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Nukes Not Returning to Korea: Expert

Posted October. 24, 2006 07:02,   


- Will North Korea’s nuclear test have an impact on reduction plan of U.S. troops stationed in Korea under the Global Posture Review?

It will not. Strategic flexibility is very important for the U.S. defense department to reduce burdens by relocating troops in Iraq. Restructuring and reducing U.S. soldiers in Korea will take place as planned as problems in Iraq are still unfolding.”

- How do you assess threats that North Korea’s nuclear test poses?

“The North will try advance nuclear technologies. However several years will take for the North to develop miniaturized nuclear warhead that can fit on missiles. That means at current stage the only country under the threat from North Korea’s nuclear armament is South Korea. North Korea’s nuclear weapons carried by bombers or vehicles can only reach South Korea.”

-Tell me about possibilities that the U.S. will return its strategic nuclear weapons that were withdrawn from South Korea.

“It is not likely. Those strategic nuclear weapons were already retired and providing a nuclear umbrella does not necessarily mean we need to deploy nuclear weapons on the Korean peninsula. From the military perspective, redeployment of nuclear weapons is not necessary and can complicate negotiations with North Korea. A nuclear umbrella guarantee is a political commitment and decision. Washington has made it clear.”

- What if other options were exhausted? Is there any chance the U.S. comes up with military options?

“But where can it attack? Those places in question are inside caves or underground. We don’t know where to strike. Even if we find the location, it is impossible to explode the cave with conventional weapons and remove nuclear materials. Even though we take risk of another Korean war and the Roh administration says that the government does not mind taking risk of another war so the U.S. can choose military options, it would be difficult for the U.S. to choose a bombing attack. In 1994, we had a target on the ground (Nuclear facilities in Yongbyon). However, they began hiding plutonium in many different places since then. Even if we strike Yongbyon reactor, North Korea sill have plutonium and the location of a clandestine uranium enrichment program is unknown.”

-There are differences over South Korea’s economic cooperation with North Korea.

“Humanitarian assistance is one thing and economic cooperation is quite another. The U.S. does not want putting an end to humanitarian aid. But we have interests in South Korea’s suspension of economic cooperation with North Korea. Because those economic projects generate money especially cash. The money is used for North Korea’s military.”