Sungtae “Jacky” Park is research associate at the Council on Foreign Relations. Parts of this article were adapted from his report, The Korean Pivot and the Return of Great Power Politics in Northeast Asia.
The Kim Jong-un regime is intent on developing a secure and deliverable nuclear deterrent. If the regime achieves its objective, North Korea could become the most dangerous nuclear-weapons state in the world, not because the Kim regime is irrational, but because North Korea is the only existing nuclear-weapons state that could conceivably collapse without a warning. Does the logic of deterrence extend to a dying regime?