At the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, students simulated several reactions to a Korean Peninsula crisis in the 2020s. In the simulation, the United States and North Korean heads of state had previously agreed to a halt to joint military exercises by the United States and South Korea as long as North Korea froze its nuclear and ballistic missile programs. After receiving an intelligence report about suspected clandestine uranium enrichment in North Korea, the U.S. president issued a demarche demanding prompt elimination of North Korea’s nuclear weapons materials. The claim of an ongoing clandestine uranium enrichment program was disputed by North Korea, and a summary of the conclusions of the report was not supported by China, Japan, or South Korea. After an initial round of heated statements, the concerned parties in each of the simulations agreed to inspections to verify that North Korea had not been enriching uranium during the agreed-upon freeze period. In one simulation, South Korea resorted to announcing its intention to withdraw from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty if the United States did not agree to limit the U.S. role to review of a report by a joint inspection team from the Republic of China and the Republic of Korea. Neither the premise nor the outcome of the simulation should be attributed to any individual or group of students, as the simulation exercise was only intended to draw attention to some of the complexities of the security situation in Northeast Asia.
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