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North Korea

North Korea’s repressive regime, missile technology, and potential nuclear program create numerous security and economic problems for the U.S. and the countries of Northeast Asia.

HIGHLIGHTS

Our Research & Offerings on North Korea
  • Commentary posted October 22, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Steadying Allied Defenses in Korea

    A quarter century after the Cold War ended everywhere else, North Korea is still going strong. Why, then, have the United States and South Korea been planning to weaken their military alliance through a flawed policy known as “OpCon transfer”? Bilateral negotiations in Washington this week are a good opportunity to shelve such plans indefinitely. Observers routinely…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korea's Young Kim There to Stay

    Kim Jong Un has further solidified his control over North Korea by reportedly purging his uncle Jang Sung-taek, Vice Chairman of the important Nation Defense Commission. Although Jang was often referred to as the "second most powerful man in North Korea," he may now been ousted from the leadership elite for the third time. He has twice returned to the inner circle of…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korean Power Politics Get More Ruthless

    Pyongyang announced on December 12 the trial and execution of Jang Sung-taek, former vice chairman of the powerful National Defense Commission and uncle to North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. Although Kim has already purged hundreds of officials during his two year reign, Jang's ouster is highly unusual, even by North Korean standards. Jang is married to the sister of…

  • Commentary posted October 15, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Power, Not Policy, Drives Pyongyang's Purge

    Despite being the “second most powerful man in North Korea,” Jang Song Taek has reportedly been purged from the leadership elite for the third time. Jang, Vice Chairman of the important National Defense Commission, ascended to the pinnacle of power after marrying the sister of previous leader Kim Jong Il. Although Jang returned to senior positions after his previous…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Where in the World is Kim Jong Un?

    North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has not been seen in public for more than a month, generating speculation that his absence is due to failing health or political intrigue. Given the paucity of information, keeping track of Kim is tougher than winning at three-card monte, and the stakes are much higher: the potential instability of a nuclear-armed nation. After Kim's…

  • Commentary posted October 10, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korea's Deceptive Charm Offensive

    North Korea surprised everyone last weekend with its decision to send a senior delegation to the closing ceremonies of the Asian Games in South Korea. As recently as April, after all, Pyongyang threatened to incinerate Seoul, Tokyo and Washington with nuclear weapons. In the months since, North Korea has been relatively quiescent, content to issue daily diatribes against…

  • Issue Brief posted September 17, 2014 by Bruce Klingner U.S. Should Seek Release of Detainees in North Korea—Without Policy Concessions

    North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller, a 20-year-old American tourist, to six years of hard labor for attempted espionage. Miller reportedly ripped up his tourist visa and declared he wanted asylum but Pyongyang accused him of intending to “experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation” in North Korea. The regime is also holding Jeffrey…

  • Backgrounder posted August 7, 2014 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. and South Korea Should Focus on Improving Alliance Capabilities Rather Than the OPCON Transition

    If hostilities break out between North Korea and South Korea (ROK), the current agreement between Washington and Seoul would put all ROK forces under control of the bilateral Combined Forces Command (CFC), which is led by a U.S. general. During armistice,[1] the government of South Korea controls its military forces, while the U.S. controls all U.S. and international…

  • Commentary posted July 17, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Asia's Big Fear: Is America Emboldening China and North Korea?

    While world attention has focused on crises in Syria, Crimea and the Middle East, the security situation in Asia has deteriorated. As North Korea pursues another of its periodic charm offensives, it appears quiescent. Yet the regime continues to refine its nuclear strike capability. It is only a matter of time before Pyongyang resumes its escalatory, provocative behavior.…

  • Backgrounder posted June 3, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Allies Should Confront Imminent North Korean Nuclear Threat

    Experts predominantly assess that North Korea has developed several nuclear devices, but not yet mastered the ability to miniaturize a warhead or deliver it via missile. Media reports habitually declare that North Korean missiles cannot yet reach the United States. Based on this benign conclusion, policymakers presume the United States and its allies still have several…

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  • America at Risk Memo posted June 1, 2010 by Jim Talent A Constitutional Basis for Defense

