Nuclear Policy News

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Nuclear Policy News - July 24, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 24, 2017

TOP NEWS

How ISIS nearly stumbled on the ingredients for a ‘dirty bomb' 
The Washington Post

Vladimir Putin: ‘I may not leave Russian presidency’
The Guardian

Trump Assigns White House Team to Target Iran Nuclear Deal, Sidelining State Department
Foreign Policy

EAST ASIA

US calls for China’s help over concerns North Korea may launch missile from submarine
South China Morning Post
The timing of the United States’ appeal for China to provide more support in monitoring North Korea’s military activities is likely related to intelligence suggesting Pyongyang might be planning to launch a nuclear missile from a submarine, analysts said.

Chinese ambassador calls for quick solution over missile row
Yonhap
China's top envoy to South Korea called Saturday for a solution to quickly end a monthslong diplomatic row over the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system in South Korea. Chinese Ambassador Qiu Guohong said the deployment of the Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system had a "serious impact" on the mutual trust between the two countries, calling it "the biggest hurdle" for the development of bilateral relations.

US within reach: China shows off new and improved advanced missile system
South China Morning Post
A model of the Dongfeng-31AG – an upgraded version of the DF-31A – was shown for the first time at an exhibition marking the anniversary at the Military Museum of the Chinese People’s Revolution in Beijing last week. The new missile system is expected to share a similar estimated range of 11,000km with the DF-31A – enough to reach most locations within the continental United States and the capitals of Europe – but will be more mobile thanks to its new carrier vehicle design, military experts said.

MIDDLE EAST

How ISIS nearly stumbled on the ingredients for a ‘dirty bomb' 
The Washington Post
Locked away in a storage room on a Mosul college campus were two caches of cobalt-60, a metallic substance with lethally high levels of radiation. When contained within the heavy shielding of a radiotherapy machine, cobalt-60 is used to kill cancer cells. In terrorists’ hands, it is the core ingredient of a “dirty bomb,” a weapon that could be used to spread radiation and panic.

Iran launches new air defense missile production line
International Business Times
Iran has announced the launch of a new air defence missile production line using "complete indigenous technology". Iranian Air Defence Commander Brigadier General Farzad Esmaili said on Saturday, 22 July, that the homegrown Sayyad 3 missile can travel up to 120km and reach an altitude of 27km.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Key figure in US, Russian Ambassador Sergey Kislyak goes home
Deutsche Welle
Current Minister-Counselor and Deputy Chief of Mission Denis V. Gonchar will head up the embassy until the arrival of Kislyak's successor, who is likely to be the current Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Anatoly Antonov, Reuters reported. The Russian news agency TASS also reported that on May 18, the International Affairs Committee in the lower house of the Russian parliament endorsed Antonov as the next Ambassador to the US.

Romania does multidomain battle on Danube
Defense News
The Romanian armed forces showed its capability to perform multidomain battle using naval, land and air power during a river crossing exercise on the Danube as part of the largest military exercise in the region this year. The U.S.-led Saber Guardian exercise consists of over 25,000 service members from more than 20 allied and partner nations and took place across seven countries, including Romania and Bulgaria.

Vladimir Putin: ‘I may not leave Russian presidency’
The Guardian
Asked what he plans to do when he leaves the presidency, Vladimir Putin paused and smiled. “But I haven’t decided yet if I will leave the presidency,” the Russian leader replied, to laughter and applause from an audience made up almost entirely of Russians who were born after he first became president in 2000.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Trump Assigns White House Team to Target Iran Nuclear Deal, Sidelining State Department
Foreign Policy
After a contentious meeting with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson this week, President Donald Trump instructed a group of trusted White House staffers to make the potential case for withholding certification of Iran at the next 90-day review of the nuclear deal. The goal was to give Trump what he felt the State Department had failed to do: the option to declare that Tehran was not in compliance with the agreement.

Coast Guard: Missile test could be conducted next weekend
Navy Times
The U.S. will conduct as soon as next weekend another test of a missile defense system meant to counter threats from North Korea. The launch from Alaska’s Kodiak Island is scheduled to occur at the Pacific Spaceport Complex-Alaska, according to a U.S. Coast Guard notice.

Dunford: Military option for North Korea not ‘unimaginable’
Politico
Marine Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, suggested Saturday that Americans must be prepared for the possibility of a military confrontation with North Korea. Although he stressed the importance of applying continued economic and diplomatic pressure aimed at persuading Pyongyang to give up its nuclear arms program, Dunford dismissed the notion that a military option shouldn't be on the table.

Top U.S. General: Russia Just One Of Many Security Threats Facing Country
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
The top U.S. military officer has told a security conference that Russia is the “most-capable state actor” that the United States faces, but it is just one of many security challenges in today’s environment.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

CIA Director Walks the Line on North Korean Regime Change
The Cipher Brief, Mackenzie Weinger
CIA Director Mike Pompeo signaled Thursday that a key goal of the Trump administration is to “separate” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from control over Pyongang’s nuclear capabilities. "It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today,” Pompeo told the Aspen Security Forum.

If Trump Undermines the Iran Deal
The Atlantic, Andrew Exum
There was a lot of news lost at the end of last week when Sean Spicer, the hapless White House press secretary, finally resigned. One story that should not slip underneath the radar, however, is a report that the Trump administration has apparently entrusted a small group at the White House to undermine the Iran nuclear accords over the objections of the Departments of State and Defense.

Iran nuclear deal still under threat, US must keep its end of the bargain
The Hill, Bernadette Stadler
The administration is required to certify Iran’s compliance every 90 days, and if it fails to do so, Congress is given a 60-day period during which it can re-impose sanctions or abandon the deal altogether. But if the United States violates or walks away from the nuclear deal, it will alienate our allies and partners who helped us negotiate the agreement, allow Iran to resume its nuclear weapons program, and damage U.S. national security.

How to Take Down Kim Jong Un
Politico, Tom Malinowski
Since its latest provocative missile test, thoughtful observers have pointed out that neither sanctions nor diplomacy are likely to dissuade Kim Jong Un from deploying nuclear weapons that can reach the United States, that we cannot depend on China to stop him for us, but that the alternative of a military strike on North Korea could cause a war that would lay waste to our ally South Korea. When it comes to North Korea, the phrase “there are no good options” has become a mantra.

 

Read more…

July 21, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 21, 2017


TOP NEWS

Push for UN Sanctions on North Korea Hung Up on Definition of an ICBM
Bloomberg

Russia calls new U.S. sanctions against Iran unfounded: RIA
Reuters

Russia and US beginning strategic stability dialogue—diplomat
TASS

EAST ASIA

Seoul calls for Pyongyang to respond to overture for talks
The Washington Post
South Korea on Friday urged North Korea to accept its offers for talks as Pyongyang continued to ignore Seoul’s proposal for a military meeting to ease animosities along their tense border. South Korea’s Defense Ministry said it has become difficult to hold the meeting Seoul had originally proposed for Friday and called for the North to “quickly accept” the overture for talks.

British foreign secretary supports Japan to stop N. Korea
The Washington Post
British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said Friday his country stands “shoulder to shoulder” with Japan in efforts to put an end to North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests. “We all need to increase the pressure on Pyongyang through diplomacy and sanctions, and that must include China using its influence to bring North Korea back to the negotiation table,” he said after meeting his Japanese counterpart, Fumio Kishida.

North Korea 2016 economic growth at 17-year high despite sanctions: South Korea
Reuters
North Korea's economy grew at its fastest pace in 17 years in 2016, South Korea's central bank said on Friday, despite the isolated country facing international sanctions aimed at curbing its defiant pursuit of nuclear weapons. Gross domestic product (GDP) in North Korea last year rose 3.9 percent from the previous year when the economy contracted due to a drought and low commodity prices, the Bank of Korea said. The expansion, driven by mining and energy, marked the biggest rise since a 6.1 percent gain in 1999. 

Push for UN Sanctions on North Korea Hung Up on Definition of an ICBM
Bloomberg
Diplomats say Russia and China, North Korea’s neighbor and top trading partner, are prepared to accept tougher sanctions on North Korea only after a nuclear test or an ICBM launch, and Russian officials say this month’s test was of a shorter-range missile.

MIDDLE EAST

Russia calls new U.S. sanctions against Iran unfounded: RIA
Reuters
New U.S. sanctions against Iran over its ballistic missile programme are unfounded, a senior Russian Foreign Ministry official said on Thursday, the RIA news agency reported. Washington slapped new economic sanctions against Iran on Tuesday over its ballistic missile programme, saying Tehran's "malign activities" in the Middle East had undercut any "positive contributions" coming from the 2015 Iran nuclear accord.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia and US beginning strategic stability dialogue—diplomat
TASS
Russia and the United States are set to launch a dialogue on strategic stability involving both ministries in charge of foreign policy and other related agencies, a State Department official told TASS after a recent round of Russian-US consultations on the "irritants" in bilateral relations.

SOUTH ASIA

India, Japan civil nuclear deal comes into force
The Hindu
The landmark India-Japan civil nuclear agreement came into force on Thursday. Foreign Secretary S. Jaishankar exchanged the diplomatic notes with the Japanese envoy to India to formalise the completion of the process.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

CIA director: Moscow loves to ‘stick it to America’
Military Times
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Thursday that Russia has no plans to leave Syria and will continue to try to meddle in U.S. affairs to "stick it to America." The CIA director spoke in a wide-ranging conversation at the Aspen Security Forum, an annual gathering of intelligence and national security officials and experts in Aspen, Colorado.

CIA chief signals desire for regime change in North Korea
CNN
CIA Director Mike Pompeo on Thursday evening offered some of the most aggressive comments yet from the Trump administration with regard to North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un. "It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is most dangerous about it is the character who holds the control over them today," Pompeo said in a discussion moderated by conservative New York Times columnist Bret Stephens at the Aspen Security Forum.

Hawaii is preparing for a North Korea nuclear attack—just in case
Quartz
Hawaii could soon find itself well within range of Kim Jong-un’s nukes. With that in mind, the Hawaii Emergency Management Agency is kicking off an educational campaign aimed at helping residents and visitors know what to do in the event of an attack. Later this year, the state will begin testing a new emergency siren that would be used in such a case.

House, Senate authorizers want Pentagon to pursue INF-range missile
Inside Defense
Both the House and Senate are advancing legislation requiring the Pentagon to begin developing a land-based missile system capable of ranges prohibited under the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty in response to Russia's alleged violations of the agreement.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Trump Was Right: NATO Is Obsolete
Foreign Policy, Mark Galeotti
All tools can get rusty or outdated, and NATO’s existing 2 percent benchmark is a perfect example. Now that “war” is as much about hacking, subversion, espionage, and fake news as it is about tanks, the West needs a minimal baseline requirement for spending on “hybrid defense”: police services, counterintelligence services, and the like. 

Europe’s Overlooked Missile Defence Dilemma
European Leadership Network, Tytti Erasto
While the members of the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) maintain that their missile defence system is purely defensive and against ballistic missile attacks from the Middle East, Russia sees it as a threat to its own nuclear deterrent and responds accordingly—notably by threatening the countries hosting the system’s components. The whole dynamics of the missile defence dispute remain poorly understood, for a number of reasons.

Sinpo South Shipyard: Preparations for a New SLBM Test?
38 North, Joseph S. Bermudez, Jr.
Recent media reports indicate that North Korea’s sole SINPO-class experimental ballistic missile submarine (SSBA) has been engaged in “‘unusual deployment activity’ over the past 48 hours.” If correct, this would be the submarine’s longest known voyage to date. While there are several possible explanations, the most likely is preparations for a test in the near future of an updated Pukguksong-1 (KN-11) submarine-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) or a potentially newer system. 

How to Respond to Russia’s INF Treaty Violation
Real Clear Defense,Gary Schmitt and James Cunningham
The National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), INF measure included, passed through the committee with a resounding 60–1 margin and was passed by the House of Representatives last week, but it is not so popular in the White House. The Trump administration objects to the committee’s provisions on the treaty, arguing it already is “developing an integrated diplomatic, military, and economic response strategy.” The NDAA’s mandates would, the White House says, limit US military response options and “raise concerns among NATO allies.”

SPECIAL INTEREST

What Good Is Fear?
Slate, Rebecca Onion
We’ve managed to live for decades with another existential fear: the threat of nuclear war. What can years and years of atom bomb terror teach us about how the existential fear of mass death and societal collapse might affect our ability to respond to climate change? And why did atomic culture thrive, producing hundreds of books, movies, essays, and songs, while climate change has struggled for attention?

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 20, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 20, 2017


TOP NEWS 

S. Korea, U.S., Japan reaffirm importance of coordination on N. Korea
Yonhap

Dems urge ‘transparent and inclusive’ nuke policy review
The Hill

Congress Must Preserve the INF Treaty with Russia
The National Interest, Thomas Graham Jr.

EAST ASIA

US intelligence shows North Korean preparations for a possible missile test
CNN
CNN has learned that US intelligence indicates that North Korea is making preparations for another intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or intermediate range missile test. Two administration officials familiar with the latest intelligence confirm there are indicators of test preparations that could lead to a potential launch in about two weeks.

Less Than One Aircraft Carrier? The Cost of North Korea’s Nukes
Bloomberg
When North Korea decided to go nuclear, it committed to a huge investment in a program that would bring severe sanctions and eat up precious resources that could have been spent boosting the nation's quality of life. North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs have without doubt come at a high cost, but the North has managed to march ever closer to having an arsenal capable of attacking targets in the region and the United States' mainland.

S. Korea, U.S., Japan reaffirm importance of coordination on N. Korea
Yonhap
Senior diplomats of South Korea, the United States and Japan met here Wednesday and reaffirmed the importance of trilateral cooperation in resolving North Korea's nuclear conundrum, the State Department said. The meeting involved Ma Sang-yoon, director-general of the South Korean Foreign Ministry's policy planning bureau, Brian Hook, senior policy adviser to the U.S. secretary of state and director of policy planning, and Satoshi Suzuki, Japan's deputy foreign minister for foreign policy.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Nuclear projects top UK MoD risk listing
IHS Jane’s
Flagship UK nuclear submarine programmes are "unachievable" or "in doubt", according to the 2017 report of the UK Infrastructure and Projects Authority.

