Nuclear Forces in Northeast Asia

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NAPSNet Special Report

Recommended Citation

Gerald Segal, "Nuclear Forces in Northeast Asia", NAPSNet Special Reports, May 30, 1994,

Nuclear Forces in Northeast Asia

Gerald Segal

International Institute for Strategic Studies


prepared for the Northeast Asia Peace and Security Network 
managed by Nautilus Institute for Security and Sustainable 


May 1994
     By nearly common consent, the uncertainty over the status of 
nuclear forces in Northeast Asia is said to be the most dangerous 
feature of Asia/Pacific security. While most attention has been 
paid to the status of North Korea's nuclear program, too little 
attention has been paid to the way in which the status of 
existing nuclear forces in the region affects the North Korea 
problem.  It is true that the two largest acknowledged nuclear 
powers, Russia and the United States, have been reducing their 
forces in recent years, but they still remain by far the largest 
nuclear powers in the region. (1) The main focus of this paper is 
to assess the status of nuclear forces 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 North Korea's 
apparent attempt to acquire a nuclear weapons capability.

At the outset, it should be acknowledged that this is not a paper 
about the complete de-nuclearization of Northeast Asia. While 
that may be an eventual objective, it will only come about as 
part of a broader denuclearization by the acknowledged nuclear 
powers. The United States, Russia and China deploy nuclear 
weapons in the region because they see it as a vital arena of 
international affairs. All three powers have territory and vital 
interests in the region. The future of the nuclear weapons of 
these powers concerns the problem of de-nuclearization, whereas 
the concerns over North Korea and Japan are threats of nuclear 
proliferation. These issues are distinct, but linked, and it is 
the linkage which motivates and animates this paper.

 The Status of Nuclear Forces

 This section is intended to set out the facts as we know them, 
but there are in fact few "facts" that can be reliably described. 
(2)  One clear fact is there are only three nuclear weapons 
powers in Northeast Asia (Russia, USA, China). But even this 
statement contains ambiguities, for it is impossible to offer a 
tight definition of Northeast Asia. For the purposes of this 
study, "the region" is defined as a circle whose centre is the 
middle of the Korean demilitarized zone and stretches out 1,500km 
in all directions. (the reason why this zone is selected is 
discussed later in this section). 

A second uncertainty is that it is impossible to know what cuts 
have been made as part of the continuing START process. This 
paper offers some guesses, but they are no more than that. Some 
Russian officials suggest they do not even know how many nuclear 
weapons they deploy in the region at any one time, so a civilian 
analyst working with public sources will know even less.

It is chilling to recall the "discovery" of a wagon-load of 
nuclear missiles near Kurgan (western Siberia) which were 
"mislaid due to the negligence of railway staff." (3) Finally, 
for the purposes of this study we assume that, as the USA and 
Russia assert,  there are no sea-based tactical systems on 
operational duty in the region. We assume there are tactical 
systems in store. Weapons can be on "inactive reserve" or 
"retired", which means that while not operational, they have not 
been destroyed. (4) 

The USA apparently has no operational deployment of tactical 
systems in Northeast Asia. Nor are there any operational land-
based or air-launched strategic systems in the region. Tactical 
systems are unlikely to be stored in the region although the 
phrase "stored centrally" probably does include Hawaii. There are 
8 Ohio-class SSBNs, each with 24 missiles. The SLBMs are Trident 
1 C-4s, first deployed in 1980. They have a range of 7,400km, a 
throwweight of 15,000kg, carry 8 x100kt warheads with a CEP of 
450m. Under START II these missiles are to be downloaded to about 
half their current number of warheads.

The Russians, unlike the USA, have territory in Northeast Asia 
and therefore they have a different configuration of forces. 
Tactical systems are present in both land-based and air-launched 
form, but reliable data on these forces is impossible to come by. 
Some analysts suggest that one can assume that there is roughly a 
third of all Russian tactical nuclear weapons in the region, but 
this assumption is usually based on the rather dubious comparison 
with strategic nuclear systems where a third of the capability 
can be found in the region. We assume there are at most 1,000 
tactical warheads in the Russian portion of Northeast Asia.

