Russia’s invasion of Ukraine has prompted major changes in defense policy in Europe and Asia, with previously neutral countries such as Sweden and Finland applying to join NATO.
The issue of South Korea and Japan acquiring these weapons is not new. Both countries are technologically advanced and have a GDP that is among the ten highest in the world. In Japan, leaders have talked about nuclear weapons before. In 1957, Nobusuke Kishi, then Prime Minister, told Parliament that he believed the pacifist post-war constitution did not explicitly prohibit Japan from having nuclear weapons, provided they were very small.
South Korea, on the other hand, is not prone to pacifism. Since around 2006, when the North Korean Kimov regime threatened them with nuclear war, the South Koreans have been quietly making sure that Seoul can build nuclear weapons on short notice. Not only will South Korean nuclear warheads explode, but the missiles that deliver them will hit, in particular, the bunker of the North Korean dictator.
We have seen the massive use of combat drones in Ukraine. In late December, several North Korean drones also infiltrated South Korean territory. On January 4, South Korean President Yoon Seok-yeol said that South Korea could deploy tactical nuclear weapons “or have its own nuclear capability” if North Korean threats escalate.
In March 2022, following Russia’s all-out invasion of Ukraine, former Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe vociferously declared that Japan should urgently consider using nuclear weapons. He wanted an open debate, without complacency and taking into account the real situation.
However, current Prime Minister Fumio Kishida called the proposal “unacceptable”. He hails from Hiroshima, the city that was the target of a nuclear attack at the end of World War II, which explains the position of the current prime minister.
From the moment of Russia’s invasion of Crimea in February 2014 until now, the issue of nuclear weapons has been at the center of the situation in Ukraine.
By invading and annexing Crimea, Russia violated the Budapest Memorandum, a multilateral agreement signed in 1994 that guarantees the territorial integrity of Ukraine. This agreement provided for the exchange of Ukrainian nuclear weapons in exchange for mutual security guarantees. At the time, Ukraine had the third largest nuclear arsenal in the world.
Russia, the United States and Great Britain signed the Budapest Memorandum with Ukraine, according to which its entire nuclear arsenal was transferred to Russia. At the time, America, Britain and Ukraine thought they had solved the problem of post-Soviet nuclear weapons and Ukraine’s territorial sovereignty.
Obviously, this does not apply to Russia, which violated this agreement in 2014 and 2022. Today, Ukraine, devoid of a nuclear deterrent, is under attack and faces both invasion and nuclear blackmail.
South Korea, which does not have nuclear weapons, can match them. Possession of nuclear weapons provides Kim Jong-un with the only element of international fame. Its ballistic missiles can carry nuclear warheads far beyond Seoul.
Hence Kim’s nuclear blackmail and extortion: “Pay me and guarantee the survival of my impoverished and criminal regime.” Otherwise, I will send you nuclear missiles and you will pay much more in lives and money than the bribes and media sycophancy I demand.”
This North Korean blackmail, the constant threats of nuclear attack accompanied by demands for food and financial aid, has exhausted the patience of South Korea and Japan.
At the same time, Russia’s nuclear threats against Ukraine and the West show that such blackmail can indeed escalate into a real war.
For years, defense analysts have speculated about how long it would take Japan and South Korea to build a nuclear device. The Federation of American Scientists once suggested that Japan “could potentially produce a functional nuclear weapon in just one year.” In 2014, NBC reported that, according to unnamed sources, Japan had “equipment and facilities to produce nuclear weapons in six months.”
For their part, South Korean sources, smiling, give the following assessment: “It won’t take long.”
A nuclear-armed Japan would be a nightmare for China. Beijing also knows that Japanese and South Korean nuclear weapons will work.
Chinese communist dictator Xi Jinping can thank his friend Vladimir Putin for encouraging two of Asia’s thriving democracies to become regional nuclear powers.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Epoch Times.
Austin Bay is a Colonel (Ret.) in the US Army Reserve, author, syndicated columnist, and lecturer in strategy and strategic theory at the University of Texas at Austin. His latest book is called Cocktails from Hell: Five Wars Shaping the 21st Century.
According to The Epoch Times USA
Source : The Epoch Times