GPPAC Northeast Asia
Nov 8, 2017 · 24 min read
Professor Su Hao

Su Hao, Professor/Ph.D., Department of Diplomacy, China Foreign Affairs University
Liang Xiao-jun, Associate Professor/Ph.D., Department of Diplomacy, China Foreign Affairs University

The development of North Korean strategic weapons, especially its nuclear capability, has always been a critical issue in the context of peace and security in Northeast Asia, as well as the whole world. As a legacy of the Cold War, a sharp opposition exists between the North and South of the Korean Peninsula. In the context of the hostility between the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) and the United States of America (USA), DPRK, the weaker party, adopts a “military-first” policy as its national policy. Its purpose: to ensure the DPRK’s basic right to survival by means of developing strategic weapons as deterrence. Nevertheless, the arguably irresponsible and irrational actions of the DPRK pose a huge threat to Northeast Asian security and shake the foundations of the international nuclear non-proliferation framework. Therefore, although it maintains its traditional friendly relations with the DPRK, China cannot abide the existence of a nuclear-weaponized country in its neighborhood. For this reason, China has always played a deterring role in the process of DPRK’s developing nuclear weapons. This paper will explore China’s such functions, especially illustrating China’s irreplaceable function in the process of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula. And this function will be able to lay an important foundation for the eventual reunification on the Korean Peninsula.

I. DPRK’s National Security Needs and a Puzzle in Chinese-North Korean Relations

After the Korean War, China and DPRK were closely linked due to common security interests that were based on a common security threat — the pressure from the western capitalist camp. The result of the Korean War sent North Korea a clear message that China was the safeguard of DPRK’s survival. The opposition between China and the US-led Asia-Pacific military alliance revealed that China, just like DPRK, was facing a political and military threat from the US and its allies including ROK. China, naturally, shared similar needs of national security with DPRK; to confront the hostile actions in Northeast Asia of USA, Japan and ROK. This friendship, forged in adversity, prevailed even during the period when the relations between China and the Soviet Union soured. Despite the fact that DPRK was still on good terms with the Soviet Union, China maintained close security relations with DPRK for historical and geopolitical reasons. Therefore, in 1961 China and DPRK officially signed the Treaty of Friendship, Cooperation and Mutual Assistance, which stipulates that “The Contracting Parties undertake jointly to adopt all measures to prevent aggression against either of the Contracting Parties by any state. In the event of one of the Contracting Parties being subjected to the armed attack by any state or several states jointly and thus being involved in a state of war, the other Contracting Party shall immediately render military and other assistance by all means at its disposal.”[i] This treaty was regarded by the DPRK as an “amulet” to help preserve its national security during the entire Cold War era.

However, we should be clear that although China became a nuclear power in as early as 1964, China has always abided by the “no first use” policy of nuclear weapons, stipulating that China should never use nuclear weapons on a non-nuclear country or without being first attacked by nuclear weapons. This implies that China cannot provide an “active” nuclear security guarantee to its ally — DPRK. That is to say, when the US deployed nuclear weapons in the south of the Korean Peninsula, China failed to provide sufficient security guarantees to DPRK, which realized it needed its own nuclear capacity. During the Cold War era, with the help from the Soviet Union, DPRK began to build its nuclear program.

We can say that the initial reserve and establishment of North Korean nuclear energy were achieved with direct assistance from the Soviet Union. In the 1950s, DPRK started to study nuclear energy, and built a large-scale atomic energy research facility in Yongbyon. In 1965, the Soviet Union provided a “IRT-2M” research pile to DPRK, and also supplied highly enriched 10% uranium fuel to this pile from 1965 to 1973. Meanwhile, the Soviet Union also trained a large number of North Korean technical personnel. It is evident that DPRK started its nuclear program with the assistance from the Soviet Union, and without the participation of China. In 1977, DPRK reached an agreement with the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) to accept their inspection of the research pile built with the help of the Soviet Union. DPRK joined the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty (NPT) in 1985, but refused to sign the comprehensive safeguard agreement with IAEA. One could say that, at that time, DPRK took a cautious attitude towards nuclear exploration.

