Trump Complies with Iran Deal
On the radar: Trump waives Iran sanctions; Iran Deal paramount to U.S. national interests; White House issues new Iran missile sanctions; Moon warns “high possibility” for Korean conflict; Tomahawk redeployment in Europe a mistake; Ransomware hackers threaten nuclear leaks; and for dessert, China’s THAAD rappers
Trump buys into Iran deal - “The Trump administration signaled on Wednesday that it would not, for now, jettison the Iran nuclear deal, despite the president’s harsh criticism of the agreement during the campaign,” write Gardiner Harris and David E. Sanger for The New York Times. “Facing a deadline of Thursday, the administration said it was waiving sanctions against Iran, as required under the deal.”
--“To have done otherwise would have violated the accord, freeing the Iranians to resume the production of nuclear fuel without any of the limits negotiated by the Obama administration two years ago… while acknowledging that the deal would remain in place, the administration imposed modest new sanctions against several Iranian individuals and four organizations. At a moment when Mr. Trump is consumed by troubles at home and viewed with suspicion by allies... there was no appetite in the White House for a breach with Iran.” Find the full article 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.
Unequivocal need for Iran Deal - “The Trump administration's decision to issue sanctions waivers today, as required by the nuclear deal with Iran, is a welcome and necessary step to ensure that the United States meets its commitments under the agreement,” writes Kelsey Davenport for Arms Control Association. “Given that Secretary of State Rex Tillerson certified to Congress in April that Iran is complying with its commitments under the deal, it is only logical for Washington to continue to waive sanctions.”
--“Without question, Iran is continuing activities, such as ballistic missile development and arms transfers, that are unhelpful and contrary to the spirit of UN Security Council restrictions. But as the Trump administration and Congress consider options for pushing back against Iran in these areas, preserving the nuclear deal must remain a priority. Without the continued and effective implementation of the deal, Iran’s nuclear program would be subject to less monitoring and far fewer restraints, posing a proliferation risk and threatening international security.” For the full article, click here.
Iranian missile program sanctions - “President Donald Trump’s administration announced Wednesday that it will keep suspending nuclear-related sanctions on Iran as part of the contentious 2015 nuclear deal, but that it is imposing new sanctions on the Islamic Republic over its ballistic missile program,” writes Nahal Toosi for POLITICO. “The Trump administration’s imposition of new, non-nuclear sanctions on Iran could lead Iranian leaders to accuse it of violating the spirit, if not the letter, of the 2015 agreement. That could mean that in the long term, the nuclear deal could fall apart.” Full article here.
Tweet - @DarylGKimball: "Trump waives nuke sanx but slaps Iran on missiles, human rights" keeping #IranDeal on track for now http://www.al-monitor.com/pulse/originals/2017/05/trump-waive-nuclear-sanctions-iran-missiles-human-rights.html … via @AlMonitor
See also - Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione appeared on The Bill Press Show this morning to discuss President Trump’s upcoming trips to Saudi Arabia, Israel, the Vatican, Brussels and Italy. Watch his interview here.
Moon shifts his DPRK stance - “South Korean President Moon Jae-in said on Wednesday there was a ‘high possibility’ of conflict with North Korea, which is pressing ahead with nuclear and missile programmes it says are needed to counter U.S. aggression,” writes Christine Kim for Reuters. “‘The reality is that there is a high possibility of a military conflict at the NLL (Northern Limit Line) and military demarcation line,’ [said] Moon.” Although President Moon publicly favors open communication, the South Korean Unification Ministry spokesman Lee Duk-haeng said ‘the Unification Ministry has considered options on this internally but nothing has been decided yet.’” For the full article, click here.
Diplomacy, not GMD, key to defense - “To address the North Korean missile threat, the Trump Administration must first get itself in order. It is long past time to fully staff leadership positions at the Departments of State and Defense and get Ambassadors out to China, Japan, and South Korea. Only with a full team of experts can the United States coordinate a comprehensive and realistic strategy for dealing with Pyongyang’s missile program. Unlike most efforts having to do with North Korea, this is undoubtedly achievable,” writes Alexandra Bell for The Cipher Brief.
