Kim Jong Un with North Korean officials in Pyongyang, September 2017.
KCNA / Reuters

As U.S. President Donald Trump and North Korean Supreme Leader Kim Jong Un prepare for the first ever summit between the heads of their respective countries, it appears that, at least for now, the brinkmanship and threats we have seen in the recent past are at an end. Regardless of the fate of the summit, however, the United States and its allies will be forced to deal with North Korea’s weapons programs, which now threaten not only U.S. allies such as South Korea and Japan but potentially the continental United States itself. 

International attention in recent years has understandably centered on Pyongyang’s advances in nuclear weapons technology and the question of whether North Korea can be convinced to denuclearize. This focus, however, has tended to obscure the fact that North Korea’s military development serves two purposes. The first is the ability to intimidate and threaten

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