North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons

North Korea has been suspected to develop nuclear weapons since early 1900’s, and it ended up withdrawing from Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 2003. The Six Party Talks were launched in August 2003 to find a peaceful resolution of ending North Korea’s nuclear program. The six participating states involved China, the United States, North and South Korea, Japan, and Russia. Starting in 2003 until 2007, there has been total 6 rounds of negotiations, and culminated in an agreement that North Korea agreed to abandon its nuclear weapons in exchange for fuel aid and better relations with the United States and Japan in 2005.

However, in 2006, North Korea conducted its first nuclear test and in 2009, North Korea proceeded its satellite launch which was the second nuclear test, despite international pressure not to do so. The launch failed and it landed in the Pacific Ocean. Many countries worldwide as well as the UN Security Council condemned the launch as a violation of Security Council resolutions. As a result of North Korea’s repeated missile tests and provocations, the Six Party Talks were discontinued and North Korea walked out of negotiations in 2009.

The world has concluded that there’s no more ways they can disarm North Korea which is the most unpredictable country, and the Western states’ hope hinged on China to control its ally. But Chinese officials have refused to participate in sanctions against North Korea. On February this year, Secretary of State John Kerry urged Chinese leadership to persuade North Korea to abandon nuclear weapons and come back to the Six Party Talks.

Interestingly, China which had been reluctant to go against to North Korea has recently taken a strong stance on it. China has cut off oil supply to North Korea from January to June this year, and the Chinese leader, Xi Jinping, bluntly told a North Korean envoy that his country should return to negotiations. Kyodo News reported on 14 September that China clarified its position that they will keep cutting off oil and other aids until North Korea ends its nuclear program and returns to the diplomatic talks.

Based on what we have discussed in class, we can come to think that the negotiation between six countries has failed due to North Korea’s commitment problem. Such effort of the other five members of the Six Party Talks to disarm North Korea seems to have not gone smoothly, and North Korea is getting more isolated among the international community as its relations with one of few allies, China, has declined. Whether the bargaining solution of “tying hands” will work now depends on North Korea’s further steps.

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9 thoughts on “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons

  1. It will be interesting to see what North Korea’s next move will be. Will they return to the negotiating table? Or will they continue to ignore international law and the pressure of the international community? One thing we can be certain of is that nothing like the movie Red Dawn will occur.

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  2. Reading your original post, when you explained how china clarified it’s position and how they would be cutting off oil ; it automatically brought me back to the negotiations discussion we had in class. And how those in higher power struggle in acting just when it comes to making negotiations that have a strong impact on them as a whole as opposed to just in certain aspects within their government .

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  3. This is kind of a tough issue. It can be interpreted that North Korea is just unhinged and irrational, but in a world dominated by so many other entities particularly in the West it could be looked at as a defense tactic against Western influence and a kind of reactionary rebellion against globalization. Now that even China is becoming more critical of North Korea, the potential future results shall be very interesting.

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  4. This is a tough issue. Especially quite scary, seeing as how unpredictable and, historically speaking, aggressive North Korea is. This seems to influence the idea of “black boxes” for the realist perspective too. Unknown motives seem to be in North Korea’s favor, even though a compromise would solve most or all of the problems with having imposing nuclear threats.

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  5. I think the uncertainty here plays into North Korea’s hand very well. As a small country being watched by many other countries its to their advantage to continue to isolate themselves and stir confusion and skepticism about their nuclear capabilities. I wonder how other countries who have been close to North Korea in the past would respond to North Korean aggression on say any nation.

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  6. When North Korea violated the resolution, it was South Korea that felt everything was so serious than any other nations. Because we have so much responsibility that we need to treat North Korea as brother’s country but their act would always come up with the surprise. Their unpredictable behaviors also comes up any time by missile testing or just attacking the borders between South Korea. I would think that it is also South Korea too which is facing the isolation in international society by feeling inconvenience between North Korea and the other allies granting in both sides.

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  7. This blog post does a good job of summarizing and analyzing this issue. I think the idea that much of the failure of these negotiations can be traced back to North Korea’s commitment issues however I agree with Matt that uncertainty plays a big role as well. For instance, even if North Korea did commit for some amount of time, how strongly do we think other nations would trust North Korea, and vice versa? Would they really not questions whether or not North Korea was abiding by any agreements they had come to? As discussed in class, it is difficult to get around uncertainty especially when dealing with a state that has expressed commitment issues and irrational behavior.

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  8. N. Korea is already an isolated country. I believe they do not have a care in the world to follow up positive bargaining with the 6 countries that are willing to co-operate. China is doing the right thing by continuing to cut off oil supply and other economic resources. I hope N. Korea will co-operate and become more internationally friendly; the question of the day is, will they?

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  9. I think that 6 party talk doesn’t work because they have different interests.
    For example, 3 month ago Kim Jong-Un started negotiate with Japan about Japanese economic sanctions on North Korea. So, now they are in negotiation. However, What topic between North-Korea and Japan is not possessing nuclear weapon, but the issue of abducted Japanese take to North Korea. As a result, Japanese government reduce the economic sanction.
    Therefore, I believe that North-Korea won’t be really isolated from international society. Moreover, Whether the bargaining solution of “tying hands” will work don’t depends on North Korea’s further steps, but how seriously the important countries react to North-Korea nuclear possess.

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