(NU-NEA) Birds of a Feather: Thoughts on Pyongyang's Lessons from the War in Ukraine
Policy Briefs

(NU-NEA) Birds of a Feather: Thoughts on Pyongyang's Lessons from the War in Ukraine

Professor Alexandre Y. Mansourov provides his analysis of what lessons the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) might have taken, to date, from how the Ukraine conflict has unfolded, and how those lessons may change how and under what conditions the DPRK might choose to deploy or use nuclear weapons if a conflict in Northeast Asia escalates sufficiently.

Professor Mansourov argues that the lessons learned from the Ukraine conflict by DPRK leadership may make the DPRK more likely to conclude that having nuclear weapons capability will not necessarily translate to victory in a war on the Korean peninsula, that the results of Russia’s nuclear posturing during the war conflict will make the DPRK less likely to resort to nuclear weapons use, that the DPRK will be more likely to consider and perhaps pursue “nuclear sharing” arrangements with Russia and China, and that the DPRK would be more likely to insist on the exclusion of tactical nuclear weapons from any eventual nuclear arms control deal with the United States and the international community. He further argues that the Ukraine conflict may affect how the DPRK thinks about nuclear facilities in both the DPRK and the Republic of Korea as potential targets during conflicts.

This policy brief is published under the “Reducing the Risk of Nuclear Weapons Use in Northeast Asia” (NU-NEA) project, a collaboration between the Research Center for Nuclear Weapons Abolition, Nagasaki University (RECNA), Nautilus Institute, and the Asia Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear non-proliferation and Disarmament. The goal of this project is to reduce and minimize the risk that nuclear weapons will be used in the region by developing better understandings of the processes that could lead to the first use of nuclear weapons and the potential outcomes of such nuclear weapons use.

Published in partnership with RECNA and the Nautilus Institute.


Alexandre Y. Mansourov is Adjunct Associate Professor at the Center for Security Studies
at Georgetown University, Adjunct Professor of Korean Studies at SAIS Johns Hopkins
University, Adjunct Professor of Political Science and International Affairs at the Elliott
School of International Affairs, George Washington University, and Chairman of Great Falls
Solutions International, LLC.

Disclaimer: The opinions articulated above represent the views of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the position of the Asia Pacific Leadership Network or any of its members. APLN’s website is a source of authoritative research and analysis and serves as a platform for debate and discussion among our senior network members, experts, and practitioners, as well as the next generation of policymakers, analysts, and advocates. Comments and responses can be emailed to apln@apln.network.

Image: Kim Jong Un’s ceremonial sword gift to Vladimir Putin at their summit on April 2019. YouTube.