North Korea’s nuclear weapons program have progressed at a riveting pace under the leadership of Chairman Kim Jong-un. A North Korean nuclear deterrent towards the United States is no longer a prospect in the horizon, but rather the current reality. This paper examines North Korea’s nuclear weapon posture through the analysis of open-intelligence sources with a predominant focus on North Korea’s latest military parade on February 8th, 2018. The paper concludes that North Korea is pursuing a nuclear weapon posture of assured retaliation by building a more survivable and credible deterrent against the United States. Based on this analysis, the paper argues that North Korea is likely to pursue a strategy of alliance decoupling between the United States and South Korea, by threatening the credibility of U.S. extended deterrence provided to South Korea. Such a North Korean strategy could be detrimental to the U.S.-South Korea alliance.
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