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North Korea's Influence of Peace in North East Asia

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North Korea and North East Asian Peace and Security

Current security issues in North East Asia, raised by North Korea Nuclear Test. Please examine how far North Korea can affect the peace and stability in Northeast Asia and how other countries such as America, Japan, China, and Russia react on this issue. And lastly, How to solve this security issues permanently and increases future stability in the area?


The following dissertation will discuss and evaluate North Korea's influence and effect upon peace and security within the North East Asia region. This dissertation will evaluate North Korea's relationships with other countries in the North East Asia region such as South Korea, Japan, and China. Countries from outside the immediate North East Asia region like the UnitedStates, Russia (as the largest successor state of the Soviet Union) and to a lesser extent Britain and France also have an interest in the North East Asia Region. All these countries have an interest in preventing the proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear tests. For instance these countries must consider how the actions or the potential actions of the North Korean government are able to influence or effect peace and security within the North East Asia region. Nongovernmental organisations like the United Nations and the Association of South East Asian Nations (ASEAN), as well as the International Atomic Energy Authority (IAEA) have taken a great deal of interest in how North Korea effects the peace and security of its immediately neighbouring countries. These organisations are taking North Korea's nuclear programme as well as its ballistic missile capacity into account when they regard the North Korean threat to peace and security going beyond the confines of the North East Asia region itself.

This dissertation will evaluate the development and changes in North Korean government policies that have influenced and arguably threatened peace and security of the North East Asia region from Korea's initial division at the end of the Second World War through to the present day. North Korea has been regarded as a threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region ever since Pyongyang's decision to invade South Korea provoked the Korean War of 1950 to 1953. The Korean War as will be discussed set the mould for North Korean defence and foreign policies, whilst ensuring the importance of the relationship with China and Russia. The North Korean regime, as will be shown, has been very reluctant to embrace and adopt any kind of economic or political reforms, preferring to use its scant resources on maintaining and expanding its military capacity. It is also continuing its nuclear weapons programme, long drawn talks having yet to result in effective nuclear disarmament, and thus undermining peace and security within the North East Asia region, and when issues of nuclear proliferation are
concerned outside that region.

Finally the following will explore whether there are any ways in which North Korea can finally become a country that its neighbours in the North East Asia region could trust and believe will not threaten their common peace and stability rather than a country that they mistrust. The United Nations is an organisation that could offer the North Korean assistance to overcome its failed economy in return for the ending of North Korea's nuclear programme and potentially aggressive foreign policy. The main onus for international efforts to contain North Korean nuclear weapons development has been by the United States, China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea. The prospects for the international community being able to monitor and eventually close down North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, dismantling any weapons already constructed will also be discussed and evaluated.


Korea has a long history of being a definable and separate nation state, although it was for many centuries subject to Chinese and later Japanese control (Lenman, 2004, p.450). Japanese control of Korea was ended by its defeat in the Second World War, which would inadvertently lead to the partition of Korea (Whitaker's, 2007, p.892). The division of Korea was caused by the way that the Allied powers liberated the country from Japanese occupation, United States troops cleared the south, with the Soviet Union being responsible for clearing the north. This was intended to be a temporary division along the 38th parallel that would provoke the hottest conflict of the Cold War, as well as creating a dispute that continues to destabilise the peace and the security of the North East Asia region. As with the division of Vietnam the division was purely carried out as a reflection of the distribution of American and Soviet armed forces at the time of the Japanese surrender in September 1945 (Gaddis, 2005, p.41).

It was Kim Il Sung who had previously fought the Japanese for many years that emerged as North Korea's first political leader, and he would be the man most responsible for his country's attempt to re-unite Korea by force. Kim Il Sung was also responsible for North Korea's subsequently militant defence and foreign policies that has remained stridently anti-Western, militaristic, and potentially aggressive towards its immediate neighbours in the North East Asia region ever since. It was Kim Il Sung that decided to re-unite Korea by force, after his realisation that diplomacy would not bring about such a re-unification led to the plan to invade South Korea, although he seems to have pre-empted similar plans that the South Koreans had hoped to implement. Kim Il Sung went ahead with that invasion with the approval of the Soviet Union and China, and the apparent indifference of the United States, which had already withdrawn its military garrisons from South Korea during 1949. However, the North Korean invasion which, was launched in June 1950 persuaded the United States to lead the United Nation's forces into defending South Korea and driving the North Koreans back across the 38th parallel. The United States had been able to take advantage of the Soviet Union's representative not been at the United Nations due to the Soviet decision to boycott the organisation due to Communist China being excluded from the Security Council (Evans & Newnham, 1998, p. 293). The United States decision to intervene in the Korean War started its long -standing military alliance with South Korea to guarantee South Korean security from the continued threat of North Korean aggression. The Korean War itself would drag on for three years with the North Koreans having to rely on large-scale Chinese military intervention and covert air support from the SovietUnion. North Korea only survived after the American led United Nations forces had captured the majority of North Korean territory due to Mao Zedong sending in the Chinese army. The conflict could have escalated, due to the involvement of Soviet aircraft that could have provoked a war between the superpowers yet both Moscow and Washington did not want an all out war to start due to the Korean War (Hobsbawm, 1994 p. 228).

After the Korean War the prospects for Korean re-unification seemed to be remote, with the two Korean states being integrated into the alliance systems of the Soviet Union and the United States respectively. North Korea was therefore firmly in the communist camp, and initially enjoyed strong and productive political, economic and military relationships with both China and the Soviet Union. South Korea was a willing member of the United States alliance system and received substantial monetary and military backing from the United States, and later significant economic investment from Japan that would make it wealthier than North Korea. The United States government was not bothered by the Seoul's regime lack of democratic practices just as long as it remained fervently anti-Communist (Hobsbawm, 1994 p. 228). Kim Il Sung's North Korean regime was in contrast avowedly Marxist-Leninist in ideological outlook, whilst trying to create a strong sense of North Korean nationalism that was decidedly anti-American and increasingly isolationist in perspective (Heywood, 2003 p. 179). The Korean War meant that neighbouring countries such as South Korea, Japan, and China kept an interest in political and diplomatic developments that involved North Korea, the former as potential enemies, the latter originally as an ally. The balance of power during the Cold War meant that North Korea could only pose a threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region if that suited the Soviet Union, and to a lesser extent China. The Kremlin to a large extent kept the regime in Pyongyang in check, not wishing to provoke further conflict, and realising that the United States would not tolerate North Korea attempting to invade South Korea again, or indeed developing its own nuclear weapons. On the other hand the Soviet Union exported missile and nuclear technologies to North Korea as part of its military and economic aid packages to the Pyongyang regime
(Gaddis, 2005 p. 60).

