Sunday 22 Sep 2019 | 09:26 | SYDNEY
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North Korea

North Korea’s space program aims higher

Earlier this week, North Korea reaffirmed that its space program is ongoing and getting more ambitious. There have been six North Korean satellite launch attempts since 1998. Only two have placed satellites in orbit, and both satellites failed to transmit. Clearly, there is room for improvement, so

North Korea: How to start a nuclear war without even trying

If effective strategy requires realistic aims, then America is in trouble. US officials have shown themselves to be pathologically overconfident in their ability to achieve political outcomes with military signals, and the outcome they’re trying to achieve is utterly unrealistic.   Imagine

Reading between the lines of North Korea’s letter

The Foreign Affairs Committee of the DPRK Supreme People's Assembly has been busy sending open letters to various foreign parliaments. Our letter seems specifically tailored, as the DPRK web-based news includes parts of the other letters that aren't included in the one sent to Australia. It seems we

War on the Korean Peninsula: Targeting a better peace

The rhetoric emanating from Washington and Pyongyang may soon reach the point at which a peaceful resolution is no longer be possible. A year ago the chance of war on the Korean Peninsula would have been considered remote. Now, the call for a US pre-emptive strike is gaining support while North

What drives Russia’s Korea policy?

To discuss what's driving Russia's Korea policy, we need a framework within which we can begin to understand Moscow’s motives regarding North Korea’s nuclearisation and the ensuing international crisis.   First, peace and stability on the Korean Peninsula and more broadly in

A modest proposal for Australian engagement in North Korea

I have a modest proposal to make for Australia to directly engage with North Korea. Australia maintains diplomatic relations with North Korea, but has no representation in Pyongyang. Instead, Australia's embassy in Seoul is cross-accredited, a common arrangement among countries that lack an

On North Korea, China’s interests are unchanged

China's recent move to close North Korean businesses operating in China is undoubtedly welcome news to Australian and US policymakers. However, this is should not be seen as a shift in China's approach to North Korea. Rather, it is a tactical manoeuvre – China's goals and interests regarding

North Korea’s underground N testing reaching a limit

A test of a North Korean thermonuclear weapon (or H-Bomb) over the Pacific Ocean is horrifying proposition. Apart from the serious strategic implications, the physical blast and electromagnetic effects of such a detonation would be catastrophic. If such a test occurred without warning, planes

Don’t discount the chances of a new Korean war

Robert Kelly all but discounts the possibility of conflict on the Korean Peninsula. While this is plainly wrong, he is right on other points, namely the emotional differences between South Korea and America in how they react to the North Korean threat.   The American press does inflate

North Korea: Trump’s terrible binary choice

It is critical that we understand what North Korea’s test of a thermonuclear device means. North Korea claims that the weapon is miniaturised to fit onto a Hwasong­–14 intercontinental ballistic missile. We must assume this claim is true. North Korea’s advances have exceeded every expectation

North Korean nuclear crisis: Talks still the best option

North Korea has just carried out its sixth nuclear test, claimed to be of a hydrogen bomb suitable for fitting on a missile capable of reaching the United States. At this stage there is insufficient information to determine whether it was a true hydrogen (fusion) weapon or a less-technically

What is gained by shooting missiles across Japan?

On Tuesday morning, North Korean launched a missile over the southern tip of Hokkaido in northern Japan. Given the close interdependence of North Korea’s satellite launch program and its missile development, the latest launch invokes memories of August 1998, when the North Korean Kwangmyŏngsŏ

Big job ahead for China’s new envoy to North Korea

Competition for the world’s most thankless jobs is hotting up. Donald Trump’s chief of staff, the Premier of China, the official standing next to the UK’s Panglossian Secretary of State for Exiting the EU, David Davies – all these jobs have, as their number one objective, taking endless

Australia and Korea’s wars: A debate worth revisiting

Tensions have temporarily abated on the Korean Peninsula, following the latest blustery exchanges between Washington and Pyongyang. In typically mercurial fashion, after threatening 'fire and fury', President Donald Trump has now praised Kim Jong-un’s 'decision' not to launch missiles at Guam as '

Australia and Korea’s wars

In light of recent discussion about Australia's responsibilities under the Korean Armistice Agreement, we are republishing this post that first appeared on 29 November, 2010. In 1985, I published a paper entitled 'Australia and the Republic of Korea: Still Allies or Just Good Friends'. I had not

