Nuclear Policy News

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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 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…

Nuclear Policy News - August 10, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 10, 2017

TOP NEWS 

Russian surveillance plane creates buzz in Washington
Military Times

North Korea dismisses Trump’s threat, warns of ‘absolute force’
Military Times

Fact-checking Trump’s tweet on the US nuclear arsenal
Defense News

EAST ASIA

North Korea dismisses Trump’s threat, warns of ‘absolute force’
Military Times
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
Military Times
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
Reuters
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. 

MIDDLE EAST

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
Reuters
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
Defense News
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
Reuters
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
Defense News
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
Bloomberg
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
Breaking Defense
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
Military Times
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.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 9, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 9, 2017

TOP NEWS

Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S.
The New York Times

Iranian Drone Buzzes U.S. Fighter Jet Over Persian Gulf
The New York Times

McCain takes exception to Trump remarks
The Hill

EAST ASIA

Trump Threatens ‘Fire and Fury’ Against North Korea if It Endangers U.S.
The New York Times
President Trump threatened on Tuesday to unleash “fire and fury” against North Korea if it endangered the United States, as tensions with the isolated and impoverished nuclear-armed state escalated into perhaps the most serious foreign policy challenge yet of his administration.

North Korea now making missile-ready nuclear weapons, U.S. analysts say
The Washington Post
North Korea has successfully produced a miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit inside its missiles, crossing a key threshold on the path to becoming a full-fledged nuclear power, U.S. intelligence officials have concluded in a confidential assessment.

North Korea says it’s studying a plan to attack Guam
PBS
North Korea says it is examining its operational plans for attacking Guam to contain U.S. bases there. The army said in a statement distributed Wednesday by the state-run news agency that it is studying a plan to create an “enveloping fire” in areas around Guam with medium- to long-range ballistic missiles. The U.S. territory is home to Andersen Air Force Base.

North Korea’s Alarmed Neighbors Consider Deploying Deadlier Weapons
The New York Times
North Korea’s rapidly advancing nuclear program has prompted politicians in Japan and South Korea to push for the deployment of more powerful weapons, in what could lead to a regional arms race. Some of the new capabilities under consideration in Tokyo and Seoul, Washington’s closest Asian allies, are politically contentious. Adopting them would break with decades of precedent and could require delicate diplomatic finessing. Other military options are already being rolled out or will be soon.

MIDDLE EAST

Iranian Drone Buzzes U.S. Fighter Jet Over Persian Gulf
The New York Times
An unarmed Iranian drone buzzed an American Super Hornet fighter jet as it circled an aircraft carrier in the Persian Gulf, Defense Department officials said on Tuesday. Tensions between the United States and Iran, which had seemed to be easing after the recent nuclear agreement, now seem to be back on the rise.

SOUTH ASIA

Talks are only way for India, China to end standoff, Dalai Lama says
Reuters
India and China will have to resolve their prolonged military standoff in a remote Himalayan region through talks, the Dalai Lama said on Wednesday, ruling out the chance of war because it would be destructive to both parties.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Hyten: Focus on adversary, not domain
Defense News
The U.S. cannot fall into the trap of focusing on warfighting domains when debating responses to an adversary, Gen. John Hyten, the head of United States Strategic Command, said Tuesday. Speaking at the annual Space and Missile Defense Symposium in Huntsville, Ala., Hyten also called for a change in how the U.S. conducts missile defense tests, which he believes needs to emphasize lessons learned over pure tactical success.

McCain takes exception to Trump remarks
The Hill
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.) took exception to President Trump's remarks Tuesday that further provocation by North Korea will be met "with fire and fury like the world has never seen." McCain argued the tough rhetoric is unlikely to help as tensions rise between the United States and North Korea over the latter's nuclear program.

GOP senator: Trump needs Congress to approve strike on North Korea
The Hill
Sen. Dan Sullivan (R-Alaska) on Tuesday said President Trump needs Congress to approve a preemptive strike against North Korea. "[I]f one of the military options that the administration is looking at is a preemptive war on the Korean peninsula launched by the United States, that would require the authorization of Congress," Sullivan said on Fox News's "The Story." "Article I of the U.S. Constitution is very clear about that," he added.

Trump’s Harsh Language on North Korea Has Little Precedent, Experts Say
The New York Times
President Trump’s warning on Tuesday that North Korea would experience “fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued threatening the United States was a remarkable escalation of military rhetoric with little precedent in the modern era, historians and analysts said.