In the 1980s and 1990s, the international situation DPRK was facing changed dramatically, greatly increasing the uncertainty of North Korean national security. On one hand, DPRK was unhappy about China’s reform and opening-up, and was under a lot of political stress. On the other hand, with the end of the Cold War and the collapse of the Soviet Union, DPRK lost an important security support. As a small nation in the sub-region of Northeast Asia, DPRK had no alternative but to rely on its security cooperation with China. However, in 1992, China established diplomatic relations with South Korea, North Korea’s sworn enemy. DPRK accepted China’s decision, but with grievances,[ii] laying a hostile foundation for future Sino-DPRK relations. From DPRK’s point of view, it had lost a decisive source of external support for its national security, and it had to be completely self-reliant in the preservation of its security interests. Thus, there was a conflict between North Korean national security needs and the development of Sino-DPRK relations.

After the Cold War, China’s “no first use” nuclear weapons policy and its responsible actions in support of nuclear non-proliferation basically eliminated the possibility of DPRK obtaining nuclear technology from the outside world. In 1992, China officially signed the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty which it had consistently opposed and explicitly stated, “China supports the three goals of the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty: to prevent nuclear proliferation, to boost the process of nuclear disarmament, and to promote international cooperation on the peaceful use of nuclear energy.”[iii] In the meantime, China promised not to spread nuclear material or nuclear technology to any other country. China is serious in its implementation of the NPT, because it fully understands that nuclear non-proliferation is the foundation of international security, and ensures the global strategic balance, peace and stability. In addition, it would be against China’s national security interests if a new nuclear power appeared in China’s neighborhood. Therefore, China has faithfully executed the duties required by the NPT as a responsible great power under the framework of the treaty. For this reason, China would undoubtedly oppose any actions that violate the NPT, setting the stage for the future Sino-DPRK problems caused by the North Korean nuclear issue.

With the disappearance of the socialist camp, the US increased its strategic pressure on East Asia, and the three socialist countries — China, DPRK and Vietnam — have been under a strategic attack due to their differentiation from the western world. Among the three, North Korea is at the frontlines of the western strategic threat, because of its rigid political system and its opposition to South Korea. Although the global Cold War has long ended, the Cold War tension on the Korean Peninsula has never abated; indeed, it has become more severe than before. North Korea has made some efforts to be moderate: it obtained membership to the United Nations and became an official member of international society; it tried to gain acceptance from the US and other western countries, and began the process of normalizing its relations with ROK. In 1992, it even signed the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula with ROK.[iv] However, all the abovementioned efforts were not met with any positive reactions from the USA or ROK. It may therefore have seemed to DPRK that it was impossible to change the Cold-War-style opposition with the US and ROK through its normal efforts. This posed a very serious challenge for North Korean national security: the USA, a global superpower, together with South Korea, was trying to change the North Korean political system, and possibly even “swallow up” North Korea in order to unify the Korean Peninsula. What was worse, was that China, as DPRK’s strategic support for its national security, could not provide active nuclear protection or help DPRK to increase its military attack technology. Under these double pressures from the perceived active “attack” by the US and ROK, as well as the passive “support” of China, DPRK had no choice but to develop nuclear weapons through its own research and study so as to be self-reliant in safeguarding its national security.

It’s obvious that China’s policy towards nuclear weapons and standpoint of nuclear non-proliferation diminished its security guarantee for DPRK. While North Korea’s rational approach to protecting itself resulted in the development of its own nuclear weapons, this was contrary to China’s standpoint of nuclear non-proliferation. Thus, the relationship between China and North Korea became strained.

II. DPRK’s Pursuit of Strategic Weapons and China’s Restrictive Function

In order to ensure its national security and deal with external threats, DPRK needed strategic attack capabilities that could produce a deterrent effect on its rivals. Therefore, the pursuit of strategic weapons, especially nuclear weapons, became North Korea’s natural and rational choice. During the initial construction of DPRK’s strategic weapons, the Soviet Union and China had provided some assistance. However, after the Cold War, DPRK had to rely on its own resources for this purpose. In fact, China had already realized the potential threat for regional security which North Korea’s pursuit of strategic weapons might engender, and had always exerted a deterrent function with regard to North Korea’s construction of weapons of mass destruction.

