused of doing too little, the Defense Authorization bills in both the Senate and House of Representatives may go too far in seeking to pressure Russia into compliance.

Here's Why It’s Hard to Pin Down the Actual Size of North Korea’s Nuclear Arsenal
Time, Deb Rlechmann and Matthew Pennington
The U.S. intelligence agencies' assessments of the size of North Korea's nuclear arsenal have a wide gap between high and low estimates. Size matters and not knowing makes it harder for the United States to develop a policy for deterrence and defend itself and allies in the region.

Tokyo and Washington Have Another Nuclear Problem
Foreign Policy, Henry Sokolski and William Tobey
Only through close cooperation with Japan and South Korea, and by working with China, will we be able to address effectively the nuclear threat Pyongyang poses. That said, these officials ought to contemplate another longer-term and yet potentially grave nuclear threat — the growth of plutonium production capacity in Japan, China, and, perhaps South Korea. Although this problem is complicated, its solution, if we act cooperatively now, is not. The trick is to move soon.

Bannon is right about North Korea
The Washington Post, Josh Rogin
Bannon’s view is that any preemptive attack on North Korea would result in horrendous casualties in South Korea and elsewhere and therefore cannot be seriously considered. That view is shared by many officials, former officials and North Korea experts. Whether President Trump believes it is unknown. By publicly declaring that the U.S. threat of military force in North Korea is a bluff, Bannon may have undermined the credibility of that threat, but he may have nudged the United States toward a more diplomacy-focused approach and reduced the risk of war.

We Spoke to North Koreans About the Nuclear Threat
Vice, Oscar Rickett
Jihyun Park, who escaped from North Korea not once but twice, and who spent six years in China living as the slave of a Chinese man, has lived in Manchester since 2008. She tells me over the phone that she "cannot sleep at night because I am frightened about what might happen. I am really worried about my country's people because they don't really know what is happening. It's painful."

Read more…

Nuclear Policy Network - August 17, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 17, 2017

TOP NEWS

China’s Crackdown on North Korea Over U.N. Sanctions Starts to Pinch
The New York Times

Moscow hopes Iran won’t quit nuclear deal
Reuters

Bannon Interview Deepens Confusion Over U.S. Strategy for North Korea
The New York Times

EAST ASIA

U.S. says joint S. Korea war games not on the negotiating table
Reuters
The United States and South Korea will go ahead with joint military drills next week, the top U.S. military official said on Thursday, resisting pressure from North Korea and its ally China to halt the contentious exercises.

Looming War Games Alarm North Korea, but May Be a Bargaining Chip
The New York Times
Two years ago, the North proposed a temporary moratorium on nuclear tests if Washington canceled the joint biannual military exercises. Now, some analysts say, a permutation of that offer may be the best way to defuse the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

China’s Crackdown on North Korea Over U.N. Sanctions Starts to Pinch
The New York Times
By curtailing the trade, China, which has been criticized for not properly enforcing earlier sanctions, is obeying the intent of the latest sanctions resolution but harming its own businessmen.

No American strike on North Korea without my consent, says South’s president
The New York Times
The United States has agreed not to take any military action against North Korea without first getting South Korea’s approval, President Moon Jae-in said Thursday as he marked 100 days in office. Backing up the president’s assertion, Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, said in Beijing that there was “no question” that South Korea would be consulted before any possible military action was taken on the Korean Peninsula.

What will Kim do next? Sixth nuclear test seen critical for North Korea
Reuters
North Korea says it has developed intercontinental missiles capable of targeting any place in the United States. Now comes the hard part of fulfilling the declared goal of its leader Kim Jong Un: perfecting a nuclear device small and light enough to fit on the missile without affecting its range as well as making it capable of surviving re-entry into the earth's atmosphere.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Moscow hopes Iran won’t quit nuclear deal
Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Wednesday he hoped that Iran would not quit the agreement Iran reached in 2015 with world powers to curb Tehran's nuclear work in return for the lifting of most sanctions. Lavrov also said he hoped the United States would not violate its obligations under the nuclear deal with Iran.

