Dual Crises in the Asia-Pacific: North Korea's Strategic Calculations
Weekly Newsletters

Dual Crises in the Asia-Pacific: North Korea's Strategic Calculations



8 February 2024

This week, Jina Kim examines how North Korea’s changing nuclear strategy will affect South Korea in the case of simultaneous crises in Taiwan and on the Korean Peninsula. As Pakistan heads to the polls today, we also share past analysis on the China-India-Pakistan nuclear trilemma.  

This week’s activities from our network include analysis on Pakistan’s elections, China’s nuclear modernisation, the importance of the TPNW, and more. 

Strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula: dual crisis and risk reduction measures

In this policy brief, Jina Kim discusses North Korea’s evolving nuclear posture, which she argues is drifting away from traditional deterrence principles and shifting toward potential pre-emptive use of its nuclear capabilities.

In the report, Kim divides her analysis into two sections. The first deals with North Korea’s nuclear posture and its implications, while the latter section considers the impact of simultaneous crises in Taiwan and the Korean Peninsula on North Korea’s strategic calculations.

Read the policy brief

This report is a part of the APLN Asia-Pacific Strategic Risks project in partnership with the European Leadership Network (ELN). The project convenes government officials, experts, and practitioners from South Korea, Japan, Australia, and the UK to discuss how changing threat perceptions impact proliferation challenges and what policy solutions can address them, including steps to encourage strategic restraint, greater collaboration and carefully honed nuclear risk reduction diplomacy.

Related articles

Balancing Deterrence with Assurances: Policy coordination between security partners in the Asia-Pacific

Joel Petersson Ivre, Tanya Ogilvie-White, Oliver Meier, and Rishi Paul argue that the strategic choices of Australia, Japan, and South Korea are heavily focused on strengthening deterrence against China and North Korea, which increases the risks of miscalculation. 

Operationalising Strategic Risk Reduction in the Asia-Pacific: An Australian Perspective

Brendan Taylor, Professor at the Australian National University, argues that Australian policymakers must balance their emphasis on deterrence with greater advocacy for crisis management and avoidance mechanisms.

As millions head to the polls in Pakistan today, we revisit some of our past analysis from our project on the China-India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma. The project, now concluded, was focused on mapping the contours of China, India, and Pakistan’s nuclear relationship, identifying the key drivers of conflict, and exploring practical measures for nuclear risk reduction, crisis stability, and confidence building amongst the three countries. 

Project publications

China–India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma and the Imperative of Risk Reduction Measures

In this essay, Ramesh Thakur, Shatabhisha Shetty, and Waheguru Pal Singh Sidhu give an introduction to the China-India-Pakistan Nuclear Trilemma project and the project’s special reports. The nine reports, their conclusions, and policy recommendations are summarised here.

External and Domestic Drivers of Nuclear Trilemma in Southern Asia

Jingdong Yuan identifies and examines the internal dynamics of the China–India and India–Pakistan conflicts and explores how domestic drivers such as nationalism, public opinions, and civil–military relations either mitigate or exacerbate nuclear risks in a region marked by perennial disputes, emerging rivalry, and long-standing extra-regional interferences.

The Nexus between Domestic Politics and Bilateral Relations: Exploring India-Pakistan, Pakistan-China, and China-India Dynamics

In this journal article, Sadia Tasleem explores the nexus between domestic politics and foreign policy to explain what the contemporary domestic political trends in China, India, and Pakistan indicate about the future of their bilateral relations. 
Read all project publications

APLN has over 150 members from 22 countries in the Asia-Pacific.
Each week we feature their latest contributions
to global and regional security debates.

See all member activities



Youth Advocacy Across Borders: Pioneering Global and Regional Paths to Nuclear Disarmament

On February 7, Shatabhisha Shetty, Executive Director of APLN, served as a panelist for a UNODA event, Youth Advocacy Across Borders: Pioneering Global and Regional Paths to Nuclear Disarmament. The event was a part of the programming for a new UNODA initiative, the Youth Leader Fund for a World without Nuclear Weapons (YLF).

A New Korean War Is Not Imminent. Accidental Escalation Might Be.

Chung-in Moon, APLN Vice Chair, wrote for The National Interest this week, arguing that in the absence of guardrails such as the CMA and channels of communications such as political and military hotlines and contacts, accidental clashes can easily climb up the ladder of escalation, even though limited or all-out attacks by both sides are far less likely to occur. 

Indian Foreign Secretary Visits Bhutan as New Government Takes Charge

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy & Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, wrote about the Indian Foreign Secretary’s visit to Bhutan in late January in the backdrop of a complicated China-Bhutan relationship. 

China’s Nuclear Forces Continue to Expand

Rajeswari Pillai Rajagopalan, Director of the Centre for Security, Strategy & Technology (CSST) at the Observer Research Foundation, New Delhi, published an article in The Diplomat on China’s expansion and modernization of its nuclear forces, arguing that the developments could lead to a spiraling arms race in terms of expanding nuclear arsenals.

The Future of Arms Control Lies in the Nuclear Ban Treaty

Melissa Parke, Executive Director of ICAN, wrote for Arms Control Today about how the success and implementation of the TPNW is more important than ever, despite gloomy developments in today’s geopolitics.

Conversation with the President of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly

Fujiwara Kiichi, Professor of International Politics at the University of Tokyo, will serve as a speaker in a University of Tokyo event featuring keynote speaker Mr. Dennis Francis, President of the 78th Session of the United Nations General Assembly.

Whoever wins Pak election, General Asim Munir will wear a crown of thorns

C. Raja Mohan, Senior Fellow at the Asia Society Policy Institute, wrote for the Indian Express about Pakistan’s army chief General Asim Munir’s consolidation of power, arguing that it does not really matter who Munir “selects” to run the front office, as Munir has put himself fully in charge of Pakistan.

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