Morning calm, nuclear sunset: South Korea's atomic option
Pierce, Alden D.
Lavoy, Peter R.
Wirtz, James J.
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U.S. national security strategy sets nuclear nonproliferation as a high priority. However pursuing nonproliferation without regard for important traditional security relationships might yield undesired results. The Republic of Korea (ROK) requires a high degree of confidence in the U.S. security guarantee one that includes an extended nuclear deterrent. The nuclear weapons program that South Korea began and abandoned in the 1970s was prompted by a decrease in confidence in U.S. security commitments. Conciliatory actions taken recently by the United States toward the Democratic Peoples' Republic of Korea (DPRK) to prevent a possible nuclear weapons program may undermine the U.S.-ROK security arrangement that has been in place for decades. This work examines perceived threats to South Korea and the U.S. security commitment to Korea since 1945 to reveal how U.S. nuclear nonproliferation policy affects Seoul's propensity to develop nuclear weapons. Recommendations are provided for policy makers regarding strengthening of ROK confidence in the U.S. commitment on the peninsula, with particular emphasis on preventing South Korea from pursuing a nuclear arsenal
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