Nuclear Policy News

Nuclear Policy News - June 28, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 28, 2017


Russian military ‘harassed’ US merchant ship in the Baltic ahead of exercises
Defense News

U.S. worries Russia could step up Korea support to fill China void

Iran accuses US of ‘brazen’ plan to change its government
Associated Press


N. Korea is clearly advancing H-bomb development: Hecker
North Korea clearly has the ability to produce tritium internally, a basic element for making hydrogen bombs, although the country has yet to weaponize it, an American nuclear expert said Tuesday. "The evidence is quite clear that North Korea is able to produce tritium, which is necessary for a hydrogen bomb to create fusion. So you need tritium when you are going to have hydrogen bombs," Siegfried Hecker, a professor at Stanford University, told a group of journalists.

Donald Trump considering China sanctions over North Korea
The Guardian
US president Donald Trump is growing increasingly frustrated with China over its inaction on North Korea and bilateral trade issues and is now considering possible trade actions against Beijing, three senior administration officials told Reuters. The officials said Trump was impatient with China and was looking at options including tariffs on steel imports, which commerce secretary Wilbur Ross has already said he is considering as part of a national security study of the domestic steel industry.


Iran accuses US of ‘brazen’ plan to change its government
Associated Press
Iran is accusing U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson of “a brazen interventionist plan” to change the current government that violates international law and the U.N. Charter. Iran’s U.N. Ambassador Gholamali Khoshroo said in a letter to Secretary-General Antonio Guterres circulated Tuesday that Tillerson’s comments are also “a flagrant violation” of the 1981 Algiers Accords in which the United States pledged “not to intervene, directly or indirectly, politically or militarily, in Iran’s internal affairs.”

U.S. Has Seen Chemical Weapons Activity in Syria, Pentagon Says
The New York Times
President Trump has drawn a new red line for President Bashar al-Assad of Syria, with American officials describing preparations at a Syrian air base for a chemical weapons assault as they sought Tuesday to bolster Mr. Trump’s threat to deter an attack. But the administration elaborated little on the president’s unexpected, 87-word statement a night leaving lingering questions in Washington and in the Middle East about Mr. Trump’s intentions in Syria.


Russian military ‘harassed’ US merchant ship in the Baltic ahead of exercises
Defense News
The Russian military has been accused of harassing a U.S.-flagged cargo ship carrying equipment for an annual military exercise in the Baltic region that wrapped up Friday. At least one Russian naval vessel and helicopters harassed the M/V Green Ridge in late May as it was bound for a port in Lithuania, an encounter the ship’s master characterized as “intense and threatening,” per an internal report on the incident obtained by Defense News. 

NATO says more Russian buzzing of Baltic airspace a risk for deadly mistakes
Deutsche Welle
The Baltic nations and Poland just got some long-awaited NATO boots on the ground, inaugurating new standing battalions last week amid multinational exercises along the Russian border. In the skies above, the Kremlin made sure everyone knew it was watching, sending its warplanes to "buzz" Baltic airspace and even, according to the Lithuanian ministry of defense, to illegally enter it on two occasions.

Poland’s plan to buy Patriot headed toward derailment?
Defense News
Poland’s plan to buy Patriot air-and-missile defense systems from the U.S. Army could be headed toward derailment following recent discussions between the two governments on how much technology can actually be shared with Poland and when the Eastern European country can expect delivery of the systems it wants.


Growing Nuclear Arsenals Increase Concerns About Possible India-Pakistan War
Voice of America
The arms race between the South Asian neighbors has moved to enhancing the delivery systems for the warheads, which could annihilate the subcontinent several times. India's recent launch of more than 100 satellites with a single rocket foreshadows the capability of sending up a missile with multiple nuclear weapons. 

Trump Meets India’s Leader, a Fellow Nationalist Battling China for His Favor
The New York Times
President Trump and Prime Minister Narendra Modi of India, two nationalist leaders with a shared passion for social media, met on Monday as India sought to vie with China for Mr. Trump’s favor in the region. The display of warmth, a senior White House official said, was at least partly aimed at President Xi Jinping of China, who has disappointed Mr. Trump in recent weeks by failing to impose more pressure on neighboring North Korea to curb its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.


Senators’ decision to close debate worries watchdogs
Military Times
Senate Armed Services Committee members are holding all of their defense budget deliberations behind closed doors this year, a move that outside watchdogs are calling upsetting and against public interest. For the last two days, the panel’s subcommittees have been marking up portions of the annual defense authorization bill in closed sessions, and will spend the rest of the week as a full committee working out the final details behind closed doors.

Trump and Putin should declare a nuclear war must never be fought, former officials say
CBS News
A group of former officials from the U.S., Russia, Germany and the United Kingdom are calling on President Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin to collaborate on issues involving nuclear deterrence. The group, which includes former Sen. Sam Nunn, D-Georgia, is urging Mr. Trump and Putin to take advantage of their first opportunity to meet in Hamburg, Germany next month to coordinate on a series of steps that reduce nuclear and other military risks and to prevent terrorist attacks.

U.S. worries Russia could step up Korea support to fill China void
As the United States pressures China to enforce United Nations sanctions on its ally North Korea, Washington is concerned that Russia could provide support to Pyongyang and fill any vacuum left by Beijing, U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley said on Tuesday. "I'm concerned that Russia may backfill North Korea," Haley told U.S. lawmakers in Washington. "We don't have proof of that, but we are watching that carefully."


The back door to a new arms race
Politico, Thomas Graham Jr. and Bernadette Stadler
An effective missile defense system could, in the short term, offer an extra layer of protection against North Korea. But the gradual buildup of the United States’ missile defense program could lead to something much more dangerous: a new arms race with Russia.

Why the North Korean economy is growing
The Economist, M.F.
Less remarked upon than North Korea’s nuclear sabre rattling but perhaps more surprising is that sanctions have also not had much effect on the North Korean economy. Though measuring the impoverished country’s economy remains educated guesswork at best, most experts agree that it is probably growing at between 1% and 5% a year. What makes it so resilient?

Tuesday's Top Nuclear Policy News


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

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’

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