September 28, 2017
Perhaps like no other exercise since the Russian annexation of Crimea in 2014, Russia’s recently concluded Zapad (West) exercise was of serious concern to NATO’s easternmost members. It provided ample opportunity for pundits to engage in hysteria about Russian intentions. No seasoned NATO official expected the exercise to be the not-so-secret cover for a Russian invasion of the Baltic States – which could easily become the overture to World War III. Rather, the real problem with Zapad is that it underscored once more the precarious state of security in Europe.
Max Fisher | New York Times
In the remote North Korean city of Hamhung, separated from the capital by vast, jagged mountains, an inconspicuous chemical plant may be secretly fueling the growing missile array that threatens the United States. Researchers think that the plant is producing a specialized rocket fuel known as UDMH, which is used in the long-range missile launches that have escalated tensions between North Korea and the United States.
Ankit Panda | Diplomat
Speaking on Tuesday, U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff General Joseph Dunford said that the United States should “assume now that North Korea has the capability” to strike the United States’ homeland with a nuclear weapon on an intercontinental-range ballistic missile (ICBM). Dunford was speaking at a hearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee concerning his reappointment. He noted that while certain aspects of North Korea’s ballistic missile systems had yet to be fully tested and developed, these were “engineering solutions that will be developed over time.”
The top U.S. military officer said on Tuesday Iran was complying with the pact curbing its nuclear program and warned that any American decision to walk away from it would make other nations less likely to enter into agreements with the United States. President Donald Trump is considering whether to withdraw from the 2015 nuclear deal between Iran and six world powers including the United States, calling the accord an “embarrassment.”
Francois Murphy | Reuters
The U.N. nuclear watchdog’s chief urged major powers on Tuesday to clarify a part of their nuclear deal with Iran dealing with technology that could be used to develop an atom bomb, an area Russia said the agency should leave alone. The 2015 pact between six major powers and Iran restricts its nuclear activities in exchange for the lifting of sanctions against the Islamic Republic. Compliance with those curbs is being verified by the International Atomic Energy Agency.
Jarrett Blanc | Hill
Iran’s increasingly sophisticated ballistic missile arsenal worries its neighbors and the United States. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) is a deal on Iran’s nuclear program, not its ballistic missiles, but somehow the missiles weigh heavily as the Trump administration decides whether to certify Iran’s compliance with the deal in October or to allow Congress to re-impose the U.S. sanctions lifted by the deal.