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North Korea’s nuclear test

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North Korea’s nuclear test serves several purposes. Its first purpose is to bolster the flagging legitimacy of the regime and, by drumming up war hysteria, achieve domestic mobilization in the face of mounting internal difficulties. Throughout North Korea’s turbulent history, the regime has periodically resorted to war hysteria, at times on even grander scale than what we have recently seen. North Korea’s Songun (army-first) policy requires periodic crises to maintain the myth of enemy encirclement and the army prestige. If history is any judge, the North Koreans will step away from the brink when their domestic aims have been achieved.

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