Trump: America’s nuclear arsenal is ‘more powerful than ever before’
Politico
With the threat of a nuclear armed North Korea looming over the Pacific, President Donald Trump on Wednesday claimed to have made the U.S. nuclear arsenal “far stronger and more powerful than ever before” during his first few months in office. Despite Trump’s tweet, the nuclear arsenal takes decades, not months, to modernize. Much of the modernization going on now, like procurement of a new Air Force bomber or the Navy’s Columbia-class submarine, started under former President Barack Obama.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

America Is Not Ready for a War in North Korea
The Atlantic, Eliot Cohen
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s plaintive words about the United States not being North Korea’s enemy (August 1st), or his reassurance that the military option has not drawn closer (August 9th), not do not count much, partly because he does not count much in American foreign policy these days, and partly because in this administration above all, only the president counts. They do, however, confuse the message of an already chaotic administration.

North Korea is fast approaching Trump’s red line
The Washington Post, Aaron Blake
One of the biggest questions about President Trump is how he would respond to a crisis. Thus far, his presidency has been marked by controversies and stubborn politics, yes, but also by a strong economy and no natural disasters, major domestic terrorist attacks or new large-scale foreign conflicts.

Trump’s North Korea strategy: A lot like Obama’s
Politico, Jacqueline Klimas
President Donald Trump has vowed a "very severe" response to North Korea's escalating development of missiles and nuclear weapons. But behind closed doors, the Trump administration is pursuing a strategy that's not all that different from President Barack Obama's approach.

Right and Left React to the Tensions With North Korea
The New York Times, Anna Dubenko
President Trump warned that North Korea would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” if it continued to threaten the United States. What follows is a collection of partisan writing from across the political spectrum in response to the developments.

North Korea just called Trump’s bluff. So what happens now?
The Washington Post
If the U.S. cares about its credibility, then it only wants to make threats that it will deliver on. Now, North Korea has effectively called Trump’s bluff. If the U.S. responds as Trump has promised, it will mark a very dangerous escalation. If the U.S. does not respond, then Trump’s credibility — and perhaps U.S. credibility — will be damaged.

Deterring North Korea: The Next Nuclear-Tailoring Agenda
War on the Rocks, David Santoro
In response to Pyongyang’s provocations, Washington, Seoul, and Tokyo should strengthen their deterrence and defense capabilities, postures, and policies. That requires heavy-lifting at the conventional level, but also adapting the nuclear posture, or “nuclear tailoring.”

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 8, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 8, 2017

TOP NEWS 

A Rare Round of Diplomacy From North Korea’s Top Diplomat
The New York Times

Pentagon reviews guidelines which may allow Seoul to have more powerful missiles
South China Morning Post

DoD beefing up missile systems’ cyber defenses
Fifth Domain

EAST ASIA

Japan, South Korea and U.S. plan international push to denuclearize North
The Japan Times
The foreign ministers of Japan, the United States and South Korea agreed Monday to ramp up international pressure on North Korea to compel the reclusive country to abandon its nuclear and ballistic missile programs.  

China ‘fires warning’ with array of navy drills off Korean peninsula
South China Morning Post
Chinese naval forces will conduct more than 10 kinds of drills and launch dozens of types of missiles during four days of live-fire exercises off the Korean peninsula, according to state media. State-run CCTV reported on Monday that the naval forces taking part in the exercises in the Yellow Sea would practice offensive and defensive manoeuvrers with surface ships, submarines, air support, and coastguard forces.

North Korea says nuclear arms aimed only at US
Nikkei Asian Review
North Korea's foreign minister said Monday that its nuclear arms were aimed only at the U.S., not the rest of the world, and accused America of being the "origin of crisis." In his speech at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Regional Forum on Monday, Ri Yong Ho made clear that Pyongyang would not negotiate over its nuclear and ballistic missiles. He said the country would not stop strengthening its nuclear arms, according to the minister's spokesman, Bang Kwang Hyuk.

New defense chief Onodera suggests Japan should consider acquiring ability to strike North Korean missile bases
The Japan Times
Newly appointed Defense Minister Itsunori Onodera has said he will consider the option of allowing the Self-Defense Forces to acquire the capability to directly attack North Korean missile bases amid escalating concerns over Pyongyang’s rapidly growing weapons programs. 

A Rare Round of Diplomacy From North Korea’s Top Diplomat
The New York Times
A Southeast Asian diplomatic meeting quietly turned into the first real multiparty bargaining session in eight years to tackle North Korea’s nuclear program, as the country’s top diplomat held a rare round of talks with his counterparts from China, South Korea and Russia.

SOUTH ASIA

Diplomacy to defuse India, China border crisis slams into a wall: sources
Reuters
India's diplomatic efforts to end a seven-week military standoff with China have hit a roadblock, people briefed on the talks said, prompting Chinese state-run media to trumpet rhetoric of "unavoidable countermeasures" on the unmarked border.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Tillerson: U.S. will respond to Russia’s move to expel diplomats by Sept. 1
Politico
The U.S. government will respond by the end of this month to the Russian government’s decision to reduce the number of American diplomatic staff in Russia by more than 700, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Monday morning, according to an Associated Press report.

