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Nuclear Policy News - August 1, 2017

Nuclear Policy News – August 1, 2017


TOP NEWS

 Analysts doubt North Korea’s ICBM re-entry capability
The Washington Post

Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression
The New York Times

U.S. to launch yet another test missile from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base
The Los Angeles Times

EAST ASIA

U.S. ‘ready’ to install more THAAD launchers: Pentagon
Yonhap
The United States is ready to deploy the remaining parts of an advanced missile defense system to South Korea, the Pentagon said Monday with tensions rising over North Korea's latest missile test 

Trump weighs sanctions against China to pressure Beijing to halt North Korea threat
South China Morning Post
US President Donald Trump’s top advisers are crafting a set of measures, including trade restrictions and economic sanctions against China, to further press North Korea’s major ally to rein in Pyongyang’s escalating nuclear weapons threat, US media reported.

 Analysts doubt North Korea’s ICBM re-entry capability
The Washington Post
U.S. and South Korean experts on Tuesday said Japanese video footage capturing the Hwasong-14’s re-entry vehicle shortly before it crashed into the sea suggests it failed to survive the extreme heat and pressure after re-entering the Earth’s atmosphere following its launch from northern North Korea on Friday.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran Says New U.S. Sanctions Breach Nuclear Deal: Tasnim News Agency
U.S. News and World Report
Iran has complained to the Joint Commission of the JCPOA (not U.N. Security Council) about sanctions the United States imposed on Iran in July, saying they breached Tehran's nuclear deal with major powers, the speaker of parliament was quoted on Tuesday as saying.

Amazon says it is under investigation for selling goods to Iranian embassy, others
The Washington Post
Amazon.com is under federal investigation for possibly violating U.S. sanctions on Iran, the online giant said Friday in a filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Reserves bolster deterrence efforts as Saber Guardian
Defense News
The U.S. Army-led Saber Guardian showed the U.S. Army reserve forces playing integral roles throughout the exercise across Romania, Bulgaria and Hungary this month. Lt. Gen. Ben Hodges, the U.S. Army Europe Command commander, said many of the major reemerging capabilities needed in Europe now come from the National Guard and the Reserve and he emphasized how reliant the command is on the reserves for amassing the right balance of military power to deter an aggressive Russia in Eastern Europe.

Russia’s Military Drills Near NATO Border Raise Fears of Aggression
The New York Times
Russia is preparing to send as many as 100,000 troops to the eastern edge of NATO territory at the end of the summer, one of the biggest steps yet in the military buildup undertaken by President Vladimir V. Putin and an exercise in intimidation that recalls the most ominous days of the Cold War.

Report: Pentagon has plan to arm Ukraine
Axios
The Pentagon and State Department have developed plans to arm Ukraine in its fight against Russia-backed separatists, the Wall St Journal reports. U.S. officials told the Journal the weapons are defensive. President Trump has not been briefed on the plan. The move would enrage Vladimir Putin and likely further inflame tensions with Russia.

VP Pence in Estonia: Attack on one NATO ally is attack on all
Military Times
U.S. Vice President Mike Pence on Monday strongly pledged America’s commitment to protecting NATO allies against attacks, including the Baltic states, which have anxiously watched a growing Russian military presence in the region.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Pentagon to unveil new acquisition structure on August 1
Defense News
The Pentagon is scheduled to deliver its new acquisition structure to Congress on Tuesday, a major step toward redesigning how the building researches and procures equipment.  

Russian missile deal with Turkey raises concern inside Pentagon
The Washington Times
Turkey’s decision to press forward with a multimillion dollar weapons deal with Russia is causing concern within the Pentagon, with U.S. defense officials concerned the Russian-made systems will harm American joint operations with the NATO ally.

U.S. to launch yet another test missile from California’s Vandenberg Air Force Base
The Los Angeles Times
Days after North Korea fired a rocket into the Sea of Japan, the U.S. Air Force is planning to test launch an unarmed intercontinental ballistic missile Wednesday from Vandenberg Air Force Base. 

Trump: ‘We’ll handle North Korea’
The Hill
President Trump on Monday predicted the U.S. would curb North Korea’s nuclear program, days after the nation conducted its latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). “We’ll handle North Korea. We’ll be able to handle North Korea. It will be handled. We handle everything,” Trump told reporters during a Cabinet meeting at the White House.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why doesn’t South Korea have nuclear weapons? For a time, it pursued them.
The Washington Post, Adam TaylorNorth Korea has nuclear weapons and — if its ever-advancing ballistic missile program is any indication — it wants to keep open the possibility of using them against adversaries. So why shouldn't South Korea have nuclear weapons, too?

Scuttling the Iran Deal Will Lead to Another North Korea
Foreign Policy, Jeffery Lewis
If you like North Korea’s nuclear-armed ICBM, you are going to love America walking away from the nuclear deal with Iran.

