Nuclear Policy News – October 19, 2017

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N.K. warns U.S. could face ‘unimaginable’ strike
Yonhap News Agency

Khamenei says Iran will ‘shred’ nuclear deal if U.S. quits it

Putin on North Korea Crisis: Don’t Back Kim Jong Un Into a Corner
NBC News

Former CIA chief John Brennan puts chance of North Korean conflict at 20 to 25 percent
CBS News


N.K. warns U.S. could face ‘unimaginable’ strike
Yonhap News Agency10/19/17
A North Korean agency made a threat Thursday that Pyongyang could stage an “unimaginable” strike on the United States at an unexpected time amid tensions over the North’s nuclear and missile programs.


Khamenei says Iran will ‘shred’ nuclear deal if U.S. quits it
Iranian Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei said on Wednesday Tehran would stick to its 2015 nuclear accord with world powers as long as the other signatories respected it, but would “shred” the deal if Washington pulled out, state TV reported.

Iran’s Guards say missile program will accelerate despite pressure
Iran’s elite Islamic Revolutionary Guards (IRGC) said on Thursday its ballistic missile program would accelerate despite U.S. and European Union pressure to suspend it, the semi-official Tasnim news agency reported.


Putin on North Korea Crisis: Don’t Back Kim Jong Un Into a Corner
NBC News10/19/17
Russian President Vladimir Putin warned Thursday that North Korea must not be “backed into a corner” and urged dialogue to end its nuclear standoff with the U.S.

EU leaders to recommit to Iran nuclear deal whatever Trump decides
European Union leaders will on Thursday reaffirm their full commitment to the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and world powers, regardless of whether an increasingly critical United States pulls out.

France’s Macron urges IAEA to ensure strict compliance of Iran nuclear deal
French President Emmanuel Macron on Thursday called on the United Nations’ IAEA atomic watchdog body to ensure the strict compliance of the 2015 Iran nuclear deal.


Trump White House debates presidential visit to demilitarized zone along North Korean border
Washington Post10/18/17
But as President Trump prepares for a 12-day swing through five Asian nations next month to bolster international pressure on Pyongyang, the administration is divided over whether he should make the pilgrimage, an issue that remains unresolved. Some aides worry a visit could further inflame already heightened tensions on the Korean Peninsula, while others have expressed concern over Trump’s personal safety, according to people who have spoken to administration officials.

Former CIA chief John Brennan puts chance of North Korean conflict at 20 to 25 percent
CBS News10/19/17
Former CIA Director John Brennan says he’s worried about President Trump’s handling of North Korea, and he feels the possibility of military engagement is now “too high.”.

US urges UN to adopt Trump’s comprehensive approach to Iran
Associated Press10/18/17
U.S. Ambassador Nikki Haley urged the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday to adopt the Trump administration’s comprehensive approach to Iran and address all aspects of its “destructive conduct” — not just the 2015 nuclear deal.

U.S., N. Korea should hold high-level talks ‘without preconditions’: Gallucci
Yonhap News Agency10/19/17
A former U.S. nuclear negotiator on Thursday urged the United States and North Korea to hold high-level talks “without preconditions.” In an interview with Yonhap News Agency, Robert Gallucci also cautioned the U.S. not to respond to the North’s bellicose rhetoric with “more provocative words.”

U.S. carrier makes show of strength off Korean Peninsula
The Hill10/19/17
The USS Ronald Reagan aircraft carrier on Thursday made a show of strength off the Korean Peninsula to warn North Korea against any aggressive military action, Reuters reported Thursday.


Minding the nuclear ‘button’: Tensions prompt a closer look
Christian Science MonitorPeter Grier
It’s very unlikely that Trump could wake up angry, fire off tweets about an adversary, and then decide to end the argument once and for all. “The notion that a president could capriciously launch a nuclear first strike suggests that no one in the chain of command would raise a question or intervene. In practical terms I find that hard to believe,” says Rebecca Hersman.

Former Foreign Ministers Urge Congress to Keep Iran Deal
Aspen Ministers Forum10/18/17
We are a group of 25 former foreign ministers who have just met for consultations on transatlantic relations and other key international security issues. We have been closely following the debate in the United States over the Iran nuclear agreement and we understand that it is now up to Congress to maintain U.S. compliance with the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). We urge you to uphold the agreement, and not to take any unilateral action that seeks to expand, alter or renegotiate the terms of the JCPOA

Growing threat: Cyber and nuclear weapons systems
Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsPage Stoutland
Many experts believe it’s only a matter of time before truly devastating cyberattacks are mounted against critical civilian infrastructure—or even key military systems. Nuclear weapons and related systems, like all digital systems, are vulnerable to cyberattack. Though nations give the highest priority to the security of nuclear weapons systems, a successful cyberattack is possible and could be catastrophic

Let’s Walk This Through: If North Korea Launches an ICBM, Then…
Defense OneJoshua Pollack
How good is America’s homeland ballistic-missile defense? If a war broke out tomorrow, could it stop an attack from North Korea? The short answer, despite many assurances from Defense Department officials, is that no one knows. Ballistic-missile defense, or BMD, is a stunningly ambitious and complex undertaking, unforgiving of the smallest problems.

Does Japan really want to go nuclear?
Straits TimesRichard A. Bitzinger
There has been a flurry of articles speculating that it might be a good thing for regional security if Japan “went nuclear”. However, this would require much more than simply building nuclear weapons, in particular requiring the construction of a massive supporting infrastructure and overcoming domestic opposition.

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