239 Items

Discussion Paper - Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs, Harvard Kennedy School

A Theory of Engagement With North Korea

| May 2019

At the Hanoi Summit in February 2019, the United States and North Korea reached a familiar impasse—diplomacy broke down over the appropriate order of near-term steps, and the world was left wondering whether any package of rewards would be enough to incentivize denuclearization.

In a new Managing the Atom Discussion Paper, Christopher Lawrence outlines an alternative conceptual framework for engaging North Korea. Rather than offering rewards for nuclear rollback, the approach focuses on building credibility around the notion of a shared political future. Lawrence suggests that physical actions—such as shared investments in integrated rail, electricity, or mining infrastructure—speak more credibly about the political future for all the parties involved than do written commitments or more transient “carrots” and “sticks.” The international relationships created by infrastructure projects may alter North Korea's security calculus over time, and incrementally reduce its dependence on nuclear weapons. Drawing lessons from the 1994 Agreed Framework, Lawrence reinterprets the history of nonproliferation engagement with North Korea, and illuminates possible opportunities to break the diplomatic impasse after the Hanoi summit.

A North Korean military parade (Stefan Krasowski via Flickr).

Stefan Krasowski via Flickr

Journal Article - Defense and Security Analysis

An Evolving State of Play? Exploring Competitive Advantages of State Assets in Proliferation Networks

| Jan. 17, 2019

Illicit procurement networks often target industry in developed economies to acquire materials and components of use in WMD and military programs. These procurement networks are ultimately directed by elements of the proliferating state and utilize state resources to undertake their activities: diplomats and missions, state intelligence networks, and state-connected logistical assets. These state assets have also been utilized to facilitate the export of WMD and military technologies in breach of sanctions. While used in most historic proliferation cases, their role has seen limited consideration in the scholarly literature. This article seeks to systematically contextualize state resources in proliferation networks, arguing that their use lies between state criminality and routine activity in support of national security. Considering the competitive advantages of these assets compared to similar resources available in the private sector, the article argues that nonproliferation efforts have caused states to change how they use these resources through an ongoing process of competitive adaptation.

People at Seoul Train Station watch a a local news program reporting about a North Korean missile launch. Aug. 30, 2017 (Lee Jin-man/Associated Press).

Lee Jin-man/Associated Press

Journal Article - The RUSI Journal

North Korea’s Missile Programme and Supply-Side Controls: Lessons for Countering Illicit Procurement

| Oct. 17, 2018

Despite one of the most extensive sanctions regimes in history, including an embargo on missile technologies, North Korea has taken huge steps forward in its ballistic missile programme. Daniel Salisbury explores the limitations of, and challenges of implementing, supply-side approaches to missile nonproliferation. Considering North Korea’s recent progress and efforts to evade sanctions, the article highlights the continuing need to strengthen efforts to counter illicit trade in missile-related technologies.

Defense Secretary Jim Mattis takes his seat for a hearing of the House Armed Services Committee

AP

Analysis & Opinions - Axios

Trump's Nuclear Review Could Trigger a Chain Reaction in Asia

| Feb. 08, 2018

"Just as U.S. nuclear strategy and arsenal expansions affect those of China, China's nuclear shifts affect India's threat perceptions. Pakistan, in turn, pays close attention to any growth in Indian nuclear forces. To avoid a nuclear chain reaction in Asia, Congress should take a stand against proliferation and refuse to fund these new weapons programs."

Mansudae Grand Monument Pyongyand, DPRK

Clay Gilliland/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Weaponizing US Courts Against North Korean Proliferators

| Aug. 01, 2017

In July, North Korea test fired a ballistic missile said to be capable of reaching the United States. Not surprisingly, Kim Jong-un’s provocations have been met with increased calls by congressional leadership and policymakers to ratchet up the pressure on China — North Korea’s lifeline to the international financial system, according to a recent UN report. A difficult question for policymakers now is how far should the United States go to increase pressure against China?

Analysis & Opinions - Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists

Has South Korea Renounced "Nuclear Hedging"?

| June 27, 2017

"While it remains to be seen how the Moon administration's nuclear energy and security policies will materialize, it is too early to conclude that Seoul is renouncing the option of nuclear hedging. Uncertainty over the US commitment to security alliances under President Trump, combined with the election of a South Korean president who is promoting more independent national security, makes it unlikely that South Korea is abandoning the hedging option altogether."

Los Alamos National Laboratory, National Security Science, July 2015

Los Alamos National Laboratory

Discussion Paper - Managing the Atom Project, Belfer Center

When Did (and Didn’t) States Proliferate?

| June 2017

In this Project on Managing the Atom Discussion Paper, Philipp C. Bleek chronicles nuclear weapons proliferation choices throughout the nuclear age. Since the late 1930s and early 1940s, some thirty-one countries are known to have at least explored the possibility of establishing a nuclear weapons program. Seventeen of those countries launched weapons programs, and ten acquired deliverable nuclear weapons.

teaser image

Presentation - Foundation for Defense of Democracies

State of Play and Future of the Multilateral Non-proliferation Regimes and Initiatives

| May 29, 2017

The last couple of years have seen mixed progress in non-proliferation, arms control, and disarmament. On the positive side, we can applaud the Ministerial-level Nuclear Security conference in December 2016 and actions emanating from that.

President Moon Jae-in the 19th President of Republic of Korea

Republic of Korea/Flickr

Analysis & Opinions - Foreign Policy

Will South Korea’s New President Foil Trump’s Attempt to Pressure North Korea?

| May 11, 2017

President Donald Trump has identified North Korea as an urgent threat from whom nobody is safe, but efforts to maximize pressure and convince Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear weapons program have always been a long shot. The only chance of ending North Korea’s nuclear obsession is for the United States, South Korea, Japan, and China to collectively put enough pressure on Pyongyang to convince Kim Jong Un that a deal has to be made. Once North Korea comes to the table, all four states then have to be ready to take yes for an answer, offering a combination of security and economic incentives to make denuclearization a reasonable alternative for North Korea’s leader.

Pixabay

Pixabay

Analysis & Opinions - The Diplomat

Watch Out for the Blowback of Secondary Sanctions on North Korea

| Apr. 28, 2017

While tensions continue to flare along the Korean peninsula, the Trump administration struggles to articulate its strategy to persuade North Korea to halt its nuclear program. In a recent visit to the de-militarized zone, Vice President Pence warned Pyongyang to not test America’s “strength and resolve,” citing recent U.S. military strikes in Syria and Afghanistan as a forewarning. A not-so-veiled threat that the Trump administration considers “all options” to be on the table. What is unknown, however, is whether this increased rhetoric is merely saber-rattling or is the opening salvo for a true shift from Obama’s doctrine of “strategic patience.” That is, continuing to apply political and economic pressure until Pyongyang returns to the negotiating table.