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History and background
At the beginning of the 20th century, in the aftermath of the Russo-Japanese War that had been fought between the Soviet and Japanese Empire over their ambitions in Korea and Manchuria, Korea became a protectorate of Japan with the 1905 Protectorate Treaty. Five years later, in 1910, Japan annexed Korea with the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty. The Treaty imposed Japanese military and economic dominance on the peninsula, and allowed Japan to pursue invasive reforms such as the introduction of a Japanese Superintendent within the Korean Financial Department, the replacement of Korean Foreign Minister and consuls with Japanese personnel, and the remodeling of Korea’s military after the Japanese model.
The implementation of these reforms caused radical and nationalist movements to emerge from within Korean society to call for independence from Japanese colonization. Because of their divergence, these groups failed to unite into one national movement. In 1907, Emperor Gojon was forced to relinquish his imperial authority and was replaced with a Crown Prince as a regent, Emperor Sunjong. The Japanese government, concerned that their own country was overcrowding, encouraged farmers to emigrate to Korea and imposed a land reform that denied land ownership to those Korean citizens who could not provide written proof of it. The category of farmers hit the most was composed of high-class and impartial owners who had only traditional verbal cultivator-rights. They lost their land entitlements and became tenant farmers for either Japanese individuals or Japanese corporations. Korean peasants were therefore forced to do compulsory labor to build irrigation works, and had to pay for these projects in the form of heavy taxes. For this reason they became largely impoverished. In 1910, with the signing of the Japan-Korea Annexation Treaty, the Japanese Minister of War, Terauchi Masatake, was given the mission to finalize control over the already military-occupied Korea. At that time, an estimated 7% to 8% of all arable land in Korea had fallen under Japanese control whilst the ratio of Japanese land ownership increased from 36.8% to 52.7% between 1916 and 1932.
Korean migrations increased dramatically in the 1930s. Moreover, from the beginning of WWII in 1939, Koreans were forcibly sent to Japan as labor force and compelled to join in the military efforts. For these reasons, the number of Koreans living in Japan reached 2 million by the end of WWII who were largely dominated by an anti-Japanese sentiment. This feeling was further worsened by the almost 70,000 Koreans were exposed to the U.S. atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Among the victims in Hiroshima, 35,000 Koreans died, while in Nagasaki there were 30,000 Korean victims of which 15,000 deaths. Following the end of the war, over 1 million were forcibly repatriated to Korea.
The country they repatriated to was the cradle of both Soviet and American expansionism. In fact, shortly before the formal end of the Second World War, on August 14, 1945, the Red Army invaded the northern part of the Korean peninsula while the United States responded by dividing the country into Soviet and US occupation zones establishing the 38th parallel as the official separation line. This division was de facto agreed by the Soviet Union whose Army halted at the 38th parallel and waited for three weeks for the arrival of the U.S. forces in the South.
On September 2, 1945, the U.S. Army reached Incheon, in the northwestern part of South Korea, near the 38th parallel, to formally accept the surrender of the Japanese government. U.S. Lieutenant General John R. Hodge started controlling South Korea as the head of the United States Army Military Government in Korea, and attempted to re-establish the Japanese colonial administration over that portion of the country. His attempt was met with strong resistance by Koreans, and he was consequently forced to abandon his project.
From this moment onward, the dynamics that shaped the history of the Korean Peninsula largely reflected the dynamics that caused and dominated the struggle for power between the Soviet Union and the U.S. during the Cold War. Indeed, initially Korea was administered by a U.S.-Soviet Union Joint Commission, which had been agreed to in December 1945 at the Moscow Conference of Foreign Ministers between the U.S., the United Kingdom and the Soviet Union. The Commission had the purpose of dealing with the problems of occupation and establishing peace in the Far East. The Commission’s mandate also included the preparation of peace treaties with Bulgaria, Italy, Finland, Hungary, and Romania; the occupation of Japan; the Sino-Soviet dispute; and the establishment by the United Nations of a Commission for the control of atomic energy.
With regard to the Korean issue, the aim of the Joint Commission was to grant independence to Korea after a five-year trusteeship, a vision that sparked protests and riots amongst Koreans. The U.S. Army Military Government in the southern part of Korea responded by banning the strikes and imposing martial law. Moreover, it outlawed the People’s Republic of Korea (PKA), a provisional government that was organized when Japan surrendered, because of its perceived communist orientation. As a consequence, the PKA was co-opted in the northern part of Korea into the structure of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
The U.S. considered the U.S.-Soviet Union Joint Commission ineffective, and Syngman Rhee, the Korean politician favored by the American government to govern South Korea, boycotted its work. Rhee exercised pressure on the U.S. government to convince them that Korea needed an independent government. His vision matched with Harry Truman’s policies of “containment” and the “Truman Doctrine,” two strategic foreign policies pursued by the United States to contain communist expansionism in the 1940s in Asia and Europe.
For this reason, the U.S. decided to call for elections in Korea to be supervised by the United Nations, which responded overnight by establishing the United Nations Temporary Commission on Korea (UNTCOK). As a reaction to the U.S. decision, both the Soviet Union and many South Korean politicians refused to cooperate. Eventually, a general election took place years later on July 20 10, 1948 in South Korea, while North Korea had a general election on August 25, 1948.
The partition of Korea
Following the presidential elections, on July 17, 1948, the Constitution of the Republic of Korea was established. On July 20 Syngman Rhee was elected as President of South Korea (ROK), and the formal establishment of the Republic of Korea followed suit on August 15.
In the northern part of Korea, the Soviet Union established a communist government, and on September 9 the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) led by Kim Il-sung, was established. In the same year, the Soviet Union withdrew from Korea, while the U.S. planned to do so only a year later, in 1949. However, the start of the Korean War would make the United States a permanent foreign presence on the Korean Peninsula.
As a prelude to the Korean War, it is important to stress the role played by U.S. expansionism in Asia. In fact, in the post-WWII climate, up to 1950, the Soviets became very suspicious of U.S. policies directed at strengthening Japan economically and militarily. The Soviet Union regarded the reinforcement of U.S. presence on Japan’s territory and the signing of a peace treaty without the participation of the Soviet Union as a threat. North Korean leader, Kim Il-sung, had the vision of a Korean reunification under communist rule while, in the south, Rhee’s implementation of repressive political and economic policies fuelled sentiments amongst Koreans against both him and the U.S. government that supported him. For these reasons, the North Korean leader repeatedly requested Stalin to authorize and support the invasion of South Korea. Stalin accepted in spring 1950, after his country breached the U.S. nuclear monopoly on August 29, 1949, by conducting their first nuclear weapon test at the Semipalatinsk Test Site in Kazakhstan.
