A New Face in Pyongyang

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The recent appointment of Jang Jong Nam as North Korea’s Minister of People’s Armed Forces, replacing veteran Kim Kyok Sik, was a surprise given the short time in office that his predecessor held. In fact, ministers of People’s Armed Forces under Kim Jong-un have only held their position for an average of eight months. Kim Kyok Sik appeared as minister in October 2012 replacing Kim Jong-Kak who had only been in power for a few months after his elevation in April 2012 when he replaced Kim Yong Chun.

Given this rapid turnover of ministers at the People’s Armed Forces, speculation arises about regime stability in North Korea. Does Kim Jong-un have full control of the army? Is he in a fight with the hardliners? Was the “hardliner” Kim Kyok Sik opposed to “reformist” Park Pong Ju’s recent appointment as prime minister?

Such questions are impossible to answer with any certainty. Besides, it is never a good endeavor to place regime elites in categories of “reformist” or “hardliner” as if their interests never change and remain constant. Certainly everybody would support reforms to some degree, it would be more of a question about what is sacrificed or altered to meet objectives such as economic growth or greater industrial output. In any case, when it comes to the regime’s survival, everyone with a vested interest becomes a “hardliner.”

In this respect, more noticeable is the person that Kim Jong-un brought in as his new minister for the People’s Armed Forces. Jang Jong Nam is younger than his predecessors and is relatively unknown. Ministers of the People’s Armed Forces have generally been “elders” of the military who have had a long service history as well as extensive political experience inside the halls of power in Pyongyang. This has often been the case as they are often used as a counterbalance to the other military chiefs. In the 1998, Kim Il Chol was a surprise announcement as Minister of People’s Armed Forces given his naval background, but was considered to be counterweight to military heavyweight Cho Myong Rok.

Jang was a corps commander based outside of Pyongyang with little political experience. Look back to July 2012 and this resembles the appointment of Hyon Yong Chol as Chief of the General Staff following the purge of Ri Yong Ho. Like Jang, Hyun was a regional corps commander with limited experience of life inside the palaces of Pyongyang. Yet there could be more to this. In some ways, we could be seeing a repeat of the appointment of Kim Il Chol who acted as a counterweight. Is Jang’s appointment possibly to counter Hyon Yong Chol’s position and power? This deserves closer attention over the months ahead. It does raise further questions on how Kim Jong-un’s is managing the military.

The military in North Korea is under the control of three different institutions that all report directly to the Supreme Commander but not with each other. Alongside the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces are the General Staff and the General Political Bureau. In a basic sense, the ministry manages logistics, the General Staff oversees military operations, and the General Political Bureau ensures loyalty among the troops. The reality though is that their responsibilities often overlap and each department checks the other’s power.

This system of checks and balances among different institution with direct reporting to the Supreme Commander is the way in which Kim Jong-il managed the country. Lacking any credible military background and facing opposition to his succession, Kim Jong-il had to institute such a system to ensure his regime was “coup-proof.”

Of course this system meant the construction of a close patronage network among figures in the military, personal relationships formed over the years between Kim Jong-il and favored generals. As noted by Ken Gause, the challenge for Kim Jong-il before he died was that this system was not easily transferable to his son who had little time to establish himself. There were two ways in which the regime sought to overcome this difficulty. The first was in establishing a guardianship group to guide Kim Jong-un and ensure loyalty to him among the army. This has been led by Kim Jong-un’s uncle Jang Song Thaek and his aunt Kim Kyong Hui, but includes key figures like Choe Ryong Hae who heads the General Political Bureau. He is a close confidant of Jang Song Thaek who worked with him in the Kim Il-sung Youth League. Crucially, Choe’s family has been a key supporter of the Kim family since its origins. His father Choe Hyun was one of Kim Il-sung’s comrades from their anti-Japanese guerilla days and later helped pave the way for Kim Jong-il’s succession when it faced opposition.

The second element was utilizing the party to support Kim Jong-un. Ken Gause points out that the succession process turned to the party as an institutional foundation for Kim Jong-un to establish his rule. Key to this was the revival of the Party’s Central Military Commission which had largely been inactive during the Kim Jong-il period. It was notable that during the Kim Jong-il period it was barely mentioned in the media, but its meeting was strongly publicized shortly before North Korea conducted its third nuclear test in February 2012. Revival of the Central Military Committee allowed Kim Jong-un direct access to senior military personnel which would facilitate the construction of his patronage network.

