Amidst Korean Tensions, U.S. Tests its Fourth ICBM this Year

Flexing our Minuteman muscles - “The Air Force conducted a scheduled test of an unarmed Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile early Wednesday in California,” write Dakshayani Shankar and Veronica Stracqualursi for ABC News. “[Wednesday’s] test was the fourth this year. Today's ICBM test came amid growing tensions with North Korea. The country test-launched an ICBM on Friday. ‘While not a response to recent North Korean actions, the test demonstrates that the United States' nuclear enterprise is safe, secure, effective and ready to be able to deter, detect and defend against attacks on the United States and its allies,’ a statement from the Air Force read.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @cnntoday: William Perry Fmr U.S. Defense Secretary on @cnntoday on #Trump #Foreignpolicy #NorthKorea #sanctions [video]

Less talk, more talks - “As President Trump has implicitly conceded, his approach to the North Korean nuclear threat is failing,” reports The New York Times Editorial Board. “It was all about putting the responsibility on China to force the North to abandon its program, which has grown increasingly and alarmingly formidable and now includes as many as 21 nuclear weapons and the missiles to deliver them. The Trump administration, backed by Congress, has not given up on the idea that China can be forced to help, and is preparing to increase the pressure on Beijing by sanctioning Chinese banks doing business with North Korea.”

--“But sanctions alone are not the answer. Mr. Trump needs to face the reality that he cannot solve this crisis by proxy, that he must intervene directly and that he should do so soon. The administration has said North Korea must send a ‘tangible signal’ that it will abandon its nuclear program before talks even begin. This is not a realistic basis for negotiation. The North’s program is advanced and its leadership deeply distrustful. Talks should begin without preconditions; what’s most urgent is to halt the program’s progress. Are the North Koreans even interested in talks? That can’t be known, however, unless someone goes and asks them.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Let’s Face It: North Korea’s Nukes Can Reach the U.S.” by Jeffrey Lewis for The New York Times here.

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: Hawks want military intervention in #DPRK. Sec. Mattis has stated that it would be catastrophic. We need diplomacy.

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Kim, call me maybe? - “Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said that the US is willing to sit down for talks with North Korea, but only if it relinquishes its pursuit of nuclear weapons,” write Nicole Gaouette and Laura Koran for CNN. “‘We do not seek regime change. We do not seek an accelerated reunification of the peninsula. We do not seek an excuse to send our military north of the 38th parallel,’ Tillerson said. ‘We are not your enemy, we are not your threat, but you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us and we have to respond,’ Tillerson said, speaking to North Korea directly. ‘We would like to sit and have a dialogue about the future.’” Full article here.

Tweet - @mitchellreports: #RexTillerson in State Dept briefing room for 1st time after 6 mths in office says wants dialogue with NK does not want regime change

See also - “The Trump Team’s Dangerous Mixed Messages on North Korea” by Paul D. Shinkman for U.S. News here.

Iran: U.S. sanctions violate JCPOA - “Iran said new sanctions imposed by U.S. President Donald Trump on Wednesday break the terms of its nuclear deal with the United States and other world powers, and vowed an ‘appropriate and proportional’ response,” reports Reuters. “‘In our view the nuclear deal has been violated and we will show an appropriate and proportional reaction to this issue,’ Deputy Foreign Minister Abbas Araqchi said in an interview with state TV, according to the ISNA news agency.”

--“‘The main goal of America in approving these sanctions against Iran is to destroy the nuclear deal and we will show a very intelligent reaction to this action,’ Araqchi said. ‘We are definitely not going to act in a way that get us entangled in the politics of the American government and Trump.’ The new U.S. sanctions, signed a day before Iranian President Hassan Rouhani takes part in a ceremony before being sworn in for a second term, are likely to embolden his hardline critics who say the nuclear deal was a form of capitulation.” Full article here.

See also - “Rouhani vows to end isolation amid fresh US sanctions” by Hassan Rouhani for Al Jazeera here.

Iran deal affects Europe, too - “Unraveling the Iran deal would indeed be dangerous. It would produce significantly more than just ‘a bit of a meltdown’ in the Oval Office,” writes Carl Bildt for The Washington Post. “Europe would certainly not go along with this… because Europe has seen that the deal actually works — if anything, it’s the United States that is behaving questionably — and Europe has absolutely zero appetite for a new cascade of conflicts in a region on its doorstep.”

--“Europe is convinced that engagement, rather than confrontation and conflict, will go a longer way toward getting Iran to change its behavior. But there is more to the picture than that. With the United States walking out of the Paris climate accord, cutting U.N. funding and sowing doubts about NATO and other trade commitments, the Iran agreement isn’t about Iran alone. It’s about upholding confidence in the international order. So, if Trump pursues a meltdown with Iran, he will also trigger a meltdown with Europe. Another one, to be precise.” Full article here.

Tweet - @DiplomacyWorks: Listen to @ABlinken explain the #IranDeal at the top of the interview. Short version: #Iran is complying & it's good for our security.

Quick Hits

--“Is Trump Scheming to Kill the Iran Deal?” by Steve Andreasen and Steve Simon for The New York Times here.

--“The North Korea Travel Ban Will Do More Harm Than Good” by Christine Ahn for The New York Times here.

--“North Korea’s ICBM Test Wasn’t as Successful as We Thought” by John Schilling for The National Interest here.

--“S. Korea hails new U.S. sanctions law on N. Korea” by Yonhap here.

--“What’s Left to Sanction in North Korea?” by Krishnadev Calamur for Defense One here.

--“China Is Not the Answer to North Korea” by Tim Shorrock for LobeLog here.

--“What America Should Learn from North Korea's Latest Missile Test” by Ankit Panda for The Atlantic here.

--“‘India-Pakistan nuke war not a realistic possibility,’ says leading nuclear expert Ramamurti Rajaraman” by Rashme Sehgal for FirstPost here.

--“Tests show Hanford workers inhaled radioactive plutonium” by Susanna Frame for King 5 News Seattle here.

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