The Skeptics

The North Korea Crisis Proves Why Japan and South Korea Need Nuclear Weapons

Moving to empower Tokyo and Seoul in that fashion is necessary to credibly deter North Korea over the coming decades. During the 2016 presidential election campaign, Donald Trump indicated that he would not necessarily object to Japan and South Korea acquiring independent nuclear arsenals. He should return to that position. A doctrine of mutually assured destruction between North Korea and its noncommunist neighbors, along the same lines as the relationship between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cold War, is hardly an optimal solution. But it beats having America continue being on the front lines of a potentially catastrophic confrontation. It is time to offload that risk to the countries that have the most at stake in deterring North Korea.

Ted Galen Carpenter, a senior fellow in defense and foreign policy studies at the Cato Institute and a contributing editor at the National Interest, is the author of ten books, the contributing editor of ten books and the author of more than 650 articles on international affairs.

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