Tillerson in Thailand presses for more action on North Korea
Reuters
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson on Tuesday pressed Thai leaders for more action on North Korea during the highest level visit to Thailand by a U.S. official since a military coup in 2014 soured relations with the United States. Tillerson's top priority has been urging Southeast Asian countries to do more to cut funding streams for North Korea. A tenant of the internet of things industry is that anything connected to the internet is connected to hackers. But when you’re talking about a trillion-dollar ballistic missile system, that possibility is unacceptable. As network-connected devices are increasingly incorporated into military operations, defense experts understand that cybersecurity is a key concern. If missiles become vulnerable to cyber infiltration, that could hand enemy soldiers a live weapon that could be rendered useless against a threat or turned against the U.S.

Pentagon reviews guidelines which may allow Seoul to have more powerful missiles
South China Morning Post
The Pentagon said on Monday that it was reviewing bilateral ballistic missile guidelines with South Korea that could allow Seoul to have more powerful missiles as tensions with North Korea rise over its missile and nuclear programmes.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Washington and Beijing on dangerous collision course over North Korea
Nikkei Asian Review, Minxin Pei
If Kim continues his provocative nuclear and missile tests, the U.S. may have to turn back to China and try arm-twisting to accomplish what Trump's sweet talk couldn't. At the moment, the most-talked about option is secondary sanctions against Chinese entities doing business with North Korea. Like all the other options proposed to deal with North Korea, secondary sanctions against China sound promising in theory but would be devilishly complicated when put in practice.

How Trump’s Iran Threats Could Backfire-in North Korea
Politico, Aaron David Miller, Richard Sokolsky, and Robert Malley
If, as he has clearly signaled, President Donald Trump chooses in the coming months to hold Iran in noncompliance of the nuclear accord, the impact will be felt in Tehran and the already volatile Middle East. But the more serious casualty could be both more widespread and more distant—thousands of miles away, on the Korean Peninsula. And the Trump administration needs to begin connecting the dots now.

The U.N. has placed more sanctions on North Korea. That’s not enough.
The Washington Post, Editorial Board
Sanctions are a blunt instrument and can take a long time to have any effect. The sanctions on North Korea, first imposed after the 2006 nuclear test and significantly broadened in 2016, have so far had little dis­cern­ible impact. Why? Implementation has been spotty and sometimes miserable. 

A majority of Americans favor deploying U.S. troops if North Korea attacks South Korea, poll finds
The Washington Post, Adam Taylor
A large majority of Americans consider North Korea's nuclear weapons program a critical threat toward the United States, according to a new poll. However, they remain divided on which policy would best contain that threat — and, for the first time in almost 30 years, a majority of Americans were found to support military action if North Korea attacked South Korea.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Game of Thrones: Dragons Are the Nuclear Option (Spoilers!)
The Atlantic
It’s no secret that dragons have a deeper meaning on Game of Thrones. George R.R. Martin has specifically referred to them as “the nuclear deterrent.”

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 7, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 7, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea Could Lose $1 Billion in Exports Under U.N. Measure
The New York Times

Iranian president calls for EU support on nuclear deal
Politico

Russia ready for more engagement with US, despite sanctions
Military Times

EAST ASIA

North Korean missiles add urgency to Hiroshima A-bomb appeals
Military Times
Hiroshima’s appeal of “never again” on the 72nd anniversary Sunday of the world’s first atomic bomb attack has gained urgency as North Korea accelerates work on its nuclear weapons program, showing its growing prowess with increasingly frequent missile launches. 

Top U.S. general to discuss increased security cooperation with Japan, China and South Korea
Japan Times
Gen. Joseph Dunford, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, will visit Japan, China and South Korea in mid-August, U.S. government sources said on Friday. In talks with Japanese and South Korean officials, the top U.S. general will discuss ways to strengthen security cooperation amid increasing regional tensions following North Korea’s second test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile on July 27.

Chinese FM says Seoul’s THAAD deployment decision throws cold water on ties
Yonhap
China's top diplomat expressed regret Sunday about South Korea's decision last month to install additional launchers of the U.S. missile shield system, saying it threw cold water on relations between the two countries. Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi made the remarks during a bilateral meeting with his South Korean counterpart Kang Kyung-wha on the sidelines of a string of meetings hosted by the Association of Southeast Asian Nations in Manila.