And this is what has been emerging over the past year. Kim Jong-un has proceeded to establish his own patronage network by sidelining his father’s favored generals. Along with Hyon Yong Chol’s appointment has been the elevation of another younger army officer Choe Pu Il to Minister of Public Security. With Jang’s promotion, Kim Jong-un may even be creating balance and checks between military chiefs from a similar generation. As it stands, the key positions in the military and security forces are all staffed by persons close to Kim Jong-un or at least dependent upon him.

What does this hold for the future? Kim Kyok Sik has been largely portrayed as a hardliner, possibly due to his involvement in overseeing of the artillery attack on Yeonpyeong Island. As his removal from power follows the appointment of the so-called reformist Pak Pong Ju as prime minister, it could be interpreted as a sign that those long-awaited reforms will be about to take place.

The North Korean regime though is not so clearly divided between doves and hawks, reformists and hardliners. For a start, Jang’s appointment would have been cleared by other so-called hardliners. As the Ministry of People’s Armed Forces is under the direct chain of command from the National Defense Commission (NDC), the highest political body in the country, senior figures in that group, including his predecessors, would have approved Jang’s appointment. This includes military figures like NDC Vice-Chairman Kim Yong Chun, who is rumored to have even made Kim Jong-il blush with his hard-line stance in the past. While we are seeing new blood come into higher positions, it would be still a little premature to see this as a shift to the reformers.

Regardless of whether reforms will be attempted or not, the nuclear issue still overshadows such efforts. Moreover, given Kim Jong-un’s expressed commitments to songun or military-first politics, any reforms would only be half measures. This is not to say that efforts by Kim Jong-un to carry out reforms should be ignored or dismissed, but that they should be taken within the context of the limits of the leadership’s survival. And this is a regime that wants reforms without weakening its total control on political life, not an easy task indeed.


Nuclear Tests and North Korea’s Identity

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When North Korea conducted its third nuclear test on February 12, 2013, it was seen as a response to international sanctions imposed following its satellite launch in December 2012. While most analysis tends to utilize a cost-benefit approach toward North Korea’s decision to conduct a nuclear test, it is also worth considering the domestic reasons behind the decision based upon the regime’s identity and internal politics. In this respect, the test should not be seen as simply a knee-jerk reaction to international sanctions or even as a desperate effort to get the Obama administration back to the negotiating table. The decision to conduct a nuclear test was likely taken when Kim Jong-un came to power and was simply a matter of timing and domestic circumstances.

It is noticeable that the regime considered a nuclear test following the international condemnation of its failed satellite launch in April 2012. There was evidence that preparations were underway at the Punggye test site; however Pyongyang decided in June 2012 that it would not conduct a test for the time being. From a cost-benefit perspective it is possible to see this as the result of diplomatic efforts by China to persuade North Korea not to carry out a nuclear test. In the end though, Pyongyang did go ahead with its third nuclear test despite Beijing’s opposition, showing that Kim Jong-un is following his own path. In fact, there were domestic issues that worked against a nuclear test being carried out in 2012. Firstly, analysis of satellite images shows that the test site itself was flooded in the summer of 2012 which was only cleared out by the autumn. Secondly, the removal of army chief Vice Marshal Ri Young Ho in July 2012 shows that there were significant internal difficulties for Kim Jong-un to take care of before he could order a nuclear test. Even more significant, Kim Jong-un was only named as Marshal of Korea People’s Army in July after the removal of Ri. This announcement was noticeable because this position was assumed by his father Kim Jong-il in 1992 and signified his formal ruling of North Korea as Kim Il-sung took a backseat. Twenty years later, it again symbolizes Kim Jong-un’s formal ruling of North Korea.

The importance of nuclear weapons for North Korea becomes clear when considering the kind of regime that Kim Jong-un has inherited, one whose national identity conception is “oppositional nationalist.” Jacques Hymans has outlined the way in which the regime can be labeled as “oppositional nationalist” and how this explains Pyongyang’s decision to go nuclear. In his article, Hymans details that the regime has two main national identity characteristics; fear and pride. The fear leads them to seek markers of security, while pride results in markers to establish autonomy and power. Hymans explains that “The bomb is a symbol of the nation’s unlimited potential, of its scientific, technical, and organizational prowess, and also of its tenacity in the face of strong international condemnation. Moreover, not only do fear and pride increase the perceived value of nuclear weapons, they also short-circuit the normal processes of reasoned deliberation that even oppositional nationalist leaders often use to make decisions, and in doing so they propel the leader to act precipitously.”

