RUSI Delegation Discuss Nuclear Policy with Senior North Korean Officials

In November 2012, a RUSI delegation travelled to Pyongyang, the North Korean capital, for extensive, ground-breaking nuclear talks.


North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes continue to be cause for significant global concern. Existing approaches to addressing the country's nuclearisation have failed to substantially limit its capabilities or improve North-South relations.

Pyongyang recently launched a satellite using long-range ballistic missile technology, and is forging ahead with its uranium enrichment capability. Satellite imagery analysis also suggests that the country maintains readiness to conduct a third nuclear test, should it decide to do so.

Engaging Pyongyang's Policy Elite

Recognising a lack of understanding of Pyongyang's foreign and nuclear policy, and the need for fresh approaches to improving Korean peninsula security, in November 2012 four RUSI staff travelled to Pyongyang for extensive, ground-breaking nuclear talks. The visit was supported by the UK Embassy in Pyongyang, one of a relatively small number of Western delegations in the country.

Led by RUSI's Research Director, Professor Malcolm Chalmers, the delegation met with representatives from the Korean People's Army, Korean Worker's Party, and Ministry of Foreign Affairs. It also visited the DPRK side of the Demilitarised Zone at Panmungjong.

Over the course of its week-long visit, RUSI found its North Korean interlocutors willing to discuss - and in some cases actively debate - controversial issues such as: North Korea's nuclear and ballistic missile programmes; sources of instability on the Korean peninsula; leadership transitions in South Korea, Japan, China, and the United States; and regional economic development.

RUSI's Long-standing Work on Asian Nuclear Proliferation

These activities build not only upon RUSI's expanding work in nuclear proliferation and Asian security dynamics, but also its long-standing engagement with North Korean officials and experts. The Institute first hosted Visiting Fellows from North Korea's Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 2001. Maintaining these constructive relationships can create lasting and open channels of dialogue essential to finding steps towards resolving the nuclear crisis and decreasing tensions on the Korean peninsula.

For recent analysis on the North Korean nuclear issue by RUSI staff, see:

Andrea Berger, 'Rocket Backstage' in Foreign Policy

Edward Schwarck, 'Old Ally, New Headaches: Will China Turn Cold on North Korea',

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