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Korean Peninsula

CrisisWatch Korean Peninsula

Unchanged Situation

Tensions mounted between North Korea (DPRK) and U.S. amid concerns DPRK could conduct sixth nuclear test at any time; U.S. rhetoric sharpened late month while China made repeated calls for restraint. U.S. President Trump and Chinese President Xi discussed DPRK during their first bilateral summit 6-7 April. Pyongyang launched possibly unsuccessful missile tests 5, 16 and 29 April; South Korea (ROK) 6 April tested ballistic missile with 800km range. U.S. 9 April announced U.S. carrier strike group Carl Vinson had been sent near Korean peninsula, prompting concern in Pyongyang; announcement later revealed to be false. DPRK 15 April revealed new missile mock-ups in parade marking 105th anniversary of birth of Kim Il-sung; 25 April held large-scale artillery drills near Wonsan. U.S. and ROK conducted military manoeuvres NE of Seoul the following day. U.S. and ROK reported Terminal High Altitude Area Defence (THAAD) will soon be operational. Satellite imagery of Punggye-re nuclear test site posted 21 April appeared to show ability to conduct sixth nuclear test “at any time”. In 27 April interview Trump warned “major, major conflict” with DPRK is possible, said he was seeking diplomatic solution. U.S. Sec State Tillerson 27 April said U.S. open to negotiating with DPRK; addressing special session of UNSC 28 April called for tougher sanctions, said “all options for responding to future provocations must remain on the table”. China said willing to work with U.S. on finding lasting peaceful resolution to tensions on peninsula. Trump’s 27 April remarks that he wants Seoul to pay for THAAD system and wants to renegotiate “horrible” trade agreement caused anger in ROK, where cooperation with U.S. is subject of debate ahead of 9 May presidential election. Reports emerged late April of possible fuel shortages in DPRK including Pyongyang.

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Reports & Briefings

In The News

14 Apr 2017
China likely recognises that Pyongyang's technical progress has increased Washington's threat perception and sense of urgency. AFP

Michael Kovrig

Senior Adviser, North East Asia
3 Apr 2017
North Korea could have been a subject on which China and the U.S. could have worked together to build confidence and trust between each other, but instead it's become a source of deeper mistrust. CBC News

Michael Kovrig

Senior Adviser, North East Asia

Latest Updates

Report / Asia

Risks of Intelligence Pathologies in South Korea

In the shadow of growing North Korean threats, South Korea needs to reform its intelligence apparatus to restore public confidence while enhancing the country’s intelligence capacity.

Our People

Christopher Green

Senior Advisor, Korean Peninsula