Nuclear Policy News – July 8, 2019

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China’s Hypersonic Missiles: How Worried Should the U.S. Be About Futuristic Weapons? 

NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia
The New York Times

Assessing the Risks of a Nuclear ‘No First Use’ Policy
War on the RocksJohn R. Harvey

East Asia

China’s Hypersonic Missiles: How Worried Should the U.S. Be About Futuristic Weapons? 
Hypersonic weapons travel at incredible speed and—unlike even the most advanced ballistic missiles—can maneuver in flight. This gives the weapons enormous range and makes them much harder to track and stop.

Russia and China Say U.S. at Fault for Iran’s Nuclear Activities, But Praise Donald Trump on North Korea
China and Russia say the United States is responsible for Iran’s low-enriched uranium stockpile reaching levels beyond those set by a 2015 nuclear deal abandoned last year by President Donald Trump, but praised the U.S. leader for his efforts to forge peace with North Korea.

Even for a Limited Nuclear Deal, North Korea May Settle for Nothing Less than Sanctions Relief
A new public broadside by North Korean officials against U.S.-backed sanctions highlights the tough road ahead as negotiators prepare for talks in the wake of Sunday’s meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

South Asia

Facing shaky U.S. alliance and assertive China, Australia debates nuclear deterrent
Japan Times7/8/2019
Facing a wavering ally in the United States and an increasingly bellicose China, Australia’s military strategists are cautiously debating whether the country needs to consider developing its own nuclear deterrent.

Could it be Time for Australia to Consider Nuclear Weapons?
Citizen Truth7/6/2019
A new book by a former top Australian Defense Department official and intelligence analyst urges Australia to consider developing a nuclear arsenal to counter China’s rising power in the Pacific. The book titled How to Defend Australia, by professor Hugh White, claims Australia’s non-nuclear weapon policy is no longer relevant, adding that China’s position as the most dominant power in the Asia Pacific region means Australia can no longer rely on U.S. or U.K. for security.

Middle East

UN Nuclear Watchdog Sets Special Meeting on Iran at U.S. Request
Radio Free Europe/Radio Liberty7/6/2019
The UN’s nuclear watchdog says it will hold a special meeting next week on Iran’s nuclear program at the request of the United States after Tehran said it had breached some terms of the deal.

China says Iran nuclear issue should be resolved diplomatically
China regrets Iran’s decision to boost uranium enrichment above a cap set in a landmark 2015 nuclear deal, its foreign ministry said on Monday, reiterating that the standoff needed to be resolved diplomatically.

What Iran’s Breach Of Uranium Enrichment Limits Will Mean
NPR News7/7/2019
Iran announced it exceeded another limit on enriched uranium Sunday. NPR’s Michel Martin discusses the latest details with analyst Ali Vaez and former Iran nuclear negotiator Seyed Hossein Mousavian.

Iran is breaching limits on uranium enrichment, but there’s still time for diplomacy, experts say
NBC News7/7/2019
Iranian officials told a news conference in Tehran Sunday that the country would exceed the limit on uranium enrichment in the 2015 deal, but that this did not close the door to diplomatic efforts.

Russia/Former Soviet Union/Europe

Russia’s ‘invulnerable’ Satan 2 nuclear missile will be ready to fire by the end of 2020, space agency official says
Russia’s latest nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile—which Russian President Vladimir Putin has claimed can defeat all existing American defenses—will complete its testing phase by the end of 2020, the country’s space agency has announced.

NATO Considers Missile Defense Upgrade, Risking Further Tensions With Russia
The New York Times7/5/2019
NATO military officials are exploring whether to upgrade their defenses to make them capable of shooting down newly deployed Russian intermediate-range nuclear missiles after a landmark arms treaty dissolves next month, according to three European officials.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

What do Americans really think about conflict with nuclear North Korea? The answer is both reassuring and disturbing
Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists7/2/2019
A thoroughgoing survey of US public opinion about war in East Asia produced some reassuring results. Most Americans, for example, do not want the United States to launch a preventive war against North Korea. But our survey also showed that a large hawkish minority lurks within the US public; over a third of respondents approve of a US preventive strike across scenarios.

What Would the U.S. Do if Russia Attacked with Nuclear Weapons?
The National Interest7/3/2019
Goldfein extended this thinking to specify that, in an instant, US and NATO forces would launch a massive counterattack including, as he put it, “fighters, bombers, tankers, space, command and control, ISR, cyber, special operations and aeromedical teams trained and ready for high-end warfare.