On 72nd A-bomb anniversary, Hiroshima highlights Japan’s refusal to join U.N. nuke ban
Japan Times
Hiroshima on Sunday marked the 72nd anniversary of its atomic bombing by the U.S., with Mayor Kazumi Matsui using the annual memorial ceremony to call on the central government to help make a treaty banning nuclear weapons a reality. Prime Minister Shinzo Abe avoided any mention of the U.N. nuclear weapons ban treaty in his speech at the ceremony, saying that nuclear and non-nuclear states must work together to realize a ‘world without nuclear weapons.’

North Korea Could Lose $1 Billion in Exports Under U.N. Measure
The New York Times
The United States hit North Korea at the United Nations on Friday with a proposed set of unprecedented economic penalties, punctuated by a one-third cut in its export revenue, to punish the isolated country for its missile and nuclear tests.

MIDDLE EAST

Iranian president calls for EU support on nuclear deal
Politico
Iranian President Hassan Rouhani accused the U.S. of violating the Iran nuclear deal and stressed the need to continue building cooperation with the European Union, while being sworn in for a second term Saturday. Iran will continue to carry out the agreement as long as others don’t violate it, he said, adding that full implementation requires the parties to facilitate economic, banking and business relations with Iran.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia ready for more engagement with US, despite sanctions
Military Times
Russia’s top diplomat said Sunday his country was ready for more engagement with the United States on North Korea, Syria, Ukraine and other pressing matters, even as Moscow braced for new sanctions from the Trump administration.

Russia-China exercises: Kremlin moves to calm Nordic-Baltic fears
Defense News
The Kremlin is using diplomatic channels to calm unease among leaders in Nordic and Baltic states in the wake of first-ever joint exercises by Russian and Chinese forces in the Baltic Sea. Putin has refuted suggestions that the Joint Sea exercises were further evidence of saber-rattling by Russia to pump up tension in the Nordic-Baltic region.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

A terrestrial strategy: Hill presses ground and space focus in missile defense review|
Defense News
Both the House and Senate place a heavy focus on the future direction and modernization of the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense System (GMD) but also turn some attention out of the terrestrial sphere and into space.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How Green Energy Will Help Slow Nuclear Proliferation
Defense One, Selim C. Sazak
The move to renewable energy offers a potential strategic benefit that is largely unacknowledged: the ability to delineate between “good” and “bad” nuclear actors in a way that we simply can’t today. In a world of cost-effective renewables, countries will be less able to pursue ambiguously dual-use nuclear progress under the banner of electricity generation and will be more easily enticed to relinquish more dangerous ambitions.

The Putin-Trump relationship: Nothing more than smoke and mirrors
Defense News, Jill Aitoro
In an Aug. 3 tweet, President Donald Trump had this to say: “Our relations with Russia are at a historic low, and very dangerous.”But is it? Or is it actually no different than it’s ever been, except that the current administration implied for a brief period of time we might see the relationship repaired?

U.S. Troops Train in Eastern Europe to Echoes of the Cold War
The New York Times, Eric Schmitt
After more than a decade spent fighting Islamic insurgents in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States Army is scrambling to relearn Cold War-era skills to confront potential threats from Russia here in Eastern Europe, territory formerly defended by the Soviet Army.

Life after the bomb: exploring the psychogeography of Hiroshima
The Guardian, Becky Alexis-Martin
Hiroshima is flourishing. It has a population surpassing 1.19 million, a burgeoning gourmet scene, towering luxury shopping centres, and a trendy night life. It is a city of vibrant green boulevards and open spaces, entangled by the braided tributaries of the Ōta River. However it is also a city of memorialisation. Over 75 monuments, large and small, sprout like delicate mushrooms in parks and on sidewalks, scattered across the city as if by the wind.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Can Trump’s National Security Council Handle a Real Crisis?
Defense One
It’s hard to believe, but this administration has not experienced a genuine national-security crisis in more than six months in office. Yes, missile tests in North Korea and a boiling regional spat in the Middle East are spiking blood pressure across DC, but the most nightmare-inducing risks have originated in the president’s own social-media rhetoric, not the crises themselves.

Preparing for a Nuclear Attack (Seriously)
NPR
Get inside. Stay inside. Stay tuned. That's the advice some cities and counties encourage as threats of nuclear attack from North Korea seem to grow more real.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 4, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 4, 2017

TOP NEWS

Politics, both home and abroad, drive South Korea THAAD deployment
Defense News

In Iran, Rouhani Begins 2nd Term With Signs He’s Yielding to Hard-Liners
The New York Times

A Grim Future for Russia’s Nuclear Submarine Fleet
War is Boring

EAST ASIA

Politics, both home and abroad, drive South Korea THAAD deployment
Defense News
Following North Korea’s July 28 launch of what the Pentagon has termed an intercontinental ballistic missile, the South Korean government has called for increased deployment of launchers for its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system — an apparent change of heart for the new government of South Korean President Moon Jae-in.

