LKP pushes government to obtain tactical nukesThe main opposition Liberty Korea Party (LKP) on Tuesday turned up the pressure on the government to seek the redeployment of U.S. tactical nuclear arms to counter escalating North Korean nuclear threats.
During a general meeting with party lawmakers, LKP chief Hong Joon-pyo stressed that the conservative party has adopted the redeployment as its official line, which will also test the United States’ “will” to employ its nuclear umbrella in defense of its Asian ally.
After the North conducted two tests of an intercontinental ballistic missile (ICBM) in July, and its sixth and most powerful nuclear test to date Sunday, concerns rose that America’s nuclear deterrence could significantly weaken.
Skeptics here said that the United States may dither on whether to mobilize its nuclear arsenal to support the South in a contingency, as it could put its own territory at risk given the North’s professed capability to mount a nuclear warhead on a long-range missile.
“Whether Washington is willing to redeploy part of its tactical nuclear arms to Korea .?.?. this is a matter of whether the U.S. has the will to protect the Republic of Korea with its nuclear umbrella,” the hawkish party leader said.
“So as to test the U.S.’ nuclear umbrella policy, we have to call for the redeployment,” he added, noting Washington has stationed some 150 tactical nukes on its mainland and 160 in its European allies’ territory.
The United States withdrew tactical nukes from the peninsula in the early 1990s in line with an inter-Korean agreement for a nuclear-free Korean Peninsula.
Seoul has officially dismissed the idea of its own nuclear armament or bringing in tactical nukes, based on its denuclearization principle, though Defense Minister Song Young-moo has raised the possibility of reviewing the redeployment as “one of the various options.”
The LKP, which has long considered security its forte, demanded the South’s nuclear armament to pursue what it terms a “balance of nuclear power” - or a balance of terror - with Pyongyang, which it argues now enjoys a “nuclear monopoly.”
The right-wing party has espoused the Cold War-era nuclear deterrence strategy anchored on the belief that any nuclear exchange will lead to mutually assured destruction (MAD).