TOP NEWS Japan approves missile defense system amid NKorea threat Associated Press Trump: U.S. has ‘no choice’ but to deal with North Korea arms challenge Reuters McMaster: We need to act urgently to stop North Korea PBS EAST ASIA Japan, South Korea urge China to do more to halt North Korea’s weapons programs Reuters12/19/17 U.S. allies Japan and South Korea urged China to do more to get North Korea to end its nuclear and missile programmes, Japanese Foreign Minister Taro Kono said on Tuesday amid a tense standoff between North Korea and the United States. Japan approves missile defense system amid NKorea threat Associated Press12/19/17 Japan’s Cabinet on Tuesday approved a plan to purchase a set of costly land-based U.S. missile combat systems to increase the country’s defense capabilities amid escalating threats from North Korea. The approval will allow the Defense Ministry to buy two Aegis Ashore systems to add to Japan’s current two-step missile defense consisting of Patriot batteries and Aegis-equipped destroyers. N.K. snubs Tillerson’s offer for talks without preconditions Yonhap News Agency12/18/17 North Korea on Tuesday rejected U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s latest proposal for dialogue without preconditions, saying that it has no interest in Washington’s scheme to make it give up its nuclear program. Korea conducts nuclear disaster drill Yonhap News Agency12/19/17 The drill was based on the assumption of a massive earthquake hitting the Genkai Nuclear Plant and causing radioactive materials to be released into the environment, it said. The plant is located only 190 kilometers away from South Korea’s southern port city of Busan. MIDDLE EAST Iran says Trump cannot cause collapse of nuclear deal: TV Reuters12/19/17 “The nuclear deal will not collapse… Those who hope that Trump will cause its collapse, are wrong,” Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said in a speech broadcast live on State TV. RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE Russia Got Rid Of Its Cold War-Era Nukes In Europe—Now It Wants The U.S. To Do The Same Newsweek12/18/17 “Russia has withdrawn all of its nuclear arsenal inside its national territory,” Mikhail Ulyanov, head of the arms-control department at Russia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs, said on Monday. “We think that the same should also have been done by the American side.” According to Ulyanov, the weapons in question number “around 200 aerial bombs.” SOUTH ASIA US encourages Pakistan to continue demonstrating responsible stewardship of nukes Express Tribune12/19/17 The first foreign policy of the Trump administration, announced on Monday (December 18), wants Pakistan to continue demonstrating responsible stewardship of nuclear assets but also warns that the prospect for an Indo-Pak nuclear conflict remains a key concern for Washington. U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY Trump: U.S. has ‘no choice’ but to deal with North Korea arms challenge Reuters12/18/17 President Donald Trump unveiled a new national security strategy on Monday, calling for Pakistan to take decisive action against terrorism and saying Washington had to deal with the challenge posed by North Korea’s weapons programs. McMaster: We need to act urgently to stop North Korea PBS12/18/17 The U.S. must “act urgently” to enforce existing sanctions and take further steps with regional allies like South Korea and Japan to convince North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un to abandon his weapons program, McMaster said in an interview with PBS NewsHour’s Judy Woodruff. HR McMaster weighs in on North Korea nuclear threat BBC12/19/17 In a wide-ranging interview with the BBC’s Yalda Hakim, US National Security Adviser HR McMaster said that the United States has “to be prepared, if necessary, to compel the denuclearisation of North Korea”, with or without their cooperation. Washington ‘consistently’ seeks peaceful solution to N.K. nukes: Seoul envoy to U.S. Yonhap News Agency12/19/17 But concerns about a possible pre-emptive attack by Washington on North Korea linger as the North has conducted nuclear and missile tests in defiance of international condemnation. “There is a consistent stance in the U.S. administration that it seeks to resolve North Korea’s nuke issue peacefully and through dialogue,” Amb. Cho Yoon-je told reporters in Seoul. OPINION AND ANALYSIS The UN nuclear ban treaty is historic on five counts The InterpreterRamesh Thakur 12/19/17 Critics allege that another landmark agreement in history was the war-renouncing Kellogg–Briand Pact of 1928 that proved utterly ineffectual. True, but there is one critical difference. That pact was entirely voluntary, whereas the ban treaty is legally binding – that is the whole point of the treaty. Once in force, it will become the new institutional reality, part of the legal architecture for disarmament. Buckle Up for Year 2 of Trump Foreign PolicyMax Boot 12/19/17 The odds are that Year Two of the Trump era will not be so placid. Predicting what Trump will do is a fool’s errand, and crises by their nature are usually unexpected. That said, here is my best guess at the three or four major crises that could pop up next year. First and foremost: a war with North Korea. A moral imperative: Trump must enhance US missile defense The HillPeter Huessy 12/18/17 Missile defense is a moral imperative, the fulfilment of which the American people are guaranteed under our constitution requirement “to provide for the common defense.” A global, layered missile defense system does that job. Key to missile defense, like surviving a cold winter, is to layer up The HillMead Treadwell 12/18/17 Each of these layers, pursued vigorously, should help render North Korea’s advances more and more useless. As the Department of Defense conducts its Ballistic Missile Defense Review and provides the administration policy recommendations for protecting Americans and global allies from missile threats, they would do well to supplement existing missile defenses by layering in new technologies. SPECIAL INTEREST U.S. bars drones over nuclear sites for security reasons Reuters12/18/17 The new restrictions begin Dec. 29 and include the Hanford Site in Washington State, Idaho National Laboratory, Savannah River National Laboratory in South Carolina, Pantex Site in Texas and the Y-12 National Security Site and Oak Ridge National Laboratory in Tennessee.