The fighting during the Korean War was heavy, the agricultural sector being particularly adversely affected, and the war had devastated North Korea's economy. American bombing had also heavily damaged the North Korean capital city, Pyongyang. The number of North Korean fatalities, 419,000 was testimony to the high human costs of the conflict, with around 3 million people dying during its course (Castleden, 2005, p.299). The scale of destruction did not prevent a strong economic revival and rapid industrialisation, although most of those improvements were brought about by considerable amounts of help from China and the Soviet Union (Castleden, 2005, p.300). Large-scale industrialisation in North Korea would therefore have undoubtedly been much harder to achieve without that substantial aid that North Korea received from China and the Soviet Union. The Soviet decision to export nuclear technology to North Korea, for the non-military use of generating electricity would later allow Pyongyang the opportunity to start its own nuclear weapons programme. That would have been unthinkable at the height of the Cold
War, as neither the Soviet Union nor the United States would allow any of their satellite states to disturb the nuclear power balance between them. However, once the North Korean regime believed that the Soviet Union and China would no longer offer North Korea any meaningful kind or level of protection that is indeed precisely what the North Korean regime decided to do (Lenman, 2004, p.451). North Korea would continue to operate a planned economy even though that would eventually fail to adequately support its military build up and its civilian population. The North Korean government opted to keep its military infrastructure expanding rather than attempt economic reforms or adequately providing for its people (Heywood, 2003 p.137). The Soviet Union would have certainly disapproved of North Korean plans to develop its own nuclear weapons, yet the Soviet Union's influence upon North Korean military and defence policies had waned long before its own disintegration in 1991 (Gaddis, 2005, p.264).

North Korea arguably became a threat to the peace and stability of the North East Asia region due to the nature and character of its hard line Stalinist regime. Kim Il Sung was a Marxist dictator in the mode of Joseph Stalin and Mao Zedong. However for the majority of the Cold War period the North Korean threat was seen to be much less pronounced to the non-communist parts of the North East Asia region than the more obvious threats of the Soviet Union and China (Gaddis, 2005, p.60). Kim Il Sung's craving for power meant that North Korea dedicated and continues to dedicate a large percentage of its national budget and resources towards internal repression and building up its military strength to threaten the other countries of the North East Asia region. However, North Korea's conventional weapons would not be enough to successfully invade South Korea whilst the United States continues to offer full protection against such attacks, even if their purchase had almost bankrupted the Pyongyang regime (Castleden, 2005, p.303). Despite the faltering of the North Korean economy in the last two decades or so, Pyongyang seems to be more interested in threatening South Korea and Japan with nuclear weapons and ballistic weapons than feeding its own population. Although North Korea should be wary of what happened to its erstwhile ally, the Soviet Union whose excessive and unsustainable military expenditure played a major part in its eventual collapse (Tipton, 1998, p.434).

However, although the North Korean regime decided to start its nuclear weapons programme that decision violated North Korea's formal and legal pledges not to proliferate its own nuclear weapons. North Korea had signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty and had joined the IAEA, which meant that it was not supposed to start its own nuclear weapons programme at all (Evans & Newnham, 1998 p. 68). For the North Koreans there were other examples of small and large sized states that had already broken their promises and legal commitments not to develop their own nuclear weapons. Those states nuclear weapons programme with varying degrees of reaction from the official nuclear powers of the United States, the Soviet Union, Britain, China, and France. Countries such as Israel, India, and Pakistan have gone on to successfully acquire their own nuclear weapons with little or no action been taken against them to make them give up those devices. The North Korean regime understood that it could develop nuclear weapons with the possiblity that the United Nations and the leading powers would not be able to take any effective action to take those weapons off North Korea (Fukuyama, 2006 p. 80).

Chapter One

North Korean defence and foreign policy misrepresented or a threat to peace and security?

Since the foundation of North Korea as a separate nation state its defence and foreign policies have been geared towards the re-unification of Korea on Pyongyang's terms, rather than South Korea's terms (Rayner & Stanley, 2006, p.234). As far as the North Korean regime of Kim Il Sung was concerned the re-unification of Korea was not an issue that should concern any other countries apart from North and South Korea themselves. It was the context of the Cold War that complicated the strategic, military and diplomatic situation concerning the dispute between North and South Korea about which country should over power the other to dominate a reunified Korean state. In military terms North Korea is the strongest, in economic terms South Korea is the strongest (Tipton, 1998, 434). On the one hand the assistance of China and the Soviet Union was useful for the economic development of North Korea and also as a means of building up the country's military power. On the other hand the Cold War meant that the United States was more alert about the need to protect the countries in the North East Asia region that were opposed to communism, like Japan, South Korea and South Vietnam (Gaddis, 2005, p.60). The Cold War meant that the United States was unwilling to allow any more parts of North East Asia to fall under communist rule. After all the presence of United States forces in Japan had allowed the United Nations forces to resist Kim Il Sung's invasion of South Korea. North Vietnam would eventually overcome South Vietnam despite the best efforts of the United States, yet the terrain of Vietnam was different from that of Korea and the North Vietnamese had better military tactics than the North Koreans (Hobsbawm, 1994, p.228). Whilst the Cold War continued, North Korea was not seen as the main threat to peace and security in the North East Asia region, superpower rivalry meant that the Soviet Union and the United States mistrusted each other more than they mistrusted any other state. China would also emerge as a major power within the region, one that eventually took independent policy decisions from those of the Soviet Union. The United States government however, remains wary of North Korea's intentions towards the rest of the North East Asia region (Gaddis, 2005, p.61).

