North Korea, led by the young and unpredictable Kim Jong Un, has a small but dangerous stockpile of an estimated 35 nuclear weapons and a growing arsenal of ballistic missiles.
Despite extreme international pressure and sanctions, North Korea has defiantly pursued a nuclear weapons program for decades in a self-described attempt to protect the regime from the security threats posed by adversarial countries. In 2003, North Korea withdrew from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and then tested its first nuclear weapon on October 9, 2006. It continues to build its stockpile of nuclear weapons, test short- and medium-range ballistic missiles, and produce fissile material. North Korea has not conducted a nuclear or long-range missile test since 2017.
After a period of heightened tensions between North Korea and United States, President Trump pursued unorthodox diplomatic overtures with North Korea, culminating in bilateral summits in Singapore and Hanoi in 2018 and 2019. However, these summits appeared to focus on pageantry more than substance, and relations again took a turn for the worse as no concrete progress came out of the summits.
Ignoring this problem won’t make it go away. In fact, it will make the situation worse. Working alongside allies, the United States must return to the negotiating table quickly and pursue a pragmatic, step-by-step diplomatic process that all parties can agree on to eventually reach denuclearization and establish peace on the Korean peninsula.
Recent Analysis on North Korea
- Codified Nuclear Escalation September 15, 2022
- On Royal Succession and Command and Control September 14, 2022
- Biden’s mounting nuclear threats from North Korea, Iran June 10, 2022
- Fact Sheet: North Korea Sanctions May 11, 2022
- Finding windows for cooperation amid rising nuclear threats April 15, 2022
- North Korea is testing hypersonic weapons. Should the West be worried? January 15, 2022
- World Nuclear Inventories June 10, 2021
- Fact Sheet: North Korea’s Nuclear Inventory May 20, 2021
- Tensions on the Korean Peninsula underscore the need for new negotiations June 24, 2020
- North Korea’s “increasingly sophisticated” nuclear program threatens U.S.: DOD April 7, 2020