Global Security Newswire / The Nuclear Threat Initiative – 2012-05-11 23:56:35
WASHINGTON, DC (May 11, 2012) — A House of Representatives committee has approved a measure that directs the Obama administration to explore the possibility of refielding U.S. nonstrategic nuclear weapons in the Asia-Pacific region as a response to North Korea’s continued work on ballistic missiles and nuclear weapons, Foreign Policy reported on Thursday (see GSN, May 10).
The amendment to the Fiscal 2013 National Defense Authorization Act passed in a 32-26 vote that fell largely along party lines, with support from all but one of the Republicans on the House Armed Services Committee and two Democrats.
The measure backs “steps to deploy additional conventional forces of the United States and redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to the Western Pacific region,” and requires the Defense and State departments to inform Congress of the viability of refielding nonstrategic nuclear arms in the area.
“It’s become time for us as a nation to look to our deterrent and our ability to take care of ourselves and work with our allies to do everything we can to deter and to be able to defend ourselves against any future belligerence or threats from North Korea,” said Representative Trent Franks (R-Ariz..), who introduced the amendment.
The U.S. military in 1991 withdrew its tactical nuclear weapons from South Korea.
Some South Korean lawmakers have at times called for the redeployment of U.S. tactical weapons, arguing they would serve as a deterrent to North Korea. The Obama administration maintains it has no intentions of refielding nuclear weapons in the South.
“Our policy remains in support of a non-nuclear Korean Peninsula,” White House National Security Council spokesman Robert Jensen said last year to the Yonhap News Agency. “There is no plan to change that policy. Tactical nuclear weapons are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea and we have no plan or intention to return them.”
The United States has nearly 30,000 troops stationed in South Korea and has extended its nuclear umbrella over the nation.
The House panel early Thursday approved the defense bill, which now moves to the chamber floor for consideration (Josh Rogin, Foreign Policy, May 10).
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