Since withdrawing from the Non-Proliferation Treaty in 2003, North Korea successfully conducted three nuclear tests and officially declared in 2009 that it had developed a nuclear weapon. Beyond Pyongyang’s rhetorics and the rumors around its atomic program, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea’s true nuclear capabilities remain largely unknown.
Does North Korea have the technology and the weapon systems to deliver a nuclear warhead on targets in South Korea or, even further, in America? What would be the actual destructive power of these payloads? What is the current American and South Korean doctrine regarding nuclear deterrence? And perhaps more importantly, is effective deterrence towards North Korea and its nuclear weapons even feasible?
To answer these questions, there is probably no one more qualified than our guest for this episode: Dr. Bruce Bennett, a senior defense analyst at the RAND Corporation and a Professor at the Pardee RAND Graduate School. He specializes in “asymmetric threats” such as weapons of mass destruction, and Northeast Asian military issues. These include the future military force requirements in South Korea, the Korean military balance, counters to North Korean chemical and biological weapon threats in Korea and Japan, dealing with a North Korean collapse, changes in the Northeast Asia security environment, and deterrence of nuclear threats.
Dr. Bennett has worked with the Office of the Secretary of Defense, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, U.S. Forces in Korea and Japan, the U.S. Pacific Command and Central Command, the ROK and Japanese militaries, and the ROK National Assembly. He received his Bachelor of Science in Economics from the California Institute of Technology and his PhD in policy analysis from the Pardee RAND Graduate School.
North Korea wants to be declared a nuclear power because it makes them look like they’re a peer of the United States – they’ve been very clear about that […]. I’d really call North Korea a nuclear experimenter, not a nuclear power. There’s no indication that they’ve got nuclear forces prepared to operate […]. They’re probably dangerous. What kind of controls do they have on their nuclear weapons if some rogue general decides to blow one some time? I’d be very worried about that and I’d be worried about it if I was Kim Jong-Eun as well… »
The interview was conducted on April 27th in Seoul.