Nuclear Policy News – August 20, 2018

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North Korea alludes to confrontation with U.S. over secret nuclear sites during negotiations
Japan Times

Possible Chinese President Visit to Pyongyang Raises Doubts on Sanctions
Voice of America

Kim Jong-un Focuses on Economy as Nuclear Talks With U.S. Stall
New York Times

East Asia

North Korea alludes to confrontation with U.S. over secret nuclear sites during negotiations
Japan Times8/19/18
The United States has explicitly confronted North Korea about suspected secret nuclear weapons facilities during ongoing denuclearization negotiations, a commentary published over the weekend by the North’s state-run media has appeared to show. In the commentary released Saturday, the Rodong Sinmun, the newspaper of the North’s ruling Workers’ Party, blasted “those opposed to dialogue” in the U.S., saying that officials both inside and outside the White House had “provided the negotiating team with a truncheon called (the) ‘theory of suspected north Korea’s secret nuclear facilities,’ a fiction, driving it to derailing dialogue.”

Kim Jong-un Focuses on Economy as Nuclear Talks With U.S. Stall
New York Times8/20/18
Since late June, Mr. Kim has devoted almost all his public activities to visiting factories, farms and construction sites, rather than the military units and weapons test sites that he frequented last year. And instead of boasting of his country’s military prowess, he is lashing out at poor management at the sites he visits, highlighting his intense focus on fixing his economy.

Signs that North Korea is planning something big for September: Blocked visas, parade practice and haircuts
Washington Post8/17/18
North Korea is planning a party. Next month, the reclusive country will celebrate the 70th anniversary of the founding of the country, officially known as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea. And there are signs that the event, which will take place Sept. 9, will be a celebration to watch. Those observing the preparations for the event have spotted practice for a military parade, while tourist visas to the country have apparently been blocked — sparking speculation about who, exactly, the VIP guests could be.

Possible Chinese President Visit to Pyongyang Raises Doubts on Sanctions
Voice of America8/20/18
Reports that Chinese President Xi Jinping will visit North Korea in September raise questions about whether Beijing will ease sanctions against Pyongyang, as relations between China and the U.S. grow increasingly tense over trade. The Singapore Straits Times newspaper reported on Saturday that Xi would attend the celebrations of the 70th anniversary of North Korea’s founding, in Pyongyang on September 9, at the invitation of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The report has not been confirmed by the Chinese Foreign Ministry.

China, close to establishing its own ‘nuclear triad,’ has practiced targeting US
Military Times8/17/18
The Pentagon, for the first time, has publicly reported what commanders in the Pacific have known about, and kept a wary eye on, for some time: China is practicing long-range bombing runs against U.S. targets. While the Defense Department annually reports on the rapid growth in capabilities of China’s air, land and sea forces, the 2018 report is the first to acknowledge the direct threat to U.S. territory.

Korean families separated by war to reunite briefly after 65 years
Some 180 families torn apart by the 1950-53 Korean War will be temporarily reunited in North Korea starting Monday after the two Koreas renewed exchanges this year following a standoff over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs. The reunions, the first in three years, will take place in the North’s tourist resort on Mount Kumgang, as agreed by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and South Korean President Moon Jae-in during their first summit in April.

Middle East

Iran tells EU to speed up efforts to save nuclear deal
Iran urged Europe on Monday to speed up efforts to salvage a 2015 nuclear deal between Tehran and major powers that U.S. President Donald Trump abandoned in May, saying French oil group Total has formally pulled out a major gas project. “Europeans and other signatories of the deal have been trying to save the deal … but the process has been slow. It should be accelerated,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qasemi said.

Bolton in Israel: Iran Nuclear Program at ‘Top of List’ in Talks With Netanyahu
Voice of America8/19/18
Iran’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs are at “the top of the list,” U.S. National Security Advisor John Bolton said Sunday after arriving in Israel, where he plans to holds talks with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu. The two held a working dinner Sunday and will continue their talks Monday.

China’s top diplomat says cooperation with Iran to continue – Xinhua
China will continue its cooperation and relations with Iran, state news agency Xinhua reported on Friday, citing a statement from Chinese State Councillor Wang Yi. “We have openly indicated that we oppose the wrong practices of unilateral sanctions and ‘long-arm jurisdiction’ in international relations,” Wang Yi was quoted as saying.

Iran to unveil new fighter jet, develop missiles: minister
Iran will unveil a new fighter jet next week and continue developing missile capabilities as a top priority, the defense minister said on Saturday, defying new U.S. sanctions aimed at curbing Tehran’s missile program and regional influence. Iran’s navy also announced on Saturday that it has mounted a locally built advanced defensive weapons system on one of its warships for the first time, as tensions mount with the U.S. military in the Gulf.

Multilateral Arms Control

Japan Holds Firm Against Nuclear Ban Treaty on Anniversary of Nuclear Bombings
The Diplomat8/18/18
Even as Japan recently marked the 73rd anniversary of the U.S. atomic bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe reiterated the government’s opposition to joining the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. The stance came under renewed domestic scrutiny as Japan reflected once again on its history as the only country to have suffered wartime atomic attacks.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Bolton wants to see ‘seriousness’ from North Korea on denuclearization
The Hill8/19/18
White House national security adviser John Bolton said Sunday that he wants to see “seriousness” from North Korea on potential denuclearization. Bolton said on ABC’s “This Week” that getting North Korea to denuclearize remains the “highest priority” for the U.S.

Opinion and Analysis

The Upcoming Inter-Korean Summit Raises the Stakes for Moon Jae-in
The DiplomatAnkit Panda
The fifth inter-Korean summit – scheduled for September – might not be as easy for Moon as his first two meetings with Kim this year. If the fifth inter-Korean summit does turn out to be more of a challenge than the preceding Moon-Kim encounter this year, South Korean faith in the administration may recede, if not the sense of optimism about peace on the peninsula, more broadly.

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