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  • Publication Date: 01-2021
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI)
  • Abstract: The Korea Economic Institute of America (KEI), with the generous support of the Korea Foundation, organized six “Vision Group” roundtable conversations with leading American scholars and commentators to discuss the United States’ relationship with the Republic of Korea. The first was held in December 2019, the last in November 2020. The intent was to consider the future of relations during a time of change. The Vision Group comprised a wide range of expertise and opinion. This record conveys some of the insights and recommendations that arose during the conversations.
  • Topic: International Relations, Security, Foreign Policy, Economics, Human Rights
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel Wertz
  • Publication Date: 05-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: East-West Center
  • Abstract: North Korea’s tumultuous path over the past few years from nuclear standoff to summit diplomacy put a spotlight on Pyongyang’s bilateral relations across the Indo-Pacific. The February 2017 assassination of Kim Jong Un’s exiled half-brother at the Kuala Lumpur airport dramatized the malign aspects of North Korea’s overseas presence, and presaged Southeast Asia’s role as an important front in the incipient U.S.-led maximum pressure campaign against Pyongyang. As maximum pressure transitioned to engagement with North Korea, U.S.-DPRK summits in Singapore and Vietnam raised hopes that North Korea could follow the examples of these host nations, and move forward on a more hopeful path toward economic development and reconciliation with old adversaries.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Diplomacy, Regional Cooperation, Sanctions
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Antoine Bondaz
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Stockholm International Peace Research Institute
  • Abstract: The North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile crisis is the most serious proliferation crisis the European Union (EU) and its member states currently face on the world stage. Despite the staging of diplomatic meetings, the threat caused by this crisis to European interests, in terms of proliferation, instability and to prosperity, persists. It is now essential that the EU and its member states move from a strategy of critical engagement to implementing a more proactive strategy of credible commitments in four areas: political engagement, non-proliferation, the implementation of restrictive measures and engagement with the North Korean people. Such a renewed strategy should be highly coordinated, build on the many initiatives already being taken and facilitated by the appointment of an EU Special Representative on North Korea.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, European Union, Disarmament, Engagement
  • Political Geography: Europe, Asia, North Korea
  • Author: Torrey Froscher
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: The North Korean nuclear program has been a major intelligence and policy challenge for more than 30 years. Former Secretary of Defense Bill Perry described the problem as “perhaps the most unsuccessful exercise of diplomacy in our country’s history.”1 Donald Gregg, who was CIA station chief in Seoul as well as US ambassador to South Korea, called North Korea the “longest running intelligence failure in the history of American espionage.”2 To be fair, Gregg was referring specifically to a lack of success in recruiting human sources—not necessarily errors in specific or overall assessments. Nonetheless, his comment underscores the difficulty of figuring out what North Korea is up to. In 2005, the Commission on the Intelligence Capabilities of the United States Regarding Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMD), which was convened to investigate the failed 2002 national intelligence estimate on Iraqi WMD capabilities, indicated that we know “disturbingly little about the weapons programs and even less about the intentions of many of our most dangerous adversaries,”3 presumably including North Korea. Today we know a lot more about North Korea’s nuclear program— but mostly it is what they want us to know. Pyongyang has conducted six nuclear tests. We know that North Korea has nuclear weapons, a significant fissile material production capacity, and an ambitious nuclear and missile development effort. These programs are completely unconstrained. The United States has tried many approaches to deal with the problem over the years, and intelligence has played a key role in support. Are there lessons to be learned from this experience? Obviously, it’s a very big question and I will sketch out just a few thoughts, mostly from an intelligence perspective: What we knew and when and how we thought about the problem. North Korea was one of many issues I worked on as an analyst and manager in CIA until my retirement in 2006. The views that follow are my own, of course, and the specific information is drawn from the extensive public literature on the issue, as well as declassified intelligence documents.
  • Topic: Diplomacy, Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons, History
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Henry Sokolski
  • Publication Date: 02-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Nonproliferation Policy Education Center
  • Abstract: In the next decade, it is all too likely that the past success of the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in preventing the further spread of nuclear weapons among the world’s nations will be reversed. Three trends make more proliferation likely. First is the decay of nuclear taboos. Second, and arguably worse, is renewed vertical proliferation—the increase in size and sophistication of nuclear arsenals by states that already have them. Third, the technical information to fuel nuclear breakouts and ramp-ups is more available now than in the past. These trends toward increased proliferation are not yet facts. The author describes three steps the international community could take to save the NPT: making further withdrawals from the NPT unattractive; clamping down on the uneconomical stockpiling and civilian use of nuclear weapons materials (plutonium and highly enriched uranium); and giving real meaning to efforts to limit the threats that existing nuclear weapons pose.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, Nuclear Power, Disarmament, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, North Korea, Global Focus, United States of America
  • Author: Sanghoon Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2020
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Pacific Forum
  • Abstract: North Korea’s foreign policy decision-making procedure is highly centralized to a single leader or, at most, a few political/military elites. While democratic governments are restrained both horizontally and vertically, authoritarian regimes are relatively free of constraints from the public. This paper examines the motivations behind North Korea’s nuclear weapons development in light of the rational deterrence model, then discusses the strategic implications of a rational, or irrational, North Korea. It concludes that North Korea’s decision to develop nuclear weapons was rationally motivated by the deteriorating security environment surrounding the state, but that this will not guarantee deterrence.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Authoritarianism, Deterrence, Denuclearization, Rationality
  • Political Geography: South Korea, North Korea, Korean Peninsula
  • Author: J. Stephen Morrison
  • Publication Date: 02-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: As President Trump and Kim Jong-un meet for their second summit in Hanoi, will there be serious consideration given to what concrete actions can be taken to protect and advance a health and humanitarian agenda that can directly benefit North Korea’s impoverished majority and reduce the threat of a runaway tuberculosis (TB) outbreak? Perhaps. Certainly, let’s hope so. There is much that can be done.
