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Experts weigh in on Donald Trump's future Korea policy

Analysts have begun to make their forecasts.

By
Elizabeth Shim
A South Korean soldier stands guard at the Dorasan Station in the Civilian Control area near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea. Donald Trump's victory is raising questions about the president-elect's plans for North and South Korea. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI
A South Korean soldier stands guard at the Dorasan Station in the Civilian Control area near the demilitarized zone in Paju, South Korea. Donald Trump's victory is raising questions about the president-elect's plans for North and South Korea. File Photo by Keizo Mori/UPI | License Photo

SEOUL, Nov. 11 (UPI) -- A former South Korean official says he thinks U.S. President-elect Donald Trump's remarks on nuclear armament were more campaign rhetoric than a policy plan.

Former Unification Minister Hyun In-taek is one of several Korea experts who are weighing in on what a Trump presidency may look like for North and South Korea, South Korean newspaper Donga Ilbo reported Friday.

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Trump's policies, as outlined in his 100-day plan, make no mention of Asia policy, leaving room for a wide range of analysts who have begun to make their forecasts.

Hyun told the Donga there "is not much need to argue too much over prominent remarks that were made over the course of the campaign," adding nuclear armament for South Korea would cause a ripple effect that would make the Trump administration think twice about arms buildup in the region.

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U.S. analyst Victor Cha, the Korea Chair at the Center for International and Strategic Studies, said Wednesday Trump's guiding principle is "to treat allies fairly but not allow them to unfairly take advantage of the United States."

To that end, the special measures agreement between the United States and South Korea will likely be renegotiated in 2017 and a Trump administration could "drive a hard bargain on renegotiation."

SMA is a cost-sharing agreement that divides the financial burden of keeping 28,500 U.S. troops in South Korea. Seoul currently makes more than $800 million in contributions annually but that figure could go up, according to the analysis.

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Trump has had little to say about North Korea but his remarks have ranged from describing Kim Jong Un as a "maniac" to expressing some interest in meeting with Kim.

Former Republican U.S. Rep. Jay Kim said it's likely North Korea's development of intercontinental ballistic missiles would prompt an ultimatum from Trump that could lead to more forceful action if Pyongyang doesn't comply, South Korean newspaper Munhwa Ilbo reported.

Kim, unlike Hyun, sees more possibility for South Korea nuclear armament.

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Seoul and Tokyo both currently rely on the extended U.S. nuclear deterrent.

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