Links – May 23, 2017

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

Wikileaks Tries To Smear Robert Mueller

Almost immediately after Robert Mueller was named as special prosecutor, Wikileaks released something about him delivering highly enriched uranium to Russia when he was FBI director. And it’s secret! Scary, right?

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A Small Russian Overture

Donald Trump denounced the New START Treaty in his first phonecall with Vladimir Putin. Putin brought up the treaty, which is coming up for renewal in 2021, so talks should be starting soon. The treaty limits the numbers of nuclear weapons for Russia and the United States, preventing an arms race. But the treaty was negotiated under Barack Obama, so in Trump’s mind, it is a bad treaty. Read More

Mike Pence Isn’t Kim Jong Un’s Daddy

US leaders have put on their best stern-father faces toward North Korea and China. On his trip to the demilitarized zone between the two Koreas, Vice President Mike Pence headed outside, against warnings, to stare into the North. “It was important that they […] see our resolve in my face,” he told the US press.

At the White House Easter Egg Roll, President Donald Trump declared North Korea has “got to behave.” He has also tweeted warnings: “I explained to the President of China that a trade deal with the U.S. will be far better for them if they solve the North Korean problem!” “North Korea is looking for trouble. If China decides to help, that would be great. If not, we will solve the problem without them!” “I have great confidence that China will properly deal with North Korea. If they are unable to do so, the U.S., with its allies, will!” Read More

Rex Tillerson Meets North Korea

Lots of news about Rex Tillerson’s visit to Asia. That’s partly because people are trying to understand what kind of Secretary of State he will be and partly because North Korea has been ramping up its missile tests and may have a nuclear weapon that will fit on some of those missiles. Read More

The Intelligence Community Assessment on Russian Hacking

I’ve worked through the Steele dossier. Now I’ll look at the Intelligence Community Assessment (ICA), “Assessing Russian Activities and Intentions In Recent US Elections.” In the continuing and ever-changing story of the Donald Trump administration’s relations with Russia, I want to work through, carefully, what we know and don’t know. Far too much remains in the latter category to connect the dots.

The ICA covers similar territory to the Steele dossier. The question of Russian hacking of the election is of concern both to the funders of the Steele dossier and to American citizens generally. In addition, the Steele dossier was available to the authors of the ICA. Since the publication of the ICA, we have learned that the FBI wanted to pay Steele to continue his investigation for them. Read More

The Steele Dossier

In early January, BuzzFeed published a set of documents describing information acquired by a private intelligence firm. The dossier had been in the possession of the FBI and intelligence organizations since late summer and was the basis for several news stories and Congressional comment.

The information was on Russian connections with Donald Trump’s campaign. It consists of reports from various sources on conversations by campaign operatives and Russian officials. The sources are not identified, but some seem to be privy to conversations at high levels within the Russian government. Read More