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Seeing Missile Defense as U.S. Hostility, North Korea Aims at More and Better Weapons

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This paper is part of a collection, "Missile Defense, Extended Deterrence, and Nonproliferation in the 21st Century - Collected Papers."

North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs have spurred Japan and South Korea to develop their own ballistic missile defense (BMD) systems and to regenerate their interest in regional missile defense cooperation with the United States. Has North Korea reacted to such developments, and if so, how? This paper looks at North Korea’s missile capacity development as well as its official proclamations and concludes that while Pyongyang likely does not believe that it is the region’s sole target for U.S. and allied BMD, it feels deeply threatened by its deployment. Existing and potential BMD systems have not discouraged Pyongyang from building its own missiles. Rather, North Korea is accelerating its efforts to improve and expand its missile arsenal to develop a survivable force, likely perceiving BMD systems as part of an overall U.S. strategy that is hostile to Pyongyang.

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