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Security Issues

This briefing book contains information and analysis on US security policy in Northeast Asia and strategies on denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula.

North Korea's Nuclear Weapons Program

An overview of what is known about North Korea's plutonium and highly-enriched uranium programs, as well as its nuclear tests. Last updated January 2016.

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Joint Press Release from Inter-Korean High Level Meeting

Joint statement released by North and South Korea on August 25, 2015, following three days of high-level negotiations at Panmunjom amid hightened tensions at the DMZ.

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Conference Report: Exploring Theories of Change Implicit in Policy Approaches to North Korea

This report is based on the findings of a workshop that was held to apply a "Theories of Change" framework to North Korea, identifying unspoken assumptions and sharpening the strategic logic behind different types of interventions. The workshop – which brought together former policymakers and nongovernmental experts on North Korea – was sponsored by the National Committee on North Korea and the United States Institute of Peace’s Asia-Pacific program.

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Timeline of Threat Escalations on the Korean Peninsula, December 2012 to May 2013

In the months following North Korea's third nuclear test, tensions on the Korean Peninsula soared to extremely high levels, with North Korea threatening to launch nuclear strikes, the U.S. making mock bombing runs with nuclear-capable bombers, and the Inter-Korean Kaesong Industrial Complex shutting down. This timeline surveys some of the major statements and actions made by the two Koreas, the U.S., and other countries as the crisis escalated.

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North Korea from 30,000 Feet

In the January/February issue of the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, NCNK Members Siegfried S. Hecker and Robert Carlin assessed North Korea's nuclear developments in 2011. That assessment preceded the death of Kim Jong-il on December 17. This article supplements the Hecker/Carlin piece with detailed overhead imagery, additional analysis of Pyongyang's march toward a more threatening nuclear weapons capability, and brief commentary on how the accession of Kim Jong-un to leadership may influence North Korea's nuclear trajectory.

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Missile Negotiations with North Korea: A Strategy for the Future

In this Special Report published by the U.S.-Korea Institute at SAIS, Joel S. Wit, Andrew Hood, Jeffrey Lewis, Scott Pace, and Leon Sigal attempt to flesh out a strategy for future missile negotiations with North Korea that builds on past experiences and addresses the current situation on the peninsula.

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The Northern Limit Line: The Disputed Maritime Boundary Between North and South Korea

This issue brief by Professor Terence Roehrig, outlines the history and current status of the "Northern Limit Line," the disputed maritime boundary between North Korea and South Korea in the Yellow (West) Sea.

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Responses to the Shelling of Yeonpyeong Island

This web page presents official statements, legislation, and analysis regarding the shelling of Yeonpyeong Island, in reverse chronological order. It was last updated January 5, 2011.

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The Cheonan Incident Resource Page

This web page provides key documents and other information on the sinking of the Cheonan.

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The "Massive Ordnance Penetrator" Bunker Buster

This NCNK Issue Brief gives a brief overview of the Massive Ordnance Penetrator (MOP) 'bunker buster,' which is being developed for the purpose of putting 'hard and deeply buried targets (HDBT) 'at risk.' Research on MOP, a conventional weapon, was funded when research and development of the 'Robust Nuclear Earth Penetrator' met with congressional resistance in 2004. In 2009, development of MOP was accelerated. DPRK HDBT were named as a possible target of the RNEP and are assumed to be a target of the MOP as well. This issue brief was last updated December 14, 2009.

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Improving Regional Security and Denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula: U.S. Policy Interests and Options (October 2009)

This is the webpage for the project "Improving Regional Security and Denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula: U.S. Policy Interests and Options." It includes the paper "U.S. Strategy towards North Korea: Rebuilding Dialogue and Engagement," principal author, Joel Wit, a project of the Weatherhead Institute for East Asia and the U.S.-Korea Institute at the Johns Hopkins University School of Advanced International Studies. It also includes the background papers written for that project. This project was supported by the Ploughshares Fund.

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