Burying the atom: Europe struggles to dispose of nuclear waste
Politico
Six decades after the construction of the first wave of nuclear power plants, no country has opened a permanent storage site. Spent nuclear fuel and other contaminated material — deadly byproducts of electricity generation — remain stockpiled in temporary locations around Europe and the world, sometimes alongside the reactors where they were used.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

McCain diagnosed with brain tumor
Defense News
GOP leaders said the NDAA’s progress was linked to McCain's return to Washington. Cornyn, the Senate majority whip, said he didn’t think the bill could proceed without McCain and that leadership would hold off out of respect to him as chairman.

Dems urge ‘transparent and inclusive’ nuke policy review
The Hill
Twenty-two Senate Democrats are calling for a "transparent and inclusive" process in the Trump administration’s ongoing review of the U.S. nuclear weapons policy. 

US: Iran still top state terror sponsor; global attacks down
Military Times
Iran continues to be the world's leading state sponsor of terrorism, the Trump administration said Wednesday in a new report that also noted a decline in the number of terrorist attacks globally between 2015 and 2016. 

Trump’s embrace of Russia making top advisers wary
Military Times
President Donald Trump's persistent overtures toward Russia are placing him increasingly at odds with his national security and foreign policy advisers, who have long urged a more cautious approach to dealing with the foreign adversary. 

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Congress Must Preserve the INF Treaty with Russia
The National Interest, Thomas Graham Jr.
Russia is currently in violation of the INF Treaty by testing and deploying intermediate-range cruise missiles. However, by threatening to destroy the entire INF Treaty in response, Congress risks making matters worse by opening the door to Russian deployment of intermediate-range ballistic missiles in Europe.

Avoiding War With Iran
The New York Times, Editorial
The last thing the United States needs is another war in the Middle East. Yet a drumbeat of provocative words, outright threats and actions — from President Trump and some of his top aides as well as Sunni Arab leaders and American activists — is raising tensions that could lead to armed conflict with Iran.

With sanctions failing, US must learn to live with North Korean nuclear threat
South China Morning Post, Ankit Panda
North Korea’s successful test of an intercontinental-range ballistic missile should not be a surprise. In January, the North Koreans observed that they were in the final stages of attaining this important technological milestone.

South Korea’s offer of talks with the North is the best option for resolving the nuclear issue
South China Morning Post, Editorial
Moon Jae-in, South Korea’s president, has understandably decided that doing nothing other than condemn is not an option, and has sought dialogue with Kim Jong-un’s regime to ease military tensions. Japan has objected, contending now is the time for pressure, not talks, but such an approach is flawed; the best hope for security lies in negotiations.

The U.S. and Iran are heading toward crisis
Washington Post, Ishaan Thoor
Iran remains the president's No. 1 geopolitical bugbear. Trump, who seems determined to smash every pillar of former president Barack Obama's legacy, repeatedly cast the deal as a capitulation to the Islamic Republic. While candidate Trump blustered about scrapping the nuclear deal altogether, his administration has been compelled to shy away from such drastic unilateral action. Still, it seems Trump himself is eager for the deal to unravel.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Mondialists, unite! The forgotten story of a global pacifist movement|
The Guardian
In 1948, a dashing American actor and wartime hero surrendered his passport at the US embassy in Paris. He would go on to live the rest of his 92 years without any ID besides a passport he had printed himself, declaring him to be a “citizen of the world”. It had no other function than a symbolic one. Unsurprisingly, he was often arrested at borders.

AI Could Revolutionize War As Much As Nukes
Wired, Tom Simonite
As time goes on, improvements in AI and related technology may also shake up balance of international power by making it easier for smaller nations and organizations to threaten big powers like the US. Nuclear weapons may be easier than ever to build, but still require resources, technologies, and expertise in relatively short supply.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 19, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 19, 2017

TOP NEWS

Moon Seeks 2020 Deal for Peace With Nuclear-Free North Korea
Bloomberg

As Relations Worsen, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions May Violate Nuclear Deal
New York Times

Multinational live-fire exercise lights up Romanian countryside in show of force
Defense News

EAST ASIA

Moon Seeks 2020 Deal for Peace With Nuclear-Free North Korea
Bloomberg
South Korean President Moon Jae-in is seeking a deal with North Korea in 2020 to bring about the "complete denuclearization" of the isolated nation in return for a peace treaty that would guarantee the survival of Kim Jong Un’s regime. Moon, an advocate of dialogue and exchange with North Korea, set out his ambitious goal Wednesday in a special presidential Blue House report outlining his objectives for his five-year term.

With offer of talks, Seoul puts ball in Pyongyang’s court
Nikkei Asian Review
South Korea's offer of military and humanitarian dialogue with the North could let Seoul take the lead in efforts to curb Pyongyang's nuclear and missile development programs -- but only if the reclusive state shows an unusual willingness to cooperate with its neighbor's new government. 

Japan taps tech to foil nuclear terrorism ahead of Tokyo Olympics
Japan Times
With the 2020 Olympics and Paralympics in Tokyo just three years away, the government is stepping up efforts to prevent terrorist attacks using nuclear and other radioactive materials. The Japan Atomic Energy Agency has developed a device capable of detecting nuclear materials during airport baggage screening and is enhancing its nuclear forensics analytical technology.

MIDDLE EAST

As Relations Worsen, Iran Says U.S. Sanctions May Violate Nuclear Deal
New York Times
Mohammad Javad Zarif, the foreign minister of Iran, charged on Tuesday that the Trump administration’s attempt to reimpose sanctions on his country was a violation of the accord signed two years ago that sharply limited Iran’s ability to produce nuclear material in return for its reintegration into the world economy.

The Latest U.S. Sanctions Against Iran
The Atlantic
The latest U.S. sanctions on Iran target seven entities and five individuals for supporting Iran’s military or the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps (IRGC); also targeted: an Iran-based transnational criminal organization and three associated persons.

Trump lets Iran deal live, but signals he may not for long
Associated Press
President Donald Trump was eager to declare Iran in breach of the nuclear deal but was talked out of it by national security aides who rushed to the Oval Office to persuade him as a midnight deadline approached, administration officials say. Trump agreed let the issue go, but only for a few more months — and only after last-minute changes to distance Trump further from the deal.

SOUTH ASIA

Committed to nuclear disarmament but can’t be party to UN treaty, says India
Hindustan Times
India on Tuesday said it was committed to non-discriminatory and verifiable nuclear disarmament in a bid to justify why it boycotted negotiations for a treaty on the prohibition of nuclear weapons at the United Nations.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Chinese warships en route to Baltic Sea
Deutsche Welle
The Chinese naval fleet is expected to arrive in the Baltic Sea by the end of week, according to reports from NATO insiders, after the warships were first spotted on Monday by the Dutch navy. Russia and China are scheduled to hold their next joint naval drill, dubbed "Joint Sea," in the European inner sea from July 24 to 27. According to the Russian defense ministry, China's naval fleet will to arrive in the Baltic Sea port of Baltiysk in the Russian province of Kaliningrad.

Multinational live-fire exercise lights up Romanian countryside in show of force
Defense News
A massive, multinational, combined-arms, live-fire exercise lit up the Romanian countryside in a show of force July 18, carrying out a NATO goal to demonstrate joint strength to deter Russian aggression. Exercises like CALFEX — part of Saber Guardian 2017 taking place across seven countries in Europe — are designed to show the world what the U.S. and its NATO partners and allies are capable of doing should an attack by a near-peer adversary occur.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Corker: Russia sanctions could move before August recess
Politico
The implosion of Senate Republicans' Obamacare repeal push could clear space for a bipartisan deal on long-stalled sanctions against Russia to make it to President Donald Trump's desk as soon as this month, a key GOP chairman said Tuesday. The Russia sanctions package has been mired in the House after passing the Senate with 98 votes, as House Democrats protest a change that would yank their power to block Trump from easing penalties against Vladimir Putin's government.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The Senate’s biggest hypocrite on Russia
The Washington Post, Jennifer Rubin
Sen. Tom Cotton (R-Ark.) has distinguished himself by his eagerness to run interference for the administration on Russia (among other foreign policy topics). Cotton has bizarrely insisted that it is a “myth” that Trump is weak on Russia. He has chosen to bash the Obama administration — but not Trump’s team — for being insufficiently tough on Russian espionage. In sum, he has been among the most egregious apologists and enablers of an administration that has recklessly ignored the threat from Russia. Given that background, Cotton’s national security speech on Monday was a tour de force in hypocrisy.

Trump’s Incoherent Iran Policy Could End Nuke Deal on the Worst Possible Terms
Foreign Policy, Ilan Goldenberg
Stories that Trump spent an hour arguing with his entire national security team about whether to certify and only reluctantly agreed to continue the nuclear agreement should be of grave concern. Indeed, Trump’s behavior and the administration’s insistence on coupling every certification with over the top, belligerent rhetoric may be setting the United States up to walk away from the nuclear agreement on the worst terms possible.

With U.S. scholar’s conviction, power struggle escalates between Iran’s president and hard-liners
The Washington Post, Erin Cunningham
A high-stakes power struggle between Iran’s moderate president and his hard-line opponents in the judiciary appeared to escalate with the arrest of the president’s brother and the conviction of an American student for espionage this weekend — rulings that seemed timed to embarrass the Iranian leader at home and abroad.

South Korea’s President May Be Just the Man to Solve the North Korea Crisis
The Atlantic, S. Nathan Park
Just as only the conservative Richard Nixon could thaw U.S.-China relations, the supposedly dovish Moon Jae In could defuse tensions with the Kim regime.

Trump Learns Just How Durable Obama’s Policies Are
Bloomberg, Noah Feldman
President Donald Trump may not like it, but he can’t -- so far -- reverse two of President Barack Obama’s signature accomplishments: the Affordable Care Act and the Iran nuclear deal. In one emblematic, frustrating day, Trump both saw the failure of the Senate bill to repeal and replace the ACA and was forced by his advisers to certify that Iran is in compliance with its nuclear obligations.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 18, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 18, 2017


TOP NEWS

South Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North
Military Times

Trump Recertifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Only Reluctantly
The New York Times

Why Isn’t Russia Worried About Kim Jong Un’s Nukes?
Foreign Policy, Chris Miller

EAST ASIA

South Korea offers talks on tension, family reunions with North
Military Times
South Korea on Monday offered talks with North Korea to ease animosities along their tense border and resume reunions of families separated by their war in the 1950s. It was unclear how North Korea will react since it remains suspicious of new South Korean President Moon Jae-in's outreach to it.

Japan Says This Is A Time To Raise Pressure On North Korea
Associated Press
Japan called Monday for increased pressure on North Korea, saying this is not a time for dialogue. Maruyama said the Japanese government is "aware of the announcement," but made clear that immediate talks aren't the approach it supports. "This is not a time for dialogue, it's a time for pressure," he said.

MIDDLE EAST

Trump Recertifies Iran Nuclear Deal, but Only Reluctantly
The New York Times
President Trump agreed on Monday to certify again that Iran is complying with an international nuclear agreement that he has strongly criticized, but only after hours of arguing with his top national security advisers, briefly upending a planned announcement as a legal deadline loomed.

U.S. certifies that Iran is meeting terms of nuclear deal
Washington Post
The Trump administration certified to Congress late Monday that Iran has continued to meet the required conditions of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers. But senior administration officials made clear that the certification was grudging, and said that President Trump intends to impose new sanctions on Iran for ongoing “malign activities” in non-nuclear areas such as ballistic missile development and support for terrorism. 

Zarif Says Iran Won’t Seek Nuclear Arms as Trump Knocks Deal
Bloomberg
Iran’s foreign minister said his nation’s vow not to seek nuclear weapons “never expires,” even as the Trump administration accused the Islamic Republic of violating the “spirit” of a 2015 accord easing sanctions. “Iran is committed to not producing nuclear weapons,” Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif said Monday at the Council on Foreign Relations in New York. “Nuclear weapons do not augment anybody’s security.”

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

EU says it is mulling tougher sanctions against N.K.
Yonhap
The European Union (EU) said Monday it is considering imposing tougher sanctions on North Korea over its latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The Council of the EU strongly condemned North Korea's missile test as it poses a serious threat to international peace and security, it said in a statement. It said it will "consider further appropriate responses" to the North's action in close consultation with key partners and in line with United Nations Security Council (UNSC) sanctions.

Russia’s Summer Wargames Are Making NATO Nervous
Popular Mechanics
Russia's summer wargames, named Zapad ("West") 2017, are set to kick off in September but are already setting off alarm bells across Europe. Held every four years, the Zapad exercises are a window into Russia's military prowess—and perhaps future intentions.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Petraeus Sees Tougher North Korea Sanctions Pushing Kim to Talks
Bloomberg
David Petraeus, the retired general and former Central Intelligence Agency director, said the U.S. needs to continue tightening sanctions on North Korea to get the country’s “attention” and persuade it to accept a diplomatic accord over its nuclear arsenal.

Cotton Talks Tough on Russian Non-Compliance to INF Treaty
USNI News
Saying “we cannot afford to stand aside” while Russia ignores the 30-year-old Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces treaty, an outspoken member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said one way to bring the Kremlin into compliance was for Washington to withdraw from two pacts Moscow views as crucial to its security.

Nuclear Agency Seeks Contract Proposals to Run Los Alamos
Law 360
The U.S. Department of Energy agency tasked with overseeing the U.S. nuclear arsenal has released requirements for those seeking to take on a contract to oversee operations at Los Alamos National Laboratory in northern New Mexico.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why Isn’t Russia Worried About Kim Jong Un’s Nukes?
Foreign Policy, Chris Miller
Moscow is not very worried about North Korean missiles, though it would prefer to see a denuclearized Korean Peninsula. Russia believes the only solution to the Korean dispute is negotiations with Pyongyang that result in security guarantees for the Kim Jong Un regime. Moscow supports placing limitations on the North’s nuclear program but is wary of sanctions and resolutely opposed to regime change. That puts it at odds with the United States — and acts as a fundamental roadblock to international efforts.

