Nuclear Policy News – November 9, 2017

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Pope seeks to defuse Korea tension, push nuclear disarmament
Associated Press

Mattis looking at ways to bring Russia into compliance with arms control treaty

Corker announces Senate hearing to examine Trump’s authority to use nuclear weapons’


In Beijing, Trump presses China on North Korea and trade
On North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Trump said “China can fix this problem quickly and easily”, urging Beijing to cut financial links with North Korea and also calling on Russia to help.

Leaders of S. Korea, Indonesia agree to upgrade ties, urge N. Korea to give up nukes
Yonhap News Agency11/9/17
Moon and Widodo pledged the bilateral cooperation will spread to regional and global issues, including the North Korean nuclear standoff. “The two leaders expressed grave concern over North Korea’s sixth nuclear test and multiple launches of ballistic missiles which constitute a serious challenge to international peace and security,” the statement said, referring to the communist state’s latest and most powerful nuclear test staged on Sept. 3.


Pope seeks to defuse Korea tension, push nuclear disarmament
Associated Press11/9/17
Pope Francis is seeking to defuse rising nuclear tensions on the Korean peninsula and to boost support for disarmament with a Vatican conference that will bring together 11 Nobel Peace Prize winners, United Nations and NATO officials, and representatives from a handful of countries with the bomb.

British foreign secretary discusses Iran with US lawmakers
Associated Press11/8/17
During a visit to Washington, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday argued for maintaining the international accord intended to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. Johnson met with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of strictly enforcing the pact that President Donald Trump has derided.

Kremlin says Trump’s call for cooperation on North Korea in line with Russia’s stance
Remarks by US President Donald Trump about the need for joint actions to tackle the North Korean problem are in line with the stance of Russian President Vladimir Putin, Russian Presidential Spokesman Dmitry Peskov said, commenting on the US leader’s statement concerning the need to help Russia solve this problem.


Mattis looking at ways to bring Russia into compliance with arms control treaty
“We have a firm belief now over several years that the Russians have violated the INF and our effort is to bring Russia back into compliance,” Mattis said, speaking with reporters during a meeting of NATO defense ministers.

Compromise defense bill includes $58M to counter Russia arms treaty violations
The Hill11/8/17
The final version of the annual defense policy bill sets aside $58 million dollars to respond to Russia’s violations of an arms treaty without scrapping the treaty altogether, according to committee aides and summaries released Wednesday.

Corker announces Senate hearing to examine Trump’s authority to use nuclear weapons’
The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, amounts to a significant escalation of what has so far been a war of merely words between the powerful Republican and his party’s standard-bearer.

Tillerson says ‘no disagreement’ between Trump and Xi on North Korea
U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said on Thursday that there is “no disagreement” between U.S. President Donald Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping over North Korea.

Trump should seek Xi’s agreement on denuclearizing N.K.: senator
Yonhap News Agency11/8/17
U.S. President Donald Trump should use his visit to Beijing to underscore that North Korea’s denuclearization is in both countries’ interests, a Republican senator said Wednesday. Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) made the call hours before Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping were to meet over North Korea’s nuclear weapons threats and other issues.

Dick Cheney Once Warned Against Military Action on North Korea
Associated Press11/8/17
Newly declassified documents show that a quarter-century ago as worries were emerging over North Korea’s nuclear ambitions, then-Defense Secretary Dick Cheney told allies the U.S. should not consider military action as it could jeopardize diplomatic efforts.


Inside the drive to ‘make a deal’ with North Korea
Washington PostJosh Rogin
In South Korea, President Trump abruptly shifted position on negotiations with North Korea, saying he wanted to “make a deal” with the Kim Jong Un regime. If he means it, there may be an opening, because his State Department has been working on a new initiative to break the diplomatic stalemate with Pyongyang, starting with a proposed 60-day freeze in nuclear and missile tests.

Why Japan should be OK with tactical nukes in South Korea
Japan TimesKen Jimbo
The defense of South Korea is imperative to the security of Japan. So is the U.S. security commitment on the Korean Peninsula. In facing the new dimension of nuclear and missile threats from North Korea, the prescription to reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons is a controversial but reasonable choice for the U.S. and South Korea to make. Japan should be ready to say “yes.”

North Korea’s Nukes May Not Be Its Biggest Threat
FiveThirtyEightMichael Wilner
Experts warn that North Korea’s biological weapons could wreak as much havoc as its nuclear bombs — and are already fully developed and ready to deploy.1 President Trump is in the midst of a multi-country tour of Asia, with the North Korean nuclear program atop the agenda. But analysts say he would do well to make sure Pyongyang’s biological and chemical weapons are addressed as well.

Muddling on With Pyongyang: Trump’s South Korea Trip and a Return to Equilibrium
The DiplomatAnkit Panda
While Trump’s words in South Korea restore a degree of familiarity to U.S. policy that will be recognizable in North and South Korea alike, it does bring U.S. policy back to square one. “Maximum pressure” will continue with Trump’s efforts to expand sanctions against Pyongyang and to improve their implementation (especially in China), but the offer that U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis had outlined in August — possible talks on the basis of a missile testing moratorium — has fully evaporated.

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