Preparing for Peace: Political and Financing Considerations for Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus with the DPRK
Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus DPRK

Preparing for Peace: Political and Financing Considerations for Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus with the DPRK

As concerns grow of a new North Korean nuclear test, and US-ROK officials expand discussions of extended deterrence, a new report released by the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, warns of the dangers of short-term thinking, and proposes measures to improve relations through economic and diplomatic cooperation over the long-term. 

The report argues that previous opportunities of engagement with the DPRK have suffered from ad-hoc arrangements that were never comprehensive enough. The report argues that policymakers should learn from the Cooperative Threat Reduction (CTR Plus) program that fostered working level cooperation between the United States, Russia, and the post-Soviet states and successfully removed or dismantled nuclear weapons stationed on the soil of Belarus, Kazakhstan, and Ukraine.  

In addition, the report notes, engagement with various sectors of the DPRK economy, such as energy, and public health must be sought to address critical security concerns of the DPRK, an approach which the report calls “CTR Plus.” 

Implementing CTR Plus would require both political and financial support from all involved stakeholders, not the least the DPRK itself, but also from the United States and the ROK. The report argues that establishing a trust fund through the World Bank to fund such “Plus”-projects would establish trust and leave room for a bilateral agreement between the United States and the DPRK on the dismantlement of the DPRK missile and WMD program. 

While the report acknowledges that current political circumstances are not conducive to diplomatic or economic engagement with the DPRK, it also argues that “breaking the vicious cycle requires preparation, opportunism, and a willingness on part of policymakers in all countries to look beyond narrowly defined national interests.” By starting preparations for a peaceful resolution to the Korean nuclear crisis now – at the height of tension – the hope for successful denuclearisation of the DPRK can be kept alive. 

Click on the adjacent link to download the full report. The report is also available in Korean.

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About the Authors

Elaine Natalie is a Policy Fellow at the APLN and an International Cooperation student at Seoul National University’s Graduate School of International Studies. She received her undergraduate degree from Yonsei University’s Underwood International College where she majored in International Studies and minored in Political Science and International Relations.

Joel Petersson-Ivre is a Policy Fellow at the APLN. He received his Master’s degree from Yonsei University’s Graduate School of International Studies for East Asian Studies and International Security and Foreign Policy, and his Bachelor’s degree in Chinese Language and Culture from Stockholm University.

About the DPRK Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus Project

As the Soviet Union broke apart in the early 1990s, the United States government led a cooperative effort to mitigate the proliferation risks associated with the vast stockpiles of nuclear weapons, nuclear material, delivery systems, and nuclear knowledge controlled by the Soviets. Despite domestic political hurdles to engaging with America’s long term Cold War adversary, the US-Russia Cooperative Threat Reduction (or the Nunn-Lugar program) helped support two decades of US-Russian cooperation towards the shared goal of mitigating nuclear dangers. 

This project reviews the potential for an effective Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus (CTR Plus) initiative in the context of a renewed approach to the DPRK. Through a CTR Plus initiative, this project aims to address critical missing elements in the proposed denuclearization of the DPRK. It centers around other types of engagement that are essential to the success of a DPRK CTR program, i.e., missiles and space, energy security, and public health. Learn more about it here. 

The findings of this project have been compiled into a synthesis report, “Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus: Breaking the Stalemate with the DPRK,” addressing the critical missing element in engagement with the DPRK.  


Image: Scenery along the west bank of the Taedong River, Yuzu2020, iStock