[FOUNTAIN]Nuclear arms upset balance of militaries

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[FOUNTAIN]Nuclear arms upset balance of militaries

In international politics, there exists a balance of intimidation. Say country A has 100 fighters and country B has 10. Given similar capacities, A can sway power while B has to cater to the needs of A. However, nuclear weapons disrupt the symmetrical balance. A country with 10 nuclear warheads does not have to be intimidated by a country with 100. Even one or two nuclear weapons that survive an initial attack can strike back at the enemy with devastating destruction. The power of nuclear weapons evens the field between the top dogs and the underdogs.
During the 1948 Berlin blockade, Washington publicly dispatched two squadrons of B-29 bombers equipped with nuclear warheads to England. The Soviets soon lifted the blockade. While the presence of nuclear weapons was not the only reason, the Soviets must have been reminded of the annihilating power of the nuclear weapons dropped on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. At the time of the second Arab-Israeli war in 1956, British and French airborne divisions retreated from the Suez Canal, surrendering to the nuclear threat of the Soviet Union. The power of nuclear weapons was displayed during the conflict between India and Pakistan and again during the confrontation between the United States and the Soviet Union during the Cuban missile crisis.
If North Korea indeed possesses nuclear weapons, what will happen to the South? A military source said, “Once Pyeongyang strikes the South, it will be the end.” The balance of military power will completely be tipped to the North. The South will be helpless if Seoul is battered by North Korean long-range artillery. The Korea-U.S. Combined Forces Command cannot charge north for fear of the “ultimate weapon.” U.S. operation plan 5027, which lays out a large-scale augmentation of U.S. troops by several hundred thousand and a consequent attack on Pyeongyang, will be infeasible. If Pyeongyang threatens to use nuclear weapons upon invasion, no U.S. president would risk the damage and the lives of countless soldiers. South Korea might be helpless. There would be no balance of intimidation, and only nuclear blackmailing would remain. Unless we want to find ourselves caught in the swamp of a nuclear arms race, the only option is never to tolerate North Korea’s possession of nuclear weapons.


by Ahn Sung-kyoo

The writer is a deputy political news editor of the JoongAng Ilbo.
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