South Korea seeks US strategic weapons after North’s testArchive
SEOUL: South Korea is in talks with the United States to deploy US strategic weapons on the Korean peninsula, a South Korean military official said on Thursday, a day after North Korea said it successfully tested a hydrogen nuclear device.
South Korea also said it would resume propaganda broadcasts by loudspeaker into North Korea from Friday, which is likely to infuriate its isolated rival, in response to its fourth nuclear test.
The United States and weapons experts voiced doubts the device North Korea tested on Wednesday was a hydrogen bomb, but calls mounted for more sanctions against it for its rogue nuclear programme.
The underground explosion angered China, which was not given prior notice although it is North Korea’s main ally, pointing to a strain in their ties.
The test also alarmed Japan. Its prime minister, Shinzo Abe, agreed with US President Barack Obama in a telephone call that a firm global response was needed, the White House said.
Obama also spoke to President Park Geun-hye of South Korea to discuss options.
A South Korean military official said the two countries had discussed the deployment of US strategic assets on the divided Korean peninsula, but declined to give further details.
After North Korea last tested a nuclear device, in 2013, Washington sent a pair of nuclear-capable B-2 stealth bombers on a sortie over South Korea in a show of force. At the time, North Korea responded by threatening a nuclear strike on the United States.
South Korea, technically in a state of war against the North, said it was not considering a nuclear deterrent of its own, despite calls from ruling party leaders. The United States is highly unlikely to restore the tactical nuclear missiles it removed from South Korea in 1991, experts said.
The test was a “grave violation” of an August agreement by the two Koreas to ease tension and improve ties, a South Korean national security official, Cho Tae-yong, said in a statement.
“Our military is at a state of full readiness, and if North Korea wages provocation, there will be firm punishment.” The South raised its military alert to the highest level in areas along the border near its propaganda loudspeakers, the South’s Yonhap news agency reported late on Thursday.
The United States is limited in its military response for fear of provoking an unpredictable regime in Pyongyang, said Anthony Cordesman, a defence policy expert at the Washington-based Centre for Strategic and International Studies think-tank.
Published in Dawn, January 8th, 2016