Opposition Mounts to New Iran Sanctions Bill
On the radar: Wendy Sherman on Iran sanctions bill; Trump likely to waive Iran Deal sanctions; Netanyahu’s Iran deal blunders; North Korea advances ICBM capability; There is no military option in North Korea; U.S., South Korea plan Washington summit; On the brink of nuclear war; and for dessert, King of horror usurped by nuclear weapons
Wendy Sherman opposes new sanctions bill - Speaking at CATO Institute’s “Evaluating the Iran Deal” event this morning, Ambassador Wendy Sherman said “I know that the senators, particularly Senator Cardin, worked particularly hard to try to ensure this legislation did not create enormous unintended consequences. Nonetheless, I oppose this legislation categorically. And I do so because… lawyers disagree about its impact on the JCPOA. It can be read in a number of different ways, even as it stands, even with some of the care that was put on the bill.”
--“My question is, why take the risk? Because frankly the bill doesn’t do anything. There’s no real consequence to the bill. It’s just really a way to say we’re tough. Because we can, under our existing laws and executive orders, designate virtually everybody who might be covered in this legislation. So why risk the JCPOA for a bill that does nothing, that arguably could undermine the JCPOA? It is just not worth it. So I oppose it.”
Take A Look - Diplomacy Works, is a new project dedicated to affirming and defending the JCPOA. Diplomacy Works provides information and analysis that empowers policymakers and stakeholders to make the case for upholding the JCPOA as a model of effective foreign policy with diplomacy as the tool of first resort reinforced by our unparalleled military capabilities – a policy which keeps America safe and strong at the same time.
JCPOA-compliant Iran waivers forthcoming - “The Trump administration may issue waivers of some Iran nuclear-related sanctions in the coming days as it adheres, for now, to its commitments under the Iran nuclear deal, while carrying out a comprehensive review of its Iran policy,” writes Laura Rozen for Al Monitor. “Notification of the waivers might be issued as early as May 17, a day before Donald Trump is due to depart for Saudi Arabia, Israel, Italy and Brussels on his first foreign trip as president, sources told Al-Monitor, while cautioning that the anticipated action and timing could change. That is also a couple of days before Iran holds presidential elections May 19.”
--“It was anticipated that any US sanctions waiver issued by the Trump administration this month would likely be accompanied by a similarly harsh ‘foot-stomping’ such as those from Trump and Tillerson that followed the certification of Iranian compliance with the deal last month. US officials are at least keeping in mind the May 19 Iranian elections, although it is unclear how much that vote might restrain the officials' comments on Iran.” For the full article, click here.
Netanyahu’s Iran Deal mistakes - “Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will likely use [President Trump’s visit to Israel] to celebrate America’s apparent shift against the Iran nuclear deal and further diplomacy with Iran. Yet the deal that the Israeli Prime Minister argues has bolstered Iran would not have been reached had it not been for Netanyahu himself. His mishandling of the Iranian issue is a major reason as to why the U.S. and Iran - against all odds - eventually reached a nuclear compromise,” writes Trita Parsi for Haaretz.
--“By defining the Iranian nuclear program as an existential threat to Israel, Netanyahu hoped to force Obama to take military action against Iran. Instead, Netanyahu’s strategy eliminated the status quo option of containing the nuclear program while neither resolving the issue nor acquiescing to Iran’s nuclear demands.” For the full article, click here.
North Korea closer to ICBM - “‘North Korea’s latest successful missile test represents a level of performance never before seen from a North Korean missile,’ said John Schilling, an aerospace engineer who specializes in rockets. This means North Korea might be only one year, rather than the expected five, from having an ICBM,” writes Anna Fifield for The Washington Post. “Analysts think the Hwasong-12 could be the ‘mystery missile’ displayed in a huge military parade in Pyongyang last month, which appeared to be a smaller version of its KN-08 ICBM.”
--“David Wright, co-director of the global security program at the Union of Concerned Scientists, said the missile appeared to have reached an apogee of about 1,240 miles. If it had been launched on a standard trajectory, it would have a technical range of 2,800 miles, he said. That would easily put the U.S. territory of Guam within range.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “North Korea Missile Test Appears to Tiptoe Over a U.S. Tripwire” by William J. Broad and David E. Sanger for The New York Times here.
Weapons won’t stop North Korea - “There is no conceivable way the United States could destroy all North Korean nuclear weapons. It is not possible to know where they all are. Even if a few could be located, it would be difficult to destroy them without causing them to detonate and create a mushroom cloud over the Korean peninsula,” says Siegfried Hecker in an interview for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “The bottom line is, military strikes could be used to set back the North Korean nuclear program but not to eliminate it.”
--“Moreover, I believe the US and South Korean governments consider the consequences of any military intervention unacceptably high—in spite of the proclamation that ‘all options are on the table.’ I believe the military option will only really be on the table if North Korea initiates military actions.” Full article here.
Trump, Moon to meet in June - “South Korea's left-leaning new leader Moon Jae-In will travel to the US for a summit with President Donald Trump next month, Mr Moon's spokesman said Tuesday, amid high tensions over the North's nuclear ambitions,” writes Agence France Presse. “Tuesday's announcement came as Matt Pottinger, senior director for Asian affairs at the US National Security Council, vowed joint efforts to curb the North's military ambitions during a visit to Seoul. ‘Mr Pottinger and his South Korean counterpart agreed that the two allies would seek ‘bold and practical’ approach over the North, with dialogue with Pyongyang possible but only ‘when conditions are right’, Mr Yoon said.” For the full article, click here.
