Urgent Talks Needed to Avoid War on Korean Peninsula

Siegfried Hecker: talk to Kim - “There is an urgent reason to talk to Pyongyang now: to avoid a nuclear conflict on the Korean Peninsula. The greatest North Korean threat we face is not from a nuclear-tipped missile hitting the US mainland, but from Washington stumbling into an inadvertent nuclear war on the Korean peninsula,” says Siegfried Hecker in an interview with Elisabeth Eaves at Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. “The problem is that we know nothing about Kim Jong-un and the military leaders that control his arsenal. It’s time to talk and find out… Talk of war is dangerous and irresponsible.”

--“Military action could slow the North’s program, but not eliminate it. Threats of war, moreover, only make the North redouble efforts to hold the United States at risk. And they greatly exacerbate the greatest risk of all: an inadvertent war on the Korean peninsula with the potential for hundreds of thousands of deaths, including thousands of American citizens. Unfortunately, some American leaders believe that if there is a war, keeping it on the Korean peninsula will keep us safe. I maintain that a nuclear war anywhere will have catastrophic consequences for America.” Full article here.

See also - Watch Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione talk “preventive war” with North Korea with Joy Reid on MSNBC’s AM Joy here.

Tweet - @38NorthNK: U.S. Policy on North Korea: More Pressure, But Where’s the “Engagement?” via @ArmsControlNow https://t.co/N08irnCua5

Tough sanctions slapped on North Korea - “The U.N. Security Council on Saturday unanimously approved a sanctions resolution that the United States said was the strictest imposed ‘on any country in a generation,’ banning North Korea from exporting many of its most lucrative products, ranging from coal to iron ore to seafood and even some of its artwork. The tough new sanctions would slice $1 billion from North Korea’s total annual exports of $3 billion, the State Department said,” writes Barbara Demick for the Los Angeles Times.

--“Secretary of State Rex Tillerson said Tuesday before leaving for a trip to Asia that the United States isn’t trying to overthrow Kim, but hopes sanctions will serve as ‘peaceful pressure’ to bring his government to negotiations. ‘We’re trying to convey to the North Koreans we are not your enemy, we are not your threat,’ he added. ‘But you are presenting an unacceptable threat to us, and we have to respond.’” Full article here.

See also - “North Korea Rails Against New Sanctions. Whether They Will Work Is Unclear.” by Jane Perlez and Rick Gladstone for The New York Times here.

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ASEAN engages with North Korea - “A Southeast Asian diplomatic meeting quietly turned into the first real multiparty bargaining session in eight years to tackle North Korea’s nuclear program, as the country’s top diplomat held a rare round of talks with his counterparts from China, South Korea and Russia,” writes Gardiner Harris for The New York Times. “Despite Mr. Ri’s meetings in Manila on Sunday and Monday, none of the diplomats gathered in the Philippine capital even hinted that North Korea had budged on its stubborn pursuit of the ability to send an intercontinental ballistic missile to the United States.”

--“The United States and Japan were the only members of the so-called six-party talks on the North’s nuclear ambitions, which ended in failure in 2009, whose diplomats did not meet this week with Foreign Minister Ri Yong-ho of North Korea. But Rex W. Tillerson, the American secretary of state, kept the door open for talks, saying at a news conference on Monday that he had no specific preconditions for negotiating with Pyongyang.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Japan, South Korea and U.S. plan international push to denuclearize North” for Kyodo News Service here.

Tweet - @GlobalZero: If US attacks North Korea, its choosing sure catastrophe over threat of one that could be resolved diplomatically. https://t.co/OMF3Fthuvl

Korean consequences of sabotaging Iran Deal - “Even under current conditions, such talks would be fraught, the odds tilted against success. But if the U.S. thrusts aside the nuclear deal with Iran—and uses contrived evidence to do so—the message to North Korea and others will be that America’s word is disposable and the U.S. cannot be trusted to honor its commitments. This would deal a possibly fatal blow to any chance of a diplomatic effort to, if not halt or reverse, at a minimum slow down North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs,” write Aaron David Miller, Richard Sokolsky and Robert Malley for POLITICO Magazine.

--“The administration’s too-clever-by-half strategy of messing around with the Iranian nuclear accord—doing just enough to tempt Tehran to walk away from the deal after Trump publicly acknowledged that his goal is to undo it—almost certainly would undermine its credibility with nations whose cooperation it desperately needs to deal with the North Korean nuclear challenge.” Full article here.

Europe to the rescue - “Trump’s abandonment of the JCPOA would be a major blow, but it need not be a fatal one,” write Tyler Cullis and Reza Marashi for Foreign Policy. “The agreement, after all, is not a bilateral deal between the United States and Iran — European countries (as well as Russia and China) also struck the deal and now have the opportunity to deter Trump from sabotaging it. If it has the political courage to chart a course independent of Trump, Europe can protect both American and European interests by preserving the deal.”

--“To start, Europe should preemptively and publicly communicate that it will not follow Trump’s lead if the United States leaves the deal. Europe can also act preemptively to mitigate the consequences of any potential reimposition of U.S. sanctions by revitalizing an EU regulation forbidding European compliance with American extraterritorial sanctions. Together, these moves can serve as potent warning shots to those who believe that Trump — thanks to the passivity of Europe — can revive America’s sanctions leverage. American and European interests should not be held hostage by a rabid pack of ideologues in the White House.” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Is Trump trying to kill the Iran Nuclear Agreement?” featuring Joe Cirincione for Public Radio International. Listen to the discussion here.

Tweet - @BulletinAtomic: The Europeans have 90 days to save the nuclear agreement with Iran http://ow.ly/qHgt30eeTSx

Disarmament: the right thing to do - For the 72nd anniversary of the bombing of Hiroshima, Vincent J. Intondi writes for Huffpost that “it is time for nuclear disarmament organizers, arms control advocates, the Washington D.C. beltway think-tanks, and peace activists around the country to once again build a movement to stop Donald Trump from using nuclear weapons. We cannot pretend that cooler heads will prevail… It is a moral imperative that we act now. So once again, this August I implore those who read this to organize. While I have written these words before, today they seem more urgent, more important, and more critical than ever: No More Hiroshimas!” For the full article, click here.

See also - “Hiroshima and Nagasaki -- 72 years later,” a reading list of resources for Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists here.

Tweet - @SecDef19: 72 years ago today, the U.S. dropped an atomic bomb on Hiroshima. We must all work to prevent another such nuclear catastrophe

Quick Hits

--“How a nuclear war in Korea could start, and how it might end” for The Economist here.

--“Reset U.S.-South Korea Alliance Objectives to Minimize North Korean Threat” by Doug Bandow for HuffPost here.

--“Tracking North Korea's missile tests” featuring Jeffrey Lewis and Kristie Lu Stout for CNN here.

--“Delaying Tactics: New Sanctions, Still No Strategy” by Richard Nephew for 38 North here.

--“Trump says Iran is violating the nuclear deal. It isn’t.” by Alex Ward for Vox here.

--“Iran ridicules US push for inspecting its military sites” for Associated Press here.

--“Endangering a Landmark Nuclear Treaty” by Jonathan Marshall for Consortium News here.

--“Trump is trying to politicize intelligence to support his Iran policy. That’s dangerous.” by David S. Cohen for The Washington Post here.

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