Nuclear Policy News – November 19, 2018

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Top News

North Korea tests new ‘tactical’ weapon, releases U.S. prisoner

European diplomats mount last-ditch effort to stop US scrapping INF treaty
The Guardian

China’s Xi intends to visit North Korea next year, South Korea says


East Asia

North Korea tests new ‘tactical’ weapon, releases U.S. prisoner
North Korea’s leader witnessed the test of a newly developed high-tech weapon, the country’s state media reported on Friday, while Pyongyang also released a U.S. prisoner, sending conflicting signals at a time of sensitive negotiations. Kim Jong Un’s visit to the test site of what North Korea’s state media called a “tactical weapon” that could protect North Korea like a “steel wall” threatened to sour the diplomatic atmosphere at a time when negotiations between North Korea and the United States appear to have stalled.

North Korea’s new ‘tactical’ weapon test highlights military modernization
North Korea’s claim last week that it had tested an unidentified “ultramodern tactical weapon” highlighted its desire to upgrade its conventional arms and reassure its military even as talks are under way to end its nuclear program, analysts said. North Korean leader Kim Jong Un witnessed the test of a newly developed tactical weapon that could serve as a “steel wall”, state media reported on Friday, without giving details of the weapon.

Washington Under Pressure to Ease North Korean Sanctions
Voice of America11/17/18
Washington faces mounting pressure from China, Russia and South Korea, as well as humanitarian groups, to ease sanctions on North Korea as the Trump administration’s denuclearization talks with Pyongyang have hit a snag. Washington’s talks with Pyongyang stalled last week when North Korea abruptly canceled a scheduled meeting with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo amid U.S. efforts to maintain sanctions while engaging in diplomatic negotiations with the country.

North Korean Weapon Test Demonstrates Pyongyang’s Resolve
Voice of America11/19/18
What does a new “tactical” weapon mean for the North Korean denuclearization process? Both the United States and the South Korean government downplayed the weapons test, but Adam Mount, a member of the Federation of American Scientists, disagreed. Speaking to Reuters news agency, he said the test may serve as a warning to Washington.

China’s Xi intends to visit North Korea next year, South Korea says
Chinese President Xi Jinping intends to visit North Korea next year after receiving an invite from North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, South Korea said on Saturday, which would make Xi the first Chinese leader to do so since 2005. Xi told South Korean president Moon Jae-in in a bilateral meeting on the sidelines of the Asia Pacific Economic Co-operation (APEC) summit in Papua New Guinea that he would “make time” to visit North Korea next year.

Middle East

Rouhani says Iran to continue oil exports and resist U.S. economic war
Iran will continue to export oil despite U.S. sanctions, which are part of a psychological war doomed to failure, Iranian President Hassan Rouhani said on Monday. By reimposing sanctions on OPEC’s third biggest crude producer, Washington wants to force Tehran to drop its ballistic missile programs, further curb its nuclear work and limit its support for proxy militias from Syria to Lebanon and Yemen.


European diplomats mount last-ditch effort to stop US scrapping INF treaty
The Guardian11/18/19
European officials are seeking to act as intermediaries between Russia and the US in the hope of salvaging a cold war-era arms control treaty that Donald Trump has threatened to scrap. However, the diplomats involved are not confident of success in the effort to save the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty.

Opinion and Analysis

Trump Should Not Let North Korea Missile Report Get to Him
Real Clear DefenseTodd Rosenblum
The release of this week’s report exposing to the public more nefarious programs by the North is neither shocking or strategically significant. It is embarrassing and exposes more holes in the president’s declaration of peace in our time, but this is manageable absent a loss of temper. The harder thing to do is making sure presidential pique will not turn charm to hostility so quickly that South Korean officials and popular opinion blame the United States for North Korean behavior.

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