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Massey University - Q&A on the North Korea crisis

Massey University - Q&A on the North Korea crisis: Asia politics expert Dr Marc Lanteigne

Dr Marc Lanteigne | Senior Lecturer (China, East Asia, Polar Regions)
Centre for Defence and Security Studies | Massey University Albany (Auckland), New Zealand


Some key points from the Q&A on the current crisis…

• Although the Korean War ended in 1953 with an armistice, there has yet to be a peace treaty. Legally speaking, North and South Korea are still at war and since the conflict, the demilitarised zone (DMZ) between the two states is one of the most heavily armed regions of the world
• With the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, and the moves in China towards economic reform since the 1980s, the government of North Korea has found itself increasingly isolated in Asia and greatly concerned with the risk of forced regime change by the West. These fears prompted North Korea to seek out a nuclear weapons capability as insurance against an invasion by the United States and its allies.
• The North Korean government under Kim Jong-un has repeatedly stated that its nuclear programme would not be used as a bargaining chip in any future peace negotiations
• The North Korean government has made repeated threats against the United States as well as allies Japan and South Korea. What’s changed in recent months is that North Korea’s weapons technology has advanced considerably, both in terms of the yield of recent nuclear tests and the potential ability of the Kim region to deliver a nuclear warhead to a target in the United States.
• President Trump’s threat to the North Korea regime that, “They will be met with fire and fury like the world has never seen” marks a considerable departure from the conservative approach taken by previous American governments.
• North Korea wants Western acceptance of its government, and a guarantee that the United States or its allies will not seek to invade North Korea or threaten its sovereignty. The country also wants sanctions removed, and for it to be accepted as a nuclear power.
• Beijing has been critical of American military threats against North Korea, arguing that such moves will only increase tension levels

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