Nuclear Policy News – November 14, 2018

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Top News

Trump says ‘nothing new’ in report on hidden missile bases in North Korea
Washington Post

North Korea is still working on its ballistic missile program, say U.S. officials
NBC News

Bolton Says Iran Will Be Squeezed ‘Until the Pips Squeak’

A ‘crisis of national security’: New report to Congress sounds alarm
Defense News


East Asia

North Korea is still working on its ballistic missile program, say U.S. officials
NBC News11/12/18
North Korea is continuing work on its ballistic missile program, U.S. officials briefed on recent intelligence tell NBC News, confirming the gist of a private report Monday detailing recent improvements made at undeclared military sites. A separate analysis by the Middlebury Institute of International Studies, provided exclusively to NBC News, describes a secret military base deep in North Korea’s interior that analysts believe could house missiles capable of reaching the United States.

Experts: Cancellation of US-N. Korea Meeting Suggests Snag in Talks
Voice of America11/13/18
The abrupt cancellation of high-level talks between the United States and North Korea suggests denuclearization negotiations between Washington and Pyongyang have hit a snag, experts said. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo was scheduled to meet with Kim Yong Chol, vice chairman of the North Korean Central Committee, in New York City last week. However, the meeting was abruptly called off at the last minute.

‘Treasured sword’: North Korea seen as reliant as ever on nuclear arsenal as talks stall
Amid signs that negotiations between North Korea and the U.S. are stalling, analysts say Pyongyang still sees its nuclear arsenal as a key tool in securing its national safety and winning concessions from international rivals. Just as the United States has doubled down on its sanctions on Pyongyang, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not retreated from his pledge to expand his operational force of nuclear bombs and ballistic missiles, increasing his leverage under any still-elusive denuclearization deal.

Middle East

Bolton Says Iran Will Be Squeezed ‘Until the Pips Squeak’
The U.S. intends to double down on sanctioning Iran, pressuring the nation until it submits, National Security Adviser John Bolton signaled on Tuesday. “We think the government is under real pressure and it’s our intention to squeeze them very hard,” Bolton said Tuesday in Singapore. “As the British say, ‘squeeze them until the pips squeak’.”

Iran Was Closer to a Nuclear Bomb Than Intelligence Agencies Thought
Foreign Policy11/13/18
A secret Iranian archive seized by Israeli agents earlier this year indicates that Tehran’s nuclear program was more advanced than Western intelligence agencies and the International Atomic Energy Agency had thought, according to a prominent nuclear expert who examined the documents. That conclusion in turn suggests that if Iran pulls out of the 2015 multilateral nuclear deal that U.S. President Donald Trump has already abandoned, it has the know-how to build a bomb fairly swiftly, perhaps in a matter of months, said David Albright, a physicist who runs the nonprofit Institute for Science and International Security in Washington, D.C.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Trump says ‘nothing new’ in report on hidden missile bases in North Korea
Washington Post11/13/18
President Trump lashed out Tuesday at a new report that identified more than a dozen hidden bases in North Korea that could be used to disperse mobile launchers for ballistic missiles, even as the president continues to claim a greatly diminished nuclear threat. “We fully know about the sites being discussed, nothing new — and nothing happening out of the normal,” the president said in a tweet. “. . . I will be the first to let you know if things go bad!”

Pentagon to boost laser investments for missile defense
Defense News11/13/18
The U.S. Defense Department is planning to increase investments in directed-energy systems used for missile defense over the next several budget cycles, according to the department’s top technology adviser. Michael Griffin, undersecretary of defense for research and engineering, said Tuesday he expects to have usable directed-energy weaponry in the hands of war fighters in “no more than a few years,” but acknowledged the size of a system usable for missile defense requires greater investment.

A ‘crisis of national security’: New report to Congress sounds alarm
Defense News11/13/18
America’s military superiority has “eroded to a dangerous degree,” leaving the U.S. in a “crisis of national security,” especially if faced with more than one conflict at once, a new congressionally-mandated report concluded. “The U.S. military could suffer unacceptably high casualties and loss of major capital assets in its next conflict,” reads the report, issued Wednesday by the National Defense Strategy Commission.

Opinion and Analysis

Why the security of nuclear materials should be focus of US-Russia nuclear relations
Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsAndrew Reddie and Bethany Goldblum
While the Helsinki summit may have left much to be desired in terms of strategic stability and arms control, the United States and Russia need to—and can—find a balance between competition and cooperation, particularly with regard to nuclear security.

Pairing AI and nukes will lead to our autonomous Doomsday
Defense NewsLori Esposito Murray
We are entering this disruptive period of rapid technological change, knowing the consequences of nuclear war and the need for U.S. leadership to guide the use of technology so that it taps that wisdom and enhances the control and reduction of these very dangerous weapons. The most immediate priority for the U.S. must be to lead the process to ensure that these rapid advancements in AI strengthen the command and control of nuclear weapons — not repeat the past and relinquish it to an automatic or nearly automatic Doomsday machine.

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