With support provided by China’s Mao Zedong, in addition to the promise of economic and military aid from Stalin through the Sino-Soviet Treaty of Friendship, Alliance and Mutual Assistance, the North decided to call for a general election in Korea to be held on August 5-8, 1950, and sent a request for a common agreement to Syngman Rhee, which he refused. On June 25, 1950, the Korean People’s Army, led by Kim Il-sung, crossed the 38th parallel, justifying their attack as a response to an attack by the Republic of Korea Army’s troops. In this way fighting began.
During the first four days of fighting, the Republic of Korea Army dramatically lost, both in terms of troops and territory. The Korean People’s Army invaded the Ongjin Peninsula on the first day of combat, and then Seoul two days later. The Republic of Korea Army lost more than 70,000 combatants, forcing the United States to consider getting involved in their support.
At that time, the United States was concerned with containing what they regarded as the Soviet threat. Korea was not regarded as an important geopolitical spot, and it had also been recommended by policy analysts that Korea be excluded from the U.S. Asian Defense Perimeter. The U.S. focus was more on Europe. However, knowing what was happening in Korea, the possibility of Chinese or Soviet Union involvement sparked fears that the war in East Asia could develop into a world war, and that this could represent a new phase of communist expansionism.
Republicans and most of the press exercised pressure for U.S. intervention. President Truman responded by pushing a UN Security Council Resolution. The first one, Resolution 82, was issued on June 25, 1950, and condemned North Korea’s invasion of South Korea. The second one, Resolution 83, issued two days later, recommended that member states provide assistance to the Republic of Korea. Following on the UN Resolutions, Truman decided to intervene by sending air and sea forces to support South Korean ground forces. He referred to the intervention not as a “war” but as “a police action under the United Nations,” as it was officially a UN effort. Moreover, he bypassed Congressional authorization, thus setting the precedent for future wars.
Truman also justified his support of the war by emphasizing the communist threat before Congressional leaders: “If we let Korea down, the Soviet[s] will keep right on going and swallow up one piece of Asia after another. We had to make a stand some time, or else let all of Asia go by the board. If we were to let Asia go, the Near East would collapse and no telling what would happen in Europe. Therefore, … [I have] ordered our forces to support Korea … and it … [is] equally necessary for us to draw the line at Indo-China, the Philippines, and Formosa.” Truman’s fear was predominantly that the Soviet Union could invade Iran and then expand to the rest of the Middle East.
The North Korean Army went as far south as the city of Pusan (now officially Busan). At this point, General Douglas MacArthur counter-attacked and moved northward, near the Chinese border. In doing so, he failed to carefully consider China’s Foreign Minister Zhou Enlai’s warning that the Chinese would enter the war if the United States kept advancing towards the North. MacArthur ignored the suggestion of the Joint Chiefs not to bomb within five miles of the Chinese border. He assured Truman that he would have used only Korean troops while approaching the Chinese border, but, in defiance of the agreement reached with the U.S. President, MacArthur ordered the landing of 17,000 Allied forces at Inchon in September 1950, and envisioned that the war would end by the end of November and that the troops could be out by Christmas. As previously warned by Zhou Enlai, thousands of Chinese troops attacked the UN and Allied troops alongside the Yalu River in October, forcing them into retreat in late December to the disbelief of the U.S. General. Within both the media and military circles this was considered as the greatest military disaster in the history of the United States.
Following major setbacks, on February 1, 1951, the United Nations General Assembly passed Resolution 498 through which it condemned People’s Republic of China as an aggressor and called on its forces to withdraw from Korea. In response to the UN Resolution, both the Chinese and Soviet forces increased their support to North Korea.
Both the U.S. and South Korea suffered heavy casualties, and on April 11, General MacArthur was fired by the White House. Following Congressional hearings that took place between May and June 1951, he was found culpable of defying the U.S. president’s orders, thus violating the U.S. Constitution. General Matthew Ridgway replaced him as Supreme Commander in Korea, shortly before the Soviet Union, the United States, China and the two Koreas started negotiating on July 10, 1951. The negotiations took place first at Kaesong, an ancient capital at the border between North and South Korea, then at Panmunjon. These negotiations would last until 1953.
In November 1952, Dwight D. Eisenhower travelled to the Korean Peninsula shortly after being elected the new President of the United States of America. Despite giving the impression of not wanting to opt for a military solution in Korea, he had the conviction that using atomic weapons on Korea could be the most realistic and cheapest option over the use of conventional weapons.
Despite the fact that negotiations were ongoing and showing some progress, the U.S. Air Force carried on firebombing with napalm as their weapon of choice, which caused the indiscriminate killing of civilians, caused enormous floods and destroyed rice crops. The U.S. goal was to recapture all of Korea. In this phase, the Chinese troops suffered from deficient military equipment, logistical problems, overextended communication and supply lines, and the constant threat of U.N. bombings.
A war with no end
One of the most contested issues during the negotiations was the settlement of prisoners of war (POWs) by all the parties involved in the war: North Korea, South Korea, China, the UN and the United States. Once an agreement was reached on these issues, and a truce demarcation line between the North and the South of Korea – the Korean Demilitarized Zone (DMZ) – had been set, the armistice agreement was signed. Shortly after, a Military Armistice Commission was composed of five senior officers from the UN Command and five officers jointly appointed by the Chinese People’s Volunteers (CPV) and the Korean People’s Army with the aim of deciding on the terms for unification. They also created a Neutral Nations Supervisory Commission, where the UN Command nominated Sweden and Switzerland, while China and North Korea named Poland and Czechoslovakia, for negotiations to take place in Panmunjom. This phase failed over issues of representation, whereby the U.S. didn’t recognize the neutrality of the Soviet Union and, therefore, its possibility to participate as a neutral representative, as China and North Korea had proposed. Another conference was then announced in February 1954 to take place in Geneva on April 26. The Geneva Conference also failed due to the incapability of the actors involved to agree on the terms for unification. On June 15, 1954, the representatives of belligerent countries on the UN side issued the “Declaration of the Sixteen,” stating that there was no reason for further negotiations. In this way the armistice system decided on July 27, 1953 became permanent. It is still the only agreement that put an end to the Korean War. However, it only established a ceasefire and was not signed by South Korea. Therefore, even though the war is considered having ended on this day, the absence of a Peace Treaty make the two Koreas still formally at war.
