The U.S.-South Korea joint Ulchi Freedom Guardian military exercises begin Monday, after days of bellicose rhetoric between U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un – and followed by Defense Secretary James Mattis announcing there will be “strong military consequences” if North Korea “initiates hostilities.” Mattis and Secretary ...

The U.S. and South Korea will hold joint military exercises beginning on Monday, as tensions on the Korean peninsula are on the rise. U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un engaged in a war of words over the past few weeks, with Trump saying he would release ...

U.S. military intervention to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis is not an option, according to top White House advisor Steve Bannon, who provided a rare window into his thoughts on international affairs in a call to a reporter Tuesday. “There’s no military solution [to North Korea’s nuclear threats], forget ...

Within the next week, North Korea’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump will face situations that will require them to take steps that could increase already heightened tensions, or force one or both to back down from recent threatening statements. On August 21, some 40,000 American and South ...

The nightmarish threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program appears more real than ever, but the devil is in the details. This summer’s most recent round of tension came after the successful test by North Korea of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) potentially capable of reaching the U.S. mainland, and ...

President Donald Trump said Thursday his earlier “fire and fury” warning to North Korea may not have been “tough enough,” and he called for the North Koreans to “get their act together or they are going to be in trouble like few nations have ever been in trouble.”  "If North ...

In the wake of President Donald Trump saying threats to the United States from North Korea would be met with “fire and fury,” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis issued Pyongyang a warning — and a call for de-escalation. “The DPRK must choose to stop isolating itself and stand down its pursuit ...

After President Donald Trump’s vow that any threats from North Korea “will be met with fire, fury, and frankly, power the likes of which this world has never seen before,” Pyongyang responded within hours, threatening to strike American military forces based on the U.S. island of Guam. The war of ...

Top Cabinet officials sought to dial back the rhetoric while still pushing a strong message to North Korean leader Kim Jong-un following President Donald Trump’s vow that threats to the United States from Pyongyang would be met with “fire and fury.” Defense Secretary Jim Mattis on Wednesday looked to reframe ...

If there has been one common refrain from the Trump administration, it is that President Barack Obama’s policy of “strategic patience” towards North Korea was not effective in deterring Pyongyang from pursuing its nuclear ambitions. But President Donald Trump and his advisers appear to have replaced strategic patience with an ...

President Donald Trump vowed to respond to North Korea with “fire and fury” if the rogue nation continues to threaten the United States. Speaking to reporters at the Trump National Golf Course in Bedminster, New Jersey on Tuesday, Trump said “North Korea best not make any more threats to the ...

Secretary of State Rex Tillerson capped off a whirlwind weekend at the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Ministerial meeting in Manilla, Philippines by suggesting the United States would be open to dialogue if North Korea stopped its provocative actions. “The best signal that North Korea could give us that ...

My first meeting with the North Korean delegation to the Six Party Talks in 2003 was instructive.  Their lead negotiator, First Vice Foreign Minister Kim Kye-Gwan, said the U.S. should accept North Korea as a nuclear weapons state, and like Pakistan, North Korea would be a good friend of the ...

Editor's Note: Amidst harsh rhetoric from both U.S. President Donald Trump and the North Korean regime, tensions are currently extremely elevated. After North Korea's missile test at the end of July, The Cipher Brief revisits its conversation with Michael Morell on Kim Jong-un's actions and intent.  American, South Korean and Japanese ...

As North Korea’s nuclear and ballistic missile programs ruffle the feathers in the United States and regional players in East Asia, there is another, less visible, confrontation occurring in the depths of computer systems around the world. In the last decade, despite a notable deficiency in global internet access, North ...

Since roughly 2009, North Korea has been active and noisy in cyberspace. From the hacking of government web sites in South Korea and the United States to the trashing of South Korean bank and media company information systems, the revenge attack on Sony, the infiltration of South Korean infrastructures such ...

In December 2014, while many were still preoccupied with the aftermath of the North Korean cyber attack on Sony Pictures Entertainment, South Korea was in a crisis of its own. An entity identifying itself as an “Anti-Nuclear Power Group” demanded that the country shut down three of its civilian nuclear reactors by ...

CIA Director Mike Pompeo signaled Thursday that a key goal of the Trump administration is to “separate” North Korean leader Kim Jong-un from control over Pyongang’s nuclear capabilities. "It would be a great thing to denuclearize the peninsula, to get those weapons off of that, but the thing that is ...

South Korea has extended an offer for military and humanitarian talks with North Korea. South Korean President Moon Jae-in ran on a platform of engagement with the North and proposed talks with Pyongyang several times as a candidate and as president. The talks would be the first high-level dialogue between ...

Financial sanctions have emerged as a key strategic weapon for the United States and a primary means of non-military confrontation with nations, companies, and individuals that threaten U.S. and international security. At the national level, Iran was forced to the negotiating table after the U.S. and the international community levied ...

Saturday, on the sidelines of the G-20 in Hamburg, President Trump sat down with his Chinese counterpart, Xi Jinping, for more than an hour-and-a-half of "substantive" discussions. Nonetheless, Washington as a practical matter no longer has a "China policy." That’s a good thing. twiett Why? Among other reasons, not having such a ...

President Donald Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in met for the first time last Thursday to discuss trade, stationing U.S. troops in South Korea, and most importantly, finding a common approach to halting and dismantling North Korea’s nuclear program. Then, just days later, on July 4th, North Korea successfully ...

North Korea took a significant step forward in its missile program this week with a successful test launch of what is believed to be an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM).  This technical milestone highlights the questions surrounding potential military or diplomatic responses to North Korea, given the threat any kind of ...

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 ...

Tensions are rising on the Korean Peninsula.  There is fear that the Korean War could restart, since there has only been a temporary suspension of hostilities since the 1953 Armistice.  Although this fear is not new and we have experienced high tensions many times over the years, given the global ...

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 ...

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 ...

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, ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...

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 ...