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SOUTH Korean nukes: pros and cons

Media Today took a look at conservative calls South Korea to develop its own nuclear deterrent, and presented counterarguments by a couple of progressive analysts.

Saenuri Party lawmaker and former party chief Chung Mong-joon (who, as a Hyundai scion, is Korea’s seventh richest man) was the first to get on the South Korean nuclear bandwagon, telling an assembly of lawmakers yesterday that Seoul needed to convince the United States that if North Korea goes nuclear, South Korea, too, would have no choice but to acquire “a minimum of self-defensive power.” He added, “You can’t say you can defend your home with a single stone when your thug neighbor has bought the latest machine gun.” He said with North Korea’s nukes hanging above South Korea’s head, Seoul now needed to decide whether to leave South Korea’s security in North Korea’s hands or remove North Korea’s nukes, even if Seoul must make certain sacrifices to do this.

Rep. Won Yoo-chul—who, incidentally, used to be chairman of the National Assembly’s National Defense Committee—said Seoul needed to comprehensively considered from multiple angles the need to declare that South Korea would arm itself with nuclear weapons, based on the premise that it would abandon these weapons immediately once the North Korean nuclear issue is resolved. He said Seoul should also consider whether it should ask the United States to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea and revise plans to reassume wartime operational command and abolish the CFC so that these take place only after a resolution to the North Korean nuclear issue is achieved.

Then there’s former Weekly Chosun magazine editor Cho Gap-je, who has been leading the charge for a South Korean Force de Frappe over at his website. In a piece posted yesterday, he laid out ten points for why and how South Korea should go nuclear. They are:

  1. Korea can develop nuclear weapons in a short period of time, and they can make much more and much better ones than the North Koreans.
  2. Korea has a leading nuclear power industry, so it can build reprocessing and uranium enrichment facilities with its own technology. And Korea’s got a ton of used nuclear fuel and uranium to reprocess/enrich.
  3. Legally speaking, the things preventing Korea from going nuclear are the NPT and the bilateral nuclear agreement with the United States.
  4. South Korea should withdraw from the NPT and amend its bilateral agreement with the United States. South Korea could do this by noting that the international community failed to stop North Korea from going nuclear, creating for South Korea a fatal security crisis. South Korea’s nukes should be considered an exercise in sovereignty for national survival. To convince the international community of this, strong diplomacy would be needed.
  5. South Korea’s nuclear weapons development would be different in character from those of North Korea, Israel, India and Pakistan. For South Korea, nuclear weapon development would be a choice for survival since the international community stood by and watched while North Korea developed its nuclear weapons first.
  6. Seoul should declare openly that it intends to develop nuclear weapons, even if the actual development is conducted in secret. Seoul needs to do this legally and with chin up. Seoul should also make clear that it is prepared to abandon its nuclear program if North Korea abandons its nuclear program.
  7. South Korea should develop its nukes with public consensus. You can even hold a referendum. We must give the international community the impression that nuclear weapons are an overwhelming demand of the public and cannot be stopped.
  8. A movement to develop nukes could become a golden opportunity for Koreans to overcome their longtime servility and flunkyism. If Koreans come together to decide on their own survival, it could resolve a lot of the illnesses of Korean society.
  9. Korea must accept some economic losses in the name of security. Moreover, if Korea pleads with and convinces the international community with rational arguments, it might not get slapped with sanctions. It’s almost impossible for market economies to slap economic sanctions on one another (Marmot’s Note: Somebody tell the South Africans that). In this regard, the KORUS FTA is a safety valve. The way to overcoming servility and flunkyism is to strengthen Korea’s diplomatic power so that it can deal with American and Chinese pressure after stressing that Korea faced a crisis after it was threatened by a nuclear-armed gangster state and making it clear that it would abandon its nukes once the North did.
  10. We must continuously convene mass gatherings in Gwanghwamun calling for South Korea to develop nukes.

Cho’s former mother paper, the Chosun Ilbo, called for South Korea to develop nukes in an editorial yesterday (Marmot’s Note: see my summary in yesterday’s post), and the Segye Ilbo did the same, calling for a revision to South Korea’s bilateral nuclear agreement with the United States banning Seoul from nuclear reprocessing.

