The heated debate in South Korea over redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons on its territory has now reached Washington. A senior delegation of South Korean lawmakers is in town making the case to the Trump administration and Congress that such a move is needed to confront North Korea’s growing nuclear capability and place more pressure on China.
“We are here to ask for redeployment of tactical nuclear warheads in South Korea,” Lee Cheol Woo, the head of the intelligence committee of South Korea’s National Assembly, told me Thursday morning.
Lee is heading a delegation of members of the Liberty Korea Party, the opposition to President Moon Jae-in’s Democratic Party. He is also the chairman of the assembly’s special committee for nuclear crisis response.
Moon told CNN yesterday that he does not agree that tactical nuclear weapons should be reintroduced to South Korea or that Seoul should develop its own nuclear weapons. He warned it could “lead to a nuclear arms race in northeast Asia.” But Lee’s delegation believes that as the North Korea nuclear crisis worsens, a push by the Trump administration or Congress could help persuade Moon’s government to change its position, as it has already done regarding the deployment of the THAAD missile defense system.“The ruling party came to power based on their opposition to the deployment of THAAD and having tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea,” Lee said. “But if there were to be additional requests from the U.S. government, then they would have to listen to the many voices that are asking for the additional deployment of nuclear warheads.”
The delegation touts rising South Korean public support for their initiative. Even before Kim Jong Un’s latest nuclear test, South Korean polls showed that 68 percent support reintroducing nuclear weapons and that 60 percent support South Korea developing nuclear weapons of its own.
Full article: A South Korean delegation asks Washington for nuclear weapons (Washington Post)