North Korea: Nuclear Friend or Foe? Essay

Submitted By heyheylee
Words: 2258
Pages: 10

It is 2025. After decades of bickering and intense fighting, India and Pakistan finally break out into general war. Millions are killed in the nuclear exchange. Other countries are drawn into the fray, ultimately widening the landscape of war. The death toll reaches a billion lives. In essence, you are witnessing a nuclear holocaust.

Fortunately, this is a completely fictitious event; something one would think was straight out of a movie. The scary part is that as more and more countries begin to acquire nuclear weapons, further nuclear research, and pursue other nuclear-related projects, this can be very real. It might happen in ten years, a few months, or even – tomorrow.

The issue of nuclear proliferations is an issue of much concern by the United States. Since its creation back in the 1940s through the Manhattan project, the atomic bomb has been the bane of society, in terms of the level of potential threat it holds for the international community. The focus of this paper looks at U.S. policy towards nuclear proliferation, both past and present, with a special focus on the status of North Korea. For some analysts and many governmental officials, North Korea seems to be the next big threat to U.S. and international security. Proponents of this belief cite statements made by North Korea, efforts to enrich used fuel rods, and other pursuits to utilize nuclear power in some way or other.

In an effort to really break down on a critical level the United States’ approach towards the country of North Korea, this paper examines not only the historical context of U.S./North Korea relations, but also the U.S. stance towards proliferation among such countries as Iran, Libya, Israel, India, Pakistan, and other countries. In using other countries to compare and contrast U.S. policy, hopefully this will bring about some sort of rationale behind the approach to North Korea. Understandably, the issue is way more complex than just a chosen stance towards each individual country. History, political balance, as well as, the intent of the U.S. administration at the time shape the policy instituted toward the particular country.

A Colored History

On June 27, 1950, President Harry S. Truman “authorized the use of American land, sea, and air forces in Korea; a week later, the United Nations placed the forces of 15 other member nations under U.S. command, and Truman appointed Gen. Douglas MacArthur supreme commander” (Infoplease Website). After World War II, the country Korea was divided into two regions at the 38th Parallel.


The Soviets took North Korea, while the United States took control of South Korea. Tensions between communist and non-communist forces pushed the two regions towards conflict, led first by a North Korean invasion. Ultimately, the war came to a close on July 27, 1953, after President Dwight Eisenhower came into office and brokered an armistice, after much threatening of conventional force and the potential use of nuclear weapons.

Over the next few decades, tensions still remained between North Korea and the United States. From the North Korea perspective, the United States was a foreign influence challenging their sovereignty in their homeland. From the United States perspective, the North Korean government was the puppet of the much larger and powerful U.S.S.R., purporting and pushing forward a communist agenda in Southeast Asia. These tensions, as stated before, would continue on for decades, forming part of what many of the American public acknowledges as the Cold War. The United States, over the decades, would come to impose very crippling and destabilizing economic sanctions against Pyongyang and advocate a very similar approach by many of its allies. During the Bush administration of 1988 – 1992, the North Koreans attempted the first break away from the Nonproliferation Treaty of 1970. But pressure by the U.S. on the Soviets to make the North Koreans rethink this stalled their