--“There is no doubt that the North Korean missile program is a threat that needs to be dealt with now. To do this, we need tools on which we can rely. We need to stop inflating the capabilities of our current GMD [Ground-based Missile Defense] system and work to get the North Koreans back to the negotiating table.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “Missile Threat: Hwasong-12 at a Glance” by the Center for Strategic and International Studies Missile Defense Project. here.
What could DPRK learn from last test? - “As North Korea continues its missile development, a key question is what it may have learned from its recent missile test that is relevant to building a reentry vehicle (RV) for a long-range missile,” writes David Wright for the Union of Concerned Scientists. His calculations show “North Korea could get significant data from the recent test… But it also shows that this test does not give all the data you would like to have to understand how effective the heatshield might be before putting a nuclear warhead inside the RV and launching it on a long-range missile.” Article here.
U.S. doesn’t need to revive old nukes in Europe - “Two former defense officials are circulating a proposal in Washington to resurrect an obsolete nuclear weapon and deploy it near Europe. The rationale is to punish Russia for violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) treaty,” writes Tytti Erästö for The Hill. “The Trump administration and European allies should not be lured by this dangerous and flawed proposal. In addition to reigniting a nuclear arms race ended by Ronald Reagan thirty years ago, reintroducing nuclear-armed Tomahawk cruise missiles would aggravate the INF crisis by validating Moscow’s claims of U.S. non-compliance. At the same time, it would have no added value for U.S. security or extended nuclear deterrence.”
--“Bringing back 1980’s weapons systems to Europe will not force Russia to back down— it will provoke further escalatory steps and increase the risk of accidental nuclear war. Instead, Washington should maintain the high ground and put more effort in seeking a diplomatic solution to the INF crisis. This means not only pressing Russia to dismantle its illegal cruise missile, but also inquiring into the motivations behind Moscow’s cruise missile policy and making clear that the U.S. antimissile systems only serve defensive purposes.” For the full article, click here.
Hackers claim possession of nuclear information - “The hacking group that leaked the bugs that enabled last week's global ransomware attack is threatening to make public even more computer vulnerabilities in the coming weeks — potentially including ‘compromised network data’ pertaining to the nuclear or missile programs of China, Iran, North Korea and Russia, as well as vulnerabilities affecting Windows 10, which is run by millions of computers worldwide,” writes Brian Fung for The Washington Post.
--“The group's new claim that it possesses information on the nuclear programs of state governments is extremely worrisome, said Joseph Lorenzo Hall, chief technologist for the Center for Democracy and Technology, a Washington think tank. ‘While they don't seem to have the most amazing PR department,’ he said, ‘they've already proved that they had some pretty serious access. The nuke facility stuff is particularly concerning, [speaking] as a former physicist.’” For the full article, click here.
--“No president - especially Trump - should have the sole authority to use nuclear weapons.” by Diane Russell for Bangor Daily News here.
--“North Korea: The Military Options” by Uri Friedman for The Atlantic here.
--“Commentary: What Iran’s high-stakes election means for voters and the world” by Amir Handjani for Reuters here.
--“Inside the U.S. government’s plans to survive a nuclear war” by Sadie Dingfelder for The Washington Post here.
--“The man who helped prevent a nuclear crisis” by Cindy Sui for BBC 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.
--“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.
The kids aren’t alright - “A rap group backed by China’s government is warning South Korea in a music video that ‘you’re going too far’ with the deployment of a U.S. missile defense system, as Beijing seeks to bring its state-supported cultural forces to bear in the international dispute,” writes the Associated Press. “A member of the group CD REV said government officials worked with them on the video and helped to promote it on foreign websites, many of which are blocked in China by official censors emboldened by the ruling Communist Party’s warnings against foreign ‘cultural infiltration.’”
--“In the song, group members chant that ‘about THAAD we say no, no, no,’ a reference to the U.S. Army’s missile defense system formally known as Terminal High Altitude Area Defense. Later in the song, they refer to South Korea, saying, ‘this time, kid, you’re going too far’ and ‘your big brother’s annoyed,’ a nod to China’s view of itself as the pre-eminent political and economic power in Northeast Asia.” For the full article, click here.