The increasing world tension that built up after North Korea undertook an underground nuclear test on October 26th this year form the background for this interview with Professor Gilbert Rozman from Princeton University. A leading commentator and researcher on comparisons and relations in Northeast Asia, including China, Japan, Russia and Korea, Professor Rozman examines a number of the key facets of this complex and highly volatile situation.
Against a backdrop of US hostility towards North Korea as part of an “axis of evil” and with diminishing hopes of reconciliation talks between South and North Korea reaching fruition, North Korea undertook the nuclear test despite strong international community pressure not to do so. Professor Rozman contends that this was due mainly as a demonstration effect in that by carrying out the test, other countries would then have to realise that North Korea does carry a credible nuclear threat.
While raising concerns across the globe, the specific regional effects are perhaps more complex especially given the recent six party talks between North and South Korea, China, Japan, Russia and the US. Trying to unpick the different agendas that each country brings to the negotiating table and where each would like to see policy being directed is a huge task in itself, let alone the heightened pressures arising form the test. In many respects, China’s role becomes a key one as it plays an increasingly wider role in international relations and is not keen to see regime change North Korea that might result in mass migration over the border in to China.
Ultimately, Professor Rozman suspects that North Korea will not give up all its nuclear weapons but that a negotiated settlement could be found. He argues that while the optimists are probably too optimistic, the growing pessimist view is gaining ground but should not be felt to be the obvious outcome from the crisis. Predicting exactly where the dispute will head next, though, is a process that is fraught with difficulty and due to the very complex nature of it, Professor Rozman believes that we are probably not yet at the end-game point of the dispute.
For more details of Professor Rozman's lecture at Nottingham and his talk at Chatham House in London organised by Nottingham's China Policy Institute, please seehttp://www.nottingham.ac.uk/china-policy-institute/events/#Rozman