U.S. Mainland in Reach of Korean ICBM, Real Strategy Needed
On the radar: North Korea’s successful missile test; Siegfried Hecker on latest test; Working with a nuclear North Korea; U.S. mainland in North Korea’s reach; Arms control in peril under Trump; How to avoid nuclear Iran; Trump’s inspection abuse pressures Iran
North Korea tests ICBM - “North Korea has taken another bold step toward achieving its stated goal of being able to send a nuclear weapon to the U.S. mainland, firing an intercontinental ballistic missile late Friday that highlights the regime’s rapid technological progress,” writes Anna Fifield for The Washington Post. “This latest provocation compounds the problem facing the Trump administration and North Korea’s neighbors: how to stop the regime of North Korean leader Kim Jong Un from making progress with its nuclear weapons program.”
--“‘The Trump administration needs to focus on diplomacy as well as sanctions,’ said Kelsey Davenport, director for nonproliferation policy at the Arms Control Association… ‘Washington’s diplomacy deficit is further compounded by the dangerous illusion that sanctions alone will push North Korea to negotiate,’ Davenport said, ‘when the Trump administration and Congress should be focused on signaling support for talks without conditions.’” For the full article, click here.
A problem like Korea - Watch Ploughshares Fund President Joe Cirincione discuss how the U.S. should address the threat from North Korea with ABC News Correspondents Martha Raddatz and Col. Steve Ganyard here.
Stumbling into nuclear war - Siegfried Hecker appeared on last night’s PBS Newshour and spoke about the latest North Korea missile test. “With each of these missile tests, they’ve demonstrated a bit more of the rocket technology that it takes to be able to launch. Although they still have a way to go, but the key is to put a nuclear warhead on the rocket, in order to make it a missile and then to deliver that. That nuclear warhead has to withstand enormous extreme conditions. What I believe the North Koreans have been doing is to measure, as much as possible, those extreme conditions. I still view North Korea as being quite a ways away from being able to do that. My concern is that North Koreans have brought their nuclear program far enough, and with the current tension between North Korea and the U.S., that we may stumble into a nuclear war on the Korean Peninsula.” Watch his entire interview here.
See also - “North Korea’s Latest Launch Spurs U.S. Missile Tests, Flyovers” by Patrick Tucker for Defense One here.
Take action - From the minds of Kevin Ford, Smriti Keshari and Eric Schlosser, The Bomb debuts on Netflix today. The film is an experimental, music-driven experience that looks at the strange and compelling world of nuclear weapons, underpinned by The Acid’s powerful musical score. The Bomb was screened to wide acclaim at the Tribeca and Berlin Film Festivals and the Glastonbury festival - now you can watch it at home. Learn more and read Ploughshares Fund’s release statement here.
Convince North Korea not to use nukes - Jon Wolfsthal argues in The Atlantic that there is now no denuclearizing North Korea: “As much as I would like North Korea to freeze and end its nuclear program, no combination of threats, engagement, negotiations, and sanctions, has produced that outcome. At best, any negotiations with the North must seek an agreement to avoid steps that could provoke a crisis, including no regular deployments of mobile missiles and an agreement to end or limit missile and nuclear weapon tests.”
--“The world is long since past the point of deciding whether or not to not accept a nuclear-armed North Korea. The question is how the United States can convince the world that these new weapons are unusable, and convince its allies that it means what it says. The first step: deciding, on its own, what to do. The good news is America has done all this before, with more threatening states like the Soviet Union and China. The bad news is that it has lost valuable time and now has to play catch up. The Trump administration has its work cut out for it.” For the full article, click here.
Joe on ABC News - Watch Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione on ABC World News Tonight talking about Friday’s North Korean missile test here.
What’s next for North Korea’s missile tests? - Michael Elleman analyzes North Korea’s latest missile test for 38 North, writing that “North Korea seems to have made a logical step forward, as it tries to perfect the technologies to build and field an operationally-viable ICBM that can threaten the mainland United States. More tests are needed to assess and validate the reliability of the Hwasong-14, so North Korea is sure to follow this launch with many more.” Full article here.
Cirincione urges negotiations - Ploughshares President Joe Cirincione talks the North Korean missile test with Seattle’s King 5 News: “it’s when we’re not talking with them that they take tests like this.” Watch more here.
Don’t dump arms control - “A quarter-century after the end of the Cold War, the United States and Russia still possess thousands of nuclear weapons,” reports The New York Times Editorial Board. “Even so, some administration officials and members of Congress are pushing wasteful and dangerous plans to expand the numbers and capabilities of those weapons, threatening a web of arms control agreements. Congress is considering whether the United States should develop a new ground-launched cruise missile and withdraw from the 1987 Intermediate-Range Nuclear Forces Treaty banning missiles with a range of up to about 3,000 miles.”
