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Scientists caution against staging nukes in South Korea

North Korea's Kim Jong Un

North Korea’s Kim Jong Un

Two scientists working with a private organization contend the solution to North Korea’s nuclear program is not to stage American nukes in South Korea, even though they were there for 30 years without incident, says a report in Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

It’s different now, according to the report, “A history of U.S. nuclear weapons in South Korea,” by Hans M. Kristensen and Robert S. Norris.

Kristensen is head of the Nuclear Information Project with the Federation of American Scientists, and Norris is a senior fellow with the same organization.

Their report was funded by the New Land Foundation and the anti-war Ploughshares Fund.

The scientists note that during the Cold War, the U.S. deployed nuclear weapons in South Korea from 1958 through 1991.

“The South Korean-based nuclear arsenal peaked at an all-time high of approximately 950 warheads in 1967,” they reported.

Since then, America’s allies in the region have been protected “under a ‘nuclear umbrella’ using nuclear bombers and submarines based elsewhere.”

Some have called for deployment of missiles in South Korea due to the unstable behavior lately of North Korea’s Kim Jong Un and his multiple tests of nuclear warheads and missiles.

“In Washington, some former officials involved in the Trump administration’s Nuclear Posture Review have recommended that it consider whether the United States should ‘strengthen deterrence and assurance in the Asia-Pacific region (in consultation with Japan and South Korea) by 1) demonstrat[ing] the capability to deploy [dual-capable aircraft] to bases in South Korea and Japan, 2) equip[ing] aircraft carriers with nuclear capability (via the F-35C), and 3) bring[ing] back TLAM-N [sea-launched cruise missiles] on attack submarines,’” the report said.

In South Korea, the interest in such redeployment is surging, with a poll just weeks ago showing 68 percent of South Koreans supporting redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons.

The suggestion, however, has huge implications, with perhaps little return, the report said.

“A decision to redeploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea would provide no resolution of the crisis over North Korea’s nuclear weapons, but rather would further increase nuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. It would not make South Korea any safer and would likely increase nuclear risks,” the scientists said.

“Moreover, deploying U.S. nuclear weapons a couple hundred miles from one of the most militarized and tense region[s] of the world – closer to a nuclear adversary than any other U.S. nuclear weapons – would expose the weapons to unique dangers. Kunsan Air Base, home of the 8th Fighter Wing – which used to be assigned the nuclear strike mission and could potentially be assigned it again – is only 198 kilometers (123 miles) from the North Korean border. Osan Air Base, which used to store U.S. nuclear bombs and potentially could be certified to house them once again, is even closer, at only 80 kilometers (50 miles) from the border.

“The proximity would increase the risk of overreaction and escalation in a crisis, which could make it more likely that nuclear weapons would be used.”

There’s more, the report said.

For the rest of this report, and more, please to go Joseph Farah’s G2 Bulletin.

 

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