Tearing Up the Nuke Deal Now Would Hand Iran the Best of All Possible Worlds
Foreign Policy, William Tobey
The Iran nuclear deal is deeply flawed. Its duration is too short, and it fails to require of Tehran the universally agreed-upon minimum for effective verification. Nonetheless, it would be a mistake for President Donald Trump to renounce it now, as he is reportedly contemplating.

Nuclear labs endanger public with radioactive mail
USA Today, Patrick Malone
At least 25 times in the past five years, nuclear weapons contractors have improperly packaged or shipped plutonium capable of being used in a nuclear weapon, conventional explosives and highly toxic chemicals, according to government documents.

What the Trump administration needs to tell its supporters about China
The Washington Post, Hugh Hewitt
There isn’t going to be a trade war with China. The risks of a real war with North Korea are now too high. Given that relatively few people know of Dunford’s blunt warning of a kinetic conflict, odds are very high that only a handful of readers have heard of China’s Hisense Electric and its connection with North Korea’s missile testing and nuclear weapons programs.

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News – July 31, 2017


TOP NEWS

US bombers fly over South Korea after North’s 2nd ICBM Test
The Washington Post

Iran denies rocket test violates U.N. resolution
Reuters

See you in September: McCain’s health, Paul’s protest delay NDAA
Military Times

EAST ASIA

Xi’s show of force declares China’s battle readiness to the world
South China Morning Post
China’s massive display of ­military might on Sunday sent a clear message to the army, the country and the world that the PLA under its commander, President Xi ­Jinping, is quickly modernising and improving its readiness for war.

North Korea warns of action against sanctions after ICBM test
Yonhap
North Korea on Sunday warned of "a stern action of justice" if the United States seeks new sanctions against its latest test of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). The North's Foreign Ministry issued a statement hailing its late-night ICBM test on Friday as a show of its military capability that Washington dares not ignore.

US bombers fly over South Korea after North’s 2nd ICBM Test
The Washington Post
The United States flew two supersonic bombers over the Korean Peninsula on Sunday in a show of force against North Korea following the country’s latest intercontinental ballistic missile test. The U.S. also said it conducted a successful test of a missile defense system located in Alaska.

Chinese official says no link between US trade and N. Korea
The Washington Post
A senior Chinese trade official said Monday the issue of China-U.S. trade should be kept separate from the issue of North Korean security threats, pushing back on statements from President Donald Trump. “North Korea’s nuclear issue and the issue of trade between China and the United States are two different issues. They are not related. You cannot speak about them together,” Qian told reporters at a news conference to announce new trade data.

MIDDLE EAST

Inside Iran’s Mission To Dominate The Middle East
Buzzfeed News
Iran has built up a multinational network of tens of thousands of young men from across the Middle East, turning them into a well-drilled fighting machine that is outgunning the US on the battlefield, as Tehran outsmarts the White House in the corridors of power.

Iran denies rocket test violates U.N. resolution
Reuters
Iran denied on Friday U.S. accusations that its test of a rocket that can put satellites into orbit violated a U.N resolution and said Washington's "rhetoric" was a sign of bad faith towards Tehran's nuclear deal with world powers.

Western nations decry Iran space launch; US levies sanctions
The Washington Post
The United States punished Iran on Friday for launching a satellite-carrying rocket into space by hitting six Iranian entities with sanctions targeting the country’s ballistic missiles program.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russian official vows ‘retaliation’ for more sanctions
Politico
A Russian official on Sunday said the order to remove U.S. diplomats from Russia was “retaliation” for the Senate’s approval of increased sanctions last week — and he promised more payback for similar actions in the future. The Senate voted 98-2 last week to impose greater sanctions on Russia, as well as North Korea and Iran. And, in response, Russia ordered the U.S. to reduce its diplomatic presence there.

Outgoing US Army Europe commander pushes for ‘Military Shengen Zone’
Defense News
As the U.S. Army Europe commander prepares to exit the military stage in September, he’s pushing for better ways for militaries to move freely around the European theater. A military Schengen zone, he thinks, might be the best way to achieve that goal.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Donald Trump says China does ‘nothing’ to thwart North Korea’s nuclear quest
The Guardian
Donald Trump has launched his latest Twitter assault on China, accusing its Communist party leaders of doing “NOTHING” to help the United States thwart North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons.

See you in September: McCain’s health, Paul’s protest delay NDAA
Military Times
The 2018 National Defense Authorization Act is likely stalled in the Senate until September. Senate Armed Services Chairman John McCain, R-Ariz., is leaving town to start cancer treatment on Monday, CNN was first to report. He plans to return to Washington at the conclusion of the August recess.

