The persistence of tensions between North and South Korea presents the United States with the challenge of managing a Cold War-era crisis in the post-Cold War world. The addition of advanced technologies to the equation further complicates the situation. Advanced space-based technologies, military, civil and commercial, can have a significant impact on the dynamics of international security and international relations. On the Korean peninsula, advanced technologies have raised the stakes of a potential conflict and have added new dimensions to the already complex South Korea-North Korea-United States security relationship. In future years, further technological developments may substantially alter the dynamics of the inter-Korean relationship.
While North Korea and South Korea have followed very different paths since the end of the Cold War there are certain interesting convergences between the two nations. Both North Korea and South Korea have focused, to a certain extent, on the development of advanced technologies, including space-based technologies. For North Korea, advanced and space-based technologies are relevant because of their military utility. On the other hand, while South Korea has modernized its military, its most significant technological developments have been civilian and commercial. Both nations are attempting to improve their capabilities in space, though for very different reasons.
While both Koreas have become increasingly aware of the potential benefits of space power, at this point space has only a tangential role in the complex Korean relationship. Today, North Korea has only a slight claim to space capabilities, as most of its "space" technologies are quasi-space, military technologies. While North Korea's development of longer range missile, and its implied mastery of space-applicable missile technology, has increased its ability to threaten the US, South Korea has long been aware of a certain vulnerability to North Korean attacks, with or without North Korean space power or long range missiles. South Korea's space activities have not affected intra-Korean relations directly, but have, instead, helped further integrate South Korea into the ranks of the world's developed nations. South Korea's efforts to make itself economically indispensable to a number of nations, including the US, enhance its overall security situation.
Space power and capabilities thus factor indirectly, but still significantly, into the US-North Korea-South Korea security nexus. North Korea's capable military, including its increasingly advanced missiles, increases its ability to threaten South Korea and US troops posted there. North Korea's current missile developments not only attracts enormous international attention, and international aid, but also lays the groundwork for the eventual ability to access and exploit space. A successful North Korean launch of a satellite would be a powerful symbolic demonstration of strength. The United States is particularly sensitive to proliferation of space-associated prestige because of its own tendency to view space as a key area of national power. South Korea's recent decision to pursue an independent missile capability also likely results as much from the desire for the prestige and independence this would grant them as from the desire to defend itself against North Korea.
The United States faces low direct risk from North Korea. The main threat is that North Korea might attempt to use its chemical or biological weapons against US allies, such as South Korea or Japan, or potentially against the United States itself. Such an attack could possibly, but not necessarily, imply a use of the DPRK's ballistic missiles as a delivery system. While the risks posed by North Korea are not directly related to space power, some have suggested there is a possibility that North Korea may be able to damage US space assets. Some experts believe there is a chance that North Korea is "capable of producing an IRBM with a nuclear payload to conduct ASAT operations." 1 As noted above, the DPRK's space systems are currently too primitive to pose a significant threat to its Asian neighbors, let alone the to the United States.
North Korea certainly poses a greater threat to its Asian neighbors than to the United States. North Korean conventional forces continue to pose a significant threat to South Korea, because of North Korea's residual military power, proximity, and its long-standing enmity- as seen in North Korea's earlier threats to turn Seoul and South Korea's heartland into "a sea of fire." 2 However, given both the "serious deterioration in North Korea's conventional arms war fighting capability," 3 and the recent summit and inter-Korean rapprochement, the likelihood of immediate North Korean aggression against South Korea has decreased.
As demonstrated by the 1998 over-flight of Japan by a North Korean missile, North Korea represents a potential military threat to Japan. However, because of the DPRK's focus upon South Korea, and Japan's willingness to grant food aid to North Korea, this threat is not likely to materialize. China faces little direct threat from North Korea - both because North Korea considers China a possible ally, and because of China's significant military capabilities. North Korea does, however, pose a significant indirect threat to any number of nations- including China- through its role in the proliferation of missile technologies, and because of its weapons of mass destruction. North Korea is, indeed, a "nation of concern."
A successful North Korean satellite launch, while not a military threat, could spur space developments in the rest of the Asia-Pacific. Because of the similarity between launch and missile technologies, the resultant technologies could easily be applied- as missiles- in future conflicts. One additional concern is the possible impact of US missile defense on North Korean policy. While the North Korean missile programs are only partially determined by US military actions, it is likely that the US deployment of missile defense would result in a more robust North Korean missile program. 4
South Korea plays a key role in Asian development and security. The United States has a vested interest in South Korea's continued survival and prosperity. The ROK's existence and the US presence has served to provide some much-needed regional stability. It is likely that without the US military presence in the region, South Korea would not have survived as an independent nation. A continued friendly US relationship with South Korea is a political, economic, and military necessity, for both nations. The United States places a high value upon maintaining economic ties with the growing South Korean economy. Keeping close ties with the South Korean military also allows US military contractors to sell their goods to South Korea.
South Korea's dominant national security threat and focus remains North Korea. While there is a healthy distrust of the DPRK's recent overtures, South Korea will continue to pursue them as far as possible. Peace with North Korea would have enormous and immediate political and security benefits and eventual economic benefits, whereas war with North Korea would be devastating. South Korea continues to hope for peace, but ready itself for war.
China may pose a significant threat to South Korea. China intends to be a regional hegemon, and increase its influence in Asia. Although China and North Korea are not allies, it is in China's interests to have another Asian nation willing to challenge US power. It is highly unlikely that China would contemplate an attack on South Korea any time in the near future, but China's strength and regional role cannot be ignored.
Other regional players see South Korea as a potential threat, in large part because of its ties to the United States. The United States plays a central role in South Korea's defense; thus any nation that argues with South Korea finds itself indirectly arguing with the US. South Korea also has close ties with the military industrial complexes of other western nations. South Korea's ability to obtain military technology from a variety of nations lessens its dependence on the United States, and increases its potential power. The ROK's allies have also granted it generous access to a variety of space services. South Korea has impressive access to, and ability to use, space-based technologies. South Korea can be considered a world space power by proxy.

