TOP NEWS North Korea, Seeking ‘Equal Footing,’ Rejects Preconditions for U.S. Talks New York Times High seas shell game: How a North Korean shipping ruse makes a mockery of sanctions Washington Post Putin Flaunted Five Powerful Weapons. Are They a Threat? New York Times A new “Kraken” arises? Russians eager to name doomsday arms Washington Post EAST ASIA Majority of N. Koreans negative about nuclear program: U.S. survey Yonhap News Agency3/3/18 The majority of North Koreans are negative about their country’s nuclear weapons program, with many of them saying it is not a source of national pride or prosperity, a U.S. survey showed Friday. North Korea, Seeking ‘Equal Footing,’ Rejects Preconditions for U.S. Talks New York Times3/3/18 North Korea said Saturday that it would be willing to begin a dialogue with the United States on “issues of mutual concern” but that it would not accept any preconditions for starting such talks. South Korean Envoys Meet Kim Jong-un in Pyongyang New York Times3/5/18 Top aides of President Moon Jae-in of South Korea arrived in North Korea on Monday and met its leader, Kim Jong-un, moving to improve inter-Korean relations and help start a dialogue between the North and the United States. High seas shell game: How a North Korean shipping ruse makes a mockery of sanctions Washington Post3/3/18 The rusting seaport called Kholmsk is one of the sleepiest harbors in Russia’s Far East, a place that sees more full moons than coal ships in a typical year. Yet for a few weeks late last summer, this tiny port was chockablock with vessels hauling outlawed North Korean coal. US tailors forces to deter growing Chinese nuclear threat Asia Times3/5/18 The Pentagon’s Nuclear Posture Review outlines a new ‘tailored deterrence’ policy that seeks to persuade Chinese leaders to avoid miscalculations – provocative action in the South China Sea, or hostile activity related to Taiwan or Japan – that could escalate into war. China boosts military spending 8% amidst ambitious modernization drive CNN3/5/18 China plans to boost its military spending by 8.1% in 2018 as it looks to further advance an ambitious modernization drive for its armed forces. Seoul envoy to raise nuclear disarmament on North Korea trip Chicago Tribune3/4/18 A special envoy for South Korean President Moon Jae-in said Monday he’ll relay Moon’s hopes for North Korean nuclear disarmament and a permanent peace on the Korean Peninsula when he meets this week with North Korean officials. US official says North Korea is making progress on missile guidance CNN3/2/18 The latest US intelligence assessment about North Korea’s nuclear ballistic missile program judges that Kim Jong Un’s regime has continued to make progress on improving the guidance of their missiles that would allow them to hit specific targets, according to an administration official with knowledge of the assessment. Need a North Korean Missile? Call the Cairo Embassy New York Times3/3/18 Egypt has purchased North Korean weapons and allowed North Korean diplomats to use their Cairo embassy as a base for military sales across the region, American and United Nations officials say. Will South Korea’s Olympic Diplomacy Last? Council on Foreign Relations3/2/18 South Korea must capitalize on its diplomatic push to bridge the divide between its longtime ally and its combative neighbor. MIDDLE EAST Iran says will negotiate if West dismantles nuclear arsenal Military Times3/4/18 Iran’s state-run IRNA news agency is reporting that a top military commander says Iran will negotiate over its missile program if the U.S. and Europe dismantle their nuclear programs. Collapse of Iran nuclear deal would be “great loss”: U.N. watchdog chief Reuters3/5/18 Any collapse of the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and major powers would be a“great loss”, the head of the U.N. atomic agency policing the accord said on Monday, alluding to a U.S. threat to pull out of it. RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE A Russian Threat on Two Fronts Meets an American Strategic Void New York Times3/5/18 Just hours after President Vladimir V. Putin of Russia boasted last week about producing “invincible” new nuclear arms designed to evade American missile defenses, President Trump’s nominee to command the nation’s military cyberunits was