U.S. Conducts ‘Successful’ Test of THAAD Defense System With Ballistic Missile
NBC News
The U.S. has conducted a test of its Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) defense system in Alaska by launching a ballistic missile over the Pacific Ocean, military officials said early Sunday. The weapon was fired by a U.S. Air Force plane and intercepted by the system, the Missile Defense Agency (MDA) said, describing the test as "successful."

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

A Balancing Act: NATO States and the Nuclear Ban Treaty
European Leadership Network, Emil Dall
In this new ELN issue brief, Emil Dall, a Research Fellow at the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI), reviews the dynamics that nuclear and non-nuclear Allies have to consider when formulating their approach to the Treaty. He goes on to analyse the implications for the Alliance as a whole, and argues that NATO leadership will need to rethink its approach towards a finished Ban Treaty.

Target practice and North Korea’s missiles
Defense News, Stephen Bryen
If both North Korea and its best customer Iran have the same objective, countries threatened by them have to consider what action to take. There has been a lot of talk in the United States and in Japan of the need to either negotiate a solution with North Korea, or if one is not found go ahead and destroy both the missile bases and nuclear facilities in Korea. In the short term, both military solutions are not too likely.

A Threat to Nuclear Arms Control
The New York Times, Editorial
Congress is considering whether the United States should develop a new ground-launched cruise missile and withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banning missiles with a range of up to about 3,000 miles, which give leaders little time to react. Signed by President Ronald Reagan and the Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, the treaty ended a major threat to Europe.

This Is the Pentagon’s New Manual for Destroying North Korean Nukes
The National Interest, Michael Peck
The Pentagon has just released a new manual that lays out how the United States might destroy North Korea’s nukes. Army Techniques Publication No. 3-90.40, “Combined Arms Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction,” explains U.S. doctrine for neutralizing WMDs. The guidelines focus on the nuts and bolts of counter-WMD combined-arms operations by brigade combat teams, or BCTs. In other words, how regular Army combat brigades should deal with nuclear, biological or chemical weapons.

Give Up on Denuclearizing North Korea
The Atlantic, Jon Wolfsthal
In recent years, America’s North Korea debate has focused on whether Washington should talk to Pyongyang and seek a freeze on its program. Those debates now seem pretty played out. Today, the main challenge is preventing North Korea from hurting the United States and its allies now that the Kim regime has long-range nuclear missiles.

North Korea’s Nuclear Arms Sustain Drive for ‘Final Victory’
The New York Times, Max Fisher
Conventional wisdom holds that the North’s weapons are intended to address the country’s two greatest problems — military inferiority and economic weakness — by deterring the United States and extracting concessions. But in practice, the weapons make both problems worse by increasing the risk of war and ensuring continued sanctions.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News - July 28, 2017

TOP NEWS 

S. Korea to conduct extensive environmental survey of THAAD
Yonhap

Trump seeks way to declare Iran in violation of nuclear deal
New York Times 

Concerns raised over military presence, nukes stored in Turkey 
Stars and Stripes 

EAST ASIA

S. Korea to conduct extensive environmental survey of THAAD
Yonhap
South Korea announced a plan Friday for an additional environmental impact assessment of the THAAD missile defense system, a process expected to take at least several months. The defense ministry said it will decide whether to fully deploy the U.S. weapon on its soil after the "general" or "ordinary" environmental survey to be held in accordance with a domestic law.

U.S. would ‘utterly destroy’ North Korea military, says top Army official
Newsweek
Army Chief of Staff General Mark Milley warned, however, that war in the Korean peninsula would be “highly deadly,” bearing a high cost in terms of human life, infrastructure and economic fallout.

China repeats objection to THAAD deployment in S. Korea
Yonhap
China renewed its opposition on Friday to South Korea's move to install a U.S. missile defense system on its soil, demanding Seoul withdraw the push it sees could hurt its strategic security interest. Chinese Foreign Minister spokesman Lu Kang voiced the objection during a regular press briefing in response to a question seeking comments on South Korea's earlier decision to conduct an environmental impact assessment on the THAAD system.

 

MIDDLE EAST

Iran reportedly launches satellite-carrying rocket into space
Defense News
A confirmed launch of the “Simorgh” rocket would mark another step forward for the Islamic Republic’s young space program, but is likely to raise alarm among its adversaries, who fear the same technology could be used to produce long-range missiles.

Trump seeks way to declare Iran in violation of nuclear deal
New York Times
President Trump, frustrated that his national security aides have not given him any options on how the United States can leave the Iran nuclear deal, has instructed them to find a rationale for declaring that the country is violating the terms of the accord.

 

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Putin slams United States’ ‘loutish behavior’ toward Russia
Washington Examiner
Russian President Vladimir Putin promised Thursday to retaliate against any new sanctions imposed by the United States, which he said would be a violation of international law that other countries should ignore. "We are behaving very composedly and patiently but we will have to respond at a certain point," Putin told reporters while traveling in Finland. "It is impossible to constantly tolerate loutish behavior towards our country."

