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Two-Minute Take: Undeclared North Korea
New research released this week by Beyond Parallel and CSIS revealed 13 of an estimated 20 North Korean missile operating bases that are undeclared by the government. Bush Institute Fellow Victor Cha gives his two-minute take.
What is the significance of CSIS’s findings, and how do they impact the Unites States’ diplomatic process with North Korea?
Our findings will not be new to those inside of governments, but they do show the general public that the DPRK weapons programs extend far beyond the items they have been "selling" to us (i.e., the nuclear test site and satellite launch facility) in return for a lifting of sanctions. These operational missile bases remain undeclared by North Korea yet threaten the United States, South Korea, and Japan. In this regard, we are trying to ensure that the public policy discussion about this remains well-informed.
President Trump downplayed the findings, tweeting they reveal nothing new. Last week, he said: “The sanctions are on. The missiles have stopped. The rockets have stopped. The hostages are home.” What aspects of the situation is he failing to assess?
Our study shows that while the missile tests may have stopped, they still have over a dozen operational missile bases from which they could launch ballistic missiles. Thus, the tests have stopped but the threat is still there and growing. Moreover, he refers to the return of U.S. hostages, but the human rights abuses continue in North Korea without any accountability being required of the North Korean leader to the international community and the UN, the latter of which has recommended referral of Kim Jong-un to the ICC for crimes against humanity.
*Shortly after Dr. Cha’s interview, the media reported the first North Korea weapons test since November 2017.
What does CSIS’s report mean for the idea of complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization (CVID)?
It is hard to imagine CVID without an addressing of these operational missile bases that we have studied, in addition to the nuclear weapons programs. To address one without the other does not make us necessarily safer. North Korea would only like to offer those things that they no longer need. We need to focus on the entirety of the program and a full declaration from the regime, rather than a piecemeal approach.
Q&A with North Korean escapee Peter Oh
Peter Oh is a 2019 North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient who is pursuing his master’s degree in international policy and practice at George Washington University. He and his younger brother escaped North Korea in 2000 in search for food. He lived in China for three years before seeking asylum in South Korea with the help of Christian missionaries. He became a reporter for Radio Free Asia in Seoul and in 2010 was transferred to the Washington, D.C. office to report on North Korean issues.
Q&A with North Korean escapee Debby Kim
Debby Kim, a two-time North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient, is a sophomore biochemistry major at Wheaton College in Illinois and an aspiring doctor. She escaped North Korea when she was 13 years old.
Q&A with North Korean escapee LK*
LK, a three-time North Korea Freedom Scholarship recipient, is an electrical and computer engineering student at a university in Illinois. A former member of the North Korean Army, LK remains anonymous to protect family members still living in North Korea.