North Korea Fine Tunes its Precision Strike Capabilities Amidst Pandemic

Ballistic Missiles, Military
, by On March 29, 2020 at 6:10 am KST, North Korea launched two projectiles speculated to be short-range ballistic missiles from the Wonsan area in Kangwon province into the sea between Korea and Japan. The missiles traveled a distance of 230 kilometers (143 miles) and reached a peak altitude of 30 kilometers (19 miles). An announcement published in North Korean state media the following day confirmed that the two missiles were launched as part of super-large multiple rocket launcher tests. It also stated the test was carried out by the Academy of Defence Science.

“Fire and Fury 2?”: Q1 2020 Provocations Reminiscent of Q1 2017

Ballistic Missiles, Military
, by and On March 21, 2020 North Korea launched two projectiles from Sonchon county in North Pyongan province towards the East Sea. The launches took place 5 minutes apart at 6:45am and 6:50am KST, respectively. The projectiles traveled a distance of 410km (255 miles) at a maximum altitude of 50km (31 miles) and closely resemble the KN-24 short-range ballistic missile system. This is the third event of Q1 in 2020, which is equivalent to the number of missile provocations in Q1 of 2017 during the “Fire and Fury” era.

Yongbyon Declassified Part VII: Final Stretch of First-Phase Construction Begins

Nuclear Weapons
CIA, declassified KH-4B image, April 20, 1972.
, by Declassified April 1972 satellite imagery the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Center show developments which taken as a whole continue to represent both an ongoing first-phase construction project for the facility and early infrastructure development efforts within a longer-term plan for future expansion. This work laid the foundations for the construction of the facility’s first waste storage facility in the years to follow and the massive second phase expansion that would begin during the early-1980s.

The First North Korean Weapons Test of the Year: What Does It Mean?

Military
, by and On March 2, 2020 at 12:37pm (KST), North Korea launched two short-range projectiles from the Wonsan, Kangwon Province area towards the East Sea. The projectiles traveled a distance of 240km (150 miles) at a maximum altitude of 35km (22 miles) with a 20-second interval between the two launches. While the exact type and model of the projectiles are yet to be confirmed, considering the nature of the test they may be SRBMs or new surface-to-surface missiles. The short interval time also indicates that the event may have been a multiple rocket launcher system test.

North Korea Policy, One Year After Hanoi: A Testimony by Dr. Sue Mi Terry

Foreign Affairs
Photo Credit: CSIS.
, by We are currently at an impasse with North Korea and we are facing dim prospects for the resumption of negotiations. But the chance of resuming negotiations is not zero. The United States can restart negotiations if we are willing to offer maximum sanctions relief in return for something less than the “denuclearization” of North Korea. Dr. Terry testified before the U.S. Senate Foreign Relations Subcommittee on East Asia, the Pacific and International Cybersecurity Policy on the state of North Korea policy one year after the U.S.-North Korea summit in Hanoi.

Yongbyon Update: February Movement of Radioactive Material? Pt. II

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and Satellite imagery acquired on February 14, 2020 shows that the three specialized railcars identified in Beyond Parallel’s report from February 11, 2020 have been moved from west of the Radiochemistry Laboratory to the southern rail yard adjacent to the reported isotope/tritium production facility. A fourth railcar is present in the latest imagery in addition to the three railcars that were captured in imagery from February 10, 2020. These railcars have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past. If past practice is any indication, all four cars will leave the Yongbyon facility sometime during the next seven days.

Yongbyon Update: February Movement of Radioactive Material?

Nuclear Weapons
, by and Satellite imagery acquired on February 10, 2020 shows the presence of three specialized railcars that have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past. The last observed presence of these railcars by Beyond Parallel was in November 2019. The size and number of the casks observed on the railcars suggest the outbound shipment of irradiated liquid or solid waste, disassembled but contaminated equipment or, potentially, the movement of fissile materials. A less likely alternative is the inbound shipment of radioactive material.

Novel Coronavirus Poses Unique Pandemic Threat to North Korea

Health
Image credit: Roman Harak flickr photostream.
, by and Reports of the novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV spreading to regions bordering North Korea could pose a real risk to the North Korean people. Policy debates on North Korea tend to underestimate health as one of the regime’s key vulnerabilities. North Korea’s insecurities about its health system have been evident in its draconian responses to past pandemics including SARS (2002-2003), Middle East respiratory syndrome [MERS] (2012), and Ebola (2018).

Living History with Ambassador Alexander Vershbow

Foreign Affairs
Ambassador Vershbow reflects on his time as the U.S. ambassador to South Korea and the various diplomatic methods he used to negotiate key policies and establish rapport with ROK citizens. .. This Living History interview features an interview with Alexander “Sandy” Vershbow, the former U.S. ambassador to South…