November 02, 2017

The Trillion (and a Half) Dollar Triad?

Arms Control Today

Amid an escalating exchange of threats between the United States and North Korea, President Donald Trump claimed in a tweet Aug. 9 that his “first order as President was to renovate and modernize our nuclear arsenal. It is now far stronger and more powerful than ever before.” He reiterated this claim in a press briefing Aug. 11. Like many of the president’s utterances, these assertions don’t come close to resembling the truth. The U.S. nuclear arsenal is no more, or less, powerful than when Trump took office Jan. 20. The president did order the Pentagon to conduct a Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) to examine and provide recommendations on U.S. nuclear weapons policy and posture, but that review, which officially began in April, is still ongoing and won’t be completed until the end of this year at the earliest.

Related article: Approaches for Managing the Costs of U.S. Nuclear Forces, 2017 to 2046. Congressional Budget Office report, October 2017.

North Korea Targets U.S. With Missile Upgrade as Seoul’s Spies Brace for New Tests

Sofia Lotto Persio | Newsweek

North Korea’s missile development program is raising new concerns among U.S. and South Korean officials. After two successful intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) tests in July, which experts said could reach the U.S. mainland, Pyongyang is now looking to develop a more advanced version of its Hwasong-14 - also known as KN-20 - rocket, U.S. sources told CNN. The report comes as South Korean intelligence officers warned of Pyongyang’s relentless push to miniturize warheads to fit on the missiles, a landmark development American officials say North Korea could achieve at some point in 2018.

Iran: No Need to Extend 2,000km Ballistic Missile Range

Al Jazeera

Iran has no need to extend the current 2,000km range of its ballistic missiles as they can already strike enemy targets in case of aggression, the head of the Revolutionary Guard has said. Major General Mohammad Ali Jafari told reporters in the capital, Tehran, on Tuesday that the missile range can cover “most of American interest and forces” within the region, even as he underlined the programme’s defensive purpose. 

Moon Says S. Korea Will Neither Develop Nor Possess Nuclear Arms

Byun Duk-kun | Yonhap News

South Korea will neither develop nor possess nuclear arms, President Moon Jae-in said Wednesday, amid conservative opposition parties’ call to redeploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. Moon also renewed his call on North Korea to give up its nuclear ambitions. “In accordance with the declaration of denuclearization jointly announced by the South and the North, a nuclear-armed North Korea can neither be tolerated nor accepted. We too will not develop or possess nukes,” the president said in his second state of the nation address at the National Assembly. 

China Close to Completing First Offshore Nuclear Reactor

David Stanway | Reuters

“The problem is the remoteness raises all kinds of questions about security, safety, economics and logistics,” said Mark Hibbs, senior fellow of the Nuclear Policy Program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Offshore nuclear power could lead to the militarization of disputed waters, with China arguing “they have to beef up their presence” in order defend the reactors, Hibbs said.

Boris Johnson to Travel to U.S. in Bid to Save Iran Nuclear Deal

Patrick Wintour | Guardian
Boris Johnson will travel to Washington next week in a bid to persuade U.S. senators not to abandon the Iran nuclear deal or to impose fresh sanctions against Tehran that could jeopardise the deal. While describing the deal as an “amazing triumph of diplomacy”, the foreign secretary acknowledged that it had not led to wider changes in Iranian policies in the Middle East, such as in its support for Hezbollah in Lebanon and Houthi rebels in Yemen.