Disarmament experts urge Europe to help halt ‘Cold War 2.0’: German minister
Reuters
Disarmament experts have urged Europe to be vocal in helping to halt what they regard as a new Cold War in which global powers have embarked on a new conventional and nuclear arms race, Germany's foreign minister said on Wednesday.

SOUTH ASIA

China and India are dangerously close to military conflict in the Himalayas
The Washington Post
As nuclear posturing between North Korea and the United States rivets the world, a quieter conflict between India and China is playing out on a remote Himalayan ridge — with stakes just as high. India has suggested that both sides withdraw, and its foreign minister said in Parliament that the dispute can be resolved only by dialogue. Yet China has vociferously defended the right it claims to build a road in the Doklam area, land it also claims.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Bannon Interview Deepens Confusion Over U.S. Strategy for North Korea
The New York Times
Conflicting messages from the Trump administration on Thursday deepened more than a week of uncertainty over how it will confront North Korea’s nuclear program, with blunt remarks by a top White House adviser, Stephen K. Bannon, undercutting the United States’ top military official as he sought to persuade China to get tough on the North during a visit to Beijing.

US: War would be ‘horrific’ but NKorea nukes ‘unimaginable’
The Washington Post
A military solution to the North Korean missile threat would be “horrific” but allowing Pyongyang to develop the capability to launch a nuclear attack on the United States is “unimaginable,” the top U.S. military officer said Thursday in Beijing. Dunford was responding to questions about Trump’s chief strategist Steve Bannon saying in a new interview that the threat posed by North Korea cannot handled by force.

Pence cuts short Latin America trip and pressures Chile to sever all ties to North Korea
The Washington Post
Vice President Pence is cutting short his Latin America trip by one day to return to Washington for a strategy meeting Friday at Camp David with President Trump and the national security team. Pence spent Wednesday in Santiago, meeting with Chilean President Michelle Bachelet to discuss a range of issues, including trade and security. Pence said he pressured Bachelet and her country to take a tougher stand against North Korea, in light of that country’s nuclear provocations.

Poll: No increase in support for military action in North Korea
Politico
Despite rising tensions and inflamed rhetoric between the United States and North Korea, American voters aren’t more likely to support military action against the isolated nation than they were last month, according to a new POLITICO/Morning Consult poll.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

North Korea gives US a clear choice: Restraint or missile launches
CNN, Adam Mount
US President Donald Trump implied in one of his latest tweets that he forced North Korea to back down over its threat to Guam. It's a dangerous misperception that could cause the crisis to escalate and Trump to miss what could be the best chance he will have to halt the tests of missiles that can now threaten the American homeland.

How Trump’s Predecessors Dealt With the North Korean Threat
The New York Times, Russell Goldman
Carrots or sticks? Aid or sanctions? Engagement or containment? American attempts to counter North Korea’s nuclear program did not begin last week when President Trump promised to unleash “fire and fury” against the isolated government. For decades, Mr. Trump’s predecessors have waded into the diplomatic mire, trying to threaten or cajole North Korea’s ruling family into abandoning the country’s weapons programs. Each failed.

Some Nuclear Ground Rules for Kim Jong Un
Foreign Policy, James Acton
The time for denial is over. North Korea has — or will very shortly have — the capability to launch a nuclear weapon against the United States. In the coming decades, historians can assign blame. For now, it is the task of policymakers to ensure that historians will still be around in the future to dissect this failure. While denuclearization should remain the international community’s formal goal, it is no longer a practical policy.

What the Intel Leaks Are Telling Us About North Korea’s Nukes
Politico, Ankit Panda
Three separate and critical intelligence assessments have emerged in recent weeks that merit attention. First, the U.S. intelligence community, in consensus, now assesses that North Korea is fully capable of developing compact missile-mountable nuclear weapons. Second, the Defense Intelligence Agency and the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency assess that North Korea has a fissile material stockpile sufficient for 60 bombs today and is producing additional fissile material at a rate of 12 bombs per year.

