03/02/2011, 00.00
KOREA
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Nuclear redeployment to stop Pyongyang’s threats

by Theresa Kim Hwa-young
For the leaders of the Grand National Party, reliance on the US nuclear umbrella (since 1991) is no not enough anymore to stop North Korea’s nuclear programme. A statement by a US government official sparked the debate.

Seoul (AsiaNews) – Leaders of South Korea’s conservative Grand National Party (GNP), and various rightwing media want US tactical nukes redeployed in South Korea. Last week, GNP Lawmaker Chung Mong-joon called on the government to consider reintroducing US tactical nuclear weapons, arguing that the US nuclear umbrella alone has failed to get North Korea to abandon its nuclear programme.

The renewed debate was sparked by Gary Samore, the US National Security Council’s Coordinator for Arms Control and Non-Proliferation, who said he was in favour of redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons if the South felt threatened.

Tactical nuclear weapons were removed from South Korea in 1991, leaving the country under the protection of the US nuclear umbrella, which relies on submarine-based ballistic systems.

Despite North Korean threats, Seoul for years has favoured a policy of dialogue with Pyongyang, dismissing as risky and counterproductive any land-based nuclear weapons.

In fact, “Redeployment is not at all being considered,” said a high-ranking official at South Korea’s Office of the Presidency (Cheong Wa Dae).

“South Korea’s lack of nuclear weapons gives South Korea a moral advantage over North Korea,” another official noted. This has in part reduced the danger of a nuclear conflict.

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