September 15, 2017 13:21
President Moon Jae-in on Thursday ruled out the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea. In an interview with CNN on the eve of his trip to the U.S. he said, "I do not agree that South Korea needs to develop our own nuclear weapons or relocate tactical nuclear weapons in the face of North Korea's nuclear threat."
"To respond to North Korea by having our own nuclear weapons will not maintain peace on the Korean Peninsula and could lead to a nuclear arms race in Northeast Asia," he added. Moon's comments seem surprisingly oblivious to the grave threat we face from North Korea.
It has become common logic that the best deterrent to a nuclear threat is a nuclear defense. Seoul relies on the U.S.' protective nuclear umbrella because this logic still holds true, and it needs some kind of nuclear deterrent to uphold peace. But the president feels that would in fact harm efforts to maintain peace. What peace?
North Korea is on the brink of perfecting a nuclear weapon that can be mounted on an intercontinental missile. His comments sound more like a plea to 50 million South Koreans to accept their fate as hostages. China and Russia are all nuclear powers already, and North Korea is on the brink, so what nuclear arms race is he referring to that could be triggered now?
The president must at least maintain an air of strategic ambiguity, leaving open the possibility of South Korea acquiring its own nuclear deterrent. That sends a strong message to North Korea that we will not hesitate to bite if cornered. If he rules it out completely, what leverage does he have left? He said himself recently that South Korea faces its biggest crisis.
On top of that comes the frankly baffling decision to send US$8 million in aid to North Korea. Nobody can oppose efforts to help children and expecting mothers in the impoverished state in principle. But it has only been two days since the UN Security Council unanimously approved tougher sanctions against North Korea in response to its latest nuclear test.
There is a proper time for everything. The U.S. is considering sanctions against 12 Chinese banks suspected of dealing with North Koreans, while Europe is looking into additional sanctions as well. The international community is trying desperately to plug the gaps in the flow of money and oil to the North, and at this very moment South Korea blithely approves a massive infusion of aid. The Japanese government was quick to condemn the plans, and nobody in their right mind can object to its reasoning.
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