The peace and security of the North East Asia region altered during the 1960s, not as a result of changes in the Cold War, but as a result of alterations in the relationship between North Korea, China, and the Soviet Union. The regime of Kim Il Sung had not wished for North Korea to be reliant upon either China or the Soviet Union as soon as the country had recovered from the Korean War and had become economically self sufficient. By the mid 1960s the North Korean regime believed that it become self-sufficient and no longer such high levels of aid from China or the Soviet Union. Kim Il Sung wanted to maintain military links with China and the Soviet
Union, yet did not wish for North Korea to be a mere client state of Beijing or Moscow. North Korea was not going to be like the majority of communist states in Central and Eastern Europe were in relation to the Soviet Union. Although of course the North Koreans did not have to worry about invasion by the Soviet Union if it took much of an independent from Soviet policy (Castleden, 2005, p.301). North Korea's military power was originally reliant upon Chinese and Soviet built equipment and the regime could not afford weapons from any other countries outside of the communist bloc (Gaddis, 2005, p.61). Under Kim Il Sung's leadership North Korea could not get away from its close economic links with the Soviet Union until the latter's collapse in 1991, which in turn would have very detrimental affects upon North Korea (Watson, 1997, p.246). The strong relationship between China and the Soviet Union declined dramatically towards the end of the 1960s resulting in border clashes between the two states. The break down in the relationship between China and the Soviet Union meant North Korea's most powerful allies would spend more time arguing with each other than the United States. Pyongyang did not back either state publicly although Kim Il Sung regarded the Soviet Union as a more reliable
ally, and unlike Beijing, Moscow did not occasionally make insulting comments about the North Korean leader (Watson, 1997, p.240).

Whilst the North Korean economy seemed to enjoy impressive growth rates from the 1950s through to the 1970s, the country arguably did not have or develop the infrastructure or indeed have the resources to become a serious threat to peace and security in the North East Asia region. North Korean economic policy was heavily influenced by the planned economies of China and the Soviet Union, and was as unsuccessful in North Korea as they had been in China and the Soviet Union (Heywood, 2003 p. 152). Kim Il Sung's regime collectivised agriculture and began the process of large-scale industrialisation. The collectivisation of agriculture commenced in 1946 when estates with Japanese owners were confiscated in the north under Soviet guidance (Tipton, 1998,p.304). Collectivisation and the modernisation of agriculture increased the life expectancy of the North Korean population. Industrialisation at least during the 1950s and 1960s appeared to be impressive. However much of that economic growth was due to the revenues raised from the export of natural resources to the Soviet Union and the receipt of aid from the Soviet Union (Watson, 1997, p.246)

Economic growth could have been stronger if it had not been hampered by Kim Il Sung's decision to make expenditure on the military as high as possible, and his government's main priority. The military build up was meant to unnerve the South Korean government. In terms of total expenditure South Korea spent more on its military expenditure than North Korea. This was mainly due to North Korea being regarded as an ever-present threat to South Korean security. There were differences as to how the two countries military expenditure was regarded in the North East Asia region and beyond. South Korea's military expenditure was seen as being justified as it would deter North Korea. On the other hand, North Korea's military spending was viewed as being unjustified, aggressive and a sign of Kim Il Sung's megalomania, policies that his son, Kim Jong Il has continued (Gaddis, 2005, p.61).

North Korea had one major disadvantage if its regime wished to outspend South Korea in terms of their defence budgets, as they were poorer. Whilst North Korea found it difficult to find foreign investors, South Korea was able to attract very high volumes of investment, especially from the United States and Japan. South Korea's increasing levels of wealth meant it could easily match North Korea's military build up, without reducing the living standards of its population, or driving its government towards insolvency (Tipton, 1998, p.304). In terms of any future conventional war between North and South Korea, South Korea held key advantages. Firstly, the South Korean population was twice the size of its neighbour to the north, potentially allowing for its armed forces to have twice the number of personnel in war- time conditions. In 1985, South Korea was estimated to have a population of 41.2 million compared to North Korea's population of 20.1 million people (Watson, 1997, p.262). South Korea was economically more productive and therefore wealthier than North Korea, with the latter's seemingly impressive growth rates beginning to slow down by the start of the 1980s. An example of the growing disparity between the countries was the per capita income, whilst it was $790 for North Korea in 1982, it was $1,840 for South Korea in 1983. In economic terms, North Korea could not realistically afford its high levels of military expenditure, although Kim Il Sung's regime was determined to carry on with spending money it believed kept the regime in power and made it a continuing danger to its capitalist neighbours (Watson, 1997, p.262).

In the following decade North Korea was widely regarded as bring an increased threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region, despite the country's economy going in to a steep decline. Whilst the North Korean regime refused to scale down its military expenditure its agricultural sector, especially suffered an alarming drop in productivity that contributed to an estimated two million North Koreans dying of starvation during the 1990s. Despite famine and economic decline the North Korean regime still used scarce resources to develop its nuclear weapons programme. North Korea barely increased its economic productivity during the 1990s
and was by then considerably poorer than South Korea. To give a stark contrast, South Korean per capita gross domestic product (GDP) reached an impressive $13, 700, whilst North Korean GDP languished at $900. It was a paradoxical situation in which, although the North Korean regime could increasingly threaten its neighbours with missiles and nuclear weapons, yet it would eventually need emergency aid from those countries to prevent more of its own population starving to death (Pipes, 2001, p.152). On paper at least, North Korea has impressive conventional military strength with around 3,500 tanks and 2,500 armoured personnel carriers, whilst the army had 950,000 troops. The North Korean air force has 590 combat aircraft, whilst the navy's 88 submarines could pose a serious threat to shipping in the North East Asia region in the event of a future war. However it is the potential development and possible of nuclear weapons that causes a greater concern than North Korea's conventional arsenal (Whitaker's 2007, pp.893-94). South Korea has smaller armed forces yet still has a standing army 560,000 strong and 2,330 main battle tanks. South Korea would no doubt have to increase those numbers if 94, 450 Americans were not based in South Korea (Whitaker's 2007 p. 895).

