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US Presidential Hopefuls Should Signal North Korea ASAP

, China project manager and senior analyst

Is Kim Jong-un preparing a dramatic provocation worthy of his predecessors? International analysts of the North Korean nuclear weapons program warn the United States should take his end-of-the-year deadline for negotiations seriously.

The North Korean leadership keeps a careful eye on US domestic politics. They read the presidential polls with the same level of interest as the candidates themselves.

US observers often complain about dramatic shifts in North Korean policy, strategy and tactics, but predicting US policy can be just as difficult. Clinton’s “Agreed Framework” gave way to Bush’s “Axis of Evil.” Obama’s “Strategic Patience” preceded Trump’s “Fire and Fury.” The historic US outreach in Singapore ended with the United States walking out in Hanoi.

Like many Americans, the North Koreans are trying to guess what might come next. Read more >

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China Rejects Policy of Nuclear Launch on Warning of an Incoming Attack

, China project manager and senior analyst

International and Chinese participants discuss verification technologies at the 16th PIIC Beijing Seminar on International Security in Shenzhen, China. The conference was sponsored by the Chinese Arms Control and Disarmament Association (CACDA), the Program for Science and National Security Studies (PNSS) at China’s Institute of Applied Physics and Computational Mathematics (IAPCM) and the US-based Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI).

Fu Cong, the director general of the Arms Control Department of the Chinese Ministry of Foreign Affairs, recently called on all nuclear weapons states to abandon the policy of preparing to launch nuclear weapons on warning of an incoming nuclear attack. He issued the unprecedented official statement in his keynote address to a major international arms control conference held in Shenzhen in mid-October.

Cong also asked nuclear weapons states to take additional steps to diminish the role of nuclear weapons in their national security doctrines, including joining China in publicly committing to never use nuclear weapons first. Read more >

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North Korea’s Latest Missile Test

, co-director and senior scientist

Various sources are reporting that North Korea test-launched two ballistic missiles tonight on lofted trajectories.

One of the missiles is reported to have reached a maximum altitude of 910 km (570 miles) and splashed down at a range of 450 km (280 miles) from the launch point. This missile would have had a burnout speed of about 3.74 km/s with a loft angle of 81.5 degrees, and a flight time of about 17 minutes.

If flown on a standard trajectory with the same payload, that missile would have a maximum range of about 1,900 km (1,200 miles).

This would classify the missile as medium range (1,000 to 3,500 km).

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Some pretty good work by Congress on missile defense this year

, senior scientist

Photo: Eric E Johnson/Creative Commons (Flickr)

The Congressional defense budget process is entering its conclusion, though battles remain. Despite little to show for it, the overall budget for missile defense continues to be robust. For example, the Senate appropriators met last week and added $1.2 billion above the Trump administration’s budget request for missile defense, including an additional $532 million for upgrades and six more boosters for the beleaguered Ground-based Midcourse Defense system, and added $222 million to fund program to replace the recently canceled Redesigned Kill Vehicle program. That is an unfortunate waste of tax dollars.

However, in other areas Congress—in particular the House—made a number of useful and positive corrections to the administration’s $9.4 billion missile defense budget request. The House also put several sensible new missile defense policies in place that deserve support. Read more >

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