Responding to North Korean Nuclear First Use: So Many Imperatives, So Little Time- National Security Report
JOHNS HOPKINS UNIV LAUREL MD LAUREL United States
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What if North Korea were to actually use one or more nuclear weapons How should the United States respond The singularly important US prewar objective is to deter nuclear war, but once nuclear weapons have been unleashed, this objective will immediately become moot. US post-nuclear-attack imperatives will likely include 1 physically preventing further use of nuclear weapons by North Korea 2 cognitively dissuading further North Korean nuclear use 3 convincing other adversaries that nuclear use is a horrendous idea 4 allaying allies concerns about extended deterrence 5 satisfying domestic political demands 6 conforming to international law and 7 last, and quite possibly least, restoring the nuclear taboo. We address each of these imperatives in turn. Our goal is not to determine the correct response to North Korean nuclear first use but rather to identify the principal considerations involved in each of these imperatives. Fulfilling all these diverse imperatives in any particular scenario is highly improbable, so we also briefly address the relative priorities among several of them. We conclude with a discussion of the roles of the research and analysis community, the public, and political and military elites who may find themselves in positions of advising the president in a future nuclear crisis.
- Government and Political Science
- Nuclear Warfare