US can sell advanced arms to Seoul, Tokyo
WASHINGTONPresident Donald Trump said on Sept. 5 he would allow Japan and South Korea to buy more "highly sophisticated" U.S. military equipment, amid soaring tensions after Pyongyang's latest atomic test.
"I am allowing Japan & South Korea to buy a substantially increased amount of highly sophisticated military equipment from the United States," Trump said in a tweet.
Trump did not elaborate on the kind of weaponry and equipment he had in mind, but the White House has said the president is willing to approve the sale of “many billions of dollars’ worth of military weapons and equipment” to Seoul.
Trump's statement came after North Korea on Sept. 3 detonated what it described as a hydrogen bomb designed for a long-range missile, sparking global alarm with what was by far its most powerful test to date.
It also followed a top North Korean diplomat’s warnings on sending “more gift packages” to the U.S.
“The recent self-defence measures by my country, DPRK, are a gift package addressed to none other than the U.S.,” Han Tae Song told a disarmament conference, using the acronym for the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea.
“The U.S. will receive more ‘gift packages’ ... as long as it relies on reckless provocations and futile attempts to put pressure on the DPRK,” he added without elaborating.
Sending U.S. nuclear weapons back to South Korea would be a drastic step, contradicting the efforts of multiple administrations to “denuclearize” the Korean Peninsula.
Twenty-six years ago this month, President George H.W. Bush announced the unilateral withdrawal of all land-based and sea-based tactical nuclear weapons, including from South Korea. He then pulled all air-delivered nuclear bombs from the South in part because officials believed they were no longer needed for an effective defense. That was years before the North demonstrated its nuclear prowess with a first explosion in 2006.
Iran: Dangerous game
If the Trump administration were to return U.S. nuclear weapons to the peninsula, they probably would be bombs for delivery by what the Pentagon calls “dual capable” aircraft. These include F-16 and F-15 fighter jets configured to perform either nuclear or conventional attack missions.
Such action would provoke extreme objections from key regional powers, China and Russia, who would likely accuse the U.S. of fueling an arms race. And it’s hardly universally supported among U.S. policy makers or South Koreans. Japan, the only country to have suffered nuclear attacks, is more strongly opposed to having atomic weapons.
Meanwhile, Japan yesterday upgraded its estimated size of North Korea’s latest nuclear test to a yield of around 160 kilotons -- more than ten times the size of the Hiroshima bomb.This marked Tokyo’s second revision higher after previously giving estimates of 70 and 120 kilotons.
Elsewhere, Iran’s President Hassan Rouhani said yesterday that threats by the United States had pushed North Korea to test nuclear weapons and were a “dangerous game for the entire world.”
“Why has North Korea chosen this path today which has worried people in East Asia? It is because of threats against North Korea’s existence,” Rouhani said in a speech to his cabinet shown on state television.
“When a country has obtained an atomic weapon, then the game of threatening them becomes a dangerous game for the entire world,” he added.