Russia is developing AI missiles to dominate the new arms race
The Next Web
Russia this week announced plans to develop AI-powered missiles. The Russians seem intent to prepare for a world where robots, or autonomous missiles powered by machine-learning algorithms, kill people.

 

SOUTH ASIA

Musharraf says he had considered nuclear attack on India in 2002
The Express Tribune
Former military dictator and All Pakistan Muslim League chief General (retd) Pervez Musharraf has revealed he considered using nuclear weapons against India in 2002 – but decided not to because he feared retaliation.

 

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

Concerns raised over military presence, nukes stored in Turkey
Stars and Stripes
The U.S. should move its nuclear weapons from Incirlik Air Base and start looking for alternatives to the longtime military hub in Turkey, a country that can no longer be fully relied on, analysts and former military officials said.

Lawmakers tread carefully on space-based interceptors
Aviation Week & Space Technology
Despite the increase in threats from North Korea and Iran, Washington is taking a cautious approach to missile defense from space. House lawmakers passed a bill that would fund the Pentagon for fiscal 2018. During debate on the bill, lawmakers considered an amendment that would block funding to develop a space-based ballistic missile defense intercept layer, but ultimately defeated it on a voice vote.

House, Senate committees recommend funding to reduce Y-12’s protected area
Oak Ridge Today
Appropriations committees in both the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives have recommended funding for a project that could reduce the Protected Area at the Y-12 National Security Complex by about 50 percent.

Trump administration opposes House measure funding MOX nuclear facility
Jane’s 360
The White House is backing a US Department of Energy (DoE) request, once again, for Congress to terminate a multi-billion-dollar project aimed at disposing weapon-grade plutonium, the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility (MFFF).

 

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The nuclear ban treaty is way off target
War on the Rocks, Matthew Costlow
No nuclear weapon-possessing state, or any state covered by the U.S. nuclear umbrella of extended deterrence, is expected to vote in favor of the treaty. The only state from this group to even attend the negotiations, the Netherlands, voted against the treaty language.

The inevitability of North Korea’s nuclear weapons
Washington Post, Adam Taylor
Whenever it happens, the next test won't be a shock to analysts. Advancements in North Korea's weapons program are a fact of life. The debate about when Pyongyang would theoretically be able to hit the U.S. mainland with a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile has shifted from “if” to “when.” Diplomacy and threats seem to make little difference; at this point, we're better off just watching the weather.

The US Air Force needs more bombers than it’s asking for
Defense One, Jerry Hendrix
In a future combat zone dominated by advanced 3-D air search radars, directed-energy weapons, electromagnetic railguns, and hypersonic missiles, there is still room — indeed, a strong requirement — for the new B-21 heavy bomber. Analysis suggests that the United States needs a lot of them, far more than the 100 new bombers the Air Force currently desires.

Trump is determined to blow up the Iran deal
National Interest, John Glaser
What many observers have been nervously suspecting for months is now clear: President Donald Trump is intent on eviscerating the Iran nuclear deal, irrespective of the overwhelming evidence that it is successfully staving off Iranian nuclear weapons development.

Reckless rhetoric distorts US options on North Korea
The Hill, Robert Manning
Just when you thought the frenzied panic over North Korea in the Washington policy bubble was easing, here come reports that at least one U.S. intelligence agency — the Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) — assesses that Pyongyang will have a “reliable” intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that can reach the U.S. mainland by next year. Most analysts had a longer timetable, roughly 3-4 years.

Modernizing America’s nuclear capabilities is a must
Gatestone Institute, Peter Huessy
Let us hope that those who do not grasp how necessary it is for the United States to go forward with the ground-based strategic deterrent have little influence over the Nuclear Posture Review that is currently underway. America's ability to defend itself is at stake.

North Korea tested an ICBM. Iran is next.
Tablet, Matthew Kroenig
It is believed that Pyongyang now has enough nuclear material for up to 30 nuclear weapons, missiles that can easily range U.S. bases and allies in Asia, and, in a couple of years, it will possess an ICBM capable of holding at risk the continental United States. This would make North Korea only the third U.S. adversary (after Russia and China) with the ability to threaten nuclear war against the United States and its allies. If we are not careful, Iran may be next.

 Which cyberattacks should the United States deter, and how?
Defense One, Michael Sulmeyer
Conceptually, there is no reason that the principles of deterrence—principles that apply to child rearing, dog training, principle-agent modeling, and the use of nuclear weapons—are inapplicable to cyberspace. The problem is not with theory of deterrence, but with the reality of threats in cyberspace. Those looking to “cyber deterrence” to stop state-sponsored hacking should bear in mind three points to ground further discussion.

