Nuclear Policy News – July 31, 2018

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Top News

North Korea is working on new missiles, U.S. spy agencies say
Washington Post

Trump says he is willing to talk to Iran’s leader without preconditions

Iran Adviser Says U.S. Must Return to Nuclear Deal for Talks


East Asia

North Korea is working on new missiles, U.S. spy agencies say
Washington Post7/30/18
U.S. spy agencies are seeing signs that North Korea is constructing new missiles at a factory that produced the country’s first intercontinental ballistic missiles capable of reaching the United States, according to officials familiar with the intelligence. Newly obtained evidence, including satellite photos taken in recent weeks, indicates that work is underway on at least one and possibly two liquid-fueled ICBMs at a large research facility in Sanumdong, on the outskirts of Pyongyang, according to the officials, who spoke on the condition of anonymity to describe classified intelligence.

Two Koreas discuss reducing military tension amid reports of North Korea missile activity
North and South Korea discussed reducing tension but didn’t announce any detailed agreements after military talks on Tuesday, while the United States detected renewed activity at a North Korean missile factory, casting more suspicion over the North’s intentions. The meeting, the second since June and held in the border village of Panmunjom, was designed to follow on from an inter-Korean summit in April at which leaders of the two Koreas agreed to defuse tension and halt “all hostile acts”.

Japan pledges to cut plutonium stocks amid growing concern from neighbors
Japan pledged to reduce its controversial stocks of plutonium, the world’s biggest inventory of the highly toxic material held by a state without nuclear weapons, following pressure from the United States, China and other countries. The government did not outline by how much and when it will cut the stockpiles of plutonium it holds. Japan shut down most of the reactors that can use the material as fuel after the Fukushima nuclear disaster of 2011.

Middle East

Iran Adviser Says U.S. Must Return to Nuclear Deal for Talks
Iran reacted skeptically Tuesday to President Donald Trump saying that he’s willing to negotiate with his Iranian counterpart “anytime,” but top officials did not reject a sit-down out of hand. Ali Akbar Nategh Nouri, a senior cleric and member of the influential Expediency Council, said Trump’s suggestion Monday that he would be willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani should not be categorically rejected.


Nuclear waste could be buried underneath national parks, say MPs
The Independent7/30/18
Nuclear waste could be stored in vaults deep underneath national parks after MPs approved a new plan for the UK’s most toxic radioactive materials. The move means protected areas including national parks and areas of outstanding natural beauty (AONBs) would be potential sites for the construction of waste disposal facilities.

South Asia

US eases export controls for high-tech product sales to India
Times of India7/30/18
In a major boost to India, the US on Monday eased export controls for high-technology product sales to it by designating as a Strategic Trade Authorization-1 (STA-1) country, the only South Asian nation to be on the list. The granting of STA-1 status to India comes after the US recognised India as a “Major Defence Partner” in 2016, a designation that allows India to buy more advanced and sensitive technologies from America at par with that of the US’ closest allies and partners, and ensures enduring cooperation into the future.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Trump says he is willing to talk to Iran’s leader without preconditions
U.S. President Donald Trump said on Monday he would be willing to meet Iran’s leader without preconditions to discuss how to improve ties after he pulled the United States out of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal, saying, “If they want to meet, we’ll meet.” “I’d meet with anybody. I believe in meetings,” especially in cases where war is at stake, Trump said at a White House news conference when asked whether he was willing to meet with Iranian President Hassan Rouhani.

Pentagon To Start Creating Space Force — Even Before Congress Approves It
Defense One7/31/18
The U.S. Defense Department this week will take the first steps to create the Space Force, a new branch of the military ordered up by President Trump but not yet fully backed by Congress. In coming months, Defense Department leaders plan to stand up three of the four components of the new Space Force: a new combatant command for space, a new joint agency to buy satellites for the military, and a new warfighting community that draws space operators from all service branches.

Opinion and Analysis

Washington Has to Learn Pyongyang’s Rules
Foreign PolicyDuyeon Kim
Nuclear diplomacy with North Korea is not in peril yet. Previous agreements never saw the finish line, with the clock eventually running out in each U.S. administration. Despite all the risks and headaches involved in diplomacy, Trump should still remain committed to a negotiated settlement and fully implement a future nuclear deal on the basis of the Singapore statement if he truly wants to make history.

Bush and Gorbachev sign nuclear arms pact, July 31, 1991
On this day in 1991, President George W. Bush and Soviet leader Mikhail Gorbachev, seated beside each other at a Kremlin ceremony, signed a bilateral Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty, known as START I. It was the first treaty between the two superpowers that provided for deep cuts in their respective nuclear arsenals.

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