Thae Yong Ho: Türkiye’s Nuclear Sharing A Potential Model for South Korea

By | October 19, 2022 | No Comments

The nuclear sharing debate rages on in Seoul, with Washington’s top envoy in opposition to the idea. Whereas North Korea and Russia (the latter in an indirect manner) drive talk about deploying tactical nuclear weapons to the ROK, Türkiye has become a potential source of inspiration for South Korea, urging North Korean defector-turned-lawmaker Thae Yong Ho to urge Seoul’s top diplomat in Istanbul to dig deeper. 


As North Korea’s nuclear threat rises day by day, the ROK needs to look into Türkiye-style NATO nuclear sharing[1] 


Representative Thae Yong Ho: “A situation where the US mainland coming under threat raises the question of whether the US nuclear umbrella over the ROK can function.” 

On the morning of October 18 (local time) at the South Korean consulate general in Istanbul, during a parliamentary audit of the Turkish and Czech embassies, People’s Power Party representative Thae Yong Ho stated that in light of North Korea’s repeated and increasing nuclear threats, South Korea needs to look into NATO-style nuclear sharing like Türkiye[2] and strongly request it from the US. 

First he pointed out that “The potential for a worldwide nuclear war is growing with Russia’s threat to possibly use nuclear weapons” and that “Secretary-General Xi Jinping of China also implied in operational report for the party congress on the 16th that he is strengthening nuclear deterrence due to the Taiwan issue; North Korea also legally codified preemptive nuclear strikes, all the while carrying out tactical nuclear weapons drills and continued missile launches.” 

With this, Representative Thae asked the ROK’s ambassador to Türkiye, Lee Won-ik, to find out more about public opinion in that country regarding the deployment of American tactical nuclear weapons and military exercises involving nuclear delivery systems such as Steadfast Noon, and if there were any complaints about the rise of Russia’s nuclear threat. 

To this, Ambassador Lee stated that “Actually, I’ve never really paid attention to any discussions or mention of that issue… It’s difficult for me to answer that clearly because there really isn’t much in the way of statements from the (Turkish) government or media reports regarding things such as where the nuclear weapons are.”

Representative Thae went on, “The fact is, there is no way to stop North Korea’s nuclear program through dialogue and negotiations, so in order to truly deter North Korea’s nuclear provocations, the prevailing opinion is that the ROK and the US need figure out measures beyond NATO nuclear sharing” and that “Today (the 18th) US ambassador Philip Goldberg, asserted the US’s reliance on its extended deterrence strategy, yet in a situation where North Korea poses a threat of a nuclear attack to the US’s own cities, I am not sure if the nuclear umbrella can work without the actual deployment of nuclear weapons to South Korea.” Afterwards he stated “Including Türkiye, five NATO member states constantly asked the US for nuclear sharing through tactical nuclear weapons,” and that “we also need to the case of Türkiye as a benchmark and do further research”, asking that the ambassador gather extra related data and send them to him.


Original article by Lim Byungdong. Translated by Anthony V. Rinna.


[1] Source: “As North Korea’s nuclear threat rises day by day, the ROK needs to look into Türkiye-style NATO nuclear sharing [나날이 고도화되는 북한의 핵 위협에 대한민국도 튀르키예식 NATO 핵 공유 검토해야]”, Daehan News, October 19, 2022

[2] Translator’s note: The original article in Korean used a spelling of the country’s name that reflects the Turkish government’s official spelling as “Türkiye”, so this updated English spelling has been used to reflect this.

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