China will continue to fully implement U.N. resolutions on North Korea
Reuters
China will continue to fully and strictly implement United Nations Security Council resolutions on North Korea, Foreign Minister Wang Yi told his British counterpart Boris Johnson on Friday, China's Foreign Ministry said.  

N. Korea: U.S. sanctions campaign will never work
Yonhap
North Korea slammed the United States Thursday for its latest sanctions on the communist regime, saying they justify the country's development of nuclear weapons. In an interview with the North's Korean Central News Agency, a spokesman for the foreign ministry denounced the bill signed into law Wednesday that also calls for sanctions on Russia and Iran.

China has ‘all kinds of weapons’ to take on Trump threats, says ex-trade adviser
The Guardian
China has “all kinds of weapons and ammunition” to fight back against Donald Trump’s “petulant” threat to investigate alleged Chinese intellectual property and trade abuses, a former trade adviser to Beijing has warned. According to some reports, Trump will use a speech at the White House on Friday to announce a wide-ranging trade inquiry targeting Beijing.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran calls new U.S. sanctions a violation of nuclear deal
The Washington Post
New U.S. sanctions targeting Iran are a breach of its nuclear deal with world powers and an attempt to abolish the accord, Iranian officials said Thursday, adding that the government will respond to what it sees as an escalation of U.S. aggression.

In Iran, Rouhani Begins 2nd Term With Signs He’s Yielding to Hard-Liners
The New York Times
President Hassan Rouhani, endorsed by Iran’s supreme leader on Thursday with a nationally televised cheek-kiss, is starting his second term under newly intense pressure from both hard-line opponents and many of his own reform-minded supporters.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

A Grim Future for Russia’s Nuclear Submarine Fleet
War is Boring
In March 2017, Russia’s new Yasen-class nuclear attack submarine Kazan launched at the northern port city of Severodvinsk. Perhaps the quietest Russian submarine ever, the event was further evidence the Kremlin can still build capable and lethal subs capable of a variety of missions, including cruise-missile attack. But it won’t be enough. The Russian navy can’t quickly replace most of its existing nuclear submarine fleet, which is approaching the end of its collective lifespan.

SOUTH ASIA

Philippines seeks ASEAN consensus on North Korea response
Reuters
The Philippines will seek agreement in Southeast Asia on ways to engage with North Korea, following pressure from the United States to isolate Pyongyang over its missile tests, Manila's foreign minister said on Friday. 

Race to Renew India Submarine Force Amid Rising China Threat
Bloomberg
The commissioning later this month of the Scorpene class submarine is a milestone in India’s effort to rebuild its badly depleted underwater fighting force, and the first of six on order. It comes as China’s military expands its fleet to nearly 60 submarines -- compared to India’s 15 -- and increases its forays into the Indian Ocean in what New Delhi strategists see as a national security challenge.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

NAVSEA: New SPY-6 Radar Scores in Ballistic Missile Defense Test
USNI News
The radar bound for the Navy’s new Flight III Arleigh Burke guided-missile destroyers successfully tracked a complex ballistic missile target as part of a battery of tests to prove out the new system, Naval Sea Systems Command announced on Thursday.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Ready to Talk to Korea or Not?
The New York Times, Editorial Board
The State Department press briefing room has traditionally been the place where the United States government has explained and promoted its foreign policy to the world. In six months as secretary of state, Rex Tillerson did not set foot there — until Tuesday, when he popped in to deliver a double-barreled message to North Korea about its rapidly expanding nuclear weapons and missile programs.

Ordering Nuclear War: Gen. Selva Tells Us What Happens
Breaking Defense, Colin Clark
The security of nuclear command and control is the Holy Grail of the US military. Nothing, especially in these turbulent days, matters more. Aside from occasional talk about the nuclear football — as the case containing the nuclear codes is known — most Americans know little about what would happen in the event that the president needed to order a nuclear strike.

Bombers and Missiles Show Limits of US Responses to North Korean ICBM Tests
The Diplomat, Steven Stashwick
After North Korea’s recent missile tests the United States responded with similar military demonstrations – flights of B-1 bombers around the Korean Peninsula and live-fire missile exercises with the South Korean military. These responses demonstrated an implicit counterforce capability, but simultaneously show how few new tools the United States has to manage North Korea’s behavior.

US Military Eyes New Mini-Nukes for 21st Century Deterrence
Defense One, Patrick Tucker
The future of nuclear weapons might not be huge and mega destructive but smaller, tactical, and frighteningly, more common. The U.S. Air Force is investigating more options for “variable yield” bombs  — nukes that can be dialed down to blow up an area as small as a neighborhood, or dialed up for a much larger punch. 

