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Why Moon Jae-in may be right to stop the redeployment of nuclear weapons in South Korea
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승인 2017.09.15  10:40:01
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▲ Moon Jae-in during his inauguration. Photo courtesy Korea Culture and Information Service

In an interview with CNN on Thursday (Sept. 14), South Korean President Moon Jae-in rejected the idea of the redeployment nuclear weapons to South Korea.

The rejection comes after strong calls for the deployment of nuclear weapons from South Korea’s defense minister, a position that US Senator John McCain then said should be seriously considered.

As well as this, recent polls have suggested that since North Korea’s nuclear test on Sept. 3 there has been wide spread public support from people in Korea for the redeployment of Nuclear weapons.

The parties in favor of deploying nuclear weapons on Korea point to the need to show strength in the wake of increased military might from North Korea.

Others, meanwhile, wonder whether the country would be safer and have a more reliable nuclear deterrence if they had their own weapons.

Why this may not be a good idea

However, there are potential problems with the logic behind any attempt to bring nuclear weapons to South Korea.

On a simply political level, the big problem for President Moon is his earlier promise to denuclearize the Korean peninsula.

While when he said this he was presumably talking about getting rid of North Korea’s weapons, as opposed to rejecting the deployment of nukes in South Korea, it is nonetheless something that would, to many, look like a huge backward step.

As well as going back on his word, having nuclear weapons in South Korea would hardly be an incentive to make North Korea give up its own nuclear weapons. It should be remembered that while seemingly unlikely at the moment, this is the eventual goal of the policy of South Korea and the US.

In the interview, Moon Jae-in himself spoke about how bringing nuclear weapons to South Korea could "lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia."

Another major issue to think about is the reaction of China.

Simply deploying THAAD anti aircraft missiles to the South Korea has caused a huge rift in the relationship between Seoul and Beijing, with China unofficially telling travel agencies to stop travel between the two countries and Chinese consumers rejecting Korean imports.

This is all due to weapons that are aimed at stopping any missiles launched by North Korea. One can only imagine the reaction from China to the deployment of actual nuclear weapons.

Of course, the idea of having a nuclear deterrent in South Korea isn’t even a new idea. In fact, the US had nuclear weapons stationed in Korea from the 1950’s all the way up until as recently as 1991.

However, that was at a time when the technology to hit a target accurately from a long range didn’t exist. Nowadays that simply isn’t the case and it brings us to the final reason for the rejection of the deployment of nuclear weapons on the Peninsula.

According to North Korea expert Harry Kazianis, “The US military would wipe out North Korea in a nuclear conflict, if it wanted to, in 20 minutes or so,” adding, “With US nuclear forces in South Korea we could do it in one to three minutes.”

The nuclear deterrent to North Korea already exists. Adding Nuclear weapons to South Korea would simply complicate the problem.

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