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Thursday, November 16, 2006

South Korea Needs Nuclear Tech, Expert Says

South Korea must respond to North Korea’s nuclear test with a security strategy that includes the capability to enrich uranium and reprocess spent nuclear fuel, one expert said this week (see GSN, Nov. 14).

The Oct. 9 nuclear explosion constitutes a violation of the two countries’ 1992 denuclearization agreement, said Kim Tae-wood, a senior research fellow at the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses.

The pact calls on Seoul and Pyongyang not to develop, acquire, test, deploy or use nuclear weapons, The Korea Times reported.

“At a time when the two Koreas were signing an agreement to keep the Korean Peninsula free of nuclear weapons in 1992, I objected to the plan because I anticipated it would constrain South Korea’s position once the North violated the pact,” Kim said Monday at a forum in Taejon.

North Korea’s weapons capability threatens to leave the people of South Korea “nuclear hostages,” he said.

A special military unit and advanced weapons systems are needed to counter North Korea’s nuclear effort, Kim said. As a symbolic measure, Seoul should vow to leave the agreement unless Pyongyang ends its nuclear weapons program, he said.

Kim expressed little hope for the next round of six-nation talks on North Korea’s nuclear program (see related GSN story, today). Pyongyang probably will demand to be recognized as a nuclear power, while the United States will continue to take a hard stand against the regime, Kim said (Jung Sung-ki, The Korea Times, Nov. 15).
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