Seoul may consider bringing back US nuke arms

Updated: 2010-11-22 17:06
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SEOUL - The Republic of Korea (ROK) might consider redeploying US tactical weapons here as the Democratic People's Republic of Korea (DPRK) reportedly seeks a uranium enrichment program, Seoul's defense chief said Monday.

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"(The government) will consider what you've just said" in consultation with Washington, defense minister Kim Tae-young was quoted as saying by local media when asked by a lawmaker whether Seoul would consider bringing back US nuclear weapons on its soil.

Kim said Seoul and Washington could discuss the issue in their Extended Deterrence Policy Committee meeting next month. The joint military committee by the two allies is aimed at bolstering security deterrence against Pyongyang.

The remarks came amid new concerns here over potential nuclear threats as Pyongyang reportedly showed a US nuclear scientist a new and sophisticated facility to enrich uranium with centrifuges installed.

A US envoy on the DPRK visited Seoul earlier in the day to discuss the issue with the ROK Foreign Minister Kim Sung-hwan and Seoul's representative on stalled nuclear disarmament talks.

The US, which has stationed some 28,500 troops here since the 1950-53 Korean War ended with a truce, withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons in 1991 for nuclear arms reduction.

Washington has since repeatedly recommitted itself to defending Seoul, including keeping the country under the US nuclear umbrella.