Seoul, April 25 (IANS/RIA Novosti) While reiterating Seoul’s commitment to a denuclearised Korean Peninsula, South Korean Prime Minister Chung Hong-won Thursday opposed the idea of redeploying US tactical nuclear weapons in the country.
“The (South Korean) government remains committed to maintaining the principle of denuclearisation of the Korean Peninsula,” he said at a parliamentary session.
“While not pursuing independent nuclear sovereignty, I think (South Korea) can deter (the North’s) nuclear programmes by managing the extended deterrence provided by the United States,” he said.
Defence Minister Kim Kwan-jin said the North “does not appear to be able to produce miniaturised nuclear weapons and missiles to carry them,” though it has been “ready to fire mid-range missiles with its own launchers”.
“We are working on how to deal with North Korea’s nuclear programmes by devising two concepts. One is making retaliatory measures in case of its firing of nuclear missiles, and the other is how to detect, control and target its nuclear weapons.”
“We are developing extended-range interceptors,” he said.
Tensions have risen on the Korean Peninsula since December, when North Korea tested a long-range Taepodong 2 missile, and in February carried out its third nuclear test, following tests in 2006 and 2009.
The UN responded with sanctions. The start of joint military exercises between South Korea and the US last month further irritated the North, which threatened to carry out a nuclear attack on the US mainland, as well as on US forces in the region.