Northeast Asia Security Issues

Global Peace & Security

Northeast Asia Security Issues

Regional Non-Nuclear Options from South Korea’s Perspective
CHEON, Seongwhun, Research Institute for National Reunification

Examines various ways to facilitate and support the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The first chapter reviews the history of the debates on the nuclear issue between the ROK and the DPRK. The second chapter describes how the Joint Agreement on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula was agreed upon and implemented. Chapter three outlines options that the ROK and the DPRK can take to further denuclearization, and the last chapter presents the obligations that regional powers have in supporting denuclearization.

Nuclear Free Zone on the Korean Peninsula: A Russian View
CHUFRIN, Gennady, Institute of Oriental Studies

With the end of the Cold War, the possibility of the DPRK’s use of military force to resolve conflict is low. The quantitative advantage the DPRK’s military has over the ROK and US forces is offset by its qualitative disadvantage to them. However, the prospects for peacefully creating a nuclear free zone are complicated by mutual distrust regarding facilities inspections, resumption of joint US-ROK military exercises, Kim Jong-il’s unpredictability, and the DPRK’s economic hardships. Although the record of establishing nuclear free zones (NFZ) in other regions is mixed, multilateral efforts should be made to push for one on the Korean Peninsula. Otherwise, a nuclear DPRK could disrupt the entire Northeast Asian region.

Military Options in Korea’s Endgame
CUSHMAN, Lt. Gen. John (Ret.)

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External and internal trends within the DPRK are at work that could unravel its society’s stability. The demise of the DPRK could result in an all out war (perhaps nuclear), a “soft landing,” or something else. The US is the country with the greatest potential influence in the region, but it has only one opportunity to bring about the preferred “soft landing.”

Will Economic Sanctions Work Against North Korea?
ELLIOTT, Kimberly Ann, Institute for International Economics

Analyzes prospects for the effective use of economic sanctions against the DPRK over its noncompliance with International Atomic Energy Agency inspections. Identifies potential vulnerabilities in the DPRK’s economic structure. Also, evaluates the circumstances under which economic sanctions are most likely to achieve foreign policy goals. Finally, evaluates the specific options the international community has in enacting sanctions.

The Impact of a Limited Nuclear Free Zone on Deployed Nuclear Weapons in Northeast Asia
ENDICOTT, John E., Center for International Strategy

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Although the establishment of a NFZ in Northeast Asia seemed unrealistic in the past, the end of the Cold War has opened up the possibility for one. The establishment of a NFZ with a multinational verification agency could accelerate the development of a regional security community that would lead to further cooperation among the participants on other issues. Involvement by the US and especially Japan is vital to the success of a regional security community.

International Economic Linkages of North Korea
FLAKE, L. Gordon

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Using data from the DPRK’s “mirror” or recipient countries, a focused picture of the DPRK’s trade pattern and international economic linkages can be formed. Since 1987, the DPRK has defaulted on its international loans and has no ties to international financial institutions like the World Bank or the IMF. It has no stock market and thus no foreign portfolio investment. Moreover, the fall of communism has even further simplified the trade picture. Overall, the DPRK’s international linkages are limited to some trade and even less investments and remittances from Korean residents of Japan.

A United States-Type Light Water Reactor for North Korea? The Legal Realities
GILINSKY, Victor and William MANNING

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The paper addresses the legality of the US proposal to provide the DPRK with light water reactors through the ROK. It also addresses the possible effect the transaction might have on the international nonproliferation framework. In addition to the legal question, the practicality of financing such a project is brought into question.

The Nuclear Dimensions of the US-Japan Alliance

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The paper addresses how choices among varying options for future US security policies in Northeast Asia may affect Japanese perspectives on security circumstances in the region generally and the utility of developing a nuclear weapons capability specifically. The paper discusses the current security environment in Northeast Asia, with reference to the past and present role of the US-Japan alliance (recently enhanced through the passage of the new guidelines for US-Japan defense cooperation). The paper examines how US extended nuclear deterrence policies have functioned as a foundation of that alliance, how the end of the Cold War has altered the credibility and viability of that foundation, and what problems and possibilities these changes present to the US, Japan, and other powers in the region.

Defiance vs. Compliance: The DPRK’s Calculus Faced with Multi-lateral Sanctions
HAYES, Peter, Nautilus Institute

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Defines a hypothetical DPRK calculus faced with sanctions. The paper asks: 1) What are the elements used in the DPRK’s calculus on the impact of sanctions, assuming the DPRK to be a rational, unitary actor?; 2) What are the net costs of the DPRK’s complying with nuclear safeguard obligations versus defying them and facing economic sanctions implemented multilaterally? The conclusion is that: 1) relative to a status quo of “semi-compliance,” the DPRK could lose up to 3-4% of its annual GNP if sanctions are imposed; and 2) relative to a situation of compliance, economic sanctions could cost the DPRK 7-8% of its annual GNP.

