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Opposed

Republic of Korea

Umbrella state (bilateral arrangement with the United states)

South Korea boycotted the TPNW negotiations in 2017 and has consistently voted against the annual UN General Assembly resolutions on the Treaty, including in 2022.

TPNW Status

SIGNATURE
DEPOSIT WITH UNSG
ENTRY INTO FORCE
DECLARATION
TPNW Article 1(1) prohibitions: Compatibility in 2022
(a) Develop, produce, manufacture, acquire Compatible
Test Compatible
Possess or stockpile Compatible
(b) Transfer Compatible
(c) Receive transfer or control Compatible
(d) Use Compatible
Threaten to use Compatible
(e) Assist, encourage or induce Not compatible
(f) Seek or receive assistance Not compatible
(g) Allow stationing, installation, deployment Compatible
TPNW voting and participation
UNGA resolution on TPNW (latest vote) Voted no (2023)
Participated in 1MSP (2022) No
1MSP delegation size (% women) N/A
Adoption of TPNW (7 July 2017) N/A
Participated in TPNW negotiations (2017) No
Negotiation mandate (A/RES/71/258) Voted no
Other weapons of mass destruction (WMD) treaties
Party to an NWFZ No
Party to the NPT Yes (Ratified 1975)
Ratified the CTBT Yes (Ratified 1999, Annex 2 state)
Party to the BWC Yes (Ratified 1987)
Party to the CWC Yes (Ratified 1997)
IAEA safeguards and fissile material
Safeguards agreement Yes (14 Nov 1975)
TPNW Art 3(2) deadline N/A
Small Quantities Protocol No
Additional Protocol Yes
Enrichment facilities/reprocessing plants No
HEU stocks Cleared
Plutonium stocks No

Latest developments

South Korea may sign and ratify or accede to the TPNW, but will have to make changes to its policies and practices to become compliant.

North Korea’s continuing advancement of its ballistic missile capabilities and nuclear-weapons programme led to a resurgence of support in South Korea in 2022 for redeployment of US nuclear weapons in South Korea or even for the country to develop its own nuclear weapons.1 At the Tenth Review Conference of the Treaty on the Non-Proliferation of Nuclear Weapons (NPT) in August 2022, South Korea said that the ‘credibility and relevance of the NPT are being questioned’. It noted ‘dangerous and irresponsible nuclear rhetoric and threats to use nuclear weapons’, decreased transparency regarding nuclear stockpiles, and widening gaps ‘in assessing progress in nuclear disarmament’.2

In the First Committee of the UN General Assembly in October 2022, South Korea said that it is ‘unbearably frustrating that the threat and possibility of use of nuclear weapons are looming larger than ever.’3 It also said that ‘The tall order to realise a world without nuclear weapons requires effective multilateralism,’ and ‘pragmatic and realistic approaches.’4

Recommendations

  • South Korea should renounce the possession and potential use of nuclear weapons on its behalf, and ensure that nuclear weapons do not have a role in its defence posture.

  • South Korea should comply with its existing obligation under Article VI of the NPT and pursue negotiations in good faith on nuclear disarmament.

  • South Korea should urgently adhere to the TPNW. Until it is in a position to do so, it should welcome the TPNW as a valuable component in the global disarmament and non-proliferation architecture, work with the Treaty's states parties on practical steps towards disarmament, and attend the meetings of states parties as an observer.

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