Nuclear Policy News – February 21, 2018

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Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials during the Olympics before last-minute cancellation
Washington Post

India Test Fires Nuclear Capable Medium-Range Ballistic Missile
The Diplomat

The Bigger Story Behind the Saudi Reactor Contest


Pence was set to meet with North Korean officials during the Olympics before last-minute cancellation
Washington Post2/20/18
Vice President Pence departed for a five-day, two-country swing through Asia earlier this month having agreed to a secret meeting with North Korean officials while in South Korea at the 2018 Winter Olympic Games.

S. Korea to Announce Joint Military Drill Plan With US Before April
South Korea and the United States will announce plans before April for joint military drills that had been postponed until after the Winter Olympics and Paralympics, South Korea’s defense minister said Tuesday.

The US and North Korea look like they’ll get right back into a nuclear standoff after the Olympics
Business Insider2/20/19
The uneasy peace the US, North Korea, and South Korea observed over the course of the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics doesn’t look built to last, as military exercises will begin shortly after the games.

North Korea Dropped Out of Meeting With Pence at Last Minute, U.S. Says
New York Times2/20/18
Vice President Mike Pence had planned to secretly meet with a high-level delegation of North Korean leaders while he was at the Winter Olympics in South Korea this month, but the North Koreans canceled at the last minute, according to the State Department.


The Bigger Story Behind the Saudi Reactor Contest
Geopolitical jockeying for a chance to build two nuclear reactors in Saudi Arabia highlights a potential new arena for superpower rivalry.


Russia releases video of its modernized ballistic missile defense system
Defense News2/20/18
In a ministry statement, the deputy commander of Russia’s air defense forces, Col. Andrei Prikhodko, describes the system as a “new modernized anti-missile system” that completed its assigned tasks with “the specified accuracy.”


India Test Fires Nuclear Capable Medium-Range Ballistic Missile
The Diplomat2/21/18
India’s Strategic Forces Command (SFC) has recently test fired a medium to intermediate range nuclear capable ballistic missile as part of its annual training cycle to test the combat readiness of the Indian Army’s missile forces.

Pakistan adopts latest IAEA’s protocols on nuclear trade
The News2/21/18
Pakistan has conveyed to the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) its intention to subscribe to the ‘Guidance on the Import and Export of Radioactive Sources’.


Diplomacy, sanctions, missile defense: Use this triad against North Korea
Defense NewsDan Leaf
It is time for a rational assessment of means available to the United States to deter and defend against North Korean (and other limited scale) missile attacks while understanding each plays an important role.

Department of Energy Risking Nuclear Deterrence and National Security
Real Clear DefenseConstance Douris
According to the recent 2018 Nuclear Posture review, a smoothly functioning nuclear weapons industrial base is essential to a credible strategic deterrent. The Y-12 National Security Complex in Tennessee and the Pantex Plant in Texas are key sites that contribute to the sustainment and reliability of the nuclear deterrent but are under pressure to decrease costs.

Pushing back against Iran: is it time for regime change?
NewsweekKenneth Pollack
The last aspect of a pushback strategy toward Iran that I want to delve into in a bit more depth is the role that regime change should play as part of that strategy.

Reality Check on North Korea
US News2/20/18
How can the U.S. stop this march to war with North Korea? Open our eyes.

Continuity and change in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists2/20/18
So far, each post-Cold War US administration has prepared its own Nuclear Posture Review, but the framework and the scope has been different in all cases. In terms of content, however, there are many continuities, and the Trump administration’s strategy did not make a significant departure from the former nuclear reviews.

Trump’s quick fix approach to Iran nuclear deal creates untenable policy dilemma
The Hill2/21/18
To truly fix the JCPOA, the United States should stay in it for the time being, so Congress and the administration can focus on rebuilding pressure on Iran to negotiate a better agreement.

A Nuclear Angle to the 2014 PNS Zulfiquar Attack?
The Diplomat2/20/18
Thinking back on the September 2014 incident, which I wrote about at the time in these pages, it’s difficult to conceive of a scenario where Pakistan’s Naval Strategic Forces Command would have seen it fit to place a single nuclear warhead on a frigate, given that the country does not even today acknowledge a ship-launched cruise or ballistic missile capable of delivering nuclear weapons.

Another arms race? No and nyet
BrookingsMaggie Tennis and Strobe Talbott
Without concerted efforts to maintain INF and New START, the arms control regime could fall apart.

The U.S.’s (Mostly Not) New Nuclear Policy
Aviation WeekJames Miller
Mattis’s NPR reiterates the vast majority of the policy statements—and programmatic priorities—of the previous administration’s review.

The Nuclear Posture Review: Fiction and Fact
Real Clear DefenseFranklin Miller
The 2018 “NPR” presents a sound and reasoned policy in the mainstream of traditional U.S. nuclear deterrence policy, which the document makes clear.

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