DPRK’s strategic weapons capability can be divided into two tiers: the first, strategic weapons that may serve a destructive blow to ROK; and the second, strategic weapons that may cause significant damage to South Korea’s allies.

In the first tier, DPRK has actually constructed weapons of huge strike capability. At present, the DPRK’s Korean People’s Army owns more than 130,000 cannons and multiple rocket launchers. Among them are 1,100 units of 170mm caliber remote self-propelled guns and 240mm caliber multiple rocket launchers.[v] During the Cold War era, with the help of the Soviet Union and China, the North Korean military industry grew rapidly. By the 1970s it had developed the industrial capacity to produce its own automatic cannons and to replicate the Soviet Union’s tanks.[vi] Although the remote guns are generally regarded as conventional weapons, in the specific case of the Korean Peninsula, they are strategic weapons. This is because ROK’s capital Seoul is only 42km north of the demilitarized zone and if the guns are deployed along the 38th Parallel, Seoul would be well within their firing range. This serves as a significant strategic deterrence against South Korea. Moreover, DPRK also possesses special forces of around 100,000 soldiers, which DPRK regards as a great strategic advantage over ROK.

The second tier of strategic weapons consists of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems. DPRK started to study and experiment on ballistic missiles in the 1970s. In this respect, DPRK obtained direct and indirect assistance from both the Soviet Union and China. The Soviet Union provided frog missiles and samples of scud missiles to DPRK thereby playing a comparatively more important role in North Korean development of ballistic missiles. The further development of North Korean missile technology mainly relied on the DPRK’s traditional friendly relationships with Syria, Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries. It obtained missile samples from these countries, and reverse engineered and copied them. It’s safe to say that DPRK was able to develop rather advanced ballistic missile technology through its own efforts and by learning from other countries.[vii] One point worth mentioning is that since the end of the Cold War, China has been very cautious about DPRK’s development of ballistic missiles and has never provided any advanced technology to DPRK.

With regard to weapons of mass destruction, one category is very unclear; biological and chemical weapons. DPRK is not a member of the Chemical Weapons Convention,[viii] so it is not subject to the inspection and supervision regime of the convention. Neither DPRK nor any other country or organization has confirmed whether DPRK owns biological and chemical weapons. However, the example of the Syrian government’s official admission of owning chemical weapons in July 2012, proves that we cannot eliminate the possibility of DPRK’s possession of such weapons. According to reports from South Korea’s intelligence agency, DPRK has all the necessary requirements for producing biological and chemical weapons, and even possesses reserves of certain chemical agents. Once a war breaks out, DPRK will be able to launch biological and chemical weapons against its opponents via missiles. [ix] It’s necessary to mention that China has signed international conventions against biological and chemical weapons, so China never provides any assistance to DPRK with regard to developing or possessing such weapons.

The most important weapons in the second tier are nuclear weapons. As mentioned above, during the Cold War, the Soviet Union helped DPRK build the Yongbyon Nuclear Research Institute in 1965. It provided the DPRK with their first 800 kilowatt nuclear reactor, and trained nuclear technology personnel, thus making it possible for North Korean nuclear technology to take shape.[x] In the 1990s, DPRK further studied and researched nuclear weapons, and in the two nuclear tests in 2006 and 2009 respectively, it demonstrated that it had basically accomplished the design of nuclear weapons. To some extent, DPRK has actually possessed nuclear weapons for a while, but had simply not yet proven whether such nuclear weapons could be used in a battlefield, or be miniaturized to be loaded onto ballistic missiles.

On the whole, the two above-mentioned tiers and four categories of strategic weapons, as well as the so-called coordinating “strategic armies”, strike a “lethal blow” for DPRK, allowing it to preserve its national security and deter ROK and the US.[xi] In summary, China provided certain assistance to DPRK in the context of the first tier of strategic weapons during the early years of the Cold War era, while for the second level of strategic weapons, DPRK started out with the Soviet Union’s help, and then further developed its capacity totally on its own.

