The Chosun Ilbo newspaper claims Seoul wants Washington to station its aircraft carriers or submarines in the region
South Korea is pushing during talks with the US for the creation of a nuclear weapons-sharing scheme, newspaper Chosun Ilbo has claimed. According to the outlet, Seoul would like to see American aircraft carriers or nuclear-powered submarines stationed near the Korean Peninsula. The news comes hard on the heels of massive ballistic missile tests conducted by North Korea in recent weeks that simulated nuclear strikes.
In its report published on Thursday, the Korean daily quoted an unnamed high-ranking government official in Seoul as saying “If North Korea pushes ahead with a seventh nuclear test, we will face a whole new level of threat.” With that in mind, South Korea is allegedly discussing with the US “ways to radically strengthen” Washington’s “extended deterrence.”
The article named the rotational deployment of an American aircraft carrier group equipped with nuclear weapons or nuclear-powered submarines near the Korean Peninsula as the option advocated by Seoul.
“What’s being discussed is a [South] Korean-style nuclear sharing scheme that could avoid triggering protests from neighboring countries and a regional nuclear arms buildup,” an anonymous security official is quoted as saying.
According to Chosun Ilbo, both the White House and US State Department have refused to comment on the allegations.
During the Cold War, the US had its land- and sea-based tactical nuclear weapons stationed in South Korea. However, in 1991 then-President George H. W. Bush withdrew them from the country.
Commenting back in September 2021 on the prospect of redeployment of American nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula, Mark Lambert, the US deputy assistant secretary of state for Japan and Korea, expressed skepticism. The official made it clear that “US policy would not support that.”
The news came shortly after the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) announced that the two cruise missiles it launched on Wednesday had successfully hit the intended targets some 2,000 kilometers away. A report released by Pyongyang’s state-run KCNA media outlet said the country’s Supreme Leader Kim Jong-un oversaw the launches and expressed “great satisfaction” with the test results.
He is quoted as calling the launches a “clear warning” to North Korea’s enemies and proof of the “absolute reliability and combat capacity of our state’s war deterrent.”
Last week, the DPRK conducted its longest-range missile test on record, firing a rocket over Japan which traveled some 4,600 kilometers (2,858 miles).
On Monday, KCNA quoted Kim as proclaiming that Pyongyang has “nothing to talk about with our enemies, and we do not feel the need to do so.”
Speaking to journalists that same day, a spokesperson for South Korean President Yoon Suk-yeol described as “grave” the “security reality on the Korean Peninsula and in Northeast Asia.”
North Korea, in turn, said it had conducted the launches in response to large-scale military exercises by the US, South Korea and Japan, held near the Korean Peninsula in late September.