Defense Minister “warned” for raising the issue at the National Assembly
Defense Minister Song Young-moo listens to a question during a plenary session of the National Assembly on Sept. 12. (Kang Chang-kwang
Amid recent calls by some politicians for the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons on the Korean Peninsula, the Blue House has repeatedly declared its opposition to the idea, noting that it “remains committed to the principle of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula.”
“Recently, there has been a lot of talk in some sectors about USFK’s redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons. Our spokesperson has already made several comments about this, but the administration remains committed to the principle of denuclearizing the Korean Peninsula. No consideration has been given to redeploying tactical nuclear weapons, either,” said Lee Sang-chul, first deputy chief of the Blue House National Security Office, during a meeting with reporters at the Chunchugwan press center on Sept. 12.
“Politicians or the press can raise the question of redeploying tactical nuclear weapons as a way of dealing with the threat of North Korea’s nuclear weapons or missiles, but the government believes that actually doing so would be very problematic. Not only would it violate the basic principle of the denuclearization of the Peninsula that the South Korean government has maintained since 1991, but there are concerns that it could weaken or destroy the grounds for the denuclearization of the Peninsula that we hope to achieve by eliminating North Korea’s nuclear program. Another problem is that, if both North and South Korea obtain nuclear arsenals, it could cause nuclear weapons to spread in Northeast Asia,” Lee said.
“Our current view is that the redeployment of tactical nuclear weapons with USFK is very problematic because it’s expected to have strategically negative consequences for the Korean Peninsula. This is the basic stance held by the current administration.”
The Blue House also reportedly gave Defense Minister Song Young-moo a “warning” for announcing that he had discussed the issue of redeploying tactical nuclear weapons during a meeting with US Defense Secretary James Mattis on Aug. 30 and for recently telling the National Assembly that “the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons could be considered.”
“Song’s remarks were a slip of the tongue based on his personal convictions. I understand that the minister has been told that the Blue House wants him to stay on message in regard to the deployment of tactical nuclear weapons,” said a senior official at the Blue House during a phone call with the Hankyoreh on Sept. 12.
By Jung Yu-gyung, staff reporter
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