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Tuesday, January 12, 2016, 10:03

US may not send warheads to ROK

By Reuters

US may not send warheads to ROK
People look at a map of the border area between DPRK and ROK at the Imjingak Pavilion near the border village of Panmunjom, which has separated the two Koreas since the Korean War, in Paju, north of Seoul, ROK, Jan 11, 2016. (AP P hoto / Lee Jin-man)

SEOUL/WASHINGTON - The United States and the Republic of Korea (ROK) are discussing deploying more US "strategic assets" to the region after the Democratic People's Republic of Korea's (DPRK) atomic test last week but not restoring US nuclear arms to ROK, a US official said on Monday.

Pyongyang said it tested a hydrogen bomb on Wednesday, displeasing China and the United States, which said it believed the blast was an ordinary atomic test rather than a much more powerful hydrogen bomb.

In a show of force and support for allies in the region following DPRK's nuclear test, its fourth since 2006, the United States on Sunday sent a nuclear-capable B-52 bomber based in Guam on a flight over ROK.

DPRK's Rodong Sinmun newspaper, the mouthpiece of the ruling Workers' Party, said the United States was bringing the situation to the brink of war.

DPRK media said the United States may send to ROK B-2 bombers, nuclear-powered submarines and F-22 stealth fighter jets.

An ROK defence ministry spokesman declined to give details.

"The United States and South Korea (ROK) are continuously and closely having discussions on additional deployment of strategic assets," the spokesman, Kim Min-seok, said.

In Washington, the US official said they were discussing deploying "the whole range" of such assets but this meant such things as nuclear-capable bombers rather than restoring US nuclear weapons to ROK for the first time in about a quarter century.

Former US President George HW Bush decided in 1991 to remove US nuclear weapons from ROK.

China called for all sides to avoid raising tensions.

"We hope all parties can maintain restraint, proceed cautiously, and avoid successively escalating tensions," said Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Hong Lei when asked about the US B-52 flight.

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