N.Korean Nuclear Threat Poses Tough Dilemma for Seoul

North Korea threatened South Korea with "final destruction" during a UN Conference on disarmament on Tuesday. The comments from North Korean diplomat Jon Yong-ryong drew sharp criticism from member states, with the U.K. representative at the conference saying such language was "completely inappropriate."

The threat proves that its claim so far that its nuclear weapons are merely designed as a deterrent against what it perceives as "hostile" U.S. policy is a lie. International experts knew of North Korea's true intentions a long time ago. It cannot threaten the U.S. with a few nuclear bombs, and if it ever tried to use one against the U.S., the renegade country would simply disappear from the face of the earth.

North Korea's nuclear weapons would become a threat to U.S. national security only when Pyongyang sells its nuclear armaments or technology to other rogue states or terrorist groups.

There is no doubt that North Korea will continue to threaten the South with nuclear attacks each time the South takes a firm stance against its provocations. The impoverished North is trying to bolster its nuclear arsenal to make up for the huge gap with South Korea in conventional weapons. This is why Seoul needs to come up with an effective self-defense capable of thwarting a North Korean nuclear attack. South Korea is the only country that North Korea can blackmail with its nuclear weapons for military and political gain.

But the U.S. is against the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea, which were withdrawn following the 1991 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula signed by the two Koreas. And even if such weapons are brought back, the U.S. military would have tactical control over them.

If South Korea, which is a signatory to the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, were to develop its own nuclear weapons, it would have to brace for serious international repercussions. The most-pressing task for the Park Geun-hye administration is to find a way to neutralize North Korea's nuclear threats.

englishnews@chosun.com / Feb. 21, 2013 13:13 KST