Russian strategic weapons are both land and sea based. It is 
difficult to be certain about the number of SSBNs deployed in the 
region. Russia apparently deploys 20 SSBNs at two bases 
(Pavlovskoye and Ribachiy).  There appear to be 2 Yankee class 
SSBNs, each carrying 16 SS-N-6 Serb missiles. They were deployed 
in 1974 with a range of 3,000km and a throwweight of 6,500kg. 
There are 2 MRV warheads each of 500kt with a CEP of 1300. The 9 
Delta 1 SSBNs each have 12 SS-N-8 Sawfly missiles first deployed 
in 1973 with a range of 9,100km and a throwweight of 11,000kg.  
They each carry 2MRV 800kt warheads with a CEP of 900. The 9 
Delta III SSBNs each have 16 SS-N-18 Stingray missiles, first 
deployed in 1978 with a range of 6,500km and a throwweight of 
16,500kg. They each have 3x100kt warheads with a CEP of 900. The 
Deltas are likely to be eliminated under START II. The ICBMs are 
deployed in the Transbaykal and Far East MDs but it is hard to be 
sure about which systems are still operational and which will be 
eliminated or changed in the START II regime. The 27 SS-25s in 
Irkutsk are likely to remain. They were first deployed in 1985, 
have a 10,500km range and a throwweight of 10,000kg. They carry 
1x750kt warhead with a CEP of 200.  More problematic is the rest 
of the force. In 1993 it included some of the 100 SS-11s, first 
deployed in 1975 but expected to be eliminated under STARTII.  
One report suggested that by 2000 the Russians will have disposed 
of 30 SSBNs and 1,800-2,000 ballistic missiles. (5)  In any case, 
it is pointless to provide too much detail as ICBMs can be 
targeted from sites outside the region.

China, like Russia, is a local power and therefore there are 
special problems in counting its capability in the region. Land-
based missiles include up to 60 IRBM (DF-3), CSS-2, first 
deployed in 1970.  They have single warheads with a 3mt yield and 
a range of 2,800km. ICBMs include up to 20 CSS-3s (DF-4) first 
deployed in 1978 with a range of 7,000km. They carry a single 
warhead of 3mt. The 4 CSS-4s (DF-5) were first deployed in 1981 
with a range of 15,000km. Their single warheads have a 5mt yield. 
It has been suggested that China has a re-load capability for 
these missiles as spares are kept. The 36 solid-fuled, mobile 
CSS-6s (DF-21) were first deployed in 1985 with a 1,800km range 
and a single warhead of up to 300kt yield. There may be up to 2 
SSBNs with 12 SLBMs (CSS-N-3), first deployed in 1986 with a 
range of up to 3,000km and a single warhead of up to 300kt. The 
CEPs of Chinese systems are not known. Half the DF-5s (2) are 
deployed in Luoning and some DF-4s are deployed at Sundian, both 
within our Northeast Asian zone. Other systems are deployed in 
southern and western China. The SSBNs are believed to be deployed 
with the North Sea Fleet. Not much is known about China's 
tactical systems, said to number 150 warheads. China is said to 
have MIRV capability but there are no deployed systems.

In sum, this data, as with that for conventional weapons, should 
be treated as at best suggesting general features, rather than 
providing hard and complete evidence. The first feature is that 
the great power deploy large numbers of nuclear warheads with 
massive destructive potential. This power far outweighs anything 
likely to be deployed by any other state for a long time to come. 
Second, the number of warheads have been reduced in recent years, 
the first time this has happened in the nuclear age. Third, China 
is the smallest nuclear power but considering the potential level 
of destruction, deterrence among the three powers remains robust. 
Fourth, while Russia and China are local powers with borders with 
North Korea, the United States deploys most of its nuclear forces 
at sea and has no land frontier. But the United States does have 
two key allies in the region, South Korea and Japan, whereas 
neither Russia nor China apparently have security treaty 
relationships with North Korea (or any other state).

