Seoul’s Nuclear Temptations and the U.S.-ROK Alliance

Amid drastic negative changes to its security environment and fundamental questions about the long-term reliability of the United States, South Korea is drawn — as it once was in the 1970s — to nuclear weapons. On Jan. 11, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol, a conservative who has been outspoken about North Korea’s nuclear threats, voiced the possibility that Seoul could “acquire our own nuke.” Alluding to his country’s advanced scientific prowess, delivery systems, and long-acknowledged nuclear latency, Yoon noted that, should such a decision be made, Seoul’s advanced “science and technology” would ensure that the time required to build such a capability would be short. Yoon’s words have made global headlines and jolted alliance hands in Washington. 


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