A South Korean soldier walks past a television screen showing a graphic of the distance between North Korea and Guam at a railway station in Seoul on August 9, 2017. (AFP / JUNG Yeon-Je)
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As nuclear-armed North Korea's missile stand-off with the U.S. escalates, calls are mounting in the South for Seoul to build nuclear weapons of its own to defend itself -- which would complicate the situation even further.The South, which hosts U.S. 28,500 troops on its soil to defend it from the North, is banned from building its own nuclear weapons under an atomic energy deal it signed in 1974 with the U.S. -- its security guarantor that instead offers Seoul a "nuclear umbrella" against potential attacks. It urged Washington to deploy some of its atomic weapons to South Korea if it did not want to see a nuclear-armed Seoul.The U.S. stationed some of its atomic weapons in the South following the 1950-53 Korean War, but withdrew them in 1991 when two Koreas jointly declared they would make the peninsula nuclear-free. Seoul's defence chief Song Young-Moo said recently the South was "fully capable" of building its own nuclear weapon but was not considering the option for now.
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