Unification strategy for North and South Korea the most prudent U.S. policy option to solve the North Korean nuclear crisis

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Lee, Hyon K. David
Olsen, Edward A.
Date of Issue
Monterey California. Naval Postgraduate School
The North Korean nuclear issue reached a dangerous impasse in the recent months as North Korea continues to resist international pressure to halt its nuclear weapons and missile programs. North Korea watchers and nuclear experts estimate that North Korea could have up to six or seven plutonium-based nuclear bombs by now. Indeed, North Korea announced to the world in October 2003 that they now have the capability of "nuclear deterrence." All would agree that a nuclear-weaponized North Korea will have grave consequences on the Korean Peninsula and the East Asia region. Accordingly, this thesis contends that the Bush administration miscalculated in its policy on North Korea by letting their "preemption" doctrine cloud their judgment on what is the most feasible and prudent policy vis--Ì vis North Korea. So, what now? What should the US policy toward North Korea be going forward? Given the events in the last year or so, this paper makes the assumption that North Korea already possesses nuclear weapons. Indeed, the CIA has made formal statements saying that North Korea, in essence, already possesses nuclear weapons. The intelligence service believes that conventional explosives tests, conducted since the 1980s, have allowed the North Koreans to verify that their nuclear designs would work. The agency believes North Korea has one or two nuclear weapons similar to what the United States dropped on Hiroshima during World War II. Given these circumstances and the policy options available to the Bush administration, the best course of action and the most elegant solution to this messy problem, is to adopt a policy of unifying the two Koreas. A reunified Korea would satisfy most U.S. interests and would solve the most pressing and dangerous problem: the nuclear issue. Granted, it is not the most optimal option and there are some potential drawbacks but, nevertheless, it is the best option available. In this scenario, there is no "good" option; one has to choose the "least-worse" policy option. In essence, the U.S. has to make the best of a bad situation.
Series/Report No
National Security Affairs
Naval Postgraduate School (U.S.).
NPS Report Number
x, 113 p.
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