However, their pessimism is hardly groundless, given that the United Arab Emirates has already signed a similar agreement with the US declaring that it would not produce nuclear fuel. Indeed, South Korean negotiators appear convinced that they will not be able to make any headway with the US on the issue. (To be sure, this failure may not matter much, given South Korean scientists’ past declaration that they will not contribute to any nuclear program that could be used for military purposes.)
The US-South Korea debate over nuclear weapons should show both sides that their 59-year-old alliance urgently needs to be updated. Together, the allies can improve global prospects for nuclear nonproliferation, but only if they hammer out a grand bargain that accounts for South Korea’s current — and future — security concerns.
Lee Byong-chul was on the national-security planning staff for former South Korean presidents Kim Young-sam and Kim Dae-jung, and is now a senior fellow at the Institute for Peace and Cooperation in Seoul.
Copyright: Project Syndicate