In This Review

North Korean Nuclear Operationality: Regional Security and Nonproliferation
North Korean Nuclear Operationality: Regional Security and Nonproliferation
Edited by Gregory J. Moore
Johns Hopkins University Press, 2013, 320 pp

Pyongyang is well on the way to mastering the technologies it needs to build a deliverable nuclear weapon. But the expert contributors to this volume argue convincingly that little will change when North Korea crosses that threshold. The retaliatory capabilities of Japan, South Korea, and the United States are already sufficient to deter Pyongyang from attacking anyone with a nuclear weapon, and North Korea already has enough military power to deter its neighbors from attacking it. China and Russia do not approve of further advances in North Korean nuclear weaponry, but they will continue to support Pyongyang in order to avert a collapse of the North Korean regime, which serves as a buffer against U.S. power. Several contributors believe that the key to changing this dead-end dynamic is for Washington to give Pyongyang diplomatic recognition and institutionalized security guarantees and for South Korea to deepen its engagement with the North, in exchange for a freeze on North Korean weapons development. But these proposals are unlikely to be adopted -- and even if they were, they would probably fail to alleviate the sense of siege that motivated Pyongyang to pursue nuclear weapons in the first place.