Over four years have passed since Kim Jong-un took over the leadership of North Korea after the death of his father, Kim Jong-il, in late 2011. At the time, some hoped that Kim Jong-un’s young age and western education would lead him to set North Korea on a path toward ...

North Korea’s satellite launch over the weekend, on the heels of its nuclear test last month, raises the prospects of renewed tensions on the Korean Peninsula and in East Asia.  Beijing has heretofore protected Pyongyang from stricter economic sanctions.  Former U.S. foreign service officer and Northeast Asia expert, Dr. Thomas ...

Relations between Saudi Arabia and Iran are arguably at a historic low. Saudi Arabia has cut off diplomatic relations with Iran in response to mob violence against Saudi diplomatic facilities in Tehran and Mashhad. Those attacks were a reaction to Riyadh’s execution of a prominent Shi’a Saudi activist who had ...

Iran’s every move will be closely scrutinized by the international community now that sanctions have been lifted over its nuclear program, providing Iran access to tens of billions of dollars in frozen assets. Over the weekend, the International Atomic Energy Agency certified that Iran had completed all the requirements stipulated ...

Although the sanctions on Iran have been lifted as part of the nuclear deal, former Treasury Department official Adam Smith said the U.S. will continue to impose sanctions on Iran for its terrorist, human rights, and ballistic missile activities. Smith told The Cipher Brief that one of the secondary aims ...

Speaking from the White House on the day after the implementation of the Iran nuclear deal, President Obama proudly declared “Today is a good day” demonstrating what is possible with “strong American diplomacy.”  History will determine whether the Iran deal proves to be the success its proponents already claim it ...

The year 1979 is remembered by most Americans for the takeover of the United States embassy in Tehran.  That year was pivotal for people in the region, as it marked the establishment of an Islamist government in Iran and the takeover of the Holy Mosque in Mecca by a group ...

North Korea’s claim to have tested a hydrogen bomb earlier this month and allegations that ISIS used a mustard agent against Iraqi Kurds in August have brought some deep questions to the forefront of our national security discussion on weapons of mass destruction (WMD):  Was a WMD really used?  Who ...

The global strategic environment is growing progressively complicated by an expanding and dynamic network of actors with common motivations and increased access to the technology necessary to develop and employ weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and WMD-like capabilities, ranging from radiological dispersal devices, to toxic chemicals and bio-toxins, to improvised ...

President Barack Obama spent much of his last State of the Union address dwelling on domestic issues, but he also pointedly reminded Americans that the United States is the most powerful nation on earth.  Our commander-in-chief acknowledged that it’s still a dangerous world out there but pinned that on failing ...

With the recent rise in domestic homegrown terrorist attacks, the fear of a domestic WMD attack is also rising.  John Cohen, former Acting Under Secretary for Intelligence and the Counterterrorism Coordinator at the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, assesses the evolving threat to the nation and how the government can ...

North Korea tested what was initially announced by Pyongyang to be a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, though the Obama Administration is skeptical.    White House Spokesman Josh Earnest told reporters, “the initial analysis is not consistent with North Korean claims of a successful hydrogen bomb test.”   Still, Pyongyang’s announcement has serious ...

Since his election in 2013, Western audiences have been eager to pin their hopes on Iranian President Hassan Rouhani, viewing him as a moderate who will reform his country in line with international norms. Rouhani’s recent statements criticizing the Iranian security services for detentions of journalists and U.S. citizens serve ...

It’s one of, if not the most, dangerous border in the world.  Nuclear-armed powers, India and Pakistan, have a history of strained relations since their independence from Great Britain in 1947, fighting three wars and regularly exchanging fire across their heavily militarized border. Two of the wars were over their ...

Even though both India and Pakistan are members of the South Asia Free Trade Area (SAFTA), established in January 2006, trade between them is strikingly small. Total trade (exports plus imports) between the two countries in the last few years has been averaging only a little over $2.5 billion. Currently, ...

Nowhere on earth is an act of terrorism more likely to spark a nuclear war than in South Asia. This is by no means a unique or recent observation. In early 2010, I wrote a “Contingency Planning Memorandum” for the Council on Foreign Relations suggesting that in the aftermath of ...

Born from the territorial splitting of British India in 1947, India–Pakistan relations have been historically beset by disagreements, pressure, and conflict over the status of Kashmir on India’s north-western border but also issues of regional pre-eminence.  With the dispute over Kashmir leading to direct war between the two sides in ...

South Korean President Park Geun-hye’s statements continue to confuse observers.  She has said that she is most interested in building trust with the North, but she has brought back ideas and government policies from the authoritarian past.  She suggests she is interested in peaceful reunification, but she does not talk ...

Twice last month, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea asked the United States of America to begin discussions on a peace treaty to formally end the Korean War. The problem, as Korea watcher Andrei Lankov has noted, is that Pyongyang does not want to include South Korea in the talks ...

Amid all the uncertainties about North Korea’s unpredictable young leader, Kim Jong Un, one thing is clear: he has an unrelenting focus on security – his own personal security and the authoritarian regime’s security from external pressure. For personal security and to consolidate his hold on power, Kim – in power ...

While the end of the Cold War brought the reunification of East and West Germany, the Korean Peninsula has remained divided over the ensuing quarter century. For much of that time, Korean unification has been viewed through the lens of the economic costs of German unification, but in 2014, South ...

  So what if Iran isn't planning to build an actual nuclear weapon?  Would that affect your take on the nuclear deal?  I mean it.  These aren't rhetorical questions. Now, it's not as if the Iranians hadn't been trying to build a bomb.  They were.  At least through about 2003. ...