President Yoon Suk Yeol speaks during a New Year policy briefing held at Cheong Wa Dae, the former presidential office, on Wednesday. (Yonhap)
President Yoon Suk Yeol's recent comment on the possibility of South Korea's own nuclear armament was an expression of his firm commitment to defending the nation against North Korea's growing nuclear threat, his office said Thursday.
Yoon made the remark during a policy report by the foreign and defense ministers Wednesday, saying if North Korea's provocations intensify, "The Republic of Korea could deploy tactical nuclear weapons or possess its own nukes."
When asked to clarify his remarks, a presidential official said they should be understood as Yoon "stating his firm commitment amid the escalating threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons."
"The most important part of his comments yesterday was that, as a realistic measure at the moment, it's important to effectively strengthen extended deterrence within the security alliance between South Korea and the United States," the official told reporters.
"However, when it comes to security, the worst-case scenario must always be taken into consideration, and from that perspective, he was making his commitment and determination ever clearer to protect the people as commander-in-chief against the escalating threat of North Korea's nuclear weapons," the official added.
The official went on to say the principle of abiding by the Non-Proliferation Treaty holds. (Yonhap)