North Korea

Experts guess that North Korea has less than ten nuclear weapons, a tiny amount compared to nations like China, the US or Russia. But the Hermit Kingdom’s unpredictable and belligerent behavior — on one of the world’s last remaining Cold War fault lines — make it an outsized threat to global safety and security.

Simply continuing past policies  —  applying more sanctions and beefing up military capabilities 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.

Latest News and Analysis on Nuclear Weapons in North Korea

  • I just returned from a week in Beijing. What a change. Scores of modern skyscrapers with international brand names and products emblazoned atop have sprung up where none existed as little as five years ago. Shining shopping malls are filled with the latest fashions and products.  Streets are choked with thousands of cars and buses where packs of bicycles and motorcycles once ruled.

    November 14, 2012 - By Philip Yun
  • Say what you will about North Korea. It’s “backwards,” impoverished, isolated, led by an enigmatic, secretive leader, or even that it is “the land of no smiles” whose people live a life on the edge of survival. To varying degrees, these negative descriptions are true.

    September 27, 2012 - By Paul Carroll
  • Like a big ship, even a country ruled by dictator cannot turn on a dime. It takes time and careful planning to change direction. Is it possible that a course change may be happening in repressive North Korea under its new leader Kim Jong Un?

    August 20, 2012 - By Philip Yun
  • As we all wished a very happy birthday to the United States of America this week, at Ploughshares we were also busy with some spring – make that summer – cleaning. Books made their way onto new shelves, and pamphlets into files. Along the way we found some blasts-from-the-past and other items that left us scratching our heads:

    July 5, 2012 - By Nora Wilkinson
  • Recently, we’ve heard a great deal about the possibility of a third nuclear test in North Korea.

    June 12, 2012 - By Megan Murphy
  • The following is a guest post from Ashish Sinha, Program Manager at Physicians for Social Responsibility.

    In recent weeks, nuclear-capable missile tests by North Korea, India, and Pakistan have reminded all of us why national security experts continue to feel South Asia and the Korean Peninsula represent among the highest risks to international peace and stability.

    May 8, 2012 - By admin
  • Ploughshares Fund grantee, Jeffrey Lewis, broke a major story this week creating headlines around the country.

    April 27, 2012 - By Joe Cirincione
  • Everyone’s talking about North Korea’s missile launch this week. And sure, it’s a big deal, but it’s not the end of the world. Here’s some quick behind-the-news perspectives to help parse facts from fear-mongering.

    April 11, 2012 - By Philip Yun
  • Nuclear terrorism ranks at the top of many national security experts lists of possible nightmares. It’s hard to overstate the damage that could be caused by even a small nuclear weapon in one of the world’s major population centers. But just as terrorism has become a global phenomenon, efforts to prevent nuclear terrorism has to be a global effort. Thankfully, it is.

    March 22, 2012 - By Margaret Swink
  • Critics of a recent deal between North Korea and the United States had barely caught their breath before an announcement today by Pyongyang that North Korea plans to launch a satellite atop a long-range rocket in mid-April. It’s hard to argue that this isn’t a setback. But it’s also premature to write the whole thing off.

    March 16, 2012 - By Paul Carroll