During two years of intense negotiations with North Korea, from August 2003 to September 2005, North Korea’s constant refrain to U.S. negotiators was, ‘Accept us as a nuclear weapons state and we’ll be a good friend of the U.S.’ They were told that the U.S. would never accept North Korea ...

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has won over the American president. He now has a simple message for the American people: we’re the modern Gulf ally you’ve been looking for, to offset the threat of Iran, keep you safe from al Qaeda in Yemen and invest our oil wealth ...

Monday marks 15 years since President George W. Bush announced the start of the Iraq war, followed by a 'decapitation' air strike on Baghdad meant to target Saddam Hussein. After a 48-hour deadline for Saddam to leave Iraq expired, ground troops from the U.S., UK, Australia and Poland invaded Iraq ...

Bottom Line: Behind the curtain of violent conflict often resides a potentially devastating, long-term issue that demands global attention: food insecurity as both a weapon and consequence of war. Militant groups recruit the hungry with promises of the next meal, and states such as North Korea and Syria control food ...

In a speech before Parliament, British Prime Minister Theresa May said it was “highly likely” Russia was behind a “military grade” nerve agent attack—an assassination attempt—on former spy Sergei Skripal and his daughter. “Should there be no credible response, we will conclude that this action amounts to an unlawful use ...

BRUSSELS – European officials are still going through the stages of grief, more than a year after President Donald Trump was elected, stuck somewhere between anger and denial. They took out their frustrations over the latest Trump tariff moves on the few administration officials who braved the German Marshall Fund’s ...

On Thursday, South Korean national security adviser Chung Eui-yong announced that President Donald Trump had accepted an invitation to meet with North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, and the meeting will take place “by May” at a time and place to be determined. This development could be referred to as a ...

Presidents and generals depend upon timely intelligence to shape their decisions in a world of ambiguity, hostile actors and disinformation. The savviest leaders in the private sector do the same. Governments have broad intelligence authorities and powerful tools unavailable to the private sector, but they do not have a monopoly ...

Bottom Line: With the stated national goal of achieving ‘great power status,’ China’s military modernization efforts have contributed to rising tension in the Asia-Pacific region, as well as between China and the United States. China’s growing ability to project military force – buttressed by the opening of its first overseas ...

Russia continues to wage hybrid warfare across Europe and the United States, and—for the most part—the West has been slow to respond, leaving some to ask – did the first Cold War ever really end, before this new conflict began? Former CIA and NSA chief Gen. (ret.) Michael Hayden joined ...

Jason Healey recently posted an interesting piece on The Cipher Brief, US Cyber Command: “When faced with a bully…hit him harder.” Healey writes: “Cyber Command’s new strategy demands that, ‘We must not cede cyberspace superiority.’ The goal is ‘superiority’ through ‘persistent, integrated operations [to] demonstrate our resolve” even at “below the ...

When Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu visits President Donald Trump at the White House on Monday, they might commiserate over the domestic investigations each are facing as well as take great satisfaction over Trump’s affirmation of the opening of a U.S. embassy in Jerusalem on the 70th anniversary of Israel’s existence this ...

Bottom Line: Relations between Egypt and Israel have often been referred to as a “cold peace,” but the emergence of mutual security threats over the past few years has facilitated a growing partnership between the former enemies. Specifically, Egypt and Israel have expanded their cooperation on the security front to combat ...

On March 1, Russian President Vladimir Putin boasted of new nuclear-capable weapons that could overcome any U.S. missile defenses, in a feisty pre-election “state-of-the-nation” speech. He presented Russian military force as a “guarantor of peace on our planet,” and also made some over-the-top economic and social promises, just 17 days ...

U.S. officials are working to protect the continental U.S. from possible chemical attack by ISIS followers in the Mideast, who are plotting to bring chlorine or other “simple” weapons of mass destruction to America’s shores, U.S. officials told The Cipher Brief Wednesday. The U.S. has intercepted “chatter” by ISIS followers ...

Will the Department of Defense amend its policies regarding troops carrying private firearms on military bases? More importantly, should it? In comments made last week following the school shooting in Parkland, Fla., President Donald Trump told attendees of the Conservative Political Action Conference he would re-examine these policies. Currently, only ...

Bottom Line: As the Syrian regime consolidates power, with the help of Russia, Iran, and Iranian proxy Hezbollah, its combined forces are growing bolder, presenting an increasing strategic threat to Israel. In response, Israel has begun adjusting its policy of selective intervention, recently targeting Assad air defense systems in response ...

