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North Korea Benefits From Nuclear Weapons. Get Used To It.

Published By War on the Rocks

By Mark S. Bell

North Korea faces serious military threats from South Korea and the United States. South Korea is vastly more economically powerful and has the support of the most powerful state the world has ever known. Since the end of the Cold War, the United States —unconstrained by the absence of a peer competitor — has shown a repeated inclination to pursue regime change around the world, labelled North Korea as part of the “Axis of Evil”, imposed punishing sanctions on North Korea, and kept tens of thousands of forces stationed in the region.

What are the political priorities for countries that face these sorts of threats? States in this position would generally like to weaken their adversaries’ alliances, resist their coercion and encroachment, keep them as far from core territory as possible, retain the ability to threaten them, and be able to tolerate higher levels of escalation in crises. While states in a more benign environment face fewer constraints and so can pursue a wider range of goals, states facing serious threats must seek to improve their position against the threat. Nuclear weapons help them do so.

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