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South Korea Not Seeking US Nuclear Weapons - Top Official

Monday, 22 Nov 2010 09:47 PM

 

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SEOUL, Nov 23 (Reuters) - Redeploying U.S. tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea would be against everything Seoul and the international community have done to try to end Pyongyang's nuclear ambitions, the chairman of the South's Defence Committee said on Tuesday.

South Korean Defence Minister Kim Tae-young had said earlier he would consider all available options to counter North Korea's pursuit of an uranium enrichment programme including the return of U.S. tactical nuclear arms, which had been removed some 20 years ago.

"If we were to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons (in the South), it would be a serious blow to a far greater goal," the chairman of parliament's Defence Committee, Won Yoo-chul said.

"The work of our government and the international community to denuclearise the Korean peninsula will have been all in vain," the ranking member of the ruling Grand National Party said.

Won said he spoke to Kim late on Monday who said his comments had been taken out of context and that he had meant the South and the United States were in consultations over the full range of available options to counter the North's nuclear threat.

"There have never been any discussions between South Korea and the United States about bringing back tactical nuclear arms, nor has there been any consideration of that," Won said.

The latest flurry over Pyongyang's bid to secure an alternate source of arms-grade nuclear arms was triggered by comments by U.S. nuclear expert Siegfried Hecker of Stanford University that he had been shown more than 1,000 centrifuges on his tour of the North' main nuclear complex.

The North said the centrifuges, which are the key component to a uranium enrichment programme, were operational, although Hecker said he and his team were unable to verify the claim.

South Korea signed a pact with the North pledging not to arm themselves with nuclear arms in 1992 after the United States announced the removal of tactical nuclear arms from the South.

Washington has guaranteed the South's security under its nuclear umbrella, referring to its nuclear weapons maintained outside of the country.

(Reporting by Jack Kim; editing by Jeremy Laurence and Jonathan Thatcher)

© 2014 Thomson/Reuters. All rights reserved.

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