Putting Democracy Back into Nuclear Decisions

Lieu-Markey no-first-use bill - “Today, Congressman Ted W. Lieu (D | Los Angeles County) and Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Massachusetts) introduced the Restricting First Use of Nuclear Weapons Act of 2017. This legislation would prohibit the President from launching a nuclear first strike without a declaration of war by Congress. The crucial issue of nuclear ‘first use’ is more urgent than ever now that President Donald Trump has the power to launch a nuclear war at a moment’s notice.”

--The bill has garnered widespread support in the arms control community, with former SecDef William J. Perry voicing his support, saying, “During my period as Secretary of Defense, I never confronted a situation, or could even imagine a situation, in which I would recommend that the President make a first strike with nuclear weapons—understanding that such an action, whatever the provocation, would likely bring about the end of civilization.” Tom Collina, Policy Director at Ploughshares Fund added, “Within minutes, President Trump could unleash up to 1,000 nuclear weapons... Yet Congress has no voice in the most important decision the United States government can make. As it stands now, Congress has a larger role in deciding on the number of military bands than in preventing nuclear catastrophe.” Press release here. http://bit.ly/2j1hKxx

2016 failures haunt 2017’s Britain - “Prime Minister Theresa May of Britain found herself in political hot water on Monday over reports that an unarmed Trident missile went astray during a test at sea in June, and that the government kept the incident a secret,” write Kimiko de Freytas-Tamura and Patrick J. Lyons for The New York Times. “Ms. May was initially unwilling to acknowledge that she was aware of the test when she urged Parliament in July to invest in new Trident-armed submarines,” a $49 billion investment according to The Times.

--Trident missiles are “strategic nuclear weapon[s]... launched from a submarine that can deliver eight nuclear warheads to targets thousands of miles away. Tridents are built by Lockheed Martin... and are used by the American and British navies... It is not clear [what went wrong with the test], and the British government is not saying, beyond a statement that the test was ‘successfully concluded.’ Michael Fallon, the British defense secretary... refused to respond to news reports in Britain suggesting that the missile may have flown far off its intended course after launch.” Full story here. http://nyti.ms/2j0L7jq

The U.S./U.K. Trident Correlation - Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione talked with Amara Walker about the Trident missile failure on CNN International, analyzing how the backlash against PM May’s nuclear stonewalling echoes in America today, “We’re facing the same questions here. And on Friday we’re going to have a President who deals in alternative facts meet with a Prime Minister who deals with no facts. That is not a [recipe] for encouraging public confidence in your governments.” Video here. http://bit.ly/2kdYzxi

See also - For an in-depth look into the ramifications of the U.K.’s Trident failure for America’s own Trident missiles, see: “Does America's Most Deadly Nuclear Missile Have a Big Problem?” by Dave Majumdar for The National Interest. http://bit.ly/2jNAfCv

Tweet - @Livableworld: Sec. of Defense Mattis hesitates to support new nuclear cruise missile. http://bit.ly/2kjJk9g

Mattis and cruise missiles - “[Defense Secretary James] Mattis, who was just confirmed [last Friday], offered his general support for each aspect of the nuclear program: the Columbia-class submarine, the B-21 bomber and even a new long-range ballistic missile. But when it came to the proposed nuclear-armed cruise missile, known as the Long-Range Standoff weapon, he paused and said, ‘I need to look at that one,’” writes Director of Policy at Ploughshares Fund Tom Collina for The National Interest.