As the discussion drifts into matters of deterrence and 
alliances, it becomes obvious that we need to explain the 
definition of the region.  "Northeast Asia" is not a scientific 
term (nor is there even an agreed spelling). (6) The best that 
one can do is to set out the current assumptions of this paper. 
The starting point is a sense that weapons, in-and-of-themselves, 
are not the problem, but the issue is how they are perceived and 
used by political leaders. Thus judgements are just that, 
judgements, about political issues. Our working definition 
focused on the middle of the Korean DMZ because the most pressing 
tension is that between the two Koreas and the concern over North 
Korea's nuclear weapons capability. If there were no tension 
surrounding North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, then it is a 
safe bet that there would be little international concern with 
the status of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia. Once that 
assumption is made, the facts of geography dictate that the 
territory of China and Russia is included in the Northeast Asian 
zone, but not that of the United States. 

It can be argued that a more politically correct definition of 
the region should include Guam and Alaska. That is certainly one 
way to tie in American forces and it is certainly true that 
American forces based in these places do operate in the Northeast 
Asian region. But Anchorage is as far from Seoul as Moscow is, 
and if the definition of Northeast Asia is widened this far, it 
takes in nearly all of European Russia, as well as Central and 
South Asia. 

In essence, the argument about a wider regional definition is 
part of a broader point often made by both the Chinese and 
critics of nuclear free zones. It is argued that nuclear weapons, 
and especially strategic weapons, are global in reach, and 
therefore should be counted globally, not regionally. It is 
argued that nuclear free zones are not the same as nuclear safe 
zones because weapons can be targeted from well outside any 
region, no matter how defined. Thus the fact that American forces 
in Alaska or Guam operate in Northeast Asia is little different 
than saying that American ICBMs in the mid-west or bombers based 
around the world, are targeted on Northeast Asia. Russian 
missiles in Northeast Asia do target Alaska, but they also target 
the continental USA. Chinese DF-5 missiles in Northeast Asia 
apparently target the United States and European Russia. 

This complex and global interconnection, is largely because the 
deployment of weapons essentially serves national strategies and 
these strategies have operated primarily with a view about global 
threats. If we consider the threat assessments of the great 
powers, it is clear that Northeast Asia has long been seen as 
part of a global strategic problem. Of course, we all remember 
those debates in Europe about whether one could fight a limited 
nuclear war and we should recall the absence of any firm 
conclusion. For those who always thought it less than likely that 
nuclear war could be so contained , it is clear that any 
discussion of Northeast Asian nuclear matters cannot be separated 
from global issues.

Thus we focus on Northeast Asia because of the Korean problem and 
we draw our regional boundaries from the centre of the DMZ. We 
broaden the range to include neighbouring countries who are 
players in the dispute. But we recognize that any proper 
consideration of the security problems in the region requires 
consideration of more global factors. In the end, we are more 
concerned with the "software" of politics that the hardware of 
nuclear weapons technology. 

For the United States, deployment of nuclear weapons in the 
Pacific region served a number of roles. The primary enemy was 
the Soviet Union, but as part of a global struggle. (7) There was 
regular talk about escalation scenarios for war in Europe that 
assumed the United States would compensate for Russian advantages 
in Europe with strikes against Pacific parts of the Soviet Union. 
The United States was also concerned with China after 1964 and 
Chinese targets began appearing on the SIOP in their own right, 
and not as part of a Sino-Soviet alliance. (8) The United States 
also had concerns about how to defend its allies, South Korea and 
Japan. These two were seen as threatened by the Soviet Union 
and/or China, and thus the United States had to consider problems 
of extended deterrence, much as they did in Europe. (9)  The 
United States was also concerned with North Korea, although not 
as a nuclear power. Scenarios concerning North Korea assumed a 
version of the Korean war which involved great powers with 
nuclear capabilities. (10)

With the end of the Cold War, there have been important changes 
in the American strategic calculation. (11) Most importantly, the 
risks of nuclear war with the main enemy, Russia, are seen as 
sharply reduced. Hence the major reduction in forces in recent 
years. While it is true that unlike in Europe, the presence of 
the Russian empire in East Asia has not changed, the political 
and economic reality is a Russian basket-case that poses little 
immediate threat.  The rise of Russian nationalism is certainly a 
worry for the future, but the decline in Russian power is real 
and long-lasting. Nevertheless, the nuclear arsenal is less 
affected by this process of decline, and the United States must 
guard against the scenario of an anti-American Russian 
nationalism armed with nuclear weapons. There is even the remote 
scenario of a disintegrating Russia where the successor regime in 
the Far East inherits a nuclear capability. Thus Russia will 
continue to feature in the American SIOP, but at a much reduced 
state of readiness.

