Headlines in Seoul’s newsstands threatened fresh warnings of a possible nuclear test by North Korea.
Outside on the sidewalk, Lee Jae-sang, a 28-year-old office worker, had already thought about how to respond to the rapid growth of nuclear bombs on North Korea’s borders and in the oceans.
“Our country must also develop a nuclear program. And be prepared for a possible nuclear war, “Lee said, adding that three out of four South Koreans surveyed in February expressed a desire.
This is a point that is repeatedly raised by people and politicians of non-nuclear powers worldwide, which has become a volatile moment in more than half a century of global nuclear non-proliferation efforts, fueled by the daily example of nuclear Russia. – Molecular Ukraine
That rethinking of non-nuclear nations is playing out in Asia. The region has always been home to strong North Koreans, China, Russia and Iran – three nuclear powers and a close nuclear power – but has been vulnerable to the kind of nuclear umbrella and comprehensive defense alliance that has plagued NATO nations for decades.
Weak nations will look to lessons from Ukraine – especially if Russia has swallowed up large chunks of Ukraine or is branding its nuclear weapons to keep other nations in the Gulf – when they consider having or pursuing nuclear weapons, security experts say.
Significantly, they say, the United States and its allies are persuading Europe, the Persian Gulf and other Asian partners to rely on the shield of US-led nuclear and conventional weapons and not to pursue their own nuclear bombs.
For leaders concerned about unfriendly, nuclear-armed neighbors, “they will tell their domestic audience, ‘Please support our nuclear weapons because see what happened to Ukraine, no?” Mariana Budgerin, a researcher on the atomic management project at Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government, said.
As a schoolgirl in Soviet-era Ukraine in the 1980s, Budjeryn drilled out how to dress up radiation burns and other potential injuries from nuclear war, at a time when the country had about 5,000 Soviet nuclear weapons. After the collapse of the Soviet Union, his country abandoned the development of nuclear weapons, opting for economic aid and integration with the West and security assurances.
“Ultimately, I think there is a lot going on in the aftermath of this war in terms of how we understand the value of nuclear weapons,” Budgerin said.
Around the world, the US military is reassuring strategic partners facing nuclear-backed rivals.
Near the North Korean border this month, white-hot ballistic missiles landed in the night sky as the United States joined South Korea in launching its first joint ballistic test launch in five years. This was in response to North Korea’s launch of at least 18 ballistic missiles this year.
In Europe and the Persian Gulf, President Joe Biden and US generals, diplomats and armies are shutting down neighboring Russia and oil-producing countries in neighboring Iran. Biden and his top lieutenants pledge that the United States is committed to preventing nuclear threats from Iran, North Korea and others. In China, President Xi Jinping is coinciding with an aggressive foreign policy with his country’s biggest push for nuclear weapons.
Some top East Asian officials have quoted Ukraine as saying that it is time for more non-nuclear states to consider acquiring nuclear weapons or hosting Americans.
“I don’t think Japan or South Korea want to be a nuclear weapons state. It would be extremely politically painful and internally divisive. But what are the options?” Former Foreign Minister of Singapore Bilahari Kausikan told the audience at the Defense Forum in March.
Russia’s attack on Ukraine is an example for those hoping for North Korea to give up its nuclear weapons, “said Terrence Rohrig, a professor of national security at the US Naval War College. April.
“Ukraine is becoming another example for states like Iraq and Libya to abandon their nuclear capabilities – and see what happens to them,” Rohrig said.
Ukraine has never had an atomic bomb ready to explode – at least, no one can fire it on its own.
The collapse of the Soviet Union left Ukraine with the world’s third-largest nuclear weapon. But Ukraine had no operational control. It negotiated its place in the post-Soviet world with the United States, Russia, and others in the 1990’s, leaving the fate of the Soviet arsenal in a weak hand. Ukraine has received assurances but no guarantee of its security, Budgerin said.
“A piece of paper,” said Ukrainian President Volodymyr Zelensky, referring to one such assurance signed in 1994.
The United States itself has given nuclear and nuclear-weapon states ample reasons to worry about giving up the world’s deadliest weapons.
The West forced Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to abandon his country’s basic nuclear weapons program in 2003. A few years later, Gaddafi’s son Saif al-Islam shared his father’s biggest concern with researcher Malfred Browet-Heghammer – that Western nations would support him. Rebellion against him.
“And look, look, a few years later, in 2011, you saw what happened,” said Browit-Haguehammer, now professor of nuclear and security strategy at the University of Oslo.
At the request of the United States, NATO intervened in the 2011 uprising against Gaddafi. A NATO warplane bombed his convoy. The rebels captured the Libyan leader, sexually abused him and assassinated him.
In Iraq, the United States has played a key role in forcing Saddam Hussein to abandon its nuclear development program. The United States ousted Saddam in 2003, claiming that it was resuming its nuclear program. Three years later, when Iraq was still under US occupation, Saddam was hanged.
The fall and brutal deaths of Middle East leaders have tarnished North Korea’s nuclear disarmament efforts. The Trump administration has repeatedly raised the “Libya model” and the rare US-North Korea talks failed in 2018 after Vice President Mike Pence threatened Kim Jong-un with Gaddafi’s fate. “Ignorant and foolish,” the North Korean government replied.
Russia’s invasion of Ukraine now “only highlights a few countries, at least, if you have a nuclear weapons program, and if you are away from it, it is a terrible idea to abandon it,” Browit-Haguehammer said.
The world’s nine nuclear powers – the United States, Russia, France, China, the United Kingdom, Pakistan, India, Israel and North Korea – have about 13,000 nuclear weapons. Israel does not accept its nuclear program.
Historically the largest nuclear powers have sought to control which countries could legally join the club. Countries including Iran and North Korea are isolated and banned.
Nuclear experts point out that South Korea and Saudi Arabia are among the countries most often considered for nuclear weapons. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has promised that Iran will receive an atomic bomb immediately in 2018.
Surprisingly, many countries have not received bombs, said Jessica Cox, head of NATO’s nuclear directorate, at the April forum.
“If you look at it from a historical perspective, it’s not clear in the 1950s and 1960s that there would be less than 10 nations in the world armed with nuclear weapons … 70 years later.”
NATO’s Nuclear Resistance – The decision by 30 nations to share responsibility and decide on nuclear weapons to prevent them from attacking them has made a difference in Europe, Cox said.
Many feel that Ukraine has made the right decision to abandon its nuclear-armed future and avoid possible secession. It took three decades for Ukraine to integrate into the world economy and form alliances with powerful nations that are cooperating in defense against Russia.
As a young woman in Ukraine, Budgerin realized at some point in the 1990s that in her own work, then in business development, the Clinton administration had awarded Ukraine a grant from the West for a nuclear deal.
“If Ukraine wins,” she said, “then it will communicate that nuclear weapons are useless.”
“But if Ukraine falls, the story will look very different,” she said.
Chang reported from Seoul.
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