Former White House advisor says South Korea should not develop nuclear weapons

A former advisor to U.S. President Barack Obama recently said that South Korea would hurt its international reputation if it developed nuclear weapons.

Former White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction and Terrorism Gary Saymore said that it would not be appropriate for South Korea to acquire nuclear weapons. Some South Koreans have been calling for their development in the wake of a recent nuclear test by neighboring North Korea, according to Hani.co.kr.

Saymore made the comments at the Asan Nuclear Forum, an event sponsored by the Asan Institute for Policy Studies held in Seoul. He said that South Korea is currently under the U.S. nuclear umbrella and would be viewed poorly by the international community if it were to pursue nuclear weapons.

Saymore dismissed the idea of returning U.S. tactical nukes to the peninsula because the U.S. already has a significant number of deterrents, like missile submarines, capable of striking North Korea. He said he would consider discussing the matter with the United States if there was a consensus in Seoul on the need for further political guarantees, Hani.co.kr reports.

Saymore, the current head of the Belfer Center for Science and International Affairs at Harvard University, said that Pyongyang would likely not use its nuclear weapons against its neighbor because it would risk a retaliatory strike by the United States. He said ultimately North Korea's nuclear and missile development programs target the United States.