October 31, 2017

South Korea's Nuclear Energy Debate

Seyoung Jang

South Korean President Moon Jae-in announced on October 22 that he would resume the construction of two nuclear reactors which had been temporarily halted since mid-July, accepting a deliberative poll in favor of the resumption. On the surface, this decision might be seen as a direct blow to Moon’s nuclear phase-out policy; however, this deliberative democratic process will have a more complicated effect on South Korea’s long-term energy policy. The majority of the respondents ironically supported restarting construction on the two plants and scaling down nuclear power generation at the same time. Such an ironic but eclectic decision made by citizens will contribute to managing a sharp conflict between pro- and anti-nuclear groups while giving some degree of domestic legitimacy to Moon’s long-term energy roadmap for a gradual nuclear phase-out.

Trump Team Drawing Up Fresh Plans to Bolster U.S. Nuclear Arsenal

Julian Borger | Guardian

The Trump administration is working on a nuclear weapons policy that is intended to mark a decisive end to the era of post-cold war disarmament, by bolstering the US arsenal and loosening the conditions under which it would be used. A draft of the new Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) was presented in September at a White House meeting between Donald Trump and his top national security advisers. Congress and US allies have been briefed on the progress of the new draft.

Iran Says Its President Turned Down a Meeting With Trump

Zaid Sabah | Bloomberg

Iranian President Hassan Rouhani rebuffed a request from U.S. President Donald Trump to meet at the United Nations in New York in September, a day after the Trump made a speech highly critical of the Islamic republic, the state-run Fars News Agency said. “A request indeed was made by the U.S. side but it wasn’t accepted by President Rouhani,” Iranian foreign ministry spokesman Bahram Ghassemi said at a press conference on Sunday, according to Fars. The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Defending the U.S. From North Korea's Nuclear Threat

David Martin | CBS News

After years of threatening to burn the United States in a sea of fire, North Korea is on the verge of having an intercontinental ballistic missile -- an ICBM -- capable of hitting the American homeland with a thermonuclear warhead. The missile is called the Hwasong -- which translates to Mars, the Roman God of War. North Korea's brash, young dictator Kim Jong Un is not there yet and will need several more tests before he has a weapon he can count on.  Still, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs calls it the greatest threat facing the U.S. today. Defense Secretary James Mattis went to the DMZ two days ago and vowed to stand with South Korea against the north.

Saudi Arabia to Extract Uranium for 'Self-Sufficient' Nuclear Programme

Sylvia Westall | Reuters

Saudi Arabia plans to extract uranium domestically as part of its nuclear power programme and sees this as a step towards “self-sufficiency” in producing atomic fuel, a senior official said on Monday. Extracting its own uranium also makes sense from an economic point of view, said Hashim bin Abdullah Yamani, head of the Saudi government agency tasked with the nuclear plans, the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy (KACARE).

Corker and Cotton’s False Promises Would Push Iran Toward Nuclearization

Tess Bridgeman | Foreign Policy

Following President Donald Trump’s decision not to certify under domestic law that the Iran nuclear deal is in the nation’s security interests, Republican Sens. Bob Corker and Tom Cotton announced they would be proposing legislation that attempts to unilaterally renegotiate the Iran nuclear deal, in line with the White House’s approach. Their proposal seeks to use domestic legislation to impose new restrictions not in the nuclear deal, a multilateral arrangement formally known as the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). They would do this by modifying the Iran Nuclear Agreement Review Act of 2015 (INARA), so that it would allow the president to reimpose nuclear sanctions if Iran doesn’t meet their new, unilateral demands. Corker and Cotton assume that the United States will gain leverage by re-imposing sanctions even while Iran continues to comply with its own commitments, even though doing so would be in violation of American JCPOA commitments and despite clear warnings by our key partners that the deal is not up for renegotiation. If this sounds illogical and reckless, that’s because it is. Proposals like this are a backdoor attempt to legislate the collapse of the deal.