China and South Korea Cooperate Amidst Rising Tensions
On the radar: China, South Korea agree to North Korea sanctions; North Korea warns U.S. against military action; North Korea claims Syria airstrikes justify its nuclear weapons; Threat of force from Russia, Iran if more airstrikes in Syria; Investigating accountability for Missile Launch Officers; G-7 remains committed to world without nuclear weapons, in spite of Trump statements
China, South Korea will sanction North Korea - “China and South Korea agreed on Monday to slap tougher sanctions on North Korea if it carries out nuclear or long-range missile tests, a senior official in Seoul said, as a U.S. Navy strike group headed to the region in a show of force,” write Ju-min Park and Nobuhiro Kubo for Reuters. "‘Both sides agreed that despite the international community’s warnings, if North Korea makes strategic provocations such as a nuclear test or an ICBM launch, there should be strong additional measures in accordance with U.N. security council resolutions,’ [South Korean chief nuclear envoy Hong-kyun] Kim told reporters.”
--“North Korea launched a ballistic missile on Wednesday that flew a short distance before spinning out of control and crashing into the sea, the latest of a number of missile tests defying U.N. sanctions. The North is also seen to be ready to conduct its sixth nuclear test at any time, with movements detected by satellites at its Punggye-ri nuclear test site.” For the full article, click here.
North Korea’s nuclear warning - “North Korean state media on Tuesday warned of a nuclear attack on the United States at any sign of U.S. aggression as a U.S. Navy strike group steamed towards the western Pacific,” writes Sue-Lin Wong for Reuters. “Tension has escalated sharply on the Korean peninsula with talk of military action by the United States gaining traction following its strikes last week against Syria and amid concerns the reclusive North may soon conduct a sixth nuclear test.”
--“The North's foreign ministry, in a statement carried by KCNA, said the U.S. navy strike group's approach showed America's ‘reckless moves for invading had reached a serious phase’. The Trump administration is reviewing its policy towards North Korea and has said all options are on the table, including military strikes, but U.S. officials said non-military action appeared to be at the top of the list.” For the full article, click here.
DPRK: Syria strike justifies our nuclear program - “North Korea has vowed to bolster its defenses to protect itself against airstrikes like the ones President Donald Trump ordered against an air base in Syria,” writes Eric Talmadge for the Associated Press. “The North called the airstrikes ‘absolutely unpardonable’ and said they prove its nuclear weapons are justified to protect the country against Washington's ‘evermore reckless moves for a war.’"
--“North Korea has long claimed that the United States is preparing to conduct similar precision strikes against its territory or even launch an all-out invasion. It claims its nuclear weapons are a necessary deterrent to the U.S. military threat.” Article here.
Russia, Iran warn against future Syria strikes - “Following Friday’s cruise missile strike on a Syrian airbase, in retaliation for the chemical attack on Khan Sheikhoun earlier in the week, the alliance supporting Syrian President Bashar al-Assad made a joint statement threatening action in response to ‘any breach of red lines from whoever it is,’” writes Jon Sharman for The Independent. “‘What America waged in an aggression on Syria is a crossing of red lines. From now on we will respond with force to any aggressor or any breach of red lines from whoever it is and America knows our ability to respond well,’ the group’s joint command centre said.” For the full article, click here.
Take action - Ready to restore checks and balances to the nuclear codes? Inspired by the legislation proposed by Rep. Ted Liu 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.
Accountability in the nuclear chain of command - How can Missile Launch Officers verify that the commands they receive are reliable and legitimate before they launch ICBMs? Historian Alex Wellerstein investigates the story of a Major who was discharged for asking that exact question in 1973 for Restricted Data: The Nuclear Secrecy Blog. Article here.
See also - “Nukes” by Latif Nasser for Radiolab. Podcast recording here.
Nuclear abolition resolution could be in peril - “Foreign ministers from the Group of Seven major developed countries plan next week to uphold their goal of achieving a world without nuclear weapons, according to a Japanese source, but the move could be challenged by the United States. It remains unclear how the U.S. will respond,” writes Kyodo News in the Japan Times. “President Donald Trump has signaled he will strengthen U.S. nuclear capabilities after reviewing former President Barack Obama’s efforts toward the elimination of such weapons.” For the full article, click here.
--“Easy There, Blob. With Obama, We Faced A Different Syria” by Derek Chollet for DefenseOne. Article here.
--“Groundhog Day: Activity Continues at North Korea’s Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site” by Joseph S. Bermudez Jr. and Jack Liu for 38North. Article here.
--“China and South Korea warn Pyongyang of stiffer sanctions over weapons tests” by Kristin Huang and Laura Zhou for South China Morning Post. Article here.
--“Move of U.S. Warships Shows Trump Has Few Options on North Korea” by Mark Landler and Choe Sand-Hun for The New York Times. Article here.
--“Unilateral Action by Trump on North Korea Will Simply Add to an Already Intractable Problem” by Charlie Campbell for TIME Magazine. Article here.
--“One Nuclear Security Analyst on Why The U.S. Should Resume North Korea Talks,” interview with Siegfried Hecker for National Public Radio WBAA Purdue. Article and audio clip here.
--“Remembering Paul Leventhal: Nuclear Lessons for a New Administration," an event hosted by the Nuclear Proliferation Prevention Project featuring four key speakers, Robert L. Gallucci, Victor Gilinsky, Alan J. Kuperman, and Edwin Lyman. Thursday, April 13, 11:00am - 3:00pm at LBJ Washington Center 1100 New York Ave. NW, Greyhound Suite (#290), Washington, DC 20005. 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.