North Korea’s Strategic Culture and Its Evolving Nuclear Strategy

  • Shane Smith
Part of the Initiatives in Strategic Studies: Issues and Policies book series (ISSIP)


Shane Smith addresses one of the most opaque and inaccessible regimes on the planet, examining the regime’s voracious nuclear appetite. Smith assesses North Korean threat perceptions holding that the United States is bent on destroying the state and explains how North Korea’s identity narratives have increasingly featured nuclear weapons in a dominant role. Examining North Korean norms that include a history of “willingness to impose extreme deprivation on its people and to call on them to make great sacrifices,” Smith explains that the North Korean mindset is conditioned to expect “a final war against imperialism.” Smith warns that consistent exposure to these narratives may mean that North Koreans have internalized the bellicose nuclear discourse of the regime and hold an unreasonable degree of confidence in the state’s capacity for victory in a nuclear war. With these warnings as backdrop, Smith offers carefully constructed advice to would-be interlocutors on the nuclear question.

Copyright information

© The Author(s) 2018

Authors and Affiliations

  • Shane Smith
    • 1
  1. 1.National Defense UniversityWashington, DCUSA

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