Not everyone’s getting on the bandwagon, though. Yonsei professor and Western media favorite Moon Jung-in told Media Today that not only would South Korea’s development of nuclear weapons by unreasonable, but it would be “rash nuclear ethno-nationalism” that could lead to the suspension of the development of Korea’s domestic nuclear industry.

He also poo-pooed the idea of getting the United States to redeploy tactical nukes to South Korea, noting that the United States has been destroying its tactical nukes since Bush Senior, and that it removed its tactical nukes formerly deployed at Gunsan Air Base because the cost of maintaining and securing them outweighed their benefit. He said tactical nukes had disappeared from recent US strategic concepts.

About South Korea developing its own nukes, Moon said such voices are growing louder with Park Geun-hye taking office since her father tried to develop nuclear weapons, but the problem is where to get the uranium and plutonium. He said Seoul asked the Americans to allow them to reprocess spent fuel in last year’s talks to revise the bilateral nuclear agreement, but the United States said no precisely because the Americans were concerned the Koreans could use reprocessed fuel to build nuclear weapons.

If the Koreans try to secretly bring in plutonium and uranium, it would violate the NPT and nuclear fuel provisions from the IAEA’s NSG would be suspended immediately. This could suspend the development of Korea’s nuclear power industry. And even if South Korea does succeed in developing nuclear weapons, would the North Koreans be frightened? Instead of a deterrent, it would lead to nuclear proliferation, and Northeast Asia would suffer from a nuclear domino effect with Japan and China getting involved.

Kim Jong-dae, the editor-in-chief of progressive military affairs journal Defense 21, also told Media Today that not only does the United States not have nuclear weapons to place in South Korea, but it disassembled all its tactical nukes everywhere in the 1990s because it was already widely accepted that battlefield nukes were useless. Moreover, it would be risky and politically burdensome for the United States to redeploy tactical nukes to the South, so why would they?

Kim said the North Korean nuclear test is a question of nuclear proliferation, and the United States is looking to prevent nuclear proliferation, so placing nukes in South Korea would create a contradiction. It’s a mistake to believe the United States will do anything South Korea asks just because it’s an ally.

Kim said Korea has developed economically by following the rules of the international community, and it wasn’t worth considering arming South Korea with nukes by severing all those relationships should it withdraw from the NPT and declare it would develop nukes.

Media Today also notes that unlike the Chosun Ilbo, the JoongAng Ilbo and other conservative papers said South Korea should not abandon the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula nor develop nuclear weapons.

Marmot’s Note: When you live in a neighborhood when China, Russia and North Korea all have nukes, I see no reason why South Korea shouldn’t have them. Would it pressure the North to abandon its nuclear program? Probably not—the North pursues its nuclear program primarily to blackmail the United States. Still, South Korea’s got plenty of other security concerns outside of North Korea, and an independent nuclear arsenal would serve to keep its neighbors honest.

As for Korea suffering sanctions, I’m not so sure that will happen. Not in the long-term, anyway. The United States eventually reconciled itself to a nuclear India, and South Korea not only has a much closer security relationship with the United States than India, but it’s in a neighborhood with three other nuclear powers. I think Seoul could convincingly argue to the international community that they did things their way, and all it got South Koreans was a nuclear gun pointed at their head with Kim Jong-un on the trigger.

Anyway, in another piece, Cho Gap-je asks why the United States would punish South Korea for developing nuclear weapons when the United States OK’d India’s nuclear program, to say nothing of all the aid Washington gave Pakistan in the War on Terror:

인도와 파키스탄은 核확산금지조약에 가입하지 않은 나라이다. 그런 나라에 대하여 미국이 이렇게 협조적인 것은, 두 나라가 미국의 國益(국익)에 소중한 존재이기 때문이다. 인도는 중국을 견제하고, 파키스탄은 알카에다와 탈레반을 견제한다. 東北亞에서 미국의 전략적 利害(이해)관계에 보조를 맞추어온 한국은 파키스탄과 인도보다 못한 존재인가? 한국 정부와 한국인들은 자신들의 전략적 가치를 미국에 대하여 한번도 시험해본 적이 없다. 몸값이 얼마나 높은지도 모른다.
[...]
미국에 있어서 한국은 전략적, 경제적, 군사적 몸값이 영국, 프랑스, 독일, 인도에 못지 않는 나라가 되었다. 더구나 우리는 참을 만큼 참아 왔다. 6者 회담이 국제사기극이란 사실을 알면서도 굴욕을 참고 미국과 보조를 맞추려 하였다. 더 참는 것은 노예의 삶이다.

