Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump returns to UN praising Kim | Iran in crosshairs later this week | US warns Russia on missile defense in Syria

Overnight Defense — Presented by Raytheon — Trump returns to UN praising Kim | Iran in crosshairs later this week | US warns Russia on missile defense in Syria
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Happy Monday and welcome to Overnight Defense. I'm Rebecca Kheel, and here's your nightly guide to the latest developments at the Pentagon, on Capitol Hill and beyond.

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THE TOPLINE: President TrumpDonald TrumpFormer defense secretary Esper sues Pentagon in memoir dispute Biden celebrates start of Hanukkah Fauci says lies, threats are 'noise' MORE is in New York to start the week for the United Nations General Assembly.

His marquee event Monday was a meeting with South Korea President Moon Jae-in, which comes after Moon completed his third summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

We took a look at what to expect over the weekend, if you missed that.

At the meeting, both Moon and Trump offered rosy assessments of ongoing efforts to get North Korea to denuclearize.

"I think a lot of progress is being made," Trump said on North Korea talks, sitting next to Moon. "I see tremendous enthusiasm on behalf of Chairman Kim for making a deal, and I think that's something that's very good."

Moon, in turn, lavished praise on Trump by way of Kim.

"Chairman Kim also repeatedly conveyed his unwavering trust and expectations for you, while expressing his hope to meet you soon to swiftly conclude the denuclearization process with you, because you are, indeed, the only person who can solve this problem," Moon told Trump.

Trump-Kim summit soon?: Trump also said a second summit with Kim will happen in the "not too distant future," saying more information will come in a "pretty short period of time."

In a separate press conference, Secretary of State Mike PompeoMike PompeoNo time for the timid: The dual threats of progressives and Trump Psaki: Sexism contributes to some criticism of Harris Mnuchin, Pompeo mulled plan to remove Trump after Jan. 6: book MORE endorsed the idea of another summit.

"We're coming at this from a different direction. We're bringing the two senior leaders, the individuals who can actually make the decisions that will move this process forward, bring them together so we can continue to make progress towards what the U.N. Security Council has demanded and what Chairman Kim has promised he would do," he said.

"If we can continue to make progress and have conversations, I think there's enormous value in that," he added.

The other U.S.-Korea issue: Trump and Moon also used their meeting to sign a revised U.S-Korea Free Trade Agreement, known as KORUS.

Among other changes, the deal, first reached in March, doubles to 50,000 the number of cars U.S. automakers can sell in South Korea without meeting local safety standards in exchange for the United States indefinitely exempting South Korea from recently imposed 25 percent steel tariffs. The United States will also extend expiring tariffs on Korean pickup trucks from 2021 to 2041.

"I'm very excited about that for the United States," Trump said of the agreement. "And I really believe it's good for both countries."

Coming up at the General Assembly: On Tuesday, Trump will give his speech to the General Assembly.

Administration officials said Monday that Trump's speech will focus on sovereignty.

"Whether it's security issues, economic issues, human rights or anything else, the president's asking for countries to exert their sovereignty to solve challenges," Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said at a press conference Monday.

"This emphasis on sovereignty was, of course, the theme of President Trump's speech to the General Assembly last year," he continued. "That theme will endure in his speech tomorrow, along with a recap of how his call for every nation to do its part has paid dividends for the United States and the world over this past year."

Pompeo cited Trump's efforts on North Korea as one of those "dividends."

On Wednesday, Trump is scheduled to chair a meeting of the Security Council. The meeting is officially being described as dealing with the nonproliferation of weapons of mass destruction.

Trump, though, said Friday on Twitter that the meeting is "on Iran."

If the meeting were officially about Iran, a representative from the country, which is not part of the Security Council, could participate, a potentially dicey confrontation U.S. officials are keen to avoid.

At Monday's press conference, Pompeo said topics Wednesday will also include Syria and North Korea. But he most emphasized Iran's behavior.

"You can bet the president will have well-deserved strong words for the Iranian regime, which is among the worst violators of the U.N. Security Council resolutions, if not the absolute worst in the world," Pompeo said. "He'll call on every country to join our pressure campaign in order to thwart Iran's global torrent of destructive activity."






CROWDED SKIES IN SYRIA: Russia announced Monday that is sending its Syrian ally a new missile defense system, a week after Syria accidentally shot down a Russian plane.

Russia said it will deliver its S-300 to Syria within two weeks.

In last week's incident, Syrian missile defenses were responding to an Israeli jet conducting airstrikes. Russia has blamed Israel for the incident.

Why the United States cares: The S-300 is not Russia's most advanced missile defense system, but it would represent an upgrade that could pose a greater threat to Israeli aircraft.

It could also limit the movement of U.S. aircraft, which are in Syria fighting the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria (ISIS), as well as narrow options if the United States were to conduct another strike on the Syrian regime.

National security advisor John Bolton told reporters in New York on Monday that deploying the S-300 would be a "significant escalation."

