Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist at The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  He is the author of Blown to Hell: America’s Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders (releasing November 2021) OPINION -- A ...

Jason Brodsky is a senior Middle East analyst and editor at Iran International TV. He previously served as policy director at United Against Nuclear Iran (UANI) and before that, worked in a variety of capacities at the Wilson Center. Brodsky is a former White House fellow where he served in ...

Cipher Brief Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for ...

Pulitzer Prize Winning Journalist Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  He is the author of Blown to Hell: America's Deadly Betrayal of the Marshall Islanders (releasing in November ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.   OPINION -- I have a job for the people running the Biden Nuclear Posture Review. Buried in the Biden fiscal 2022 ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics. OPINION -- Last Friday, it was announced at the White House that the Biden administration had turned South Korea loose to develop ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics. OPINION -- Last Wednesday, the Government Accountability Office released a declassified version of a once-secret June 2020 report titled: Nuclear Triad: DOD ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics. OPINION -- It’s time for serious planning to re-engage in nuclear arms control talks with Russia, China and other nuclear powers. “Arms ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics. OPINION -- “We cannot continue to life-extend our leftover Cold War era [nuclear] weapons and systems indefinitely, and successfully prevail in strategic ...

Cipher Brief Expert John E. McLaughlin served as Acting Director of Central Intelligence from July to September 2004 and as Deputy Director of Central Intelligence from October 2000 to July 2004.  He is currently the Distinguished Practitioner in Residence at the Johns Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). OPINION ...

Walter Pincus is a contributing senior national security columnist for The Cipher Brief. He spent forty years at The Washington Post, writing on topics from nuclear weapons to politics.  In 2002, he and a team of Post reporters won the Pulitzer Prize for national reporting. He also won an Emmy ...

North Korea’s party Congress, held earlier this month, offered some insight into what Leader Kim Jong Un is thinking when it comes to the country’s nuclear ambitions with a Biden Administration now in office. Kim told the Eighth Congress of the Korean Workers’ Party (KWP), that no matter who takes ...

OPINION -- President-elect Joe Biden’s campaign slogan, “Diplomacy is back,” will get an instant test after January 20, when his incoming team has just 16 days to find a way to extend the 2010, New START nuclear agreement with President Vladimir Putin’s Russia. Otherwise, it will expire on February 5, ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter ...

Gary Grappo is a former U.S. ambassador who held senior positions including Minister Counselor for Political Affairs at the U.S. Embassy in Baghdad; U.S. Ambassador to the Sultanate of Oman; and Charge d’Affaires and Deputy Chief of Mission of the U.S. Embassy in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. He’s currently ...

OPINION -- Was the November 27, assassination of Mohsen Fakhrizadeh - Iran’s top nuclear scientist - the beginning or the end of attempts to sabotage President-elect Joe Biden’s plans for the United States to return to the 2015, multilateral Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA)? My guess is that there ...

Just over a week ago, Iran’s top nuclear scientist, Mohsen Fakhrizadeh was killed by what Iranian authorities describe as a remote-controlled weapon as his car made its way through the streets of Tehran. It was the latest in a series of high-profile killings that included al Qaeda’s second in command ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea and Director of the National Counterproliferation Center.  He is also former director of East Asia Operations for CIA and served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea ...

OPINION – President-elect Joe Biden’s national security transition team should be developing plans for extending the New START strategic nuclear arms treaty with Russia, but also preparing to undertake its own, wide-ranging, Nuclear Posture Review that rethinks the Trump administration’s aggressive nuclear weapons building program. First up must be the ...

OPINION -- President Trump and his team are trying to come up with at least one last minute foreign policy success before Election Day, just 21 days away. Trump himself, tried to create some good re-election news last Wednesday about Afghanistan when he tweeted, “We should have the small remaining ...

OPINION -- The Navy is scheduled to begin construction next month on SSBN-826, to be named the USS Columbia, the first of 12 planned new, Columbia-class, strategic, ballistic missile submarines. The Navy’s top shipbuilding priority, the $110 billion-dollar, Columbia-class program will provide the major number of thermonuclear warheads for the ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration is using the Pentagon’s 2020 Annual Report to Congress on China’s military and security developments to spin its current campaign to make Beijing a greater national security threat to the U.S. than Russia. Last week, I wrote about the White House trying to sell the ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He also served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North Korea and the Director of the National Counter Proliferation Center, and ...

OPINION – One way to remember Brent Scowcroft’s major contributions to U.S. national security and foreign policy is to read the oral history he recorded over two sessions back in August 2002. The transcript was to be released after his death, so when he died on August 6, the Miller ...

Iran and China are reportedly moving forward with an economic and security agreement that could pose a significant challenge to US efforts to isolate and sanction Tehran over its nuclear program.  The proposed agreement, reported last week by The New York Times “would vastly expand Chinese presence in banking, telecommunication, ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy Development Organization (KEDO), as well as former CIA director of East Asia Operations. He later served as the Associate Director of National Intelligence and Mission Manager for North ...

The sister of North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un made headlines over the weekend as she threatened military action against South Korea, and deemed the inter-Korean liaison office "useless". What do we know about Kim Yo-jong and the role she is playing among North Korea's leadership elite? Dr. Kenneth Dekleva served as ...

Ambassador Joseph DeTrani is a fluent Mandarin Chinese speaker who served over two decades with the Central Intelligence Agency as a member of the Senior Intelligence Service. He also served as former Special envoy for Six Party Talks with North Korea and was the U.S. Representative to the Korea Energy ...

