North Korea's possession of an arsenal of nuclear-armed missiles increasingly looks permanent. The U.S. government will continue to refuse to officially recognize this reality, mostly out of deference to Tokyo. However, the region has settled into a new status quo.

Pyongyang's apparent strategy is to indefinitely delay substantial steps toward denuclearization while trying to coax disproportionate concessions from the United States. Fortunately, the emergence of a nuclear North Korea has not proved catastrophic. Most of the serious anticipated dangers have not come to pass.

The international community has largely accommodated North Korea's new status as a de facto nuclear weapons state. After ignoring U.S. President Donald Trump's bluffs in 2017, in January 2018 Kim Jong Un proclaimed that his country had completed development of a nuclear missile and would henceforth focus on producing an arsenal of them. Instead of Kim getting an international cold shoulder for his actions, the world rewarded him with a spectacular breakout from his previous diplomatic isolation. He met with Trump, South Korean President Moon Jae-in, Chinese dictator Xi Jinping, and Russian autocrat Vladimir Putin.