The Pyeongchang Winter Olympics closed on Sunday, but the games may have opened the door for dialogue between the United States and North Korea. Following a meeting between South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean representatives, the South Korean government announced that North Korea was willing to have talks ...

Bottom Line: While the Trump administration has recently pressured South Korea on trade practices, the two nations remain united on pushing North Korea toward denuclearization, despite Pyongyang’s attempts to drive a wedge between the two. It is unlikely that their financial disagreements will disrupt that united front, but the money ...

Bottom line: Beijing aimed skyward with its latest attempt to expand areas of influence, unilaterally opening up several flight routes including one between Shanghai and Hong Kong that is uncomfortably close to Taiwanese airspace -- another step in its diplomatic and military pressure campaign to coerce Taiwan to rejoin China. ...

Bottom Line: A 2015 peace accord between the Mali government and ethnic Tuaregs in the north of the country has failed to produce economic or security benefits for the northern tribe, with each side blaming the other for the failure of the deal. The dispute could devolve once again into ...

CUCUTA, Colombia – Latin America analysts are bracing for a Syria-sized exodus in the Western Hemisphere, as beleaguered Venezuelans flee a humanitarian crisis of a country at war, but without tanks and bombs. The weapons of mass destruction in Venezuela’s case have been hyperinflation, starvation, sickness and fear – especially ...

Bottom line: After the mass shooting at the Parkland, Fla., school this week, the Trump administration’s focus on tackling mental health issues may produce legislation that empowers law enforcement to identify troubled would-be attackers. But such action may fail to stem the tide of gun-related mass shootings if not coupled ...

The Trump administration has given Pakistan a new “hit list” of nearly a dozen top militants to detain, to show its willingness to fight terrorism, but the U.S. won’t share intelligence that would help lead to their capture, and has snubbed Pakistani requests to meet CIA chief Mike Pompeo in ...

The annual accounting to Congress of global threats to the United States made it sound like al-Qaida’s separate branches were managing to thrive independently of one another, said Bruce Hoffman, Cipher Brief expert and Council on Foreign Relations visiting senior fellow, in comments to The Cipher Brief. But Hoffman believes ...

Questioning on Russian election interference and how the Trump White House handles staff clearances dominated the worldwide threat hearing Tuesday, as the Senate intelligence committee grilled leaders of the FBI, CIA, NSA, DNI, DIA and NGA over the contents of the 2018 Worldwide Threat Assessment of the U.S. Intelligence Community. ...

It was no surprise when two strategic vectors clashed this weekend on Israel’s northern front: The Iranian determination to build an advanced military force in Syria collided with Israeli determination to prevent that from happening. On a broader strategic level a conflict of this sort was expected, though the timing ...

North Korea’s Olympic delegation has left Pyeongchang, and stuck South Korean President Moon Jae-in with a decision: whether to accept an invitation to Pyongyang for talks with North Korean leader Kim Jong-Un. It would be the first time a South Korean president has visited the North Korean capital city since ...

Bottom Line: Tehran’s military doctrine seeks to deter a conventionally superior foe, the United States, from entering its territorial waters or borders through the threat of asymmetric retaliation. But with the expansion of Iran’s maritime reach – alongside their success in various proxy conflicts – Tehran’s efforts could have lasting ...

The U.S. coalition says in defending its own troops, it killed an estimated 100 pro-Assad regime fighters on Wednesday. This clash, which took place in Khusham near the Euphrates River, is the largest reported to date between U.S.-backed forces and pro-regime forces in Syria. Here’s what happened, according to public ...

Bottom Line: As the ongoing dispute between Qatar and Arab countries including Saudi Arabia, Egypt, Bahrain and the United Arab Emirates enters its eighth month, the U.S. has been forced to strike a delicate balance in its dealings with critical allies in the Middle East. At the same time, the ...

Bottom Line: For terrorists, moving money covertly through hawala networks to circumvent institutionalized banking systems remains one of their leading methods of avoiding detection. The U.S. has managed to unearth and even sanction certain illicit hawala networks, but terrorists continue to exploit this centuries old, nearly untraceable practice to finance ...

Pentagon chief Jim Mattis defended the administration’s 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR) as the right response to Russia’s rising nuclear capacity and its failure to abide by international treaties, in comments to the House Armed Services Committee Tuesday. The NPR calls for the creation of two new submarine-launched nuclear weapons: ...