OPINION -- On February 20, during his visit to Strategic Command (STRATCOM) headquarters near Omaha, Nebraska, Defense Secretary Mark Esper took part in a mini-war-game exercise which led to a simulated Russian firing of a low-yield nuclear weapon and the U.S. launching one back. The next day, February 21, Defense ...

OPINION -- Last Friday, the Associated Press and Reuters both reported that an un-named senior administration official said that the U.S. told Moscow that President Trump now favors a summit meeting of the five permanent members of the United Nations Security Council to set up a three-way U.S., China, Russia ...

BOOK REVIEW: The Russia Trap: How Our Shadow War with Russia Could Spiral into Nuclear Catastrophe By George Beebe Reviewed by Michael Sulick Cipher Brief Expert Michael Sulick served as director of CIA’s National Clandestine Service and is currently a consultant on counterintelligence and global risk assessment. While at CIA, Sulick also ...

OPINION -- Should we all sleep easier because at last we have a low-yield nuclear warhead sitting atop a Trident D-5 sub-launched ballistic missile (SLBM) aboard a strategic ballistic missile submarine now on patrol in the Atlantic Ocean?  Not really. Last Tuesday, Under Secretary of Defense for Policy John Rood ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. The 70th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) will be celebrated this March 5 with the prospect that during this decade, there will be appreciably more nuclear weapons states than ...

John McLaughlin served as the Deputy Director of the Central Intelligence Agency from 2000-2004 and served as Acting Director of the CIA in 2004.  He currently serves as a distinguished practitioner in residence at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies.   The current situation between the United States ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s new attempt to open strategic nuclear talks with China “ASAP,” as mentioned in a State Department tweet last Friday, focuses on the wrong subject. Any talks about strategic deterrence among nations should be dealing first with the future of cyber warfare and weaponry rather than ...

EXPERT OPINION -- Kim Jong-un is a desperate man. He has long believed that Donald Trump’s unpredictability and their quirky friendship offers him the best, and possibly only, chance of a deal with the United States whereby he could keep some of his nuclear capability and gain a substantial measure ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph R. DeTrani was the former Special Envoy for Negotiations with North Korea. OPINION -- North Korea’s leader, Kim Jong-un, is getting bad advice from his senior advisers. Rather than pursuing closer relations with the United States, North Korea is in the process of unraveling a close ...

A date for Washington-Moscow nuclear arms control discussions could emerge from today’s Washington meetings with Russian Foreign Minister Sergei Lavrov -- first with Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and, if all goes well, later with President Trump. From Trump’s point of view, raising the long-awaited possibility of extending the current ...

The Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) with Iran is on life support.  Despite the pledges of allegiance to its implementation, Iran is now likely to undertake its fourth phase of reduction in commitments on or around November 5.  A familiar circular firing squad of recriminations will then commence: the ...

China and South Korea quietly agreed this week to engage in a joint effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula.  The announcement came on the sidelines of the Xiangshan Forum, a conference focused on Asia-Pacific security.  The two countries have resumed bilateral defense talks that were suspended in 2014, signaling a ...

Cipher Brief Expert Ambassador Joseph DeTrani offers his seasoned perspective on negotiating with North Korea.  This piece was first published by our friends at 38 North, a project of the Henry L. Stimson Center. COMMENTARY - The thirteen years (2003-2016) I invested in negotiations with North Korea in different capacities—Special ...

OPINION -- The Trump administration’s year-old plan to vastly increase future production of plutonium pits, the triggers of thermonuclear weapons, caught my attention just days ago when its high cost was mentioned in a section of the August 23, Congressional Budget Office (CBO) analysis of the Senate-passed version of the ...

With ongoing and often frustrating nuclear negotiations between the U.S. and North Korea and heightened tensions between nuclear neighbors India and Pakistan over Kashmir, having a clear picture of a nation's nuclear capabilities and how often they are testing them provides critical national security information. A fundamental building block of national ...

North Korean leader Kim Jung Un’s recent actions were disturbing – and potentially dangerous.   After two summits with President Donald Trump and an historic June 30th meeting at the DMZ, during which both leaders agreed that working level negotiations would commence soonest, we’ve witnessed, in the span of one month, ...

OPINION -- The U.S. has a triad of strategic nuclear weapons, air-launched from bombers, sea-launched from submarines, and land-based intercontinental missiles launched from underground silos. There is a reason. The triad’s purpose is to deter a foreign nuclear power from attempting a first strike to wipe out this country’s nuclear ...

India believes it won the hostilities which followed the Pulwama attack in February 2019. According to New Delhi the attack on Balakot not only punished Pakistan for hosting terrorists on its soil but it set a new baseline for how to deal with future such events. Pakistan (which feels it ...

Tensions remain high between Iran and several EU countries, even after some of the primary signatories to the 2015 nuclear agreement vowed their continued support this week, offering Iran an opportunity to reverse its recent, deliberate violations of the JCPOA.  In play right now: Iran’s supreme leader, Ayatollah Ali Khamenei ...

  Bottom Line Up Front Heightened tensions between the U.S. and Iran have now returned to the core issue of Iran’s nuclear program. Iran’s recent actions, including violating terms of the 2015 multilateral nuclear agreement, are intended to make the Trump administration pay a price for its ‘maximum pressure’ campaign. ...

Iran’s Foreign Minister Javad Zarif confirmed Monday that Tehran has violated the limits imposed on uranium enrichment that were a key part of the 2015 nuclear deal.  The U.S. withdrew its support for the deal last year.  The Trump Administration on Monday responded to the confirmation of increased uranium enrichment, ...