Iran Agreement Can Offer Trump a Roadmap for North Korea

A DPRK how-to - “When a new administration takes office in January 2017, a review of U.S. policy toward North Korea should place high on its to-do list,” writes Suzanne DiMaggio for the Ploughshares Fund’s latest report, “10 Big Nuclear Ideas for the Next President.” “A review should yield a definitive conclusion that the policy of ‘strategic patience’ — continuing to apply pressure through sanctions and waiting to see if North Korea will change its current course and denuclearize or collapse — is not working.”

--“Given North Korea’s expanding nuclear activities — both in terms of intentions and actual progress the next administration would be well advised to take a page from President Obama’s playbook with Tehran and explore ‘aggressive diplomacy’ with Pyongyang as a priority... The right next step would be to try... [to bring] North Korea back to the negotiating table and reviving the Six-Party talks or a new set of regional security talks... The most obvious and biggest lesson to be gleaned from the Iran nuclear deal for North Korea is that principled and pragmatic diplomacy in the absence of trust is hard, but it’s not impossible.” Full essay here.

See also - “Direct talks prove to be only way to defuse nuclear tension: U.S. expert,” featured in Yonhap News.

Tweet - @AP: Top nuclear envoys from South Korea, US and Japan vow to work toward implementing new sanctions against North Korea.

A primer on the JCPOA - “U.S. European allies... have made it clear that they will not walk away from the nuclear agreement, barring a major Iranian violation, and that they will not re-impose economic sanctions on Iran just because Washington decides to do so,” write Barbara Slavin and Ryan Crocker for The Denver Post. “Abrogating the agreement would cause an early and unnecessary crisis in transatlantic relations and likely benefit Russia, China and the most anti-American elements in the Iranian system.”

--“As a dealmaker, President-elect Trump understands that it is not advisable to rip up a contract that is continuing to deliver benefits. He will face many difficult decisions upon taking office on Jan. 20 but thanks to the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action, there will be no early nuclear crisis with Iran.” Full piece here.

See also - “Nuclear agreement not a deal solely between U.S. and Iran,” an in-depth interview with Daryl Kimball of the Arms Control Association with Tehran Times.

IAEA on Iran Deal - “Hans Blix, the former head of the International Atomic Energy Agency, has claimed it would be disastrous for the world if the US tore up the Iran nuclear agreement,” writes Daniel Boffey for The Guardian. “I think the signs from the EU are pretty categorical. It is an agreement reached multilaterally and they will stand by it. I don’t think the Europeans would allow any American attempt to tear it apart.”

--Blix continued, “On the US side they should realise that if they unilaterally decided to reintroduce sanctions they might not be able to bring the others along. It will be messy. And in that situation the Americans may think twice.”

Tweet - @FCNL: The cost of modernizing our nuclear arsenal exceeds F-35 costs. Save hundreds of billions through disarmament

Missile defense is ineffective and costly - The Ground-based Midcourse Defense system (GMD) “which was declared operational in 2004, is designed to thwart a sneak nuclear attack by North Korea or Iran. It has performed poorly in test flights, failing to destroy mock enemy warheads about half the time — prompting many government and independent analysts to conclude that it cannot be relied on,” writes David Willman for The Los Angeles Times. Yet, the government is looking at expansion of the GMD to new sites. For “New York state and the two other areas under study — military facilities in Ohio and Michigan — the issue is not whether GMD works. The issue is jobs.”

--“All three regions are competing furiously for the prize and the economic stimulus it would deliver. Members of Congress have formed rare bipartisan coalitions to press the case for their constituents. The spectacle shows how economic considerations, as much as strategic military ones, can keep money flowing to flawed defense programs.” Another factor driving the expansion: “the muscle wielded in Washington by major defense contractors, which have billions of dollars of revenue at stake.” Full breakdown of the more than $40 billion GMD program here.

Expensive nuclear budget lines - Congress just passed a new defense budget bill which “provides for $95.6 million for the ‘research, development, test and evaluation’ of the long range standoff weapon (LRSO), which is a new nuclear-armed cruise missile that has been described by House Armed Services Committee member, Democrat John Garamendi, and others as ‘unnecessary’ and ‘inherently destabilizing,’” writes James Carden for The Nation.

--“The bill also explicitly limits the National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) from spending ‘not more than $56,000,000’ to carry out ‘the nuclear weapons dismantlement and disposition activities of the Administration.’ In other words: The defense bill allocates almost double the amount for the development of a new, unnecessary nuclear weapon as it does for the NNSA to carry out nuclear disarmament.” Full piece here.

