Reining in nuclear threats

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Reining in nuclear threats

North Korea and Iran face new trouble.

President Barack Obama declared that the United States will not exclude the two countries as potential targets for nuclear attack if they don’t give up their nuclear ambitions.

It’s a stern warning to the two countries’ delusions that nuclear weapons are a means of self-defense against a U.S. nuclear attack.

Obama offered carrots, too: If North Korea and Iran return to the Nonproliferation Treaty and implement their due responsibilities, the United States will guarantee their freedom from nuclear threats forever. He even promised not to retaliate with nuclear weapons if they should use biological and chemical weapons.

The 2010 National Preparedness Report, which contains the Obama administration’s nuclear policy, is construed as an effort to balance the U.S. president’s ideal of a nuclear-free world with the reality of gradual nuclear proliferation and terrorism.

The gist of the report is a declaration of “limited abandonment” of nuclear attack. It defines the United States’ goal of its nuclear armament as deterrence against attack, and vows not to launch a nuclear attack against nations that observe the NPT.

But the report clearly stated that countries like North Korea or Iran, which fail to adhere to the NPT, are exceptions that could be targets for pre-emptive nuclear attack by the United States under extreme situations.

Therefore, the United States wants them to give up nuclear development and return to the NPT regime.

As it becomes clear that nuclear weapons are a sharp dagger threatening a country’s security rather than a prop to secure safety, it would be wise for North Korea to give up its nuclear arms and return to the suspended six-party talks.

We believe that the U.S. government’s decision to reduce the role of nuclear weapons and give priority to nonproliferation and prevention of nuclear terror is a step in the right direction.

The United States’ moves to give up development of new nuclear weapons and pursue additional nuclear reduction talks with Russia and ratification of the Comprehensive Nuclear-Test-Ban Treaty are understood as efforts to set an example in the march toward nonproliferation.

We hope that more tangible results can come out of the Nuclear Security Summit in Washington, D.C., next week.

Obama made it clear to President Lee Myung-bak that the United States will continue to provide nuclear deterrence to its allies, including South Korea, despite worries about the reduced role of nuclear arms under his administration.

Obama’s approach is said to be comprehensive, but his exact method remains to be seen.
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