Given this description of the regime, it is possible to look at North Korea’s decision to conduct its third nuclear test, and arguably of its previous tests, as being based on deep-seated psychological desires rather than as part of negotiating ploy with the United States. That is to say Kim Jong-un has long considered the need to conduct a nuclear test since his ascension to power in December 2011 based on the need to maintain his father’s legacy.

This point is further reinforced when considering that in late May 2012, North Korea amended the preamble of its constitution; the part that outlines the achievements of the state to include nuclear weapon. While this may only be the preamble, it does constitute what the regime regards as its national identity by setting out the official legacy of the past leaders; Kim Il-sung as the founder and Kim Jong-il as the sustainer. Among Kim Jong-il’s legacy are Songun (military-first politics) and the development of nuclear weapons. This was a signal that North Korea would likely conduct a nuclear test in order to display the achievements of Kim Jong-il and the enduring legacy of Songun. Nuclear test in the future will again be used as markers of its security and sovereignty as well as a symbol of the everlasting achievements of Kim Jong-un.

Does South Korea Want Nuclear Weapons?

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In the wake of North Korea’s third nuclear test on February 12, 2013, voices emerged again in Seoul calling for the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula and even demanding that South Korea arm itself with nuclear weapons. Fortunately, the governments of both countries have dismissed such possibilities, although this has not dampened the calls from those who argue in favor of the nuclear card. And they can turn to the opinion polls to backup their calls. For example, a recent public opinion survey conducted by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies in Seoul reveals the degree of support among South Koreans for nuclear weapons. Although the survey was taken shortly after the third nuclear test and showed 66.5% in support of a domestic nuclear weapons program, this number has remained unchanged since September 2012.

Some may wish to interpret this support for nuclear weapons as reflecting concerns among the people in South Korea about the commitment of the United States to defend against North Korea. They may believe that South Koreans are questioning the resolve of the United States and point to the budgetary issues that Washington faces, particularly in regard to sequestering. Others have even gone as far as to suggest that if North Korea can launch nuclear weapons against the United States, the nuclear umbrella will be broken.

Given this situation, the Obama administration has reacted in two main ways to reassure South Korea. One has been to make visible demonstrations of the extended nuclear deterrence and the second has been to express clearly that it will defend South Korea regardless of budgetary restraints. Whether this will be enough to reduce calls in South Korea for nuclear weapons is hard to say. Does this support for nuclear weapons reflect am emerging divide between reassurance and deterrence on the Korean Peninsula?

It is important to consider the definitions of deterrence and reassurance which Michael Howard provides in his article on how this issue affected Western Europe during the Cold War. “The object of deterrence is to persuade an adversary that the costs of seeking a military solution to his political problems will far outweigh the benefits. The object of reassurance is to persuade one’s own people, and those of one’s allies, that the benefits of military action, or preparation for it, will outweigh the costs.” Given this definition, one may begin to understand why some believe that U.S. extended deterrence is not working and hence the questions of commitment. North Korea has not been deterred from carrying out nuclear tests or from carrying out provocations. Following this logic, some may believe that either the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula or even South Korea’s own pursuit of nuclear weapons would begin to make North Korea reconsider the costs of its actions. This has been the argument of many conservative critics in South Korea.

Such actions though would not be possible in the current international environment and would be detrimental to the notion of reassurance that the nuclear option will outweigh the costs. The pursuit of nuclear weapons in South Korea would incur serious costs, such as weakening of its alliance with the United States. The redeployment of nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula would damage relations with China and potentially invoke counteractions by Beijing. Both would play into North Korean fears that the United States is planning a nuclear war against it. Besides, there are no tactical nuclear weapons that can be realistically deployed. Nor is there any need for them given the security situation on the Korean Peninsula. Both these facts were recognized by the Obama administration which in the 2010 Nuclear Posture Review downplayed the use of tactical nuclear weapons believing that its strategic nuclear arsenal and conventional forces are sufficient.

