Rising Tensions Threaten Nuclear Stability Worldwide
On the radar: Xi tries to cool U.S., North Korea tensions; Take it from a Marine: only fools rush in (to North Korea); Trump must recant reckless Russian rhetoric; Donald Trump's guns of April; Tillerson attempts fence-mending in Moscow; Able Archer’s relevance today; Trump learns what NATO does, changes mind on it
China attempts to calm White House - “During a telephone call early Wednesday, Chinese President Xi Jinping urged President Trump to find a peaceful solution to the crisis on the Korean Peninsula, state media reported,” writes Simon Denyer for The Washington Post. The People’s Daily reported: “‘Xi Jinping stressed that China insists on realizing the goal of denuclearization of the peninsula, insists on maintaining peace and stability on the peninsula, advocates resolving the problem through peaceful means and is willing to maintain communication and coordination with the U.S. side on the issue of the peninsula.’”
--“The [People’s Daily] also said that China would seek stronger action by the U.N. Security Council if North Korea continues to conduct tests. ‘If the North makes another provocative move this month, Chinese society will be willing to see the UNSC adopt severe restrictive measures that have never been seen before, such as restricting oil imports to the North,’ the paper said.” For the full article, click here.
--See also - Ploughshares Fund Executive Director on CNN last night discussing cycles of escalation between the U.S. and North Korea. Clip here.
Attacking North Korea should be last resort - “The North Korean regime ultimately resembles an organised crime gang – and depends on money to survive. So choke it off,” argues Grant Newsham for The National Interest. “With Secretary of State Rex Tillerson’s recent statement that years of negotiations with North Korea have failed, it seems an American military response is no longer unthinkable — and in some quarters is seen as inevitable. But the US still hasn’t played all its cards, and ought to before rolling the dice with a military strike.”
--“Someday it may be necessary for a US administration to use force against North Korea. The squandered opportunities and ineptitude that led to this point make for depressing reading and have been a bi-partisan achievement. But before going to war, the US Government should at least try real sanctions on North Korea – for the first time.” Full article here.
Job Announcement - Ploughshares Fund seeks applicants for a competitive, one-year paid position as a Roger L. Hale Fellow. The Fellow works primarily with the policy (analysis/advocacy) team to conduct research on current nuclear weapons-related topics, monitor government policy, and write for publication on the Ploughshares Fund website and other venues. The Fellow will be based in the Washington, DC office of Ploughshares Fund. For details, click here.
Nuclear threat too high under Trump - “With hundreds of long-range thermonuclear weapons on each side poised for action within minutes of any sign of a nuclear attack, the fate of the world still depends on the good judgment and restraint of the US and Russian presidents in a crisis… The most serious test of any president is whether and how they reduce global nuclear dangers and avoid miscalculation in a nuclear crisis. There is ample reason to be concerned that Donald Trump and his team may not pass the test,” writes Daryl G. Kimball for Left Foot Forward.
--“To succeed or at least avoid major mistakes, the Trump administration must discard reckless rhetoric and learn how to build on previous presidents’ substantial efforts to reduce nuclear dangers and move toward a world without nuclear weapons.” For the full article, click here.
See also - WBEZ Interview with Joseph Cirincione. Interview here.
Sleepwalking toward nuclear war - “Among the myriad of opposing factions in Syria, there are two goliaths. Russia, allied with the Assad regime and provider of troops, warplanes and sophisticated equipment to the pro-Syrian effort — and the United States, which has sided firmly with rebel and Kurdish factions committed to Syrian president Bashar Al Assad’s ouster. Between them, they possess 94 percent of the world’s nuclear weapons,” write Geoff Wilson and Will Saetren for War is Boring. “With U.S. and Russian forces operating on opposing sides of a very contentious and complicated struggle, the risk of a catastrophic mishap is alarmingly high."
--“Official Russian military doctrine calls for the use of tactical nuclear weapons to control the escalation of a conventional conflict. In other words, if Russia finds itself in a fight that it can’t win, a real nuclear option is on the table. Some in the U.S. have mirrored this first-use strategy… just this year, the Pentagon’s defense science board issued a report urging, the president to consider altering existing and planned U.S. armaments to achieve a greater number of lower-yield weapons that could provide a ‘tailored nuclear option for limited use.’” Full article here.
