South Korea’s second-largest-newspaper asked that the country begin building its own nuclear weapons amid North Korea’s threats despite an agreement with the United States.
In an editorial, Dong-a Ilbo wrote that many of the country’s citizens want a nuclear arsenal following Sunday’s underground test carried out by North Korea, The Guardian reported.
North Korean leader Kim Jong Un’s government claimed the test was a hydrogen bomb – the sixth nuclear test since 2006. The test triggered an artificial magnitude 6.3 earthquake that was detected about 34 miles north northwest of Kimchaek, the U.S. Geological Survey reported.
South Korean media reported Monday that its northern counterpart could be preparing to launch another ballistic missile shortly.
In the "nuclear cooperation agreement", which was signed in 1974, South Korea was barred from creating its own nuclear weapons. The U.S., which currently has some 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea, is obliged by the 1953 Mutual Defense Treaty to defend it in the event of a war.
“As nuclear weapons are being churned out above our heads, we can’t always rely on the U.S. nuclear umbrella and extended deterrence,” Dong-a Ilbo, wrote in the editorial.
The U.S. held atomic weapons in South Korea following the Korean War that occurred from 1950-53 but took them away after North and South Korea agreed to a nuclear-free peninsula in 1991.
“There is no reason for us to cling on to the declaration when it has come to mean the denuclearization of South Korea, not the denuclearization of the Korean peninsula,” the editorial stated.
A poll taken by Gallup Korea in Sept. 2016 showed that nearly 60 percent of South Korean residents support building a nuclear weapons program.
“With the North Korean nuclear threat getting worse, we should bring U.S. tactical nuclear weapons back into South Korea,” Park Byung-kwang, a director at the Institute for National Security Strategy in Seoul, told The Guardian.
Park said South Korea should continue to work with the U.S. to handle the threats despite President Trump’s “unique character.”
Trump faulted South Korea for its “talks of appeasement” following the test. The president tweeted Sunday: “South Korea is finding, as I have told them, that their talk of appeasement with North Korea will not work, they only understand one thing!”
Trump and South Korean President Moon Jae-in are slated to speak Monday.
At an emergency U.N Security Council meeting, the US delegation called Monday for the “toughest sanctions possible” on North Korea, saying “enough is enough.”
“It would be difficult for South Korea to develop its own nuclear weapons because of international treaties,” Park said. “While sanctions don’t always work on North Korea, the South Korean economy is completely integrated with the rest of the world, making it vulnerable.”
Woo Jong-il, a South Korean resident who lives near the border with North Korea said the U.S. should allow them to build a bomb or give them one.
“North Korea has nuclear weapons and are doing experiments despite the entire world’s opposition,” Jong-il told The Guardian. “Russia, America, China, they all have it, and even North Korea, a small country in deep poverty has it, so why aren’t we allowed to have it?
“Either America gives us a nuclear bomb or allows us to develop one.”
The Associated Press contributed to this report.