Top News North Korea says it will not denuclearize until the US eliminates ‘nuclear threat’ CNN Russia’s Putin accuses U.S. of raising risk of nuclear war Reuters Mattis quits, says his views aren’t ‘aligned’ with Trump’s CNN East Asia North Korea says it will not denuclearize until the US eliminates ‘nuclear threat’ CNN12/20/18 North Korea will not relinquish its nuclear weapons until the US eliminates its own “nuclear threat,” according to a commentary published by state-run Korean Central News Agency (KCNA). “The proper definition of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula is completely eliminating the American nuclear threat to North Korea before eliminating our nuclear capability,” the commentary says. Russia/FSU/Europe Russia’s Putin accuses U.S. of raising risk of nuclear war Reuters12/20/18 President Vladimir Putin on Thursday accused the United States of raising the risk of nuclear war by threatening to spurn a key arms control treaty and refusing to hold talks about another pact that expires soon. In a news conference that lasted more than three hours, Putin also backed U.S. President Donald Trump’s decision to pull troops out of Syria, said British Prime Minister Theresa May had no choice but to implement Brexit and that Western democracy was under serious strain. Russia again successfully tests ship-based hypersonic missile — which will likely be ready for combat by 2022 CNBC12/20/18 Russia has conducted another successful test of its ship-based hypersonic missile, a weapon the United States is currently unable to defend against, according to two people with direct knowledge of a U.S. intelligence report. The people, who spoke to CNBC on the condition of anonymity, said Russia has carried out five total tests of its ship-based hypersonic missile since 2015. U.S. Nuclear Policy Mattis quits, says his views aren’t ‘aligned’ with Trump’s CNN12/20/18 Defense Secretary James Mattis resigned Thursday on the heels of President Donald Trump’s plans to withdraw troops from Syria, citing irreconcilable policy differences in a move that took Washington by surprise. “Because you have the right to have a Secretary of Defense whose views are better aligned with yours on these and other subjects, I believe it is right for me to step down from my position,” Mattis wrote in his letter to the President. Pentagon moves ahead with new low-yield nuclear weapon, amid resurgent debate Fox News12/20/18 Despite a resurgence in the debate about the rationale for adding new low-yield nuclear weapons, Pentagon weapons developers are maintaining the current developmental course for the new program. Earlier this year, DoD nuclear weapons experts completed initial draft plans for several emerging low-yield sea-launched nuclear weapons intended to deter potential attackers and add new precision strike options to those currently possible with the existing arsenal. US envoy optimistic about N. Korea despite latest friction Associated Press12/21/18 The Trump administration’s special envoy for North Korea on Friday expressed optimism about the diplomatic push to resolve the nuclear crisis, a day after the North issued a surprisingly blunt statement saying it will never disarm unless the United States removes what it calls a nuclear threat. Following a meeting with South Korean officials, Stephen Biegun said Washington was eager to move to the “next stage of discussions” with North Korea on denuclearization and setting up a second summit between President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, who first met in June. Opinion and Analysis The international significance of Russian aerospace defenses Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsIvanka Barzashka 12/20/18 Russia’s aerospace defense system has implications for US and NATO strategy. It affects strategic stability broadly defined and should be an explicit factor in debates on arms control, strategic deterrence, and competition. Strategists should weigh it in debates on nuclear and missile defense strategy.