After the Cold War, in order to safeguard international and regional security, China made a solemn commitment to the international community that it would never export weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, or sensitive weapons, to any other country. For this purpose, China established a set of strict export control regulations.[xii] In 1997, China issued a list of Control Regulations for Exporting Military Products that clearly stipulated control, regulations and laws. In 2002, China revised this document, further refined some regulations, and published a detailed Control List for Exporting Military Products. In its 2002 white paper on National Defense, China publicly declared that it accepted and supported the prevailing legal system of international non-proliferation, and pointed out that it was “willing to make joint efforts with the international community to make contributions to maintaining the legal system of international arms control and disarmament, and to promote the process of arms control, disarmament and non-proliferation.” In December 2003, the Chinese government published a white paper on China’s Policy and Measures for Non-Proliferation, making it the first official declaration of export control for non-proliferation. This is China’s most concrete promise of non-proliferation. China fully accepts the international mechanism of non-proliferation and already regards itself as a participant and supervisor of this mechanism. China stated in the 2004 white paper: “China’s export control of non-proliferation conforms to international conventions. China adopts the international conventional export control measures: control system for export business registration, guarantee system for ultimate users and ultimate usage, control system for license, control system for inventory, overall control principle, etc. China also explicitly stipulates the punishment system for breaking related laws and violating related rules.” That was the first time that China had clearly addressed export control in a white paper. In the implementation of the export control, the Chinese government adopts two measures of export license regulations and the “three-report-and-three-approval procedure” to tightly control weapon export. [xiii] Western scholars also believe that Chinese leaders are practically investing human, financial, material and political resources in supporting an export control mechanism.[xiv]

Being a responsible member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty, China always abides by its duties and responsibilities, and never provides any assistance to DPRK with regard to nuclear weapons. Although China is not a member country of the Missile and Its Technology Control Regime (MTCR), the Chinese government has almost the same control regulations for exporting missiles and related technology as the MTCR. China has even expressed its hope of entering into the MTCR.[xv] China has placed strict prohibitions on the export of missiles and related technology to any other country, including DPRK. For this reason, China explicitly expressed its disapproval of DPRK’s exploration of strategic offensive middle- and long-range missiles. In light of such an export control policy, when voting for UN Resolution 1718[xvi] in 2006, China agreed to prohibit DPRK from experimenting on missiles. It is important to note that China also opposes the spread of missile technology to DPRK, and has declared that it will never provide any help to DPRK in this regard. Some media outlets reported the rumor that DPRK transmitted missiles to Iran via China; however, China has strongly denied this claim.[xvii] In the 2004 Pyongyang Military Parade, the DPRK army displayed long-range missiles leading some US and ROK media to claim that the carrier vehicles for the missiles were exported from China. Again, China has categorically denied this allegation.[xviii] Of course, China has made a clear distinction between North Korean experiments on ballistic missiles and their development of satellites. China believes that middle- and long-range missiles pose direct threats to security in Northeast Asia, and so must be opposed and prohibited. However, China does not object to the DPRK’s exploration of space for peaceful purposes. Therefore, when DPRK launched the Kwangmyongsong-3 missile in 2012, despite the fact that China and the international community castigated North Korea within the framework of the United Nations, China didn’t support the international community’s hastily imposed sanctions against DPRK.[xix] It is obvious that China definitely opposes DPRK’s development of ballistic missiles, and that it has fulfilled its international duties to work together with the international community to deter North Korea from developing its ballistic missiles which threaten regional security.

III. China’s Positive Role and Future Prospects in the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula

In the past decade, DPRK has regarded its nuclear deterrence capability as the core goal of its strategic development. When DPRK started its nuclear project in the 1990s, it simply hoped to put pressure on the US so as to obtain energy assistance from it within the framework of the Korean Peninsula Energy Development Organization (KEDO); thus further normalizing its relations with the US.[xx] However, the US failed to satisfy DPRK in this regard. Furthermore, after the terrorist attacks of September 11, 2001, the US explicitly deemed North Korea a “rogue state” and part of the “axis of evil”. It listed DPRK as a potential target of nuclear weapon attack in its Nuclear Posture Review, [xxi]declaring that the US would provoke regime change in North Korea by means of preemptive actions. North Korean national security was at stake. China didn’t provide any security guarantee, nor was it any longer truly a military ally as it had been in the 1950s. Under such circumstances, it was a rational choice for DPRK to be self-reliant and develop nuclear weapons for its own survival.