--“A decision by the United States to abandon the treaty would destroy a pillar of arms control, erode support for other treaties and raise further doubts about Washington’s commitments, already damaged by Mr. Trump’s repudiation of the Paris climate accord. The I.N.F. Treaty has a mechanism for resolving disputes, and the United States, backed by its allies, should pursue a solution in that forum. Since setting off the nuclear age, America has been the major, if imperfect, force behind the restraints that exist. If it abandons that role under Mr. Trump and the Republican-led Congress, there will be little to stop Russia, China, India, Pakistan, Iran and North Korea from plowing ahead.” For the full article, click here.
Don’t make Iran another DPRK - “Last week, Iran launched a rocket called the ‘Simorgh’ as part of a program to place satellites in orbit,” writes Jeffrey Lewis for Foreign Policy. “The Simorgh itself is not an intercontinental ballistic missile, or ICBM, but the technologies are broadly similar. Space launches do not, however, violate the terms of the nuclear deal, contrary to the claims of some of the deal’s opponents. Iran is merely ‘called upon’ — the diplomatic equivalent of a suggestion — to refrain from activities related to “ballistic missiles designed to be capable of delivering nuclear weapons.”
--“These details, though, don’t matter. The Trump administration is already signaling that it intends to sabotage the nuclear deal by insisting on inspections in a transparent and cynical effort to push Iran out of the agreement. Whether or not a space launch is legally permitted or prohibited, Team Trump is likely to decide that it is one more calumny to launch against what Trump modestly called the ‘worst deal ever.’ If we want [the Iran Deal] to keep working, we have to learn to live with Iran’s aspirations for spaceflight, just as we have learned to live with its nuclear energy program in exchange for limits that help prevent Iran from building a bomb. In life, there are some risks that you simply cannot eliminate.” For the full article, click here.
Trump toying with Iran inspections - “President Donald Trump has made it clear, in no uncertain terms and with no effort to disguise his duplicity, that he will claim that Tehran is cheating on the nuclear deal by October—the facts be damned,” writes Trita Parsi for LobeLog. “Trump will refuse to accept that Iran is in compliance and thereby set the stage for a military confrontation. Recognizing that refusing to certify Iran would isolate the United States, Trump’s advisors gave him another plan. Use the spot-inspections mechanism of the nuclear deal, they suggested, to demand access to a whole set of military sites in Iran.”
--“Once Iran balks—which it will since the mechanism is only supposed to be used if tangible evidence exists that those sites are being used for illicit nuclear activities—Trump can claim that Iran is in violation, blowing up the nuclear deal while shifting the blame to Tehran. Abusing the inspection mechanisms of the deal may prove harder than Trump has been led to believe. The inspections are the cornerstone of the deal, and Iran’s ability to cheat on the deal is essentially non-existent as long as the integrity and efficiency of the inspections remain in tact.” Full article here.
See also - “Don’t repeat the Iraq War false WMD claims with Iran” by Mark Fitzpatrick for the International Institute for Strategic Studies blog IISS Voices here.
--“What Would Happen in Iran if US Reneges on the Nuclear Deal” by Sirous Amerian for the Atlantic Council’s IranInsight blog here.
--“Trump risks fallout from Iran deal assault” by Laura Rozen for Al-Monitor here.
--“Is the U.S. Trying to Kill the Iran Nuclear Deal?” by Nilo Tabrizy for The New York Times here.
--“The Trump administration wants regime change in Iran. But regime change usually doesn’t work.” by Alexander B. Downes and Lindsey A. O'Rourke for The Washington Post here.
--“Dire Consequences if Trump Pulls out of Iran Deal” by Mitchell Plitnick for LobeLog here.
--“Donald Trump wants more money for nukes and Congress is giving it to him” by Joshua Eaton for ThinkProgress here.
--“Just one nuclear detonation could plunge Earth into "nuclear autumn"” by Rich Haridy for New Atlas here.
--“Nuclear labs endanger public with radioactive mail” by Patrick Malone for USA Today here.
--“It’s Time To Play Good Cop, Bad Cop With Pyongyang” by Duyeon Kim for Foreign Policy here.
--“Analysts doubt North Korea’s ICBM re-entry capability” by Kim Tong-Hyung for Associated Press here.
--“US detects 'highly unusual' North Korean submarine activity” by Zachary Cohen and Ryan Browne for CNN here.
--“Asahi Symposium: Dealing with nuclear weapons in era of Trump, North Korea” by Roy K. Akagawa for The Asahi Shimbun here.
--“China hits back at Trump criticism over North Korea” by Ben Blanchard and Elias Glenn for Reuters here.