Church.

About the author: Just the administrator of this humble blog.

  • Baek In-je

    Dude…you can’t be serious. You want to give an ajosshi a nuke?

  • http://www.gofundme.com/1k98a8 Jakgani

    I am surprised the Hyundai scion is against North Korea – as his ancestors owe everything to North Korea and were so friendly with them. Who is the USA to say who can go nuclear or not?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Who do you think will be getting some of the contracts for developing, building, and maintaining nuclear weapon systems here?

  • SomeguyinKorea

    Dude, using ‘ajosshi’ as a derogatory term makes you look like a child.

  • que337

    It’s time for SK to have nuke and long-range missiles that could target any neighbors that threaten security of SK. I expect Americans opposing their tax money spent on the US troops in foreign soil would most welcome and support the plan.

  • Sammenergus

    The international. Community allowed the north to acquire nukes? Didn’t SK under DJ/Noh facilitate things while telling others to butt out and please understand our culture? I.m waiting for NK to name their next missile the KDJ…!

  • Sammenergus

    Or like you have experienced 1st hand the wonderful “Ajosshi” culture…

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    Yes, “by noting that the international community failed to stop North Korea from going nuclear, creating for South Korea a fatal security crisis” . Not that this was Cho Gabjae’s choice, but 10 years of Sunshine and then LMB’s decision to allow Kaesong to continue despite its role in keeping NK afloat probably make South Korea next in importance only to AQ Khan, China and Iran in getting to where we are now with nuclear North Korea.

  • cm

    We have people like Doug Bandow advocating Unites States disengaging from Korea. The US umbrella will not last forever, because the voices for the US to disengage from Korean peninsula will only grow stronger. South Korea will have to face the day when they will have to stand alone against three hostile powers, plus a possible nuclear armed Japan, in the foreseeable future. Conventional forces are useless against nuclear attacks. It is time for South Korea to stand on itself, and stop depending on the United States. There’s no 100% guarantee that the US will be around forever. South Korea should withdraw from NPT, start reprocessing its own uranium, and go nuclear.

    All the bad guys have the weapon, it’s useless and meaningless to practice self imposed sanctions on means of self defense and self survival.

  • will.i.aint

    We must give the international community the impression that nuclear weapons are an overwhelming demand of the public and cannot be stopped.

    Good luck with that one mate.

  • will.i.aint

    plus a possible nuclear armed Japan

    You realize that the Japanese, for obvious reasons, are some of the most anti-nuclear weapon people in the world . . . right?

  • que337

    Japan is already de facto nuclear state, and the US has helped Japan to accumulate tons of plutonium:

    http://www.dcbureau.org/201204097128/national-security-news-service/united-states-circumvented-laws-to-help-japan-accumulate-tons-of-plutonium.html

  • cm

    Japan’s own government said they can quickly whip up the weapons in matter of just three months. Unlike Korea, they have always been allowed to reprocess the uranium. Their missile technology is also first rate. They also don’t have distance restrictions imposed on them, unlike South Korea. I agree with que, Japan is already a de facto nuclear state. If the US ever disengages from Korea, only one left out in the cold will be South Korea.

  • Mr Yu

    The Northern ajosshi already has them.

  • Mr Yu

    This is precisely South Korea’s hole card. They played by the rules and the “international community” failed to prevent the Pukhans from developing the bomb. Only a fool plays in a game that is openly rigged against them and the South can easily demonstrate that.

  • Mr. Yu

    Then that will make the process just that much easier.

  • cactusmcharris

    I saw the headline with the colon and thought that that step’s awfully harsh on two of Korea’s lesser-known industries.

  • dlbarch

    I personally think the nuclearization of South Korea is one of the worst ideas to ever come out of the anti-American wing of Korea’s conservative press and right wing political establishment (alliance, what alliance?), but it may be inevitable.

    What we’re really seeing here is both Koreas steadily moving toward breaking the national security ties with their much larger, stronger, and powerful patrons in a nationalist bid toward imagined self-defense. Forget Japan and Russia…those countries are now and have been for a while sideshows to the real division on the Korean peninsula, namely along China and U.S. lines.

