Experts Agree: Trump Needs the Iran Deal

Nuke experts on Iran deal - “Dozens of the nation’s top scientists wrote to President-elect Donald J. Trump on Monday to urge him not to dismantle the Iran deal, calling it a strong bulwark against any Iranian bid to make nuclear arms,” writes William J. Broad for The New York Times. “The 37 signatories included Nobel laureates, veteran makers of nuclear arms, former White House science advisers and the chief executive of the world’s largest general society of scientists.”

--“The letter writers zeroed in on the dismantling of Iran’s ability to purify uranium, a main fuel of nuclear arms that is considered the easiest to use. They said Tehran, as agreed, had shut down roughly two-thirds of its whirling machines for enriching uranium, had exported more than 95 percent of the material it had enriched to 4 percent and had given up its production of uranium enriched to near 20 percent... [Further] the deal ‘has dramatically reduced the risk that Iran could suddenly produce significant quantities’ of material for making nuclear arms and ‘lowered the pressure felt by Iran’s neighbors to develop their own nuclear weapons options.’” Full story and letter here.

Four minutes is all it takes - Ploughshares Fund’s Joe Cirincione went on The Rachel Maddow Show to discuss the presidential nuclear capabilities and how four minutes can destroy the world as we know it. Video here.

There is still time to de-alert U.S. nuclear missiles - “A leading arms control organization is calling for President Obama to take US nuclear missiles off high alert before President-elect Donald Trump assumes office. The Ploughshares Fund has circulated a public petition urging President Obama to place restraints on the incoming president's ability to launch a nuclear attack. Last week, President-elect Trump alarmed nuclear weapons experts when he raised the prospect of a new global arms race on Twitter,” write Amy Goodman and Nermeen Shaikh for Democracy Now!.

--When asked, why President Obama should de-alert U.S. nuclear missiles before President-elect Trump’s inauguration? Joe Cirincione responded, “[President Obama] can end the Cold War practice of keeping our nuclear missiles on high alert, ready to launch in a few minutes’ notice. This is something that he pledged to do when he was campaigning, said he would do it when he took office, never did it. He’s got 22 days to try and correct that mistake. Yes, President Trump could then come in and reverse it, but that is much harder to do. It would be very difficult for President Trump to put nuclear missiles on high alert.” Click here to watch the full interview with Joe Cirincione and learn why U.S. nuclear missiles should be taken off high-alert.

Petition the President - Ploughshares Fund’s petition is currently at over 20,000 supporters. Take a moment to voice your support here.

Tweet - @DefenseBaron: Just a reminder // Washington's Dangerous Drums of War on North Korea - @DefenseOne

Trump and North Korea - “President-elect Donald Trump has made a bold bet on North Korea, saying the secretive country won't test an intercontinental ballistic missile that could reach the United States. In his New Year address, North Korea's volatile leader Kim Jong Un said the country was close to doing just that,” writes Katie Hunt for CNN. “Since winning the election, Trump has suggested at least twice that China… isn't pulling its weight when it comes to reining in Kim Jong Un's regime. But analysts say Beijing has no magic wand and is both unwilling and increasingly unable to influence its unruly neighbor.”

--“Trump could push China to beef up and implement existing sanctions more harshly but there's no evidence that sanctions have any impact on North Korea's decision making, says Jeffrey Lewis, director of the US-based East Asia Nonproliferation Program. ‘It allows the US and our allies to look busy while the North develops an ICBM,’ he said, referring to the acronym for intercontinental ballistic missile… On the campaign trail, Trump said he would be happy to host Kim for a visit, saying in June ‘what the hell is wrong with speaking?’... [Tong Zhao, an associate at Carnegie-Tsinghua Center for Global Policy in Beijing] said that North Korea had refrained from making any provocations since October and appeared to be willing to engage with a Trump administration.” Full story here.

Effects of the President-elect - “We both have enough weapons to destroy the world several times over. We don’t need to expand this,” Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione said in an interview with PBS Newshour in regard to the President-elect’s “dangerous series of statements” calling for a nuclear arms race. Video here.

Tweet - @plough_shares: NYC protesters condemn #NuclearTrump's views on nuclear weapons #EliminateNukes #NoNewArmsRace MT @GlobalZero

Rick Perry and future U.S. nuclear tests? - “Some nuclear analysts say that the Trump administration is likely to face decisions that could upend the bomb program, leading to a resumption of testing and perhaps a new global arms race if they are mishandled. Adding to the concern is Mr. Trump’s choice of a politician with no expertise in nuclear or technical matters, former Gov. Rick Perry of Texas, to lead the Energy Department, which runs the nation’s nuclear-weapons labs and the safeguards program,” writes James Glanz for The New York Times. “Mr. Perry, who will follow two highly accomplished physicists if confirmed, is far more familiar with issues involving the oil and gas industry.”

