Nuclear Policy News – December 15, 2017

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UN official who visited North Korea sees ‘high risk’ of miscalculation

NATO sounds alarm on banned Russian missile system

Lindsey Graham: There’s a 30 Percent Chance Trump Attacks North Korea
The Atlantic

U.S. Navy chief says military options on N. Korea are real
Yonhap News Agency


UN official who visited North Korea sees ‘high risk’ of miscalculation
A UN official who just returned from Pyongyang, where he spent several days speaking with North Korean officials, has said he is “really worried about an accidental move toward conflict.” Jeffrey Feltman, an American who is the United Nations undersecretary-general for political affairs, told CNN’s Christiane Amanpour on Thursday that he is concerned about a “lack of communication” and the “high risk of some kind of miscalculation.”

S. Korean leader urges joint efforts to denuclearize N. Korea, ensure global peace
Yonhap News Agency12/14/17
South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Friday called for joint efforts between his country and China to rid North Korea of its nuclear weapons, calling it a threat not only to South Korea but to China and its future development.

Japan to review military needs with eye to revising defense program: Abe
Japan Times12/15/17
Prime Minister Shinzo Abe said Friday that the government will assess the capabilities needed to protect Japan’s population from the growing military threat posed by North Korea, signaling his intention to accelerate debate early next year on reviewing the nation’s defense guidelines.


NATO sounds alarm on banned Russian missile system
NATO allies on Friday publicly raised concern about a Russian cruise missile system that the alliance says may break a Cold War-era pact banning such weapons, in a show of support for Washington.

Russia says Iran nuclear deal breakdown would hurt effort to manage North Korea
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said a possible breakdown of the Iran nuclear deal would send the wrong signal when it came to trying to resolve the situation around North Korea, the RIA and Interfax news agencies reported on Friday.


Lindsey Graham: There’s a 30 Percent Chance Trump Attacks North Korea
The Atlantic12/14/17
It’s become a grim ritual in Washington foreign-policy circles to assess the chances that the United States and North Korea stumble into war. But on Wednesday Lindsey Graham did something different: He estimated the odds that the Trump administration deliberately strikes North Korea first, to stop it from acquiring the capability to target the U.S. mainland with a long-range, nuclear-tipped missile. And the senator’s numbers were remarkably high.

US special envoy backs unconditional talks with N. Korea
Associated Press12/15/17
The U.S. special envoy for North Korea on Friday expressed hope that Pyongyang would accept Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s diplomatic offer of unconditional talks, although the overture has already been contradicted by the White House.

U.S. Navy chief says military options on N. Korea are real
Yonhap News Agency12/15/17
“It’s not empty words,” Adm. John M. Richardson, chief of naval operations (CNO), said in an exclusive interview with Yonhap News Agency at the U.S. military base in Yongsan, central Seoul. “To have a legitimate deterrence, I think, you have to have legitimate, I guess, options. So we’re prepared.”

In phone call, Trump thanks Putin for praise, looks for help on North Korea
President Donald Trump spoke by phone with President Vladimir Putin of Russia on Thursday, talking about how they can work together to resolve the situation involving North Korea’s nuclear program, the White House said.


Rocket Men: The Team Building North Korea’s Nuclear Missile
New York TimesChoe Sang-Hun, Motoko Rich, Natalie Reneau, and Audrey Carlsen
Mr. Kim has elevated science as an ideal in the regime’s propaganda and put his fondness for scientists and engineers on prominent display across North Korea. That is a departure from the practice of his predecessor and father, Kim Jong-il, who instead emphasized cinema and the arts as propaganda tools.

Playing at nuclear war
Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsTimothy Westmyer
What remains to be seen is whether this brave new VR world could be harnessed to reduce the danger of nuclear weapons—or if it will remain an entertaining gimmick, destined to go the way of drive-ins and hula hoops. To find out where the technology stood, I decided to try out the different virtual reality applications myself. After telling my wife that it was essential for vital research for an article I was working on, she let me buy a PlayStation VR. What follows is not an exhaustive compendium of all that is out there, but a few highlights—though it does take in virtual reality applications that have been created from around the globe.

Rocket Men
New RepublicJon Wolfsthal
Trump, however, is reportedly pushing for the development of new nuclear weapons and delivery systems, and is expected to expand the circumstances under which they may be used. If this happens, the global nuclear balance may shift irrevocably. Rather than continuing the American role as the essential stabilizing force committed to preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons, Trump could fuel a new nuclear arms race and increase the incentive for America’s enemies to strike first.

Nuclear Deterrence In a New Age
National Institute for Public PolicyKeith B. Payne
In short, despite serious efforts to leave nuclear deterrence, forces and thinking in the dustbin of history, the United States must once again confront the world as it is and invest in the thinking, nuclear capabilities and infrastructure critical to the deterrence or defeat of strategic attacks, nuclear and non-nuclear.

Invisible Doomsday Machines: The Challenge Of Clandestine Capabilities And Deterrence
War on the RocksBrendan Rittenhouse Green and Austin Long
Secrecy can also inhibit the effective integration of foreign policy with military capabilities, detracting from strategic coherence and holding back policy implementation. To succeed in a world of rising military secrecy, U.S. policymakers need to understand the political-military trade-offs posed by clandestine capabilities, develop concepts for when such capabilities should be concealed or revealed, and organize the government internally for managing military secrecy.

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