It would be more accurate to suggest that public support for nuclear weapons likely reflects a sense of frustration with North Korea. Again looking at the Asan public opinion survey on support for nuclear weapons, it shows that a more noticeable change came between 2010 and 2011 when those in favor jumped from 56% to 63%. This would seem to suggest that North Korea’s provocations in 2010 had some impact on the support for nuclear weapons in South Korea. Furthermore, these numbers should be understood within the context of other domestic issues and priorities. Consider that in the same Asan public opinion survey, inter-Korea relations are one of the least important issues on the national agenda. This would make it difficult to translate this support into a genuine national desire for nuclear weapons. People are more concerned with job creation and economic democratization than investing national wealth into the pursuit of nuclear weapons.

It has to also be questioned whether those who advocate the nuclear option understand the dynamics involved. There does exist a misunderstanding of extended deterrence in terms of the need for tactical nuclear weapons to be deployed to the Korean Peninsula. Jeffrey Lewis pointed out similar misunderstandings when he dissected a Joongang Daily article that claimed U.S. nuclear weapons would be kept behind in South Korea after Key Resolve/Foal Eagle. The article mistakenly believed that U.S. warships are armed with nuclear weapons and will be operating in South Korean waters to deter North Korea. Apart from the fact that the U.S. Navy just recently retired from service its tactical nuclear weapons, the article reflects the belief that nuclear weapons must be kept close to South Korea in order to counter the North Korean nuclear threat. In any potential war scenario, nuclear weapons do not need to be kept on or close to the Korean Peninsula. The only reason that tactical nuclear weapons were kept in South Korea during the Cold War was to stop a massive land invasion from North Korea. But as ROK-U.S. conventional capabilities are sufficient and overwhelming enough to halt a conventional attack, the need for tactical nuclear weapons to be kept in South Korea has diminished.

Still, Washington felt the need to publically demonstrate its extended deterrence capability in an effort to quell any doubts. This came in the form of U.S. Air Force B-52H and B-2A bombers, which participated in mock bomb-runs over the Korean Peninsula as part of the recent Key Resolve/Foal Eagle exercises. Although this was not the first time that such aircrafts were involved in U.S.-ROK joint military exercises, the United States did make a particular point of showcasing their participation. This was widely seen as sending a message to North Korea, but it was arguably more directed at South Korea as a gesture of reassurance. Will such public displays of force push back the calls for nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula? Not so much. As long as the nuclear question remains unresolved, the voices in favor of nuclear weapons for South Korea will continue to sound. It is important to keep in mind the context in which these voices sound.


Is Kim Jong-un a Rational Actor? Overcoming the Legacy of Songun

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Over the past week, North Korea has significantly increased the pressure on South Korean and the United States through threatening statements and actions. In particular, the international media expressed concern about war breaking out following the March 30 official statement which stated that “north-south relations will be put at the state of war and all the issues arousing between the north and the south will be dealt with according to the wartime regulations.” This statement, however, was a little misleading as the situation on the Korean Peninsula is technically in a state of war. Maybe it would be more accurate to say that Pyongyang was trying to articulate its perception that inter-Korean relations are now back to how they were at the end of the Korean War. For North Korea, the past ten years of cooperation and engagement was a period of “peace,” which it now considers over.

Along with other official statements by North Korea that talk of the Korean Peninsula being on the verge of nuclear war, it is difficult to see where all these threats and tough words are heading to. Does Kim Jong-un have an endgame or “exit” strategy for this current round of tensions?

There was a lot more optimism a year ago. At that time, Kim Jong-un began to exhibit a different leadership style from his father. This was apparent when the younger Kim gave an unprecedented public speech at the commemoration of Kim Il-sung’s centenary on April 15, 2012. Along with visits to theme parks and music concerts where Disney characters made a cameo, it became clear that Kim Jong-un was a more engaging and charismatic leader. By contrast, Kim Jong-il only spoke a few words in public and preferred to keep a lower profile. Some analysts began to see the potential for change in North Korea based on Kim Jong-un’s unique leadership-style and apparent focus on reviving the economy, possibly even at the expense of his father’s legacy; Songun or military-first politics.

