White House reaffirms support of “non-nuclear Korean Peninsula”

Brig. Gen. Uberti greets President Barack Obam...

Brig. Gen. Uberti greets President Barak Obama (Image by US Army Korea - IMCOM)

Washington Correspondent Kwon Tae-ho’s recent article states that the White House continues to dismiss calls from some conservatives to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons. Article below:

The White House officially reaffirmed Monday (local time) that it has no plans to redeploy tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.

White House National Security Council (NSC) deputy spokesman Robert Jensen said that the position of the Barack Obama administration is that “tactical nuclear weapons are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea” and that the administration has “no plan or intention to return them.”

Jensen also stated emphatically that the administration’s policy “remains in support of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula” and that “there is no plan to change that policy.”

Additionally, the NSC said that it respects the Korean Peninsula denuclearization statement agreed upon in 1991, that it has no plans for changing its current non-nuclear Korean Peninsula policy, and that no plans for reintroducing tactical nuclear weapons are being examined.

“This is not an issue that is under active consideration,” Stephen Bosworth, special representative for North Korea policy, told Tuesday the Senate Foreign Relations Committee.

In its Monday issue, the JoongAng Ilbo quoted White House Coordinator for Arms Control and Weapons of Mass Destruction Gary Saymore as saying, as his personal opinion, “If South Korea, a U.S. ally, were to feel threatened by North Korea’s nuclear development and request that U.S. tactical nuclear weapons be redeployed, the United States would naturally agree to it.”
Observers say Jensen’s remarks appear to be intended to quickly put to rest a needless debate by directly articulating a clear position, out of concerns that the controversy could easily blow up as Saymore’s remarks add fuel to calls by conservative politicians in South Korea for tactical nuclear weapon redeployment.

» Second-generation victims who suffer from serious health complications from the U.S. atomic bomb dropped in Japan and family members stand in front of Seoul Seodaemun Prison History Hall and offer a silent tribute to call for peace declaration for a nuclear-free world (Photo by Park Jong-shik)

The reintroduction of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula would run counter to the current of the Obama administration’s nuclear policy, which is characterized by calls for nuclear weapons reduction and non-proliferation.

In a Nuclear Posture Review released in April 2010, the Obama administration clearly stated the U.S.’s intention of both limiting the use of nuclear weapons and removing tactical nuclear weapons deployed in Europe. President Obama has pushed for additional discussions with Moscow to follow up the Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty (START) between the United States and Russia with tactical nuclear weapons reductions. He also plans to propose discussions with Beijing to ensure transparency in nuclear weapons programs.

Under these circumstances, redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula could hamper Washington’s own push for nuclear discussions with those two countries. In particular, Washington has determined that tactical nuclear weapons are relatively inefficient and lack any major deterrent force outside of their symbolic value.

“Within the U.S. administration, there may be some individuals with personal views in favor of redeployment, but there is no chance, nor any indication of a chance, of its being adopted as policy,” said a foreign affairs source in Washington who wished to remain unnamed.

“Whatever debate may take place in South Korea, the possibility that it will lead to a change in the Obama administration’s nuclear policy is scant,” the source said.

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