Publication: Asia-Pacific Regional Security Assessment 2017
02 June 2017
During the present decade, some analysts have argued that the Asia-Pacific region, particularly Northeast Asia, could face a severe nuclear crisis due to power shifts and uncertainties over the United States’ nuclear assurances, as well as the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s progress towards a fully fledged nuclear-weapons capability. During the US presidential election campaign, Donald Trump criticised Asia-Pacific allies for their alleged ‘free-riding’, and suggested that Japan and the Republic of Korea (ROK) should have their own nuclear weapons. Regardless of whether the Trump administration ultimately adopts this position or follows the traditional US preference for nuclear non-proliferation, the task of managing the region’s nuclear dynamics is becoming increasingly important. While concerns about an inevitable nuclear crisis may be unwarranted, the current regional nuclear order could face increasing strains, requiring much greater attention from the US and its allies and partners.