Asan Plenum

North Korea’s announced missile launch has again raised tensions on the Korean Peninsula as well as doubts over the viability of negotiating with Pyongyang. The launch places the U.S. and its allies in a difficult position ? whether to seek additional punitive measures for North Korea violating UN resolutions or to turn a blind eye so as to maintain a semblance of momentum for the Leap Day Agreement. Pyongyang’s latest provocation takes place amidst three broader trends: the North Korean leadership transition and increased uncertainty over the regime’s policymaking, President Obama’s “Asian Pivot,” and massive cuts to the U.S. defense budget. The Asia Pivot recognizes the importance of Asia yet doesn’t provide any new resources to address growing North Korean and Chinese capabilities and assertiveness. Indeed, the impending $1 trillion in cuts to the U.S. military imperil Washington’s ability to deliver on the soaring rhetoric of the Asia Pivot strategy.