Academic journal article Asia Policy

Introduction

Academic journal article Asia Policy

Introduction

Article excerpt

In 2016, North Korea successfully completed its fourth and fifth nuclear weapon tests and redoubled its efforts to develop a credible delivery system. The Kim Jong-un regime thus appears committed to continuing the byungjin (parallel development) policy that has made the pursuit of nuclear weapons a cornerstone of North Korea's national security strategy. Most analysts believe that the country currently possesses 10-16 nuclear weapons and, under low to moderate growth estimates, could develop 20-50 weapons by 2020. Statements by Kim in early 2017 indicate a persistent drive to couple these weapons with fully operational ballistic missile systems that can directly threaten the U.S. mainland in addition to U.S. allies in Asia.

Over the last two decades, the United States, its East Asian allies, and other regional stakeholders have tried varying degrees of diplomacy, threats, and sanctions to compel Pyongyang to abandon its nuclear program, but to date no successful formula has emerged. The Obama administration's policy of "strategic patience" with North Korea produced little change to the status quo, and the regime's growing nuclear proficiency is rapidly becoming a problem that its neighbors in Northeast Asia can no longer ignore. Each state, however, has different perspectives on how to best respond and implement strategies that will bring about change on the Korean Peninsula.

This Asia Policy roundtable contains five essays that examine the relationships between North Korea and South Korea, China, Japan, and the United States. First, Chung-in Moon outlines South Korea's recent approach toward Pyongyang and argues that the time may be right for a return to diplomacy. Ren Xiao explains China's current challenge of balancing growing fears of North Korea's nuclear capabilities with wariness over the insecurity that might arise on China's borders if strong international intervention brings about the collapse of the Kim regime. …

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