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Yeseul Woo

Yeseul Woo

PhD Candidate


Yeseul Woo is a PhD candidate in the Department of War Studies, at King’s College London. She is also a Developing Scholar at the Hudson Institute, and previously served as journalist for South Korean and US media outlets and as a fellow at the East West Center, at the Pacific Forum and at the Harry S. Truman Institute.

Research Interests

  • Nuclear non-proliferation policy
  • Arms control
  • US security policy
  • Nuclear breakout states: North Korea and Iran
  • Great and middle power contributions to nuclear policy

PhD Research

"The Role of ‘Middle Powers’ in Nuclear Security Crises in Iran and North Korea"

The nuclear balance of power is changing rapidly due to North Korea’s continuing nuclear programme as well as the US withdrawal from the Joint Comprehensive Plan of Action (JCPOA). In response to these crises, the international community has relied on non-proliferation diplomacy led by (mainly) the United States, and to a lesser extent the other great powers (China, France, the United Kingdom, Russia). It is conventional wisdom that these great powers are nuclear deal-makers. In practice, however, the process of non-proliferation and disarmament diplomacy shows that middle powers play an important—though often neglected—role in this process. My thesis research seeks to enhance the literature by analysing the role of ‘middle powers’ in addressing these nuclear weapons breakout challenges in the cases of the Islamic Republic of Iran and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea in the current century. In addition, this research explores what motivates middles in actively participating in the nuclear negotiations? In addressing these questions, this thesis refines middle power theory: a separate set of variables for emerging (Brazil, Turkey) and existent (South Korea, Japan, Germany) middle powers explain their motivations and contributions.


Prof. Wyn Bowen