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By George Perkovich and James M. Acton, editors

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A framework, albeit an uncertain one, exists for North Korea’s nuclear disarmament. The immediate challenge is implementation. North Korea has recently declared its plutonium holdings and production history, and talks are currently under way to agree on the details of verification. In the longer term North Korea’s suspected efforts to enrich uranium and its nuclear cooperation with Syria will have to be addressed. It must also declare its nuclear-weapons facilities and the weapons themselves. The process of disclosure will be a complicated one that could serve as a test laboratory for future disarmament-verification processes elsewhere.

We discuss below several key strategic issues related to offensive nuclear forces, ballistic-missile defences and non-nuclear strike capabilities that China would want to have addressed before it would consider joining a nuclear-arms-reduction process. Still, Chinese authorities and analysts would be making a contribution to global security if they began internal deliberations now to specify what level of US and Russian reductions would be sufficient to induce China to join an arms-reduction process.

Based on figure 40 in Allan S. Krass, Verification: How Much is Enough? (London: Taylor and Francis for SIPRI, 1985), p. 168. arms-control treaty hitherto negotiated? Would not perfect, or at least unattainably good, verification therefore be needed in the final transition to zero? The so-called Wiesner curve (shown in Figure 1) might possibly be misleading for three reasons. Firstly, would the militarily significant quantity in a nuclear-weapons-free world actually be so small as to make verification unfeasible?

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