U.S. mulls over redeploying nukes to S. Korea

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U.S. mulls over redeploying nukes to S. Korea

WASHINGTON - A U.S. Congressional committee is pressuring the Obama administration to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula.

The House Armed Services Committee, dominated by Republicans, approved an amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2013 Thursday that calls for the re-introduction of the sensitive weapons to South Korea, according to Foreign Policy magazine.

It also would require Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Leon Panetta to submit a report on the feasibility and logistics of redeploying nuclear weapons to South Korea, added the magazine.

“We in the last many years have appealed to China to help us negotiate with North Korea to bring them in line in the quest for peace in the world .?.?. China has now embarked on selling nuclear components to North Korea,” Congressman Trent Franks, Republican of Arizona, who reportedly sponsored the amendment, was quoted as saying in the committee’s markup.

The North has carried out two underground nuclear tests, in 2006 and 2009, and is suspected to be preparing for a third.

Some South Korean conservatives have also raised the issue of redeploying U.S. nuclear weapons to South Korea to counter the North’s missile and nuclear threats.

“[South Korea and the U.S.] should consider the re-introduction of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula,” Representative Chung Mong-joon told reporters in Seoul this week.

It remains doubtful, however, that the Obama government, campaigning for a nuclear-free world and negotiations to dismantle North Korea’s nuclear weapons, will send nuclear weapons to Korea.

“Our policy remains in support of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula,” a senior White House official told Yonhap earlier. “Tactical nuclear weapons are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea and we have no plan or intention to return them.”

The White House National Security Council did not respond to Yonhap’s fresh inquiry on whether the position has shifted.

The U.S. pulled all of its forward-based nuclear weapons out of Korea in 1991 after the two Koreas signed a deal on the denuclearization of the peninsula. Since then, the U.S. has provided a so-called nuclear umbrella for the South.

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