American Foreign PolicyEditors' PickFlashpoints IssueNorth Korea

Talks, Markets, and Recognition? Addressing the North Korean Nuclear Conundrum

By Ramon Pacheco Pardo

North Korea has become a de facto nuclear power. Regardless of one’s views about the regime and its treatment of the country’s ordinary citizens, its nuclear and weapons of mass destruction (WMD) programs, and its illegal activities ranging from proliferation of WMD to currency counterfeiting, the international community has to accept that it is dealing with a nuclear North Korea. This means that stopping and rolling back Pyongyang’s nuclear programme is no longer a realistic goal, at least in the short term. Both in public and in private, the regime has clearly indicated that the program itself is not a bargaining tool. Rather, the Kim Jong-un regime considers a nuclear deterrent the best means to avoid the same fate as the Muammar Gaddafi and Saddam Hussein regimes: military strikes led or supported by the U.S., followed by the execution of their leaders at the hands of their former citizens…

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