North Korea

The big picture

A landmark nuclear arms treaty shows its age

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty is at risk of becoming outdated in a more dangerous world.

Mar 7, 2020
How North Korea executes people

Most are public executions by firing squad.

Jun 11, 2019
How ready is the U.S. for a North Korean missile attack?

We break down North Korea's missile capabilities and how prepared the U.S. is to block them if necessary.

Jan 5, 2018

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Aug 5, 2020 - World

How new tech raises the risk of nuclear war

Illustration: Annelise Capossela/Axios

75 years after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, some experts believe the risk of the use of a nuclear weapon is as high now as it has been since the Cuban missile crisis.

The big picture: Nuclear war remains the single greatest present threat to humanity — and one that is poised to grow as emerging technologies, like much faster missiles, cyber warfare and artificial intelligence, upset an already precarious nuclear balance.

Jun 17, 2020 - World

North Korea to deploy troops into former inter-Korean cooperation zones

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.

May 24, 2020 - World

O'Brien: U.S. likely to impose sanctions if China moves ahead with Hong Kong law

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien said on NBC's "Meet the Press" Sunday that the U.S. government will likely impose economic sanctions on Hong Kong and China if Beijing moves ahead with a proposed national security law for Hong Kong that could constrain the special region's autonomy.

Why it matters: O'Brien said the U.S. could revoke a special status that allows Hong Kong to function as an international financial hub, stating that it's "hard to see" how the financial community can remain in the city if the law is enacted.

May 3, 2020 - World

North and South Korean soldiers exchange gunfire across DMZ

South Korean troops patrolling the DMZ on April 23. Photo by Ed Jones/AFP via Getty Images

North and South Korean troops exchanged fire across the Demilitarized Zone on Sunday. The South Korean military suffered no casualties, and officials said it’s unlikely that North Korea had any casualties, according to AP.

Why it matters: It's the first violent confrontation between the two countries on the border since 2017, and it comes after weeks of conflicting reports about the health of North Korean dictator Kim Jong-un.

Apr 23, 2020 - World

What to make of Kim Jong-un's disappearance

Have you seen this man? Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

Kim Jong-un’s status remains a mystery after a week of rumors about the North Korean dictator’s health and chatter in Washington about succession.

Why it matters: “This should be a huge reminder of how much regional stability rests on this one leader,” says Jung Pak, a former CIA officer and author of the forthcoming book “Becoming Kim Jong-un.”

Updated Mar 22, 2020 - World

North Korea claims Trump sent letter to Kim Jong-un offering coronavirus help

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un. Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

Kim Jong-un's sister said Sunday that President Trump sent a personal letter to the North Korean leader offering cooperation to help the country combat the coronavirus outbreak, according to AP.

Why it matters: Though the North Korean government has yet to report a single case of the new virus within its borders, international experts doubt the claim and fear that an outbreak there would topple the country's poor medical infrastructure and become a humanitarian disaster.

Exclusive: Trump tells Kim Jong-un he wants to resume talks

Photo: Brendan Smialowski/AFP via Getty Images

White House national security adviser Robert O'Brien tells Axios that the Trump administration has "reached out to the North Koreans" to ask them to resume diplomacy that has been all but dead since October.

Driving the news: O'Brien sat down with Axios at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building on Friday to talk about a range of national security challenges at the start of a new year.

Updated Jan 1, 2020 - World

Kim Jong-un announces end to moratorium on nuclear weapon tests

Kim Jong Un giving his New Year's speech on Dec. 30, 2019. Photo: Jung Yeon-je/AFP via Getty Images

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un said in a New Year's speech that his country would abandon a self-imposed moratorium on testing nuclear weapons and long-range ballistic missiles, declaring that there "will never be denuclearization on the Korean peninsula" unless the U.S. drops its "hostile" policies, according to state media.

Why it matters: North Korea has not conducted a nuclear or long-range missile test in more than two years, hoping for a breakthrough in negotiations spurred by Kim's friendly personal relationship with President Trump, according to the New York Times. Trump has often touted this moratorium as a diplomatic achievement.

Dec 30, 2019 - World

Kim Jong-un calls for "positive and offensive" security measures

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un visiting a farm Sept. 30, 2017. Photo: STR/AFP via Getty Images

North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un said during a meeting of the ruling Workers' Party Sunday that "positive and offensive measures" are needed to protect the country’s security and sovereignty, the state-run news agency KCNA reports.

Why it matters: Kim said in October that the U.S. had until the end of the year to propose new concessions in negotiations over North Korea's nuclear arsenal and warned the U.S. to not ignore the deadline.

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