Because of the war, both North and South Korea suffered great damages. Oliver Stone and Peter Kuznick reported: “Almost every major city in North Korea was burned to the ground. Survivors sought shelter in caves. South Koreans fared little better. The British armed forces yearbook reported in 1951, “The war was fought without regard for the South Koreans, and their unfortunate country was regarded as an arena rather than a country to be liberated. […].” It is estimated that out of a population of 30 million, approximately 3 to 4 million Koreans died. On the Chinese front, the war caused one million deaths, against 37,000 Americans killed. Korea as a whole had become locked in a division set in 1953 that separated the two societies, driven by the nationalism of both Kim Il Sung and Syngman Rhee, and is causing them to culturally grow further apart until these very days. Most importantly, about 10 million families were ripped apart, ending up either north or south of the 38th parallel simply by circumstances.
After the fighting ended, the United States and South Korea signed the Mutual Defense Treaty on October 1, 1953. In this way the U.S. became the guarantor of South Korea and the two nations are committed to provide mutual defense and aid to each other in case of external attacks. The Treaty, however, also allowed the United States to permanently station military forces in the country by prior permission of South Korea.
Following the end of the fighting, popular discontent over Syngman Rhee’s autocratic rule, pervasive corruption, violence against political opposition leaders and activities, and poor development in the country led students and the labor movement to organize mass demonstrations. Rhee had to resign on April 26, 1960, and was exiled to the United States two days later. In general, South Korea became more industrialized and modernized, becoming one of the world’s fastest-growing economies. Feelings of anti-Americanism that were prevalent immediately after the cease-fire because of the U.S. military presence in the country and U.S. support to Rhee’s dictatorial regime shifted since the beginning of the 21st century, making South Korea one of the biggest countries supported by the U.S. government.
On the other side, North Korea’s industrial society was totally destroyed by the hostilities, and the country had to receive extensive aid by both China and the Soviet Union to recover. The Soviet Union cancelled some of North Korea’s debts and China cancelled others. In addition to the promise of one billion rubles, the Soviet Union and the European countries part of the Soviet bloc sent logistical support and medical aid to North Korea. China also cancelled all North Korean’s war debts; directed monetary aid to the country; sent troops to help repair destroyed infrastructures and promised commercial cooperation. North Korean’s anti-Americanism, needless to say, skyrocketed.
In 1972, the two Koreas signed the July 4th North-South Joint Communiqué with the aim to ease relations between them. The Communiqué also prescribed the withdrawal of the United State Forces Korea from South Korea and attempted to establish the terms of nation-wide unity. Unfortunately, disagreement on the issue of unification created the conditions whereby the negotiations were unable to proceed further. North Korea remained closely aligned with China and the Soviet Union. Its economy began to decline during the 1980s and almost collapsed with the dissolution of the Soviet Union in 1991, following which aid was suddenly halted.
The impact of the Korean War on U.S. foreign policy was dramatic. It strongly sustained militarization and extended the U.S.’s aims to Indochina, Vietnam and Europe on the basis that these areas were the cradle of communism and, therefore, constituted a threat to U.S. interests. Moreover, the Korean War gave rise to the global Cold War and the race in nuclear armament that followed. In fact, over the whole course of the Korean War, the threat of nuclear warfare was constantly present. Two years after the end of WWII, in mid-1947, the United States possessed thirteen nuclear weapons. In August 1949, the Soviet Union successfully tested its first atomic bomb and broke the sense of military superiority that the United States had retained since August 6, 1945, when the first atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima, Japan. It was indeed following the Soviet achievement that Truman approved plans to increase the U.S. arsenal, despite many of the leading scientists, such as J. Robert Oppenheimer, Enrico Fermi, Albert Einstein, Leo Szilard and I. I. Rabi to name but a few, opposed it. All these experts united and defined the bomb as “a genocidal weapon,” a threat to the future of the human race, and “an evil thing considered in any light.” Strong opposition to further development of nuclear weapons also came from George Kennan, a State Department expert, who believed the Soviet Union was ready for a nuclear arms control agreement. Following his proposal, Secretary of State Dean Acheson suggested Kennan resign, which, in fact, he did on December 31, 1949.
The rise of nuclearization
With Truman as President of the United States, the number of nuclear weapons rose to three hundred in 1950, bringing with them a revolution in strategic thinking. At the start of the Korean War, MacArthur advocated the suggested use of the atomic bomb in support of combat operations and requested authorization to use it at his discretion. The Joint Chiefs decided that that wasn’t necessary, considering the small size of most Korean cities. With the entry of China in support of North Korea, the use of atomic weapons became more palpable. Truman, in fact, confirmed that the use of the nuclear weapons was in active consideration. In addition to military and political exponents, a big portion of the American public also favored their use. As Stone and Kuznick comment: “Reliance on nuclear weapons represented a fundamental departure from previous policy. Whereas Truman, after Hiroshima and Nagasaki, had viewed atomic bombs as weapons that would be used only in the most desperate circumstances, Eisenhower made them the foundation of U.S. defense strategy,” after he became U.S. President in 1953. The U.S. nuclear arsenal, under his presidency, expanded from 1,169, when he took office, to 22,229 when he left eight years later. The deployment of the first U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea started in 1958; it fluctuated over time, and peaked at almost 950 during the 1960s.
North Korea started cultivating its vision, too, at around this time. Its nuclear ambition can be tracked back to the 1950s, when the country started showing an interest in having nuclear weapons as part of the implementation of its sogun, the “military first” policy through which the country elevated the Korean People’s Army and considered it a guiding principle for its economic and political system. North Korea tried to start building nuclear weapons in 1962 by asking the Soviet Union, and later China, for help in developing nuclear weapons. Both countries rejected the request. However, the Soviets agreed to assisting North Korea to develop a peaceful nuclear energy program. In 1963, a research reactor – the Yongbyon Nuclear Scientific Research Centre, 100 km north of Pyongyang – was built in North Korea and became operational in 1965.
