North Korean factory workers at the Pyongyang 326 Electric Wire Factory, Jan. 10, 2017, Pyongyang, North Korea (AP photo by Wong Maye-E).

The world is currently trying to figure out what China might be doing, saying and thinking about North Korea. Observers looks for signs in Chinese state media that Beijing might finally cut Pyongyang off financially and politically. They scrutinize shipping traffic to parse whether the flow of oil and coal between North Korea and China might be diminishing, with potentially disastrous results for Kim Jong Un’s regime. With a new president in South Korea, debates will continue about how Seoul can convince China to use its leverage on Pyongyang to get it to freeze its nuclear weapons program. There should […]

South Koreans hold cardboard letters reading "NO THAAD" during a rally near the U.S. Embassy, Seoul, South Korea, April 28, 2017 (AP photo by Lee Jin-man).

During South Korea’s presidential election, Moon Jae-in—who emerged as the winner on Tuesday—criticized the deployment of an advanced U.S. missile defense system known as THAAD, saying it had been rushed. China has also made clear its objections to the system, even deploying children as young as 7 in a series of anti-THAAD boycotts and rallies. In an email interview, Joshua Pollack, editor of the Nonproliferation Review and senior research associate at the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies, explains what THAAD does and why it is controversial. WPR: What are THAAD missile defense systems designed to defend against, and why […]

U.S. Secretary of State Rex Tillerson at a U.N. Security Council meeting on North Korea at U.N. headquarters in New York, April 28, 2017 (Sipa USA via AP).

Smart diplomats do not gloat about alienating their most assertive and dangerous foes. Nor do they boast about their influence over uncertain partners who are apt to switch loyalties at short notice. Last week, the Trump administration made both of these mistakes in one sentence. In an upbeat summary of the president’s first 100 days in office, the White House declared that Donald Trump has “further isolated Syria and Russia at the United Nations through successful diplomacy with President Xi Jinping of China.” This claim is not entirely untrue, but Trump should not imagine that he has changed the rules […]