a nuclear armed Japan and South Korea?

Recently, the possibility that Japan and/or South Korea might acquire nuclear weapons has come to the public’s attention.  (Donald Trump may have mentioned this recently.)  This idea is not really new.  We first read of this possibility back in the summer of 2005 in an article in the Wall Street Journal.

Let us consider this scenario in this essay.



Since 1994, North Korea has pursued a course to acquire nuclear weapons.  It is now accepted that North Korea has such weapons technology and currently has a handful of nuclear warheads.  The regime in Pyongyang continues to work on its missile technology for delivery of such weapons.

North Korea’s nuclear capability combined with its bellicose rhetoric is – not surprisingly – considered a very serious threat by its neighbors, Japan and South Korea.

Consider also that China is now acting more aggressively in the region and is increasing its defense (or offense?!) budget significantly each year.  China is becoming a major military power and possesses nuclear weapons.

Japan and South Korea have legitimate security concerns.  Thus far, Washington (the US) has not been effective at stopping North Korea in its continued nuclear activities.  As well, international sanctions have failed to deter North Korea from pursuing its nuclear weapons development program. Among some politicians in Japan and South Korea there is the view that the US may not be reliable in the future to guarantee security in the region.  The US is seen as being more pre-occupied by the Middle East and may not be a reliable ally in a crisis in northeast Asia.

Japan and South Korea acquiring nuclear weapons may be the most effective deterrent to a despotic, nuclear armed North Korea and an aggressive, nuclear armed China.  Japan’s and South Korea’s national security may best be served by obtaining such a deterrent.

There are those in the US government that will publicly oppose and condemn the possibility of a nuclear armed Japan and South Korea.  But, in private, many will be in favor of this happening as it will let the US off the hook, so to speak, as regards security in northeast Asia.

Japan already possesses nuclear technology and nuclear material in its nuclear electric power generation industry.  It would not take the Japanese long to develop nuclear weapons.

The addition of 2 new members to the nuclear weapons club might do more to enhance regional security than many might at first think.  Did the victors of World War II really believe that they could retain an exclusive monopoly on this weapons technology indefinitely into the future?  Currently, the following countries are known to possess nuclear weapons: the US, Russia, China, Britain, France, Israel, India, Pakistan and North Korea.  Iran may be close to developing these.

Perhaps this is the only possible positive use of nuclear weapons:  that these terrible weapons be used to deter out of control despots and evil miscreants and homicidal religious fanatics (or at least their state sponsors) that may also possess them.

We understandably do not like nuclear weapons, but the reality is that these are here to stay.  That said, these weapons need to be employed to deter their use by others.

other related thoughts

Nuclear non-proliferation ultimately fails in a world where international sanctions prove to be ineffective.  Any nation state that is determined to stay the course and pay the price can eventually acquire nuclear weapons capability.

As to the possible use of nuclear weapons in the future, Islamic terrorists come to mind.  The entire Middle East and North Africa region is unstable. (More so since 2011 and the “Arab Spring”.)  It is there that passions run high, and reason and restraint are lacking amidst long standing religious and tribal hatreds.

Israel’s possession of nuclear weapons contributes to Middle East instability as other neighboring nation states desire and/or seek to acquire such weapons to deter Israel’s possible use of these weapons.  The men who govern Israel, if they feel threatened by other countries’ actions or threats, may use these weapons.  The problem for the world is that the Israelis feel threatened very easily and tend to overreact to perceived threats.

copyright 2016 – larrysmusings.com

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