September 26, 2017

A North Korea Nuclear Test Over the Pacific? Logical, Terrifying

Hyonhee Shin and Linda Sieg | Reuters

Detonating a nuclear-tipped missile over the Pacific Ocean would be a logical final step by North Korea to prove the success of its weapons program but would be extremely provocative and carry huge risks, arms control experts said on Friday. North Korean Foreign Minister Ri Yong Ho suggested leader Kim Jong Un was considering testing “an unprecedented scale hydrogen bomb” over the Pacific in response to U.S. President Donald Trump’s threat at the United Nations to “totally destroy” the country.

EU Ambassadors Defend Iran Deal, Pushing Back at Trump

Nicole Gaouette | CNN

European ambassadors to the US mounted a united defense of the Iran nuclear deal as Washington signals it may walk away from the pact. Envoys from the European Union, Germany, France and Britain laid out their arguments, returning frequently to their central point that the deal is working and Iran is complying with the agreement reached in July 2015 and implemented in January 2016.

N. Korea Warns of Chance of Nuclear War in Letter to Other Countries

Kyodo News

North Korea disclosed Monday open letters it has sent to political parties and parliaments in some countries, one of which says the chance of a nuclear war is increasing every moment due to U.S. President Donald Trump's recent remarks. The letters, reported by North Korea's official media, condemned Trump's debut address to the United Nations last week in which he vowed to "totally destroy" North Korea if the United States is forced to defend itself or its allies.

Bringing Seoul Into the Non-Proliferation Regime

Se Young Jang

In this Nuclear Proliferation International History Project (NPIHP) Working Paper, Se Young Jang challenges the the common narrative that US pressure forced South Korea to ratify the NPT in 1975. Using new evidence from international archives, Jang finds that the decisive pressure came from a different country—Canada. Pressure by the United States was less decisive in forcing South Korea to ratify the NPT in 1975 than commonly assumed. Records show that a consensus to ratify the treaty was reached within the ROK government by early March 1975—before the US applied meaningful pressure.

No Joke: When Donald Trump Hurls Insults, North Korea Thinks About War

Jon Wolfsthal

America’s top priority must be to avoid a second Korean war. Yet such a war is closer than ever and appears almost inevitable unless America changes the approach President Trump has been using since he took office. The greatest risk of war with North Korea is not sudden action by Kim Jong Un, but Kim responding to a perceived attack by Trump. North Korea foreign minister Ri Yong-ho drove that home Monday when he called Trump’s threats against his country “a clear declaration of war.” The United States has been in a technical state of war with North Korea since the end of the Korean War in 1953. Every president since Dwight D. Eisenhower has had to navigate the risk of conflict with North Korea. What’s new is Trump’s bombastic approach to this long-standing challenge — his personal insults, crazy tweets and threat at the United Nations to "totally destroy North Korea." Kim knows North Korea cannot win a war with the United States and that his only hope of survival is to strike fast and hard to stop a conflict before it gets going and he starts to lose. This is the strategy that led North Korea to deploy thousands of long-range artillery pieces near Seoul, and that is the thinking behind its nuclear program. Hit hard, hit first, seek a truce.

Nuclear Deterrence and the Revenge of Geography

Joshua Pollack | Arms Control Wonk

With the President overriding his advisers to deliver insulting remarks and empty threats at the UN and Kim Jong Un responding personally and at some length, one really wonders where all this ends. Short of war, neither side can compel the other to stop doing what it doesn’t like. Indeed, we are liable to keep goading each other to action for some time to come, a perfectly counterproductive result for both sides. But everything must end. One way or another, the cycle of threats and counter-threats will conclude.