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'Asia nuke planning group,' US tactical nuke redeployment needed: think tank

North Korea test-fires a new submarine-launched ballistic missile on October 19, 2021. (KCNA-Yonhap)
North Korea test-fires a new submarine-launched ballistic missile on October 19, 2021. (KCNA-Yonhap)
A South Korea-US nuclear planning group and the conditional redeployment of US tactical nuclear arms can be policy options for the next Seoul government to address North Korea's evolving nuclear threats, a local think tank said Friday.

In a 175-page research report, the Korea Research Institute for National Strategy (KRINS) made policy suggestions for the next government to be launched in May next year, as concerns persist over Pyongyang's steady focus on its nuclear and missile programs.

The institute proposed crafting the Asian nuclear planning group involving the South and the US, or the two allies and other regional partners -- a body akin to the one run by the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO) to discuss the alliance's overall policy issues on nuclear forces.

The proposed group should allow South Korea to engage in the process of the US formulating its nuclear policies or posture related to the security on the Korean Peninsula and have bilateral consultations on America's nuclear assurance, the institute said.

The institute also proposed the idea of the US redeploying its tactical nuclear weapons to the peninsula -- with the condition that the weapons should be withdrawn when the North dismantles its nuclear weapons.

"(The redeployment) would have not only the effect of guaranteeing military stability by restoring nuclear balance on the Korean Peninsula, but also the more greater political, psychological and economic effect vis-a-vis the security against the North's threats," the institute said.

The institute also noted if Seoul and Washington adopt a NATO approach to the operation of tactical nuclear arms, South Korea would have a "right to consultations" over the US' use of the arsenal deployed here, though the US president will make a final decision on a nuclear option.

Amid the North's continued push for nuclear capabilities, security experts have stressed the need to strengthen the credibility of America's "extended deterrence," a pledge to mobilize the full range of its military capabilities, nuclear and conventional, to defend its ally.

Last month, Seoul's National Intelligence Service said it had detected signs of the North having recently reactivated a plutonium-producing five-megawatt nuclear reactor at its mainstay Yongbyon complex. The North also test-fired a new submarine-launched ballistic missile -- an indication of its unceasing push for nuclear delivery capabilities. (Yonhap)

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