The crisis on the Korean Peninsula is now top of the international agenda. North Korea conducted its sixth nuclear test in early September, claiming to have successfully developed a thermonuclear weapon. Combined with accelerated testing of ballistic missile technology, Kim Jong-un has likely developed a weapon system that could credibly strike the continental United States. This has prompted questions of the likely US response and its ongoing commitment to security alliances in the region.
The progress of North Korea’s deterrence capability has also highlighted an inability of regional powers to agree on the best course of action. South Korea and Japan are both re-evaluating missile defence systems and indigenous offensive capabilities. China and Russia have both called for multilateral talks as the only solution. Nikki Haley, the US Ambassador to the United Nations, has stated that North Korea is ‘begging for war’. Meanwhile, the multilateral sanctions regime continues to expand, despite its questionable implementation.
This event assessed how we have arrived at the current standoff, providing an overview of political and military developments on the Korean Peninsula. It considered Pyongyang’s objectives and the likely next steps and, finally, it addressed whether any feasible policy options remain for the international community.
This event took place in the Trafalgar Room at Arundel House, 6 Temple Place, London WC2R 2PG. It was chaired by Dr Bastian Giegerich, Director of Defence and Military Analysis, IISS.
Dr Matthew Cottee is a Research Associate in the Non-Proliferation and Nuclear Policy programme at the IISS, where he manages several projects broadly addressing nuclear and strategic issues, primarily in Asia. He has appeared on BBC, Sky and Al Jazeera, and has published in the Financial Times, the Guardian and Foreign Affairs. He can be found on Twitter at @mwcottee.
Dr Bastian Giegerich is Director of Defence and Military Analysis at the IISS, where he leads the team that produces the annual flagship publication The Military Balance, oversees the development of the Military Balance Plus online database, and contributes to research and consultancy work in his areas of expertise.