TOP NEWS North Korean Submarine Missile Threat Prompts U.S.-Led Military Drills New York Times Russia says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact Reuters Nobel peace laureate group urges nuclear powers to adopt ban-the-bomb treaty Reuters Trump has picked a nominee for ambassador to South Korea: report The Hill EAST ASIA North Korean Submarine Missile Threat Prompts U.S.-Led Military Drills New York Times12/11/17 Amid fears that North Korea is rapidly developing its submarine-launched ballistic missile technology, the United States, Japan and South Korea are teaming up for a drill to track such hard-to-detect missiles, military officials said Monday. U.N. envoy told North Korea urgent need to open channels to cut conflict risk Reuters12/9/17 The United Nations political affairs chief told senior North Korean officials during a visit to Pyongyang this week that there was an “urgent need to prevent miscalculations and open channels to reduce the risks of conflict,” the world body said. Aftershocks likely from September test detected from North Korea nuclear site: USGS Reuters12/9/17 Two minor tremors were detected on Saturday from near North Korea’s nuclear test site and were probably aftershocks from the country’s massive nuclear test in early September, a U.S. Geological Survey official said. The aftershocks, of magnitude 2.9 and 2.4, were detected at 0613 and 0640 GMT (1:13 a.m. and 1:40 a.m. EST) respectively, said the USGS and Lassina Zerbo, executive secretary of the Vienna-based Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty Organization. RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE Russia says it is fully committed to nuclear missile pact Reuters12/9/17 Russia said on Saturday it was fully committed to a Cold War-era pact with the United States banning intermediate-range cruise missiles, a day after Washington accused Moscow of violating the treaty. Russian General Staff chief, Japanese defense minister discuss North Korean missile issue TASS12/11/17 The issue was brought up by the Japanese defense minister. “For Japan, North Korea is the most pressing issue. North Korea continues to develop its nuclear and missile programs, which pose a serious threat to the global community,” he said, adding that he would like to discuss ways to cooperate in this field. In response, the Russian General Staff chief reiterated Moscow’s stance and noted that raising tensions would not help find a solution. “We believe that the issue should be resolved only through political and diplomatic means,” Gerasimov stressed. Britain says to remain committed to Iran nuclear deal Xinhua12/9/17 British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson said here Saturday that his country would remain committed to Iran’s 2015 international nuclear deal, semi-official ISNA news agency reported. Johnson, who arrived in Iran’s capital Tehran on Saturday for a two-day visit, made the remarks in a meeting with Iran’s Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif. Johnson to deliver Iran’s warning to U.S. on nuclear deal Tehran Times12/10/17 In an interview with IRIB, Behrooz Kamalvandi, Salehi’s deputy, said according to the discussions made between Salehi and Johnson it was agreed that the British foreign secretary deliver Salehi’s warning to the United States about the necessity of commitment to the terms of the nuclear agreement. MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL Nobel peace laureate group urges nuclear powers to adopt ban-the-bomb treaty Reuters12/10/17 The leader of the group that won this year’s Nobel Peace Prize on Sunday urged nuclear nations to adopt a United Nations treaty banning atomic weapons in order to prevent “the end of us”. The International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons (ICAN) was awarded this year’s Nobel Peace Prize by a Nobel committee that cited the spread of nuclear weapons and the growing risk of an atomic war. U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY Trump has picked a nominee for ambassador to South Korea: report The Hill12/10/17 Victor Cha, a North Korea expert and former National Security Council official under George W. Bush, has already undergone extensive vetting and is now in the final stages of approval, the agency reported. Sources told the news outlet that they expect the South Korean government to approve Cha quickly, as the post has been empty since Trump took office in January. Gen. Brooks updates U.S. leaders on security conditions in Korea Yonhap News Agency12/9/17 The top U.S. military commander in South Korea traveled to Washington, D.C. and New York last week for briefings on North Korea and the allies’ defense posture, his aides said Sunday amid growing attention to the Donald Trump administration’s response to the communist regime’s saber-rattling. North Korea is a nuclear state. But can the U.S. accept that? Washington Post12/9/17 The Trump administration won’t admit it, but North Korea is now a nuclear weapons power, analysts say. Why would Kim Jong Un’s cash-strapped regime spend so much time and money on building these weapons only to give them up? And even if they were prepared to bargain them away eventually, why would they do so now, when Trump and his top aides are threatening military action? OPINION AND ANALYSIS Mohammad Javad Zarif: Europe Must Work With Iran New York TimesMohammad Javad Zarif 12/10/17 Our main concern now is cautioning European countries against wavering on issues beyond the scope of the nuclear agreement and following in lock step behind the White House. As the nuclear deal and the Middle East enter uncharted and potentially combustible territory, it is imperative that Europe helps ensure that we don’t soon find ourselves repeating history. This is how nuclear war with North Korea would unfold Washington PostJeffrey Lewis 12/8/17 No one wants to fight a nuclear war. Not in North Korea, not in South Korea and not in the United States. And yet leaders in all three countries know that such a war may yet come — if not by choice then by mistake. The world survived tense moments on the Korean Peninsula in 1969 , 1994 and 2010. Each time, the parties walked to the edge of danger, peered into the abyss, then stepped back. But what if one of them stumbled, slipped over the edge and, grasping for life, dragged the others down into the darkness? This is how that might happen, based on public statements, intelligence reports and blast-zone maps. The North Korea Debate Sounds Eerily Familiar The AtlanticKori Schake 12/8/17 The Trump White House talking about North Korea sounds eerily and increasingly like the George W. Bush administration in the run-up to the Iraq War. Officials make similar arguments about the necessity of acting against a gathering storm; proudly claim understanding of the adversary’s motivations; express frustration at countries that should be likewise alarmed at the problem not supporting American policy; and believe the sand is running out in the hourglass before military attacks are required. They admit no alternative interpretation of the facts. They are blithely dismissing enormous damage their policy would incur for regional allies. They seem innocent of understanding the disastrous and isolating consequences for America’s role in the world to choose preventive war rather than the moral heights of restraint in the face of threats. Pressuring China on North Korea Could Be a Mistake All Things NuclearGregory Kulacki 12/11/17 The Trump administration is intentionally putting China in very tough spot. It is attempting to make the Chinese leadership believe it must choose between a preemptive US attack on North Korea or agreeing to US requests to strangle North Korea’s economy with even tougher sanctions, including cutting off North Korea’s oil supply at the beginning of winter. That may seem like clever diplomacy to some. But it’s a high stakes game of poker that the United States could lose. The problem with the Trump administration’s strategy – if it is a strategy – is that from China’s point of view both choices lead to war. SPECIAL INTEREST Microbes by the ton: Officials see weapons threat as North Korea gains biotech expertise Washington Post12/10/17 North Korea is moving steadily to acquire the essential machinery that could potentially be used for an advanced bioweapons program, from factories that can produce microbes by the ton, to laboratories specializing in genetic modification, according to U.S. and Asian intelligence officials and weapons experts. Meanwhile, leader Kim Jong Un’s government also is dispatching its scientists abroad to seek advanced degrees in microbiology, while offering to sell biotechnology services to the developing world.