North Korea had to wait until the 1980s to begin to operate facilities for uranium fabrication and conversion, and to conduct high-explosive detonation tests. It was only in 1985 that North Korea signed the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, which had entered into force fifteen years prior. The DPRK would conclude its first comprehensive safeguard agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) and its NPT Safeguards Agreement in 1977 and 1992, respectively, but Pyongyang never allowed inspections. Since 1991, the United States attempted to force North Korea to abandon its nuclear ambitions, and the countries nearly went to war in 1994. North Korea had just shut down its nuclear reactor at Yongbyon and begun removing spent fuel rods, which contained enough plutonium to make five or six bombs. The International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA), having failed to gain full access to the North’s nuclear sites to determine whether it had reprocessed enough plutonium in the past for one or two weapons, had turned the matter over to the UN Security Council, where the United States was trying to gather support for the imposition of economic sanctions on Pyongyang for violating the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT). Knowing that North Korea had repeatedly denounced sanctions as a “declaration of war,” on June 16, 1994 President Bill Clinton decided to dispatch substantial military reinforcements to South Korea; this act nearly triggered a North Korean mobilization, risking a war between the two sides of Korea.
For these reasons, the year 1994 marked a critical turning point in U.S. nuclear diplomacy towards North Korea. In October 1994, North Korea and the United States concluded the Agreed Framework agreement under which the United States promised to help replace the North’s nuclear reactors with two, more proliferation resistant light-water reactors; provide security assurances; and forge diplomatic and economic ties in return for a verifiable end to North Korea’s nuclear arms program by obtaining North Korea’s commitment to shut down Yongbyon. However, this agreement was undermined by the U.S. Congress, which prevented the Clinton administration from providing the supplies to North Korea and imposed new sanctions on the country, causing the Agreement to finally fall apart in 2002.
The 1994 crisis and subsequent events gave the United States the chance to review their official policy towards the DRPK. But President Clinton tasked a policy review team only in November 1998 with the mandate to establish a policy toward North Korea, following the production, testing, and deployment by North Korea of the NoDong, a medium-range ballistic missile capable of reaching South Korea and Japan. William J. Perry, who had served as Clinton’s Secretary of Defense from March 1993 until January 1997, led the team. He adopted a “preventive defense” policy as a guide to national security in the post-Cold War era, which established three main points: keep threats from emerging; deter those that actually emerged; and if prevention and deterrence failed, defeat the threat with military force. The main concern of the review team was “the deleterious effects that North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missile activities could have for regional and global security;” unfortunately, without further questioning the presence of the U.S. forces on the Korean Peninsula. The report states: “In the course of the review, the policy team conferred with U.S. military leaders and allies, and concluded that, as in 1994, U.S. forces and alliances in the region are strong and ready. (emphasis added) […] We believe the DPRK’s military leaders know this and thus are deterred from launching an attack”.
On a subsequent note, the team “concluded that the urgent focus of U.S. policy toward the DPRK must be to end its nuclear weapons and long-range-related activities. This focus does not signal a narrow preoccupation with nonproliferation over other dimensions of the problem of security on the Korean Peninsula, but rather reflects the fact that control of weapons of mass destruction is essential to the pursuit of a wider form of security so badly needed in that region,” with exclusive reference to North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction, not the U.S.’s.
The review does not question U.S. presence in the region, but further isolates the DPRK through the reinforcement of alliances with Japan and South Korea, and the sharing with China of mutual security interests related to the proliferation of nuclear weapons in the region. It barely concedes an ease of sanctions, in a reversible manner, on North Korea, until the “complete and verifiable assurances that the DPRK does not have a nuclear weapon program.” In so requesting, the team added, “the United States will not offer the DPRK tangible ‘rewards’ for appropriate security behavior; doing so would both transgress principles that the United States values and open us up to further blackmail.” Lastly, they affirm: “The President should explore with the majority and minority leaders of both houses of Congress ways for the Hill, on a bipartisan basis, to consult on this and future Administrations’ policy toward the DPRK. Just as no policy toward the DPRK can succeed unless it is a combined strategy of the United States and its allies, the policy review team believes no strategy can be sustained over time without the input and support of Congress,” thus ensuring the legacy of this policy.
Following talks with the United States, in 1999 North Korea agreed to suspend testing of long-range missiles and obtained, in exchange, the ease of economic sanctions for the first time since the beginning of the Korean War. At the beginning of the 21st century, in 2000, South Korean President Kim Dae-jung and North Korean President Kim Jong-il met in Pyongyang for the first Summit between the Koreas since the end of the Korean War, followed by further ease of sanctions by US President Bill Clinton.
Clinton’s presidency would end without making any additional gains on North Korea’s nuclear program. The unstable relationship between North Korea and the U.S. would be further exacerbated by President George W. Bush, who, following 9/11, included North Korea in his “axis of evil,” together with Iraq and Iran, in this way justifying the re-imposition of sanctions following a rocket test and missile-related transfer to Iran. It was in this political and economic climate that North Korea, after admitting to running a uranium-enrichment program, violated the Treaty on the Nonproliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the 1994 Agreed Framework, and the agreement with South Korea. In a few months, by December 2002, the country proceeded with the reopening of the nuclear plant in Yongbyon, and, in January 2003, the country withdrew from the NPT.
Talks between North Korea, the U.S. and its allies proceeded very convolutedly through the Six Party Talks, a series of multilateral negotiations that were established in 2005 by North Korea, South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the United States as a result of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program. The lack of progress in the talks – mainly because of the U.S. dominating role within this context – would lead to the imposition of sanctions by the American government every time North Korea refused to comply with the requests established by the U.S., unilaterally, or the United Nations Security Council. Moreover, North Korean relationship with the IAEA would be disrupted by its the refusal to allow the work of IAEA inspectors. Again, in 2006, the UN Security Council condemned North Korea and reinforced trade sanctions following North Korea’s fist underground nuclear test conducted with an explosion yield of one to two kilotons on October 9, 2006.
