Nuclear Policy News – August 10, 2017
Russian surveillance plane creates buzz in Washington
North Korea dismisses Trump’s threat, warns of ‘absolute force’
North Korea on Wednesday officially dismissed President Donald Trump’s threats of “fire and fury,” declaring the American leader “bereft of reason” and warning ominously, “Only absolute force can work on him.”
Guam’s worries grow as tensions rise between US, North Korea
Residents of the tiny Pacific island of Guam say they’re afraid of being caught in the middle of escalating tensions between the U.S. and North Korea after Pyongyang announced it was examining plans for attacking the strategically important U.S. territory.
South Korea’s military says prepared to act immediately against North Korean provocation
South Korea's military said on Thursday North Korea's recent statements regarding striking the U.S. territory of Guam are a challenge against Seoul and the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Joint Chiefs of Staff spokesman Roh Jae-cheon told a media briefing South Korea was prepared to act immediately against any North Korean provocation, although the military had not spotted any unusual action in the North indicating provocation.
Iranian drone that harassed Navy fighter jet is capable of carrying missiles, but was unarmed, official says
The Washington Post
U.S. military officials say an Iranian drone harassed and nearly collided with a Navy attack jet Tuesday as it prepared to land on an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf. It can carry two weapons, Cmdr. Bill Urban said Wednesday, though this one was unarmed.
U.S. envoy to U.N. will go to Vienna to review Iran nuclear activities-U.S. official
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley will travel to Vienna later this month to discuss Iran's nuclear activities with U.N. atomic watchdog officials, a U.S. official said on Wednesday, as part of Washington's review of Tehran's compliance with a 2015 nuclear deal.
U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY
New MDA director: US prepared to defend against North Korean nuclear ICBM threat
The new Missile Defense Agency Director, Air Force Lt. Gen. Samuel Greaves, said he is confident the United States is prepared and equipped to defend the homeland against a North Korean nuclear intercontinental ballistic missile threat.
Lack of real-world testing raises doubts on U.S. missile defenses
When simulating missile attacks from North Korea or Iran, the U.S. military says its defense system and network of radars allow it to successfully track and destroy incoming warheads. But test conditions do not accurately mimic those of wartime and critics are skeptical the country can truly defend itself, even after spending $40 billion over 18 years of research and development.
Fact-checking Trump’s tweet on the US nuclear arsenal
Amid nuclear tensions with North Korea, U.S. President Donald Trump tweeted a fiery boast on Wednesday: His first order as president was to “renovate and modernize” the U.S. nuclear arsenal, and now it is “far stronger and more powerful than ever before.” But is that accurate? The tweet was met with a quick backlash from arms control and national security experts on Twitter, who refuted the claims as “nonsense” or “a total lie.”
U.S. Ambassador Haley Loses Two Key Aides at United Nations
U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley has lost two of her top aides, key departures that come at a time of growing international tensions between the U.S. and North Korea. Haley’s Chief of Staff Steven Groves resigned, as did her communications director Jonathan Wachtel.
Lockheed Studies Sea-Launched Patriot PAC-3 & New 6-Foot Missile
Lockheed Martin is studying several new air and missile defense systems, from an all-new six-foot rocket to a ship-launched version of the Patriot missile, a top executive told reporters here this morning. In keeping with the military’s emphasis on multi-domain operations that attack old problems from new angles, Lockheed is even looking at launching its Patriot PAC-3 MSE from an aircraft.
MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL
Russian surveillance plane creates buzz in Washington
A low-flying Russian airplane created a buzz in the nation’s capital on Wednesday, but it turns out the surveillance flight over the Capitol, Pentagon and other sites was cleared by the U.S. government under a long-standing global treaty. The flight, which was filmed by The Associated Press, was permitted under the Open Skies Treaty.
OPINION AND ANALYSIS
If U.S. Attacks North Korea First, Is That Self-Defense?
The New York Times, Rick Gladstone
President Trump’s apocalyptic admonishment to North Korea suggested that he may be closer than ever to ordering an attack — without waiting for Kim Jong-un, the North Korean leader, to strike first. Mr. Trump’s supporters have said that such a strike, should there be one, would be legally justified as an act of self-defense by the United States against a dangerous and irrational adversary.
It’s Not Too Late on North Korea
The New York Times, Susan Rice
North Korea’s substantial nuclear arsenal and improving intercontinental ballistic missile capacity pose a growing threat to America’s security. But we need not face an immediate crisis if we play our hand carefully. We have long lived with successive Kims’ belligerent and colorful rhetoric. What is unprecedented and especially dangerous this time is the reaction of President Trump.
Trump’s Bluster puts us in ‘tight box’ on North Korea
The Hill, Gen. Michael Hayden
The tonal difference between the president and the rest of his government also suggests some long-term structural and process issues within the administration. And, for the record, the president's statement actually drew a redline that Kim Jong Un crossed an hour or two later by threatening the U.S. territory of Guam. So much for that concept.
Trump’s Threat of War With North Korea May Sound Scarier Than It Is
The New York Times,Max Fisher
North Korea’s nuclear program is deadly serious, but research on the nature of foreign threats and nuclear weapons, as well as North Korea’s own track record, suggests that Americans can hold off on building those bomb shelters.
Targeting Guam: Will Kim Jong Un do it?
Military Times, Geoff Ziezulewicz
North Korea’s latest threat to attack Guam was no doubt alarming for the roughly 16,400 U.S. troops and family members stationed on the west Pacific island. But several Korean analysts said the harsh words are probably not indicative of a coming war but were instead just the latest salvo in the Kim Jong Un regime’s attempt to show strength and get the rest of the world to back off.