Reevaluating nuclear modernization - On Friday, Senator Al Franken introduced a Senate resolution “urging the President to ensure that the United States' nuclear arsenal modernization plans don't jeopardize critical national security priorities.” The Senator said of the resolution, “if we don't reevaluate and modify current plans to modernize our nuclear weapons, we could end up wasting billions of taxpayer dollars and compromise our national security. My resolution urges the President to take action to ensure that the modernization plan is focused on the safety, affordability, and reliability of the arsenal, and doesn't jeopardize other economic and national security priorities.” Press release here.

Tweet - @NuclearWatchNM: In 2009, Two Nuclear Submarines, Armed with ~160 Nuclear Weapons, Collided Under the Atlantic

Russia testing the nuclear waters - “Russia has carried out a test of a revolutionary unmanned nuclear submarine, according to US intelligence sources,” writes Caroline Mortimer for The Independent. The submarines will be armed with “the largest nuclear weapons in existence,” the RS-28 Sarmat. The test “comes as Russia has stepped up its development of nuclear technology in the past year as relations with the West have deteriorated further.” Full article here.

Planning Trump’s Russian legacy - “Unless Obama can advance the agenda he set out in Prague in the next month and a half, President-elect Trump will inherit an exceedingly fragile world,” writes Moshe Kantor for The Independent. “Syria, the Ukraine conflict, the Iran deal and North Korea’s ongoing missile and nuclear development, together with mutual recriminations between Moscow and Washington, have combined to divert attention away from historical agreements on reducing deployed nuclear warheads, and left us more vulnerable than at any time since the Cold War.”

--“The leaders of Russia and America must also be committed to addressing the core issues and willing to cooperate... After years of inaction by the current administration, even small steps by the next President can make a big difference. By reviving the channels of communication, Trump and Putin have the chance to pull us back from the brink of a profound crisis of nuclear arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation. What a legacy that would be.” Full piece here.

The future of nuclear non-proliferation - “Summit Seeks New Insights on Nuclear” by Katherine Mast for KSFR Radio, featuring Ploughshares Fund’s Paul Carroll discussing next-gen nuclear non-proliferation efforts.

China sanctions North Korea - “China's Commerce Ministry said it will put a temporary ban on imports of North Korean coal as part of a U.N. Security Council resolution meant to deter Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear weapons program,” writes Michael Martina for Reuters. “The 15-member Security Council late last month put new sanctions on North Korea aimed at cutting its annual export revenue by a quarter after it carried out its fifth and largest nuclear test so far in September.”

--“‘To implement United Nations Security Council Resolution 2321, according to the People's Republic of China's Foreign Trade Law, imports of coal produced in North Korea temporarily will be stopped,’ the ministry said in a short statement on its website on Saturday... It said the ban will be in effect until the end of the year, though coal shipped before Dec. 11 that was yet arrive at Chinese customs would be exempt... Coal is one of North Korea's only sources of hard currency and its largest single export item.” Full article here.

Quick Hits:

--“Boeing Deal with Iran Boosts U.S. Economy, Strengthens Nuclear Deal” by Barbara Slavin for The Atlantic Council’s IranInsight.

--“North Korea still struggling with nuclear missile re-entry: U.S. official” by Phil Stewart for Reuters.

--“With Uncertainties Roiling Washington and Seoul, What Next for North Korea?” by Motoko Rich for The New York Times.

--“Did The Donald Suggest South Korea Build The Bomb? No, But That Might Be The Outcome Anyway,” by Jeffrey Lewis for 38 North.

--“Today in military nuclear waste,” by Lucien Crowder for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

--“Iskanders in Kalingrad,” by Jeffrey Lewis for Arms Control Wonk.

--“Will new UN sanctions prevent another North Korean nuclear test?” by George Lopez for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

--“Trump Can Crack Down on Iran Without Shredding the Nuclear Deal,” an editorial by Bloomberg.


--“Alliance Policy for Today’s North Korea,” a half-day conference hosted by the Carnegie Endowment, featuring George Perkovich, Hiroyasu Akutsu, Michael Elleman, Atsuhito Isozaki, Yonho Kim, James L. Schoff, Katsuhisa Furukawa, Sue Mi Terry, Evan Medeiros, and Victora Cha. December 15, 2:00-5:30PM, at the Carnegie Endowment, 1779 Massachusetts Avenue NW, Washington, DC 20036-2103. Details here.

--“Nuclear Security: Opportunities for the Next Administration,” on-the-record discussion on nuclear challenges and opportunities the Trump administration faces to reduce nuclear dangers hosted by The Stimson Center, featuring: Anne Harrington, Daniel Lipman, Edward McGinnins, Samantha Pitts-Kiefer, and moderated by Debra Decker. December 15 4:00-5:30PM at The Stimson Center, 1211 Connecticut Ave. NW, 8th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20036. RSVP and details here.

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

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