Coping with North Korea’s Nuclear Ambitions

15 03 2013

Alexander Zhebin_1Hosted by the Australian Institute of International Affairs, this event will start on Monday, 18 March 2013, at 6:00 PM, at The Glover Cottages, 124 Kent Street, Sydney NSW.

With North Asia now on full alert in the light of the increasingly menacing rhetoric from Pyongyang following the latest round of UN sanctions, AIIA NSW is staging a special event on Monday March 18.

AIIA NSW is proud to present Dr Alexander Zhebin, director of the Centre for Korean Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences in Moscow, who is visiting Australia.

Dr Zhebin, who has lived and worked in North Korea earlier in his career when he was a correspondent for the Russian news agency, TASS, will argue that the promise of economic gain has not been sufficient to persuade Pyongyang to give up its nuclear ambitions.

He will argue  that: “For the North Korean regime security is a top priority. The nuclear problem cannot be resolved without addressing the DPRK’s reasonable security concerns. The DPRK is trying to normalize its relations with the US because through achieving this goal Pyongyang hopes to get the security guarantees or, at least, to create such a security environment under which it would be much more difficult for the US to use force against North Korea. Beijing continues to treat the DPRK as an important buffer state which separates China from the US forward-deployed forces in East Asia. Russia does not want to see the arch of instability stretching closer to its doorstep in the Far East and, even less so, a new “hot war” in the region.

“This approach determines Russia’s position on the nuclear problem in Korea. After the events in Libya the West’s political guarantees have lost their credibility in the eyes of Pyongyang’s leadership. Only a consistent engagement policy, aimed at the genuine involvement of DPRK in globalization and cooperation processes in Northeast Asia and pursued by South Korea and by the West, can convince the North Korean elite that the international community is not contemplating a regime change scenario.

We apologise for the late notice of this event, but feel members and others interested in the most pressing global conflict of our time will want to meet Dr Zhebin and discuss his views.

Alexander Zhebin is a renowned  specialist on Korean Studies in Moscow. Before joining the Center for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies, he worked for 17 years as a journalist at the TASS News Agency. During his time with TASS he was a correspondent and then later became the Pyongyang bureau chief. After his journalism career he became a diplomat and worked in the Russian Embassy in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea. Having lived such a long time in the country, Mr. Zhebin decided to continue with his study of the region and in 2004 he became the director of the Centre for Korean Studies of the Institute of Far Eastern Studies at the Russian Academy of Sciences. Mr. Zhebin is also the author of numerous articles on political development in the Democratic Peoples Republic of Korea, Russia-North Korea relations, and security of the Korean peninsula.

AIIA members: $15.00;  Senior/student members: $10.00
Visitors:  $25.00;  Student visitors: $15.00

RSVP: here…
All inquiries:


North Korea: Kim Jong-un as Leader – How Pyonyang may change?

24 01 2012

ImageOpinions differ as to what will be the eventual outcome of the death of North Korea’s Kim Jong-il and the official transfer of power to his third son, Kim Jong-un.

In an essay in the Sydney Morning Herald, AIIA member Hamish McDonald explores a range of possibilities. Apart from the possibility of change within the Pyongyang regime itself, there are the complex attitudes and strategic interests of the various powers involved in on-off talks to bring peace to the Korean peninsula and persuade North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons program.

China fears a surge of refugees across its border if hostilities break out and worries that the United States could gain a foothold on its border. Japan is uneasy about the industrial muscle of a united Korea while other countries see investment and market opportunities. No one, however, wants to see a destabilisation of the peninsula – how the DPRK manages itself under its new leadership and how the regional powers engage the regime is crucial to this end.

Few expect any change to happen quickly. The Australian Institute of International Affairs (AIIA) in Sydney has assembled a panel of experts to discuss one of the top agenda items of 2012.

Joining us will be Dr. Leonid Petrov, lecturer in Korean studies at the University of Sydney and Korean scholar who trained at the Institute of Oriental Studies in St Petersburg. Prof. Petrov has also held the chair in Korean studies at the Institut d’Etudes Politiques de Paris.

Mack Williams was Australia’s ambassador in Seoul at the time of the last North Korean handover. Mr Williams is a former president of the AIIA in Sydney and chairman of the board of the UTS Insearch program. He also chairs the Korea-Australasian research Centre at the University of New South Wales.

Professor Peter Hayes from the Nautilus Institute will join us by video link from San Francisco. Prof. Hayes’ paper on North Korea has attracted international attention.

Date: Tuesday,  21 February, 2012

Time: Refreshments 6:00 pm; Presentation 6:30 pm – 7.30pm

Venue: The Australian Institute of International Affairs invites you to, The Glover Cottages, 124 Kent Street, Sydney (located adjacent to the Kent St Fire Station)

Cost: AIIA members $15; Senior members / students $10;
Visitors $20;    Senior Visitors $15;  Student Visitors:  $10


Payment may be made at the door by cash/cheque/credit card

Could a change of leader change North Korea?

15 09 2010

North Korea is set to witness the process of only its second transition of power in 60 years. Many Korea-watchers see the imminent convening of the Korean Workers’ Party Conference as a move to pave the way to designate Kim Jong-un, Kim Jong-il’s twenty-something son, as his successor.

Kim Jong-il earlier this month visited China, meeting President Hu Jin Tao, in a trip that was seen by some analysts as seeking the approval of North Korea’s ally for this nepotistic move. However, there are no reports that Kim Jong-un was with his father.

The Chinese have said very little about the succession, but Beijing has expressed support for a resumption of the stalled six nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear future, with the prospect of finding a way to end Pyongyang’s isolation. This is seen as essential if there is to be any prospect of reviving the DPRK’s crippled economy.

In contrast with the North,  South Korea continues to thrive on its manufacturing economy, but is nonetheless deeply affected by the current strains, and by the sinking of the Cheonan warship, an inquiry into which remains inconclusive. Japan also remains at risk and concerned by the lack of resolution to the Korean conflict. Only the United States still has 28,500 forces (including nearly 9000 USAF personnel) tied up in Korea  and conducts risky military exercises near the Demilitarised Zone and disputed Northern Limit Line…

“Today’s threats to North East Asia: Could a change of leader change North Korea?” by Dr. Leonid Petrov, the University of Sydney.

Hosted by: Australian Institute of International Affairs, NSW Branch
The event will start on: Tuesday, 21 September 2010 at 6:00 PM
At The Glover Cottages, 124 Kent Street , Sydney, NSW
Tel: +61(2) 8011 4728

Register on-line here…