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Keywords:

  • North Korea;
  • South Korea;
  • Japan;
  • China;
  • USA;
  • nuclear weapons;
  • policy

A Northeast Asian nuclear-weapons-free zone (NWFZ) or a Japan–South Korea NWFZ could help entice the DPRK to carry out its commitment in the September 2005 Six-Party Joint Statement to “abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs”. There are two possible scenarios for the nuclear future of North Korea, and in turn, the security of South Korea and Northeast Asia: containment, in which North Korea remains nuclear-armed with a growing stockpile of nuclear weapons and gradually improving delivery capabilities; and gradual rapprochement with the USA, South Korea, and Japan. In either of these cases a Northeast Asian NWFZ or a Japan–South Korea NWFZ would improve prospects for regional stability and a denuclearized Korean peninsula and could make a significant impact in light of North Korea's nuclear arming and other recent changes in the security environment in the region. An NWFZ has implications for the future role of nuclear weapons in the regional balance of power.