Nuclear Policy News – October 26, 2017

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North Korea official: Take hydrogen bomb threat ‘literally’

Israel willing to resort to military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons: minister

Trump Blames Russia for ‘Hurting’ U.S. Efforts on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons
NBC News


North Korea official: Take hydrogen bomb threat ‘literally’
The official, Ri Yong Pil, told CNN in an exclusive interview in Pyongyang that the threat made by North Korea’s foreign minister last month should not be dismissed. North Korea “has always brought its words into action,” Ri said, visibly angry.

Korea firmly committed to peaceful resolution of N. Korean issue: new envoy to U.S.
Yonhap News Agency10/25/17
South Korea is firmly committed to using peaceful means to resolve the issue of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, South Korea’s new ambassador to the United States said Thursday, adding that close consultation with the U.S. is crucial in the process.

Japan to propose strategic dialogue with U.S., India and Australia: Nikkei
Kono also said putting pressure on North Korea would “certainly be necessary” to make Pyongyang dismantle its missile and nuclear development, according to the Nikkei. He said if North Korea accepted a review by International Atomic Energy Agency it would be “the most trustworthy” option for conditions for talks between Pyongyang and the international community.


Israel willing to resort to military action to stop Iran acquiring nuclear weapons: minister
“If international efforts led these days by U.S. President Trump don’t help stop Iran attaining nuclear capabilities, Israel will act militarily by itself,” Intelligence Minister Israel Katz said in an interview in Tokyo. “There are changes that can be made (to the agreement) to ensure that they will never have the ability to have a nuclear weapon.”


Russian parliament urges saving Iran nuclear deal
The Russian Federation Council, or the upper house of the parliament, on Wednesday called for saving a multilateral deal on Iranian nuclear activities as U.S. President Donald Trump has threatened to abandon it. “The Federation Council appeals to members of U.S. Congress with an urgent request to use all possible resources to prevent the emergence of this extremely dangerous situation,” it said in a statement.


Pakistan more dangerous than North Korea: Former US Senator
Economic Times10/26/17
Pakistan is more dangerous than North Korea as it does not have a centralised control on its nuclear weapons, making them vulnerable to theft and sale, a former top American Senator warned, describing both the nations as rogue states. Larry Pressler, who served as chairman of the US Senate’s Arms Control Subcommittee, feared that Pakistan’s nuclear weapons might be used against the US, warning the possibility of someone buying these nuclear weapons from generals or colonels.


Trump Blames Russia for ‘Hurting’ U.S. Efforts on North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons
NBC News10/26/17
President Donald Trump said on Wednesday that Russia was having a negative impact on U.S. efforts to rid North Korea of nuclear weapons while China had been helpful. In an interview with Fox Business Network, Trump said it would be easier to resolve the North Korea nuclear issue if the United States had a better relationship with Russia.

Mattis: Everyone wants peaceful solution to N.K. crisis
Yonhap News Agency10/25/17
“A number of people talked about hoping diplomatic efforts will work, that sanctions will cause them to change course,” Mattis told reporters. “Do we have military options in defense if we’re attacked, our allies are attacked? Of course we do. But everyone is out for a peaceful resolution. Not rushing to war.”

Pentagon chief to visit DMZ, warn N. Korea
Yonhap News Agency10/26/17
The top military officials of South Korea and the U.S. will visit the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) together this week and issue a warning message to North Korea, an official said Thursday.

DoD Pushing New Missile Defenses as Existing Technologies Age
Foreign Policy10/25/17
The Pentagon is ready to deliver a top-to-bottom review of the military’s missile defense programs to the White House by the end of the year, taking a broad look at new technologies, basing options, and potentially billions in new spending, according to defense officials.


Trump’s Nuclear Arsenals
New York TimesThe Editorial Board
So, are 4,000 nuclear warheads enough? In fact, that is far more than the country could ever need. The nuclear stockpile is so large, and its payload so enormous, researchers determined that the United States could kill large parts of the populations of more than a dozen countries using less than half its arsenal.

How We Persuaded 122 Countries to Ban Nuclear Weapons
Just SecurityBeatrice Fihn, Matthew Bolton, and Elizabeth Minor
Over the last decade, we have built a global civil society coalition that, in partnership with states, has changed the game, refocusing global policymakers on the humanitarian, human rights and environmental impacts of nuclear weapons, rather than abstract ideas of deterrence. The result was the negotiation of the legally binding Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).

Washington Resumes Talking About Nuclear War
The AtlanticUri Friedman
But as North Korea’s nuclear program has rapidly advanced, and as the Trump administration has sounded the alarms about that progress, such talk is creeping back into public discourse in Washington and beyond. The president and his advisers have avoided explicit discussion of nuclear war. Yet they’ve spoken increasingly openly—and with remarkable stoicism—about the potentially catastrophic toll of a U.S.-North Korean conflict, not only because both countries possess nuclear weapons but because North Korea has formidable non-nuclear arms and shares a heavily militarized peninsula with South Korea.

How a State Department Study Prevented Nuclear War With China
The DiplomatFranz-Stefan Gady
Amid these deliberations, a member of the U.S. Department of State’s Policy Planning Council, Robert H. Johnson, compiled two studies arguing that a nuclear China will not significantly alter the military balance of power in Asia and that, as a corollary, the United States would not need to take radical steps, including military action, in the foreseeable future. Johnson’s papers helped to broaden the discussion about possible policy options vis-à-vis China and may have contributed to the United States not launching a preventive attack on Chinese nuclear facilities in the early 1960s.

Ballistic Missiles: Limit them first. Then ban them.
Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsJames E. Doyle
Like the nuclear weapons ban treaty the UN recently adopted, a ballistic missile ban would require sustained, long-term effort to achieve anything like full success. But the United States has everything to gain from taking a leadership role and asserting that offensive ballistic missiles are dangerous and destabilizing weapons that should eventually be eliminated from the arsenals of all nations.


Britain has evacuation plans for 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics
Associated Press10/25/17
British Olympic leaders have plans in place to evacuate athletes from the 2018 Pyeongchang Games amid heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula. While the British Olympic Association is not expecting to have to implement those emergency procedures in South Korea, it is preparing for the worst-case scenario.

Air Force plays Grinch, briefly denies the existence of Santa Claus
Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri and Minot Air Force Base in North Dakota had been trading barbs over the merits of their respective fleets when the official Air Force Twitter account stepped in with a stern warning. “We didn’t want to have to do this, but if you 2 can’t get along we must…Santa will bring you nothing this year…becuase [sic] he isn’t real!” the Air Force tweeted.

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