Jul 26, 2019

Ignoring North Korean missile tests could hamper nuclear talks

Footage of a North Korean missile launch playing on a television in Seoul, South Korea. Photo: Jung Yeon-Je/AFP/Getty Images

Less than a month ago, President Trump was standing on North Korean soil with Kim Jong-un. This week, North Korea carried out 2 more tests of an advanced missile first shown in May, but to a longer range — demonstrating that its arsenal continues to improve even as disarmament talks nominally continue.

Where it stands: South Korean President Moon Jae-in has spoken of disarmament and peace as “irreversible” processes, and Trump apparently assumes that the specifics of an agreement will sort themselves out, thanks to his personal relationship with Kim Jong-un. But it's clear that Kim has other plans.

What's new: The missiles North Korea tested this week followed a “depressed” trajectory, flying at a lower altitude to reach potential targets faster or maneuver around missile defenses.

  • The tests show that the regime is thinking seriously about its ability to strike protected targets in allied countries at short notice.
  • These are surprisingly advanced capabilities for a country that only 2 years ago possessed a rudimentary missile arsenal.

Between the lines: Many of North Korea's steps over the last 6 months have seemed designed to ratchet up pressure on the Trump administration to make concessions.

  • Without a clear agreement to restrict nuclear and missile tests, North Korea is almost certain to test more missiles, likely of longer-range or more sophisticated systems.
  • The regime has set an end-of-year deadline for talks, after which they say tests will resume in full.

The bottom line: Sweeping these tests under the rug is not preserving negotiations but propelling them toward eventual collapse. If the tests aren't addressed during new talks, the U.S. could again find itself at the brink of war, facing an adversary even more capable than before.

Adam Mount is a senior fellow and director of the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists.

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Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina if capacity reduced

President Trump on stage during the 2016 Republican National Convention in Ohio. Photo: Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call via Getty Images

President Trump threatened in a series of Monday tweets to move this summer's Republican National Convention from Charlotte if North Carolina's Democratic governor, Roy Cooper, doesn't allow the event to be held at full capacity.

The state of play: Mandy Cohen, the state's health and human services secretary, said last week that the GOP should "plan for the worst" as mass gatherings will be a "very big challenge" if the number of coronavirus cases in the state continues to increase, per NPR.

The wreckage of summer

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

We usually think of Memorial Day as the start of the summer, with all of the fun and relaxation that goes with it — but this one is just going to remind us of all of the plans that have been ruined by the coronavirus.

Why it matters: If you thought it was stressful to be locked down during the spring, just wait until everyone realizes that all the traditional summer activities we've been looking forward to are largely off-limits this year.

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

  1. Global: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 5,432,512 — Total deaths: 345,375 — Total recoveries — 2,182,202Map.
  2. U.S.: Total confirmed cases as of 9 a.m. ET: 1,643,499 — Total deaths: 97,722 — Total recoveries: 366,736 — Total tested: 14,163,915Map.
  3. 2020: Trump threatens to move Republican convention from North Carolina.
  4. World: White House announces travel restrictions on Brazil Over 100 cases in Germany tied to single day of church services.
  5. Public health: Officials are urging Americans to wear masks over Memorial Day.
  6. Economy: White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett says it's possible the unemployment rate could still be in double digits by November's election.
  7. What should I do? Hydroxychloroquine questions answeredTraveling, asthma, dishes, disinfectants and being contagiousMasks, lending books and self-isolatingExercise, laundry, what counts as soap — Pets, moving and personal healthAnswers about the virus from Axios expertsWhat to know about social distancingHow to minimize your risk.
  8. Other resources: CDC on how to avoid the virus, what to do if you get it, the right mask to wear.

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Updated 6 hours ago - Politics & Policy