  • Topic: Foreign Policy, Health, Poverty, Humanitarian Crisis
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Anthony H. Cordesman
  • Publication Date: 03-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Center for Strategic and International Studies
  • Abstract: The analysis concludes that the sudden breakdown in the latest round of U.S.-Korean nuclear arms control talks in Vietnam should scarcely come as a surprise to anyone. Both sides sought too much too soon and did so despite a long history of previous failures. Heads of state engaged before their staffs had reached a clear compromise and did so seeking goals the other leader could not accept. It is not clear that an agreement was reachable at this point in time, but each side's search for its "best" ensured that the two sides could not compromise on the "good." This failure sent yet another warning that agreements like the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA) nuclear arms agreement with Iran that offers major progress in limiting a nation's nuclear weapons efforts can be far better than no agreement, and of the danger in letting the perfect become the enemy of the good. The failed U.S. negotiations with Korea sends a warning that any set of compromises that preserves Iran's compliance with the JCPOA, and creates a structure where negotiation can continue, will be better than provoking a crisis with Iran that can end in no agreement at all and alienate America's European allies in the process.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Arms Control and Proliferation, Diplomacy, Military Strategy, Denuclearization, JCPOA
  • Political Geography: Iran, Middle East, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, North America, United States of America
  • Author: Daniel R. Russel
  • Publication Date: 04-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Asia Society
  • Abstract: After decades of broken promises and failed diplomatic efforts, North Korea has become a nuclear power. Kim Jong Un’s charm offensive over the past year, as seen in summit meetings with U.S. President Donald Trump and other leaders, has enabled him to shed his pariah status without shedding his nuclear weapons. While Kim has frozen testing, he continues to expand the country’s nuclear arsenal, defy and evade Security Council resolutions, and is now getting support from China in his call for sanctions relief. In the wake of the failed February 2019 Hanoi Summit, North Korea is warning of a return to testing by year’s end. But even if Kim were to reverse course and agree to freeze his entire nuclear and missile program, North Korea’s capacity to threaten the U.S. and its allies with a formidable arsenal would be undiminished. What’s worse, Kim seems to be turning to a powerful new weapon of mass destruction to gain leverage. Asia Society Policy Institute (ASPI) Vice President for International Security and Diplomacy Daniel Russel asserts in this ASPI issue paper that North Korea’s next weapon of choice is likely to be cyber: a high-impact, low-cost, and low-risk digital-age weapon that North Korea already can and does use to steal money, hack secrets, and terrorize nations. In the 5G era, developed nations such as the United States are particularly vulnerable. North Korean cyber-attacks have already succeeded in crippling critical overseas infrastructure and stealing hundreds of millions of dollars, reducing the efficacy of international sanctions. Future Scenarios: What to Expect from a Nuclear North Korea details the consequences of North Korea’s slow but steady trajectory toward acceptance as a nuclear power. The report highlights the urgency of focusing U.S. national security efforts against the threat from North Korea’s rapidly growing cyber warfare capability. Russel writes that the combined threat from North Korea’s nuclear and cyber programs can only be reduced through “coercive containment” — a multi-pronged strategy of diplomacy, defense, deterrence, and denial that will require substantial cooperation among key international players.
  • Topic: International Relations, Diplomacy, Nuclear Power, Cybersecurity, Donald Trump, Kim Jong-un
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Tanushree Nigam
  • Publication Date: 12-2019
  • Content Type: Working Paper
  • Institution: Public International Law Policy Group
  • Abstract: n a major decision, the International Criminal Court ruled on September 6, 2018 that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over the crime of alleged deportation of the Rohingyas from Myanmar to Bangladesh. The Pre-Trial Chamber accepted the OTP’s argument that the Court may exercise jurisdiction over the crime of cross border deportation of Rohingyas even though the alleged crime had been committed in Myanmar which is not a State Party. The Pre-Trial Chamber stated that this could be done as some “elements of the crime” had taken place in the territory of Bangladesh, which is a State Party. This judgment makes a towering statement that ICC’s jurisdiction is objective rather than subjective in nature. In this post, I discuss the basis and implications of the Chamber’s findings.
  • Topic: Legal Theory , International Criminal Court (ICC), Humanitarian Crisis, Deportation
  • Political Geography: Africa, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Myanmar