U.S.-South Korea Cost-Sharing Negotiations Impacting Korean Public Support for U.S. Security Umbrella

Analysis, Military
, by , and Predata signals suggest a significant perception gap emerging between the U.S. and South Korea. First, South Koreans are more focused on the financial burden of the U.S. military presence than on the positive security benefits it provides. Second, U.S. demands for $5 billion in cost-sharing are generating the highest ever levels of social media and video commentary critical of U.S. forces in Korea.

The 66-Year Alliance Between the U.S. and South Korea is in Deep Trouble

Commentary
, by and The 66-year alliance between the United States and the Republic of Korea is in deep trouble. The U.S.-China trade war, the South Korean government’s quiet leaning toward Beijing and President Trump’s transactional view of alliances have created a unique constellation of forces. The result could be a premature withdrawal of U.S. troops from the peninsula at a time when North Korea’s nuclear threat and China’s regional dominance grow unabated.

Yongbyon Update: November Movement of Radioactive Material?

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by , and Recent satellite imagery from November 2019 shows the presence of four specialized railcars that have been associated with the movement of radioactive material in the past. The last observed movement of these railcars by Beyond Parallel was in April 2019. It is unclear whether the railcars are being used for the outbound shipment of irradiated liquid or solid waste, disassembled but contaminated equipment or the movement of fissile material to facilities outside the Yongbyon area. A less likely alternative is the inbound shipment of radioactive material from a facility outside the Yongbyon area.

Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Site: Imagery Supports ROK and U.S. Government Reservations about Permanent Disablement

Military, Nuclear Weapons
, by and Analysis of satellite imagery of the Punggye-ri Nuclear Test Facility acquired during 2019 and more specifically on September 23rd and October 9th, 2019 shows the facility in caretaker status, likely being maintained by security personnel. While there is no evidence of current efforts to restore any of the nuclear test portals, several observations lead us to believe the facility has not been permanently disabled and that the detonations in May 2018 are not necessarily irreversible.

Pakchon Uranium Concentrate Pilot Plant

Analysis, Nuclear Weapons
, by and The Pakchon Uranium Concentrate Pilot Plant is one of only two declared and known uranium concentrate plants in North Korea (Pyongsan Uranium Concentrate Plant at Pyongsan is the other). This facility was used for Yellowcake production at least through the mid-1990s, and therefore would require inspection under any new U.S.-DPRK denuclearization declaration and agreement as it has not been subject to international inspection for over 25 years since IAEA visits to the site as part of the Full Scope Safeguards Agreement process in 1992.