However, it was not just North Korea's strength in terms of conventional weapons that means it is regarded as being a threat to peace and security in the North East Asia region. The United States government has long suspected that North Korea has played a part in sponsoring and supporting terrorism within the North East Asia region and indeed further afield. The suspicions of the United States have been founded upon the anti-American rhetoric that the North Korean regime its content to produce from time to time (Gaddis, 2005, p.261). South Korea had previously accused North Korea of trying to undermine internal stability by supporting dissident South Korean groups and calling for the re-unification of Korea (Tipton, 1998, p.304). North Korea was one of the countries that the administration of Ronald Reagan denounced as being terrorist states back in 1985. The Reagan administration viewed North Korea as being a risk to international peace and security within and beyond the North East Asia region (Ward, 2003, p.349). North Korea did not have any moral or political hang ups about selling weapons such as assault rifles to other countries that found it hard to acquire weapons due to arms embargo's or sanctions. For instance, North Korea sold surplus Soviet manufactured assault rifles to Iran during the early years of the Iran-Iraq War. Such arms sales may have contributed to the United States accusing North Korea of being a terrorist state. The North Koreans could have countered that these claims were hypocrisy on the part of the American government that sold a much greater volume of weapons to any state or organisation that was anti-Communist, or if it suited the United States interests to do so. Hypocrisy that was demonstrated by the Iran –Contra Affair in which the money from arms sales to Iran was used to fund the Contra forces in Nicaragua (Fisk, 2006, p.278). North Korea also supplied ballistic missiles to the Iranians and even sent engineers to Iran to ensure those missiles successfully reached Iraqi targets, especially Baghdad. The willingness of the North Koreans to sell missiles to the highest bidders certainly increased concerns about Pyongyang posing a threat to peace and security (Fisk, 2006, p.281).

Surveillance and interceptions of cargo ships have provided evidence that North Korea will sell weapons to terrorist organisations as well as any state that can afford them. For instance, the Spanish navy intercepted a North Korean merchant ship that was officially taking cement to South Yemen. Once aboard that ship the Spanish found ballistic missiles that could have been used by the terrorist group that had brought those missiles. The Middle East is a volatile region at the best of times, so the ability of North Korea to supply ballistic missiles to governments and terrorists groups in that region is another concern for the United States and other Western countries (Davies, 2003 p. 238).

It was during the early 1990s that the prospect of North Korea carrying out a successful nuclear weapons programme became the cause of major international concern. In the United States, the administration of President Bill Clinton was determined to persuade the North Korean regime to halt that nuclear weapons programme peacefully by preference, or by force if necessary (Clinton, 2004 p. 561). Aside from the United States, South Korea, China, Russia, and Japan were, and still are the countries that are most anxious to prevent North Korea acquiring and keeping nuclear weapons. Britain and France have also been involved in international efforts to prevent North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons as members of the United Nations Security Council, and as signatories of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (Evans & Newnham, 1998 p. 381). South Korea and Japan are particularly anxious and insecure about North Korea's attempts to produce nuclear weapons because they would be the most obvious targets if North Korea ever decided to use nuclear weapons. That anxiety is increased because the South Koreans and the Japanese are well aware that the North Koreans have the technical capacity to fit nuclear warheads to its force of ballistic missiles that can reach all the major cities in South Korea and Japan. China is also anxious that the nuclear weapons programme of North Korea does not provoke a military confrontation between North Korea and the United States that would bring widespread destruction and shatter the peace and stability of the North East Asia region. China remains keen to continue its impressive economic growth rates and also hopes to maintain political stability in the region, a stability that North Korea has a strong propensity to disrupt. China is therefore willing to act as a go between to prevent conflict arising between the United States and North Korea that would be very damaging to the North East Asia region as a whole (Cheek, 2006 p.136). That also means that China is willing to back the efforts of the United States, South Korea, and Japan to reduce the North Korean threat to peace and security (The Guardian, February 14 2007).

Russia, as the main successor state to the Soviet Union, on the other hand has attempted to maintain strong economic, military, and economic links with North Korea. Those links leave Kim Jong Il hoping North Korea has more leeway in its disputes with the United States and the United Nations over its plans to acquire nuclear weapons. Whilst Russia is caught between promoting its economic links with North Korea without harming its relationship with the United States that improved with the latter's war on terror in the wake of the 9/11 attacks, it would normally put its relationship with the United States first. The Russians and North Koreans remain keen upon maintaining a strong relationship between each other, although that is based on pragmatism rather than a common ideological outlook. Whilst the Russian government believes that like the Chinese government it could help resolve the international disputes that currently mean that North Korea is regarded as been a threat to peace and security in North East Asia region (Meir, 2004 p. 417).

North Korea's defence and foreign policy was seen and remains seen as a serious and increasing threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region because of the nature of the Pyongyang regime itself. That is due to Kim Il Sung and his son and successor Kim Jong Il concentrating upon the maintaining of their personal hold on power. That hold on power is through a strong military with undoubted loyalty to the national leader, and via a system of forced labour and prison camps that detain political dissidents or opponents of the regime. The regime's internal position is also protected and promoted through a cult of personality for Kim Il
Sung and now Kim Jong Il that rivals other cults of personalities witnessed in other communist regimes. It most closely resembles the cults of personality experienced in the Stalinist era of the Soviet Union, or China under Chairman Mao Zedong, especially during the tumultuous period of the Cultural Revolution (Castleden, 2005 p. 301). The North Korean regime during Kim Il Sung's lifetime not only managed to copy Chinese and Soviet propaganda techniques; the North Koreans also managed to emulate their purges. Such pronounced levels of dictatorship have always managed to make the United States suspicious of North Korean intentions. The South Koreans and the Japanese tend to reinforce American concerns over the de-stabilising effects of North Korean defence and foreign policies. The South Koreans and the Japanese therefore have fears for their safety as without an American military presence in the North East Asia region they would not be able to defend themselves from North Korean attacks. As the United States and its North East Asian allies do not trust North Korea, the United States uses satellites to monitor North Korean military activity and its nuclear installations, whilst the Central Intelligence Agency (CIA) constantly carries out surveillance operations (Lane & McCormack, 1993 p. 178).

