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North Korea

Nuclear War on the Korean Peninsular: What the U.S. expects from China

Written by Jan Ludvik.

International politics is full of crises and conflicts, yet there are few regions as troubling as the Korean peninsula. Korea has been in a state of international crisis since at least the 1990s, and a new peak of the crisis may still be ahead. Since the discovery of the foundations of North Korea’s indigenous nuclear reactor in Yongbyon, Washington has probed numerous options to convince or coerce Pyongyang into putting its nuclear program on hold. Yet, more than two decades later, North Korea’s nuclear program is only more advanced. Suggesting a new possible showdown, the U.S. Secretary of State recently remarked that the ‘policy of strategic patience has ended’. A military response to North Korea’s growing nuclear and ballistic missile threat is back on the table. Continue reading “Nuclear War on the Korean Peninsular: What the U.S. expects from China”

Reining In Pyongyang’s Nuclear Ambitions: Washington and Beijing’s Common Interests

Written by Gregory J. Moore.

China and the United States have much in common as they look at the regime in North Korea. They agree North Korea should not have nuclear weapons. North Korea is a very unpredictable, ‘naughty’ regime, and neither state trusts Pyongyang to keep its word. North Korea has a history of assassinations, terrorist attacks, blackmail and war initiation that make it a very bad candidate for nuclear weapons. While Beijing doesn’t like to say it openly, Chinese leaders understand this. North Korea is also a proliferation threat. Its history of deals selling and transferring nuclear facilities, material and/or know-how to Syria, Libya, Iraq, and Pakistan make this clear. It was only the Israeli air force which prevented Pyongyang from finishing the nuclear reactor it had been building for Syria in 2007. Moreover, North Korean nuclear weapons could spark an arms race in Northeast Asia. In fact, they already have, as the installation of the US THAAD system in South Korea and Japan’s turn toward a stronger military since the first North Korean missile over Japan in 1998 demonstrate. This could be only the beginning if Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons become fully operational. Continue reading “Reining In Pyongyang’s Nuclear Ambitions: Washington and Beijing’s Common Interests”

Learning to live with a nuclear North Korea?

Written by Nick Bisley.

North Korea has been on a long march to acquire a usable nuclear weapon. Since 2011, when Kim Jong-un replaced his father at the head of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, the pace of that march has quickened markedly.

Contrary to claims made by Nikki Halley, the new US ambassador to the UN, North Korea’s leader is not crazy – he has decidedly rational motives. Kim wants nuclear weapons to provide security from a world that he believes threatens North Korea’s existence. Continue reading “Learning to live with a nuclear North Korea?”

Introduction to Special Issue on Nuclear Weapons

Written by Richard Selwyn.

The Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) missile defence system has been generating significant displeasure in Beijing for some months now. Deployed by the US to counter Pyongyang’s unpredictability, the THAAD missile defense system appears a rational insurance policy. But a diplomatic spat played out in Korean-drama bans has trivialised an issue that goes to the heart of China’s nuclear weapons policy. Since the 1960s, China has been satisfied with a small nuclear deterrent and an unequivocal no first use policy on nuclear weapons. In Beijing’s eyes, THAAD threatens China’s ability to retaliate, leaving the US impervious and China vulnerable to a nuclear weapons attack. Continue reading “Introduction to Special Issue on Nuclear Weapons”

North Korea and the dangers of Trump’s diplomacy-free Asia strategy

Written by Flynt L. Leverett.

North Korea’s missile launches last week are an early warning that the Trump administration’s Asia strategy could end up triggering the world’s next major war.

Spurred by the launches, Secretary of State Rex Tillerson is touring Japan, South Korea and China this week. But Pyongyang’s nuclear and missile activities are not Trump’s priority in Asia. Continue reading “North Korea and the dangers of Trump’s diplomacy-free Asia strategy”

Sino-North Korean Relations: Blood Allies without Mutual Trust

Written by Mikyoung Kim.

Unlike South Korea which submitted itself to the US for security protection, North Korea has never compromised its national defence with China. That is despite often cited historical precedents: the Sino-North Korea Mutual Aid and Cooperation Friendship Treaty which remains effective until 2021; and China’s participation in the Korean War (1950-53) which caused 180,000 deaths of Chinese soldiers. While these precedents resulted in the term of “blood allies,” the empirical details reveal the description being close to a euphemism at its best, or a hyperbole at its worse.  Continue reading “Sino-North Korean Relations: Blood Allies without Mutual Trust”

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