Last week VERTIC, Open Nuclear Network (ONN) and the James Martin Center for Nonproliferation Studies (CNS) hosted an innovative futures workshop to forecast potential developments in North Korea’s nuclear and missile programmes within the next decade. The outputs from this workshop will inform ongoing work by VERTIC to extrapolate our estimates of North Korea’s nuclear material stockpiles and address future avenues for verification.

More can be read about the event here on the ONN website (excerpt below).

Hosted by the Vienna Centre for Disarmament and Non-Proliferation (VCDNP), the event gathered a carefully selected group of experts from diverse fields – including policy, technical, military, and regional studies – to apply structured forecasting methodologies to this complex issue. 

Facilitated by specialists from ONN and the Swift Centre for Applied Forecasting, the workshop’s objective was to synthesize expert assessments into numeric probability estimates for potential scenarios related to the future of North Korea’s nuclear fuel cycle and weapons capabilities. 

“The goal of the workshop was to get a better understanding of the future of the North Korean nuclear weapons programme. We’ve looked in depth at how many warheads and fissile materials North Korea could have produced to date, but projecting it into the future is an entirely different undertaking,” – said Marcy Fowler, ONN’s Research and Analysis Manager. “By applying the forecasting and prediction techniques, we reshaped the conversation and found assumptions we hadn’t realized were being made in these assessments.” 

The organizers anticipate that the workshop’s outcomes and insights will contribute to ongoing research and inform policy and decision-making processes related to North Korea’s nuclear programme. Beyond generating specific numerical forecasts, the event served as a forum for expert collaboration, enriching the collective comprehension of the nuances of North Korea’s nuclear programme. The discussions addressed North Korea’s goals, the evolution of its nuclear programme, and the possibilities for future diplomatic engagements, including the practicality of verification efforts and the potential for arms control. 

VERTIC is grateful to VCDNP for hosting the two-day event at their offices.

This workshop is part of a multi-year project on open-source assessments of North Korean weapons of mass destruction capabilities, supported by Global Affairs Canada and undertaken by CNS, VERTIC, and the Royal United Services Institute (RUSI) with ONN. Click here to read more about VERTIC’s work under this project.