Implications of North Korea’s Nuclear Testing: The Brookings Institution Weighs In

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How should the international community address North Korea’s persistent pursuit of a nuclear weapons program? This post from the Brookings Institution analyzes potential ways for the international community to respond to this threat.

The WAC Take:

On January 6th, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea claimed that it successfully detonated its first ever thermonuclear weapon. Monitoring seismic wave stations near North Korea do not yet confirm that a thermonuclear weapon was detonated, but verification remains to be received. North Korea’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program—at the expense of building meaningful and positive relationships with the international community—clearly illustrates its determination to sustain its regime. The international community’s attempts to deter the country’s pursuit of a nuclear weapons program has ultimately failed.

The Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty became effective in 1970 and was extended indefinitely in 1995. North Korea is the only nation to formally withdraw from the treaty and is also the only state to test a nuclear weapon in the 21st century. To the dismay of the international community, North Korea takes pride in its existing nuclear weapons program and sees its ability to possess nuclear weapons as a key element of its independent existence.

It is very likely that the United Nations Security Council will impose additional sanctions to highlight its opposition to North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. Individual states such as China, which has a growing economic relationship with North Korea, will serve a critical role in the process of successfully addressing the North Korean threat.

In the near future, the international community should continue to strive to be more cohesive in deterring North Korea’s nuclear development. The realization that this weapons industry is a common threat to all will encourage the development of a comprehensive strategy to effectively alter North Korea’s pursuit of a successful nuclear weapons program.

–Miguel Martinez, WAC Winter Intern
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