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The National Committee on North Korea

An Overview of North Korea's Missile Program

August 27, 2015

NCNK has revised and updated its Issue Brief on North Korea's Ballistic Missile Program. The report examines the history and current status of North Korea's ballistic missile program, including a review of bilateral U.S.-DPRK missile negotiations, international responses to North Korea's missile tests, and recent developments in North Korea's missile arsenal. It also includes an overview of the major missiles in North Korea's arsenal.

The Issue Brief is available here.

NCNK Releases Conference Report on "Theories of Change in North Korea"

August 26, 2015

In September 2014, the National Committee on North Korea and the U.S. Institute of Peace convened a one-day workshop that used a “theories of change” framework for discussing actions by government and nongovernmental actors seeking to influence North Korea, with a focus on security issues. The workshop brought together 22 experts on North Korea policy, many of whom had engaged in diplomatic negotiations with North Korea, to identify and examine the assumptions behind different strategies. 

This report, based on the findings of that workshop, aims to identify some of the strengths and weaknesses behind different U.S. policy approaches to North Korea, and to develop a framework identifying the assumptions and rationales behind these approaches. 

The report is available here.

Two Koreas Reach High-Level Agreement after Standoff

August 25, 2015

Amid high military tensions, the two Koreas reached an agreement after three days of intensive negotiations at Panmunjom. North Korea agreed to lift its "quasi-state of war," and expressed "regret" over the injuries of two South Korean soldiers who were maimed by landmines, reportedly planted by North Korean soldiers, while they were patrolling the southern side of the DMZ. South Korea agreed, absent any "abnormal incidents," to suspend loudspeaker broadcasts along the inter-Korean border that began as a response to the landmine incident. The two sides also agreed to a new round of family reunions, and to hold additional government dialogue and non-government exchanges in the future. (The full text is available here.)

A State Department spokesman said that the U.S. "welcomes the agreement" and supported President Park Geun-hye's "tireless efforts to improve inter-Korean relations." A Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesperson expressed support for the agreement and said that China "hopes that the DPRK and the ROK can carry on dialogues and consultations, promote reconciliation and cooperation, earnestly implement relevant agreements, and jointly safeguard peace and stability of the Korean Peninsula."

Writing in the Asia Unbound blog, CFR's Scott Snyder argues that the recent tensions underscore "how both sides are vulnerable to each other." South Korea needs to show resolve in the face of North Korean provocations, and its economy is vulnerable to military tensions, while North Korea fears it is vulnerability to South Korean information dissemination. The test of this agreement, Snyder writes, is whether the two sides will be able to "keep their agreements and to institutionalize future dialogue and cooperation in such a way as to minimize their respective points of vulnerability."

In the Peterson Institute's Witness to Transformation blog, Stephan Haggard writes that "the circumstances surrounding the talks make it hard to see this as anything but a North Korean stand-down." He argues that while North Korea only made an indirect expression of "regret," the statement "comes about as close to an apology as we are likely to see," and its overall context indicates an acknowledgement of responsibility for the landmine incident.

NCNK Announces Student Membership Category

August 20, 2015

The National Committee on North Korea is pleased to announce the start of a new Student Membership category, aimed at students enrolled at the undergraduate or graduate level in an American college or university who are interested in gaining firsthand knowledge about principled engagement between citizens of the United States and North Korea.

Students from any background or major may apply. Student Members will be entitled to attend NCNK Policy Salons, meetings, and conferences upon invitation, and will also receive the forthcoming NCNK newsletter.  Student Members may also be invited to submit writings for NCNK publication.

More information and an application form are available here. To apply, students may contact StudentMembership@ncnk.org. 

In Memoriam: Dr. Sharon Perry

August 17, 2015

NCNK mourns the passing of Dr. Sharon Diane Perry, an epidemiologist and NCNK Member who studied chronic infectious diseases in developing countries. With Professor John Lewis, Dr. Perry organized the Bay Area Tuberculosis Consortium to engage North Korean public health officials on mutual interests in tuberculosis control. 

From 2007-2011, Dr. Perry directed the Stanford DPRK Tuberculosis Diagnostics Project, a collaboration with the Nuclear Threat Initiative, Christian Friends of Korea, the World Health Organization, and others to develop new laboratory capacity for detection of drug resistant tuberculosis in DPRK. Afterwards, she worked with Medicins Sans Frontieres as a Mission Epidemiologist in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Dr. Perry's obituary can be found here.

The Iran Deal's Implications for North Korea

July 16, 2015

In the wake of a final nuclear deal with Iran, there has been some fresh commentary on the potential for renewed nuclear diplomacy with North Korea. Writing at Witness to Transformation, Stephan Haggard examines some of the implementation procedures for the Iran deal, and what they could mean if negotiations with North Korea are ever restarted. He looks at how the multi-staged sequencing in the Iran deal addresses issues of credibility, pointing out that most sanctions relief will not come into effect until after Iran has complied with its commitments. Haggard also walks through the process of "snapback" sanctions in the event of an Iranian breach of obligations, arguing that continued close monitoring and diplomacy will be necessary to address such circumstances. 

Chinese Foreign Minister Wang Yi has said that the recent nuclear deal with Iran could serve as an "active model" for a diplomatic solution to North Korea's nuclear program, while the ROK Foreign Ministry's statement on the Iran agreement also expressed "hopes that meaningful progress will also be made in the North Korean nuclear issue through serious negotiations among concerned countries." 

Although few experts predict that the Iran deal will lead to an immediate change in the prospects for nuclear negotiations for North Korea, several have pointed to its potential impact over the long term. In an interview with Voice of America, David Straub said that “If the [Iranian] agreement is successfully implemented, I think, the U.S. new administration and the international community are likely to focus even more on North Korea.” Also speaking with Voice of America, Mitchell Reiss added that the Iran deal "sends a message to those elements in the North Korean regime who are interested in reaching a nuclear agreement with the United States, because it shows that even though it is very difficult and time-consuming, it is possible" 

News Release: NCNK Thanks the Henry Luce Foundation For Its Support

July 13, 2015

The National Committee on North Korea (NCNK) is pleased to announce receipt of a $45,000 grant from the Henry Luce Foundation toward continued funding for NCNK programming.  Support from the Luce Foundation has enabled NCNK to host a series of events providing informed discussions on a wide range of topics related to North Korea and U.S. – North Korea relations.

Originally established by Mercy Corps in 2004, NCNK and its members are dedicated to principled engagement with North Korea. Through the events sponsored by the Luce Foundation, NCNK members, policymakers, academics, US lawmakers, journalists, as well as the general public has become more informed on the latest developments within North Korea on topics such as the country’s economy, nuclear and missile programs and humanitarian situation.

Who We Are

The National Committee is a non-partisan coalition of individuals with extensive and complementary knowledge of and direct experience related to the society, economy, government, and history of the Democratic People's Republic of Korea.

We are a diverse group. A number of members served as diplomats in some of the landmark U.S.-DPRK negotiations. Some have authored major books on the history, society, and security of the Korean Peninsula. Other members have worked in virtually all parts of North Korea, and on issues related to the country's current economic, humanitarian, refugee, and medical crises. Some of our experience reaches back to the era of the Korean War. Most have extensive contacts in the Republic of Korea, China, Japan, and Russia related to the Korean Peninsula. While the National Committee on North Korea is non-governmental, several of the members have worked in official positions and have ongoing ties with current or past administrations and with the United States Congress.

The idea to form a National Committee on North Korea originated during The Musgrove III Conference held in mid-May 2004, which was attended by many of the founding committee members. The first meeting was held on November 4, 2004.