18:56 GMT +322 April 2019
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    A man watches a TV news program showing a file footage of a missile launch conducted by North Korea, at the Seoul Train Station in Seoul, South Korea, Saturday, April 23, 2016

    US Hesitant to Bring Nukes Back to South Korea as Tensions Rise With Pyongyang

    © AP Photo / Lee Jin-man
    Asia & Pacific
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    Despite calls from some US hawks to deploy nuclear weapons to South Korea following Pyongyang’s recent test, the US special envoy to South Korea has dismissed the idea.

    On Tuesday, the United States flew B-1B Lancer bombers over Osan Air base in South Korea. The flyover by the nuclear-weapon-capable aircraft was meant as a show of solidarity after Pyongyang’s recent nuclear test.

    "The alliance is taking steps each and every day to defend the Republic of Korea and we are always maintaining a high state of readiness," US Force Korea spokesman Christopher Bush said in a statement.

    But some have called for even more active measures, including additional sanctions and redeploying US nukes to the peninsula.

    On Tuesday, however, Sung Kim, the US special envoy, dismissed calls for reintroducing nuclear weapons.

    "I think both our leaders, and perhaps more importantly our military experts, have determined that there is no need to reintroduce nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula," he told reporters, following a meeting with South Korean counterpart Kim Hong-kyu, according to Korea Joongang Daily.

    The diplomat nevertheless reiterated Washington’s commitment to Seoul, and its "unshakable commitment regarding extended deterrence."

    During their meeting, the two diplomats discussed the US deployment of the controversial Terminal High Altitude Area Defense [THAAD} system, calling it "more than sufficient to deal with the threat posed by North Korea."

    Already facing heavy UN sanctions, North Korea conducted its fifth nuclear test last week. A Russian security agency source told RIA Novosti that the test carried the explosive power of 30 kilotons, twice that of the bomb dropped on Hiroshima.

    The test has drawn international condemnation, with the US, South Korea, and Japan potentially considering stronger sanctions.

    "Of course this event causes great concern. Russia’s position is well known, as we do not think this corresponds to the norms and principles of international law and deserves condemnation. We think such actions do not promote the establishment of security and mutual trust on the peninsula. Moreover, tensions are increasing," Kremlin spokesman Dmitry Peskov told reporters.

    "Moscow is ready for the closest coordination of its steps in order to work out an international reaction to Pyongyang’s actions."

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    Tags:
    Terminal High Altitude Area Defense (THAAD), US Korea Force, Dmitry Peskov, Christopher Bush, Kim Hong-kyun, Sung Kim, South Korea, Democratic Republic of North Korea (DPRK), United States
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