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Nuclear Security in Northeast Asia

Northeast Asia presents a unique and complex set of nuclear risks which is becoming a growing concern for the international community. Of the five countries present in the region, three possess nuclear arsenals: Russia and China as recognized nuclear weapon states, and North Korea as a de-facto nuclear weapon state. The two other states, Japan and South Korea, possess advanced civilian nuclear industries. There are many concerns with civilian dual-use technologies such as reprocessing plants and breeder reactors which countries such as China or Japan could divert for military purposes. Ongoing political and military tensions in the region is driving incentives in China and North Korea to expand and modernize their arsenal and ignite debates in South Korea to consider military applications of the atom. Specific spots in Northeast Asia are particularly prone to nuclear escalations. Many worry that armed conflicts in the South China Sea or in the Taiwan strait could quickly go out of control and lead to the use of tactical nuclear weapons. Uncertainties around China's nuclear doctrine and posture combined with entanglements of its nuclear forces with conventional capabilities, exacerbate these risks. My work aims at providing a technical analysis of the nuclear risks in the region that can inform and enrich policy debates on how to make the region a safer place.

Projects

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Despite attempts at engaging with North Korea on disarmament efforts, the country's nuclear program is growing. Many are suggesting that the international community focuses on arms control and non-proliferation efforts with North Korea. Regardless of the path followed, one crucial aspect to these efforts is the assessment and verification of the technical aspects of North Korea's nuclear program. This work aims at making an exhaustive review of these technical aspects and devises verification methods tailored to North Korea nuclear program.

Verifying North Korea Nuclear Program

Collaborators on this project: Pavel Podvig, Jungmin Kang

Publication: P. Podvig, J. de Troullioud de Lanversin, J. Kang, “Verifying DPRK Denuclearization,” report in preparation for the International Panel on Fissile Material

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