    Those who have not done so recently would benefit from studying what the United States Constitution says about the federal government’s responsibility to provide for the common defense. Most Americans had to memorize the preamble to the Constitution when they were children, so they are aware that one of the purposes of the document was to “provide for the common…

  • Commentary posted October 22, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Steadying Allied Defenses in Korea

    A quarter century after the Cold War ended everywhere else, North Korea is still going strong. Why, then, have the United States and South Korea been planning to weaken their military alliance through a flawed policy known as “OpCon transfer”? Bilateral negotiations in Washington this week are a good opportunity to shelve such plans indefinitely. Observers routinely…

  • Testimony posted April 2, 2014 by Bruce Klingner North Korea: Sanctions, Nuclear and Missile Threat

    Testimony before Subcommittee on Asia and the Pacific of the Foreign Affairs Committee United States House of Representatives My name is Bruce Klingner. I am the Senior Research Fellow for Northeast Asia at The Heritage Foundation. The views I express in this testimony are my own, and should not be construed as representing any official position of The Heritage…

  • Backgrounder posted June 3, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Allies Should Confront Imminent North Korean Nuclear Threat

    Experts predominantly assess that North Korea has developed several nuclear devices, but not yet mastered the ability to miniaturize a warhead or deliver it via missile. Media reports habitually declare that North Korean missiles cannot yet reach the United States. Based on this benign conclusion, policymakers presume the United States and its allies still have several…

  • Backgrounder posted August 7, 2014 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. and South Korea Should Focus on Improving Alliance Capabilities Rather Than the OPCON Transition

    If hostilities break out between North Korea and South Korea (ROK), the current agreement between Washington and Seoul would put all ROK forces under control of the bilateral Combined Forces Command (CFC), which is led by a U.S. general. During armistice,[1] the government of South Korea controls its military forces, while the U.S. controls all U.S. and international…

  • Backgrounder posted April 11, 2013 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. Should Support New South Korean President’s Approach to North Korea

    In late February 2013, Park Geun-hye was inaugurated as the 11th President of South Korea. Park’s ascent comes at a critical juncture in the Republic’s history: Facing several formidable challenges—rising regional security threats, economic uncertainty, and growing pressure to address domestic income disparities—South Korea needs strong and decisive political leadership.…

  • Special Report posted April 5, 2011 by The Heritage Foundation A Strong National Defense: The Armed Forces America Needs and What They Will Cost

    Abstract The U.S. military force structure envisioned by the 2010 Quadrennial Defense Review and the President’s FY 2012 budget request is inadequate to protect vital U.S. national interests. After the “procurement holiday” during the 1990s and the wear and tear of the “long war against terrorism” in Iraq and Afghanistan, all military services urgently need to…

  • Issue Brief posted September 17, 2014 by Bruce Klingner U.S. Should Seek Release of Detainees in North Korea—Without Policy Concessions

    North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller, a 20-year-old American tourist, to six years of hard labor for attempted espionage. Miller reportedly ripped up his tourist visa and declared he wanted asylum but Pyongyang accused him of intending to “experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation” in North Korea. The regime is also holding Jeffrey…

  • Lecture posted May 22, 2013 by Mark B. Schneider Does North Korea Have a Missile-Deliverable Nuclear Weapon?

    A recent unclassified Defense Intelligence Agency (DIA) report, revealed by Congressman Doug Lamborn (R–CO) on April 11, 2013, stated, “DIA assesses with moderate confidence the North currently has nuclear weapons capable of delivery by ballistic missiles.”[1] This is disturbing news. The North Korean regime is one of the most fanatic, paranoid, and militaristic…

  • Backgrounder posted November 4, 2013 by Bruce Klingner Time to Get North Korean Sanctions Right

    Responding to North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, President Barack Obama declared that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was a “threat to the U.S. national security and to international peace and security.”[1] The U.N. Security Council similarly warned that North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats posed “a clear threat to international peace and security.”[2]…

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  • Issue Brief posted September 17, 2014 by Bruce Klingner U.S. Should Seek Release of Detainees in North Korea—Without Policy Concessions

