The Korea Times | Seoul dismisses US push for tactical nuclear deployment
By Kim Young-jin
Seoul is rejecting a push by U.S. lawmakers to redeploy U.S. tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.
“We have not discussed the matter,” a senior defense official said Monday on condition of anonymity. “South Korea is a country making efforts for non-proliferation and as such it would not be appropriate to do so.”
An official from the Ministry of Foreign Affairs and Trade added that neither South Korea nor the U.S. administration of Barack Obama have changed their stances on the issue and that Seoul was “watching” how the debate would unfold in Washington.
The debate heated up last week when the Republican-dominated House Armed Services Committee approved an amendment to the 2013 National Defense Authorization Bill calling for the reintroduction. That was echoed here by conservative heavyweight Chung Mong-joon, who is bidding to become the ruling Saenuri Party’s presidential nominee.
The U.S. lawmakers cited the failure of China, the North’s main ally, to convince Pyongyang to stand down as a reason for the redeployment, as well as Beijing’s “selling (of) nuclear components to North Korea.” A missile launch vehicle suspected to be of Chinese origin was spotted at a military parade in Pyongyang last month.
But the calls have been met with skepticism as some believe the move would do little to bolster the allies’ capabilities and may increase risks during conflict.
Baek Sung-joo, a military analyst with the Korea Institute for Defense Analyses, said Seoul’s 1991 deal to denuclearize the peninsula - after which Washington pulled its forward-based nuclear weapons off the peninsula - made the move politically difficult.
Photo: Presidential Press and Information Office