The French and German Nuclear Horns (Daniel 7:7)

As German Chancellor Angela Merkel floats the notion that Europe cannot rely on the United States in the capacity is has in the past, core U.S. allies are ramping up discussions of a European Union nuclear weapons program—or “Eurodeterrent”—that would place France’s weapons arsenal under a common European command, the New York Times reports.

Though proponents are in the minority on the European continent, the idea is a sign of growing concern that the United States, under President Donald Trump, is not committed to the defense of Europe in the same way his predecessors were.

German Council on Foreign Relations head Jana Puglierin said some senior European officials have “triggered a public debate about this, taking place in newspapers and journals, radio interviews and TV documentaries.”

“That in itself is remarkable,” she added. “I am indeed very astonished that we discuss this at all.”

Foundation for Strategic Research deputy director Bruno Tertrais told the Times he previously would have said, “don’t bother, there’s no story here,” but said such a plan could be enacted provided “a serious loss of trust in the U.S. umbrella.” And, given Britain’s pending departure from the E.U., “the French might feel they have a special responsibility” to protect Europe.

Such a loss in trust may be on the horizon. Trump is just now returning from a trip to a NATO summit, which House Minority leader Nancy Pelosi said “disrespected out closest allies.” He also failed to voice support for NATO’s Article 5, which is the principle of collective defense that guides the alliance. It commits member nations to protect fellow members and was invoked for the first time after the 9/11 terrorist attacks against the United States.

On Saturday, Chancellor Merkel argued, “the times in which we can fully count on others are somewhat over, as I have experienced in the past few days.”

“’We Europeans must take our destiny into our own hands,” she added.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology professor Vipin Narang, who was originally skeptical of a “Eurodeterrent,” acknowledged “there is a logic” to such a plan.

“I never thought we would see this again. I never thought there would actually be this concern,” he said. “You can see where the debate is surfacing from.”

North Korea Fires Yet Another Missile

North Korea fires ANOTHER ‘unidentified’ missile as Kim Jong-un threatens WAR

By Henry Holloway & Jamie Micklethwaite /

Kim Jong-un and nuclear explosion GETTYHERE WE GO AGAIN: Kim Jong-un launches his 9th missile this year
North Korea has fired an unidentified projectile, South Korea’s Yonhap news agency has said.

Kim Jong-un has been questing to create a nuclear-capable ICBM able to strike the US – with dozens of tests in the past year.

Korea’s Joint Chiefs of Staff said Pyongyang launched a projectile in the eastern direction from Wonsan, Gangwon Province at dawn.

“The president was immediately notified of the situation, and the president ordered the NSC Standing Committee at 7:30 am,” the military statement said.

It added: “The flight distance is around 450 km, and South Korea and the U.S. are in the process of conducting detailed analysis on additional information.”

North Korea is believed to be on the verge of their sixth nuclear bomb test – but have yet to make good of threats to ramp up their nuclear programme.Kim believes securing a nuclear ICBM will cement his rule in the beggar kingdom and also allow him to put further pressure on the US.Trump has taken a hardline on North Korea since taking office in response to a string of missile launches this spring.

Babylon the Great’s Flawed Nukes

As the Pentagon begins the 2017 Nuclear Posture Review a great deal of focus will be placed on how to modernize each leg of the nuclear triad, which on all fronts is aging and must be replaced. Each country that has nuclear weapons in its arsenal has started a nuclear weapons program or modernized their programs and delivery systems with the exception of the United States. The United States is a part of an international community with a dependency on these weapons that is not going away. Therefore, the nation must maintain a safe and reliable nuclear triad to deter against the only existential threat to the nation.

The portion of the nuclear triad many forget when discussing nuclear triad modernization is the nuclear command, control and communications (NC3) systems. These systems are the “glue” that ties the triad together. They allow the U.S. president to communicate with his senior advisors, monitor potential attacks on the nation and—if necessary—order the release of a nuclear weapon. The NC3 system is essential in ensuring nuclear weapons can be safely and reliably released when ordered, regardless of the nature of the crisis or the damage incurred by the nuclear forces.

