The Korean Peninsula: Perspectives on War and Proliferation

Date of Graduation

Spring 1997


Master of Science in Defense and Strategic Studies


Defense and Strategic Studies

Committee Chair

William Van Cleave


The Korean Peninsula is one of the last vestiges of the Cold War. It remains the setting for another war, and North Korea remains a source of the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction and missiles. Currently South Korea continues its transformation to a free-market, democratic and open society; whereas, North Korea retrogresses with its economically stagnant, despotic, and Juche-indoctrinated society. Even though the political or economic collapse of North Korea remains possible, a bellicose North Korea continues to threaten South Korea, Japan, American military forces, and the United States itself. In stark contrast to South Korea, North Korea complements its significant conventional forces by developing and stockpiling nuclear, biological and chemical weapons and multi-ranged ballistic and cruise missiles. In another conflict, North Korea is likely to employ such weaponry against South Korean and American defenders and other Japanese and U.S. targets. Likewise, the proliferation of these weapons and related technologies to "rogue" nations endangers U.S. allies in other regions. In response, the Clinton Administration is engaging North Korea through diplomatic efforts to reduce the chance of war, halt Pyongyang's nuclear proliferation and guarantee Seoul's security. This thesis examines their goals and weaken the security postures of South Korea and the United States. It also addresses the continuing North Korean threat and U.S. policies, and presents some policy alternatives and specific defense recommendations.

Subject Categories

Defense and Security Studies


© Jason William Roback