nine states worldwide have either confirmed their ownership of a nuclear
arsenal or are believed to possess such an arsenal. Nuclear proliferation is
considered an inherent threat to international peace and security, and the
nuclear program of North Korea has constituted a subject of interest for the UN
Security Council. The acts of the regime in Pyongyang have been characterized
as a threat to regional security and have been treated by UNSC resolutions on
multiple occasions in the past two decades. Most recently, in December 2017,
the Security Council has adopted the Resolution
2397 that tightens economic sanctions on North Korea for its multiple
This subject remains under the constant monitoring of the Council,
and can also be seen as part of the SDG framework under the “Goal 16”. In light
of recent nuclear threats and tests by the Kim Jong-un government of DPRK, the
UNSC is growingly cautious about how the existing crisis will unfold. Having
withdrawn from the 1968 Nuclear Non-proliferation Treaty (NPT), DPRK is legally
entitled to develop nuclear weapons. The Republic of Korea, on the other note,
as one of the signatories of the NPT is legally forbidden to develop nuclear
weapons, instead relying on nuclear protectorate from the United States. The
tensions are ever growing.
the policy level, the UNSC format is going to review the existing policies and
tools, and suggest the ways of moving the implementation of related SDG 16,
among others, that can lead to improvement on this matter of tremendous
importance for international peace and security.
History of Non-Proliferation
of the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT)” first became open for
signature in 1968. The signatories and rectifiers of this treaty were 43 states
of which most notable are USA, USSR, and UK. After that all states wishing to
sign the treaty were in the form of accessions or successions. The treaty was then
put to action 2 years later in 1970; however, the NPT did not stop signatories
such as the USSR, USA, and UK from further growing their nuclear arsenal. It
was until the end of the 80s after the nuclear peak that the number of warheads
started to decrease considerably.
190 states are recognized as parties to the treaty, among the states who are
not part of this treaty: DPRK, which withdrew in 2003, along with India,
Pakistan, two countries that already tested nuclear weapons, and Israel, which
are believed to own nuclear weapons yet remain vague when it comes to their
the NPT, regional treaties were signed declaring said regions as nuclear free.
The first regional treaty was the South Pacific, and the treaty was signed in
1985. Following the South Pacific, Southeast Asia signed a treaty in 1995.
in 2017, an international treaty towards the prohibition on nuclear weapons was
adopted. This treaty is the first legally binding international agreement that bans
developing, testing, producing, acquiring, possessing, and stockpiling nuclear
weapons. The treaty also involved an article working towards the elimination of
already existing nuclear arsenals. The treaty was made open for signatures as
of September 2017.
The Nine States with Nuclear Weapons
the devastation of the Hiroshima and Nagasaki incidents, and despite the
awareness of the international community on the danger that nuclear weapons
impose, some states sought international influence by developing or
strengthening their nuclear arsenals. A total of 2,056 nuclear tests were
detonated by eight countries. Of the eight countries, five, USA, USSR, UK,
France, and China, are considered as Nuclear Weapons States, a term defined in
the Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) for states who have detonated a nuclear
weapon before the beginning of 1967. The other 3 states to test nuclear devices
are India, Pakistan, and North Korea. Israel on the other hand is believed to
own a nuclear arsenal yet has never admitted the presence of nor tested the
United States was the pioneer in nuclear arms development, and it is the only
country to use a nuclear weapon in a hostile form. Research on Nuclear weapons
started in 1939 when the USA administration was worried they were in a race
with Nazi Germany to develop the ultimate destructive weapon. Although
development started at a slow pace, English and Canadian influence and
assistance caused the research speed to increase and the Manhattan Project to
be created. The United States then held the first Nuclear in July 1945, and
followed with dropping 2 nuclear bombs on Japan one month later causing the
death and injury of more than 250,000 Japanese people. The drop led to the
Japanese surrender and official ending of the second World War. Development of
weapons of mass destruction continued, and seven years after the end of World
War 2, USA tested the first hydrogen bomb which at the time was the most
destructive weapon know to humanity. Up until today, USA performed around 1,030
nuclear tests placing it in the lead among its counterparts.
power and threat of Nuclear Weapons was evident; this fact led the USSR to
develop their own, and in 1949, the Soviet Union conducted its first test of
their nuclear technology. Russia continue development, and in 1961 the Soviets
conducted the largest nuclear test. In their nuclear history, Russia tested
more than 700 nuclear devices.