    Both Koreas have benefited immensely — economically, politically, and defensively — by their relationships with their much larger patrons. NoKo may have been the first to break with China over the issue of nuclear weapons, but Korea has long had similar ambitions, and now is on the brink of openly breaking with its American ally over the issue.

    I suspect what we are really seeing here is less a cold, calculated response to any genuine new security threat than SoKo essentially “catching up” with its NoKo counterparts in thinking that it needs to go its own way on developing nuclear weapons.

    Reading the Korean press over the last few days, one would hard-pressed to find much acknowledgement by the anti-American conservative faction that the U.S. has been and remains a steadfast ally of South Korea. Instead, the view is of the U.S. as a hindrance to SoKo nuclear ambitions, and of holding back the country from its rightful place in the nuclear sun.

    Whatever the outcome, make no mistake: this SoKo rallying cry toward nuclearization is being pushed by the anti-American faction of Korea’s right wing.

    DLB

  • que337

    What “imagined self-defense?” NK nuke threat is real and American tax payers’ demand, as have seen at TMH and you are the one of them, to pool out the US troops from SK is real, the only thing SK could do is having nuke and long-range missiles to meet the security threats of neighbors.

  • imememememe

    i’m not a NK expert or anything close to it but i just can’t believe that KJU is in charge of things. that said, SK should have nukes. at least to keep the chicoms in check.

  • Dokdoforever

    The US really raises doubts about its credibility to uphold a nuclear umbrella over S Korea when it refuses to place tactical nukes in S Korea. The result could be an unstable situation where S Korea lacks nukes and the US appears less likely to retaliate with nukes against a N Korean nuclear attack. (because now the North could threaten the US with nukes). If the US will not place tactical nukes in S Korea than S Korea must do the job itself. Actually this may be a better outcome, since securing tactical nukes seems like a messy business. Can you imagine what would happen if some mid-level guy with personal issues got his hands on a tactical nuke?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I personally think the nuclearization of South Korea is one of the worst ideas to ever come out of the anti-American wing of Korea’s conservative press and right wing political establishment (alliance, what alliance?), but it may be inevitable.

    The Chosun Ilbo, Cho Gap-je and the cited Saenuri Party lawmakers are not anti-American. Note that among the things they are advocating is a reintroduction of American tactical nukes to Korea and delaying the transfer of wartime operational command back to South Korea, something they’ve never, ever liked.

    Reading the Korean press over the last few days, one would hard-pressed to find much acknowledgement by the anti-American conservative faction that the U.S. has been and remains a steadfast ally of South Korea. Instead, the view is of the U.S. as a hindrance to SoKo nuclear ambitions, and of holding back the country from its rightful place in the nuclear sun.

    The usual suspects cited above are more than happy to acknowledge that the United States remains a steadfast ally of South Korea. Frankly, I think they are emotionally wedded to the alliance on a level that’s hard for me and you to comprehend. In fact, if I had to guess, I think if you pressed these guys on it, they’d blame Roh Moo-hyun for any cracks in the alliance, and blame China for North Korea going nuclear.

    However, I think what they are also saying is that while the US has been a steadfast ally of Korea, Korea has likewise been a steadfast ally of the United States, and they would like to be recognized as such. Much more so than Pakistan and India, certainly. Britain and France are major US allies protected by the US nuclear umbrella who nevertheless feel compelled to maintain their own nuclear arsenals and one imagines the Israelis enjoy similar American security guarantees. So why not Korea? In fact, I suspect a good many Americans—particularly on the political right—would welcome South Korea (and Taiwan and Japan) going nuclear just as a way of sticking it to the Chinese, to show them what happens when you fail to keep your loose cannon allies on a leash.

  • http://www.gofundme.com/1k98a8 Jakgani

    Isn’t that strange…? Japan was the aggressor during 1910~1945 but they have no uranium processing or distance restrictions imposed on them. Korea was a victim during 1910 ~ 1945 – but they allowed themselves to become heavily restricted? What is wrong with South Koreans? can’t they act more like their Northerly brothers and grow a pair?

  • dlbarch

    I’ll leave my reading of Korea’s right wing push for nukes as a manifestation of latent rightist Korean anti-Americanism for another day, since it merits a more nuanced explanation than I gave it above. But at a minimum, I find the lack of discussion of whether a South Korean nuclear capability would actually enhance South Korea’s overall national security surprising. It’s just assumed that it would.

