Japan and South Korea May Soon Go Nuclear

The longtime status quo is crumbling and plutonium stockpiles are rising.

by Henry D. Sokolski  |  May 12, 2016  |  ARTICLES

On Friday North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un praised his country's recent hydrogen bomb test and satellite launch as "unprecedented" achievements that will "bring the final victory of the revolution." Such rhetoric is nothing new, but North Korea's nuclear-weapons program and a growing sense that security arrangements with the U.S. aren't sufficient has eroded the Japanese taboo against nuclear weapons. On April 1, Prime Minister Shinzo Abe's cabinet announced that Japan's constitution did not ban his country from having or using nuclear arms.

Meanwhile, South Korea's ruling-party leaders have urged President Park Geun-hye to stockpile "peaceful" plutonium as a military hedge against its neighbors. A Feb. 19 article in Seoul's leading conservative daily, the Chosun Ilbo, went so far as to detail how South Korea could use its existing civilian nuclear facilities to build a bomb in 18 months.

Read more