Bottom Line: While ISIS’s territory has dwindled, al Qaida has managed to build a strong following in Syria, and may use the civil-war-torn country as a base from which to target the West. The group has evolved into the network’s largest global affiliate by strategically positioning itself as a key ...

Is the U.S. drawing down its military presence in Iraq, following a declaration of victory over ISIS? Messages from Iraqi and U.S. spokesmen are muddled: An Iraqi government spokesman said Monday the U.S. has begun to reduce the number of its troops in-country. An unnamed senior official close to Iraq’s ...

Last Friday afternoon, Trump administration sub-cabinet officials quietly rolled out the 2018 Nuclear Posture Review (NPR), and today, the United States and Russian Federation successfully met the New Start Treaty deadline for reducing  strategic nuclear weapons. Neither will make much news. They both should. The Trump NPR is being soft-sold ...

From selling drugs to profiting from a pig farm, Lebanese Hezbollah’s hypocrisy knows no bounds – a political party with a military army that does the bidding of the Iran’s Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps. That was the description of the group by Trump administration officials who announced new sanctions Friday ...

Cipher Brief experts were underwhelmed by the “Nunes Memo,” made public Friday, despite the objections of Democrats, leaders in the intelligence community, and the FBI itself. Written by Rep. Devin Nunes, R-Calif., chairman of the House intelligence committee, the memo alleges political bias on the part of the FBI and ...

CIA Director Michael Pompeo told Democrats that there is nothing “untoward” about meeting with Russia’s senior spy chiefs, following reports that he did just that last week. Russian media reported that Pompeo met with Sergey Naryshkin, chief of Russian foreign intelligence who is currently sanctioned by the U.S. Treasury Department ...

WASHINGTON — The Palestinian representative says peace talks with Israel can only start as long as other countries – not just the U.S. and Israel – are at the table. “There is no way but an international table to implement international resolutions,” Palestine Liberation Organization Ambassador Husam Zomlot said Thursday, ...

Sometimes reporters get called to a briefing so an administration can defend what it has done. And sometimes, it’s a warning of what it may be about to do. On Thursday, two senior administration officials warned that the Trump administration could take military action – again – against the Syrian ...

I launched this company two and a half years ago on a very simple idea:  let’s get a talented, experienced and vetted group of experts and professionals together to create a well-informed, dynamic national security debate based on non-partisan news reporting and analysis. And let’s create a dialogue with the ...

Just ahead of President Donald Trump’s delivery of the State of the Union, the State Department released a list of “influential Russians,” including several politicians and oligarchs, who could face sanctions in the future for their proximity to the Kremlin. The list was later determined to be pulled from Forbes’ ...

Cipher Brief experts found President Donald Trump’s first State of the Union speech light on detail and substance. Trump promised to defeat ISIS, keep pressure on North Korea, and keep Guantanamo Bay open, among a grab bag of briefly mentioned national security issues – ideas which most of our experts ...

Cipher Brief experts General (ret) Michael Hayden and former CIA senior officer Norman Roule have had many conversations on the subject of Iran and the broader Middle East—but not usually in front of a public audience. The two served together in the U.S. intelligence community, with Hayden as former CIA ...

Bottom Line: The potential of economic development in the Arctic for a financially strapped Russia has increased the Kremlin’s attention to the security of its northern waters. The result is a push to bolster its military presence in the region. But against a backdrop of increasing geopolitical tensions between Russia ...

The People’s Republic of China has not fought a war since 1979, but the People’s Liberation Army (PLA) has been a very close student of other peoples’ wars. They have carefully analyzed foreign, especially American, conflicts of the past several decades, and they have assessed the impact of information and ...

Bottom Line: ISIS maintains a strong presence in Libya and remains a potent regional threat, despite domestic and international efforts to oust the group from its stronghold. After losing their former base of operations along the Libyan coast, ISIS fighters have regrouped and established training centers and operational headquarters in ...

A failure to shut down North Korea’s nuclear program would not only pose a threat to U.S. territory, former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger told a congressional panel. It would encourage other countries to develop their own atomic arsenals, perpetuating a dangerous spread of the world’s deadliest weapons. “If North ...

Bottom Line: Multiple rounds of peace talks aimed at ending Syria’s seven-year civil war have failed to yield results or relieve a catastrophic humanitarian crisis throughout the country. While the Trump administration throws its support behind a United Nations-led process that aims to deliver a roadmap for peace, Russia has ...