December 21, 2021

China and the International Debate on No First Use of Nuclear Weapons

Tong Zhao | Asian Security

China is the only nuclear-armed country in the world that has an unconditional No First Use (NFU) of nuclear weapons policy. China’s practice of this policy and its impact on international security have important implications for the international debate around NFU and inform other countries’ potential consideration of NFU. Whether NFU policy could deliver the expected benefits of reducing the role of nuclear weapons, containing nuclear arms competition, and mitigating the risk of nuclear proliferation depends on the perceived credibility by other countries of such policy. This paper examines a number of internal challenges that may affect the perceived credibility of China’s NFU policy. 


Pakistan Tests Home-Grown Missile With Additional Range

Associated Press

Pakistan’s military test-fired a home-grown Babur cruise missile on Tuesday that has a range of more than 900 kilometers (560 miles), twice the distance of an earlier missile of the same model, a statement said. The missile’s extended range further enhances nuclear-armed Pakistan’s military capability. Pakistan and neighbor India, which also has a nuclear arsenal, have a volatile relationship, having fought three wars against each other. The military buildup of both countries is closely watched by a nervous international community as India and Pakistan have come dangerously close to a fourth war at least twice over the last two decades.


The Pandemic Forced Kim Jong Un Into Retreat. The World Should Brace for His Resurgence

Paula Hancocks and Yoonjung Seo | CNN

Ten years ago, the world watched as a young Kim Jong Un solemnly walked beside his father’s hearse on a snowy morning in Pyongyang as distraught North Koreans wailed in grief. Kim’s long black coat and hairstyle, reminiscent of his late grandfather Kim Il Sung, were viewed as a superficial effort to emulate the authority of his forebears. But the 20-something heir to the North Korean leadership quickly grew into the role, and Korea watchers who were once skeptical of his rule now expect him to remain in power indefinitely—assuming his health holds.


Iran Nuclear Talks Go Back to the Future

Stephanie Liechtenstein | POLITICO

After three weeks of talks, discussions on the Iran nuclear deal are essentially back to where they were at the beginning of summer. Yet, diplomats said, even that reflects progress, coming after five months in which negotiations were on pause following the election in June of Ebrahim Raisi, a hardline conservative, as president of Iran.  “We have now a text that with some minor exceptions is a common ground for negotiations,” said Enrique Mora, the senior EU official coordinating the talks.


Australian Parliamentary Inquiry Upholds AUKUS Information Agreement

Kyodo News

An Australian parliamentary inquiry concluded in a report released Friday that an information-sharing agreement between Australia, the United States and Britain under their AUKUS security partnership does not breach Canberra's nuclear nonproliferation commitments. The Joint Standing Committee on Treaties explained that the agreement, the first embodiment of the security partnership under which Australia looks to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, is limited to information sharing, saying the committee has recommended that the government ratify it. But transfers of equipment, materials or technology related to the security partnership must be the subject of different agreements than the Exchange of Naval Propulsion Information agreement, signed last month, that would require further scrutiny by the committee, it said.


Third Test of the Air Force’s Hypersonic Weapon Has Failed Like the Ones Before It

Joseph Trevithick | The Drive

The U.S. Air Force has failed for a third time to conduct a successful test of the rocket booster on a prototype AGM-183A Air-Launched Rapid Response Weapon hypersonic missile, or ARRW. This can only add to the palatable frustration within the service, as well as elsewhere in the U.S. military and in Congress, about the progress, or lack thereof, in the testing of various new hypersonic weapons. The Air Force Life Cycle Management Command's Armament Directorate confirmed to The War Zone today that another attempted ARRW flight test had failed on Dec. 15, 2021. The Air Force says that it has not yet determined the cause of the issue that led to the test being aborted. The prototype missile never left the wing of the B-52H bomber carrying it.