Leafleting in North Korea
Written by Jee Abbey Lee on June 25, 2020

Marking the 70th anniversary of the Korean War, this report explains the practice of leafleting -- focusing on why it is such a big point of contention for North Korea. Private leaflets coming from the South Korea side of the border are seen as a demoralising insult for Pyongyang. When the North Korean public is exposed to detailed or even inflated information about the Kim family, it may lead to questioning the nature of its leadership -- a de facto theocracy.

Ethics in open source imagery analysis
Written by Melissa Hanham, Jaewoo Shin on May 22, 2020

The increased availability and lower cost of satellite imagery has made it accessible to civil society in recent years. While universities, think tanks, and nongovernmental organizations are racing ahead to incorporate this form of open-source intelligence (OSINT) into their regular research work, there are a number of unexamined areas that our team at the Open Nuclear Network (ONN) wanted to explore. Are open-source analysts facing ethical dilemmas? If they are, how are they resolved? What resources exist to support them to make such decisions?

The Stanley Center partnered with Open Nuclear Network as a leader in the geospatial and open-source analysis communities to explore how ethics could help govern open-source intelligence and safely extend the critical contributions it makes to creating a safer world. This article provides an overview of our joint work and the ongoing work ONN is doing to address ethical pitfalls in working with open-source information.

North Korea’s KN-23 and KN-24 Short-Range Ballistic Missiles
Written by Tianran Xu, Jaewoo Shin on April 24, 2020

Since May 2019, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) has repeatedly tested two new solid-fuel short-range ballistic missiles (SRBM). Unlike liquid SRBMs such as the SCUD-B/C, the KN-23 and KN-24 missile systems have different designs, means of transportation, and launch methods. However, they have largely overlapping performance and utility. In theory, the longer range KN-23, which appeared earlier than KN-24, should have eliminated the need for the latter. The authors examine English and Korean texts about the two systems’ launch activities from the North’s state-owned Korean Central News Agency (KCNA) to look for particularities that could explain this parallel development.

Ethical Decision Making with Geospatial and Open Source Analysis
Written by Open Nuclear Network & Stanley Center on March 17, 2020

Researchers and analysts working outside of governments are now able to make remarkable contributions to international security using publicly available satellite imagery. While the open source community has a growing toolbox of technical skills, analysts often lack guidance or a support network when they come across ethical dilemmas. Open Nuclear Network & the Stanley Center convened some of the world's top open source analysts to address these issues.

ICBM North Korea Analysis
Written by Melissa Hanham on November 15, 2019

While there is insufficient evidence to prove that North Korea is pursuing countermeasures or penetration aids (penaids), the lack of evidence certainly does not prove that they are not. The technology behind producing penaids — or still more dangerous — multiple independent reentry vehicles (MIRVs) is difficult, but not more difficult than what North Korea has already accomplished.

Not only does much of the technology date back decades, but North Korea has already proven that it can use cutting-edge design, modeling, and testing practices as seen in their nuclear and missile programs to date. Since every state that preceded them has investigated countermeasures, it is likely that North Korea is as well. In the near term, it is likely that North Korea will pursue simple decoys, which are light and relatively cheap. However, in the long-term North Korea will continue to miniaturize warheads in order to place multiple nuclear warheads on a single intercontinental ballistic missile capable of striking the US mainland.

North Korea's Approach to Countering Ballistic Missile Defence
Written by Melissa Hanham on November 15, 2019

This article provides an overview of North Korea’s approach towards countering US and allied ballistic missile defence. It explains the integral role the two tested Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles, the Hwasong-14 and Hwasong-15, play for North Korea’s capability for delivering a nuclear weapon to the US mainland, as well as how ballistic missile defense is set up to detect and intercept incoming threats.

North Korea's Intercontinental Ballistic Missiles & Countermeasures
Written by Melissa Hanham on November 15, 2019

This article provides an overview of how states with intercontinental ballistic missile capabilities have considered countermeasures to ballistic missile defence (BMD) systems. Generally, states counter ballistic missile defence  by increasing the number of missiles they produce, developing countermeasures and penetration aides such as decoys or chaff — which confuse BMD sensors, or increasing the number of warheads in each missile’s payload.

States also increase survivability of their land-based missiles by making them road-mobile, hiding evidence of an imminent launch, and reducing the time it takes to launch a missile to avoid preemptive strikes or other “left of launch” strategies. Still more advanced, states may seek to maneuver a warhead or launch missiles at a depressed trajectory difficult for ground-based radar to capture. North Korea is no exception.