The West must be wary of Iran’s global business ‘diplomacy’
The Hill, Hassan Dai
Since the early 1990s, the Iranian regime has used its relation with Western businesses and especially the oil giants as a leverage to shape European and American policies toward Iran. In 2013, the newly elected President Rouhani launched an aggressive campaign to lure Western companies back to Iran and use their influence in their home countries to combat economic sanctions and convince their governments to be more flexible in nuclear negotiations with Iran.

Treaty ban on threatening to use nukes puts Japan in difficult position
Japan Times, Seana K. Magee
The inclusion of a phrase outlawing the threat of using nuclear arms in the world’s first-ever treaty to ban such weapons gives the accord teeth — but also makes it harder for allies of nuclear-armed countries to support the pact.

The U.N. just passed a treaty outlawing nuclear weapons. That actually matters.
Washington Post, Nina Tannenwald
Although there was jubilation in the negotiating hall after the successful vote, the United States, Britain and France announced in a joint statement, saying, “We do not intend to sign, ratify or ever become party to it. … clearly disregards the realities of the international security environment,” including the growing threat of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

There are 3 big reasons South Korea’s new president wants talks with North Korea
Washington Post, Adam Taylor=
Faced with a North Korea that seems both increasingly unpredictable and increasingly militarily capable, South Korea's new government has made a formal proposal: It's time for new talks.

Don’t Enshrine A Russian Advantage In Surveillance Flights Over the US
Defense One, Thomas Graham Jr.
The Treaty on Open Skies was one of the earliest proposals to bring stability and security to the era of the nuclear arms race. Unfortunately, certain provisions in the current House version of the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, if passed, would severely disadvantage the U.S. Defense Department and skew the Treaty considerably in favor of Russia.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Where North Korea’s elite go for banned luxury goods
CNN
You can buy anything your heart desires in this North Korean store: premium blended whisky, jewelry and perfume. Or you can pick up a brand new drum set or a saxophone that's carefully displayed in a glass case. But there's a catch. The department store is cash only. And the profits could go to an illegal nuclear weapons program.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 17, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 17, 2017

TOP NEWS 

North Korea accelerates nuclear fuel processing, satellite images suggest
Deutsche Welle

Iran Detains Rouhani’s Brother Amid Spat With Hardliners
Bloomberg

Stalled Russia sanctions bill hits North Korean snag in U.S. Congress
Reuters

The Ayatollah’s Billion-Dollar Alaskan Bag Man
Politico, Zach Dorfman

EAST ASIA

Japan to warn of greater threat from North Korea in new report
Nikkei Asian Review
The Japanese government sees the threat from North Korea rising to a new level as the reclusive nation makes steady progress in its nuclear and missile development program, according to a draft of a white paper on defense for 2017. In the 2016 edition, the Defense Ministry described Pyongyang's military provocation as constituting "a serious and imminent threat." It will use stronger wording in its 2017 report to be drawn up in early August.

Myanmar insists no North Korea links as U.S. envoy visits
Reuters
Myanmar has no military ties with North Korea, a Myanmar official said on Monday, as a U.S. diplomat responsible for North Korea arrived for talks in which he was likely to seek assurances on efforts to isolate it. Ambassador Joseph Yun met Myanmar's State Counsellor Aung San Suu Kyi and the military's commander in chief in the capital, Naypyitaw, on Monday, their offices said.

South Korea seeks rare talks with North to ease military tensions
The Guardian
South Korea has offered to hold rare military talks with the North to ease tensions after Pyongyang’s first intercontinental ballistic missile test earlier this month. Monday’s offer, the first since South Korea elected the moderate Moon Jae-In as president, came as the Red Cross in Seoul proposed a separate meeting to discuss the reunion of families separated by the 1950-53 Korean war. The South’s defence ministry proposed a meeting on Friday at the border truce village of Panmunjom, while the Red Cross offered to hold talks on 1 August at the same venue.

North Korea accelerates nuclear fuel processing, satellite images suggest
Deutsche Welle
Thermal images of North Korea's main nuclear plant suggest that Pyongyang has reprocessed more weapons-grade plutonium than previously thought. The information, which comes from 38 North, a Washington-based think tank connected to Johns Hopkins University, likely means that the North can expand its nuclear weapons stockpile more rapidly than has been estimated up to now.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran Detains Rouhani’s Brother Amid Spat With Hardliners
Bloomberg
The brother of Iranian President Hassan Rouhani has been detained over unspecified “financial issues,” the nation’s judiciary said, a development that reflects increasing tensions between the president and his hardline political opponents. Judiciary spokesman Gholamhossein Mohseni-Ejei didn’t give a reason for the arrest of a brother who assisted Rouhani during nuclear talks that led to Iran’s 2015 agreement with world powers.

Iran detains president’s brother, sentences American
Washington Post
Iran has imprisoned a Chinese-American man for ten years after accusing him of “infiltrating” the country and detained President Hassan Rouhani’s brother over allegations of financial misconduct, authorities said Sunday. News of the detentions comes less than two months after relative moderate Rouhani beat a hard-line opponent to win reelection by running in large part on his record of pursuing greater engagement with the West. They were announced by the judiciary, a pillar of hard-liners’ influence.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Thousands of NATO, partner troops stage exercises in Romania
Military Times
Thousands of troops from NATO and partner countries are staging exercises in Romania watched by a senior NATO official and Romania's president. President Klaus Iohannis and NATO Military Committee head Gen. Petr Pavel, who is on a two-day visit to Romania, were welcomed with military honors ahead of Saturday's exercises at the Cincu shooting range in northwest Romania.

SOUTH ASIA

Is India turning its nuclear focus toward China?
Deutsche Welle
A recent report by two top American experts that India's nuclear strategy is targeting China has drawn mixed responses from Indian experts and academics who maintain there is no cause for alarm about the country's nuclear position despite the changing geopolitical situation. Published in the July-August issue of the digital journal After Midnight, the article claimed that India is busy developing a missile, which can target all of China from its bases located in southern India.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Stalled Russia sanctions bill hits North Korean snag in U.S. Congress
Reuters
A bill that many lawmakers hoped would send a message to President Donald Trump to keep a strong line against Russia hit a new snag in the U.S. House of Representatives on Friday, as Republicans proposed combining it with sanctions on North Korea.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The Ayatollah’s Billion-Dollar Alaskan Bag Man
Politico, Zach Dorfman
The case of Kenneth Keun Zong shows just how fraught this process can be, even when the international community is relatively united, as it was regarding Iran’s nuclear program during the Obama years. Even then, a single U.S. citizen, allegedly aided by bankers and government officials of one of America’s closest allies, was able to puncture the sanctions regime with unsettling ease. How will the Trump's team, lacking even this modicum of international cooperation and goodwill, be able to cut off Iran from the global financial system?

Russia Isn’t Delivering for Donald Trump
The New York Times, Editorial
There is nothing wrong with Mr. Trump’s ambition to improve relations with Moscow, given Russia’s importance as a nuclear weapons superpower with a United Nations Security Council veto. But that does not mean it is wise to underestimate, as Mr. Trump seems to do, the threat posed by Mr. Putin’s efforts to weaken NATO and the trans-Atlantic alliance, subvert democratic procedures and institutions in Europe and America, wage cyberwarfare, destabilize Ukraine and secure influence in Syria.

The ‘Worst Deal Ever’ That Actually Wasn’t
The Atlantic, Philip Gordon and Richard Nephew
Today, the Iran nuclear deal turns two years old. In its critics’ eyes, it has already failed. In fact, the deal is doing exactly what is was supposed to do: prevent Iran from acquiring enough fissile material for a nuclear weapon, demonstrate to the Iranian public the benefits of cooperation with the international community, and buy time for potential changes in Iranian politics and foreign policy. 

Contours of a Third Nuclear Age
National Institute for Public Policy, Hans Ruhle and Michael Ruhle
We still live in the second nuclear age. It is nevertheless useful to think about the developments that could herald the advent of a third nuclear age. With a new 2017 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) currently underway, the United States is set to re-think once more the role of – and the complex relationships between – conventional and nuclear deterrence, extended deterrence, proliferation, and missile defense.

SPECIAL INTEREST

‘Quite odd’: coral and fish thrive on Bikini Atoll 70 years after nuclear tests
The Guardian
The former island paradise of Bikini Atoll is slowing blooming back to life, 70 years after the United States dropped 23 nuclear bombs on it, including a device in 1954 that was 1,100-times larger than the Hiroshima atom bomb. A team of scientists from Stanford University have been surprised to discover an abundance of marine life apparently thriving in the crater of Bikini Atoll, which was declared a nuclear wasteland after the bombings, with its 167 inhabitants relocated to other islands.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 14, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 14, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea’s Yongbyon Facility: Probable Production of Additional Plutonium for Nuclear Weapons
38 North

North Korea says to take "corresponding measures" if U.N. adopts sanctions
Reuters

Trump administration plans to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear agreement
Washington Post

Without the Iran nuclear agreement, the world would be in supreme danger
Boris Johnson, Washington Post

EAST ASIA

U.S. prepares new sanctions on Chinese firms over North Korea ties – officials
Reuters
Frustrated that China has not done more to rein in North Korea, the Trump administration could impose new sanctions on small Chinese banks and other firms doing business with Pyongyang within weeks, two senior U.S. officials said.

North Korea’s Yongbyon Facility: Probable Production of Additional Plutonium for Nuclear Weapons
38 North
There have apparently been at least two unreported reprocessing campaigns to produce an undetermined amount of plutonium that can further increase North Korea’s nuclear weapons stockpile.

North Korea says to take "corresponding measures" if U.N. adopts sanctions
Reuters
North Korea said on Friday it will take "corresponding measures" if the U.N. Security Council adopts another sanctions resolution in response to the North's test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week.

N. Korea likely developing more accurate close-range ballistic missiles: report
Yonhap News
North Korea is likely developing close-range ballistic missiles with increased accuracy, range and lethality, a U.S. military intelligence report showed Thursday.

North Korea’s nuclear weapons advancements under the 3 Kims
Associated Press
After North Korea’s first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, the country’s leader, Kim Jong Un, has moved one step closer to perfecting a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States, a weapons program launched by his grandfather and nurtured by his father.

MIDDLE EAST

Trump administration plans to certify Iranian compliance with nuclear agreement
Washington Post
The Trump administration, delaying an anticipated confrontation with Iran until the completion of a long-awaited policy review, plans to recertify Tehran’s compliance with the Obama-era nuclear deal, according to U.S. and foreign officials.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO, Moscow Squabble Over Russian War Games Near Alliance Borders
Wall Street Journal
Ambassadors to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization squared off with Russian diplomats in Brussels on Thursday over Moscow’s planned military exercises near the Western bloc’s borders.

SOUTH ASIA

Is India turning its nuclear focus toward China?
Deutsche Welle
A recent report by two top American experts that India's nuclear strategy is targeting China has drawn mixed responses from Indian experts and academics who maintain there is no cause for alarm about the country's nuclear position despite the changing geopolitical situation.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US nuclear agency sets expectations for Los Alamos contract
Associated Press
The U.S. agency responsible for overseeing the nation’s nuclear weapons cache is laying out the qualifications that will be required from the next manager of Los Alamos National Laboratory.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Without the Iran nuclear agreement, the world would be in supreme danger
Boris Johnson, Washington Post
In the troubled landscape of the Middle East, success is measured by the crises we avoid. The JCPOA has neutralized the supreme danger of a nuclear-armed Iran for at least a decade. That’s one less threat to worry about.

West Can Neither Live with nor Take Out North Korean Nukes
Victor Davis Hanson, National Review
We are nearing an existential showdown, as failed efforts at bribery and appeasement have run their course. Only a tough, messy confrontation now can prevent a disastrous war later on.

SPECIAL INTEREST

The US-Russian teamwork that kept nuclear weapons safe
Siegfried Hecker and Paul White, The Bulletin of Atomic Scientists
“Nuclear weapons stink when taken apart,” a Russian nuclear weapons engineer told his audience. The year was 2000, and he spoke to a group of Russian and American experts who were attending a workshop in Sarov, the Russian Los Alamos, on how to safely dismantle nuclear weapons.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 13, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 13, 2017


TOP NEWS

Chinese imports from North Korea fall sharply, a sign that Beijing is cracking down?
Washington Post

Iran to US: Worry about your own domestic problems
Al-Monitor

White House knocks defense bill’s Crimea, INF Treaty provisions
The Hill

EAST ASIA

Chinese imports from North Korea fall sharply, a sign that Beijing is cracking down?
Washington Post
China’s imports from North Korea dropped sharply in the first half of this year, according to figures published Thursday that suggest Beijing is more serious about cracking down on Pyongyang than President Trump has recently claimed. The Trump administration has been calling on Beijing to use its economic leverage over its errant neighbor. But, after North Korea launched a missile technically capable of reaching the United States last week, Trump suggested he’d given up on China.

North Korea weighing a return to talks as missile launch boosts its bargaining power, US nuclear expert says
South China Morning Post
Pyongyang’s latest successful intercontinental ballistic missile test has given it confidence in its negotiating power and it is seriously considering a return to talks, a top US nuclear expert who helped organise informal talks between Washington and Pyongyang said.

Moon adviser proposes five-way talks on North Korea’s nuclear program
Japan Times
An aide to South Korean President Moon Jae-in has proposed that five-way talks be held among Japan, the United States, China, Russia and South Korea in dealing with North Korea’s nuclear program. Tokyo, Washington, Beijing, Moscow, and Seoul should discuss what incentives they can offer to North Korea in case Pyongyang freezes its nuclear facilities and dismantles them in a verifiable manner, he said.

Earthquake off North Korea not result of nuclear test: Pentagon
Reuters
A magnitude 6.0 earthquake that struck off North Korea in the Sea of Japan does not appear to have been caused by a nuclear test, the Pentagon said on Wednesday, citing initial reports. 

