September 12, 2017
Somini Sengupta | New York Times
The United Nations Security Council on Monday ratcheted up sanctions yet again against North Korea, but they fell significantly short of the far-reaching penalties that the Trump administration had demanded just days ago. While the sanctions were described in Washington and other capitals as the most extensive yet, in the end they amounted to another incremental increase of pressure on the country, even after it detonated its sixth and most powerful nuclear device.
War between the United States and North Korea has begun to seem like a real possibility. Within hours of the Sunday, September 3 test of what Pyongyang claimed was a thermonuclear weapon, President Donald Trump tweeted that the North Koreans “only understand one thing.” The next day, his ambassador to the United Nations, Nikki Haley, claimed that North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, was “begging for war.” Then on Thursday, Trump described military action – using “new and beautiful equipment, the best in the world” – as “something certainly that could happen.”
The United States wants North Korea to stop testing, stop developing, and eventually stop having nuclear weapons that can target America and its allies. Washington cannot achieve this goal by sanctioning North Korea, because China will always allow Pyongyang enough support to avoid collapse, and North Korea knows it. And Washington cannot use its massive, advanced military to eliminate North Korea’s nuclear capabilities. There is no way to be certain we would eliminate all of the weapons, and even if we did, North Korea has thousands of archaic but effective artillery pieces and more advanced rockets that could destroy Seoul and kill millions of people in days.
The head of the U.N. nuclear watchdog said on Monday Iran was abiding by the rules set out in a nuclear accord it signed with six world powers in 2015, after Washington suggested it was not adhering to the deal. The State Department must notify Congress every 90 days of Iran’s compliance with the deal. The next deadline is October and U.S. President Donald Trump has said he thinks by then the United States will declare Iran non-compliant.
Bryan Bender | Politico
The Trump administration is considering proposing smaller, more tactical nuclear weapons that would cause less damage than traditional thermonuclear bombs — a move that would give military commanders more options but could also make the use of atomic arms more likely. A high-level panel created by President Donald Trump to evaluate the nuclear arsenal is reviewing various options for adding a more modern "low-yield" bomb, according to sources involved in the review, to further deter Russia, North Korea or other potential nuclear adversaries.
Scott Sagan | Foreign Affairs
It is time for the U.S. government to admit that it has failed to prevent North Korea from acquiring nuclear weapons and intercontinental ballistic missiles that can reach the United States. North Korea no longer poses a nonproliferation problem; it poses a nuclear deterrence problem. The gravest danger now is that North Korea, South Korea, and the United States will stumble into a catastrophic war that none of them wants. and a nuclear China. It can now learn to live with a nuclear North Korea.