The majority of the nation’s NC3 systems are maintained and operated by the Air Force. It is made up of a collection of systems and platforms to achieve its goal of allowing for senior-level decision on nuclear-weapons employment. The systems link the fixed National Military Command Center located in the Pentagon and the fixed Global Operation Center at Strategic Command in Omaha, Nebraska with the mobile command centers located on an airborne E-4B National Airborne Operations Center (NAOC) or an airborne Boeing E-6B Mercury “Take Charge and Move Out” Air Command Post. These facilities and aircraft also allow senior leaders to monitor world events and act upon them outside of a nuclear crisis.

The NC3 system does have redundant components, but they are primarily designed to ensure the nation’s nuclear arsenal can be employed even if the fixed-command centers are destroyed. For example, the E-6B can control the launch of a Minuteman III intercontinental ballistic missile from the air while simultaneously ordering a submarine or bomber to launch a nuclear weapon. Also, an E-4B NAOC aircraft is continuously ready to launch within minutes from randomly selected bases to ensure key national-security leaders survive and can continue to make decisions about how to deploy the U.S. military. Finally, other NC3 systems use a combination of satellites, radars and processing systems to identify launches and missile attacks that could be directed toward North America or one of the U.S. allies around the world. Recently, the functionality of this system is displayed as it is used in monitoring missile launches from North Korea.

The reason the United States has a nuclear triad is to ensure no adversary can eliminate the nation’s entire nuclear arsenal during an attack. The adversary is deterred from attacking the United States because the enemy must realize the United States will always have a means to strike back with the devastating force of nuclear weapons. However, without the NC3 system working properly, the United States does not have a functioning nuclear triad, and that counterstrike ability is lost. The NC3 system functions are vital to ensure the United States maintains its capacity for deterrence.

Like all the legs of the nuclear triad, these systems are old and outdated for the current world they operate in, and must be modernized or replaced. Gen. John Hyten, head of Strategic Command, testified before the House Armed Services Committee on March 8, 2017, and said, “The nation’s NC3 systems are facing obsolescence and component age-out challenges. These systems are not only essential for providing early warning and time-critical information to the National Command Authority for decisionmaking, but also to effectively direct triad forces in response to a strategic crisis. A twenty-first century architecture is needed to address potential adversary’s increasingly complex and capable threats.” During that same hearing, Gen. Stephen Wilson, vice chief of staff of the Air Force, stated, “Many of our NC3 systems are well past their lifespans. Therefore, we are investing in several programs to support this connective architecture, ranging from communications systems improvements to upgraded digital processing and display improvement.”

The investment General Wilson spoke of involves modernization of the E-4B NAOC aircraft, which began its role in 1980, improving early-warning radar systems, and upgrading the communication systems that link the triad together. Theses modernization efforts will cost the Defense Department approximately $40.5 billion over the next decade. These modernizations to the NC3 systems is small compared to other planned nuclear-modernization efforts for each of the other legs of the nuclear triad.

India’s Nuclear Hegemony

Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons

India Today

Amid heightened tension between the two neighbouring nations in the wake of the Kulbhushan Jadhav case, Pakistan has said that India is capable of producing 2600 nuclear weapons.

Claiming the India has the fastest growing nuclear programme in the world, Pakistan foreign office spokesperson Nafees Zakaria told reporters in Islamabad that India’s nuclear aspirations pose a threat to strategic stability in the south Asian region.

“Pakistan has been underscoring the risk of diversion by India to imported nuclear fuel, equipment and technology received pursuant to civil nuclear accord and 2008 energy waiver by Nuclear Suppliers Group,” Radio Pakistan quoted Zakaria, as saying.

The top Pakistan official also raised concerns over India’s bid for a permanent membership at the NSG, saying the world community should check the risks involved in allowing New Delhi a seat in the elite group.

