Nuclear Policy News – February 20, 2018

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Did Kim Jong Un’s ‘historic’ missile get a boost from old Soviet weapons?
Washington Post

Saudi Resistance to Nuclear Standards Could Roil U.S. Reactor Deal
Wall Street Journal

The Nuclear Posture Review and Russian ‘de-escalation:’ a dangerous solution to a nonexistent problem
War on the Rocks

US and China reportedly scuffled over nuclear ‘football’ during Trump’s Beijing visit


U.S. is ‘nervous’ about North Korea’s missiles, admits Secretary of State Rex Tillerson
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said suggestions from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un that the entire U.S. mainland is within the isolated nation’s nuclear striking range make him nervous.

Former US military commander warns against ‘bloody nose’ strike on North Korea
The Guardian2/19/18
A senior former US military commander and intelligence chief has warned against a pre-emptive “bloody nose” strike on North Korea.

Nuclear Hawks Take the Reins in Tokyo
Union of Concerned Scientists2/16/18
Donald Trump’s plan for a more muscular US nuclear posture got a ringing endorsement from the increasingly right-wing government of Japan.

UN chief: Beware nuclear North Korea, back global unity
ABC News2/16/18
U.N. Secretary-General Antonio Guterres urged policymakers on Friday “not to miss the opportunity of a peaceful resolution” to the standoff over North Korea’s nuclear program, saying a military solution would have “catastrophic consequences.”

China committed to no first use of nukes: Diplomat
The Times of India2/19/18
China is committed to no-first-use of nuclear weapons policy and its support for the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty (CTBT), a senior Chinese diplomat said on Sunday.

Is China really threatening the US with nuclear weapons?
Asia Times2/19/18
Disarmament critics slam US President Donald Trump’s new expansionist nuclear policy.

Did Kim Jong Un’s ‘historic’ missile get a boost from old Soviet weapons?
Washington Post2/16/18
The powerful intercontinental missile tested by North Korea late last year is “highly likely” to have been built with foreign blueprints or parts, according to a new technical analysis that describes multiple similarities between Pyongyang’s new missile and ones built by the Soviet Union decades ago.

US and China reportedly scuffled over nuclear ‘football’ during Trump’s Beijing visit
Things got physical between U.S. and Chinese officials over the nuclear “football” during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing last year, Axios reported Sunday.

Secret Service Denies Reports of Scuffle Over ‘Nuclear Football’ With Chinese Security
The U.S. Secret Service has denied a report that an agent was forced to tackle a Chinese security official after he tried to detain the American military officer carrying the U.S. nuclear launch codes during President Donald Trump’s visit to Beijing in November.


Saudi Resistance to Nuclear Standards Could Roil U.S. Reactor Deal
Wall Street Journal2/20/18
Lawmakers are likely to bristle at kingdom’s refusal to accept enrichment and reprocessing curbs

Why Trump might bend nuclear security rules to help Saudi Arabia build reactors in the desert
Washington Post2/20/18
If the administration wants to boost the chances of a U.S. consortium led by Westinghouse, it might need to bend rules designed to limit nuclear proliferation in an unstable part of the world.

European Diplomats Aim to Curb Iran Actions, Save Nuclear Deal
Wall Street Journal2/18/18
European diplomats met with a senior Iranian official Saturday in a bid to curtail Iran’s regional muscle-flexing and meet a key Trump administration demand.

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu Warns Iran to ‘Not Test Israel’s Resolve’
The nuclear deal with Iran has emboldened Tehran to become increasingly aggressive in the Middle East, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Sunday, warning that Iran should “not test Israel’s resolve” as he showed off what he said was part of a downed Iranian drone.

Iranian president pledges to stick to nuclear deal commitments
Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said on Saturday it would adhere to commitments under its 2015 international nuclear agreement, signed with six world powers to limit its disputed nuclear program.


U.S.-Russia Tension Flares Over Nuclear Arms Control Now at Risk
Moscow Times2/19/18
As tensions escalate between Russia and the U.S., the nuclear-armed former Cold War rivals are risking the future of decades-old arms control agreements that have helped to keep a strategic balance and prevent the risk of accidental war.

DNA tests for UK’s nuclear bomb veterans
BBC News2/16/18
Decades ago they witnessed nuclear weapons tests in the South Pacific. Now some veterans hope new DNA testing will prove it was responsible for their subsequent ill health, which they say ruined their lives.

Escalate to de-escalate? US and Russia trade jabs on nuclear arms use
Defense News2/18/18
If anyone had any doubt left, a panel discussion today at the Munich Security Conference showcased with brutal clarity that the United States and Russia have very little common ground for a rapprochement on nuclear weapons — or much else, for that matter.


India test fires medium-range nuclear capable Agni-II missile
The Hindu2/20/18
India on Tuesday test-fired its medium range nuclear capable Agni-II missile with a strike range of 2,000 km from Abdul Kalam Island off Odisha coast, Defence sources said.


Pentagon policy chief: Trump’s nuclear doctrine is similar to Obama’s
Washington Examiner2/16/18
The Pentagon’s policy chief told an audience at the National Defense University Friday that President Trump’s doctrine for the use of nuclear weapons is no different from former President Barack Obama’s, and in fact is consistent with the policy of deterrence that dates back to the Truman administration.

Senate confirms nuclear weapons chief, key Pentagon officials
Defense News2/17/18
America’s next nuclear weapons czar, the Pentagon’s management chief and its chief innovation officer were among eight Trump national security nominees the Senate confirmed late Thursday.

Policy Official: Posture Review Emphasizes Capabilities, Deters Use of Nukes
Department of Defense2/16/18
The 2018 Nuclear Posture Review emphasizes the capabilities needed to correct adversary miscalculations, and in doing so, it deters the use of nuclear weapons, the deputy undersecretary of defense for policy said today at National Defense University here.


The Nuclear Posture Review and Russian ‘de-escalation:’ a dangerous solution to a nonexistent problem
War on the RocksOlga Oliker and Andrey Baklitskiy
Evidence of a dropped threshold for Russian nuclear employment is weak.

The Myth of North Korea, the USS Pueblo, and Nuclear War
38NorthMitchell Lerner
When the 50th anniversary of the capture of the USS Pueblo hit a few weeks ago, the nation’s eyes briefly returned to this forgotten American spy ship that had been captured in the East Sea in January 1968.

The grand picture of verifying nuclear disarmament: What needs to be done?
Bulletin of Atomic ScientistsMalte Göttsche
With today’s nuclear weapon modernization efforts and plans, as well as recent dangerous changes in nuclear policy, in particular the United States’ Nuclear Posture Review, the goal of a world without nuclear weapons—global zero—seems very far away.

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