    North Korea has sentenced Matthew Miller, a 20-year-old American tourist, to six years of hard labor for attempted espionage. Miller reportedly ripped up his tourist visa and declared he wanted asylum but Pyongyang accused him of intending to “experience prison life so that he could investigate the human rights situation” in North Korea. The regime is also holding Jeffrey…

  • Backgrounder posted August 7, 2014 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. and South Korea Should Focus on Improving Alliance Capabilities Rather Than the OPCON Transition

    If hostilities break out between North Korea and South Korea (ROK), the current agreement between Washington and Seoul would put all ROK forces under control of the bilateral Combined Forces Command (CFC), which is led by a U.S. general. During armistice,[1] the government of South Korea controls its military forces, while the U.S. controls all U.S. and international…

  • Backgrounder posted June 3, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Allies Should Confront Imminent North Korean Nuclear Threat

    Experts predominantly assess that North Korea has developed several nuclear devices, but not yet mastered the ability to miniaturize a warhead or deliver it via missile. Media reports habitually declare that North Korean missiles cannot yet reach the United States. Based on this benign conclusion, policymakers presume the United States and its allies still have several…

  • Issue Brief posted February 20, 2014 by Bruce Klingner U.S. Should Augment Sanctions After North Korean Crimes Against Humanity

    A United Nations Commission of Inquiry issued a damning condemnation of the North Korea government for “systemic, widespread, and gross violations of human rights.” The commission concluded that the human rights abuses were of such a monumental scale as to constitute crimes against humanity. The panel recommended referral to the International Criminal Court (ICC) for…

  • Backgrounder posted November 4, 2013 by Bruce Klingner Time to Get North Korean Sanctions Right

    Responding to North Korea’s third nuclear test in 2013, President Barack Obama declared that North Korea’s nuclear weapons program was a “threat to the U.S. national security and to international peace and security.”[1] The U.N. Security Council similarly warned that North Korea’s nuclear and missile threats posed “a clear threat to international peace and security.”[2]…

  • Backgrounder posted July 24, 2013 by Bruce Klingner Enhancing South Korean–U.S. Naval Capabilities Is Critical to American Interests

    South Korean President Park Geun-hye has pledged to reach out diplomatically to North Korea to establish a reciprocal trust-building process. She is willing to provide economic benefits to facilitate North Korean denuclearization and progress toward Korean unification. But Park always emphasizes that the most important pillar of her “trustpolitik” strategy is first to…

  • Issue Brief posted July 22, 2013 by Bruce Klingner North Korean–Cuban Arms Shipment Shows Need to Tighten Sanctions

    Even by North Korean standards, the story was odd. To a world used to North Korean exports of weapons, the seizure of a North Korean ship carrying arms from Cuba was unique. Pyongyang’s attempted transshipment of antiquated weapons revealed much about the North Korean regime. First, Pyongyang clearly continues to violate multiple United Nations Security Council (UNSC)…

  • Backgrounder posted April 11, 2013 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. Should Support New South Korean President’s Approach to North Korea

    In late February 2013, Park Geun-hye was inaugurated as the 11th President of South Korea. Park’s ascent comes at a critical juncture in the Republic’s history: Facing several formidable challenges—rising regional security threats, economic uncertainty, and growing pressure to address domestic income disparities—South Korea needs strong and decisive political leadership.…

  • Issue Brief posted April 8, 2013 by Bruce Klingner North Korean Threats: What Washington Should Do

    North Korea is easy to ridicule. The country is an anachronistic hangover from the Cold War, replete with cartoonish propaganda and over-the-top threats. Its leader could well play the villain in a James Bond or Austin Powers movie. Self-appointed ambassador Dennis Rodman’s visit affirmed the image of the reclusive regime as the ultimate reality show. As such, the…

  • Issue Brief posted March 27, 2013 by Bruce Klingner Increasing Risk of North Korean Tactical Attack on South Korea: What U.S. Needs to Do

    North Korea routinely threatens to annihilate South Korea, the United States, and Japan. After its recent successful long-range missile and nuclear tests, Pyongyang now claims it already has the capability to target U.S. bases in the Pacific and the American homeland with nuclear weapons. As frightening as these warnings are, North Korea would more likely conduct another…

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Find more work on North Korea