Nuclear options for a unified Korea: prospects and impacts
Wirtz, James J.
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This thesis explores the future prospects and strategic impact of nuclear proliferation by a unified Korea on regional peace and security. It argues that the perception of vulnerability from external threats, public preference on nuclear weapons, bureaucratic and industrial efforts to meet rising energy and economic demands, and environmental issues will drive a unified Korea toward nuclearization. it suggests that possession of a small nuclear arsenal or a virtual nuclear capability would help to maintain regional peace and security. Current policies for a nuclear-free Korean peninsula and a nuclear-free Northeast Asia are detrimental to a unified Korea's security and economic needs. Republic of Korea or a unified Korea must move towards a virtual nuclear capability. More importantly, the United States should encourage this policy. Otherwise, the U.S. security commitment to Korea would become questionable and opaque nuclear weapons development might become an attractive option for Seoul.
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