New sanctions spark a China-North Korea diplomatic row

The UN Security Council sanctions resolution (UNSCR 2371) on North Korea, passed last week, is the toughest yet. It fully bans the export from North Korea of iron, lead, coal and seafood, expands the number of sanctioned entities and individuals, prevents new joint ventures or additional investment

North Korea has goals other than nukes

As you will no doubt have seen by now, President Trump has issued a threat to North Korea: North Korea best not make any more threats to the United States. They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen. He has been very threatening beyond a normal state. And as I said, they

North Korea missile test: It’s all in the timing

The second test of a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) has elevated concerns over the potential for this nation to launch nuclear strikes on the continental United States. Several major cities are in range. There has been some boffin speculation on the accuracy of North Korea’

Entering the North Korean re-entry debate

South Korean intelligence claims that the recent test of a North Korean ICBM possibly failed to produce a successful warhead re-entry. The statement from Yi Wan-young (a member of the South Korean parliament’s intelligence committee) seems intended to soothe concerns over the potential for North

How to complicate North Korea’s nuclear weapons plans

North Korea has the strategic initiative. Its plan to build a nuclear armed, long-range missile force is nearing completion. Other countries can do little – with China's ongoing support, sanctions can be evaded and UN resolutions ignored. Accordingly, many commentators now argue that the Trump

Learning to live with a North Korean ICBM

Last week’s test launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) by North Korea raises the time-honored question of East Asian international relations: what to do with a neo-feudal, cold war-relic wildly out of touch with the modernising ethos of the fast developers of this region? North

North Korea: Jake Sullivan on America's policy dilemma

As world leaders gather in Hamburg for the G20 Summit, North Korea will be high on the agenda following Pyongyang’s successful launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) on Tuesday. On Wednesday, US Ambassador to the UN Nikki Haley told a UN Security Council meeting the US was

North Korea’s ICBM weakens Washington’s hand in Asia

So North Korea has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile. That is definitely alarming, though a few caveats: the missile is almost certainly not operational with the North Korean armed forces, and nor have we seen evidence that North Korea could mount a minituarised nuclear warhead on such a

The tragedy of Otto Warmbier

Earlier this month, an American tourist to North Korea, Otto Warmbier, died of injuries suffered in detention in that country. The cause of his death is not yet clear. But it appears the North Koreans medically mistreated him in such a way that he suffered major brain damage. My guess is that

In China, changing online attitudes towards Korea

Additional research by Zixin Wang, an intern in the Lowy Institute's East Asia Program. Shen Zhihua, a world-renowned Chinese scholar of the Cold War, recently proposed that 'North Korea is China's latent enemy and South Korea could be China's friend'. His comments, made at Dalian University of

Australia needs to show some force

Last week key treaty allies South Korea and Japan joined the US Navy's 7th Fleet for separate joint exercises in the waters west of Japan in a demonstration of force against Pyongyang's latest taunts of nuclear war. However powerful this demonstration may have been, it was still missing one key US

North Korea: ‘A most enterprising country’

A myth told and re-told in the West is that North Korea, a 'hermit kingdom' and 'pariah state', is cut off from the outside world. North Korean people suffer indescribable isolation, socially, politically and geographically. But as Justin Hastings, Associate Professor in International Relations

Update: A significant demonstration of missile know-how

On Wednesday morning, North Korea staged another ballistic missile launch. Intelligence reports from multiple official sources claimed that the missile was a solid-fuelled KN-15 missile, similar to the one that was launched in February this year. Now, official sources (at least, American ones) are

North Korea goes its own way on missile tests

For any nation, testing space rockets or ballistic missiles is a long and tortuous process. It’s usually littered with a string of failures. The challenge for any program is deciding when a system has been tested enough to be declared operational. Boffins who watch North Korea’s broad stable

North Korea: The case for engagement

Earlier this month the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, hosted the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the

North Korea: Not yet ready to change from within

Last week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, hosted the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the bilateral

The limitations of framing North Korea as a risk

Last week the Lowy Institute's International Security Program, supported by the Korea Foundation, hosted the Australia-Republic of Korea (ROK) Emerging Leaders International Security Forum in Sydney and Canberra, bringing together scholars and future policymakers focused on the bilateral

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