‘INDIA RETHINKING NO FIRST USE NUCLEAR POLICY’

Pakistan’s statement regarding India enhancing its nuclear capability has come just days after reports suggested that New Delhi may be rethinking its nuclear doctrine.

India may abandon its ‘no first use’ nuclear policy and launch a preemptive strike against Pakistan if it feared that Islamabad was likely to use the weapons first, a top nuclear expert on South Asia has claimed.

“There is increasing evidence that India will not allow Pakistan to go first,” Vipin Narang, an expert on South Asian nuclear strategy at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, had said.

He also pointed out that India’s preemptive strike may not be conventional strikes and would also be aimed at Pakistan’s missiles launchers for tactical battlefield nuclear warheads.

India May Accelerate Tensions with Pakistan

WASHINGTON: India is moving towards isolating Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive actions against Islamabad for its support to cross-border terrorism, a top American defence intelligence chief has told lawmakers, reports NDTV.“India has sought and continues to move to isolate Pakistan diplomatically and is considering punitive options to raise the cost to Islamabad for its alleged support to cross-border terrorism,” Lt Gen Vincent Stewart, Director, Defense Intelligence Agency told members of the powerful Senate Armed Services Committee during a Congressional hearing on worldwide threats.

His statement came a day after Indian Army launched “punitive fire assaults” on Pakistani positions across the Line of Control. India, he said, is modernising its military to better posture itself to defend New Delhi’s interests in the broader Indian Ocean region and reinforce its diplomatic and economic outreach across Asia.

Bilateral relations between India and Pakistan worsened following several terrorist attacks in India, he said.“Continued threat of high-level terror attacks in India, violence in Jammu and Kashmir and bilateral diplomatic recriminations will further strain India-Pakistan ties in 2017,” he said.

Following a terrorist attack on an army base in Jammu and Kashmir last September, New Delhi conducted a highly publicised operation against terrorists across the Line of Control, he added.

“In 2016, Indian and Pakistani forces exchanged some of the heaviest fire in years along the Line of Control in Kashmir, and each expelled a number of the other’s diplomats amid growing tension,” Lt Gen Stewart said.

He also told lawmakers that in 2017, Islamabad is likely to slowly shift from traditional counterinsurgency operations along Pakistan’s western border to more counter-terrorism and paramilitary operations throughout the country.

Noting that Pakistan’s nuclear stockpile continues to grow, Lt Gen Stewart said the US is concerned that this growth, as well as an evolving doctrine and inherent security issues associated with Pakistan’s developing tactical nuclear weapons, presents an enduring risk. “Islamabad is taking steps to improve its nuclear security and is aware of the extremist threat to its program,” Lt Gen Stewart said.

Observing that China has long identified the protection of its sovereignty and territorial integrity as a “core interest,” he said in the South China Sea, China has embarked on a multi year, whole-of-government approach to securing sovereignty, principally through maritime law enforcement presence and military patrols.

In 2016, China rejected the international arbitration ruling on its excessive South China Sea claims, built infrastructure at its man made outposts on the Spratly Islands, and for the first time, landed civilian aircraft on its airfields at Fiery Cross Reef, Subi Reef, and Mischief Reef.

“China will be able to use its reclaimed features as persistent civil-military bases, which will enhance its presence and its ability to control the features and nearby maritime space. Beijing recognises the need to defend these outposts and is prepared to respond to any military operations near them,” he told the lawmakers.

Lt Gen Stewart said a key component of China’s People’s Liberation Army (PLA) strategy in a regional contingency is planning for potential US intervention. The PLA Rocket Force has given priority to developing and deploying regional ballistic and cruise missiles to expand its conventional strike capabilities against US forces and bases throughout the region.

“In addition to the Rocket Force’s fielding of an anti-ship ballistic missile, China is fielding an intermediate range ballistic missile capable of conducting conventional and nuclear strikes against ground targets in the Asia-Pacific region as far away as Guam,” he said.

