One must start with the 2003 announcement that North Korea has a nuclear deterrent. But this is of no surprise, ‘the intelligence community judged in the mid-1990s that North Korea had produced one, possibly two, nuclear weapons. ‘1 These weapons although not numerous can still cause substantial damage towards an intended target. Nevertheless North Koreas nuclear program is still in its early stages, as it has an inaccurate delivery system for any nuclear warheads, it also has to be noted that any weapons that they do have would be of similar size and payload of the bombs dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki.
Therefore these would be far less powerful than weapons that are possessed by Russia and China. What concerns the US is that development of the North Korean ballistic missile program and their willingness to supply to countries which are hostile to the US and its allays. The North’s advances in technology as seen by ‘The Taepo Dong-2 in a two-stage ballistic missile configuration could deliver a several-hundred-kg payload up to 10,000km… [And] If the North uses a third-stage similar to the one used on the Taepo Dong-1…
[It] could deliver a several-hundred-kg payload up to 15,000km’.
2 These advances in ballistic technology mean that in the next 15 years, North Korea would have joined the nuclear club. This although worrying is not expected to radically alter our foreign policy in the region. The US is most concerned with North Koreas willingness to sell this technology to nations, which continue a hostile stance towards the US, and in the worst case scenario to individual terrorist organisations.
As this (ballistic missile sale) is the major source of income for North Korea and has allowed the regimes existence after the cold war. Due to these exports of missiles, which are mainly short and medium ranged consisting of Scud and No Dong classes, North Korea has altered the balance of power in the Middle East and in Asia. With exports of technology to Iran, Syria, Libya (formally) and Sudan. And also assistance with the Iranian nuclear program (although Russia has played a bigger part in this).
This will all mean that the US will take a more hostile stance and continue with sanctions to warn North Korea. As these missile sales will mean that future conflict will be more difficult as more planing will have to be conducted. Even with sanctions North Korea continues to trade with its major trading partner China, who has a very strong and rapidly growing economy and even more worryingly China also wishes to establish itself as a Strong military power.
With its military spending in 2004 being more than $25 billion, while it is believed that this announced figure accounts for less than half of their actual spending. China is also predicted to rise to superpower status in the next 15-20 years. This is expected to affect our foreign policy objective is the region as it would have serious implications to countries such as Japan and South Korea and also the island of Taiwan. A strong China would hopefully become a key US ally in the region, especially with the pacification of the Korean peninsular. Although there is still the issue of Taiwan to consider.
Concerning this it is believed as china becomes more open and follows a more capitalist economy that with international influence and the greater spread of democracy, there will be some peaceful solution to the situation. Although a time scale to this cannot be estimated due to Chinas continual hostile stance towards Taiwan and its increasing military presence in the region. What is of major concern is also the weakness of the North Korean economy. ‘The regime’s militarised, Soviet-style command economy is failing to meet the population’s food and economic needs.