    This is odd, but reflects that most of the push for nukes is coming from SoKo’s right wing political and media commentariat, not the defense or science establishment. Someone over at ROK Drop last year had it right, I think, when he presented the rather straightforward observation that since SoKo already enjoys an overwhelming nuclear deterrent due to its alliance with the U.S., a break with Washington over nukes would not only impact its relationships in the region beyond just North Korea, but also seriously undermine its most important alliance…with the U.S. How this enhances SoKo national security is beyond me.

    Putting aside the details of how a new deterrence regime would work, whether SoKo would have a second strike capability, whether Seoul would fire its nukes before the first NoKo nukes landed, whether MND would it give its field commanders launch authority, and the like, I just don’t see any scenario where SoKo’s national security is actually enhanced by a home-grown nuclear capability.

    Right now, it seems this push is being driven by, as you say, the ‘why not Korea?” argument. But that’s just not a very good — or serious — argument from a those who claim to value the Korea-U.S. security alliance. At its most fundamental level, the argument degenerates into a “we don’t trust the Americans” view, and that needs to be understood for the latent anti-Americanism that it is.

    DLB

  • will.i.aint

    Japan’s own government said they can quickly whip up the weapons in matter of just three months.

    I guess I’ll have to repeat myself because you didn’t catch it the first time:

    “You realize that the Japanese, for obvious reasons, are some of the most anti-nuclear weapon people in the world . . . right?”

    The Japanese would riot if they thought their government was proceeding with the production of nuclear weapons. The country would shut down and go into chaos. And any politician who didn’t fight tooth and nail to stop nukes would be voted out of office.

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    Someone over at ROK Drop last year had it right, I think, when he presented the rather straightforward observation that since SoKo already enjoys an overwhelming nuclear deterrent due to its alliance with the U.S., a break with Washington over nukes would not only impact its relationships in the region beyond just North Korea, but also seriously undermine its most important alliance…with the U.S. How this enhances SoKo national security is beyond me.

    You’re assuming a break would happen with the US because of nukes. There’s plenty of evidence—namely, India, Pakistan, Israel, the UK, and France—to suggest that there will be no such break.

    At its most fundamental level, the argument degenerates into a “we don’t trust the Americans” view, and that needs to be understood for the latent anti-Americanism that it is.

    Perhaps there is that element, but it’s an element that informs the nuclear policies of some our closest allies, including the one we’ve got a “special relationship” with:

    https://www.gov.uk/government/policies/maintaining-an-effective-independent-nuclear-deterrent

    And then there’s the French, where this argument is explicitly spelled out:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Force_de_Frappe

    I think when push-comes-to-shove, the Americans would be willing to put its own cities at risk to protect its allies, and I think its allies believe they would, too. The question is what the other side believes. An independent nuclear deterrent removes the uncertainty. The North Koreans or the Chinese might calculate that the Americans would not trade LA for Seoul or Taiwan, but they sure as shit can count on the Koreans and Taiwanese using their nukes to protect themselves.

  • Cloudfive

    I just remembered something funny. My childhood home had a bomb shelter. I guess my dad had it built sometime in the sixties before I was born. It wasn’t nearly as nice as the one the Cunninghams had on “Happy Days”. None of the houses in our middle-class neighborhood had basements, so it must have been quite a production to put in. It was very small and damp and had no furniture. The entrance was in our garage and on the outside it looked like a giant concrete mushroom beside the house. I hung out there a few times with my friends when I was a teen and once made it into a haunted house attraction for Halloween.

  • que337

    Who is this guy that has never been voted out of office?

  • keyinjpop

    How that guy managed to keep his job I can’t possibly fathom. sigh

  • bumfromkorea

    … You want South Korea to be more like North Korea?

  • bumfromkorea

    Either there are tons of fanatic right wing Japanese in Tokyo that we don’t know about, or worse, widespread political apathy has made people like him politically palatable to the Japanese society.

  • dlbarch

    I know Koreans like to use the “what about India/Pakistan/Israel/France?”argument, but each of those cases deserve individual attention, and should definitely not be lumped together. For one thing, none of those countries had the full force and effect of a full-blown U.S. land and air military presence ON TOP OF a clear nuclear umbrella guarantee. Even merry ol’ England (which the exception of the run up to the D-Day invasions) has never had the kind of American military presence that Korea enjoys today.

