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Kim Jong-un in Hanoi. Photo: Manan Vatsyayana/AFP via Getty

North Korea has announced it will send troops into sites previously used to foster cooperation with South Korea a day after demolishing an inter-Korean liaison office.

Why it matters: North Korea is wiping out all remnants of the detente with South Korea that began in 2018, and taking dramatic symbolic steps to signal a new more hostile era in relations. Pyongyang has also said it will resume military exercises and reestablish guard posts near the heavily fortified border.

Behind the scenes: Experts generally view this as a play for leverage from Kim Jong-un’s regime, which has expressed fury over America's unwillingness to loosen sanctions and is believed to be facing a severe economic downturn amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • North Korea has also expressed outrage over propaganda leaflets sent across the border from the South.
  • Kim Yo-jong, the sister of Kim Jong-un, has been taking a central role in the rhetorical offensive from Pyongyang.

What to watch: Nuclear talks are likely to remain on ice this year, with an election approaching in the U.S.

  • The Kim regime’s goals include weakening the U.S.-South Korea alliance and reminding Washington “that North Korea is still a force to be reckoned with,” said Glyn Davies, who served as a special representative for North Korea during the Obama administration, in a recent International Crisis Group webinar.
  • U.S. intelligence says North Korea has continued to develop its nuclear program since President Trump’s two summits with Kim, which did not yield a deal on denuclearization.

Flashback: South Korean President Moon Jae-in, an advocate of warmer ties with North Korea, also held a series of summits with Kim in 2018.

  • Just two years later, one symbol of the friendlier relations those three meetings seemed to signal has been exploded. Others are now being actively militarized.

Go deeper: Kim Jong-un finally reappears

Go deeper

Dave Lawler, author of World
Sep 14, 2020 - World

America's role in the world undecided heading into election

Photo illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios. Photo: Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto, and Bastiaan Slabbers/NurPhoto via Getty Images

In 50 days, America will either double down on the disruptive force of America First or elect a man vowing to put the international order back together again.

Why it matters: America still has the world's biggest economy, most powerful military and deepest network of alliances. But it is unclear what it intends to do with them.

8 mins ago - Health

FDA advisory panel endorses Johnson & Johnson COVID vaccine for emergency use

Photo: Illustration by Cezary Kowalski/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

A Food and Drug Administration advisory panel on Friday recommended the authorization of Johnson & Johnson’s one-shot coronavirus vaccine for emergency use.

Why it matters: The FDA is expected to make a final decision within days on the J&J vaccine, which was found to be 66% effective against moderate to severe COVID. An emergency use authorization would allow distribution to immediately begin, helping streamline and speed up the vaccine rollout across the U.S.

Dave Lawler, author of World
10 mins ago - World

Schiff: "Definitive" Khashoggi report sends clear message to Saudis

Photo: Leon Neal/Getty Images

The report released Friday on the murder of Jamal Khashoggi was short on evidence or new information, but Rep. Adam Schiff (D-Calif.) tells Axios that the “definitive” statement assigning responsibility to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman (MBS) speaks volumes.

What he’s saying: Schiff, the chairman of the House intelligence committee, says that while some intelligence couldn’t be published because of the need to protect sources and methods, “we rarely see something published that is this definitive and I think that's an important accomplishment for the administration.”

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