Is the United States Really Blowing Up North Korea’s Missiles?

April 27, 2017
Jeffrey Lewis

This article originally appeared in Foreign Policy on April 19, 2017.

North Korean rocket launch, KCNA

The Trump administration has completed a policy review of how to manage the growing nuclear threat from North Korea. The new policy — massive pressure and engagement — is a tepid serving of leftovers from the Barack Obama, George W. Bush, and Bill Clinton administrations. I actually created a quiz of similar statements from all four administrations — and then when I looked at it a day later, I failed it.

As so often happens when reality disappoints, people turn to rumor and fantasy. And so, disappointed with the reality that Donald Trump faces the same lousy options on North Korea that hamstrung all his predecessors, the new Washington bedtime story is that the United States is secretly hacking North Korean missile launches.


North Korea’s missile launches aren’t failing because we are hacking them; they are failing because Pyongyang is developing a wide array of new liquid- and solid-fueled ballistic missiles. Many of those systems — especially the new solid-fueled missiles — are working just fine. And North Korean engineers will either figure the others out or learn from their mistakes and move on to more promising designs.

Continue to read in Foreign Policy.

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