U.S. Conventional Arms Control for Korea

A Proposed Approach

by James C. Wendt


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This Note presents an approach for integrating arms control into the changing Korean security environment and for evaluating how alternative arms control measures affect U.S. interests. The study identifies five U.S. arms control objectives: maintain U.S. presence, minimize short-warning threat, eliminate ground force disparity, maintain a U.S. reinforcement capability, and produce a verifiable agreement. The study then finds that equipment reductions, which involve equal ceilings on three critical pieces of equipment, and U.S. reductions (above a residual amount) proportional to North Korean reductions, would meet four of the five objectives. (Exercise limitations and notifications would help meet the fifth one.) While the approach apparently satisfies South Korean objectives, it may not be enough for the North Koreans. Thus, if the United States and South Korea place a sufficiently high value on achieving their objectives, other political/economic incentives may have to be offered.

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