Both South Korea and Japan have recently hinted at their renewed interest in acquiring nuclear weapons. In February, after North Korea conducted a nuclear test, an article in South Korea’s daily newspaper, The Chosun Ibo, reported that “there have been voices calling for South Korea to develop a nuclear weapon of its own.” Then in April, Japanese Prime Minster Shinzo Abe stated that the Japanese constitution does not preclude the country from possessing and using nuclear weapons, in spite of Japan’s deeply ingrained cultural aversion to them.
The possibility that two signatories of the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty could express an interest in building weapons of mass destruction has raised some alarm among nonproliferation advocates. Henry Sokolski of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center recently penned an op-ed in The Wall Street Journal titled, “Japan and South Korea May Soon Go Nuclear” and warned that “plutonium stockpiles are rising.”
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