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07.15 (월)

Idea of nuclear-armed S. Korea resurfaces

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The USS Theodore Roosevelt, a nuclear-powered aircraft carrier, is seen at a naval base in the southeastern port city of Busan on June 22, 2024. Source: EPA Yonhap


AsiaToday reporter Lee Seok-jong

As the new cold war system has become more solid following the Russia-North Korea summit, there are growing calls for Seoul to arm itself with its own nuclear weapons not only in the U.S. but also in South Korea. A state-run think tank also said in a report on Sunday that South Korea needs to consider nuclear armament.

Attention is now focused on how such a move would change the government’s nuclear policy, with survey results from major research institutes in Korea, including the Asan Institute for Policy Studies, Korea Institute for National Unification, East Asia Institute (EAI), and the Institute for Peace and Unification Studies under Seoul National University, suggesting that 60 to 70 percent of South Korean support the idea of arming their country with its own nuclear weapons.

The Institute for National Security Strategy (INSS) suggested of arming itself as way to diversify options against North Korea’s nuclear issue. “Putin indirectly recognized North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons in a way that bluntly flouts the U.N. Security Council’s sanctions against Pyongyang,” the INSS said. The think tank voiced concerns that North Korea is expected to strengthen its push to win recognitions from China and other countries that it is a nuclear state. “The United States may seek a freeze in North Korea’s nuclear program or nuclear disarmament talks with Pyongyang if it resumes diplomacy with North Korea after the presidential election in November,” the INSS said. “Along with consistent efforts to strengthen Washington’s extended deterrence, the South Korean government should consider various options, ranging from the redevelopment of tactical nuclear weapons, NATO-style nuclear sharing and South Korea’s nuclear armament to Seoul’s efforts to build potential nuclear capabilities,” it said.

“If Russia gives North Korea a high-precision weapon, there would be no line for us to defend anymore,” National Security Adviser Chang Ho-jin said. “How Russia will respond to our warning will determine our support for Ukraine.”

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