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Asia-Pacific Security Risks

The Asia-Pacific Security Risks project, in partnership with the Asia-Pacific Leadership Network, aims to advance integrated risk reduction in the Indo-Pacific. In particular, it focuses on growing risks around the Korean peninsula and instability in the Taiwan Strait, and how crisis in these regions might interact. To facilitate a dialogue around risk reduction, it brings together experts and policy practitioners from the UK with counterparts from Japan, South Korea, and Australia to assess the issues, compare their different viewpoints, and find areas of common ground to improve regional security.   


The project pools expertise from the UK and Asia-Pacific, focusing particularly on  UK’s regional partners – Japan, South Korea, and Australia – to build shared understanding and deepen cooperation.  

It draws on the knowledge of senior experts from the networks of both the ELN and the APLN with decades of experience of diplomacy in the region. The project has a particular focus on potential escalation scenarios in the Asia-Pacific region, looking at North Korean military aggression against South Korea or Japan, increasing Chinese militarisation and a potential attack on Taiwan, and the effects of unintended consequences on nuclear deterrence and non-proliferation policies.  

The project produces recommendations for risk reduction measures that can be integrated into regional deterrence strategies, with a focus on reinforcing the non-proliferation architecture in light of mounting pressures. 


It is essential to understand the new policies arising out of the current security context in the Indo-Pacific region – increased defence spending in the region, Australia’s increased cooperation with the UK and US, and the acquiring of nuclear submarines as part of AUKUS – in order to pinpoint and address emerging risks and unintended consequences, including the possible weaking of the nuclear non-proliferation regime.


The project takes a multifaceted approach, bringing together interviews with experts and practitioners, specially commissioned papers on national security strategies, defence policies and deterrence measures, and in-person workshops in Japan and South Korea, resulting in a published policy brief. 

The research and consultations explore how each country seeks to prevent regional escalation through deterrence measures. The project also looks the potential unintended consequences of deterrence and defense postures, including those for the nonproliferation architecture.  Building on this analysis, the project proposes risk reduction measures that can minimize the likelihood of unintended consequences.  

Project publications


Asia-Pacific flashpoints: Comparing Australian, Japanese, South Korean & UK perceptions

This ELN and APLN report compares Australian, Japanese, South Korean, and UK risk perceptions towards Taiwan and North Korea. It finds that diverging perceptions of risk in the Asia-Pacific are potential obstacles to policy coordination and offers recommendations for how to address this.


South Korea’s dangerous sense of isolation

Tanya Ogilvie-White writes that South Korea is becoming increasingly isolated from its Asia-Pacific security partners – Japan, Australia, the US, and the UK – in the way that it views the threat from North Korea. South Korea’s regional security partners’ increased focus on China and lessened attention on North Korea’s nuclear programme, risks isolating South Korea and undermining proliferation norms. Ogilvie-White argues that heightened collaborations are needed to avoid this.

17 April 2024 | Dr Tanya Ogilvie-White
Policy brief

Strategic stability on the Korean Peninsula: Dual crisis and risk reduction measures

North and South Korea are locked in a competitive cycle marked by efforts to balance each other’s increasing military capabilities. Jina Kim explores arms control and crisis stability on the Korean Peninsula and its impact on North Korea’s strategic calculations. The paper offers policy recommendations for South Korean policymakers to address these challenges.

7 February 2024 | Dr Jina Kim
Policy brief

Balancing deterrence with assurances: Policy coordination between security partners in the Asia-Pacific

This ELN and APLN policy brief explores the challenges facing Australia, Japan, South Korea, and the UK in their security strategies towards China and North Korea. The paper argues that these security partners must balance deterrence strategies with providing assurances to adversaries.

Who's involved?


  • United Kingdom's Foreign, Commonwealth & Development Office

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