TOP NEWS C.I.A. Chief’s Meeting With Kim Jong-un Is Latest Step in Winding Path to Talks New York Times Corker: Trump ‘perfectly fine’ with scrapping Iran deal absent a fix Politico China flew nuclear-capable bombers around Taiwan in what its air force called a ‘sacred mission’ Business Insider EAST ASIA C.I.A. Chief’s Meeting With Kim Jong-un Is Latest Step in Winding Path to Talks New York Times4/18/18 Mike Pompeo, the C.I.A. director and nominee to be the next secretary of state, traveled to North Korea and met with its leader, Kim Jong-un, the strongest indicator to date that plans for direct talks between Mr. Kim and President Trump are moving ahead. North Korea willing to discuss dismantling nuclear program, says Trump official PBS4/18/18 There’s no doubt that President Trump and Kim Jong Un intend to meet, said Victoria Coates, special assistant to the president, who noted that the tone coming out of North Korea is making the Trump administration “very hopeful.” Pompeo’s Secret Visit Shows Trump Wants to Go Big on North Korea The Atlantic4/18/18 From maximum pressure to maximum engagement N. Korea’s ruling party set for meeting on key policy decisions Yonhap News4/19/18 North Korea will hold a plenary session of its ruling communist party this week to make key policy decisions, local media said Thursday, as it’s preparing for summit talks with South Korea and the United States. U.S. calls for keeping up pressure on North Korea ahead of summit Reuters4/19/18 The United States said on Thursday that in the run-up to President Donald Trump’s planned summit with North Korea’s leader countries should continue to put financial and diplomatic pressure on Pyongyang to surrender its banned nuclear weapons. G7 vows maximum economic pressure on N. Korea Yonhap News4/19/18 The world’s seven largest advanced economies vowed Wednesday to keep maximum economic pressure on North Korea over its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. China flew nuclear-capable bombers around Taiwan in what its air force called a ‘sacred mission’ Business Insider4/19/18 Chinese aircraft have again flown around self-ruled Taiwan in what China’s air force on Thursday called a “sacred mission”, as Taiwan denounced its big neighbour over what it called a policy of military intimidation. MIDDLE EAST Earthquake strikes near Iranian nuclear plant CBS News4/19/18 An earthquake of at least magnitude 5.5 struck in southern Iran near the country’s sole nuclear power plant on Thursday morning, shaking countries across the Persian Gulf. There was no immediate report of damage or injuries. U.S. hopes for success in talks with Europeans on ‘fixing’ Iran nuclear deal Reuters4/19/18 The United States hopes to reach agreement with Britain, France and Germany to address President Donald Trump’s concerns about the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, Washington’s disarmament ambassador said on Thursday. Corker: Trump ‘perfectly fine’ with scrapping Iran deal absent a fix Politico4/18/18 President Donald Trump is “perfectly fine walking away from” the Iran nuclear deal next month if an agreement isn’t reached with European partners to address his concerns, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday. RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE An open letter to the US Congress: don’t let Trump rip up the Iran deal The Guardian4/19/18 It was a major breakthrough, drastically reducing the risk of a nuclear arms race. Abandoning it now will do lasting damage. Signed by parliamentarians from Britain, Germany and France. OPINION AND ANALYSIS Rhetoric aside, the US commitment to preventing nuclear terrorism is waning The HillNickolas Roth, Matthew Bunn, and William H. Tobey The Trump administration is proposing massive cuts to vital programs responsible for securing nuclear weapons-usable material around the world. What is US nuclear policy, exactly? Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsAdam Mount and Abigail Stowe-Thurston 4/18/18 The US Nuclear Posture Reviews (NPR) are the nation’s primary statements of nuclear weapons policy, and each has been debated closely. However, the 2018 NPR is unusual in that it has been subject not only to debate about the rectitude of its policies, but also about what those policies actually are. The Logic of Nuclear Superiority Arms Control WonkMichael Krepon 4/18/18 Matthew Kroenig has written an unapologetic case for a “robust” U.S. strategic posture, The Logic of American Nuclear Strategy: Why Strategic Superiority Matters. How North Korea Feeds Its Impoverished People a Steady Diet of Anti-U.S. Paranoia History4/18/18 For nearly seven decades, the Kim family dynasty has warned the North Korean people that the United States is a murderous superpower bent upon their annihilation—and their only chance of survival is readiness for an American attack. Key Takeaways of the Kim-Trump Summit Minuet 38NorthStephen Blank 4/18/18 The announcement of a US-DPRK summit took virtually everyone by surprise and upended much of the previous diplomacy connected with North Korea’s nuclear program. Nonetheless, this process already reveals certain “takeaways” that merit careful scrutiny and analysis. Trump, don’t be fooled, North Korea may be laying a trap for you Fox NewsHarry J. Kazianis I applaud President Trump’s efforts to apply maximum pressure on North Korea at the same time he is seeking a diplomatic resolution to the crisis caused by the rogue regime’s development of nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. But I have a warning for him: Mr. President, be careful – be very careful – and don’t trust the North Koreans. They have a long record of lying again and again to your predecessors. Pompeo’s Secret Korea Trip May Not Save His Nomination, But It Could Save Trump’s Summit Defense OneJoe Cirincione The president needs a “win” somewhere so badly that at the summit he may accept a nuclear freeze and a determined process as a major victory. That is a good thing. Korean peace treaty needs more than Trump’s ‘blessing’ CNN4/18/18 US President Donald Trump says he’s given his “blessing” to talks between Seoul and Pyongyang aimed at formally ending the Korean war. Trump, promising hellfire in Syria, blinked. Why that could bode well for the Iran deal BrookingsSuzanne Maloney 4/18/18 In Tehran, Trump’s exceedingly narrow definition of American interests in Syria offered an unexpected, and timely, reversal of fortune. Trump once claimed Syria could lead to ‘World War III.’ Good thing he wised up. Washington PostJames Kirchick It’s how Moscow fostered a self-serving climate of appeasement. Western critics of intervention shouldn’t mimic it. Denuclearization again? Lessons from Ukraine’s decision to disarm War on the RocksMariana Budjeryn and Polina Sinovets 4/19/18 Amid proliferation gloom about North Korea, Iran, and possibly Saudi Arabia, it seems fitting to recall past nonproliferation successes. Ukraine’s case is the most instructive of the Soviet nuclear inheritors. Russian Lies and Hypocrisy Concerning Missile Defense NIPPMark Schneider 4/17/18 Putin’s speech contained the usual Russian falsehoods about U.S. missile defense taken to an extreme.