November 18, 2020

After Biden’s election victory, what’s North Korea’s next move?

By Duyeon Kim

North Korea is unusually mum about the outcome of the United States presidential election. It would not be a surprise if there is some confusion in Pyongyang because President Donald Trump has not yet conceded, and the regime would likely be disappointed about a Trump defeat. After all, to North Koreans, the United States means Donald Trump. He treated North Korean leader Kim Jong-un like the leader of a normal country and met him three times; a feat not even Kim’s father or grandfather could achieve. Perhaps Kim is hoping Trump’s unfounded claims about election fraud are correct.

Pyongyang may wait and see before reporting the result domestically and making its next move.

Whatever the reason, Pyongyang may wait and see before reporting the result domestically and making its next move. But once it is ready, North Korea will have several options in terms of the nature and timing of its next provocation. The incoming Biden administration will need to be prepared not only for how to respond to these but also for how to address existing fissures in the US-South Korea alliance relationship that will outlast Trump and impact the nuclear problem.

Read the full article in the Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists.

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