Nuclear Policy News – October 18, 2018

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New satellite images suggest military buildup in Russia’s strategic Baltic enclave

U.S. Bars American Aid Groups From Traveling to North Korea
New York Times

Ease or Squeeze? U.S., Seoul Wrangle Over North Korea Policy
Wall Street Journal


East Asia

U.S. Bars American Aid Groups From Traveling to North Korea
New York Times10/17/18
The Trump administration has barred American aid workers from going to North Korea as it pressures Pyongyang to dismantle the country’s nuclear weapons program, according to humanitarian groups and a former United States ambassador. Sanctions imposed by the United Nations last winter have already forced aid groups to severely limit some activities, such as shipping farming equipment into the country.

Ease or Squeeze? U.S., Seoul Wrangle Over North Korea Policy
Wall Street Journal10/18/18
Friction is growing between South Korea and the U.S. over how best to persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear program, with Washington maintaining pressure and Seoul seeking to ease sanctions and reduce the North’s isolation. After coordinating on diplomatic engagement – most notably at a June summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un – discord over the next steps reflects the allies’ competing objectives.

China may ‘ease up’ on sanctions against North Korea as the trade war drags on
As President Donald Trump continues to ramp up trade pressure on China, Beijing may be “less motivated to cooperate” with the U.S. over sanctions against North Korea, an expert told CNBC Wednesday. “China has been taking steps to relax its enforcement of sanctions even before the trade tensions with the United States flared up,” according to Scott Seaman director of Asia at political risk consulting firm Eurasia Group.


New satellite images suggest military buildup in Russia’s strategic Baltic enclave
New satellite imagery shared exclusively with CNN shows Russia appearing to upgrade four of its military installations in Kaliningrad, Russia’s strategic outpost on NATO’s doorstep. Kaliningrad — Russian territory that’s sandwiched between Poland and the Baltics but disconnected from the rest of Russia, known as an exclave — has been a focal point in tensions between Russia and the West.

Russia, US might reaffirm impossibility of winning nuclear war
“The Americans and we have made two fundamental statements since the Soviet era to the effect nobody can win a nuclear war and for that reason it cannot happen. It might be a good idea to reaffirm this postulate in the current context,” Russian Foreign Minister Sergey Lavrov said in an interview to RT France, Paris Match and Le Figaro.

U.S. Nuclear Policy

Trump to nominate former Air Force general as top Asia diplomat
U.S. President Donald Trump plans to nominate former Air Force General David Stilwell to be the State Department’s top diplomat for East Asia, a post that has remained unfilled for more than a year despite major challenges in the region. A White House statement on Wednesday said Trump had announced his intention to nominate Stilwell, a former career fighter pilot who speaks Korean, Chinese and some Japanese, to be assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific Affairs.

Trump says U.S. unlikely as venue of 2nd N.K. summit
Yonhap News10/18/18
U.S. President Donald Trump said his second summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un is unlikely to be held in the United States, although it may happen in the future. Trump reaffirmed in an interview with the AP Tuesday that the meeting will take place after the U.S. midterm elections on Nov. 6. He said he wanted to first “help people get elected.” “No, I don’t think so,” he replied, when asked if the summit could be held in the U.S. “I mean, we haven’t set it up yet, but I would think not yet. At some point, that will happen, too.”

Opinion and Analysis

How To Get Nuclear-Weapons Treaties Back on Track
Defense OneDaryl Kimball
Despite Russia’s malign behavior in Ukraine, Syria, in cyberspace, and elsewhere, it would serve U.S. and European security interests to engage with the Kremlin in new ways that bring Moscow back in compliance with INF and preserve the New START agreement. Washington and Moscow may not get along, but they have a special responsibility to manage their nuclear rivalry in ways that reduce the risk of miscalculation and the size of their bloated nuclear stockpiles.

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