Nuclear Policy News – January 14, 2021

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Wary of Biden tack on Iran, Israel revisits military options, newspaper says

North Korea stages military parade after rare party congress

ANALYSIS: The hypersonic missile debate
Aerospace Corporation

United States

ANALYSIS: The hypersonic missile debate
Aerospace CorporationSam Wilson
Before adjudicating among conflicting technological assessments—deciding whether hypersonic missiles are undefendable, or easier to defend, untraceable or easier to track, extremely precise or widely imprecise—one may want to begin with considering the U.S. relationship with Russia and China.

ANALYSIS: Catalytic nuclear war’ in the age of artificial intelligence & autonomy
Journal of Strategic StudiesJames Johnson
This article revisits the Cold War-era concept of ‘catalytic nuclear war,’ considered by many as unworkable, and reconceptualizes it in light of technological change, as well as improved understanding of human psychology and other factors.

OPINION: Our nuclear arms don’t need to be launch-ready. Biden should back down from the precipice.
Washington Post1/13/21
Mr. Trump will be out of office soon, but there are long-overdue reforms that would reduce the dangers by taking nuclear weapons off launch-ready alert.

East Asia

North Korea stages military parade after rare party congress
North Korea appeared to have stage a military parade on Thursday – an event that would be closely watched by international observers for signs of new military technology – after wrapping up a rare ruling party congress, Yonhap news agency reported.

North Korea: Will Kim Jong Un resume ICBM and nuclear tests?
Al Jazeera1/14/21
At party Congress, Kim pledges to expand weapons programmes with the aim of ‘making a preemptive and retaliatory nuclear strike’.

Kim Jong-un uses party congress to double down on nuclear program
New York Times1/13/21
The North Korean leader said his economic policies had failed, but he called his nuclear arms buildup one of the great feats “in the history of the Korean nation.”

Middle East

Iran works on uranium metal for reactor fuel in new breach of nuclear deal
Iran has started work on uranium metal-based fuel for a research reactor, the U.N. nuclear watchdog and Tehran said on Wednesday, in the latest breach of its nuclear deal with six major powers as the country presses for a lifting of U.S. sanctions.

Wary of Biden tack on Iran, Israel revisits military options, newspaper says
Israel is revising military options for a possible clash with Iran, an Israeli newspaper reported on Thursday, as Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government braces for differences with the incoming U.S. administration on Iranian nuclear policy.

OPINION: With Iran, Biden can’t let perfect be the enemy of good
Foreign PolicyJames Acton
Why any new agreement would likely be worse than resuscitating the existing deal.

Russia and Europe

ANALYSIS: Year 2020 in review: Results of Russia’s nuclear weapons modernization
Jamestown FoundationMaxim Starchak
Russia continues to press ahead with its nuclear weapons modernization program; however, domestic production difficulties and the coronavirus pandemic hindered the development of its latest strategic systems during the course of the last year.

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