September 21, 2017
William J. Burns and Jake Sullivan | New York Times
As the two negotiators who initiated the secret talks that led to the 2015 Iran nuclear agreement, we are intimately familiar with the deal’s strengths, its inevitable imperfections and the wider challenge posed by Iran. In an ideal world, we would have erased Iran’s knowledge of the nuclear fuel cycle, eliminated its missile arsenal, stopped its dangerous use of proxies across the region, and transformed it into a less disruptive regional power. But we don’t live in an ideal world. Diplomacy requires difficult compromises. And the nuclear deal achieved the best of the available alternatives. It cuts off Iran’s pathways to a bomb, sharply constrains its nuclear program for a long time, and provides for unprecedentedly strict monitoring and verification. Diplomacy avoided another war in the Middle East and averted the kind of crisis we now face with North Korea.
Jennifer Peltz | Washington Post
More than 40 countries on Wednesday signed a treaty to ban nuclear weapons, a pact that the world’s nuclear powers spurned but supporters hailed as a historic agreement nonetheless. “You are the states that are showing moral leadership in a world that desperately needs such moral leadership today,” Beatrice Fihn, executive director of the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons, said as a signing ceremony began. Within an hour, 42 states had put their names to the treaty, and more were signing afterward. Guyana, Thailand and the Vatican also have already ratified the treaty, which needs 50 ratifications to take effect among the nations that back it.
North Korea increasingly poses a grave threat to its southern neighbor and the world by conducting a series of nuclear and missile tests. Amid this escalating tension on and around the Korean Peninsula, South Koreans have started voicing their concerns about a nuclear-armed North Korea. A Korea Society Opinion Institute (KSOI) poll conducted September 8–9 shows that 68.2 percent of those surveyed believe that U.S. tactical nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn in 1991, should be redeployed to South Korea to protect the country from Pyongyang’s growing nuclear threat. A Gallup poll conducted September 5–7 also found that 60 percent of the respondents said that South Korea should arm itself with nuclear weapons. Extrapolating from the polls, some people could believe that an absolute majority of the South Koreans favors nuclear rearmament in response to a nuclear-armed North Korea.
Iran’s president said on Thursday its nuclear accord with world powers cannot be renegotiated, after the Trump administration warned it was weighing whether the deal signed by its predecessor served U.S. security interests. Under the 2015 deal, Iran agreed to limit its disputed nuclear program in return for the easing of economic sanctions. U.S. President Donald Trump called the deal an “embarrassment” during his first speech at the United Nations on Tuesday.
Pakistan Prime Minister Shahid Khaqan Abbasi said on Thursday his country has developed short-range nuclear weapons to counter the ‘cold start doctrine’ adopted by the Indian Army. Abbasi was also assertive of Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal being safe and secure. “We have a very robust and secure command-and-control system over our strategic nuclear assets. Time has proved that it’s a process that is very secure. It’s a process that has complete civilian oversight through the NCA (Nuclear Command Authority),” Abbasi said in response to a question at the Council on Foreign Relations, a top American think-tank.
Kori Schake | Atlantic
Speaking before the UN General Assembly today, President Donald Trump announced that, unless North Korea gives up its nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs, “the United States will have no choice but to totally destroy” the country. He sounded almost excited as he threatened, “Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself and for his regime.” North Korea is a serious problem, and not one of Trump’s making—the last four American presidents failed to impede North Korea’s progress towards a nuclear weapon. President George H.W. Bush took unilateral action, removing U.S. nuclear weapons and reducing America’s troop levels in the region, hoping to incentivize good behavior; Presidents Bill Clinton and George W. Bush tried to negotiate restrictions; President Barack Obama mostly averted his eyes. North Korea defied them all.