May 18, 2016
By insisting on a peace treaty with America, North Korea is probably seeking war. Its leaders likely hope a treaty would lead to a withdrawal of U.S. forces from South Korea, setting the stage for an invasion by the North.
RAND researchers have developed a deep body of work on North Korea's nuclear capability and its implications for U.S. policy. Specifically, we focus on the regional security dynamics of the North Korean nuclear threat; the North Korea nuclear threat and the technical hurdles North Korea faces in building its capabilities; and dealing with North Korean nuclear weapons in the event of a regime collapse.
The work listed below is in the public domain. Additional relevant work on North Korea is completed and will be in the public domain shortly.
RAND and KIDA have been conducting a collaborative research addressing the issue of deterrence and stability for the Korean Peninsula.
The United States and its allies need an effective means to deter North Korea's use of weapons of mass destruction (WMD).
The security community generally believes that North Korea has a relatively sophisticated guided ballistic missile program. This report questions this view and seeks to better characterize the North Korean missile threat. The author compares the available data on the North Korean missile program against five hypotheses about the program's origins, sophistication, and scale, highlighting inconsistencies.
North Korea has denied the United States information about its nuclear weapon program, resulting in a high degree of uncertainty about the number and character of its nuclear weapons, how they might be used, and what impact they might have. This briefing addresses those uncertainties. North Korea could use its nuclear weapons from early on in a war, threatening ROK and Japanese cities to control escalation and strive for some hope of victory.
A North Korean government collapse would have serious consequences, including a humanitarian disaster and civil war. The Republic of Korea and the United States can help mitigate the consequences, seeking unification by being prepared to deliver humanitarian aid in the North, stop conflict, demilitarize the North Korean military over time, secure and eliminate North Korean weapons of mass destruction, and manage Chinese intervention.
Although two successive presidents have determined that weapons of mass destruction (WMD) pose the greatest threat to the American people and have listed countering their proliferation as a top strategic priority, neither administration has followed through by allocating appropriate budgetary resources to it. This report addresses and analyzes the ground force capacity and capabilities needed to perform WMD elimination missions and tasks. The authors explore in depth two particularly salient cases: operations to secure loose WMD in the event that the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) collapses and a counterfactual scenario in which U.S. operations were ordered to eliminate the Syrian chemical weapons program in the wake of a Syrian regime collapse.
This report makes three essential points: The world has changed following foundational defense planning; emerging and growing threats increase the likelihood that U.S. commitments will be challenged; and planned cuts to the U.S. Army will leave the nation unable to satisfy declared commitments. This report identifies the deployable ground forces necessary to satisfy our nation's commitments and to mitigate risk.
North Korea is now the most dangerous security challenge facing the United States.
In North Korea, the upcoming leadership transition in the Kim Jong-il regime will be a precarious time for the Kim family's hold on power.