Nuclear Policy News – January 24, 2018

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Trump’s Red Line on North Korea Gets Fuzzier
The Atlantic

As Trump seeks new nuke options, weapons agency head warns of capacity overload
Defense News

Lessons From a Spy Ship’s Seizure
New York Times

Tillerson finds skeptics as he presses EU allies on Iran deal


CIA Boss Gives Latest Indication Trump May Consider Preemptive Strike on North Korea
Daily Beast1/23/18
The spy agency is briefing the president about military options on North Korea, which outside analysts warn could escalate to nuclear war.

Top U.S. Sanctions Envoy Presses China to Expel North Korean Agents
Wall Street Journal1/24/18
The Trump administration’s top sanctions envoy pressed China in high-level meetings this week to deliver on commitments to expel North Korean agents helping finance Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

U.S. Defense Against North Korea Missiles Improved, Tester Finds
The ground-based system of interceptors that the U.S. would use to defend the mainland and Hawaii against a threatened North Korean attack is improving after past setbacks, the Pentagon’s testing office said in a new report.

North Korea says it has ‘Powerful and Reliable’ Nuclear Weapons to Ward Off U.S. Aggression
Not long after the U.S. military deployed advanced nuclear-capable stealth bombers to the region, North Korea warned on Tuesday it has “powerful and reliable” nuclear weapons to ward off U.S. aggression.

Trump’s Red Line on North Korea Gets Fuzzier
The Atlantic1/23/18
In January 2017, President-Elect Donald Trump tweeted, in response to news that North Korea was close to completing a nuclear weapon that could reach the United States, “It won’t happen!” One year later, in a talk at the American Enterprise Institute on Tuesday, Trump’s CIA director went into detail about what precisely the administration means by “it.”

North Korea could set off global nuclear arms race, CIA says
CIA Director Mike Pompeo said Tuesday that the U.S. intelligence community was concerned that a cash-starved and expansionist North Korea could sell its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile technology to other countries, including Iran, and that failure to uncover such transfers could trigger a global nuclear arms race.

U.S. Spy Ship Captured by North Korea Almost Caused Nuclear War and is Still There 50 Years Later
A U.S. spy ship captured by North Korea exactly 50 years ago today still floats, located now in a war museum in the capital Pyongyang, where its celebrated as a victory over Washington’s plans abroad.

North Korea Signals It Might Hold Military Parade on Eve of Olympics
New York Times1/23/18
North Korea announced on Tuesday that Feb. 8, the day before the Winter Olympics open in South Korea, will be a national holiday honoring its army, raising the possibility that it will hold a large military parade in a show of force on the eve of the Games.

Japan Could Have an ICBM in “Less Than a Year”, Says Expert
National Interest1/23/18
On January 17, Japan fired an earth observation satellite into orbit aboard an Epsilon rocket, the workhorse of the country’s civilian space program.

Japan tells U.N. of North Korean tanker suspected of sanctions busting
Japan has told the United Nations about a North Korean tanker spotted in the East China Sea that it suspects was engaged in a transfer of goods with another tanker in defiance of U.N. sanctions, the Foreign Ministry said on Wednesday.


Tillerson finds skeptics as he presses EU allies on Iran deal
The Trump administration on Tuesday pressed ahead with efforts to convince European allies to add tough new requirements to the Iran nuclear deal, a move met with deep skepticism in France where the foreign minister insisted “signatories must stand by their word.”


Analysts Echo Reports of Russia’s Nuclear ‘Underwater Drone’
Moscow Times1/24/18
An analyst working for Swedish government research institute has reiterated reports of a Russian underwater drone capable of carrying massive nuclear warheads outlined in a recently leaked Pentagon nuclear policy document.


Analysts: U.S. nuclear modernization plan under-invests in cybersecurity
Space News1/23/18
The nuclear posture review specifically mentions “expanding threats in space and cyberspace.”

As Trump seeks new nuke options, weapons agency head warns of capacity overload
Defense News1/23/18
In an exclusive exit interview, Frank Klotz, the head of the National Nuclear Security Administration, or NNSA, who retired Jan. 19, told Defense News that his office is stretched as far as it can go — a notable statement, as a leaked draft of the upcoming Nuclear Posture Review appears to set the course for the NNSA to launch another nuclear warhead modification project.

Senators get classified briefing on America’s nuclear arsenal
The Hill1/23/18
Senators emerging from the briefing were tight-lipped about the contents but spoke generally about the need to modernize the U.S. nuclear arsenal to deter competitors such as Russia and China.

Just How Many New Columbia-Class Missile Submarines is the Navy Building?
National Interest1/22/18
The United States Navy may build more than 12 Columbia-class nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarines (SSBNs). While the Pentagon had previously stated that it needed 12 Columbia-class submarines, the new Nuclear Posture Review sets that number as a floor.


Two concepts of nuclear sharing
The StrategistRod Lyon
Suddenly and unexpectedly, a small but intense debate has ignited in Australia over an unlikely topic—the wisdom of acquiring an indigenous nuclear weapons arsenal.

Lessons From a Spy Ship’s Seizure
New York TimesJack Cheevers
Near the end of Lyndon Johnson’s presidency, North Korea undertook an extraordinary gamble against the United States, attacking and capturing a Navy spy ship, the Pueblo.

The Most Dangerous Aspect of Trump’s Nuclear Posture
Arms Control WonkMichael Krepon
What would enforcement look like when applied to North Korea, which hasn’t agreed to nuclear constraints, or to Iran, which has? If the Trump administration is going to make enforcement central to its conception of arms control, it has much explaining to do.

Big Fears Of Small Nukes Overblown
Breaking DefenseMatthew Costlow
The Trump NPR, when it is released, will likely be more of the same with a few tweaks to U.S. capabilities in response to the worsening international threat environment.

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