However, what North Korea did was against China’s goal of nuclear non-proliferation. China had always opposed DPRK’s nuclear program. In as early as 2002 and 2003[xxii] the Chinese government clearly stated that it knew nothing about DPRK’s nuclear program and firmly stressed that it would not support the emergence of nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula. China supports denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula, believes peace and stability should be maintained on the Korean Peninsula, and that related problems should be solved through peaceful means. In the meantime, DPRK’s reasonable security concerns should be addressed as well.[xxiii] All this proves that China has never given any help to DPRK’s nuclear program. The Chinese government has been quite consistent in its policies and opinions over the last 10 years, maintaining its basic standpoint towards DPRK’s nuclear issue. It is for the purpose of denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula and as a testament to China’s standpoint of maintaining peace and stability, that China has always played the leading role in the efforts to solve DPRK’s nuclear issue through multilateral talks. So at China’s initiative, the three-party talk of China, the US and DPRK was held in April 2003, and six-party talks on the DPRK nuclear issue was convened in August of the same year. In six-party talks, the Chinese government played an active role of mediator, making great efforts to bring the countries of DPRK, the US, ROK, Japan and Russia together to seriously discuss the issues of denuclearization and improving relations, thus helping to bring about a series of positive joint declarations.

The Chinese government maintains that it is not an unprincipled peacemaker, but rather a mediator which firmly sticks to its principles. China is serious and firm in dealing with DPRK’s denuclearization issue. In fact, DPRK’s ownership of nuclear weapons is not only a threat to the Korean Peninsula and the international community, but to China’s national security in particular. Therefore, during the six-party talks in September 2005, the Chinese government took great pains to coordinate the antagonistic parties, and eventually reached a Joint Statement on the 4th Round of the Six-Party Talks on September 19th 2005, in which DPRK officially promised the following: “The DPRK is committed to abandoning all nuclear weapons and existing nuclear programs and returning, at an early date, to the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons and to IAEA safeguards.”[xxiv] In October 2006 when DPRK carried out its first nuclear test, the Chinese government issued a statement strongly condemning DPRK’s actions, even using the word “flagrantly” to harshly criticize North Korea, and demonstrated China’s “firm opposition” to its actions.[xxv] As for DPRK’s second nuclear test in May 2009, the Chinese government, together with other Member States of the UN, supported UN Resolution 1874, “condemned DPRK in the strongest terms”, and agreed to impose strict sanctions on DPRK.[xxvi] To this day, the Chinese government has continued to do its utmost to persuade North Korea to stop its nuclear program, and to realize denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula by resuming the six-party talks.

In the foreseeable future, the confrontation between the north and south on the Korean Peninsula will continue to exist, and the relationship between the US and DPRK will not improve in the short run. Under these circumstances, North Korea will keep its deterrence force of strategic weapons, and it will be a difficult task to urge DPRK to abandon its nuclear program. On the whole, China’s fundamental understanding of North Korean strategic weapons is that conventional strategic weapons have a role to play in keeping the balance between the north and south on the Korean Peninsula. This is a framework of strategic stability, and will be helpful to maintain peace and stability on the Peninsula in the future. However, China firmly opposes weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems, because such weapons pose great threats not only to the security of Northeast Asia, but also to China itself. China has therefore committed to making continued efforts in the following areas:

First, China maintains its standpoint of opposing North Korea’s pursuit of nuclear weapons, and has vowed to make persistent efforts towards the goal of denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. For this purpose, China hopes to persuade DPRK to abandon further pursuit of nuclear weapons and to stop ongoing nuclear tests. In the meantime, China will try to draw the six parties back to talks, and look for effective ways to actually implement the contents of the Joint Statement of September 19th.

