Thinking out the North Korean standoff. From Robert Jervis and Mira Rapp-Hooper. A somewhat similar commentary from Jeffrey Lewis. South Korea’s recommendations for negotiations with North Korea. Bolton’s illegal war plan for North Korea. Verifying North Korea’s nuclear disarmament if we get that far.
Russia cancels talks with US. This just after Vladimir Putin displays his, um, nukes. Twelve-year-old boys are in charge of at least three nations’ nuclear arsenals.
Reactions to Putin’s “state of the nation” speech. More about the weapons mentioned in that speech. Yet more from Jeffrey Lewis. I take Putin’s claims with a grain of salt. Russia has claimed weapons that never went into production. I suspect significant exaggeration in his claims of testing. But we have to keep open the possibility that the weapons are real, if not yet ready for use. Read More
How a war with North Korea might play out. The price of war with North Korea. Excellent long-read backgrounder from Jeffrey Lewis on the history and strategy of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program (photo from here). More background, and denial by US of facts on the ground. The reentry vehicle on the North Korean ICBM.
According to this, Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov told US Secretary of State Rex Tillerson that North Korea is ready to talk. That’s from Friday. I haven’t seen any followup.
On Donald Trump and Russia: One of the better timelines I’ve seen derived from the Manafort/Gates indictments and the Papadopoulos plea. Profiles of people you will be hearing more about:
More than 90 American nuclear scientists say that we need to keep the Iran nuclear deal in place. An Iranian analyst says that Donald Trump requested a meeting with Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani at the United Nations meeting in September, but Rouhani turned him down. This has not been confirmed, but it’s something to watch for. Update (11/1/17): Confirmed by the State Department. Regime change probably wouldn’t end Iran’s nuclear program. Read More
This has additional salience now that we know that special counsel Robert Mueller is indeed investigating Donald Trump. If Trump fires Mueller (or orders his firing). Julia Ioffe summarizes what we know about Jeff Sessions’s meetings with Sergey Kislyak and what we don’t know.
Russia has been violating the Intermediate Nuclear Forces (INF) Treaty, but the United States won’t say exactly what the violation is. The INF Treaty prohibits intermediate-range missiles with nuclear warheads. Back in the 1980s, both the US and Russia had such missiles aimed at each other in Europe. The problem with missiles like this is that there is no warning time whatsoever, and thus a heavy motive to strike the other party first. James Action suggests a strategy for getting the treaty back on track. Top photo from here: Soviet inspectors and their American escorts standing among dismantled Pershing II missiles in Colorado as other missile components are destroyed nearby under the INF Treaty, January 1989. Read More
In early January, slightly elevated levels of iodine-131 were observed over northern and western Europe. The levels were measured during a temperature inversion, along with elevated levels of naturally occurring radioisotopes.
This, along with the deployment of an American WC-135 aircraft to the Mildenhall Royal Air Force Base in the UK, has led to speculation that the Russians have carried out a nuclear test. This is highly unlikely for several reasons. Read More
John Hopkins was Division Leader of Los Alamos’s Testing Division for many years. I recently heard him speak about what it would take to begin nuclear testing again – whether for one test or a continuing program. Read More