The Change toward Cooperation in the George W. Bush Administration’s Nuclear Nonproliferation Policy toward North Korea
9 Conclusion 149
9 Conclusion This thesis has asked for the reasons why the Bush administration, after North Korea’s nuclear test, suddenly altered its nuclear nonproliferation policy toward North Korea toward a more accommodating line. The preceding four chapters have tested one hypothesis each for explaining this abrupt policy shift. This final chapter will bring the results of these empirical tests together in order to answer the study’s central research question, and it will explore their broader signific- ance. First, the chapter will recapitulate the findings from the appraisal of the four hypotheses. Subsequently, it will look at the theoretical implications of the empirical results. A final section will inquire into what the findings of the study mean for the world of policy. 9.1 Summary of the Empirical Findings The shift in the Bush administration’s nonproliferation policy toward North Ko- rea after the nuclear test did not result from a heightened U.S. threat assessment as regards the implications of the North Korean nuclear weapons program for U.S. security. This is because Pyongyang’s nuclear breakout did not precipitate a more dramatic threat perception on the part of the Bush administration. North Korea’s capability to build functional nuclear arms had been presumed in Wash- ington for years, so the nuclear test did not change anything in this respect. Moreover, North Korea’s nuclear arms continually failed to pose a direct threat to the territory of the United States, and did not alter the military balance be- tween North Korea and U.S. allies Japan and South Korea....
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