A Constructivist View of North Korean Nuclear Proliferation

2007 Words9 Pages
Since the end of the Korean War, the United States has enacted policies to isolate and undermine the Kim Dynasty in North Korea. A key development took place in the past several decades where North Korea broke away from the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) to develop their own nuclear weapons and while lacking launch capabilities, they have been successful in their development. During this process, the United States took active policies to deter the North Koreans in pursuit of their goals. It is easy to assume that the United States took this stance in order to maintain a military edge in the region. But under closer examination, this neo-realist perspective does not explain why the United States pursued this policy. In reality, North Korea to this day does not pose a significant military threat, even with limited nuclear capabilities. A constructivist perspective is more able to explain US policy in this instance because it does not focus on sheer militaristic power. It takes into consideration the state's identities which drives their interests. The identities of the US and North Korea and the interactions between them drove both nations to the point of acquiring and deterring nuclear use.
This conflict began developing in 1994 when North Korea announced its intentions to withdraw from the NPT. This led to the US and North Korea signing the Agreed Framework. Under this agreement, North Korea agreed to stop its illicit plutonium production in exchange for increased aid from the United States. While this agreement broke down in 2002, the Six-Party Talks restarted the efforts to stop North Korea from gaining nuclear weapons, involving the aforementioned North Korean, South Korea, Japan, China, Russia, and the United States. This le...

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...ower game does not match up with reality. Each state takes actions based on the given situation and neo-realism misses this nuance. Constructivism actually considers this more by analyzing the actors at play and their identifies and interests. In this case, it led to more hostility and created the conflict because the states were antithetical in nature to each other. This drove the conflict, not material matters.

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Waltz, Kenneth. Man, the State and War. New York: Columbia University Press, 2001.

Wendt, Alexander. “Constructing International Politics.” International Security. Cambridge: President and Fellows of Harvard College and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 1995. 71-81. Print.

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