A governor who may become South Korea’s next president is advocating for nuclear armament in response to the looming North Korean nuclear threat, according to Yonhap News Agency.
“It’s time for us to consider various options, and one of them is to prepare for nuclear armament,” Governor of Gyeonggi Province Nam Kyung-pil told Yonhap reporters Sunday.
“Preparations for nuclear armament should begin with the next government, or, in fact, now,” he added.
Nam expressed concerns over the future of the U.S.-South Korean alliance. Nam fears a shift in American policy and the eventual end of the nuclear umbrella which has protected South Korea for years.
“If Trump wins the election, this change in the nuclear umbrella policy could very quickly become a reality, and even if Trump isn’t elected, the issue will resurface in U.S. political circles because the U.S. public perception has already shifted a lot,” Nam explained to reporters.
The governor also argued that South Korea’s lack of operational control (OPCON) over military troops in the event of a conflict with North Korea complicates negotiations with Pyongyang.
“North Korea doesn’t want to recognize us as a dialogue partner, saying we don’t even have OPCON,” Nam said. “We must change the current structure under which our people’s lives and safety are beyond our control.”
Nam is one of many South Koreans pushing for an independent defense and a nuclear-armed South Korea. Since North Korea conducted its fifth and most powerful nuclear test on Sept. 9, many South Koreans have begun considering nuclear armament.
Many South Korean netizens have demanded a nuclear response to North Korean nuclear provocations. “I strongly support South Korea’s nuke armament. As I should know how to protect myself, we should defend our own country. An independent defense is the answer,” explained one user. Others commented that peace can only be achieved through military power.
South Korean lawmakers have also brought the subject of nuclear armament up in national security forums. “We need to consider every option, including deploying tactical nuclear weapons, developing our own nukes, striking North Korea’s nuclear facilities, and demolishing Kim Jong-un’s regime,” Representative Lee Cheol-woo said during a session at the National Assembly.
“South Korea should not delay the move in fear of international sanctions, or possible discord with China. This is a chance to conclude North Korea’s nuke issue once and for all,” he added.
For the time being, South Korean President Park Geun-hye and other administration officials continue to reject the possibility of nuclear armament.
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