Nuclear Policy News – July 24, 2018

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Top News

North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station
38 North

Iran plans to respond in kind if U.S. blocks oil exports

Trump ‘Very Happy’ With North Korea Nuclear Weapons Talks
Voice of America


East Asia

North Korea Begins Dismantling Key Facilities at the Sohae Satellite Launching Station
38 North7/23/18
In an important first step towards fulfilling a commitment made by Kim Jong Un at the June 12 Singapore Summit, new commercial satellite imagery of the Sohae Satellite Launching Station (North Korea’s main satellite launch facility since 2012) indicates that the North has begun dismantling key facilities. Most notably, these include the rail-mounted processing building—where space launch vehicles are prepared before moving them to the launch pad—and the nearby rocket engine test stand used to develop liquid-fuel engines for ballistic missiles and space launch vehicles.

Middle East

Iran plans to respond in kind if U.S. blocks oil exports
Iran will react with equal countermeasures if Washington tries to block its oil exports, the foreign ministry said on Tuesday, while the Islamic Republic’s armed forces chief said U.S. threats would draw an “unimaginable and regrettable” reaction.


Anti-nuke protesters break into joint German-US air base
Washington Post7/23/18
The German military said seven protesters were detained Monday after cutting through a fence surrounding an air base believed to hold U.S. nuclear weapons. Germany’s dpa news agency reported that the intruders were stopped by guards after entering the security zone at Buechel Air Base, in the country’s west. The base is operated by the German Luftwaffe but the U.S. Air Force’s 702nd Munitions Support Squadron is also stationed there.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Trump ‘Very Happy’ With North Korea Nuclear Weapons Talks
Voice of America7/23/18
U.S. President Donald Trump declared Monday that he is “very happy” with the pace of ongoing negotiations with North Korea to end Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons program, rebuffing news accounts to the contrary. “A Rocket has not been launched by North Korea in 9 months. Likewise, no Nuclear Tests. Japan is happy, all of Asia is happy,” Trump said on Twitter. “But the Fake News is saying, without ever asking me (always anonymous sources), that I am angry because it is not going fast enough. Wrong, very happy!”

Trump’s Twitter Threat vs. Iran: Loud but Hardly Clear
New York Times7/24/18
President Trump’s vituperative tweet against Iran late on Sunday showed his determination to use the same approach that he took to engineer a diplomatic breakthrough with North Korea. But Mr. Trump’s top advisers are far more united in their hostility to engaging with Iran, and Iran is far less likely to bend to such pressure.

U.S. STRATCOM to take over responsibility for nuclear command, control and communications
Space News7/23/18
After a months-long review, the Pentagon has decided that U.S. Strategic Command should be solely in charge of the classified communications system that keeps the president connected to military forces during a nuclear event.

Trump administration neuters nuclear safety board
Santa Fe New Mexican7/23/18
The Trump administration has quietly taken steps that may inhibit independent oversight of its most high-risk nuclear facilities, including some buildings at Los Alamos National Laboratory, a Department of Energy document shows.

Opinion and Analysis

Memo to Trump: Iran Isn’t North Korea
PoliticoJarrett Blanc
The president’s Twitter ‘fire and fury’ won’t work on the Islamic Republic.

Iran is not North Korea. Trump’s reckless tweeting could turn dangerous
CNNScott Lucas
There are four intertwined reasons for President Donald Trump’s late-night, 276-character Twitter warning of war with Iran: “NEVER, EVER THREATEN THE UNITED STATES AGAIN OR YOU WILL SUFFER CONSEQUENCES.”

Nuclear Message to the World
The Cipher BriefWalter Pincus
President Trump’s repeated message that Russia’s possession of nuclear weapons requires him to have better relations with Vladimir Putin, should encourage China to sharply increase the size of its strategic nuclear forces.

Trump, Iran, and the Dangers of Presidential Bluffing
The AtlanticUri Friedman
The North Korean case cannot predict what will happen in the Iranian case. But in a narrow sense it does prove that Trump is perfectly willing to issue harsh threats without following through. And, given the trajectory of the U.S.-North Korea relationship over the past year, that he’s perfectly willing to change course entirely.

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