Northeast Asia

  • Can Xi’s Visit to North Korea Facilitate US-China Trade Talks?

    Chinese President Xi Jinping’s first state visit to North Korea this week will underscore Beijing’s clout in Pyongyang and, by doing so, Xi may be looking to re-energize a US effort to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula and gain leverage in stalled US-China trade negotiations.

    “President Xi recognizes that closer relations with North Korea’s leader will give China additional leverage in its ongoing [trade] dispute with the United States,” said Jamie Metzl, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security.


    Read More
  • Holly Dagres interviewed in BBC Newsroom: Could Iran-Japan talks lead to a Trump summit?


    Read More
  • Barbara Slavin quoted in Think Progress: Japanese PM’s visit to Iran might cool tensions between Tehran and Washington


    Read More
  • Japan’s Historic Opportunity to Play Peacemaker Between the US and Iran

    Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe will finally make a trip to Iran on June 12. Since becoming prime minister at the end of 2012, every time Abe attempted to visit Tehran, the idea was eventually withdrawn mainly due to US disapproval, according to rumors. 

    However, Prime Minister Abe has met Iranian President Hassan Rouhani seven times already, not only in New York on the sideline of the UN General Assembly every year since 2013, but also at the sixtieth annual Asia-Africa Conference in Indonesia during 2015. The Tehran visit will be the eighth meeting between Abe and Rouhani. It will be the first visit by a Japanese prime minister since 1978. (However, it will be Abe’s second visit to Iran since he accompanied his father, then Foreign Minister Shintaro Abe, in 1983.)

    Read More
  • Coherent US Strategy Seen Key to Effective Sanctions

    As Washington looks to punish Moscow for its invasion of Ukraine, support for Bashar al-Assad in Syria, and interference in the 2016 US elections, economic sanctions can be a useful tool, but they must fit into a coherent US strategy in order to be effective, Atlantic Council experts told US lawmakers on May 15.

    “Sanctions can be a useful, precise, and effective tool of US foreign policy, so long as they are treated as a tool to implement a clear policy and a thought-out strategy,” David Mortlock, a nonresident senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Global Energy Center explained.


    Read More
  • Policing Terror Finance in an Era of Great Competition

    The United States' sanctions strategy is increasingly burdened by the involvement of systemically important financial institutions and sovereign investors in global financial statecraft. In the post-9/11 world, Washington’s strategy was highly effective in pursuing non-state actors like al-Qaeda or ISIS, as well as small, rogue nations like Iran. Yet in addressing larger sovereigns like the Kremlin, US strategy has struggled to maintain the same effectiveness given the cross-border financial connections linking these entities to Western markets. As an era of great power competition among Washington, Moscow, and Beijing sets in, these foes will crowd out smaller, non-state actors, thus demanding an adequate response from the Treasury.


    Read More
  • US-Japan Trade Negotiations: A Narrow Scope is Key to Success

    US Trade Representative Robert Lighthizer and Japanese Economic Revitalization Minister Toshimitsu Motegi kicked off long-awaited trade negotiations between the United States and Japan in Washington this week. While both sides have agreed to accelerate the talks, their scope is unclear.


    Japan wants to focus on tariffs on industrial and agricultural goods, referring to the possible outcome as a Trade Agreement on Goods (TAG), but the United States insists on a comprehensive free trade agreement (FTA) negotiation—encompassing goods, services, investment, and anti-currency manipulation.

    Beyond these differences in scope, there are important divergences on substantive matters, not the least of which is Japan’s preference for a free trade framework as opposed to the United States’ managed-trade approach. As a consequence, the talks could make speedy progress if narrowly focused, but could drag on if Washington insists on a comprehensive agenda.


    Read More
  • Iran-North Korea Relationship Reflects Failed US Policies

    Before he was Iran’s Supreme Leader, then-President Ayatollah Ali Khamenei visited North Korea in 1989—a trip that included a ride on the Pyongyang subway and a motorcade ride past throngs of cheering North Koreans. It was intended to send a strong message: North Korea and Iran, driven by mutual enmity toward the United States, were becoming close friends.

    “Among the reasons why Iran is close to Korea is the USA’s enmity toward both our countries,” Khamenei said. “If big countries threaten progressive countries, then progressive countries should threaten them in turn... You have proved in Korea that you have the power to confront America.”

    Read More
  • Trump's Reversal of North Korea Sanctions Sends a Dangerous Signal

    US President Donald J. Trump’s stunning decision to reverse Treasury sanctions on North Korea because he “likes” Kim Jong-un sends a troubling message to the United States’ friends and foes.

    “Hard to believe, but the president is undercutting his own policy of maximum pressure/maximum diplomacy, which was arguable sound, in favor, it seems, of an obsequious gesture,” said Daniel Fried, a distinguished senior fellow in the Atlantic Council’s Future Europe Initiative and Eurasia Center who as the State Department’s coordinator for sanctions policy crafted US sanctions against Russia, the largest US sanctions program to date, and negotiated the imposition of similar sanctions by Europe, Canada, Japan, and Australia. 


    Read More
  • COhen in Forbes: North Korea Illegally Trades Oil, Coal, With China's Help


    Read More