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The University of Lusófona do Porto, Prof. Paulo Duarte: “Nuclear power gives status to countries and status is important for countries under serious sanctions.”

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Recently, North Korea has once again attracted attention with its intercontinental ballistic missile tests. Negotiations were held both at international summits, in bilateral dialogues and at the United Nations (UN) to prevent these attempts by North Korean leader Kim Jong Un.

From this point of view, Ankara Center for Crisis, and Policy Studies (ANKASAM) presents the views of Paulo Duarte, Professor at the University of Lusófona do Porto, to evaluate North Korea’s nuclear activities.

1-What do you think about North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons?

I believe that North Korea is developing nuclear weapons, not to use them but to pressure the United States (US) to recognize the country as a nuclear state. North Korea, which has reached the status of a nuclear state, thinks that the support of the US to South Korea will decrease. Also, the Pyongyang administration believes that it will be easier to get some concessions if it has a better status. Therefore, nuclear weapons are tools used to achieve some gains. It is necessary to remember how Donald Trump’s meeting with Kim Jong Un in 2019 caught the attention of the world. In other words, nuclear power gives status to countries and status is important for countries under serious sanctions.

2- How can we explain North Korea’s use of nuclear weapons despite being subject to international sanctions and isolation?

From the point of view of Realism, it can be said that states compete for power. So, they do not really care about international sanctions as they seek to gain power. Therefore, constantly improving sanctions only strengthens the will for revenge. It is worth remembering that Adolf Hitler emerged because of the humiliation dictated to Germany by the powers that won the war. A power that is isolated or almost isolated from the world, has nothing to lose. So, the nuclear powers think that they can improve their situation with the weapons they have, or at least threaten to use them. Because no one can fight with a nuclear state.

3- How do you see the US’s role in North Korea’s nuclear policy?

The US continues to pursue their traditional drills with South Korea and Japan. But the US is unlikely to solve the issue in this way. The US can achieve results if it engages in dialogue with North Korea, as Trump did, instead of conducting drills. But the Washington administration does not accept the preconditions for recognizing North Korea as a nuclear state. Therefore, neither side is willing to make concessions. This makes the security environment fragile.

On the other hand, it is necessary to look at China’s position on this issue. The last thing Beijing wants is a crisis on its borders due to immigration from North Korea. At the same time, Japan may one day be on the path to becoming a nuclear power if North Korea continues to play its nuclear card. This will be an undesirable and unpreferable situation for Beijing. In other words, there is a difficult and delicate balance in the region.


Prof. Paulo DUARTE

Prof. Paulo Duarte completed his master’s degree and PhD at the Catholic University of Louvain in Belgium. Duarte’s doctoral thesis on Central Asia was awarded by the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation. Currently, Duarte teaches at the University of Lusófona do Porto and the University of Minho. Duarte’s main specializations are; China, Central Asia and the Belt and Road Initiative.

Neslihan TOPCU
Neslihan Topcu, 2017 yılında Adnan Menderes Üniversitesi Siyaset Bilimi ve Kamu Yönetimi bölümünden mezun olmuş ve ardından aynı üniversitenin Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda yüksek lisans eğitimine başlamıştır. Yüksek lisans derecesini elde ettiği “Çin’in Enerji Güvenliği Politikaları” başlıklı tezi, 2020 yılında kitap olarak da yayınlanmıştır. 2016 senesinde Litvanya’daki Kazimieras Simonavičius Üniversitesi’nde ve 2019 yılında da Portekiz’deki Minho Üniversitesi’nde eğitim alan Topçu, halihazırda Selçuk Üniversitesi Uluslararası İlişkiler Anabilim Dalı’nda doktora eğitimine devam etmektedir. Asya Pasifik, enerji güvenliği ve devletlerin uzay politikalarıyla ilgili çalışmaları çeşitli dergilerde ve kitaplarda yayınlanmış olan Topçu, iyi derecede İngilizce ve orta seviyede İspanyolca bilmektedir.