TOP NEWS Having nuclear weapons ‘matter of life and death’ for North Korea: RIA Reuters Ending Iran nuclear deal would worsen North Korea situation: Kerry Reuters North Korea writes open letter to Parliament urging Australia to move away from Trump administration Australian Broadcasting Corporation Russia’s Lavrov warns one-sided changes could sink Iran deal Associated Press EAST ASIA Having nuclear weapons ‘matter of life and death’ for North Korea: RIA Reuters10/20/17 Pyongyang does not plan to hold any talks with Washington about its nuclear program, a senior North Korean diplomat said on Friday, saying that possessing nuclear weapons was a matter of life and death for North Korea, the RIA news agency reported. North Korea writes open letter to Parliament urging Australia to move away from Trump administration Australian Broadcasting Corporation10/20/17 The letter, from the Foreign Affairs Committee of the rogue state’s Supreme People’s Assembly, described Pyongyang as a fully-fledged nuclear power and said any attempt by the United States to destroy it would be a big miscalculation and could lead to a “horrible nuclear disaster”. After six tests, the mountain hosting North Korea’s nuclear blasts may be exhausted Washington Post10/20/17 Have North Korea’s nuclear tests become so big that they’ve altered the geological structure of the land? Some analysts now see signs that Mount Mantap, the 7,200-foot-high peak under which North Korea detonates its nuclear bombs, is suffering from “tired mountain syndrome.” MIDDLE EAST No problems with Iran despite Trump action, says UN nuclear watchdog chief Straits Times10/20/17 The UN atomic watchdog chief said on Thursday (Oct 19) his inspectors had yet to encounter problems with Iran a week after US President Donald Trump refused to certify that Teheran was complying with a 2015 nuclear deal. RUSSIA/FSU/EUROPE Russia says continue dialogue with Washington on North Korea, Iran: RIA Reuters10/20/17 Moscow and Washington are continuing a dialogue on North Korea and the future of the international deal on Iran’s nuclear program, RIA news agency cited Russian Deputy Foreign Minister Sergei Ryabkov as saying on Friday. Moscow seeks support for Russia-Chinese roadmap on North Korea Reuters10/20/17 Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov urged world powers on Friday to get behind a joint Russian-Chinese roadmap for settling the crisis over North Korea’s weapons program. Russia’s Lavrov warns one-sided changes could sink Iran deal Associated Press10/20/17 Russia’s foreign minister says the landmark Iran nuclear deal can be amended only as long as his country and other signatories agree to proposed changes. MULTILATERAL ARMS CONTROL Putin says Russia favors a global nuclear ban Associated Press10/19/17 Putin said Thursday at the Valdai forum for international policy experts that total nuclear disarmament is a possibility that Russia would welcome. He said Russia would “want it and will be striving to achieve that.” S. Africa urges all UN members to sign Nuclear Weapon Ban Treaty Xinhua10/20/17 South Africa on Thursday urged all member states of the United Nations to sign and ratify the Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons. U.S. NUCLEAR POLICY US preparing for North Korea’s ‘final step’ CNN10/20/17 CIA Director Mike Pompeo said the United States has to act as if North Korea is on the verge of being able to strike it with a missile and act accordingly — and that President Donald Trump is ready to do so. Trump changes to Iran deal face criticism from both sides The Hill10/19/17 The Senate has a difficult path to walk if it is going to pass changes to the Iran nuclear deal demanded by President Trump to stave off a U.S. withdrawal from the agreement. U.S. will not interfere in EU trade with Iran: Tillerson Reuters10/20/17 The United States does not aim to impede European trade and business transactions with Iran despite President Donald Trump’s decision last week to decertify the 2015 nuclear agreement, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told the Wall Street Journal. Ending Iran nuclear deal would worsen North Korea situation: Kerry Reuters10/19/17 U.S. President Donald Trump risks driving Iran towards nuclear proliferation and worsening a standoff with North Korea if Washington ends a nuclear deal with Tehran, former U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry said late on Thursday. OPINION AND ANALYSIS Take the President’s Finger Off the Nuclear Button PoliticoDan Glickman 10/20/17 It’s past time to re-examine the War Powers Act and the role of Congress, the president and war-making in the modern era, particularly when it comes to nuclear weapons. This effort must be bipartisan, should involve public hearings if possible and should probe questions such as: What is the specific role of military commanders downstream to execute on a presidential decision? Are we sufficiently protected against the threat of a cyberattack that could trigger nuclear war? How do we prevent mistakes, either human or technological? How should congressional leaders participate in the planning and decision-making process when it comes to such grave choices? Trigger Warnings: Will lawmakers have a say in Iran policy? The Weekly StandardJenna Lifhits 10/30/17 The executive and legislative branches are engaged in what one senior GOP congressional aide calls a game of “hot potato” over who is responsible for realizing the president’s demands. The dispute only underscores the difficulty GOP lawmakers will have in getting the bill passed. It will need 60 votes in the Senate—meaning that if every Republican votes for it, at least eight Democrats will have to come on board. “In the Senate you need 60 senators to do anything ordinarily,” the aide told me. “But right now, no Democratic senators have clearly said they want to do this sort of fix.” Blockchain: A new aid to nuclear export controls? The Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsAaron Arnold 10/19/17 While most people have not heard of blockchain, many do know of its most visible implementation, Bitcoin, a cryptocurrency used to store and transfer value. Although cryptocurrencies tend to dominate media attention, the underlying technology, blockchain, has far-reaching applications; it can be used to store property records, clear and settle accounts, ensure the validity and execution of contractual arrangements, and—possibly— prevent the illicit procurement of weapons of mass destruction-related goods and technologies. Commentary: Trump’s Iran decision hurts chance of a North Korea deal ReutersAndray Abrahamian 10/19/17 Donald Trump’s undermining of the Iran nuclear deal only shrinks U.S. options for dealing with North Korea. The U.S. president’s decertification of Tehran’s compliance will be well noted in Pyongyang, giving North Korean leader Kim Jong Un a credible excuse for refusing to negotiate with Washington. Trump’s Iran Strategy is No Strategy At All Defense OneDaniel DePetris 10/19/17 But by not mentioning diplomatic engagement once in his speech or in his policy rollout, President Trump is hurting himself by limiting his options and tying one hand behind his back. Opportunities for dialogue may be slim today, but they could be ripe for the picking tomorrow.