being grilled at a Senate confirmation hearing about another vexing Russian threat. Putin Flaunted Five Powerful Weapons. Are They a Threat? New York Times3/2/18 Mr. Putin could be bluffing. It’s unclear how many of the five weapons he described actually exist. But a close look at the videos he presented indicates some telling details about their state of readiness and how they work. Putin’s new missiles could probably strike the U.S. The old ones could, too. New York Times3/2/18 It’s certainly true that, if Putin’s claims are accurate, they represent a step forward in missile technology that existing U.S. missile systems would be unable to match. There’s another important detail here, however: U.S. missile defense systems are almost certainly no match for existing Russian missiles, either. A new “Kraken” arises? Russians eager to name doomsday arms Washington Post3/2/18 In just one day, the suggestions have been pouring in: “Kraken” for a new underwater drone capable of blasting coastlines with a powerful nuclear explosion. “Balalaika” for a futuristic nuclear-powered cruise missile capable of circling the globe. Putin is brandishing his new arsenal — but what does Russia have? CNN3/2/18 What new strategic weaponry does Russia have, and how does this it enhance its military power? And does this mean a new Cold War is in the offing? U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY B-52s, nukes and ‘messaging’ missions: Inside a U.S. Air Force nuclear base CBC News2/4/18 The U.S. military’s “nuclear triad” is made up of missiles, submarines and bombers, including the 2nd Bomb Wing’s gargantuan B-52 Stratofortesses at Barksdale Air Force Base in Louisiana. Why keep flying these aging 1950s-era bombers when missiles can reach their target with pinpoint precision in a fraction of the time? OPINION AND ANALYSIS Putin just bragged about Russia’s nuclear weapons. Here’s the real story. Washington PostJames Cameron 2/5/18 Here are four key things to know about Putin’s speech. Will the US Be Able to Stop Russia’s New Arsenal of Missile Defense-Piercing Nukes? Live Science3/4/18 Speaking on Russian television as part of his annual address, Putin announced a new class of weapons delivery systems designed to sneak past NATO’s American-built ballistic missile defenses. An attack on North Korea could start a US-China war — Don’t do it Fox NewsDouglas Macgregor 3/4/18 China won’t tolerate an unprovoked attack on North Korea, and President Moon will not support the use of South Korean forces as part of a U.S. military strike against North Korea. The World Must Unite to Stop Iran Wall Street JournalJose María Aznar and Stephen Harper 3/4/18 Israel, the U.S. and some Arab states have stepped up. Europe needs to show much more resolve. Threat assessment: Potemkin Putin versus the US Nuclear Posture Review Union of Concerned ScientistsSharon Squassoni 3/4/18 Putin clearly intended to fan domestic flames of nationalism and pride in advance of his certain re-election. The messages for his international audience, especially Americans who are the intended target of those new weapons systems he announced, however, were mixed. Returning to the edge of the nuclear cliff Japan TimesRamesh Thakur 3/5/18 U.S. President Donald Trump and Russian President Vladimir Putin, seem determined to resurrect the Cold War rivalry, restart a nuclear arms race, and look for technological breakthroughs and doctrinal justifications for “usable” nuclear weapons. The Wisdom of Moscow’s Equidistant Koreas Policy The DiplomatAnthony V. Rinna 3/2/18 The Kremlin’s balanced Koreas policy contrasts with that of its two great power peers, China and the United States. No, Iran does not have an ICBM program War on the RocksMichael Elleman and Mark Fitzpatrick 3/5/18 It should be possible, however, for the United States and its allies to limit Iran’s missile program. This includes preventing it from obtaining intercontinental ballistic missiles (ICBM) and intermediate-range systems (between 3,000 and 5,500 kilometers in range). SPECIAL INTEREST #NoImpunity: will the newest international effort to stop chemical attacks in Syria succeed? War on the Rocks3/2/18 The process of identifying and holding accountable the perpetrators of chemical attacks in Syria, like the one on Sarmin, has been slow and frustrating.