Chung Mong-joon, a prominent member of South Korea’s ruling party, has called for the U.S. to return tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula. George H.W. Bush withdrew them from South Korea in 1991 in a gesture to stop North Korea from going nuclear.
“Some say that the U.S. nuclear umbrella is a torn umbrella. If so, we need to repair it,” Mr. Chung said in February, adding that if the U.S. refuses South Korea should develop its own nuclear weapons. A recent poll found that 66% of South Koreans support a home-grown deterrent.
Few politicians are making the case for a Japanese bomb other than the nationalist Shintaro Ishihara, but that will change if the North keeps expanding its arsenal or the South goes nuclear. Japan already has a reprocessing facility that will soon be producing tons of weapons-usable plutonium.
Iran’s march to the bomb has other countries preparing the ground for their own nuclear breakout. Saudi Arabia has announced plans to build 16 reactors—precisely the number that nuclear inspectors say it would need for both civilian and military use. The world’s largest oil exporter does not need nuclear power for electricity.