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International Relations Security

The Other North Korea Question: How Important is the Korean Peninsula to the US?

Image courtesy of Blue House (Republic of Korea)/Wikimedia. Korean Open Government License Type I: Attribution

This article was published by the Lowy Institute on 29 March 2018.

America’s leadership in the Asia Pacific was founded in the ashes of Hiroshima and Nagasaki, and on its status as the first atomic power. Nuclear weapons thereafter defined Asian geopolitics. Today, on the Korean Peninsula, nuclear technology is again set to feature in a dramatic shift in Asia’s power balance. With a summit meeting between President Trump and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un now in prospect, future historians may come to see North Korea’s nuclear-armed ballistic missiles as the trigger that unravels America’s strategic leadership of Asia.