May 23, 2024
Columns

How North Korea could control the South without ever conquering it

The much larger ROK is too unwieldy to absorb, but DPRK could still exact monetary tribute and exert political power

For reasons that remain unclear, North Korea has yet to conduct its much-anticipated nuclear test. But when it does, most analysts expect a test of a tactical nuclear weapon, a capability that raises anew the question of Pyongyang’s ultimate military goals.

Most likely, the DPRK seeks low-yield tactical nuclear weapons in order to neutralize the serious military advantages the South Korean army has. The nuclear devices that North Korea has tested so far are far too powerful and destructive for use in actual combat, but tactical weapons would bring Pyongyang one step closer to realizing its old dream of subjugating the South and bringing the peninsula under Kim family control.

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