Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

Time to Shelve Denuclearization and Negotiate a Halt to North Korea's ICBM Program

| Apr. 14, 2022

With the entire world’s attention riveted on Ukraine, Kim Jong-Un is doubling down on his nuclear and missile programs and has recently tested what he claims to be a new intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). According to early estimates the Hwasong-17 (a.k.a. KN-27) missile could have reached the U.S. East Coast if launched on a normal trajectory. Despite South Korean doubts over the claim, the test results clearly suggest the North’s steady technological progress. Pyongyang is expected to carry out more provocations in the coming months, especially on April 15th on the occasion of the 110th anniversary of its founder Kim Il-Sung’s birth. To reassure U.S. allies in the region, some U.S. analysts advocate a high-profile announcement of new deterrence initiatives with allies such as joint exercises, and South Korean President-elect Yoon Suk-yeol seems to agree and seek more frequent drills. Talks to reiterate U.S. alliance commitments are certainly important, but such showy military exercises — which Kim typically views as a major aggression toward the North — would be a primrose path. 

For more information on this publication: Belfer Communications Office
For Academic Citation: Fukushima, Mayumi.“Time to Shelve Denuclearization and Negotiate a Halt to North Korea's ICBM Program.” War on the Rocks, April 14, 2022.