Nuclear Policy News – December 4, 2017

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Korea, U.S. begin massive air combat drills
Yonhap News Agency

McMaster: Potential for war with North Korea ‘increasing every day’

Sen. Graham says new N. Korea tech advances make pre-emptive war ‘more likely’
CBS News


Korea, U.S. begin massive air combat drills
Yonhap News Agency12/4/17
South Korea and the United States kicked off a major air force exercise here Monday against North Korea’s threats, with two dozen U.S. stealth jets mobilized. The five-day Vigilant air combat exercise (ACE) comes less than a week after the North fired a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) and declared the completion of its “nuclear force.”

U.N. council to meet on North Korea rights abuses, nuclear program in December
United Nations Security Council ministers will meet on Dec. 15 to discuss North Korea’s nuclear and missiles programs and the body will also meet separately this month to discuss human rights abuses in the North Asian country, an annual meeting that its ally China has tried to prevent for the past three years.

North Korea Won’t Disarm, Says Russian Delegation to Pyongyang: RIA
U.S. News and World Report12/1/17
Russian lawmakers who visited Pyongyang said North Korea was not prepared to disarm, and while it did not want nuclear war it is morally ready for it, Russia’s RIA news agency reported.


JCPOA won’t survive without sanctions removal, Iran says
Tehran Times12/4/17
Behrooz Kamalvandi, spokesman for the Atomic Energy Organization of Iran (AEOI), has said that it is not possible to keep implementing the 2015 nuclear deal, officially called the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA), without the removal of sanctions.

Iran insists missile program is nonnegotiable
Tehran Times12/4/17
“Iran is definitely firm is certain spheres such as defensive and missile programs and has the right to follow its (defense) policies and such issues are not negotiable at all,” Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Qassemi told IRIB on Monday.


Pope: Possessing nuclear weapons ‘irrational’
Associated Press12/3/17
Pope Francis says the Cold War-era policy of nuclear deterrence is no longer viable and that the mere possession of nuclear weapons is now “irrational.” Flying through Asia en route home from Bangladesh Saturday, Francis said: “We’re at the limit of licitly having and using nuclear arms. Why? Because today, such sophisticated nuclear arsenals risk destroying humanity or at least a great part of it.”

Russia to Get New Fifth-Generation Nuclear Attack Subs in 2030s
The Diplomat12/5/17
The new class will allegedly come in three variants: a nuclear-powered attack submarine (SSN), a nuclear-powered cruise missile submarine (SSGN), and a new nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN). All three variants are expected to share a common hull design as well as common sonar, power and propulsion systems.

Russia calls U.S. threat to destroy North Korea a ‘bloodthirsty tirade’
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Friday that a U.S. threat to destroy North Korea in the event of a war was “a bloodthirsty tirade” and military action against Pyongyang would be a big mistake.


McMaster: Potential for war with North Korea ‘increasing every day’
White House national security adviser HR McMaster said Saturday that North Korea represents “the greatest immediate threat to the United States” and that the potential for war with the communist nation is growing each day.

Sen. Graham says new N. Korea tech advances make pre-emptive war ‘more likely’
CBS News12/3/17
Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-South Carolina, said the United States is “running out of time” when it comes to North Korea and that pre-emptive war is “becoming more likely” as the country’s weapons technology “matures.”

Exclusive: Pentagon evaluating U.S. West Coast missile defense sites – officials
The U.S. agency tasked with protecting the country from missile attacks is scouting the West Coast for places to deploy new anti-missile defenses, two Congressmen said on Saturday, as North Korea’s missile tests raise concerns about how the United States would defend itself from an attack.

In Return to Cold War Posture, U.S. Sending Sub Hunting Planes to Iceland
Foreign Policy12/4/17
Tucked away in the 2018 defense budget sitting on President Donald Trump’s desk is a provision for $14.4 million to refurbish hangars at Naval Air Station Keflavik to accommodate more U.S. Navy P-8 Poseidon reconnaissance aircraft, a key surveillance asset for locating and tracking submarines, a defense official confirms.


There is no military option to take out North Korean nuclear program
The HillTodd Rosenblum
Some argue that rollback is the best way forward. President Trump and at least some in senior ranks seem to think rollback by military force is realistic. It is not. Containment through enhanced military defenses and buying time for longer-term change is our best course.

Chinese Military Strategy: A Work in Progress
All Things NuclearGregory Kulacki
Several years ago UCS reported China could put its nuclear weapons on high alert so they could be launched on warning of an incoming attack. Last week I had the opportunity to speak with some of the authors of The Science of Military Strategy: the authoritative Chinese military publication that was the source of the information in our report. In a lively discussion, most of which took place between the authors themselves, I was able to confirm our original report is accurate. But I also learned more about how and why The Science of Military Strategy was written and what that can tell US observers about the broader context of how military thinking is evolving in China.

It’s time to use surgical strikes, naval blockades and more on North Korea
The HillGreg Keeley
The slate of options open to the U.S. shrinks with every North Korean launch. Military action is increasingly being debated in Washington, Tokyo, Seoul and Canberra. Options considered ought to include a multinational naval blockade of the peninsula; a conventional “surgical strike” on Kim’s ICBM sites; a clandestine Special Forces operation to neutralize North Korea’s leadership; or perhaps a preemptive tactical nuclear attack.

With North Korea looming, time to double down on missile defense
The HillRichard Weitz
Ongoing augmentations to radars, cyber components, command-and-control systems, and similar networks will also enhance performance. So will more frequently testing U.S. missile defenses against simulated North Korean ICBM-like attacks. Sustaining adequate funding for modernization of sensors, construction of the new Long Range Discrimination Radar based in Alaska, and other improvements throughout the missile defense infrastructure remain critical.


Dr. Strangelove Was a Documentary
Slate Book ReviewFred Kaplan
Daniel Ellsberg gained notoriety in the early 1970s for leaking the Pentagon Papers, the Defense Department’s top-secret history of the Vietnam War, and then for outspokenly protesting the war and the government’s secrecy which sustained it. Yet few, then or now, are aware that he spent much of the previous decade immersed in highly classified studies of the U.S. nuclear-war machine: how it works, who can launch an attack, and how much devastation it can wreak if someone ever pushed the button.

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