The situation with North Korea’s nuclear program remains tense. South Korea, on the other hand, is concerned about security as a result of this tension, despite its positive relations with the West. Because the ambiguity surrounding the Prongyang administration’s nuclear program keeps the concerns associated with the Korean Peninsula on the agenda of international public opinion.
From this point of view, Ankara Center for Crisis, and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views of Assoc. Dr. Alexander Vorontsov, the head of the Korea and Mongolia Department at the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Institute of Oriental Studies.
- What do you think about North Korea’s nuclear program?
Since North Korea is a closed country, it is possible to say that the truth about its nuclear program also remains ambiguous. However, it is obvious that the Pyongyang administration has increased its nuclear capabilities. Furthermore, the process now falls outside of diplomatic dialogue and agreements. As a result, North Korea is not under any obligation and acts more freely.
It could be claimed that the global powers do not want political discussions to resume and are attempting to maintain their isolation policy toward North Korea. Under these circumstances, the Pyongyang administration is accelerating its efforts to expand its nuclear program. In this regard, it should be stated that the situation is unpleasant. If North Korea continues to take steps toward developing its nuclear missile capability, the international community may take a more reactive stance. Regardless, mutual responsibility and moderation are priorities in the problem’s resolution.
- How do you assess North Korean President Kim Jong-un’s role in the Pyongyang administration’s nuclear program?
North Korea has a young, energetic and ambitious leader. But no one really knows how the country’s decision-making mechanism works. Frankly, we can envisage a collective leadership style and the logic based on joint decision making. Although Kim has the final say, he is not the only determinant. However, it should be emphasized that people loyal to Kim are also involved in the decision-making mechanism.
- How would you assess the role of the United States of America (USA) in this process?
Washington has a strategy in the Far East for Russia and China’s immediate surroundings. Of course, the USA’s and North Korea’s military capabilities cannot be compared. However, Pyongyang has no trump card other than acquiring nuclear weapons in terms of increasing its own power and gaining acceptance for its existence. In fact, it could be said that the USA is provoking North Korea as part of its chaos-based leadership plan. Because the Washington administration prefers to escalate tensions on the Korean Peninsula. In other words, the American strategy is based on the desire to stir up crises in the immediate vicinity of Russia and China. The situation in Ukraine is an example of this. In this sense, the USA sees the Korean Peninsula as an area where it can escalate tensions in the Asia-Pacific region.
- Will there be a new war on the peninsula?
North Korea is a different country. The country defines itself through its ideology. However, the question “Is this the victory of democracy and humanism?” must be raised. Of course, a military solution is unacceptable. Because Pyongyang’s administration supports Moscow and Beijing. This means that conventional warfare can spiral out of control. Furthermore, the region contains around thirty nuclear reactors that might turn the situation into a disaster level of Chernobyl and Fukushima. Although the peninsula is geographically small, it harbors a dense population. As a result, the prospect of war is a catastrophic scenario.. Furthermore, such a crisis would spread to neighboring countries. A war would be disastrous for Koreans in both nations. The international community would consider this to be unacceptable as well.
Assoc. Dr. Alexander Vorontsov
Assoc. Dr. Alexander Vorontsov is the head of the Korea and Mongolia Department at the RAS Institute of Oriental Studies. He has taught at leading universities in Russia, Japan, and South Korea. He also worked at the Russian Embassy in North Korea between 2000 and 2002.