Trump supports nukes for Korea and Japan

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Trump supports nukes for Korea and Japan

In his latest remarks on Asian foreign policy, Republican front-runner Donald Trump said in a recent interview he is open to South Korea and Japan having their own nuclear arsenals and would consider withdrawing American troops from the region should he become the next U.S. president.

Trump said he would consider this strategic approach in order to reduce pressure on the United States to come to their defense in the event of future North Korean aggression, the New York Times reported Saturday.

He elaborated, “It’s a position that at some point is something that we have to talk about,” adding if the United States keeps on “its current path of weakness,” Japan and South Korea are “going to want to have that anyway.”

“There’ll be a point at which we’re just not going to be able to do it any more,” said Trump on Washington coming to defense of the region, a step away from President Obama’s “Pivot to East Asia” strategy in the Asia-Pacific region.

“Now, does that mean nuclear?” he added. “It could mean nuclear.”

The development of nuclear weapons by Seoul or Tokyo is a sensitive one, raising concerns that this could spark a nuclear arms race in the Northeast Asia region.

The presidential hopeful observed, “We have a nuclear world now,” adding North Korea “probably” has nuclear arsenals, though he doubted Pyongyang has the ability to deliver a miniaturized warhead on a missile.

Trump also said U.S. troops should be pulled from both South Korea and Japan if they do not pay more for defense.

Such remarks have alarmed international analysts and local observers, who point out Trump ignores the fact that Seoul shares the cost for the 28,500 U.S. troops stationed in Korea.

The real estate tycoon has been criticized as having a feeble grasp of international affairs and a nearsighted sense of foreign policy, but he told the New York Times, “I do know my subject.”

Trump says he believes in an “America First” policy while describing the United States as “the big stupid bully” that has been “systematically ripped off by everybody,” including the Middle East, China, Japan and South Korea.

Some Koreans have called for the development of its own nuclear arsenal to counter North Korean’s continued threats.

Rep. Won Yoo-chul, floor leader of the ruling Saenuri Party, called for a nuclear-armed South last month in the National Assembly as a countermeasure to the North’s nuclear and missile threats after recent provocations by Pyongyang, arguing that Korea cannot always depend on Washington’s umbrella.

But Korean analysts point out that Trump’s remarks are focused on lessening the United States’ economic burden and not at all on taking into consideration Seoul’s interests.

BY SARAH KIM [kim.sarah@joongang.co.kr]
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