Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue: Challenges and Prospects
Nuclear Weapon Use Risk Reduction

Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue: Challenges and Prospects

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In this APLN Special Report titled “Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue: Challenges and Prospects”, Dr. Anastasia Barannikova, Research Fellow at ADM Nevelskoy Maritime State University, criticises current approaches to resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue. 

Barannikova provides a detailed overview of the DPRK’s nuclear history and motives for acquiring nuclear weapons. She argues that the DPRK’s nuclear status has already been accepted as a part of the regional status quo, and attempts by other actors to change the DPRK’s nuclear status would be destabilizing to regional security. 

That the DPRK’s nuclear status has become a part of the status quo is not to say that it cannot have further negative effects on nuclear proliferation: it gives pretext for South Korea, Japan, and even Taiwan to consider nuclear options; it establishes precedent for withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty; and there is a real risk that it will sell its nuclear technology for economic gain. 

From this analysis, Barannikova makes the point that by focusing solely on the denuclearization of the DPRK, the international community risks missing other, more serious problems for the global nuclear non-proliferation regime. Under present conditions, preventing further proliferation, which is more possible and feasible, should be prioritized over the attempts to reverse the irreversible – that is, to reverse the nuclear status of the DPRK.  

This report is a part of a joint project on Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Weapon Use in Northeast Asia (NU-NEA) and has been cross-posted by the Nautilus Institutethe Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition (RECNA), and the Panel on Peace and Security of North East Asia (PSNA). The year 1 final report of the project is now available here.


About the Author

Anastasia Barannikova is a research fellow at ADM Nevelskoy Maritime State University (Vladivostok, Russia) and non-resident senior fellow of Mongolian Institute of Northeast Asian Security and Strategy (Mongolia).

She was a visiting fellow at Center for Strategic & International Studies (CSIS) in 2019, James Martin Center for Non-Proliferation Studies (CNS), Middlebury Institute of International Studies in 2020 and Institute of Far Eastern Studies, Kyungnam University in 2021. She holds PhD in History from ADM Nevelskoy Maritime State University.

Barannikova is the author of more than 100 publications in scientific journals, newspapers, and blogs, including articles in Russian, English, Chinese, Korean, Mongolian, and Japanese languages. Her research interests include (but not limited by) regional (Northeast Asia) security and nuclear non-proliferation: Korean Peninsula, reunification, DPRK foreign and domestic policies, DPRK nuclear and missile program, nuclear posture.

Disclaimer: The views expressed in this report do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members.

Image: iStock/ Perytskyy

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