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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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • 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…

  • Issue Brief posted February 19, 2014 by Bruce Klingner Obama Needs to Send Strong Message to Allies During Asia Trip

    President Obama correctly decided—apparently after some deliberation—to include South Korea on the itinerary for his trip to Asia in April, thus avoiding straining relations with a key ally. Seoul and Tokyo are again embroiled in a flare-up of tensions over sensitive historical issues that risk undermining U.S. security interests in Asia. Had Obama traveled only to Japan,…

  • Backgrounder posted December 20, 2013 by Bruce Klingner The U.S. Should Support Japan’s Enhanced Security Role

    The United States has long urged its allies to assume more responsibility for their defense and for common security threats. Specifically, Washington has asked its allies, in Europe and Asia alike, to increase their defense expenditures, accept new missions, and develop new military capabilities. While some allies have tried to meet Washington’s challenge, Japan’s ability…

  • Issue Brief posted December 17, 2013 by Bruce Klingner Time for Japan to Fulfill Commitment on U.S. Marine Base on Okinawa

    Long-overdue progress on relocating a U.S. Marine Corps air station within Okinawa hinges on a forthcoming decision by the island’s governor. Okinawa Governor Hirokazu Nakaima is poised to decide whether to issue a land reclamation permit to enable construction on the Futenma Replacement Facility (FRF). Local opposition has long stymied efforts to implement the now nearly…

  • 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]…

  • Commentary posted October 7, 2013 by Bruce Klingner, Jared Genser How North Korea Gets Away With It

    The United Nations finally begins investigating Pyongyang's human-rights abuses. Major Louis Renault was "shocked, shocked" to find gambling going on in "Casablanca," and so it is with United Nations investigators examining abuses of human rights in North Korea. An official U.N. Commission of Inquiry last month proclaimed "shocking" testimony of the Pyongyang regime's…

  • Issue Brief posted October 4, 2013 by Bruce Klingner U.S.–Japan Security Agreement Enhances Allied Goals

    The U.S.–Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC)—consisting of the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense and Japanese Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense—agreed on several initiatives to upgrade the bilateral alliance. However, much work needs to be done on both sides of the Pacific in order for the agreement to reach fruition. Defense Cuts Undermine Deal The…

  • Issue Brief posted October 4, 2013 by Bruce Klingner U.S.–Japan Security Agreement Enhances Allied Goals

    The U.S.–Japan Security Consultative Committee (SCC)—consisting of the U.S. Secretaries of State and Defense and Japanese Ministers of Foreign Affairs and Defense—agreed on several initiatives to upgrade the bilateral alliance. However, much work needs to be done on both sides of the Pacific in order for the agreement to reach fruition. Defense Cuts Undermine Deal The…

  • Commentary posted September 18, 2013 by Bruce Klingner North Korea Sees Weak US Resolve on Syria

    North Korea is as befuddled in discerning US policy toward Syria as are the US Congress and American people. When attempting to decipher President Barack Obama’s plans toward Syrian leader Bashar al-Assad, North Korea would be confronted with a dizzying array of contradictory US statements, crossed redlines, and reticence to fulfill declarations of intent. Pyongyang also…

  • Commentary posted August 19, 2013 by Bruce Klingner The Kaesong Trap

    South and North Korean negotiators reached a preliminary agreement last week to reopen the jointly run industrial zone in Kaesong. But their success against considerable odds raises several questions. Most fundamentally, why does Seoul want to return to Kaesong in the first place? The benefits lop-sidedly accrue to Pyongyang, providing a steady source of hard currency…