Chapter Two
Containing the North Korean threat to peace and security in the North East Asia Region

To a large extent North Korea is widely considered to be a threat to peace and security in the North East Asia region, and given its possession of ballistic missiles, and its ambitious nuclear weapons programme beyond the North East Asia region itself. Arguably the root causes of North Korea being a considerable threat to the peace, security, and the stability of the North East Asia region are related to the issues concerning Korean re-unification. Those issues are the ones that have not been resolved, and heavily influence how the North Korean regime perceives its position within the region as well as shaping its defence and foreign policies. The Korean peninsula remains as divided by the heavily defended border outposts in the present as it was at the end of the Korean War in 1953. Where as other divided nations split up as a result of the Second World War such as Germany and Vietnam have now been re-unified, one peacefully and the other via war, Korea has not. On the other hand, Korea appears set to remain divided for an indefinably long-term period into the future. The partition of Korea has outlasted the Cold War conditions that inadvertently created that partition in the first place (Ferguson, 2007 p. 606). As far as Kim Jong Il is concerned the continued division of Korea justifies his regime's ambition to be a nuclear power in order for it to be able to threaten the South Korean government into making concessions. The North Korean government also takes militant stances as a means to preventing any re-unification of Korea taking place on Seoul's terms rather than Pyongyang's terms. Kim Jong Il would not like Korean re-unification to be upon the same basis as the reunification of Germany, when the communist state was formally absorbed by the larger and more prosperous capitalist state (Gaddis, 2005 p. 264)

North Korea does not consider itself to be a risk or a threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region. Instead the Pyongyang regime contends that it is North Korea that needs to be militarily strong as it is surround by hostile, or indifferent neighbouring nation states. North Korea's large conventional forces should arguably be strong enough to persuade or convince foreign governments that the Pyongyang regime would be able to resist outside pressures, or even military attacks from its neighbours and possibly the United States. However this view is barely believable outside of North Korea as countries like South Korea and Japan would have nothing to gain and a great deal to lose by attacking North Korea. The United States does have enough fire power to defeat North Korea in a conventional armed conflict, although the Americans would prefer not to have to do so (Gaddis, 2005 p. 264). As already noted the North Korean regime also believes that strong armed forces, alongside prison camps, and ever- present internal security police are needed to maintain the Korean Workers Party's grip on power. The North Korean regime also often mentions the closeness of the United States military forces as a justification for its own maintenance of strong armed forces up to and including the development
and deployment of nuclear weapons. The North Korean regime's continuous indoctrination of its own population via propaganda would mean that these reasons for large military forces are accepted internally, even if they are not believed abroad (Castleden, 2005 p. 303).

For the North Korean regime the apparent imperatives for the development, and the possible deployment of nuclear weapons certainly increased towards the end of the 1980s. Events within and also involving the Soviet Union were arguably instrumental in the North Korean regime's decision to speed up its nuclear weapons programme. Pyongyang had previously believed that the Soviet Union would always back North Korea in the event of a crisis or conflict within the North East Asia region, or if North Korea found itself in a direct conflict with the United States. However, once Mikhail Gorbachev came to power in the Soviet Union it soon became clear that the Soviet Union's defence and foreign policies would alter radically. For North Korea these changes in the Soviet Union's defence and foreign policies were certainly not changes that benefited the North Korean regime. The changes in Soviet policy also demonstrated how unfounded North Korean claims of self-sufficiency were (Lane & McCormack, 1993 p. 172). Therefore, for Kim Il Sung and the North Korean regime the Soviet Union's acceptance of the collapse of the Communist regimes throughout Central and Eastern Europe from 1989 onwards was an ominous sign. For if the Soviet Union could accept the loss of its most economically, militarily, and strategically important satellite nation states so readily, then the Soviet Union's leadership would not be bothered about the future of the North Korean regime. The change of Soviet policy meant that the North Korean regime regarded a nuclear weapons programme as essential rather than desirable (Ferguson, 2007 p. 606). It simply did not occur to the North Korean regime to fully embrace capitalist economic policies to increase the country's economic growth and form closer trading links with the other countries within the North East Asia region as well as the United States. That way it might have gained assistance from Washington rather than becoming involved in long running disputes (Heywood, 2003 p. 152).

The collapse of the Soviet Union meant that North Korea faced the prospect of been internationally isolated, and could have been increasingly ignored by the rest of the North East Asia region if it had not attempted to develop and complete its nuclear weapons programme. Developing nuclear weapons gave North Korea the dubious advantage of ensuring that the North East Asia region, the United States, China, and Russia could not ignore North Korea. Once other countries became aware of North Korea's nuclear weapons programme it presented its regime with the opportunity to gain concessions if it was astute enough. If the North Korean regime was prepared to end its nuclear weapons programme through negotiations it could gain more than if it carried on with the programme regardless of how it disturbed the peace and security of the North East Asia region (Tipton, 1998 p. 434). The North Korean nuclear weapons programme was given considerable technical and scientific assistance by the eminent physicist A Q Khan. Khan had experience of constructing nuclear weapons in clandestine conditions; after all he was the man that successfully developed the nuclear arsenal of his native Pakistan (Fukuyama, 2006 p.80).

