September 25, 2020

Imitation is the best form of flattery

North Korea’s Foreign Ministry yesterday released its ‘Memorandum on the N-Issue’.  The majority of material is nothing new.  For example the memo states that the North’s nuclear program was motivated primarily in response to the threat of the U.S., that its weapons have ‘drastically’ reduced the potential for a war, and that a peace treaty is required as a prerequisite to denuclearization.   But beyond these recognizable declarations, the document does delve into some new areas – all of which are seemingly interlinked by an underlying attempt to assert and legitimize North Korea’s international nuclear status.

Although North Korea’s desire to be formally recognized as a nuclear weapon state are nothing new, yesterday’s document expresses these desires in a new context.  The document suggests that North Korea’s external relations department have been keeping a close eye on the recent flurry of non-proliferation activity and news.  Consequently it seems that North Korea has concluded that jumping on the non-proliferation bandwagon is now the best way for it to assert its nuclear weapon status.