In South Korea, calls for a nuclear arsenal

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South korea

In South Korea, calls for a nuclear arsenal

South Korea has no right to manufacture its own nuclear weapons since the signing in 1974 of an atomic energy treaty with Washington.

Tensions are mounting in Asia. As the quarrel escalates between the United States and North Korea, appeals multiply to the south for Seoul to acquire its own nuclear arsenal.

The South Korea has no right to make its own nuclear weapons since the signing in 1974 of a treaty on atomic energy with Washington, which protects the back with its “nuclear umbrella”. About 28,500 US troops are deployed in South Korea to defend the country against the North.

“The disaster hangs”

But Pyongyang regularly threatens to transform Seoul into a “sea of flames”. And questions about the Washington real will to defend Seoul risk to the cities American in danger are increasingly insistent.

The media took the lead in a campaign to ask the authorities to change their guns. “The time has come to evaluate nuclear weapons,” the Korea Herald wrote in an editorial on Friday (August 10th). “The confidence in the American umbrella can be shaken,” warns the newspaper. And to call Washington to deploy atomic weapons to the south, if he does not want to see Seoul endow his own arsenal.

“The catastrophe hangs over,” Chosun daily wrote. All options, even those that were unthinkable, must be on the table. ” ” We must have our own military options to undo the North “, the judge in unison the Korea Economic Daily, calling for ” balance of terror “.

Seoul “fully capable”

South Korea is leading the way in technology. Some analysts believe that it could develop a nuclear bomb only a few months after it has been decided. South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo said recently that the South was “fully capable” of making its own bomb but did not consider it for the time being. Last year, an investigation showed that around 57% of South Koreans were in favor of having a nuclear arsenal, compared to 31% of opposing views.

After the Korean War (1950-1953), the United States had deployed some of its nuclear weapons to the south but had withdrawn them when the two Koreas made a joint pledge in 1991 to achieve a nuclear-free peninsula. Then Pyongyang conducted its first nuclear test in 2006 and formally renounced this commitment in 2009.

In recent months, tensions have soared, reaching new heights this week when President Donald Trump promised Pyongyang “fire and anger. ” In return, the North asserted that the US president had “lost his mind” and announced a precise plan to fire four missiles to the US territory of Guam in the Pacific.

“A domino effect” in Asia

This new rhetorical war worries the South Koreans who are accustomed to the hostile diatribes of the North. A conflict would have devastating consequences on the fourth Asian economy, which is within reach of the large conventional artillery forces of Pyongyang.

There is no doubt that Pyongyang would be furious if Seoul had the bomb, which justifies its ballistic and nuclear programs by the need to defend itself against the threats of invasion of its territory. Bringing it back to the negotiating table would be even more difficult.

“This so-called ” balance of terror ” would make the peninsula the theater of a nuclear arms race, not a peaceful peninsula,  analyzes Yang Moo-jin, a professor at the University of North Korean Studies From Seoul. The researcher also fears “a domino effect” in Asia, as Tokyo or Taipei will not want to be left behind, he said. ” Japan would welcome this prospect with open arms, it would provide the perfect excuse for revising the peaceful Constitution and developing its own nuclear arsenal. “

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