Trump Has One Hand on Nuclear Codes, Another Choking the Iran Deal

Nukes just a click away - “We need to get Donald Trump’s finger off the nuclear button. This is not a partisan plea,” writes Mark Hertsgaard for The Nation. “It is not a call to lower America’s guard against potential nuclear attacks. It is an appeal to common sense in the face of a president whose volatile temperament and erratic judgment should rule out allowing him to single-handedly start a nuclear war. At present, US law and long-standing policy give president Trump unilateral, unstoppable authority to launch a nuclear attack.”

--“He need not present a compelling reason for such an attack; perhaps he simply decides that it’s time to teach North Korea a lesson. He need not notify, much less obtain agreement from, leaders in Congress or the secretary of defense or other military officials. Trump’s status as commander in chief empowers him and him alone to unleash nuclear weapons at a moment’s notice.” Joe Cirincione, president of Ploughshares Fund explained, “‘four minutes after he gave the order, missiles would fly; 30 minutes later, they would explode on their targets.’ Go wrong with nuclear weapons, and there may be no tomorrow.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @plough_shares: Ever doubt Trump can start a nuclear war as fast as he can tweet? Read this. It'd start in 4 min #RestrictFirstUse

See also - “Trump signals he might pull out of the Iran nuclear deal. What’s at stake?” featuring Former Senior Adviser to President Obama Rob Malley for PBS Newshour. Watch the conversation here.

Trump’s false claims on Iran - “A pernicious claim is taking root in some quarters in Washington that Iran has violated the July 2015 nuclear accord,” writes Mark Fitzpatrick for the International Institute for Strategic Studies’ blog IISS Voices. “The unfounded claims are contrary to the considered judgment of every government and international organization involved. If the Trump Administration or members of Congress use the false claims to try to kill the JCPOA, the US will be isolated to no good purpose.”

--“President Trump reportedly did not want to make the 17 July certification of compliance, and ordered political aides to come up with a rationale for not doing so the next time the 90-day certification requirement comes up. This is highly improper. Certifications should be made on the basis of fact, not politics or ideology. To buttress a non-certification decision, the political aides will likely turn to the false claims that have been made about Iran’s implementation of the deal. If the US were to end its obligations under the JCPOA under a false pretext, no major partner would join in re-imposing sanctions. Iran would have an excuse to ramp up enrichment and the world would be back in crisis mode.” Full article here.

Take action - The Project on Nuclear Issues at CSIS along with Ploughshares Fund and Nuclear Science and Security Consortium held a debate in Berkeley, California on June 20, 2017. The debate centered around the North Korean nuclear weapons program. The debate features Paul Carroll of Ploughshares Fund, Melissa Hanham of the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, Kelly Magsamen, Former Principal Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Asian Pacific and Security Affairs and John Warden of SAIC. Watch the entire debate here.

Trump abuses Iranian inspections - “The Trump administration is pushing for inspections of suspicious Iranian military sites in a bid to test the strength of the nuclear deal that President Donald Trump desperately wants to cancel,” reports the Associated Press. “To force inspections of new sites in Iran, the U.S. would need to enlist the support of the IAEA and a majority of the countries in the deal. But the U.S. has run into early resistance over concerns it has yet to produce a ‘smoking gun’ — compelling evidence of illicit activity at a military site that the IAEA could use to justify inspections, officials said.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @tparsi: If Iran quits #IranDeal due to fraudulent inspections requests, Trump will be off the hook, the calculation is, making war an option again.

See also - “France says U.S. sanctions on Iran, Russia look illegal” by Ingrid Melander for Reuters here.

North Korea close to ICBM - “North Korea will be able to field a reliable, nuclear-capable intercontinental ballistic missile as early as next year, U.S. officials have concluded in a confidential assessment that dramatically shrinks the timeline for when Pyongyang could strike North American cities with atomic weapons,” write Ellen Nakashima, Anna Fifield and Joby Warrick for The Washington Post. “The finding further increases the pressure on U.S. and Asian leaders to halt North Korea’s progress before Pyongyang can threaten the world with nuclear-tipped missiles.”

