North Korea first became seriously interested in nuclear weapons in 1962. Despite substantial and sustained interest, it was a full forty years until Pyongyang first managed to test a nuclear explosive. What took it so long? And, what, if anything, can the history of the North’s drawn out pursuit reveal about the likelihood of North Korea rolling back its weapons today? The speaker will argue that conventional skepticism about the effectiveness of supply-side restrictions as a tool of counterproliferation is unfounded. Soviet and Chinese restrictions on nuclear assistance to North Korea at critical periods in the programme’s development, along with Western sanctions on high-end dual-use technologies in the post-cold war era, were vital to delaying North Korea’s acquisition. Post-acquisition, North Korea has only one of the characteristics which have historically caused other states to give up their nuclear weapons: regime fragility. The speaker will discuss this point’s implications while offering advice to policy-makers and scholars of nuclear proliferation.
About the Speaker:
Paul Winter is a doctoral candidate with the Politics Department at Otago University in Dunedin, New Zealand. His dissertation considers the motivations behind and success of nuclear counterproliferation policies with a focus on proliferation in Asia. In 2017, Paul was a Fulbright visiting researcher at Georgetown University, Washington, D.C. His research is supported by generous grants from Otago University, the Asia New Zealand Foundation, and the New Zealand Defence Force.