Hanging in the Balance: North-South Korean Military Capabilities
HAYES, Peter, Nautilus Institute

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Although the DPRK’s military enjoys a numerical advantage over the ROK’s military, it is offset by the ROK’s larger population, more advanced economy, hardened defensive positions, and qualitatively better hardware. The paper evaluates the current strategic situation and gives an overview of how a war between the ROK and the DPRK might be conducted. It concludes that, in a conflict, the balance will swing in favor of the ROK provided that ROK forces can hold off the DPRK forces for 20-35 days until US and ROK reinforcements can arrive.

North Korea Crosses the Rubicon
HAYES, Peter, Nautilus Institute

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Once the DPRK allowed their potential to create nuclear weapons to be known to the rest of the world, it had crossed the Rubicon. The decision left the region’s major powers like the PRC, Russia, and Japan a limited set of options. For the US and the ROK, their choices were equally limited: multilateral sanctions or unilateral military action.

Should the US Supply Light Water Reactors to Pyongyang?
HAYES, Peter, Nautilus Institute

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The transfer of light water reactor (LWR) technology to the DPRK became an important issue during the third round of high level talks between the US and the DPRK. The paper first provides some background on the issue. Then it analyzes the impact on proliferation that the DPRK’s present fuel system would have. In addition, the paper assesses nuclear power technology in the context of the DPRK’s economy. Finally, it looks at outstanding issues that must be resolved before the transfer can take place.

Confidence Building Measures in Northeast Asia: Examining Multilateral and Bilateral Dynamics at Work

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In a post-Cold War Northeast Asia, multilateral confidence building measures (CBM) are needed to keep misperceptions among countries from becoming full-fledged threats that would undermine the current relative peace. However, bilateral relations are important for facilitating the development of a cooperative security regime. As a result, it is important to examine the stumbling blocks in specific bilateral relations.

South Korea’s Policy Making Process on North Korea’s Nuclear Issue: A Random Note
KIL, Jeong Woo, Research Institute for National Reunification

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When Kim Young Sam was inaugurated as the ROK president, he brought with him four former university professors with no previous public service experience to advise him on foreign affairs. The ideological standings of these men range widely from progressive to conservative. The positions that the Kim Administration take are a reflection of the ideological conflicts of this so-called “Gang of Four.” Consequently, the evolution of the ROK’s policy on the DPRK in regards to the nuclear issue can be traced in five stages.
Nuclear Weapons Free Zone in Northeast Asia: A South Korean Perspective
KOO, Bon-Hak, Korea Institute for Defense Analyses

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Nonproliferation in Northeast Asia in the unstable post-Cold War world has become a very salient issue. A Nuclear Weapons Free Zone (NWFZ) in Northeast Asia is seen as a way to not only reinforce and supplement the Nonproliferation Treaty, but it could also help diffuse regional tensions and instability. The paper first attempts to define the goals, meanings, and utilities of a NWFZ. Second, it reviews various other NWFZ’s in a historical perspective. Third, it evaluates Northeast Asian countries’ perspectives on a NWFZ. And finally, the paper looks into the ROK’s position on a NWFZ.

Japan Under the US Nuclear Umbrella
KRISTENSEN, Hans M., Nautilus Institute

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Based on original documentary research on the U.S.-Japanese nuclear relationship as it unfolded from the beginning of the Cold War through the early 1990s, this paper adds substantial weight to previous assertions that the United States routinely brought nuclear weapons into Japan despite Japan’s non-nuclear policy, and sheds light on suspicions that Japanese government officials accepted these deployments. It also reveals for the first time how part of the U.S. nuclear war plan itself was built at U.S. facilities in Japan.

The Status of US, Russian, and Chinese Nuclear Forces in Northeast Asia
LOCKWOOD, Dunbar, Arms Control Association

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Numerous diplomatic, economic, and historical factors have made Northeast Asia a virtual powderkeg, giving the regional powers, the US, Russia, and the PRC, an interest in nonproliferation in the area. Although the three countries agree on the goal of nonproliferation, they disagree on the means that it should be brought about. The paper begins by assessing the current status of US, Russian, and PRC nuclear forces. Next, it describes possible scenarios involving the use of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia. Finally, the paper suggests new global, regional, and unilateral arms control measures that the three major nuclear powers could implement to help reduce the likelihood of nuclear proliferation in the region.