Take action - Ready to restore checks and balances to the nuclear codes? Inspired by the legislation proposed by Rep. Ted Lieu and Sen. Ed Markey, Ploughshares Fund, along with sixteen other public interest groups, has created a new petition urging Congress to keep America safe by preventing any U.S. President from unilaterally launching a nuclear weapon. Sign and share the petition today.
Tillerson encounters tense U.S.-Russian relations - “Tillerson’s visit to Moscow comes amid a period of significant tension in the bilateral relationship due to the crisis in Ukraine, the buildup and exercising of NATO and Russian military forces in the common border area between the alliance’s easternmost members and Russia, and Russian meddling in the U.S. election. Syria’s use of a banned nerve agent last week, in violation of the Chemical Weapons Convention, and the U.S. decision to attack a Syrian air base with cruise missiles in response, has further muddied the troubled waters.”
--“Avoiding direct conflict between Washington and Moscow in Syria highlights another important issue that should be on Tillerson and Lavrov’s agenda this week: any confrontation between the two countries, whether in Syria or elsewhere, carries with it the risk of escalation to nuclear war,” write Kingston Reif and Maggie Tennis for The National Interest. “The downward spiral in the U.S.-Russia relationship makes the objective of reducing the risks of nuclear conflict all the more urgent. The time to act on this common interest is now, lest a dangerous situation grow even more precarious.” Article here.
Able Archer’s lessons for today - “Able Archer 83 is a reminder not only that nuclear weapons are one of the few existential threats the United States and its allies face, but also that humility is key to the conduct of national security policy,” write Nate Jones and J. Peter Scoblic for Slate. “The United States assumes that it is clear in communicating its intentions and understanding those of its enemies. It also tends to assume that it controls the consequences of its actions. Neither of these things is necessarily true.”
--“Misperception, chance, and accident are facts of history. In 1983, war was averted because of restraint. Unfortunately, President Trump is not known for self-control.” Full article here.
Trump about-faces on NATO obsolescence - “At a joint press conference with NATO Secretary General Jens Stoltenberg on Wednesday, Trump said that he will continue to work closely with NATO allies, especially when it comes to fighting terrorism,” writes Joe Gould for the DefenseNews. “Though Trump had repeatedly characterized the NATO alliance as ‘obsolete,’ a senior White House official said ahead of the Stoltenberg meeting that Trump is ‘100 percent committed to the alliance,’ and that Trump has met with leaders of NATO allies U.K., Germany and Denmark.” For the full article, click here.
--“Three words sum up Donald Trump” by Steve Andreasen for Prospect Magazine here.
--“Satellite photos show North Korean nuclear site 'primed and ready'” by James Griffiths for CNN here.
--“Xi and Trump Discuss Rising Tensions with North Korea” by Jane Perlez for The New York Times here.
--“Trump declares US-Russia relations may be at 'all-time low'” by Vivian Salama and Josh Lederman for the Associated Press here.
--The Federation of American Scientists presents: "Science & Security Summit 2017: How Can Scientists & Engineers Keep Us Safe?" Featuring: John P. Holdren, Richard Meserve, and Rodney Wilson. Introducing: Three distinguished graduate-level scientists and engineers. Friday, April 21 (12-3 p.m.) at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace (1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036). Full event details here.
--“Short Course on Nuclear Weapon and Related Security Issues." American Physical Society. George Washington University, Elliott School of International Affairs, April 21-22, 2017. 1957 E St. NW, Washington, DC 20052. RSVP here.
--The Women’s March Ban the Bomb is a women-led initiative building on the momentum of movements at the forefront of the resistance, including the Women’s March on Washington. It will bring together people of all genders, sexual orientations, ages, races, abilities, nationalities, cultures, faiths, political affiliations and backgrounds to march and rally at 12 PM -4PM Saturday, June 17th 2017 in New York City! Details here.