See also - Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione appeared on BYU Radio’s Top of the Mind with Julie Rose to talk “What’s Next for North and South Korea?” here.
The most dangerous game - Writing for Five Thirty Eight, Milo Beckman discovers that we’re edging ever closer to nuclear war: “[Experts] said that the risk of civilian-targeted nuclear weapon use has ticked up since 2015, but the causal pathway is a bit subtler than itchy fingers on the metaphorical red button. ‘I don’t know how this plays out,’ said Rachel Bronson, executive director and publisher of the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists. ‘But [Trump is] moving us into a much more uncertain time.’”
--“It’s unclear yet whether the recent moves toward rearmament represent a temporary blip or a turning point. This is the 1,000-kiloton question. If weapons stockpiles continue to grow, the per-year risk of civilian-targeted nuclear weapon use will only increase. ‘Hopefully nobody is crazy enough to drop one,’ said Rajaraman. ‘But nobody has the guts to get rid of them. I think it’s going to go on like this until something stupid happens.’” Full article here.
--“North Korea’s Latest Missile Test: Advancing towards an Intercontinental Ballistic Missile (ICBM) While Avoiding US Military Action” by John Schilling for 38North here.
--“North Korea’s Missile in New Test Would Have 4,500 km Range” by David Wright for Union of Concerned Scientists here.
--“Writing a new chapter in the saga of North Korea” by Joseph R. DeTrani for The Washington Times here.
--“Will South Korea’s New President Foil Trump’s Attempt to Pressure North Korea?” by Jon Wolfsthal and Abraham Denmark for Foreign Policy here.
--“Nuclear Weapons: Who Pays, Who Profits?” by William Hartung for Medium here.
--“Assessing the Iran Nuclear Deal So Far” featuring Benjamin H. Friedman, John Glaser and Caleb O. Brown for CATO Institute here.
--“Container emits radiation during liquid nuclear waste transfer” by Thomas Gardiner for The Augusta Chronicle here.
--“The Iran-North Korea Nexus: Can their nuclear ambitions be stopped?” Hosted by the Center for A Secure Free Society. Featuring: Gordon Chang, James Carafano, Ilan Berman and Benjamin Friedman; moderated by Adam Kredo. Tuesday, May 16, 2017, 6:30p.m.-8:30p.m. Center for a Secure Free Society, 509 C Street NE, Washington, D.C. 20002. Details here.
--“Strategic Competition in Southern Asia: Arms Racing or Modernization?” Wednesday, May 17, 2017, 10:00a.m.-1:45p.m. Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details and RSVP here.
--Alliance for Nuclear Accountability's 29th annual DC Days. Featuring key Armed Services and Appropriations Committees as well as the Government Accountability Office and Defense Nuclear Facilities Safety Board and others. May 21-24, 2017. Details here.
--“Debate: Modernization of Nuclear Missiles.” Hosted by Project on Nuclear Issues (PONI) and Ploughshares Fund. Featuring: Jon Wolfsthal, Christine Parthemore, General C. Robert Kehler (Ret.) and Heather Williams. Tuesday, May 23, 2017, 4:30p.m.-7:00p.m. CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here.
--Public Discussion on North Korea hosted by Council of Korean Americans and featuring Ploughshares’ Philip Yun and Ambassador Wendy Sherman. Wednesday, May 24, 2017, 6:00p.m.-8:00p.m. PST. The Jonathan Club (Reagan Room), 545 South Figueroa Street, Los Angeles, CA 90071. Details and RSVP here.
--"Nuclear Risks and Opportunities Under President Trump: North Korea and Beyond." Hosted by WorldBoston. Featuring Joe Cirincione and Jon Wolfsthal. Thursday, May 25, 2017, 6:00p.m.-7:30p.m. Hampshire House, 84 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108. Details and RSVP here.
--“North Korea: boom or bust?" IISS Shangri-La Dialogue 2017 Discussion Series. Featuring Victor Cha, Michael Elleman, Sue Mi Terry and Mark Fitzpatrick. Tuesday, May 30, 2017, 10:00a.m.-11:30a.m. IISS–Americas, 2121 K Street NW, Suite 801, Washington, D.C. 20037. Details here.
--“Off-Ramps to War: Paths to Building Peace with North Korea.” Featuring William Perry and Bruce Cumings. Tuesday, June 13, 2017, 9:00a.m.-4:00p.m. Lindner Commons at George Washington University Elliott School of International Affairs. Details and RSVP 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.
--“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. Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory, Center for Global Security Research. Details here.
King of horror, horrified - “Stephen King knows scary when he sees it. The author of such terrifying tales as ‘The Shining’, ‘Carrie’ and ‘It’, King is the undisputed master of horror. So what scares him? On May 3, King tweeted about President Donald Trump: ‘That this guy has his finger on the nuclear trigger is worse than any horror story I ever wrote.’ King is not alone in this fear. The American public is growing increasingly uncomfortable with the fact that President Trump has the power to launch thousands of nuclear weapons, each one many times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima,” writes Tom Collina for The Hill.
--“It’s not hard to imagine a scenario in which Trump is tempted to use the ‘ultimate weapon’. The United States is now in a tense stand-off with North Korea. Stephen King is right. Trump mixed with the atomic bomb is scarier than anything King has written — so far. Congress, if it acts, can keep Trump’s nuclear war out of the history books and save it for King’s next best-seller.” For the full article, click here.