Second, China plans to take the responsible attitude of firmly controlling exports and will abide by UN Resolutions 1718, 1874, 2087, and 2270[xxvii], so as to prevent sensitive weapons and technologies from entering North Korea. At the same time, China plans to closely follow North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles, and continues to oppose the construction of middle- and long-range ballistic missiles and any possible development of biological or chemical weapons.

Third, China hopes to make use of its special relationship with DPRK and strives to create a comparatively relaxed international environment for North Korea. China aims to help the international community to understand and respect DPRK’s reasonable concerns of national security, making it possible for North Korea to confidently communicate with the international community. Moreover, China hopes to aid communication and contact between North Korea and South Korea to facilitate mutual understanding, and boost communication and trust between DPRK and the US to lay the foundation for coordinating their relations.

Fourth, China aims to play an active role in the reunification of the Korean Peninsula. Both the north and south have set reunification as their ultimate goal; one which China supports entirely. Therefore, by cooperating with North Korea on the economy and by enhancing its economic development, China intends to gradually narrow the gap of economic and social development between the north and south. Meanwhile, China also plans to guide South Korea towards adopting a positive attitude to North Korea, and changing its antagonistic policy of suppression and regime change. The north and south should carry out positive interactions through communication and cooperation, realize co-evolution and co-development, thereby laying a solid foundation for eventual reunification.


The development of relations between China and DPRK faces a paradoxical challenge. That is, China’s no-first use nuclear weapons policy and its refusal of active protection for non-nuclear countries caused great insecurity and uncertainty to DPRK, prompting it to develop weapons of strategic deterrence on its own. Thus, China’s good-will policy became a negative stimulus to North Korea in the context of developing weapons of mass destruction. Moreover, as a responsible great power in the international community, China needs to stick to the principle of non-proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and their delivery systems so as to maintain international and regional security. This requires China to oppose the North Korean nuclear program and middle- and long-range missiles, which, in turn, hampers the smooth development of Sino-DPRK relations.

Being in an antagonistic situation with ROK and the US, DPRK perceives a need for military means of using strategic deterrence forces to hold back possible attacks from its rival countries. DPRK could also take advantage of such military forces to intimidate the US and ROK into giving it assistance, and further normalize their relations. DPRK could even use their military might as a bargaining chip to influence China’s policies towards it. However, this is a very dangerous game. In essence, North Korea’s development of nuclear weapons is not only a threat to the security of Northeast Asia and the international community, but also a great potential threat to China itself.

China has made substantial efforts to realize denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and restrict North Korea’s development of ballistic missiles. China has demonstrated its resolution and willpower by adhering to the UN resolutions concerning the North Korean nuclear issue. However, we have to admit that the conditions for forcing DPRK to denuclearize are not ripe yet. After a period of offensive operations from both sides, it has become clear that opposition cannot solve the problem, but may instead create a vicious cycle of confrontation. Therefore, China proposes, “As a first step, the DPRK suspend its missile and nuclear activities in exchange for a halting of large-scale U.S.-ROK exercises. This ‘double suspension’ approach can help us break out of the security dilemma and bring the parties back to the table. Then we can follow the dual-track approach of denuclearizing the Peninsula on the one hand and establishing a peace mechanism on the other. Only by addressing the parties’ concerns in a synchronized and reciprocal manner can we find a fundamental solution for lasting peace and stability on

[i] “Treaty of Friendship, Alliance, and Mutual Assistance”, Peking Review, Vol. 4, №28, (1961): p.5.

[ii] Qian Qichen, Ten stories of A Diplomat, (World Affairs Press, 2003), 159.

[iii] “China’s Arms Control and Disarmament”, Information Office of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China, November 1995,

[iv] Letter dated 20 March 1992 from the Permanent Representatives of the Republic of Korea and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea addressed to the Secretary-General of the Conference on Disarmament transmitting the text of the agreement of Reconciliation, Non-aggression and Exchanges and Cooperation between the South and the North, as well as the Text of the Joint Declaration of the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. Conference of Disarmament Official Document, CD/1147, 25 March 1992,

[v] Yu Haibo, Tian Shuangxi, “A General Survey of DPRK’s Remote Guns”,Modern Weaponry,Vol. 4, (2004).
“The Great Britain”, Jane’s Defence Weekly, November 11, 2003.

