SEOUL, Sept. 13 (UPI) — The U.S. special representative for North Korea policy reaffirmed commitment to extended deterrence on the Korean peninsula but opposed calls for the reinstatement of tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea.
Ambassador Sung Kim, who previously served as the top U.S. diplomat to Seoul, said a bilateral decision to not place tactical nuclear weapons in South Korea remains in effect, Yonhap reported.
Kim added the U.S.-South Korea alliance is one of the world’s most powerful and there is sufficient capability within the alliance to respond to multiple threats from North Korea.
North Korea’s fifth nuclear test on Friday has sent shockwaves through South Korea. South Korean conservative think tanks and activists alike have become increasingly vocal and have called for the reinstatement of tactical nuclear weapons that were removed from the peninsula in 1991.
South Korean President Park Geun-hye, who has repeatedly called for domestic political unity regarding the deployment of the THAAD defense system, warned the North against launching a nuclear-tipped ballistic missile on Tuesday while calling for the removal of the current regime should North Korea launch such an attack, Yonhap reported.
“The [South Korean] government and military will work more closely to maintain the U.S.-South Korea military cooperation, and should North Korea launch even one nuclear-equipped missile in [South Korea’s] direction I ask that all maintain a high level of readiness in preparation for ending the North Korean regime at that moment,” Park said.
On Tuesday, North Korea’s KCNA issued a statement on Seoul’s opposition to Pyongyang’s fifth nuclear test, calling the South Korean response a prelude to a military strike against the North Korean leadership.
A spokesman for North Korea’s Asia-Pacific Peace Committee said the “gangsters” of the South Korean “puppet forces” are planning a three-pronged strike system to “neutralize” North Korea’s nuclear weapons and missiles and that the “enemy” is planning to “wipe Pyongyang off the map.”
North Korea also warned the situation is reaching the “final limit” and warned that it has completed its steps toward becoming a nuclear weapons state.