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North Korea’s Strategically Ambiguous Nuclear Posture

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Hyun-Binn Cho & Ariel Petrovics (2022) North Korea’s Strategically Ambiguous Nuclear Posture, The Washington Quarterly, 45:2, 39-58, DOI: 10.1080/0163660X.2022.2091874 

Despite the international community’s best efforts to prevent the regime from acquiring nuclear weapons, North Korea has developed an increasingly sophisticated nuclear arsenal since its first nuclear test in 2006. In 2017, the regime tested high-yield warheads, an array of short- to medium-range missiles, and even an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) that could put most US cities at risk. In 2022, North Korea broke its fouryear moratorium on testing ICBMs and added hypersonic missiles capable of maneuvering at high speed to its list of expanding missile tests. Pyongyang even boasted that it can “shake the world by firing a missile with the US mainland in its range,” highlighting the regime’s willingness to threaten the United States with its new arsenal.

North Korea’s growing capabilities have reinvigorated policy debate about the regime’s strategic nuclear thinking.

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