Trump’s Bellicose Bluster Raises Alarm
On the radar: Dangerous rhetoric from Trump at United Nations; Falsehoods of missile defense; European leaders urge Iran Deal recertification; Tillerson to engage with Iranian counterpart; Trump and Netanyahu to talk Iran Deal withdrawal
Trump’s bellicose U.N. speech - “President Trump warned the United Nations in a speech Tuesday that the world faces ‘great peril’ from gathering threats posed by rogue regimes with powerful weapons and terrorists with expanding reach across the globe, issuing a call to fellow leaders to join the United States in the fight to defeat them,” writes David Nakamura for The Washington Post. “He emphasized that if Kim Jong Un's regime continued to threaten the United States and to destabilize East Asia, his administration would be prepared to defend the country and its allies.”
--“‘We will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea,’ Trump said, before calling Kim by a nickname he gave the dictator on Twitter over the weekend. ‘Rocket Man is on a suicide mission for himself.’ … Trump also called the U.N.-backed Iran nuclear deal ‘an embarrassment” to the United States and hinted that his administration could soon declare Tehran out of compliance. That could potentially unravel the accord. Trump and his top aides have been critical of Iran for its support of terrorism in the Middle East.’” For the full article, click here.
U.S. missile defense is unreliable - “The number one reason we don’t shoot down North Korea’s missiles is that we cannot,” writes Joe Cirincione for Defense One. “Neither Japan nor the United States could have intercepted the missile. None of the theater ballistic missile defense weapons in existence can reach that high. It is hundreds of kilometers too high for the Aegis interceptors deployed on Navy ships off Japan. Even higher for the THAAD systems in South Korea and Guam. Way too high for the Patriot systems in Japan, which engage largely within the atmosphere.”
--In terms of long-range missile defense systems, “‘the success rate of the GMD systems in flight intercept tests has been dismal,’ says former director of operational testing for the Pentagon, Philip Coyle. Our chances of intercepting a threat missile, even under ideal conditions, are basically ‘as good as a coin toss,’ admits the former head of the Missile Defense Agency, retired Lt. Gen. Trey Obering.” Cirincione concludes: “North Korea’s ballistic missile threat is real. We need to know if our missile defenses are for real.” Full article here.
See also - “Defending Against a North Korean Missile [video]” by Robin Stein and Drew Jordan for The New York Times here.
Ploughshares Fund in the news - Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione was on Bloomberg talking about North Korea - watch here. Ploughshares Fund Mellon-ACLS Fellow John Carl Baker talked about building momentum for a social justice-driven nuclear disarmament movement with Beatrice Fihn on Radio Open Source with Christopher Lydon here. Talking about President Trump’s UN agenda is Ploughshares Fund’s Philip Yun on CTV News here.
Europeans urge support for Iran Deal - “Ahead of President Trump's speech to the U.N. General Assembly this week, more than 70 top European officials signed a statement urging the United States to re-certify that Iran is in compliance with the 2015 nuclear deal,” writes Melissa Etehad for Los Angeles Times. “The European statement said that while it wants to address U.S. concerns over Iran's nuclear ambitions, it would be ‘unwarranted’ for it not to certify that Iran is in accordance with the terms of the agreement. The statement urged Trump and the U.S. Congress to ‘accept that the fastest path to an Iranian nuclear weapon would be to undermine this agreement.’ It said that not re-certifying Iran would damage the United States' credibility with Europe.”
--“‘Unilateral U.S. action that jeopardized the [nuclear agreement] would be a grave mistake,’ the statement said. ‘It would make it harder to keep Iran and its region non-nuclear and more difficult for the United States and her allies to tackle unacceptable Iranian behavior.’ The signatories — who included former British Defense Secretary George Robertson, former NATO Secretary-General Wolfgang Ischinger and a wide range of other political, diplomatic and military figures — warned that not re-certifying Iran would give hard-liners more ammunition for their campaign to reduce engagement with the West.” For the full article, click here.
See also - “France tells Trump that quitting Iran nuclear deal risks ‘spiral of proliferation’” by Julian Borger for The Guardian here.
Tillerson, Zarif to talk at UNGA - Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will take part in nuclear talks this week “with Iranian Foreign Minister Javad Zarif and representatives of other key powers, according to several diplomatic sources, marking the first time the Trump administration’s top diplomat will meet with his Iranian counterpart,” writes Colum Lynch for Foreign Policy. “The ministerial meeting — which is scheduled for Wednesday evening at 6 PM on the sidelines of the U.N. General Assembly debate — will be hosted by European Union foreign policy chief Federica Mogherini and will include senior diplomats from Britain, China, France, Germany, and Russia.”