North Korea’s commitment to dismantle its nuclear facility in Yongbyon was declared again in 2007, in exchange for fifty thousand tons of heavy fuel oil as part of the Six Party Talks that resumed in the same year, following the ease of economic sanctions by President Bush, and the promise to be removed from the U.S. list of state-sponsored terrorism. The election of the new South Korean leader, Lee Myung-bak, in February 2008, brought a dramatic shift to the relationship between the two Koreas. In fact, he diverted from a path directed at reconciliation that had been pursued by his predecessor, and the unconditional support given to him by the United States weakened an already unstable balance. By this time, North Korea had achieved the completion of fifteen nuclear sites and the accumulation of thirty kilograms of plutonium and failed to agree on verification procedures with the U.S. State Department.
On May 25, 2009, North Korea tested a second nuclear device carrying a yield of two to eight kilotons. The newly-elected U.S. President, Barack Obama, gave administration officials the task of carrying out the first bilateral meeting with North Korea as part of his policy of “strategic patience”. The talks did not prevent North Korea from resuming Yongbyon reactivation process for uranium enrichment, as announced by Pyongyang, despite the sanctions imposed on its government. A few years later, on February 12, 2013, North Korea accomplished its third nuclear test with an estimated yield of six to nine kilotons.
As happened during the Bush Administration, the Obama presidency experienced long interruptions in the Six Party Talks for largely the same reasons. The DPRK repeatedly rejected the Talks because it perceived them as a form of coercion toward unilateral disarmament and a threat to North Korea’s sovereignty.
Between 2010 and 2012, no major advances were made on the side of the negotiations. In 2010, tensions escalated between North Korea and South Korea because two major incidents occurred. The first was the sinking of the Cheonan, a South Korean warship that went down in the Yellow Sea in late March, killing forty sailors and sinking in the waters surrounding the Northern Limit Line (NLL), a maritime area that has been historically disputed between the two Koreas. South Korea and the United States conducted an investigation on the incident by which they concluded that North Korea was responsible, while a Presidential Statement of the UN Security Council disputed their conclusion.
The second incident was the bombing of Yeongpyeong Island in the Yellow Sea, near the NLL in late November, in response to South Korea’s firing of artillery, which the DPRK said landed in its territorial waters. The bombing of the Island caused the death of four people, including two civilians, and was followed by war exercises conducted by South Korea, the United States and Japan. Moreover, distrust towards North Korea was increased by the discovery that the country’s uranium-producing facility included 2,000 centrifuges, and a light-water reactor was secretly under construction. It was then confirmed that the uranium-enrichment process was supposed to provide low-enriched uranium for the light-water reactor, and that “the transition to the manufacture of highly enriched uranium for nuclear weapons could not be ruled out for the future.”
In late October 2011, North Korea and the United States met in Geneva and, again, in Beijing in mid-December. The meetings were judged by both parties as positive and constructive, and created the prospect that more talks could be pursued. However, the death of Kim Jong-il a few days after the talks in China put the negotiations on hold until February 2012 and created concerns about the passage of power to Kim Jong-un, the youngest son of the former North Korean leader. When the talks resumed in February, the two sides declared two different versions of what agreement had been reached. On one side, the United States declared that: “The DPRK has agreed to implement a moratorium on long-range missile launches, nuclear tests and nuclear activities at Yongbyon, including uranium enrichment activities […] [and] has also agreed to the return of IAEA inspectors to verify and monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment activities at Yongbyon and confirm the disablement of the 5-MW reactor and associated facilities.”
On its side, North Korea maintained that the parties “agreed to a moratorium on nuclear tests, long-range missile launches, and uranium enrichment activity at Yongbyon and allow the IAEA to monitor the moratorium on uranium enrichment while productive dialogues continue.” In substance, while the U.S. State Department’s announcement specified a suspension of nuclear works at Yongbyon, Pyongyang maintained that the moratorium applied only to uranium-enrichment activities. What caused the talks to fail was the disagreement over a previously planned rocket launch by North Korea that was announced by Kim Jong-il before his death as an “earth observation satellite” to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth Kim Il-sung, the eternal President. According to the Obama administration, the U.S. had made clear to Pyongyang that even a satellite launch (not officially a missile) would still violate UN Security Council resolutions 1718 and 1874, but they did not specify the warning in writing. Arguing that it had given proper notification to the appropriate international bodies and that international law permitted the launch of a communications satellite for peaceful purposes, North Korea went ahead with its plan amid strong condemnation by the UN Security Council, and maintained that its satellite launch was quite outside the February 2012 DPRK- U.S. agreement.
Following this episode, South Korea, the United States and Japan evaluated the prospects of North Korea conducting its third nuclear test were very high. Pyongyang almost immediately responded that, although it no longer honored the February agreement, it was not planning to conduct such a military measure. However, between 2013 and 2016, despite sanctions and international isolation, North Korea managed to advance its nuclear program. In mid-February 2013, the Comprehensive Test Ban Treaty Organization (CTBTO) detected seismic activity near the nuclear test site where North Korea tested its 2006 and 2009 nuclear devices. The South Korean Defense Ministry estimated the yield at 6-7 kilotons in the immediate aftermath, and was conducted by North Korea in retaliation for the enormous pressure exercised by Washington and its intention to have the UN Security Council sanction the DPRK, this time for its rocket launch that occurred in mid-December 2012. Following North Korea’s move, the Obama administration deployed nuclear-capable B-52s to South Korea, thus providing a nuclear threat of its own to the DPRK, and decided to engage further in military exercises in South Korea. In early 2016, the Obama administration privately offered to begin talks with North Korea if denuclearization was part of the agenda, appearing to ease the preconditions set in previous negotiations. Pyongyang dismissed the offer and conducted its fourth nuclear test on January 6, 2016 and another one on September 9, 2016. The first test had an estimated yield of 10 kilotons, while the second had an estimate of 15 to 25 kilotons. At this point, Kim Jong-un had improved ballistic missile capabilities, and had carried out more short-, medium- and long-range missile tests than his father and grandfather ever did.
North Korea as an emerging nuclear state
With the advent of Trump’s presidency in 2017, the anti-North Korea rhetoric and provocations between the two countries escalated. After the election, Kim Jong-un announced his intention to test launch an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM), prompting Trump to respond that there was no chance that could happen and to initiate a policy of maximum pressure on the northern side of the Korean Peninsula following in his predecessors’ footsteps. The United Nations Security Council followed up with sanctions aimed to cut off almost all of North Korea’s sources for earning hard currency, and to crack down on North Korea’s availability of fuel and other key commodities. At the same time, the U.S. enforced more sanctions that targeted North Korean shipping, blacklisted small banks based in China and Eastern Europe, and worked to persuade countries to cut their economic and diplomatic ties with Pyongyang.
