all eyes on north korea
April 20, 2020

U.S. intelligence agencies have received information that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in "grave danger" following surgery, a U.S. official with knowledge of the matter told CNN on Monday night.

He was last spotted on April 11 at a government meeting, and was absent at a birthday celebration on April 15 for his late grandfather, state founder Kim Il Sung. Rumors swirled in 2014, when Kim Jong Un was briefly out of the public eye. Upon his return, he was seen using a cane, and South Korea intelligence determined that he had a cyst taken off his ankle, CNN reports.

Daily NK, a Seoul-based nonprofit that monitors North Korea, has reported that Kim is recovering from heart surgery, and his condition is improving. Officials with South Korea's Unification Ministry and National Intelligence Service told The Associated Press they were unable to immediately confirm the CNN or Daily NK reports, and are investigating both. Catherine Garcia

March 8, 2020

Three unidentified projectiles were fired off the eastern coast of North Korea early Monday, South Korea's Joint Chiefs of Staff said.

The South Korean military is monitoring the situation and waiting to see if North Korea conducts any more launches. The projectiles were fired from a town in the South Hamgyong province, and landed in the Sea of Japan. North Korean state media has said that over the last 10 days, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un has supervised two rounds of live-fire artillery exercises, the first such tests since late November, The Associated Press reports.

South Korea and several European countries condemned North Korea firing two missiles last week, saying this undermined security and peace in the region; in response, North Korea's Foreign Ministry on Saturday threatened to conduct another "momentous" action. Catherine Garcia

March 2, 2020

North Korea on Monday fired two unidentified projectiles, the South Korean military said, in the country's first known weapons test of 2020.

The projectiles were launched near Wonsan, and landed in the sea. At the beginning of the year, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un said his country would soon unveil a new "strategic weapon," and would no longer suspend its testing of nuclear and intercontinental ballistic missiles.

There is speculation that Monday's test is a way of showing the country has not been hindered by the COVID-19 coronavirus outbreak, The Associated Press reports. North Korean state media has not confirmed any cases of COVID-19 in the country, but has suggested there are people who have been quarantined after showing symptoms. North Korea has prohibited tourists from entering the country and has shut down nearly all border traffic. Catherine Garcia

January 13, 2020

White House National Security Adviser Robert O'Brien told Axios in an interview published Sunday that President Trump wants to resume diplomacy with North Korea, and has made overtures.

"We've reached out to the North Koreans and let them know that we would like to continue the negotiations in Stockholm that were last undertaken in early October," O'Brien said. Those working-level nuclear talks were called off before anything was agreed upon, with North Korea's chief nuclear negotiator, Kim Myong Gil, saying the United States would "not give up their old viewpoint and attitude."

In December, Kim warned the United States that his country would send a "Christmas gift," which many experts thought referred to a missile test. "All we know is we were told we were going to get a Christmas gift and the Christmas gift didn't come," O'Brien said. "And so I think that was an encouraging sign. But, again, that doesn't mean we won't see some sort of test in the future." Catherine Garcia

December 5, 2019

A satellite image captured Thursday shows activity at a rocket launching site that North Korea had previously dismantled, CNN reports.

The image of Sohae Satellite Launching Station, obtained by CNN and analyzed by experts, shows a large shipping container at the facility's test stand, said Jeffrey Lewis, director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Middlebury Institute. This was the first time analysts have seen this container, he added, and it could indicate that North Korea will soon start conducting engine tests at the site again. These engines would be used to power satellite launchers and intercontinental ballistic missiles, CNN reports.

While at the NATO summit in London on Tuesday, Trump mused that North Korean leader Kim Jong Un "really likes sending rockets up, doesn't he? That's why I call him Rocket Man." Trump also said he has a "good relationship" with Kim, but his remarks still irked Choe Son Hui, North Korea's first vice-foreign minister. According to North Korean state media, Choe declared that "if any language and expressions stoking the atmosphere of confrontation are used once again on purpose at a crucial moment as now, that must really be diagnosed as the relapse of the dotage of a dotard." Catherine Garcia

October 1, 2019

One day after saying the country agreed to hold working-level talks with the United States over the weekend, North Korea fired at least one unidentified projectile into the sea.

The launch happened on Wednesday morning near Wonsan, the South Korean military and Japanese Coast Guard said, and is the ninth to take place since June. Japan says two projectiles were fired, and one looks to have fallen into the water inside Japan's exclusive economic zone.

Nuclear talks between the U.S. and North Korea have been stalled since February, when President Trump left early from his summit with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un. The two met again in June, in the Korean Demilitarized Zone. Catherine Garcia

September 10, 2019

Shortly after offering to hold new nuclear talks with the United States, North Korea on Tuesday launched at least two unidentified projectiles toward the sea, the South Korean military said.

South Korea said the projectiles were fired from an area near the capital, Pyongyang, and went about 205 miles. This was North Korea's eighth launch since July, Al Jazeera reports, with the country previously testing short-range missile and rocket artillery systems.

Late Monday, senior North Korean diplomat Choe Son Hui said her country is open to restarting nuclear diplomacy with the United States, holding "comprehensive discussions in late September of the issues we have so far taken up, at a time and place to be agreed." One stipulation is that U.S. comes prepared with a "proposal geared to the interests" of North Korea, she added. In response, President Trump called her comments "interesting." Catherine Garcia

August 28, 2019

New satellite images taken on Monday suggest North Korea may be constructing a new ballistic missile submarine, analysts from the Beyond Parallel research project said Tuesday.

The photos of Sinpo South Shipyard show support vessels and a crane, which could be used during a test launch, the analysts said. The analysts said there is no conclusive evidence that a test will happen soon, and the threat is "emerging rather than imminent."

In July, North Korean state media said leader Kim Jong Un inspected a newly built submarine. The analysts said Sinpo South Shipyard has been a hub of activity for the last three years, and the "images suggest North Korea is making real progress in developing a second leg of the nuclear triad, bringing them closer to a survivable nuclear force." Catherine Garcia

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