A U.S. think tank says Washington should step up nuclear consultations with South Korea and provide a more concrete pledge on its defense in order to ease Seoul's security concerns and prevent calls for nuclear armament.
The Carnegie Endowment for International Peace on Wednesday published an article titled the "Dueling Nuclear Nightmares Behind the South Korean President’s Alarming Comments."
Its authors Stephen Herzog from the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology and Lauren Sukin from the London School of Economics said President Yoon's call to develop nuclear weapons is fundamentally a call for South Korea to know that it can protect itself in a changing security environment.
North Korea recently alarmed South Korea and the international community with a slew of ballistic missile tests and an incursion into South Korean airspace using spy planes.
Though branding his remark as "nuclear populism" that caters to the domestic audience, the article said that rapidly increasing North Korean missile testing, a growing Chinese arsenal and the fallout from Russia’s invasion of Ukraine have worsened Seoul’s security environment.
The think tank noted that Yoon however made clear that Seoul won’t build a nuclear arsenal for now and will instead focus on strengthening its alliance with Washington. Still, it stressed that North Korea’s nuclear trajectory could turn the populist rhetoric about a South Korean bomb into a dangerous long-term reality.
It went on to say that Washington should work to prevent such an outcome, and that the U.S. should convey the steep costs of proliferation while giving Seoul a greater voice in the alliance.