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Russia’s attitude to North Korea’s nuclear weapons

What Russia thinks about North Korea’s nuclear weapons, Bulletin of the Atomic ScientistsBy Anastasia Barannikova, April 24, 2019, North Korean leader Kim Jong Un arrived in Russia today for a meeting with President Vladimir Putin…..  Despite Russia’s past vote in favor of sanctions on Kim’s regime, Moscow has many reasons not to lean too hard on Kim over nuclear disarmament…………

Russia wants a stable North more than a non-nuclear North. Although, Russia continues to officially oppose North Korea’s nuclear status on the basis of its strict interpretation of the NPT, experts already speak about “nuclear emancipation” for the North, meaning recognition of its status as a lesser nuclear state. These ideas coincide with an idea some Chinese scholars have developed whereby North Korea would reduce its nuclear arsenal but keep some weapons as a deterrent. From Russia’s perspective, nuclear weapons now guarantee the security of the North Korean regime. The weapons can prevent attempts at violent regime change by external force. Through them, North Korean leadership has the independence to make changes within its borders. That’s good for Russia.

Many Russian analysts consider North Korea’s nuclear program to be defensive. Looking at the North’s nuclear doctrine, it seems likely the country wouldn’t use its nuclear weapons against a country that isn’t planning an attack. While little is known about Russia’s military planning beyond its publicly available doctrines, the specifics of the bilateral relations it holds with the North may guarantee that Russia has no plans to attack its neighbor.

……….The security of Kim’s regime, in turn, guarantees stability near Russia’s eastern borders. For Russia, a stable North Korean regime guarantees the absence of refugees flows, a normal feature of conflict zones, but also prevents US troops from deploying in a potentially disintegrating North. And with its nuclear weapons as diplomatic leverage, North Korea can maintain some independence from China. Thus, Moscow views Kim’s stability as providing something of a buffer between Russia and China.

Do North Korean nuclear weapons pose a threat to Russia? From Moscow’s perspective, the Korean Peninsula and Northeast Asia are relatively stable and don’t pose any immediate threats to security. Relations between Russia and North Korea are neutral, if not friendly. North Korean leadership appreciates Russia’s cautious, slow approach to the relationship, in contrast to China’s activist take on issues on the Korean Peninsula. Russia’s emphasis on the need to respect state sovereignty as a fundamental principle of international relations further lubricates the bilateral relationship: Russia avoids any attempt to interfere in the internal affairs of the North, so Pyongyang does not consider Russia as an external threat.

Many Russian analysts consider North Korea’s nuclear program to be defensive. Looking at the North’s nuclear doctrine, it seems likely the country wouldn’t use its nuclear weapons against a country that isn’t planning an attack. While little is known about Russia’s military planning beyond its publicly available doctrines, the specifics of the bilateral relations it holds with the North may guarantee that Russia has no plans to attack its neighbor.

But there is one scenario whereby North Korea’s nuclear weapons could threaten Russia. If Kim launches missiles against the United States, experts say they’ll fly over Russian territory. A US anti-missile response could, thus, risk a war between Russia and the United States. But Russian experts don’t believe that North Korea would ever attack the United States; they consider Kim Jong Un too rational for that. ………https://thebulletin.org/2019/04/what-russia-thinks-about-north-koreas-nuclear-weapons/

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April 25, 2019 - Posted by | North Korea, politics international, Russia

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