The U.S.-South Korea alliance has supported the peace and prosperity of both nations for more than 60 years, and South Korean President Moon Jae-in revealed one more reason to be thankful for the partnership in his first state visit to the United States and first meeting with President Donald Trump ...

The Trump Administration has made the North Korean nuclear and missile threats a national security priority and has called on its regional allies to bring additional pressure on North Korea to bring it back to negotiations. At the recent summit between U.S. President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon ...

At the first meeting between U.S. President Donald Trump and new South Korean President Moon Jae-in, the two leaders discussed disagreements over trade, the THAAD missile defense system, and splitting the cost of basing U.S. troops in South Korea. Moon also made the case for a phased approach to bringing ...

Every recent U.S. administration (Clinton, Bush, and Obama) has confronted the problem of North Korea’s (DPRK) nuclear weapons program. While claiming their predecessors failed, successive administrations have shared the same objective: completely roll back the DPRK’s development of a deliverable nuclear weapons capability and prevent proliferation of a nuclear weapon ...

Former CIA Acting Director Michael Morell on Thursday warned against the pressing threat of North Korea, suggesting that the country may have the capability to put a nuclear weapon on the continental U.S. “It’s a current threat, not a future threat,” Morell told attendees of The Cipher Brief’s Annual Threat Conference ...

On June 21, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson and Secretary of Defense James Mattis will meet with their Chinese counterparts, State Councilor Yang Jiechi and General Fang Fenghui, Chief of Joint Staff of the People’s Liberation Army in Washington for the inaugural session of the U.S.-China Diplomatic and Security Dialogue. ...

Upon coming into office, the Trump Administration quickly came to the correct conclusion that the Obama Administration’s policy of “strategic patience” toward North Korea was really “strategic neglect.”  Secretary of State Tillerson in Seoul March 17 stated it succinctly: “Let me be very clear: the policy of strategic patience has ...

In a recent interview with reporters in Beijing, Acting Assistant Secretary of State for East Asian and Pacific Affairs Susan Thornton noted that the Chinese were finally exerting greater pressure on North Korea. China’s “shift in emphasis,” in her words, entails stepped-up inspections and policing at the border as well ...

U.S. policymakers seeking an end to North Korea’s nuclear program often point to Beijing’s leverage over Pyongyang as the key to securing a binding disarmament agreement and peace on the Korean peninsula. However, China’s key interests are maintaining stability along its shared border with North Korea and limiting U.S. military ...

Ambassador Fu Ying, Beijing’s veteran diplomat, said last month that her country had “no leverage” over North Korea unless China addressed Pyongyang’s security concerns. Whether China addresses those concerns or not, its leverage over Pyongyang is, in a word, overwhelming. The trend of thinking these days, both inside and outside ...

Pyongyang has responded to the UN Security Council’s unanimous decision June 2 to expand sanctions for North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs by lashing out, not only at the United States but also at China. “[The U.S. and China] railroaded ‘sanctions resolution’ at the [UN Security Council] after having ...

Editor’s Note: The North Korean test on Tuesday of what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile, capable of hitting Alaska, has the U.S. and the rest of the international community grappling with what to do to stop Pyongyang’s nuclear program. On June 6, Walter Pincus, in his Fine ...

Twenty-five years of failed negotiations with North Korea.  Since 1993, our efforts to halt North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons have failed. What have we learned from this experience? The 1994 Agreed Framework froze North Korea’s plutonium program, but it did not halt North Korea’s desire for nuclear weapons. Thus, ...

The situation between the US and North Korea remains tenuous and characterized by uncertainty. North Korea’s cancellation of the upcoming summit with South Korea over the recent US/South Korean joint military exercises underscores the fragile nature of the proposed talks between the two countries. While the United States Department of ...

There could not be a riper time than the present for North Korean provocations. Over the past six months, leadership changes took place in both the U.S. and South Korea, the DPRK’s two greatest adversaries. In Washington, the advent of the Trump Administration in January signaled to the Kim Jong-un ...

In the late 1990s, the United States returned to the idea of building a system that could defend the homeland from long-range missiles launched by North Korea, Iran, or any other adversary. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) program has been under development for two decades. In that time, the program ...

Imagine the middle of nowhere Alaska. Got that in your head? Great. Now drive 2½  hours further into nowhere and you have arrived at Fort Greeley. I visited in the fall of 2015. It was cold out there—a wet, bitter cold.  It’s also slightly eerie. The absolutely enormous ravens all ...

