By: Kim Tong-Hyung
SEOUL, South Korea — South Korean President Moon Jae-in took office four months ago with plans to reach out to North Korea in a way his conservative predecessors did not in the previous decade. Two intercontinental ballistic missile launches and one nuclear test later, his government is ramping up its defenses, with some officials even considering asking the United States to bring back tactical nuclear weapons a generation after their removal from the Korean Peninsula.
Seoul’s new interest in stronger weapons received a boost Tuesday when the Trump administration agreed to remove previous restrictions on South Korean missiles.
But South Korean hunger for military strength goes beyond just missiles. Government officials also endorse the nation getting nuclear-powered submarines. And Seoul’s defense minister says the idea of bringing back U.S. tactical nukes to South Korea should be “deeply considered” by the allies.
This shift right by the liberal Moon underscores deep unease that the North’s expanding nuclear weapons arsenal will undermine the country’s decades-long alliance with the United States. Pyongyang may soon perfect an ICBM that can target the U.S. mainland.
Here are some of the military capabilities South Korea is pursuing or may soon pursue:
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