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Obama vows to work with Russia to reduce nuclear arsenals
by Staff Writers
Washington (AFP) Feb 12, 2013

S. Korea to step up missile defence after North test
Seoul (AFP) Feb 13, 2013 - South Korea said Wednesday it would accelerate the development of longer-range ballistic missiles that could cover the whole of North Korea in response to a third nuclear test by Pyongyang.

"We will speed up the development of ballistic missiles with a range of 800 kilometres (500 miles)," Defence Ministry spokesman Kim Min-Seok told reporters.

In October last year, South Korea reached a deal with the United States to almost triple the range of its missile systems -- with Seoul arguing it needed an upgrade to counter the North's missile and nuclear programmes.

The United States has 28,500 troops in South Korea and guarantees a nuclear "umbrella" in case of any atomic attack. In return, Seoul accepts limits on its missile capabilities.

Prior to the October agreement, the South was restricted to missiles with a range of 300 kilometres.

The extension will not only bring the whole of North Korea within reach of Seoul's rockets, but also parts of China and Japan.

Some experts have suggested it would provide the South with a pre-emptive strike facility against the North's nuclear installations.

Kim said the South would also speed up the deployment of a "kill chain" system capable of detecting, targeting and destroying North Korean missiles.

"The military is closely watching the North in case of further provocative acts," he said.

Following North Korea's nuclear test on Tuesday, the head of South Korea's intelligence agency warned that Pyongyang may well carry out a further test or a ballistic missile launch in the coming days or weeks.

US President Barack Obama vowed in his annual State of the Union address Tuesday to work with the Kremlin to reduce both Russia and America's stockpiles of nuclear weapons.

"We will engage Russia to seek further reductions in our nuclear arsenals and continue leading the global effort to secure nuclear materials that could fall into the wrong hands," Obama promised.

Obama came to office four years ago promising to make nuclear arms reduction a centerpiece of his foreign and security policy, raising such hopes that the Norwegian Nobel Committee awarded him their 2009 peace prize.

But his soaring rhetoric has not been matched by results, with Russia wary of engaging in dialogue, Iran refusing to rein in its nuclear enrichment drive and North Korea defying sanctions to carry out nuclear tests.

Defense officials said Washington is now ready to push the strategic negotiations with Russia forward. Speaking anonymously, they said Obama would seek a new 30 percent cut in both arsenals to around 1,000 warheads each.

A Pentagon spokeswoman told AFP the United States aims in the short-term to reduce its stockpile to the level agreed in the last round of Strategic Arms Reduction Treaty talks, but that more cuts were possible.

"The department is committed to meeting the set New START levels for warheads by 2018," Lieutenant Colonel Monica Matoush said, referring to the level of 1,550 warheads agreed with Russia in the 2010 treaty.

"However, as the president said recently in Seoul, he firmly believes we can ensure the security of the United States and our allies, maintain a strong deterrent against any threat, and still pursue further reductions in our nuclear arsenal."

She said the United States would pursue further talks with Russia on reducing not only strategic nuclear warheads, but tactical weapons and warheads in reserve as well.

According to a recent report in The New York Times, Obama's National Security Adviser Tom Donilon is planning to head to Moscow in March to examine the framework for possible new arms control talks.


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UN Council vows action after N. Korea nuclear test
United Nations (AFP) Feb 12, 2013
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