SPECIAL INTEREST

How earthquake scientists eavesdrop on North Korea’s nuclear blasts
ScienceNews
Like a police examiner scrutinizing skid marks to figure out who was at fault in a car crash, researchers analyze seismic waves to determine if they come from a natural earthquake or an artificial explosion. If the latter, then scientists can also tease out details such as whether the blast was nuclear and how big it was. Test after test, seismologists are improving their understanding of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.

 

Countries where North Korea makes money despite sanctions
Washington Post
Though facing tough international sanctions, North Korea uses an elaborate network of countries around the world to earn money. Here’s a look at some areas where Pyongyang operates, according to the United Nations, the U.S. State Department, activists and others. 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News – July 27, 2017

TOP NEWS 

Britain and Australia urge China to do more on North Korea Threat
Reuters

President says Iran will ‘respond’ if US missile law passes
The Washington Post

US admiral stands ready to obey a Trump nuclear strike order
The Washington Post

EAST ASIA

China bolstering defences along border with Korea, says report
IHS Jane’s
China has been bolstering defences along its border with North Korea in preparation for a potential crisis in the region, including the possibility of a US military strike, The Wall Street Journal newspaper reported on 24 July. Based on a review of official Chinese military and government websites, as well as interviews with experts, the paper reported that many of the changes were initiated in 2016 and have been implemented in recent months.

Britain and Australia urge China to do more on North Korea threat
Reuters
Britain and Australia urged China on Thursday to do more to persuade North Korea to drop its nuclear and missile programmes. "With international influence comes responsibility. It is now for Beijing to use the influence it has over the North Korean regime to get it to abandon its programme," British Defence Secretary Michael Fallon told reporters in Sydney.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran announces Sayyad-3 SAM production
IHS Jane’s
The production line for Iran’s new Sayyad-3 long-range surface-to-air missile (SAM) was formally inaugurated by Defence Minister Hossein Dehghan on 22 July. In the process it was stated that it will be used by the as-yet unveiled Talash-2 air defence system.

President says Iran will ‘respond’ if US missile law passes
The Washington Post
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said Wednesday his country will respond if a bill in the U.S. Congress imposing sanctions on people involved in Iran’s ballistic missile program becomes law. The House of Representatives passed the bill on Tuesday and it now goes to the Senate. Without giving details, Rouhani said in a Wednesday cabinet meeting broadcast by state TV that Iran will “take any action that is necessary for the country’s expedience and interests” and show “reciprocal” reaction to the law.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

UK launches new mini defense and security review
Defense News
The Ministry of Defence, the Treasury and other key departments are taking part in a British government review of national security capabilities, which is expected to report toward the end of the year. The work supports the ongoing implementation of the 2015 national security strategy and the Strategic Defence and Security Review, or SDSR, the Cabinet Office, the government department leading the review effort, said in a statement.

Pentagon on Alert as Russia Preps for Huge Military Exercise
Real Clear Defense
The investigation of Russia’s interference in the 2016 U.S. election is consuming the White House and gripping official Washington. The Pentagon, meanwhile, is turning its attention to Russia’s increasing military might.

SOUTH ASIA

How India and China Have Come to the Brink Over a Remote Mountain Pass
The New York Times
On a remote pass through Himalayan peaks, China and India, two nuclear-armed nations, have come near the brink of conflict over an unpaved road. It is one of the worst border disputes between the regional rivals in more than 30 years.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

US admiral stands ready to obey a Trump nuclear strike order
The Washington Post
The U.S. Pacific Fleet commander said Thursday he would launch a nuclear strike against China next week if President Donald Trump ordered it, and warned against the military ever shifting its allegiance from its commander in chief.

AP sources: US seeks to test Iran deal with more inspections
The Washington Post
The Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel, senior U.S. officials said. The inspections are one element of what is designed to be a more aggressive approach to preventing Iran from obtaining a nuclear weapon.

Congress’ defense budgeting headed toward ‘colossal crackup’
Defense News
The U.S. House on Wednesday took up a defense appropriations bill that proposes tens of billion of dollars in new spending for the Pentagon. The problem is it breaks budget caps set in law. The House’s version of 2018 defense appropriations legislation includes added ships, jets and potentially $28.6 billion in flexible funding for emerging requirements. At $584.2 billion, with $73.9 billion overseas contingency operations, or OCO, it would exceed 2018 budget caps for defense by $63.5 billion.

Sanctions bill hits hurdle in Senate over NKorea penalties
The Washington Post
A new package of financial sanctions against Russia, Iran and North Korea has a hit a snag in the Senate, where the chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee has objected to the House’s decision to include penalties targeting Pyongyang in the legislation. Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., told reporters Wednesday that he preferred to keep the North Korea sanctions in a separate bill that would be considered by the Senate. The last-minute hurdle may prevent passage of the measure before Congress breaks for its August recess.

