No plan to deploy tactical nukes in S. Korea: Pentagon
WASHINGTON (Yonhap) -- The Pentagon said Monday that it will not redeploy tactical nuclear weapons to South Korea.
"Our policy remains in support of a non-nuclear Korean peninsula. There is no plan to change that policy," a spokesperson for the Department of Defense told Yonhap News Agency on the customary condition of anonymity.
"Tactical nuclear weapons are unnecessary for the defense of South Korea and we have no plan or intention to redeploy them there," the official added.
The comments were the first formal confirmation of the Obama administration's policy on denuclearizing the peninsula since reports of a move by some Republican lawmakers to reintroduce forward-based nuclear weapons in South Korea.
Last week, the House Armed Services Committee, dominated by Republicans, approved an amendment to the fiscal 2013 national defense authorization bill that calls for the re-introduction of those weapons to South Korea.
The initiative, which still has a long way to go for becoming a binding act, drew keen media attention in South Korea.
The South faces longstanding nuclear and missile threats from its communist neighbor, North Korea.
Around 28,500 American troops are stationed in the South, a legacy of the 1950-53 Korean War, which ended in a cease-fire, not a formal peace treaty.
The U.S. withdrew all of its nuclear weapons from Korea in 1991 after the two Koreas signed a deal on the denuclearization of the peninsula.
Since then, the U.S. has provided a so-called nuclear umbrella for the South.
South Korean government officials also say the nuclear umbrella is sufficient to counter the North's threats.
The move by Republicans in Congress is viewed as intended to pressure North Korea, China and the Obama administration, which is campaigning for a nuclear-free world.