Bowdoin’s Gibbons Searches for Answers to North Korea Nuclear Question

Rebecca Gibbons

The international crisis sparked by North Korea’s accelerating nuclear program is dangerous on a number of levels, wrote Visiting Assistant Professor of Government Rebecca Gibbons in The Portland Press Herald.

“This is a different scenario from the Cold War,” she said, “when both sides maintained a secure second-strike capability.” The lack of such a capability by the North Koreans, she warned, could give leader Kim Jong Un “strong incentive to use his nuclear weapons before the US could destroy them.” Another worrying aspect, she continued, is the threat that North Korea’s nuclear program poses to existing international nonproliferation efforts.

A diplomatic solution to the crisis looks unlikely, said Gibbons, but the US must try and keep communications open with North Korea “in order to lessen the chances that crisis leads to nuclear war.” Beyond diplomacy,the Trump administration “could bolster the 70-plus year tradition of non-nuclear use by making clear the US would retaliate to any North Korean nuclear use with overwhelming conventional force.”

Earlier this year, Rebecca Gibbons was awarded a grant from the US Department of Defense for her research project titled The Effect of the Proposed Nuclear Weapons Ban Treaty on US Allies.

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