SPECIAL INTEREST

These Virginia sites were picked to ride out a nuclear war
The Roanoke Times
During the height of the Cold War, a variety of places throughout Virginia were chosen to serve as backup sites for federal and state agencies in the event of a nuclear attack on Washington, D.C. The goal was to preserve essential records so that agencies could relocate and continue governing after an attack, and many sites in Virginia were chosen in part because of the security offered by the Appalachian Mountains.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 16, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 16, 2017

TOP NEWS

South Korea’s Leader Bluntly Warns U.S. Against Striking North
The New York Times

Tillerson: U.S. still interested in talks with N. Korea
Yonhap

U.S. envoy says Iran cannot ‘hold world hostage’ with nuclear deal
Reuters

EAST ASIA

South Korea’s Leader Bluntly Warns U.S. Against Striking North
The New York Times
With his public alarmed by President Trump’s recent threats to North Korea, President Moon Jae-in of South Korea issued an unusually blunt rebuke to the United States on Tuesday, warning that any unilateral military action against the North would be intolerable. “No one should be allowed to decide on a military action on the Korean Peninsula without South Korean agreement,” Mr. Moon said in a nationally televised speech.

China, US military chiefs vow to patch up differences as North Korea threat rumbles on
South China Morning Post
Military chiefs from China and the United States have pledged to overcome differences and fortify links between their armed forces as fears of conflict over nuclear-armed North Korea persist.

Abe and Trump reaffirm importance of halting North Korean missile launches
The Japan Times
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and U.S. President Donald Trump agreed Tuesday that it is “most important” for the international community, including and China and Russia, to cooperate in efforts to stop North Korea from launching another ballistic missile, Abe told reporters.

Emergency alarm mistakenly sent to Guam residents amid North Korea fears
Politico
Guam residents were mistakenly issued a “civil danger warning” around midnight amid fears of an attack by North Korea, a false alarm local authorities blamed on human error and said would not happen again.

MIDDLE EAST

Iranian president threatens to revitalize nuclear program
The Washington Post
Iran’s president warned Tuesday that it could ramp up its nuclear program and quickly achieve a more advanced level if the U.S. continues “threats and sanctions” against his country, which signed a landmark nuclear accord with world powers in 2015.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Ukraine rocket maker denies leaking know-how to North Korea
Defense News
The head of Ukraine’s top rocket-making company on Tuesday rejected claims that its technologies might have been shipped to North Korea, helping the pariah nation achieve a quantum leap in its missile program.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Tillerson: U.S. still interested in talks with N. Korea
Yonhap
The United States continues to be interested in dialogue with North Korea, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday, as the two sides appeared to tamp down escalating tensions over the regime's nuclear and missile programs. "We continue to be interested in finding a way to get to a dialogue but that's up to him," Tillerson told reporters at the State Department, referring to the North's leader, Kim Jong-un.

Jim Mattis calls looming stop-gap budget ‘as unwise as can be’ for military
Washington Examiner
The Pentagon would be hamstrung in dealing with new advances in electronic, space, and drone warfare if Congress passes another stop-gap budget measure this fall, according to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis. Lawmakers are heading into the fall with no clear path to passing proposed increases in defense spending, and analysts say it is likely they will pass a months-long continuing resolution at the end of September.

U.S. envoy says Iran cannot ‘hold world hostage’ with nuclear deal
Reuters
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday Iran must be held responsible for "its missile launches, support for terrorism, disregard for human rights, and violations of U.N. Security Council resolutions." Haley was responding to Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, who said on Tuesday that Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers if the United States imposes any new sanctions.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

To make North Korean sanctions stick, the ‘gloves are off’ for U.S. in fight against Chinese smugglers
Los Angeles Times, Jonathan Kaiman and Barbara Demick
Cai didn’t know what he was bringing into North Korea, and he didn’t dare ask. His boss was a well-dressed, well-spoken woman, Ma Xiaohong, who he said “had a special connection with the Chinese government.” “I started to suspect she was doing illegal trading,” said Cai. His suspicions were confirmed when Ma and three associates were indicted in September in U.S. District Court in Newark, N.J., on charges of conspiracy to evade sanctions against North Korea.

Iran’s risky nuclear threat
Deutsche Welle, Matthias von Hein
Politics are often paradoxical, no more so than in the Middle East. Iran's President Hassan Rouhani has just cast doubt on one of his greatest foreign policy successes. But one must assume that Rouhani does not actually wish to cancel the international nuclear deal that was reached in 2015. His threat of backing out of the agreement if the US imposed further sanctions can be seen as a cry for help.

