Changing Dynamics of US Extended Nuclear Deterrence on the Korean Peninsula


  • Cheon Seongwhun

    1. Korea Institute for National Unification
    Search for more papers by this author
    • The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily represent the official positions of the ROK government or the Korea Institute for National Unification.


Extended nuclear deterrence has been a cornerstone of US defense and foreign policy and a foundation of ROK–US security ties. This paper analyzes the changing dynamics of US extended nuclear deterrence on the Korean peninsula since the eruption of the North Korean nuclear crisis. It focuses on the negative security assurance and explains how US extended nuclear deterrence for South Korea is adversely affected by the new negative security assurance of the Obama administration. It also investigates the history of security guarantees to North Korea provided by the USA and emphasizes how the USA's repeated security guarantees – in its attempt to denuclearize North Korea – have weakened the nuclear umbrella over South Korea. In addition, the paper points out that some policies of the USA at the negotiations to resolve the North Korean nuclear crisis can only be explained by US politicians' drive for a positive political legacy. Therefore, some safeguard measures are necessary to supplement the diminishing US nuclear umbrella on the Korean peninsula. The unique threat to South Korea makes it a suitable place to actively apply the new concept of regionally tailored deterrence architecture and implement a dual-track approach to negotiations for resolving the North Korean nuclear crisis by preparing to redeploy US tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea. Finally, the paper explicates South Korea's non-nuclear weapon policy and proposes a new concept of the South Korean alliance security assurance.