North Korea and the Global Nuclear Order: When Bad Behaviour Pays

Sandwiches served at 12.40.

For a state that has gained a global reputation as a violator of international norms, not least through its unwavering pursuit of nuclear weapons, North Korea’s determination to become a nuclear-armed state is puzzling. If nuclear weapons beget security, insecurity, and other costs for the state, how might we understand this pursuit, and the delinquent behaviour that has arisen from it? In North Korea and the Global Nuclear Order, Edward Howell offers an answer to this question, focusing on North Korea’s quest for status in the international system and developing the theoretical framework of ‘strategic delinquency’. Featuring previously unpublished and new interviews with international negotiators with North Korea, and drawing upon new academic literature, Howell proffers an original theoretical framework to apply to the North Korean case. Covering a time period from the 1990s to the present-day, and using unprecedentedly rich empirical evidence, he makes the overarching argument that North Korea has strategically deployed behaviour that breaks international norms in order to reap benefits. In so doing, this book posits how over time, North Korea has learnt that despite the low status and opprobrium that might ensue, bad behaviour can pay.

Edward Howell is a lecturer in Politics at New College, University of Oxford. His research concerns the international relations of East Asia, with a focus on the Korean Peninsula. He has been a contributing writer for the Economist Intelligence Unit, a Korea Foundation-Next Generation Policy Fellow at Chatham House, London, and an Emerging Leaders Fellow of the Ministry of Unification of the Republic of Korea. Edward also offers extensive media analysis on the international relations of East Asia, including for The Spectator, the Daily Telegraph, and BBC World News.