North Korea Fine Tunes its Short-Range Missile Strike Capabilities

Key Findings

  • The launches are likely a response to scheduled Dongmaeng 19-2, U.S.-South Korea joint tabletop exercises expected to start later this month, as well South Korea’s acquisition of F-35 stealth fighter jets.
  • The launches also build leverage for North Korea in advance of potential working-level denuclearization talks with the United States that were promised after the June 30 Panmunjom meeting between Trump and Kim.
  • President Trump’s refusal to acknowledge the significance of these provocations not only delinks peninsular security from that of the homeland, but also ensures that North Korea will conduct more tests in the future.
  • Meanwhile, allied coordination in the face of North Korea’s actions has been complicated by the downturn in Japan-South Korea relations, including potential disruptions in the GSOMIA intelligence sharing agreement, and apparent Trump administration demands for massive increases in defense cost sharing talks with South Korea.