The Clinton administration was concerned about the prospects of the North Koreans successfully completing their nuclear weapons programme and as a consequence upsetting the peace and security of the North East Asia region. Anxious to avoid armed conflict if that was at all possible the Clinton administration was prepared to offer the North Korean regime concessions if it was willing to halt its nuclear weapons programme. However, the United States willingness to offer concessions was not a sign of weakness or wanting to appease the North Korean regime, rather it was part of the American strategy to offer incentives as well as threatening Pyongyang (Clinton, 2004 p. 560). The Clinton administration was therefore also prepared to impose economic sanctions on North Korea either unilaterally or through the auspices of the United Nations in order to force or persuade the North Korean regime to back down. President Clinton was also prepared to launch missile attacks or air strikes on the sites in North Korea suspected of being used in the North Korean regime's nuclear weapons programme. The North Korean regime did take that threat from the United States seriously, as the Clinton administration did order similar attacks on Iraq, the Sudan, and upon Serbian targets in Bosnia (Evans & Newnham, 1998 p. 68). Originally the Clinton administration had found about North Korea's nuclear weapons programme through CIA reports, satellite surveillance of North Korean nuclear installations, and the inconsistent or inaccurate submissions of North Korea to the IAEA. Once the North Korean nuclear weapons programme became widely known the North Koreans did not want to end that programme immediately, it wished to resist moves for it to do so. Instead of ending its nuclear weapons programme the North Koreans decided to withdraw from the IAEA and the Non-Proliferation Treaty framework to avoid international scrutiny of its nuclear facilities and capabilities (Todd, 2003 p.114).

The North Korean decision to pull out of the IAEA and the Non-Proliferation Treaty prompted an international crisis that demonstrated that North Korea was a serious threat to peace and security within the North East Asia region. Indeed if steps were not taken by the international community that North Korea would become a nuclear power, unless the North Koreans could be persuaded to start complying with the demands of the IAEA and the United Nations. The IAEA and the United States wished to be allowed to inspect North Korean nuclear installations to verify North Korea's actual level of nuclear development (Clinton, 2004 p. 591). In a report to the United Nations, Hans Blix of the IAEA confirmed that North Korean reactor at Yongbyron had easily produced enough nuclear material to make a nuclear weapon (Walker, June 1 1994). The initial reaction of the United States was to request that the United Nations impose economic sanctions upon North Korea for its refusal to submit to inspections, or to halt its nuclear weapons programme. Although China was strident in its refusal to allow economic sanctions against North Korea, which surprisingly did not slow down the time taken to reach agreement (Fukuyama, 2006 p. 80).

The North Korean regime eventually realised during this first period of international controversy concerning its nuclear weapons programme that reaching a compromise was more advantageous than continuing to resist all calls to end its weapons programme. The United States and North Korea's neighbours in the North East Asia region offered compromises to reduce the North Korean threat to the peace and security in that region. The first crisis period regarding North Korea's nuclear weapons programme was relatively short due to responsible international efforts to diffuse the crisis before it escalated into a more serious situation or into actual fighting. The North Korean regime did threaten to attack South Korea across the 38th parallel, and to launch missile attacks against South Korea and Japan.The Clinton administration took the North Korean threats seriously enough to place United States forces in South Korea and Japan on full alert as well as sending Patriot missile defence systems to defend South Korean and Japanese cities (Clinton, 2004 p. 590). It was not just the United States that attempted to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons programme at this time, as China, South Korea, Japan, and Russia had also become involved in talks to end the crisis (Fukuyama, 2006 p. 174).

The North Koreans had realised that they would find it difficult to produce enough weapons grade plutonium or uranium to develop more than a few nuclear devices without building more nuclear reactors to supply enough enriched uranium to make increasing numbers of warheads. The North Korean nuclear power stations were based on outdated Soviet designs and technology. Outdated technology which increased the scope for accidents as well as allowing, or at least potentially allowing North Korea the opportunity to export enriched uranium fuel rods to countries or terrorist organisations that wished to have their own nuclear weapons, or less technically advanced dirty or radioactive devices. Clinton seems to have believed that the North Koreans would have done so if they had been left alone to complete their nuclear weapons programme (Clinton, 2004, p.590).

The agreement that was eventually reached by the North Koreans and the United States was meant to stop the North Koreans nuclear weapons programme once and for all. Although the North Koreans did not believe that their agreement would have meant that they could not restart their nuclear weapons programme at the first convenient opportunity to do so. The North Korean regime agreed to the ending of its plans to build additional nuclear reactors, as long as it could keep its existing reactors working, if only to produce electricity. North Korea was not forced to give up or shut down all of its nuclear facilities, just to submit to regular international inspection of the remaining nuclear institutions by the IAEA and rejoin the Non-Proliferation Treaty framework (Clinton, 2004 p. 590). Being able to keep its nuclear generating facilities was not the only incentive for the North Korean regime to accept the deal that had been offered to it. Not only was the threat of economic sanctions removed, whilst the United States, South Korea and Japan all offered to give North Korea economic aid. The North Korean regime regarded that aid as being vital given the country's economic decline and inability to feed its own population or generate enough power. The agreement also clearly stated that the United States would not
target or attack North Korea with nuclear weapons as long as North Korea did not have any nuclear weapons of its own (Clinton, 2004 p. 624).

The North Korean regime could not keep its 1994 agreement for a sustained period of time, before falling back in to its old habit of being a visible threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region. In 1998 the North Koreans test fired a longer-range missile which landed in Japanese territorial waters, an indication that North Korea could threaten more targets if it was able to place nuclear warheads inside its ballistic missiles. The test firing of North Korean missiles ushered further talks between North Korea and the countries that had signed up to the 1994 agreement. The North Koreans were trying to force further concessions from the five powers, although trying to scare Japan with a missile that flew over it and also came close to Russia was not the wisest of decisions. It certainly made the countries involved in the 1994 agreement even less willing to trust North Korea (Gittings, September 1 1998). Those talks resulted in the North Koreans agreeing not to test fire any further missiles and renewing their promises not to bring back its nuclear weapons programme. In return the North Korean regime received higher levels of international aid which was badly needed, as North Korea was suffering widespread famine at that point in time (Clinton, 2004 p. 697). Any hopes that the days of North Korea being a threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region had ended did not last very long. Whilst the Clinton administration had been willing to do deals with the North Korean regime to achieve the 1994 agreement, Clinton and his advisors soon got tired of the insincerity of the North Korean regime when it came to keeping promises and agreements. After the North Koreans had test fired the missile towards Japan, the Clinton administration went as far as threatening to invade North Korea from bases in South Korea to force Pyongyang not to test fire any more missiles (Fukuyama, 2006 p. 80). The United States even deliberately leaked policy papers that stated that if North Korea provoked a conflict that the Americans and South Koreans would not stop fighting until they had succeeded in toppling Kim Jong Il's regime
(Gittings, November 26 1998).

