With North Korea’s (DPRK) both allies, the Soviet Union and China, recognizing the ROK government, DPRK expected similar recognition from ROK’s allies, the US and Japan, which was not granted, thereby leaving DPRK the only remaining Stalinist regime with only China backing it. Diplomatically isolated and economically down, DPRK saw the necessity to engage with the US – the nuclear umbrella of South Korea (Kim, 1998, p. 12-13), by extraordinarily exploiting its nuclear issue to gain US attention and diplomatic engagement in the 1990s (Barry, 1998, p. 95; Kim, 1998, p. 12), as North Korea sees the US’s recognition of DPRK as an independent state strategic to improve North Korea’s diplomatic and economic external relations and to allow it to obtain trade, aid and investments it badly needed to subsist and progress, yet defying US values to get into the north (Barry, 1998, p. 106).
If conventional wisdom maintains that today, deterrence is the sole legitimate purpose of having nuclear weapons (Dadley & Martin, 2009, par. 3), the possession of nuclear weapons in poor states such as Iraq, North Korea, Pakistan, India, and Israel on the other hand is being utilized to define and empower the state (Bracken, 2003, sec. 2, par. 4). For example, “North Korea seeks nuclear weapons as part of a philosophy of self-reliance and a search for respect” (Bracken, 2003, sec. 2, par. 7). Thus, for North Korea… possession of nuclear weapons is a diplomatic tool for seeking direct negotiations with the US” (Haruki, 2006, sec. 2, par. 5).
Having lost the nuclear umbrella, it must have decided that nuclear weapons would have to constitute the pillar of national defense. Nuclear weapons, which would be aimed at South Korea, were seen as indispensable to make up for the inability to maintain the balance in conventional weapons due to economic collapse. When North Korea blocked the International Atomic Energy Agency inspectors and then withdrew from the Nuclear