Nuclear Policy News – January 4, 2019

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Top News

Big shakeup coming to Senate Armed Services
Defense News

North Korea warns US to stop ‘meddling’ in its affairs with South Korea
USA Today

Trump, once fiery on Twitter, warms to old-fashioned mash notes from Kim Jong Un
Washington Post

East Asia

Trump, once fiery on Twitter, warms to old-fashioned mash notes from Kim Jong Un
Washington Post1/3/19
President Trump used Twitter to threaten “Little Rocket Man,” but he and Kim Jong Un have since developed a “beautiful” relationship through a more old-fashioned means of communication: paper letters. The president, who typically eschews diplomatic protocols, has warmed to the “historic” and “groundbreaking” mash notes from the North Korean dictator, who has been accused of committing human rights atrocities.

North Korea warns US to stop ‘meddling’ in its affairs with South Korea
USA Today1/4/19
North Korea sent a warning to the U.S. on Thursday to avoid “meddling” in its affairs with South Korea and criticized Washington’s “unreasonable attitude” and “hostile” policies. An editorial in the country’s state-run Rodong Sinmun newspaper blamed the U.S. for stagnation in the relationship between North and South Korea, claiming that “the United States does not want to see the improvement and development of the inter-Korean relations.”

Kim’s vision of a coal-fueled North Korean future may be tough to realize
When North Korean leader Kim Jong Un used his New Year speech to highlight coal as a “primary front” in developing the economy, he was making a case for what analysts see as a flawed but key resource on which his country increasingly relies. Coal has long been a major resource for North Korea, and Kim’s call for self sufficiency in the face of international pressure is a recurring theme.

Middle East

Iran to send warships to the Atlantic, closer to U.S. waters
The Iranian navy will send warships to deploy in the Atlantic from March, a top commander said on Friday, as the Islamic Republic seeks to increase the operating range of its naval forces to the backyard of the United States, its arch foe. Iran sees the presence of U.S. aircraft carriers in the Gulf as a security concern and its navy has sought to counter that by showing the flag near American waters.

South Asia

India, Pakistan exchange lists of nuclear installations
Hindustan Times1/1/19
India and Pakistan on Tuesday exchanged lists of installations covered under an agreement against attacks on nuclear facilities and lists of prisoners held in each other’s jails against the backdrop of a downturn in bilateral relations. The lists of nuclear installations and facilities were exchanged simultaneously through diplomatic channels in New Delhi and Islamabad under the Agreement on the Prohibition of Attack against Nuclear installations that was signed in December 1988 and came into force in January 1991, statements issued by external affairs ministry and Pakistan’s Foreign Office said.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

White House Mulls Jim Webb, Ex-Democratic Senator, as Next Defense Secretary
New York Times1/3/19
The Trump administration is considering Jim Webb, a former Democratic senator and Reagan-era secretary of the Navy, to be the next defense secretary, according to three officials, potentially bypassing more hawkish Republicans whose names have been floated to replace Jim Mattis. Much like Mr. Trump, Mr. Webb was also critical of President Barack Obama’s efforts in 2015 to strike a deal to curtail Iran’s nuclear program.

Big shakeup coming to Senate Armed Services
Defense News1/3/19
The Senate Armed Services Committee is welcoming a host of new faces in the new congressional session and losing some familiar faces. As many as eight seats on the military panel — nearly one-third of the committee membership — could change before its next meeting, even with the Senate remaining in Republican control.

Opinion and Analysis

North Korea may be willing to begin denuclearization, and Donald Trump should make a deal.
USA TodayMichael O’Hanlon
For Kim to give up the bomb, he would need a great deal of confidence that relations will remain peaceful. Yet there is still a big opportunity for compromise, if Kim is serious about ending production of more bombs. North Korea could stop expanding its nuclear arsenal, and we could relax, then lift some of the sanctions imposed on North Korea over the years, especially the U.N. sanctions that have really cut into North Korean trade with China and South Korea in the last couple years. The goal of complete denuclearization could await another day.

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