Nuclear Intentions of North Korea Offensive or Defensive Table of Contents

1.0 Introduction 3
2.0 Assessment of North Korea`s Nuclear Intentions 5
2.1 Security as a reason 5
2.2 Willingness for Negotiations 6
2.3 The Conflicting Situation 7
2.4 Weapons or Security Confirmation 9
2.5 Offensive or Defensive 10
2.6 Summary of the 5-Scenario 11
3.0 Conclusions 12
4.0 References 13
When we talk about nuclear intentions of a nation the first name of the nation that comes on top of the list is North Korea. Assessing the intentions of North Korea`s nuclear weapon programs has always remained a challenging task not only for the delegates of the diplomats but also for the academic community as well. The prime question asking whether North Korea has offensive or defensive intentions for its nuclear weapon has always remained a challenging task. However, this essay based on the literary and non-literary sources will attempt to probe into the issue.
The main fact that has been reported although in relation to this issue is gathering of reliable information to explore into the internal dynamics of the nations that are opposing or supporting North Korea`s stand and on the other hand assessing the internal dynamics of decision processing within North Korean leadership has always been a tough task. This is evident from the fact that the leaders of North Korea carry their own incentives and tactics whilst concealing their intentions. At sometimes it seems that such tactic is used to maximize their bargaining power. However the reports of the analyst probing into the issue and identifying varied factors would again question this assumption.
According to Park & Lee (2008) the most regular and repeated statements by the diplomats is that the capabilities of North Korea holding nuclear weapons cannot be tolerated. On the other hand Cha et al., (2003) argue that North Korea has been holding nuclear weapons right under their arms still its neighbouring countries were unaware of the issue. This has been happening for over two decades however even after two decades of possession of nuclear weapons North Korea has never been instrumental in leading to undesirable consequences. Under such circumstances some critics argue that how can North Korea`s possession of nuclear weapons can be catastrophic.
In this regard Hayes (2007) argues that evidences related to North Korean intentions are also bound to impact responses towards the change in assessing the capabilities of North Korean nuclear weapons. When assumptions of North Korea exporting nuclear material to other countries the important issue that comes for debate is to strategically prove that North Korea is in possession of excess fissile material. This could not be the only reason to build assumptions that North Korea`s nuclear weapons capabilities are offensive or defensive inviting international reactions. In furtherance Perry (2006) informs that there are varied factors indicating not only North Korea`s neighbours but also the international community to perceive that the intentions of North Korea holding nuclear weapons is disastrous to the international community seeking peace and disarmament. A few of such indications include firstly whether the capabilities were assessed demonstrated or claimed or the potentiality of the weapons are examined. Secondly are the speculations that North Korea is able to deliver weapons of mass destruction to any particular targets. Finally is North Korea entitling these assumptions as bargaining chips? An interesting discussion is found in the studies of David & O`Neill (2000) who state that the offensive part could be a nuclear blackmail and defensive part could be deterring attack or simply to ensure survival.
However, this essay with the introduction of historical evidences that has repeatedly proved that the causes of war are unpredictable and may flair up without any relevance to the intensity of the issue assumes that weapons of mass destruction irrespective of the justification given to its procurement or storage cannot be justified under any circumstances.
Assessment of North Korea`s Nuclear Intentions
While assessing the nuclear intentions of North Korea, three thresholds were indicated by Saunders (2003) according to which the situation in North Korea`s worsen as it passes each of these. The three thresholds include 1) increase of nuclear capability by North Korea led a negative security impact 2) prevailing ambiguity in the intentions of North Korea 3) non-proliferation regime and regional security concerns. Further the author also stated that North Korea`s possible intentions vary with their wants. However, five aspects are opined by the author for assessing the nuclear intentions of North Korea that are discussed as follows:
Security as a reason
Most of the native leaders in this context argue that North Korea for its security purpose seeks the need of nuclear weapons. This shows the presence of threat among the leaders of North Korea from the developed countries such US which is equipped with excess nuclear capabilities. The leaders of North Korea anticipating such threat argue that the survival of their regime largely depends on acquiring the nuclear weapons through which the country can attained its security. As per the assessment of US intelligence, North Korea in the late 1990s developed one or two nuclear weapons and observed to be in consistent with US.
In accordance with the above stated assessment Kelly (2001) opined that if such scenario continues then the chances for stopping or rolling back the mission of development of nuclear weapons by North Korea becomes impossible until the intentions of leaders of North Korea changes. Besides the countries of US, China, Japan and South Korea have to strive for suppressing the progress of North Korean nuclear programs and destroy the increasing nuclear stockpiles or learn to survive with North Korea deterring their nuclear weapons.
