September 19, 2017
Julian Borger | Guardian
Donald Trump has threatened to “totally destroy” North Korea, in a bellicose first address to the United Nations general assembly in which he lashed out at a litany of US adversaries and called on “righteous” nations to confront them. The speech was greeted in the UN chamber mostly with silence and occasional outbreaks of disapproving murmurs, as Trump castigated a succession of hostile regimes.
Dan Lamonthe | Washington Post
Defense Secretary Jim Mattis acknowledged Monday that his South Korean counterpart inquired recently about reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, a move that could take tensions with North Korea to a new high. Mattis, speaking to reporters at the Pentagon, confirmed that he and Defense Minister Song Young-moo discussed the weapons during an Aug. 30 visit in Washington. The Pentagon chief did not say whether he’d support such an idea, however. Song has advocated for the move, calling it an “alternative worth a full review.”
Russia is usually seen as relatively unimportant to most discussions about the North Korea nuclear crisis, yet it is in a unique position to help de-escalate it. Despite rising tensions between Moscow and Washington—over Russia’s interventions in Crimea and Syria, and the very principles of the world order—Russia has voted twice in recent weeks at the United Nations to impose sanctions on North Korea. In the summer of 2015, in the midst of the crisis over Ukraine, Moscow was careful not to do anything that might derail the Obama administration’s efforts to cinch a nuclear deal with Iran.
Four U.S. F-35B stealth fighter jets and two B-1B strategic bombers buzzed the aerial border with North Korea in a show of force on Monday amid colorful rhetoric from U.S. President Donald Trump. The jets carried out a live-fire drill at a firing range in Taebaek, Gangwon Province, a military spokesman here said Monday.
Paul McLeary | Foreign Policy
North Korea continues to launch ballistic missiles over Japan and puts U.S. territory within range, the U.S. Defense Department is trying to wrap up two critical reports that will outline the Trump administration’s strategy for the nation’s nuclear weapons arsenal and its domestic missile defense programs. But the work has been slowed somewhat by the lack of mid-level officials at the Pentagon and State Department who helped shepherd the previous 2010 nuclear review to completion, according to people with knowledge of the deliberations.
Ruediger Frank | 38 North
On September 14, North Korea conducted another test of its Hwasong-12 intermediate-range ballistic missiles (IRBM), flying over Japan for a second time within a month. This comes on the heels of the North’s sixth nuclear test, the largest it has conducted to date and commonly believed to have been a thermonuclear device. In addition to the political and technical implications of these events, this steady stream of testing continues to destroy devices presumably worth millions of USD by a country that, by all accounts, is having major economic difficulties.