3 Items

A crane carries a bucket containing concrete to the foundation of a reactor during the first concrete pouring for the Light Water Reactor Project in North Korea on August 7, 2002.

AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File

Journal Article - Quarterly Journal: International Security

Normalization by Other Means—Technological Infrastructure and Political Commitment in the North Korean Nuclear Crisis

| Summer 2020

The 1994 Agreed Framework called for North Korea to dismantle its plutonium-production complex in exchange for civilian light water reactors (LWRs) and the promise of political normalization with the United States. Political and technical analysis reveals how the LWR project helped build credibility for the political changes promised in the Agreed Framework.

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.

In this image made from video provided by Korea Broadcasting System (KBS), South Korean President Moon Jae-in, left, and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un pose after signing documents in Pyongyang on Sept. 19, 2018 (Korea Broadcasting System via AP).

Korea Broadcasting System via AP

Analysis & Opinions - War on the Rocks

A Window into Kim's Nuclear Intentions? A Closer Look at North Korea's Yongbyon Offer

| Jan. 15, 2019

Is North Korea serious about denuclearizing in exchange for a new peace architecture on the Korean Peninsula? Analysts are split on the matter. Many reject the possibility out of hand, insisting that the regime views nuclear weapons as essential to its identity and security for the indefinite future. Others point to North Korea’s security environment as the root cause of its perceived need for nuclear weapons, and suggest that if its hostile environment were to change, the regime might be less committed to remaining a nuclear weapons state.