Why Australia Will Soon Become Nuclear (Daniel 7)

Over the past century, Australia has been America’s most dependable military ally. In every major U.S. conflict, including World Wars I and II, Korea, Vietnam and Iraq, Australians have fought alongside.

Yet as competition between China and the United States heats up in the Western Pacific, Australia is cautious not to provoke its greatest trading partner. When it comes to a potential U.S.-China conflict, Australia is doing all it can to keep its options open – and with good reason.

Australia is highly vulnerable to long-range missile attack, including those carrying nuclear payloads. Despite Australia being a continental power, almost all its population is concentrated in a half-dozen major cities — easy targets for small numbers of warheads.

In a high-intensity conflict between the United States and China, it is conceivable that China may target Australia with long-range nuclear missiles as a step up the escalation ladder, demonstrating to the United States its capacity, and willingness, to conduct nuclear strikes over intercontinental ranges.

In this eventuality, extended nuclear deterrence would hardly be credible. Retaliating on Australia’s behalf would demonstrably mean accepting large-scale nuclear attack by China on the continental United States.

For this reason, many Australians believe entering into conflict with the world’s most populous nuclear power, for any reason and under any circumstance, is unthinkable – despite very strong support for the Australia-U.S. alliance overall. The most effective means for Australia to insulate itself from long-range nuclear attack is to develop or acquire its own reliable long-range nuclear deterrent.

Many would consider this a bad idea. If Australia (a non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT) went nuclear, conventional wisdom suggests it very difficult to dissuade Japan, South Korea and others from following suit, critically threatening the nuclear non-proliferation regime as a whole.

This view is fundamentally flawed. In actuality, Australia has a very unique legal status with regard to nuclear weapons.

At present, there are five Nuclear-Weapon States under the NPT (United States, Russia, United Kingdom, France and China). Under Article IX.3 of the NPT, a country may accede to the treaty as a Nuclear-Weapon State if that state “manufactured and exploded a nuclear device prior to January 1, 1967”.

Australia qualifies. In the 1950s and ’60s, Australia hosted a series of nuclear tests conducted by the United Kingdom. These nuclear explosions were conducted on Australian sovereign territory with the active participation of Australian scientists and military personnel.

These tests received financial support direct from the Australian government, with at least some explosions likely to have used fissile material that had been sourced locally from within Australia. No other non-nuclear weapon state party to the NPT is in this category.

As Rod Lyon of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute sharply has observed from recently declassified documents, Australian negotiators were very much cognizant of this legal basis prior to Australia joining the treaty. In sum, if Australia determined it was a national security imperative to develop an independent nuclear deterrent, it would be legally entitled to do so.

As this legal status does not apply to America’s other allies in the Asia-Pacific, a changed nuclear status by Australia under the NPT would not automatically undermine the treaty as a whole.

A nuclear-armed Australia is likely to confer a number of strategic advantages upon the United States. It strengthens Australia’s resolve in supporting the United States in a potentially open-ended strategic contest in the Asia-Pacific. It supports extended nuclear deterrence by removing a potentially vulnerable element of the policy, and the nations in Southeast Asia will see Australia as a more capable strategic partner and deepen cooperation.

There’s more. A nuclear-armed Australia makes drawing the country into a broader collective defense architecture much more feasible. Having a reliable U.S. ally in the Asia-Pacific with an independent nuclear deterrent strengthens nuclear deterrence in the Asia-Pacific overall. And it achieves these objectives without fatally weakening nuclear non-proliferation efforts more broadly.

The United States should publicly recognize Australia’s right to nuclear weapons under the NPT. This does not mean that Australia will immediately seek to acquire such weapons.

Australia has a strong non-proliferation record and a long history of disarmament activism. In the short-term, Australia would use this recognition to leverage its position in present nuclear arms control negotiations, further persuading countries in the region to exercise nuclear restraint.

