Nuclear Opportunities Exist in Trump Administration

Opportunity to reduce U.S. nuclear arsenal - “Republicans love nuclear weapons reductions, as long as they’re not proposed by a Democratic president. That is the lesson from decades of US nuclear weapons and arms control management,” writes Hans Kristensen for Federation of American Scientists. “If that trend continues, then we can expect the new Donald Trump administration to reduce the US nuclear weapons arsenal more than the Obama administration did.”

--“Whether Donald Trump will continue the Republican tradition remains to be seen. US-Russian relations are different today than when the Bush administrations did their reductions. But both countries have far more nuclear weapons than they need for national security. And Trump would be strangely out of tune with long-held Republican policy and practice if he does not order a substantial reduction of the US nuclear weapons stockpile. Perhaps he should use that legacy to try to reach an agreement with Russia to continue to reduce US and Russia nuclear arsenals to the benefit of both countries.” Full story here.

Tweet - @kingstonareif: “Since end of Cold War GOP presidents have reduced nuclear stockpile by far more than Dem counterparts. Will Trump continue that trend?”

Editors’ note - Early Warning will go on a short hiatus next week due to Ploughshares Fund’s Board Meeting.

Hope remains for Iran deal to weather next administration - “Back in the early months of his presidential campaign, US President-elect Donald Trump called the recently negotiated nuclear accord between Iran, the United States, and five other countries ‘the worst deal ever negotiated’ and ‘a horrible contract,’” writes Roland Elliott Brown for Iran Wire. “Some observers worry that Trump, a sometime foreign policy hawk with no policy experience, would tear up the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, or JCPOA, as the nuclear agreement is known, and seek confrontation with Iran.”

--“This may not be the case. Whereas Trump’s main Republican rivals Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio spoke of tearing up the deal on their first day in office, Trump threatened only to enforce the agreement aggressively. ‘I would police that contract so tough that they don’t have a chance,’ he told NBC’s Meet the Press last August. While few foreign policy specialists claim to know how Trump intends to use American power in the world, the collapse of the nuclear agreement is not likely to be one of his objectives.” Full story here.

How to protect Iran deal in Congress - “There is reason to hope that Trump will not walk away from the agreement assuming Iran continues to comply with it,” writes Barbara Slavin for the Atlantic Council’s IranInsight. “As the lame-duck Congress returns next week, one option would be for legislators to pass a simple extension of the Iran Sanctions Act, which threatens to penalize foreign companies that invest in Iran’s oil and gas sector and is due to expire at the end of the year. Then President Obama could immediately waive the legislation, as required by the JCPOA.”

--Such a strategy “would satisfy the argument of JCPOA critics that the next president needs something to ‘snap back’ if Iran violates the agreement. And it would give Trump a good excuse to avoid making any new decisions about Iran… Hardliners in Iran are celebrating the Trump victory, figuring that he will not attempt to improve relations with Tehran and will certainly not promote democratic values abroad… Other Iranians are more nervous about the possibility that U.S.-Iran relations will deteriorate and lead to violence.” Full story here.

Tweet - @AFP: #BREAKING Iran's Rouhani: Trump win cannot reverse nuclear deal

Zarif weighs in - “Iran’s foreign minister called on Wednesday for U.S. president-elect Donald Trump to remain committed to the international nuclear deal agreed with Tehran in 2015,” writes Jack Moore for Newsweek. Mohammad Javad Zarif, “Iran’s top diplomat ... [said] ‘‘Every U.S. president has to understand the realities of today’s world. The most important thing is that the future U.S. president sticks to agreements, to engagements undertaken.’” Full article here.

Securing nukes from cyber threats - “The Air Force is seeking more interactions with private sector firms to build better networks for securing nuclear weapons computer systems, service officials said. Air Force engineers say protection of computer networks is well established in many ways, but that the service needs to widen its scope with greater focus on IT dimensions to its nuclear arsenal’s command and control apparatus,” writes Kris Osborn for The National Interest.