--“‘The danger is that decision time and warning is greatly reduced when North Korea has the weapons, and that escalation can happen quickly,’ said Jon Wolfsthal, senior director for arms control and nonproliferation with the Obama administration’s National Security Council. The specter of a nuclear-armed, ICBM-capable Kim ‘takes the risk to a new level but does not change the nature of the threat we have faced for some time,’ Wolfsthal said. ‘We have to deter North Korea from ever using any nuclear weapons and make clear that any move to use these weapons is suicide.’” For the full article, click here.

See also - “North Korea reveals never-before seen images of missile program” by Dave Schmerler for CNN here.

Tweet - @nukes_of_hazard: War with #NorthKorea would be catastrophic. That's why we need to pursue diplomacy.

Get nukes out of Turkey - “The U.S. should move its nuclear weapons from Incirlik Air Base and start looking for alternatives to the longtime military hub in Turkey, a country that can no longer be fully relied on, analysts and former military officials said. The U.S. military maintains about 50 nuclear warheads at Incirlik, according to nuclear watchdog organizations,” writes John Vandiver for Stars and Stripes. “‘It is the worst place possible to be keeping nuclear weapons,’ said Joseph Cirincione, president of the Ploughshares Fund, a prominent nonprofit advocacy group.”

--“Stored at Incirlik are B61 gravity bombs, which at their maximum yield are about 10 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima, Cirincione said. The weapons can be dialed back to explode with a smaller yield. But there is little to no strategic value in keeping the weapons at Incirlik, where there are no aircraft capable of carrying the bombs… The warheads are more of a legacy of the Cold War than a crucial part of the U.S.’s nuclear deterrent strategy, he said. ‘It is bureaucratic inertia and some vague extended deterrence concerns that keep them there,’ Cirincione said.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Hey, NATO, Let’s Move Those 50 US Thermonuclear Weapons Out of Turkey” by Joe Cirincione for Defense One here.

A response to nuclear ban critics - “Are the 122 states that voted for the treaty expected instead to quietly accept a permanently nuclear-armed world and the dangers that go with it?” asks Nick Ritchie in Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “To advocate only for those changes in nuclear practices that leave the logic of deterrence undisturbed and the legitimacy of nuclear violence intact? To trust the nuclear-armed to manage their arsenals ‘responsibly?’ Are these states not allowed to exercise their collective will through the United Nations—to shift the debate on and context around a difficult transnational problem that affects them just as much as it affects the nuclear-armed? Arguing in advance that the treaty will be ineffective is arguing for the nuclear status quo—a status quo that a great many states find unacceptable.” For the full article, click here.

Tweet - @globalzero: #NuclearBan represents struggle btwn "disempowered non-nuclear many compared to the empowered nuclear few."

Quick Hits

--“Trump and Co. drianing the energy from the Energy Department” by Lucien Crowder for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists here.

--“Vatican conference aims to build momentum for nuclear disarmament” by Andrea Gagliarducci for Catholic News Agency here.

--“The Trillion-Dollar Military Budget” by William Hartung for War is Boring here.

--“Iran Says ‘Hostile’ U.S. Sanctions Vote Undermines Nuclear Deal” by Ladane Nasseri for Bloomberg Politics here.

--“Bernie Sanders on how to avoid war with North Korea,” an abridged podcast transcript from A Chat with Bernie Sanders on The Guardian here.


--“The Ramifications of Rouhani's Reelection.” Hosted by the Atlantic Council’s Future of Iran Initiative and the Center for International and Security Studies at Maryland. Moderated by Barbara Slavin, featuring Paul Pillar, Ebrahim Mohseni and Nadereh Chamlou. Friday, July 28, 2017. 12:00p.m. Atlantic Council, 1030 15th St NW, 12th Floor, Washington, D.C. 20005. Details and registration here.

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