The Dueling Nuclear Nightmares Behind the South Korean President’s Alarming Comments

Yoon Suk-yeol’s call to develop nuclear weapons is fundamentally a call for South Korea to know it can protect itself in a changing security environment.
Yoon Suk-yeol
Photo credit: via Getty Images

Earlier this month, South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol set off alarms. In an off-the-cuff remark, he warned that Seoul might need to develop nuclear weapons—or demand redeployment of U.S. nuclear arms to the Korean Peninsula—to counter North Korean nuclear threats. In doing so, Yoon spotlighted a popular view once reserved for hawkish commentators, defense intellectuals, and former military officials. Keeping nuclear weapons out of South Korea will ultimately be a U.S. responsibility that requires addressing both the deteriorating security environment and the domestic drivers underlying Yoon’s statement.

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