South Koreans support development of nuclear weapons
The February poll conducted by the Asan Institute, a South Korean private think tank, found that 66 percent of South Koreans support developing a nuclear weapons program. The poll also suggested slightly under half of South Koreans in 2012 thought the U.S. would provide South Korea with nuclear deterrence in case of North Korean nuclear attack. The number represented a seven percent drop from 2011, CNN reports.
"We, the Korean people, have been duped by North Korea for the last 20 to 30 years and it is now time for South Koreans to face the reality and do something that we need to do," Chung Mong-joon, a lawmaker in the governing Saenuri (New Frontier) Party, said, according to CNN. "The nuclear deterrence can be the only answer. We have to have nuclear capability."
Several commentators in South Korean military recently called for a nuclear weapons option, claiming the country has the economy and technology to develop the arms in a short period of time.
Not all South Koreans are rallying behind the cause of developing nuclear arms. Jan Yong-sup, a professor at the Korea National Defense University, said such development could disrupt nuclear nonproliferation in the region.
"Japan and Taiwan could follow the suit," Yong-sup said, according to CNN. "Then, a domino effect of nuclear proliferation will result."
Yong-sup said the U.S. is responsible for reducing nuclear anxiety in South Korea, CNN reports.
"Washington needs to make an official statement in order to make U.S. extended deterrence more credible," Yong-sup said, according to CNN.