The Future Impact of North Korea’s Emerging Nuclear Deterrent on Nuclear Nonproliferation

The Future Impact of North Korea’s Emerging Nuclear Deterrent on Nuclear Nonproliferation

The emergence of North Korea’s nuclear deterrent has been a grievous blow to international nonproliferation efforts and poses serious national security challenges for the United States and its Northeast Asian allies. It is by no means clear, however, that the precedent North Korea has set will significantly erode the nonproliferation regime or stimulate proliferation elsewhere.

This paper will identify a number of arenas where North Korea’s becoming a nuclear weapons possessor state might be expected to have significant negative consequences, and it will assess the damage likely to be done. As will be seen, the ripple effects of North Korea’s crossing the nuclear threshold may be more limited than they first appear.

Download the report, “The Future Impact of North Korea’s Emerging Nuclear Deterrent on Nuclear Nonproliferation” by Leonard S. Spector.

Find other papers in the North Korea’s Nuclear Futures Series.

*This report was modified on November 6, 2015 to clarify an ambiguity in the article.

All rights reserved, except that authorization is given herewith to academic institutions and educators to reproduce for academic use as long as appropriate credit is given to the author and to this publication.

The views expressed in this publication are of the authors and do not necessarily represent the opinions of the US-Korea Institute at SAIS.

This publication results from research supported by the Naval Postgraduate School’s Project on Advanced Systems and Concepts for Countering Weapons of Mass Destruction (PASCC) via Assistance Grant/Agreement No. N00244-14-1-0024 awarded by the NAVSUP Fleet Logistics Center San Diego (NAVSUP FLC San Diego). The views expressed in written materials or publications, and/or made by speakers, moderators, and presenters, do not necessarily reflect the official policies of the Naval Postgraduate School nor does mention of trade names, commercial practices, or organizations imply endorsement by the US Government.

This North Korea’s Nuclear Futures Series was also made possible by support from the John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation.

The US-Korea Institute (USKI) at the Paul H. Nitze School of Advanced International Studies, Johns Hopkins University, works to increase information and understanding of Korea and Korean affairs. USKI’s efforts combine innovative research with a repertoire of outreach activities and events that encourage the broadest possible debate and dialogue on the Korean peninsula among scholars, policymakers, students, NGO and business leaders, and the general public. USKI also sponsors the Korea Studies Program at SAIS, a growing policy studies program preparing the next generation of leaders in the field of Korean affairs. For more information, visit www.uskoreainstitute.org.