Regardless of Australia’s future nuclear choices, just acknowledging the legal reality of Australia’s unique status under the NPT supports America’s long-term strategy in the Asia-Pacific. The U.S. government should do so as a matter of priority.

The Problem With Trump’s Big Mouth

Has there ever been a more indiscreet world leader than Donald Trump? We knew in the campaign that he had a big mouth when he was caught on tape bragging about assaulting women and getting away with it, but very few people would have predicted that this propensity to discuss private matters in wildly inappropriate contexts would extend to classified intelligence.

After all,  month after month he excoriated Hillary Clinton for allowing some confidential emails to be inadvertently sent over her personal email server when she was secretary of state. He said it disqualified her, in fact, and “she should not have been allowed” to run for president because of it.

Trump told Clinton to her face that if he were president she would be in jail:

Well, Donald Trump is the president now and several different government entities are investigating his campaign and administration. And he’s been shamelessly blurting out highly sensitive intelligence to foreign adversaries, unstable tyrants and even the press without a second thought.

Trump felt the need to meet with the Russian ambassador and the foreign minister at the behest of Vladimir Putin and in the course of their conversation he bragged that he had “great intel” and proceeded to expose a foreign ally’s asset by giving them  highly sensitive “code-word” intelligence without the ally’s permission. As former CIA chief John Brennan explained in testimony  before Congress this week, while it’s true that a president has the authority to declassify information, he is supposed to follow protocols:

The first [protocol] is that this kind of intelligence is not shared with visiting foreign ministers or local ambassadors. It’s shared through intelligence channels. The second is that, before sharing any classified intelligence with foreign partners, it has to go back to the originating agency to ensure that revealing it won’t compromise sources, methods and future collection capabilities.

There has never been a need for a protocol to guide a proudly ignorant, inexperienced president with a pathological need to brag to everyone he meets, since nobody anticipated such a thing before. Now we know.

And nobody anticipated that this same president would visit the foreign ally he exposed and confirm to reporters from all over the world that it had been the source of that intelligence. But Trump did that too.

And while Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu put on a good face for the cameras, the effect on the relationship has been profound. After the breach was reported, BuzzFeed spoke to two Israeli intelligence officials who said that this was their worst fear confirmed. One explained, “There has to be trust for this sort of arrangement. I cannot speak for Israel’s entire security apparatus, but I would not trust a partner who shared intelligence without coordinating it with us first.”

Foreign Policy reported that the Israeli defense minister admitted that the two countries have since revised their “protocols” and when asked what they were he tartly replied, “Not everything needs to be discussed in the media; some things need to be talked about in closed rooms.” A certain president shouldn’t talk about such things in closed rooms either, since he is incapable of understanding protocols for anything.

But that wasn’t the only report we had this week of Donald Trump’s loose lips putting national security in danger. The Intercept released a transcript of the Trump’s recent phone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte. (I wrote about it here.) The actual words were worse than we knew. Not only did the president effusively compliment Duterte on his murderous drug war, he also insulted former President Barack Obama for failing to be equally impressed.

The two leaders  discussed the threat from North Korea, mused about the mental state of Kim Jong-un and batted around the idea that nuclear war might end up being necessary. Trump said he hoped the Chinese would take care of it but promised that if they didn’t the U.S. would. Then he shared some military secrets with a foreign leader widely seen as unbalanced and untrustworthy:

We have two submarines – the best in the world – we have two nuclear submarines – not that we want to use them at all. I’ve never seen anything like they are but we don’t have to use this but [Kim] could be crazy so we will see what happens.

According to BuzzFeed, the Pentagon was in shock:

“We never talk about subs!” three officials told BuzzFeed News, referring to the military’s belief that keeping submarines’ movements secret is key to their mission.

While the US military will frequently announce the deployment of aircraft carriers, it is far more careful when discussing the movement of nuclear submarines. Carriers are hard to miss, and that, in part, is a reason the US military deploys them. They are a physical show of force. Submarines are, at times, a furtive complement to the carriers, a hard-to-detect means of strategic deterrence.

