Cornell International Law Journal


North Korea, National security


North Korea is a nation-state that for many years (including the years following the Cold War) has been off of the main radar for American foreign policy. Whether it was because the United States was worried about other issues such as problems in the Balkans in the 1990s, or fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan in the new millennium, challenges from the DPRK never seemed to be at the top of the priorities list with American foreign policy makers. This has now changed. It has become obvious to the world that North Korea has an active nuclear weapons program, and that Pyongyang has not been shy about threatening to use it. It is also obvious that North Korea has long and short range ballistic missiles that can not only threaten the region but potentially the United States, and through proliferation, areas as far away as the Middle East. Since North Korea is now not only acknowledged as a threat to the international order but, in a very potentially violent way, to the American homeland, one wonders, how does this highly threatening and possibly the most sanctioned regime-continue to survive? The answer is largely through North Korea’s illicit activities— activities that support and enable the Kim family regime.