Nuclear Policy News – October 4, 2017

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Japan nuclear panel plans reduction in plutonium stockpile, but details remain unclear
Japan Times

U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis suggests sticking with Iran nuclear deal

Trump prepares to wound Iran deal – and then save it


S. Korea urges N.K. to take steps toward peace on anniversary of summit agreement
Yonhap News Agency10/4/17
South Korea on Wednesday urged North Korea to honor all inter-Korean agreements and take steps toward peace on the Korean Peninsula as it marked the 10th anniversary of an agreement reached during the second-ever summit between the two sides.

Japan nuclear panel plans reduction in plutonium stockpile, but details remain unclear
Japan Times10/4/17
The plan was outlined in a document issued by the Japan Atomic Energy Commission aimed at highlighting the country’s principle of not possessing plutonium without a specified purpose. Japan is the only non-nuclear weapons state in the world that is proceeding with a commercial spent fuel reprocessing project.

Senior N.K. diplomat to meet with ex-top US officials on margins of Moscow conference: report
Yonhap News Agency10/4/17
A senior North Korean diplomat is expected to meet with former U.S. government officials when she attends an international nonproliferation conference to be held in Moscow later this month, a news report said Wednesday.

North Korea seen seeking direct U.S. talks as EU diplomatic back channel with Pyongyang goes cold
Japan Times10/4/17
While European powers France and Britain are lobbying Washington to cool tensions since North Korea’s most powerful nuclear test a month ago, EU nations with embassies in Pyongyang are directly pressing the North Koreans.


Iran sentences member of nuclear negotiating team to 5 years in jail: Tasnim
Iranian authorities sentenced a member of the country’s nuclear negotiating team to five years in jail, Tasnim news agency reported on Wednesday. The agency did not name a source for the information and gave no further details.


Europe will do everything to preserve Iran nuclear deal: EU diplomat
“This is not a bilateral agreement, it’s a multilateral agreement. As Europeans, we will do everything to make sure it stays,” Helga Schmid, secretary general of the EU’s foreign policy service, told an Iranian investment conference in Switzerland’s financial capital.

Putin: Russia will support Iran nuclear deal even if US withdraws
Financial Times10/4/17
Russia’s president Vladimir Putin will continue to support the Iran nuclear deal, despite suggestions that Donald Trump’s White House may withdraw its support.

Russian military holds massive missile drills
Associated Press10/4/17
The Defense Ministry said Tuesday in a statement carried by the Interfax news agency that the maneuvers involve over 60 Topol, Topol-M and Yars missile launchers.


U.S. Defense Secretary Mattis suggests sticking with Iran nuclear deal
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said on Tuesday the United States should consider staying in the Iran nuclear deal unless it were proven Tehran that was not abiding by the agreement or that it was not in the U.S. national interest to do so.

Trump prepares to wound Iran deal – and then save it
Trump’s team plans to work with Congress and European allies to apply new pressure on the Iranian regime, according to a strategy developed in an Iran policy review led by national security adviser H.R. McMaster. But the strategy assumes the nuclear deal will remain intact for now.

Mattis: Pentagon ‘supports fully’ diplomatic solution to N. Korea
Yonhap News Agency10/4/17
U.S. Defense Secretary Jim Mattis said Tuesday that the Pentagon “supports fully” a diplomatic solution to the North Korean nuclear standoff amid mixed messages from Washington.

Bipartisan bill would toughen North Korea sanctions, require Trump’s strategy
The Hill10/3/17
A bipartisan duo in the Senate has introduced legislation that would require the Trump administration to impose tougher sanctions on North Korea and provide Congress with a strategy for curbing that country’s nuclear and missile programs.

Trump slam on Tillerson raises more questions about North Korea policy
The Hill10/3/17
President Trump muddled his North Korea strategy further over the weekend when he appeared to undercut his own secretary of State, driving more concerns from experts that the administration has no clear strategy.


Trump’s generals thwart him on the Iran deal
Washington PostIshaan Tharoor
But there’s a crucial constituency that may not be on the same page as Trump: “his” generals. On Tuesday, Defense Secretary Jim Mattis, a retired Marine general, appeared before the Senate Armed Services Committee and fielded questions on the administration’s thinking regarding the Iran deal.

More than Paper: How Nuclear Ban-Treaty Advocates Can Really Advance Disarmament
War on the RocksJon Wolfsthal
If states truly want to help eliminate nuclear weapons, here are a few concrete steps they can take – steps that are more meaningful and address more urgent threats to the cause of global disarmament.

Understanding the New Nuclear Weapons Ban
Nuclear Threat InitiativeAndrea Berger
It has been called everything from “the beginning of the end of nuclear weapons”  and a “historic achievement,” to a “shotgun treaty”  and an “ineffective”  and “counterproductive” disarmament measure. On September 20th, a controversial treaty prohibiting nuclear weapons opened for signature. This Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, or, as some refer to it, Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty, will enter into force 90 days after the 50th country’s ratification.

How North Korea Uses Front Companies to Help Evade Sanctions
FrontlineNicole Einbinder
The North’s ability to finance itself, despite growing international sanctions, can be credited to a broad range of illicit activity that spans the world, according to experts. For example, schemes employed by the regime to garner profits include currency and cigarette counterfeiting, insurance fraud, illicit drug production and trafficking, weapon sales and even wildlife and human trafficking, according to U.N. and Congressional reports.

Donald Trump Threatened North Korea After Completely Imaginary Negotiations
Foreign PolicyJeffrey Lewis
This particular episode in the months-long twitzkrieg between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and Donald Trump is a parable about how bad reporting can create its own facts, leading gullible readers to act out of false information or contrived narratives. And if one of those gullible readers happens to be the president of the United States, watch out.

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