November 12, 2020

Sketching Out North Korea's Possible Joe Biden Strategy

By Jason Bartlett

When it comes to predicting foreign policy, North Korea is the hardest of hard targets because there is not enough access to necessary information for consistent, high-level accuracy. Instead, analysts rely on evaluating past North Korean government decisions and applying them to current issues to infer possible future outcomes. As president-elect Joe Biden will soon lead the United States, North Korea is most likely speculating whether Biden will resurrect past U.S. policies from the Obama administration or pursue a new path, incorporating aspects from both the Obama and Trump administrations.

When it comes to predicting foreign policy, North Korea is the hardest of hard targets because there is not enough access to necessary information for consistent, high-level accuracy.

The idea that a rogue state like North Korea will voluntarily abandon its nuclear arsenal if under enough economic or diplomatic pressure does not consider the sociopolitical makeup of the country. It is the only Confucian, communist, hereditary dynasty in the world. Since its formation in 1948, North Korea has followed a strict cultural policy of heredity succession of power, as well as the pursuit of nuclear weapons. North Korean leadership views the pursuit and obtainment of nuclear weapons as essential to its legitimacy, sovereignty, and ability to control its people. Moreover, North Korea blames its economic fragility on heavy U.S. economic sanctions to justify its obsession with nuclear proliferation under the guise of protecting its people from “military threat by imperialist reactionaries and other hostile forces.” As North Korea has already acquired an advanced arsenal of destructive and lethal weapons, the United States should now focus on how to deal with a heavily nuclearized North Korea as opposed to how to denuclearize North Korea. Any other approach to North Korea simply boldens its reticent stance on nuclear proliferation.

Read the full article in The National Interest.

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