The leader of the ruling Democratic Party weighed in Friday to dampen mounting opposition calls for South Korea's nuclear armament, warning it would only "do more harm than good."
After North Korea conducted an intercontinental ballistic missile test in July and its sixth nuclear experiment Sunday, conservative parties demanded that Seoul seek the redeployment of U.S. tactical nukes or shared control of them with Washington.
"Some in the opposition bloc have made the ghastly claim that we have to arm ourselves with nukes in the face of the North's nuclear threats, but nuclear weapons would do more harm than good," Choo Mi-ae said during a meeting with senior party officials.
"This rhetoric would end up allowing the North to possess a nuclear arsenal," she added.
Choo also stressed that any nuclear option would pose an impediment to the ongoing efforts to establish a lasting peace on the Korean Peninsula.
"I urge (the opposition parties) to restrain from calling for nuclear armament, which is inappropriate and impractical," she said. "I hope they, in a cool-headed and calm manner, will cooperate with the government as it copes with this difficult security situation."
The main opposition Liberty Korea Party has recently adopted the redeployment of U.S. tactical arms as its official line, which it argues would help ensure the credibility of America's security guarantee for its Asian ally.
The party has stressed the need for Seoul to seek a "nuclear balance of power" with Pyongyang, which it says now enjoys a "nuclear monopoly."
It plans to send a delegation to Washington next Wednesday for a four-day visit to promote its drive for the redeployment of U.S. nuclear weapons, which were withdrawn from South Korea in the early 1990s. The delegation includes Reps. Lee Cheol-woo, Khang Hyo-shang and Baek Seung-joo, and former chief of the Korean Institute for National Unification Kim Tae-woo.
The Bareun Party has also pressured the government to explore other nuclear options, including shared control of nuclear arms with Washington, similar to America's arrangements with its NATO allies, including Germany, Italy and Belgium.
Meanwhile, a Gallup Korea survey found that 60 percent of South Korean adults back the idea of their country going nuclear while 35 percent is against it. The survey was conducted on 1,004 people from Tuesday through Thursday. (Yonhap)