Nuclear Policy News – October 30, 2017

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North Korea Rouses Neighbors to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons
New York Times

US agrees to provide South Korea more weapons, upgraded defenses
Military Times

Trump team drawing up fresh plans to bolster US nuclear arsenal
The Guardian


North Korea Rouses Neighbors to Reconsider Nuclear Weapons
New York Times10/28/17
Beyond South Korea and Japan, there is already talk in Australia, Myanmar, Taiwan and Vietnam about whether it makes sense to remain nuclear-free if others arm themselves — heightening fears that North Korea could set off a chain reaction in which one nation after another feels threatened and builds the bomb.

US agrees to provide South Korea more weapons, upgraded defenses
Military Times10/29/17
South Korea will buy more U.S. weapons, develop more advanced missiles and receive a more consistent presence of U.S. military nuclear weapons to defend against North Korea, according to agreements reached between top U.S. and South Korean military leaders that concluded in Seoul Saturday.

Pentagon chief says North Korea engages in ‘outlaw’ behavior
Associated Press10/29/17
The threat of nuclear missile attack by North Korea is accelerating, U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Saturday, accusing the North of illegal and unnecessary missile and nuclear programs and pledging to repel any strike.

U.S., South Korea, Japan urge North Korea to cease ‘irresponsible’ provocations
Senior defense officials from the United States, South Korea and Japan held trilateral talks and urged North Korea to walk away from its “destructive and reckless path” of weapons development, the U.S. military said in a statement.

South Korea, China nuclear envoys to meet in Beijing: South Korean government
The officials will exchange analyses on the current situation regarding North Korea’s nuclear and missile program and also discuss ways to cooperate in managing the situation in a stable manner, the statement said.


Iran fulfilling nuclear deal commitments: IAEA chief
Iran is fulfilling its commitments under the nuclear deal with world powers and U.N. inspectors are facing no problems in their verification efforts, the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) director-general said on Monday.

Iran says talks unlikely without change in US behavior
Associated Press10/30/17
Iran says talks with the United States are unlikely without a “fundamental change” in American behavior. Foreign Ministry spokesman Bahram Ghasemi told reporters Monday that any future negotiations were unlikely “considering the policies taken by (President Donald) Trump.”


UK Navy Discharges 9 Nuclear Sub Crew Members for Drug Use
Associated Press10/28/17
The nine were dismissed following compulsory drugs tests on HMS Vigilant – one of four British submarines that carry Trident nuclear missiles. A Royal Navy statement says the service does “not tolerate drugs misuse by service personnel. Those found to have fallen short of our high standards face being discharged from service.”

Vatican aims to head off US-North Korea nuclear standoff
Associated Press10/30/17
The Vatican is hosting a conference next week aimed at trying to head off a threatened nuclear confrontation between the U.S. and North Korea, bringing together 11 Nobel peace laureates and top U.N. and NATO officials as well as ambassadors from key countries.


Trump team drawing up fresh plans to bolster US nuclear arsenal
The Guardian10/29/17
The document is still being debated with a target for completion by the end of this year or the beginning of next. Among the new elements under consideration are a low-yield warhead for a ballistic missile intended primarily to deter Russia’s use of a small nuclear weapon in a war over the Baltic states; a sea-launched cruise missile; a change in language governing conditions in which the US would use nuclear weapons; and investments aimed at reducing the time it would take the US to prepare a nuclear test.

Remarks to Airmen at Minot Air Force Base by Vice President Pence
Office of the Vice President10/27/17
And you can also be assured that our administration is committed to strengthen and modernize America’s nuclear deterrent. History attests the surest path to peace is through American strength. There’s no greater element of American strength, there’s no greater force for peace in the world than the United States nuclear arsenal. This bedrock of freedom deters potential adversaries, protects and assures our allies, and it proves every day to the world the United States has both the will and the firepower to annihilate any existential threat to our people or our homeland.

Report: Los Alamos lab comes up short on emergency drills
Associated Press10/29/17
A federal nuclear safety panel says Los Alamos National Laboratory has come up short during drills intended to show how the New Mexico lab would respond to potential emergencies such as radioactive leaks or earthquakes. A letter and lengthy report sent this month by the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board to U.S. Energy Secretary Rick Perry says the board found numerous weaknesses dating back to 2014.

In standoff with North Korea, the U.S. keeps deployment of ‘strategic assets’ mysterious
Washington Post10/29/17
President Trump last month agreed to send more of the Pentagon’s “strategic assets” to South Korea on a rotational basis to deter North Korean provocations, but what exactly that means remains something of a mystery.


Don’t rely on China: North Korea won’t kowtow to Beijing
The ConversationKatherine H.S. Moon
I have studied such lopsided alliances – including between the United States and South Korea – and I’ve learned that no matter how in sync the national security goals of the two countries may be or how much the stronger power may have helped the weaker, the weaker never simply rolls over and obeys. So, how much power can China really exercise over North Korea?

Former Government Officials and Experts Support Efforts to Fix Iran Nuclear Deal
Foundation for Defense of Democracies10/27/17
Following President Donald Trump’s decision to refrain from certifying Iran’s compliance with the Iran nuclear deal under the Congressionally mandated Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), a group of more than 20 former government officials and Iran, nuclear, and sanctions experts issued a statement today expressing support for addressing the nuclear deal’s deficiencies. The letter also follows the president’s announcement of a comprehensive policy addressing the full range of Iranian threats and fixing the deal.

Do As I Say, Not As I Do: Demanding Strengthened Inspections in Iran
Arms Control WonkMichael Krepon
Iran is not a defeated state. Demanding “tougher” challenge inspections would be particularly hypocritical since the Congress has rejected or heavily conditioned them for U.S. facilities. Challenge inspections are useful to have in one’s hip pocket, but are no panacea. If the CWC experience has relevance, the most reliable and useful indicators of compliance are routine inspections and continuous, in situ monitoring by technical devices at critical facilities.


Robert Blakeley, whose fallout shelter sign was a grim reminder of nuclear war, dies at 95
Washington Post10/29/17
Mr. Blakeley was a logistics official at the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers when he devised and perfected the shelter sign, an ominous image of three downward-pointing triangles that evoked the international symbol for radiation and, in the event of a nuclear explosion, pointed toward the nearest public shelter.

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