Here's what a permanent treaty with North Korea might look like
The Washington Post, David Ignatius
One approach to the North Korea riddle is the possibility of a peace agreement. The armistice specified that it was only a “cessation of hostilities . . . until a final peaceful settlement is achieved.” North Korean propaganda describes the document as “an abject declaration of surrender.” But the regime understands that it’s a hinge point, too.

The trio that pulled U.S. back from the nuclear brink
Los Angeles Times, Doyle McManus
Do the events of the past week symbolize a win for the “madman theory,” the notion that a president can get his way simply by scaring the bejesus out of the rest of the world? Not necessarily. U.S. officials argue that the credit should go to Mattis’ blunt clarity, Dunford’s reassuring steadiness and Tillerson’s patient diplomacy. To them, Trump’s incendiary tweets actually got in the way.  

The big problem with the North Koreans isn’t that we can’t trust them. It’s that they can’t trust us.
The Washington Post, James D. Fearon
The underlying problem — which is further complicated by a variety of psychological and personality issues — is that no U.S. administration, Trump’s or any other, can commit itself not to act to help replace Kim’s government if it were to face major domestic instability.

The Real Reason North Korea is Threatening Guam
Politico, Richard Parker
In the current crisis between the United States and North Korea, in which missile tests have been followed by sanctions and threats—threats by President Donald Trump to rain down “fire and fury” and by Kim to strike Guam—much has been made of Anderson Air Force base’s role in projecting American power into Asia. And it’s all true. But the base and its island home of Guam are strategically important, in Asia and around the world, for another reason: The base is home to the largest American munitions depot in the world, supplying bombs and missiles to U.S. forces everywhere from Korea to Afghanistan.

A neutral state’s perspective on the ban—and a compromise
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Heinz Gartner
One alternative to a ban treaty could be a promise by nuclear-weapon states to not use nuclear weapons against non-nuclear weapon states. These “negative security assurances” have to be legally binding and not only self-declared. This is not asking for too much. Negative security assurances (NSAs) are less encompassing than no-first-use pledges, because they only apply to non-nuclear-weapon states.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 15, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 15, 2017

TOP NEWS 

North Korea holds off on Guam missile plan as China urges ‘brakes’ on rhetoric
Reuters

Iran could quit nuclear deal in ‘hours’ if new U.S. sanctions imposed: Rouhani
Reuters

Markey continues push to require congressional approval for nuclear first strike
Boston Globe

EAST ASIA

North Korea holds off on Guam missile plan as China urges ‘brakes’ on rhetoric
Reuters
North Korea's leader has delayed a decision on firing missiles towards Guam while he waits to see what the United States does next, the North's state media said on Tuesday, as South Korea's president said Seoul would seek to prevent war by all means.

China extends ban on imports from North Korea in line with United Nations resolution
South China Morning Post
China announced sweeping sanctions against North Korea on Monday, extending an import ban to iron, iron ore and seafood. The Ministry of Commerce said the ban, which also covered coal, would take effect on Tuesday. The order extends the existing ban on coal imports to next year and is expected to hit the North Korean economy hard.

U.S., S. Korea moving forward on THAAD deployment: Pentagon
Yonhap
The United States and South Korea are "moving forward" on the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in the Asian ally as tensions soar over North Korea's missile programs, the Pentagon said Monday. Last week, the South Korean government determined that noise and radiation levels were negligible near the site of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) battery in Seongju, southeastern South Korea.

Both Korean leaders, US signal turn to diplomacy amid crisis
The Washington Post
The tentative interest in diplomacy follows unusually combative threats between President Donald Trump and North Korea amid worries that Pyongyang is nearing its long-sought goal of accurately being able to send a nuclear missile to the U.S. mainland. Next week’s start of U.S.-South Korean military exercises that enrage the North each year makes it unclear, however, if diplomacy will prevail.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran could quit nuclear deal in ‘hours’ if new U.S. sanctions imposed: Rouhani
Reuters
Iran could abandon its nuclear agreement with world powers "within hours" if the United States imposes any more new sanctions, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Tuesday. "If America wants to go back to the experience (of imposing sanctions), Iran would certainly return in a short time -- not a week or a month but within hours -- to conditions more advanced than before the start of negotiations," Rouhani said.

