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.
North Korea said on Saturday that it carried out another satellite launch test near the Chinese border, and that the unspecified test "would help bolster the country's nuclear deterrent," the Washington Post reports.
Why it matters: The reported test was conducted Friday evening — making it the second North Korean satellite launch in less than a week, state news agency KCNA said, per Reuters
In a Sunday tweet, President Trump doubled down on an argument that North Korea should not take denuclearization talks off the table — as the country stated it would on Saturday — because it could be seen as interfering in the upcoming presidential election.
What he's saying: "Kim Jong Un is too smart and has far too much to lose, everything actually, if he acts in a hostile way," Trump tweeted. "He signed a strong Denuclearization Agreement with me in Singapore. He does not want to void his special relationship with the President of the United States or interfere with the U.S. Presidential Election in November."
North Korea insisted that denuclearization has "already gone out of the negotiating table" on Saturday, in a statement from the country's ambassador to the United Nations.
The big picture: Denuclearization talks between the two countries have not achieved anything concrete since President Trump and Kim Jong-un signed a four-point peace plan last year — which was vague on the process of denuclearization.