Small Wars Journal

South Korea: U.S., Seoul Discussing Options to Deploy 'Strategic Assets'

Mon, 01/11/2016 - 5:27am

South Korea: U.S., Seoul Discussing Options to Deploy 'Strategic Assets'

Voice of America

A South Korean official said Monday Seoul and the United States are discussing other U.S. "strategic assets" that can be deployed on the Korean peninsula, a day after the U.S. flew a long-range bomber over South Korea in an apparent response to North Korea's latest nuclear weapons test.

"The United States and South Korea are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets," Kim Min-seok, a spokesman at the South Korean Defense Ministry, told Reuters news agency. He declined to give specifics.

The French news agency (AFP) and South Korea's Yonhap news agency reported such assets may include the nuclear-powered aircraft carrier USS Ronald Reagan - currently based in Japan - B-2 bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and F-22 stealth fighter jets.

Sunday's flight of the B-52 came hours after North Korean leader Kim Jong Un defended last Wednesday's test of an alleged hydrogen bomb as "the legitimate right of a sovereign state and a fair action that nobody can criticize" during a speech to the Ministry of the People's Armed Forces.

South Korea has urged the international community to impose harsh sanctions against the North for the nuclear test, its fourth since 2006.

Praises Scientists

Also Monday, the North's state-run Korean Central News Agency published a photo of Kim posing with hundreds of scientists, workers and other officials who participated in last week's test, praising them for "having glorified" Kim Jong Il, his late father, and Kim Il Sung, his grandfather and state founder.

Seoul also continued anti-Pyongyang propaganda broadcasts across the border Monday, while the Unification Ministry announced it would restrict access to Kaesong, a jointly run factory park a few kilometers across the border in North Korea.

Beginning Tuesday, a Unification Ministry official said South Korea would limit the number of South Koreans allowed to stay in the park overnight to the "minimum necessary level," from 800 to 650.

"The aim is to minimize the presence in Kaesong, while not hampering actual production activities," the ministry official told Reuters.

The industrial complex provides jobs for more than 50,000 North Koreans employed by more than 100 South Korean companies.

South Korean President Park Geun-hye is to speak to the nation about raised tensions with the North on Wednesday, a presidential official said.

Sunday's Bomber Flight

On Sunday, the B-52 bomber, which is capable of carrying nuclear weapons, was seen flying over Osan Air Base, located 72 kilometers south of the border that separates the two Koreas, before heading back to its home base on nearby Guam. The bomber was accompanied by two fighter planes from the U.S. and South Korea.

U.S. Navy Admiral Harry B. Harris Jr., the commander of the U.S. Pacific Command, issued a statement calling the flight a demonstration of the ironclad U.S. commitment to our allies in South Korea, in Japan, and to the defense of the American homeland."

Lieutenant-General Terrence O'Shaughnessy, the deputy commander of the joint United States-South Korean military command, told reporters after the flight that the U.S. "remains steadfast" in the defense of South Korea "and to maintaining stability on the Korean Peninsula, to include extended deterrence provided by our conventional forces and our nuclear umbrella."

The U.S. also sent a long-range bomber over South Korea in 2013, shortly after the North carried out its third nuclear test.