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Nuclear Russia's pillaging of non-nuclear Ukraine is rattling what's already a destabilizing moment in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Security experts say the result of Ukraine’s fight against Russia will influence how other countries with nuclear rivals think about their defense. Another factor is how well the U.S. convinces non-nuclear allies they are safe under the existing U.S. umbrella of nuclear and conventional weapons. Some former leaders in Asia have cited the Ukraine conflict as evidence it's time for nations there to think about getting nukes of their own. Current regional leaders have been quick to denounce the idea.

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FILE - People protest at a rally calling for Russia to stop the war against Ukraine in Seoul, South Korea, March 5, 2022. Nuclear Russia's pillaging of non-nuclear Ukraine is rattling what's already a destabilizing moment in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Some former leaders in Asia have cited the Ukraine conflict as evidence it's time for nations there to think about getting nukes of their own. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

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FILE - People attend a rally against Russia's invasion of Ukraine, near the Russian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, March 27, 2022. Nuclear Russia's pillaging of non-nuclear Ukraine is rattling what's already a destabilizing moment in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Some former leaders in Asia have cited the Ukraine conflict as evidence it's time for nations there to think about getting nukes of their own. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

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FILE - People march during a rally against Russia's invasion of Ukraine near the Russian Embassy in Seoul, South Korea, May 22, 2022. The banner reads "Let's protect Mariupol's hero." Nuclear Russia's pillaging of non-nuclear Ukraine is rattling what's already a destabilizing moment in nuclear nonproliferation efforts. Some former leaders in Asia have cited the Ukraine conflict as evidence it's time for nations there to think about getting nukes of their own. (AP Photo/Ahn Young-joon, File)

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The United States and its Asian allies have flown dozens of fighter jets over waters surrounding the Korean Peninsula in a show of force as their diplomats discussed a coordinated response to a possibly imminent North Korean nuclear test. The flights came as U.S. Deputy Secretary of State Wendy Sherman traveled to Seoul for discussions with South Korea and Japanese officials over the gathering North Korean threat and warned of a “swift and forceful” counterresponse if the North proceeds with a nuclear test explosion. While Washington has vowed to push for stronger sanctions if North Korea conducts a nuclear test, prospects for robust punitive measures are dim with a divided U.N. Security Council.

AP
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South Korea says North Korea has test-fired a barrage of eight short-range ballistic missiles from multiple locations toward the sea, extending a provocative streak in weapons demonstrations this year that U.S. and South Korean officials say may culminate with a nuclear test explosion. The launches were North Korea’s 18th round of missile tests in 2022 alone. Experts say leader Kim Jong Un wants to cement his country's status as a nuclear power and negotiate economic and security concessions from a position of strength. U.S. President Joe Biden’s special envoy for North Korea discussed the launches with South Korean officials while on a visit to Seoul. They expressed “deep regret” that North Korea was continuing weapons development despite a COVID-19 outbreak at home.