Mattis Mulls Making Cuts to Nuclear Arsenal
On the radar: Feinstein pressures Mattis on dumping new nuclear cruise missile; The Nuclear Ban Treaty: a complementary agreement to the NPT; Building regional security on the Iran Deal; Rebutting Iran Deal critics; Student’s release unlikely to herald detente with North Korea
Feinstein pushes Mattis on LRSO - “Defense Secretary Jim Mattis told Congress Wednesday he has an open mind about possibly scaling back some nuclear systems,” writes Jamie McIntyre for The Washington Examiner. “Mattis’ comments came under questioning from California Democrat Sen. Dianne Feinstein, who has been waging a lonely fight against one nuclear weapons system in particular, the Long Range Stand-Off, or LRSO, air-launched nuclear cruise missile.”
--“Feinstein seemed to be encouraged when Mattis said he would be consulting with former Defense Secretary William Perry, who has advocated eliminating one leg of the triad by phasing out the land-based intercontinental ballistic missiles.” Mattis told Feinstein, “‘I register loud and clear the potential destabilizing view that some people see this weapon bringing and I'm taking that on board,’ Mattis said. ‘But I've got to do more study.’” For the full article, click here.
Tweet - @TomCollina: Gen. Mattis today: "I just agree 100% there's no limited use [of #nuclear weapons]." Well said.
See also - “The Cruise Missile Could Be Mattis's Nuclear Crisis” by Tom Collina for The National Interest here.
Ban Treaty: A New Hope - “Since 1970, the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) has been the sole international agreement committing nuclear-armed states to disarmament,” writes Ray Acheson for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. “Every five years, the 189 states party meet in a review conference to assess how things are going. Before each review conference, they hold several preparatory meetings, the most recent of which took place in Vienna in May.”
--“That timing is significant, because it was the first NPT gathering to occur since most of the world’s nations… began trying to negotiate the world’s first-ever treaty to ban nuclear weapons altogether. The vast majority of states party to the NPT support the nuclear weapons ban. In fact, during PrepCom discussions, they emphasized the ban treaty’s complementarity to the NPT. The pattern of making commitments and failing to implement them could only persist for so long before other countries started moving forward on their own. Those now negotiating a ban are carrying on with the task of developing a legal framework to achieve a world free of nuclear weapons.” Full article here.
See also - “What you need to know about the UN nuclear weapons ban negotiations” for the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists here.
Chain Reaction Gala 2017 - featured speakers John Kerry, Barbara Hall, Joe Cirincione, and Meredith Horowski talked climate change and nuclear security at Ploughshares’ Gala in San Francisco last week. Secretary Kerry defended the Iran Deal, cautioned against new sanctions on Iran, reiterated his stance on climate change as a “weapon of mass destruction” and urged President Trump to listen to the “good people” in his administration. Read more here.
JCPOA as cornerstone, not capstone - “One way to ease the growing rift between Iran and its Arab neighbors across the Persian Gulf might be through dialogue about nuclear safety. Iran’s Bushehr reactors – started by Germany 40 years ago and completed a decade ago by Russia – sit on earthquake fault-lines and pose potentially grave risks to Iranians and Arabs alike in the event of a nuclear accident,” writes Barbara Slavin for IranInsight at Atlantic Council. She argues that a nuclear safety center in Iran and JCPOA provisions on nonproliferation and export controls could be applied to other proliferation crises and could bring Iran out of the ‘nuclear doghouse’.”
--“Building on the JCPOA in these ways could address concerns by both supporters and critics of the agreement that major provisions sunset in a decade to 25 years. Stuart Eizenstat, a former US ambassador to the European Union and chair of the Atlantic Council’s advisory board on Iran, said that it was important not to view the JCPOA ‘as simply a stand-alone agreement but to build on that by finding ways to encourage’ Iran to join other nonproliferation and nuclear safety protocols.” Full article here.
New Ploughshares Fund Report - Ploughshares Fund released a new report recommending that the United States rethink its strategy to buy new missile interceptors for Europe. Rather than field a new anti-missile system in Poland to counter Iranian intermediate-range missiles that do not exist, the report finds that the United States should put these plans on hold. “The expansion of U.S. anti-missile systems is Europe should be paused,” said report author Dr. Tytti Erästö, the Roger L. Hale Fellow at Ploughshares Fund. “This would pose no risk to NATO security, as there is no nuclear missile threat from Iran to justify the new defenses,” she said.