Moreover, the continuous efforts being applied by North Korea for the development of nuclear weapons as well as producing the ballistic missiles of longer-range cannot be ignored and on the other hand this represent their strong motive of devoting the considerable quantity of resources to deliver nuclear weapons. In this context North Korea surpassed many opportunities by speeding up the programs of nuclear and missile specific. Also it is assumed that North Korea could have prolonged the operation of nuclear reactor if it had not endorsed Agreed Framework. It could also have finished the construction of 50 and 200 megawatt reactors and also the spent fuel had reprocessed for producing plutonium. As a result the regime as of now could have attained necessary fissile material for about 150-200 nuclear weapons (DPRK, 2009). However, with the declaration of unilateral moratorium by North Korea, testing the missiles of long-range was restricted. This limitation appears inconsistent for developing and delivering the nuclear weapons for maintaining the nation`s security unless the leaders of North Korea feel that nuclear weapons with one or two acquisitions is enough to deter the attack of US.
Willingness for Negotiations
In an attempt to preserve the security and sovereignty of the nation, the leaders of North Korea are showing their willingness towards negotiation of missile and nuclear programs. In this context Saunders (2003) opined that the threat from superior United States forced the leaders of North Korea to make their regime politically and economically isolated from the rest. North Korea on the other hand pursued the development of nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missiles only to acquire the leverage in order to establish relationship with US that makes their regime to survive better in future. However, the evidences regarding the willingness of North Korean leaders in negotiating the deals with US was also found in the works of Mufson (2001) who opined that such willingness to negotiation mainly aimed at restricting the capabilities of nuclear weapons and missiles to curb their exportation. The other sources of evidences indicating the willingness of North Korea to limit its military capabilities include: missile flight test moratorium, Agreed Framework, and the talks held with then President of US `Clinton`.
From the perspective of all of the above evidences, this research study also states that the efforts of North Korea in producing enriched uranium is aimed at bargaining and trading for security and economic concessions. On the other side it can also be proved that such efforts were discovered and applied by the US to expedite bargain. As per the studies of Raphael et al., (2006) who opined that the countries like China, US, Japan and South Korea want to see the political and economic reforms of North Korea to be pursued. Even the doors for establishing a good relationship is widely opened by these countries but North Korea itself is not ready to pursue with them. The security threat is assumed to be the prime reason behind it however such unnecessary threat holding North Korea from achieving good relationship. As a result, the efforts have become weak in improving the relationship as well as economic reforms. Moreover, the willingness of cheat demonstrated by North Korea on international agreements by damaging the US trust made it future deals difficult to negotiate.
The Conflicting Situation
The leaders of North Korea in view of conflicting situation anticipate nuclear weapons as well as good relationship as a means of attaining security from its neighbouring countries. In this regard Saunders (2003) stated that the leaders of North Korea uncovered their options by letting the nuclear programs to be pursued and at the same time establishing the good relationship with South Korea, Japan, China and United States.
The pursuance of both nuclear and missile programs are considered as a hedge by the North Korean leaders in case if they failed in negotiating agreements with US and under such conditions security of their regime would be assured by these programs. Moreover, giving up of nuclear and missile programs by North Korea is only possible when US offers the guarantee of security of their regime. Unless US make such deal, the process of these programs cannot be stopped by North Korea and are continuously progressed with.
One more key issue presented by Paul et al., (2009) in this regard is the cheat planned by the leaders of North Korea right from the outset. Through agreements, the programs of nuclear and missile development as well as their exportation were restricted to acquire the economical benefits so that North Korea could get enough time to increase the capability of nuclear weapons. The leaders of North Korea on the other hand are of the view that the countries such as South Korea, Japan, and United States are overlooking the nuclear capability of North Korea as a small as such improving the relationship with it.
From the two scenarios namely hedge and cheat as presented above clearly depicts the behaviour of North Korea such as its willingness to agree the limits on nuclear arsenal (besides pursuing to achieve advanced nuclear capabilities), small scale programs on nuclear weapons, and its zeal to acquire the most in comparison with South Korea, Japan and United States. All these aspects reveal that leaders of North Korea are miscalculating the deals as a means of brinkmanship or cheat and are of the perception that this would be overcome one an agreement is established.
Weapons or Security Confirmation
Both leaders and factions of North Korea are disagreeing with the perception that either negotiated agreements or nuclear weapons would only help them to attain the security of their regime from the United States. However, this scenario is viewed as inconsistent with the behaviour of North Korea (Saunders, 2003) because of uneven prevailing of strength among different political and domestic factions. While nuclear weapons considered as essential for the security of regime by one faction negotiated agreement is preferred by another faction. However each faction of North Korea assumed to have the ability to initiate the respective actions independent of one another.