[vi] “The General Situation of DPRK’s Military Industry”,New Development in Foreign Weapons, May 13, 1998.

[vii] CNS Special Report, North Korean Ballistic Missile Capabilities, Center for Nonproliferation Studies Monterey Institute of International Studies, March 22, 2006,

[viii] “OPCW Members”, Organization for the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons, accessed August 21, 2017,

[ix] IISS, North Korea’s Weapons Programmes: A Net Assessment (Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 53–56; International Crisis Group, North Korea’s Chemical and Biological Weapons Programs, Asia Report №167, 18 Jun 2009,, accessed August 21, 2017.

[x] Mary Beth Nikitin, “North Korea’s Nuclear Weapons: Technical Issues” Congressional Research Service, April 3, 2013, accessed August 21, 2017,

[xi] “Owning four main forces and strategies against the US and South Korea: DPRK takes strategic force as trump card”, Global Times,November 21, 2006, 8.

[xii] Teng Jianqun, “Major regulations of export control”, in A Survey of International Arms Control and Disarmament, World Knowledge Press, 2009.

[xiii] “Export License Regulations” includes four categories: business permit, business scope permit, project permit and customs clearance permit. It stipulates that China’s military products export can only be conducted by military business companies which have obtained military products export license. And up till now, there are only ten such companies in China. “Three-report-and-three-approval procedure for project approval” means that before weapons and related technologies are to be promoted to foreign countries for the first time, a project approval procedure must be fulfilled (product projects must be approved by both State Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense Industry and Ministry of National Defense, while major projects must be approved by the State Council and Central Military Commission); after obtaining the project permit, the military business companies can promote related products in foreign countries, but they must submit export applications to State Commission of Science and Technology for National Defense Industry when they have got potential clients; after the project is permitted, the military business companies can then sign export contract with foreign clients, and the contract is not valid before obtaining another approval.

See Lv Zhengtao, “China has the strictest weapons export control in the world”, International Herald Tribune, October 12, 2011.

[xiv] Scott Jones, “China reforms its strategic exports control regime”,JANE’S INTELLIGENCE REVIEW, April, 2005.

[xv] “Zhōngguó chóngshēn yuànyì jiārù dǎodàn jí qí jìshù kòngzhì zhìdù (MTCR)” 中国重申愿意加入导弹及其技术控制制度(MTCR)[China reiterates its willingness to join the Missile and its Technical Control Regime (MTCR)], June 6, 2004, China.Com,

[xvi] United Nations Security Council (SC), Resolution 1718, October 14, 2006,

[xvii] “N. Korea used China as conduit for arms export — UN report”, Russia Today, June 30, 2012, accessed August 21, 2017,

[xviii] “China denies North Korea missile transporter export”, British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC), June 13, 2012, accessed August 21, 2017,

[xix] “China objects to the UN Security Council’s imposing new sanctions against DPRK”,SINA, April 14 2009, accessed August 21, 2017,

[xx] Snyder, Scott, “The North Korean Nuclear Challenge The Post-Kim Il Sung Phase Begins”, United States Institute for Peace, December 1994, accessed August 21, 2017,

[xxi] William M. Arkin, “Secret Plan Outlines the Unthinkable”, Los Angeles Times, March 10, 2002,

[xxii] In October 2002, after the US president’s special envoy and assistant Secretary of State Kelly visited Pyongyang, the US declared that DPRK “has admitted” its uranium enrichment program, and accused that DPRK was developing nuclear weapons. DPRK stated that it “had the right to explore nuclear weapons and even weapons more destructive than nuclear weapons”. In December of the same year, the US stopped its supply of heavy oil to DPRK because DPRK has violated the “Nuclear Framework Agreement between DPRK and the US”. Soon afterwards, DPRK declared to abandon nuclear freezing, remove the monitoring equipment installed on its nuclear facilities by IAEA, and restart the nuclear facilities for electrical production. On January 10, 2003, the DPRK government declared its withdrawal from the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, but at the same time DPRK also expressed that it had no intention of developing nuclear weapons. The DPRK nuclear crisis broke out.