Hyten Outlines STRATCOM Overhaul; Nukes Sooner for F-35?
Breaking Defense
Strategic Command chief Gen. John Hyten today confirmed, more than two months after news first broke of a shift, that he’s ordered a series of sweeping changes at STRATCOM. Basically, he got rid of the Joint Functional Component Commands for space, global strike, cyber, integrated missile defense, intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and whittled them down to one for space, one for air, one for maritime and one for missile defense.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

The strange role North Korea is playing in the Persian Gulf crisis
The Washington Post, Adam Taylor
In the ongoing diplomatic crisis in the Persian Gulf between Qatar and a Saudi-led bloc, an unusual role is being played by a country thousands of miles away: North Korea. In recent days, both sides of the dispute have been accused of having an illicit economic relationship with the isolated nation.

Hacker Warns Radioactivity Sensors Can Be Spoofed Or Disabled
Wired, Andy Greenberg
The notion of a hacker-induced nuclear meltdown is the stuff of cyberpunk nightmares. And, let's be clear, there's no sign digital saboteurs are anywhere close to unleashing a nuclear apocalypse. But one hacker who has prodded at radioactive hazard protections for years says he's found serious vulnerabilities in those safety systems.

The Surprisingly Simple Reason North Korea Has Nuclear Weapons
National Interest,Robert Kelly
Pyongyang knows there is no way to use their weapons for gain that would not immediately provoke massive counter-costs.

SPECIAL INTEREST

That Time the CIA Tried to Train Cats to Be Spies
Time
The history of the CIA has included moments that are a little less than illustrious — such as that time the agency investigated whether it would work to use cats to eavesdrop on private meetings. In the mid-1960s, the CIA did try to see if that would work, in a short-lived experiment nicknamed "Acoustic Kitty."

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News – July 26, 2017

TOP NEWS

North Korea could cross ICBM threshold next year, U.S. officials warn in new assessment
The Washington Post

China and India are edging closer to a war in Asia that neither can back down from
Business Insider

US Navy releases video of encounter with Iranian patrol boat
Defense News

EAST ASIA

US ambassador reports progress on new North Korea sanctions
Military Times
The United States and China are making progress on a new U.N. resolution that would impose additional sanctions against North Korea following its test of an intercontinental ballistic missile, U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley said Tuesday. The U.S. gave China a proposed resolution several weeks ago, and Haley told reporters that China has been negotiating with its close ally Russia on possible new sanctions.

North Korea could cross ICBM threshold next year, U.S. officials warn in new assessment
The Washington Post
North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year, U.S. officials have concluded in a confidential assessment that dramatically shrinks the timeline for when Pyongyang could strike North American cities with atomic weapons. The new assessment by the ­Pentagon’s Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA), shaves a full two years off the consensus forecast for North Korea’s ICBM program.

Russia’s deputy nuke negotiator visits N. Korea
Yonhap
Russia's deputy nuclear negotiator has visited North Korea to discuss issues on the divided peninsula with the North's senior diplomats, Pyongyang's state media said Tuesday. Oleg Burmistrov, Russia's ambassador-at-large, met with North Korea's vice foreign minister Sin Hong-chol and also talked with a director in charge of North America affairs, according to the Korean Central News Agency.  

MIDDLE EAST

US Navy releases video of encounter with Iranian patrol boat
Defense News
The U.S. Navy has released video Tuesday of a close encounter between an Iranian and U.S. Navy patrol boats, which prompted the patrol craft Thunderbolt to fire warning shots. The video shows Thunderbolt firing about six rounds in the direction of the Iranian Revolutionary Guard naval vessel, which the U.S. Navy claimed came within 150 yards of its vessel.

Official: US Navy ship fires warning shots near Iranian ship
Military Times
A U.S. Navy ship fired on a fast approaching Iranian ship Tuesday in the latest U.S. skirmish with Iranian vessels in the northern Persian Gulf. The patrol craft USS Thunderbolt fired on an Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps Navy vessel in the Gulf at 3 p.m. local time Tuesday, a defense official said, after the Iranian ship sped toward the Thunderbolt and got as close as 150 yards.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

Russia, China hold naval exercise in Baltic
Military Times
Ships of the Russian and Chinese navies have begun exercises in the Baltic Sea, watched from afar by neighboring NATO countries uneasy about Russia’s growing military assertiveness.

Putin Puts North Korea Ties Before Missile Threat
Bloomberg
In retrospect, said Vladimir Bogdanov, it wasn’t the best time to start the first passenger-ship service between Russia and North Korea shortly before Kim Jong Un shocked the world by announcing he’s successfully tested a missile capable of striking the U.S. mainland.