South Korea: No proof cash to Kaesong went to North Korea arms programmes
Reuters
There was no evidence that North Korea had diverted wages paid to its workers by South Korean companies operating in now-suspended industrial park on their border to its weapons programmes, a South Korean official said on Thursday. The assertion by the official in President Moon Jae-in's government was a reversal of the contention by the previous government that most of the cash that flowed into the jointly run Kaesong project was diverted to North Korea's military.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran to US: Worry about your own domestic problems
Al-Monitor
Iranian officials have condemned US Secretary of Defense James Mattis for calling for regime change in Iran. Iranian officials responded on July 11. “Instead of making decisions for other countries, the secretary of defense and the American ruling party better think about their own domestic issues and review the causes of the collapse of its administration in the not too distant future,” said Iran’s Defense Minister Hossein Dehghan.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO secretary general honors Ukraine, speaks out against Russia
Defense News
NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg visited Ukraine last weekend to honor 20 years of partnership, according to a NATO announcement. While there, Stoltenberg pointedly spoke out against Russian aggression during his remarks. “Russia has maintained its aggressive actions against Ukraine. But NATO and NATO allies stand on your side,” he said. “NATO allies do not, and will not, recognize Russia’s illegal and illegitimate annexation of Crimea.”

U.K. Plan to Quit European Nuclear Treaty Stirs Alarm
New York Times
The British government’s plan to withdraw from a seminal European treaty governing the movement of nuclear material is generating alarm that it might hobble Britain’s nuclear industry, destroy thousands of jobs and even deny cancer patients treatments that rely heavily on nuclear isotopes.

SOUTH ASIA

India modernizing nuclear arsenal with eye on China: US experts
The Hindu
India continues to modernise its atomic arsenal with an eye on China and the country’s nuclear strategy which traditionally focused on Pakistan now appears to place increased emphasis on the Communist giant, two top American nuclear experts have said. India is estimated to have produced enough plutonium for 150—200 nuclear warheads but has likely produced only 120—130.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

White House knocks defense bill’s Crimea, INF Treaty provisions
The Hill
The Trump administration on Wednesday took issue with a number of provisions in the House version of the annual defense policy bill, but generally commended lawmakers for bulking up military spending. Among the provisions targeted by the administration are ones that would prevent a new round of base closures, establish a new branch of the military dedicated to space, limit an arms treaty with Russia, require congressional notification of cyber operations and prevent recognition of Russian sovereignty over Crimea.

Perry: Hacking threat to US nuclear reactors ‘real,’ ongoing
Fifth Domain
Energy Secretary Rick Perry said Tuesday that “state-sponsored” or criminal hackers are targeting U.S. nuclear power plants and other energy providers, but said the government has resources to safeguard the nation’s electric grid.

Dems try to force House GOP’s hand on Russia sanctions
Politico
House Democrats on Wednesday were trying to force the GOP’s hand in a bid to break the logjam over a bipartisan Senate-passed package of Russia sanctions. The Russia bill, which passed the Senate 98-2, was being held up in the House amid Republican concerns over its impact on U.S. oil and gas companies — as well as clashes over a change that would limit House Democrats’ power to force a vote blocking President Donald Trump from easing sanctions.

Trump Policy Nominee Boosts Nukes, Slams Russia
Breaking Defense
President Trump’s pick for the No. 2 policy job in the Pentagon, David Trachtenberg, endorsed new nuclear delivery systems, praised NATO and allies in general and took a hard line towards the Kremlin in his confirmation hearing today.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

North Korea: The Case for Deterrence
Real Clear Defense, David Santoro
Crispin Rovere and I discuss foreign policy all the time. Usually on Twitter. Virtually always on opposite ends of the argument. Not surprisingly, we again disagree over how the United States should respond to North Korea’s first test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) last week. I have already explained here what I regard as the “least bad agenda” after North Korea’s ICBM test, but let me respond to Crispin’s points, which I fear may be gaining currency in some U.S. policy circles.

North Korea’s Kim: Dictator? Reformer? Shrewd negotiator?
San Francisco Chronicle, Hyung-Jin Kim
When Kim Jong Un took the helm of North Korea in late 2011, speculation swirled around the young, Swiss-educated leader. What would he do for an economically backward authoritarian nation that had been in a high-stakes nuclear standoff with its neighbors and Washington for years? Almost six years later, there are still unanswered questions, but some things about Kim have come into focus.

North Korea’s bomb program under 3 generations of Kim family
WTop, The Associated Press
After his country’s first test-firing of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, North Korea’s young leader, Kim Jong Un, has moved one step closer to perfecting a nuclear missile capable of reaching the United States, a weapons program launched by his grandfather and nurtured by his father.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 12, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 12, 2017

TOP NEWS

Iran deal ‘does not belong to one country’: EU’s top diplomat
Reuters

With Fraying U.S.-Russian Ties Comes Fraying Arms Control
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty

How to Reason With a Nuclear Rogue
Foreign Policy, Jon Wolfsthal

EAST ASIA

‘North Korea could hit San Diego with ICBM within two years’, US monitoring group says
South China Morning Post
North Korea’s intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) is “likely” to be able to deliver a 500kg warhead to San Diego within two years, a US monitoring group said on Tuesday, after its launch sparked global alarm last week. The isolated, nuclear-armed state’s first successful ICBM test was described by leader Kim Jong-un as a gift to “American bastards”.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran deal ‘does not belong to one country’: EU’s top diplomat
Reuters
The European Union respects the United States' review of the 2015 deal with Iran but will make clear to Washington that it was an international accord endorsed by the United Nations, the EU's foreign policy chief said on Tuesday. "The nuclear deal doesn't belong to one country, it belongs to the international community," Federica Mogherini told a news conference alongside Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov. "We have the responsibility to make sure that this continues to be implemented."

US-Europe divide broadens as Trump reviews Iran deal
Asia Times
European officials are expressing concern that Western banks and investors will stay away from Iran as the Trump administration reviews the nuclear deal reached with Iran. The Wall Street Journal reports that officials are concerned about the lack of clear timeline for review, which they understood would be over in July, but now appears set to drag on.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

With Fraying U.S.-Russian Ties Comes Fraying Arms Control
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
The U.S. Congress is moving decisively to start dismantling some of the bedrock agreements of U.S.-Russian arms control, reflecting the dangerous state of relations between Washington and Moscow and raising the specter of a new arms race. In a series of measures attached to the proposed $696 billion defense budget for 2018, Republican-led lawmakers have taken aim at the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty, as well as the Open Skies and New START treaties.

Patriot Missiles Deployed In NATO Exercises In Baltics
Associated Press
Lithuania's Defense Ministry says that long-range Patriot missiles are being deployed for the first time in NATO military exercises in the Baltic republics. The Tobruq Legacy 2017 drill, which began Tuesday, involves troops and air defense systems from five NATO countries, including Britain, the U.S., Latvia, and Poland.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US Army missile defense system destroys target in test
Defense News
The U.S. Army’s missile defense system capable of taking out targets in the last phase of flight intercepted a threat target on Tuesday in a Missile Defense Agency test out of Kodiak, Alaska, according to Lockheed Martin, the system’s manufacturer. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system at Pacific Spaceport Complex — Alaska “detected, tracked and intercepted” a threat target designed to represent an intermediate-range ballistic missile, a first for THAAD, according to a company statement.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Zapad: A Window into Russia’s Military Mind?
Real Clear Defense, Rachel Ansley
Russia’s large-scale military exercise to be conducted in September can provide critical insight for NATO allies seeking to improve their readiness posture against an increasingly revanchist Russia, according to an Estonian defense official.

How to Reason With a Nuclear Rogue
Foreign Policy, Jon Wolfsthal
I have written before about the terrible problem President Donald Trump and the United States inherited on North Korea. It is worse than the terrible problem President Barack Obama inherited from President George W. Bush, which was worse than the one Bush inherited from President Bill Clinton. There are no easy solutions to North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs. As with China 50 years ago, the situation leaves only one real option: deterrence.

GOP senators want Tillerson to get tougher on Iran
Washington Post, Josh Rogin
Four leading GOP senators wrote to Tillerson on Tuesday about the Iran deal, which he is required by law to weigh in on every 90 days. In April, Tillerson disagreed with other Trump administration officials and decided to certify that Iran was in compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action and that sanctions relief was in the national security interest of the United States.

Why Is Russia Aiming Missiles at China?
The Diplomat, Guy Plopsky
Whereas the task of Iskander-M OTRKs being deployed in Russia’s Western MD is to hold U.S. and allied forces in the Baltics and Poland at risk, the systems stationed in the Eastern MD appear to primarily serve a different purpose: strengthening both Russia’s conventional and nuclear deterrence against China.

Nuclear Weapons: The Burden and the Dream for Peace
Huffington Post, Rabbi Dr. Shmuly Yanklowitz
Nuclear weapons reveal about a challenging paradox about the current state of humanity. On the one hand, most officials and ordinary citizens denounce the unprecedented destructive capacity of nuclear warheads. On the other hand, it is difficult to find a nation that wouldn’t want to possess them, on the grounds of deterrence or intimidation. Only the future can reveal how dangerous this paradox is.

The Prime Minister’s Decision to Leave Euratom Shows She Is Willing To Put Ideology Above Jobs and Nuclear Safety
Huffington Post UK, Keir Starmer
Euratom has provided a framework that has allowed Britain to become a world leader in nuclear research and which has enabled the safe and stable supply of fissile materials. It also plays a role in our NHS, and the Royal College of Radiologists has expressed concern that cancer patients could face delays in treatments if the supply of radioactive isotopes, used in scans and treatments, is threatened. It’s increasingly clear that this was a reckless decision.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 11, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 11, 2017

TOP NEWS 

U.S. aims for U.N. vote on North Korea sanctions within weeks: diplomats
Reuters

US, 16 nations join forces for Sea Breeze 2017
Navy Times

A controversial ban and the long game to delegitimize nuclear weapons
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sharon Squassoni 

EAST ASIA

South Korea says North doesn’t have ICBM re-entry technology
Reuters
South Korea's intelligence agency does not believe North Korea has secured re-entry capabilities for its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, a South Korean lawmaker said on Tuesday, disputing Pyongyang's account. North Korea launched what was said to be a nuclear-capable ICBM last week as it presses on with its nuclear and missile programs in defiance of United Nations sanctions.  

U.S. aims for U.N. vote on North Korea sanctions within weeks: diplomats
Reuters
United States Ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley aims to put to a vote within weeks a U.N. Security Council resolution to impose stronger sanctions on North Korea over its long-range ballistic missile test, said several senior U.N. diplomats. Haley told some U.N. diplomats late last week of the ambitious timeline for a U.N. response to North Korea's launch on Tuesday.

S. Korea to seek inter-Korean talks after examining N.K. response to Moon’s proposal
Yonhap
South Korea's unification ministry said Monday it will seek inter-Korean talks after gauging North Korea's reaction to President Moon Jae-in's latest proposal to bring peace to the divided peninsula. Moon unveiled his broad vision for improving inter-Korean relations during his speech in Berlin last Thursday, two days after North Korea test-fired its first intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).

MIDDLE EAST

Iran plans 14 oil and gas exploration tenders
Reuters
Iran is readying its first round of oil and gas exploration tenders since the easing of economic sanctions, hoping to attract the likes of BP and Gazprom, an Iranian energy official said on Monday. Sitting on some of the world's biggest energy reserves, Iran has already been working on deals to develop existing fields such as South Pars, South Azadegan, Yadavaran, West Karoon, Mansuri and Abe-Timur.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO Chief Calls On Russia To Remove ‘Thousands Of Troops’ From Ukraine
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty
NATO Secretary-General Jens Stoltenberg has affirmed the alliance's "unwavering support" for Ukraine's territorial integrity and has called on Russia to remove its "thousands of soldiers from Ukraine.” "I am convinced that an investment in Ukraine's security is an investment into the security of NATO and its member states that pays off," Stoltenberg said, adding that the alliance is "learning a lot" from the cyberattacks that Ukraine has endured in recent months.

US, 16 nations join forces for Sea Breeze 2017
Navy Times
Two U.S. ships, around 800 troops and a team of Navy SEALs will participate in the 17th rendition of Sea Breeze, an annual maritime training exercise in the Black Sea, according to a Navy release. Sea Breeze 2017 will bring together 17 navies from around the world to Odessa, Ukraine, and is expected to last 12 days. The exercises come as tensions boil between the U.S. and Russia over the Black Sea. In response to the two-week training, Russia’s Black Sea Fleet will monitor the exercises from afar, according to a Russian news agency.

SOUTH ASIA

US Raises Pressure on Kashmir Militants Fighting India
Voice of America
The U.S. State Department has declared Syed Salahuddin, the Pakistan-based chief of Hizbul Mujahideen, as a "global terrorist," and imposed new sanctions aimed at suppressing his organization, one of the major militant groups fighting against Indian rule in Kashmir. India and Pakistan have gone to war over Kashmir three times: at the time of partition, in 1947, and later in 1965 and 1999. Since both India and Pakistan now have nuclear weapons, the element of risk in such conflicts has now risen exponentially.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US says missile defense system successfully intercepts projectile during test
CNN
A United States-built missile defense system on Tuesday successfully intercepted its target during a test run, the US Missile Defense Agency said. The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defense system successfully shot down a target over Alaska, according to a news release.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

A controversial ban and the long game to delegitimize nuclear weapons
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists
Sometimes it pays to be in the room when your future is being negotiated, even if it includes a ban on your favorite weapons. This is what nuclear weapon states and their allies may find out by the end of this year or early in the next, when the nuclear weapons ban treaty approved in New York on July 7 is likely to enter into force.

North Korea’s surprising, lucrative relationship with Africa
Washington Post, Kevin Sieff
Near the southern tip of Africa, 8,000 miles from Pyongyang, this capital city is an unlikely testament to North Korean industry. There’s the futuristic national history museum, the sleek presidential palace, the sprawling defense headquarters and the shadowy munitions factory. They were built — or are still being constructed — by North Korea, for a profit.

The Trump administration should read its own documents about regime change in Iran
Washington Post, Ishaan Tharoor
Mossadegh's overthrow — and the restoration of the shah of Iran's authoritarian, pro-Western regime — animated the idea of the United States and Britain, whose Anglo-Persian Oil Company (now known as BP) once dominated the Iranian oil industry, as meddling neo-imperialist oppressors. And it's still relevant at a time when a whole wing of the Washington establishment openly desires regime change in Tehran.

