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S. Korea 'in talks to buy nuclear submarine' from US: reports
by Staff Writers
Seoul (AFP) Nov 7, 2017


S. Korea to buy 'billions of dollars' of US weapons: Trump
Seoul (AFP) Nov 7, 2017 - South Korea has agreed to buy US weapons worth "billions of dollars" to guard against threats from nuclear-armed North Korea, US President Donald Trump said Tuesday.

After a summit with South Korean President Moon Jae-In, Trump also said the US -- the South's key security guarantor -- had agreed to remove a warhead weight limit on Seoul's ballistic missiles.

Trump arrived in Seoul on Tuesday for a two-day visit as part of his Asia tour amid high tensions over North Korea's weapons drive.

Trump said the South -- a key Asian ally which hosts 28,500 US troops -- would be buying a large amount of US weapons "whether it's planes, whether it's missiles, no matter what it is".

"South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which for them makes a lot of sense and for us it means jobs, reducing our trade deficit with South Korea," he said.

Moon confirmed the planned purchases which he described as "essential", saying Seoul had agreed to begin talks to buy US strategic assets to enhance Korea's defence capabilities.

Under the existing missile pact between the US and the South, Seoul has only been allowed to develop warheads as heavy as 500 kilograms for its ballistic missiles.

The US instead offers the South a "nuclear umbrella" against potential attacks, but Seoul has sought to remove the limit in recent years amid the growing missile threat from the North.

The allies had agreed in principle to do so in September following the North's latest nuclear test, by far its most powerful to date.

Moon, noting "ever-growing threats" from the North's missiles and nuclear weapons, said Tuesday the two allies had reached a "final agreement" to remove the restriction.

"We also reaffirmed our stance to put maximum pressure and sanctions on the North until it... comes foward for genuine negotiations," he told reporters.

South Korea is negotiating with the United States to buy nuclear-powered submarines to guard against threats from Pyongyang, local reports said Tuesday, as President Donald Trump said Seoul would buy "billions of dollars" of US weapons.

Nuclear-powered submarines can stay submerged for months, giving them a far greater range than their diesel-powered counterparts, and are also crucial to any seaborne nuclear deterrent.

Such a purchase would redraw the balance of power in northeast Asia, and could trigger a regional arms race.

Japan -- another US ally -- does not have nuclear-powered submarines, and is barred from having a military under its post-World War II pacifist constitution.

And while China's increasingly powerful navy does include them in its fleet, Beijing would undoubtedly be infuriated by any such acquisition by Seoul.

After a summit in South Korea with his counterpart Moon Jae-In, Trump on Tuesday said Seoul would be buying a large amount of US weapons "whether it's planes, whether it's missiles, no matter what it is".

"South Korea will be ordering billions of dollars of that equipment, which for them makes a lot of sense and for us it means jobs, reducing our trade deficit with South Korea," he said.

While Moon did not give specific details of the purchases, he described them as essential for national defence.

Multiple South Korean media outlets said the two leaders ordered officials to begin the purchase talks "immediately", citing a senior official who gave an anonymous briefing.

"The strategic assets under discussion include a nuclear-powered submarine and a sophisticated surveillance asset," the reports quoted a senior official of Moon's office as saying.

"We will have close consultations with the US about these two in the future," the official was quoted as saying.

Seoul heavily relies on its security guarantor Washington, which has 28,500 troops stationed in the South, for national defence to protect itself against potential attacks by the nuclear-armed North Korea.

But growing atomic and missile threats by the North in recent years prompted calls in the South to have more sophisticated weapons of its own, with some even demanding that Seoul develop its own nuclear weapon.

The country is currently barred from developing atomic weapons under the deal with the US, which in turn offers Seoul "nuclear umbrella" against potential attacks by the North.

Pyongyang staged a sixth atomic test in September and has test-launched multiple missiles capable of reaching the US mainland, sparking global alarm over its military ambition.

Trump also said the US had agreed to remove a 500 kilogram (1,100 pound) warhead weight limit on Seoul's ballistic missiles.

The allies had agreed in principle to do so in September following the North's latest nuclear test, by far its most powerful to date.

Moon, noting "ever-growing threats" from the North's missiles and nuclear weapons, said Tuesday the two allies had reached a "final agreement" to remove the restriction.

"We also reaffirmed our stance to put maximum pressure and sanctions on the North until it... comes forward for genuine negotiations," he told reporters.

FLOATING STEEL
Netanyahu associates grilled in German sub graft probe: report
Jerusalem (AFP) Nov 5, 2017
Two lawyers close to Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu were questioned Sunday over their roles in suspected corruption around the purchase of German submarines, media reports and police said. Police said they had detained "two senior lawyers for questioning as part of the (submarine) affair," refusing however to confirm their identity at this stage. Israeli media identified both ... read more

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