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.

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…

Impact Player: Ri Son-gwon

Foreign Affairs
, by and Ri Son-gwon is the newly appointed Minister of Foreign Affairs of North Korea. He is a former military official in the Korean People’s Army (KPA) and the former head of North Korea’s Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of the Country (CPRC), the bureau in charge of inter-Korean relations.

A Vase or a Missile? North Korea’s Christmas Surprise

Commentary
, by Christmas passed without the threatened “Christmas gift” from North Korea. President Trump quipped while on holiday in Mar-a-Lago that North Korean leader Kim Jong-un might send him a “beautiful vase” rather than a missile as a gift. In either event, the two years of summit diplomacy and Trump-Kim “bromance” appears to have reached a turning point with no progress on denuclearization since the failed Hanoi summit and a series of North Korean missile tests in the past two months.

Database: North Korean Provocations

Military, Nuclear Weapons
The CSIS Beyond Parallel team compiled an original database of all North Korean provocations since the Korean War in 1953, beginning with the first provocation documented in 1958. There has been more than 280 instances of provocations, including from missile and nuclear tests, airplane hijackings, bombings, exchange of fire, to infiltration and territorial incursions into South Korea.

December 2019 Update: Chamjin-ni Vertical Engine Test Stand

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and The Chamjin-ni vertical engine test stand appears to be minimally maintained but apparently capable and available for engine testing at any time. It is North Korea’s oldest known test stand, developed in the 1980s. There is no evidence of recent tests. This is indicated by the absence of scarring in the exhaust deflector and color-infrared imagery showing healthy vegetation at the end of the exhaust deflector.

Living History with Ambassador Shin Kak-soo

Foreign Affairs
This Living History interview features Shin Kak-soo, former South Korean ambassador to Japan (2011-2013). Ambassador Shin reflects on the complexities of Korea’s relations with its neighbor Japan. He provides an overview of how entrenched partisan politics can prevent the successful resolution of crises between these two key U.S. allies.