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  • Author: Christopher Lawrence
  • Publication Date: 07-2020
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The 1994 Agreed Framework called for North Korea to dismantle its plutonium-production complex in exchange for civilian light water reactors (LWRs) and the promise of political normalization with the United States. Today, scholars look back at the Agreed Framework as a U.S. offer of “carrots” to bribe the regime, but this framing overlooks the credibility challenges of normalization and the distinctive technical challenges of building LWRs in North Korea. Political and technical analysis reveals how the LWR project helped build credibility for the political changes promised in the Agreed Framework.
  • Topic: Nuclear Weapons, Politics, Science and Technology, History, Infrastructure, Crisis Management, Normalization
  • Political Geography: Asia, North Korea, North America, Korea, United States of America
  • Author: Elizabeth N. Saunders
  • Publication Date: 10-2019
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: When and how do domestic politics influence a state's nuclear choices? Recent scholarship on nuclear security develops many domestic-political explanations for different nuclear decisions. These explanations are partly the result of two welcome trends: first, scholars have expanded the nuclear timeline, examining state behavior before and after nuclear proliferation; and second, scholars have moved beyond blunt distinctions between democracies and autocracies to more fine-grained understandings of domestic constraints. But without linkages between them, new domestic-political findings could be dismissed as a laundry list of factors that do not explain significant variation in nuclear decisions. This review essay assesses recent research on domestic politics and nuclear security, and develops a framework that illuminates when and how domestic-political mechanisms are likely to affect nuclear choices. In contrast to most previous domestic arguments, many of the newer domestic-political mechanisms posited in the literature are in some way top-down; that is, they show leaders deliberately maintaining or loosening control over nuclear choices. Two dimensions govern the extent and nature of domestic-political influence on nuclear choices: the degree of threat uncertainty and the costs and benefits to leaders of expanding the circle of domestic actors involved in a nuclear decision. The framework developed in this review essay helps make sense of several cases explored in the recent nuclear security literature. It also has implications for understanding when and how domestic-political arguments might diverge from the predictions of security-based analyses.
  • Topic: Security, Arms Control and Proliferation, Nuclear Weapons, Treaties and Agreements, International Security, Domestic politics, Nonproliferation
  • Political Geography: Russia, United States, China, Iran, North Korea
  • Author: David C. Kang
  • Publication Date: 01-2012
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: The motivations of North Korea's leaders and people have long been a mystery, frustrating policymakers who must decide whether to pursue a relationship with the government or attempt to isolate the rogue state, but new literature reveals that the North Korean people and their government operate more normally than most people think. This literature also suggests that policies designed to minimize North Korea's military threat may hurt efforts to improve the lives of its citizens and vice versa. Given this difficulty and the recent regime change, efforts to understand North Korea before making and implementing policy decisions are more important than ever.
  • Topic: Government
  • Political Geography: North Korea
  • Author: Jennifer Lind, Bruce W. Bennett
  • Publication Date: 11-2011
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Many signs suggest that Kim Jong-il's regime in North Korea is entering a difficult stage in which its future may be in doubt. Although the historical record shows, and many scholars have noted, that authoritarian regimes can repress their populations and retain power for decades, the Kim regime is embarking on the most difficult challenge that such regimes face: succession. The last time power changed hands in Pyongyang, Kim Il-sung spent fifteen years preparing for the transfer, carefully consolidating support for his son Kim Jong-il. By contrast, Kim Jong-il, who suffered a stroke in 2008, has only recently anointed his inexperienced, twenty-seven-year-old third son, Kim Jong-un, as his heir. Kim Jong-il's sudden death or incapacitation could trigger a power struggle and government collapse in North Korea. As previous revolutions in the Middle East and Eastern Europe demonstrate, the transition from apparent stability to collapse can be swift.
  • Political Geography: Europe, Middle East, North Korea, Pyongyang
  • Author: Daniel Byman, Jennifer Lind
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: In the early 1990s, many observers predicted that Kim Il-sung's regime would not survive the cessation of Russian aid and the resulting downward spiral of North Korea's economy. Speculation about regime collapse intensified when the less charismatic Kim Jong-il succeeded his father in 1994, and again after the 1996–97 famine that killed upwards of a million North Koreans. Gen. Gary Luck, commander of U.S. forces in Korea, declared in 1997 that North Korea would “dis - integrate.” That same year, a U.S. government and outside team of experts predicted regime collapse within five years. Another decade brought more prognostications: in 2000 Director of Central Intelligence George Tenet warned that “sudden, radical, and possibly dangerous change remains a real possibility in North Korea, and that change could come at any time.” Three years later, U.S. Deputy Secretary of Defense Paul Wolfowitz said that North Korea was “teetering on the edge of economic collapse.” Contemporary accounts warn that the regime is threatened by the growing flow of information into the country or by popular outcry touched off by the government's 2009 bungling of currency reform.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, North Korea
  • Author: Miroslav Nincic
  • Publication Date: 08-2010
  • Content Type: Journal Article
  • Journal: International Security
  • Institution: Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard University
  • Abstract: Positive inducements as a strategy for dealing with regimes that challenge core norms of international behavior and the national interests of the United States ("renegade regimes") contain both promises and pitfalls. Such inducements, which include policy concessions and economic favors, can serve two main purposes: (1) arranging a beneficial quid pro quo with the other side, and (2) catalyzing, via positive engagement, a restructuring of interests and preferences within the other side's politico-economic system (such that quid pro quos become less and less necessary). The conditions for progress toward either purpose can vary, as can the requirements for sufficient and credible concessions on both sides and the obstacles in the way of such concessions. For renegade regimes, a primary consideration involves the domestic purposes that internationally objectionable behavior can serve. An examination of the cases of North Korea, Iran, and Libya finds that negative pressures have been relatively ineffective, suggesting that more attention should be given to the potential for positive inducements to produce better outcomes.
  • Topic: Economics
  • Political Geography: United States, Iran, North Korea, Libya