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  • Author: George Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 04-2018
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The international community’s confrontation with North Korea reached crisis proportions in 2017, following Pyongyang’s ballistic missile launches and its sixth nuclear test. In the wake of a series of high-level summits, tensions began to thaw in 2018. At the inter-Korean summit in Panmunjom on April 27, 2018, South Korean President Moon Jae-in and North Korean leader Kim Jong-un agreed to seek support from the international community to denuclearize. But the international community, led by the U.S. in concert with the United Nations Security Council, has already worked tirelessly over the past 26 years to coordinate efforts to prevent North Korea from developing nuclear weapons. Successive U.S. administrations have worked through the cycle of confrontation, crisis, discussions and agreements with North Korea. Nonetheless, all these agreements have ultimately fallen apart, allowing North Korea to advance its nuclear program. This paper focuses on two key questions: How has the international community contributed toward denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula, and what is its role in facilitating the complete, verifiable dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear program? Ultimately, the success of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula will be measured by whether North Korea completely dismantles its nuclear program. Fortunately, the international “tools” are on the table, but successfully denuclearizing North Korea will, in the end, be a matter of effectively enforcing existing international measures.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, United Nations, Sanctions, Nonproliferation, Negotiation
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Gary J. Sampson
  • Publication Date: 10-2017
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: In 2017, North Korea under Kim Jong-un has made significant strides toward the capabilities needed for a credible nuclear deterrent. This article analyzes the most recent achievements of the North Korean nuclear weapons program, including its September 2017 nuclear test and its three long-range missile tests in the latter half of 2017. Observers should not discount Pyongyang’s nuclear weapons and long-range missiles. However, other capabilities such as intelligence, surveillance, and reconnaissance and targeting require further development to achieve the full range of capabilities associated with a credible nuclear deterrent. Because of the high costs associated with the development of robust strategic intelligence and targeting capabilities, Pyongyang may be willing to settle for lower levels of capability in these areas, which may still be sufficient to guide nuclear attacks. As a result, policymakers must move to a bargaining strategy that acknowledges the reality of North Korea’s nuclear capability, marking a significant policy shift among regional allies. Pyongyang’s long-held desire to drive a wedge between the U.S. and its regional allies may be coming to fruition. Kim Jong-un has shrewdly played his hand from a position of weakness and succeeded where many others failed—a high-risk path upon which he still walks. China’s minimum credible nuclear deterrent may be a model for Kim Jong-un’s development of North Korean nuclear capability.
  • Topic: Intelligence, Nuclear Weapons, Surveillance, Deterrence
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: George Hutchinson
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The United States-Republic of Korea Alliance has arrived at a critical juncture. In July 2016, the countries jointly decided to deploy the U.S. Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD) ballistic missile defense system to the Korean Peninsula to defend against North Korea’s accelerating nuclear and ballistic missile programs. China has long opposed an American-led, regional missile defense system, persistently warning South Korea against deploying THAAD. Since the deciding to deploy THAAD, the political landscapes in the U.S. and the ROK have changed dramatically. The new Donald J. Trump administration has signaled a change from the previous administration’s “strategic patience” policy, but details of the new approach have yet to emerge. North Korea, meanwhile, continues to aggressively test ballistic missiles and promote its nuclear weapons program. In South Korea, the impeachment and subsequent removal of Park Geun-hye triggered the need for a snap election, and a left-leaning candidate, Moon Jae-in, is leading in the polls. The election could mark a return of previous liberal administration policies that favored cooperation with North Korea. Additionally, Moon has signaled his opposition to THAAD. Nonetheless, the U.S. began deploying THAAD to South Korea in March 2017. China retaliated, implementing a series of economic, political, and military measures to pressure South Korea. This paper provides background on THAAD, analyzes the decision by Washington and Seoul to deploy the system to Korea, and examines Beijing’s concerns and coercive counterstrategy
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Military Strategy, Weapons , Missile Defense, Donald Trump
  • Political Geography: China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Sam-man Chung
  • Publication Date: 10-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea’s nuclear weapons and ballistic missile programs threaten South Korea and its neighbors. Pyongyang’s engineers are likely capable of producing a warhead small enough to place it atop a missile. As its ability to engineer warheads for flight and reentry improves, North Korea increasingly endangers the United States. Deterring Pyongyang is extremely difficult given North Korea’s conventional, unconventional, and cyber capabilities. South Korean and American strategists have reponspded by developing a tailored deterrence strategy to address specific threats. At the operational level, this is supported by the Combined Counter-Provocation Plan. Ballistic missile defense, including the ability to detect, defend, disrupt, and destroy North Korea’s missiles, is critical to the success of the tailored deterrence strategy. South Korea opted to develop its Korean Air and Missile Defense and Kill Chain system. These systems are independent of American ballistic missile defense systems. The Korean systerms were conceived and developed amidst plans to transfer Wartime Operational Control from the U.S. to South Korea. Because transfer has been postponted, there is less rationale for maintaing separate systems. Despite the official desire to keep these systems independent, South Korea needs to develop options for enhancing interoperability with American missile defense systems to support the tailored deterrence strategy.
  • Topic: Defense Policy, Nuclear Weapons, Weapons , Deterrence
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Yonho Kim
  • Publication Date: 04-2016
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: North Korea’s nuclear tests in 2016 rekindled a stronger voice for independent nuclear armament among South Korean conservatives. It is noteworthy that the pro-nuclear view is mainly driven by feelings of profound frustration and helplessness over North Korea’s growing nuclear threat. To assuage concerns, Washington should start seeking new methods of reassuring its partner of its intention to honor its security commitments. The challenges to the U.S.-ROK alliance sparked by North Korea’s nuclear test also came from the liberals’ fierce criticism of the Park government’s decision to start talks with Washington on THAAD deployment. Opponents of THAAD emphasized potential “security anxiety” associated with THAAD deployment, which they argued would escalate regional tensions and introduce a new Cold War, endangering peace on the Korean Peninsula. The THAAD issue has become a political hot potato that could easily entrap major presidential candidates. To avoid any backlash, the candidates will refuse to choose between China and the U.S. while placing the alliance with the U.S. at the center of South Korea’s foreign policy.
  • Topic: Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Missile Defense
  • Political Geography: Asia, South Korea, North Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Richard Weitz
  • Publication Date: 02-2014
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Journal of Korean Studies
  • Institution: International Council on Korean Studies
  • Abstract: The new national security leaders in Japan, the United States, China and the two Koreas have assumed office at a precarious time. Despite the recent relaxation of tensions, conditions are ripe for further conflict in Northeast Asia. The new DPRK leadership is as determined as its predecessor to possess nuclear weapons and ballistic missiles while resisting unification or reconciliation with South Korea and its allies. The new government in Tokyo is also augmenting its military capabilities. Meanwhile, despite Chinese efforts to restart the Six-Party Talks, the Obama administration has refused to engage with the DPRK until it demonstrates a willingness to end its nuclear weapons program and improving intra-Korean ties. But this policy of patiently waiting for verifiable changes in DPRK policies may be too passive in the face of North Korea' s growing military capabilities, leading the new South Korean government, striving to maneuver between Beijing and Washington, to consider new initiatives to restart a dialogue with the North even while reinforcing its own military capabilities.
  • Topic: Security, Government, Nuclear Weapons
  • Political Geography: United States, Japan, China, Asia, South Korea, North Korea, Korea