However, the younger Kim’s approach to foreign affairs and national security has shown that Songun is very much alive. His policies to the United States and South Korea have also revealed much about some of the domestic challenges he faces and that seem to be driving his decisions now. In the past, Kim Jong-il would increase tensions, back down, and then pursue what South Korean scholars refer to as a “peace offensive.” Consider what happened in early 2009. North Korea conducts its satellite launch, the international community responds with UN sanctions, and a nuclear test is conducted in response. Former U.S. President Bill Clinton makes a private visit to free two hostages which is portrayed in North Korea as a political victory, they back down and the “peace offensive” begins. There was an apparent rationality to Kim Jong-il’s approach to the outside world. In this context, can Kim Jong-un be considered as a rational actor? Before answering that directly, consider the following three difficulties Kim Jong-un faces.

First, Kim Jong-un has yet to establish his own political slogan representing his legacy. He has inherited two legacies or narratives of North Korea that his politics must link with. The first is Kim Il-sung’s Juche which is the narrative of how Korea secured it independence and the state was established. The second is Songun which is how this achievement was secured amid a negative external environment following the collapse of the Soviet Union and the emergence of a unipolar world order under U.S. leadership. Deriving his legitimacy from the Mt. Paektu bloodline, Kim Jong-un must develop his own legacy within this framework. This will naturally take time. Until then he will find himself completely constrained by his father’s Songun politics which does not offer him any exit strategy from the country’s current difficulties. Given that Kim Jong-un has already enshrined his father’s legacy and its achievements in the constitution, which includes the development nuclear weapons, he cannot just simply discard Songun.

Second, Kim Jong-un faces difficulties within his regime. Recent rumors in South Korea have speculated that there was an assassination attempt against Kim Jong-un in the summer of 2012 and that this accounts for his current tough policies. While the rumors were based on one unnamed source, the dismissal last summer of Ri Yong-ho who was chief of the army was a significant event that still has not been fully explained. Some have pointed to the fact that he was in conflict with Choe Ryong Hae, the political chief of the military. Such conflict and competition among senior figures within the regime is of concern. The abrupt dismissal of Ri Yong-ho showed that there are very few people in Pyongyang who are safe in their jobs. Living under such pressure, few would be willing to propose engagement policies that could be easily attacked as deviating from Songun politics.

Third, related to this first point and reflecting the difficulties in the second point, is that without an established policy by Kim Jong-un there is nothing for elites within the regime to take lead from. Currently, these elites can only operate within the confines of Juche and Songun and Kim Jong-un is final arbitrator as to whether these policies are correct within the context. It’s difficult for senior figure within the Ministry of Foreign Affairs to suggest opening up dialogue with South Korea when most people would interpret that as going against the fundamental principles of Songun. Added to this difficulty is the fact that Kim Jong-un has to show that he can be a strong wartime commander among any potential skeptics within the regime or even populace as a whole. As Aidan Foster-Carter said, “Young, untried and by some accounts hot-headed, like a new Mafia boss succeeding his father, he may feel he has to show all concerned-his own team, as well as his many foes-that he is a tough guy, no pushover.”

To answer the main question, is Kim Jong-un a rational actor, it can be said that he is a rational actor within the limits of the North Korean regime. Until we see him push forward his own politics, and one that is more focused on reviving the economy, there will always be half-hearted measures for economic development interrupted by the latest confrontation with the outside world. One silver-lining to this dark cloud is the fact that the emphasis on developing light industries is still there. It is interesting to note that throughout March 2012, the only non-military appearance by Kim Jong-un was at the Light Industry Workers National Meeting on March 18. A radical change is possible, but it is difficult to see how it will happen now. Kim Jong-un’s New Year Address for 2013 should have be a sign that this year would follow along the Songun path when he stated “‘Let us bring about a radical turn in the building of an economic giant with the same spirit and mettle as were displayed in conquering space!’ — this is the fighting slogan our Party and people should uphold this year.” Maybe we will have to wait for the next New Year’s Address for signs that he will established his own politics.

