ANU experts: North Korean missile tensions

Wednesday, July 5, 2017 — Tensions in the Korean Peninsula have heightened following North Korea’s successfully test-launch of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) for the first time.

The ANU has a number of suitable experts available to speak to media about the current situation and how it may impact security for Australia and the Asia-Pacific region.

Experts can be contacted directly or through the ANU media office on (02) 6125 7979.


Dr Bates Gill
Professor of Asia-Pacific Strategic Studies
Strategic and Defence Studies Centre
Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
T: 0481 033 530
Expertise: Chinese politics, Asia-Pacific security, US-China relations, US role in the Asia-Pacific

“The day is not far off when North Korea can credibly threaten the continental United States with a nuclear weapon.  On its current development trajectory, this will almost surely happen within the next year or two and on Donald Trump's watch.  

“Ill-at-ease in multilateral settings, unpredictable with allies, and highly unlikely to get further help from China (or Russia for that matter), the US president will not come away from the G20 with any new ideas for dealing with North Korea.”

Dr Ben Zala
Department of International Relations
Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
T: 0458 756 375
Expertise: Nuclear weapons, great power relations

“A North Korean ICBM capability does not fundamentally alter the crisis as the 28,000 US troops stationed in South Korea were already threatened by Pyongyang’s shorter range missiles. This new test simply tightens the screws further by demonstrating just how far the North Korean missile program has advanced in a relatively short space of time.”

“The United States now faces a fairly stark choice – to negotiate or deter. Anyone who claims that there is a viable military option for dealing with North Korea’s nuclear and missile programs is either kidding themselves or bluffing.”

“The Trump administration can attempt to negotiate a freeze and perhaps, in time, the dismantlement of North Korea’s nuclear weapons program in return for some genuine concessions such as halting joint military exercises with South Korea. Or it can treat North Korea like any other nuclear-armed state by assuming that Kim Jong Un is a rationale decision maker and can be deterred from using nuclear weapons via the assurance of a retaliatory strike.”  

Associate Professor Matthew Sussex
ANU National Security College
T: 0402 912 461
Expertise: Security policy

“This is a dangerous escalation in an already extremely turbulent region.

“This now marks the entry of North Korea as a more serious player, but raises the potential for military force to be used.”

Dr John Blaxland
Senior Fellow
Coral Bell School of Asia Pacific Affairs
ANU College of Asia & the Pacific
T: 02 6125 0932
Expertise: Security policy, intelligence

For media assistance, contact Aaron Walker on the ANU media hotline on 02 6125 7979 or 0418 307 213.