North Korea’s successful launch of the road-mobile intermediate range Hwasong-12 missile on Sunday yet again demonstrated the Kim Jong-un regime’s perseverance and improving technical acumen in developing ballistic missiles that can carry nuclear warheads. The missile had a 30-minute flight time and reached an altitude of more than 1300 miles. ...

For decades, North Korea’s continued advancements in ballistic missile technology has sustained U.S. interest in missile defense that can protect the U.S. homeland from nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missiles. The Ground-based Midcourse Defense (GMD) system is the Pentagon’s solution for targeting and destroying long-range missiles outside of the Earth’s atmosphere. Though ...

From day one, South Korea’s new President, Moon Jae-in, has shown he will be a different type of leader. He confirmed a campaign promise that he would consider visiting Pyongyang before Washington to tackle the North Korean nuclear issue, albeit only if the conditions were right. He has said he ...

In his first days in office, newly elected South Korean President Moon Jae-in has tried to reassure the governments of the United States, Japan, and China that he will work to reduce tensions with North Korea, however his preference for engagement over sanctions has some experts wondering if his North ...

Liberal candidate Moon Jae-in won South Korea’s presidential election on Tuesday. Moon’s decisive win, with approximately 40 percent of the vote and a 14 percent lead over the next closest candidate, signifies the South Korean electorate’s desire for change after 10 years of conservative rule and a political corruption controversy ...

Can there be serious negotiations so that diplomacy may end the growing threat of a military confrontation on the Korean Peninsula? Not yet, is my guess. Trump, since his April 6-7 meeting at Mar-a-Lago with President Xi Jinping, has leaned on the Chinese leader to put greater economic pressure on ...

In a wide-ranging address to State Department employees Wednesday, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson laid out his vision for the future of the department, the Trump’s Administration’s “America First” approach to foreign policy, and global issues touching nearly every continent. Tillerson’s speech, his second to department workers since being sworn ...

There is an important emerging gap in thought over whether North Korea is several years away from having the ability to threaten the continental United States with a nuclear-armed missile, which many journalists are reporting, or whether North Korea actually already has that capability now.  It’s an important distinction, especially ...

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un, at age 33, is continuing his father’s and grandfather’s pattern of wild threats and bluster to cloak development of nuclear warheads and missile delivery systems that has caused problems for American presidents since Dwight Eisenhower. President Trump, aged 70 and a novice at dealing with ...

As North Korea’s provocations increase, questions have been raised about whether the Trump Administration’s responses have made matters worse and if there really is a strategy to deal with Pyongyang’s expanding nuclear and missile programs. President Donald Trump has used harsh rhetoric toward North Korea, saying “all options are on ...

President Donald Trump may be the only world leader impressed with the impact of the recent United States use of Tomahawk missiles in Syria and later the giant, GBU-43/B MOAB bomb in Afghanistan. Although both those American military actions have not affected fighting in either Syria or Afghanistan, Trump and ...

Official statements and public discussions on China’s willingness to punish or otherwise influence North Korean leader Kim Jong-un in a direction favorable to U.S. interests have been markedly optimistic in recent days. In an interview April 19, Vice President Mike Pence said “China is taking unprecedented steps to economically isolate ...

U.S. Vice President Mike Pence visited the Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) separating North and South Korea on Monday and warned Pyongyang the “patience” of the U.S. “has run out.”  His comments come a day after North Korea conducted a missile test that failed when the missile blew up almost immediately, according ...

President Donald Trump tweeted Tuesday that “North Korea is looking for trouble” following Pyongyang’s threat to use nuclear force against the United States.  North Korea’s official newspaper, Rodong Sinmun, said, “Our revolutionary strong army is keenly watching every move by enemy elements with our nuclear sight focused on the U.S. ...

Last week, U.S. President Donald Trump met with Chinese President Xi Jinping for the first time. While the two agree on the need to strengthen cooperation between the U.S. and China, there are several agenda items that are likely to become contentious, not least of which is North Korea. Trump ...

Since June 25, 1950, when North Korea, with Soviet and Chinese backing, invaded the South, in an effort to reunify the country, North Korea has been on the offensive. Ever since, the U.S., South Korea, and Japan have been playing defense in a failed attempt to get North Korea to ...

