Rouhani Wins Re-election in Iran, Faces Tough Road Ahead
On the radar: Victory for moderates in Iran clouded by tensions with Trump; the President’s precarious trip abroad; Analyzing North Korea’s latest missile test; Moon’s senior advisor calls for preemptive talks; Dismantling nukes: a practical guide; and Concerns on the Ban Treaty draft
Rouhani victorious, faces hurdles ahead - “Incumbent President Hassan Rouhani’s solid victory... was a triumph of competence over ideology and of openness over isolationism,” writes Barbara Slavin in The New Atlanticist blog for Atlantic Council. “Rouhani faces plenty of obstacles in his second term—a time when Iranian presidents have traditionally been weaker than in their first incarnation. Especially worrisome is the hostile attitude of US President Donald J. Trump’s administration."
--“While [Trump] has abided by the minimum requirements of the nuclear deal, [his] apparent decision to side wholeheartedly with Saudi Arabia on regional matters risks inflaming rather than resolving the sectarian conflicts tearing apart the Middle East. It would be wise for the Trump administration to test Iran’s willingness to re-engage and not uncritically embrace the views of the Saudis and their Sunni allies." For the full article, click here.
See also - “With Rouhani, Iran Has Extended Its Hand. Now The World Needs To Unclench Its Fist.” by Reza Marashi for The Huffington Post here.
Donald Trump’s bumpy ride abroad - For The Huffington Post, Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione writes, “Maybe his first overseas adventure will be a diplomatic triumph. But this trip is filled with potential landmines. Although all his hosts have a vested interest in having his visits be seen as a success, his precarious political situation will undermine his credibility and raise serious questions about whatever promises he makes or plans he unfolds.”
--“Any breaking news back at home could railroad his whole trip and drive an awkward wedge between Trump and the people he wants to impress. So it is not just gaffes, embarrassments, conflicts of interest and foreign officials luring a gullible president into new foreign entanglements that we must fear. It is that the president could by design or ignorance lead America into a new unnecessary war of choice in the Middle East.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “Analysis: In Mideast, Trump pushes shared worries over Iran” by Julie Pace for Associated Press here.
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. The advisory council includes John Kerry, Antony Blinken, Wendy Sherman, Nicholas Burns, Michèle Flournoy, Puneet Talwar, Colin Kahl, Robert Malley, Jon Finer, Jen Psaki and Jeff Prescott.
Analyzing the latest missile test - “A week after the test launch of an intermediate-range Hwasong-12 missile, North Korea today tested a medium-range missile. Based on press reports, this appears to be a Pukguksong-2 missile, which is the land-based version of the submarine-launched missile it is developing. This appears to be the second successful test of this version of the missile,” writes David Wright for Union of Concerned Scientists’ All Things Nuclear blog. “South Korean sources reported this test had a range of 500 kilometers (km) (300 miles) and reached an altitude of 560 km (350 miles).”
--“North Korea is still in early stages of developing solid missiles… Building large solid missiles is difficult. If you look at examples of other countries building long-range solid missiles, such as France and China, it took them several decades to get from the point of building a medium-range solid missile, which North Korea has done, to building a solid ICBM. So this is not something that will happen soon, but with time North Korea will be able to do it.” For the full article, click here.
See also - Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione discusses North Korea on BBC World News. Video here.
Moon’s senior advisor’s diplomatic strategy - “In a visit to Seoul on May 16, the U.S. National Security Council’s senior director for Asia, Matt Pottinger, agreed that talks with North Korea are possible under the ‘right conditions.’ But just what are the right conditions?” asks Moon Chung-in, President Moon’s special advisor for diplomacy and security affairs, for Korea JoongAng Daily. “Just as its May 14 launch test evidently suggests, development of an ICBM that can strike the continental United States is not far off. Under such circumstances, ‘strategic patience’ can no longer be the answer. That’s why we cannot sit around and wait for the ‘right conditions.’ To secure an initiative in nuclear resolution, preemptive talks with North Korea are essential.”
--“The time has come for us to turn the power of the people and the miracle of the candlelight demonstrations into a driving force for peace on the Korean Peninsula. The nuclear issue is a complicated challenge, but we can overcome it when we become one. Korea needs to stand at the center of the Korean Peninsula and East Asian diplomacy. In order not to be limited as a dependent variable of foreign powers, and to not repeat the fate of the Balkans, Korea needs to take initiative in resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis. This is how Moon will succeed — or fail.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “Xi asked Trump for ‘100 days’ to deal with North Korea problem” in The Asahi Shimbun here.
How to dismantle a nuke - “Dismantling the world’s 15,000 nuclear weapons is one the most important geopolitical challenges humanity faces. That number seems bleak, given the current state of affairs,” writes Terrell Jermaine Starr for Foxtrot Alpha. “Politics aside, however, once a nation agrees to cut its nuclear stockpile, how does it happen, where and when? Tom Collina, Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund—an anti-nuclear weapon philanthropic group—says that current treaties do not focus on the actual dismantlement of weapons.”
--Starr goes on to explain the difference between retirement and dismantlement; how a warhead is separated; how long the dismantlement process takes; the difference between uranium and plutonium; what to do with the uranium and the plutonium and where to store it; and how much it costs to build a warhead vs. how much it costs to dismantle. “Of course, there is a great way to avoid all of these issues in the future altogether. ‘Better that the material not be produced in the first place,’ Collina said. ‘But it’s too late for that.’” Full article can be found here.
Ban treaty draft prompts questions - Writing for Arms Control Wonk, Jon Wolfsthal lays out his concerns about the Ban Treaty’s first draft: “as a life-long supporter of nuclear reductions and disarmament, I support efforts to harness global frustration with the pace of nuclear elimination to advance disarmament in a way that advances global security. So if there is to be a ban, I want it to be additive. An initial read of the just released draft text raises new questions and concerns, some more important and less easily resolved than others.”
--After considering a number of weaknesses in the draft - concerning the IAEA, CTBT, NATO, and other issues, he concludes: “I can see ways a ban would be additive and helpful to U.S. and global security and advance disarmament. However, a ban treaty that would undermine the affirmative and voluntary basis for reassurance among allies and undermine the standards set in the CTBT and for IAEA safeguards is one that should be viewed with great concern.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “U.N. Panel Releases Draft of Treaty to Ban Nuclear Arms” by Rick Gladstone for The New York Times here.
--“U.S. Nuclear History Offers Clues to North Korea’s Progress” by William J. Broad for The New York Times here.
--“Trump tells Israel Iran will never have nuclear weapons” by The BBC here.
--“North Korea orders mass production of new ballistic missile capable of striking Japan and major US military bases” by Samuel Osborne for The Independent here.
--“Protesters say THAAD missile system is more about U.S. militarism than South Korean protection” by Guy Taylor for The Washington Times 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.
--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 and register 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.
--“Arms Control Association Annual Meeting." Hosted by the Arms Control Association and Young Professionals in Foreign Policy. Friday, June 2, 2017, 9:00a.m.-3:00p.m. Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, 1779 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036. Details and registration here.
--“A New Nuclear Review for a New Age.” Feat. former Senator Jon Kyl; Keith B. Payne at the National Institute for Public Policy; Franklin C. Miller at the Scowcroft Group; Rebeccah L. Heinrichs at the Hudson Institute. Tuesday, June 6, 2017 2:00p.m.-3:30p.m. CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, DC 20036. 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.