The North Korean regime managed to avoid military action been taken against it by the Clinton administration, yet the administration of George W Bush who succeeded to the presidency was vehemently opposed to the North Korean regime from the outset. President Bush included North Korea in an ‘axis of evil' alongside Iraq and Iran that his administration was determined to control or even to replace their regimes if possible. The Bush administration's highlighting of its intentions to promote regime change was not lost on the North Korean regime, which considered ways of preventing the United States taking action against it (Meyer, 2005 p. 234). As it was the 9/11 attacks turned the United States attention towards tackling Al-Qaeda and removing the Taliban regime in Afghanistan. The speed with which the United States led coalition forces removed the Taliban regime meant that the Bush administration felt confident that it could quickly tackle the axis of evil. It was feared by some quarters of the Bush administration that Iran, Iraq, and North Korea had to be dealt with before they could form links with Al-Qaeda to threaten the United States with further attacks (Meyer, 2005 p. 234).

There was another reason for the Bush administration naming North Korea alongside Iraq and Iran, all were states that supposedly had plans to construct nuclear weapons, whilst their conventional military strength would prove no match for American fire power. Bush did not intend to invade North Korea, yet he hoped a swift and decisive victory in Iraq would scare the North Korean regime into behaving itself (Meyer, 2005 p. 235). The United States went on to invade Iraq, yet during the run up to that invasion, the North Korean regime decided to reinstate its nuclear weapons programme. Perhaps hoping that the Americans were distracted. Kim Jong Il made that decision as a means of deterring future American action against North Korean (Fukuyama, 2006, p.91). If the North Koreans decision to resume its nuclear weapons programme was supposed to deter the United States from interfering in North Korean affairs, it backfired as the Bush administration took steps to stop that nuclear weapons programme. However, Pyongyang was not as concerned as Washington had expected when its supply of 500, 000 tonnes of fuel oil supplied as part of 1994 deal were stopped (Watts, February 9, 2007).

The North Korean regime made greater strides to successfully completing its nuclear weapons programme after 2002, to the detriment of the peace and security of the North East Asia region. North Korea had hoped that the United States was too occupied with Iraq to take decisive action to stop the North Korean nuclear weapons programme. The Bush administration however, implied that if the North Koreans did not stop their nuclear weapons programme then the United States would again consider the options of either bombing North Korea or invading instead. Before military action would be taken the United States gave North Korea an opportunity to
enter multi-lateral talks to try to resolve the issue peacefully (Meyer, 2005, p. 165). Once again talks would involve China, Japan, Russia and South Korea, in addition to North Korea and the United States (Fukuyama, 2006, p.174). China and Russia have again acted as go between during these long drawn out six power talks (Cheek, 2006, p.136). Whilst both China and Russia did not want North Korea to develop and retain nuclear weapons, they also wished to prevent war between North Korea and the United States, which would cause a great deal of destruction in the North East Asia region. Unlike the situation in the early 1990s the North Korean government was determined not to halt its nuclear weapons programme until an agreement was reached, and to carry on regardless if agreement proved to be impossible. The Northern Korean government publicly admitted that it had resumed its nuclear weapons programme during December 2002. For the United States that showed the North Korean regime was certainly a threat to peace and security. December 2002 was also by coincidence the month in which the Spanish navy intercepted North Korean missile shipments to the Yemen (Jeffries, December 12 2002)

By ensuring that the six power talks have been long and complicated the North Korean government has been able to complete its nuclear weapons programme without the other five powers stopping them. It is much harder to deal with a country that already has nuclear weapons than one that is still attempting to develop them (Fukuyama, 2006 p. 175). North Korea admitted to a successful nuclear weapons test in October 2006. Reaction to the nuclear weapons test was predictable, with South Korea and Japan being very concerned about their security, whilst China and Russia were annoyed that North Korea did not inform them that a nuclear weapons test was going to be conducted. Unsurprisingly it was the United States administration that was most angry about the North Korean nuclear test (The Guardian, February 14 2007). The fact that North Korea is now known to have nuclear weapons has made it more difficult for the United States to bomb or invade North Korea. That meant that the United States has had to put more effort into ensuring that the six power talks will disarm North Korea's nuclear weapons capability through negotiation, rather than by military action (The Guardian, February 14 2007). Figures from the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists have estimated that North Korea has managed to produce between 10 and 15 nuclear devices (Schott, 2006 p. 71).

The completion of the North Korea nuclear weapons programme confirmed the worst fears of the United States, South Korea and Japan, whilst further complicating the talks with North Korea. The North Korean government has to make the decision as to whether it continued with the six power talks in which it would eventually give up nuclear weapons in return for aid from the five powers, or it could refuse to give up its nuclear weapons and await international reaction. The North Korean regime had learnt from previous talks that if it delayed agreement long enough that it could extract more concessions from the five powers in general and the United States in particular. As North Korea had broken previous pledges to only use its nuclear facilities for electricity generation the five powers decided to call for the closing down all North Korea's nuclear facilities to ensure that if it does give up its nuclear weapons that no more can be produced. The North Koreans have proved adroit at delaying agreements until the last possible moments (Watts, February 9, 2007). The appalling state of the North Korean economy has meant that the sanctions imposed since 2002 have had a greater effect on the country than if sanctions had be imposed during the 1990s. Although strict economic sanctions did not stop the North Korean government going ahead with its nuclear weapons test, it does mean that North Korea had been more conducive to the dismantling of its nuclear weapons programme than previously might have been the case. North Korea has eventually reached agreement to end its nuclear weapons programme in return for the lifting of sanctions and the provision of food and fuel from the five powers, the United States and Japan in particular in February 2007. The United States and Japan have agreed to provide huge quantities of fuel, equating to 950,000 tonnes, so that the North Korean economy is not ruined further once all the nuclear generation facilities in North Korea are closed down. The five powers have insisted that North Korea's shut down of nuclear facilities should be verified so that further crisis are avoided in the future (The
Guardian, February 14 2007). As seems the normal occurrence involving agreements signed by the North Korean government, Pyongyang never seems to be quick to fully comply with its obligations (The Guardian, April 13 2007).

