Vestiges of Nuclear War Begin To Appear in Asia

On August 6 and 9, the world marked the 65th anniversary of the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. The bombings marked the ending of WWII: Japan was forced to capitulate over the fear of even more destructive attacks. However, even after the first-ever practical nuclear bombings the world could not stop from ending the nuclear race.

China was the first Asian nation to have built its own nuclear weapons. The most controversial nuclear nation in Asia is, of course, North Korea. The administrations of Japan, South Korea and Taiwan repeatedly stated that they could join the nuclear club in the event the situation in the region was getting worse.

Pravda.Ru interviewed Vladimir Khrustalev, an expert for nuclear technologies of Admiral Nevelsky Maritime State University, about a possible development of the situation in the region.

"Why do many countries in the world, including Asian countries, are now trying to build nuclear weapons?"

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"First and foremost, the situation in the world is not stable. We can see the previous outsiders taking efforts to try to find their place under the sun and establish their growing influence with the help of the nuclear shied.

"As a matter of fact, the nuclear non-proliferation treaty is a discriminatory one. Several countries decided that it was only them and on one else who could possess nuclear arms. However, they turned a blind eye on the fact that Israel became a nuclear nation too. Now the situation is developing according to the domino principle, and many countries will soon own nuclear arms, if they consider it necessary.

"Conventional weapons grow more and more expensive, whereas the development of nuclear arms becomes cheaper - approximately $300 million."

"Is it possible that Japan, which suffered from the atomic bombing, will have its own nuclear arms some day?"

"It solely depends on the will of the political administration of this country. Financially, Japan has more than enough to implement such a program, not to mention the technological side of the problem. It will take this country a very short period of time - two or three years - to succeed. One has to say here that the USA has been the guarantor of security for Japan, so the issue of possessing nuclear weapons is not that important for Tokyo.

"Is South Korea close to developing nuclear arms?"

"This country also has all possibilities for that, although it would take South Korea a longer time period to accomplish the goal in comparison with Japan. It also has the nuclear protection of the United States. For example, it was settled in 2009 that South Korea would be legally allowed to strike a nuclear blow against North Korea if case the latter used its nuclear arms against the southern neighbor first.

"The USA provided such a guarantee to South Korea to both restrain North Korea and prevent the appearance of another nuclear nation on the map of the world. However, Seoul has all necessary technologies for building nuclear weapons. Moreover, the future development of such a country as South Korea is unthinkable without nuclear power. South Korea is a highly developed country, and the absence of nuclear energy implies energy catastrophe for this nation. Nuclear energy is not about reactors only. It includes the work with nuclear fuel, which can be used for the production of plutonium. In every instance, Seoul has been more and more serious about joining the nuclear club."

" What about Taiwan ?"

"It's more complicated, but there is one thing clear. The Far East is turning into a nuclear region before our very eyes. This is the region where nuclear tests were held during the 2000s, where a member of the nuclear non-proliferation treaty pulled out from the agreement, and where the nuclear issue is probably one of the most important ones. The level of the technological development in the region varies from one country to another, but any member of the region is capable of developing their own nuclear arms.

"Including Taiwan . This country had to stop its nuclear program under the pressure from the United States twice. This may mean that Taiwan may finally implement the program despite China's resistance. Taiwan is not really a state per se, which means that it does not need to sign the non-proliferation treaty.

"China is the primary deterrent here. Chinese special services watch Taiwan closely. If they find out that Taiwan is working on its nuclear arms, Beijing will be prepared to take extreme measures."

"You said that there are political circumstances that keep Japan, South Korea and Taiwan from possessing nuclear weapons. Is it possible that those circumstances do not exist anymore?"

"Yes, I believe it could be possible. We can witness the permanent nuclear crisis in East Asia right now. One should bear in mind the fact that this is the region, where nuclear arms were tested for the firs time. Therefore, many countries of this region realize the advantages of possessing nuclear arms.

"American security guarantees keep a number of countries from developingtheir own nuclear programs. However, times change. If Japan, for example, or South Korea realize that the USA's guarantees are not that evident, they may start working on their own weapons. It can happen, especially if external threats put the strategic interests of these countries in danger.

"It is not ruled out that Japan may soon offer the USA a choice: either the States remains a reliable and responsible ally, or Tokyo guarantees its own security single-handedly."

"What if the state of affairs on the Korean Peninsula goes out of control?"

"This is the most unpleasant question today for all neighbors of North Korea. A lot will depend on the future development of the situation on the Korean Peninsula. It is possible that the North Korean regime will collapse eventually. In this case I would not exclude a military intervention against this country because Pyongyang would lose control over its nuclear arsenal," the expert said.

Sergey Balmasov

Read the original in Russian

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Author`s name Dmitry Sudakov