The world vs. Kim jong-il: The legal case against a nuclear-armed north korea

James Strohmaier, Joe Phillips

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This paper focuses on the international legal issues surrounding the alleged nuclear-weapon program of the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea, or North Korea. The DPRK has withdrawn from the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons, the first country to do so, and apparently is proceeding with the development of nuclear weapons. The regional Six-Party Talks, discussing North Korea’s nuclear disarmament, have been unproductive. The international community, led by the United States, is verging on more coercive, even punitive, action. Before legally taking those actions, a case probably will be presented to a world forum that North Korea has violated international law. The relevant issues involve the right to withdraw from the NPT, the continued relevance of the 1994 U.S.-DPRK Agreed Framework, legal structures established by the United Nations and United States to control the spread of weapons of mass destruction, and the UN Security Council’s general powers to preserve international peace. The case against North Korea has strengths, but so does North Korea’s legal defense, including allegations that the nuclear non-proliferation regime is inconsistently applied and that the nuclear powers have failed to comply with their disarmament obligations. At issue is not merely the DPRK’s nuclear-weapon program but the continued significance of the current non-proliferation system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)193-239
Number of pages47
JournalPacific Focus
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - 2005 Sept

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science
  • Political Science and International Relations


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