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IR Working Paper 1991/10
Song Young Sun, ‘The Korean Nuclear Issue’, IR Working Paper 1991/10, Canberra: Department of International Relations, Research School of Pacific Studies, Australian National University, November 1991.
There is good evidence that North Korea possesses the capacity to develop nuclear weapons. North Korea’s long refusal to accept international scrutiny of its nuclear facilities, even despite having signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty in 1985, is further confirmation of the existence of this capacity. The apparent acceptance by North Korea in 1991 of its obligations to open its facilities to IAEA inspection marks a significant policy change. Although this has been impelled by the necessity to improve relations with Japan and the United States, the limitations of the present IAEA safeguards regime may permit North Korea to evade a thorough scrutiny of its nuclear programme. An initiative on the withdrawal of nuclear weapons from Korea by the United States would have an impact on North Korea’s willingness to pursue the nuclear option, but the security of the region can only be obtained by a comprehensive settlement involving all the major powers.