Nuclear Policy News – January 16, 2018

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Military Quietly Prepares for a Last Resort: War With North Korea
New York Times

Hawaii False Alarm Hints at Thin Line Between Mishap and Nuclear War
New York Times

U.S. Plans New Nuclear Weapons
Wall Street Journal

False Alarms of the Apocalypse
The Atlantic


Nuclear-capable B-52 bombers join B-2s, B-1Bs on Guam amid tensions with North Korea
The Japan Times 1/16/18
The U.S. Air Force announced Tuesday that it has deployed six of its powerful B-52 strategic bombers to Guam amid tensions with nuclear-armed North Korea.

North Korean orchestra to perform in South during Olympics amid easing tensions
Reuters 1/15/18
North Korea agreed during rare talks on Monday to send a 140-strong orchestra to perform during the Winter Olympics in South Korea next month, Seoul said, amid easing tensions after a months-long standoff over the North’s weapons programs.

Military Quietly Prepares for a Last Resort: War With North Korea
New York Times 1/14/18
Across the military, officers and troops are quietly preparing for a war they hope will not come.

Hawaii False Alarm Hints at Thin Line Between Mishap and Nuclear War
New York Times 1/14/18
Nuclear experts are warning, using some of their most urgent language since President Trump took office, that Hawaii’s false alarm, in which state agencies alerted locals to a nonexistent missile attack, underscores a growing risk of unintended nuclear war with North Korea.

False Missile Alert Looms as a Black Eye for Hawaii and Its Governor
New York Times 1/14/18
The false alarm about an incoming ballistic missile that sent Hawaii into a panic this weekend threatened to turn into a major embarrassment for the state and its politically endangered governor, David Y. Ige, as Hawaii officials moved to head off damage to Hawaii’s biggest industry, tourism.

US allies from Korean War meet on North Korean nuke threat
Washington Post 1/16/18
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson huddles Tuesday with nations that fought on America’s side in the Korean War, looking to tighten the economic noose around North Korea over its nuclear weapons even as hopes rise for diplomacy.


Russia will not support U.S. bid to change Iran nuclear deal: Lavrov
Reuters 1/15/18
Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov said on Monday Moscow will not support attempts by Washington to modify the Iran nuclear deal, arguing such a move could also complicate diplomacy over North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. 


Russia has underwater nuclear drones, leaked Pentagon documents reveal
Newsweek 1/14/18
Russia possesses an underwater nuclear drone capable of carrying a 100-megaton nuclear warhead, a recently leaked draft of the Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review confirmed.


NATO chief: UN convention won’t rid world of nuclear arms
ABC News 1/14/18
NATO supports the idea of a world without nuclear weapons, but doesn’t believe it can be achieved by imposing a ban through the United Nations convention on nuclear weapons, the military alliance’s top official said Sunday.


U.S. Plans New Nuclear Weapons
Wall Street Journal 1/15/18
The Pentagon is planning to develop two new sea-based nuclear weapons to respond to Russia and China’s growing military capabilities, according to a sweeping Defense Department review of nuclear strategy. 

Nuclear Posture Review draft leaks; new weapons coming amid strategic shift
Defense News 1/13/18
A leaked copy of the Pentagon’s upcoming Nuclear Posture Review includes the development of a new low-yield warhead for America’s submarines, pushing for the creation of a new sub-launched, nuclear-capable cruise missile and a shift in America’s stance on when nuclear weapons may be used.


False Alarms of the Apocalypse
The Atlantic Ankit Panda
At a time when state and non-state actors alike are resorting to disinformation operations, reliable official information is critical.

 Yes, North Korea could drive a wedge between the U.S. and South Korea
Washington Post Oriana Skylar Mastro and Arzan Tarapore
[C]ritics warn that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un may be reaching out to Seoul to drive a wedge in the U.S.-South Korea alliance. Is that realistic? How robust is the U.S.-South Korea alliance?

A new Trump administration plan makes nuclear war likelier
Washington Post Bruce Blair
[T]he wizards have uprooted the nuclear taboo and deluded themselves into believing that nuclear weapons are far more usable than previous presidents held. In a single ill-conceived stroke, they have expressed a readiness to go nuclear first in a conflict with Russia or others that had not yet crossed the nuclear Rubicon.

Trump should stop fantasizing about killing the Iran nuclear deal
Bulletin of Atomic Scientists Lawrence Korb
Taken in context, the president’s repeated attempts to force a renegotiation of the Iran agreement can be seen as the counterproductive fantasies they have been. They should stop, as the president and Congress turn to focus on more pressing security challenges.

Did the U.S. underestimate North Korea’s weapons program? It’s not that simple.
Washington Post Alex Bollfrass
Despite the difficulties, Western intelligence agencies have a remarkably good record in tracking the spread of nuclear weapons technology.

Pandemonium and Rage in Hawaii
The Atlantic Alex Wong
A false alert of an impending missile attack highlights just how unprepared the country is for nuclear disaster.

Hawaii and the Horror of Human Error
The Atlantic Paul McLeary
[T]he episode did reveal the glaring deficiencies of an early-warning system that can easily misfire, along with some frightening truths about the speed at which policymakers and presidents must make decisions in the event that missiles really do fly.

Why Americans aren’t really worried about war with North Korea
War on the Rocks David Barno and Nora Bensahel
With such tepid support, there should be a robust and heated U.S. national debate about going to war with North Korea — involving not just policymakers, but the public writ large. Instead, it sounds an awful lot like crickets. So what’s going on?


A Modest Proposal for Striking North Korea
Daily Beast Jeffrey Lewis
Destroying the port-a-potty will deny Kim Jong Un a highly valued creature comfort, while also demonstrating the incredibly accuracy of U.S. precision munitions to hold Kim and his minions at risk.

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