Trump, Duterte, Kim Jong-un and nuclear weapons. What could go wrong?

There are dozens of reasons why America’s allies and adversaries alike are starting to panic a little bit about Donald Trump serving as the supposed leader of the free world. Until now, despite major misgivings, it was not entirely clear whether Trump might grow into the job or whether American institutions and expertise would be able to guide his behavior. After four months it seems clear that’s not as easy as everyone hoped.

In this context, the fact that U.S. officials apparently leaked the identity of the accused Manchester bomber to the press before U.K. authorities were ready to do so was received with sharp irritation by the British government. If this had happened under any other administration, the misunderstanding between two close allies would likely have been handled quietly. But it’s obvious that the gusher of leaks throughout the government and at high levels of the White House has other countries spooked.

Along with the president’s ongoing inability to understand and respect the seriousness of classified intelligence, this lack of trust in the United States government’s basic competence and predictability is making the world order as we’ve known it for the last 60 years suddenly feel very unstable. It will be interesting to see whether the NATO meeting being held over the next few days can provide any sense of reassurance.

The Real “Korea” Problem

Image result for korea iran alliance

Iran is Our Biggest North Korea Problem

Far from being smart and pragmatic, thinking North Korea’s odious regime can be reformed into a better regime seems to rely on magical Unicorns spreading sparkly poop across Pyongyang and infecting their leadership class with hopeful goodness. Getting rid of the Iranian mullah regime is the key to a successful North Korea policy.

Yeah, nice work if you can get it:

Our main argument is that a smart, practical foreign policy on North Korea must include cooperation with China, a controlled Russia, strong assurances to South Korea, the equities of Japan, robust domestic support in the United States and no direct military confrontation to achieve the political objective of a denuclearized Korean peninsula. [emphasis added]

Is that all a successful North Korea policy to bring Kim Jong-Un to his senses rather than to his knees requires? Plus North Korea’s cooperation, of course. A simple oversight, I’m sure.

I feel foolish not to have thought of this approach before. Especially the “equities” of Japan. I don’t know what it means but it sounds awesome.

But really, there are more modifiers than policy in this policy description. And ponder that Russia is the wild card in their framework–not North Korea itself.

And one more thing. Why muddy the waters by pretending that the problem is denuclearizing the “Korean peninsula” when the nuclear problem lies solely north of the 38th parallel?

I remain convinced that our main problem with reacting to North Korea lies outside of North Korea in Iran.

Back when President Bush named the Axis of Evil, I felt the proper response to each was invasion of Iraq and the overthrow of Saddam, support for an Iranian revolution to overthrow of Iran’s mullahs, and containment of North Korea until they collapsed–ideally before they get nukes.

We invaded Iraq. And you must admit that having an Iraq that fights rather than supports terrorism; doesn’t slaughter their own Kurds; and which doesn’t seek WMD or threaten to invade Kuwait and points south is a good thing.

But we never supported the people of Iran who polls show like America but don’t like their government. Under Bush, the Democrats would have impeached the man for trying that.

And under Obama there was no interest in that solution given we sided with the mullahs when the people took to the streets in 2009 in support of real reform rather than accepting the rigged elections that perpetuate mullah rule; and given the horrible nuclear deal that shoveled money at Iran with only the fig leaf of delaying Iran’s nuclear threshold a decade (assuming Iran does not cheat).

Ponder that President Obama looked the other way while the Iranian regime suppressed their people in order to pave the way for the monumentally stupid Iran nuclear deal. The Obama administration truly believed that an Iranian ruler was “moderate” if he could avoid screaming “Death to America!” in English while a Western camera was pointed at him.

Unless the Iranian people somehow topple the regime, we’re stuck with this aggressive nutball regime that wants nukes.