--“Why is General Mattis hedging his bets on the cruise missile?... The Pentagon is unlikely to be able to afford all the new weapons it wants to buy. Additionally, the case for the nuclear cruise missile—expected to cost at least $20 billion—is weak… Now that Obama’s nuclear refresh plan belongs to the Trump administration, Mattis would be wise to hold it at arm’s length. Trump has said that he wants to spend additional billions to “rebuild” the U.S. conventional military as well as $1 trillion on new infrastructure projects. This money will have to come from somewhere… The expensive, redundant and dangerous nuclear cruise missile is a great place to start.” Full story here. http://bit.ly/2kjJk9g

Rick Perry on U.S. nuclear arsenal - “Former Texas Gov. Rick Perry will play a major role in maintaining the U.S. nuclear arsenal if he’s confirmed as Energy secretary,” writes Tom DiChristopher for CNBC. “The United States is seeking to modernize the infrastructure around its aging nuclear arsenal at a projected cost of $1 trillion over 30 years. At the same time, the country remains at an impasse over what to do about nuclear waste that is currently stored throughout the nation. Here is how he addressed those issues and others on Thursday.”

--When asked whether he opposes nuclear weapon testing, Perry responded, “I think anyone would be of the opinion that if we don't ever have to test another nuclear weapon that would be a good thing, not just for the United States, but for the world.” In addition, “Republican Sen. Jeff Flake of Arizona asked again what the Department of Energy would do to solve the [nuclear waste] storage issue. Perry said his goal is to bring the days of kicking the can down the road to an end, but again did not offer details.” Full story here. http://cnb.cx/2kafaFs

Tweet - @NuclearWatchNM: Gizmodo: Trump's team asked Frank Klotz to stay on at NNSA until a replacement is chosen http://bit.ly/2jJKVVr

Don’t drop the biscuit - “According to a 2010 memoir by Gen. Hugh Shelton, who served under Clinton as chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, the Biscuit, as the card [with the nuclear identification codes] is nicknamed, went missing in 2000,” writes Jamie Dettmer for The Hill. “For all of the security apparatus surrounding a president — all the formal protocols and reviews of policy — it isn't the first time a U.S. commander-in-chief has been in the position of being unable to defend America or strike first. The history of the nuclear football, formally known as the Presidential Emergency Satchel, and the Biscuit is littered with mishaps.”

--“Christopher Andrew, a British intelligence academic and official historian of Britain’s domestic security agency, MI5, .... [said] ‘Like most presidents, Trump will probably keep his credit card-style Biscuit in a suit pocket,’ And that is just the start of the problem. ‘We all have lost a credit card at some time or other.’ As far as Andrew is concerned, the Biscuit arrangement is testimony to how very clever planners miscalculated human nature from the start — how the architects of the largely unchanged system since Eisenhower failed to anticipate the high probability that presidents would misplace the all-important nuclear codes.” Full article here. http://bit.ly/2j0Jt1d

Discussing Trump’s next steps - “The pursuit of nuclear arms control agreements and other efforts to draw down nuclear forces to reduce nuclear dangers is a goal that is almost as old as the nuclear weapon itself. It has been a major national security and foreign policy objective for nearly all U.S. administrations, Democratic or Republican, even though they may have gone about it in very different ways,” writes Hans Kristensen for The Cipher Brief. “As President Donald Trump’s administration takes office the question is whether it will follow this American arms control tradition and pursue new reductions of nuclear forces, or whether its policies will seek to hold the line, or even increase the nuclear arsenal.”

--“The Pentagon seems very confident that the capability of the U.S. nuclear arsenal is sufficient for national security needs – even if Russia were to greatly expand its nuclear arsenal... In other words, there is no need to expand the arsenal. The nuclear policy challenge the Trump administration faces seems to have less to do with the size and composition of the nuclear arsenal but more to do with how Trump behaves with it.” Full article here. http://bit.ly/2jadaIk

Beyond Tweets - “There is no question in my mind that nuclear policy issues — from the shape and composition of our own nuclear forces and nuclear policy to the multiple challenges of nuclear deterrence and reassurance — will be as important in the Trump Administration as they were in the Obama years,” writes Jon Wolfsthal for Medium. “Yet despite these pressing challenges there has been very little attention paid or information released from key players in the new Administration about their plans, points of view, priorities and objectives for U.S. nuclear policy... [Trump’s] senior advisors — Secretary Mattis, Secretary-designee Tillerson and NSA Mike Flynn — [are the] key voices that will help set and guide this policy over the coming months. Yet from them, too, we have heard little and should be asking more.” Full post here. http://bit.ly/2jNBpOB

If North Korea attacked Los Angeles - “Donald Trump is commander of the American nuclear arsenal, and Kim Jong Un has announced that North Korea is in the ‘final stage’ of perfecting an intercontinental ballistic missile that could travel 5,900 miles, reaching the U.S. West Coast,” writes Tom Zoellner for Los Angeles Times. “Although Los Angeles was not included on the ‘Map of Death,’ as arms control experts called it, the second-largest city in the United States still has a few assets-turned-liabilities that make it an attractive mark.”