Iranian drone flies too close to U.S. forces for second time in a week|
Navy Times
For the second time in a week, an Iranian drone flew too close for the Navy’s comfort in the Persian Gulf. The latest incident took place in the early evening on Sunday, when a QOM-1 drone came within 1,000 feet of U.S. jets operating from the carrier Nimitz, Naval Forces Central Command officials said.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Ukraine denies selling missile technology to North Korea
Reuters
Ukraine denied on Monday that it had ever supplied defense technology to North Korea, responding to an article in the New York Times that said North Korea may have purchased rocket engines from Ukrainian factory Yuzhmash.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Mattis: If North Korea shoots at US, ‘it’s game on’
Army Times
In his second stern warning to North Korea in a week, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said that if the regime shoots a missile targeting any U.S. soil, including Guam, war would follow. “I think if they fire at the United States it could escalate very quickly — that’s called war,” Mattis said. “If they shoot at the United States, I am assuming they will hit the United States. If they do that, it’s game on.”

Mattis and Tillerson: A North Korean nuclear attack will be met with an ‘overwhelming response’
Politico
An uptick in tension between the U.S. and North Korea is the result of a strategic shift in Washington, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis wrote in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, away from “strategic patience” and towards “strategic accountability.” Any attack will be defeated, and any use of nuclear weapons will be met with an effective and overwhelming response,” they wrote.

US to reaffirm nuclear umbrella over Japan
Nikkei Asian Review
The top diplomats and defense officials of Japan and the U.S. will meet Thursday to discuss North Korea as Washington seeks to demonstrate its determination to defend its ally by any means necessary, including nuclear weapons if need be.

Markey continues push to require congressional approval for nuclear first strike
Boston Globe
US Senator Edward M. Markey on Monday continued his push for legislation that would prevent any president of the United States from launching a nuclear first strike. “No human being should have the sole authority to initiate an unprovoked nuclear war,” said Markey.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

What Happens When No One Believes American Threats?
Defense One, Kathy Gilsinan
What Trump says bears little relationship to the course he intends to pursue. When he invokes the “military option” against North Korea or Venezuela or anywhere else, it could well mean he intends to use it; it could mean just the opposite. But this isn’t comforting at all. Americans deserve to be able to understand clearly what their own president intends when it comes to the possibility of a catastrophic war.

Diplomacy Is the Solution
U.S. News and World Report, William J. Perry
The first Korean War led to more than a million casualties, but a second Korean War would be even more catastrophic, likely involving the use of nuclear weapons. So we should make a serious effort to resolve this crisis without war. The first two nuclear crises with North Korea, though both very dangerous, were resolved with diplomacy, so it is useful to look back at those crises for lessons, both positive and negative.

Sen. Dianne Feinstein: Quitting Iran nuclear deal would undermine North Korea diplomacy
USA Today, Dianne Feinstein
Diplomacy is the only path to stop Kim Jong Un from obtaining a nuclear weapon capable of striking the United States. Unfortunately, as President Trump grapples with the North Korean threat, he seems to have forgotten that same lesson we learned with Iran.

Analysis: To launch or not? Either way, North Korea may gain
The Washington Post, Eric Talmadge
If, after all the fanfare, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un doesn’t actually launch missiles toward Guam, many may write the whole episode off as another of the North’s seemingly endless bluffs. But from Pyongyang’s perspective and in the eyes of some U.S. military experts, Kim and his generals have already won this round.