SOUTH ASIA

China blames India for border standoff and calls on it to withdraw its troops
South China Morning Post
China’s Foreign Minister Wang Yi has blamed India for sparking a border standoff in the Himalayas by deploying its troops in Chinese territory and called on them to withdraw. Fears of a military conflict have been mounting as both sides have so far refused to back down.

China and India are edging closer to a war in Asia that neither can back down from
Business Insider
Buried in the Himalayas in the Siliguri Corridor, also known as the Chicken’s neck, Chinese and Indian military forces sit on the respective sides of their vague borders and entrench themselves for what could become a shooting war between nuclear powers.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

McCain back in DC, but DoD policy bill still stuck behind health care
Defense News
Sen. John McCain made dramatic return to the Senate Tuesday to cast a vote to start debate on the GOP’s Obamacare overhaul and said he hoped to shepherd the 2018 defense policy bill through the Senate soon. But the way ahead for the bill, the 2018 National Defense Authorization Act, is clouded by questions.

Trump warns ‘emboldened’ Iran to comply with nuclear deal
Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump issued a veiled threat against Iran on Tuesday, warning Tehran to adhere to the terms of a nuclear deal with world powers or else face "big, big problems." A week after certifying Iran as complying with the 2015 agreement negotiated by Democratic President Barack Obama, Trump made clear to thousands of raucous supporters that he remains extremely wary of Tehran.

U.S. says progress with China on North Korea U.N. sanctions, true test is Russia
Reuters
The United States is making progress in talks with North Korean ally China on imposing new United Nations sanctions on Pyongyang over its latest missile test, but Russia's engagement will be the "true test," U.S. Ambassador to the U.N. Nikki Haley said.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

Why is Putin backing North Korea? To build up Russia as a great power.
The Washington Post, Samuel Ramani
On July 6, the Russian delegation to the United Nations released an official statement, criticizing Washington’s handling of the North Korean crisis. In their statement, Russian diplomats disputed U.S. allegations that North Korea launched an intercontinental ballistic missile against Japan on July 4, saying rather, that Pyongyang had launched an intermediate-ranged rocket.

Why Hasn’t ISIS Nuked America Yet?
The Atlantic, Graeme Wood
In the last three years, I have not spent much time wondering whether ISIS has access to radioactive material. I know they have had access, because I had a hand in getting it to them.

To Punish Putin, Economic Sanctions Are Unlikely to Do the Trick
The New York Times, Eduardo Porter
This week Congress is expected to add to its arsenal of international deterrents, writing into law a panoply of economic penalties against Russia and curtailing President Trump’s ability to lift them on his own. Annoying Vladimir V. Putin could be considered in and of itself a worthy goal. Or, as Gary Hufbauer of the Peterson Institute for International Economics noted, “a big part of the bill is a slap to President Trump for his close association with Russia.” Whatever the case, legislators might want to explain what they are after.

Ends, Ways, Means: Strategy Nicked by Occam’s Razor
Real Clear Defense, John Callaway
The application of Occam’s Razor that reduces strategy to ends, ways, and means regularly misleads strategists, policy makers, and commentators by depicting strategy as a linear equation: “x” means applied in “y” ways result in “z” ends.

 

Read more…

Nuclear Policy News – July 25, 2017

TOP NEWS

China should plan for crisis on North Korea border, experts warn
South China Morning Post

Dispatch From Doklam: Indians Dig In for the Long Haul in Standoff with China
South China Morning Post

The fast-approaching defense budget ‘train wreck’
Politico

EAST ASIA

S. Korea pushes to revise missile guidelines to load up to 1 ton of warheads
Yonhap
The South Korean government is pushing to revise the missile guidelines developed with the United States to double the maximum weight of warheads on Seoul's ballistic missiles from the current 500 kilograms to counter growing threats from the North, sources said Monday.

U.S. military chief says N. Korea capable of ‘limited’ missile attack
Yonhap
North Korea is able to launch a "limited" missile attack and the United States stands ready to defend itself, South Korea and Japan should such an event occur, the chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff has said.

US within reach: China shows off new and improved advanced missile system
South China Morning Post
China has publicly displayed for the first time a model of an advanced form of one its intercontinental ballistic missiles as the country’s military prepares to celebrate the 90th anniversary of the founding of the People’s Liberation Army later this year. 

China should plan for crisis on North Korea border, experts warn
South China Morning Post
China needs to start preparing for a possible crisis if tensions over North Korea’s nuclear weapons programme escalate into a military conflict, experts have warned. The stark assessment comes as hopes of a diplomatic solution to North Korea’s missile tests remain bleak and fears increase of a military showdown between Washington and Pyongyang.

MIDDLE EAST

Iran in no mood to renegotiate nuclear deal
Al-Monitor
The head of the Iranian parliament’s influential National Security and Foreign Policy Commission rejected any notion of renegotiating the nuclear deal agreed to by Iran and the five countries on the UN Security Council plus Germany (P5+1) just two years ago, ending a decades-long dispute.

RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE

China and Russia combine naval forces in the Baltic Sea
Deutsche Welle
This joint naval maneuver with Russia in the Baltic Sea is the latest display of China's geopolitical ambition as Beijing wants to increase its influence in international and strategic affairs. China's emphasis on naval expansion is a sign of Beijing's awareness that becoming a world power first entails being a maritime power. For Russia, the maneuvers are a continuation of aggressive foreign policy and a display of strength on Europe's doorstep and the Baltic coast, where fears of Russian expansion are highest.

SOUTH ASIA

Dispatch From Doklam: Indians Dig In for the Long Haul in Standoff with China
South China Morning Post
At Nathang, a few kilometres from Doklam in the now-famous “tri-junction” of Tibet, Bhutan’s Doklam plateau and Sikkim’s Chumbi valley, the theatre of the ongoing stand-off between Indian and Chinese forces, the build-up is palpable, even though vehicles carrying artillery pieces and light tanks slither through the night to avoid public attention.

China will protect border with India ‘at all costs’
South China Morning Post
China on Monday issued its ­strongest warning yet to India over their month-long border ­dispute, saying Beijing would protect its sovereignty “at all costs”. Observers believe that China’s stepping up of its rhetoric, which came before a high-level security meeting that involves both Chinese and Indian security officials, gives Beijing more bargaining power in the talks with New Delhi.

U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY

House Poised to Add Russia Sanctions With Curbs on Trump’s Power
Bloomberg
The U.S. House is poised to vote on a bill to strengthen sanctions against Russia and prevent President Donald Trump from unilaterally lifting penalties, after the measure was delayed by procedural concerns and objections from energy companies. The measure, which was altered to ensure that oil companies can work on certain joint projects overseas, would also impose new sanctions on Iran and North Korea.

Coast Guard gives notice: Missile launch expected in Alaska
CNN
A missile launch from a Kodiak, Alaska, facility is expected this weekend, according to the US Coast Guard. The Coast Guard notified mariners of the rocket launch scheduled for Saturday. It will be conducted from the Kodiak Narrow Cape Launch Facility, according to the notice.

Sailor error led to failed US Navy ballistic missile intercept test
Defense News
A U.S. Missile Defense Agency review of a failed ballistic missile intercept test showed that a mistaken input into the combat system by a sailor on the destroyer John Paul Jones caused the missile to self-destruct before reaching the target.

The fast-approaching defense budget ‘train wreck’
Politico
Congressional Republicans trying to boost military spending by tens of billions of dollars face a major problem: Their efforts would run afoul of the law. Bills moving in the House and Senate would go beyond even the defense buildup pledged by President Donald Trump, providing money for more soldiers, fighter jets, warships and missile defenses than the Pentagon had requested.

OPINION AND ANALYSIS

How not to talk about nuclear weapons
Dawn, Toby Dalton
Growth is often interpreted as a sign of health. Thus the moniker “fastest growing” should be taken as a positive statement. Fastest growing economy, for instance. Or fastest growing middle class. Or fastest growing IT sector. In South Asia, there is one area where “fastest growing” has become something of a slur: the fastest growing nuclear programme.

Is space warfare’s final frontier?
Space News, Michael Krepon
It’s one thing to prepare for the eventuality of warfare in space. It’s another to assert that space warfare is inevitable. Many have predicted this since the launch of Sputnik, and all have been proven wrong—so far. The task before us isn’t just to acquire capabilities to fight, if necessary, but also to prevent warfare from occurring. Success involves deterrence as well as reassurance in the form of diplomatic engagement.

The Time for Negotiations with North Korea is Now
Time, Norman Pearlstine
Donald P. Gregg, 89, is a retired State Department and CIA veteran, a North Asia specialist, and a recipient of the National Intelligence Distinguished Service Medal. He says the absence of direct dialogue between the U.S. and North Korea has to change. “We can’t deal with them if we don’t understand them, and we won’t understand them if we aren’t talking to each other,” he says.

For China’s Global Ambitions, ‘Iran Is at the Center of Everything’
The New York Times, Thomas Erdbrink
When Zuao Ru Lin, a Beijing entrepreneur, first heard about business opportunities in eastern Iran, he was skeptical. But then he bought a map and began to envision the region without any borders, as one enormous market. Once dependent on Beijing during the years of international isolation imposed by the West for its nuclear program, Iran is now critical to China’s ability to realize its grandiose ambitions. Other routes to Western markets are longer and lead through Russia, potentially a competitor of China.

Read more…

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


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

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


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

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


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

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

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

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

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

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

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…

Monday's Top Nuclear Policy News

TOP NEWS

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

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

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

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

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