Engaging critically with JCPOA criticisms - “The US [certified Iran’s compliance with the JCPOA] in an 18 April letter from Secretary of State Rex Tillerson to Congress, which said that Iran had been in compliance up to that date,” writes Mark Fitzpatrick for Politics and Strategy: The Survival Editors’ Blog at The International Institute for Strategic Studies. “Some critics of the Iran deal see it differently. In a 5 June analysis, the Washington-based Institute for Science and International Security (ISIS), which has contributed greatly over the years to public understanding of the Iranian nuclear programme, claimed ‘persistent violations’ by Iran.”
--Fitzpatrick rebuts these claims, examining complaints about the IAEA withholding information, Iran’s heavy water stockpiles, the number of advanced centrifuges Iran is allowed to operate in a cascade for R&D purposes and its re-enrichment of depleted uranium. He concludes that although there is still work to do, particularly in terms of ensuring IAEA monitoring of advanced centrifuge cascades, these concerns are not as serious as opponents of the JCPOA argue that they are. For the full article, click here.
See also - “Is Iran complying with the nuclear deal? For the most part, yes” by John Kruzel for Politifact here.
Comatose student’s release unlikely to spark talks - “The rare secret meetings the United States and North Korea held about a long-detained American student are unlikely to lead to resumption of broader nuclear talks as long as three other US citizens are held in the communist nation, experts said Wednesday,” The Korea Herald reported. "’It is too early to predict how the situation will develop. I do not think political level talks will be sustainable without the release of the other three American detainees,’ Scott Snyder, chief Korea analyst at the Council on Foreign Relations, said.”
--“Alan Romberg, a distinguished fellow at the Stimson Center, also said he's pessimistic about the prospects of talks. ‘If North Korea has something constructive to say about nuclear issues, I assume we will listen. But the fact that North Korea held Mr. Warmbier for a year without adequate medical treatment will create a very negative climate for any talks, even setting aside his detention in the first place,’ he said.” For the full article, click here.
--“Moon: Seoul is ready to hold talks if N. Korea stops provocations” in Yonhap News here.
--“North Korea nuclear test site on ‘standby,’ U.S. analysts say” by Elizabeth Shim for UPI here.
--”Challenges Ahead for the US-South Korea Alliance” by Lee Byong-Chul for 38 North here.
--“Lockheed’s Thaad Production Was Quietly Halted for Four Months” by Anthony Capaccio for Bloomberg Politics here.
--“Keine Atombombe, Bitte: Why Germany Should Not Go Nuclear,” by Ulrich Kühn and Tristan Volpe for Foreign Affairs here.
--“New Administrations and the U.S.-R.O.K. Alliance: Challenges and Way Forward” Hosted by the Wilson Center. Featuring Chung-in Moon, Special Adviser to the ROK President for Unification and Nationals Security Affairs and more. Friday, June 16, 2017, 10:00a.m.-4:30p.m. Wilson Center, One Woodrow Wilson Plaza, 1300 Pennsylvania Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20004. Details here.
--“North Korea: Time for a New Approach” Hosted by the Institute of World Politics. Featuring John R. Sano, Former Deputy Director, National Clandestine Service, CIA. Friday June 16, 2017, 5:00p.m. The Institute of World Politics, 1521 16th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details and registration here.
--“The Women’s March to Ban the Bomb.” Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Saturday, June 17, 2017, 12:00p.m.-4:00p.m. Dag Hammarskjold Plaza, Greenmarket, 2nd Avenue, New York, NY 10017. Details here.
--“Losing an Enemy: Can the Iran Nuclear Deal Survive Trump?" Hosted by the Atlantic Council. Featuring Trita Parsi, National Iranian American Council. Monday, June 19, 2017, 12:00p.m. Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details here.
--“Debate: North Korea’s Nuclear Program.” Co-hosted by Ploughshares Fund and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The third in a debate series on a range of nuclear challenges and policy decisions the Trump administration will face in 2017. Tuesday, June 20, 2017 8:30p.m.-11:00p.m. EST (5:30p.m.-8:00p.m. local PST). David Brower Center, Goldman Theater, 2150 Allston Way, Berkeley, CA 94704. Details here.
--“PONI 2017 Summer Conference.” Hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Wednesday, June 21, 2017, 11:30a.m.-Thursday, June 22, 2017 8:30p.m. EST (8:30a.m. June 21 - 5:30p.m. June 22 local PST). Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Center for Global Security Research. Details here.
--An Analysis of U.S. Missile Defense. Hosted by the Center for National Interest. Featuring Joe Cirincione, Tom Cotton and others. Monday, June 26, 2017, 12:00p.m. Center for National Interest, 1025 Connecticut Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details to come.
--“Debate: U.S. Nuclear Weapons Modernization.” Co-hosted by Ploughshares Fund and the Center for Strategic and International Studies. The fourth in a debate series on a range of nuclear challenges and policy decisions the Trump administration will face in 2017. Thursday, June 29, 2017, 4:30p.m.-7:00p.m. CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here.