North Korea has an extremely limited ability to access space. The key question is, to what degree will North Korea be able to turn its nascent space capabilities into a strategic asset? This is difficult to assess, in part because of the challenge of obtaining accurate and detailed information about North Korea's true scientific, technological, and military capabilities. As well, true assessment of North Korea's potential uses of space depends at least as much upon their internal goals and intentions vis--vis space as upon any external definitions.
Even were North Korea's economic and humanitarian conditions suddenly to improve to the point where North Korea could freely develop its space capabilities, certain obstacles and risks inherent to space capabilities would persist. Given the authoritarian nature of the DPRK, access to Western information and media could be extremely de-stabilizing. The North Korean focus on space and other advanced technologies suggests a substantial investment in scientific development, and the creation of a scientific elite whose loyalty the government must maintain. Thus, North Korean poverty has actually helped preserve the regime by making it easier to restrict access to foreign information to the greatest degree possible. Indeed, "the third component of the North Korean survival strategy has been to continue to isolate North Korea from the outside world...." 5 At North Korea's current level of development, the tension between Western information, and the dictates of a closed and ideologically constrained society is a latent one,- but its future emergence cannot be disregarded.
By contrast, South Korea is technologically advanced, economically developed, well integrated into the world community, and militarily non-aggressive. South Korea has excellent access to advanced technologies, both from the United States and from other Western nations. South Korea's economic development has demonstrated the remarkable economic benefits of technical ability. While South Korea has concentrated on the civil and commercial benefits of space-based technologies, the DPRK's more militaristic stance has led it to pursue space-based technologies for military means.
South Korea, long content to be a space power by proxy, is now seeking to broaden its space capabilities. Not only do space-related capabilities still carry a special prestige, but they are more and more becoming a prerequisite to conducting modern warfare. South Korea's pursuit of remote sensing capabilities, launch technologies, and the diversification of its defense contractors suggests a desire to lessen its dependence on foreign capabilities. An indigenous spacepower would benefit South Korea economically and could allow it to garner the military benefits of space power. South Korea's pursuit of space capabilities is truly the pursuit of dual-use space capabilities, of the multi-faceted benefits of investment in space technologies.
Just as advances in missile technology and conventional weapons have increased tensions on the Korean peninsula, so too might advances in space technologies. Today, both the ROK's technological advantages (many of which have been bought or borrowed from the West), and the DPRK's technological and military capabilities (originating in part from Russian and Chinese sources) have the potential to de-stabilize the region. In the near future, the ROK's next generations of space technology may disturb the precarious balance between the Koreas. Even if South Korea has no intention of capitalizing on the military benefits of high-resolution remote sensing, and indigenous launch capability, its neighbors will have no guarantee of, or trust in, South Korea's intentions. South Korea's increasing capabilities in space-based technologies could re-initiate an arms race, or initiate a space race, between the Koreas. Either an arms or a space race could draw in other regional powers. The result would be an increasingly tense and dangerous environment in East Asia.

As noted elsewhere, the United States is faced with substantial challenges and complexities in Asia. Dealing with long-standing conflicts has become even more challenging with the spread of advanced technologies throughout the region. Space capabilities have the potential either to enhance or damage security on the Korean peninsula.
While North Korea does not, at this time, pose a significant direct threat to the United States or its allies, it retains the potential to be a serious future threat. US policy makers must explore alternate ways of gaining leverage and making contact with North Korea. One policy may be to use North Korea's interest in space as an opening to North Korea. North Korea's pursuit of high technology and space-based capabilities can be seen as an attempt on its part to create new options for power and to strengthen its precarious security situation. The recent violations of the Juche ideal forced on North Korea by its poor economic situation (including the necessity of accepting humanitarian aid) are an affront to the North Korean psyche, and tend to make North Korean leaders unwilling to compromise. Direct US attempts to force North Korea to abandon its military quasi-space programs have been unsuccessful, and have only hardened the North Korean leaders' resolve to stand up to the United States. While North Korea's enhancement of its space and missile technologies are a very real concern, at this point the United States has little leverage with North Korea. The real US problem is not necessarily a North Korean space program per se, but a North Korean military space program. Thus, a North Korean civil space program, while not necessarily appealing, because of the inherently dual-use aspects of much space technology, would not be an unmanageable threat to US interests. The United States may be able to enhance its leverage with North Korea by enabling and encouraging North Korea's pursuit of a less dangerous, more peaceful variant of space power. If the United States can simultaneously make North Korean achievement of civil space capabilities possible and valuable, and allow North Korea to preserve its autonomy, such a policy might be successful.
While South Korea remains a staunch US ally, South Korea's pursuit of independent space power has the potential to threaten US interests in several ways. If South Korea further develops its space power, it may eventually challenge US commercial space interests. As well, the dual use potential of South Korea's growing space power may lead to increasing tensions in the region- and a potentially de-stabilizing Asian space race. Additionally, the proliferation of space capabilities, even to a friendly nation such as South Korea, raises the possibility of technology transfer from the civil to the military sector, or from a friendly power to a hostile one.
Advanced space-based technologies are increasingly integral to the security calculus in the Koreas, and in the Asia-Pacific as a whole. Given the highly advanced nature of US space capabilities, and the relative primitiveness of the Koreas' (especially North Korea's) space capabilities, it can be easy to dismiss space as an irrelevant side-issue. However, to dismiss space is to ignore both the real dangers and the potential benefits presented by the accelerating developments in space power and space technologies, on the Korean peninsula and beyond.

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