It is fashionable in Washington to deride, or even condemn, every move President Donald Trump makes that is a departure from past, staid U.S. foreign policy.  Secretary of State Tillerson's terse public statement on Wednesday's North Korean KN-14 missile test into the Sea of Japan was the latest example of ...

Over the past decade, Japan has had to deal with external threats, from Chinese assertiveness in the seas surrounding the island nation to North Korea’s nuclear ambitions. Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe has been making moves to give his country greater capabilities and flexibility to defend itself. The Cipher Brief’s ...

In the span of one week we have seen North Korea test four missiles, evidence of U.S. attempts to sabotage North Korea’s missile program with cyber capabilities, the deployment of the controversial THAAD missile defense system to South Korea, and China proposing that the U.S. give up joint military drills ...

Despite UN resolutions and international opposition, North Korea test-launched four intermediate range ballistic missiles on Monday that reached within 200 miles of Japan. The test demonstrates not only Pyongyang’s disregard for more sanctions, but also its progress in missile technology. Besides North Korea, Russia, China, and Iran have also devoted ...

North Korea’s latest test on Sunday of a nuclear capable Pukguksong-2 intermediate range ballistic missile displayed its inexorable advance in acquiring missile technology.  The test disrupted a dinner between President Donald Trump and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and has earned North Korea further rebuke not only from the United ...

The United States relies on missile defense systems to protect its allies and its troops stationed all around the world. Yet in some instances, the deployment of such systems is a strain on regional stability. The Cipher Brief spoke to Philip Coyle, a senior science fellow at the Center for ...

North Korea’s missile test on Sunday reaffirmed the case for greater missile defense in South Korea, but it did nothing to change China’s perspective on the matter. Beijing believes that any U.S. missile defense in South Korea would undermine its strategic nuclear deterrent, and therefore its national security. The U.S. ...

North Korea launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile this weekend, marking Pyongyang’s first provocation since President Donald Trump took office. The test coincided with Trump hosting Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe at his Palm Beach estate and club Mar-a-Lago. The pair turned their dinner into an open-air strategy session, and then ...

From South Korea’s point of view, the year of 2016 will be remembered as one of the most challenging years since the armistice of the Korean War was signed in 1953. North Korea conducted its fourth and fifth nuclear tests on January 6 and September 9 respectively, and it continued ...

Kim Jong-un’s New Year’s speech has triggered fevered speculation about the possibility of an impending North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) test, even provoking President-elect Donald Trump to tweet, “it won’t happen.”  Yet for anyone paying attention to North Korea’s development of weapons of mass destruction (WMD), the prospect of ...

Within a week North Korea has gone beyond its New Year’s Day promise that it was close to testing an ICBM (Intercontinental Ballistic Missile), claiming it can launch one “anytime and anywhere.” This is unwelcome news for South Korea, which finds itself in a period of internal political turmoil. The ...

Historically, South Korea’s geographical position among larger and—in the case of its neighbor to the north—adversarial countries has placed it in a precarious foreign policy situation. This has been compounded by the recent impeachment of President Park Geun Hye at a time when North Korea has advanced its nuclear and ...

Political turmoil in South Korea, following its president’s impeachment, could be exacerbated if North Korea tries to take advantage of a vacuum. That’s according to Jonathan Pollack, Interim SK-Korea Foundation Chair in Korea Studies at the Brookings Institution. “Pyongyang is highly practiced at injecting instability at times it deems appropriate, ...

In our graduate school, we emphasize the importance of understanding the history, culture, and political system of an adversary, which often gives you a better appreciation of how they view strategic issues of geopolitical concern.  When the students discuss tension with North Korea, we note the 2000 years of recorded ...

As the incoming administration continues to define its contours, and as President-elect Donald Trump begins to outline a foreign policy strategy for the next four years, it’s worth reassessing the U.S.  approach toward one of Washington’s persistent challenges: North Korea. Earlier this month, the Obama administration named the Democratic People’s ...

Chinese rivalry with the U.S. for regional dominance will be central to U.S. East Asia policy for the incoming administration.  China’s aggressive use of economic leverage, its mercantilism and revanchism will continue to complicate U.S. relations with its main rival - and potential partner - in East Asia.  This is ...

The latest North Korean nuclear test has caused the international community to once again reexamine all of the available policy options for how to hinder and eventually end North Korea’s nuclear program and create a nuclear weapons-free Korean peninsula. The Cipher Brief spoke with former CIA leadership analyst Soo Kim ...