Global Insights: South Korea Does Not Need Nuclear Weapons

By Richard Weitz, on , Column

One of the issues newly inaugurated South Korean President Park Geun-hye will need to address is the demands from a growing faction of her own party for either the United States to return tactical nuclear weapons to the South or for Seoul to develop its own nuclear arsenal. In light of the apparently successful Feb. 12 North Korean nuclear test, this faction believes that Seoul needs a similar nuclear capability to deter potential North Korean military threats.

Extended deterrence of the kind the U.S. currently provides South Korea requires that the guarantor has the capacity to defend the country threatened with attack and the intent to do so, and that this capacity and intent are perceived as sufficiently strong that a potential aggressor decides to refrain from belligerent acts. But as the growing calls for a South Korean nuclear option illustrate, the state receiving the guarantee must also perceive it as credible. ...

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