Unification Media Group [UMG]: Following North Korea’s continuing provocations including the launch of an ICBM and the country’s sixth nuclear test, arguments in favor of South Korea’s nuclear armament are being raised. Some argue that American tactical nuclear weapons need to be deployed in South Korea. A seminar on the subject was held recently at the National Assembly Member’s Office building. Reporter Kim Ji Seung is here to tell us more.
Reporter Kim Ji Seung (Reporter Kim): At a seminar held by the Policy Committee of the Liberty Korea Party and the Yeouido Institute, measures were discussed to address the national security crisis in response to North Korea’s continuing provocations including its sixth nuclear test, and SLBM (submarine-launched ballistic missile) and ICBM launches. The seminar was attended by party leaders including party representative Hong Jun Pyo and floor leader Jeong Woo Taek. It was argued that tactical nuclear weapons may be critical in applying pressure on North Korea and China. Additionally, the Moon government was criticized for its lack of progress in maintaining national security. The following comments were made by Jeong Woo Taek, floor leader of the Liberty Korea Party.
[Jeong Woo Taek, the floor leader of the Liberty Korea Party]: The Blue House (the Korean presidential residence) has no ability to discern common missiles from ballistic missiles. The Moon government lacks a sense of urgency for national security. President Moon was seen hiking at Mt. Odae after North Korea launched the ICBM, giving me the impression that he is not particularly concerned.
Reporter Kim: Jeong claimed that President Moon is to blame for South Korea’s lack of political influence in Northeast Asia. He emphasized that the Moon government has been over-prioritizing its original strategy to pursue dialogue and pressure on North Korea simultaneously, and the impractical approach has been largely ignored by the North and isolated South Korea from the international community. He acknowledged that the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons may lead to nuclear war, but nonetheless is in support of the idea on the basis that the risks at stake are too serious. Following this are the comments of Kim Tae Woo, former President of the Korea Institute for National Unification.
[Kim Tae Woo, former President of the Korea Institute for National Unification]: We can restore the military balance on the Korean peninsula by introducing tactical nuclear weapons: not our own, but that of the US. This can rebalance North Korea’s unilateral nuclear threat, thus restoring some kind of military balance on the Korean peninsula. Second, the deployment will serve to consolidate the US-South Korea alliance. The two countries must closely cooperate in order to deploy nuclear weapons and this kind of collaboration will help to address South Korea’s declining leadership role in the region.
Reporter Kim: Former President Kim noted that, “North Korea is ideologically the most isolated and economically and culturally deprived country in the world, but has become the ninth nuclear power with missile technology and chemical weapons. North Korea is using its nuclear power as an asymmetric lever to intimidate South Korea which has 45 times more economic power.” He went on to emphasize that “The game that the North has been playing with the international community has reaped numerous strategic benefits for the isolated nation, which has had serious repercussions for Northeast Asia and the Korean peninsula.”
“North Korea’s weapons of mass destruction disrupt the military balance on the Korean peninsula by countering South Korean military’s qualitative superiority and traditional military power. Additionally, North Korea’s threats are having a psychological effect and dividing public opinion in South Korea. The deployment of tactical nuclear weapons will send a warning that South Korea will not tolerate the unilateral nuclear armament of the North, and pressure the North to abandon its weapons program. In addition, it could also be a strong diplomatic card to induce China to abandon its approach in dealing with North Korea. In order to do this, the ROK-US alliance needs to be more consolidated,” former President Kim added.
UMG: But it will not be easy to make the South Korean people understand the necessity of tactical nuclear weapons.
Reporter Kim: That is true. Song Dae Sung, former President of the Sejong Institute added, “The Moon government is undermining the threat from North Korea, thereby hindering the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons. So the leaders of the Liberty Korea Party must recognize the necessity of tactical nuclear weapons for the survival of South Korea, and explain the need to the public. North Korea has nearly become a nuclear power, so it is impossible to expect it to abandon its weapons development. In this situation, we must seek a ‘balance of fear,’ that is, the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons, instead of fruitlessly pursuing dialogue and pressure.”
In response, Hong Jun Pyo, representative of the Liberty Korea Party said, “As the threat of North Korea’s nuclear attack has reached a climax, the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons has become a matter of survival. Nuclear weapons must be countered with nuclear weapons.”
The seminar was attended by Song Dae Sung, former President of the Sejong Institute, Kim Tae Woo, former President of the Korea Institute for National Unification, Commander Park Jung Yi of the reserve forces, Yoo Dong Ryul, Director of Korea Institute of Liberal Democracy, and Professor Kim Un Hui from Dongyang University. All speakers agreed that the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons by the US is urgently needed for national security in the face of the growing nuclear threat from North Korea.