However, sales of new fighters to South Korea will not affect the balance of power until 2020 or after and South Korean and wider Asian interest in nuclear weapons has been driven mainly by US nuclear reductions in the face of China’s and North Korea’s nuclear buildup, he said.
Washington’s decision to dismantle nuclear armed Tomahawk cruise missiles unilaterally eliminated the only secure US tactical nuclear strike option to deter North Korea, “so it is no surprise that South Korea now may be seeking its own nuclear weapons,” Fisher said.
Fisher said that if Washington really wanted to affect Chinese behavior positively, it should also move to offer Taiwan a package of 50 to 60 F-35B short take-off fighters.
“Only then will Beijing come to realize the real cost of its blatant assistance to North Korea’s new KN-08 intercontinental ballistic missile aimed primarily at the US,” he said.
“Taiwan clearly requires the F-35B to better survive China’s emerging fifth-generation fighters and sales announcements for Taiwan in addition to South Korea will provide a much needed boost in confidence for the F-35 program,” Fisher said.