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Nuclear Project in North Korea

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For many years North Korea’s nuclear programs remain a source of deep concern for the international community. Through the recent years the state has been engaging in nuclear activities, such as testing and acquisition. In 2006, North Korea announced its acquisition of the nuclear bomb, and in 2009, carried out its first nuclear bomb testing. The most recent announcement came in 2013, when the nation announced its plans to carry out its third nuclear test. This, however, North Korea does with objection from many countries from the west including the United States. In this aspect, the behavior of North Korea in relation to nuclear projects has become a significant international issue since 2006. Since the onset of these nuclear projects, the international community has been against the progress of the projects. At some point, North Korea had agreed to dismantle its nuclear program but withdrew from the agreement citing poor terms and conditions of it. Despite widespread global opposition, in April 2009, North Korea went ahead and had a test-fired ballistic missile. In this study paper, we explore the reasons and motives behind North Korea’s choice to pursue with its nuclear projects (McCormack, 2004).

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This essay analyzes the situation of the nuclear weapons in North Korea, its effects to both regional and international communities, both in terms of security and relation.

In the recent past, multiple rounds of negotiations have taken place between North Korea, Russia, United States, Japan, China, and South Korea, all aimed at persuading the country to quit its nuclear ambitions. The international community intervention in 2005 saw North Korea accepting a landmark deal to give up its nuclear ambitions in return for economic aid and political concessions. However, this agreement was not fruitful, and in April 2009, the meeting reached a dead end. This prompted North Korea to continue with its nuclear projects, making several other attempts to test its nuclear powers in Pyongyang. The international community again reacted to this decision calling for another meeting with North Korea on the same matter. In July 2011, the talks resumed and less than six months later the leader of the country died leaving the talks with a new platform. In 2012, the country announced its suspension of the nuclear activities.

In October 2006, North Korea joined the list of world’s atomic powers through conducting an underground nuclear weapons test. This move and rankings caused ripples among world opinions of the main reasons behind North Korea’s real intent for involvement in nuclear programs. The major reason behind North Korea’s active participation in nuclear programs is to prove to the world and other powerful states that it has the capability to deliver a working nuclear weapon. Actually, the powerful states seem to undermine the ability of North Korea to create a working nuclear weapon. The constant involvement of the country into nuclear programs dates back to half a century, a few years just before the Korean War. However, most powers do not recognize this ability of North Korea; hence, the need for the country to prove itself otherwise on the platform. After their first attempt on the nuclear weapons in 2006, North Korea remained defiant of its actions and objected the United Nations Security Council recommendations on the effects of the nuclear weapons.

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Well, it is a difficult move to try to understand the reasons behind North Korea’s behavior and direction in line with nuclear weapons. North Korea, as a government, is opaque and secretive making it extremely complex to understand the motives behind nuclear projects. According to analysts, one of the reasons behind this involvement is for the country to try and engage the US in bilateral talks, to ensure the security of the regime, and to satisfy hard-line elements within the Pyongyang government. In addition, analysts insist on technical motivations for North Korea carrying out a nuclear test. These seem to be short-term motives for the country in nuclear tests. This raises questions on why then North Korea is defiant and insistent on nuclear tests and is willing to endure the potential consequences.

The international community actively responds to North Korea’s nuclear weapons tests because of the implications that these tests have on the world at large. The United States, for instance, confronts North Korea on nuclear tests in order to prevent the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, and to prevent an attack either conventional or nuclear. One of the international responses came from the United Nations. The UN supported the United States by stating that the nuclear weapons tests were a clear threat to international peace and security, ban trade in heavy weapons and luxury goods. In an attempt to protect the whole world from implications of nuclear weapons, the UN instructed other nations to inspect cargo bound to and from North Korea to look for weapons of mass destruction or related materials. Moreover, the body has had requests that nations to freeze funds related to North Korea’s non-conventional weapons programs. Despite the sanctions from the UN, it is unclear whether they have major impacts on North Korea’s activities, since they still engage in nuclear tests. In the recent past, sanctions have proved to be ineffective at changing the fundamental political goals of most governments.

On the other hand, we have China on the international response, which made clear its overriding objective of preventing the collapse of North Korean regime. According to China, the fall of North Korean regime will mean interruption of its surging economic development and bring thousands of North Korean refugees across the border into China. According to analysts, China’s motives come from the desire to keep North Korea as a buffer state between China and the United State troops stationed in South Korea (Triplett, 2004). In this respect, China calls upon the UN to recheck on the sanctions placed on North Korea, which will in turn help to resolve the stand-offs experienced between the concerned parties. South Korea offers confliction reactions to North Korea’s activities by supporting the UNSC resolution and at the same time supporting other actions. Japan has imposed its own unilateral sanctions, which seem more restrictive than those called by the UN resolution do. Japan has gone further and banned all North Korean ships from accessing Japanese ports, and restricted imports and most of the North Korean citizens from entering the country.  

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From the above reactions and responses of international bodies to North Korean engagement in nuclear projects, it is clear to draw lines on the main motives for the country’s participation. Noted is North Korea’s attempt to secure bilateral talks with American government, which means acquisition of more leverage. However, the US has been constantly refusing to engage in any direct talks with North Korea. Instead, it sticks to the Six-Party Talks process. The failure to acquire these bilateral talks with the US has only served as a motivation for North Korea to further push on with the nuclear projects. Another identified reason is the attempt by North Korea to ensure security of regime. Analysts conclude that the nuclear tests could have been motivated by the regime’s deep insecurity and fear of an attack by the United States (Chang, 2006). Pyongyang’s planners believe that through developing and demonstrating a nuclear ability, the US will refrain from any attacks on the country. Finally, we have domestic political factors as reasons behind North Korea’s behavior towards nuclear tests. This may be done as an effort to entice hardliners in the regime. Another domestic factor is the urge for North Korea to assert itself as South Korea was winning international recognition through UN secretary general Ban Ki-Moon.

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