What is True and Not True About North Korea’s Hwasong-14 ICBM: A Technical Evaluation
38 North, John Schilling
The Hwasong-14 that flew last week was surprising in several respects. On the surface, it appeared to be a completely different missile than the one North Korea rolled out under the name of “Hwasong-14” back in 2015. On close examination, however, this new Hwasong-14 appears to be closely based on elements of several previous North Korean missiles. In fact, very little of the Hwasong-14 is truly new.

After the Prohibition Treaty
Arms Control Wonk, Michael Krepon
The negotiation by non-nuclear-weapon states of a treaty banning nuclear weapons was followed by the usual refrain, “Now comes the hard part.” Every nuclear arms treaty until this one has reflected no more than what domestic and international politics would allow. Harder problems would be tackled later. The racket you hear is these cans being kicked down the road.

The Uneasy Partnership Between North Korea and China
NPR, Jonathan Pollack
China "continues to walk on eggshells" when it comes to North Korea, says historian Jonathan Pollack. NPR's Rachel Martin asks Pollack about about North Korea's fraught relationship with its neighbor.

SPECIAL INTEREST

Scientists used abacuses to develop China’s first nuclear submarine
South China Morning Post
Now 93, Huang Xuhua, chief designer of the Long March-1, said he still owns one of the suanpan [abacuses] that were used by his team almost 60 years ago, Chutian Metropolis Daily reported on Monday. “Lots of critical data used in the development of the nuclear submarine jumped out from this suanpan,” he was quoted as saying.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 10, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 10, 2017

TOP NEWS 

U.S. senators drafting legislation imposing new sanctions on N. Korea
Yonhap

North Korea calls US practice bombing run a provocation
Military Times

Outlining The U.S. Defenses Against A Missile Attack
NPR, Kingston Reif

EAST ASIA

The secret to Kim’s success? Some experts see Russian echoes in North Korea’s missile advances
Washington Post
Four months before its July 4 missile test, North Korea offered the world a rare technical preview of its latest missile engine, one said to be capable of lobbing nuclear warheads at U.S. cities. A video on state-run TV depicted a machine with thickets of tubes and vents, and a shape that struck some U.S. experts as familiar — in a distinctly Soviet way.

North Korea calls US practice bombing run a provocation
Military Times
North Korean state media have sharply criticized a recent practice bombing run by two U.S. B-1B bombers on the Korean Peninsula, calling it a dangerous move raising the risk of nuclear war. A commentary Sunday in the ruling party's Rodong Sinmun newspaper accused the U.S. of "reckless military provocations" and said the danger of nuclear war is reaching an extreme pitch.

N. Korea ‘still on standby’ for nuke test: 38 North
Yonhap
North Korea appears to maintain its readiness to conduct another nuclear test at any time, but no new activity has been spotted at its Punggye-ri site to suggest a test is imminent, U.S. researchers monitoring the secretive nation said Sunday. Citing the satellite imagery from June 28 and July 5, they said, on the 38 North website, "No significant new activity can be observed."

Speeding to fix spotty satellite coverage over North Korea
C4ISRNET
The National Geospatial-Intelligence Agency is looking to create new partnerships that will close gaps present in tracking North Korea’s expansion of their missile arsenal. The agency coordinates satellite-based mapping and intelligence for the government, but has had trouble with some coverage over North Korea. As a result, the government has worried that missile preparations in North Korea will go unseen, leaving the United States, South Korea, and Japan unprepared.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

US has Told Russia to De-escalate Ukraine Eastern Violence
Voice of America
During his first official visit to Kyiv Sunday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the U.S. has told Russia it must take the first steps to de-escalate violence in Eastern Ukraine. Tillerson has named former U.S. Ambassador to NATO Kurt Volker to serve as Special Representative for Ukraine Negotiations. Volker, who was traveling with Tillerson to Ukraine, will also engage regularly with all parties handling the Ukraine negotiations under the so-called Normandy Format — Germany, France, Russia and Ukraine.

U.S. officials say Russian government hackers have penetrated energy and nuclear company business networks
Washington Post
Russian government hackers were behind recent cyber-intrusions into the business systems of U.S. nuclear power and other energy companies in what appears to be an effort to assess their networks, according to U.S. government officials. The U.S. officials said there is no evidence the hackers breached or disrupted the core systems controlling operations at the plants, so the public was not at risk. Rather, they said, the hackers broke into systems dealing with business and administrative tasks, such as personnel.

SOUTH ASIA

Once a US Ally, Pakistan Now Looks to China, Russia
Voice of America
Once a key ally in the U.S. war on terrorism, Pakistan finds itself increasingly isolated from Washington amid allegations that it harbors more than a dozen terrorist groups. Instead, it has been steadily cozying up to China and Russia. Both of America’s primary rivals have been taking advantage of Pakistan’s paranoia about India, and gaps in Washington’s global influence as President Donald Trump continues to form his foreign policy in the strategic region.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION

122 Nations Approve ‘Historic’ Treaty Banning Nuclear Weapons
The Atlantic
More than 120 nations adopted the first international treaty banning nuclear weapons on Friday at the United Nations headquarters in New York City. The initiative—led by Austria, Brazil, Mexico, South Africa, and New Zealand—was approved by 122 votes, with only the Netherlands opposed, and Singapore abstaining. The nine countries generally recognized as possessing nuclear weapons were noticeably absent from the negotiations, as were most members of NATO.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

U.S. senators drafting legislation imposing new sanctions on N. Korea
Yonhap
Two U.S. senators are drafting a bill imposing new sanctions on North Korea in the wake of the communist nation's test-firing for the first time of an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the U.S. Sens. Pat Toomey (R-PA) and Chris Van Hollen (D-MD) will introduce the legislation in the coming weeks to help "exert maximum pressure ... on North Korea and its enablers," the Hill cited offices of the two senators saying in a joint memo.

Trump vows ‘to move forward’ with Putin
Politico
President Donald Trump said Sunday “it is time to move forward in working constructively with Russia,” despite multiple ongoing investigations into the Kremlin’s role in the 2016 campaign, including possible collusion with Trump associates.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Outlining The U.S. Defenses Against A Missile Attack
NPR, Kingston Reif
In light of North Korea's missile test this week, Kingston Reif of the Arms Control Association joins A Martinez to discuss the United States' missile defense capabilities.

Trump, North Korea and shifting alliances: is this a new world disorder?
The Guardian, Simon Tisdall
The overt US threats of punitive military action that followed last week’s provocative test-firing of a potentially nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile by North Korea transformed a long-running regional problem into a frightening global crisis. The confrontation, not yet defused, intensified broader fears that the world is becoming more dangerous and chaotic – and that no one is really in charge.

AP reporters on how North Korea, other nations view standoff
Washington Post
North Korea’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile July 4 raised the heat on tensions that have been building for decades, leaving the international community scrambling for an answer to containing Pyongyang’s nuclear ambitions. Below, Associated Press journalists who cover the standoff from both Koreas, Japan, China and the U.S. explain how each country hopes it is resolved.

Scared About North Korea? You Aren’t Scared Enough
Bloomberg, Jeffery Lewis
I've written two books on the history of China’s nuclear weapons program. The American reaction to Mao’s China and the bomb was pretty similar to the reaction to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program today. China’s goal, from the get-go in the 1950s, was to put a thermonuclear weapon on an ICBM that could reach the U.S. Americans had real trouble accepting that because it didn’t fit our image of a backwards, impoverished China. Of course, that was precisely why the Chinese did it. They had a different view of themselves and their future. It seems the same to me with North Korea. We think they are a joke. But I don’t see them laughing.

SPECIAL INTEREST

‘I’m worried about moose, not missiles.’ Alaskans on North Korea threat: Shrug.
Washington Post
With North Korea’s test of an intercontinental ballistic missile last week, the news has been filled with speculation that a nuclear warhead could reach the Last Frontier and that Anchorage could be the most realistic U.S. target for destruction. But people here have been talking about the possibility of missile strikes for decades, and Alaskans tend to focus on more tangible hazards. “I’m worried about moose, not missiles,” quipped Anchorage Mayor Ethan Berkowitz. “Bears, not bombs.”

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 7, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 7, 2017

TOP NEWS 

South Korea fires missiles in drills following North’s ICBM launch
Defense News

Russia’s former top diplomat urges Trump, Putin to open new security dialogue
Politico

A Treaty Is Reached to Ban Nuclear Arms. Now Comes the Hard Part.
New York Times

EAST ASIA

U.S. bombers challenge China in South China Sea flyover
Reuters
Two U.S bombers have flown over the disputed South China Sea, the U.S. Air Force said on Friday, asserting the right to treat the region as international territory despite China's claim to virtually all of the waterway. The flight on Thursday came as U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping prepare for a meeting on the sidelines of a G20 summit in Germany, where they were expected to discuss what China can do to rein in North Korea's missile and nuclear weapon programs.

South Korea fires missiles in drills following North’s ICBM launch
Defense News
South Korean jets and navy ships fired a barrage of guided-missiles into the ocean during drills Thursday, a display of military power two days after North Korea test-launched its first intercontinental ballistic missile. The North's ICBM launch, its most successful missile test to date, has stoked security worries in Washington, Seoul and Tokyo as it showed the country could eventually perfect a reliable nuclear missile capable of reaching anywhere in the United States.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia’s former top diplomat urges Trump, Putin to open new security dialogue
Politico
Vladimir Putin's previous foreign minister and onetime top security adviser has an urgent message for his former boss and President Donald Trump: Ratchet down military tensions to avoid a conflict neither side wants nor can afford. Igor Ivanov, who served as Russian foreign minister from 1998 to 2004, said he is speaking out because he worries that the steady deterioration of relations between Washington and Moscow will spin out of control if Trump and Putin don't establish a path for new security talks to stabilize the situation.

Poland signs memo with US outlining road map to buy Patriot, but no done deal yet
Defense News
Poland announced a two-phased plan to buy a missile defense system from the U.S. in a memorandum of intent that makes political headway but is no closer to minting an actual deal than it was earlier this year when the country said it would buy Patriot missile defense systems by the year’s end.

Russia objects to U.N. condemnation of North Korea, says test was not ICBM
Reuters
Russia objected on Thursday to a United Nations Security Council condemnation of North Korea's latest rocket launch because the U.S.-drafted statement labeled it an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and Moscow disagrees, diplomats said. Security Council statements have to be agreed by all 15 members. The Russian mission to the United Nations said it had proposed amendments to the U.S. draft.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION

A Treaty Is Reached to Ban Nuclear Arms. Now Comes the Hard Part.
New York Times
For the first time in the seven-decade effort to avert a nuclear war, a global treaty has been negotiated that proponents say would, if successful, lead to the destruction of all nuclear weapons and forever prohibit their use. Negotiators representing more than 130 counties of the 192-member United Nations finalized the 10-page treaty this week after months of talks.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US, China grow further apart as North Korean threat rises
Military Times
U.S. President Trump's hopes for China's help with restraining North Korea appear to have gone nowhere, with the two sides growing further apart as their approaches and concerns diverge. China shows no sign of caving to U.S. pressure to tighten the screws on North Korea, while the North's recent missile tests have done little to rattle Beijing, in contrast to the anxiety sparked in Washington. China's bottom line continues to hold fast: No to any measures that might topple Kim Jong Un's hard-line communist regime.

Hackers are Targeting Nuclear Facilities, Homeland Security Dept. and F.B.I. Say
New York Times
Since May, hackers have been penetrating the computer networks of companies that operate nuclear power stations and other energy facilities, as well as manufacturing plants in the United States and other countries. Among the companies targeted was the Wolf Creek Nuclear Operating Corporation, which runs a nuclear power plant near Burlington, Kansas.

Mattis: US no closer to war with North Korea after ICBM test
Fox News
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Thursday that the U.S. was no closer to war with North Korea after the rogue nation successfully tested an intercontinental ballistic missile earlier this week. "I do not believe this capability in itself brings us closer to war," said Mattis, who added that the North Korean launch also doesn't change the Trump administration's determination to pursue diplomacy to resolve the nuclear threat.

Trump warns of ‘severe’ consequences for North Korea as Russia, China balk at tough U.S. talk
Washington Post
President Trump on Thursday stepped up efforts to blunt North Korea, warning that the rogue nation could face “some pretty severe” consequences over its latest missile test and huddling for more than an hour with the leaders of Japan and South Korea. But even as Trump sought to use his proximity to world leaders ahead of the Group of 20 summit here to rally allies, the White House faced firm opposition from Russia and China over any retaliatory measures on Pyongyang.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Analysis: The message behind the murder: North Korea’s assassination sheds light on chemical weapons arsenal
Washington Post
In a case with a thousand plot twists, there has been but one constant in the murder investigation of Kim Jong Nam: Nothing is ever what it seems. Nearly five months after the killing, U.S. and Asian officials have a clearer view of the attack’s significance. In carrying out history’s first state-sponsored VX assassination in a country 3,000 miles from its borders, North Korea has demonstrated a new willingness to use its formidable arsenal of deadly toxins and poisons to kill or intimidate enemies on foreign soil, analysts say.

Time to Lose Your Illusions on North Korea
War on the Rocks, Richard Fontaine
The unveiling of North Korea’s new ICBM should inject a dose of realism into its North Korea policy. Too often, U.S. policy has aimed at attractive but unattainable objectives, and sought them through unrealistic means. The United States should respond to North Korea’s ICBM launch with a series of tough measures based on the actual, prevailing dynamics of power on the Korean peninsula and in Northeast Asia. This requires dropping a few illusions.

North Korea has one big advantage over its adversaries
Washington Post, Charles Lane
As yet another crisis looms in Northeast Asia, don’t bet against North Korea. In international affairs, as in life, clarity of purpose can be a huge advantage. And of all the parties to this seemingly endless struggle, only the regime in Pyongyang has it.

