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South Korea Eyes Nuclear Option Amid North Korean Threats


North Korea's near-incessant military provocations in recent weeks are widely assumed to be a prelude to the ultimate demonstration of Pyongyang's might: a seventh underground nuclear test. And that is stoking renewed fears in South Korea that the erratic regime in the North might one day actually use one of its fearsome weapons. 

For a growing number of South Koreans, obtaining a comparable nuclear deterrent is becoming a realistic option to counter the North's provocations. The issue, however, is deeply polarizing. 

North Korea has fired hundreds of artillery rounds and rockets into the sea off its east and west coasts in the last two days. It has followed up the barrages with demands issued through state media on Wednesday that the US and South Korea halt bilateral exercises, which a government official described as a "highly irritating, provocative act in the frontline area."

The bombardments were a breach of the 2018 inter-Korean agreement on reducing military tensions along the border that divides the peninsula, Seoul insists. And they come after the launch of more than a dozen short- and intermediate-range ballistic missiles, including a weapon that Pyongyang claims was an advanced new missile, which flew over northern Japan.  

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