North Korea's Weapons Quest

With nuclear weapons, North Korea aims to finish what it started: the Korean War.

Issue: Summer 2005

Why, exactly, was the declaration by North Korea that it possessed nuclear weapons--and would hold on to its nuclear arsenal "under any circumstances"--greeted with such shock and astonishment around the world?

Pyongyang's claim in February to have joined the world's nuclear weapons club was not exactly a sudden, bizarre and inexplicable whim. Quite the contrary. That announcement represented the entirely logical culmination of decades of steady, deliberate effort and careful, methodical progress on a multifaceted program of weapons of mass destruction (WMD)--including work not only on nuclear weapons, but also chemical and biological weapons and ballistic missiles. To misunderstand this basic truth is to be blind and deaf to the fundamentals of North Korean strategy--an ignorance America and its allies can scarcely afford in the dangerous days that are likely to lie ahead.

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