Conversation with Mark Fitzpatrick, Executive Director IISS–US

Identify key forces and players impacting Northeast Asia’s nuclear arena.

Northeast Asia has seen the emergence of three nuclear-armed states. The USSR first tested an A-bomb in 1949, China in 1964 and North Korea in 2006. Each case was a surprise, and each posed a serious threat to Japan, in particular. Under political science theory, Tokyo thus had a repeated motivation to seek a nuclear equalizer, but it was always able to rely instead on the security guarantee provided by the United States. Ditto with Seoul, regarding the threat it faced from Pyongyang. In fact, South Korea sought nuclear weapons in the 1970s, as did Taiwan for two decades because of the existential threat from mainland China. The U.S. stopped both of them, using its alliance leverage and intelligence assets. Today, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan are staunch adherents to the non-proliferation regime, but this stance rests heavily on the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence.

Read the full article at the Diplomat.

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