Approaches to the Formulation of a Human Rights Agenda in the US-DPRK Dialogue
MANSOUROV, Alexandre

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Human rights will likely be at the forefront of US-DPRK relations. The paper seeks to address how humanitarian issues should fit into the overall framework of US-DPRK relations and whether they should be addressed in a bi-lateral or multi-lateral forum. The paper also examines what the US goals should be in its human rights policy toward the DPRK and the methods it should use to attain them along with their possible consequences. The issues are dealt with by drawing on the past US experiences on human rights issues in regards to the PRC and Latin America.

DPRK After Kim Il Sung: Is a Second Republic Possible?
MANSOUROV, Alexandre

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With the death of Kim Il Sung, the establishment in the DPRK of a Second Republic becomes very possible. However, the possibility of such an event begs two questions: one, “Can the DPRK adapt to dramatically changing domestic and international, socio-economic and political-military environments?”; and two, “Once such adaptations are initiated, can the DPRK function as an independent country in spite of the looming threat of an ROK-led absorption-style unification? The answers to these questions lie in the legitimacy of the new leadership in Pyongyang, the direction of change in the governmental processes, and the impact of these changes on the evolution of domestic and foreign policy.

North Korean Decision-Making Processes Regarding the Nuclear Issue
MANSOUROV, Alexandre

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Examines the DPRK’s behavior in the triple-track negotiations with the US, ROK, and the International Atomic Energy Agency. It looks at the domestic and the strategic issues of the DPRK and how they affect its behavior. The paper also explores the erratic, and irrational elements that may influence the DPRK’s decision making. Finally, the DPRK’s “nuclear game plan” is addressed by asking what its modalities are, who draws its outlines, who implements it and how, and what may account for any discrepancies.

North Korean Defector is South Korean CIA’s Time Bomb
MANSOUROV, Alexandre

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Although the statements of the DPRK defector, Kang, Myonng-do, regarding the DPRK’s possession of five nuclear devices may be false, the defection itself has important implications. The defection suggests that there is growing dissatisfaction within the inner circle with the Kim family rule, or it may imply that there is conflict between the old and new generations of leaders. However, since the news of the defection was withheld from the public by the Korean CIA until the third round of the US-DPRK talks, it may have been the intention of the Korean CIA to sabotage any possibility of détente between the US and the DPRK.

NAPSNet Daily Report and Archives

Latest Report | Report Archive

The Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network (NAPSNet) provides daily (Monday through Friday) summaries of news items pertaining to peace and security issues in Northeast Asia. The first NAPSNet Daily Report was issued May 10, 1994. A quarterly index is provided for historical viewing.

Supply of Light Water Reactor(s) to Pyongyang: Technological Issues and Their Possible Resolution

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Certain technical problems may be brought up during the transfer of the light water reactor (LWR) technology to the DPRK. The paper reviews the history of LWR transfers from the US to other countries and seeks to identify the preferred method of transfer to the DPRK. Then, the countries capable of carrying out such a transfer are covered and the appropriate choices identified. Finally, key technical problems associated with the transfer of LWR technology are summarized and possible solutions to them are suggested.

Nuclear Forces in Northeast Asia
SEGAL, Gerald, International Institute for Strategic Studies

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Although much attention has been given to the DPRK’s nuclear weapons program, too little attention has been paid to the way the existing nuclear weapons of the US and Russia affect the DPRK. The purpose of this paper is to assess the status of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia in order to identify ways in which the great powers and the states of the region can help limit the risks derived from the DPRK’s apparent attempt to acquire nuclear weapons.

Engaging DPRK in a Verifiable Nuclear-Weapons-Free Zone: Addressing Nuclear Issues of the Korean Peninsula
SHEN, Dingli, Fudan University

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Proposes that a nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) scheme would help in the regional, institutional establishment of nuclear non-proliferation on the Korean Peninsula. A regional non-proliferation regime should address the security concerns of the parties involved in a possible Korean NWFZ, while at the same time encouraging cooperation on safeguarding inspections. Outside powers should also help in the denuclearization process on the Peninsula.

Involving the DPRK in Northeast Asia Regional, Economic, and Environmental Cooperation (in draft)
VALENCIA, Mark, East-West Center

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With the easing of some of the Cold War tensions, opportunities exist for the inclusion of the DPRK in economic and environmental cooperation in the Northeast Asian region. The paper assesses the current level of trade and economic development in Northeast Asia and proposes plans for regional economic cooperation such as a Northeast Asia Development Bank and the Tumen River Project. Then, issues in regional environmental cooperation are explored such as acid rain and marine pollution. Finally, regional environmental initiatives are proposed.