Key Points

The United States should continue to shine a spotlight on Taiwan’s response to the pandemic and support Taiwan against China’s efforts to suppress its voice. To counter China’s false narratives and influence, the United States should coordinate with its other democratic allies in both Asia and Europe to bring Taiwan onto the global diplomatic stage as a key actor. 

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Imposing and enforcing these financial penalties will allow Washington not only to signal Pyongyang’s malicious activities will not be tolerated, but also to stifle funding of Pyongyang’s cyber army.

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All of these scenarios demand that policy makers, strategists, and military planners be on guard for indicators of North Korean instability. They must prepare for the very real possibility that contingency plans may have to be executed by the alliance. The ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command in particular must now review contingency plans for the full range of threats.

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Furthermore, Pyongyang’s latest weapons test should remind Washington and Seoul’s respective leaderships that the North Korean threat persists and grows. Although both governments currently confront domestic challenges due to the coronavirus pandemic, the United States and South Korea should continue to the best of their ability to manage, strengthen, and ultimately restore their alliance as the critical lynchpin deterring North Korean aggression.

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Yet there is a potential short-term solution. Both governments could immediately agree to suspend negotiations and keep the current SMA in force at the current funding level for the next two years. This would preserve stability within the alliance, allow both governments to deal with the coronavirus crisis, and return to the negotiating table at an appropriate time. Most importantly, the ROK-U.S. military alliance would maintain readiness to address the full spectrum of potential threats posed by the North, including war, provocations, and instability resulting from the coronavirus crisis.

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EVENT: Maximum Pressure 2.0: A Plan for North Korea

December 13, 2019 | 12:00

EVENT: Instruments of American Power: Implementing Foreign Policies and Protecting Against Global Threats

October 10, 2019 | 12:00