China has always figured at a much lower level in American 
planning, and little has changed in recent years. China's nuclear 
capability modernizes at a very slow level and its makes no major 
effort to deploy large numbers of any nuclear weapon. (12)  The 
United States continues to find it prudent to deter China, but 
sees no reason for anxiety. The United States once considered 
China as a reason to deploy an ABM system, but current 
discussions about defensive systems do not include a China 
threat. If China is seen in a nuclear context then it is 
primarily in terms of its continuing nuclear testing programme 
and the effect that has on the prospects for renewal of the NPT. 
China is also seen as a main player in persuading North Korea to 
abandon its nuclear programme and as a contributor to possible 
proliferation in a range of other countries such as Pakistan, 
Syria, Iran or Algeria.  

From Russia's point of view, the nature of the threat has also 
changed with the end of the Cold War. (13) Not only is the United 
States seen as less threatening, but so is China. Much as in the 
American calculation, there are residual and new concerns but at 
nothing like the level of intensity seen during the Cold War. 
Given all that has been happening in Russian society and the 
armed forces, the status of nuclear forces ranks very low on the 
agenda, and even lower if the specific issue is forces in 
Northeast Asia. (14) There are worries about Kazakhstan, but not 
much about Korea. In the longer term there are worries about how 
Japan will cope with the North Korean issue and a possible 
removal of the American nuclear umbrella. But for the time being 
Russia feels it has more than enough nuclear weapons to deal with 
Northeast Asian contingencies.

China has long demonstrated such a laid back attitude to nuclear 
weapons. It has never deployed large numbers of any type of 
nuclear weapon and there are no signs of such a policy changing. 
(15)  It is true that the reduction in Russian and American 
arsenals has added pressure on China to do the same, but the gap 
remains large and China can properly claim to have a minimum 
deterrent. China's persistent testing of nuclear weapons while 
the other powers edge towards a CTBT has been a bigger problem in 
public relations terms, but it is not specifically a Northeast 
Asian issue. China continues to gradually modernize its nuclear 
weapons, but detente with Russia has made the process far from 
urgent. Periodic failures by the civilian version of its missiles 
suggests that it is still struggling with technical problems. In 
the context of Northeast Asia, China, like the other powers, is 
concerned with North Korea's intentions. It is unlikely that 
China wants to see a nuclear-armed North Korea, but nor does it 
wish to see Pyongyang humiliated by Western pressure. The result 
is a China in a difficult political position, which if badly 
handled, might lead to war on its Korean frontier and/or a 
nuclear-armed South Korea and Japan in due course. The political 
stakes are high, and higher than at any time since the end of the 
Korean war. 

In sum, it is clear that any discussion of nuclear forces in 
Northeast Asia has to take place in a global context. Any drawing 
of lines defining the region is arbitrary. But it is somewhat 
less arbitrary to argue that there is a concern with nuclear 
issues in Northeast Asia and it is focused on the risks of 
proliferation in Korea. There are risks in Japan as well, but 
they have existed for a long time and the most likely trigger for 
them to be activated is events in Korea. Nevertheless, because 
the great powers have nuclear weapons in the region and they are 
acutely involved in the resolution of the Korean issue, the 
disposition of their own forces in the area is important. Few 
people seriously believe there is much risk of conflict between 
the acknowledged nuclear powers in Northeast Asia, but there is 
much that these powers can do to help resolve the Korean issue. 
If proliferation is prevented in Northeast Asia, then few will 
worry about the status of nuclear forces in Northeast Asia. Hence 
we turn to a discussion of the links to the proliferation problem 
in Korea and Japan.

