October 26, 2017

Contain, Enforce, and Engage: An Integrated U.S. Strategy to Address Iran’s Nuclear and Regional Challenges

William J. Burns, Michèle A. Flournoy, Jarrett Blanc, Elisa Catalano Ewers, Ilan Goldberg, Ariel (Eli) Levite, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Karim Sadjadpour

The United States ended a thirty-five-year diplomatic vacuum with Tehran with one objective in mind: to stop it from developing a nuclear weapon. The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) did precisely that. It cut off Iran’s pathways to a bomb, sharply constrained its nuclear program, and subjected it to an unprecedentedly strict monitoring and verification regime. The JCPOA is far from perfect and required coming to terms with painful realities and making difficult compromises—the inevitable outcome of tough, multilateral negotiations. Nevertheless, the JCPOA was successful in halting, and in some cases reversing, Iran’s progress toward a nuclear weapon, at least for the next decade. Iran today is much further away from a nuclear bomb, and the prospect of direct military conflict between the United States and Iran is forestalled. We are safer. Our partners in the region are safer. And the world is safer.

North Korea Has Tested a New Solid-Fuel Missile Engine 

Ankit Panda | Diplomat

North Korean ballistic missile scientists carried out a static test of a new type of solid-fuel engine early last week, a U.S. government source with knowledge of North Korea’s ballistic missile programs told The Diplomat. According to the source, the test took place at North Korea’s solid-fuel engine testing site in Hamhung, on the country’s east coast. 

Democrats Work to Stop Trump from Launching Nuclear Strike on North Korea 

Graham Lanktree | Newsweek

Democratic Senators are trying to prevent President Donald Trump from being able to launch a nuclear first strike against North Korea. Senators Chris Murphy, Corey Booker, and Brian Schatz will introduce a bill that would give Congress alone the ability to call in a first strike after a vote, Murphy announced Wednesday. “Trump's North Korea threats are real,” Senator Murphy of Connecticut wrote on Twitter late Wednesday, stating they intend to constrain the president’s executive authority to use nuclear weapons.

Corker in Talks with Cardin on Iran Nuclear Deal

Elana Schor | Politico

Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman Bob Corker (R-Tenn.) said Wednesday he is working with his Democratic counterpart in the hopes of crafting a bipartisan plan that meets President Donald Trump's demand for a stronger nuclear agreement with Iran. But despite his talks with Maryland Sen. Ben Cardin, the top Democrat on the foreign relations panel, Corker has an uphill battle in winning votes from the minority for his Iran legislation.

Pyongyang Repeats Threat of Bomb Over the Pacific

Korea JoongAng Daily

Pyongyang’s warning of an atmospheric nuclear test over the Pacific Ocean should be taken “literally,” according to a senior North Korean diplomat in an interview Wednesday.  North Korea “has always brought its words into action,” Ri Yong-pil, who serves as vice president of the Foreign Ministry’s Institute for American Studies, told CNN. “The foreign minister is very well aware of the intentions of our supreme leader, so I think you should take his words literally.” 

Iran’s Top Leader Rules Out Negotiations on Missile Program

Xinhua News

Iran's Supreme Leader Ayatollah Ali Khamenei on Wednesday vowed that Tehran will never negotiate on its defense capabilities, including its missile program. The Iranian leader made the remarks at a ceremony attended by Iran's army commanders, the semi-official Mehr news agency reported. "Today, our conflict with the arrogant powers is over their intention to dominate our region," Khamenei said, referring to the United States and its major Western allies.