By Chris Lawrence
The United States and South Korea still have no clear insight on the new leader of North Korea, Kim Jong Un, nearly a year after he replaced his father.
"We still don't know whether or not he will follow in the footsteps of his father, or whether he represents a different kind of leadership for the future," U.S. Defense Secretary Leon Panetta admitted Wednesday.
Panetta made the comment at a news conference on Wednesday after security talks with his South Korean counterpart. The meetings included discussion of North Korea's young leader, who succeeded his father, Kim Jong Il, after his death in 2011.
By Larry Shaughnessy
North Korea claims that it has ballistic missiles that can reach the mainland of the United States. If it does, the isolated Asian nation certainly hasn't offered any proof in spite of several attempts.
Even back in 2003, CIA Director George Tenet testified to Congress that the Taepodong-2 missile could hit the U.S. West Coast. But the potential has not translated into technical success.
By Jill Dougherty, reporting from Aspen, Colorado
Former Ambassador Christopher Hill doesn't always keep his eye on wedding announcements, but the former U.S Ambassador to South Korea and former head of the U.S. delegation to the Six Party Talks on North Korea's nuclear program is closely following the news that the young North Korean leader, Kim Jong Un, is married.
I spoke with Hill as he took a break between sessions at the Aspen Security Forum. After years of dealing with North Korea, Hill often uses words like "weird," "odd," and even "hideous." But in trying to understand Pyonyang, he says, the U.S. should be coldly objective.
"As hideous as that system looks to us," Hill says, "we need to keep our analytical tools at hand and not just react to the situation emotionally but try to think through and think where this is taking them." FULL POST
By Jamie Crawford
North Korea's sudden dismissal of Ri Yong Ho from his post as army chief and from all his government posts caught many watchers of the secretive regime of Kim Jong Un by surprise and wondering what was going on.
"To me, it's just another sign of how this transition is quite unstable, and we think it's six months since Kim Jong Il died, and we think everything is normal in North Korea - clearly it's not normal," said Victor Cha, an analyst with the Center for Strategic and International Studies and author of a new book on the Kim regime.
For Cha, who traveled to Pyongyang in 2006 as a member of the National Security Council, the announcement signals a transition still in flux. "It's a relative term when you say 'normal' in North Korea, but this is not business as usual, very clearly."
By Adam Levine
New satellite imagery obtained by CNN's Security Clearance shows increased activity at a North Korean nuclear facility.
The imagery, provided to Security Clearance by GeoEye with analysis by Allision Pucionni at IHS Jane's, shows the extent of construction at the Yongbyon light water reactor since construction resumed this spring on the facility.
The satellite snapshot from June 24 shows components have been added to the reactor building, including across the open roof, according to Puccioni, a senior imagery analyst at IHS Jane's. A "traveling crane" can be seen and is believed to have been added in April.
By Paula Hancocks
The Pentagon has announced a replacement for the U.S. General in charge of Special Operations in Korea a week after controversy broke over comments he made on North Korea.
Brigadier General Neil Tolley was reported as saying U.S. and South Korean troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities. Tolley admitted he was not misquoted at a conference in Florida last month, rather he misspoke.
Jennifer Buschick, spokesperson for U.S. Forces Korea tells CNN, “This is a routine announcement that has been in the works for months” and Tolley’s replacement “has no connection to current events.”
By Paula Hancocks
A U.S. general in Korea who reportedly said that American troops parachute into North Korea to spy has admitted he was not misquoted in the speech – but that he misspoke.
Brigadier General Neil Tolley, commander of special forces in South Korea, made the comments during a speech at a conference in Florida last week. The Diplomat, a magazine based in Japan, quoted Tolley as saying in the speech that U.S. troops parachute into North Korea to spy on underground military facilities.
Amidst the ensuing controversy, the Pentagon accused the reporter of the piece, David Axe, of misreporting the speech.
By Jennifer Rizzo
New satellite images show that North Korea is building a rocket launch pad and assembly center with similarities to a facility in Iran, according to an analysis by the defense publication IHS Jane's.
New construction at Tonghae, a facility on the country's eastern coast that was previously referred to as Musudan-ri, appears in satellite images taken by GeoEye in April.
Jane's calls the construction "major" and says it appears to include work on a launch pad or engine test stand. While construction is in its early stages, some components, including fuel housings, are similar to those at the Semnan Space Center in Iran, according to Jane's.
This is the same site of failed satellite and missile launch attempts in 2006 and 2009. The recent April 13 satellite launch that ended in failure took place at the newer and larger Sohae Satellite Launch Station on North Korea's west coast.
A new building is also being constructed in a small village at the center of the Tonghae site, Jane's says. Analysis of the size and layout of the building by Jane's suggests it will be a horizontal assembly and checkout facility for rockets. This building is also similar to the recently completed rocket assembly and checkout facility at Semnan in Iran.
By Jennifer Rizzo
Activity is ramping up at North Korea's nuclear test site, a sign that the country is preparing for a test, according to analysis of new satellite images by the defense publication IHS Janes.
Mining carts and excavation equipment at Punggye-ri's tunneling area can be seen in satellite images taken by Digital Globe and GeoEye in the past month.
Earth and debris are being removed from the tunnel in the largest quantities seen so far, according to the Janes assesment.
An image from mid-April shows a full mining train, including an engine and several carts, outside of the tunnel.
And a more recent shot on May 9 reveals new road networks at the site along with carts and a vehicle at the facility.
The U.S. has seen no significant signs that North Korea is readying a nuclear test, a senior military official said, responding to questions about a Reuters report from Beijing that the reclusive regime has "almost completed" preparations for a third nuclear test, citing a "senior source with close ties to Pyongyang and Beijing."
U.S. officials said it would not be surprising should North Korea go ahead with a test, given its history of following missile tests with other provocative actions. However, a senior U.S. military official told CNN's Mike Mount that the U.S. has "seen no overt indications that there is any movement afoot do" a nuclear test.
While reports of nuclear test preparations could not be confirmed, North Korea’s “trash talking” to the South points to the possibility, a senior administration official told CNN's Jill Dougherty.