What to Expect from North Korea's Nuclear Strategy
Weekly Newsletters

What to Expect from North Korea's Nuclear Strategy



15 March 2024

This week at APLN, Anastasia Barannikova analyses North Korea’s nuclear strategy and the difference between its declarative and operational nuclear doctrines. As President Vladimir Putin looks to his fifth term in office, we share our past analysis on the Russo-Ukraine War and its implications in the Asia-Pacific. 

Recent activities from our network include analysis on the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit, the upcoming elections in the ROK, and more.

Nuclear Strategy of the DPRK: Doctrine Evolution and Future Prospects

In this Special Report, Anastasia Barannikova analyses North Korea’s nuclear strategy and considers how it might evolve. Barannikova is careful not to overly rely on the declarative documents put forth by the DPRK, which are often overinflated for propaganda purposes. Instead, she combines North Korea’s stated nuclear doctrine with an analysis of its technical capabilities in order to determine where the DPRK’s nuclear program stands and what it is capable of. 

Read the report

Related Publications

Korean Peninsula Nuclear Issue: Challenges and Prospects

Anastasia Barannikova provides a detailed overview of the DPRK’s nuclear history and motives for acquiring nuclear weapons. She criticises current approaches to resolving the Korean Peninsula nuclear issue, arguing that by solely focusing on the denuclearization of the DPRK, the international community risks overlooking more serious problems for the global nuclear non-proliferation regime.

Comparing North Korea’s Nuclear Forces Policy Laws

Jun Bong-geun argues that we must engage in political and military dialogues with North Korea to pursue denuclearization and reduce tensions, as failure to do so risks exacerbating nuclear crises and fueling an arms race in East Asia, potentially leading to a catastrophic military confrontation.

What the Russia-DPRK Relationship Reflects About the West’s Security Strategy

Sayo Saruta offers her take on how the Russia-DPRK relationship is evolving as a result of emerging security pacts in the Asia-Pacific and what it means for broader security in the region.

The Russo-Ukraine War and Implications for the Asia-Pacific

The Russian presidential election is taking place this week, but many consider the win for sitting president Vladimir Putin to be an inevitability. With Putin’s fifth term in office looming and no end in sight for the Russo-Ukrainian War, we share some of APLN’s insights on the war and its implications in the Asia-Pacific. 

Implications of the Russia-Ukraine Conflict for India

Shyam Saran writes about India’s diplomatic calculations following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine. He describes India as having a difficult decision to make, given India’s longstanding and important relationship with Russia, particularly in relation to military assets and weapons systems. 

The Russia-Ukraine War and North Korea: South Korean and Allied Responses

Jina Kim critically reviews established narratives on the influence of the Russian invasion of Ukraine on the DPRK. She argues that South Korea should ensure the smooth progress of its defence reforms while consulting closely with the United States and avoiding harsh rhetoric against North Korea.

Potential Implications of the Situation in Ukraine for Russia’s Nuclear Deployment in Northeast Asia

Anastasia Barannikova argues that although the situation in Ukraine does not affect Russia’s nuclear posture in Northeast Asia directly, indirect impacts of the situation in Ukraine on Russia’s nuclear strategy in this region cannot be ruled out. 

(NU-NEA) Russia’s Nuclear Signaling in Ukraine and China’s Nuclear Policy

Tong Zhao writes that China fundamentally sees the Ukraine conflict as being caused by hegemonic behaviour by the US-led West forcing Russia’s hand, and that the war has consequences for the Asia-Pacific’s regional balance of power.

Asia-Pacific Women in International Security Database

Earlier this week, APLN launched the Asia-Pacific Women in International Security Database. The database lists women who are from or reside in the Asia-Pacific and work on issues related to foreign policy, defence, and peace and security. Experts can be filtered by regional expertise, thematic expertise, language skills, and nationality.

If you would like to be listed in the database, please fill out our short questionnaire and send your picture to apln@apln.network

See the database

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



INTERVIEW | Moon Chung-in on Escalating Tensions on the Korean Peninsula

Chung-in Moon, APLN Vice Chair, was interviewed by Japan Forward. He compares President Yoon Suk-yeol’s North Korean policy with that of the Moon administration, and explains the factors behind the rocky regional geopolitics and what to expect on the Korean Peninsula.

The Darkening Prospect of Mass Destruction on Earth

Marianne Hanson, Associate Professor of International Relations at the University of Queensland, Australia, writes that the ailing Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) requires ‘effective measures’ to regain its health, such as signing the TPNW and encouraging nuclear states to disarm.

Neighbors-First Foreign Policy: A Sketch for the New Government of Pakistan

Salman Bashir, former Foreign Secretary of Pakistan and High Commissioner of Pakistan to India, writes an op-ed for Arab News. He points out that Pakistan must shift its foreign policy paradigm from a focus on security to one centered on economic development, and formulate a more robust foreign policy aimed at repairing relations with India and other neighbouring countries.

ASEAN-Australia Ambitions: Celebrating 50 Years of Dialogue

Huong Le Thu, Deputy Director of Asia Program at the International Crisis Group, is featured on the National Security podcast. She spoke about the ASEAN-Australia Special Summit and assessed the state of ASEAN-Australia relations, exploring the opportunities and challenges in pursuing deeper engagement.

The Curious Connection Tying War in Ukraine to the Korean Peninsula

Cheong Wook-sik, Director of the Hankyoreh Peace Institute and Director of the Peace Network, highlights the deep connection between the war in Ukraine and the geopolitics of the Korean Peninsula. He argues that concerned parties must seek an end to the war in Ukraine, now a bloody stalemate, and a resumption of dialogue between the two Koreas, who seem bent on stoking more conflict.

Southeast Asia’s Digital Future Should Be More Than Replicas of the Past

Elina Noor, Senior Fellow in the Asia Program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, argues that the foundational role of data in AI systems not only raises questions about consent but also evokes parallels with colonial information gathering practices. She says that discussions on AI governance should prioritize ethics to prevent the replication of data biases from the region’s colonial past.

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