October 31, 2023 10:45
Conservative experts claim that 100 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons would have to be ready for rapid deployment on the Korean Peninsula if calls for South Korea to develop its own nuclear arms are to be stifled.
The Asan Institute for Policy Studies and the RAND Corporation made the proposal on Monday, citing a lack of specific action plans after the two governments pledged to bolster extended deterrence in April.
In a joint report titled, "Options for Strengthening ROK Nuclear Assurance," the two think tanks said, "North Korea has a nuclear weapon force that may already pose an existential threat to [South Korea] and is on the verge of posing a serious threat to the United States."
"Because of these developments, the U.S. nuclear umbrella requires greater strategic clarity for both deterrence and… assurance" of South Korea, they added.
They complain that South Korea's confidence in the U.S. nuclear umbrella "has faltered because of these growing threats and the ambiguity in the U.S. commitment to [South Korea's] security, leading to calls" for South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons.
"The [Washington] Declaration promises greater strategic clarity. However, [it] needs greater implementation details to increase… nuclear assurance" for South Korea, they add. "The United States could pursue strategic clarity akin to the efforts taken with [NATO] in the 1960s."
The think tanks propose a step-by-step approach of modernizing "approximately 100 U.S. tactical nuclear weapons -- which the United States otherwise plans to dismantle -- at [South Korea's] expense. These weapons could then be stored in the United States but would be committed to supporting [South Korea] and rapidly deployable."
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