The North Korean Nuclear Problem
Policy Briefs

The North Korean Nuclear Problem

APLN Policy Brief 52

The following is a summary. Click on the adjacent link to download the full brief.

Diplomacy will be essential to avoid sleepwalking into war in Northeast Asia, and to achieve the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. The key objective is to preserve peace and prosperity in the region. Armed conflict on the Korean Peninsula is an increasing possibility – between 25 and 50 per cent – though not yet a probability. Strong Chinese intervention would entail risk for China; but so too does the current situation, where tensions continue to rise. While for the moment China is disinclined to press North Korea into negotiations, the Trump administration’s tough talk is beginning to worry Beijing. One positive development is Russia’s willingness to engage. There may also be greater scope for engagement through UN channels. The real question is the possible shape and content of a final diplomatic solution. A partial solution, a freeze of the North’s ICBM program, might expose South Korea and Japan to a form of North Korean ‘nuclear blackmail’, and undermine US alliance solidarity. There is also the possibility of an eventual diplomatic ‘grand bargain’ for the Korean Peninsula. An enhanced regional security architecture is essential to help manage long-term regional disputes.

About the Author

Kevin Rudd is President of the Asia Society Policy Institute, New York and a Member of the APLN. He was the 26th Prime Minister of Australia (December 2007–June 2010, June–September 2013).


Image: Wikimedia Commons.

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