Before the start of business, Just Security provides a curated summary of up-to-the-minute developments at home and abroad. Here’s today’s news.
The KOREAN PENINSULA
North Korea conducted large-scale military live-fire drills today to mark the foundation of its military as US submarine the USS Michigan docked in South Korea in a show of force and envoys from the US, Japan and South Korea met in Tokyo to discuss the growing threat posed by North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles program, Ju-min Park reports at Reuters.
The missile-armed USS Michigan will join an incoming group of warships led by aircraft carrier Carl Vinson, the BBC reports.
An unusual private briefing on North Korea involving the entire Senate will be held Wednesday, the White House announced yesterday, David Nakamura, Simon Denyer and Anna Fifield report at the Washington Post.
Lawmakers will be briefed tomorrow by several administration officials including the Secretary of State and the Defense Secretary ahead of the meeting, which will take place at the White House, perplexing lawmakers who are used to meeting in more secure settings such as the Pentagon and prompting speculation that the meeting will be used by the Trump administration as a photo op ahead of its 100-day mark, write David Nakamura and Ed O’Keefe at the Washington Post.
“The status quo in North Korea is unacceptable and the council must be prepared to impose additional and stronger sanctions on North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile programs.” President Trump underlined US resolve to stop North Korea’s progress at a lunch meeting with UN ambassadors yesterday, Julian Borger reports at the Guardian.
Pentagon officials were caught unawares by UN ambassador Nikki Haley’s announcement of an apparent red line that would prompt a preemptive US strike on North Korea on NBC News yesterday, Kimberly Dozier and Benny Avni write at The Daily Beast.
Secretary of State Rex Tillerson will chair a special meeting of the UN Security Council on North Korea Friday in New York, spokesperson Mark Toner explaining that the meeting will give council members an opportunity to discuss ways to “maximize the impact of existing Security Council measures” and demonstrate that they intend to respond to future provocations with “appropriate new measures.” Mark Hensch reports at the Hill.
The Trump administration’s “sudden urgency” in dealing with North Korea was prompted by an increase in the pace of North Korea’s nuclear program indicated by a growing body of expert studies and classified intelligence reports but impossible to verify without access to North Korea’s facilities, write David E. Sanger and William J. Broad at the New York Times.
The Japanese government issued “new actions to protect yourself” guidelines this week including instructions on what to do if a North Korean ballistic missile is headed toward Japan, reports Anna Fifield at the Washington Post.
Trump’s increased risk-taking on North Korea can pay off, Jon Wolfsthal at Foreign Policy explaining how this “classic game of chicken” in which the driver is willing to appear irrational in order to gain an advantage may be producing results, with reports indicating that China is leaning on Pyongyang harder than it has done in years and that Japan is preparing to deal with a post-conflict or post-collapse North Korea.
TRUMP ADMINISTRATION FOREIGN POLICY
President Trump labeled the UN an “underperformer” but with “tremendous potential” yesterday at the start of his working lunch with Security Council ambassadors, adding that if the UN did a good job his budget concerns might diminish to some extent. Louis Nelson writes at POLITICO.