 Links to Proliferation in Korea and Japan

 This is not the place to discuss why North Korea seems to be 
acquiring nuclear weapons, but it is necessary to discuss the 
linkages between the Korean problem and the great powers. One of 
the few things that does seem clear about the Korean problem is 
that North Korea is motivated primarily by worries about the 
survival of its regime. It finds itself increasingly falling 
behind the South in all forms of competition, and most 
importantly in economic competition. Whether North Korea is 
actually acquiring nuclear weapons or not, it seems to feel that 
the threat to do so seems to get American and Japanese attention. 
The risk is that by engaging in such a high risk strategy of 
survival, it may bring about a major political and military 
crisis that will engulf the region. (16)

Of course, part of the reason for North Korea's brinkmanship is 
recent changes in great power policies towards Korea. Chinese, 
and then Russian detente with South Korea made it plain that the 
North had fewer and less warm friends. The fate of Communist 
regimes elsewhere in the world, and even the reforms in China and 
Vietnam, suggested that the North was under heavy pressure to 
change. Had China and Russia remained stalwart friends competing 
for North Korean favours, it is unlikely that we would be facing 
a crisis in Northeast Asia. But there is no turning back that 
particular clock, and we live in an environment where it is a 
fact of life that China and Russia will want to grow closer to 
South Korea. No great power wants to see a nuclear-armed North 
Korea, although China is less intensely opposed than Russia which 
is less intensely opposed than the Japanese or the Americans. 

There are a range of reasons deployed by China and to some extent 
Russia for not being too worried about North Korea. There is the 
argument that North Korea does not want to acquire nuclear 
weapons and it only wants to be loved. There is the view that 
even if North Korea did go nuclear, it would be no more serious a 
problem than living with Russian or Chinese nuclear power so it 
is not worth a crisis. There is also the view that the non-
proliferation regime has already been perforated by the likes of 
Israel, India and Pakistan.  

If China and Russia could know that a nuclear-armed North Korea 
would not provoke either a conflict or proliferation in South 
Korea or Japan, then they might be more relaxed about the Korean 
crisis. But China and Russia are less willing to sit back and 
watch because no one can have such assurances and the Americans 
and to some extent the Japanese are not prepared to take the 
chance. The European powers, and most notably France, have, if 
anything, taken a tougher line in the IAEA about the need to deal 
with this risk of proliferation. France sees obvious knock-on 
effects in North Africa or even in Eastern Europe. 

Now that the Western powers and the IAEA have committed so much 
prestige to halting a North Korean programme, there are firm 
linkages established between the Korean problem and wider 
regional and global security. There is unlikely to be any going 
back to a less worried mode of thinking without undermining 
regional and global anti-proliferation regimes.  The linkages 
between the levels of policy have already operated, sometimes 
with great effect. The Russians and Americans feared 
proliferation so they made serious efforts to reduce their 
nuclear arsenals and to withdraw sea-launched tactical systems. 
There has been more nuclear disarmament on the part of the 
Russians and Americans in recent years than at any other time in 
the nuclear age. What is more, North Korea demanded the 
withdrawal of American nuclear weapons in South Korea before 
serious talks could take place, and the Americans eventually 
agreed to do so. It can be argued that this concession to common 
sense looked a bit too much like a concession to North Korea, 
which only encouraged Pyongyang to ask for more. But it certainly 
established a process whereby the Korean and wider issues of 
nuclear weapons were linked.

The link now focuses on the need to counter proliferation by 
stopping the North Korean programme. Most of North Korea's 
demands before it accepts full inspections concern non-military 
linkage (trade, recognition).  Pyongyang demands the end to Team 
Spirit but rarely sees these exercises as a specifically nuclear 
threat. From North Korea's point of view, the current standoff 
concerns much wider issues.

But from the point of view of the wider world, the issue is 
precisely one of proliferation. The Europeans certainly see this 
matter as critical to holding the non-proliferation regime in 
place at a time of great strain. The Americans have similar 
concerns, but unlike the Europeans also have close alliance ties 
in Northeast Asia. Many American policymakers fear the 
consequences of proliferation for Japan, not to mention the 
damage it might do to regional security in an area of vital 
economic interest. Americans would like to withdraw forces from 
Japan and South Korea, but cannot do so in the current 
environment. They see this crisis as a test of American 
commitment to East Asia after the Cold War.

The current status of American policy is to transfer pressure to 
China in order to see if Beijing can produce compliance with the 
IAEA. In so doing, the Korean problem becomes wrapped up with 
broader Sino-American relations, including debates over trade and 
human rights. China is both offered a reason to play hardball in 
order to get greater concessions on trade and human rights 
issues, and to cooperate in order to prove that it is worthy of 
MFN status and a more positive American attitude. China is 
offered the opportunity to demonstrate that it wishes to be a 
responsible great power in the UN Security Council, and not just 
a reactive power that adjusts to agendas set by others.

