nuclear weapons


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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The United States and China Should Start Over

, China project manager and senior analyst

Chinese Communist Party leader Mao Zedong prepares to proclaim the establishment of the People’s Republic of China in Beijing on 1 October 1949.

President Trump’s trade war is demolishing US–China relations. The presidential candidates, Congress and now General Mattis are all lending a hand. Before long the entire economic, social and cultural infrastructure erected after the United States recognized the People’s Republic in 1979 will be a pile of rubble. Read more >

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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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“More Nukes” Will Not Make Anyone Safer

, analyst

The New York Times found an odd way to commemorate this year’s anniversaries of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki nuclear bombings—by publishing on August 9 an opinion piece by columnist Bret Stephens titled “The U.S. Needs More Nukes.” Matt Korda has a nice article about it in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. I wanted to add a few comments of my own. Read more >

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The Next Hiroshima and Nagasaki

, China project manager and senior analyst

Estimate of casualties from a single Chinese nuclear warhead targeting Kadena Air Base in Okinawa, Japan by NUKEMAP.

Japan was the first, the last and the only nation to be attacked with nuclear weapons. If it continues along the path set by Prime Minister Abe and the national security bureaucrats of his Liberal Democrat Party (LDP), it may also be the next.

The laws and norms restraining the development and deployment of nuclear weapons are dissolving in the same corrosive nationalism that led to Hiroshima and Nagasaki. One by one laboriously negotiated constraints are disappearing. The latest to go was the INF Treaty. Mr. Abe’s government did nothing to preserve it, and may have intentionally hastened its demise. For more than a decade LDP bureaucrats have been lobbying the US government to redeploy US nuclear weapons in Asia. Some Japanese officials, including Vice Foreign Minister Takeo Akiba, have discussed putting US nuclear weapons back in Japan, training the Japanese Self-Defense Force to deliver them and obtaining US permission to decide when to use them. Read more >

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