Nonproliferation and the North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program: Impotence Meets Ambition

Author: Benjamin Luke Habib

Habib, Benjamin Luke, 2011 Nonproliferation and the North Korean Nuclear Weapons Program: Impotence Meets Ambition, Flinders University, School of International Studies

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North Korea is unlikely to willingly relinquish its nuclear program because of its importance to the political economy of the DPRK state and the perpetuation of the Kim Jong-il regime. It is clear that the nuclear program has great intrinsic value to Pyongyang, its role as a defensive deterrent and important element in Pyongyang's offensive asymmetric war strategy. The nuclear program functions as a bargaining chip in international diplomacy to extract economic inputs for its moribund economy, in domestic politics as vehicle for bureaucratic interests, and as a rallying symbol of the country's hyper-nationalist ideology. At the same time, regional states lack a credible strategy for coaxing North Korea into nuclear relinquishment due to their lack of leverage over the Kim regime, the absence of unity in addressing the nuclear issue and the incongruence of their wider strategic goals vis-a-vis North Korea. Given this state of affairs, regional countries will have no choice but to accept North Korea as a nuclear power and manage regional relations through deterrence. To increase the stability of this environment, regional states may consider unconditional normalisation of political and economic relations with North Korea.

Keywords: North Korea,nuclear proliferation,Northeast Asia,regime stability

Subject: International Studies thesis

Thesis type: Doctor of Philosophy
Completed: 2011
School: School of International Studies
Supervisor: Dr Maryanne Kelton