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North Korea

Politics and Strategy

Could a ‘double freeze’ be viable path to peace on Korean Peninsula?

Could a proposal for the US and South Korea to suspend joint military exercises in exchange for North Korean suspension of nuclear and missile tests preserve peace on the Korean Peninsula? As Mark Fitzpatrick explains, this ‘double freeze’ could be the least bad of the limited policy options available.

Regional Security Assessment 2017

Key developments in Asia-Pacific security

This dossier assesses a range of Asia-Pacific regional strategic, geopolitical, economic, military and security topics.

  • IISS Voices

    The secret to North Korea’s ICBM success

    14 August 2017.  How has North Korea managed to make such astounding progress with its long-range missile programme over the last two years? Here, Michael Elleman shares the first solid evidence that North Korea has acquired a high-performance liquid-propellant engine from illicit networks in Russia and Ukraine.

  • Politics and Strategy

    Deterring North Korea the wrong way

    11 August 2017.  Donald Trump’s threats towards North Korea are likely to be counterproductive, warn Mark Fitzpatrick and Michael Elleman.

  • Expert Commentary

    Trump’s North Korea remarks: threat or bluster?

    09 August 2017.  Angry exchanges between the United States and North Korea are ratcheting up tensions and could create misperceptions that lead to war, analyst Mark Fitzpatrick says.

  • IISS Voices

    US policy challenges in the Asia-Pacific

    31 July 2017.  Tensions with China may increase as the year wears on – while North Korea's missile tests present an urgent challenge.  

  • Expert Commentary

    Video casts doubt on North Korea’s ability to field an ICBM re-entry vehicle

    31 July 2017.  Video footage of the 28 July Hwasong-14 test suggests that North Korea’s engineers have yet to master re-entry technologies and more work remains before Kim Jong-un has an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the United States mainland.

  • Strategic Comments

    The Ban Treaty arrives

    26 July 2017. 

    The text of the recently negotiated Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons released on 7 July, approved by a vote of 122-1, is likely to be approved by the UN General Assembly and ratified. While none of the nuclear-weapons states or their allies favours the treaty, it marks the rejection of their customary consensus-based approach. Accordingly, the status quo will continue, but now faces a more invigorated and unified opposition.

  • Politics and Strategy

    Could a ‘double freeze’ be viable path to peace on Korean Peninsula?

    05 July 2017.  The recent and successful ICBM test by North Korea demonstrates the urgency of a strategy to prevent further provocations.

  • IISS Voices

    Smart sanctions on Chinese firms to stop illicit North Korea ties

    30 June 2017.  Washington's application of sanctions against Chinese entities with alleged ties to illicit North Korean activities was long overdue, argue Mark Fitzpatrick and Minori Fryer. It should have been clear to Trump well before now that China was not going to solve the North Korea problem.

  • Military Balance Blog

    NASIC 2017 report suggests service entries, missile modifications and new nomenclature

    28 June 2017.  The United States intelligence community’s occasional public assessment of the ballistic- and cruise-missile threat systems continues to provide a valuable glimpse into how the US views their development and proliferation, including a long-range Russian ground-launched cruise missile, with the 2017 report also hinting at a revised and mainly still classified naming system for some countries, now including North Korea.

  • Strategic Comments

    US–China dialogue and the tenuous bilateral relationship

    28 June 2017. 

    Despite recent diplomatic efforts by Washington and Beijing to keep the bilateral relationship on an even keel, China has continued to behave assertively in the Asia-Pacific and Chinese President Xi Jinping has effectively promulgated his own vision for a regional and global order. In the absence of a robust or coherent US policy for the region, China appears to have gained the upper hand in terms of the balance of power in the Asia-Pacific.

IISS Voices

Smart sanctions on Chinese firms funding North Korea

Washington's application of sanctions against Chinese entities with alleged ties to illicit North Korean activities was long overdue, argue Mark Fitzpatrick and Minori Fryer.