Jung-min Choi

Date of Graduation

Summer 2010


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

Kerry Kartchner


North Korea, United States, South Korea, Kim Jong-il, nuclear doctrine, tailored deterrence, military strategy, strategic culture, extended deterrence

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


U.S. deterrence capabilities on the Korean Peninsula function as the main component to ensuring the safety of American allies and preventing a cascade of nuclear proliferation in Northeast Asia. However, since North Korea's 2006 nuclear test, the American security commitment on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia has been challenged. This thesis argues that "credible deterrence” is vital to maintaining a U.S. security commitment in the region and that to keep U.S. deterrence credible, U.S. deterrence capabilities need to be tailored to the changing security environment. It proposes an approach to tailoring U.S. deterrence toward a specific actor, North Korea, based on the notion of "knowing your enemy and yourself.” It also outlines a methodology for U.S. tailored deterrence using a doctrinal and cultural analysis approach of North Korea's nuclear doctrine. By understanding the unique values, norms, and perceptions of the Pyongyang regime and its nuclear doctrine, the U.S. may be able to predict the regime's strategic choices and tailor its deterrence capabilities toward North Korea, which would allow the U.S. to maintain credibility on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.


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