The openly violent rhetoric between the two countries was accompanied by apparently serious considerations of military confrontation. Trump told the media that, if North Korea kept threatening the United States, it would “be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen.” The following month, in an address to the UN General Assembly, Trump said that if the U.S. “is forced to defend itself or its allies, we will have no choice but to totally destroy North Korea.” North Korea responded to these remarks with its own escalation of rhetoric and threats. After Trump’s “fire and fury” remark, the Korean People’s Army’s Strategic Force threatened to fire an array of long-range missiles at the surrounding waters of the U.S. territory of Guam. Kim Jong-un never followed his threats with real actions, but North Korea did conduct what appeared to be its first thermonuclear test – September 3, 2017 – and a test of the Hwasong-15 ICBM – November 28, 2017 – that seemed to be capable of reaching the continental United States. For his part, Trump responded with high-profile shows of military force on or near the Korean Peninsula. Fortunately, in spite of aggressive calls and responses, the U.S. administration remained open to negotiations with North Korea.
By the end of 2017, North Korea was – in the opinion of most U.S. experts – near to finishing its development of nuclear-armed ICBMs. It was estimated that it possessed already enough fissile material to build up to sixty nuclear weapons. Kim Jong-un declared the country’s nuclear program to be “complete,” indicated a plan to shift from testing and development to the mass production of nuclear warheads and ballistic missiles. Amid these dangerous developments, however, Kim Jong-un searched for a new type of international engagement and nuclear diplomacy with both South Korea and the United States. In his 2018 New Year’s Address speech, he indicated a willingness to participate in the upcoming Winter Olympics in South Korea – thus creating the conditions for a new type of international engagement and nuclear diplomacy with both South Korea and the United States. Two months later, Kim Jong-un sent a message via two high-ranking South Korean officials expressing his desire for a summit meeting with President Trump to discuss the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Trump accepted the offer immediately and sent CIA Director and soon-to-be Secretary of State Mike Pompeo to Pyongyang to hold a secret preliminary meeting with the North Korean leader. The following month, April 27, 2018, Kim became the first North Korean leader to cross the southern side of the Joint Security Area in Panmunjom where he met with South Korea’s President Moon Jae-in. On this occasion the two leaders pledged to convert the 1953 Armistice Agreement into a peace treaty, and reiterated the goal of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.
With regard to the summit scheduled with the United States, Kim Jong-un accepted not to demand the withdrawal of U.S. troops from the Peninsula in exchange for denuclearization. Despite this concession from North Korea, Trump insisted on affirming that maximum pressure would be applied until North Korea achieved complete, verifiable, irreversible denuclearization. In addition, National Security Advisor John Bolton urged North Korea to follow the “Libya model” in denuclearization talks, which Pyongyang viewed as an intimidation to “either you surrender or we proceed with regime change.” This prompted a round of escalating rhetoric between Washington and Pyongyang that culminated in an open letter from Trump to Kim wherein he announced the cancellation of their planned summit scheduled for June 12 in Singapore. A subsequent meeting between the leaders of the two Koreas put the meeting back on track. This meeting would be the first meeting between President Kim Jong-un and President Donald Trump. The outcome of the meeting reaffirmed the improved relations between the countries, the commitment to create the conditions for a lasting peace and the repatriation of the remains of U.S. service members who served during the Korean War, which had been suspended in 2005. The United States also committed to suspend their military exercises with South Korea, while North Korea promised to dismantle a missile testing site.
The United States as an element of instability
Despite these positive advancements, no concrete plan toward denuclearization was established, and the United States and North Korea quickly entered an impasse. North Korea did not appear to halt its fissile material or ICBMs production, while U.S. officials kept the sanction regime intact, and Kim Jong-un continued to offer words of admiration to Donald Trump as a person, which Trump reciprocated. The relationship between North Korea and South Korea didn’t deteriorate, fortunately. In September 2018, Moon Jae-in travelled to Pyongyang to meet with Kim Jong-un for the third time and both leaders pledged to enhance inter-Korean cooperation. However, a major obstacle to the independent advancement on any forms of cooperation between the two Koreas was the system of UN sanctions imposed on North Korea that requires that nearly any form of inter-Korean economic engagement has to be approved by the Security Council, hence the U.S., which doesn’t intend to relax sanctions in the absence of concrete action from North Korea toward total denuclearization.
On February 27-28, 2019 North Korea and the United States attempted a second summit and met in Hanoi, Vietnam. This attempt also collapsed because the two leaders could not reach an agreement over sanctions relief as a precondition for North Korea’s denuclearization and verification process. Following the breach of talks, the two leaders released different versions on the nature of the disagreement: by Trump’s account, the North Korean leader demanded a complete ease of sanctions, while Kim reported he requested only a partial lift. Even though a joint statement had not been signed on this occasion, both leaders announced their commitment to continue the talks.
Suddenly, on June 30, 2019, Donald Trump and Kim Jong-un agreed to meet again on the Korean Peninsula, by the Demilitarized Zone, and Trump became the first sitting U.S. President to set foot in North Korea, but the meeting didn’t explicitly make any reference to North Korea’s nuclear program. In addition, the persistence of military exercises between South Korea and the United States undermines the possibility that concrete steps towards the denuclearization of North Korea can be established and respected. As Robert Kelly points out: “The Americans demanded huge concessions from the North Koreans upfront, in exchange for vague future counter-concessions. In the run-up to Singapore, U.S. officials regularly talked about the complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament of the North Korean nuclear and missile program. By Hanoi, this had morphed into final, fully verified disarmament (FFVD). Effectively, however, these were the same thing—unilateral disarmament. Yet in exchange for this massive concession, the Americans never offered anything commensurate.” As I am writing, major news outlets are reporting on the possibility that another meeting between Washington and Pyongyang might happen soon.
The complex relationship between North Korea and the United States, and the demand by the U.S. Government that North Korea proceed with complete, verifiable, irreversible disarmament (CVID) of its nuclear and missile programs, show how far from reality the U.S. debate is on North Korea. A realist analysis of the relationships between these two countries must take into consideration at least three factors, that are still disputed today: the deployment of nuclear weapons to South Korea by the U.S.; the conducting of military exercises since the end of WWII; and the attempt by South Korea to develop nuclear weapons.
