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Nuclear Program in North Korea Essay

The nuclear program in North Korea has left its neighbors and the whole world in general concerned about the North Korea’s intentions. The program has led to a lot of controversy with many people wondering whether the nuclear weapons are for defensive purposes or are majorly instruments of coercion (Pollack, 2010).

A lot of questions have been asked to establish the real intention of North Korea’s nuclear program with no clear answers being found. This paper will try to unravel the mystery behind North Korea’s nuclear program.

There has been a lot of pressure from the international community to stop North Korea from going ahead with its nuclear program but the efforts have not borne any fruits for almost two and a half decades (Pollack, 2010).

North Korea claims to possess plutonium that is popular for making nuclear weapons and uranium that the country claims to be an alternative source of reactor fuel. According to North Korea, the United States is a threat to its security and the nuclear program is a strategy to counter the threats.

The U.S and North Korea have engaged in diplomatic talks since the year 2009 but the engagement has proved futile to this far. The U.S mission is to see North Korea become a completely non-nuclear state. North Korea insists that it will continue to retain its nuclear programs and weapons as long other nations in the world continue to do the same (Pollack, 2010).

North Korea clearly demonstrated their defiance in May 2009 by conducting its second nuclear test. It is believed that North Korea went ahead to officially announce its new status as a nuclear weapons state. These actions have completely stopped diplomatic engagements in recent times. North Korea has also lost the political support it used to enjoy after its latest actions.

The South Korean president has completely changed nuclear program policies and the engagement between the North and the South is very cautionary with the South completely resisting the influence from the North. The attempts to restrain North Korea have been reversible making the whole process frustrating (Pollack, 2010).

North Korea has constantly disrupted all the efforts made by allies and adversaries to make it comply with non-proliferation obligations. International Atomic Energy Agency has terribly failed in trying to make North Korea comply with its regulations. North Korea was the first nation to withdraw from the Nonproliferation Treaty in the year 2003 and it has since then continued to violate its promises to stop the nuclear program.

During the first nuclear test, long-range missile ranges were tested and subsequent tests saw the introduction of new nuclear weapons that North Korea claimed were for defensive purposes. The international community has been putting some measures in place to compel North Korea to stop the nuclear program but these strategies have not been working.

To begin with, the international community and other security agents have been trying to mitigate all the perceived threats by North Korea’s nuclear program. The second strategy was to place both political and economic sanctions against North Korea. The other strategy was to interdict all weapon shipments to and from North Korea and complete isolation (Pollack, 2010).

Illicit technologies were to be interdicted but all these efforts have been in vain since North Korea has never been deterred by all the attempts aimed at frustrating it to stop its nuclear program. North Korea sees the approaches employed by the U.S as coercive in nature and uncooperative.

All the denuclearization efforts by the international community have been failing and any new attempts are bound be skeptical. North Korea has set up unimaginable conditions for it to stop its nuclear program (Pollack, 2010).

The external powers and the current policies have been constantly rejected by North Korea making a non-nuclear future very unrealistic (Fitzpatrick, 2008). Making North Korea to be fully committed to denuclearization has been the greatest test the U.S and the international community has failed to pass.

The conditions and strategies set up by North Korea are aimed at protecting its interest and nuclear weapons development (Cimbala, 2005). The diplomatic talks between North Korea and the U.S under the Obama administration have been associated with mistrust on both sides.

The negotiations have been faced with a lot of obstacles with North Korea going ahead to consolidate its nuclear program and declare itself a nuclear weapons state despite the negotiations that had just been revived in 2009.

North Korea’s possibility of changing its nuclear policies has been greatly hampered by the changes in leadership. Leadership succession process plays a crucial role in the way a state makes major decisions (Cimbala, 2005). North Korea has heavily invested in the nuclear programs for over two decades and dismantling that is actually unimaginable.

Reversing all the nuclear programs in North Korea still remains a mirage. The whole world waits to see the kind of strategy the Obama administration will use to break the deadlock. The North Korean leadership seems to value the nuclear program so much to an extent of it being one of the major focuses of its policies.

The leadership in North Korea claims that its policies are meant to protect its population from external attacks and influences. The nuclear program is one of its strategies of strengthening its military capabilities. The nuclear program is seen as a survival strategy by the current regime.

The regime has continued to develop the program disregarding the economic implications and the diminishing relationships with the Republic of Korea, Japan and the United States. The country has been faced with economic crisis over the years forcing it to entirely rely on external support.

China has been the only source of refuge with South Korea and Japan withdrawing their support because of North Korea’s refusal to change its policies regarding the nuclear program. What surprises many people is North Korea’s refusal to sell or exchange its nuclear weapons for economic aid (Bishop, 2005).

The efforts of nuclear diplomacy by the Republic of Korea have seriously failed since North Korea has never been ready to exchange its nuclear capabilities with anything. In effort to defend its system, the North Korean leadership has continued to develop its nuclear programs and most importantly nuclear weapons.

North Korea has lately shown utmost defiance by declaring that it would do everything possible to boost its self-defense. All the weapon inspectors have been expelled with renewed efforts to strengthen the weapons section.

In conclusion, North Korea has clearly stated that its nuclear weapons are for defense purposes. Efforts of nuclear diplomacy have always failed because of North Koreas refusal to change its nuclear policies (Alagappa, 2009). With past diplomatic efforts having failed, convincing North Korea to dismantle its nuclear program is still unimaginable.


Alagappa, M. (2009). The long shadow: Nuclear weapons and security in 21st century Asia. New York, NY: NUS Press.

Bishop, J. et al. (2005). Dismantling North Korea’s nuclear weapons programs. New York, NY: Strategic Studies Institute.

Cimbala, S. J. (2005). Nuclear weapons and strategy: Nuclear policy for the twenty-first century. New York, NY: Taylor & Francis.

Fitzpatrick, M. T. et al. (2008). Nuclear doctrines and strategies: National policies and international security. New York, NY: IOS Press.

Pollack, J. D. (2010). North Korea’s nuclear weapons development: Implications for future policy. Proliferation Papers, 33, 7-41.

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IvyPanda. (2019) 'Nuclear Program in North Korea'. 31 March.

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