[Special Report] Funding Cooperative Engagement with the DPRK
Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus DPRK

[Special Report] Funding Cooperative Engagement with the DPRK

The Asia-Pacific Leadership Network (APLN) published a new Special Report by former World Bank official Brad Babson addressing issues and considerations for adopting potential institutional arrangements to mobilize funds and manage the planning, administration, and oversight for their use in a Cooperative Threat Reduction Plus (CTR Plus) program with the DPRK. 

The report evaluates three potential funding arrangements: 

  • A new multilateral organization drawing on the lessons of experience of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO) 
  • A specially designed Trust Fund managed by the World Bank modeled on the Palestinian Partnership for Infrastructure Trust Fund 
  • An expanded and strengthened Greater Tumen Initiative (GTI), building on the existing regional multilateral organization 

The author notes that all arrangements would require significant investment in organizational strengthening and governance arrangements to effectively mobilize funds and deliver operational results in collaboration with DPRK counterparts. They would also require political coordination among participating stakeholders to provide the underpinnings of support for funding and management of related sanctions relief measures.  

He states that while each of these institutional arrangements has its pros and cons, they need not be mutually exclusive. Depending on their comparative advantages and the political will of stakeholder countries and funders, they could work in parallel on different components of a CTR Plus program under a coordinating consultative framework. A robust multilaterally anchored and funded approach would be an important aspect of any approach taken to demonstrate broad support from the international community. The key question is whether the DPRK and the international community are able to take the first transformative steps in shifts of underlying strategic policies for engagement and future relations. 

Click on the adjacent link to download the full report.


About the Author

Bradley Babson has studied the North Korean economy and written extensively on economic perspectives on the integration of North Korea into the international community since 1997. He is the former Chair of the DPRK Economic Forum at the US-Korea Institute at the John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies, and recently served on the World Economic Forum Global Futures Council on the Korean Peninsula. He presently serves on the Advisory Council of the Korea Economic Institute of America and the Advisory Committee of the National Committee for North Korea. He worked for the World Bank for 26 years before retiring in 2000. 


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: iStock/ Igor Kutyaev

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