Go to contents

THE DONG-A ILBO Logo

S. Korea should review its nuclear strategies

Posted March. 06, 2017 07:09,   

Updated March. 06, 2017 07:14

한국어

The New York Times reported on Saturday that the U.S. considers return of tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea in order to respond to North Korea's nuclear missile threat. "In two meetings of Mr. Trump’s national security deputies in the Situation Room, the most recent on Tuesday, all those options were discussed, along with the possibility of reintroducing nuclear weapons to South Korea as a dramatic warning," the Times reported.

A tactical nuclear weapon (TNW) is designed to be used on a battlefield in military situations, mostly with friendly forces in proximity. Types of TNWs include nuclear packs, nuclear land mines, nuclear depth charges, artillery shells, and short range missile carrying nuclear warheads. TNWs had been deployed in the U.S. forces in South Korea before being pulled out in 1991. So far, Washington had been arguing that there is no need to deploy tactical nuke weapons on the Korean Peninsula as long range strike capability with B-52 or B-2 Stealth bombers and nuclear submarines are equipped for worst situation. The Obama administration disagreed on the redeployment of TNW. Thus, the fact that Trump’s national security aides raised the possibility of return of TNW as itself means that the current administration considers North Korean nuclear program as a serious threat and its intensity and policy direction toward the North would be significantly changed.

About 150 to 200 units of TNWs are stored at six U.S. air force bases in five NATO countries. Although the U.S. will make a final decision, five NATO allies have a 50-percent right to use as they provide means to carry and project such weapons. In early 1990, when American TNWs were deployed in South Korea, there was no room for Seoul to be involved in the management and deployment of TNWs. Considering increasing threats of North Korean nuclear missiles, it is time for us to negotiate with the U.S. to share the right to use nuclear weapons as in the case of NATO.

The world is overflowing with the law of the jungle since U.S. President Donald Trump took office. China, whose military budget is the second largest in the world, is expected to spend 2 trillion yuan (about 165 trillion won) this year for the first time and Japan is also allocated 5.1251 trillion yen (about 52 trillion won) to its defense budget, the biggest of all time. Seoul should stop to take passive approach and rely less on Washington in pursuing our defense policies. We should make strategies to confront with North Korean nuclear program. The White House is looking at options to reintroduce TNWs to South Korea. Considering that, we should establish strategies to negotiate with the U.S. in matters of seeking to build nuclear submarines and to exercise spent fuel reprocessing options to the level of Japan at the least. The alliance and diplomacy are important. However, we should thoroughly review our self-defense capability and seek a new approach.