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No Nuclear Weapons In South Korea, Top General Says

"(Former) President Roh Tae-Woo...declared the absence of any nuclear weapons in South Korea. That remains true today. USFK does not possess nuclear weapons," LaPorte said in an interview with Korea Herald.

Seoul (AFP) Aug 17, 2005
A US military general said in a news report Wednesday that there are no nuclear weapons in South Korea, after North Korea demanded such a guarantee for progress at talks on its own denuclearization.

Washington reportedly withdrew its nuclear weapons from South Korea in 1992, when the two Koreas announced their intention to denuclearize the peninsula.

The United States never confirmed the withdrawal although then president Roh Tae-Woo declared afterwards that South Korea was free of nuclear weapons.

General Leon LaPorte, commander of the US Forces in Korea (USFK), told English-language Korea Herald newspaper Wednesday that this remained true.

"(Former) President Roh Tae-Woo...declared the absence of any nuclear weapons in South Korea. That remains true today. USFK does not possess nuclear weapons," LaPorte said in an interview with Korea Herald.

The explicit denial came less than two weeks before the resumption of six-nation talks aimed at ending a standoff over North Korea's nuclear weapons development.

Two weeks of tense negotiations went into recess on August 7 in a deadlock, with North Korea insisting it had the right to nuclear activities to produce energy, a demand rejected by the United States which says Pyongyang has a track record of secretly developing nuclear weapons.

North Korea also insisted on having confirmation that US troops in South Korea did not have nuclear weapons.

The talks, due to resume in the last week of August, were the fourth round of negotiations on North Korea's nuclear programme that involve the two Koreas, Russia, Japan, China and the United States.

Even without nuclear weapons the US presence in South Korea was strong enough to stand up to North Korea, LaPorte said.

More than 30,000 US troops have been stationed in South Korea since the 1950-1953 Korean War to counter North Korea's 1.2 million strong military.

"Although the status of North Korean efforts to mount nuclear weapons on a missile is clear, what remains clear is it will not change the balance on the peninsula," LaPorte said.

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US Signals Thaw In 20-Year Military Standoff With New Zealand
Wellington (AFP) Aug 17, 2005
The United States has allowed New Zealand to take part in a joint military exercise this week, after a 20-year freeze in defence cooperation, but has refused to say Wednesday whether the approval signalled a wider thaw.







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