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Psy or a Nuke - South Korea Likely to Pick Psy


South Korean Nuclear Arsenal is Not Realistic or a Solution

Washington DC – April 2, 2013– News Release - As South Korean Foreign Minister Yun Byung-se began his visit here in Washington, heightened tensions on the Korean peninsula have colored all senior level discussions.

Today, North Korea announced plans to restart a reactor which allows it to extract nuclear weapons-usable plutonium from spent fuel rods. The facility was shut down in 2007 and disabled during the Six Party Talks. The announcement follows the re-declaration of a “state of war” with South Korea.

“With spiked tensions on both sides of the 38th parallel as Seoul and Pyongyang enter defense preparedness mode, the room for mistakes and miscalculations that could trigger unintentional conflict widens,” said Duyeon Kim, senior non-proliferation and East Asia fellow at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “It is imperative to reduce tensions and prevent further North Korean provocations.”

Following the February nuclear test, some analysts have questioned the nuclear ambitions of Seoul as a means of defense against Pyongyang’s nuclear arsenal. In a recent The New York Times’ “Room for Debate” editorial, Kim dismisses these fears of further proliferation on the Korean peninsula citing South Korea’s economic prowess and commitment to the Non-Proliferation Treaty.

“Developing a nuclear weapon would be disastrous to the world’s 13th largest economy that is heavily dependent of international trade,” said James Lewis, spokesman for the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “There would be no smartphones, fashion or superstars like Psy. South Korea can either have Psy or a nuke – they will likely pick Psy.”

“The development of a South Korean nuclear arsenal would not enhance South Korean security, prevent future North Korean provocations or add to the deterrence of large-scale North Korean aggression,” said Kingston Reif, director of non-proliferation programs at the Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation. “Instead, a nuclear-armed South Korea would further destabilize the Asia-Pacific region and likely deal a fatal blow to the global nonproliferation regime. America’s commitment to South Korea’s security hinges first and foremost on our shared interests and close political and security cooperation.”

The Center’s analysis of the situation also cites South Korea’s commitment to implementing the highest international non-proliferation standards on its civilian nuclear program.

“South Korea has an advanced civilian nuclear sector but has ratified and implemented the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) Additional Protocol, making it significantly more difficult to develop a military nuclear program,” said Kim.

On Seoul’s civilian nuclear program, Kim and Fred McGoldrick, a former State Department civil nuclear cooperation agreement negotiator, recently released a co-authored study for the Korean Economic Institute entitled “Decision Time: U.S.-South Korea Peaceful Nuclear Cooperation” on the renewal of the 1974 civil nuclear cooperation agreement, which expires in March 2014.


The Center for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation is a Washington-based non-profit think tank working to reduce the number of nuclear weapons stockpiled across the globe, increase international nonproliferation programs targeted at preventing the further proliferation of nuclear weapons and nuclear terrorism, redirect U.S. military spending to address 21st century security threats and halt the proliferation of biological and chemical weapons.

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