Time for Trump to get Tough on China
Politico, Anthony Ruggiero
For far too long, the U.S. has hamstrung its own sanctions regime in the misguided hope that China would restrain North Korea. The thinking among top U.S. officials has been that Beijing would decrease cooperation on North Korea if the U.S. sanctioned China. But Beijing will take action if Chinese banks and companies have to pay the price for aiding and abetting North Korea’s illicit weapons programs, as China did last September following U.S. indictments against a Chinese company and four Chinese individuals.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 6, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – July 6, 2017

TOP NEWS

China, Russia offer plan for easing North Korea tensions
Military Times

Playing nice: Trump’s expecting a warm welcome from Poland
Defense News

U.S. missile shield not yet ready for North Korean nukes
Politico

EAST ASIA

China, Russia offer plan for easing North Korea tensions
Military Times
Russia and China on Tuesday proposed a plan for defusing tensions over North Korea, suggesting that Pyongyang declare a moratorium on nuclear and missile tests while the United States and South Korea refrain from large-scale military exercises.

MIDDLE EAST

Khameni Wants Ballistic Missile Program Expansion
International Business Times
Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday urged the Islamic Revolution Guards Corps (IRGC) to boost the ballistic missile program of the country, reports said. After a meeting with the commanders of IRGC which had launched missiles against ISIS target in Syria in June, Khamenei tweeted the importance of the missile program.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Poland says signs memorandum to buy Patriot missile system from U.S.
Reuters
The U.S. agreed to sell Patriot missile defense systems to Poland in a memorandum signed on Wednesday night, Poland's Defence Minister Antoni Macierewicz said. "A memorandum was signed tonight that the U.S. government has agreed to sell Poland Patriot missiles in the most modern configuration," Macierewicz said in a news conference broadcast on public television on Thursday morning.

Playing nice: Trump’s expecting a warm welcome from Poland
Defense News
As U.S. President Donald Trump heads to Poland for the first time, he will likely receive a warm welcome. Trump is scheduled to deliver a speech Thursday in Warsaw before heading off to a meeting of the G20 nations in Germany. But while the expectation for Germany is another cold reception from Western powers, the Eastern countries have planned to embrace the U.S. leader.

European Nuclear Weapons Program Would Be Legal, German Review Finds
New York Times
A review recently commissioned by the German Parliament has determined that the country could legally finance the British or French nuclear weapons programs in exchange for their protection. The European Union could do the same if it changed its budgeting rules, the study found.

SOUTH ASIA

Pakistan test-fires short-range ballistic missile
Defense News
Pakistan says it has successfully tested a short-range surface-to-surface ballistic missile capable of carrying nuclear warheads. The military said Wednesday the NASR is a high-precision weapons system with the ability for quick deployment and a range of 70 kilometers, or 43.5 miles. It added that this system will augment credible deterrence against prevailing threats more effectively.

Pakistan Enhances Range of Controversial ‘Tactical’ Nuclear Weapon
Voice of America
Pakistan’s military announced Wednesday that it has successfully undertaken a series of flight tests of its battlefield nuclear-capable NASR missile this week, enhancing the rocket’s flight maneuverability and extending its range to 70 kilometers from 60.

Pakistan, India expanding nuclear arsenals as global stockpiles decrease: report
Dawn
Although global nuclear stockpiles witnessed a drop in 2017 compared to last year, Pakistan and India continue to expand its military fissile material production capabilities on a scale that may enable a significant increase in weapons inventories over the next 10 years, the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute (Sipri) said in a publication titled "Trends in world nuclear forces, 2017.”

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

North Korean missile advances put new stress on U.S. defenses
Military Times
North Korea's newly demonstrated missile muscle puts Alaska within range of potential attack and stresses the Pentagon's missile defenses like never before. The Pentagon has spent tens of billions to develop what it calls a limited defense against missiles capable of reaching U.S. soil. The system has never faced combat or been fully tested. The system succeeded May 30 in its first attempted intercept of a mock ICBM, but it hasn't faced more realistic conditions.

US warns North Korea that diplomatic window is closing
Military Times
The United States warned Wednesday that North Korea was "quickly closing off" the prospect of a diplomatic resolution to its provocations, as the Trump administration launched a government-wide effort to identify options for confronting Pyongyang following its unprecedented intercontinental ballistic missile launch.

U.S. missile shield not yet ready for North Korean nukes
Politico
Tens of billions of dollars spent over three decades have still left the Pentagon with no reliable way to shoot down nuclear-tipped missiles approaching the U.S. homeland. Instead, the missile defense system designed to shield the United States from an intercontinental ballistic missile has failed three of its five tests, military leaders acknowledge. Even the two successful ones were heavily scripted.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

At Trump-Putin Meeting, Start with New START
Defense One, Kingston Reif
President Trump apparently has “no specific agenda” for his first in-person meeting with Russian President Vladimir Putin, slated to occur this week on the sidelines of the G-20 Summit meeting in Hamburg, Germany. So we’d like to suggest one: stabilizing the increasingly troubled relationship between the world’s two largest nuclear powers, beginning by extending the landmark New Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, or New START.

Five Blunt Truths About the North Korea Crisis
The New York Times,Nicholas Kristof
The least awful option in the North Korea crisis is diplomacy. It should be aimed at a deal in which North Korea freezes its nuclear and missile programs in exchange for some sanctions relief and a downscaling of military exercises in the area. It’s not clear that this would work, but China has backed the general idea and some North Koreans have seemed open to the idea.

North Korea’s ICBM: A New Missile and a New Era
War on the Rocks, Ankit Panda and Vipin Narang
The consequences of what happened on July 4 are hard to exaggerate. The ICBM test is an important milestone in the overall development of North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, and crystallizes several ongoing trends in its nuclear force development and strategy. The launch also fundamentally changes the nature of the threat posed by North Korea to the United States and its regional allies, handing the Trump administration a difficult problem it can no longer avoid.

North Korea Just Called Trump’s Bluff. Here’s What the US Can Do
Defense One, Joe Cirincione
North Korea went nuclear on George W. Bush’s watch, advanced rapidly under Obama’s, and now, under Trump’s, will achieve what only two other U.S. adversaries have done in history—put America in its nuclear crosshairs. Can he be stopped? Yes, but it won’t be easy.

The right way to play the China card on North Korea
Washington Post, Jake Sullivan and Victor Cha
There is growing recognition that the old playbook won’t work. Reviving old agreements North Korea has already broken would be fruitless. The Chinese won’t deliver on meaningful pressure. And a military strike could lead to all-out war resulting in millions of casualties. We need to consider a new approach to diplomacy.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 28, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 28, 2017

TOP NEWS

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

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

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

EAST ASIA

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

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

MIDDLE EAST

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

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

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

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

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

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

SOUTH ASIA 

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

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

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

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

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

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

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

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

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

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 27, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 27, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea Can Produce Hydrogen Bomb But Is Not Likely To, Stanford Professor Says
International Business Times

Russian Navy test-fires submarine-launched missile
Defense News

House bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension
The Hill

EAST ASIA

North Korea Can Produce Hydrogen Bomb But Is Not Likely To, Stanford Professor Says
International Business Times
North Korea is advancing the development of hydrogen bomb and is capable of producing tritium, an important component in making hydrogen bombs, Siegfried Hecker, a nuclear scientist and professor at Stanford University, said Tuesday. The reclusive country has threatened the U.S. with hydrogen bomb and claimed last May that it successfully tested the atomic weapon.

Japan, U.S. to mull quicker missile defense upgrades, deployment of Aegis Ashore
The Japan Times
Japan will consider increasing the pace of upgrades to its ballistic missile defense system in cooperation with the United States as the allies race to meet the threat posed by an effective increase in the speed of North Korean missiles, a Japanese government source said. 

Foreign minister says Seoul has no plan to reverse THAAD deployment
Yonhap
South Korea will not reverse the planned deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system, its top diplomat said Monday, reiterating the government's stance apparently aimed at easing uncertainty surrounding the agreement with the United States reached by the previous government. 

North Korea at the top of agenda as South Korea’s new president comes to D.C.
Washington Post
During his upcoming visit to the U.S., Moon Jae-in will be going to the White House for what is shaping up to be a challenging summit, with the leaders taking sharply different approaches to dealing with North Korea and a continuing disagreement over an American antimissile system deployed to South Korea.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russian Navy test-fires submarine-launched missile
Defense News
The Russian military says it has successfully test-fired a submarine-launched intercontinental ballistic missile.  The Defence Ministry said the Yuri Dolgoruky nuclear-powered submarine launched the Bulava missile Monday from a submerged position in the Barents Sea. The ministry said the missile's mock warheads reached their designated targets on the opposite side of Russia — the Kura shooting range on the far eastern Kamchatka Peninsula.

Trump will start ‘No win arms race’ with Russia by scrapping nuclear missile deal, warns Moscow’s Defense Committee Chief
Newsweek
Russia will respond if the U.S. pulls out of a key nuclear disarmament pact, warned a leading defense official in Vladimir Putin’s ruling party, despite allegations that Russia has repeatedly violated the treaty.

NATO’s senior military officer: Russia threat growing on all fronts
Politico
NATO’s senior military officer said the alliance was confronting efforts by Russia to increase its military capabilities on virtually every level and allies were on guard to prevent any repeat of the Kremlin’s military intervention in Crimea and eastern Ukraine.

SOUTH ASIA

Mexico, India to hold disarmament meet
The Hindu
India and Mexico have agreed to hold an important conference on regional and global disarmament. The meeting would be headed by the Joint Secretary of the disarmament division of the Ministry of External Affairs (MEA) from the Indian side. It was taken up during the seventh meeting of the Mexico-India Joint Commission (JCM) and the fourth round of Foreign Office Consultations held on June 23 in Mexico City.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Trump eager for big meeting with Putin; some advisers wary
Military Times
President Donald Trump is eager to meet Russian President Vladimir Putin with full diplomatic bells and whistles when the two are in Germany for a multinational summit next month. But the idea is exposing deep divisions within the administration on the best way to approach Moscow in the midst of an ongoing investigation into Russian meddling in the U.S. elections. 

Trump administration welcomes financial watchdog’s Iran sanctions reprieve
Al-Monitor
The Donald Trump administration expressed support today for an intergovernmental watchdog’s decision that rewards the Iranian financial system for its relative progress combating money laundering and terrorism financing. The Financial Action Task Force (FATF) voted last week to continue suspending countermeasures on Iran indefinitely, while keeping the country on the banking advisory body’s black list. 

House bill threatens Russia with nuclear treaty suspension
The Hill
The House version of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) stipulates that should the Russians violate the Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and fail to comply within 15 months of the bill’s enactment, “the U.S. would no longer be legally bound by the treaty as a matter of domestic law,” according to a summary of the bill.

White House threatens Syria over possible chemical attack
Politico
The White House, in a rare high-stakes gambit that took some national security veterans off guard, announced Monday it has evidence that Syria is preparing to launch another chemical attack and warned that it will “pay a heavy price” for doing so. 

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Has South Korea renounced “nuclear hedging”?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists; Lami Kim=
The nonproliferation community may hail the Moon administration’s nuclear-free energy policy, as some view South Korea as a potential nuclear aspirant given the nuclear threats coming from its northern neighbor. Moon’s promise to reconsider South Korea’s pyroprocessing program and to phase out nuclear power may send a signal that Seoul is no longer pursuing a strategy of “nuclear hedging” that lies somewhere between nuclear pursuit and nuclear rollback, and is instead abandoning any future capacity to build nuclear weapons. 

Don’t Believe the Hype About European Defense
War on the Rocks; Luis Simon
Those invested in the notion that the European Union can become strategically autonomous interpret pretty much whatever happens out there as a catalyst for greater European defense cooperation. Every time there is some sort of global crisis or “external shock,” catalyst-related narratives pop up — there are just too many politicians, officials, and pundits in Europe who lust after such narratives.

Donald Trump’s bloodlust for war in the Middle East risks chaos
The Guardian; Trevor Timm
Lost among the deluge of stories about the Russia investigation and the Republicans’ push to take healthcare away from millions of people, the Trump administration is laying the groundwork for a disastrous regional proxy war against Iran in Syria, and possibly beyond.

SPECIAL INTEREST

The Terrifying Tale of the Russian Nuclear Submarine That Sank Twice
The National Interest
Under the conditions of the Cold War, Soviet workers, soldiers, and sailors of the Soviet Union did as well as they could. But the immense pressure of the Cold War inevitably produced accidents, often in the cutting edge systems that the Soviets needed most. K-429 sank because the Soviet leadership grew paranoid about American military advantages, and then sank again because the Soviets lacked the resources to maintain basic port facilities.

Middle East turmoil is disrupting a vital resource for nuclear energy, space flight, and birthday balloons
The Washington Post
The diplomatic and trade embargo on the tiny Middle Eastern nation of Qatar is creating devastating ripple effects around the globe, including in one little-noticed market: helium.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 22, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 22, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.S. Pressed to Pursue Deal to Freeze North Korea Missile Tests
The New York Times

US Navy ballistic missile intercept test fails
Defense News

North Korea, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Instability: Strategic Issues for Managing Crisis and Reducing Risk
38 North, Rebecca Hersman

EAST ASIA

U.S. Pressed to Pursue Deal to Freeze North Korea Missile Tests
The New York Times
The Trump administration has come under growing pressure to open negotiations on a temporary freeze on North Korea’s nuclear and missile tests in return for reducing the American military footprint in the Korean Peninsula, according to American officials and foreign diplomats.

South Korea president calls on China’s XI to do more on North Korea nuclear program
Reuters
South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Thursday China should do more to rein in North Korea's nuclear program and he would call on President Xi Jinping to lift measures against South Korean companies taken in retaliation against Seoul's decision to host a U.S. anti-missile defense system. In an interview with Reuters ahead of his trip to Washington next week for a summit with U.S. President Donald Trump, Moon said 'strong' sanctions should be imposed if North Korea tests an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) or conducts a sixth nuclear test.