ROK-U.S. Military Exercises: The View From Pyongyang


The Foal Eagle/Key Resolve joint military exercises held by the United States and South Korea kicked off on 11 March, 2013 amid strong threatening statements issued by North Korea. Since 1976 these exercises have been held annually with the aim of enhancing the ROK-U.S. alliance’s war plans, particularly in the complicated logistical aspects of bringing in troops from outside the Korean Peninsula. North Korea views Foal Eagle/Key Resolve as particularly threatening and makes regular statements protesting the staging of such exercises. Coming after tensions following North Korea’s third nuclear test, Pyongyang’s reaction to the current exercises has been particularly tough. Notably on March 5, 2013, the Korean People’s Army Supreme Command announced that it would nullify the armistice agreement that has stood in place of a peace treaty since the end of the Korean War. Although the statement was timed with the passage of UN Resolution 2094 that placed further sanctions against North Korea for its third nuclear test, the announcement cited the planned joint military exercises as one of the main factors for its decision. This was made clear in the statement which stated, “The Supreme Command of the KPA will completely declare invalid the AA, which has existed for form’s sake from March 11, the day when the war maneuvers will enter into a full-dress stage.” Does this represent a new-level of threats to?

Previous research by Vito D’Orazio on North Korea’s responses to ROK-U.S. military exercises has shown that Pyongyang does not systemically increase its threatening rhetoric or behavior during joint military exercises. This was is mainly due to the fact that North Korea regularly issues threats all year round, not just in response to military exercises. In fact, looking at North Korea’s response to the Foal Eagle/Key Resolve exercises since 2008, the year the exercises were configured in this current format, shows a familiar pattern. First there is a strong statement issued by the KPA, then the Ministry of Foreign Affairs makes its own statement on “war or dialogue,” and finally the Committee for the Peaceful Reunification of Korea releases its own commentary lashing out at South Korea and the United States. Even the threat to nullify the armistice agreement is not new. For example in 2003 around the height of tensions with United States over its nuclear program, Pyongyang made a similar threat just before joint military exercises were to be held.

Given this repeated behavior, what is different this time? While some of the threats issues have been made before, the way in which they were delivered was different. The statement by the KPA Supreme Command to nullify the armistice agreement was a televised address made by General Kim Yong Chol who is chief of the General Reconnaissance Bureau, an organization tasked with conducting operations against South Korea. Given that General Kim is widely believed to be behind the sinking of the Cheonan and the attack on Yeonpyeong Island, it was symbolic that he delivered the speech. By having somebody responsible for carrying out operations against South Korea, Pyongyang intended to signal that future provocations would not be limited to the disputed Northern Limit Line in the West Sea, but could happen anywhere of its choosing.

However, what is more important is what this tells us about how the North Korean leadership perceives of the current international environment. Given the passage of UN Resolutions 2087 and 2094, it is important to think about the North Korean leadership’s perceptions of the current Foal Eagle/Key Resolve. In this regard, we should consider the example of how the Soviet Union perceived of the Able Archer exercise held by NATO in 1983 which is covered well by David E. Hoffman. What was a high-level command exercise was perceived by Moscow as a ruse to nuclear first strike against it. At the time, the Soviet leadership believed that the United States would launch a first strike under the cover of a military exercise. This was mainly due to the fact that Soviet military plans for a first strike followed similar thinking. The realistic nature and high-level nature of the exercise was perceived by the Soviets as the prelude to a nuclear first strike. Fortunately, Moscow did not overreact but it shows the dangers of misperceptions.

Looking at North Korea today, it is possible that such similar perceptions and fears of the current joint military exercises could be manifesting themselves through the threats seen in recent official statements. Again referring to the March 5 statement to nullify the armistice agreement, North Korea expresses grave fears, “unlike last year the current joint military exercises will be participated in by super-large nuclear-powered carrier task force carrying at least 100 nuclear warheads, B-52H strategic bombers and other means of the U.S. imperialist aggression forces for making ground, sea and air nuclear strikes.”

While it may be a stretch to say that North Korea perceives of the current exercises as a cover for a nuclear strike, it is still important to carefully understand more about how they interpret the staging of joint military exercises. The case of how the Soviet Union misinterpreted the Able Archer exercises in 1983 shows how a paranoid and inward-looking regime can easily misread the signals. Peter Hayes has talked about how the deployment of B-52Hs for the current joint military exercises has a significant psychological impact upon the regime. While B-52Hs have important conventional as well nuclear roles, it is crucial to understand how publicizing their involvement in the joint military exercises is interpreted in North Korea. Given the dangers of misinterpretation and miscalculation, thought should be given to the kind of message that is trying to be relayed to Pyongyang.