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World Affairs Council of Greater Houston | North Korea: Summit & Prospects for Denuclearizati

July 12

On June 12th , President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un met in a historic summit in Singapore. In the past 30 years, North Korea has signed treaties and made various promises regarding denuclearization, while continuing to strengthen and expand its nuclear program. Only last year, North Korea detonated a nuclear weapon that was about 15 times more powerful than the bomb dropped on Hiroshima and launched an intercontinental ballistic missile it claims can reach the "whole" U.S. mainland. 

Besides reducing the recently heightened tensions between the U.S. and North Korea, what was actually discussed and more importantly agreed to by both sides at the summit? Are U.S. and North Korean understandings of ‘denuclearization’ dramatically different? And if North Korea is to truly denuclearize, what will be the process, the potential timeline and the steps necessary for true verification?

Before joining the University of Houston, Zachary ZwaldPh.D. was an Assistant Professor jointly appointed in the U.S. Air War College and the USAF Center for Unconventional Weapons Studies.  He has also served as the Stanton Foundation Nuclear Security Junior Faculty Fellow at MIT. Zwald has presented his research on judgment- and decision-making regarding technology and international security to agencies throughout the U.S. government.

His current book project, Constructing Military Power, provides the first systematic analysis of how policymakers—military officers, government officials, and scientific experts—arrive at judgments and decision preferences  on candidate military technology, including U.S. ballistic missile defense technologies designed to destroy nuclear warheads in flight. Zwald received both his Masters and Ph.D. from the University of California, Berkeley.

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