Strategic interactions between the United States and North Korea: deterrence or security dilemma?
Lavoy, Peter R.
Knopf, Jeffrey W.
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Worried about the regional and global consequences of a nuclear North Korea, U.S. governments have pursued both diplomacy and coercion to stop North Korea's nuclear weapons program. However, as of December 2003, U.S. policies appear to have failed since North Korea has become the ninth nuclear weapons state. Since North Korea's motives have been ambiguous from the very beginning, the United States has had difficulty in developing strategies that would effectively address North Korea's motives and curtail its nuclear ambitions. This thesis argues that although North Korea has ambitious motives, its nuclear efforts are mostly insecurity driven reactions. Coercive policies towards North Korea increase its insecurity and compel it to resort to nuclear weapons. The United States perceives North Korea's reactions as blackmail since North Korea combines its economic and political problems with its security concerns. Mutual distrust and insecurity, which is mostly a result of misperceptions, creates a security dilemma, a vicious spiral in which the security interests of the two states are mutually threatened by each other's self-protection aspirations. Cooperation, rather than coercion, is believed to work better in such cases. However, both sides should separate nuclear issues from other issues to reduce mutual distrust and misperceptions, and to achieve effective cooperation.
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