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N. Korea's nuke test stimulates calls for nuclear armament of S. Korea

2016/01/08 23:02

SEOUL, Jan. 8 (Yonhap) -- North Korea's surprise nuclear test earlier this week is stirring calls within the ruling Saenuri Party that South Korea should consider creating its own nuclear potential for self-defense.

North Korea claimed to have successfully conducted a hydrogen bomb test on Wednesday, although the outside world suspects it might have been a test of a conventional nuclear bomb.

Unlike the North's third nuclear test conducted in February 2013, the South failed to detect signs of the nuclear test until it occurred late Wednesday morning.

The long halt in the six-party talks on denuclearizing North Korea has also called into question the effectiveness the talks have in bringing North Korea to the negotiating table.

"It is unnecessary for South Korea to pin down clearly that it will give up 'the last resort' of possessing nuclear capability," Rep. Shim Yoon-joe said, referring to what the party told the government in a meeting with officials from the foreign, unification and defense ministries earlier in the day.

Party leaders also told the government officials that "South Korea needs to keep (nuclear armament) on the table as one of our future options," according to Shim.

The ruling party also demanded the government "entirely revisit our government's policy on North Korea's nuclear program" in light of the fourth nuclear test, he also said.

Ruling party floor leader Won Yoo-cheol told reporters before the meeting "There's no other way for South Korea than securing certain deterrence capability against North Korea's nuclear arms."

   The floor leader said the six-party talks is losing its credibility due to North Korea's uncooperativeness while South Korea's surveillance and readiness against North Korea's nuclear activities are also failing.

Rep. Ahn Hyo-dae, a close confidant of Chung Mong-joon, a former ruling party leader who has long espoused nuclear armament, also said "South Korea needs to go forward with the proactive strategy to react to North Korea's nuke with its own nuke."

   South Korea is currently banned from owning any nuclear devices since it is a member of the Non-proliferation Treaty.

Growing security concerns also prompted calls for the deployment of the U.S.' Terminal High Altitude Area Defense system on South Korea, with ruling party Rep. Yoo Seong-min saying in a parliametary hearing a day earlier that "This is the right time for the deployment of the THAAD on the Korean Peninsula."

   Despite the increasing calls, the South Korean government's position remains unchanged that it will pursue denuclearization of the peninsula, Shim said, citing what was discussed in the Friday meeting.

pbr@yna.co.kr

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