Nuclear Policy News – November 14, 2017

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North Korea nuclear arsenal too developed to destroy quickly, says Moon

IAEA confirms Iran is meeting its commitments under nuclear agreement
Washington Post

Congress Questions Trump’s Exclusive Hold on the Nuclear Football
Foreign Policy


North Korea nuclear arsenal too developed to destroy quickly, says Moon
“If talks begin to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue, I feel it will be realistically difficult for North Korea to completely destroy its nuclear capabilities when their nuclear and missile arsenal are at a developed stage,” Moon said in a briefing.

Top U.S. negotiator arrives in South Korea amid hopes for easing tensions
The United States’ top negotiator with North Korea arrived in South Korea on Tuesday, a visit that comes as hopes rise for an easing of tensions on the peninsula in the wake of U.S. President Donald Trump’s visit and a lull in missile testing.

North Korea says US carrier groups raise nuclear war threats
ABC News11/13/17
North Korea warned Monday that the unprecedented deployment of three U.S. aircraft carrier groups “taking up a strike posture” around the Korean peninsula is making it impossible to predict when nuclear war will break out.


IAEA confirms Iran is meeting its commitments under nuclear agreement
Washington Post11/13/17
The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) said in a confidential report viewed by Reuters and several other news outlets Monday that Iran’s stockpiles of enriched uranium have not exceeded the agreed limit of 300 kilograms. It also reported that IAEA inspectors were able to gain access to any sites they tried to visit.


US would welcome new EU sanctions on Iran: official
Daily Star11/14/17
Any move by the European Union to impose new sanctions on Iran over its ballistic missile program and alleged involvement in Middle East conflicts would be “interesting and helpful”, a U.S. administration official said Tuesday.


India’s Air Force to Start Receiving Nuclear-Capable Cruise Missile in 2018
The Diplomat11/14/17
The Indian Air Force (IAF) is slated to receive its first air-launched nuclear-capable BrahMos-A supersonic cruise missiles in January 2018, BrahMos Aerospace Joint Venture Co-Director Alexander Maxichev told TASS news agency at the Dubai Airshow 2017 on November 13.


Biden on Trump North Korea rhetoric: ‘It’s beneath the office’
The Hill11/13/17
Former Vice President Joe Biden said in a Monday morning interview that President Trump’s recent rhetoric about North Korea’s leader is a “big mistake” that is “beneath the office” of the presidency.

Congress Questions Trump’s Exclusive Hold on the Nuclear Football
Foreign Policy11/14/17
The extraordinary hearing Tuesday before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee reflects growing anxiety in Congress about President Donald Trump’s impulsive temperament, and whether he should still have the absolute authority to wage nuclear war with no outside check or restraint.


Low-Yield Nuclear Weapons Are Worth a New Look
War on the RocksJohn R. Harvey
The nuclear reviews of the three previous administrations concluded that force numbers and capabilities mattered and that these could be adjusted as adversary behaviors, target sets, and employment doctrines evolved. As part of its ongoing review of U.S. nuclear posture, the Trump team, unburdened by myths and fallacies, should explore options to strengthen deterrence and assurance, including fielding a low-yield warhead for strategic ballistic missiles.

Could anyone stop Trump from launching nukes? The answer: No
Associated PressRobert Burns
These realities will converge Tuesday in a Senate hearing room where the Foreign Relations Committee — headed by one of Trump’s strongest Republican critics, Sen. Bob Corker of Tennessee — will hear testimony from a former commander of the Pentagon’s nuclear war fighting command and other witnesses. The topic: “Authority to order the use of nuclear weapons.”

Is There a Change in Australia’s Nuclear Weapons Position Under Turnbull? – Analysis
Eurasia ReviewMurray Hunter
This is not yet a policy shift, but perhaps recognition that nuclear weapons for Australia may need to be an option. However, even if nuclear weapons were to be an option, the road ahead for any government would be rocky, if not almost fatal without a need the public would accept.

Don’t Count on the Cabinet to Stop a Trump-Ordered Nuclear Strike
PoliticoEdward-Isaac Dovere
Stop counting on Secretary of Defense James Mattis or Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to stop a nuclear war if Donald Trump wants one, says Bill Perry. They couldn’t. Perry, who served as secretary of defense for President Bill Clinton, is a 90-year-old arm-waving apostle of doom—“the possibility of an apocalypse thrust itself upon me,” he told me in an interview for POLITICO’s Off Message podcast.

Putin is a very real nuclear threat
The HillStephen Blank
It is clear that for at least a decade Moscow has violated major arms control treaties with impunity and thus added to its nuclear capacity by several orders of magnitude while we have done little or nothing to call Moscow out or enhance our own capabilities. Perhaps Putin actually believes that he did not meddle in our election though that is quite unlikely. But for our strategic planners to believe that Russia is not acting as if it is in a war with us and to refrain from forging a strategic response to those actions would be a new form of what General H.R. McMaster elsewhere called a dereliction of duty.

Trump’s new North Korea strategy might actually work
Washington PostHong Seok-Hyun
While Trump’s resolve is appreciated by those of us in the line of fire, there is also a need for caution. As America deploys strategic assets to the Korean Peninsula to deter Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile provocations, Washington must ensure it does not lead to military actions by Pyongyang. North Korea shooting down an American military aircraft, whether accidentally or intentionally, could light the fuse of war. We do not have any buffer to guard against such tragic mistakes.

Our Missile Defenses Go to 11
Foreign PolicyJon Wolfsthal
Since the time of the bow and arrow, military planners have known that with enough time and energy offense can always overpower defense. And our GBIs are a lot more expensive that North Korea’s missiles. Our interceptors cost roughly $70-100 million, each. The entire GDP of North Korea is only $12 billion. It’s reasonable to guess that their costs per offensive system is a lot lower than our cost per interceptor. So, unless we plan to buy a lot more GBIs, which don’t work all that well, we need to accept that U.S.-based missile defense is not going to protect us if North Korea decides to commit suicide and launch a nuclear-tipped ICBM at the United States.

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