"We think introducing the S-300s to the Syrian government would be a significant escalation by the Russians and something that we hope, if these press reports are accurate, they would reconsider," Bolton said.

"We have American forces in the area we're concerned about," he added. "The Israelis have a legitimate right to self-defense against this Iranian aggressive behavior, and what we're all trying to do is reduce tensions, reduce the possibility of major new hostilities. That's why the president has spoken to this issue and why we would regard introducing the S-300 as a major mistake."

Pompeo also said he was "very confident" the issue would come up in discussions with his Russian counterpart at the U.N.

US there to stay?: Bolton also told reporters that the U.S. military isn't leaving Syria until Iran does.

"We're not going to leave as long as Iranian troops are outside Iranian borders and that includes Iranian proxies and militias," he said.

Asked later about Bolton's comments, Defense Secretary James MattisJames Norman Mattis The US can't go back to business as usual with Pakistan The Hill's Morning Report - Presented by Facebook - Senate nears surprise deal on short-term debt ceiling hike Overnight Defense & National Security — Pentagon chiefs to Congress: Don't default MORE reiterated to reporters at the Pentagon that the military's mission is to defeat ISIS and ensure the terrorist group does not reemerge.

He referred further questions about Bolton's comments back to Bolton, but when pressed said, "I think we're on the same sheet of music."

"There is no daylight between his appreciation of the situation and mine," he said.


HASPEL STEPS INTO THE PUBLIC EYE: Gina Haspel delivered her first public address as CIA director on Monday, offering a robust endorsement of the clandestine foreign intelligence service she leads and laying out her priorities in her first months on the job.

In a speech at the University of Louisville, her alma mater, Haspel said the CIA is working to prioritizing closing the "strategic intelligence gaps" by focusing more intelligence gathering on nation-state adversaries, rather than terrorist groups.

Haspel, the CIA's first female director, also pledged to "champion diversity and inclusion" among the intelligence agency's ranks and to invest more in the CIA's counternarcotics operations overseas.

Haspel, a 33-year veteran of the agency, made the rare public appearance four months after the Senate confirmed her to serve atop the CIA, which involved intense scrutiny of her involvement in the agency's use of brutal interrogation tactics after the Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks.

She delivered the remarks at the University of Louisville's McConnell Center and was introduced by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnellAddison (Mitch) Mitchell McConnellFive issues that will define the months until the midterms  Key senators to watch on Democrats' social spending bill Republicans seem set to win the midterms — unless they defeat themselves MORE (R-Ky.).

What she didn't say: Haspel made little reference to Trump, who has at times appeared to clash with the intelligence community over its conclusions about Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election.

She did, however, say that she attends Trump's daily intelligence briefings several times a week, along with Director of National Intelligence Dan CoatsDaniel (Dan) Ray CoatsAn independent commission should review our National Defense Strategy Overnight Hillicon Valley — Scrutiny over Instagram's impact on teens Former national security officials warn antitrust bills could help China in tech race MORE and Bolton.

Haspel was also asked to address the soccer ball gift Trump was given by Russian President Vladimir Putin at their controversial meeting in Helsinki this past July.

"I think it was meant to be a gesture, but I'm very confident that my brothers over in the Secret Service will have X-rayed that ball," Haspel joked.

CIA morale: When questioned about morale at the agency, Haspel described rank-and-file officers and analysts as unaffected by the political turmoil in Washington.

"CIA is a very resilient work force and we tend to be very mission-focused. We tend not to pay attention to the political fray in the capital. We are very focused on events overseas and our collection mission, our analysis mission, and what we can do about the problems that we face overseas," Haspel said. "I think morale tends to be pretty constant."



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The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for Gen. Robert Abrams to be commander of U.S. Forces Korea and Gen. Craig Faller to be commander of U.S. Southern Command at 9:30 a.m. at the Dirksen Senate Office Building, room G-50. https://bit.ly/2QD9rF1

The Senate Foreign Relations Committee will hold a confirmation hearing for the nominees to be deputy administrator at the U.S. Agency for International Development, assistance administrator for USAID for the Middle East and assistant administrator at USAID for democracy, conflict and humanitarian assistance at 3 p.m. at Dirksen 419. https://bit.ly/2xO1JQ0

The House Rules Committee will consider the rule for floor debate for the 2019 defense spending bill at 5 p.m. at House room 313. https://bit.ly/2DAR2qe 



-- The Hill: National security leaders: Trump's Iran strategy could spark war

-- The Hill: GOP set to move $854B spending bill despite Trump criticisms

-- The Hill: Opinion: The Trump administration must choose: Contain China or take on North Korea

-- The Washington Post: Admiral tapped for promotions despite dinners with 'Fat Leonard'

-- The Wall Street Journal: Hopes rise for release of U.S. pastor being held in Turkey

-- Associated Press: Iran's politics go topsy-turvy, 40 years after revolution