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By: Tara Copp
WASHINGTON – Defense Secretary Jim Mattis confirmed Monday that the U.S. and South Korea have discussed employing tactical nuclear weapons as an option to defend against North Korea’s nuclear weapons program.
The acknowledgment from Mattis comes as the U.S. and international community grapple with increasingly aggressive nuclear weapons testing by North Korea.
In the last few weeks, North Korea has tested an intercontinental ballistic missile capable of reaching the U.S. mainland and tested a hydrogen bomb, according to U.S. Strategic Command’s assessment of the program.
Last Thursday, as Mattis was at STRATCOM assessing the U.S. nuclear posture, North Korea fired another intermediate range missile over Japan, sending millions of Japanese citizens into shelters.
On Monday, Mattis said there are military options to use against North Korea that would not result in mass casualties for Seoul, but he would not go into specifics.
South Korean Defense Minister Song Young-moo told his parliament he had requested the U.S. consider the return of tactical nuclear weapons to the Korean Peninsula during a U.S. visit with Mattis earlier this month.
On Monday, Mattis confirmed the exchange, but did not provide further details.
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