Nuclear Policy News – April 8, 2019

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Saudi nuclear program accelerates, raising tensions in a volatile region

Pompeo hopes North Korea’s Kim does ‘right thing’ on nuclear weapons in parliament speech

Opinion: America, You’re Not Listening to Us
DefenseOneAnatoly Antonov

East Asia

Pompeo hopes North Korea’s Kim does ‘right thing’ on nuclear weapons in parliament speech
U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said on Friday he hoped North Korean leader Kim Jong Un would use a meeting of the country’s parliament next week to state publicly “it would be the right thing” for Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

G7 pushes North Korea to continue denuclearization talks with U.S.
The Japan Times4/7/19
Foreign ministers of Group of Seven nations on Saturday pushed North Korea to continue denuclearization negotiations with the United States while vowing to maintain pressure on Pyongyang to encourage it to give up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs.

Donald Trump suggests China and Russia should join US for arms control talks
South China Morning Post4/5/19
US President Donald Trump has suggested that China and Russia should join the US in discussing arms controls once Washington and Beijing have settled their trade war. Moscow responded on Friday that the idea deserved attention and further discussion. There has been no immediate official response from Beijing, but analysts said China was unlikely to accept Trump’s proposal.

New bridge opens to connect North Korea and China
NHK News4/8/19
The two sides were connected in 2012, but the official opening of the bridge has since been delayed as bilateral ties worsened due to North Korea’s repeated nuclear and missile tests. Now a new cross-border bridge has opened over a river between China and North Korea, raising the potential for increased bilateral economic exchanges amid ongoing international sanctions.

North Korean Dictator Seeks Russian Strongman for Support, Friendship
The Wall Street Journal4/6/19
With little progress to show from two nuclear summits with the U.S., North Korea is turning to an old friend—Moscow—as leader Kim Jong Un tries to chart a course toward winning relief from sanctions and economic isolation.

Middle East

Trump to pressure Iran by branding its Guard a terror group
NBC News4/8/19
In an unprecedented step to ramp up pressure on Tehran, the Trump administration is planning to designate Iran’s Revolutionary Guard a “foreign terrorist organization.” The move is expected to further isolate Iran and could have widespread implications for U.S. personnel and policy in the Middle East and elsewhere.

Saudi nuclear program accelerates, raising tensions in a volatile region
On the outskirts of Riyadh, a building site is quickly being transformed into the birthplace of Saudi Arabia’s quest for nuclear power, a bid that has sparked concern in the US Congress and fury in Tehran.

IAEA asks Saudis for safeguards on first nuclear reactor
The Japan Times4/6/19
The head U.N. nuclear inspector said Friday that his agency is asking Saudi Arabia to agree to safeguards on nuclear material that could arrive by the end of the year for its first atomic reactor.

Secrecy behind Saudi nuclear talks infuriates Congress
The Hill4/7/19
Congressional anger is growing over President Trump’s efforts to secure a nuclear energy deal with Saudi Arabia. Lawmakers first became wary of the plans when the Saudis refused to accept limits preventing them from developing a nuclear weapon. But that skepticism quickly turned to fury when it was revealed that the Trump administration gave approval for companies to share certain nuclear energy technology with the kingdom without a broader nuclear deal in place.


Russia Endorses Trump Calls for Disarmament
U.S. News4/5/19
The Russian government on Friday endorsed a seemingly impromptu remark by President Donald Trump, who suggested that the U.S., Russia and China should invest less in their militaries. Dmitry Peskov, a spokesman for Russian President Vladimir Putin, applauded Trump’s comments and said “any call for disarmament is commendable and worth considering,” according to Russian state media.

South Asia

Why India’s ASAT Test Heralds the Rebirth of the Cold War and Threatens Global Security
Global Village Space4/8/19
India conducted its first ever Anti-Satellite (ASAT) missile system test in March, cementing its place as an international space power. The ASAT missile destroyed a satellite orbiting at an altitude of 300 kilometers. While the test (known as “Mission Shakti”) is a testament to the technological advances of the Indian space program, it was met with criticism, concern and caution from other states, because the system carries inherent risks that threaten India’s diplomatic relations and South Asian security at large.

Pakistan accuses India of plotting fresh military attack
BBC 4/8/19
Pakistan says it has “reliable intelligence” India is planning a military attack this month, something India dismissed as “war hysteria”.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

USSTRATCOM declares new nuclear command center at operational capability
UPI Defense News4/5/19
The U.S. Strategic Command has declared the new nuclear command center in Nebraska has reached initial operational capability.

Opinion and Analysis

America, You’re Not Listening to Us
DefenseOne, Anatoly Antonov4/7/19
Russia’s ambassador: We’re ready for urgently needed security dialogue — when our U.S. counterparts are ready to engage in good faith.

Knowing when to walk: What is the best alternative to a formal US-Saudi nuclear agreement?
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Eric Brewer4/4/19
For years, Washington has been working to finalize a deal with Riyadh in regard to Saudi Arabia’s planned nuclear energy program. Although negotiations for this deal—known as a “123 agreement,” which is legally required if the United States wants to transfer key nuclear technologies to any country—are continuing, there doesn’t appear to be a light at the end of this tunnel. Indeed, it may be getting darker.

Challenges in Nuclear Verification
IAEA Director General Speech at CSIS4/5/19
For more than 60 years, the IAEA has made a unique contribution to international peace and security by verifying that countries are not developing nuclear weapons. Today, we implement safeguards in 182 countries. Thanks to the dedication and professionalism of our staff, our work in nuclear verification – and indeed in all areas – enjoys great credibility.

Trump’s Botching of the Nuclear Deal Destroyed U.S. Leverage on Iran
Newsweek, Ryan Costello 4/5/19
The window to return to the JCPOA is narrow, and risks closing if a future President insists on continuing the Trump administration’s preconditions or seeking some alternative concessions from a lame duck Rouhani administration.

US must appreciate merits of a modest deal with North Korea
Financial Times, William Burns
Now that North Korean president Kim Jong Un has rejected Donald Trump’s offer to “go big” and agree to immediate, full denuclearization, the US president has a choice to make: double down or embrace the art of the possible. Despite the overtures, Mr. Kim remains convinced that nuclear weapons guarantee his security, stature and survival. Full denuclearization remains an important aspiration, but the more practical challenge is to reduce nuclear danger now.

Rep. Jim Cooper talks Trump’s Space Force takeover, and what’s next for nukes and missile defense
Defense News
Cooper spoke with Defense News this March about the issues his subcommittee will tackle

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