The Real Nuclear Option
Slate, Fred Kaplan
In the latest issue of the journal International Security, Scott Sagan and Benjamin Valentino, respectively professors at Stanford University and Dartmouth College, conclude that the American public is “unlikely to serve as a serious constraint on any president who might consider using nuclear weapons in the crucible of war.” In fact, under pressures similar to those facing President Harry Truman at the end of World War II, a clear majority of the public would support the first use of nuclear weapons now, just as it did back then.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 14, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 14, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say
The New York Times

US debate on arming Ukraine puts pressure on Russia, Trump
Military Times

Former US director of national intelligence: Denuclearized North Korea isn’t ‘in the cards’
Politico

EAST ASIA

N. Korea seems to be prepared for fresh ICBM test: expert
Yonhap
Recent satellite photos suggests that North Korea is preparing for fresh submarine-based missile tests, an expert has said, amid heightened tension between the U.S. and North Korea over the communist state's successful launch of an inter-continental ballistic missile.

Experts aren’t convinced North Korean nuke could make it to U.S.
The Japan Times
U.S. intelligence officials are pretty sure North Korea can put a nuclear warhead on an intercontinental missile that could reach the United States. But experts aren’t convinced the bomb could make it all that way intact.

THAAD protesters refuse to accept gov’t survey on environmental impact
Yonhap
Local residents and activists campaigning against the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system said Sunday they will not accept the outcome of a government survey that ruled out the possibility of its serious environmental damage. 

North Korea’s Missile Success Is Linked to Ukrainian Plant, Investigators Say
The New York Times
North Korea’s success in testing an intercontinental ballistic missile that appears able to reach the United States was made possible by black-market purchases of powerful rocket engines probably from a Ukrainian factory with historical ties to Russia’s missile program, according to an expert analysis being published Monday and classified assessments by American intelligence agencies.

MIDDLE EAST

Iranian Parliament, Facing U.S. Sanctions, Votes to Raise Military Spending
The New York Times
Iranian lawmakers voted overwhelmingly on Sunday to increase the country’s budget for its ballistic missile program and foreign operations by the Revolutionary Guards, a direct challenge to new United States sanctions against the Islamic republic.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

US debate on arming Ukraine puts pressure on Russia, Trump
Military Times
Seeking leverage with Russia, the Trump administration has reopened consideration of long-rejected plans to give Ukraine lethal weapons, even if that would plunge the United States deeper into the former Soviet republic’s conflict.

SOUTH ASIA

China and India on brink of armed conflict as hopes of resolution to border dispute fade
South China Morning Post
Chinese and Indian troops are readying themselves for a possible armed conflict in the event they fail in their efforts to achieve a peaceful resolution to their border dispute on the Doklam plateau in the Himalayas, observers said.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

McMaster declines to rule out military response to North Korea threats
Politico
National security adviser H.R. McMaster said Sunday that the U.S. is "taking all possible actions" to resolve the nuclear threat from North Korea without resorting to military action, but he declined to rule out responding to another threat from the country with force.

Mullen: Trump’s rhetoric on North Korea ‘has taken away options’
Politico
Retired Adm. Mike Mullen, a former chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday that he is “extremely concerned” about the situation in North Korea in part because escalating rhetoric from President Donald Trump “has taken away options” for resolving it.

Top US General Focusing on Diplomacy for N. Korea, but Preparing Military Options
Voice of America
The top U.S. general is on the Korean Peninsula as annual U.S. and South Korean military exercises risk further increasing tensions with North Korea. U.S .Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Joe Dunford said his visit to the region this week is aimed at reassuring allies South Korea and Japan, while building the military-to-military relationship with China in order to prevent miscalculations.

Former US director of national intelligence: Denuclearized North Korea isn’t ‘in the cards’
Politico
James Clapper, a former director of national intelligence, said Sunday that he does not think a denuclearized North Korea is “in the cards” and the U.S. should accept that and focus on controlling it.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

When Should the President Use Nuclear Weapons?
War on the Rocks, Rebecca Hersman
In the United States, we do not just elect a president. We elect a commander-in-chief, and the Constitution grants that person tremendous power to protect and defend the nation. In doing so, the founding fathers entrusted an awesome responsibility to our electorate. No burden on the American president is greater than the authority to use nuclear weapons in defense of the nation.

Why didn’t sanctions stop North Korea’s missile program?
San Francisco Chronicle, Daniel Salisbury
In theory, all countries should have the capacity to implement technology-based sanctions. Having an export control system has been mandatory for states since the passage of U.N. Security Council resolution 1540 in 2004. However, more than a decade after this resolution was passed, many nations – particularly developing ones – are still struggling with implementation.

