Top News

Trump says they are still working to set up 2nd Kim Jong Un meeting
CNN

North Korea’s Envoy to Italy Disappears, Raising Suspicions of a Defection
New York Times

U.S. warns Iran against space launches, ballistic missiles
Reuters

 

East Asia

Trump says they are still working to set up 2nd Kim Jong Un meeting
CNN1/2/19
President Donald Trump said the White House would be setting up a meeting with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un in the “not too distant future.” Trump also said he had gotten a “great” letter from Kim, and held it aloft in the Cabinet Room for reporters to see.

North Korea’s Envoy to Italy Disappears, Raising Suspicions of a Defection
New York Times1/3/19
North Korea’s acting ambassador to Italy disappeared from the embassy in Rome in November, apparently in a defection attempt, according to a South Korean lawmaker briefed by intelligence officials. The potentially embarrassing news for Kim Jong-un, North Korea’s leader, came just two days after he extolled his country’s economic and diplomatic progress and delivered an implied threat that if international sanctions against the North continued, he would “have no choice” but to return to nuclear confrontation.

Despite Kim’s Threat to Trump, North Korea’s Options Are Limited
Bloomberg1/3/19
Kim Jong Un raised eyebrows with his veiled threat to take a “new path” toward the U.S. if President Donald Trump didn’t agree to relax sanctions. The phrasing may betray how few options he has.

Middle East

U.S. warns Iran against space launches, ballistic missiles
Reuters1/3/19
The United States issued a pre-emptive warning to Iran on Thursday against pursuing three planned space rocket launches, which it said would violate a U.N. Security Council resolution related to its ballistic missile activity. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said Iran had announced plans to launch in the coming months three rockets, called Space Launch Vehicles (SLV), which he said incorporate ballistic missile technology.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

U.S. Strategic Command apologizes for tweet about dropping bombs
Reuters12/31/19
U.S. Strategic Command, which oversees the country’s nuclear arsenal, apologized for a Twitter message saying it was ready if necessary to drop something “much, much bigger” than the New Year’s Eve ball in New York and showing a clip of an aircraft releasing bombs. “#TimesSquare tradition rings in the #NewYear by dropping the big ball…if ever needed, we are #ready to drop something much, much bigger,” the tweet said, hours before the midnight descent of the illuminated ball in New York’s Times Square marking the arrival of the new year.

Opinion and Analysis

How Trump Solved the North Korea Crisis by Not Solving It
SlateJoshua Keating
1/2/19
Trump’s North Korea diplomacy was always less about North Korea than his domestic audience. Trump’s remarkable feat, intentional or not, has been in getting the U.S. public to accept North Korea as a de facto nuclear power.

Dapper New Kim Jong Un Is Playing an Old Game
BloombergJames Stavridis
1/2/19
What is the next move in the complex pas de deux between the U.S. and North Korea? For the U.S., the key words are simple: strategic patience. It would be foolish to grant any concessions without a straightforward list of North Korean nuclear weapons, delivery systems, and test and storage sites.