2018-04-23 02:07:58 UTC
Or an internal uprising?
Are nuclear weapons vital for the North Korean regime's survival? If so, why?
I am not asking if North Korea would be willing to give up nuclear weapons.
I am asking why some say nuclear weapons are regarded as the ultimate guarantor of the North Korean regime's survival.
From a US-centric point of view, it is easy to say that having nuclear weapons has kept North Korea safe from the types of regime changes the US and its allies achieved in Afghanistan, Iraq and Libya.
On the other hand, there is a case to be made that the militaristic, nuclear path was not necessarily the *only* path for North Korean self-preservation.
1st - Having nuclear weapons is not a foolproof protection against internal regime change. The Soviet Union had the world's largest nuclear arsenal when it collapsed into itself.
2nd - North Korea could have a reasonable expectation of Chinese aid against US or South Korean or Japanese aggression. The Chinese helped them survive before. China has its own self-interest in preservation of North Korea as a buffer state. So one could regard nuclear weapons as a superfluous and costly extravagance for Pyongyang.
Also, does China feel insulted? To some extent North Korea insisting on its own independent nuclear arsenal and working so hard to build one seems to signal a lack of faith that China is a strong great power capable of protecting North Korea.
I mean it is possible to say that North Korea does not *like* the feeling of dependence on China. But by the same token, dependence on outside security guarantees cannot be 100% comfortable for South Korea or Japan or Taiwan either, yet those countries have lived with it, and in the case of South Korea and Taiwan, were successfully pressured/persuaded/reassured to shut down a nuclear weapons development programs they had started.
3rd - It's not like North Korea lacks for conventional military power. It's old fashioned artillery ranging the metropolis of Seoul offers a lot of deterrent power.
4th - Is it not silly for North Korea to compare itself to other countries the US has overthrown in recent decades' wars? It has a lot of manpower and firepower in its military. Also, while history has taught the US to have contempt for Middle Eastern militaries, history has taught the US a bit more respect for Asian militaries. After all, the US kept to the armistice in 1953, and even conceded defeat in Vietnam.
What would have been wrong with economic reform and development as an alternative path for North Korea? China and Vietnam took that path and continue on as one-party communist states, with none of its leaders deposed. Why would reform and development have necessarily spelt doom for the North Korean regime or the Kim Dynasty?
---taking all this into consideration, and the lack of necessity for nuclear weapons for *defense*, would it make more sense to look at North Korea's nuclear program as a last, desperate attempt to keep an offensive option and a sign that it somehow hopes to restart...and win...another war over South Korea?