    (Post WWII, most Americans would probably be shocked at how few American servicemen have ever actually been stationed in England. France, of course, pulled out of NATO.)

    I suspect that as Koreans push for nuclearization, there will be blowback from the Americans to pull U.S. troops out of the country lest American troops be held hostage by SoKo nuclear policy. Koreans can have the Americans in harm’s way, or they can have their own nukes, but they can’t have both.

    Again, I don’t see how this enhances SoKo national security in the short or long run.

    What I would add it that this tension between Korea and the U.S. is a great example of inter-alliance bargaining, as Korea may wind up exchanging even stronger U.S. security assurances in lieu of Washington agreeing to a revision of the 1974 agreement. Korea’s call of the re-introduction of American nukes should be seen in this light.

    Finally, I’ll end with the irony that at the very moment Korea and the U.S. should be resenting a united front vis-a-vis North Korea, Korea’s right wing is exploiting the North’s recent test to call for South Korea’s own nuclearization. This is terrible timing. The focus right now should be on a united show of resolve, not a very open and ugly showing of alliance discord.

    Cheers,

    DLB

  • que337

    Your support for pulling out the US troops from SK to save tax dollars could hardly reconcile with your opposition to nuclearization of SK. Vice President Dick Cheney already foresaw “Japan may be forced to consider whether or not they want to readdress the nuclear issues” due to NK’s development of nuclear weapons and missiles. (Asahi Shimbun newspaper on 17 March 2003). The US would understand SK need strategic nuke much more than Japan, which also has both “full-blown U.S. land and air military presence ON TOP OF a clear nuclear umbrella guarantee.”

  • dlbarch

    Oh, BTW, for all you hard-core Koreanists and policy wonks out there, that 1974 Korea-U.S. Nuclear Agreement that everyone is bitching about was signed on behalf of South Korea by Hahm Pyong-Choon, a real intellectual and foreign policy heavyweight in Korea during the 1960s and 1970s. Definitely a name one should know, especially his book on Korea’s legal system and traditions, a once and still classic.

    His son is the equally intellectual super-heavyweight Hahm Chaibong, who everyone should already know. If you don’t, well, then shame on you!

    DLB

  • dlbarch

    No, Q, you’re confusing two entirely different issues. My opposition to SoKo nukes is premised on the U.S. continuing to station ground forces in the country at Korea’s request. Korea can one or the other, but not both.

    Ditto Japan.

    Of course, if Korea can live without the American troop presence, then they can go to town with their own nukes for all I care.

    But no American troops should be placed in harms way in a country with a nuclear capacity that America does not control.

    Full stop.

    DLB

  • que337

    Then, when Vice President Dick Cheney said “Japan may be forced to consider whether or not they want to readdress the nuclear issues,” you do believe he had the premise in his mind that the US troops be completely pulled out from Japan?

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com/ Sperwer

    Interesting point, for the following reason: should US troops be placed in harm’s way (actually or potentially) by virtue of ANY mutual defense treaty in which the US doesn’t in effect have a unilateral right to determine whether or not in fact they become combatants. Obviously, circumstances have changed, but isn’t this the rationale of the CFC in Korea in which the US always has had the upper hand?

  • http://www.rjkoehler.com Robert Koehler

    I know Koreans like to use the “what about India/Pakistan/Israel/France?”argument, but each of those cases deserve individual attention, and should definitely not be lumped together

    OK, fair enough. But I think even if you do that, Korea has just as compelling reasons to go nuclear as any of those four. Certainly more than France.

    For one thing, none of those countries had the full force and effect of a full-blown U.S. land and air military presence ON TOP OF a clear nuclear umbrella guarantee. Even merry ol’ England (which the exception of the run up to the D-Day invasions) has never had the kind of American military presence that Korea enjoys today.

    Leaving aside for the moment that southeast England is essentially one big USAF base, Merry ol’ England never needed that kind of American ground presence because said American ground presence was already forward deployed in Germany as part of NATO, the gold standard of American alliances.

    I suspect that as Koreans push for nuclearization, there will be blowback from the Americans to pull U.S. troops out of the country lest American troops be held hostage by SoKo nuclear policy. Koreans can have the Americans in harm’s way, or they can have their own nukes, but they can’t have both.