During the Cold War, from 1958 to 1991, the United States deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea continuously to deter North Korea, predominantly, and Russia and China. The U.S nuclear arsenal counted between 200 and 300 weapons during the 1980s and declined to around 100 by 1990. On September 27, 1991, George H. W. Bush announced his decision “to eliminate [the U.S.’s] the entire world-wide inventory of ground-launched, short-range, that is, theater nuclear weapons. We will bring home and destroy all of our nuclear artillery shells and short-range ballistic missile warheads. ” However, he further stated: “We will, of course, ensure that we preserve an effective air-delivered nuclear capability in Europe. That is essential to NATO’s security,” and didn’t comment at all on South Korea. Even though it is reported that the nuclear arsenal was completely removed from the country by December 1991, the U.S.’s policy to protect South Korea (and Japan) under the “nuclear umbrella,” is what makes North Korea feeling threatened.
Strategic nuclear weapons have played and continue to play an important role in the United States’ relationship with South Korea. In the 1970s and 1980s, the US Navy conducted port visits to South Korea with nuclear-powered ballistic missiles submarines (SSBNs). Even though the main reason for these visits remains unclear, the period during which they took place overlaps with the period of time during which South Korea developed a secret nuclear program that was stopped by the U.S. It has been argued that these visits might have represented a form of reassurance to South Korea of U.S. security commitment to defend the country. SSBNs were found of “critical importance” to U.S. forces in South Korea during a 1999 inspection of the Trident submarine command and control system. Moreover, since 2004, the U.S. has deployed B-2 and B-52 nuclear capable bombers that can deliver nuclear gravity bombs and air-launched cruise missiles to Guam although without nuclear weapons. In October 2016, the USS Pennsylvania (SSBN-735) was deployed in Guam to publicly promote U.S. security commitments to South Korea and Japan. These signals are for North Korea and other adversaries to understand that nuclear weapons could be used to defend the U.S. and their allies in the region if necessary. On South Korean territory there are numerous calls for the redeployment of U.S tactical nuclear weapons. As pointed out by a poll conducted in September 2017 by a South Korean cable news channel, 60 percent of South Koreans would support it. This would be a solution that would only exacerbate the already tense relationship between North Korea and South Korea; North Korea and the U.S; and the U.S., China and Russia.
After the 1953 Armistice, the United Nations Command had been responsible for the defense of South Korea, and had operational control over a majority of the units in the Republic of Korea Armed Forces. On November 7, 1978 a bi-national defense team was established between the Republic of Korea and the U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) – the ROK/U.S. Combined Forces Command (CFC) – with the task to deter, or defeat if necessary, an outside aggression against the Republic of Korea. To fulfill its role, the CFC deploys 600,000 active-duty military personnel of all services, of both countries, in peacetime, while, in wartime, these can incorporate also 3.5 million ROK reservists as well as additional U.S. forces. If North Korea attacks, the CFC would provide a coordinated defense through its Air, Ground, Naval and Combined Marine Forces Component Commands and the Combined Unconventional Warfare Task Force.
Throughout the years, the U.S. and South Korea have engaged in military exercises, which have been perceived by North Korea as threatening and didn’t seem to be negotiable. In fact, The Commander of U.S. Forces Korea reaffirmed that the stationing of American troops on the peninsula does not depend on any peace treaty, or lack thereof, between the parties that were involved in the Korean War. In a statement released 15 February 2019, General Robert Abrams said the Seoul-Washington military alliance is stronger than ever, and has been serving as a strategic deterrent to any potential crisis or provocation. A more recent statement by Choi Jong-kun, the secretary for peace planning to South Korean President Moon Jae-in, sustained that “the nature of the exercise is not offensive … and is for strengthening the alliance.”
North Korea is a heavily sanctioned dictatorial regime. Other than a highly opportunistic relationship with China, North Korea has no allies, and most of the surrounding countries are in open hostility to Kim Jong-un, leaving him to stand alone in the international system. Moreover, North Korea is surrounded by an unwanted U.S. presence that threatens its sovereignty. For this reason, nuclear weapons have become a strategic choice for North Korea, and are perceived by them to offer security against external attack.
For its part, the United States should engage in negotiations and be ready to remove its troops from South Korea; lift its sanctions regime that limits Pyongyang’s trade, thus contributing to the full normalization of the relationships between North and South Korea, and North Korea and the rest of the world, alongside its own relationship with this part of the Peninsula. Negotiations should be conducted in good faith and more efforts should be done to increase awareness of both the dangers of nuclear weapons and of the consequences of conflict between two nuclear states. A recent study published on the Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists has found that U.S public is over-optimistic about U.S. missile defense capability. The study specifically reports: “When respondents read a story that did not provide any estimate of the probability that the preventive strike would succeed, a third of respondents indicated that they believed there was at least 75 percent probability that a US conventional strike ‘would successfully destroy all of North Korea’s nuclear weapons, eliminating North Korea’s ability to retaliate with nuclear weapons against the United States or South Korea.’” The authors further add: “This optimism is not shared by defense experts,” conclusion that establishes as imperative the need to pursue the path toward the total abolition of nuclear weapons, once and for all. Otherwise, there will be no victory in any given scenario.
 Kitaoka, Yuri, “Forgotten Korean victims,” WISE, March 28, 1993 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.wiseinternational.org/nuclear-monitor/387-388/forgotten-korean-victims).
 South Korea is officially named Republic of Korea (ROK). “South Korea” or “ROK” will be used interchangeably in the text.
 North Korea is officially named Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK). “North Korea” or “DPRK” will be used interchangeably in the text.
 David Hlalberstam, The Coldest Winter: America And The Korean War, New York: Hyperion, 2007, p. 2.
 Gardner, Lloyd C., “The Dulles Years: 1953-1959,” in Appleman Williams William (ed.) (1972) Form Colony to Empire: Essay on the History of American Foreign Relations, New York: John Wiley & Sons, pp. 375-376 in Stone, Oliver and Peter Kuznick, (2019) The Untold History of the United States, New York: Gallery Books, pp. 237-238.
 Warner, Michael, (1994) (ed.), The CIA Under Harry Truman – CIA Cold War Records, Washington, D.C.: Centre for the Study of Intelligence, p. 335.
