February 14, 2019

N. Korea Demands Partial Relaxation of Sanctions in Exchange for Yongbyon Inspections

Kim Ji-eun | Hankyoreh

During the first working-level talks in Pyongyang last week for the upcoming second North Korea-U.S. summit, the North Korean side demanded the partial loosening of sanctions in exchange for allowing inspections of its Yongbyon nuclear facilities, while the U.S. proposed a declaration ending the Korean War as a corresponding measure. The next question is whether the two sides can find common ground going ahead – at a second set of talks scheduled for next week between U.S. State Department Special Representative for North Korea Stephen Biegun and North Korean State Affairs Commission Special Representative for U.S. Affairs Kim Hyok-chol, and at the summit in Hanoi at the end of the month.

Trump’s Summit with Kim Jong Un is Partly Hot Air. It Could Also Make the World Safer

David Ignatius | Washington Post

The showy first summit between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un last June was draped in flags and bunting, but the decoration covered what turned out to be a mostly empty box that lacked a shared agreement on denuclearization. Given this disappointing record, what is realistically possible when the two leaders meet again in two weeks in Vietnam? “Diplomacy is letting someone else have your way,” as Canadian Prime Minister Lester B. Pearson once observed. But that adage applies to Kim as much as Trump. The best outcome may simply be a road map that, by opening pathways and marking obstructions, makes both sides safer during a decade-long process toward the U.S. goal of “final, fully verified denuclearization.”

Five Ways to Save INF’s Legacy

Ulrich Kuhn | Valdai Club

Not only in Washington and Moscow, many analysts and experts argue these days that the impending demise of the Intermediate-range Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty forecasts the end of arms control in general and a new round of nuclear competition – with the big difference that the new arms race will be less about numbers and more about quality, and that it will involve China as well. But it does not have to be that way. There are at least five underexplored arms control options that could save the legacy of INF.

U.S. Revives Secret Program to Sabotage Iranian Missiles and Rockets

David Sanger and William Broad | New York Times

The Trump White House has accelerated a secret American program to sabotage Iran’s missiles and rockets, according to current and former administration officials, who described it as part of an expanding campaign by the United States to undercut Tehran’s military and isolate its economy. Officials said it was impossible to measure precisely the success of the classified program, which has never been publicly acknowledged. But in the past month alone, two Iranian attempts to launch satellites have failed within minutes. Those two rocket failures — one that Iran announced on Jan. 15 and the other, an unacknowledged attempt, on Feb. 5 — were part of a pattern over the past 11 years. In that time, 67 percent of Iranian orbital launches have failed, an astonishingly high number compared to a 5 percent failure rate worldwide for similar space launches. The setbacks have not deterred Iran. This week, President Hassan Rouhani singled out Tehran’s missile fleets as he vowed to “continue our path and our military power.”

At Least 38 Killed in Deadliest Attack on Security Forces in Indian-Controlled Kashmir in 3 Decades

Joanna Slater, Niha Masih, and Ishfaq Naseem | Washington Post

At least 33 paramilitary police officers were killed by a massive car bomb in Indian-controlled Kashmir on Thursday in the worst attack on security personnel since the start of the insurgency in the disputed region three decades ago.  The attacker struck about 3:15 p.m., police officials said, as a security convoy of 70 vehicles traveled down a heavily guarded road toward the city of Srinagar. An explosive-laden vehicle driven by a militant rammed into a bus carrying dozens of paramilitary personnel, said Sanjay Sharma, a spokesman for India’s Central Reserve Police Force. The killings will inflame tensions between nuclear-armed rivals India and Pakistan, which both claim the Himalayan territory of Kashmir. India accuses Pakistan of sheltering and supporting militants that cross into Indian-controlled territory to carry out attacks against Indian rule.

Is There a Way to Save the ‘Fraying’ Nuclear Consensus in Congress?

Aaron Mehta | Defense News

Following the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review, which called for long-term investment in modernizing America’s nuclear arsenal, Congress seemed to strike a general consensus on nukes: New investments in weapons would go hand in hand with arms reduction efforts such as the New START treaty. It wasn’t perfect, and not everyone was on board. But on the whole, the balance allowed the investments in new bombers, nuclear warheads, long-range missiles and intercontinental ballistic missiles to go through with little challenge from Democrats, while ensuring New START would receive support from Republicans. Years later, the landscape looks very different, which could have major consequences as the Trump administration attempts to push its own priorities from the Nuclear Posture Review through a Democratic-controlled House.