--“Geoff Wilson, a nuclear specialist and policy associate at the Ploughshares Fund, projected what would happen if a 20-kiloton North Korean warhead powered by an AN-09 missile hit downtown Los Angeles. The immediate death toll would be 107,310, with an additional 152,140 injuries from burns and falling buildings. Many more would die from radiation sicknesses and cancers. The city would likely be rendered uninhabitable.” Full story here. http://lat.ms/2k3Fr4S

Hiroshima invites POTUS to visit - “Another voice has joined the chorus of those pleading with newly inaugurated President Trump to exercise restraint when it comes to use of nuclear weapons by the United States — this time from a Japanese city that has seen firsthand the devastating effects of an atomic bomb,” writes Amy Wang for The Washington Post. “Tadatoshi Akiba, the former mayor of Hiroshima, wrote a letter to Trump just before his inauguration, urging him to make ‘wise and peaceable’ decisions regarding nuclear weapons.”

--“‘Since the nuclear issue is delicate and complicated, you may find the perspectives of those from one of the nuclear issue's hot spots useful as you formulate the policy applicable to this area,’ wrote Akiba, who was mayor of Hiroshima from 1999 to 2011 and has long been an advocate for eliminating nuclear weapons. In his letter, dated Jan. 10, Akiba extended an invitation for Trump to visit Japan so he can speak to hibakusha [survivors of the 1945 bombing] in Hiroshima and Nagasaki... Akiba also suggested inviting survivors living in the United States to meet him, because ‘their struggles are worth listening to.’” Full story here. http://wapo.st/2jmFQ4l

Tweet - @ArmsControlWonk: 10 years since Shultz, @SecDef19, Nunn, and Kissinger called for the elimination of nuclear weapons. 10! Time flies. http://on.wsj.com/2fr437F

A non-nuclear Iran - “President Trump begins his tenure as commander-in-chief without facing immediate war and peace decisions with respect to Iran’s nuclear program,” writes Ryan Costello for Huffington Post. “This is thanks to the Obama administration’s painstaking work to negotiate a comprehensive agreement with international partners... Iran continues to implement its nuclear obligations under the accord, which makes the primary question whether the Trump administration or the new Congress will precipitate an immediate crisis by killing the deal unilaterally or backing measures that would put at risk the security gains provided by the accord.

--“If the accord is killed, as [Senator Tom] Cotton predicts, Iran’s nuclear program will be unshackled, international monitoring of Iranian nuclear facilities will be greatly diminished, and sanctions pressure on Iran will almost certainly deteriorate. While Trump might make vows of a better deal, the trust needed to sustain negotiations would be gutted... This makes it more important than ever for those lawmakers in Congress who oppose the U.S. backing out of the JCPOA to hold the line on bad legislation, and to put pressure on Trump’s advisors to stick to the accord.” Full article here. http://huff.to/2jWeDDx

See also - “Israeli security establishment to Netanyahu: Don't touch Iran deal,” by Ben Caspit for Al Monitor. http://bit.ly/2jmCnmp

Don’t tread on Iran deal - “With the Trump administration, some see an opportunity to undermine the [Iran nuclear] agreement by imposing more non-nuclear sanctions on Iran. The assumption is that this could provoke Tehran to withdraw from the deal, snapping back the ‘crippling’ sanctions, which—according to common wisdom—brought the country to the negotiating table in 2013” writes Tytti Erästö, Roger L. Hale fellow at Ploughshares Fund for LobeLog. “Others, such as the nominee for Secretary of State Rex Tillerson, seem to want to go back to the previous policy of ‘no uranium enrichment in Iran,’ at least after the deal expires.”

