By Elise Labott
After North Korea's failed satellite launch in defiance of the international community, U.S. officials and experts say the Obama administration could move away from a policy of engagement toward one of containment.
"I think there is going to be much less time for the DPRK issue in this town," a senior official said about the Obama administration's patience for the issue. "Maybe we say, 'we gave it a shot, and they made a decision that they have to live with.' What are we going to do? We can't keep trying to help them help themselves." FULL POST
By Jill Dougherty
Log on to the Korean Central News Agency's state-run website and you'll find a concise explanation of what North Korea's launch of an Unha-3 long-range missile is all about: It's not about the missile, it's about the satellite sitting on top of that missile.
"Kwangmyongsong-3, which is to be launched under the DPRK government's policy on space development for peaceful purposes, is an earth observation satellite for collecting data essential for the country's economic development," the agency says.
For the United States, and most other countries, it's very much about the missile. Missiles can be used innocuously to launch peaceful satellites - and they can be used to deliver nuclear, biological or chemical weapons. As the National Security Council's Tommy Vietor quipped Wednesday: "North Korea doesn't need to spend this kind of money on a weather satellite. Go to weather.com."
By Elise Labott
It's what administration officials refer to as the North Korean "two-step," in which one daring act by Pyongyang is followed by another. This time, Washington and its allies are expecting North Korea to conduct a third nuclear bomb test shortly after the launch.
In April 2009, North Korea followed up a long-range missile test with a nuclear test. Then, after North Korea sunk the South Korean navy warship Cheonan in March 2010, it topped itself later that year by shelling South Korea's Yeonpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea off the countries' west coast.
North Korea's coming satellite launch and the possibility of a nuclear test would both be a "blatant violation" of North Korea's international obligations, the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations told CNN's John King in an interview on Monday.
"We have taken the view that these are highly provocative steps," Ambassador Susan Rice said in the interview airing at 6pET on CNN's "John King, USA." "They have nothing to gain and only further isolation to anticipate should they go ahead with this." FULL POST
By Adam Levine
A new satellite image has captured increased activity on North Korea's launch pad as the country prepares for its controversial missile launch in mid-April.
The DigitalGlobe image taken on March 28 shows trucks on the Tongch'ang-ni launch pad. Atop the umbilical tower, which sits beside where the assembled rocket will stand, a crane arm that will be used to lift the rocket stages has been swung wide.
While South Korean media are reporting the first stage of the rocket - known as the booster - has been moved to the launch facility, DigitalGlobe Senior Analyst Joseph Bermudez said that is not visible in this image. FULL POST
By Adam Levine
The United States military has suspended its effort to recover Korean War remains in North Korea because of that nation's announcement of an upcoming rocket launch, a Pentagon spokesman said Wednesday.
"We have suspended that effort for the moment. Remains recovery is, obviously, a top priority for this department. We have thousands of service members who are unaccounted for, to include service members from the Korean War," Pentagon spokesman George Little said. "We have suspended that effort because we believe the, you know, North Korea has not acted appropriately in recent days and weeks and that it's important for them to return to the standards of behavior that the international community has called for." FULL POST
By Elise Labott
Senior U.S. officials are trying to figure out where to go after North Korea's announcement that it would undertake a satellite launch using ballistic missile technology, senior White House officials said.
The announcement took the Obama administration, as well as the other countries involved in the six-party talks, by surprise and raised serious questions about whether the new Korean leader is any different from his father. FULL POST
By Adam Levine
There's no question, the U.S. is approaching the two most pressing nuclear threats differently.
One country, for the time being, seems ready to engage with the U.S. and others on changing its nuclear course. That's North Korea. That's at least for time being.
The other country, Iran, has suggested it would be willing to engage with the international community on its nuclear program to a degree but questions remain about how serious the offer is.
Which leads us to this little noticed question to Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta on Friday. Speaking to reporters in Hawaii, Panetta was asked, basically, why is everyone so much crazier about Iran than North Korea. FULL POST
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea has agreed to halt nuclear tests, long-range missile launches and enrichment activities at its Yongbyon nuclear complex in exchange for food aid from the United States, the State Department said Wednesday.
The state-run North Korean news agency (KCNA) announced the agreement separately.
"Today's announcement represents a modest first step in the right direction. We, of course, will be watching closely and judging North Korea's new leaders by their actions," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday before the House Appropriations Committee.
By CNN National Security Producer Jamie Crawford
The new regime in North Korea is not yet ready to come in from the cold, but the United States still stands ready to engage, a senior State Department official said Thursday.
"Right now we are in the closest possible consultation with South Korea, Japan and working with China to try and get a sense of what's taking place in terms of the succession," said Kurt Campbell, assistant secretary of state for East Asian and Pacific affairs.
As to whether the United States has been able to glean any sense of policy priorities of the new leader, Kim Jong Un, Campbell said it was still too early to tell. "It is probably too early to make any clear determinations about the ultimate character of this new leadership inside North Korea," he said.
"I think we have made very clear (to North Korea) our preparation to have a different kind of relationship" if they are ready to take the necessary steps on nuclear nonproliferation and other issues required by the international community, Campbell said.