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ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 25/04/2018

ESADEgeo Daily Digest, 25/04/2018

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Financial Times – Katrina Manson / Emmanuel Macron open to ‘new deal’ on Iran nuclear activity

  • European leaders, including French President Emmanuel Macron, are not willing to reopen the Iran nuclear deal. However, Macron said they wanted to work on a separate “new deal” that ensured Tehran did not engage in nuclear activity now or after 2025.
  • This new deal would also include Iran ending its ballistic missile activities and containing its interference in the Middle East.
  • “They [Iranians] restart their nuclear programme — they will have bigger problems than they’ve ever had before,” said US President Donald Trump. “They’re not going to be restarting.”
  • “If anyone betrays the deal, they should know that they would face severe consequences. Iran is prepared for all possible situations,” said Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani.

Politico – David M. Herszenhorn / EU and UN call for restarting Syria peace talks

  • EU and UN officials used a conference on international aid for Syria to call for a resumption of political negotiations to end the country’s long civil war.
  • International donors attending the conference have pledged more than $6 billion for Syria, but the EU and US have insisted that no funds for reconstruction will be released until there is a negotiated political settlement of the conflict.
  • “Asking the UN to do a miracle or the EU to do a miracle when big players are not doing their part is asking for too much,” said Staffan de Mistura, UN special envoy for Syria. “So we are asking them to do their part.”
  • De Mistura noted that the creation of a constitutional committee, which Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov promised would be developed after a peace conference in January in Sochi, had not yet materialized.

Foreign Policy – Elias Groll / How AI could destabilize nuclear deterrence

  • When Russian President Vladimir Putin announced last month that his country was developing an autonomous nuclear-powered torpedo, it marked a milestone in the marriage of nuclear weapons and artificial intelligence (if the torpedo actually does what Putin claimed).
  • A new report from Rand Corp. explores how AI affects the risks of nuclear war. The conclusions are that technology may destabilize the fragile post-Cold War order that has kept nuclear missiles in their silos.
  • “When it comes to artificial intelligence and nuclear warfare, it’s the mundane stuff that’s likely to get us,” says report author Edward Geist. For example, AI-enabled intelligence tools — such as autonomous drones or submarine-tracking technology — threaten to upset the strategic balance among the world’s major nuclear powers.
  • If a country is able to use AI-enabled technology find and target missiles stored in silos, on trucks, and in submarines, that threat of retaliation (“mutually assured destruction”) could be taken off the table, inviting a first strike.
  • Crucially, AI doesn’t have to actually provide this breakthrough in order for it to be destabilizing — the enemy only has to think that AI provides an edge that puts its own nuclear force at risk.

South China Morning Post – Stephen Chen / North Korea’s nuclear test site has collapsed … and that may be why Kim Jong-un suspended tests

  • Two separate groups of Chinese scientists have confirmed that North Korea’s mountain nuclear test site – where the last five of Pyongyang’s six nuclear tests have been carried – has collapsed, putting China and other nearby nations at unprecedented risk of radioactive exposure.
  • The mountain’s collapse may be a reason why North Korean leader Kim Jong-un declared last Friday that he would freeze the hermit state’s nuclear and missile tests and shut down the site.
  • The collapse has likely dealt a huge blow to North Korea’s nuclear programme, said Hu Xingdou, a Beijing-based scholar. Hit by crippling international economic sanctions over its nuclear ambitions, the country might lack sufficient resources to soon resume testing at a new site.
  • “But there are other sites suitable for testing,” Hu said. “They must be closely monitored.”

The selected pieces do not necessarily reflect the views of Javier Solana and ESADEgeo. The summaries above may include word-for-word excerpts from their respective pieces. 

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