South Korea Flag for South Korea

Country Spotlight

Since the Korean War, South Korea has maintained a bilateral security alliance with the United States which includes extended nuclear deterrence and cooperation on missile defense. After abandoning its nuclear weapons development in the 1970s, South Korea has sought to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula diplomatically.

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Region   East Asia and the Pacific

28% Country’s electricity supplied by nuclear energy

~600 Metric tons of chemical warfare agents eliminated

3,000 km Range of Hyunmoo-V ballistic missile


  • Abandoned nuclear weapons ambitions after U.S. pressure in the 1970s
  • Signed Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in 1992 
  • Major supplier of civilian nuclear expertise and technology

South Korea Nuclear Overview


  • Committed to defensive research and development against biological weapons
  • Rapid infrastructural response to public health emergencies 
  • Had a 5-year collaboration with the US to train for biological outbreaks 


  • Possesses ballistic and cruise missile development programs
  • U.S.-imposed ballistic missile range (800 km) restrictions lifted in 2021
  • Only non-nuclear weapon state with submarine-launched ballistic missiles

South Korea Missile Overview


  • No public acknowledgement of Cold War-era chemical weapons program
  • Member of the Australia Group (AG) for chemical and biological strategic trade
  • Second Chemical Weapons Convention member to eliminate entire stockpile

Treaties and Regimes Memberships

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The NPT is a treaty aimed at limiting the spread of nuclear weapons through the three pillars of non-proliferation, disarmament, and peaceful use of nuclear energy.

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Comprehensive Nuclear Test Ban Treaty (CTBT)

The Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty bans all nuclear explosion tests on Earth. It needs eight key countries to ratify before entry into force.

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Biological Weapons Convention (BWC)

The BTWC mandates the elimination of existing biological weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using biological and toxin weapons.

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Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC)

The Chemical Weapons Convention (CWC) requires countries to destroy all chemical weapons and prohibits developing, stockpiling, or using chemical weapons.

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South Korea

Eric Brewer on “South Korea’s Nuclear Flirtations”


Eric Brewer on “South Korea’s Nuclear Flirtations”

Eric Brewer, deputy vice president for NTI’s Nuclear Materials Security Program, co-authored a piece for the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace titled “South Korea’s Nuclear Flirtations Highlight the Growing Risks of Allied Proliferation.”

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