In my view, overthrowing Iran’s mullahs was the necessary condition for supporting containment of North Korea. North Korea is awful, but I think they can be deterred from using nukes because their priority is regime survival.

As distasteful as accepting that regime is, the cost of war (and any narrow strike on nuclear targets could easily and rapidly expand to general war) would be monumental. I’m sorry that the North Korean people suffer under this approach, but somebody will and I’d rather it not be us or our allies. Life is rough, eh?

With a nutball Iranian regime that could very well buy nuclear technology from North Korea (or even complete nuclear weapons systems), containing North Korea just enables Iran to go nuclear.

When North Korea announces this, are they just letting a customer know that they are ready to take orders?

North Korea said on Monday it successfully tested what it called an intermediate-range ballistic missile, which met all technical requirements and could now be mass-produced, although U.S. officials and experts questioned the extent of its progress.

You must admit that the nuclear deal with Iran could result in Iran technically abiding fully with the terms of the agreement and also buying nuclear weapons from North Korea.

As long as Iran needs North Korea to get nukes, simply containing North Korea is a less than ideal solution.

Not to mock the authors too much. I do have great respect for SAMS. Maybe my imagination is insufficient to appreciate their policy proposal. Although in my own defense their presentation invited mockery. Yet I do think deterrence rather than use of force could be the policy of choice if North Korea has no nutball customers for their nukes.

And I do want to keep pressure on North Korea. Although I think regime (or state) collapse is the more likely goal rather than hoping that the regime will evolve into something less horrible. North Korea is clearly willing to impoverish and starve their people to remain in power. I think North Korea is wrong to believe nukes are necessary to deter invasion and so remain in power, but the North Korean elites apparently believe it very much.

South Korea evolved from a non-murderous authoritarian regime to a real democracy. North Korea has a long way to just reach South Korea’s starting point. Is there really hope of going even part of the way down that route?

The only way to get to a North Korea policy that doesn’t involve war to destroy North Korea’s nuclear infrastructure is to destroy the mullah regime in Iran before it gets nuclear weapons. Do that and North Korean nukes are a bilateral deterrence issue rather than a proliferation issue.

This makes President’s Trump to the Middle East very significant:

One speech cannot change Arab or Muslim perceptions of the president or the U.S. as an ally. Much will depend on the years and actions that follow. Words really matter, however, and especially in the Middle East. This time, the president used the right words to start rebuilding the foundations of America’s strategic partnerships in the Muslim world and Middle East, and to deal with truly urgent threats. This speech is the right beginning — in remarkably well-crafted terms — and it deserves bipartisan and expert respect.

Indeed, with a focus on defeating Iran that this trip highlights rather than the last administration’s hope to befriend and neuter Iran,

the deal may handcuff Iran’s nuclear production ambitions long enough to defeat the mullahs

.

And a friendly Iran would have a great effect on our Afghanistan dilemma, too.

US Spreads Its Nukes Into Korean Waters

President Donald Trump told his Philippine counterpart that Washington has sent two nuclear submarines to waters off the Korean peninsula, the New York Times said, comments likely to raise questions about his handling of sensitive information.

Trump has said “a major, major conflict” with North Korea is possible because of its nuclear and missile programs and that all options are on the table but that he wants to resolve the crisis diplomatically.

North Korea has vowed to develop a missile mounted with a nuclear warhead that can strike the mainland United States, saying the program is necessary to counter U.S. aggression.

Trump told Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte Washington had “a lot of firepower over there”, according to the New York Times, which quoted a transcript of an April 29 call between the two.

“We have two submarines the best in the world. We have two nuclear submarines, not that we want to use them at all,” the newspaper quoted Trump as telling Duterte, based on the transcript.

The report was based on a Philippine transcript of the call that was circulated on Tuesday under a “confidential” cover sheet by the Americas division of the Philippine Department of Foreign Affairs.

In a show of force, the United States has sent the nuclear-powered USS Carl Vinson aircraft carrier to waters off the Korean peninsula, where it joined the USS Michigan, a nuclear submarine that docked in South Korea in late April.