MIDDLE EAST

Israel Just Launched A Containerized Ballistic Missile From the Deck of A Ship
The Drive
Though the concept has yet to find its big break, defense contractors continue to expand on the idea of highly mobile weapon systems that meet the size and weight restrictions of standard shipping containers. Now, Israel has tested such a system and says it has buyers already in line.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO F-16 warned away from plane carrying Russia’s defense minister, reports say
Air Force Times
A NATO F-16 fighter approached and was then warned away from a jet carrying Russia's defense minister over the Baltic Sea Wednesday, according to the Washington Post, citing reports in Russian media. The incident occurred over the Baltic Sea in northeastern Europe, according to reporters traveling with Defense Minister Sergei Shoigu, in international airspace crowded with Russian and NATO jets, the Washington Post reported.

Russian diplomat cancels meeting over new US sanctions
The Hill
Russia's deputy foreign minister has cancelled a scheduled meeting with Thomas A. Shannon Jr., the Under Secretary of State for political affairs, the State Department said Wednesday. According to the AP, Ryabkov said in a statement that "the situation is not conducive to holding a round of this dialogue" with the U.S.

SOUTH ASIA

India eyes breakthrough on U.S. surveillance drones ahead of Modi trip
Reuters
India is pushing for U.S. approval of its request to buy a naval variant of the Predator drone, officials said, as Prime Minister Narendra Modi tries to revitalize relations with Washington when he meets President Donald Trump for the first time. Securing agreement on the purchase of 22 unarmed drones is seen in New Delhi as a key test of defense ties that flourished under former President Barack Obama but have drifted under Trump, who has courted Asian rival China as he seeks Beijing's help to contain North Korea's nuclear program.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US Navy ballistic missile intercept test fails
Defense News
The U.S. Navy conducted a failed ballistic missile intercept Wednesday with its SM-3 Block IIA off the coast of Hawaii. The destroyer detected and tracked the target on the AN/SPY-1 phased array radar but was unable to intercept it. It was the second test of this latest iteration of the SM-3. The John Paul Jones successfully shot down a target in February with it. That test was the first intercept using Baseline 9.2C.

Scrutiny intensifies over safety at US nuclear weapons lab
Associated Press
The safety record at the U.S. laboratory that created the atomic bomb is facing intensifying criticism as work ramps up to produce a key component for the nation’s nuclear weapons cache. A series published this week by the Center for Public Integrity cites numerous internal reports and other documents outlining federal regulators’ concerns about safety lapses at Los Alamos National Laboratory over the years, including spilled plutonium and workers positioning plutonium rods in a way that could have been disastrous.

Mattis backs Trump tweet on China, North Korea
Politico
President Donald Trump “represents the American people’s view of North Korea,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Wednesday, backing up Trump's tweet declaring that China had failed in trying to ease the threat posed by North Korea.

Bipartisan House leaders unveil resolution endorsing NATO’s Article 5
The Hill
Bipartisan House leaders have introduced a measure reaffirming the U.S. commitment to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s mutual defense clause after President Trump declined to do so in a speech abroad last month. Top leaders, including House Minority Whip Steny Hoyer (D-Md.), Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.), Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy (R-Calif.) and House Foreign Affairs Committee Chairman Ed Royce (R-Calif.), unveiled the resolution on Wednesday.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The North Korea Instability Project: North Korea, Weapons of Mass Destruction and Instability: Strategic Issues for Managing Crisis and Reducing Risk
38 North, Rebecca Hersman
All too often discussions of instability, insurgency and regime collapse are used interchangeably to describe the catalyst of a potential weapons of mass destruction (WMD) crisis in North Korea. In fact, these are related, but discreet phenomena with critical distinctions that need to be made when considering related WMD risks.

This Is How Great-Power Wars Get Started
Foreign Policy, Emile Simpson
In the last month, for the first time since the civil war in Syria began in 2011, the United States has directly attacked Syrian government forces or proxies — not just once, but at least four times. The urgent question now is less about Syria than Russia, which in response to the latest of these incidents, in which a U.S. fighter plane shot down a Syrian jet, threatened to target any U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying over Syria.

The ban treaty: A big nuclear-weapon-free zone?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Sebastian Brixley-Williams
The nuclear weapons states seem to have accepted the idea that a treaty to prohibit nuclear weapons—known informally as the ban treaty—could indeed be the result of a UN conference being held this June and July in New York City. Nevertheless, some observers maintain that even if a ban treaty were to be negotiated, it would cause harm by distracting from and competing with progress in existing disarmament efforts—such as the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT), which already mandates all signatories pursue complete disarmament.

Trump’s tweet on China and North Korea: What did he mean?
The Washington Post, Barton Swaim
Of course, political language is never one-dimensional, especially not in the sphere of foreign relations. The things diplomats and their principals say in public to and about each other never mean exactly what they seem to mean, even (or especially) when they seem to mean very little. Every pundit knows this. Yet for some reason, most of them interpret Trump’s tweets more or less the way you interpret your washing machine’s warranty agreement. The words mean only what they seem to mean, nothing more.

SPECIAL INTEREST

In The Event Of Attack, Here’s How The Government Plans ‘To Save Itself’
NPR
Several years ago, when Garrett Graff was working at Washingtonian magazine, a coworker brought him a lost ID badge that he’d found on the floor of a parking garage. The badge led Graff to stumble onto one of the government bunkers designed to protect U.S. leaders in the event of a nuclear, chemical or biological weapon attack. The result of that curiosity is Graff's new book Raven Rock: The Story of the U.S. Government's Secret Plan to Save Itself – While the Rest of Us Die.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 21, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 21, 2017

TOP NEWS

China Counters Trump, Says North Korea Efforts ‘Indispensable’
Bloomberg

NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg warns Russia during Baltic military drills
Deutsche Welles

Russia’s Military Precision Strike Capability Prioritizes Iskander-M
Eurasia Daily Monitor

EAST ASIA

US spy satellites detect activity at North Korean nuclear test site
CNN
US spy satellites have detected new activity at North Korea's underground nuclear test site for the first time in several weeks, two US officials told CNN. The activity appears to involve some modifications around one of the tunnel entrances to an underground test area.

China says it is making unremitting efforts on North Korea nuclear issue
Reuters
China said on Wednesday it is making unremitting efforts on the North Korean nuclear issue, after U.S. President Donald Trump said Beijing had tried but failed to persuade Pyongyang to rein in its nuclear weapons program.

China Counters Trump, Says North Korea Efforts ‘Indispensable’
Bloomberg
China hit back at U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday, saying its efforts on North Korea have been “indispensable.”China has “played an important and constructive role” in seeking peace on the Korean peninsula, Foreign Ministry spokesman Geng Shuang told reporters in Beijing. China strictly implements United Nations Security Council resolutions and isn’t the crux of the North Korean issue, he said.

Washington, Seoul face growing rift over North Korea
Nikkei Asian Review
Ties between the U.S. and South Korea have cooled after a special adviser to South Korean President Moon Jae-in suggested scaling back joint military exercises, even as Washington ramps up its rhetoric on Pyongyang over the death of a college student. "If North Korea suspends its nuclear and missile activities, then we may consult with the U.S. about scaling down ... joint exercises and training," Moon Chung-in said at an event in Washington on Friday, local time.

S. Korea, China agree to maintain close communication on THAAD
Yonhap
Senior officials from Seoul and Beijing agreed on Tuesday to have frequent and close communications on the controversial deployment of a U.S. missile defense system in South Korea, Seoul's foreign ministry said. The agreement was reached during a high-level strategic dialogue in Beijing between Vice Foreign Minister Lim Sung-nam and his Chinese counterpart Zhang Yesui, according to the ministry.  

MIDDLE EAST

Russia Wants US Explanation for Downing Jet
The Associated Press
Russia says it is waiting for the U.S. to explain its decision to shoot down a Syrian warplane. Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said Tuesday that Moscow had asked for a "detailed explanation" of Monday's downing of a Syrian Su-22 bomber.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO’s Jens Stoltenberg warns Russia during Baltic military drills
Deutsche Welles
The deployment of battle groups to the Baltic countries and Poland aimed to send a clear message that "an attack on one NATO ally will trigger a response from the whole alliance," NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg said Tuesday. In an interview with DW's Teri Schultz at the site of the exercises in central Lithuania, Stoltenberg said the drills were part of a response to "a more assertive Russia."

Russian fighter comes within feet of Air Force recon plane
Air Force Times
A Russian fighter flew "within several feet" of an Air Force reconnaissance aircraft over the Baltic Sea Monday, the latest in a series of alarmingly close encounters between the two militaries.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US Gen Hyten wants Pentagon nuclear modernization efforts accelerated
IHS Jane’s
The United States officer in charge of its nuclear arsenal wants the Pentagon to accelerate its nuclear modernisation efforts. "I have a safe, secure, [and] reliable [nuclear] deterrent today and I will as long as I'm in command," US Strategic Command (USSTRATCOM) chief General John Hyten told reporters on 20 June following an Air Force Association (AFA)/Mitchell Institute breakfast on Capitol Hill. "The commanders who come after me, they need the same capability, which is why I want those schedules moving left."

Energy Sec Rick Perry warns Fukushima could happen here if US doesn’t deal with its nuclear waste
CNBC
Energy Secretary Rick Perry on Tuesday warned that the United States could suffer a nuclear disaster like Japan's Fukushima catastrophe if it does not find a solution for its nuclear waste. The Trump administration believes that solution is a long-delayed plan to store all of the country's nuclear waste at a facility located deep inside Nevada's Yucca Mountain.

Anti-nuclear bomb activists arrested at U.S. mission to U.N.
Reuters
More than a dozen activists were arrested for disorderly conduct after they blocked the entrances to the United States mission to the United Nations on Monday to protest Washington's decision to boycott negotiations on a nuclear weapons ban treaty.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Russia’s Military Precision Strike Capability Prioritizes Iskander-M
Eurasia Daily Monitor
As Russia’s Armed Forces await the details and specific implications of the new State Armaments Program to 2025 (Gosudarstvennaya Programma Vooruzheniya—GPV), there is widespread expectation that the military will receive more high-precision strike systems to complement its efforts to develop greater operational capabilities. Among these, the Iskander-M road-mobile theater ballistic missile system raises serious concerns for the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO), not least due to its deployment in Kaliningrad and the fact that it is capable of carrying either a conventional or a nuclear warhead.

Mapping the Threat of North Korea
The Atlantic
For decades, undeterred by sanctions and international isolation, North Korea has been increasing the power and range of its arsenal of missiles. The missiles shown here include those already in the Kim regime’s arsenal—the Scud series, the No-dong, and the KN-02—and those in development.

Trump Is on a Collision Course with Iran
Politico, Dennis Ross
Rarely has the Middle East been more baffling. Amid this confusion, Iran is pressing ahead to strengthen its grip on Syria, even as Trump goes after ISIS.

Fox News host indulges in warmongering on North Korea
The Washington Post, Eric Wemple
“The Fox News Specialists” — a newish panel-discussion show — grappled on Monday with the news that Otto Warmbier, an American who’d spent 17 months imprisoned in North Korea, had died after being sent home. Now that North Korean barbarity was directly affecting the United States, said host Eric Bolling, perhaps it’s time to do something more about this longtime threat. 

SPECIAL INTEREST

Scientists just took a major step towards achieving nuclear fusion
Wired
With the potential to provide almost limitless energy, free of any radioactive by-product or greenhouse gases, nuclear fusion is the goal many are aiming to achieve. Creating a system to harness the power of nuclear fusion is proving difficult, however. Now, researchers think they have taken a step closer to that goal.

How a Refrigerator Led to Einstein’s Please for Atomic Bomb Research
National Geographic
Albert Einstein is perhaps most famous for introducing the world to the equation E=mc2. In essence, he discovered that energy and mass are interchangeable, setting the stage for nuclear power—and atomic weapons. His part in the drama of nuclear war may have ended there if not for a simple refrigerator.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 20, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 20, 2017

TOP NEWS

Student’s Death Puts Trump Back to Square One on North Korea
Bloomberg

Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane
New York Times

Can China Actually Restrain Kim Jong-Un?
The Cipher Brief

EAST ASIA

Otto Warmbier dies days after release from North Korean detention
The Washington Post
Otto Warmbier, the University of Virginia student who was detained in North Korea for nearly a year and a half, died Monday afternoon, days after he returned home in a coma, his parents announced.

Student’s Death Puts Trump Back to Square One on North Korea
Bloomberg
The death of a 22-year-old college student in Ohio on Monday has dashed any hopes of a quick detente between the U.S. and North Korea.

North Korea looms over talks between China and US
South China Morning Post
China’s willingness to help rein in North Korea’s nuclear threat ­poses the biggest source of uncertainty in ties with the United States, as heightened tensions on the ­Korean peninsula look set to dominate a bilateral security gathering in Washington on Wednesday. Alongside North Korea’s nuclear brinkmanship, top officials from both sides will also attempt to bridge widening gaps over divergent security interests, which pundits believe are the “weakest link” of Sino-US relations that could lead to conflict if not properly managed.

U.S. commander says more combined drills with S. Korea needed
Yonhap
A top U.S. military commander in South Korea said he can't overemphasize the need for more combined exercises between the two countries, citing the seriousness of North Korea's weapons of mass destruction threats. "I am never satisfied. I want to do more training." said Maj. Gen. Theodore D. Martin, the commanding general of the 2nd Infantry Division. "I want all training to be combined just like we got a saying, 'Train like you fight.' We want to get to very high-level live-fire exercises."

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia Warns U.S. After Downing of Syrian Warplane
New York Times
Long-running tensions between the United States and Russia erupted publicly on Monday as Moscow condemned the American military’s downing of a Syrian warplane and threatened to target aircraft flown by the United States and its allies west of the Euphrates. The Russians also said they had suspended their use of a hotline that the American and Russian militaries used to avoid collisions of their aircraft in Syrian airspace.

White House says it retains right to self-defense in Syria; Moscow warns Washington
Reuters
The White House said on Monday that coalition forces fighting Islamic State militants in Syria retained the right to self-defense as Russia warned it viewed any planes flying in its area of operations as potential targets. Russia, a staunch ally of Syrian President Bashar al-Assad, said it would treat U.S.-led coalition aircraft flying west of the Euphrates River in Syria as potential targets and track them with missile systems and military aircraft. It stopped short of saying it would shoot them down.

