Nuclear Policy News – February 13, 2018

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U.S. sends conflicting signals over North Korea diplomacy

Russian military tests new missile-destroying rocket for Moscow

Trump budget cuts renewable energy office, ups nuclear weapons spending

The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the future of the Indo-Pacific military balance
War on the Rocks


Trump tells Putin more steps needed to scrap North Korea nuclear program
U.S. President Donald Trump, who complained last month that Moscow was “not helping us at all with North Korea,” told Russian President Vladimir Putin on Monday that more needs to be done to scrap Pyongyang’s nuclear program, the White House said.

U.S. sends conflicting signals over North Korea diplomacy
The United States has appeared to endorse closer post-Olympics engagement between South and North Korea with an eye to eventual U.S.-North Korean talks, but has agreed with Seoul that sanctions must be intensified to push Pyongyang to negotiate an end to its nuclear weapons program.

North Korea seeks again legal forum to clarify UN sanctions
ABC News2/12/18
North Korea again asked U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres on Monday to organize an international forum of legal experts to clarify the legality of increasingly tough Security Council sanctions, which it says are erasing its people’s “right of existence.”

North Korea says U.S. criticism of human rights in reclusive country shows fear of nukes
Japan Times2/13/18
North Korea on Monday sharply criticized U.S. President Donald Trump for inviting a defector to attend the State of the Union address and Vice President Mike Pence for taking the father of Otto Warmbier to the Olympics, saying this shows the U.S. is “horrified and confused” by Pyongyang’s nuclear forces.

In Olympic corner of Asia, web of relationships is complex
Washington Post2/12/18
When an ABC Olympics analyst irritated South Koreans by crediting Japan for helping the country step toward the future, he waded into an intricate web of friendship, unease and outright enmity among Northeast Asia’s four nations — the two Koreas, Japan and China — and the United States.


Head of France’s Total urged Trump to stick with Iran nuclear deal: FT
The head of French oil major Total recently urged U.S. President Donald Trump to stick with the nuclear deal with Iran, where it has investments, according to an interview with the Financial Times.

Iran military official: West used lizards for nuclear spying
Times of India2/13/18
The former chief-of-staff of Iran’s armed forces said on Tuesday that Western spies had used lizards which could “attract atomic waves” to spy on the country’s nuclear programme.


Russian military tests new missile-destroying rocket for Moscow
The Russian military has announced successful tests of a new rocket designed to nuke any missiles fired towards Moscow, hailing the weapon as a major defense upgrade.


US Air Force’s new bomber will retire the B-1 and B-2 — but keep the B-52 flying for 90 years
Business Insider2/12/18
The US Air Force has begun planning a new nuclear-capable, ultra-stealth bomber that will phase out the B-1B Lancer and B-2 spirit bombers, which have been hallmarks of the bomber fleet for decades.

New US missile defense review on way
Asia Times2/13/18
Given the current crisis over North Korea’s nuclear missile program, the upcoming anti-missile defense assessment could have the most short-term impact on US defense posture.

Trump budget cuts renewable energy office, ups nuclear weapons spending
U.S. President Donald Trump’s proposed budget cuts spending by more than 65 percent for a research office on renewable energy and efficiency, reductions a Department of Energy official said reflected the success the bureau has had with electric vehicle batteries and wind and solar technologies.

A Pentagon chart misleadingly suggests the U.S. is falling behind in a nuclear arms race
Washington Post2/12/18
A former colleague suggested that a chart published in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) might be worthy of a fact check, saying it reminded him of exaggerations concerning Soviet military power during the Reagan administration.

DOE budget seeks money to close MOX
Augusta Chronicle2/12/18
The Department of Energy’s budget request for fiscal 2019 asks for money to close the Mixed Oxide Fuel Fabrication Facility and says the agency prefers the “dilute and dispose” method to dispose of 34 metric tons of weapons-grade plutonium.

Trump: U.S. will cease building nuclear arsenal if other countries stop first
President Donald Trump on Monday had a message for countries building their nuclear arsenals: “If they stop, we’ll stop.”


The Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty and the future of the Indo-Pacific military balance
War on the RocksEric Sayers
Despite the Eurocentric nature of the treaty and the positive impact it continues to have in Europe, the debilitating impact it is having on U.S. policy beyond Europe can no longer be ignored.

Length Doesn’t Matter
Foreign PolicyAvner Golov, Emily Landau
The United States and Europe need to get serious about limiting Iran’s missiles of all ranges — and the Missile Technology Control Regime should guide them.

The Nuclear Posture Review signals a new arms race
Washington PostKatrina vander Heuvel
On Friday, the Pentagon released its 2018 Nuclear Posture Review. Its debut demands more attention, because it announced a renewed round in the nuclear arms race, one inevitably bringing us ever closer to the unthinkable — a nuclear war of catastrophic consequences.

Why North Korea and Iran get accused of nuclear collusion
Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsJim Walsh
As it turns out, while there are good reasons for suspecting cooperation between the two, the actual record is rather modest, limited to an earlier period of missile trade.

US nuclear review is a prudent response to an increasingly dangerous world
Fox NewsSen. Deb Fischer
The world has changed considerably over the last seven years. What was once a relatively benign security environment has been replaced by one of increasing uncertainty and risk.

Pulling Back the Curtain on China’s Rocket Force
The DiplomatDavid Logan
What can we learn about China’s most secretive military branch by examining the career paths of its senior officers?

The President and the Bomb
Foreign AffairsMarch/April 2018
Richard K. Betts and Matthew C. Waxman
In November 2017, for the first time in 41 years, the U.S. Congress held a hearing to consider changes to the president’s authority to launch nuclear weapons.

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