If the US starts a war with North Korea, China won’t be on our side
The Hill, Joseph J. Collins
The normally prudent Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) and some officials in the White House have begun to talk about waging preventive war against North Korea. The downsides of a preventive war with North Korea would be enormous. It would entail thousands of casualties in South Korea and Japan.

On Russia sanctions, Trump has a point
The Washington Post, David Ignatius
When all right-thinking people in the nation’s capital seem to agree on something — as has been the case recently with legislation imposing new sanctions on Russia — that may be a warning that the debate has veered into an unthinking herd mentality. 

SPECIAL INTEREST

Surviving a Nuclear Attack
Real Clear Defense
Acute radiation syndrome (ARS) results from exposure to high levels of ionizing radiation. The major goals of a response plan to a radio-nuclear emergency are to protect the public, as well as the emergency personnel while performing their duties. To achieve these goals, local, regional and national resources should be brought together to address such an incident of national impact.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - August 3, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 3, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.S. Opens Door to Talks With North Korea, While Flexing Military Muscle
The New York Times

Now U.S. Has Company in Raising Pressure on Iran Over Missile
The New York Times

Congress readies Round 2 with Trump on Russia
Politico

EAST ASIA

U.S. Opens Door to Talks With North Korea, While Flexing Military Muscle
The New York Times
In the Trump administration’s first serious attempt at a diplomatic opening to North Korea, Secretary of State Rex W. Tillerson has offered to open negotiations with Pyongyang by assuring “the security they seek” and a new chance at economic prosperity if the North surrenders its nuclear weapons.

The Trump administration sends mixed messages on North Korea
LA Times
It’s unclear if the disparate messages — particularly over whether the U.S. seeks the ouster of North Korean ruler Kim Jong Un — represent a deliberate effort to keep Pyongyang off guard as to U.S. intentions, or indicates ambivalence on a major foreign policy issue in a White House battling chaos on several fronts.

S. Korea hails new U.S. sanctions law on N. Korea
Yonhap News
South Korea on Thursday hailed U.S. President Donald Trump's ratification of a bill that imposes sanctions on Russia, China and North Korea, voicing hopes that it could quicken North Korea's denuclearization. "The latest law adopts a vast range of new sanction elements and significantly intensifies the implementation of existing sanctions on North Korea," Cho June-hyuck, spokesman at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said.

MIDDLE EAST

Now U.S. Has Company in Raising Pressure on Iran Over Missile
The New York Times
Joined by three Western allies, the United States on Wednesday escalated pressure on Iran over its space launch last week, saying the act disregarded a United Nations Security Council resolution on the use of missiles and was “threatening and provocative.”

Rouhani Starts Second Term With Trump’s Shadow Hanging Over Tehran
Bloomberg
Hassan Rouhani this week officially starts his second term at the helm of Iran’s government, with the optimism of his landslide victory in May now eclipsed by a deepening standoff with the U.S. The moderate cleric, 68, won another four years as president with his promise to build on the 2015 nuclear deal with world powers and boost the economy.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO readiness strategy: ‘Out-exercise them, out-train them’
Defense News
With exercise Saber Guardian coming to a close in Eastern Europe and more than 30 exercises still to take place during the remainder of 2017, NATO is continuing to build its readiness. Gen. Tod Wolters, commander of NATO’s Allied Air Command, highlighted for Defense News the importance of these exercises from the air perspective of the multi-domain effort.

Poland sends mixed signals on Patriot negotiations
Defense News
The secretary of state at Poland’s Ministry of National Defence has threatened to break off an impending deal with the U.S. government to buy Patriot air-and-missile defense systems if certain requirements for technology transfers are not met, according to a letter sent July 15 to the director of the U.S. Defense Security Cooperation Agency.

SOUTH ASIA

‘Interim’ Pakistan PM may stay put amid doubts over Sharif’s brother
Reuters
Opposition politicians have slammed Nawaz's plans as dynastic, with opposition party leader Imran Khan decrying Pakistani politics as a "form of monarchy". Still, analysts say the relatively smooth transition to Abbasi after Nawaz was disqualified has eased fears that nuclear-armed Pakistan could be plunged into a prolonged bout of political turmoil.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Congress readies Round 2 with Trump on Russia
Politico
Congress is moving to force the Pentagon to violate a nuclear arms treaty with Russia — in yet another effort to box in President Donald Trump on relations with Moscow. Language in key defense bills in both the House and Senate would require the military to begin developing medium-range missiles banned by a 1987 treaty that Ronald Reagan negotiated with Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev during the twilight years of the Cold War.

