Live-Tweeting The Trinity Weather Log

The opera “Dr. Atomic” premieres at the Santa Fe Opera on Saturday, July 14. This will be its first performance so close to Los Alamos.

To commemorate the events of the opera, Nuclear Diner will live-tweet the weather reports for the Trinity test of the first nuclear device to be exploded. The weather reports were significant, because this time of year is monsoon season, and thunderstorms surrounded the test site.

The Twitter account is @NuclearDiner. The live-tweet starts at 12:30 am Mountain Daylight Time July 16. You don’t need to be registered on Twitter to see the tweets, and you can read them later.

The photo is from the Santa Fe Opera’s tweet stream, which contains a great many from their dress rehearsal.

Mike Pompeo’s Masculine Meltdown

Secretary of State Mike Pompeo had a meltdown last night after he had earlier claimed the talks with North Korea were “productive” and made progress “on almost all of the central issues,” followed by North Korea’s blast at “unilateral and robber-like denuclearization demands as [complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearization (CVID)], declaration and verification that go against the spirit of the North-U.S. summit meeting.”

Pompeo returned that if the US is behaving like a gangster, then so is the rest of the world, referring to United Nations resolutions that North Korea disarm. (One Korean speaker says that “robber” is a better translation than “gangster.”) He then went on to say that North Korea did not have an issue with CVID, directly contradicting North Korea’s statement of its position. He also went back to the importance of “maintaining maximum pressure” on North Korea, after Donald Trump had backed off from that phrase. Read More

How Long Would It Take To *Cough* End North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons Program?

Observe how gracefully I avoided the unclear word denuclearization by saying what I mean. Another area of disagreement is in how long it would take to remove North Korea’s nuclear weapons and eliminate or repurpose the facilities that develop and build them. And we don’t know what North Korea thinks about that.

John Bolton estimated that it would take a year. The Institute for Science and International Security estimates 30 months. A study by Siegfried Hecker, Robert Carlin, and Elliot Serbin at Stanford’s Center for International Security and Cooperation estimates as long as 15 years.

Why the big differences? Read More

Nothing Means Anything, Chapter 715

Or: Another Day In The Trump Administration

There are two very different narratives of what is happening in the negotiations with North Korea.

  1. As Kim Jong Un promised in his New Year’s Day address, North Korea is building up its capacity to manufacture nuclear weapons and the missiles they might ride on. In the past week, we have seen evidence from the national intelligence agencies and independent analysts that there are at least two clandestine uranium enrichment plants, a missile manufacturing plant is being expanded, and related production is being expanded. This narrative is held by all the US intelligence agencies and most independent experts on North Korea and nuclear weapons.
  2. North Korea has agreed to give up its nuclear weapons program. Full denuclearization can be completed in a year or less. Kim and Donald Trump saw eye to eye at the Singapore summit. Kim wants to improve the North Korean economy, and he understands that only by giving up his nuclear program can he expect sanctions to be lifted. This is a victory for Trump’s policiy of “maximum pressure.” This narrative is held in public by Trump, Secretary of State Mike Pompeo, and National Security Advisor John Bolton.

Read More

A Dozen Facts Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo Need To Know To Negotiate With North Korea

The primary issue that is being negotiated with North Korea is its nuclear weapons and the missiles they might be mounted on for attacks on the United States and its allies, South Korea and Japan. A meaningful agreement will have to include many technical issues.

Donald Trump and Mike Pompeo are not nuclear or rocket scientists, nor can we expect most politicians to be. But the technical facts are no less difficult to learn than the economics. (Oops! They get that wrong, too. I will push forward anyway.) Pundits commenting on the negotiations and people who simply want to understand may find this list useful. Read More

Links – June 9, 2018

What is wrong with Donald Trump’s approach to the summit with North Korea. Trump: “I am the only one who matters.” And he’s not preparing. Technical unknowns in verifying North Korea’s nuclear program. History of negotiations with North Korea. North Korea seems to be destroying a missile test stand. Like the nuclear test site, this is a significant symbolic action but may be easily reversible.

These demands for results from the North Korean summit by Senate Democrats sound like they could have come from John Bolton. Bad idea. Richard Haas breaks down how the negotiations should work but probably won’t.

By me in Pakistan Politico: The Illogic of Regime Change.

Many good points here about foreign policy realism. But the realists often carry it too far.

“Why would Assad do it?” Debunking the abstract theories surrounding Syria’s chemical attacks.

This is somewhat beyond the usual for Nuclear Diner, but it’s the only article I’ve seen that does a good job of explaining what college is likely to cost. Spoiler: it’s related more to family income than to the institution.

Ben Rhodes On Obama’s Decision To Disarm, Not Bomb Syria

President Barack Obama’s statements and decisions around responses to Bashar al-Assad’s use of Sarin against Syrian opposition provide a test case for three issues: Intervening in conflicts that have only indirectly to do with US interests, assumptions about the use of force that have gendered aspects, and how a president communicates. If we are to end our forever wars and avoid stumbling into more, we need to understand these issues. Read More

Links – June 1, 2018

Kim Jong Un doesn’t want American businesspeople running all over his country. He wants sanctions lifted. It’s always a bad idea not to understand what your negotiating partner wants. This article is from a few days ago, but it’s a good summary of Japan’s and China’s concerns.

Background on Kim Yong Chol, who delivered a letter from Kim Jong Un to Donald Trump. Kim Yong Chol is at center in the photo.

To nobody’s surprise, it looks like North Korea pulled everything that might have any technical use out of the Punggye-ri test site before they sealed the entrances to the tunnels. Photos of the destruction. Before and after overhead imagesSiegfried Hecker thinks it is a positive move.

Comprehensive historical database of North Korea’s nuclear program from Hecker and his co-workers at CISAC. From that history, Hecker predicts it will take 15 years to denuclearize North Korea. The Institute for Science and International Security thinks it will take much less time, but they forego verification for the first 18 months. This is odd, because they are among the most vocal proponents of unlimited inspections in Iran.

Will toughness on Iran help Trump with North Korea? Here are three reasons to doubt it.

New book: The Future of Nuclear Power in China, by Mark Hibbs.

Long Read: We are going to need truth and reconciliation commissions, or something like them, after Trump. Here is one way that might be done.