South Korean conservative ruling party leader has openly demanded for a nuclear armed South Korea and to consider atomic weapons and long-range missiles to act as an effective deterrence against Pyongyang.
“Considering North Korea’s nuclear [and missile capabilities], we need to think about our own survival strategy and countermeasures that include peaceful nuclear and missile programs for the sake of self-defense,” said Rep. Won Yoo-chul, the floor leader of the Saenuri Party was quoted as saying by Korean Joongang news daily reported Tuesday.
Yoo-chul added that it was crucial to build a shield to protect the country amid its current security crisis, prompted when North Korea carried out its fourth nuclear test on Jan. 6, and later launched a long-range missile earlier this month.
“The time has come for us to seriously consider effective and substantial measures of self-defense and deterrence against North Korea,” Won said.
Won proposed bringing back tactical nuclear weaponry from the United States - removed following the 1992 Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula - or developing South Korea’s own temporary nuclear arsenal as possible options.
He also urged China to use its influence to strong-arm North Korea instead of objecting to Seoul’s decision to host the US-led Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (Thaad) antiballistic missile system.
The Thaad battery is an easily transportable defensive weapon system that protects against incoming threats, specifically tactical and theater ballistic missiles with ranges of 200 kilometers (124 miles) and altitudes of up to 150 kilometers.
Placement of the Thaad system in Korea has been controversial because it comes with a powerful radar system that can cover more than 1,000 kilometers, which China and Russia have argued could potentially be used as a method of surveillance against them.
Seoul and Washington agreed earlier this month to deploy a Thaad battery in Korea as a means of deterring threats from North Korea.
The government said Monday, however, that it is not considering nuclear weapons.
“Currently, the government is not considering this option,” Defense Minister Han Min-koo said in a hearing before the Assembly’s National Defense Committee. “We are paying close attention to the demand because we believe the argument was made to express public outrage over North Korea’s nuclear development. But the government’s position remains unchanged.”