“There are a lot of clocks running here, but they’re all counting down towards the same outcome, and that’s the nuclear cliff,” says Henry Sokolski, executive director of the Nonproliferation Policy Education Center (NPEC) in Arlington, Va..
Both Japan and South Korea have security treaties with the United States that place them under the US nuclear umbrella. In effect that means they shouldn’t need their own nuclear arsenals because the US is obligated to defend them in the case of an aggression.
But the North’s nuclear test has led to public musings in both countries that maybe their no-nukes policies need to change.
In South Korea, conservative members of the National Assembly and like-minded media have said the country must consider matching the North. One lawmaker declared that stones are not good enough for fighting a gangster with a machine gun. South Korea’s soon-departing president, Lee Myung-bak, described the recent calls for South Korea to go nuclear as “patriotic” in a newspaper interview.