OPINION

[Editorial] Unilateral denuclearization

By Korea Herald

The administration needs to consider deployment of tactical nuclear weapons as a bulwark against NK nukes

  • Published : Aug 24, 2017 - 17:46
  • Updated : Aug 24, 2017 - 17:46
President Moon Jae-in stressed the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula and the improvement of inter-Korean relations during policy briefings of the Foreign and Unification Ministries on Wednesday.

He said that the problem of North Korean nukes should be approached with a sense of ownership that peace on the peninsula should be defended by none other than Koreans.

Moon also instructed them to prepare steps to realize inter-Korean economic cooperation.

The clarification of his policy to push economic cooperation seems to be timed with the latest lull in North Korean provocations and the US signals for negotiation.

But the presidential office’s obsession with denuclearization is worrisome. Moon is intent on keeping the South off nuclear weapons even as the North possesses them.

Chung Eui-yong, chief of the National Security Office, said Tuesday, “The administration never considers deploying tactical nuclear weapons. If they were brought into South Korea, we will lose the cause of denuclearization.”

Trying to keep the South denuclearized in the face of North Korean nuclear threats amounts to turning a blind eye to the stark reality. When it comes to security, practical interests are no less important than justification.

Cheong Wa Dae needs to reconsider if it is wise to keep the nation denuclearized for the sake of denuclearization.

US Pacific Commander Harry Harris, US Strategic Commander John Hyten, US Missile Defense Agency Director Samuel A. Greaves and US Forces Korea Commander Vincent Brooks held their unusual joint press conference at Osan Air Base in Korea on Tuesday.

Gen. Hyten, who is in charge of managing US strategic assets such as nuclear powered submarines and long-range bombers, said his Strategic Command will provide the US Forces Korea with “all strategic capabilities.”

South Korea’s proclamation of denuclearization commitment and push for economic cooperation despite the North’s nukes looks out of sync with what the US military top brass said.

Pyongyang has reiterated many times that it would never put its nuclear weapons on the negotiating table, nor give them up at all costs.

Some US experts and news media say the communist state’s nukes should be accepted as fact.

The best known way to discourage a wayward state pursuing nuclear missiles from using them is to counter nukes with nukes.

Tactical nuclear weapons are practically the most effective card to deter the North’s nuclear threat.

North Korean leader Kim Jong-un on Wednesday inspected an institute which develops warheads for intercontinental ballistic missiles. His visit aims at showing the North has gotten closer to tipping ICBMs with nuclear warheads.

It is hard to understand the stance to stick to denuclearization of the nation even as the North keeps upgrading its nukes and missiles.

Moon, recalling the days of liberal former Presidents Kim Dae-jung and Roh Moo-hyun, said, “When there was a gleam of hope for the resolution of the North Korean threats and the security situation of the Korean Peninsula was well managed, the South-North relations were good.”

Closer ties are better than frozen ones, but what should not be forgotten is the North was able to bring its nuclear and missile program to the current stage because Pyongyang worked on it covertly even while holding talks and allowing economic cooperation with the South.

There is strong criticism that funds might have flowed into the program through efforts for talks and economic projects.

The mindset of sparing little in assisting the North if it holds talks with the South is risky. When it comes to economic assistance, the South should be prudent.

Moon emphasized a sense of ownership in defending peace on the Korean peninsula.”

If a country wants to lead war deterrence with a sense of ownership, it must have an ability to punish an aggressor much more than it is damaged by its pre-emptive strike.

The presidential office should consider the risks of unilateral denuclearization and secure unfailing means to hold back the North’s provocations.