The type of perception held by different factions is enough to state why North Korea acts cooperatively for some time by seeking agreements and at times becomes aggressive and behaves in a different manner by undercutting the negotiations. This also provides an explanation regarding the pursuance of uranium-enriched program initiated by North Korea and as per the Agreed Framework it promised to provide reactors thereby attaining normalization with the establishment of relations with US. However, this was delayed as the balance of power in Pyongyang shifted from engagement towards developing the nuclear weapons for ensuring the security of North Korea. Earlier the efforts applied by North Korea for acquiring the uranium-enriched technology from Pakistan based on Agreed Framework suggest an act of cheat to hedge its collapse.
The above discussions explain the inconsistent behaviour as well as presented the negotiating style of North Korea which for a period of time tried to control negotiations and at the next moment tried to maximize the pressure on its negotiating partner. However it has become difficult to derive an explanation on such behaviour simply on the basis of factional model. Further obtaining a negotiated deal is also difficult with the change of power among the factions in Pyongyang.
Offensive or Defensive
The leaders of North Korea with an intention to adopt offensive actions against its enmity South Korea seek nuclear weapons as well as ballistic missiles. As per the studies of Saunders (2003) it has been stated in the preceding scenarios that defensive is the primary objective of the leaders of North Korea to ensure the survival of its regime. Alternatively, the leaders of North Korea viewing nuclear weapons to be used as an offensive tool to achieve its long-stated objective which is nothing but the unification. However the main obstacle confronts is the alliance between US military and South Korea and has forced to reunification. In this context emphasis is laid on the possession of nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles to prevent the risk from US military being intervened into the matters of invasions of North Korea with the South. The missile defensive advocates have repeatedly raised this issue and under this scenario argue to deter the United States by using nuclear-armed missile. In this regard Jacques (2008) argue that act of intervening by the United States can be avoided only with the possession of missile defenses.
Most of the military units of North Korea that are trained to operate offensive actions are situated in the demilitarized zone. However to invade South North Korea could use its special operational forces, biological and chemical weapons as well as massive bombardments capabilities. This kind of perception reveals out the interest of North Korea to negotiate agreements for renouncing its nuclear and missile capabilities that are meant to mask the efforts of acquiring useable capabilities. Alternatively in order to weaken the alliance exist between the United States and South Korea, North Korea hoped to drive away the wedges between them. However the wedge strategy hoped to achieve success from the statements of South Korea stating Seoul to play the mediator role between Washington and Pyongyang.
According to Williams (2006) who argue that problem incurred with the statement is erosion of North Korean ability to invade South Korea because of its economic implosion. Also the efforts of South Korea in improvising the training and modernizing military weapons is still in continuation where North Korea failed to import new weapons over a decade of time. As a result the military force of North Korea suffers from lack of spare parts for their nuclear weapons as well as fails to provide training as required. If the objective of North Korea was probably to invade South Korea then under such circumstances it should neither have freeze the plutonium production capability nor issue the unilateral freeze over the testing of missile flight rather it must have tried to acquire required nuclear weapons as well as long-range missiles as quick as possible. Moreover this scenario is not feasible to ruled out since the nuclear weapons mainly aimed at providing the security to its regime from the United States.
Summary of the 5-Scenario
The five scenarios presented and discussed above from the point of Saunders (2003) explain the different aspects of behaviour of North Korea. But it is very difficult to state what is correct out of these. If the motive of acquiring nuclear weapons is really to enable offensive military actions under such circumstances the officials of the North Korea are expected to hide their respective intentions through deceptive measures. Further if they are of the view that nuclear weapons are essential for the security of their regime under such situation their image would have been improved by stating that aggression from United States forced them to conduct such nuclear programs. North Korea on the other hand if prepared for negotiating its nuclear capabilities still has the potential likely to bargain with the best.
The intentions of North Korea`s nuclear weapons procurement, possession or development have been viewed by literature as well as the international community with diversified perception. If the United States and diplomats from other developed nations or the neighbours of North Korea have been terming North Korean nuclear capabilities as intolerable the leaders of North Korea on the other hand have been strategically defending themselves with a view that possession of nuclear weapons is purely defensive. Each one of them has their own perception. Thus this essay concludes to state that it is difficult to assess whether the intentions are offensive or defensive. The reason being that each one has its own for and against perception however, considering the opinion of Saunders (2003) who has strategically argued similar issue by deriving four scenarios, this study furthers to conclude each of the indicated scenarios.
Each of the stated scenarios explores into varied aspects of North Korean behaviour. Even the scenarios are hardly to be assessed to indicate which one is the correct. However, one thing that is clear is that North Korean leaders seem to be intentionally hiding their intentions of their possession of nuclear weapons. One good example that can derived is that if North Korea feels that possession of nuclear weapons is for their defence the argument of assurance of survival seems to be vague one. More importantly because the kind of impression it has created upon the international community and more specifically the United Nations.
The one thing that is evident from whole of the discussion is that North Korea seems to be holding a narrow perspective with regard to the kind and type of negotiation tactics it has been using. This is evident from the fact that North Korea anticipating higher degree of returns which is hard to be fulfilled under any circumstances.
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