Kim Jong Un and the Bomb

Survival and Deterrence in North Korea

June 2020 9781787383074 392pp
EU Customers


In 2017, North Korea shocked the world: test-flying a missile capable of reaching the US, exploding the most powerful nuclear device tested anywhere in a quarter-century, and declaring its nuclear deterrent complete.

Today, Kim Jong Un’s growing nuclear stockpile represents a grave threat to international security. But this programme means more to him than world glory. State propaganda calls it the ‘treasured sword’: Kim is determined to keep ruling, and he sees his nukes as the key to regime survival.

Kim Jong Un and the Bomb explores the history of North Korea’s nuclear weapons development, its present power, and the prospects of containing Kim’s arsenal. This book confronts us with a nuclear-armed North Korea that is not going anywhere, and reveals what this means for the US, South Korea and the world.


‘[Panda’s] deeply informed book explains as much as is publicly known about how Pyongyang developed nuclear weapons.’ — Foreign Affairs

‘An extensive and exhaustive map of Pyongyang’s journey to a nuclear deterrent that will stand the test of time.’ — NK News

‘Panda, a noted international security analyst, discusses each step the North Korean regime took to build its stockpile, integrating his narrative with accounts of the diplomatic strategies successive American administrations adopted first to prevent the North from weaponizing the atom and then to slow progress once the Kims had succeeded.’ — The New York Times

‘North Korea’s quest for nuclear weapons didn’t begin in 2017. Kim Jong Un and the Bomb meticulously lays out how we got here—and what lies ahead. It should be required reading for understanding the motivations and machinations behind Kim’s destabilising mission.’ — Jean Lee, former AP Pyongyang bureau chief, and director of the Center for Korean History and Public Policy, Wilson Center

‘One of the best volumes available to provide deep insights into the situation on the Korean Peninsula and the long cycle of dangeropeningsprogressshattered hope. Worthy of study!’  Retd U.S. Army Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commander of UN Command, U.S. Forces Korea and U.S.–South Korea Combined Forces Command, 2016–18

‘A timely, balanced and comprehensive overview of North Korea’s path to becoming a nuclear power, and what this means for the world. Panda shows that this extraordinary story is immensely important, but—despite bizarre episodes and characters—not remotely funny.’ — Kerry Brown, Director of the Lau China Institute, King’s College London



Ankit Panda is an award-winning writer and international security expert. He is Adjunct Senior Fellow in the Defense Posture Project at the Federation of American Scientists, and a senior editor at The Diplomat. He lives in New York.

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