he Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s (DPRK or North Korea) ballistic missile launch, its second nuclear test, and its announcementconcerning the conclusion of reprocessing of spent nuclear fuel and theweaponization necessary to reinforce nuclear deterrence have significantly set back negotiations on the denuclearization of North Korea and imperiled the Six-Party Talks. At the same time, Pyongyang is showing its willingness to pursue aresumption of dialogue with the US through such measures as former USPresident Clinton’s visit to North Korea, the signing of a new economicagreement with China, and signs that it is willing to return to the Six-Party Talksand improve relations with the Republic of Korea (ROK or South Korea). Giventhat North Korea has not yet abandoned plans to bolster its deterrence againstthe United States and is continuing provocations around the Northern Limited Lines and hostile statements toward the United States, South Korea, and Japan,there is every likelihood it will conduct more missile launches and nuclear tests.Internally, North Korea is in process of consolidating
politics (military-ﬁrst politics), the cornerstone of the Kim Jong Il regime. Following the April 2009constitutional revisions and the reform of the National Defense Commission, North Korea implemented the “150-day battle” and the “100-day battle” aimed atimproving its domestic economic production capabilities in order to turn itself into a “strong and prosperous great power” by 2012. It also devalued its currencyagain to restore control over free markets, which had rapidly expanded as theresult of the 2002 economic reform. It is also said to be strengthening militarycooperation with Myanmar and Iran, and the threat of nuclear and missiledevelopment and proliferation by North Korea remains a major destabilizingfactor to the surrounding region and to the international community.South Korea’s Lee Myung-bak administration pressed North Korea again in2009 to denuclearize, offering a “grand bargain” with promises of securityassurances and large-scale economic assistance if North Korea abandoned thecore parts of its nuclear program. There has been no concrete progress with thisinitiative, however. The Lee and Obama administrations reafﬁrmed extended deterrence agreed to expand the scope of the US-ROK alliance to wider regionaland global issues in addition to the North Korea problem. South Korea is to playthe principal role in the defense of South Korea with US Forces Korea (USFK), but budgetary restrictions have slowed implementation of the defense build-up plan needed to back this up.