06:08 GMT13 June 2021
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    Donald Trump's election has significantly increased the chances of Japan developing its own nuclear weapons to deter the threat ostensibly posed by North Korea. Speaking to Sputnik, a well-known South Korean security expert suggested that Seoul should do the same.

    For over 60 years, South Korea has relied on the American nuclear umbrella for defense against North Korea. Throughout his election campaign, Republican candidate Donald Trump said that US allies would have to do more to ensure their defense, either by increasing military budgets or paying the US for protection. 

    After Trump's victory on Tuesday, a South Korean security expert speaking to Sputnik explained that perhaps the acquisition of its own nukes would reduce South Korea's dependence on Washington, and make the alliance with the US 'healthier' and 'more balanced'.  

    Cheong Seong-chang, the head of the Department of Unification Strategy Studies at the Sejong Institute, a leading South Korean national security think tank, told Sputnik Korean that "South Korea needs to start planning for any drastic changes in the sphere of Northeast Asia's security which might occur under Donald Trump. We must act proactively." 

    The analyst, know in expert circles as a proponent of engagement with Pyongyang, stressed that "if Trump remains open to dialogue on the issue of South Korea and Japan gaining nuclear weapons, it's entirely possible that in order to deter the growing nuclear and missile threat posed by North Korea, Seoul will, in agreement with the US, begin the development of its own nuclear capabilities."

    In the run-up to Tuesday's vote, a vast majority of experts claimed that the chances of Trump winning were nil or approaching zero. So too, experts believed, were the chances of South Korea being forced to build up its own nuclear arsenal. 

    Nevertheless, Cheong said, "Trump, whose victory was 'impossible in principle', ended up winning the race. Therefore, I think that there is a chance for South Korea to acquire its own nuclear weapons."

    Ultimately, the expert suggested that to build US-South Korean relations under Trump and strengthen the country's security in general, Seoul will be forced to completely rethink its security strategy, and perhaps its politics as well, including the officials responsible for diplomacy, security, and questions regarding unification policy.

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    Tags:
    defense policy, nuclear weapons, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), US, South Korea
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