--“The United States has not conducted a nuclear test since 1992, and some weapons experts believe that it has lost ground to Russia and China as they ambitiously improve their arsenals and delivery systems. Mr. Perry is certain to receive pressure to resume low-yield underground tests to ensure that existing weapons will function, and to help create new bomb designs, which have been off-limits in the Obama administration. How Mr. Perry responds to that pressure could define his tenure.” Full story here.

Expert: No need to expand nuke arsenal - After recent tweeting by the President-elect advocating for “expanding” the nuclear arsenal, nuclear experts agree that this approach is “wrong.” Steven Pifer of the Brookings Institution explains, “the U.S. military currently fields a safe, secure and effective nuclear force that provides a robust deterrent, and it has plans to modernize that force. It does not need a numerical increase or new nuclear weapons in Europe.” Full article on Politico here.

See also - In a piece for The Fiscal Times, Eric Pianin explains how the President-elect’s call for a nuclear arsenal expansion would likely increase what the Congressional Budget Office has already estimated as a $348 billion cost over the next decade to modernize the arsenal. Article here.

Hacking nukes - “Future nuclear missiles may be siloed but, unlike their predecessors, they’ll exhibit ‘some level of connectivity to the rest of the warfighting system,’ according to Werner J. A. Dahm, the chair of the Air Force Scientific Advisory Board. That opens up new potential for nuclear mishaps that, until now, have never been a part of Pentagon planning,” writes Patrick Tucker for Defense One. “In 2017, the [Air Force Scientific Advisory Board] will undertake a study to see how to meet those concerns.”

--“‘Obviously the Air Force doesn’t conceptualize systems like that without ideas for how they would address those surety concerns,’ said Dahm... What are ‘surety concerns?’ Read that to mean how do you make sure that your fancy networked nuclear warfare control system can’t be hijacked or go off accidently.” Full essay here.

Tweet - @Livableworld: Questions that need answers before determining U.S. #nuclear policy in 2017

Fake news and nukes - “A fake news story claiming Israel intended to use nuclear weapons in an attack against Pakistan prompted a threat from a top Pakistani official on Friday,” writes Amanda Hoover for Christian Science Monitor. “The Israel-Pakistan confrontation began last week, after AWD, which fact-checking groups have identified as a fake news site, published a false report with the headline; ‘Israeli Defense Minister: If Pakistan send ground troops to Syria on any pretext, we will destroy this country with a nuclear attack.’”

--“Pakistan’s defense minister, Khawaja Mohammad Asif, took action against the alleged remark, tweeting, ‘Israeli def min threatens nuclear retaliation presuming pak role in Syria against Daesh. Israel forgets Pakistan is a Nuclear state too AH’ on Friday. Israel's Defense Ministry tweeted back Saturday, calling the report ‘entirely false.’” Full story here.

George Takei: Nuclear weapons are not a game - “[N]uclear weapons are not toys, nor are they chips to be wagered in some kind of high stakes poker match. I am among a dwindling number still around who remember the first time atomic weapons were used,” writes George Takei in an op-ed for The Daily Beast. “I had family in Hiroshima when the Enola Gay dropped its deadly payload, obliterating the entire city in an instant.... [My aunt] was among the over one hundred thousand dead, along with my baby cousin, who was found cradled in her arms... their bodies burned nearly beyond recognition as she attempted to shield her child from the blast and the fire.”

--“In the city of Hiroshima, there is a group of survivors called the hibakusha. They have dedicated their lives to ensuring no one on this earth again suffers the fate of their city... Trump might do well to pay his own visit to Hiroshima, where the hibakusha keep alive the terrible legacy of atomic warfare, precisely so that we might not blunder down a ruinous path. It is not enough that our president-elect think twice before he tweets about nuclear weapons... He must come to understand, viscerally, what is at stake in their possible use. For the sake of all humanity, he must come to see nuclear bombs not as fearsome weapons to be revered, but as the literal dead end they are.” Full essay here.

Quick Hits:

--“Commentary: Could Trump start a nuclear war with a single tweet?” by Greg Sargent for The Washington Post.

--“2016 -- The Year In Nuclear,” by James Conca for Forbes.

--“OPINION: Japan, nuclear disarmament, and the ban treaty,” by Daryl Kimball for Kyodo News.

--“Remembering Sidney Drell,” by David Hoffman for Politico.

--“US Intel Images Suggest Another N. Korean Missile Launch Site,” by Ham Jiha for Voice of America.


--Senate Armed Services Committee, hearing on the nomination of Gen. James Mattis to be Defense Secretary (estimate) on January 9, 2017. Room TBA, Senate Office Building, Washington. Webcast on the committee website.

--“Command and Control: An American Experience Documentary,” broadcasted by PBS affiliated networks nationwide. January 10, 2017 on PBS. Check your local listings for times.

--"Can the Iran Nuclear Deal Survive a Trump Presidency?" panel discussion with five speakers hosted by National Iranian American Council. The event will take place on January 12, 2017, from 12:00pm to 1:00pm at Rayburn House Office Building, 2168, Washington. RSVP online.

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