Nuclear latency is the condition of a country possessing the technology to quickly build nuclear weapons, without having actually yet done so. Because such latent capability is not proscribed by the Nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty, this is sometimes called the "Japan Option" (as a work-around to the treaty), as Japan is a clear case of a country with complete technical prowess to develop a nuclear weapon quickly, or as it is sometimes called "being one screwdriver's turn" from the bomb, as Japan is considered to have the materials, expertise and technical capacity to make a nuclear bomb at will.
Another reputable case for nuclear latency is South Korea. Although not many people have analyzed the South Korean capability for nuclear weapon, it is quite possible that South Korea could make nuclear weapons in times of danger from North Korea. South Korea has been shown to enrich uranium to a weapon grade level and at one point was very close to developing a nuclear weapon but did not due to pressure from the United States. Many South Koreans also support the obtainment of nuclear weapons to combat the threat of the North. South Korea also possess cruise missiles, which could serve as a delivery system up to 1500 km.
Germany is another notable possible country that can make nuclear weapons but doesn't see the need to, especially because it is a part of the US nuclear weapons sharing program.
Mexico is another country that has the resources to build nuclear weapons; however, after signing the nonproliferation treaty, it has since abandoned building nuclear weapons despite being able to.
This term has also been used to refer to the 1989 incident in which North Korea began invalidating the Non-Proliferation Treaty.
- Panofsky, Wolfgang K. H. (June 14, 2007). "Capability versus intent: The latent threat of nuclear proliferation". The Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists. Retrieved 2009-08-04.
- Cole, Juan (2009-10-07). "Does Iran really want the bomb? Perhaps what Iran wants is the ability to produce a nuclear weapon fast, rather than have a standing arsenal". Salon.
- "Hypothesis: Iran Seeks the "Japan Option"". Slate. 2009-10-07.
- Demetriou, Danielle (20 April 2009). "Japan 'should develop nuclear weapons' to counter North Korea threat". The Daily Telegraph. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Sakamaki, Sachiko (28 May 2009). "North Korean Atomic Tests Lift Lid on Japan's Nuclear 'Taboo'". Bloomberg. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- John H. Large (May 2, 2005). "THE ACTUAL AND POTENTIAL DEVELOPMENT OF NUCLEAR WEAPONS TECHNOLOGY IN THE AREA OF NORTH EAST ASIA (KOREAN PENINSULAR AND JAPAN)" (PDF). R3126-A1. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2007-07-10.
- "Nuclear Scholars Initiative 2010: Recap of Seminar Four". CSIS. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Brumfiel, Geoff (November 2004). "Nuclear proliferation special: We have the technology". Nature. 432-437. 432 (7016): 432–7. Bibcode:2004Natur.432..432B. doi:10.1038/432432a. PMID 15565123. Retrieved 29 June 2010.
- Chester Dawson (28 October 2011). "In Japan, Provocative Case for Staying Nuclear". Wall Street Journal. Retrieved 13 November 2011.
- "Nuclear Weapons Archive, 7.5 nuclear capable states".
For more on the proliferation and debates surrounding nuclear weapons and their latency, visit the Woodrow Wilson Center's Nuclear Proliferation International History Project website: http://wilsoncenter.org/program/nuclear-proliferation-international-history-project.
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