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Blame North Korea and China if South Korea Builds Nuclear Weapons

The last year has seen a rising debate about whether South Korea should acquire nuclear weapons. The argument for this step is two-fold: First, North Korea acquired the ability to strike the US homeland in 2017 with a nuclear-tipped intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM). This automatically reduces the credibility of the US security guarantee to South Korea. America’s leadership will inevitably be warier about fighting North Korea now that it can range the continental US with nuclear weapons.
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Second, the US and South Korea are starting to drift apart on security perceptions. South Korea wants the US alliance mainly focused on North Korea while it continues to trade warily with China.
The US, however, is increasingly moving toward what the Biden administration has called ‘great power competition’ with China. South Korea is ambivalent about lining up openly against China, if only because it must live next to China and, thus, prefers a less antagonistic relationship.
An small …

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