The overarching question imparting urgency to this exploration is: Can U.S.-Russian contention in cyberspace cause the two nuclear superpowers to stumble into war? In considering this question we were constantly reminded of recent comments by a prominent U.S. arms control expert: At least as dangerous as the risk of an actual cyberattack, he observed, is cyber operations’ “blurring of the line between peace and war.” Or, as Nye wrote, “in the cyber realm, the difference between a weapon and a non-weapon may come down to a single line of code, or simply the intent of a computer program’s user.”
As of early 2020, the outlook for the situation on the Korean Peninsula remains uncertain. The 2018-2019 positive dynamics (which began in the run-up to the XXIII Winter Olympic Games in Pyeongchang and continued with a series of US-DPRK and ROK-DPRK summits) appears to have fizzled out. At the same time, it is safe to conclude that the engagement and nuclear diplomacy of 2018 and 2019 had generated tangible results and proved its value in terms of reducing tensions and addressing security problems in the region. The unilateral moratorium on nuclear tests and long-range missile launches had restricted for almost two years Pyongyang’s ability to further develop its nuclear and missile capabilities. If the DPRK were to completely dismantle its facilities at the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Centre (something that was discussed at the Hanoi Summit), Pyongyang would have significantly reduced its capability to make weapons-usable fissile materials and would also essentially freeze its thermonuclear program. What kind of developments should be expected in the region during the upcoming months and what kind of risk reduction measures could be considered? These and other questions will be discussed during this seminar.