    It’s possible. Heck, I think American ground troops should be reduced regardless of whether South Korea develops nukes or not. Given the bureaucratic inertia, that doesn’t look like it’s going to happen. And as for “they can have Americans in harm’s way, or they can have their own nukes, but they can’t have both,” it seems American behavior so far would suggest that you can, in fact, have both—see the UK and France. Heck, we even deployed nuke-tipped Pershing II’s to Germany despite both the UK and France having nukes of their own. Does anyone doubt we’d shed blood if Israel’s existence was threatened?

    I don’t necessarily think the argument that “OK, Korea has nukes now, so we don’t need to defend it” is wrong. It’s just that if you’re going to make that argument, it should naturally be extended to the UK, France and Israel. And perhaps you’d make that argument.

  • http://www.sperwerslog.com/ Sperwer

    And another son is Hahm Chaihark, another intellectual superstar who complements his brother’s policy orientation with their father’s legal orientation

  • Cloudfive

    Googling Ham Pyong-Choon led me to an unrelated article on foreignaffairs.com titled Pyongyang’s Nuclear Logic: Sometime a Test is Just a Test: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/138933/jennifer-lind-keir-a-lieber-and-daryl-g-press/pyongyangs-nuclear-logic?page=show Definitely worth a read.

    PS – Thank you for using “vis-a-vis” correctly and in the right context in an earlier comment. :)

  • Dokdoforever

    dlbarch may be right. With a nuclear armed N Korea, S Korean nukes should more effectively deter Northern invasion than the presence of 23,000 US troops.

  • http://profiles.google.com/dcmusicfreak DC Musicfreak

    Japanese protests after 3.11 and other stages of that crisis were tepid affairs. Your view was true 10-20 years ago, but is dated now, after North Korean missiles and nukes and Chinese bullying and encroachments.

  • que337

    I agree. SK should develop weapons that could meet the utmost threats of neighbors and gradually minimize their dependence on the US. Once being attacked, SK could also make their own tactical decision that they take the NK attack for the opportunity to reunify Korea. Israel could be a model country for SK.

  • IEatYourSandwich

    America should just send the troops back and let South Korea armed with nuclear weapons. Anyone knows that nuckes are used as deterrent and nothing more other than empty threats.

  • will.i.aint

    Nuclear energy and nuclear weapons are viewed very differently. I’m talking about nuclear weapons – you’re talking about nuclear energy.

  • Ghost of Tom Lehrer

    One of the big news items of the past year concerned the fact that China, which we called “Red China,” exploded a nuclear bomb, which we called a device. Then Indonesia announced that it was going to have one soon, and proliferation became the word of the day. Here’s a song about that:

    First we got the bomb, and that was good,
    ‘Cause we love peace and motherhood.
    Then Russia got the bomb, but that’s okay,
    ‘Cause the balance of power’s maintained that way.
    Who’s next?

    France got the bomb, but don’t you grieve,
    ‘Cause they’re on our side (I believe).
    China got the bomb, but have no fears,
    They can’t wipe us out for at least five years.
    Who’s next?

    Then Indonesia claimed that they
    Were gonna get one any day.
    South Africa wants two, that’s right:
    One for the black and one for the white.
    Who’s next?

    Egypt’s gonna get one too,
    Just to use on you know who.
    So Israel’s getting tense.
    Wants one in self defense.
    “The Lord’s our shepherd,” says the psalm,
    But just in case, we better get a bomb.
    Who’s next?

    Luxembourg is next to go,
    And (who knows?) maybe Monaco.
    We’ll try to stay serene and calm
    When Alabama gets the bomb.
    Who’s next?
    Who’s next?
    Who’s next?
    Who’s next?

  • yangachibastardo

    You’re a right, i suspect though that dealing with a Nuclear North is a lesser security threat after all than dealing with a whole nation of this:

    http://www.otrantooggi.it/wp-content/uploads/2011/11/sbarco-albanesi-vlora.jpg

  • que337

    PRC is behind in this NK nuke parade show. According to Newdaily, six-party-talk is simply a deceitful device set by PRC and NK to deter SK and Japan from having nuke. PRC has interconnected Iran and NK in the development of nuclear weapon:

    http://news.nate.com/view/20130216n07779

  • nannasin smith

    How this enhances SoKo national security is beyond me.
    1N4001