The foremost reason as to why states endeavour to possess nuclear weapons is to deter adversaries, perceived to be existential threats. Hence, nuclear weapons are a product of the need for deterrence; owing to their capacity to cause great damage to one’s opponents.Afflicted with paranoia and ravaged by the Korean War, North Korea decided to turn to the option of nuclear deterrence. This purely security-centric motivation to acquire the absolute weapon is, in many ways, common to all Nuclear Weapon States (NWSs). Over decades, Pyongyang’s gradual stockpiling of nuclear weapons ensured that its neighbour, South Korea, could not attack it. However, the deterrent had a telling effect on the stature of the Kim regime. The United States, possessing the world’s largest conventional and nuclear forces, is North Korea’s foe and South Korea’s ally, since the very beginning of the Korean War. For the US, a nuclearised North Korea is absolutely unacceptable, while for the latter, it is the be-all and the end-all of survival.The tiff between the two states was exacerbated after President Trump resorted to sending provocative messages to his North Korean counterpart over Twitter. The international community feared an outbreak of a nuclear war, because, despite the threats from the US and the sanctions imposed by the UNSC, Pyongyang continued the testing of ICBMs and Hydrogen Bombs. By the end of 2017, the reclusive regime had announced that it had achieved its nuclear-strike capability and now had the means of delivery to even target the continental USA. The laws of deterrence were clearly at play. The US strategy to fight this threat with counter measures was deemed too risky, as Kim now had the ability to carry out strikes on the US, South Korea and even Japan. However, the tension continued as the US looked to force the Koreans in to a complete, verifiable and irreversible denuclearisation (CVID).There were several reasons why the 33-year old Kim would never consider giving up his prized weapons. Not only did nuclear weapons give him a greater chance of survival, unlike other despots like Qaddafi or Saddam, they also helped keep the threat of an invasion from the US and South Korea at bay. It also helped them bully the US around a little, something that added to Kim’s reputationHowever, there were several reasons why the 33-year old Kim would never consider giving up his prized weapons. Not only did nuclear weapons give him a greater chance of survival, unlike other despots like Qaddafi or Saddam, they also helped keep the threat of an invasion from the US and South Korea at bay. It also helped them bully the US around a little, something that added to Kim’s reputation. A feeble North Korea armed with the absolute weapon in the world managed to keep the hawks at the White House at bay, while in the same instance, gave themselves enough time to negotiate a peaceful solution. As a result, we witnessed two momentous occasions; Kim’s crossing of the Demilitarised Zone (DMZ), as well as the signing of the Panmunjom Declaration with his South Korean counterpart. Kim also announced that he would bring an end to any further nuclear tests as well, and even though many took this as a sign of weakness, it was instead a sign of the impact nuclear weapons can have on conflict resolution.Only a few months later, Trump and Kim met for the first time in a summit, aimed at bringing the two countries closer together. Even though Kim refused to agree to anything concrete, he did manage to convince Trump to end joint US-South Korea military drills. Once again, Pyongyang used the threat of its warheads as leverage at the bargaining table against the US.While it is unclear as to whether this ‘détente’ will last or not, the importance of nuclear weapons to North Korea cannot be overstated. It has secured Pyongyang against any foreign aggression and now the onus is on the US. There can be peace between the two countries if Washington is willing to live with a nuclearised North Korea. Otherwise, CVID is unachievable unless the US ends its extended deterrence in the region and works towards the complete denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula.The writer is a Research Associate at the Centre for Security, Strategy and Policy Research (CSSPR), University of Lahore. He tweets @syedalizia1992Published in Daily Times, June 20th 2018.