TOP NEWS North Korea yet to express “commitment” to dialogue, says UN official NK News Senior Russian diplomat hails U.S. readiness to start talks with North Korea: Ifx Reuters Tillerson Open to Talks With North Korea Foreign Policy Trump announces pick for nuclear weapons czar Defense News EAST ASIA North Korea yet to express “commitment” to dialogue, says UN official NK News12/13/17 UN Under-Secretary-General for Political Affairs Jeffrey Feltman on Tuesday said that North Korea had not given any signs of a desire to engage in dialogue over its nuclear program during his visit last week to Pyongyang. United Nations political affairs chief said his delegation had stressed its belief that Pyongyang needed to “signal” its willingness to engage in a dialogue. UN official: NKoreans say it is important to prevent war Associated Press12/13/17 The U.N. political chief said Tuesday that senior North Korean officials told him during his visit last week “that it was important to prevent war” over the country’s rapidly advancing nuclear and ballistic missile programs. North Korea’s Kim Jong Un fetes rocket scientists, promises more weapons Reuters12/12/17 North Korea’s leader Kim Jong Un vowed to develop more nuclear weapons on Tuesday while personally decorating scientists and officials who contributed to the development of Pyongyang’s most advanced intercontinental ballistic missile, the Hwasong-15. China responds to Tillerson’s statements on Korean Peninsula nuclear issue Xinhua12/13/17 “We have noticed the remarks. It has been a consistent stance of the Chinese government to peacefully resolve the peninsula issue through dialogue and negotiation,” said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson Lu Kang at a press briefing. “China welcomes all efforts to ease tension and promote dialogue to resolve the problem.” RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE Senior Russian diplomat hails U.S. readiness to start talks with North Korea: Ifx Reuters12/13/17 Russia welcomes U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s statement that Washington is ready to begin direct talks with North Korea, the Interfax news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Wednesday. EU’s Mogherini: Preserving nuclear deal is ‘an absolute must’ Tehran Times12/13/17 “We cannot afford to undermine the credibility of a multilateral agreement, endorsed by the UN Security Council Resolution, and we cannot afford to dismantle a deal that works and delivers on its promises,” she said during her speech at the European Parliament plenary session. U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY Tillerson Open to Talks With North Korea Foreign Policy12/12/17 “We’re ready to have the first meeting without precondition,” Tillerson said Tuesday at an event at the Atlantic Council, a think tank in Washington. “Let’s just meet. And we can talk about the weather if you want. We can talk about whether it’s going to be a square table or a round table if that’s what you’re excited about. But can we at least sit down and see each other face to face,” he said. White House: Trump stance on North Korea has ‘not changed’ Politico12/12/17 President Donald Trump’s outlook on North Korea remains unchanged, the White House announced Tuesday, shortly after Secretary of State Rex Tillerson appeared to soften his stance by saying the U.S. is ready to engage in discussions with Pyongyang “without precondition.” … The statement came as a direct response to remarks made by Tillerson at the Atlantic Council in Washington, D.C., earlier Tuesday. Trump announces pick for nuclear weapons czar Defense News12/12/17 U.S. President Donald Trump has announced his intent to nominate Lisa Gordon-Hagerty as undersecretary for nuclear security at the Department of Energy, the top job for managing America’s arsenal of nuclear warheads. Retired military leaders urge Trump to choose words, not action, to deal with North Korea Washington Post12/13/17 A group of 58 retired American military leaders is making a rare public plea to President Trump, urging him not to take military action against North Korea but to instead pursue a diplomatic resolution to the current standoff. OPINION AND ANALYSIS U.S.-Russia arms control was possible once – is it possible still? BrookingsStrobe Talbott 12/12/17 Key officials in Washington and Moscow seem to think that U.S.-Russian relations are so fraught that negotiations are certain to fail. Instead, they should take a lesson from their predecessors going back to the Cuban Missile Crisis in 1962. Near-catastrophes like that one convinced the leaderships in Washington and Moscow how dangerous unregulated nuclear competition was. As a result, they initiated a long, tough, but ultimately successful series of agreements that stabilized mutual deterrence, thereby keeping the nuclear peace intact even as the ideological and geopolitical struggle raged. If our current leaders let the arms control regime unravel, the years ahead could all too plausibly be even more perilous than the Cold War itself. How North Korea’s Global Financing Web Works Around Sanctions Wall Street JournalKate O’Keeffe and Ian Talley 12/12/17 Researchers in Washington and South Korea have identified a number of business transactions that they say show North Korea’s international financing web is more sophisticated than what was widely known previously. Improving on the Iran Deal Defense OneAhmed al-Hamli 12/12/17 By fully committing to the non-proliferation global regime and allowing the IAEA to fully serve its mandate unabated and comprehensively, Iran can show that it is truly intent on not developing nuclear capabilities and reap the benefits of trade and investment with European markets. Warning to Congress: Bad Iran Legislation Is Worse Than No Iran Legislation Foreign PolicyRichard Goldberg 12/11/17 Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.), a long-time Iran hawk, could always invoke the Senate’s nuclear option to prevent Iran’s nuclear option. But if such a move is off the table and a filibuster of meaningful legislation cannot be defeated, Congress should punt the issue back to the White House and let the president’s unpredictability be an asset in a comprehensive effort to roll back Iran. SPECIAL INTEREST Hoop dreams? Dennis Rodman thinks he can bring Trump and ‘friend’ Kim Jong Un together USA Today12/12/17 “If I can go back over there … you’ll see me talking to him, and sitting down and having dinner, a glass of wine, laughing and doing my thing. I guess things will settle down a bit and everybody can rest at ease,” Rodman said of travelling to the North, according to the Guardian.