Nuclear Policy News – July 23, 2018

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Top News

Trump Threatens Iran on Twitter, Warning Rouhani of Dire ‘Consequences’
New York Times

Congress considers changing supervision of nuclear weapons
CBS News

North Korea wants US to make ‘bold move’ towards peace before denuclearization, source says

East Asia

Top US commander in Korea: Material needed for North Korea to make nuclear bombs is still intact
North Korea’s nuclear “production capability is still intact,” Army Gen. Vincent Brooks, the commander of U.S. forces in South Korea, told the Aspen Security Forum via teleconference. “We haven’t seen a complete shutdown of production yet. We have not seen a removal of fuel rods.”

North Korea wants US to make ‘bold move’ towards peace before denuclearization, source says
Continued negotiations between the United States and North Korea hinge on Washington’s willingness to make a “bold move” and agree to a peace treaty with Pyongyang, according to an official with close knowledge of North Korea’s position on the matter.

China adding ‘significant capabilities’ to nuclear forces
Hans Kristensen and Robert Norris of the Federation of American Scientists write that the nation’s nuclear force “includes about 280 warheads for delivery by ballistic missiles and bombers” and the “stockpile is likely to grow further over the next decade.”

Russia and China Will Retaliate Against U.S. Missile Systems in Asia, Ambassador Warns
Russia and China plan to take retaliatory measures against the deployment of U.S. missile defense systems in Japan and South Korea, Moscow’s ambassador to Beijing warned on Monday.

Middle East

Iran dismisses Trump’s explosive threat to its country’s leader
Iranians shrugged off the possibility that a bellicose exchange of words between President Donald Trump and his Iranian counterpart could escalate into military conflict. They did, however, express concern America’s stepped-up sanctions could damage their fragile economy.


The Russian Defense Ministry Is Showing Off Some Truly Terrifying Weapons
The National Interest7/22/18
The Russians released new video of the RS-28 Sarmat intercontinental ballistic missile, the Burevestnik nuclear-power stealth cruise missile, the Kh-47M2 Kinzhal aeroballistic missile, the Poseidon long-range nuclear-powered nuclear-tipped torpedo, the Avangard hypersonic boost-glide vehicle system and the Peresvet laser weapon.

Russia Begins Sea Trials of Nuclear-Capable ‘Poseidon’ Underwater Prone
The Diplomat7/21/18
Russia has reportedly commenced sea trials of its ultimate doomsday weapon, a nuclear-capable underwater vehicle (UUV), dubbed “Poseidon,” purportedly designed to deliver a 2-megaton nuclear warhead to destroy naval bases, carrier strike groups, and entire coastal cities by triggering a radioactive Tsunami wave.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Trump Threatens Iran on Twitter, Warning Rouhani of Dire ‘Consequences’
New York Times7/22/18
President Trump threatened Iran late Sunday, warning of severe “consequences,” as rhetoric between the two countries’ presidents escalated dramatically. Mr. Trump, in an all-caps message on Twitter addressed to President Hassan Rouhani of Iran, wrote that the country would face “CONSEQUENCES THE LIKES OF WHICH FEW THROUGHOUT HISTORY HAVE EVER SUFFERED” if he continued to threaten the United States.

Congress considers changing supervision of nuclear weapons
CBS News7/23/18
The agency that supervises the nation’s nuclear weapons stockpile would essentially lose direct Cabinet oversight under legislation that Congress is negotiating. The little-noticed provision in a defense policy bill is opposed by the Trump administration and senior lawmakers from both parties, but efforts to scrap it have not overcome resistance from staffers on the Senate Armed Services Committee.

Mattis and Dunford call for classified nuclear changes
Even as the Trump administration looks for further nuclear arms reductions with Russia and full denuclearization with North Korea, the Pentagon is making crucial changes in nuclear weapons employment and options after Defense Secretary James Mattis and Gen. Joseph Dunford, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, recently called for classified changes.

US presses China and Russia to enforce sanctions on North Korea
Military Times7/22/18
The United States on Friday welcomed the U.N. Security Council’s united support for the fully verified denuclearization of North Korea and pressed China and Russia to strictly enforce U.N. sanctions to get Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons.

In private, Trump vents frustration over lack of progress on North Korea
Washington Post7/23/18
When he emerged from his summit with Kim Jong Un last month, President Trump tri­umphantly declared that North Korea no longer posed a nuclear threat and that one of the world’s most intractable geopolitical crises had been “largely solved.” But in the days and weeks since then, U.S. negotiators have faced stiff resistance from a North Korean team practiced in the art of delay and obfuscation.

Opinion and Analysis

After Helsinki, Can Trump and Putin Strike a Grand Bargain on Nukes?
The National InterestTom Z. Collina
If Trump (for whatever reason) wants to build his relationship with Putin and prove his diplomatic chops back home, there is no better opportunity than right now on arms control.

How can Trump find out if North Korea is serious about disarmament? Make them an offer they can’t refuse
Fox NewsHarry Kazianis
The Trump administration should propose to Pyongyang a comprehensive roadmap where North Korea and the U.S. trade in a step-by-step manner concession for concession, eventually leading to the complete elimination of the regime’s nuclear weapons and missile programs.

The Redundant and Expensive Costs of Procuring Hypersonic Glide Vehicles
The National InterestAlex Moore
Hypersonic Glide Vehicles are both redundant deterrents in the strategic realm and pose potentially dangerous drawbacks for strategic stability (ensuring that conflicts don’t escalate to the nuclear threshold) in the conventional domain. Americans would be better off leaving the procurement-related money in the pockets of taxpayers instead of voluntarily joining a costly hypersonic arms race.

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