New ICBM Cheaper Than Upgraded Minuteman: Boeing on GBSD
Breaking Defense
A brand-new ICBM may cost the nation more than $85 billion, but keeping the geriatric Minuteman will cost even more. That’s according to Boeing, the aerospace giant that began building the original Minuteman I in 1958 and has maintained the much-modified Minuteman III since 1970.

New tech paves way for ballistic missile defense
C4ISRNET
On July 30 MDA conducted a successful missile defense test using the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) system. This follows a successful shoot-down of a ballistic missile this spring. These recent wins could help build momentum behind MDA’s effort to win congressional funding for a variety of sensors and other technologies related to missile defense.

Test firing a ballistic missile in California was routine. Growing tension with North Korea is not.
The Washington Post
The U.S. Air Force flexed its ability to launch global strikes early Wednesday morning, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile over the Pacific in a routine test amid growing tension between the United States and North Korea. Joe Thomas, a spokesman with the command, stressed Wednesday that the tests are done four times a fiscal year and are scheduled between three and five years in advance.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How Long Can China and India Avoid War in the Himalayas?
Foreign Policy, Sameer Lalwani, Yun Sun, Liv Dowling
A remote corner of the Himalayas has become the unlikely scene of a major power standoff between China and India. Now entering its seventh week, the standoff centers on the tri-junction border shared by China, India, and Bhutan. Neither side is spoiling for a fight, nor are they ready to back down anytime soon.

US arming Ukraine? A look at how Moscow might respond
Defense News
The last time the United States considered arming Ukraine with lethal defensive weapons — about three years ago — the proposal was ultimately dropped over concern for Russia’s reaction. But amid a flash in tension between Moscow and Washington, the U.S. Defense Department is back at it.

Trump’s misguided rush to scrap the Iran deal
The Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor
It's beyond clear now: President Trump is intent on wrecking the nuclear deal with Iran. But Trump signed off on Iran's compliance with profound reluctance, and he has since signaled that when Iran's certification comes up again — as it will every 90 days, per a mandate from Congress — he intends to declare Iran not in compliance, possibly even if there is evidence to the contrary.

What America Should Learn from North Korea’s Latest Missile Test
The Atlantic, Ankit Panda
Although Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Tuesday that the U.S. wants a dialogue with North Korea, not regime change, others struck a harsher note in their response. “There is a military option: to destroy North Korea’s nuclear program and North Korea itself,” Senator Lindsey Graham said.

Taking North Korea’s missile threat seriously is long overdue
The Hill, Peter Hussey
Accurately assessing the North Korean threat, while welcome, is long overdue. Thus it is imperative we both protect our vulnerable infrastructure from EMP as well as build the most effective defenses, especially space based sensors and interceptors, that can prevent the use of nuclear warheads against the United States, especially those delivered by ballistic missiles.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News – August 2, 2017

TOP NEWS

‘We don’t blame China’: Tillerson takes diplomatic approach to North Korea tensions after Trump’s angry tweets
South China Morning Post

Iran Says New U.S. Sanctions Violate Nuclear Deal
The New York Times

U.S. Test-Launches ICBM Amid North Korea Tensions
NBC News

EAST ASIA

‘We don’t blame China’: Tillerson takes diplomatic approach to North Korea tensions after Trump’s angry tweets
South China Morning Post
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson promised on Tuesday that the United States is not trying to topple Kim Jong-un’s North Korean regime, but warned it must halt its nuclear missile programme. Briefing reporters on diplomatic efforts to pressure Pyongyang, Tillerson said Washington would be willing to talk to the North if its leaders accept that they must disarm.

US tells North Korea: ‘We are not your enemy’
Deutsche Welle
Rex Tillerson sought to assure North Korea Tuesday that the United States was not its enemy, but at the same time warned the regime it must abandon its nuclear activities. "We don't think having a dialogue where the North Koreans come to the table assuming they're going to maintain their nuclear weapons is productive," the diplomat said.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran Says New U.S. Sanctions Violate Nuclear Deal
The New York Times
Furious over new American sanctions, Iran said on Tuesday that it had lodged a complaint with the commission that polices possible violations of the Iranian nuclear agreement. The complaint, disclosed by the speaker of Parliament, Ali Larijani, accused the United States of breaching the 2015 agreement, known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, between Iran and six world powers, including the United States.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Capacity, interoperability still plague European missile defense
Defense News
The United States and its allies in Europe don’t have enough missile defense capability and still have a long way to go to tie all of the varying systems together into one networked web, according to the outgoing U.S. Army Europe commander.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

New Navy secretary, seven other top DOD officials confirmed by Senate
Defense News
The Senate today confirmed eight Defense Department nominees, providing a sizable staffing boost to the Pentagon after a protracted congressional stalemate. Among those confirmed by a voice vote after Senate Republicans and Democrats reached an agreement were Richard Spencer, the new Navy secretary; Ellen Lord, the new under secretary of defense for acquisition; and Lucian Niemeyer and Robert Hood, both assistant secretaries of defense.