The fact that China drafted a Security Council Presidential 
Statement critical of North Korea, demonstrated both of these 
Chinese impulses, with all the inherent contradictions. 

Not far behind in China's motivation for dealing with the North 
Korean issue is its uncertainty about relations with Japan. (18) 
There are some, the Chinese included, who argue that it is unfair 
to be so worked up about North Korea's nuclear programme when we 
ignore Japan's efforts. Of course, Japan has long had the option 
of going nuclear fairly rapidly, and its recent accumulation of 
plutonium and new processing capacity, merely makes the process a 
bit shorter and the potential arsenal much larger. But the 
essential risks have been present for some time, and were never 
activated because the political conditions did not make it 
necessary. In the post-Cold War world, China, like other powers, 
recognizes that its is precisely the political conditions that 
seem to be changing. (19)

China can see that Japan has greater doubts about the American 
guarantee now that the common Russian threat has eased. They can 
see that Tokyo is increasingly alarmed at China's own growth and 
its doubled defence budget in the past four years. China can also 
see that Japan sees North Korea as a different, and far less sane 
sort of power than China or Russia, and thus proliferation by 
North Korea is far more dangerous than living with a nuclear-
armed Russia or China. Japan reads the same signals about North 
Korea promising not to threaten South Korea but issuing no such 
promises to Japan.  Tokyo worries about the growing reach of 
North Korean ballistic missiles and sees China as in part 
responsible for this problem. Finally, Japanese domestic politics 
is in upheaval and what were once considered fixed points on its 
political agenda are rapidly changing. 

In short, despite growing Sino-Japanese economic relations, the 
strategic picture is worsening and North Korea is seen as a large 
part of the problem. It is very much in China's interest to 
remove the North Korean problem and perhaps ease Japan's 
concerns. China does not want Japan to embark on a major military 
programme and certainly not to acquire a nuclear weapons 
capability. One of China's current advantages over Japan is its 
superiority in military and especially nuclear capability. If the 
next century is really going to include a confrontation between 
Japan and China, then China has every reason to lull Japan into a 
sense a calm about the future so the Chinese economy can grow 
strong. Even if the future is less nasty, China still has no 
interest in a worried Japan that builds up its military forces 
and unleashes its pent-up nationalism. 

In short, the uncertainties about Korea and Japan are the prime 
motive for worry about nuclear forces in Northeast Asia. All the 
great powers have an active interest in preventing drastic change 
in the military status quo in Northeast Asia. All three nuclear 
powers can agree that if they could reduce concern about North 
Korea, they could lessen the incentive for Japan to change its 
policies. If all this could take place, then the great powers 
could go back to minimizing the attention paid to Northeast Asian 
security. But if they fail to deal with Korea, then they will all 
be forced to pay close attention to Northeast Asia, and even the 
status of nuclear forces might come into play. So what can be 
done to deal with the risks?

 An Arms Control Agenda

 Sensible arms control begins with an assessment of the main 
problem and an understanding of what is achievable. It may be 
that a nuclear-free Northeast Asia is the objective, but it is 
not achievable without at least a nearly-nuclear- free world. A 
more achievable, but still difficult goal, is to prevent further 
proliferation of nuclear weapons in Northeast Asia so that the 
process of reducing nuclear forces and tension can continue. 
Approaching this goal requires action that sometimes might be 
unilateral, and more often would be better for being negotiated, 
verifiable and multilateral. The absence of any effective 
multilateral mechanism for arms control in Northeast Asia is a 
problem much lamented of late, but with little indication that 
progress is being made to meet the challenge. (20)

Of course, any strategy that might be adopted depends on an 
assessment of the nature of the problem with North Korea. If the 
problem is essentially one of how to reassure North Korea about 
its continuing existence, then the problem is barely concerned 
with changes in nuclear policy and much more with trade deals and 
diplomatic niceties. If the problem is about ascertaining whether 
North Korea has a nuclear weapons program and if so, how much has 
it achieved, then the arms control agenda is far more concerned 
with nuclear issues. This paper assumes that the problem is about 
both, in that regime survival is what has motivated North Korea 
to acquire nuclear weapons. But it also assumes that North Korea, 
like others before it, can step back from the brink of nuclear 
weapon status and to that end, there are steps which the 
international community can take to make this outcome more 

