Two thousand seventeen was a very bad year for North Korea–U.S. relations as the two appeared headed toward military conflict. North–South Korea rapprochement in 2018 led to a peaceful winter Olympics and opened the door for the June 12th Singapore Summit, at which Kim Jong-un and Donald Trump stepped back from the precipice. Dr. Hecker will draw on his historical studies of North Korea’s nuclear program and his seven visits to North Korea to suggest why Washington may now be in a position to determine whether Pyongyang is prepared to denuclearize, if Washington is prepared to normalize relations.
Siegfried S. Hecker is a professor emeritus (research) in the Department of Management Science and Engineering and a senior fellow emeritus at the Freeman Spogli Institute for International Studies (FSI) and the Center for International Security and Cooperation (CISAC) at Stanford University. Hecker was co-director of CISAC from 2007-2012. He served as the fifth director of the Los Alamos National Laboratory from 1986-1997, and received his B.S., M.S., and Ph.D. degrees in metallurgy from Case Western Reserve University. His current professional interests include nuclear weapons policy, plutonium research, global nuclear risk reduction with Russia, China, Pakistan, India, North Korea and Iran, the safety and security implications of the global expansion of nuclear energy, and threats of nuclear terrorism. In 2016, Dr. Hecker published two edited volumes of “Doomed to Cooperate” documenting the history of Russian-U.S. laboratory-to-laboratory nuclear cooperation since 1992.