If humanity has diminished over the next 50 years, it would not
be due to an asteroid imploding on earth, or because a disease wiped out
humans, it would fall on international relations and foreign policy.
Civilization lives in a world where hundred thousand nuclear weapons exist,
suicide terrorism strikes without warning, and a population can be forgotten
and left to poverty due to the way international systems function. Today’s
world is changing rapidly. Countries are becoming more significant and gain more
power on the global stage. Over the past half-century, the international
relations community has become accustomed to headlines regarding wars,
terrorism and nuclear attacks. Through recent U.S administrations, from
President Clinton to President Trump, there have been multiple alerts regarding
one specific headline: North Korea and nuclear weapons. Since 1994, the
United States has been involved in an increasing series of diplomatic crisis
confrontations with North Korea over the development of atomic weapons.
North Korea, also known as the Democratic People’s Republic of
Korea, is a communist nation which borders China with North and South Korea.
The county was once associated with the communist of the Cold War and has
avoided Westernization, is one of the most isolated nations of the world.
Several violent situations over the past decades have continued tensions
between North and South Korea. These conditions exist since North Korea has
been continuously abstruse about its intentions with nuclear power. North
Korea’s nuclear program is expanding at an immensely increasing rate while
drawing criticism from both allies and foes. The program’s history dates back
to 1950 when the Soviet Union helped establish a nuclear research center. The
primary focus of the facility was to focus on research and nuclear power.
However, as the nation developed, and by 2005, began obtaining nuclear weapons.
North Korea has conducted five nuclear exams. The bomb is said to have
increased in force significantly, compared to the first exam done in 2005.
China is North Korea’s most important source of trade, food, and
energy. China has helped maintain Kim Jong-Un’s command and has opposed harsh
sanctions placed on North Korea by the international system in hopes to avoid
complete government collapse. The constant missile launches and nuclear tests
in Pyongyang have complicated the Beijing relationship, which has support for
the maintenance of the Six-Party Talks, an agenda designed to denuclearize
North Korea. The assassination of Kim Jong-nam, Kin Jong-un’s banished
half-brother, in Malaysia, stimulated concern from China about the constancy
and course of North Korea’s government. Strains on the relationship
between the nations began to surface October 2006, when Pyongyang tested a
nuclear weapon and Beijing supported a UN Security Council sanction.
After North Korea’s nuclear test August 2017, North Korea was
called upon to “stop taking wrong actions that exacerbate the situation and are
not in its interest” (Albert). Beijing only accepted the UN resolution 1718
after amendments were made, removing necessities for economic sanctions.
Recently, China supported UN resolution 2375 after revisions were made,
excluding an embargo on oil and authorization to use strength when ships do not
obey authorized inspections (Albert). Most western experts and officials are
suspicious China is genuinely dedicated to applying the new limited trade
restrictions. The bilateral trade between the two nations has steadily
increased tenfold between 2000-2015 while peaking at $6.86 billion in 2014
(Albert). China majority of energy and food supply, accounting for more than
90% of North Koreas trade volume. Since 1995, Japan, China, South Korea and the
United States have provided more than 75% of food to the nation (Albert). Since
the downfall of the Six-Party Talks in 2009, aids have stopped from all
countries besides China.
China’s support for North Korea goes back to the Korean War,
1950-1953 when troops stormed the peninsula to aid its ally. Since the war,
China has given political and economic backing to all of Korea’s leaders. At
the moment, North Korea’s stability is China’s primary interest. Jennifer Lind,
states that “China would prefer if North Korea did not have nuclear weapons,
their greatest fear is regime collapse” (CNN) and that the Chinese apprehension
that the failure of the North Korean government will send refugees across their
border. Beijing began prevention tactics more than a decade ago, constructing a
barbed-wire fence. However, under Kim Jong-un, border control has intensified,
and there has been a significant decrease in the outflow of refugees. Even
though China indicates that it will stand up against North Korea, there is
reasonable doubt that China will solve the issue alone. Many delegates believe
China will be unable to tighten its economic ties to deter the nuclear
ambitions, while others believe the North Korean leader no longer genuinely
cares what China thinks. Regardless if China can influence Pyongyang’s
behavior, North Korea’s nuclear program is formulating into an enormous problem
for China’s yearning for maintaining stability.
Furthermore, diplomatic relations between North Korea and the
Russian Federation were established in 1948, shortly after North Korea was
proclaimed. They were two close allies during the Cold War, and the relations
between the nations have disappeared due to the fall of the Soviet Union.
Russia is North Korea’s second most significant ally. In 2015, the “Year of
Friendship” brought a numerous amount of trade agreements, which are highly
depended on to handle the sanctions placed by the United Nations. Currently,
Russia’s President Vladimir Putin desires to insert Russia into a geopolitical
standoff with the United States and North Korea.
Additionally, the United States and North Korea have an
extremely hostile relationship, developing after the Cold War. The United
Nations divided Korea after WWII, aiming as a temporary measure. Unfortunately,
the disintegrating relations between the United States and USSR prevented a
reunification. Aggressive and erratic
competition is experienced between the United States and North Korea, even with
tension increasing between the two nations due to retribution sanctions imposed
by the Trump administration and the ongoing missile testing being carried out
by Kim Jong-un. The United States pushes
North Korea to conclusively let go of its nuclear program in return for aid,
business and strategic benefits. Experts say the United States and China have
different views on how to reach the denuclearizing goal. Washington relies on
using force to negotiate, while Beijing tends to advocate for the resumption of
discussions in the form of “freeze for freeze.” Tensions have been rising in
the Korean Peninsula after North Korea conducted an intercontinental missile in
August. Since the 1960’s, North Korea has been developing nuclear weapons. The
country’s nuclear program was established during the Soviet era, with the
development of the first nuclear reactor in 1965 in Pyongyang. North Korea’s
leader, Kim Jong-Un, has increased the number of missile procedures since he
came into power in 2011, after the passing of his father, Kim Jong-II.
The Trump administration has changed the U.S policy toward North
Korea. President Trump stated in a press conference in April 2017, that “if
China is not going to solve North Korea, we will” (Albert). President Trump has
warned the United States will be prepared to take action against Pyongyang if
China continues to remain unwilling. Furthermore, President Trump spoke at the
UN General Assembly, September 2017, that the United States would have “no
choice but to destroy North Korea” (Albert). On the contrary, the United States
appears to be more attentive in China’s economic weight over North Korea. Many
delegates argued that the United States should enforce stricter sanctions,
penalizing the Chinese banks that endorse North Korean companies.
All three of these nations have come to the same conclusion: North
Korea’s strategic nuclear program is a complex issue with no simple solution.
North Korea will never give up its program, willingly. The objectives need to
shift from denuclearization to dissuading North Korea from ever using the
weapons. North Korea is trying to ensure
its security by decreasing the prospect of destructive war against itself,
rather than securely preparing for an invasive war. According to defensive
realism, a state’s first precedence is to establish or preserve security
through means of securing a place on the international front rather than
attempting to multiply its power (Waltz, 1979, p 126).