NATO Holds Military Maneuvers In Poland, Near Lithuania Border
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty|
NATO has held its first war games focused on defending a land corridor along the Polish-Lithuanian border sandwiched between Russia's Kaliningrad exclave and Kremlin's close ally, Belarus. Lithuanian President Dalia Grybauskaite said on June 19 that the drills sent a "strong message of NATO readiness and commitment to ensure security of the region."

UNITED STATES

Cummings: Flynn didn’t disclose foreign contacts on security clearance form
Politico
Michael Flynn didn’t list any interactions with foreign government officials on his application last year to renew his security clearance, despite indicating in a speech days after submitting the application that he had had extensive contacts in Saudi Arabia and other countries, according to a letter Monday from two senior House Democrats. The letter requests documents from Flynn’s consulting firm and from two businesses that Flynn worked with to promote a U.S.-Russia joint effort, financed by Saudi Arabia, to build nuclear power plants in the Middle East.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Can China Actually Restrain Kim Jong-Un?
The Cipher Brief
On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army in Washington for the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. The top U.S. priority at the dialogue is finding common ground with China on curbing North Korea’s nuclear weapon and missile development.

Potential Savings in the Defense Budget
Huffington Post, Ivan Eland
Trump has promised to overhaul a nuclear arsenal that he has called “obsolete.” Barack Obama left him an expensive program―$1 trillion over 30 years—to revamp the nuclear triad of bombers, land based intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBMs), and submarine-launched ballistic missiles (SLBMs). Upgrading the oldest and most vulnerable of the legs of the triad—the land-based ICBMs—would be among most costly parts of the Trump administration’s military buildup.

SPECIAL INTEREST

What Would Happen in the Hours and Minutes after the US Bombed Iran?
Vice
Over the weekend, a report claiming that the Saudi coastguard had killed an Iranian fisherman, an announcement by Iran that it had fired multiple ballistic missiles into eastern Syria to target ISIS in retaliation for an attack in Tehran, and the shooting down of a Syrian plane by a US-led coalition only heightened tensions in the region. This state of affairs has some people very worried. In the Independent, businessman and human rights activist Andrew McCleod warned that Trump is on track to nuke Iran inside of two years. That's probably an exaggeration, but how much of an exaggeration?

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - June 19, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – June 19, 2017

TOP NEWS

Russia lets fly over nuclear war games as NATO surrounds Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad
The Times

Safety lapses undermine nuclear warhead work at Los Alamos
Washington Post

Top North Korean Nuclear Negotiator Met With U.S. Diplomats
The Wall Street Journal

EAST ASIA

Top North Korean Nuclear Negotiator Met With U.S. Diplomats
The Wall Street Journal
More than a year, American diplomats have held secret talks in Pyongyang and European cities with North Korea’s top nuclear negotiator, hoping to free U.S. prisoners and even establish a diplomatic channel to constrain North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs.

North Korea Accuses U.S. of ‘Mugging’ Diplomats at JFK Airport
Bloomberg
North Korea has accused U.S. officials of assaulting a delegation at New York’s John F. Kennedy International Airport by forcibly seizing a diplomatic package they were carrying. The KCNA report comes during a period of escalated tensions with the U.S. over the regime’s weapons programs, and shows how difficult it will be to move toward talks.

New South Korean president vows to end use of nuclear power
The Guardian
South Korea’s new president, Moon Jae-in, has vowed to phase out the country’s dependence on nuclear power, warning of “unimaginable consequences” from a Fukushima-style meltdown.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

NATO war game defends Baltic weak spot for first time
Reuters
U.S. and British troops have carried out the first large-scale NATO defensive drill on the border between Poland and Lithuania, rehearsing for a possible scenario in which Russia might try to sever the Baltic states from the rest of the Western alliance.

Russia lets fly over nuclear war games as NATO surrounds Baltic fleet in Kaliningrad
The Times
Operation Sabre Strike 2017 includes the first full deployment of America’s strategic nuclear bombers and a simulated air assault by the Royal Marines in the Baltics. Russia’s Baltic fleet is based in Kaliningrad and the territory also plays host to a deployment of Iskander short-range ballistic missiles with a 300-mile reach capable of carrying nuclear warheads.

SOUTH ASIA

India, China hold talks for strengthening strategic partnership, mutual dialogue
Hindustan Times
India on Sunday said it looks forward to strengthen its strategic partnership and mutual dialogue with China as the two sides held talks in Beijing amid differences over a host of issues including the USD 50 billion CPEC and India’s NSG membership bid.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Safety lapses undermine nuclear warhead work at Los Alamos
Washington Post
An extended shutdown of the nation’s only scientific laboratory for producing and testing the plutonium cores for its nuclear weapons has taken a toll on America’s arsenal, with key work postponed and delays looming in the production of components for new nuclear warheads, according to government documents and officials. 

Trump expresses fury over S. Korea’s decision to delay THAAD deployment: senior official
Yonhap
U.S. President Donald Trump expressed fury over South Korea's decision to delay the full deployment of the U.S. THAAD missile defense system pending an environmental assessment, a senior official said Sunday. Trump showed the reaction when he discussed the matter with Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Defense Secretary Jim Mattis at the White House on June 8.

This week in Congress: NDAA and new Pentagon leaders
Military Times
The Pentagon takes a step closer to filling a pair of key leadership posts and the House takes a step closer to passing a new defense authorization bill this week. Meanwhile, officials from the House Armed Services Committee will start their annual work on the defense budget with six subcommittee mark-ups of the defense authorization bill.

Defense Secretary Mattis explains what war with North Korea would look like
Business Insider
Asked on Thursday by Rep. Tim Ryan of the House Appropriations Committee to explain why the US doesn't just go to war to stop North Korea from developing the capability to hit the US, Secretary of Defense James Mattis painted a grim scenario. "It would be a war that fundamentally we don't want," Mattis said, but "we would win at great cost."

Raytheon to leverage hypersonic R&D for new generation AAM solution
IHS Jane’s
Raytheon Missile Systems (RMS) is expected to leverage its expanded research in hypersonic weapons technologies to inform the development of its next-generation air-to-air missile solution as a follow-on to the current AIM-120 Advanced Medium Range Air-to-Air Missile (AMRAAM) capability.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

‘The war after Isis’: has Trump opened the door to conflict with Iran?
The Guardian
US forces have opened fire on Iranian-backed forces in Syria three times in the past month, amid mounting tensions that observers and former officials worry could easily turn into an unplanned, spiraling conflict.

How to Deal With North Korea
The Atlantic, Mark Bowden
The myth holds that Korea and the Kim dynasty are one and the same. It is built almost entirely on the promise of standing up to a powerful and menacing foreign enemy. The more looming the threat—and Trump excels at looming—the better the narrative works for Kim Jong Un. Nukes are needed to repel this threat. They are the linchpin of North Korea’s defensive strategy, the single weapon standing between barbarian hordes and the glorious destiny of the Korean people.

Prevent nuclear catastrophe: Finally end the Korean War
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Masako Ikegami
The long-simmering confrontation between the United States and North Korea has reached a moment of unprecedented tension. The risk that unintended war will break out due to misjudgment is high. Indeed, as others have observed, East Asia is witnessing a “Cuban Missile Crisis in slow motion.” One of the most unthinkable options for the Korean Peninsula—but perhaps the most promising—is for the United States and China to finally pursue a formal end to the Korean War. 

Don’t believe the hype about Russia’s hypersonic missile
Popular Science, Kelsey D. Atherton
Hypersonic missiles designed to avoid defense systems are a modern development in the long-running military arms race. Russia’s Zircon missile could enter arsenals as early as 2018. Despite headlines to the contrary, not enough about the missile is known yet to definitely claim that it poses an uncounterable threats ships in the sea.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News-June 16, 2017

Nuclear Policy News –June 16, 2017

TOP NEWS

U.S. Accuses Chinese Company of Money Laundering for North Korea
New York Times

U.S. concerned about Baltic incidents in forthcoming Russian war games
Reuters

UN Closing in on Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Voice of America

EAST ASIA

U.S. Accuses Chinese Company of Money Laundering for North Korea
New York Times
United States prosecutors accused a Chinese company on Thursday of laundering money for North Korea and said they would seek $1.9 million in civil penalties, as American efforts to put pressure on the isolated country continue to affect Pyongyang’s neighbor and biggest benefactor.

Hiroshima mayor calls on U.N. to adopt nuclear weapons ban treaty
Japan Times
Hiroshima Mayor Kazumi Matsui on Thursday strongly called for the adoption of a treaty to legally ban nuclear weapons during the second session of a U.N. conference for negotiations on the pact that runs through July 7. “I am speaking today as mayor of Hiroshima — the first city (in the world) attacked by a nuclear weapon — to share the earnest wishes of hibakusha (atomic bomb survivors) for the elimination of nuclear weapons,” Matsui, 64, said in his address at the session.

Their life disrupted, South Korean grannies vow to fight THAAD till the end
Reuters
In Soseong-ri, a small farming village of about 80 residents in southern South Korea, a band of elderly women is at the forefront of protests against the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system next to their neighborhood.

MIDDLE EAST

U.S. Senate’s Iran sanctions are a breach of nuclear deal: senior Iranian official
Reuters
The U.S. Senate's decision to impose new sanctions on Iran is an "unquestionable" violation of a nuclear deal reached in 2015 between Tehran and six major powers including the United States, Iranian media quoted a senior Iranian official as saying.

Turkey gives Rosatom go ahead to build nuclear plant
Reuters
Russia's State Atomic Energy Corporation (Rosatom) won approval from Turkey's energy watchdog on Thursday to go ahead with building its $20 billion Akkuyu nuclear power plant in southern Turkey.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

U.S. concerned about Baltic incidents in forthcoming Russian war games
Reuters
The United States is concerned about possible Russian incursions along NATO's Baltic borders during large Russian military exercises in September and will send more troops to the area, the commander of U.S. troops in Europe said on Friday. Officials expect the exercise, in which Russian ally Belarus will also take part, could involve nuclear weapons training. Nuclear-capable mid-range modern Iskander missiles will be again deployed in the Russian Baltic enclave of Kaliningrad during the exercise, the officials said.

MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL AND NONPROLIFERATION

UN Closing in on Treaty to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Voice of America
The president of the U.N. conference drafting what could be the first treaty to ban nuclear weapons expressed confidence Thursday that with “the necessary political will” more than 130 countries supporting the initiative can reach agreement by the July 7 target.

United Nations Conference to Negotiate Legally Binding Treaty Prohibiting Nuclear Weapons Will Hold Second Substantive Session, 15 June – 7 July
United Nations
The second substantive session of the United Nations Conference to Negotiate a Legally Binding Instrument to Prohibit Nuclear Weapons, Leading towards Their Total Elimination will open in New York on 15 June, under the Presidency of Ambassador Elayne Whyte Gomez (Costa Rica).

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

United States, China to meet on North Korea on Wednesday
Reuters
U.S. and Chinese diplomatic and defense chiefs will meet Wednesday for a security dialogue that Washington says will focus on curbing North Korea's nuclear and missile programs. The talks in Washington will involve U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis as well as China's top diplomat, State Councilor Yang Jiechi, and General Fang Fenghui, chief of state of the People’s Liberation Army, the U.S. State Department said.

Senate overwhelmingly passes new Russia and Iran sanctions|
Washington Post
The Senate overwhelmingly passed a bill Thursday that would step up sanctions against Iran and Russia, in the process delivering a rebuke to President Trump’s policies toward Russia and Europe with a veto-proof majority.

Sanders: New Iran Sanctions could blow up nuclear deal
The Hill
Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) slammed the Senate's decision on Thursday to levy new sanctions on Iran, saying that the penalties could put the 2015 nuclear deal at risk. He said in a statement after the vote that, while he fully supported penalties against the Kremlin for its efforts to meddle in the 2016 election, the Iran sanctions could have dangerous consequences.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Of Mothballs and Modernizations
Real Clear Defense, Steven Wills
There have been recent discussions in maritime news outlets and the blog world regarding the possible reactivation of U.S. warships from the “mothball” fleet. Such ships could be used to help build the fleet to the 350-ship mark endorsed by the Trump administration and numerous defense experts. While perhaps an inviting prospect on the surface, such an undertaking is problematic and is not a good choice for increasing the size of the fleet in anything but a short-term assessment.

Can women save the world?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Elisabeth Eaves
We don’t have to turn to fiction to find women trying to save the world from weapons of mass destruction. In fact, the history of women-led peace movements is exceptionally rich.

How to Normalize Pakistan’s Nuclear Program
Foreign Affairs, Gaurav Kampani and Bharath Gopalaswamy
Since the 2005 Indian–U.S. Civil Nuclear Agreement, a number of notable nuclear arms control analysts and scholars have called for mainstreaming Pakistan into the nuclear nonproliferation regime, meaning the de facto acceptance of Pakistan as a nuclear weapons power. The failure of the United States to drive a hard nonproliferation bargain with India, these arms control advocates argue, has undermined the nuclear nonproliferation regime, a mistake that should not be repeated with Pakistan.

As Trump Bets on China’s Help on North Korea, Aides Ask: Is It Worth It?
New York Times, Mark Landler
There is no foreign leader on whom President Trump has placed a bigger bet than Xi Jinping of China. But a growing number of Mr. Trump’s aides fear that the bet is not paying off. China has not significantly tightened the pressure on North Korea since Mr. Trump met with Mr. Xi in Palm Beach, Fla., in April.

Why North Korea is testing so many missiles
The Economist
It is as if Kim Jong Un wants to be seen to be flinging his explosive toys about with ever more abandon. In recent months his rocketmen have fired off missiles in one test after another, often with the young, overfed dictator gleefully looking on. Korea-watchers are increasingly wondering what’s behind the ballistic frenzy.

The inconvenient truth about North Korea and China
Washington Post,Andrei Lankov
For the past 25 years, every new U.S. president has promised to do something about North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Some have tried negotiations, others have emphasized pressure. Neither approach has worked so far. Trump hopes to cajole China into joining him in a tough sanctions regime. The problem is that Beijing has valid reasons not to be too harsh on Pyongyang.

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