How U.S. Military Actions Could Play Out in North Korea
The New York Times, Michael Shear and Michael Gordon
The intelligence could come to President Trump secretly and urgently: The North Koreans have placed another intercontinental missile on its launching pad. In less than two hours, it could be fueled and ready for launch on a test flight into the Pacific Ocean or perhaps on a mission to strike American territory.

Trump Threats Are Wild Card in Showdown with North Korea
The New York Times, Glenn Thrush and Peter Baker  
After a four-day fusillade of apocalyptic threats against North Korea, President Trump left many in Washington and capitals throughout the Pacific wondering whether it was more method or madness. Among those wondering were members of Mr. Trump’s own administration.

Back Channel to North Korea
The Atlantic, Joel S. Wit
Reports emerged last week that American and North Korean diplomats were holding secret meetings in New York City. In fact, the “New York” channel between the United States and North Korea has existed since the early 1990s.

Nuclear Anxiety Returns to America
The Atlantic, Robinson Meyer
In the second week of August 2017, the American public began to do something that felt distinctly 20th-century: consider the consequences of a nuclear war. Two things became clear. First, nuclear anxiety had arrived again as a mass cultural force in American life—or, at least, in the accelerated internet-era version of it. Second, the public (and the American president) was obviously out of practice in thinking about it.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 11, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 11, 2017

TOP NEWS 

China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the United States
The Washington Post

Russia says ‘a pity’ U.S. casts doubt on Iran nuclear deal
Reuters

North Korea: US diplomacy is gaining results, says Mattis
BBC

EAST ASIA

China warns North Korea: You’re on your own if you go after the United States
The Washington Post
China won’t come to North Korea’s help if it launches missiles threatening U.S. soil and there is retaliation, a state-owned newspaper warned on Friday, but it would intervene if Washington strikes first. China has repeatedly warned both Washington and Pyongyang not to do anything that raises tensions or causes instability on the Korean Peninsula, and strongly reiterated that suggestion Friday.

Trump’s Tough Talk on North Korea Puts Japan’s Leader in Delicate Spot
The New York Times
Few foreign leaders have courted President Trump as assiduously as the prime minister of Japan, Shinzo Abe. Mr. Abe, analysts say, has sought favor with Mr. Trump for two reasons: to blunt the president’s criticism of Japan on trade issues — a recurring theme for Mr. Trump during his run for office — and to ensure the president’s commitment to Japan’s defense. During the campaign, Mr. Trump sometimes suggested he would scale back the United States’ global military commitments, a policy that would have left Japan, an American treaty ally, exposed.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia says ‘a pity’ U.S. casts doubt on Iran nuclear deal
Reuters
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday it is a pity that the administration of U.S. President Donald Trump was casting doubt on the 2015 deal to curtail Iran's nuclear weapons program. "Unfortunately now our American partners call this ...(treaty) into question," Lavrov told a meeting with students broadcast live by state television.

Russia’s Air Defenses on High Alert Over North Korea, Says Senator
Newsweek
Russia has put its eastern air defense systems on high alert following an exchange of nuclear threats between neighboring North Korea and U.S. President Donald Trump, a top Russian lawmaker said on Friday.

SOUTH ASIA

India’s military steps up operational readiness on China border
Reuters
India's military has increased operational readiness along the eastern Indian border with China, sources said, as neither side shows any sign of backing off from a face-off in a remote Himalayan region near their disputed frontier.

Pak building nuclear warhead underground storage facility, says US think tank
Hindustan Times
Pakistan has built a “hardened, secure, underground” complex in a remote mountainous region in the restive Balochistan province that could serve as a storage site for nuclear warheads, an American think tank said.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

If Missiles Are Headed to Guam, Here Is What Could Stop Them
The New York Times
North Korea’s threat to launch four intermediate-range ballistic missiles into the ocean near Guam could mark the first combat test of the sophisticated missile defense systems of the United States and its Asian allies. if the four Hwasong-12s do make it off the ground, the options for stopping them mostly rely on hitting them on the way down — in their “terminal” phase.

