GNP reps want return of U.S. nuclear weapons

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GNP reps want return of U.S. nuclear weapons

Senior members of the ruling Grand National Party yesterday argued the U.S. should reintroduce tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea to protect the country against a military threat from the North.

In a National Assembly session on foreign, unification and security affairs, Chung Mong-joon, former chairman of the Grand National Party, made the proposal, calling it a cautionary move against a nuclear-armed North Korea.

“Would it be possible for the South to peacefully coexist with a nuclear-armed North?” Chung asked. “The U.S. nuclear umbrella is necessary, but it cannot be a negotiation card to dismantle the North’s nuclear arms programs.”

From 1958 until 1991, the United States deployed tactical nuclear weapons in the South. According to recently declassified U.S. documents, the number of nuclear weapons reached 950 in 1967. The last 100 were withdrawn in 1991.

The two Koreas adopted the Joint Declaration on the Denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula in 1992, committing themselves not to test, manufacture, produce, receive, possess, store, deploy or use nuclear weapons.

Referring to a poll showing that 67 percent of South Koreans want the country to arm itself with atomic weapons against a nuclear-armed North Korea, Chung said, “it is a sensitive issue, but we should consider the return of American tactical nuclear arms until Pyongyang dismantles its weapons programs.”

GNP Representative Won Yoo-chul, who heads the legislature’s National Defense Committee, argued that it was necessary for South Korea to open a discussion on the return of U.S. tactical nuclear weapons. “It will pressure China and Russia to play a more active role in ending the North’s nuclear arms development,” Won said. “It will also bring about a positive effect in Seoul’s negotiations with Washington on a new nuclear cooperation treaty to secure the right to reprocess used nuclear fuel.”

Representative Chung Ok-nim, a GNP spokeswoman, also said American weapons should be returned to the South. “They should [only] be withdrawn when the North dismantles its nuclear arms,” she said.

The liberal opposition Democratic Party condemned the idea, arguing that the security crisis on the peninsula was caused by the Lee Myung-bak administration’s hostile policy.

“Because of the anachronistic hard-line policy toward the North, the government brought about the security crisis in which the North shelled the South’s territory directly for the first time since the Korean War,” said DP Representative Park Joo-sun.

“The nuclear crisis can only be resolved when Pyongyang itself loses the need for nuclear weapons. When the confrontation between the two Koreas disappears, the need for nuclear weapons will disappear as well,” Park said.

The government dismissed the GNP’s argument for the return of U.S. nuclear weapons to the South, while blaming the North for increased tensions.

“For the peace and stability of the peninsula, denuclearization must be maintained,” Prime Minister Kim Hwang-sik said. “Rather than nuclear competition, it is Seoul’s principal stance to denuclearize the Korean Peninsula through international efforts, including the six-party talks.”

National Defense Minister Kim Kwan-jin said it was the government’s position that international cooperation is needed to pressure Pyongyang to end its nuclear aspirations.


By Ser Myo-ja [myoja@joongang.co.kr]


Related Korean Article[중앙일보]

정몽준 “우리도 핵 필요”…박주선 “북에 굴욕 요구해선 안 돼”


[국회 대정부 질문]

김관진 국방부 장관은 25일 “3월 키리졸브 훈련 전후에 (북한의) 도발 가능성이 있다고 판단하고 있다”고 말했다. 국회에서 열린 외교·통일·안보 분야 대정부 질문에서다. 김 장관은 북한 도발 가능성을 묻는 한나라당 원유철 의원의 질문에 “여러 가지 정황을 종합분석했을 때 이번 봄은 북한이 도발할 수 있는 시기”라며 “천안함과 연평도 사건 이후 여러 미흡함을 보완했다”고 답했다.

자유선진당 조순형 의원은 ‘서해5도 기습 상륙’ 가능성을, 미래희망연대 송영선 의원은 ‘공기부양정을 이용한 인천 기습’ 등의 위험성을 지적했다. 김 장관은 “서북 도서 방위사령부를 창설할 계획”이라며 “여러 도발 가능성을 검토하고 있고 대비책을 갖고 있다”고 말했다.

이날 여당은 한반도 평화 유지를 위해 ‘핵 무장론’을 제기한 반면 야당은 남북 정상회담 추진 노력 등 ‘대화’를 강조했다.

한나라당 정몽준 의원은 “미국의 핵우산이 필요하지만 그것이 북한의 핵을 포기시킬 수는 없다”며 “우리도 핵을 갖고 있어야 한다”고 주장했다.


같은 당 정옥임 의원도 “미군 전술핵을 재배치하는 걸 안보 로드맵에 포함시켜야 한다”고 했다. 이에 김황식 총리는 “한반도 비핵화에 대한 정부 입장에 변함이 없다. 핵 개발 경쟁보다는 6자회담 등 국제적 노력을 통해 북한 비핵화를 이끄는 게 바람직하다”고 답했다.

야당은 “정부가 북한과 대화할 의지가 없다”고 비판했다. 민주당 박주선 의원은 “북한의 일방적인 굴욕만을 요구해서는 대화가 이뤄질 수 없다”고 주장했다. 같은 당 이낙연 의원은 “북한은 억압받는 기간에 핵 능력을 강화했다. 기다리지 말고 대화에 나서라”고 촉구했다. 장세환 의원은 “이명박 정부가 피스 메이킹(peace making)은 물론 피스 키핑(peace keeping)도 못 하고 있다”꼬집었다.

김 총리는 “의미 있는 남북 대화가 되려면 북한이 최소한 변화된 모습을 보여 줘야 하고, 그런 여건이 된다면 모든 차원의 대화가 가능하다”고 말했다. 회담 추진 시도가 있었는지 등에 대해서는 “공개된 자리에서 얘기할 수 없다”고 했다. 한편 국회는 이날 본회의를 열어 이상훈 대법관 후보자의 임명동의안을 처리했다. 동의안은 재석 의원 187명 중 찬성 117표, 반대 64표, 기권 6표로 가결됐다.

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