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rasoulallahbinbadisassalacerhso  wefaqdev iktab
الجمعة, 20 كانون2/يناير 2023 07:49

Yoon says Seoul could rapidly acquire nukes if North Korean threats increase

كتبه  By Jeongmin Kim
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Remarks likely seek to pressure US to strengthen nuclear umbrella amid concerns about alliances’ defenses, experts say

Seoul could rapidly develop its own nuclear weapons if threats stemming from North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction become “more serious,” South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol said Wednesday.

The remarks represent the president’s most explicit comment to date about South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons, a prospect that enjoys widespread public support but which Seoul has long rejected as a U.S. ally under Washington’s nuclear umbrella and a signatory to the Non-Proliferation Treaty. 

“The North Korean nuclear threat is not only a threat to South Korea anymore, or an issue of the U.S. merely protecting ROK. It has become a so-called common interest for South Korea, Japan and the U.S.,” Yoon said in wide-ranging remarks after an hourslong meeting with ROK defense officials on Wednesday.

“But if the issue becomes more serious, we could acquire our own nuclear weapons, such as deploying tactical nuclear weapons here in ROK,” he said, stating that South Korea would be able to use its advanced technology to quickly develop nuclear weapons.

However, Yoon added that “it’s always important to choose a realistically possible means,” referring to efforts to bolster extended deterrence against North Korean threats to ease South Koreans’ “concerns” about how much say Seoul can have in handling “U.S. nuclear assets.” 

Those concerns are why Seoul is pushing for discussions with Washington about “joint planning and execution” of nuclear assets, he stated, repeating what he said in recent Chosun Ilbo and Associated Press (AP) interviews.

Yoon then explained that the reason the U.S. provides extended deterrence is not primarily to protect South Korea but “because the two sides’ security interests align.”

“It’s not like the U.S. is telling South Korea, ‘Trust us and we’ll protect you so that we can uphold the Non-Proliferation Treaty regime,’” he said. “It’s now more like North Korean nukes are a threat to the U.S. too.” 

South Korea’s opposition party on Thursday quickly condemned Yoon’s apparently off-the-cuff remarks, accusing him of undermining the alliance with Washington by impugning the U.S. commitment to South Korea’s protection.

Experts were split on the intentions behind Yoon floating the possibility of South Korea acquiring its own nuclear weapons, something he had outright rejected before.

Toby Dalton, co-director of the nuclear policy program at Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, told NK News that the president’s statement was “remarkable and, very frankly, deeply irresponsible.”

Yoon’s statement “reads as an implicit threat to Washington that if it doesn’t give Seoul what it wants in terms of alliance commitments and capabilities — to include deploying tactical nuclear weapons — then South Korea will develop its own,” Dalton said.

“This is a very different policy than his administration has suggested previously and raises questions about the mutual trust that is needed to sustain the ongoing work within the alliance to strengthen deterrence.”

But retired ROK Lieutenant General Chun In-Bum, former commander of the ROK Special Warfare Command, characterized Yoon’s remarks as a reasonable response to growing North Korean threats.

“President Yoon’s comments were made with the assumption that a serious change in the security situation on the Korean Peninsula occurred,” he told NK News. “Having said that, I believe President Yoon’s comments were measured and a logical course of action to be considered.”

Yang Uk, a military expert at Asan Institute for Policy Studies, was among the non-government panelists in the room when Yoon made his comments on Wednesday, and he suggested the impromptu remarks fell short of signaling an endorsement of a new policy.

“He wasn’t being that assertive” about South Korea having nuclear weapons, he told NK News.

“It wasn’t like him saying South Korea will immediately discuss nuclear armament, but that he is still open to such possibilities, as Seoul should look at all possible measures,” he added.

But Yang explained that Yoon’s remarks nonetheless mark a departure from his previous statements and betray a change in tone toward the DPRK since it announced a more “offensive” nuclear doctrine in September and began explicitly threatening to use tactical nuclear weapons against the South.

Yoon appeared to suggest that South Korea “can’t sit on its hands” and “what we currently have right now, including U.S. extended deterrence at the current level,” is not enough, Yang assessed, interpreting it as an attempt to “nudge” Washington to strengthen its nuclear umbrella amid increasing public concern about DPRK tactical nuclear weapons.

However, Dalton of the Carnegie endowment said U.S. policymakers, who have been working to strengthen extended deterrence through mechanisms like the Security Consultative Meeting last November, won’t welcome Yoon’s remarks.

“We will see whether and how the U.S. government reacts to this new statement, but in the past when leaders from other countries have talked about acquiring nuclear weapons the U.S. has strongly condemned those statements,” he said, stating Yoon’s remarks put Washington “in a very difficult position.”

Dalton also criticized the presidential office for choosing to publicize the remarks made behind closed doors.

“It is one thing for political candidates to have voiced similar positions in the past,” he said, alluding to Yoon’s statements during last year’s presidential election about South Korea utilizing U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. “It is another for a serving Korean leader to muse publicly about acquiring nuclear weapons.”

Link : https://www.nknews.org/2023/01/yoon-says-seoul-could-rapidly-acquire-nukes-if-north-korean-threats-increase/?mkt_tok=ODEzLVhZVS00MjIAAAGJRt0H18X-5G0aA_9bXRdf8Mnx7YiOtAGLMfze0R68ESV6uPJWYHBfcQdURmTSTKUSIXSMRiEXHbL8_oW_NMkn1bwEFHrTcos9LBg6Vvw

قراءة 142 مرات آخر تعديل على الأربعاء, 25 كانون2/يناير 2023 07:50

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