In new threat, Trump demands North Korea ‘get their act together’
Military Times
President Donald Trump issued a new threat to North Korea on Thursday, demanding that Kim Jong Un’s government “get their act together” or face extraordinary trouble. He said his previous “fire and fury” warning to Pyongyang might have been too mild. 

North Korea: US diplomacy is gaining results, says Mattis
BBC
After days of fiery rhetoric from both the US and North Korea, Mr Mattis said war would be "catastrophic" and that diplomacy was gaining results.

Lockheed debuts next-gen missile defense radar ahead of Army competition
Defense News
Lockheed Martin brought a new next-generation air-and-missile defense radar to the Space and Missile Defense Symposium this week that it hopes will help the U.S. Army finalize its requirements for a new 360-degree radar for the service’s future Integrated Air and Missile Defense system.

Trump pledges ‘billions’ increase in missile defense spending
Defense News
U.S. President Donald Trump has pledged to increase defense spending by “billions of dollars,” while hinting that a plan to increase spending on missile defense may come as soon as next week.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The GOP’s dangerous plan to build more nukes
Politico, Tom Collina and Rose Blanchard
The U.S. Congress is on the verge of authorizing new nuclear weapons, trashing a major Reagan-era arms control agreement and putting us on the road to a new arms race with Russia. This is a huge mistake that would put U.S. and global security at risk, and proves the old saying: Those who ignore history are doomed to repeat it. 

America desperately needs to modernize its nuclear weapons
The Hill, Michaela Dodge
The scale, scope and capacity of the Russian and Chinese nuclear modernization programs far outstrip current U.S. efforts. Failing to modernize our aging warheads and platforms carries tremendous risk that goes well beyond those posed by not “keeping up with the Joneses.”

War of the Words: North Korea, Trump, and Strategic Stability
War on the Rocks, Vipin Narang and Ankit Panda
Let’s start with the merely bad news. On August 8, The Washington Post reported that the Defense Intelligence Agency believes North Korea is now capable of fitting a compact nuclear warhead on some of the ballistic missiles it recently tested. But, as always with North Korea, there’s worse news.

Can Congress stop Trump from Launching a nuclear attack on North Korea?
The Washington Post, Amber Phillips
Congress could wiggle itself into the debate to stop Trump from launching nuclear warheads at North Korea. At least one bill to that effect has been introduced in the Senate. Except, it might not want to. There are some major downsides to putting in restrictions on the president's use of nuclear weapons, including that doing so could make it easier for a country to attack the United States.

The Madman and the Bomb
Politico, Garrett M. Graff
On an August day, it had been quietly removed from Nixon’s hands—remaining behind at the White House with the incoming commander-in-chief, Gerald Ford. Moreover, Defense Secretary James Schlesinger recalled years later that in the final days of the Nixon presidency he had issued an unprecedented set of orders: If the president gave any nuclear launch order, military commanders should check with either him or Secretary of State Henry Kissinger before executing them.

Kim Jong Un wants to stay in power—and that’s an argument against nuclear war
The Washington Post, Anna Fifield
Whether the North is willing to carry out a launch against the US— and risk escalating the showdown with Washington — is uncertain. But the near-miss scenario, analysts say, reflects an important insight into the mind and motives of the North’s leader, Kim Jong Un. He is prepared to push back against the United States and its allies to a point, many believe, but never enough to risk a war that would threaten his rule as the third-generation strongman in a family dynasty that took hold after World War II.

U.S. has military options for handling North Korea—but none are good
Politico, Jacqueline Klimas and Bryan Bender
The United States and its allies have military options for confronting North Korea — including an all-out invasion, more limited air and missile strikes, cyberattacks or a covert effort to oust the regime of Kim Jong Un. But those scenarios carry enormous risks, including the possibilities of loss of life, loose nukes falling into terrorists’ hands or the conflict spreading to a wider Asian war.

Read more…

Tuesday's Top Nuclear Policy News

TOP NEWS

U.N. chief seeks to avoid war with North Korea, takes digs at Trump
Reuters

Spain becomes fourth country to expel North Korean envoy over nuclear program
Washington Post

Trump lashes out at North Korea: ‘Rocket man is on a suicide mission’
Politico

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