Nuclear Policy News – October 31, 2017

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China, South Korea agree to mend ties after THAAD standoff

Russian senators calls for not regarding US nuclear drills as threat or aggression

Nuclear Scientists Urge Congress to Protect Iran Deal
New York Times

Mattis, Tillerson: No authority for military action in North Korea outside ‘imminent threat’
The Hill


Japan’s Abe, NATO chief discuss North Korea
Associated Press10/31/17
Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has met with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg in Tokyo to discuss cooperation in addressing security challenges, including North Korea’s nuclear tests and ballistic missile launches.

China, South Korea agree to mend ties after THAAD standoff
Seoul and Beijing on Tuesday agreed to move beyond a year-long stand-off over the deployment of a U.S. anti-missile system in South Korea, a dispute that has been devastating to South Korean businesses that rely on Chinese consumers.

S Korean envoy heads to China for talks on N.K. nukes
Yonhap News Agency10/31/17
South Korea’s top nuclear envoy expressed hope Tuesday of having extensive discussions with his Chinese counterpart on ways to peacefully resolve the North Korea nuclear stalemate.

Tunnel collapse may have killed 200 after North Korea nuclear test: Japanese broadcaster
A tunnel at North Korea’s nuclear test site collapsed after Pyongyang’s sixth atomic test in September, possibly killing more than 200 people, Japanese broadcaster TV Asahi said on Tuesday, citing unnamed sources familiar with the situation. Reuters has not been able to verify the report.


Iran will quite nuclear deal if Western sanctions are reimposed: military chief
Iran’s top military commander said Monday that Iran will quit the endangered 2015 nuclear accord if the United States reimposed sanctions against it, amid wide concerns in the international community following US President Donald Trump’s failure to re-certify the deal.

Saudi Arabia to extract uranium for ‘self-sufficient’ nuclear program
Saudi Arabia plans to extract uranium domestically as part of its nuclear power program and sees this as a step towards “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel, a senior official said on Monday.


‘Smart bombs’ to dominate new state armaments program
The development of nuclear power will remain the focus of the state arms program “as the main deterring factor of possible aggression against Russia,” [Russian Deputy Defense Minister Yury Boriso] said.

Russian senators calls for not regarding US nuclear drills as threat or aggression
The drills for US strategic nuclear troops called Global Thunder should not be considered as a potential threat, Chairman of the Federation Council’s Committee for Defense and Security Viktor Bondarev said on Monday.

Russia to Launch Its Most Powerful Ballistic Missile Sub in November
The Diplomat10/31/17
The Russian Navy is slated to launch the first advanced variant of the nuclear-powered ballistic missile submarine (SSBN) Project 955A Borei II-class (“North Wind”), or the Dolgorukiy-class, in November, the commander-in-chief of the Russian Navy, Admiral Vladimir Korolev said in an interview with Russian media.


Nuclear Scientists Urge Congress to Protect Iran Deal
New York Times10/30/17
More than 90 top American experts in atomic sciences, including a designer of the hydrogen bomb, publicly threw their weight behind the Iran nuclear agreement on Monday, exhorting Congress to preserve the accord in the face of President Trump’s disavowal of it.

Democrats ask Mattis, Tillerson about nukes
Associated Press10/30/17
Congressional Democrats are pressing senior national security officials on whether there are circumstances that would allow President Donald Trump to preemptively strike North Korea or another country with nuclear weapons.

North Korea threat of above-ground test serious, US says
Defense News10/31/17
North Korea’s threat to detonate a hydrogen bomb above the Pacific Ocean is being treated as credible based on the regime’s past actions, U.S. officials here said. That’s because in the past, North Korea has worked to manage global reactions to its nuclear tests and missile launches by announcing and socializing them publicly first, thus reducing the likelihood of any military reaction, they said.

Mattis, Tillerson: No authority for military action in North Korea outside ‘imminent threat’
The Hill10/30/17
President Trump does not have authority to use military force in North Korea outside of an imminent threat, Defense Secretary James Mattis and Secretary of State Rex Tillerson told lawmakers Monday. But they declined to define what they consider an imminent threat to be.

US Sends Nuclear-Capable Bomber to Pacific Ahead of Trump Visit
The Diplomat10/31/17
The U.S. Air Force dispatched a B-2 Spirit stealth bomber from Whiteman Air Force Base in Missouri to the Asia-Pacific region this weekend to demonstrate the United States’ commitment to its regional allies amid growing tensions on the Korean Peninsula, U.S. Strategic Command officials said on October 28.


Saving the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action
LawfareBonnie Jenkins
Bottom line: The JCPOA should remain intact, and thankfully there is much that can be done outside of Washington to that effect.

Pushing total disarmament hasn’t worked for 25 years – and it won’t work now
The HillStephen Blank
Until we can answer the question posed above as to what kind of security North Korea can have without nuclear weapons it will, as Vladimir Putin said, “eat grass rather than give them up.” Is that truly the outcome this administration, the U.S., and our allies want? And more importantly is that an outcome that advances our own and their interests?

Corker and Cotton’s False Promises Would Push Iran Toward Nuclearization
Foreign PolicyTess Bridgeman
Corker and Cotton assume that the United States will gain leverage by re-imposing sanctions even while Iran continues to comply with its own commitments, even though doing so would be in violation of American JCPOA commitments and despite clear warnings by our key partners that the deal is not up for renegotiation. If this sounds illogical and reckless, that’s because it is. Proposals like this are a backdoor attempt to legislate the collapse of the deal.

‘Military Options’ Against North Korea Isn’t the Problem – Loose Talk Is
Defense OneJung H. Pak
Even as the senior advisors are trying to tone down the inflammatory rhetoric from President Trump, emphasizing that U.S. policy does not include regime change and reiterating Washington’s commitment to peaceful resolution, the drumbeat of military action has been drowning out the “engagement” part of the formula. While it is absolutely appropriate to consider military options, loose talk of war could take on a dangerous life and momentum of its own.

America is Finally Punishing China over North Korea’s Deadly Missile Launchers
The National InterestBill Gertz
The imposition of sanctions on one Chinese company linked to the North Korean mobile nuclear missile program is an important first step. But the failure to directly sanction China for its illicit North Korean missile and nuclear trade will prevent the United States from applying effective pressure on Pyongyang.

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