Middlebury Institute of International Studies at Monterey

Institute Expert in NY Times: Face Facts on North Korea

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Jeffrey Lewis on CBS

The New York Times published an op-ed piece by Dr. Jeffrey Lewis urging realism regarding North Korea’s nuclear weapons capabilities. The image above is taken from Lewis’ July 28 appearance on the CBS Evening News.

August 3, 2017

“The reality is that the United States is now vulnerable to North Korea’s nuclear-armed missiles — and has no choice but to live with that reality,” writes the Middlebury Institute’s Dr. Jeffrey Lewis in an August 3 New York Times op-ed piece. Lewis—director of the East Asia Nonproliferation Program at the Institute’s James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) and an adjunct professor in the Institute’s Master of Arts in Nonproliferation and Terrorism Studies program—is one of the most widely respected and quoted civilian experts on North Korea’s nuclear program in the United States.

Lewis’ essay traces the history of North Korea’s drive to acquire an intercontinental nuclear weapons capability while comparing the at-times shocked U.S. reactions to a similar situation decades ago. “It seems impossible to imagine the most impoverished, backward communist regime in Asia, run by a madman and recovering from a crippling famine, should set out to build a long-range missile that could deliver a nuclear weapon all the way to the United States,” writes Lewis. “And yet Mao Zedong’s China did it.”

As Lewis points out, North Korea’s leaders have never been coy about their nuclear ambitions. “Over the past few years, North Korea has made every possible effort to indicate that, like Mao’s China, it was committed to developing a nuclear-armed intercontinental range ballistic missile… It showed off new types of intercontinental ballistic missiles in parades in 2012, 2013 and 2015. In March 2013, North Korean state media released pictures of Mr. Kim approving a nuclear targeting plan, illustrated with a graphic of the United States titled ‘Mainland Strike Plan.’”

Lewis and his colleagues study every aspect of the Kim regime’s nuclear program using publicly available data, images and video to decipher clues about the program’s progress. Lewis, Melissa Hanham, David Schmerler, Shea Cotton, Andrea Berger, Masako Toki, and Joshua Pollack, among others, have been quoted in recent months in national and international media coverage of North Korea’s nuclear advances.

Here is an abbreviated list of major stories on North Korea quoting Institute experts in the past week:

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