South Korean Hard-Liners Call for Nuclear Arms Program After North's Test

North Korea's Tuesday test of a nuclear device has spurred some hawkish South Korean lawmakers to again argue their country should also pursue its own deterrent, the Wall Street Journal reported.

"You just can’t deal with a gangster in your neighborhood who has bought a new machine gun with a stone," former governing party leader Representative Chung Mong-joon said on Wednesday.

"There are some people saying South Korea should also have nuclear weapons. Those remarks are patriotic and [I] think highly of them," President Lee Myung-bak told the Dong-A Ilbo newspaper. "I don’t think the comments are wrong because they also serve as a warning to North Korea and China."

Slightly more than 50 percent of South Koreans surveyed on Wednesday supported the country having a nuclear weapons program, according to the Korea Herald .

"The asymmetric threat posed by North Korea's nukes has reached the point that is compelling Seoul to review its strategic options," an anonymous South Korean defense insider told the Yonhap News Agency.

The United States removed tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1991 but keeps its ally under the U.S. nuclear umbrella. Seoul is also a signatory to the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

The Defense Ministry on Friday said it is not contemplating nuclear weapons development. 

"The most important task is to make North Korea abandon its nuclear weapons," ministry spokesman Kim Min-seok said to reporters. "The ministry does not review whether or not to deploy (U.S.) strategic nuclear weapons at this moment. We still maintain denuclearization on the Korean Peninsula."

February 15, 2013
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North Korea's Tuesday test of a nuclear device has spurred some hawkish South Korean lawmakers to again argue their country should also pursue its own deterrent, the Wall Street Journal reported.

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