 At the global level, it is vital that:

 þ    Russia and the United States continue to demonstrate their 
seriousness in reducing their nuclear arsenal. If the Russians 
and Americans were really in a state of nuclear tension, the 
reductions in the past few years would not have taken place. The 
cuts demonstrate that the international trend is towards the 
reduction in nuclear arsenal and that those who seek to go the 
other way should be stopped. For too long the superpowers were 
not serious about nuclear arms control which undermined their 
ability to limit nuclear proliferation. The fact that some 
previous efforts to limit proliferation failed is no reason to 
sanction new failures, especially when important successes have 
been chalked up (South Africa, Latin America). From the point of 
view of Northeast Asia, it is important that further reductions 
in Russian and American arsenals includes, if not features, 
reductions is weapons deployed in Northeast Asia. 

þ    As the nuclear superpowers (and in this respect there are 
still two superpowers) reduce their arsenals, the need for medium 
nuclear powers to join the process of reduction becomes all the 
more important.  In Northeast Asia, the main attention focuses on 
China. The Chinese, like the Russians before them, should be 
encouraged to re-structure their arsenal to rely less on land-
based systems and more on SLBMs. China still has technological 
problems in this respect and arms control might involve measures 
of "positive conditionality" that include technology transfer in 
exchange for serious arms control. If even China is seen to be 
reducing its nuclear arsenal, the NPT regime will be 

 þ    Strengthening the NPT regime requires a series of more 
specific measures, including serious progress on a CTBT. The 
current moratorium on testing is abided by all states except the 
one that tests in the region--China. Chinese officials murmur 
about their intention to cease testing in 1996 and their desire 
to sign on to a CTBT then. If there really is momentum on this 
issue, then it should be shoved along. Once again, positive 
conditionality could be used in order to provide China (or even 
France) with technology necessary to simulate testing. 

 At the regional level there seems to be far less that can be 
done that concerns current stockpiles of weapons, but more that 
can be done in the wider diplomatic realm. The problem is that as 
far as Russia and the United States are concerned, the Northeast 
Asian region cannot be divorced from global strategies and 
therefore it makes little sense to specifically limit Northeast 
Asian nuclear forces. China may find it easier to re-configure 
forces in the long run, but then if it faces similar demands from 
other neighbours, its national security would be severely 
affected. Thus any Chinese, American and Russian systems above 
tactical range are unlikely candidates for further reductions. 
Nevertheless, there is much that can be done in arms control at 
the regional level. Measures might include some of the following:

 þ    A register of nuclear arms in the region would be most 
welcome.  Anyone who has tried to compile a list of nuclear 
weapons deployed in the region as we tried earlier in this 
article will know how much suspicion would be cleared up by this 
simple act of transparency.  The Russians and the Americans are 
perhaps closest to achieving such openness and the American NCND 
policy seems more flexible than ever before. China's surprisingly 
cooperative behaviour regarding the UN Conventional Arms Register 
suggests that the optimists might be right and China is prepared 
to cooperate on arms control once it learns the advantages of the 

 þ    Transparency might also be extended to more basic aspects 
such as military doctrine, threat perceptions and/or priorities 
of defence industry.  A great deal of this already takes place in 
the post-Cold War dialogues between Americans and Russians. 
Specific efforts can be made at the regional level and they might 
seek the participation of China and perhaps other states. China 
is especially reticent on these matters, hence the wildly varying 
estimates of such basics as Chinese defence spending. Specific 
dialogues might be held to include civil nuclear programs so as 
to ease concern about Japanese intentions. There are clearly many 
steps that could be taken under the guise of improving the safety 
of civil nuclear plants that would also have a military 
confidence building spin-off.  Once again, positive 
conditionality could be useful to encourage cooperation. By 
offering access to new technologies, cooperation could be made 
more likely.

