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From Critical Engagement to Credible Commitments: A Renewed EU Strategy for the North Korean Proliferation Crisis

Dr Antoine Bondaz
Publisher: SIPRI
February, 2020

The North Korean nuclear and ballistic missile crisis is the most serious proliferation crisis the European Union (EU) and its member states currently face on the world stage. Despite the staging of diplomatic meetings, the threat caused by this crisis to European interests, in terms of proliferation, instability and to prosperity, persists. It is now essential that the EU and its member states move from a strategy of critical engagement to implementing a more proactive strategy of credible commitments in four areas: political engagement, non-proliferation, the implementation of restrictive measures and engagement with the North Korean people. Such a renewed strategy should be highly coordinated, build on the many initiatives already being taken and facilitated by the appointment of an EU Special Representative on North Korea.


I. Introduction

II. The radicalization of North Korea with regard to its nuclear and ballistic missile programmes

III. Lessons learned from past and current failures of negotiations

IV. The evolution and partial failure of the EU strategy of critical engagement

V. A renewed strategy of credible commitments based on multi-level coordination

VI. Conclusions


Dr Antoine Bondaz (France) is the Director of the Korea Programme and a Research Fellow at Fondation pour la Recherche Stratégique (FRS), and an Associate Professor at Sciences Po, Paris.