North Korea

Experts guess that North Korea has less than ten nuclear weapons, a tiny amount compared to nations like China, the United States or Russia. But the crisis with North Korea presents one of the greatest global security threats today. And the crisis is only getting worse as Pyongyang races to develop its ability to strike targets farther and farther away. Verbal threats and other provocations between the North and the US have stoked this growing fire, bringing us to the brink of war in early 2017. If diplomatic action isn’t taken soon, it is only a matter of time before North Korea develops an ICBM capable of reaching the United States – or a devastating regional war breaks out in the region.

Applying more sanctions and threatening military action in the region  will almost certainly fail, but more ominously will likely result in one or more of three outcomes, all of them bad: accidental war or military miscalculation, weapons-grade plutonium or uranium secreted out of North Korea, and Pyongyang increasing its leverage by continuing to produce fissile material. Ploughshares Fund and its grantees are committed to preventing a humanitarian catastrophe and finding a peaceful resolution to the North Korea crisis.

Latest News and Analysis on Nuclear Weapons in North Korea

  • North Korea's nuclear program is making headlines once again, as the hermit kingdom tested two ballistic missiles, exchanged fire with South Korea and threatened a nuclear test. Just how worried should we be about North Korea? To find out, Ploughshares Fund sat down with grantee Joel Wit, experienced U.S. diplomat and an expert on North Korea. 

    April 2, 2014 - By admin
  • December is usually a time to look forward to surprises. The year’s end, holiday events and gift giving are a time to reflect, appreciate and look forward to what the New Year may bring.

    But there is one surprise I’d rather not have – wondering what North Korea might do next.

    December 12, 2013 - By Paul Carroll
  • Some anniversaries are bittersweet.  This week marks the seven year anniversary of North Korea’s first nuclear test.

    October 8, 2013 - By Paul Carroll
  • North Korea is not only one of the world's most problematic nuclear weapons hotspots, it's also one of the world's most isolated states.It's hard to understand what life must be like for people living in the hermit kingdom, and even more difficult to know what's happening in the nation's extensive gulag prison system. 

    September 9, 2013 - By Molly Maser
  • Eisenhower wanted it; Kennedy almost got it; Clinton negotiated it; and now Obama can deliver it.  It is the longest-sought, hardest-fought for goal in the history of nuclear arms control: a global ban on nuclear weapons tests.

    August 20, 2013 - By Joe Cirincione
  • The debate over Syria’s possible use of chemical weapons has been dominating the headlines. Were deadly nerve agents used? If so by whom? Was the use intentional? These questions are important since President Obama has intimated that, if confirmed, the use of chemical weapons could change U.S. policy toward the Syrian civil war. The specifics of what the United States would do differently are unclear. What is clear, though, is that the use of chemical weapons characteristically changes the way we perceive the conflict. It is, as Obama stated, a “game changer.”

    May 10, 2013 - By Paul Carroll
  • Last week’s announcement that the U.S.-South Korea nuclear cooperation agreement would be extended for two additional years dashes the hopes of those South Korean hawks who seek to make their country a nuclear weapons state, at least for the time being. Indeed, the prospect of a nuclear-armed South Korea was so alarming to some that The New York Times ten days earlier published an editorial that came out against a nuclear cooperation agreement that would allow South Korea to enrich uranium and reprocess U.S.-sourced fuel rods to separate plutonium. For many readers, this might have caused a double take when North Korea has been leading the headlines as the region’s nuclear problem. What’s going on?

    April 29, 2013 - By Philip Yun
  • As tensions have risen in the face of North Korea’s heated rhetoric, the U.S. media has been running non-stop, and often inflammatory, coverage of every new development. Unfortunately, much of the coverage has been neither useful nor informative and cuts against the opinion of many North Korea experts by touting the DPRK as a direct threat to the United States. Most experts aren’t concerned with the prospect of a preemptive military strike from North Korea. We’ve seen this pattern of provocation before. Instead, experts worry that the situation could spiral out of control, spurring a real crisis on the Korean peninsula.

    April 17, 2013 - By Rebecca Remy
  • Since its most recent nuclear test on February 12, 2013, there has been a lot of attention to and activity around North Korea. The test – it’s third and most “successful” to date – elicited a predictable response in the passage of additional U.N. Security Council sanctions the. But the fact that the sanctions passed unanimously – with China’s consent – is significant, although it is still unclear if this marks a shift in Chinese policy toward North Korea. In short, the North’s latest behavior seems to have raised the game with respect to the stability and security in Northeast Asia.

    April 2, 2013 - By admin
  • We've doubled down on a defense that doesn't work against missiles that don't exist.

    March 21, 2013 - By Joe Cirincione