1952, the United Kingdom conducted their first nuclear weapon test in
Australia. In the UK, during the year 1958, a disarmament campaign held its
first meeting. France tested its first nuclear weapon in 1960 making it the
fourth power to own nuclear arms. Four years later, China conducts the first
Chinese nuclear test which made it the last of the five nuclear weapon states.
1974, India conducted its first underground nuclear test thus becoming the
first country to develop a nuclear program after the signing of the NPT. In
1998, India does 3 more nuclear tests to which Pakistan answers with tests of
its own revealing its nuclear presence.
2003 DPRK left the NPT and started developing nuclear technology. In 2006,
North Korea carried out its first nuclear test to which the international
community showed great concern.
is the only country believed to own nuclear arm yet has never tested nor
confessed to them publicly. Israel’s nuclear program was exposed after an
Israeli nuclear technician provided information on the matter to an American
The Democratic People’s Republic of Korea and Nuclear Weapons
accessed the NPT in the year 1985 only to withdraw in 2003. North Korea is the
first nation ever to withdraw from the NPT, and its withdrawal raised the
international community’s concern that nuclear aspiring nations would follow
the lead of DPRK.
its withdrawal from the NPT, DPRK has conducted 6 nuclear tests. It is not
possible to know the number of nuclear warheads possessed by North Korea as
such information are kept classified by the state. The first test done by DPRK
was in 2006; this test was performed underground. The Security Council
condemned this test in the Resolution 1874. The latest test was performed in
2017, and nations worldwide has condemned this test. According to the
government of the Unites States,
tests in North Korea began under the Kim Jong-il leadership with 2 tests
conducted in 2006, 2009. Since Kim Jong Un assumed power, in 2011, the Korean
nuclear program has been accelerated, leading to another four nuclear tests,
and more than eighty missile tests thus exceeding the endeavors of his father,
and grandfather before him.
the technologies developed by the North Korean, an intercontinental missile
which is said to be able to target any location in the United States. Moreover,
it is believed that DPRK developed miniaturized nuclear technology to be able
to fit on their missiles. The last test conducted by Kim Jong Un’s
administration in 2017 had power seven times larger than the bombs used by the
US in World War 2.
the past year, Kim Jong Un threatened the USA multiple time of a possibility of
conducting a nuclear attack on the USA. Consequently, Trump has also threatened
in his turn a nuclear attack on DPRK. These threats led the international
community to a state of alert, and DPRK has grown to become a great threat to
to the recurrent acts of North Korea, and the increased number of nuclear tests
being conducted by the country, the UN Security Council took numerous actions towards
this problem. Of which are the UN Resolutions 2371, 2270, 1874, and 1695 in
which the SC condemned different military activity performed by North Korea
either related to nuclear or ballistic tests and development. In addition, the
international community has imposed, expanded, and tightened sanctions on North
Korea due to their nuclear and ballistic missile activities in numerous
resolutions since 2006 till most recently Resolution 2397, in December 2017, in
which the SC “condemns” in the strongest terms the nuclear and ballistic tests
conducted by North Kores, and “reaffirms” the decision that the DPRK shall stop
all ballistic missile launches and nuclear arms tests. In addition, the SC
defined sanctions on all states on the trade of crude oil, refined petroleum,
and other material that can aid Korea in developing or deploying their arsenal
with North Korea.
SDG 16: Peace, Justice, and Strong Institutions, Illicit Trade and
16th Sustainable Development Goal emphasizes the importance of peace and
stability in constructive governance and a sustainable society. This goal
strives to diminish all forms of violence and the illicit financial and arms
possession and development of new nuclear programs greatly endangers the
progress of SDG 16 especially that currently, war threats are present from all
sides of the table. Moreover, with the increased sanctions on DPRK and their
critical financial situation, the possibility of illicit arms trade is
increasing even more. North Korea is known to be engaged in small arms trade
with numerous countries especially in Africa, Iran, and the MENA region. In
2001, North Korea raised $560 Million from missile sales
Pyongyang has greatly depended on illicit drug trade to fund its economy. A UN
report states that North Korean embassies are aiding in the trade process of
illegal arms and drugs. In July 2014, an illegal shipment of fighter jets and
missile parts was discovered and detained on North Korean container ship in
Panama. Pyongyang’s embassies in Cuba and Singapore were believed to be part of
the organizers of this illegal shipment.
Questions to Consider
the DPRK’s exit from the NPT considered against the treaty?
it possible that other states would follow DPRK in its leaving the treaty?
can North Korea be a key player in Nuclear Terrorism?
the economic sanctions placed on DPRK bound to accelerate Korea’s nuclear trade
with other countries and terrorist organizations?