 Stone, Oliver and Peter Kuznick, (2019) The Untold History of the United States, New York: Gallery Books, p. 244.
 Norris, Robert S. and Hans M. Kristensen (2010) ‘Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945-2010,’
Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 66:4, pp. 77-83. See also: Kristensen, Hans M. & Robert S. Norris (2013) Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2013, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 69:5, 75-81,
 “USAEC General Advisory Committee Report on the ‘Super,’ October 30, 1949,” in Williams, Robert C. and Philip L. Cantelon (ed.) (1984) The American Atom: A Documentary History of Nuclear Policies from the Discovery of Fission to the Present, 1939-1984, Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, p. 127.
 Stone, Oliver and Peter Kuznick, (2019) The Untold History of the United States, New York: Gallery Books, p. 230.
 Ibidem., p. 256.
 Norris, Robert S. and Hans M. Kristensen (2010) ‘Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945-2010,’ Bulletin Of The Atomic Scientists, 66:4, pp. 77-83. See also Kristensen, M. & Robert S. Norris (2013) Global nuclear weapons inventories, 1945–2013, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, 69:5, 75-81.
 Sigal, Leon V., “The North Korean nuclear crisis: understandignthe failure of the “crime-and-punishment” staregy,” Arms Control Association (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.armscontrol.org/act/1997-05/features/north-korean-nuclear-crisis-understanding-failure-crime-punishment-strategy).
 Carter, Ashton. B. and William J. Perry (2000) Preventive Defense. A New Security Strategy For America, Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
 Perry, William, “The North Korean policy review: What happened in 1999,” William J. Perry Project, August 11, 2017 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 http://www.wjperryproject.org/notes-from-the-brink/the-north-korean-policy-review-what-happened-in-1999).
 Carter, Ashton. B. and William J. Perry (2000) Preventive Defense. A New Security Strategy For America, Washington D.C.: The Brookings Institution.
 Office of the North Korea Policy Coordinator, “Review of United States Policy Toward North Korea: Findings and Recommendations,” United States Department of State, October 1999. (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.belfercenter.org/publication/review-united-states-policy-toward-north-korea-findings-and-recommendations).
 Pyon, Changsop, “Strategic patience or back to engagement? Obama’s dilemma on North Korea,” North Korean Review, Vol. 7, no. 2, Fall 2011, pp. 73-81.
 Siegfried, Hecker, “A Return Trip to North Korea’s Yongbyon Nuclear Complex,” Center for International Security and Cooperation, Stanford University, November 20, 2010 in DiFilippo, A. (2014) “Steady State: The North Korean Nuclear Issue from Bush to Obama,” Asian Affairs: An American Review, Vol. 41, no 2, pp. 56-82.
 “DPRK ‘Told U.S. about Plan on Dec. 15,”’ Daily Yomiuri Online, March 26, 2012 in ibidem.
 Gale, Alastair and Carol E. Lee, “U.S. Agreed to North Korea Peace Talks Before Latest Nuclear Test,” Wall Street Journal, February 21, 2016 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.wsj.com/articles/u-s-agreed-to-north-korea-peace-talks-1456076019); Megan Cassella and Doina Chiacu, “U.S. Rejected North Korea Peace Talks Offer Before Last Nuclear Test: State Department,” Reuters, February 21, 2016, (Accessed on September 12, 2019. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-nuclear/u-s-rejected-north-korea-peace-talks-offer-before-last-nuclear-test-state-department-idUSKCN0VU0XE).
 Bierman, Noah, “Trump Warns North Korea of ‘Fire and Fury’,” Los Angeles Times, August 8, 2017 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.latimes.com/la-app-north-korea-trump-nuclear-missiles-20170808-story.html).
 “Remarks by President Trump to the 72nd Session of the United Nations General Assembly,” September 19, 2017 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/remarks-president-trump-72nd-session-united-nations-general-assembly/).
 “Press Conference by President Trump Following June 12, 2018 Summit with Kim Jong Un,” Capella Hotel, Singapore, June 12, 2018 (Retrievable at https://www.ncnk.org/resources/publications/singapore_summit_press_conference.pdf/file_view Accessed on September 12, 2019).
 Robert E. Kelly, ‘The real reasons negotiations between America and North Korea are stuck,’ The National Interest, May30, 2019 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://nationalinterest.org/blog/korea-watch/real-reason-negotiations-between-america-and-north-korea-are-stuck-60167).
 Kristensen, Hans M. and Robert S. Norris (2017) A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 73, no 6, pp. 349-35.
 Koch, Susan J., (2012) The Presidential Nuclear Initiatives of 1991-1992, Washington D.C.: national Defense University Press, pp. 24-25. (Retrievable at https://ndupress.ndu.edu/Portals/68/Documents/casestudies/CSWMD_CaseStudy-5.pdf Accessed on September 12, 2019).
 Kristensen, Hans M. and Robert S. Norris (2017) “A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea,” Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 73, no 6, pp. 349-35.
 Ibidem., p. 352.
 Kristensen, Hans M. & Robert S. Norris (2017) A history of US nuclear weapons in South Korea, Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists, Vol. 73, no 6, pp. 349-357.
 Ye Hee Lee, Michelle, “More than ever, South Koreans want their own nuclear weapons,” The Washington Post, September 13, 2017. (Accessed on September 12, 2019. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/worldviews/wp/2017/09/13/most-south-koreans-dont-think-the-north-will-start-a-war-but-they-still-want-their-own-nuclear-weapons/). See also “Most South Koreans doubt the North will start a war: poll,” Reuters, September 7, 2017. (Accessed on September 12, 2017. https://www.reuters.com/article/us-northkorea-missiles-southkorea-poll/most-south-koreans-doubt-the-north-will-start-a-war-poll-idUSKCN1BJ0HF).
 Landay, Jonathan, “U.S.-South Korean military exercise to proceed: top South Korean official,” Reuters, July 20, 2019 (Accessed on September 12, 2019 https://www.reuters.com/article/us-usa-southkorea-military/us-south-korean-military-exercise-to-proceed-top-south-korean-official-idUSKCN1UF0OV).
 Haworth, A. R., Scott D. Sagan and Benjamin A. Valentino (2019) “What do Americans really think about conflict with nuclear North Korea? The answer is both reassuring and disturbing,”75:4, 179-186.
 Ibidem., p. 184.