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Ever since North Korea’s admission in October 2002 of the existence of a highly-enriched uranium program, the North Korean nuclear problem has gone from bad to worse. Prospects for a peaceful resolution seem dim. North Korea has undertaken a series of brinkmanship measures in response to the staunch American attitude. Both actors are now locked in a dangerous game of chicken without a clear route to a compromise. Why this collision course? Most critical to the issue has been the advent of the Bush Doctrine, which signals a major paradigmatic change in American foreign and defense policy. Its moral absolutism, hegemonic unilateralism, offensive realism, and focus on weapons of mass destruction and global terrorism have radically changed the terms of American engagement with North Korea. This article examines the impact of the Bush Doctrine on the North Korean nuclear problem by showing how it has affected the rise and evolution of the problem, delineates future scenarios of the crisis, and draws some implications for its peaceful resolution.