Daily Memo: Pyongyang Approaches the US Red Line Again

Reports suggest that North Korea's nuclear and missile programs are still expanding.

North Korean missile development. As we have repeatedly explained, North Korean denuclearization was always a pipe dream. The only thing that’s changed is that White House officials lately have been publicly admitting as much. Given that it’s election season, the Trump administration has naturally been keen to keep the president’s stalled negotiations with Kim Jong Un out of the spotlight. But like Kim in his recent monthslong game of hide and seek, the North’s nuclear and missile programs are still alive. While both the U.S. and Pyongyang have been preoccupied with internal matters, the North still needs to agitate for sanctions relief from the U.S. The best way it can do this is to tiptoe back up to the U.S.’ red line on intercontinental ballistic missile development. Indeed, White House and U.S. intelligence officials apparently believe Pyongyang is gearing up to unveil a solid-fuel ICBM in October, which if tested successfully would mark a major leap forward in its missile capabilities. Another Pentagon official said Wednesday that the North may also be focusing on submarine-launched missiles, which would require solid-fuel engines. Perhaps it’s no surprise, then, that senior U.S. and South Korean officials quietly held talks Wednesday on finding ways to […]

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