The country that feels least secure and peaceful in the North East Asia region due to the foreign and defence policies of North Korea is South Korea. The relationship between North and South Korea is a complicated one. On the one hand North Korea poses the biggest threat to South Korean security, which has meant that South Korea had to have large and well-equipped conventional forces to counter the threat from North Korea. Those South Korean forces by themselves would be inadequate, hence the reliance upon the United States military to act as protectors of South Korea (Ferguson, 2007, p.606). On the other hand many South Koreans would like to see Korea re-unified and are also concerned about what happens to the ordinary people of North Korea, who after all are their fellow Koreans. There have been various attempts to negotiate the re-unification of Korea, although so far they have all been unsuccessful as neither Korean regime wished to loose power (Watson, 1997, p.246). South Korea is obviously concerned that North Korea has developed and tested nuclear weapons, as South Korea would be in the firing line if North Korea ever decided to use nuclear weapons. South Korea may regard the United States as its main protector, yet its government does not want there to be conflict between North Korea and the United States as South Korea could become a battleground (Watts, February 9, 2007). The government of South Korea has also been keen to offer concessions to North Korea to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear weapons programme and prevent the economic and political meltdown of its neighbour. North Korea's economic decline has meant that South Korea has had more refugees to deal with. Seoul had been instrumental in having economic aid as part of the deals offered to North Korea as part of the six power talks. However decades of trying to reach agreement with the North Koreans has taught the South Koreans one thing, Pyongyang either does not keep its promises or it actually leaves compliance to the last possible moment (The Guardian, April 13 2007).


Therefore, North Korea has widely been perceived as being a state whose defence and foreign policies have undermined the peace and security of the North East Asia region. The North Korean regime had its origins in the supposedly temporary division of Korea at the end of the Second World War when the Soviet Union helped to set up the rule of Kim Il Sung. Both North and South Korea aimed to re-unite the country by force, although North Korea struck first to start the Korean War. North Korea was only able to survive the Korean War with the help of China and the Soviet Union, the two states that allowed North Korea to reconstruct after the war ended. As a consequence of the Korean War, the United States took a keen interest in the peace and security of the North East Asia region as well as hoping to stop the spread of communism. The Cold War meant that Korean re-unification was put on hold. North Korea was firmly in the communist camp and had strong links with China and the Soviet Union. The United States was determined to prevent South Korea and Japan becoming communist and has maintained a strong military presence in the North East Asia region since the 1950s, monitoring the defence and foreign policies of North Korea to assess the North Korean threat to that region.

The North Korean regime has a long tradition of mutual hostility towards the United States that proved pivotal to the way in which has made it defence and foreign policy decisions. Kim Il Sung had delusions about North Korea being self-sufficient, although it was dependent upon its links with the Soviet Union to maintain its economy and build up its military capabilities. From its links with the Soviet Union, North Korea not only amassed much of its conventional weapons, it also obtained ballistic missiles and nuclear generating plants. South Korea and Japan have been concerned about North Korea's conventional arms strength for decades, which explained why they have been grateful for the United States military presence within the North East Asia region. North Korea has continued to spend money it has not really got to build up its conventional armed forces, let alone start its nuclear weapons programme. The North Korean nuclear weapons programme was started as a result of the Soviet Union's ending of the Cold War and subsequent collapse. North Korea decided it would need its own nuclear weapons as a protection against any threat to its security from the United States.

However, it was the North Korean decision to develop its own nuclear weapons programme that has done the most to undermine the peace and security of the North East Asia region. South Korea and Japan have grave concerns that North Korean ballistic missiles with nuclear warheads would be used against their cities in the event of any conflict involving North Korea. The United States was also concerned about North Korea's nuclear weapons programme, as well as China and Russia monitoring the situation. The first crisis involving North Korea nuclear weapons programme was resolved in 1994 by six power talks, which ended with North Korea halting its
nuclear weapons programme and cancelling the construction of new nuclear reactors. In return for these concessions they were given economic aid and were offered more favourable trading conditions. That agreement eased tensions within the North East Asia region and also between North Korea and the United States over the short term, yet over the long term it did not stop North Korea wishing to finish its nuclear weapons programme.

The crisis over North Korea's nuclear weapons programme that began in 2002 has proved more difficult to resolve than the first crisis had been. Kim Jong Il was determined that North Korea should have nuclear weapons and not agree to abandon its nuclear weapons programme again so quickly under international pressure to do so. The North Korean regime is convinced that it needs nuclear weapons to prevent the United States from attacking it, whilst the United States became involved to prevent North Korea acquiring nuclear weapons. Neither country trusts the other one; progress has only been achieved due to the involvement of China, Japan, Russia, and South Korea working towards gaining compromises. The six power talks concerning North Korean nuclear weapons have been long and protracted, whilst North Korea was able to test fire its first nuclear weapon in October 2006. North Korea has presently agreed to eventually dismantle its nuclear weapons and even to stop using its nuclear power stations. However, it remains to be seen if North Korea will fully comply or implement this agreement. North Korea has certainly driven a hard bargain in exchange for promising to give up its nuclear weapons; the supply of fuel oil is particularly valuable for its declining economy. North Korea also realises that it will be continuously monitored to ensure that it sticks to the agreement. It is far too early to assume that the six power agreements that were reached in early 2007 mean that North Korea will eventually give up the nuclear weapons that it took so long to produce in the first place. It would also be premature to believe that its regime no longer poses a threat to the peace and security of the North East Asia region.


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