November 16, 2017

China Sticks By ‘Freeze-for-Freeze’ Korea De-Escalation Proposal, Contradicting Trump

Simon Denyer | Washington Post
James Acton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, said the Trump administration deserved credit for raising the profile and urgency of the issue, and for pushing China to impose stricter sanctions than in the past. But he said there was a lack of unity and clarity coming from the U.S. administration itself, over what actions from North Korea might open the door to negotiations, what an acceptable path was to de-escalation, and even whether its ultimate goal was still regime change.

South Korean Says U.S. Must Not Strike North Korea Without Seoul's Consent

Reuters
U.S. President Donald Trump should “under no circumstances” take military action against North Korea without the consent of the government in Seoul, the chairwoman of South Korea’s ruling party, Choo Mi-ae, said on Wednesday. “President Trump often emphasizes that he put all options on the table,” Choo told a Washington think-tank. “We want to make sure that this option of another war is not placed on the table. Under no circumstances should the U.S. go ahead and use a military option without the consent of South Korea.”

Despite EU Caution, France Pursues Tough Line on Iran Missile Program

John Irish | Reuters
France said on Wednesday it wanted an “uncompromising” dialogue with Iran about its ballistic missile program and a possible negotiation over the issue separate from Tehran’s 2015 nuclear deal with world powers. Paris has already suggested that new European sanctions against Iran could be discussed over its missile tests, something EU foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini seemed to dismiss on Tuesday, keen not to raise risks to the hard-won deal that curbed Iran’s disputed nuclear activity.

North Korea’s Winter Training Means Fewer Missile Launches

Japan Times
North Korea hasn’t fired a missile for 60 days, but that may have more to do with its own winter training cycle than with Pyongyang easing off on provocations. Since Kim Jong Un took power in late 2011, only five of the isolated nation’s 85 rocket launches have taken place in the October-December quarter, according to The James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies’ North Korea Missile Test Database.

The U.S. Military Tweeted Out Bad Information About Its Nukes. North Korea Will Notice.

Alex Ward | Vox
The military command overseeing America’s nuclear arsenal just made an embarrassing — and potentially dangerous — mistake. On Wednesday afternoon, it tweeted a link to an article falsely claiming that the US maintains “secret silos” for its nuclear warheads, and has “B-1 bombers that can drop them from the air.” The problem, as experts almost immediately pointed out on Twitter, is that the US doesn’thave “secret” silos — you can find their locations on Google — and the B-1 bomber isn’t capable of dropping nuclear bombs.

U.S. Response to Russia Treaty Violation Plays Into Moscow's Hands

Steven Pifer | Hill
As reported in The Hill, House and Senate conferees agreed last week on language to authorize the Pentagon to spend $58 million in response to the Russian violation of the 1987 Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, including through developing a U.S. intermediate-range missile. That would be a waste of money and play into Moscow’s hands. The INF Treaty bans the United States and Russia from testing or possessing ground-launched cruise or ballistic missiles of intermediate range (500 to 5,500 kilometers, or roughly 300 to 3,300 miles).