 It is true that none of these measures would deal directly with 
the problem of North Korea. In essence, the time has passed for 
such direct linkages, if only because the credibility of the 
entire non-proliferation system is on the line when North Korea 
defies the IAEA. But these other arms control measures might be 
useful in a more general way if the North Korea problem is 
primarily about reassuring the North. If Pyongyang fears that 
once they let the IAEA carry out full inspections then the West 
will no longer pay attention to North Korea if they find nothing 
to worry about, then the arms control process may be a way to 
reassure North Korea about continuing cooperation. 

It is in this respect that positive conditionality offers much 
hope, for it promises North Korea real cooperation if it 
undertakes certain actions. North Korea's failure to fully 
cooperate with the IAEA does not bode well, but if they should 
fully cooperate, then it becomes all the more important to 
demonstrate that good behaviour brings rewards. Of course, if 
North Korea is really seeking nuclear weapons as a way to ensure 
the survival of the regime, then there is little that these, or 
any other measures will do to prevent the nuclear problems in 
Northeast Asia from getting much worse.

1. In 1986 the US warhead stockpile was 23,400, compared to 
45,000 for the Soviet Union and 425 for China (6.1% of the world 
total).  In 1993 the US held 16,750, Russia held 32,000 and China 
held 435 warheads (8.7%).

2. The numbers used in this paper are derived from a number of 
sources, few of which agree on specifics but most have broadly 
the same trends.  apart from the annual volumes of The Military 
Balance published by Brassey's for the IISS and the SIPRI 
Yearbook published by Oxford University Press for SIPRI, there is 
also the Nuclear Weapons Databook Vol. V, by Robert Norris et. 
al. (Boulder: Westview, 1993). 3. The Guardian, 3 February 1994.

4. In 1993 the US had 400 warheads on inactive reserve and 5,850 
retired warheads.  russia had 17,000 inactive and retired 
warheads.  See "Nuclear Notebook," Bulletin of the Atomic 
Scientists, July and December 1993, both on p. 57.

5. Jane's Defence Weekly, 5 June 1993.

6. On the debates see Gerald Segal, Rethinking the Pacific 
(Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1990).

7. Robert Art, "The US: Nuclear Weapons and Grand Strategy" in 
Regina Cowen Karp, ed., Security With Nuclear Weapons? (Oxford: 
Oxford University Press, for SIPRI, 1991).

8. Michael Mazarr Missile Defences and Asian-Pacific Security 
(London: Macmillan, 1988).

9. Michael Mazarr, "The INF Treaty and Asia-Pacific Security," 
The Pacific Review, vol. 1, no. 3, 1988.

10. Sang Hoon Park, "The US, South Korea, and the North Korea 
Problem," Survival, Summer 1994.

11. CSIS Nuclear Strategy Group, Towards a Nuclear Peace 
(Washington: CSIS, June 1993).

12. Gerald Segal, "China" in Cowen-Karp ed., Security with 
Nuclear Weapons?

13. Dunbar Lockwood and Jon Wolfsthal, "Nuclear Weapons and 
Proliferation," SIPRI Yearbook, 1993 (Oxford: Oxford University 
Press for SIPRI, 1993).

14. Renee de Nevers, Rethinking Russian Security (London: 
Brassey's for the IISS, Adelphi Paper forthcoming 1994).

15. John Lewis and Hua Di, "China's Ballistic Missile Program," 
International Security, vol. 17, no. 2, Fall 1992 and John 
Hopkins and Weiming Hu, "Strategic Views from the Second Tier" 
and Litai Xue, "Evolution of China's Nuclear Strategy" (based on 
John Lewis and Xue Litai's China's Strategic Seapower, Stanford 
University Press, 1994), both in John Hopkins and Weiming Hu, 
eds., Strategic Views from the Second Tier (San Diego: IGCC, 
January 1994).

16. See the author's contribution to Jane's Intelligence Review, 
North Korea; A potential time bomb (Special Report No. 2, April 

17. James Hoare, Korea and the Great Powers (London: Brassey's 
for the IISS, Adelphi Paper forthcoming 1994).

18. Gerald Segal, "The Coming Confrontation Between China and 
Japan?" World Policy Journal, vol. 10, no. 2, Summer 1993.

19. See generally Ron Matthews and Keisuke Matsuyama eds., 
Japan's Military Renaissance (London: Macmillan, 1993).

20. Paul Evans, "The CSCAP Process," The Pacific Review, vol. 7, 
no. 2, 1994.

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