Assessing the Risks of a Nuclear ‘No First Use’ Policy
War on the RocksJohn R. Harvey
Recently, Rep. Adam Smith, the new chair of the House Armed Services Committee, and Sen. Elizabeth Warren have called for a U.S. no-first-use policy. Well-meaning supporters of no-first-use are taken with the simplicity of the idea and its potential for bolstering U.S. “moral leadership” in the world. After all, they argue, the United States has no intention of starting a nuclear war so why not just say so? Given the recent revival of this topic, it is appropriate to review some of the considerations that caused both Obama and Trump, as well as Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bus, to reject adopting a policy of no-first-use.

‘Another Pious Gesture’: The Kellogg-Briand Pact and its Lessons for the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons Disarmament
RealClearDefenseMatthew R. Costlow
What do two treaties signed nearly 90 years apart have in common, and why should their comparison hold any significance for nuclear policy today? There is great value, I believe, in comparing the Kellogg-Briand Pact (1928) and the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (2017), not just for the historical value of noting their striking parallels, but for the purpose of recalling some basic – but often forgotten – truths about war and peace generally, and arms control specifically.

Nuclear War with North Korea Is Still Possible. Trump’s ‘Walk’ Across the DMZ Made That Less Likely.
The National InterestHarry J. Kazianis, John Dale Grover
Now is the time Washington should choose dialogue, negotiation and diplomacy to ensure war never breaks out on the Korean Peninsula again. Only then, do we have a shot at denuclearization.

How to build an architecture of peace, when destruction can rain down in mere minutes
The Globe and MailErnie Regehr, Douglas Roche
The issue of hypersonic weapons should highlight the growing urgency of reconstructing a reliable nuclear-arms control regime. Such a system should place a legal obligation on all countries to pursue and complete comprehensive negotiations for the elimination of nuclear weapons. Stunningly, the reverse is happening: The U.S. and Russia continue to violate their disarmament obligations under the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, as they abandon other treaties.

No Time to Abandon Denuclearization
Council on Foreign RelationsChristopher J. Watterson
Last month Eric Brewer published a piece on the Council on Foreign Relations’ Asia Unbound blog that challenged the U.S. policy of denuclearizing North Korea. He argued against an unwavering faith in the gospel of denuclearization, though he stopped short of calling for an outright change of U.S. policy on North Korea. While the piece raises important challenges to U.S. policy in North Korea, I believe that key oversights undermine the optimism with which Brewer appears to view the prospect of a relaxed U.S. policy on denuclearizing North Korea.

India and Pakistan: Two Nations Always At the Brink of Nuclear War
The National InterestDilip Hiro
As the Kashmir dispute continues to fester, inducing periodic terrorist attacks on India and fueling the competition between New Delhi and Islamabad to outpace each other in the variety and size of their nuclear arsenals, the peril to South Asia in particular and the world at large only grows.​

Climate change isn’t our only existential threat
CNNIra Helfand
America confronts a long list of critical problems and they all require urgent attention. But among them, two issues stand out: catastrophic climate change and nuclear war are unique in the threat they pose to the very survival of human civilization. The enormity and imminence of these twin existential threats cannot be overstated and how to confront them must be the central issue of any presidential campaign.

The Other Existential Threat: Nuclear Weapons & the 2020 Presidential Campaign
Union of Concerned ScientistsSean Meyer
The 2020 presidential campaign kicked off in earnest with last week’s Miami debates, and many of the “high profile” topics were covered: climate change, immigration, gun control. One topic was a little more unexpected: nuclear weapons. On the first night, three of the ten candidates on stage said nuclear weapons or the threat of nuclear war is the biggest geopolitical threat facing the United States.

A new NATO offensive posture must deter Russian nuclear missile forces
Washington ExaminerTom Rogan
Russia’s aggressive nuclear and missile force posture threatens NATO’s credibility as an alliance. But more and improved missile defense forces won’t address that threat. What’s needed is NATO’s clearer and improved offensive doctrine.

Keeping the Cold War with China from Turning Hot
The National InterestLyle J. Goldstein
The temptation to add tactical nuclear weapons to U.S. forces in the Asia-Pacific region should be resisted.

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