[xxiii] “China knows nothing about DPRK’s nuclear development program”,China Youth Daily, April 30, 2004.

[xxiv] Joint Statement of the Fourth Round of the Six-Party Talks, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, September 19, 2005,

[xxv] “Foreign Ministry Statement of the People’s Republic of China” (Oct. 9, 2006) stated: “On 9 October, the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea flagrantly conducted a nuclear test in disregard of the common opposition of the international community. The Chinese Government is firmly opposed to this act. To bring about denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and oppose nuclear proliferation is the firm and consistent stand of the Chinese Government. China strongly urges the DPRK to honor its commitment to denuclearization, stop all moves that may further worsen the situation and return to the Six-Party Talks.” See: “Foreign ministry statement of the People’s Republic of China”, Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the People’s Republic of China, October 9, 2006,

[xxvi] United Nations Security Council (SC), Resolution 1874, June, 12, 2009,

[xxvii] Resolution 1718 (2006) banned a range of imports and exports of “battle tanks, armoured combat vehicles, large caliber artillery systems, combat aircraft, attack helicopters, warships, missiles or missile systems.” Resolution 1874(2009) extended the arms embargo on North Korea by banning all weapons exports from the country and most imports, with an exception to small arms, light weapons and related material. Resolution 2087(2013) recalled all previous relevant resolutions on the situation concerning North Korea, including resolutions 1718 (2006) and 1874 (2009). Resolution 2270(2016) aims to cease further progress on North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs by prohibiting states from providing any specialized teaching or training of North Korean nationals in disciplines which could contribute to North Korea’s proliferation.

Kelesey Davenpont, “UN Security Council Resolutions on North Korea”, Arms Control Association, last modified August 2017,

Su Hao, Professor China Foreign Affairs University
Su Hao is a distinguished professor in the Department of Diplomacy at the China Foreign Affairs University, and the founding director of Center for Strategic and Peace Studies. He was the chairman of the diplomacy department, director of the China’s Foreign Relations Section and Director of Center for Asia-Pacific Studies in this university. He is also affiliated with some institutions in China, such as, member of Chinese Committee, Council of Security Cooperation in the Asia-Pacific (CSCAP) and Pacific Economic Cooperation Council (PECC); board members of China Association of Arms Control and Disarmament, China Association of Asia-Pacific Studies, China Association of Asian-African Development Exchange, China Association of China-ASEAN. He got his B.A. and M.A. in history and international relations from Beijing Normal University and Ph.D. in international relations from China Foreign Affairs University. He took his advanced study in the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), University of London in 1993–1995;was a Fulbright scholar in Institute of War and Peace Studies of Columbia University, and in Institute of East Asia of University of California at Berkeley in 2001–2002; and a guest professor in Department of Peace and Conflict Studies of Uppsala University in Sweden in 2004 and Bond University in Australia in 2014. He has been teaching and doing research works on China’s diplomatic history, strategic studies and international security, international relations in the Asia-Pacific region and the East Asian cooperation.

Reflections on Peace and Security in Northeast Asia -Perspectives from the Ulaanbaatar Process-

CHAPTER 1: Northeast Asian Security and a Vision for a Nuclear Weapon-free Zone, CHAPTER 2: Korean Peninsula Security Issues and their impact on Regional Stability, CHAPTER 3: Civil Society Dialogue and Multi-Track Diplomacy in Peacebuilding in Northeast Asia

GPPAC Northeast Asia

Written by

Northeast Asia regional network of the Global Partnership for the Prevention of Armed Conflict (GPPAC), a global civil society-led network for peacebuilding.

Reflections on Peace and Security in Northeast Asia -Perspectives from the Ulaanbaatar Process-

CHAPTER 1: Northeast Asian Security and a Vision for a Nuclear Weapon-free Zone, CHAPTER 2: Korean Peninsula Security Issues and their impact on Regional Stability, CHAPTER 3: Civil Society Dialogue and Multi-Track Diplomacy in Peacebuilding in Northeast Asia

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