November 09, 2017

Entanglement: Chinese and Russian Perspectives on Non-nuclear Weapons and Nuclear Risks

James M. Acton, Alexey Arbatov, Vladimir Dvorkin, Petr Topychkanov, Tong Zhao, and Li Bin
The entanglement of non-nuclear weapons with nuclear weapons and their enabling capabilities is exacerbating the risk of inadvertent escalation. Yet so far, the debate about the severity of this risk has been almost exclusively limited to American participants. So Carnegie teams from Russia and China set out to examine the issue and answer two questions: How serious are the escalation risks arising from entanglement? And, how do the authors’ views compare to those of their countries’ strategic communities?

Compromise Defense Bill Includes $58M to Counter Russia Arms Treaty Violations

Rebecca Kheel | Hill
The final version of the annual defense policy bill sets aside $58 million dollars to respond to Russia’s violations of an arms treaty without scrapping the treaty altogether, according to committee aides and summaries released Wednesday. The bill would also restrict spending on a separate treaty on observation flights that the United States has also accused Russia of violating.

In Beijing, Trump Presses China on North Korea and Trade

Steve Holland, Christian Shepherd | Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump pressed China to do more to rein in North Korea on Thursday and said bilateral trade had been unfair to the United States, but praised President Xi Jinping’s pledge that China would be more open to foreign firms. On North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs, Trump said “China can fix this problem quickly and easily”, urging Beijing to cut financial links with North Korea and also calling on Russia to help. Trump was speaking alongside Xi in the Chinese capital to announce the signing of about $250 billion in commercial deals between U.S. and Chinese firms, a display that some in the U.S. business community worry detracts from tackling deep-seated complaints about market access in China.

Corker Announces Senate Hearing to Examine Trump's 'Authority to Use Nuclear Weapons'

Christina Wilkie | CNBC
After months of questioning President Donald Trump's temperament and fitness for office, Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., announced Wednesday that he would convene a hearing to examine the president's authority to use nuclear weapons. The announcement of the Nov.14 hearing before the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which Corker chairs, amounts to a significant escalation of what has so far been a war of merely words between the powerful Republican and his party's standard-bearer.

British Foreign Secretary Discusses Iran With U.S. Lawmakers

AP
During a visit to Washington, British Foreign Secretary Boris Johnson on Wednesday argued for maintaining the international accord intended to prevent Iran from building nuclear weapons. Johnson met with Rep. Eliot Engel, D-N.Y., and Sen. Ben Cardin, D-Md., on Capitol Hill to discuss the importance of strictly enforcing the pact that President Donald Trump has derided. Engel said he and Johnson also talked about holding Iran accountable for its support for terrorism, development of ballistic missiles, and other destabilizing behavior.

Energy Undersecretary Wants Nuclear Safety Reports Hidden From Public

Patrick Malone | Center for Public Integrity
The head of the federal agency that produces U.S. nuclear weapons has privately proposed to end public access to key safety reports from a federal watchdog group that monitors ten sites involved in weapons production. Frank Klotz, administrator of the Energy Department’s National Nuclear Security Administration, made the proposal to members of the Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board in an October 13 meeting in his office overlooking the Smithsonian Castle on the National Mall, multiple U.S. officials said.