The Future of Soviet-North Korean Relations

by Harry Gelman, Norman D. Levin


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This report examines factors that have influenced the Soviet relationship with North Korea to the present time, and evaluates the prospects for this relationship over the next decade. It attempts, in particular, to isolate and weigh those factors that could make for significant change, particularly those that could contribute to greater instability on the Korean peninsula. From the perspectives of both the Soviet Union and the Democratic People's Republic of Korea, the bilateral relationship has for many years been difficult and cool. There is reason to believe that we are entering a rather fluid and dynamic period that might present Moscow and Pyongyang with both new dangers and new opportunities. From the North Korean perspective, the most volatile factor concerns perpetuation of the ruling regime. On the Soviet side, there are two factors that could impel the Soviet leadership to consider important changes in policy. One would be the possibility of obtaining concrete security benefits. The other factor would be a decision by the United States to use South Korea as a platform for long-range theater nuclear weapons directed at the Soviet Union.

This report is part of the RAND Corporation Report series. The report was a product of the RAND Corporation from 1948 to 1993 that represented the principal publication documenting and transmitting RAND's major research findings and final research.

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