Nuclear Policy News – November 17, 2017

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North Korea rules out negotiations on nuclear weaponsCNBC
Russia military’s new nuclear warplane will fly soon and that’s ‘good news’ for PutinNewsweek
US allies frustrated by Trump as they lobby hard to keep Iran deal


North Korea rules out negotiations on nuclear weapons
North Korea on Friday ruled out negotiations with Washington as long as joint U.S-South Korea military exercises continue, and said that Pyongyang’s atomic weapons program would remain as a deterrent against a U.S. nuclear threat.

China’s special envoy leaves for Pyongyang amid tensions over N.K. nukes
Chinese President Xi Jinping’s special envoy on Friday left for North Korea amid strained bilateral ties over Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile programs.The trip by Song Tao, the head of the international department at the Central Committee of the Communist Party, comes after Xi and U.S. President Donald Trump held a summit in Beijing last Thursday.

U.S. Envoy Says No Communication, No Signal From North Korea Amid Nuclear Crisis
U.S. News and World Report11/17/17
South Korea and the United States agreed on Friday to keep working for a peaceful end to the North Korean nuclear crisis, but a U.S. envoy said it was difficult to gauge the reclusive North’s intentions as there has been “no signal”.

Korea faces limits in security ICBM reentry technology: spy agency
North Korea still faces limits in securing atmospheric reentry technology, a core element to complete its intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) program, a parliamentary source said Friday. The source said that an official of the National Intelligence Service (NIS) made the remarks during a session of the National Assembly’s Intelligence Committee on Thursday.

China, Russia to hold simulated anti-missile drill
The Hindu11/17/17
The Chinese and Russian militaries will next month hold anti-missile drills in Beijing, China’s Defence Ministry said on Friday, amid concern in both countries about the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea.


Despite EU caution, France pursues tough line on Iran missile program
France said on Wednesday it wanted an “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers.


Russia military’s new nuclear warplane will fly soon and that’s ‘good news’ for Putin
Russian Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin reported Thursday to President Vladimir Putin himself, telling the Russian leader that the latest reboot of the Tupolev TU-160 heavy strategic bomber, called “Black Swan” by Russia and “Blackjack” by Western military alliance NATO, would make its first flight in February 2018. The latest inception of the massive nuclear-capable warplane was designated TU-160M2 and its reintroduction would represent another major step for Russia’s increasingly advanced military power.

Tajikistan: Russia Shows Off Jeweler-Like Accuracy of Iskander-M Missile
Ten-day military exercises in Tajikistan by a Moscow-led security alliance have seen the renewed deployment of a short-range ballistic missile system recently introduced to the region.


Cruise missile test: Pakistan shows concern as India fails to notify
The News11/17/17
“The test was not notified to Pakistan. The bilateral agreement on pre-notification of missile tests covers only ballistic missiles. Cruise missiles are not covered. Developments like these endanger the strategic stability in South Asia,” responded the spokesman to a query.


US allies frustrated by Trump as they lobby hard to keep Iran deal
US allies campaigning hard in the halls of Congress to preserve the Iran nuclear deal are finding the process frustrating and confounding. In conversations with CNN, some foreign diplomats and officials who back the deal say that at the highest levels, the White House has seemed at times so wedded to its talking points on Iran that it doesn’t listen, with President Donald Trump stuck in “transmit rather than receive mode.”

Downing North Korean Missiles Is Hard. So the U.S. Is Experimenting.
New York Times11/17/17

Concerned that the missile defense system designed to protect American cities is insufficient by itself to deter a North Korean attack, the Trump administration is expanding its strategy to also try to stop Pyongyang’s missiles before they get far from Korean airspace.


NNSA’s New Nuclear Stockpile Stewardship and Management Plan
Federation of American ScientistsHans M. Kristensen
This year’s plan shows complex LEPs that are making progress but also getting more expensive (some even with funding gaps). There are some surprises (the retirement of the B61-10 tactical bomb), some sloppiness (the stockpile table has not been updated), and some questionable depictions (how to cut stockpile in half with no effect on average warhead age).

Spending less on nuclear weapons could actually make us safer
Washington PostWilliam Perry and James Cartwright
The United States plans to spend $1.7 trillion over the next three decades to replace its nuclear arsenal. This is a lot of money, more annually than the country spends on the entire State Department. Even so, if we thought this level of spending were required to ensure U.S. national security, we would support it. It is not. The nation can spend much less and still be safe. In fact, safer.

Russia has deployed a banned nuclear missile. Now the U.S. threatens to build one.
Washington PostJosh Rogin
The Trump administration should move forward with its carrot-and-stick approach, if only to be able to say it tried to work with Moscow. But when that fails, Trump will face a decision: Keep a broken treaty with Putin or risk a nuclear-arms race.

North Korea’s Submarine Ballistic Missile Program Moves Ahead: Indications of Shipbuilding and Missile Ejection Testing
38 NorthJoseph S. Bermudez Jr.
A probable launch canister support, or launch canister, appears to be present within the service tower at the missile test stand suggesting the ongoing ejection testing of submarine launch ballistic missiles (SLBM). Such testing could support the continued development of SLBMs, a new ballistic missile submarine or a combination of both.

How Russia, Iran and China could ‘sink’ America’s nuclear submarines
The National InterestHarry Kazianis
Washington’s nuclear-powered attack and ballistic submarines, aircraft carriers and surface combatants, all guided by the best trained sailors and professionals in the world, are no match when stacked up on paper one-on-one against the likes of Russia, China, Iran or any other challenger. And as history shows, going to war against Washington in a fair-fight is suicide. However, thanks to advances in modern, ultra-quiet conventional diesel-electric submarines, Washington will need to adjust its tactics if it were to tangle with any nation sporting these increasingly sophisticated weapons of war.

Trump can’t start a nuclear war by himself, but there’s not much stopping him
VoxSean Illing
Senators held a congressional hearing on Tuesday to discuss the US president’s authority to launch a nuclear strike. It was the first hearing to overtly address this issue in more than four decades.


When to shoot a nuclear bomb with your gun
The National Interest11/17/17
A security plan that calls for shooting The Bomb—and crossing your fingers for luck might—sound like a scene straight out of Stanley Kubrick’s Dr. Strangelove. But Agnew’s recollections are just some of dozens about the often fragile nature of nuclear weapons safety and security in a documentary produced by the Sandia National Laboratories for internal use and recently made public under the Freedom of Information Act.

U.N. to vote on rival U.S., Russia bids to renew Syria inquiry
The United Nations Security Council is due to vote on Thursday on rival U.S. and Russian bids to renew an international inquiry into chemical weapons attacks in Syria, diplomats said, a move that could trigger Russia’s 10th veto to block action on Syria.

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