Trump would go to war with N. Korea: senator
Yonhap
U.S. President Donald Trump has said he will go to war with North Korea if the communist regime continues to threaten the U.S. with its nuclear and missile programs, an influential Republican senator said Tuesday. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) relayed his discussions with the president on NBC's "Today Show."

Tillerson: I’ve told Russia our relationship can get worse, ‘and it just did’
Politico
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday that he’s warned Russian President Vladimir Putin and Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov that the relationship between the U.S. and Moscow is bad — but it can get worse. He said he and President Donald Trump are not “very happy” with Congress’ vote to sanction Russia, but “all indications are he will sign that bill, and then we’ll just work with it.”

Tillerson Acknowledges ‘Differences’ With Trump on Iran Deal
The Atlantic
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson acknowledged Tuesday he and President Trump “have differences” on the nuclear deal with Iran, but said the Islamic republic was violating the spirit of the agreement with its activities, adding the U.S. was working with its allies to ensure Iran’s compliance with the deal.

U.S. Test-Launches ICBM Amid North Korea Tensions
NBC News
The U.S. military successfully test-launched an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile from California early Wednesday, according to an Air Force spokesman — just days after North Korea’s second test of an ICBM. The unarmed Minuteman III missile was launched at 2:10 a.m. PT from Vandenberg Air Force Base, about 130 miles northwest of Los Angeles.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How to degrade the growing power of North Korea
The Washington Post, Ted Cruz
What the United States needs now is swift action backed by a realistic strategy to secure the denuclearization and reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Today, only the Ground-Based Midcourse Defense system — designed to intercept ICBMs as they travel through space — protects the United States from nuclear attack. North Korea’s ICBM tests necessitate new measures.

The Trump administration wants regime change in Iran. But regime change usually doesn’t work.
The Washington Post. Alexander B. Downes and Lindsey A. O’Rourke
Would a more serious overt or covert effort in Iran bring benefits — such as a friendly Iranian regime — to the United States? That’s unlikely. As recent U.S. experiences in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya show, helping to overthrow a regime doesn’t usually result in a compliant, friendly government in the target state. Rather, it can bring a host of problems.

Lindsey Graham Reveals the Dark Calculus of Striking North Korea
The Atlantic, Uri Friedman
Graham is particularly fond of military solutions to foreign-policy problems; in his Today show appearance, he proposed “destroy[ing] … North Korea itself” to rid the country of nuclear weapons—which, whatever that means, is more aggressive than the Trump administration’s stated goals for any military operations. But Graham has expressed in blunt terms what other U.S. officials gloss over with their vague talk of “military response options” and everything remaining “on the table.”

Tearing up the Iran Nuclear Deal: A Fool’s Errand
The Cipher Brief, John Nixon
The new sanctions slapped on Iran (and Russia and North Korea) last week by the U.S. Congress—and the sanctions placed the previous week on the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC) by the U.S. Treasury, State, and Justice departments—threaten to make the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA - aka the Iran nuclear deal), hostage to the vagaries of hardliners in both Tehran and Washington. 

North Korea and the ‘Blink’ of War
War on the Rocks, Patrick Cronin
Over the long course of North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs, the United States has periodically looked hard at the cost-benefit analysis of launching a surgical strike. Each time, U.S. officials “blinked,” because the risk seemed higher than the reward. Once again, we appear to be moving in the direction of the brink of war, but in reality, officials are apt to reach the same conclusion as before.

SPECIAL INTEREST

America’s midlife crisis: lessons from a survivalist summit
The Guardian
When the preppers do bring up a scenario, it’s a nuclear EMP or a solar flare. It’s something that knocks out technology rather than, say, permanent winter. I guess sprouting isn’t worth much as a skill if there’s no sunlight for 20 years. Bug-out bags and survival caches aren’t worth much if the climate makes the entire surface of the Earth uninhabitable. But that’s human nature: we’re all preparing for the catastrophes we want rather than the ones we’re going to get.

Read more…

Monday's Top Nuclear Policy News

TOP NEWS

North Korea Lawmaker: Need Nukes Because of US Threat
New York Times

Nobody will trust U.S. to engage in long-term negotiation: Zarif
Tehran Times

U.S. officials try to ease concerns Trump may quit Iran deal
Reuters

Tillerson: US prefers diplomacy with NKorea, but has options
Associated Press

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