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NBR Voices and Resources: Assessing the Impact of the North Korean Missile Test

Published on February 14, 2017

On February 12, North Korea successfully launched an intermediate-range ballistic missile. The test demonstrates an ongoing threat toward Washington's East Asian allies and indicates that Kim Jong-un continues to focus on developing intercontinental ballistic missile systems that could eventually threaten the continental United States.


NBR senior advisor for political and security affairs John S. Park offers the following assessment of the missile test:

"North Korea's testing of its Pukguksong-2 ballistic missile represents two key advancements. The first is that its solid-fuel engine is much more stable and allows for substantially shorter launch preparation time. The second is that its mobile launch capability translates into a harder-to-detect target. North Korea continues to make significant progress in its ballistic missile program without any external constraints."

NBR conducts in-depth research on North Korea and nuclear security in Northeast Asia. The January 2017 issue of Asia Policy and recent NBR Special Reports offer timely analysis on relevant issues.

What are the perspectives of North Korea's neighbors in Northeast Asia on the regime's growing nuclear and missile capabilities?

In "The North Korean Nuclear Threat: Regional Perspectives on a Nuclear-Free Peninsula," five regional experts consider strategies for China, Japan, South Korea, and the United States to better cooperate on achieving the goal of a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.

How can the United States strengthen sanctions against North Korea?

"The Failure of Maritime Sanctions Enforcement against North Korea" examines the ineffectiveness of current sanctions on marine traffic into North Korea and assesses options for strengthening the sanctions regime.

U.S. allies Japan and South Korea worry about the growing nuclear threats from North Korea and question the United States' continued commitment in the region. What can the leaders in all three nations do to leverage the trilateral relationship to address these concerns?

"U.S.-ROK-Japan Trilateralism: Building Bridges and Strengthening Cooperation" considers options for greater cooperation among the three countries on North Korea's nuclear weapons program and other regional security threats.

What must Washington do to address the unique challenges posed by nuclear multipolarity in Asia?

"Approaching Critical Mass: Asia's Multipolar Nuclear Future" analyzes the dynamics of the multipolar nuclear order in Asia, including the challenges of assuring allies such as South Korea and Japan.


John S. Park is a Senior Advisor for Political and Security Affairs at The National Bureau of Asian Research (NBR). He is Director of the Korea Working Group and an Adjunct Lecturer at the Harvard Kennedy School, as well as a Faculty Affiliate with the Project on Managing the Atom at the Harvard Kennedy School's Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs.



On January 31, 2017, NBR senior advisor Nicholas Eberstadt testified before the U.S. Senate Committee on Foreign Relations hearing on "Confronting the North Korea Threat: Reassessing Policy Options." The subject of his testimony was "From 'Engagement' to Threat Reduction: Moving toward a North Korea Policy That Works."