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.
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.”
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.
March 5 marked the 50th anniversary of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) going into force.
Why it matters: While the number of atomic warheads in the world has fallen considerably since the darkest days of the Cold War, the club of nuclear-armed countries has expanded. With countries including the U.S. updating their nuclear arsenals and arms control treaties in danger of collapsing, many experts believe the risk of nuclear conflict is rising.
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.
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.
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.
President Trump on Tuesday dismissed North Korea's threat of a "Christmas gift" for the U.S., saying the military would “deal with it very successfully," Reuters reports.
Why it matters: North Korea's leader Kim Jong-un said in October that the U.S. had until year’s end to propose new concessions in talks over his country’s nuclear arsenal and warned the U.S. to not ignore the deadline.
Satellite imagery now confirms the construction of a new structure this month at a factory, near Pyongyang, where North Korea manufactures military trucks used as mobile launchers for long-range missiles.
Why it matters, from AP: North Korea has warned that what “Christmas gift” it gives the U.S. depends on what action Washington takes.
North Korea has begun fresh work at a factory involved in the development and production of intercontinental ballistic missile launchers, per satellite images shared by Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute of International Studies.
Why it matters: Lewis said on Saturday that Pyongyang is expanding work at the March 16 Factory in Pyongsong, where North Korean leader Kim Jong-un "watched preparations" for the 2017 test of the Hwasong-15 missile, which was theoretically capable of reaching the U.S. mainland.