--In an interview with Scout Warrior, Air Force Chief Information Security Officer, Peter Kim said, “‘Information technology that touches weapons systems needs to be cyber secure, updated and patched. Worldwide nuclear systems are one example of where we need to get an overhaul’… Modernizing computer networks for the nuclear arsenal is part of the services’ current plan to build as many as 400 new Inter-Continental Ballistic Missiles, or ICBMs, to serve through the 2070s.” Full story here.

Tweet - @NuclearWatchNM: Now that Trump has prevailed, can we discuss the credibility problem of 'extended deterrence'?

Trump’s nuclear authority - “Whether or not Donald Trump has the right temperament to maintain control over the country's nuclear weapons has been fiercely debated. But now that he is the next president, his temperament is irrelevant. He'll have authority over the nuclear codes whether his critics like it or not. The real question now is can Trump, as president, initiate nuclear warfare all on his own?” writes Julian Rose Pignataro for International Business Times. “The answer, in a word, is yes.”

--“But just because Trump has the power doesn't mean he'd readily use it. In fact, the president-elect has repeatedly explained his antipathy toward nuclear weapons… ‘I don't want to rule out anything. I will be the last to use nuclear weapons. It's a horror to use nuclear weapons,’ he said. ‘I will be the last to use it, I will not be trigger happy like some people might think. I will be the last, but I will never ever rule it out.’” Full story here.

US tourism and North Korean nuclear program - “The State Department has issued an unusually severe warning to Americans considering traveling to North Korea, saying tourists to the authoritarian country may well be propping up its dangerous nuclear program,” writes F. Brinley Bruton for NBC News. According to the State Department’s message, "it is entirely possible that money spent by tourists in the DPRK goes to fund these programs. We would urge all travelers, before travelling to the DPRK, to consider what they might be supporting." Full story here.

Quick Hits:

--“South Korea ruling party says U.S. anti-missile defence to go ahead,” by Ju-Min Park for Reuters.

--“Kazakhstani president proposes N. Korea use its denuclearization model,” by Yu Chul-jong and Song Sang-ho for Yonhap News.


--“Maximizing the Opening with Iran: How the Next President Can Secure American Interests in the Middle East,” a panel featuring Andrew Bacevich, Reza Marashi, John Mearsheimer, Sanam Anderlini, and Steve Clemons (moderator), hosted by NIAC and The Stimson Center. November 16, 9:45 to 11:15am, at Stimson Center – Joint Conference Room A/B, 1211 Connecticut Ave NW, 8th Fl, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details & RSVP here.

--Ploughshares Fund report launch: “10 big ideas for the next president.” With essays by Sec. Bill Perry, Gen. James Cartwright, Senators Dianne Feinstein and Edward Markey, Rep. Adam Smith and others. Remarks by Tom Countryman, Rep. John Garamendi, Todd Harrison and featuring a panel discussion with: Valerie Plame, Suzanne DiMaggio, Ellen Tauscher and Kennette Benedict. Event held on November 16 from 12:15 to 3:30pm at The Atlantic Council, 12th floor, 1030 15th Street NW, Washington, D.C. 20005. Check out live stream of the event here.

--“What to Do about Russia’s Rising Profile in the Middle East,” a conversation featuring Anna Borshchevskaya, Thomas Cunningham, Alireza Nader, Aaron Stein and Barbara Slavin, hosted by The Atlantic Council. November 29 at 9:30am, at Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor (West Tower Elevator), Washington, DC. Details here.

--“The Future of the Command and Control of Our Nuclear Weapons,” by Ploughshares Fund, featuring Eric Schlosser, author of Command and Control and Joe Cirincione, President of Plowshares Fund. At Four Seasons Hotel Seattle, 99 Union St., Seattle, WA on November 29, 2016 from 6:00 to 9:00pm. Details and registration here.

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