“North Korea’s expansion of nuclear and missile capabilities have encouraged conservatives in the South and Japan to support nuclear rearmament, a Seoul-based former presidential adviser has said.
Moon Chung-in, head of the Sejong Institute, said that such talk has been buoyed by uncertainties over Washington’s security commitment to the region and China’s rise.
He pointed to estimates that found Pyongyang could increase its nuclear arsenal by six to twelve warheads a year as part of its second strike capability against the US mainland and to deter action against it by South Korean and American forces in the region.
Further assertive moves by the hermit kingdom could “bring back pronuclear sentiment in South Korea’s public opinion”, Moon said, though he acknowledged that a “nuclear domino” effect was unlikely.
“Japan and South Korea possess fissile materials and technological capabilities,” said Moon Chung-in, who has provided counsel to South Korean President Moon Jae-in.
But “both Japanese and South Korean governments are fully committed to their non-nuclear stance and have resisted being drawn into loose talk of nuclear weapons proliferation,” he added in a report published on Friday by the advocacy group, Asia-Pacific Leadership Network for Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament (APLN).”