Seoul: U.S., South united on North’s nuke status

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Seoul: U.S., South united on North’s nuke status

South Korea yesterday insisted that neither Seoul nor Washington recognizes North Korea as a nuclear state, despite U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton’s recent remarks that the North possesses nuclear weapons.

In a speech at the University of Louisville in Kentucky last Friday (Saturday, Korean time), Clinton said the North “has somewhere between one and six nuclear weapons.” Last month, Clinton characterized North Korea as a nation “that already has nuclear weapons.”

North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests but is not formally recognized as a nuclear weapons state by the international community because it has pulled out from the Nuclear Nonproliferation Treaty.

In a press briefing yesterday, Kim Young-sun, spokesman for the Foreign Ministry in Seoul, said the South and the United States had no difference of opinion regarding the North’s status.

“The international community, including South Korea and the United States, is firm in its stance that North Korea can’t attain the status of a nuclear weapons state,” Kim said. “I believe Secretary Clinton wanted to emphasize the importance of the international efforts to denuclearize North Korea.”

In two separate media interviews, Clinton discussed U.S. efforts to deter nuclear proliferation with its latest Nuclear Posture Review. The Obama administration vowed not to use nuclear weapons against nonnuclear weapons states but said it would make exceptions for “outliers” such as North Korea and Iran.

“We don’t want more countries to go down the path that North Korea and Iran are, and some countries might have gotten the wrong idea if they looked at those two over the last years,” she told “Face the Nation.” “And so we want to be very clear: We will not use nuclear weapons in retaliation if you do not have nuclear weapons and are in compliance with the NPT.”

On the same program, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates justified making exceptions of the two countries.


By Yoo Jee-ho [jeeho@joongang.co.kr]

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