North Korea Raises the Stakes with Sixth Nuclear Test
On the radar: Aftermath of Kim’s sixth nuclear test; Security Council weighs fuel cut-off; Tensions rising between Moon and Trump; North Korea’s threats no longer unimaginable; Iran Deal proving its worth
What now for North Korea? - “Over the weekend, North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test, claiming it had detonated a thermonuclear bomb for the first time. The regime in Pyongyang has been signaling for months its intent to unveil such a weapon, and American experts are now coming to grips with what was once an ‘unthinkable’ scenario — that North Korea may pose a credible nuclear threat to the U.S. mainland,” writes Ishaan Tharoor for The Washington Post. “U.S. officials will focus this week on extending the already tight regime of international sanctions further, possibly seeking to cut oil exports to North Korea and curb Pyongyang's ability to send cheap North Korean laborers to neighboring China and Russia.”
--“It's unclear whether Moscow and Beijing would go along with such punitive measures at the Security Council, though neither country ruled out new sanctions on Monday. But both the Chinese and Russian ambassadors to the United Nations reiterated that diplomacy and dialogue — not simply sanctions — were essential to calming tensions.” For the full article, click here.
Haley: "exhaust all diplomatic options" - “The Trump Administration, warning that North Korea is ‘begging for war,’ is pressing China and other members of the United Nations Security Council to cut off all oil and other fuels to the country. The effort, which senior administration officials described as a last best chance to resolve the standoff with the North using sanctions rather than military means, came as South Korean officials said Monday that they had seen evidence that North Korea may be preparing another test, likely of an intercontinental ballistic missile,” write David E. Sanger and Choe Sang-Hun for The New York Times.
--“‘We have kicked the can down the road long enough,’ [American ambassador to the United Nations Nikki Haley] told the council in an emergency meeting. ‘There is no more road left.’ Ms. Haley did not threaten unilateral military action by Washington or repeat the president’s statement on Twitter that South Korea’s effort to engage the North directly was a form of ‘appeasement.’ She said instead that ‘the time has come for us to exhaust all of our diplomatic means before it’s too late.’” For the full article, click here.
See also - “What’s left to sanction in North Korea after its big nuclear test?” by Jethro Mullen for CNN Money here.
Ploughshares in the news - Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione was on CNN this weekend talking North Korean technological advances with Brian Todd here. He was also on the Bill Press show this morning discussing the North Korean hydrogen bomb test here.
Tensions tempered by arms sales - “U.S. President Donald Trump agreed to support billions of dollars in new weapons sales to South Korea after North Korea’s largest nuclear test, while his ambassador to the United Nations said the U.S. would seek the strongest possible sanctions against Kim Jong Un’s regime,” write Shinhye Kang, Seyoon Kim and Erik Wasson for Bloomberg Politics. “Trump ‘provided his conceptual approval’ for South Korea to buy ‘many billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment’ from the U.S.”
--“Trump, who reportedly threatened over the weekend to pull out of the U.S.-South Korea trade agreement, had taken aim on Sunday at President Moon’s administration. South Korea is finding its ‘talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work,’ he said on Twitter. In response, Moon’s office said war shouldn’t be repeated and that South Korea and its allies ‘will pursue the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula through peace.’ … The tensions between the allies comes as Trump’s administration looks to convince China and Russia to support stronger sanctions against North Korea.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “U.S. to continue deployment of defense assets to Korea: Pacific Fleet chief” by Lee Chi-dong for Yonhap News here.
Thermonuclear North Korea no longer unimaginable - “On Saturday, North Korean state media released images of Kim Jong Un standing next to what appeared to be a two-stage thermonuclear weapon small enough to arm one of North Korea’s long-range missiles that can strike the United States. And before analysts could pretend it was filled with styrofoam peanuts … kaboom! North Korea conducted its largest nuclear explosion ever. North Korea announced that it had tested a two-stage thermonuclear weapon,” writes Jeffrey Lewis for Foreign Policy. “We have struggled, over and over again, to accept North Korea’s stated goal of possessing a thermonuclear weapon that can be delivered against targets in the United States.”
--“We’ve gotten comfortable with the idea that wars are things that happen in other places — that we can ‘take out’ tinpot dictators with little or no risk to ourselves. The idea that the North Koreans could retaliate, that they could threaten us here in the United States, is something that U.S. officials have openly described as ‘unimaginable.’ The thing is, you don’t have to imagine it, at least not any more. It’s right there in front you – the missile launches on the Fourth of July, the pictures of Kim Jong Un smiling with his bomb, and now a nice loud bang.” Full article here.
North Korea proves JCPOA’s worth - “It is the height of irresponsibility for the Trump administration to even be considering walking away from the JCPOA while North Korean missiles are zipping over the heads of U.S. allies and a wealth of other national security problems remains unchecked,” write Richard Nephew and Ilan Goldenberg for Foreign Policy. “Far from being a necessary component of managing those problems (as some Iran deal skeptics claim), walking away from the JCPOA or convincing Iran to do so will only magnify the problems facing the United States in the Middle East and beyond.”
--“In October, [Donald Trump] will have to decide whether to keep certifying Iranian compliance with the terms of the JCPOA, something all but certain to be justified on the basis of the facts of Iranian nuclear activities. His decision will mark a vital turning point for U.S. relations with much of the rest of the world and the course of international nuclear nonproliferation efforts more generally.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “How Iraq War Hawks Can Help Stop Trump From Going To War With Iran” by Jon Finer, Rob Malley and Jeff Prescott for The New Yorker here.
Tweet - @atomicbell: As more terrifying news comes in about the latest DPRK nuke test, it's even more important to resist Trump's attempts to destroy the JCPOA.
--“Sanctions on North Korean Oil Imports: Impacts and Efficacy” by Peter Hayes and David von Hippel for Nautilus Institute here.
--“South Korea’s defense minister suggests bringing back tactical U.S. nuclear weapons” by Anna Fifield for The Washington Post here.
--“As North Korea Flexes Nuclear Muscles, U.S. Picks a Fight With South” by Jonathan Cheng for The Wall Street Journal here.
--“How does North Korea’s latest nuclear breakthrough affect U.S. options?” by Nick Schifrin for PBS NewsHour here.
--“Trump agrees ‘in principle’ to scrap South Korean warhead weight limit: White House” by Christine Kim and Valerie Volcovici for Reuters here.
-- “Science Exchanges with Iran: Mutually Beneficial but Uncertain Future.” Hosted by Atlantic Council, moderated by Barbara Slavin. Featuring David Laylin, John Limbert and Glenn Schweitzer. September 8, 2017. 12:00 p.m. - 1:30 p.m. Details here.
--“Losing an Enemy -- Obama, Iran and the Triumph of Diplomacy.” Hosted by the University of Maryland Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland and cosponsored by the UMD Roshan Institute for Persian Studies. Featuring Trita Parsi. September 14, 2017. 12:00 p.m. - 1:15 p.m. Details here.
--“How Europe and Iran’s Neighbors View the Nuclear Deal Future.” Hosted by Atlantic Council, moderated by Barbara Slavin. Featuring David O’Sullivan, Sir Kim Darroch, Hussein Ibish, and more. September 25, 2017. 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Details here.
--“Debate: Future of the INF Treaty.” Hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, cosponsored by Ploughshares Fund. Featuring Thomas Countryman, Alexandra Bell, Franklin C. Miller and Rebeccah Heinrichs. September 27, 2017. 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. Details here.