Why support for nukes is on the rise in South Korea
Over three-quarters of South Koreans believe a nuclear deterrent offers the best defense for their country amid growing security threats from North Korea and China.
A new study indicates that more than 76% of South Koreans believe the nation should develop and deploy its own nuclear weapons to serve as a deterrent, with China seen as the biggest threat to peace in the region but North Korea also a constant cause for concern.
Perhaps surprisingly, analysts point out, backing for an independent nuclear capability has support from across the political spectrum in South Korea.
Conservatives insist an arsenal of nuclear weapons is necessary to fend off the threat posed by Beijing. China has in recent years been aggressively expanding its control of the South China Sea, is demanding control over Taiwan and has made increasingly bold territorial claims against many of its neighbors, including South Korea.
The unpredictable Kim Jong Un-led regime in Pyongyang has also been investing heavily in its nuclear and long-range missile capabilities in recent years, with analysts predicting an eighth underground nuclear test at the North’s Punggye-ri proving grounds in the coming months.
Others in South Korea have been alarmed at the perceived fragility of the security alliance that has tied the United States to Seoul since the outbreak of the Korean War in 1950.
While in office, President Donald Trump strong-armed Seoul into sharply increasing the amount it paid to keep US troops in the South by threatening to withdraw US forces from the peninsula.
More recently, questions have been asked about Washington’s commitment to the alliance as trade frictions have grown.