Living next to the DPRK is difficult for most but the real problem is the People’s Republic of China and their bully tactics that threaten to drive neighbouring nations into acquiring nuclear weapons. Zachary Keck writes about the massive build-up of conventional arms by the PRC and its bully tactics that is slowly but surely pushing regional powers into considering a nuclear deterrent since their interests are directly and laterally threatened by a rising fascist power.
Though President Park was quoted as saying that more nuclear testing by the DPRK could result in “a domino effect by providing its neighbours with a pretext to arm themselves with nuclear weapons”, the real concern is the DPRK’s historic sponsor, China:
Although North Korea is unlikely to precipitate a nuclear arms race in Asia, China’s growing military capabilities and assertive diplomatic posture very well might. Indeed, just as history has demonstrated that states don’t need nuclear arsenals to deter rivals from attacking them with nuclear weapons, it has also demonstrated that nuclear weapons are extremely effective in deterring conventional military attacks. Thus, states that face rivals with overwhelming conventional military power have a strong incentive to acquire nuclear weapons to negate their rivals’ conventional superiority. (cite)
Other editorials certainly suggest that countries, like Vietnam, certainly have incentive to go nuclear, so as to protect their borders in the event that the PRC is tempted to trespass too far since China has 14 times the population and 37 times the economy of its neighbour, thus arrogance has a fertile place to grow. (cite)
Even if the Philippines is awarded a ruling that China’s claim to the South China Sea has no legal basis, will not likely change the reality in the region – China is unlikely to leave areas it controls at the say of a judge in The Hague – but it will make it hard for Beijing to keep arguing plausibly that it always acts with respect to international law (source), and considering such, many would be foolish to not keep a gun in the house even if it were a technically illegal firearm.
Even so, there will be more pressure on regional nations to keep Chinese fishermen – as state proxies – in check (as demonstrated by their use against Japan and Vietnam). Chinese pirates have long been a part of regional history in Asia that pre-dates quite a few of their claims of territory too.