--“Though there are no apparent plans for Tillerson and Zarif to meet privately, the ministerial meeting sends an unexpected signal that Washington is willing to engage with Iran, at least as part of a broader diplomatic grouping, regarding the fate of the deal. But few diplomats familiar with the discussion were prepared to bet that the White House is ready to fully embrace the deal.” Full article here.
See also - “Iran’s Rouhani: US will pay a high cost if Trump scraps nuclear deal” by Christiane Amanpour for CNN here.
Early Warning on hiatus - Early Warning will be on hiatus this Thursday, September 21. We will be back up and in your inboxes next Tuesday, September 26.
Netanyahu pushes Iran Deal withdrawal - “Today, Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu will meet with Donald Trump at the White House and push the U.S. to withdraw from the nuclear accord with Iran. Netanyahu will present an argument that Trump already has come to accept: America’s adherence to the nuclear deal cannot solely depend on Iran’s compliance with the agreement, but also whether Iran’s other policies challenge U.S. national interests,” writes Trita Parsi for HuffPost. “The Trump administration has desperately sought a pretext to quit the nuclear deal and shed the limits the deal imposed on the U.S.’s ability to pursue aggressive policies against Iran ― even if it also sheds the limits the deal imposed on Iran’s nuclear activities.”
--“Washington’s hawks and Netanyahu are complaining about the nuclear deal’s singular focus on Iran’s nuclear activities. The real threat is Iran’s regional ‘expansion,’ they suddenly claim. Allowing the nuclear deal to restrain the U.S. from confronting Tehran in the region, or allowing sanctions relief to proceed under these circumstances, would not serve U.S. national security interests, the Trump administration argues. whatever line Netanyahu uses to compel Trump to quit the nuclear deal, the end result is inescapable: Killing the deal will put the U.S. back on a path to war with Iran.” Full article here.
See also - “Conservatives should want to preserve the Iran nuclear deal” by John Glaser for the Washington Examiner here.
--“Russia and China urge 'peaceful' solution with North Korea” for Deutsche Welle here.
--“UN chief stresses need for diplomacy on North Korea” by Dagyum Ji for NK News here.
--“Feinstein pushes back on Trump’s N. Korea policy” by Olivia Beavers for The Hill here.
--“Obama hands scramble to save Iran deal” by Nahal Toosi for POLITICO here.
--“The Ship Has Sailed on Keeping Iran Out of Syria” by Ilan Goldenberg for Matzav Blog here.
--“Former National-Security Adviser Talks North Korean Diplomacy” by Madeleine Neal for The Daily Iowan here.
--“A Glimmer Of Hope? Russia, US Officials Revive Dialogue On Arms Control” by Tyler Durden for ZeroHedge here.
--“Economic Sanctions and the Nuclear Issue: Lessons From North Korean Trade” by Ruediger Frank for 38 North here.
--“Is America About to Dump the INF Treaty?” by Dave Majumdar for The National Interest here.
--“John Kerry compares climate change to North Korea” by John Siciliano for the Washington Examiner here.
--“This is what a nuclear war would do to the planet” by Jurica Dujmovic for Market Watch 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. Monday, September 25, 2017. 12:00 p.m. - 3:30 p.m. Atlantic Council, 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details here.
--“Debate: Future of the INF Treaty.” Hosted by the Center for Strategic and International Studies, co-sponsored by Ploughshares Fund. Featuring Thomas Countryman, Alexandra Bell, Franklin C. Miller and Rebeccah Heinrichs. Wednesday, September 27, 2017. 4:30 p.m. - 6:00 p.m. CSIS Headquarters, 1616 Rhode Island Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20036. Details here.
--“Consequences of a Collapse of the Iran Nuclear Deal” Hosted by the Center for a New American Security. Two panels will discuss ramifications of withdrawing from the Iran Deal. Panelists include: Richard Nephew, Elizabeth Rosenberg, Ilan Goldenberg, Colin Kahl and more. Tuesday, October 3, 2017. 1:30 p.m. - 4:00 p.m. Center for a New American Security, 1152 15th Street NW, Suite 950, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details and registration here.
--“How Do You Solve a Problem Like North Korea?” Hosted by CATO Institute. Speakers include: Joe Cirincione, Bill Richardson, Suzanne DiMaggio, Joshua Pollack, John Glaser and more. Monday, November 6, 2017. 9:00 a.m. - 12:00 p.m. Hayek Auditorium, Cato Institute, 1000 Massachusetts Ave NW, Washington, D.C. 20001. Details and registration here.