According to the Times, a senior Trump administration official in Washington, who was not authorized to publicly discuss the call and insisted on anonymity, confirmed the transcript was an accurate representation of the call between the two leaders.

U.S. officials, speaking on condition of anonymity, have said Trump discussed intelligence about Islamic State with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov and Russian Ambassador Sergei Kislyak at talks in the Oval Office this month, raising questions about Trump’s handling of secrets.

Trump also praised Duterte for doing an “unbelievable job on the drug problem”, the New York Times reported, a subject that has drawn much criticism in the West.

Almost 9,000 people, many small-time users and dealers, have been killed in the Philippines since Duterte took office on June 30. Police say about one-third of the victims were shot by officers in self-defence during legitimate operations.

North Korea On Path To Nuke The US

The remarks by Defence Intelligence Agency Director Lieutenant-General Vincent Stewart at a Senate hearing on Tuesday are the latest indication of mounting US concern over Pyongyang’s advancing missile and nuclear weapons programmes, which the North says are needed for self-defence.

US lawmakers pressed Stewart and Director of National Intelligence Dan Coats to estimate how far away North Korea was from obtaining an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could reach the United States.

They repeatedly declined to offer an estimate, saying doing so would reveal US knowledge about North Korea’s capabilities, but Stewart warned the panel the risk was growing.

“If left on its current trajectory the regime will ultimately succeed in fielding a nuclear-armed missile capable of threatening the United States homeland,” Stewart said.

“While nearly impossible to predict when this capability will be operational, the North Korean regime is committed and is on a pathway where this capability is inevitable.”

The UN Security Council was to meet on Tuesday behind closed doors to discuss Sunday’s test of a solid-fuel Pukguksong-2 missile, which defies Security Council resolutions and sanctions. The meeting was called at the request of the United States, Japan and South Korea.

John Schilling, a missile expert contributing to Washington’s 38 North think-tank, estimated it would take until at least 2020 for North Korea to be able to develop an ICBM capable of reaching the US mainland and until 2025 for one powered by solid fuel.

But Coats acknowledged gaps in US intelligence about North Korea and the thinking of its leader Kim Jong-un.

He cited technological factors complicating US intelligence gathering, including gaps in surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR), which rely on assets such as spy satellites and drone aircraft.

“We do not have constant, consistent ISR capabilities and so there are gaps, and the North Koreans know about these,” Coats said.

Washington has been trying to persuade China to agree to new sanctions on North Korea, which has conducted dozens of missile firings and tested two nuclear bombs since the start of last year.

Last month, US President Donald Trump called North Korean leader Kim Jong-un a “madman with nuclear weapons” during a telephone call with Philippine President Rodrigo Duterte, according to a transcript of a April 29 conversation released by US media on Tuesday.

“We can’t let a madman with nuclear weapons let on the loose like that. We have a lot of firepower, more than he has, times 20. But we don’t want to use it,” Trump said, citing “two nuclear submarines” the Pentagon sent to the area.

Transcribed by the Philippine government, the conversation was released by The Washington Post and The Intercept.

Trump also queried Duterte about whether he believed Kim was “stable or not stable”. The Philippine leader responded their North Korean counterpart’s “mind is not working and he might just go crazy one moment”.

Kim has a “dangerous toy in his hands that could create so much agony and suffering for all mankind”, Duterte added.

But Trump appeared reassured that North Korea’s recent missile tests had failed, saying “all his rockets are crashing. That’s the good news”.

Turning to China and its ability to counter the nuclear threat, Trump pressed Duterte to call Chinese President Xi Jinping to exert pressure.

“I hope China solves the problem. They really have the means because a great degree of their stuff come through China,” Trump said. “But if China doesn’t do it, we will do it.”

Duterte agreed. However, he cautioned: “The other option is a nuclear blast, which is not good for everybody.”