--“The logic in both of these approaches is seriously flawed. Coercion will not work, not only because Europeans are unlikely to renew their support for the oil and financial sanctions, but also because the common wisdom about sanctions’ effectiveness is wrong. In reality, the coercive approach to Iran has repeatedly backfired, and crippling sanctions are no exception. As for Tillerson’s expectation that Iran would simply give up uranium enrichment in return for ‘access, the means, to peaceful uses of nuclear materials,’ it too is based on a widely shared but biased interpretation of recent history, which routinely omits Iran’s bitter experiences of nuclear cooperation with international partners.” Full story here.http://bit.ly/2jsdZOs

Quick Hits:

--“At the Last Minute, Trump Asks Nuclear Safety Administrator to Stick Around After All,” by Ashley Feinberg for Gizmodo. http://bit.ly/2jJKVVr

--“Britain's Doomsday Nuke Subs Still Run Windows XP,” by Kyle Mizokami for Popular Mechanics. http://bit.ly/1PqUHQz

--“South Korea will stick with Thaad as nuclear threat from North Korea grows,” via CNBC. http://cnb.cx/2jammwa

--“U.S. did not think sanctions would cause N.K. to give up nukes in 1991: report,” via Yonhap News. http://bit.ly/2jNME9s

--“Will Trump Make Iran His Partner or His Adversary?” by Ariane Tabatabai and Dina Esfandiary for Lawfare Blog. http://bit.ly/2jqcrDG

--“Trump’s Nuclear Defense Plan: Another ‘Star Wars’ Budget Buster?” by Eric Pianin for The Fiscal Times http://bit.ly/2jaq4WE

--“Is the Kalma Ballistic Missile Test Site Ready for an ICBM Launch?” by Joseph Bermudez for 38 North. http://bit.ly/2j17tBk

--“Timeline: North Korea nuclear tests versus United Nations sanctions,” by Ben Westcott and Joyce Tseng for CNN. http://cnn.it/2jYUUpS

--“Passing the ‘Football’: The Future of U.S. Nuclear Policy,” by Will Edwards for The Cipher Brief. http://bit.ly/2jVoL1X

--“Dear Mr President: welcome to the real world,” by David Andelman for CNN. http://cnn.it/2knOcu6

--“Russia is limiting expectations for a Trump presidency,” by Andrew Roth for The Washington Post. http://wapo.st/2knTEgr

--“Can Europe Save The Iran Deal?” by Reza Marashi for The Huffington Post. http://huff.to/2jCZz0r


--“Iranian Attitudes About US-Iranian Relations in the Trump Era,” a panel discussion featuring Ms. Sanam Naraghi-Anderlini, Dr. Ebrahim Mohseni, Dr. Paul Pillar, moderated by Barbara Slavin, and hosted by The Atlantic Council. January 25, 2017 from 3:30 p.m. to 5:00 p.m. at Atlantic Council, 1030 15th Street NW, 12th Floor, Washington, DC. RSVP and details here. http://bit.ly/2ixGZXU

--“Atomic Football: The Nuclear Playbook in a Strange New Era,” a panel discussion featuring former U.S. Secretary of Defense William Perry, former covert operations officer for CIA Valerie Plame, and other experts. The event is hosted by Ploughshares Fund on January 25, 2017 at 6:30-9:00pm at the Norman Lear Center, 4222 Vineland Avenue, North Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA. More details here. http://bit.ly/2idpEDf

--“Annual Doomsday Clock Announcement,” an international news conference hosted by The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists will take place on January 26, 2017 at 10:00am. Speakers of the event are: Lawrence Krauss, director, Origins Project at Arizona State University; Thomas Pickering, former US Under Secretary of State for Political Affairs; and others. Watch the live stream here. http://bit.ly/2j147OS

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